About Staying Focused on the True Goal

With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!

Psalms 119:10 NKJVhttp://bible.com/114/psa.119.10.NKJV

Everyday I make this my prayer in some form or another.  Living in the world but not of this world.  Remembering who and whose I am.  Worshipping and praising the only God. Wanting to be like Jesus, do what Jesus would do, trusting and receiving the comfort of the Holy Spirit. 

Satan is the enemy who seeks to kill and destroy lives and hearts and souls, who is a liar and enticer, and who is cunning and sneaky. He enters thoughts and twists them to selfishness, greed, murderousness, sarcasm, depression, hopelessness, doubt, aimlessness.

The sum of all the commandments is to love God and to love others. If I stay in continual prayer with Him, loving Him and others, all other commands fall naturally into place, and Satan cannot gain a foothold.
Every day we wake up to “breaking news” that rattles our peace of mind, however briefly or lengthy.  Solomon said that there’s nothing new under the sun, and indeed he’s correct. There have always been wars, starvation, political games, cruelty, death, gossip, traitors, thieves, etc. 

The good news is there have always been God and the Word of God.  The love that makes life worth living, that heals, that solves problems, that brings forgiveness, that brings truth to the light. 

Choose you today where you want your heart to stay focused. 

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About Christian Joy

The word “joy” in James 1:2 is referring to what had become a precedent set by the apostles who were persecuted (and others who would be) for their belief in Jesus.  They were joyful that they were counted as worthy to endure abuse for the more important priority of establishing the  Lord’s kingdom. 

The “trials” are conflicts, troubles, and may be terribly hard to suffer, but Christians that have true love for Jesus will endure them as opportunities. 

The “testing of your faith” means tested or approved for its genuineness, refined and purified further to improve it and give it strength to stay.  It’s necessary to endure testing to become a mature Christian. 

Its hard to imagine going through trials and tests over and over to achieve the perfecting of my faith, but when I look back at the refinement I’ve gone through personally, I don’t have anger at God or rebellious thoughts for those times.  I can see the blessings he afforded me after each trial and test. Those only came because I chose to submit to his will, to trust him, to repent and ask for forgiveness. Why would I do that? Because every trial and test reveals something about me to me that I need to get right with God – no matter how small or how big it is.

 How do you know you are worthy of being tested? Where is the joy in your life, and what is it about? How much more strength do you need to stay the course?

(Photo: YouVersion Bible app)

About God’s Protection 

http://bible.com/114/psa.91.4-7.NKJV

The Lord is the protector – He will shelter and shield those who love, believe in, depend on and follow him. God is like a mother hen who we can come to for refuge for complete protection. 

His truth, His Word is our shield and our belt – the armor of God.  Like night and day, God’s protection is universal from all evil.  

The demons of darkness, liars, enemies, plagues, diseases, wars – nothing can harm us while we stand in the protection of God. 

Those who do not believe and do not repent of their evil ways may not survive terrors and trials, but God sees that His children will never perish but will have eternal life. 

About Waking Thoughts

Every morning when I first wake up I find my thoughts have already taken off to the races. While my body is still trying to just move, I’ve already planned out my day, made lists, decided what I’m going to say to someone, and worried about my husband and kids.  And a soft gentle voice says, “What about me?” The voice continues with, “Seek you first the Kingdom of God.”

Convicted. Why is He not my first priority?

About Terrorism

Consider this.  Too frequently we hear on the news or read in the paper of a person or persons bursting into businesses and shooting everyone they can, vehicles driving purposely into crowds and killing all they can,  vehicles pulling up outside businesses and blowing up to intentionally kill as many as they can. Or kidnappings of foreigners to torture them, force false admissionsof “guilt,” hold for ransom and many times ending in assassination. 

The perpetrators are almost always found to be of Islamic / middle-eastern connections.  We are not hearing stories from other nations of American, European, Asian, Latin American, Canadian, Russian or Australian connections involved in such atrocities.

What do you wonder about this? 

About Waiting on God

​A friend reached out and asked someone, anyone, to stand in faith with her.  After two years of working hard on being self-supporting through working with her hands and reaping nothing for what she’d sown,she was ready to throw in the towel. I stepped forward to fill that gap.  I gave her my testimony. 

