Category Archives: HARD TIMES

Never give up!

Image result for free picture of discouragementDo not give up when you (just) need to get up! You know, I began this post with a no-matter-how-tired-I-am-or-how-long-it-takes-I’m-going-to-start-blogging-again-today-attitude. But I had no idea what to write. That, alone, made me want to give up. So did confronting truth. For the last ten months, I had not written, which is my main work for God.

Fear and discouragement. What happened? Fear and discouragement. Two times in those months, I had to adjust daily habits because of new health issues. I made those adjustments but still did not resume writing. Why? I gave in to fear and discouragement — even though I know God is taking care of me, that it is He who works in me, and that if I try to serve Him with all my heart, He is responsible for the outcome, not me. Yet, the enemy of our souls, the devil, is crafty and, as John 10:10 says, ” … the thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy.” (NIV) His goal is the same for all of us.

Do not let the enemy steal what Christ died to give you. In John 10: 1-21, Jesus gives us the parable “The Good Shepherd and His Sheep.” A good shepherd risks his very life for his sheep, lying down at night across the entrance into the sheep pen, ready to fight off wolves and other predators. Not only was He willing, but Jesus did indeed give His life for us. And our beloved Jesus said “I came that they may have and enjoy life and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows.) (Amplified Version).

Notice that Jesus said He came so we could have life AND enjoy life AND have it in abundance. The devil is always fighting against what God is doing. He fights to stop people from believing in God, then he fights to keep them from following God, and then he fights to keep them from having an abundant life.  

Jesus gives an abundant life. Abundant life includes the joy of sharing God with others by using the gifts God has given us. This is what the enemy of our souls stole from me — for a little while– by making me feel afraid and making me feel discouraged. Notice the word feel.

Fear and discouragement are only feelings. Among his other traits, the devil is a liar. I may feel that I will not be able to write but First John 4:4 tells me that the One who lives in me, Jesus, is stronger than the devil, who is in the world. I may feel discouraged, but in Isaiah 41:10 my loving heavenly Father tells me, “… do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

I still feel some fear and doubt, but in Christ we can do all that we need to do! We can quench the flaming arrows of fear that come from the enemy by resisting him with the Word, just like Jesus did.

Try one more time! So I say, dear friend: whatever it is that you have been afraid to do for God, don’t give up! Ask God for His guidance about it and then rely on His strength. When God calls us to do something, He will supply all that we need to do it. All we need do is get up and stop sitting down where we fell down! We can trust God, ask Him to help us stand and then to walk and then to continue serving Him where we left off. He does not condemn or criticize us for falling down! He is close to the brokenhearted and He saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18, NIV)

God understands how we feel! Jesus is our great High Priest who has felt everything we will ever feel and so very much more. God has no favorites. If He can help me resume writing, after ten months of fear and failures, He can help you do whatever He has called you to do to help others Just stand up and lean on Him, not your own understanding and He will guide your path, as He promises in Proverbs 3:5-6.

When we stand up and step out, we may not hear trumpets but, believe me, they are sounding in heaven itself! When we seek to serve God by sharing His truth and His love, the God of angel armies is by our side!

Dear Father in heaven, thank You for once again giving clear guidance to Your child. Forgive me for procrastination, for yielding to fear and discouragement and laziness and whatever else was going on inside that I cannot even identify. I ask for Your help in faithfully ministering this gift of writing. I ask that You help anyone reading this to continue ministering their own gifts to others, whatever those gifts may be. Empower us as we live each day to bless those You put into our path. We love You Jesus! Amen.

My problem is NOT my problem!

Problems, problems. As I type, my knees bump into the four storage boxes residing under the smallish  table I use as a desk. I struggle to tune out neighbors’ voices seeping through thin walls as I try to concentrate. My back and eyes complain after 30 minutes of computer work although I worked at a desk for long hours throughout my life.

I could go on describing the obstacles to working on this blog and my other writing and editing. But, I recently re-learned, as Joyce Meyer so aptly phrased it “Your problem is not your problem!” I typed that, in calligraphy, size 18 font, and put it over my desk. “Help me, Lord! I must remember that attitude makes all the difference.) I look at that reminder now as I type this blog post. And I smile.

