Friday, March 27, 2020

Counting Blessings in the Midst of Craziness


Greetings from crazy town!

It is paradoxical but in this time of slowing down and staying home, I seem busier than ever.

Oh, I'll get so much more writing, organizing and cleaning done, I thought. Wrong!

But in the midst of the crazy, I feel it is important to slow down and count blessings. All you hear on media is stark reminders of what could go wrong. Instead, for we believers, now is the time to put Philippians 4:8 into practice:


And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Here are 5 excellent things from my week:

1. Technology - yes, it can certainly be used wrongly, but in this time of "social distancing," it can be a lifeline. I can be touch with my boss, with my church, co-workers, family and friends even if I can't be in the room with them. And, praise the Lord, except for a couple hours one afternoon, it's been working fairly well!

2. Needs met - Our personnel committee has authorized us to receive our same salary although we are presently working half days and also from home. One less thing to worry about.

3. Scripture - it's a lifeline! Here's an interesting one I ran across this week that seems like it was written for these times:


In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. 2 Corinthians 1:9

We can't rely on ourselves. We can do nothing to change current events; however we CAN rely on God. He has so much power, He can actually raise the dead! As always, you should read the whole passage of scripture to get the context (you can do that here) and if you do, you'll see Paul, Timothy and Silas went through times so troubling, they weren't sure they would make it. But they learned, "God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort." There IS help!

4. Online preaching - I've actually heard more sermons this week than usual. Not only my own pastor has been online, but several of my pastor-friends and churches of friends and family have recorded uplifting sermons as well. On Sunday alone, I listened to 4 messages. I've had plenty of spiritual food for thought.

5. Surrounded by great people - I just want to honor all the wonderful people who are hanging in there and doing what they can to keep things going. They are the unsung heroes of the epidemic. Those who are teaching online, handing out the school lunches, dispensing medicines, keeping the store shelves stocked, hauling in the supplies, nursing the ill, and those sharing positive words along with many more I'm sure I've forgotten to name, you are the hands and feet of Jesus. I celebrate you! 

Let's keep on keeping on.

Bonus praise: Yesterday, it got to 68° and we had sunshine. God is good.

So tell me ... how did YOUR week go?


~~~

I'm sharing this post at Susanne's place where the Friday's Fave Five community hangs out, and also at Grace&Truth.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

A storm is blowing in ...

A few years ago, I wrote a post about an Epic Storm in our lives when my husband became ill with Bipolar Disorder. 



It occurs to me that current events are blowing in with gale force disrupting life as we know it. I think it's time to revisit that post:

Have you ever had an epic storm hit your life?  One that wrecked your life and changed everything?

I sure have. 

At first the storm started out slowly.  There were rumbles of thunder that preceded the storm - warning signs that I should have known what was coming.  The signs of mental illness. 

The signs of bipolar disorder.


I used to say my husband became a different person overnight when he became ill with bipolar.  In reality, there had always been warning signals, I just couldn't see them.


One day the storm hit with a fury. The trigger was my husband's job - a job he didn't like and didn't feel confident in doing. He fell into a deep clinical depression and could not work.  Medications were given. They didn't work well. There were times of hospitalization.  

Finally, the storm upgraded into a typhoon, and in 1999, he was diagnosed bipolar, and  his doctor bluntly stated, "Your husband will never work again."

A hurricane could not have been more devastating.  That day everything changed.  I was now the family breadwinner and life for our little family would never be the same.


Maybe you have experienced a storm hitting your life and nothing afterwards was the same as before.

When the Apostle Paul was headed to Rome to stand trial before Caesar, he experienced a storm.  The King James Version of the Bible calls it a tempestuous head wind, a Euroclydon.  Some versions call it a northeaster.  It is a storm like a typhoon or a tornado with a deadly whirling of wind.


Everyone on board Paul's ship began lightening the load, praying and fasting.  On the fourteenth day of the storm, Paul stood up and told his shipmates that God had sent an angel to assure him that he would stand before Caesar.  What's more, God granted that none who sailed with Paul would perish.

In the midst of the storm, God ministered to Paul and gave him hope.  He was reassured the call on his life would continue and he would fulfill what God had ordained for him to accomplish.


You and I can have that same hope.  Until the call on our lives is accomplished, no storm can overtake us, no matter how epic its proportions.

When the storm ends, you'll find yourself, load-lightened, heading in a different direction than you ever thought you'd travel.  But if you put your hand in His, you can be sure He will go with you.


