Category Archives: ENCOURAGEMENT

Seven Reasons to Be Grateful. . . Every Day

Blue Sky

Everyone I know has problems, and sometimes they seem overwhelming. My personality type tends to fret and worry and see the negative – about everything!  But that is merely a tendency, and by the grace of God, I am getting better at replacing that negativity with a grateful attitude.

How I wish I had overcome this habit of mind years earlier!  Recent clinical research is repeatedly showing strong linkages between heart disease and negative states of mind, such as depression and anxiety. But I choose to look ahead, not behind. I am striving to do as the apostle Paul said in Phillipians 3:12, to “press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Jesus came so that we may have abundant life – not one filled with sorrow, sadness, and worry!

So, this day, although it is blisteringly hot in Texas and the world in general seems a dark place at this point in history, I am grateful that:

  1. God sent His beloved and only Son Jesus to save me from my sins and give me eternal life. (John 3:16)
  2. God promises to never leave me or forsake me – never, no never!
  3. God always empowers us to do whatever He tells us to do. Jesus said, “Be of good cheer because I have overcome the world!” We CAN have an upbeat attitude!
  4. God has given clear guidance in the Bible on how to live a blessed joyous life – I only have to study and apply what I learn.
  5. When I have doubts about how my life is turning out, I can rely on the promise in Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him [act like you know Him—my words] and He will direct your path.”
  6. James 1:5 reassures us that “If any of you lack wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” Verses 6 through 8 tell us that we must believe and not doubt that God will give us wisdom. Remember: He empowers us to do what He tells us to.
  7. Finally, when doing the things listed above seems hard, I read Psalm 103 over and over and over. I especially focus on verses 11 through 14:  

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.  As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.

As I gaze at the clear blue sky, that vast expanse of moisture that cradles the earth, I marvel at God’s unavoidable reminder of His love and compassion for us. He has placed His blue heavens over every human being on our planet, just like a human father tenderly places a soft blanket over his sleeping child. How dare I doubt His love?

Blue Sky

 

The Blessing of a Health Scare – Post 1 of ?

At first glance, serious health scares are just plain bad.  Yet mine has been a great blessing . . . because it clarified priorities.

Now in my early sixties, I’ve lived super healthy since my Dad’s fatal heart attack in 1986 and my Mom’s early strokes soon after. Last March, a cardiologist explained three fairly serious issues with my heart.  I stared, unseeing, at the yellow legal pad in my lap, unable to ask the questions I’d prepared. Could the sterile white walls and glinting chrome in my doctor’s office soon be replaced with the even starker sterility of a hospital room, pungent with antiseptics?

Later, the gifted counselor I see monthly to prevent the return of depression suggested that I ask, “What would I do if I knew I had six months to live?” She had asked herself that question after her own health scare wake-up call.

So, what did I do? First, I made all my habits even healthier.  Immediately!

Second, I began getting my affairs in order, starting long-delayed tasks such as letters to my loved ones and planning my own funeral.

Third, I pondered priorities for however long I remained on this earth, be it six months, six years, or whatever.  Four clear goals emerged:

  • improve my relationship with God
  • live as healthy a lifestyle as possible
  • invest more time in people and relationships
  • resume the writing and blogging I had put on hold shortly before learning about the heart issues.

Yes, these had been my goals before but now. . .now I REALLY focused. My dear Heavenly Father led me by the hand with each goal, just as I hold my grandsons’ warm little hands to guide them and keep them close while we walk together.  In the next few posts, I look forward to sharing the paths we have taken together.

May God richly bless you and yours,

Freda

Taking time to reconnoiter. . . with the “God of angel armies”

The word ” reconnoiter” means to examine or survey an area.  That is what I have been doing recently regarding blogging and writing.    Blogging and building an author’s “platform” (that is, a large group of loyal readers) takes so much time and effort that it leaves little time (and energy!) to actually write.   I must find the right balance between these two efforts.

This blog and my other one  http://stopfeelingpoornow.com/ are NOT going away!

I am stopping for time alone with God, to reflect and hear from Him what He wants for this work.  This writing is for Him and for you, not me. So please pray for me as I seek His will for this work.

I pray that you will have daily joy on your individual journey.  None of us know just where the path of life will lead, but we have His assurance that our dear Father in heaven has good plans for us.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

sketch winding road

A Haunting Question. . . Did My Father Make It To Heaven?

Treasured Memories of my Earthly Father

I was sitting with the Lord, enjoying a second cup of coffee, replaying in my mind the rich, soothing baritone of Ed Ames I’d listened to last night. Suddenly, tears were streaming down my cheeks. Baritone voices always reminded me of my Dad.

Daddy’s voice had been strong, deep and marvelously resonant. Though every inch a man’s man, when he talked to me his voice was always gentle.  Just the sound of him talking  – about anything –  soothed whatever was wrong.

