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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

More Joy


I didn't get back to posting more joy imagery as quickly as I had originally intended, but I want to add a few more photos tonight, so I can at least say I updated my blog. I'm including some of my nature photos, among others. Taking pictures of flowers and animals and other things I find in nature really makes me appreciate creation and the Creator so much more. What a beautiful and awesome world we live in.



I took the photo at the top of this page in a field near my house that I used to drive by every day when heading to work. I'd look out and see all the wildflowers, and I hoped that I would get back there one weekend morning to get some good shots. I made it one beautiful, windy Saturday morning about a week before they mowed the field down. The photo directly above was taken at my in-law's ranch. It's one of the trees growing at the end of their driveway; there are several, and when they are blooming, they are so very pretty. You can get a lot of great nature shots out at their place.  


These are some tomatoes from one of two plants I grew a couple summers ago. It was just too darned hot this summer. We don't really have a great spot for gardening, so I grew these in a pot right outside the back door. We had to raise it up off the ground so the bunnies couldn't get to it. It's amazing how good fresh fruit tastes, especially when you grow it yourself.


Speaking of bunnies, here's a young one that was in our front yard recently. I know some people here get tired of them since there are so many, but we like to see them. In fact, I put old veggies, bread and stale crackers out whenever I can so they have something to nibble on. Lil' Dawg (or Little, as I call him) likes to chase them when he goes out back, but they have holes to get out the fence, and he never does catch them.


And, speaking of holes in the fence, this is our neighbor-dog Leo, an over-sized yorkie. He likes to put his nose through the fence to say hi to Little when they're both out back. Leo isn't too happy these days, because his owners recently brought home a cute little girl yorkie named LuLu, and she is a bit too active for his taste. He just wants to hang out, and she wants to play. Luckily, she can't quite get through the fence ... or we might just end up keeping her. :)


The other day when I was out running errands, I came across this cart in front of the Family Health Market. I just loved the old-fashioned look of the cart full of blooming flowers, especially since we are now in the fall season and this kind of stuff won't last much longer. I snapped a photo in front of the store after picking up Bart's protein powder.


Which leads me to a photo of Bart. This is a good shot from when we were visiting his son Noah in Florida earlier this year. Bart definitely makes my joy list, and I'm happy to be able to add him to my post.

Well, I guess this will be the last image I'll post for the night so I can get to bed. It's already past my bedtime. And I definitely need and appreciate a good night's sleep. Sweet dreams, ya'll. :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Live with Joy

“Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.”
~ Mother Theresa

Today's post is more about visuals than words. In our busy lives, I think many of us forget way too often to think about and enjoy the many blessings that we have - the things scattered throughout our lives that bring us JOY.

If you know me, you know I love photography, mostly taking nature photos. Creation is such a wonderful subject matter. But I love collecting images of family and friends too. Taking photos is one thing that brings me joy. But one of the other BIG things that gives me joy is family.

There is no way I could capture ALL of the images here that make me smile, but I have tried to compile as many photos as I could into mini-collages of LOVE. [Finding all these photos takes time. So, this is just the start. I will post a part 2 with more images. And there may even be a part 3.] I hope you enjoy them.






What are some of the things that bring you joy?










Saturday, August 6, 2011

Getting Back on the Horse


Okay, so my last post was in May, and at that time, I stated that I wanted to take my blog in a different direction. Meanwhile, the direction appears to have been nowhere. But appearances can be deceiving. I really have been thinking about it a lot. And I've come up with several topics that I want to write about.

A recent start-up blog by my friend Jane encouraged me to quit just hanging around the barn watching everyone else and get back on the horse. (To my in-laws - that's figuratively speaking, of course; you know I don't really like to get on the horses.) In fact, the format of Jane's blog inspired me as well - short and sweet.  I have to remind myself that every post doesn't have to be a chapter in a novel.

So anyway, stay tuned. No, really. I have some ideas about posting photos to share some of the things that bring me joy. I want to write a little bit about creativity (I finally got back into working on some of my crafts today - yay!). I'd like to share some thoughts and perspectives on how I cope with Fibro (or sometimes how I'm not coping, whatever the case may be). And I've got several other ideas brewing, but I don't want to give all my thoughts away just yet. (Of course, I did write them down because my memory isn't what it used to be. Well, okay, another admission to those who don't know me that well ... other than my awesome memory for work details, the rest of my memory has never been so hot.)