~~~

You can read the full account of Paul's epic storm in Acts 27.


~~~



In this time of Covid-19 and words like pandemic, social distancing, stockpiling and shortages you might feel like a storm is battering you.

You might feel fear.

This is the time to hold on with all your might to scripture. Voices might howl in your ears and tell you terrible times are on their way.

But if the Lord is your Shepherd ... you'll have everything you need.

It's a promise!


~~~



Also, if you'd like to read the previous post on the topic, F.E.A.R. - False Evidence Appearing Real, go here.


~~~

I'm linking this post to Recharge Wednesday and #TuneInThursday

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Reminders ...

During these uncertain times, I decided to revive some of my posts from my 2013 Fearless series. I'm calling the revamped series, "F.E.A.R. - False Evidence Appearing Real" ... because fear comes from the enemy, not the Lord.





I had a bad night last night. Again.

Even though I knew better, I allowed fear to creep in and squeeze my heart with anxiety.

Do you ever have times when fear sneaks up and blindsides you?

I know I should be on guard at all times because that sneaky devil loves to ambush me, and his favorite time is in the middle of the night.

By the time he is done with me, I'm convinced I will end up widowed, homeless, and jobless.  It's pretty pathetic the misery I can conjure up with just my imagination, no doubt, fueled by the whispers of the enemy. 

I know better.  I really do.  In the light of day, I quickly did these things to make me feel better:

  • Remind myself of who God is.  He is the lover of my soul, the all-sufficient one, my Jehovah-jireh who provides.  He is my Jehovah-Rapha, the Lord who heals.
  • Remind myself of what God has done in the past. He has been with me countless times before and worked everything out.  Why would He let me down now?
  • Remind myself of what God has said. Dwell on His Word.  I consider this part of seeking the kingdom of God.  If you know His Word, and know what His will is for you, then you can stand on His promises .  

"And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  Luke 12:29-34



I love the way the Message translates this passage:




“What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself.
 
He knows what you need. Don't fear.  It is His pleasure to give His children the kingdom.  The word translated pleasure means to think well of, approve an act, willing. If you seek HimHe is more than willing to give you what you need ... when the time is right.


I'm going to remember this the next time the enemy tries to take me down with fear. 

What do you do when fear ambushes you?  


*This post was adapted from an earlier post.


~~~

I'm linking this post with the communities at:
#TellHisStory 
InstaEncouragements Link-Up
Grace&Truth

Monday, March 23, 2020

Remembering I'm Blessed in the Midst of Corona-virus

What a week, eh?

Have you been overwhelmed by all the conflicting information and opinions being bandied about by social media, co-workers and loved ones?

Yeah, me, too.

This morning, I'm sitting here feeling a tad shell-shocked. My spirit feels battered and bruised.

I invite you to join me in a time-honored activity that is biblical and just the ticket for times like these.

Encourage yourself in the Lord.

David did.


And David was greatly distressed; ... but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God. Portions of 1 Samuel 30:5-6 KJV


One of the ways to encourage one's self is to remember all the different ways God has blessed in the past.

Weekly, I try to do just that. I normally do it on Fridays, and join the community at Friday's Fave Five, but that didn't work out for me this time. 

No matter, I can praise God for blessings anytime!

I praise God for deep spiritual friendships and mentors I can trust to discuss the Word. One of my Pastors put this week's happenings in perspective for me - Yes, this is a storm we are going through, not unlike the storm the disciples experienced when they were in a boat with Jesus asleep in the hull. They shook Him awake and asked if He even cared they were going to die.