Though Daddy passed in 1986, the pain of missing him still burns.  I was a new believer back then.  I had studied, diligently, how to witness to people and I tried talking to Daddy, but I did not do very well  Daddy had not gone to church the last few years of his life and did not seem to want to talk much about God with me.

So, when he passed the question of whether I would see him in heaven began haunting me.  I have talked about my Daddy in previous posts, http://bit.ly/1SIexOu.  But truly, words are inadequate to say how much he meant to me.  Daddy and my daughter, Sharon, shown below when she was 10, remain the two great human loves of my lifetime.

Daddy and Sharon, My Two Great Loves
Daddy and Sharon, My Two Great Loves

Treasured Truth from my Heavenly Father

God sends a comforting thought every time I wonder about Daddy’s eternal home.  God promises when I get to heaven, there will be no more tears, no more sadness. . . that somehow I will see things from God’s perspective.  So that means if Daddy did not make it, the pain of missing him will be gone, which is another mystery of God far, far beyond my understanding.

But I accept this truth by faith.

And the several times each day when  I think of Daddy, I thank God that Daddy showed me what a strong, loving and tender father is like.  The love of my earthly father, Fred Farmer, prepared the way for me to walk in grateful closeness with my beloved Heavenly Father.  That is a priceless gift, and a deeply cherished treasure.

Thank you, Father, for my Daddy and his love for me and all his family.  May those who did not have the good fortune of a Daddy like mine be able to feel the same tenderness from You and the security of a close walk with You.  And if they have hurtful memories, You are the Great Physician.  Please heal those past hurts and put in their place a deep, deep love and passion for You.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Sunrise . . . Sunset, Proclaiming God’s Power and His Tender Care

God Changes Our World to Focus Our Thoughts and Give Us Hope

My windows face west so I cannot see the horizon change as the day dawns.  But God changes the world for us twice each day. At sunset, as well as at sunrise, the beauty is beyond words.

As light dispels all darkness, so His love dispels all fear
As light dispels all darkness, so His love dispels all fear

Late into sunset, the lacey black silhouettes of trees stand in sharp contrast to the rosey and flamed  hues visible just above the horizon.  Above that, those rosey hues merge into brighter hues of blue and then finally  fade to deep indigo, as God puts this half of His earth to sleep, so the plants and animals – and His beloved human beings — may rest.   The following  link displays sunrisings and sunsettings, with reverential, worshipful music.  Look at it and ponder God’s great love for you, as an individual.   http://bit.ly/1OYcq4B

Gazing long at the western sky comforts me. It reminds me that God controls the entire universe, the unseen as well as the seen.  The beauty of sunset also reminds me that the mighty One, the God of angel armies, is taking just as much care with my one little life as He is with keeping the planets in balance.  What an unspeakable treasure to ponder!  How can it possibly be?  But, yet, I know it is true.

God Encourages Us Through the Beauty of Nature

The books of Catherine Marshall played a key role in leading me to Jesus.  One of my favorites of her books was ” Christy”.   (Here is a link to purchase a copy of the original 1967 book, which later became a television series.  http://amzn.to/1Vyi5A2)  In “Christy”, a man struggling with doubt is advised to arise while it is still dark and watch the sunrise, every day, until he hears from God.

It worked for him, and it has worked for me for decades – without fail, no matter the current challenges in my life. My heavenly Father’s comfort and peace never fail to calm my soul and soothe troubled emotions as I watch His mighty hand paint the sky.  Being alone with God like that feels like a gentle hug from my big, strong earthly father, whose calming presence was one of the greatest blessings of my life.

Psalm 19, verse 1 in the Bible says “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.” (NIV)

For transcendant thoughts on this passage by Bible scholars, click this link – and be blessed! http://bit.ly/1nFhWAv

"The heavens declare the glory of God. . . " (Psalm 19:1,a NIV)
“The heavens declare the glory of God. . . ” (Psalm 19:1,a NIV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six No-Cost Ways to Encourage Yourself

We All Need Encouragement

Every human being  has some ho-hum days and some days when they just feel down.  It is part of the human condition.  Sometimes, such days are indicators that we need to take time to consider how we are living and whether we need to make some changes.  Other days are just those ho-hum days.

God Longs to Give You Comfort and Hope

Here  are five cures for those days when you just feel your life is blah, though you know it is not.

