Thank You, dear Father in heaven, for my beautiful plants! You know how each one delights me as I sit with You at sunrise and again at sunset. I see the fingers of Your dawn through a feathery fern, heart shaped ivy leaves, and the clustered leaves of my poinsettia. I see the last wistful glimmers of sun each evening through the scraggly arms of a plant I found by the dumpster but which has survived.
And I am reminded of my own life. You took what was a wrecked and painful heart and made it live and grow. You gave me love, just like the song that led me to give my heart to You, Jesus.
And dear One, as I look up that song on the internet, tears flow at Your deep and tender stirring. I remember that night, 35 years ago, as I cried out for help to I knew not who – and You answered with this song by B.J. Thomas on the car radio.
Thank You, dearest Father, for healing all that pain and bringing so much joy through all of these years. Thank You for giving me a place of service, through writing, for others who need your love. Help them see that–though they may feel as undesirable and broken as a plant tossed in the trash–You long to heal them and make them whole and to fill them with Your peace and joy.
Help them also learn to let Your love shine through them to reach other hurting souls. Show them that Your full love and Your full beauty reside in each heart given to Your service, no matter the outward appearance of the earthly tabernacle in which that heart dwells.
Dear friend, listen to this song. You will feel God’s love . . .
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:
God sent His beloved and only Son Jesus to save me from my sins and give me eternal life. (John 3:16)
God promises to never leave me or forsake me –never, no never!
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!
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.
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.”
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.
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?
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
Get outside and look at the beauty of God’s creation. Nature has power to soothe and to heal.
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.
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.
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
“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)
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.
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!
It had been such a beautiful Saturday morning! I “awakened the dawn”, as the Psalmist David says. For a solid hour, I sat with a cup of coffee and watched the sun rise and then dapple the trees with its rays, then shine in full brilliance.
After such a glorious start, motivation was high enough to tackle cleaning up my writing papers, a most necessary but long-delayed task. During that dreaded process I found an unexpected bill for $100, due this month, which meant I could not do the too long delayed oil change, pay the small fee to have the ring my daughter gave me 20 years ago repaired, nor could I keep buying lots of low calorie fresh food which had FINALLY helped me take off five of the 30 pounds I needed to drop because of high blood pressure. My happy bubble burst and I just lay down for a few minutes – to rest and to pray.
“Well, Lord, maybe now is the time to finally eat out of my cupboards until they are totally bare. You know I am trying desperately to lose weight and losing weight with the food that I already have in the house seems impossible, but I am going to try it. I will trust in You to either help me lose weight or else be content with staying as I am.
Please forgive me for ungrateful for all Your generosity. Help me fully appreciate that it is a luxury to even think about weight loss when so many are desperately trying to just stay alive. Teach me this month, dear Lord, what You want me to learn. And thank you for reminding me of the Scripture “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” (Proverbs 24:10, New American Standard version). Help me be strong in what is really an easy task. And let’s have fun with it!”
To be honest, that thought about having fun with it surprised me, but then when I pray I am always surprised at the wonderful thoughts God gives. I’m sure He laughed at that one. Here is a record of the fun we had that month.
I immediately put a bag of pinto beans in water to soak.
I made a list of my low calorie soup ingredients, which were cheap as well as healthy and would be enough fresh food.
I checked everything in every kitchen cabinet and found I had more than enough to do just fine, I had: A box of popcorn, two boxes of diet chocolate pudding, five cans of beans, four cans of vegetables, a box and a half of oatmeal, two jars of applesauce, two boxes of six-pack crackers for snacks for my grandsons, one box of chocolate poptarts (my secret super indulgence for years), five tins of smoked sardines (which I genuinely like), two packs of ground beef in the freezer, and on and on – you get the picture. I had PLENTY of food in my cabinets and refrigerator.
Bottom line? That month was just fine. I never went hungry and even managed to stay the same weight. And through it all I was reminded, each day, with every meal and snack that I had, that I was eating far, far better than many Americans were eating this month and countless millions across the globe.
What I initially thought was a bad thing God had, as always, turned out for my good. I had needed a fresh reminder to be truly, sincerely grateful and to fervently pray for those struggling in true poverty.
What a kind and loving Father He is to gently nudge us toward truths we need to remember!
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.
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.
