Decisions! Decisions!

Come and join us today as we discuss past decisions and how we can grow from them. It’s a tough subject because we ALL have made decisions that we are not proud of. How do we move on? I am hoping my devotion today will move your heart towards HIS.

What in the world were you thinking? Have you ever had moments in life where you’ve looked at someone in disbelief of a decision they’ve made? Better yet, have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and thought the same thing? Why did I ever make that decision?crying-woman1

When I am traveling through the desert in life, I often ask myself, “Was that decision that has left me confused, of me? Or, was it of God?” I know God is not the author of confusion, man is. I can get extremely confused when things are going wrong in my life.  Unfortunately some decisions that I’ve made along the way were not of God but rather of what I manipulated them to be in order to fit my needs at the time. Been there?

God gives us the freedom of choice but if I’m floating along in life on my own, I’m a lost vessel. Challenges in the past can hold us hostage to move forward into the future. Some of the decisions I’ve made I can’t change and some are very hard to let go of. Are there decisions that you’ve made that you just can’t let go of? Please believer know this, hanging onto them will only cripple you and cause you to camp out on the wrong side of the river.

How do we let the bad decisions go? First of all, no decision is bad if you’ve learned from it and have brought it before God for forgiveness. Second, we are set free at the cross. Jesus tells us, “Therefore if the son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” John 8:36. Third, when those past bad decisions start to resurface, remember when the Israelites summoned their courage by remember God’s power. They were able to surge forward; the stories of their deliverance spread throughout the land. Don’t you want to be able to share your stories of how you were delivered from a bad decision that you made? I do.

Challenges await us in our future. The enemy plans to fight against us, but “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4. Bring it all before the Lord today; all of your past that haunts you. How hard is it for you to shake off the past experiences that drag you down? Join us today as we discuss our past hurts, our bad decisions and how God has delivered us.  I will leave you with this:victory in Jesus

Don’t for a minute let this Book of the Revelation be out of your mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going, then you’ll succeed. Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.

Joshua 1:8-9 THE MESSAGE

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Divorce Part II

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Should You Re-Marry?

IDK! I can’t say if you should or not. That’s between you and God. It just so happened that I did re-marry and I did it way too soon. I fell in love right after my divorce. Everyone kept telling me to wait, but I didn’t. I wanted that comfort of a strong man in my life and I stepped into it with both feet. Guess what? Within four months we were already experiencing some serious difficulties and ended in front of a therapist immediately.

I was insecure, scared and felt alone. I felt a void that no one could fill. I carried left over bitterness, anger and fear. He carried arrogance, fear and confusion. We had grown children that needed our attention. Our relationship needed attention and my trust in God diminished. I felt I could do whatever I wanted to do and so I did. It only caused me much pain.

Did we participate in any pre-marriage counseling? No! Should we have? YES!!! I cannot promise you that if you partake in pre-marital counseling that when you’re hurt or wounded, that your spouse will change. Every marriage has its challenges but when we respond to a situation according to God’s plan, even if you are still angry, its victory. God’s plan is always the right plan. God can grow us in an unhealthy marriage as well as a healthy marriage. He can shape us in prosperity or need, in comfort or stress, in intimacy or loneliness. The reward? Intimacy with HIM.

Would you change your ways? Oh yes, I would. There are a lot of things I would have done differently but one of the primary benefits of getting re-married is that if there is suffering on the road ahead, it seems good to have a partner at our side for support. Today’s conversation about the emerging roles of men and women in the home is garbled thinking. I believe before re-marrying, find out what God’s call on your life is. I wanted to be the best step mother his adult kids ever had. They didn’t need that. I wanted to assume all of the spiritual responsibilities in the marriage. I can’t do that. I had to learn to be just “me” and be good with that.

Marriage is a commitment and a call. I firmly believe you will have the richest, most fulfilling life when you take seriously your responsibility to fulfill each other. It’s not a one-way relationship. It is hard but if you commit to praying every day by yourself or even together, all things will work out.