He got up, rebuked the storm making an immediate calm, and then asked them, "Why do you have such little faith?"

God is not uncaring about what is happening to us. He has a purpose - and a plan for what happens when we get to the other side of the conflict. You see, the reason they were in the boat in the first place was to get to the other side of the lake and encounter a crazy person, otherwise known as the Gadarene Demoniac. (See Mark 5:1-3)

In my own life, in 2011, we went through floodwaters damaging our home. It was devastating and the rebuilding process was very stressful. Yet over and over God showed up in many different ways. In the end, so many things - both physical AND spiritual, were better after the flood than it was before. 

The night we vacated our home with personal possessions piled in laundry baskets as we waded across the street to higher ground, it sure didn't seem like we were on the way to something good.  But it was, and I praise Him for it!

Another great way to encourage ourselves in the Lord is to be in the Word, learning and growing in knowledge of God and His attributes and what He has promised His children.

Which brings me to announcing, I will be running a series of posts on F.E.A.R. (False Evidence Appearing Real) and scriptures you can use to combat the whispers of the enemy. 

Stay tuned!

In the meantime, here is a YouTube video of an old song that seems appropriate for the times:



(Subscribers will need to click through to my blog.)

I'm linking this post up with the community at Inspire Me Monday.


Friday, March 13, 2020

March Good Things

Happy Friday!

Today is the day I set aside for reflection and praise. What happened in my week? How did I see God? 





This week, I finished my "Walk the Walk Christian Living Series." Y'all! It was difficult to get it done. One thing I've learned at this particular season of life - don't do any month-long challenges. There is just not enough hours in the day. I give thanks to the Holy Spirit for giving me some creative ideas during the series. But I'm itching to get back to my other projects.

Great session at our Cornerstone Women's Ministry bible study this week: We are on session two of Priscilla Shirer's Breathe series. We had some really good discussion afterwards discovering we are not alone. We have a lot of the same challenges.

Sunshine: It was supposed to rain all week and have some intense weather yesterday evening. Instead, we did have pockets of sunshine these past few days - the sun is shining as I'm typing this - and the forecast was wrong about yesterday. Hallelujah!

Talking time with the twins: I always enjoy hearing what the twins are thinking. One day this week we were talking about "bad thoughts" and how we don't talk about certain things (bodily functions were a big part of this convo). Brody said, "Yes, MiMi, I have to get those bad thoughts out of my brain, so this is what I do." He took his hands, placed one on each side of his head, and flicked imaginary thoughts away with his fingers. (I should have taken a picture.)

If only it were that easy!

Get Out Of Your Head: Stopping the Spiral of Toxic Thoughts - it's funny I'd have that conversation with Brody when I'd be in the middle of reading Jennie Allen's new book. Spoiler Alert: You CAN choose what you think about. I'm not done with the book yet, but I highly recommend it.

Bonus: In the midst of all the hype about corona-virus and the questions regarding social distancing and stockpiling, I was so happy a friend reminded me of Psalm 91. The whole Psalm is so wonderful and comforting - you can click here and read the whole thing - but verses 9 and 10 are especially meaningful right now:


If you make the Lord your refuge,    if you make the Most High your shelter,no evil will conquer you;    no plague will come near your home.

Let's shelter in Him!

And that wraps up this week on the Journey. How did YOUR week go? I'd love to hear about it. Leave a comment or consider linking up your own post with the community at Friday's Fave Five.

Edited to add: Daily we are bombarded with more Corona-virus news. The above scriptures I've shared are even more pertinent. I truly believe God's sovereign hand will be with His children in troubling times. But what if you have not been sheltering underneath His wings? What if you didn't know God cared about you and how to reach Him? I believe my post, "A Ticket Home," explains more fully. I invite you to check it out.

