Memory Monday

Memory Monday
What do you need to remember today? Is it a meeting with your boss? Is it to pick up your prescriptions, stop at the grocery store to get milk, take the kids to soccer practice or visit with your friend for coffee? If you are anything like me, you are usually trying to remember several things at one time. It does not matter how many calendars I jot things down on, I am usually bound to forget things.
Today, in the process of trying to remember my next thing to do, I forgot where I parked my car. There I was in the middle of a huge parking lot looking for my little white car. I didn’t realize there were so many little white cars available to a consumer until this moment. I have a car that does NOT have a car alarm. I chose it that way and up until now, it had proven to be a good choice.
I’m in the parking lot I am starting to feel paralyzed by panic. Where in the world is my car? I am becoming plagued with fear. Do I start to walk the parking lot like a frantic dog looking for its owner? How embarrassing! Panic has wrapped itself around my legs. My heart is beating like I’ve run a marathon. It was a year ago this Halloween that I had my little white Volkswagen BUG stolen. It was taken from me in broad daylight in the parking lot of the public library I work for. I remember walking out of the library going to my normal parking spot, looking for my car. I thought maybe I walked to work that day, but no. I walked back inside the library and my co-workers asked what was wrong. I replied with tears running down my cheeks, “My car has been stolen.” Before I knew it, one co-worker was out in the back of the parking lot, another was in the front of the parking lot and yet another was on the phone with the police. I was instructed to go to the police department to fill out a report. The funny part, if you can find anything funny to this story was that, I was dressed up like a gangster for Halloween so here I was, driving my co-workers car, crying as I walked into the police department…looking like a crying gangster. Long story made short, they found my car, my bug that I had waited so many years to have, smashed downtown. Three days later, I had to go to the tow lot and identify the body. I remember I had to get into this prisoner-like van with a strange elderly man who grumbled, “You have three minutes to get your belongings.” There I was face to face with my car. I was paralyzed. I turned around and said, “I don’t want anything.”

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Having gone through all of that almost a year ago, my panic NOW is NOT senseless. I am closing my eyes, taking a moment to ask God for my car. Please calm my nerves Lord and help me find my little car. Faith time God. Please take control and I will put my trust and faith in your eyes not mine. Breathe steadily and focus. Alas, there it was, my little car; it had been blocked in by two huge vans and one gigantic truck so no wonder why I couldn’t find it. Okay, they weren’t that big; I just truly had a senior moment and was trying to remember too many things at once.
Today, for a little while, I was a laboratory for a faith experiment. Did I pass the test? I don’t know. Did I cuss? NO! Did I cry and allow the panic to overtake me into a huge panic attack? NO! Did I ask for God’s help in faith? YES. I passed.
Monday’s Memory: One step equals one move in one positive direction.
Yet the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen [you] and set you on a firm foundation and guard you from the evil [one]. 2 Thessalonians 3: 3

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Working Our Way Free

Has panic got you today? Are you unsure as to why? Panic has a way of handcuffing us and we feel there is no way out without the key, however, we’re uncertain of where the key is.
So many times in life our pulling in panic only tightens the cuffs even more, until they are so tight that the pain is unbearable. If we lean into Christ and share with him as to what is gripping us, or just lean in for relief, He will help us to work our way free. He loves us so much and does not want us in a panic.

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Life has so many gripping moments; sometimes so painful that we dig ourselves into a hole. But we don’t have to keep any of it alive. Look at the life of Job. He wasn’t that patient especially during horrifying circumstances. He was a rich man who suddenly lost his flocks, all ten of his children and eventually his health. With stressors like that, pursuing patience wasn’t at the top of his list. He wanted justice, and he had a few choice words for God about it. Satan told God that if he were to take away everything he had, he would surely curse God. So God allowed Satan to test Job’s faith. How did Job respond? “The LORD gave me everything I had, and the LORD has taken it away,” Praise the name of the LORD! Job 1:21.
There is a limit to our human understanding but we don’t have to be caught up in the panic of the unknown. In our release, we begin again. Every time you and I reach for God, we begin again. When we do we dig our way out from the holes we have built in our own yards, no longer feeling anxious and isolated.