And to my loyal followers - please try to comment now and then. It helps us bloggers know that people really are reading and that what we type/write isn't just for our own amusement/pleasure/edification/education/(insert your own word here). You can become a follower if you have a yahoo account; and even if you don't have a yahoo account, you can add a comment by selecting "anonymous" - but then I would appreciate it if you would add your name at the end of your comment so I know who you are. Thanks so much.

I look forward to sharing more with you soon.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What Do I Hope to Accomplish?

I've been thinking a lot about my blog lately. I'm not sure yet if I have really found "my voice" or my niche. I've been struggling with figuring out what works best for me on posting specific topics or following certain formats. I believe, for the most part, that some of my content has been good and valid, but it also seems like what I have been writing is more appropriate for a paper for school rather than something directly from my heart. And I have been more worried about consistency rather than connecting. I don't want my posts to seem like I am giving a lecture or a sermon (although many a good sermon has changed lives). :) But I would like for people to want to read what I write.

So far, with most of my past blog posts, I have pre-written my copy over a few weeks time, collecting quotes and reworking the text every time I open the Word document. When I'm about done with the copy, I begin looking for photos. Sometimes it takes me longer to post something because I haven't found the "right" images yet. I copy and paste the words into my blog and then format it, making sure to start with a photo and Scripture and end with a photo and Scripture. How crazy is that? Why do I feel all my posts need to look the same? I guess it's the Editor in me.

Anyway, just to let you know where I am at right now, what I am writing today is fresh and current and off the top of my head. I have not pre-written any of this, but of course, I've given it some thoughtbecause I'm the type of person who mulls a lot of things over ... and over. And I will go back and correct things while I'm working on this because I'm a perfectionist. Sometimes that's a good thing; sometimes not so much.

My other faultwell, one of manyis that I compare myself to other writers. I read several other blogs and devotionals each week and there are many that just blow me away. They are so real and so relevant and so wonderfully written. But I know that I have my own gifts and I am not supposed to be like anyone else. However, I can learn some things from other writers. A post by Lysa Terkeurst really spoke to me recently: Lysa Terkeurst, I don't want to be a writer.

Basically, she said "there's a difference between writing and connecting. ... Connecting is crafting words with movement. Words that stir and pop and buzz and linger and best of all mess with the reader." See, that's what I really want to be doing. I want to mess with you. Well, really, I want to make people who read my blogs think. I want to encourage my readers, to help people move toward or move past something. I want what I write to be meaningful, but still real, and still a part of me. I want to connect with others and have them connect with me. 

So, today's post is my first attempt at figuring out what I hope to accomplish with my blog and creating motion, which will lead to emotion. And I will try to reign myself in. Instead of trying to make too many points and losing readers, I will file some of thoughts away. Heck, I only have a few followers anyway, and most are family members. I don't want to lose the readers I have.

One last note, and I promise I will close today's post out. Or as a friend often says a little too late in the conversation, "Long story short..." :) The title of my blog is Everyday Moments: Celebrating Life, Love, and Laughter. To me, that sounds like it should be a lot more lighthearted than the messages have been up to this point. I'm not saying I won't tackle serious issues about life in future posts. But, I'd like to share a little bit more of the love and laughter parts. So, stay tuned for future posts. Hopefully, you will enjoy them and you will learn a little bit more about me.

So, what can I tell you about myself or my life? What do you want to know? How can I connect better with you?  

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Anxiety and Peace

I totall love this post from Roy Lessin and had to share it here since it ties in so well with the message of peace I posted the other day.


Anxiety and Peace
from Roy Lessin
Meet Me in the Meadow
http://roy.dayspring.com/2011/02/anxiety-and-peace.html

Anxiety tells you that you are in a situation that is too big for God to handle;
Peace assures you that nothing is too hard for the Lord.

Anxiety assumes the worst will happen;
Peace affirms the best is yet to be.

Anxiety points you to your inadequacy;
Peace confirms that God’s grace is sufficient.

Anxiety causes you to panic;
Peace causes you to be still.

Anxiety shows you your lack;
Peace points you to God’s supply.

Anxiety warns of defeat and failure;
Peace proclaims God’s victory and success.

Anxiety causes you to strive;
Peace causes you to rest.

Anxiety says “You will be carried away by the storm;”
Peace says “Your anchor holds.”

Anxiety fills you with darkness;
Peace floods you with light.

Anxiety tells you to first seek a solution;
Peace tells you to first seek the Kingdom.

