Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Set Free!

Yesterday I read a post a dear friend wrote about her battle with fear and its relentless effort to control her mind.  This woman has an amazing faith and lives each day serving God in more ways than most of us imagine.  Yet, there is this one area of her life that Satan uses to try to bring her down. The comments from her post showed clearly that there are many, many people dealing with fear of one form or another in their lives. These people are faithful, loving Christians who like all of us struggle in one way or another.

What intrigued me most about Linny's struggles with fear was that I identified with her so much.  Like her I have experiences going back as far as age 6 that have given fear a place to grow and flourish inside of me.  They mostly revolve around the need to feel safe.  Just so you get a perspective here, there are also many areas of my life where anxiety and fear are not in the equation.  We have stepped out in faith hundreds of times over the years during our adventures in faithful living.  And yet there is this undercurrent of fear regarding safety and health issues that can lift me off my feet and sweep me out to sea. 

Like the sea, there is an ebb and flow surrounding this area of my life.  I have worked to replace fear with trust and most of the time I succeed, other times not so much.  I am definitely a work in progress. I am loved by a powerful God and I know that, as Linny says, Jesus sets us FREE.  The good news is that we do not need to be held captive by fear or any other negative emotion in our lives. There is hope and healing for all. 

 I have been re- reading Wayne Muller's book, "How Then Shall I Live" and one sentence resonated with me today as I pondered the strong emotion of fear.  "Perhaps we are not prisoners of our history."    Isn't this delightful to ponder?  Perhaps.... and might I say with Jesus we could say, "For sure"! 

Yes, with Jesus in our lives we have hope for freedom from that which holds us captive ~ fear, anger or other strong emotions.  Jesus sets the captives free!  We can claim that promise every single day.  I like to visualize myself sitting at Jesus feet with my head in his lap.  Elaine from
Hope In The Midst says that when she struggles she goes back to where she feels safe and loved ~ in Jesus' loving arms.  I can think of no better place to be.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Listening For God's Voice

God is speaking to me today in His gentle loving and yet powerful way.  He knows what I need to live a life filled with peace and contentment. He knows the path I need to take for healing.  He leads the way if I only listen to His voice.  I need only listen.  Begin my day listening to His voice. Walk through the day listening for His voice.  End my day listening to His voice.  In the quiet, listening.  So simple.  So difficult.  So necessary.  His voice will take me where I desire to go.  God loves me, and He is speaking to me today in His gentle loving way.  I am blessed.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Winter Wonderland

Looking down our street, we get a sense of the amount of snow that has graced our area this year.  In fact, since we took this picture another 4 inches has fallen.  The sky is so blue, and the white frost on the trees so beautiful, we just had to try to capture it in photos. 
The flu has kept me close to my sofa and Woolie (wool comforter), but there is so much to see out of our windows, I wanted to share my view with all of you!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Our Words

"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, oh Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer"
Psalm 19:14

This morning, during devotions and while listening to Joyce Meyer, the same subject kept coming up over and over.  How we use our mouth.  What we say  Who we praise  Whether our words bless or curse.  Even the thoughts that we tell ourselves are so very important. 

I find myself in a Lyme/CFS crash.  This means I am in more bone, muscle, joint, and nerve pain, weak as a kitten, struggling with brain fog, and spending most of my time horizontal under my Woolie (wool comforter) on the sofa or in bed.  It can be discouraging, but I also know that my own thoughts and words will tip the scales one way or the other in how I cope with this crash.  Do I tell myself this will never end...or do I remind myself that this too shall pass.....  Do I lay grumbling and feeling sorry for myself, or do I pick up an inspiring book to read or catch up on my rest and my correspondence, encouraging others while bonding with my sofa...  What exactly does God hear in the words that come from my mouth?  Are they pleasing to Him?

I have heard one definition of meditation as being what we continually think about or focus on.  Are the meditations of my heart acceptable to God?  Do I meditate on what is pure and lovely, on what is positive and uplifting?   Can I focus on hope and joy while under my Woolie?  Well, of course the answer to those questions is up to me.  It's about tipping the scales in my favor with good thoughts!

Today, you may find yourself worried about something...maybe feeling discouraged by the way your life is unfolding, or challenged by trials or suffering.  Remember that you are not alone.  Be kind to yourself by tipping the scales in your favor.  And remember, too, that the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts are heard by God and direct our ways.

Dear God, may our words and meditations be acceptable to you oh Lord, in every way. Amen.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Winter Blues

I just heard on the news that January 17th is the "saddest" day of the year for the general population.  Really?  How do the powers that be know that?  A survey?  A scientific study?  I guess it makes sense that the end of January can be pretty challenging.  Especially if you live in snow country!