I'm linking this post to the communities at Inspire Me Monday and #TellHisStory


Thursday, March 12, 2020

Leap of Faith

The Word of God is filled with stories of people who take a leap of faith.

One such person leaped to mind. (See what I did there?) The story of Joshua and the battle of Jericho is also the story of Rahab and her faith.

We first see Rahab when Joshua sent a couple comrades to spy out Jericho. There is no getting around it: Rahab was a prostitute, and as such, there was plenty of coming and going around her house. A perfect place for a couple spies to blend in.

Yet somehow authorities got wind of the spies and showed up to demand information. Rahab thought quickly, and hid the spies on top of the roof, then goes downstairs and lied.

One of the many things I love about the bible is that it calmly tells truthfully what people did. It doesn't gloss over or sugar-coat.

Remember, Rahab had not been taught or raised not to lie. Could God have saved the spies without Rahab lying? Absolutely! But she probably never thought to ask Him and in the pressure of the moment, she did what came naturally.

You can read the full story of Rahab here and here.

My point in mentioning Rahab is this: She took a leap of faith to align herself with the Children of Israel against her own people. She believed in the reputation of God, and we know she had faith. The writer of Hebrews tells us so:


By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace. (Hebrews 11:31 NKJV)

James explains to us that not only did she have faith, she took that leap of faith and put it to work:


So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.
Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road. Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works. (James 2:23-26 NLT)

She didn't know it at the time; but God had a plan for Rahab's life, and it was a beautiful one. She was to marry one of the princes of Judah and end up in the lineage of King David, and ultimately Jesus Christ.

How about that for a leap of faith?

This is the last post in "Walk the Walk Christian Living Series," written from the perspective of a recovering perfectionist. You can go here to find all the links to the posts in the series.


I'm linking this post to the community at #TuneInThursday

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Persistent: Keeping On

My husband and I used to run a Southern Gospel Music chat room back at the turn of the century. His user name was Mr. Persistent.

Such an apt description! Admirable ... and also annoying.
A person with persistence is admirable. They get the job done. They overcome every obstacle. They never quit until their objective is achieved.

A person with persistence is also annoying because they. Will. Not. Leave. You. Alone.

There is a story in the bible about a persistent woman. Being a widow, she had no one to help her when someone was taking advantage of her. She had no recourse but to try getting legal relief.

But she was turned down.

Still, there was nothing else to do but try again.

And again.

And yet again.

Turns out the judge overseeing her case cared for no one's opinion. It did no good to complain to authorities. Why even if she'd gotten the Post or the Times involved, it wouldn't have swayed him in the slightest.

Still, she persisted.

One day, the judge thought to himself, "I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!" Luke 18:5 NLT

Persistence won the day.

Some people think when you pray and ask God something, you should just do it once. They think only asking once demonstrates faith.

I don't know. I do admire faith that can wait and believe.

However, since God had Luke record the story of the persistent widow, I kind of think He values a person who just won't give up.

He even asks the question, "How much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when he returns?" Luke 18:8 MSG

You can read the whole story, here.

I know it's true we can ask with wrong motives; but if you're like me, if I don't get an answer to prayer, I'll stop and question if I have sin in my life or if I've asked selfishly. If I examine myself and look the situation over, and still believe desperately like the widow did, "I've no one else to help me, I've got to keep trying," then I'm going to keep asking.

After all, the writer of Hebrews tells us He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him.

Do you believe this?

I'm going to share one more scripture to prove my point.


Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. Luke 11:9

The original language used here means to keep on: Keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking.

Sounds like persistence to me.


(Read the first 13 verses of Luke 11 which is on prayer - and persistence!)

This is post #28 of my "Walk the Walk Christian Living Series," written from the perspective of a recovering perfectionist. You can go here to see the links of each post as they go live.

Hey! Tomorrow is the last day of the series. Join me as we examine the word, "leap!"


~~~

I'm linking this post to the communities at Recharge Wednesday and Grace&Truth