Anxiety tells you, you won’t make it;
Peace assures you, God will bring you through.

Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Luke 12:24-26, Matthew 6:33 NKJV





Monday, April 18, 2011

Peace

My sister Brenda and her daughter, Gentry

“These things I have spoken to you,
so that in Me you may have peace.
In the world you have tribulation, but take courage;
I have overcome the world.” John 16:33


How do you tell someone who just lost a son or a daughter, a spouse, or a friend that it is part of God’s plan and that eventually they will have peace about it? How does someone who daily deals with disease find peace throughout the long battle? How do you get through those difficult trials and storms of everyday life? What do you have to do or how long do you have to wait until that “magic” moment comes when despite the emotional or physical pain you are suffering, you feel that soothing sense of peace and perspective?

“Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

We often rely on family and friends to get us through tough times, to help us weather life’s storms. The things that they do for us can be a blessing and are often uplifting, at least momentarily—sending cards, emails, text messages, books, notes of encouragement, music CDs, food. Sometimes those are the very things that give you the strength to get out of bed and get through the day. But if you don’t actively pursue peace, although you may be sustained for a while, you won’t easily move beyond the storm to the still waters where you will find peace and serenity. Waiting for the storm to pass can take time and it can be hard.

“But nothing is hopeless. Every hurt can become a treasure. Every ending is the beginning of a fresh start. Every tear is the watering of new growth. And the only moment that truly lasts forever is the one where we say yes. Yes, Lord, you are my faithful friend — my God in whom I trust.” (C Michelle Bryant, allaboutreflections.org/finding-peace)

“I lift my eyes to the hills — where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1–2

When you are ready to move past the turmoil, there is one reliable Counselor who is always ready to listen to you and walk with you and help you in your time of need, and that is Jesus. Maybe you’ve heard it said that you can cast your burdens on Him and He will carry them. But understand this: it doesn’t mean that He will take away the troubles or the pain. He will, however, lighten our loads so that we are able to bear them, day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. All you have to do is ask.

“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in his good time he will honor you. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you.” 1 Peter 5:6–7

Sometimes, you don’t know how to ask or even what to ask for. After grieving or suffering for a while, you may feel disconnected from God, like He has been distant. When most likely you may have been distant from Him. Sometimes the shroud of grief or the pain of an illness or maybe the intensity of anger or hurt makes it hard for us to see Him.

“My love for you is constant: I am the same yesterday, today, and forever. It is you who change like shifting sand, letting circumstances toss you this way and that.” (Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, April 8)

“Jesus purposed to find peace among the pandemonium [of His time]. Likewise in the Old Testament, the Psalmists often list peace, calm, and quiet as gifts given to those who earnestly seek the Lord and desire to walk in His ways.” (Karen Ehman, Drowning In or Drowning Out Distractions?, Encouragement for Today, Proverbs 31 Ministries, April 8, 2011)

If you continue to seek God during your life storm and cling to Him, you may just wake up one day and feel an unexplainable peace. You’ve heard about the “calm before the storm,” but you can also find calm again after a storm. Perhaps nothing has changed about your situation, but one day you'll just get this wonderful sense of God’s awesome presence, His power, and His love. The fog of despair lifts and you see a glimpse of sunshine. My friend Jacquelyn experienced something like that; see her recent Facebook post below.


Jacquelyn Spencer (FB post 4/2/11)
It's interesting how this week started off so scary b/c of the "facts re: my liver biopsy." And even though the facts remain the same & are even a little more "real" 2 me being that I'm now on the harsher chemo & unsure of the future...God has given me HIS PERFECT PEACE! What a blessing to go from FEAR (that does NOT come from The Lord) to COMPLETE PEACE in a short time solely B/C OF JESUS OUR LORD!

The only antidote to fear is faith. The courage to face our storms is not something we find within ourselves. It is the result of faith and purpose: “Drowning in so many daily distractions can keep us from hearing God's voice. Let's purpose together to drown out our distractions instead, and tune in to the life-giving Word. He is the only steady source from which we can ever find true and lasting peace.” (Karen Ehman, Drowning In or Drowning Out Distractions?)

“The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

Bart’s niece LeAnne wrote one of her school papers about how she is dealing with the recent loss of her cousin, Joshua: “…the way I have started to and will continue to heal from my pain and go on in life, is by trusting in God and completely relying on Him. …
To get through this tough time, ... I pray. Praying brings me closer to God, and lets me get out my feelings. I talk through the pain I am feeling with Him, tell Him I am relying on Him, and I want His help. I read my Bible. Reading my Bible also brings me closer to God. It comforts me and teaches me how to move forward.