The Lord promised that He would send the Spirit to teach us. (John 14:26) JUST ASK

Teach me your way O Lord; I will walk in Your truth. Psalm 86:11

Moving Forward After Divorce

 

This is not a subject I am always thrilled to write about but feel that my story (shortened version) needs to be told so that I can help those of you who are struggling with the vast array of feelings from divorce.

Christians don’t divorce. It’s not even in our thoughts. When I got divorced nine years ago I felt “defective” in the churches eyes. Whether or not this is openly taught in the congregation or the community, this is the core message that often forms in the minds and hearts of persons struggling through a divorce.

When I went through my divorce, I felt this defective feeling which led to feelings of less than acceptable, guilty, shame and failure. These feelings eventually brought me to my knees in prayer for forgiveness. I didn’t feel that I did anything wrong but I did give up the fight. I had been ignored for just so long. I had been disconnected for just so long and I had been cheated on one too many times. It was beyond repair and he wanted out so I gave up.sadness

My feelings of shame were not rooted in a willful act of rebellion against my God, or in intentional sin. For a long time I internalized a sense of shame and inadequacy and guilt. I felt I let my children down as well. If I had been a better wife, skinnier, more attentive, and more rugged or whatever he desired, maybe I could have held on longer; but that was just not the case.

Looking back, I can’t fully understand how I managed to blame myself or the fact that my husband was cheating on me, and that he left me. Now, when I look back, I can see that my sense of failure doesn’t really make sense. But at the time, it was powerful; so powerful that I fell into a depression.

For many who experience the trauma of being abandoned by a spouse, the first steps toward the healing should be seeking the counsel of a wise and caring friend, family member, a trained counselor, and Godly mentor. I had all of these. I became totally 100% dedicated and dependent on God. I tuned in every day. I stayed in the Word. I highlighted scriptures. I was driven to get down on my knees more than ever during that time in my life. He brought me to a place of peace and acceptance of myself. I watched Him perform miracle after miracle right before my eyes. I learned how to forgive, not only myself but him.

If you are struggling with this subject, please feel free to comment. I know every single emotion one can feel during divorce. I have met every emotion face to face sometimes kicking and spitting but I did it. I allowed myself to feel every emotion and heal from every emotion.

Choosing to remarry? Could that be right for you? Are you more complete if you are part of a two-in-one? Stay tuned and we’ll discuss this topic tomorrow as I share that experience as well.

What do you do when faced with so many decisions that need to be made? In my world right now, I have a ton of decisions to make and they are hitting me all at the same time. Why? I know the scripture about God won’t give me more than I can handle, however, my load is getting heavier and heavier.stressed-at-work-200x194

Unfortunately I usually get anxious before I allow the peace to calm the storm. Sometimes it’s a good anxiety, but right now, with the adjustments I’ve had to make with recent medications, I can’t really rely on my mind to make sound decisions at times.  But I do have a little list of what I do when times are so hard like this.

1)      I call a trusted friend. I ask if I can unload and I ask for prayer. Today I had the opportunity to meet with two very special women. We just melted into each other’s hearts and shared our sadness and our joys. I was able to let it all go and I trust them to continue to pray for my needs.

2)      I call my mom. She is 81 years old and the wisest woman on the planet. I can pretty much share with mom about anything. I can cry, laugh, share concern and she will always reply with “I will say a little extra prayer for you. Things always have a way of working out.”

3)      I chat with my oldest daughter. Although most can’t share with their children, I certainly can. My oldest daughter is probably the 2nd most-wisest woman on the earth and she can make the unhappiest person laugh. She has such an infectious comedy about her.

4)      I head into my prayer closet (any place alone with God) and just chat with Him. I tell Him everything that is going on and trust that he has the answers for me.