God does have a plan for you. Sometimes we pursue things with fervor because we think it’s God’s will and we are anxious and excited to do it, especially if we wanted to do the “thing” in the first place.  

I built an entire life plan, with dates, detailed steps, costs, names, addresses, etc., of a start up I wanted to do. I walked prayer circles around the property and asked others to pray with me.  I registered my business name with my resident state and paid fees for the paperwork.  Yet something wasn’t sitting right. 

I kept getting a “word” to go and talk to my pastor – not my best friend, or my husband or my dad or Facebook.  I made an appointment with him and told him what I thought God was leading me to do.  He listened without saying a word. When I finally finished, he said quietly, “what does your husband say?” I was stunned. That was the last question I expected.  Then he told me that God is going to do what God is going to do.  Our prayers don’t always change the outcome or make things go our way.  Our prayers are confessions of faith in Him. He rewards our faith, and in ways better than we can imagine. Then he sent me home and told me to sit at my husband’s feet, ask him to pray on my behalf, ask that God bless me and lead me to God’s perfect will, and proclaim we would both accept it. And then the pastor prayed over me. 

I did what he told me to do.  My husband – who barely believed in God – completely floored me by offering up the most earnest and beautiful prayer over me.  

I felt peace at that moment. A peace that all would be well, no matter the outcome. A peace that God loved me and wanted me to have the delights of my heart if I would only trust Him. 

Every day I get up and I remind myself of that realization.  My plans were not His plans. My business is inactive, but not deceased.  It is dormant, waiting for God. I do not pursue it, I pursue Him. He has led me through experiences since that time that will only make that business more successful when I get to it.  It will make it glorify Him, too.  He has taught me to be still and wait on Him. I can do His will in small ways everyday by being loving to everyone I come face to face with. 

Meanwhile, a box of colored pens and markers sit on my desk at work in a beautiful container, a pad of mixed media paper in the desk drawer, and a perpetual scriptural calendar is on my cabinet. As I wait on the Lord, He waters the seeds, tends to them, and points me in the direction of the Son. 

Find your pastor. Seek him out for guidance. Do what he tells you to do.  He knows what your heart needs. He will instruct you in communicating with God to find your answers and to be blessed in the waiting. Our God is still the God of good and mercy, love and miracles.

Words

Sidelined with recovering from my carpal tunnel and ganglion cyst surgery has been a real trip.  Surgery was on my right hand, the dominant hand, and has been tougher than I expected. Definitely not for wimps! Stitches came out two weeks ago, and the second wrist brace comes off today (permanently I hope).

In the waiting period I’ve had plenty of time to invent and carry on my own pity party, complete with people I’ve invited to come, stuff to eat and drink, and entertainment. 

My friends and family were automatic attendees, plus a couple acquaintances I knew were going through the same surgery recovery. Food and beverage did not turn out as planned – instead, it’s mostly been whatever was quick, easy and didn’t require lids, cans, packages etc to be twisted, popped, or ripped open with two hands. That doesn’t leave much. My wonderful husband did his best to leave a pre-cooked meal or sandwich or whatever, but as it turned out it would be something that I couldn’t stomach that day for whatever dumb reason. 

My pity party entertainment may be the worst of all.  It’s been one daytime TV show after another, a few books I’ve tried to read but can’t get into, and a daily walk. Thought I would be stark raving mad by now. Especially when my first love is painting and after that is writing.  I squeaked out one thumbnail drawing for a future painting that took hours to do because of the pain and the confinement of the wrist brace. And I managed to get a post out here in my blog, which also took quite awhile. 

ENOUGH OF THE PITY PARTY ALREADY!

I’ve had lots of time to think about words in many contexts.  Words that hurt, words that heal, the Word of God, and words that are just plain dumb. 

Here are some samples of dumb words (admit it, most people want to know those first):

1. “The boss is such a (insert your favorite derogatory adjective here)!” said in front of customers. Do this, and I’ll be tempted to report you to said boss. Why? Because otherwise I’m tempted to walk right out of the store for the gross manners of its employees, therefore the store doesn’t get any of my money, therefore the store doesn’t meet its budget, therefore there’s not enough money to give you that raise you’ve also been griping about in front of customers. Got it?