Some people connect to God simply by reading their Bibles; they find that it brings them closer to Him. Others find strength to get past their pain and fears by pulling out and focusing on particular passages that speak to their hearts, reminding them of how much God loves and cares for them. It is not a coincidence that when you are truly searching, you will often find just the right Scripture that will envelop you in God’s embrace, where comfort and true peace can be found.

“‘though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken’ ... says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:10, NIV)

"When difficulty hits, don’t let sound wisdom vanish from your sight. Keep your eyes on the Lord. By seeing every situation through His eyes, you can rest in His wisdom and good purposes. Then stress will lift, anxiety will be replaced with peace, and confidence in the Lord will silence your fears." [Dr. Charles Stanley, In Touch Ministries Daily Devotional, April 5, 2011, The Peace of Wisdom]

God's peace is the result of NOT being anxious about anything. And not being anxious is the result of taking everything to God in prayer and believing … trusting … knowing that He will take care of all things. If you are suffering today due to loss, pain, guilt, anger, jealousy, or “fill-in-the-blank,” I pray that you will be open to seeking and receiving God’s peace.

My sweet niece, Gentry

“Jesus said, ‘Peace I leave with you.
My peace I give to you; not as the world gives,
give I to you. Don't let your heart be troubled,
neither let it be fearful.’” John 14:27

Thursday, March 10, 2011

She Writes

There is a special event coming up in July called the She Speaks Conference. Here is a bit of a description of it from their Web page:

She Speaks is a life-changing conference for women of every generation seeking to explore the tug on her heart to reach out to the world for Jesus. Through She Speaks, Proverbs 31 Ministries encourages and equips women who are called by God to share our mission to bring God’s peace, perspective and purpose to today’s busy woman. Sharing God’s truth with love is not only a holy calling but a remarkable responsibility. We believe by equipping women to become more effective at sharing the Word of God, we multiply our efforts to reach a hurting world with the life-transforming hope of Jesus.

I wanted to go to this last year (it's in North Carolina), and I figured I'd get to visit with Elizabeth while she was living up there, but I didn't fully pursue it (and now E is moving back to Orlando). Plus, I didn't have a blog at the time, which they prefer that you link to in order to enter their scholarship contest.

This year, my friend Linda sent me the link earlier in the week and said she thought it was "write" up my alley. :) So, despite this being a crazy week, I decided to take the time to post something as I would really love the opportunity to attend this conference.

Although I only have four "official" followers and the main people who read my blogs are family members and friends, I still have enjoyed using the talents that God has given me to write and to be an encourager of others. I have also enjoyed including my photography in my posts. However, I feel that I could use some guidance on going to an even deeper level in my writing so that I can really to connect to people's hearts and be totally real and transparent in what I share and how I share. I believe some of the sessions at this event could really help me improve and reach more people.

At this conference, there are also opportunities to meet with publishers and editors and present a book proposal. I've talked to my friend Jacqueline several times about helping her to write a book on her life and God's huge presence in it. This could be just the training event I need to actually make it happen.

As an avid reader and lover of words and stories, I have had a desire to be a writer for most of my life. It's time I actually began to do something about it. So, with this post, I am entering the She Speaks Scholarship Contest. Pray for me.


Check it out yourself if you'd like: She Speaks Scholarship Contest
 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

All-Sufficient Grace

“My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
—2 Corinthians 12:9


I was typing up a sermon for my father-in-law (H.B. Fuller) last month—a compilation of notes from a funeral service. I just knew when I read it that I wanted to share the main topic with you—it was about grace. It is good to know that when we, as Christians, die that we will be covered by God’s grace. But I think it’s even more important and impactful to reflect on how we are covered even as we live.