5)      I get into the Word. There’s nothing like reading the Bible when things are off-set in my life. I love to be reminded of the struggles of the men and women of the Bible and how God followed through with His promises. Look at Sara and having a child. I look at the provisions for Ruth, the Israelites in the wilderness heading to the Promised Land; Paul being set free, Jonah being sent out of the belly of a whale, Isaac not having to be sacrificed and how a ram appeared right in the nick of time. I am reminded of Joseph and his coat of many colors and the list goes on and on. God is about keeping His promises, so digging into the Word Keeps me grounded, focused and hungry for answers and peace.

 

Psalm 119:41-46 HCSB…Let Your faithful love come to me, Lord. Your salvation, as You promised. Then I can answer the one who taunts me, for I trust in Your word. Never take the word of truth from my mouth, for I hope in Your judgments. I will always obey Your instruction, forever and ever. I will walk freely in an open place because I seek Your precepts. I will speak of Your decrees before kings and not be ashamed. I delight in your commands which I love. I will lift up my hands to Your commands, which I love, and will meditate on Your statues. oops, I went to verse 48 but its soooooo good. women studying bible

 

What do you do when you feel the load is just a little bit too heavy?

The Slivers and Hours

stressed out moms

 

It’s that time of year again where we head out to the stores with our never-ending school supply list. We dash through the aisles, get to the check out only to find that we are one glue stick short. From there, we head over to the shoe store, buy all the necessary gym shoes, socks and back packs.

It’s so exciting to see our darling ones off the first day of school. As soon as we gently nudge them out the door, we sit back for a sec., take a deep breath and listen to the silence. We know this moment is short lived as there is a list to attend to.

Hours pass after you’ve clean up after breakfast, vacuumed, dusted, thrown in a few loads of laundry and picked up the dog from the groomer. When you walk in the house kicking the door shut, you load bags of groceries onto the counter while trying to hang onto Fido’s leash. Finally, letting the dog free, you flop into the chair to take a deep breath. Closing your eyes you hear, “Hi mom. What’s for snack?” In come the kids, salivating at the counter for a snack and sharing all about their day. Shoes get kicked off, back packs go flying and in between stories of the teachers and the new bus driver, you hear, “I need a poster board to make a family tree for tomorrow.” Tomorrow, you think. Are they serious? It’s just the first day of school. You quickly tuck the food into the refrigerator drawers, tell the kids to “load up” into the van, head to the store to get the poster board and head back home.

While you see the kids jumping on the trampoline, you start to brown the ground beef for sloppy Joe’s, yea, I know, not the healthiest meal but hey, it’s within budget. One moment you’re  at the stove the next your looking out the window and notice one child’s knee goes flying into the other’s head. You rush outside to check all wounds. Noticing that a knot is forming on the forehead, you instruct everyone to go into the house.

About a half hour has gone by and the fire alarm is going because now the ground beef is black and smoking. Yes, you were cooking on high heat because you needed to get dinner done quicker to allow time to do that poster board project. Ice is applied, burner is turned off and pizza delivery is called. Where was the peace in this day?

Did you know that there are hundreds of books on creating a peaceful home? I was glancing through a book called, “Peaceful Spaces; transform your home into a haven of calm tranquility.” It talks about natural fabrics to soothe your senses. Now I’m not disregarding the fact that having an organized home with soothing colors will emanate calmness, however, calmness comes from within, not through a variety of natural textures that are to deliver a haven of sensory pleasure. I’m just saying.

If I’m not speaking God’s peace into my own life, how will I have it? Not through my fabrics, the angle of my water fountain or how many times I clap along the wall. (Yes people do that). My declaration to myself is that God is supplying my peace. He is my Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord My Provider. He can supply peace within me during a very hectic crazy life. Speak peace into your life today and when you do, that will not only change how you feel, but will change your attitude about your crazy day.DogMeditation

The positive peace can lift your spirit. You can tuck those groceries away, make a snack, dash out with the kids to buy a poster board and create a great family tree project that will bring you all together in a project of peace.

Don’t lose hope. When I was younger I found those slivers of peace in my day. Now that my kids are all grown up and gone from home, I have hours of peace, but I also have hours of lonely time where I reflect on moments past. I thank God for the slivers and the hours.