  1. Simply talk to God, out loud , just as if He were a human being and could not understand you unless you spoke in actual words. Putting words to our feelings always calms us down because it prevents wild thoughts from spinning around and around inside.  God wants us to bring each detail of our life to Him, the good and the bad.  He tells us that in I Peter, chapter 5, verse 7:  “Cast all your anxiety on Him [God] because He cares for you.” [emphasis added]    It often helps to write out your prayers to God.
  2. Count your blessings – literally. Start making a list.  Here is a link to several versions of the beautiful hymn that says to “Count your many blessings, name them one by one. . . and it will surprise you what the Lord has done. ” Listen, really listen, to the words.   http://yhoo.it/1SHAXP0
  3. Get the focus off yourself by calling a friend who is going through hard times and give them the encouragement you wish you could hear for yourself. Do this in a conscious effort to obey God by helping to carry each other’s burdens. (Galations 6:2) http://bit.ly/23vE1lk   You simply cannot “outgive” God.  He always rewards obedience.  Try it and see.
  4. Soak your heart in the Psalms, or your other favorite Bible passages. Here is a link to a list of six Psalms that will encourage you, along with comments by a pastor, Zac Poonen, of a church in Colorado. http://bit.ly/1NCSfoR
  5. Listen to uplifting music. Try some of the 30  uplifting  Christian songs listed at this link.  Whether you feel like it at this moment, you ARE  an overcomer by the power of the blood of the spotless Lamb of God! http://bit.ly/1PUWUEr
  6. Get outside and look at the beauty of God’s creation.  Nature has power to soothe  and to heal.

    Nature is everywhere - because God loves us!
    Nature is everywhere – because God loves us!

If You Feel Down Often

Dear reader, if you consistently feel down, you may be depressed and not realize it.   Go to this link  http://abt.cm/1CBrYso    There is a quiz at the top of the page you can take.  If you are consistently feeling down, you most likely are depressed and you need to talk with a counselor.   Please, please do so.  If you do not get help, you will keep feeling worse and worse.  I was in that position many times over my lifetime until I learned to reach out for professional help when I needed it.  Depression is dangerous and hurts you as well as  everyone around you.  If you do not get help, it gets worse each time it happens.  Please get help. Do not try to do it alone. 

Classic Hymns to Give You Hope

The Magic of Music

The simplest way I know to explain how God can comfort  a troubled soul simply by hearing a beautiful song is “magic”, simply “God’s magic.”  Scholars have produced a large body of scientific research on the power of music to soothe and to heal, books have been written, we all talk about it – but only God can really explain it.

The Classic Hymns are Filled with Bible Truths

Music. . . God's Incomprehensible Magic for the Human Soul
Music. . . God’s Incomprehensible Magic for the Human Soul

I count it one of my biggest blessings that I grew up attending a Southern Baptist Church and each week sang the old hymns of the church.  The early hymn writers used the Bible as their primary source of inspiration.  So the lyrics to these beautiful hymns are packed with Bible truths and phrases.

Below are some of my favorite hymns.  Listen and let God touch your heart through His magic of music.

And don’t stop with just these few.  If you enter the title of any hymn into a search engine, you will find an abundance of styles from which to choose.  And if you do not know the titles, type in “List of Christian Hymns” or “Most Loved Christian Hymns”.

“He Leadeth Me”   http://yhoo.it/1VmoYEw

“O God, Our Help in Ages Past.”  http://yhoo.it/1TkFHJQ

“Jesus, the Light of the World.”http://yhoo.it/1OLqMFl

“The Solid Rock”  http://yhoo.it/1S7xeKU

“Count Your Blessings” http://bit.ly/1POwAf1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Magic of Love

The Power of Love to Give Joy and Hope
The Power of Love to Give Joy and Hope

The first time I held my baby daughter in my arms I felt courage and determination flow into my heart.  The hospital window framed the faint pre-dawn light as I nursed her and then snuggled her close. It was a moment I knew I would remember for all my life.  I had never loved this fiercely before, ever, and I would do anything to protect her and take good, good care of her.

Not only did I feel an infusion of courage to face my dominating in-laws, I also felt totally, thoroughly happy.  Blissful is the word.  And that bliss endures to this very day whenever I see her.

This experience of falling in love with our children is common to most parents. And once our babies are all grown up and gone from our nest – but never our hearts – we have time to reflect on how giving love to our children changed us and how it benefitted us as much as them.

Why?  Love floods the lover with warm and tender feelings, whether you are feeling love for your baby, a child, a pet, or another adult.  There is a scientific basis for this that I did not know  way back in the mid 1970s when my precious little baby girl was born.  A hormone called oxytocin is released into our bodies when we experience love.   Here is one explanation of this blessing God has given us.

This Bliss Hormone Can Heal Your Body: The Many Benefits of Oxytocin

A special chemical in your body, called oxytocin, helps to create the feeling of falling in love.

Sometimes referred to as the hormone of “forgetting oneself,” oxytocin plays an important role in birth, lactation, bonding, and orgasm.

The hormone of love, oxytocin, influences the digestive system as much as it influences the brain. Oxytocin has been proven to cool gastrointestinal inflammation to alleviate food sensitivities, autoimmune disorders, and even Candida infections!