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Sometimes things happen in my life that I think God shouldn’t have allowed and sometimes I feel my cries and laments go unnoticed. But…I don’t let my panic throw me into a chasm of distress or despair. Look at Isaiah 40:27. Put your name in the place of Israel and Jacob then read the verses 28-31.
Why do you complain, Beth? Why do you say, Beth, my way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He will not grow tired. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.”

Beth’s interpretation: They won’t panic!!!

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Beloved, your strength will be renewed. You will break those handcuffs while you wait for the LORD. You will gain new strength. You will run and not get tired; you will walk and not become weary.

Did you know that an eagle does not soar because its wings are so strong. An eagle soars because it is lifted by the updrafts when it spreads its wings. Those who wait for the Lord, who learn to spread their wings, will be lifted and will soar not in their strength but in God’s.

Dear God,
You constantly open the cuffs of panic but somehow I seem to put them back on. Forgive me when I my trust dwindles and thank you for renewed strength.

Shedding Skin

Decisions, Decisions!
Oh Lord, I have some decisions to make. I’m not sure what way to go. What do you do when you’re backed into a corner, needing to make a decision or two and you feel anxious and can’t decide?
As I was walking this morning, my inner voice kept saying, “be patient with the unsolved decision to be made and try to love the question instead.” I know God has given me this trial to draw me closer, to lean in more and trust HIS deity.GE DIGITAL CAMERA
I can trust in God, I can detach from the anxiety and not go underground. I have learned throughout my life that when I go through trials, no matter how deep they are, living is a process of constantly paring down until I carry only what is essential. I want my human journey in this natural world to be Christ centered. I vow that my decision will be Christ ordained, I will remain in Him and trust. As my center grows stronger (through being in the Word of God) I feel that what was once protective turns into a covering like a snake-skin. The covering will be shed as I walk more and more with God, allowing me to move deeper and deeper in faith where God makes me one with myself.

If you are facing a big decision, bring all of it to God. In truth, always needing to stay close to God helps us remove what we believe is essential, is no longer necessary. Giving up with reverence and compassion to what no longer works in our lives will gracefully cause us stay closer to our Sacred Savior.

Isaiah 30:21 ESV…And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.”
Oh Lord, I pray that we would walk in your way today, shedding all of the dead skin that keeps us from your presence. Amen.
Come join us for the discussion at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Living-by-Grace/208718449189065.living by grace

Approval

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Do you feel that there are times in your life that need no confirmation? Or, are you all about needing confirmation for everything you do? I didn’t load the dishwasher tonight just because…I ate a bowl of ice-cream today just because…I stayed in my jammies all day today and read just because…There simply are things in our life that we can do that need no confirmation. But, what if we take that just a little too far?

What happens when we chose to exercise our right to not do something just because…and we know better? What if we neglected to visit our elderly friend just because…What if we ate a whole pizza to ourselves just because…What if we didn’t answer that phone call from our needy neighbor just because…There are things in our day that we chose not to do just because. Everyone has them and we need to be very careful that they do not take over our being. You may say, “I don’t have to justify my actions,” but I say, “yes you do; yes I do.” It’s okay to take a time out from time to time to refresh the body and soul but don’t stay out too long.

There is a fierce mystic named William Blake who once said, “There is no greater act than putting another before you.” God tells us numerous times in the Bible to serve one another. 1Peter 4:10 As each of us has received a gift, Use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. ESV

This should speak to our selfish being and realize this does matter. We need to give to the base of meaningful love because God instructs us and we DO need HIS confirmation. We need to hear, “job well done my good and faithful servant.” But, not for our sake, but for HIS because everything we do is to bring HIM glory and honor.