What are You Thinking?

What’s Your Conscience Saying?

Even before I became a Christian, I had a conscience. If I did something wrong as a little girl, my conscience would bug me, wrestle with me until I would finally go tell mom that I did something wrong. I just don’t like it when I know I’ve done something wrong to someone. It bugs me and I have NO peace what-so-ever.

I think sometimes it has to do with whom I’m hanging out with. I can “follow the crowd” if I’m not careful and thoughtful of my words and actions. Jesus said in John 17:15 that we are to be IN the world but not OF the world. I am not praying that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, as I am not of the world; sanctify them by the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. I sanctify Myself for them so they also may be sanctified by the truth.

               We are different. Do people know that we are different? It can’t be because of the cross around our necks or the bumper stickers on our car. We have to be salt in the earth and people have to see that in our behavior. If our food is flavorless we will grab for the salt to season it, flavor it. If salt were to have no flavor, it’s bland and useless. God calls us to be salt of the earth, full of flavor. Matthew 5:13…13 You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. NIV. You can have a healthy conscience or an over-active conscience. I’ve succumbed to both many-a-times. I’ve had seasons where I’m skipping along with Jesus, my conscience is clear. Then there are times where I’m over conscious at to taking the blame for everything; feeling guilty for things I didn’t do. I went through that as a child and carried it into my adulthood. Finding the balance is difficult but it can be achieved if we stay in the Word and stay in prayer with God.

So, what if you have an un-peaceful conscience? I believe if you don’t have peace about what you are doing, then just don’t do it!!! I personally need to gain Godly peace before I can have a peaceful conscience. Have you recently let someone down, hurt someone or not backed out of a commitment you’ve made? I have and I have felt very guilty. But to make that wrong a right, all you have to do is get alone with God and say, “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that; then if God prompts you to, ask the person for forgiveness. It’s that simple.

I am at a time in my life, where I really want things right especially with God. If God has to tie me to the altar, that’s fine. I’d rather do that than walk away still messing up. When I went to church this past Sunday I received communion and it felt so right. I sat there and did not feed on a snack but received the whole meaty meal. I gleaned and soaked in everything that was said about being aware of my actions. Wouldn’t you know it, twice this week, I’ve been reminded about my conscience. Ouch! I’ve failed. Maybe I didn’t stay at the altar long enough? God, I’m sorry. I messed up. I said some things that I shouldn’t have. Please forgive me. It’s that easy.

Are you struggling with something you’ve said or done this week? Come and join us as we talk about it at Living by Grace. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Living-by-Grace.                                    living by grace

Five Thanks

 

One thing I’ve always had is a gratitude journal. I would jot down my little and big thanks daily. Somewhere along the years, I’ve gotten out of the habit. Not that I don’t softly whisper my thanks or in other times shout them out, but when I stay in the habit of writing them down, I can really stop and focus on the good in my life.

Think about it. How many things could you jot down each day? I’m not talking about the huge things like a raise, a new job; a successful surgery or the sale of your house, which are all awesome for sure. No, I’m talking about the little things like the ability to take a deep breath; enjoy that first sip of morning coffee, the birds that are greeting you with a soft song or the end of the day sun set. In short, there’s so much to be thankful for and without acknowledgment we are missing out.

Try it. Get out a notebook, doesn’t have to be fancy and start with just five things that you are thankful for. If you put your mind in a more thankful spirit, can you imagine the energy you will emanate today?

  1. Thank you for the sun today.
  2. Thank you for our community pool.
  3. Thank you for the day off to catch up on rest.
  4. Thank you for my little dog.
  5. Thank you for the laundry being done.

I could go on and on but I said five and I don’t want anyone to see my overachiever personality.

Today Dear Creator of the Universe, I thank you for the ability to share my thanks. May I walk in peace today with an open heart no matter what obstacle hits me. I pray that I will make this my new routine again.

Beth

Thumper?