2. A constant stream of profanity – or even a smattering of profanity. Do this, and I’m likely to wonder if that’s how you talk to your mother (and if you do, shame on you). I might even come over and tell you about Jesus. And for some, that’s worse than sitting through a lecture from Mom. 

3. Gossip, as in, “I heard…” or “I found out…” or “Jane told me…” or “Don’t tell anyone but…” or “Poor Jane ____ just happened to her.”  Gossip. It’s all gossip.  We’ve all engaged in it at one time or another.  You’d think we would learn our lesson when it all gets back to the one we were gossiping about, but we don’t. We’re dumb like that. 

4. Lying. See above. 

5. Blasting a really good friend with a really strong telling off. Oh boy, that’s so dumb. Just a few words later and the friendship is lost for goodness knows how long. Maybe forever. Is that how to treat a friend who knows all your secrets? Dumb, really dumb. Now who you gonna call? Ghostbusters ain’t coming, baby. 

6. Nonstop talking.  People can only listen to you for so long. Really. I’m telling you the truth. Seriously. Stop. Talking. 

What makes us do these crazy things??

You would have a hard time finding out the answer to that unless you’ve read the Bible. Psychologists will tell you it’s your deep need to control your world, or to feel better than someone else. And they are right but only partly right. 

I invite you to consider the following, and then ask yourself what you must do to stop being dumb. No judgment here – I can be dumb, too.

James 3:8-12 says, “but no human being can tame the tongue….With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness….this should not be! Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?…Can a fig tree bear grapes, or a grape vine bear figs?” (The Holy Bible, New International Version (NIV). Zondervan. 2011.)

Until next time, let’s try to get smarter. 

True Mid-Life Moments

There’s the cold shiver.  The temperature is so low that you involuntarily shiver because your body demands warmth. Personally I love winter; it’s a great season for hot flashes.

There’s the fear shiver. You feel an expected breath on the back of your neck, or the hairs on your arm are standing up. You shiver as your body goes on full alert to fight danger. Like before you open the cover of InStyle magazine….at your age.

And there’s the “I need to pee right NOW!” shiver. This is the shiver that I have never in my life heard anyone talk about.  Do we all go around pretending this never happens to us, or that we don’t need to answer the call of nature?

The pee shiver is one of those embarrassing moments we do our best to clinch every muscle and stifle in case someone sees it and recognizes it and knows that we need to make a rushed exit in the next few moments. As I get older, I also realize it’s a moment to do a body check to clinch certain other muscles to keep from having an accident. Try doing all those clinching, tightening things in the same moment! Every time is a risk of looking like Mary Catherine (“Superstar”) as I try to get to the bathroom, mad as heck that I never got around to calling my gynecologist for a little bladder surgery.

Ok, I realize that’s probably just a little bit TMI. This is the kind of silliness that goes through my mind while I’m stuck at home recuperating from a different kind of surgery. And now I’m wondering why, while I was under all the anesthesia and was RIGHT THERE on the operating table, I did not have this taken care of at the same time.

Next time you feel a shiver, think for a moment how close is the nearest bathroom. If that isn’t the problem, though, enjoy the shiver.  It’s in anticipation of something, and you have the opportunity to be Real.IMG_389374227307594

(Art by me)

About the Significance of Losing My Hand

I’ve been away for a few weeks staying very busy helping my boss while she was out of town. Now I’m going to be busy at home recovering from hand surgery!

When your dominant hand goes out of business for awhile, you realize just how much you’ve been taking it for granted. Maybe that’s why it’s called dominant-> because it totally keeps YOU in business. For example it’s taken me 10 minutes to type all of this so far.

Things my hand has been responsible for:

Helping me check Facebook, bathe, wash my hair, shave under the other arm, brush my teeth, open the adult-proof lids of my meds (well, lids on ANYTHING for that matter), put on jewelry, comb and brush and curl my hair, put on my bra, tie laces, button buttons,  and, uh, go to the restroom and wash my hands. That’s just the first hour I’m awake!