I found some of his text to be very applicable to living every day with grace. I wanted to share a compilation of these thoughts with you:

“One of the wonderful things about this all ‘sufficient grace’ spoken of in the Bible is that it is strongest when we are weakest. … Paul said that when sin abounds, grace abounds even more exceedingly. God does not promise us that life will not be hard. What He does promise us is that His grace is sufficient to take us through whatever life has to offer. It is sufficient for physical weariness. It is sufficient for physical pain. It is sufficient for grief. Soon we are at the end of our own efforts. It is then and only then that we are able to take our burden to the Lord. It is here that we find ‘all sufficient grace.’ When we cease trying to do all for ourselves, then God does for us. It is the glory of life that it is in our weakness that we find this wondrous grace; for always, man’s extremity is God’s opportunity. From this precious passage of Scripture … (2 Cor 12:7b–10), it is of course right to conclude that Christians are to pray for relief from life’s infirmities. And it is right to expect God to bring deliverance; but we must remember that sometimes relief is impossible and that specific requests may be denied. Every sufferer, however, may rely confidently upon divine power to give patience to endure; and may rest assured that out of the distress and grief that God will bring some abiding good and that through our suffering and grief, God will manifest to others the glories of His divine grace.”

No one enjoys suffering. Many of us wait until we get to the point where we can’t take it anymore, and we cry out to the Lord and we pray for relief. But there are a special few who press on beyond the point of pain, beyond their own problems, and they find ways to give God praise and thanksgiving despite the ordeals they suffer. More importantly, they reach out to others—seeking to love others, to share their testimony and to bring God glory.

I am lucky enough to know someone who falls into that last, special category. Her name is Jacquelyn Spencer. For over 20 years, she has been in and out of the hospital (in fact, she is back in the hospital right now); she is on her third liver transplant. But she is strong … not on her own, but because of her complete reliance on God. She has a loving family (husband, daughter, son) who rides the roller coaster of medical and financial issues with her. I’m sure they have many days where they just wish Jacquelyn was well and that they could have a “normal” family life. But the trust and dependence on God that has grown in their family is simply amazing. And it is contagious; they spread this wonderful trust and the resulting peace to the many different people whose lives they all touch.

Here is one of the many inspiring things that Jacqueline says on her website:

“This battle is a daily one, with dramatic ups and downs that come completely out of left field sometimes. NEVERTHELESS...I am so incredibly thankful for each and every moment because ANY moment could bring forth an opportunity to serve The Lord with all of my heart. I firmly believe that God has allowed me to travel down this rocky road of terminal illness so that God can use me as an example of His Grace, Unconditional Love and also to show others that none of us are guaranteed tomorrow; but all of us have ‘THIS DAY’ to magnify God's Name in the Highest.” Jacqueline's Website
 
This special woman just draws people to her, not because they feel sorry for her, but because she is overflowing with love for the Lord and for others. She has encouraged hundreds of people through her words and her sweet spirit—friends and strangers alike. She knows the power of prayer; she lives deeply immersed in it every day. And she helps the rest of us who keep up with her “story” see it and yearn to be a part of it too.

It is true that Jacqueline suffers, and I hate that she goes through SO MUCH. It is almost more than one person should have to bear … but the wonderful thing is that she knows she doesn’t bear the burden alone. She is covered by a thick blanket of God’s grace and is wrapped in His loving embrace. Perhaps that is why she has such a warm and loving heart. Although we actually have yet to meet in person, we share a very special and rewarding connection. I feel blessed to know her and to share her with you.

No one has a choice in how long they have here on earth, but we all have a choice in how we live out our days and for Whom. Truly connecting with others, loving them, and sharing the joy we have in the Lord is a simple path to peace and fulfillment. As Dorothy Day (cofounder of the Catholic Worker) said, "The older I get, the more I meet people, the more convinced I am that we must only work on ourselves to grow in grace. The only thing we can do about people is to love them."

So, if you aren’t already, don’t you think it might be time to fully seek the Lord in your life?

Seek God like never before. Part of seeking Him is allowing for grace space in your life. Grant God’s grace some space in your mind, your heart, your life. When circumstances of life leak you dry, see this emptiness as an opportunity. Instead of reacting out of emptiness, choose to see that this emptiness is the perfect spot for a space of grace in your life. As you give grace to those who ‘don’t deserve it,’ the mercy jars of heaven will lavish it back on you.” —Lysa TerKeurst (blog), A Space for Grace, February 9, 2011

So, live and walk in God’s grace today.
Love others. Be the person He made you to be.

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord will give grace and glory;
no good thing will be withheld from them
that walk uprightly.”
—Psalm 84:11

(c) Chip Phillips --Haystack Rock, Oregon



Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Rest and Refreshment


Normally, I like to write my own blog copy and just throw in some quotes from other places to help make a point, but I just loved these last couple of devotionals from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. If you haven't figured it out yet, I love that book. This is actually the second year I am using it as a daily devotional.