Somehow in the course of learning this we lag behind. We don’t have all of the answers we would like, but we do have the promise that God is going to work all things out for His glorious plan, despite our obedience, and His glorious plan is far better than what we have planned. There is work in your life…begin with it. Keep your eyes on Him, His approval. It’s having Jesus to guide us through both the good and bad times that makes us so sure.

Dear Lord, as I go throughout my day today, I pray that I would see the opportunities to serve you and look for your approval and not man’s. I pray that I would not stay in a time-out for too long. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Compassion Ministry

 

Poverty is not necessarily an issue to solve; it is an opportunity to serve. As we go through each day, our heart’s cry should be, Lord, where would you have me give, serve, and invest myself to bring hope to the poor?
~Orphan Justice Author, Johnny Carr

I had to give the above quote some serious thought. I had a friend say the other day that it was time for a vacation. I responded with, “You bet but I’m flat broke.” Am I? What is flat broke in my world versus flat broke in the world of those who are starving, live in lean-tos’ and have no drinking water?

If I attend one more function where so much food is thrown out, I am going to scream. This applies to attending my own dinner table as well. I can’t throw away left-over’s when there are so many starving. I am in the beginning of studying the Purpose Driven Life with a group of very wonderful women and it has taught me to put others before myself and serve.

We have a huge food pantry at our church and I am so thankful that there is an opportunity to work there, but have I volunteered? Not yet, I have not. Compassion Ministry is such a wonderful faith-based ministry for the starving who don’t have access to the food pantry, the soup kitchen, or the bread ministry. There are no shelters for them to crawl into when the temperatures run low or air conditioners to run when temperatures run high. Compassion International exists as a Christian child advocacy ministry that releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults.

Think of your own children or grandchildren. Think about how they can choose what to wear, what car to ride in to get to school, what kind of back pack to carry and what shoes to wear. Do you give any thought as to giving up an evening out to dinner with the family to sponsor a child in need? I go back to the quote above by John Carr…Where are you to serve? If you feel you are to help out with this ministry, I urge you to go to www.compassion.com and follow the links on how you can help. Remember, all it takes is just a little bit of sacrifice of your own life to their life. Think of what Jesus did for you in order for you to have what you have.

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Rough Waters

 

It doesn’t take very long for each of us to accumulate an emotional history. It begins at a young age and remains long. Our emotional associations run deep.

I was a very sick child that spent numerous over-night stays in the hospital. I hated when the nurses would close the door at night. To this day, I have to sleep with the door open; at least a little bit. My mom used to crush my medications into vanilla ice-cream or applesauce because I couldn’t swallow pills. To this day I don’t like vanilla ice-cream or applesauce. Have you ever had a scent take you back in time? Our associations travel with us throughout time.

To see myself clearly, and figure out these associations that I carry, I have to still them and be as transparent as a peaceful lake. When someone moves in to touch my associations, they stir things up sending out ripples and like most people, I don’t like when the waters are rough.  This picture is of the lake in Maine that I have spent my summers since I was only 3 years old. Most mornings this lake is as calm as glass and then there are times when it’s as rough as an ocean. Either way though, it is crystal clear.clear water

No one can escape their emotional associations, but we can remain long enough to allow the ripples to calm. No matter how much of an expert you may think that you are on relationships, no one is free of ripples in their still waters. God never leaves us in the rough waters. We can know where the world is headed and not be shaken by what we see in us and around us.

God never promises us that we will live a calm ripple-free life. Our ripples come and shake us up a bit, but, then we surrender and in come the still waters, the calm waters. We have to allow God to come in through His Holy Spirit and work on us. He works on our associations to expose us and teach us how to know ourselves and others more clearly.

If you, too, will learn to wait upon God during those rough storms, to get alone with Him, and to remain silent so that you can hear His voice when He is ready to speak to you, what a difference it will make in your life. I’m learning that more and more every day. The word of God clearly state over and over that Jesus Christ is coming to the earth “a second time…to those who eagerly await Him” (Hebrews 9:28).