It is at least partially responsible for gathering my belongings, getting me and everything I have into the car, safely steering the car, performing my job, getting me back home again, preparing meals, paying bills, fixing a bowl of vanilla ice cream, working on one of my paintings, setting the alarm, playing with my cats, and cuddling up with my husband.

The thing I miss the most is for my hand to reach the place on my back where it suddenly decides to itch, and SCRATCHES it for me!! Oh man, this is the worst!

So be kind to your body – it gets a lot done.

For those who have lost their hand permanently, or any other limb, I have a whole new appreciation for your courage, endurance, and intelligence of finding a way to not let it slow you down. You are the great example for us whiners. God bless you and your wonderful attitude. My heart goes out to you.

About Our Children 

I don’t mean to sound so Debbie Downer, truly I don’t. I’m examining things that maybe we don’t say out loud. 

Nelson Mandela said, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”  
Let’s think about that.  We live in a society where children:

-live in poverty

-go to school without breakfast

-go to bed without dinner

-live homeless with a parent

-hide in the closet becasue mommy and daddy are fighting in the -other room

-are kidnapped

-are murdered

-are raped

-are human trafficked

-are victims just by virtue of being an innocent bystander in a crime scene

-are told you don’t have to earn an award – just participate

-are allowed to dress themselves immodestly in the name of “let them be themselves”

-are provided with the latest and greatest technology, vehicle, clothing, etc in the name of “I want my child to have everything I didn’t have” without working for it (is that how you got yours, too?)

-are allowed to talk back to adults with sass, sarcasm, and defiance in the name of “if I discipline my child, someone – including my child – might turn me in to DHS”

-are encouraged – sometimes forced – to participate in a sport or academic club because a parent believes it’s the best thing for the child – yet the child has absolutely no interest in it but is afraid of hurting a parent’s feelings by saying so

– wake up everyday overhearing parents discussing the news that there’s been another terrorist attack, police shooting, racist-based killing, violent protests, would-be leaders attacking each other, Christians martyred overseas, etc.

-are prevented from knowing the Word of God, praying, or anything related to Christianity in our school systems, and are indeed mocked for what little beliefs they’ve been allowed to glean from their parents YET are FORCED to study Islam in school (does no one see the double-standard but me?)

-aren’t taken to church and aren’t told about the love of Jesus

-will not know the Pledge of Allegiance (unless something changes)

-are promised health care, but mommy or daddy can’t pay for it even if the employer does offer it or it’s on the government’s Obamacare and a parent just lost their job

-live in a small town with very little hope of being recognized for their amazing talent 

-are fantastic athletes, but both parents work and there’s very little money to get children to and from practices, skill camps, out-of-town (state) competitions where scouts are, etc., and lose out on a scholarship

This list could go on and on.  But I remind you that we are talking about the treatment of our nation’s children.  Not just mine, and not just yours.  What are we telling the world about America?  To me, it says the USA currently has a lack of humanity, lack of hope, lack of decency, lack of opportunities, lack of inspiration, lack of safety, lack of discipline, plenty of things to fear, plenty of confusion, and plenty of “us vs them” thinking.

If you have children, how are you treating your child?  If you don’t have children, how were you treated as a child?  

I know positively that I have friends who are doing everything possible to be the best parent possible to their child, to rear them with respect, a work ethic, courage, and hope.  I have friends who are childless who would LOVE to raise a child.  I have acquaintances who are working on bettering themselves to give these things to their kids.  But I still read every day about the others who don’t. 

It is not me vs them.  It is me asking God what part of His plan does He want me to play – where does He want me to go, what does He want me to do, and what does He want me to say.  Do I wait for a profoundly clear lightening bolt from the sky answer from Him before I do anything about it?  What if I never took a look at myself, but only at what others say and do?  NO!  I can do things today that He has already told me to do:  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE – give hope, pray, introduce others to what Jesus has done with my life, listen, give grace, be patient and gentle, spread joy, demonstrate peace, faith and long-suffering in the face of adversity knowing from Whom my hope comes from, be light where there is none, write on my heart the laws of God that I might have self-control and also be able to give defense of what I believe, and be bold for Christ.