Anyway, the message from the last two days (Feb. 7 and 8) clearly lines up with the message of rest I wanted to share and so I would like to share some of this copy with you today. See if it resonates with you the way it did with me.

Feb. 7
"Come to Me for rest and refreshment. The journey has been too much for you, and you are bone-weary. Do not be ashamed of your exhaustion. Instead see it as an opportunity for Me to take charge of your life.

"Remember, that I can fit everything into a pattern for good [see Rom. 8:28], including the things you wish were different. Start with where you are at this point in time and space, accepting that this is where I intend you to be. You will get through today one step, one moment at a time. ...

"Your desire to live in My Presence goes against the grain of 'the world, the flesh, and the devil.' Much of your weariness results from your constant battle against these opponents. However, you are on the path of My choosing, so do not give up! "


Feb. 8
"I am above all things: your problems, your pain, and the swirling events in this ever-changing world. When you behold My Face, you rise above circumstances and rest with Me in heavenly realms. ... I guarantee that you will always have problems in this life, but they must not become your focus. When you feel yourself sinking in the sea of circumstances, say 'Help me, Jesus!' and I will draw you back to Me. If you have to say that thousands of times daily, don't be discouraged. I know your weakness, and I meet you in that very place."

Rest in Him

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Rest in Him

Sweet little nephew, Noah

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11:28

******************************

Will we ever learn to get out of our own way? How often do we wear ourselves out or get depressed simply because we stubbornly insist on doing everything ourselves and we refuse to ask for help or take time to rest and renew ourselves? (Or is it just me?)

Even if we are trying to accomplish work in the service of God, if we are relying on our own strengths, our own natural powers, then it is still possible that God may not bless our efforts.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” —John 15:4–6

Natural powers are whatever we can do without the help of God. You know, the skills that certain people just seem to be born with: being a good cook, a talented singer, a gifted athlete, a powerful writer. If someone is a natural organizer, and you give that person the task of organizing a project, how hard will he/she pray before jumping into the task? Probably not at all. If we are comfortable in what we are being asked to do, we tend to jump right in with no thoughts of seeking Godly counsel.

“If he is accustomed to depend on his natural gifts, he may feel no need to cry to God. The trouble with us all is that there are so many things we can do without relying upon God.” (Sit, Walk, Stand by Watchman Nee, p. 56) But that doesn’t mean we should be.

Sometimes we need to experience trials or setbacks or to be brought to a place where, even though we could do it on our own, we still respond with dependence on God and seek His guidance before we act. Or sometimes we are brought to a point where we are forced to rest. I feel like that has been happening to me a lot lately. There are some days when I have all of these plans and items on my “to do” list. But then I wake up to start the day, and I just don’t have the energy to get any of it done. I end up spending way too much time on the couch, dozing (well, that’s on the weekends anyway). I don’t know if it’s the Fibro, the medication I’m on, or just my body’s need for this season.

So, I’ve been thinking. Maybe God has been trying to get my attention. My mind often goes a mile a minute. I’m one of those planners, and I like to figure out things way in advance. I act out scenarios in my head, thinking about what I would say or how I would react in response to something someone else might do or say. I make up lists. I worry about things that haven’t even happened yet (even though I know I shouldn’t worry). I bet God has a hard time getting through all that noise and clutter in my head.

What about you? How often do you talk to God each day? Or better yet, how often do you listen? Do you start your day with prayer? Do you pray at night before you go to sleep? Do you only pray when you are in trouble or worried? We should be praying/talking to God throughout the day—during the good and the bad. He should be the first one we think to converse with no matter what the topic. It’s a great way to develop a closer, stronger relationship with Him and to stay in step with what He has planned for our lives.

“God never asks us to do anything we can do. He asks us to live a life which we can never live and to do a work which we can never do. Yet by his grace, we are living it and doing it.” (Sit, Walk, Stand by Watchman Nee, p. 58)

And then after the praying, we should be taking time to quiet our minds, read the Bible and some uplifting devotionals, talk to spiritually strong friends … and just take time to be still and listen. You never know who or what God might use to speak to you.

Also, instead of just praying about our troubles or even giving thanks for our blessings, maybe we need to be asking God if there’s something specific He wants us to be doing. We sometimes get so comfortable with where we are in our lives, maybe we’re afraid to talk to God and ask Him if there is something we should change. What if He wants us to give up our comfortable life? What if He asks us to do things we don’t feel like we are qualified to do?