As I pondered this news flash, I thought about how easy it is to feel joy and excitement during the holiday season.  Thanksgiving brings a feast and football!  Christmas is a time of more family gatherings and unexpected gifts.  Then we celebrate the end of the year with New Year's Eve and often January 1st finds us making resolutions ~ fresh starts! Yet, by the middle of January, many have become disheartened.  The endless cold weather adds to the discouragement we may feel.  Here in the upper Midwest, we call it the "winter blues".  Maybe even "cabin fever". 

Through the winter blues God lovingly anoints us with many fresh starts that can turn any January sadness into joy!  Each day we open our eyes is a fresh start!  Forgiveness of our sins gives us a new beginning.  The gifts of worship, inspirational music and books, and the gifts of places like Spiritual Sundays are available to help turn our sadness into joy.  The love of family and friends, and God's unconditional love and grace can fill us with so much joy that there is no room for anything else.

When the news tells us we are experiencing the saddest days of the year, don't take their word for it, just lift up your voice in praise and smile.  After all, every day is a new beginning! 

Please join Charlotte and Ginger at Spiritual Sundays to read inspirational posts or link up your own.      

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Return To Sender

For some strange reason, the chorus of an old Elvis Presley song keeps coming to mind today.  "Return to sender....return to sender...."  The song is about a man who keeps sending a letter to his girlfriend, but she keeps sending it back unopened.  It is stamped "return to sender" on the envelope.

I was wishing it was that easy to take the thoughts, fears, and worries that I sometimes struggle with and return them!  Yes, return them to the sender.  Once in awhile some physical symptom will show up and the old familiar thought comes to mind ~ "what if the cancer is back" followed by a tightening of my stomach and a shortness of breath.   Or maybe my husband is late coming home and I let worry creep in.  At times we are our own worst enemies, as we let worry, fear, and the what-ifs play a big part in our days. 

I have been learning to replace those thoughts and today it came to me to return them to the sender.  Satan. Satan does not want us to be at peace or to be living a full life for the Lord. I think one of his most powerful tools is f e a r.  It has the ability to hold us captive. 

I read an article a few months ago that a woman wrote about her journey with cancer.  She stated that you can remove cancer from the body, but not from the mind.  I can attest that, just like other worries, it does take effort to remove it from the mind.  There are a few things I do to shift my thinking patterns when it comes to worrying about the cancer returning, or finances, other health issues, our children, etc.

My first line of defense is prayer.  Reading scriptures is very helpful and I have some old favorites that bring great comfort.  I often say, "I trust You, Lord" and plan to begin each morning with those words!  I try to step back and be a gentle observer, remembering what I know to be true  for now.  I remind myself that I am okay for today....and I try to take the power out of the fear by saying something like, "Oh, there is that old companion fear of cancer again".  "Oh, there is that old companion fear...or worry....or doubt...or criticism..."  I often distract myself with inspirational music or visualizing something beautiful.  Often I write something I need to hear myself, but that I know will also be helpful to others.

If you are a person who has fear, worry, or some other negative thoughts trying to take up residence in your daily life, there are many ways to close the door on them.  I Timothy 1:7 says "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love, and a sound mind."  Return those unwanted thoughts to the sender, and fill your mind with what is good, pure, and lovely.  One thought at a time.

Now if I can just get that old Elvis song out of my mind!

Sunday, January 2, 2011


"Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established."
Proverbs 4: 25

Waking up to the second day of 2011, I find myself to be moving forward with great caution. The word "ponder" in this translation of Proverbs 4:25 is something I relate to.  I am pondering what lies ahead....with our Lyme treatments, CFS/ME management, Joel's future retirement, and where and when to retire. There are a lot of unanswered questions and big decisions that lie ahead.  Some will be life-changing.  If I let myself focus only on these, it becomes overwhelming.  But when I focus on God and remember He is walking with us and guiding our steps, it is possible to look forward with anticipation and joy to what adventures lie ahead.  

It really is okay, and I believe necessary to ponder. Ponder God's love and grace in your lives, ponder the steps ahead and where he is leading you..ponder the purposes for the valley and mountain-top experiences, ponder where you are today...and where you are going.  Ponder but remain steady.  

The New Living Translation tells us in this same verse, "Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you.  Mark out a straight path for your feet, stay on the safe path." 

There is is~ Ponder....but keep your focus on God and what lies before you.  When we commit our steps to God, we will be on the right path...the safe path...and our ways will be established.  Firm...steady. 

There really is no need to tip-toe into 2011 when I remember that this year, like every other, is in God's hands.  We can trust Him to light the way!

Happy New Year to each of you!  May 2011 be filled with an abundance of God's love and grace in your lives as the year unfolds.