My personality type constantly plans and sets goals, sometimes to excess, I admit. Below are two good links about making goals and plans. My two main goals for 2016 are to be more grateful and to trust God more. (Along with trusting God, of course, goes worrying less!) I encourage myself often by remembering that nothing is impossible with God. As Proverbs 16:3 says “Commit to the LORD whatever you do and your plans will succeed (New International Version.)
This fist link regarding goals is entitled “Personal Goal Setting: Planning to Live Your Life Your Way.” Although this webpage is not about setting goals as a Christ follower, you can adapt it for goals related to your life with God. http://bit.ly/1LabpRU
The next link entitled “Five Tips for Setting Christian Goals” focuses specifically on spiritual goals. I found it personally highly useful and thought-provoking. http://bit.ly/1Zw3B6P
And Have Fun Planning and Anticipating!
If you have ever watched the amazing things dogs do during obstacle course competition, one thing is clear: the dogs are having a great time – doing what they are meant to do. We, too, are made to be overcomers. Let’s enjoy the journey!
Dear Father in heaven,
I ask that You would graciously guide each of us, as You promise in James 1. As we trust You, give us wisdom in setting goals for the next year. Help us not to get caught up in the process or start depending upon ourselves. Rather, keep reminding us that You are in charge of our lives and that You have everything in control. All we need to do is serve you with our whole heart, and soul and mind and trust You for the results. We love You, Jesus!”
This last week I’ve had extra time to work on my blogs because my teacher son-in-law has been home to help with childcare. I confess I’ve gotten myself overwhelmed by too much planning. How can I improve my blogs, how can I EVER get comfortable with Facebook and Twitter? How can I find more time to write and do all the peripheral work related to blogging without sacrificing these next few precious preschool years with my grandsons? The answer? I cannot, of course.
All my writing is about how to “focus on your family”, which is the God-directed duty of every parent. I can reduce my family time and try to bulldoze my way to success. Or, I can choose to trust God and keep priorities in line. Just as He has worked every single thing in my life out for my good (Romans 8:28!!) so He will continue to do so.
It Does Take Faith!
I admit it takes faith to spend hours with the family when I still have not done so much that the expert bloggers recommend. But I know, day by day, God and I are taking huge steps, and I am learning to “build my author platform” so that eventually publishers will be interested.
God NEVER Leaves Us and He NEVER Forsakes Us – NEVER!
I can no longer stay up late and get up early to do the writing, as I did when Sharon was little. However, over the years God has graciously shown me the effectiveness of prayer and faith and committing all that I do to Him. God has no favorites. And just as He enabled George Mueller to accomplish a lifetime of miracles through prayer alone, He will help me with the writer’s life to which He has called me. Below is a link to a description of this amazing believer’s life. I read an entire book about him years ago. I have always remembered, that, as this link says:
“God answered his prayers. The needs of the orphanage were met each day. Sometimes a wealthy person would send a large amount of money, or a child would give a small amount received as a gift or for doing chores. Many times food, supplies or money came at the last minute, but God always provided without George telling anyone about his needs. He just prayed and waited on God.”
By God’s unfathomable grace, may we all spend more time in prayer about our work for God! As the hymn at the link below says – He never fails, He yet prevails! Have faith in God. . . have faith in God!”
If you are like me, Christmas brings back childhood memories and, so often, Currier and Ives pictures of Christmas, like the beautiful one below.
However, I am sure that no one will have a completely perfect day today, like we long for when we see such happy, wholesome scenes.
We do have reality. Kids (and adults!) will get cranky waiting on the Christmas dinner, brothers and sisters will fight over the new toys, someone will say something hurtful, and on and on with our all too human imperfections. That is reality.
The far greater reality is that Christmas is about Christ, the greatest gift that has ever or will ever be given. Reality is that God loved the world so much that He sent His son Jesus to be our Savior and our Redeemer, to show us the way to live as God would have us live. (That’s the famous “John 3:16” verse.)
How wonderful if we cultivate a grateful heart — in the midst of Christmas day imperfections. We can, if we choose, focus on thanking and praising our loving Heavenly Father for loving us so!
Dear Father in Heaven,
Thank You for sending Your Son Jesus into this broken world, to show by His example how we are to live. Help me to be a channel of Your love to everyone I see. Help me please You with the “words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart” on this, the most beautiful day. Happy birthday, Jesus! I love You!
Psalm 19:14 “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (New International Version, 1973)