“Thumper.” “Yes, mama.” “What did your father tell you?” Head down, kicking dirt, Thumper replied, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”  Do you ever hear that voice from the Almighty saying to you, “Beth…?” I do. I love that scene in the movie Bambi. Thumper was just rambling on and apparently said something he should not have said .                                                                                                     .thumper

What about us? Do we say things without thinking? Or, are there times that we intentionally say things because we are somehow in pain? Pain is real life and handing pain and our desire to get even over to God is very hard. But…it is the ONLY move to make when we’re trying to live our lives for God’s kingdom. Romans 12:17-21 tells us to never pay evil for evil. Revenge is never our prerogative. That’s God’s job and He does NOT need our help.

Have you ever had a pre-meditated revengeful thought and carried it out, only to find it didn’t work or really didn’t feel as good as you anticipated. I don’t know a lot of evil people but I do know some that just feel that getting even is the answer to every wrong that has happened to them. Now think about this….Think about co-workers that have wronged you, have taken the credit for something you did. Think about the X that walked out on you leaving you with little children and to top it off, didn’t pay the child support. Think about a loved one who either verbally or physically abused you. These are ALL legitimate reasons to want to get even. As frustrating and painful as these situations are, when we trust God with the situation, He gets at the core of the matter, enticing perfect justice.

I find now that I can give my anger over to God. It’s easier now in my 50’s then when I was in my 20’s and 30’s. I don’t know why because I still have situations that I get frustrated with but I guess I feel that I just need to live out the rest of my life in the positive. I’ve wasted enough precious time in life, focusing on the negative. How about you? No matter what age you are or what situation you are in, try to let go and let God.

Remember this, when you want to lash out or get even, Yahweh does His job in His timing. Proverbs 20:22 advises, “Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!’ Wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you.” (NIV)

What Are You Eating?

Eat this way and not that way! That’s the rage more now than ever. Try the low-carb diet, the Weight Watchers Diet, the Juice Diet, the Paleo Diet, and the many, many more diets. What are we coming to? You can’t be in line at the grocery store without reading things like, Boost your energy naturally, power salads, lower blood pressure, easy refreshing good for you deserts, Eat This Way and Never Diet Again, the #1 Plan to Follow, Light Food That Are Good For You, Lose 10 pounds in two Days, Vegan or Vegetarian…etc…What have we come to? Do we not know how to control ourselves? Obviously we don’t. We need hundreds of magazines with thousands of articles telling us how to lose weight, eat right, cook for healthy living etc.

Hey, I’m a 50-year-old woman who has struggled with her weight since she was in her 40’s and it is NOT easy losing weight especially as you get older. I have tried so many diets and so many of them have failed. Why? Why do we cave into those French fries, burritos or foot long sandwiches with extra sauce? Why is it even when we eat the light chips we feel we can eat the whole bag? No, I’m not talking the little bag either; I’m talking the jumbo size. We are like alcoholics looking for their next drink or smokers waiting to light up. We are addicted to FOOD and all kinds of food. “Hello, my name is Beth and I’m a…food addict.”

How many times have we eaten a meal and walked away feeling stuffed? You know, the kind of stuffed feeling we feel when we eat a Thanksgiving Meal? Hand up if it’s once a week. Hands up if it’s a couple times a week. Hands up if it’s once a day. I would most certainly be the couple to three times a week. My husband would most likely be the once a day. Yup, admitting our eating habits; and they’re not that great. I do eat healthy too. I do eat my veggies and fruit and my legumes etc. But…I will over eat on that too. Listen at my age it’s more important that I just not fit into those skinny jeans, it’s about feeling focused, energized, and in control. Yes, I do want to look good as well.

Is it cravings? Um, no I don’t necessarily go into crave mode. I just forget to stop eating when I’m full. I get so caught up in laughter and conversation around the table that it’s when I finally start to notice the top button of my pants stretching and ready to go pop.  I look down and go“Uh oh, I’m over full.” I need a breakthrough; a release of this ugly beast hovering over me. Now Beth, just rise up and say, “This is my time. This is my time to get a hold of this irrational way of eating and take control.” I hear myself speaking that over my body.