Lord, don’t remove my emotional history; rather teach me from the fears to the tender moments of time. Allow every deep breath and exhalation to feel the depth of your love and my heart that waits below.

Psalm 23: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, leads me beside still waters; He restores my soul.

Touch

 

Are you afraid of being touched? I remember when each one of my children was born and I couldn’t wait to touch them. I loved touching their little fingers and toes. I mean come on, what other bare feet can you stick up to your nose and kiss?

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Touching shows affection; we all need that. There are also many other reasons for wanting to be touched but the simplest is that touch heals us. The gentle touch is a relaxing, form of therapy. Gentle touch assists in balancing your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Some say that touching works with your energy field to support your natural ability to heal. We’ve all known that a nice massage relaxes us, a rub on your shoulders takes the stress away, and the gentle hand holding emanates love.

Jesus touched and healed.  Jesus healed a blind man; He healed the Leper in Galilee; Peter’s mother-n-law sick with fever in Capernaum; Jairus’ daughter, the woman with the blood issue and so much more.  Jesus’ touch is always HEALING.

Beneath all language, touch is the common gesture, the energy that connects all that lives inside of us as well as outside.

Often we are afraid to let others touch us, afraid to let them into our vulnerability being afraid of getting hurt. Touch is the salve we seek for the pains we have. In order to apply the salve, we have to accept the touch. When I think about it; the need to be touched is never really in question, anymore than the question of needing to breathe.

When my sweet dad was on mega doses of morphine before passing away, I just held his hand. I knew he felt the touch of love and allowance to leave this world. I needed the touch as much as I believe he did.

Beneath all of our worries and fears of being hurt or rejected, way deep down there awaits a deep and simple pulse that we need each other; we need a hug, a stroke of a hand, gentle kiss or pat on the back.  When you’re feeling that emptiness inside try to:

  • Enter into your quiet zone with Christ. Allow Him to touch your heart with His Spirit.
  • Allow God to touch on a pain that has been difficult to bear.
  • Take the time to hug someone and be hugged back; family, friends or your furry four-legged friend.

 

I have a little furry four-legged friend named Peek. She loves to cuddle and snuggle. She is most definitely a lap dog and when in bed, she curls right up to my body. Last night after working on this article, I felt the need to curl up to my husband. No sooner did I get snuggled and get relaxed into a peaceful sleep, Peek climbed up and got between us. We laughed. I guess she needed to be touched as well.GE DIGITAL CAMERA

Feel the joy that touch releases. It bleeds the heart of its pressure. There is no promise of tomorrow, so hug someone today.

I’m Sorry….

 

I’m Sorry. Ugh, why it that those two words are so hard to choke out at times? I can go on and on and know that deep down inside of me, I need to be apologizing but I can’t get the words out. Am I talking to any of you in this conversation? Can you raise your hand and bow your head? What do you do when you know you need to apologize and yet you don’t do it, or it takes you forever to apologize?  MP900385327

I think that when our tender hearts hurt we feel we can lash out and retaliate. “That’s just the way that I am.” No! If you’re that way, then change it! He who is in you is greater than he who is greater in the world. 1John 4:4

I am so surprised at the aftereffects of being hurt deeply. I can hurt and be disappointed and then quickly chew on something else; seldom allowing my pain to be completely digested. I think much of my confusion in life is due to giving my attention to the next feeling too soon. Every feeling lingers in the remnants of the feelings that are not finished with me yet. Don’t spend so much time bouncing from emotion to emotion. Give guided energy (not just time) but guided energy from the Holy Spirit. May I suggest the following when your emotions are bouncing all over:

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  • Sit quietly before God & focus on one feeling at a time. Ask Him to speak to you, soothe you and teach you.
  • Deep breathe, tend to whatever emotions are still lingering and affecting you.
  • Blow out the pain. Do not leave this moment with God until you can face your emotions with confidence and peace.
  • Recite scripture; allow the Words that were breathed by our God to be healing for you.

Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble. Proverbs 21:23 ESV

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Romans 12:1-21 ESV

Seeing God in Surprising Places, even in church!

I am a non-denominational woman. I have been to Methodist, Presbyterian, Catholic, Baptist, Assembly of God, Christian church etc. I’ve seen many a-miracles happen in each one. I have seen parishioners prayed for and God met them and their need. I have see kids programs grow and I have hosted many teen revivals where some have accepted Christ. I love CHURCH. I love the music; traditional or contemporary or just the piano; it’s all good. I love a good message preached by a pastor or priest. CHURCH is in my blood and I love to be there.

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What I don’t like and frankly am tired of, is hearing the people in church say ignorant things in the name of Christianity and there’s LOTS of that in MANY churches and may I dare to say in EVERY church. I have heard holy rolling preachers who want to burn the Koran, televangelists who claim natural disasters are the will of God and Christians who respond to the pain of a diseased friend with a lecture about behavior. Sometimes this is all discussed while serving in the nursery. Come on folks.
But; what irritates me the most is when a person has ONE bad experience with a church and paints all of Christianity with the same brush. It’s not right. People, please listen to me, you can’t say you want to go to a church like mine but don’t attend. You can’t criticize my church but don’t bother to go to your own. We have become a body that criticizes others’ faith that departs from sound doctrine in favor of easy answers. Okay, confession time…I’ve been there a time or two.
Perhaps you join me in the fight not to criticize others in their faith. There are times I can hardly live up to the best of my own faith. Perhaps the people who have irritated me the most are the ones that have exposed me to my own hypocrisy?
How about you? I know that I can’t do this religion thing by myself. I need the body of Christ, the church community by my side; no criticism, pure love and connection…A place to lay it all down and meet with God. So rather than point fingers at what church is best, let’s just recite a simple little prayer, for peace and thanksgiving:
God is good; God is great let us thank Him for our church!!!

In just a few weeks Pastor Appreciation Month will begin. Be thankful for that seat in which you sit every Sunday. Be thankful that you pastor or priest has been called to do what he does and loves his congregation. Spread some love and be less critical.

Bothersome Thoughts

 

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What do you do when you wake up Monday morning and things aren’t the way you thought they would be? Where do you turn?

I awoke early this morning with some anxiety. I don’t know why so I chose to get up and spend some time in the Word. I am participating in the Purpose Driven Life Bible Study and decided to read today’s lesson. God gently talked to me where I was at; in the big oversized chair, with my coffee , journal and dog.

Some days I wake up wondering what my purpose is, and what’s next. It is especially hard right now in my life because one, my kids are all grown up so they are not the center of my focus. Two, I’m only working part-time right now and with free time on my hands I struggle with what to do and three, I’m still dealing with health issues.

I read something very bothersome this morning that I’d rather not share right now, but it’s eating away at my heart. It’s causing me to dig deep inside and seek God. Thank you for that Lord. There was a time in my life, when if I had doubts that I would just crumble and slide into a funk. Today, I am seeing the will of God over this situation.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Matt 5:6-8

I am hungering and thirsting this morning. I want righteousness to be a passion of my life. I want to be driven by it. I think there is some schedule changing, attitude changing and some life rearranging to be done right now. The first step is admitting that I need to be more connected with Jesus. Not just in my writing, but my very being. What about you? Are you hungry and thirsty? What are you doing?

Heavenly Father, increase my desire for good things. Give me a heart to long for righteousness, to think critically without being critical, to examine myself that I might be in a position to offer help to others. Forgive me for falling short of my own standard, and help me to forgive others who have. Help me to hold myself to my own standards without hypocrisy while offering grace to those who don’t fulfill my expectations. Grant me the desire to pursue hard after You-to keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking. In the Precious Name of Jesus, amen.