I think that is exactly what God tends to do. Because if we accomplish great things through our own natural abilities, how does that glorify Him? I believe He likes to take us in our weakness and, when we let Him, show his strength through us in order to bring others close to Him as well.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” —2 Corinthians 12:9

Here is a devotional that I read the other day that I think ties in well with the current message of rest that I believe God has been speaking to my heart … maybe it applies to you too:

Stay Seated
"God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 2:6 NIV

You are seated with Christ. That means you are in a place of rest. God doesn’t want you standing up and nervously fretting and pacing about. Let His peace calm your anxious heart. Are you waiting on God for an answer to something you’ve prayed about? Stay seated. He is faithful.

Do you lack understanding? Stay seated. The light will come.
Do you have a need you can’t meet? Stay seated. He will provide.
Are you facing a problem you can’t solve? Stay seated. His grace is sufficient.
Are you unsure of what is ahead? Stay seated. He is in control and knows the way.
Roy Lessin, Meet Me in the Meadow, January 14, 2011, http://roy.dayspring.com/

I hope that you will join me in asking God for the strength that it sometimes takes to allow yourself rest. Stay seated … and you too can enjoy both rest and peace through Him.

 

My sweet niece, Josephine

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“Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest in hope…” —Acts 2:26

The Lord gives strength to his people;
the Lord blesses his people with peace.”
—Psalm 29:11

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds
in Christ Jesus.”
—Philippians 4:7





Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Keep on Trusting


Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track. (Proverbs 3:5-6; The Message)

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My peace is the treasure of treasures; the pearl of great price. It is an exquisitely costly gift ... You receive this gift by trusting Me in the midst of life's storms. If you have the world's peace--everything going your way--you don't seek My unfathomable peace. Thank me when things do not go your way, because spiritual blessings come wrapped in trials.
January 24, Jesus Calling, Sarah Young

 
May we all become people who pray. May we also learn to leave the burden with You, rather than pick it up and carry it with us after claiming that we're trusting You. Right now, Lord, take the burden. We cast it upon You, knowing that You’re better able to handle it than we ever will be.January 25, The Importance of Prayer, Charles R. Swindoll, Insight for Today


Give up the illusion that you deserve a problem-free life. Part of you is still hungering for the resolution of all difficulties. This is a false hope! ... Link your hope not to problem solving in this life but to the promise of an eternity of problem-free life in heaven. ... It is possible to enjoy Me and glorify Me in the midst of adverse circumstances. In fact, My Light shines most brightly through believers who trust Me in the dark. ... When things seem all wrong, trust Me anyway. I am much less interested in right circumstances than in right responses to whatever comes your way.
January 26, Jesus Calling, Sarah Young


Trust in Him; walk by faith and not by sight.

 

Friday, January 21, 2011

TRUST

My last blog post was on trust. I decided to focus on the word “trust” for the rest of the month. So, this post is a bit different from my other posts so far. As I focused on "trust," I found it in several other devotionals and messages I received over the month; see below.

Those who trust Jesus as Savior receive a new nature and are reconciled to the Lord.
January 13, Hope for a Changing World, In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley


Psalm 37:5, "Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act." (ESV)
January 13, Time and Again, Rachel Olsen, Encouragement for Today from Proverbs 31 Ministries


You are a healer and a comforter and in you we choose to trust. No one else can love us like you do. We ask that you will strengthen our resolve and help our unbelief. Help us to trust in you solely and lose any confidence that we have the ability to fix ourselves or others around us.
January 13, Prayer and Praise Update, Chris Wheel

Learn to trust Me when things go “wrong.” Disruptions to your routine highlight your dependence on Me. Trusting acceptance of trials brings blessings that far outweigh them all.
January 18, Jesus Calling, Sarah Young

I've learned over the past twenty years that when I listen to God I discover His best for me. And, I grow my trust in Him. I've seen again and again that His ways lead to His goodness. And when I follow Him, His mercy follows me.
January 19, Listening to God, Renee Swope, Encouragements for Today from Proverbs 31 Ministries

Don’t try to figure out what is happening [in your life]. Simply trust Me and thank Me in advance for the good that will come out of it all. I know the plans I have for you, and they are good (see Jer 29:11). Psalm 91:14-16: "The LORD says, 'I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.'" (NLT)
January 21, Return the Call, Karen Ehman, Encouragement for Today from Proverbs 31 Ministries