I had a breakthrough today. I asked in faith, “God, help me to make it my time. Help me today to take the steps of faith to pursue new thoughts of eating. Help me to become everything you have created me to be and to realize that this body is YOUR temple and I shall take care of it. I shall value it more and I shall give it to you; every temptation will be given to you. I read once in one of Joel Osteen’s books, not sure which one but it said, “Every setback means you’re one step closer to seeing the dream come to pass.” So today I shake off my past disappointments and create a fresh new vision for my life.

Who’s in with me? Who wants to take control over their eating habits? Who just wants to make a new commitment to themselves and try again? Don’t just sit there and read this while eating some cupcakes, put them down, wash your hands, take a walk and ask God for help. I’m in it with you…all the way baby. I’ve weighed in and get this…I found a little child’s portion plate and that’s what I’m going to use for a while. What are you going to do? Let me know. Share with the readers what is going to work for you to overcome your bad eating habits? I can’t wait to read your victory story.

Beth

Do You Pray?

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Do You Pray?

Do you pray? Every day? Several times during the day? Only when you want something or someone is in need? I would have to say I do all of those and am not the most consistent person when it comes to praying. I am also like half a million other Christians, who desires a more meaningful and deeper prayer life.

I believe that the practice of the Master’s (God’s) demanding relationship with his students (us) offers a significant opportunity to those who wish to pray deeply. Experienced direction in all religions helps the disciple. In my younger experience as a Catholic we reverenced the idea of prayer but not Bible reading. We had retreats, days of recollection, seminars, and sermons on how to discuss methods of prayer. Years later as a born again Christian, we do the same thing and despite all of this, we still don’t pray consistently and methodically, and we often feel confused about how to pray. I know I often feel guilty for not praying as I should.  Does this cause me to keep from asking for help on how I should be praying? Is there one special way? There are so many books out there on prayer. Believe me, I’m a librarian and I see how many are on the shelves in the 248 non-fiction section.

I recently read something that I’d like to share with you. Bear with me, please. In Zen Spirit, Christian Spirit; The Place of Zen in Christian Life by Robert E. Kennedy, this topic is discussed. He writes, “If a not-too-determined Christian were to ask a Zen teacher to teach her to meditate, the conversation might go like this:

CHRISTIAN: Sensei, I hear you are skilled in mediation. I am interested in meditation and wonder if we could talk about it sometime?

ZEN TEACHER: Of course! Let us sit and meditate together.

CHRISTIAN: That would be wonderful. When can we do this?

ZEN TEACHER: Right now! Let’s begin.

CHRISTIAN: Right now? But where?

ZEN TEACHER: Right here! On this cushion!

CHRISTIAN: Here? For how long?

ZEN TEACHER: All day, let’s begin.

CHRISTIAN: Here? Now? All day? On this cushion?

ZEN TEACHER: Of course, you said you were interested.

CHRISTIAN: Well, yes, but I hadn’t planned to do it just now. I thought we could talk about it and I could hear about your experience.

ZEN TEACHER: Let’s begin. Do it! Do it now!”

Now replace the Zen Teacher with the Lord Almighty. I believe it would go something like this:

Christian: Lord I want to pray better.

God: Okay, let’s begin.

Christian: Right now? I thought I would just wine to you and share my intentions right now.

God: Yes my child, right here and right now.

Christian: But, I don’t know what to say.

God: Just listen

To follow God and to seek His direction on prayer, we must be still and alert, ready and willing. We have to stop, meditate on Him and listen. When I truly take the time to quiet myself and be ready for God to speak, there is truly a transformation of my human heart, which, in its time and in its way, will lead me irresistibly into a relationship, a very familiar relationship with Jesus. Then my prayers flow because I am listening. How about you? I ask again, do you pray? How do you pray? What kind of prayer is most effective to you? Please share your insights on prayer. Thank you, Beth.