Oxytocin can act like a psychological buffer. Nature wired both men and women to experience an oxytocin surge (or several) during moments of bonding with each other or their children.

Oxytocin naturally enhances a sense of:

  • Optimism
  • Trust
  • Mastery
  • Self-esteem

(retrieved from   http://bit.ly/1Ph4e2E   on January 20, 2016)

Simply loving my daughter for all these years has helped  me far, far more than it has helped her. Being in love with my daughter has healed hurts so deep I did not know they existed. And trying to take good care of her has shaped my decisions for the good.

What is the source of all love?  Chapter 4, verse 8 in First John tells us “Whoever does not love does not know God because God is love.”  (New International Version) [emphasis added].  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

How like our loving Heavenly Father to make what He tells us to do be so beneficial for us.  And how can we not love Him for loving us?  Loving Him floods us with an even more intense feeling of bliss that truly transcends the power of words to express.  Thank You, Lord!

Join me  in returning this love to Him as you listen to the song “The Love of God” by Mercy Me.    http://bit.ly/1V8qxWD

How Much God Loves Us
How Much God Loves Us

 

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is the love of God for those who fear Him.”  Psalm 103:11 (NIV)

Think about it.

 

 

Daddy called me “baby doll”

Words can hurt

Words can hurt and words can heal, as we all know.   Bullying labels from childhood can sting long into adulthood.  As a six-foot-tall teenager back in the 60s, my constant greeting from one boy was “Ho, ho, ho.  Here comes the jolly green giant.”  You can see the commercial that led to this emotionally crushing moniker at   http://yhoo.it/1KaYAHH

It took decades, literally decades, before I could accept that God did not make a mistake when He made me six feet tall.

Words can heal,  encourage, and nurture the heart

Fortunately, although I had the painful experiences common to all teens,  I also had a loving, tender father.   On the outside, and in the outside world, Daddy was a John Wayne kind of man – masculine, no-nonsense, strong and often silent.  He was the superintendent of a rock mine and in that role as a leader of men, he had to be strong.

1john wayne

But as soon as Daddy came home each night, my world was complete and my heart was at peace, just because he was there.   Daddy called me “baby doll”, a term of deepest endearment I still use with my own grown-up daughter.  And it is a strange thing – whenever I call Sharon “baby doll” I still feel Daddy’s love – and that feeling gets richer and warmer each passing year.

A father’s love – a priceless inheritance for his family

My parents both did a wonderful job raising their family.  They taught me values that have shaped my life for the good.  As a Daddy’s girl, the tender love of my father was the greatest of all possible gifts.  That love helped me accept the concept of a Heavenly Father who was loving and tender and who would take care of me and keep me safe.

This unfathomable love of God for us is described in Psalm 103, verses 11 through 14.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His [God’s] love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.  As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust. [emphasis added] (New International Version)

I am grateful beyond words for an earthly Daddy who showed me what my Heavenly Father’s love is like.  And I am so very grateful I get to pass that love on to family and friends!

1montana sky

 

Trees. . . so pleasing to the human eye!

1treesPEACEFULforestSCENE

Few things are as calming to my soul as trees.  All kinds of trees, in all seasons, in all locations – they all comfort my heart and, “magically”, make me feel secure.   And I can explain why.

Pleasing to the eye

In telling us about creation, God says in Genesis chapter 2, verse 9:

And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye [emphasis added] and good for food.” (New International Version). 

I have always loved the outdoors, though I’ve been a city dweller all my life.  Maybe that’s one reason I’ve always loved trees – they are a part of nature that is in cities and yet remain much as they would be in the woods.    Their branches reach outward from a trunk in the same way, their leaves sway with the wind in the same way, and they stretch their branches up toward heaven in the same way.   Trees do this whether they are in a city or in a wilderness where no one but God sees them.

The Bible tells us that God called all that He created “good”.  I believe God thinks trees are beautiful, too.  I believe that they are pleasing to His eye, just as they are to mine.  Our all-powerful Father in heaven, our Creator and the Creator of the universe, could have made earth obtain its oxygen in an invisible manner.  But He chose to cover the earth with beautiful flowers, bushes, and trees. . . majestic, glorious, upward-reaching trees.

1autumn_trres_PANORAMIC

Whether you live on a mountain with a panoramic view all around or, like me, in an urban area with one tree outside my window, I pray you will pause and let the beauty of trees bring you pleasure, as God intended.  Let them remind you to lift your heart towards heaven, just as the trees lift their branches to heaven.

“The heavens declare the glory of God. . . ” (Psalm 19:1, NIV)

Together with all of creation, let us praise and glorify and love the wonderful One who made us and gave us such a beautiful earth to call our temporary home.

1TREE_ONLYONE_LOOKING UPINTO IT