Strive to trust Me in more areas of your life. Anything that tends to make you anxious is a growth opportunity. Instead of running away from these challenges, embrace them, eager to gain all the blessings I have hidden in the difficulties. If you believe that I am sovereign over every aspect of your life, it is possible to truse Me in all situations.
January 20, Jesus Calling, Sarah Young




I hope you will find the peace that trust brings.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

You're the Only Hope for This Heart


“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and
lean not on your own understanding”
(Proverbs 3:5)

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Stress, worries, fear, troubles, doubts, insecurities. We all have them. The question is: What do you do with them? Did you know that you don’t have to carry the weight of all of your problems alone? You can’t do it, really. Not if you want to be content and live a happy life. Sometimes there are bills that you just don’t know how you’re going to pay; or you’re dealing with a difficult individual, and you don’t see how you can possibly “love your enemy” at the moment; or you find yourself seeking answers to a career or your calling in life, and the confusion or the wait for answers or a clear direction is “killing you.”

Just like dragging a bunch of overweight luggage around with you all day every day, all of that baggage is going to leave you mentally and physically drained. And you’re not going to function at your best or even be able to experience simple joy. I know that I have so much to be grateful for and joyous about. Do you? The problem is we often get so bogged down with everyday reality—or our own perception of reality—that we don’t always appreciate all the good things in our lives. Or worse, we become so self-absorbed, so me-focused because of worries, that we lose sight of what is going on in the lives of our family members and friends. We miss out on opportunities to be encouragers or to make a difference in the lives of others.

Why not consider a new method of dealing with your problems this year—pass them on! When you have issues weighing on your mind, especially things that you don’t have answers for, tell the Lord your troubles, and then trust Him to deal with them. Give your problems to God. Just let them go, and quit trying to do everything on your own.

“The all important rule is not to ‘try’ but to ‘trust,’ not to depend upon your own strength but upon his.” (Sit, Walk, Stand by Watchman Nee, p. 27)

Often, what causes us to worry is a sense of helplessness or a feeling that things are out of our control, so instead of believing that you have to find a way to bring everything under control, just quit trying to do everything, be everything and solve everything. You’ve got to trust in God and submit to Him with the confidence that He is in control of your life and that He is always working out circumstances for your good and His glory (see Romans 8:28).

Notice that I didn’t say that He is always arranging things for our happiness. God knows us and He knows the lessons we need to learn and the things we need to experience to grow and become more Christ-like. Sometimes those lessons are not fun; but they are necessary. Of course, when we don’t consult Him (about anything and everything) our poor choices and bad decisions can temporarily throw His good plans off track. But you can’t outthink God and you can’t mess up so badly that He won’t forgive you. If you are truly willing to change your ways and follow Him, God will create a new route to put you back on track for the great plans He has always had in mind for you.

“I want you to learn a new habit. Try saying, ‘I trust You, Jesus’ in response to whatever happens to you. … This simple practice will help you see Me in every situation … When you view events from this perspective … fear loses its grip on you. Adverse circumstances become growth opportunities when you affirm your trust in Me no matter what.” (Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, p. 5)

I have found that doing this lately—admitting that I do not have the answers and I don’t know what to do next, but that I trust God to know what’s best and to take care of me—has been very freeing. Life has thrown Bart and I some curve balls over the last few years and at times, I have allowed stress and worry to get me down. But, lately, I’m finding that when you choose not to worry, but to let go and trust instead, you get a sense of peace and contentment ... and rest.

I have a note posted on my wall at work to remind me: If you’re going to pray, why worry? And if you’re going to worry, why pray? Don’t tell God your problems and then keep praying about them over and over again impatiently waiting for the answer you desire. Trust that He has heard you and acknowledge that only He knows the best answer and the best timing. And don’t just take a breather and then snatch your troubles back out of His hands to worry over them again. You will solve nothing that way and it will not bring you contentment.

“If you keep on stating your concerns to Me, you will live in a state of tension. When you thank Me for how I am answering your prayers [long before you can discern results], your mind-set becomes much more positive.” (Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, p. 12)

Lord, help me to trust you with all my heart and to follow your will with eagerness, knowing that to do so is the surest path to peace.



Prayer + Thankfulness + Trust =
Peace + Gratefulness + Blessings


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“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
Whose confidence is in Him.”
(Jeremiah 17:5–7)



Check out this great link that came out in a devotional the day after I posted this blog:
An Exercise in Casting Cares