I must trust God, not my own strength or resources.  I listen to Joyce Meyer’s daily television show at 6:30 a.m. (See www.joycemeyer.org or the link below for powerful help for everyday life.)

http://bit.ly/2eBwNHC

The morning I heard “Your problem is not your problem!” I was exhausted because loud neighbors had kept me awake until 2:00 a.m.  However, the Word of God, which Joyce Meyer proclaims, is alive and has power to change us. That teaching from the Bible about keeping your focus right changed my attitude.  For too long excuses had delayed working on this blog – fatigue due to new health problems, cramped working space, etc. and etc. and etc. Yuk! I slowly began developing the habit of writing regularly again.

Keep the main thing the main thing. Since 1981, when I became a Christ follower, I have by God’s grace, endeavored to put God first in all things. When I’ve failed, things went badly until I refocused on seeking God hour by hour, day by day. God has faithfully provided all I’ve needed and so much more.  He promises this in Matthew 6:33 “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.” (New Living Translation)

Free HQ Blue In The Mountains Wallpaper - Free HQ Wallpapers

Seek Him first … you’ll have all you need! He promises! Click on the link below to hear a gentle but life-giving chorus I’ve loved for years.  The majestic scenes of God’s beloved earth that accompany this chorus remind me of Who He is, who I am, how much He loves me, and how able He is to take care of little, insignificant me. Oh, how He loves His precious human beings!

https://yhoo.it/2eBuNzl

 

Hope when you fall down

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Encouragement from 12 words. The picture above is actually a greeting card I found more than 15 years ago. I framed it then hung it in the graduate students’ office I shared with three other students. The picture next adorned the wall over the desk in my own office where I worked as an educational researcher.  Now it hangs next to baby pictures of my two grandsons .  The card reads “I get up. I walk. I fall down.  Meanwhile I keep dancing.”

Returning to school in mid life included hard work, many bumps and many missteps. I needed daily, sometimes hourly, encouragement to persevere! Fortunately, by that stage in life I could find “joy in the journey” so I savored the process of learning , though those years were hard.

“Be strong and courageous”  Potholes and pitfalls also abound on my current path — becoming an established author. I think often of God’s words to Joshua, who faced the challenge of leading the nation of Israel into a land occupied by enemies. God told Joshua “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them [the enemies who occupied the land], for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6, New International Version.

” … hope and a future.”  How wonderful to be reassured that God is with us! How encouraging to remember, too, that He has good plans for our lives, as He says in Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)  “ 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.”  When I remember that God has promised to always be with me, and that He has specific, wonderful plans for my life, I find the strength to get up, brush myself off, and keep enjoying this wonderful life of obeying and trusting God.

Waltz Dance Royalty Free Stock Image

In hard times, keep dancing!  Though I’ve rarely danced , I adore movies of older times when men and women in elegant attire glided around gilded ballrooms, swaying in flawless synchrony to a lilting waltz. I like to think that, when I get to heaven, I’ll dance with Jesus. And our first dance? A waltz!

Hope from a famous horse race

 

Do you give the horse its strength or clothe its neck with a flowing mane? Do you make it leap like a locust, striking terror with its proud snorting? It paws fiercely, rejoicing in its strength, and charges into the fray.” (Job 39:19-21, NIV)\

 

Beauty inspires us. Is anything more beautiful than a running horse?  Its muscular chest thrust its powerful legs forward while its mighty hindquarters propel the rear legs in perfect symmetry.  Power and poetry, beauty beyond the telling.

Beauty inspires us. God designed us that way, and He filled the earth with beauty so that wherever we look in His creation, we  see His touch and feel pleasure in what He has created for us. Horses, in particular, inspire me, and one famous horse race in particular never fails to stir the embers of my hope, no matter how discouraged I may feel.

Secretariat at Claiborne Farm

A most famous race. On June 9, 1973, a race horse named Secretariat (or “Big Red” as his multitude of fans called him) won the Belmont Stakes in a world record time of 2 minutes 24 seconds. His record stands today.  Secretariat’s speed averaged 37.5 miles an hour. And he finished 31 lengths ahead of his nearest competitor.

As you watch this famous race at the link below, you will notice that the other horses stayed fairly close to Secretariat at first, but then that legendary horse pulled ahead. Then he was way out ahead, then he was “ … alone … moving like a tremendous machine!”

How can I not have hope? I liken Secretariat’s race to the way the enemy of our souls tries to outrun us.  He may keep up with us for a little while or even get ahead, just as Sham did with Secretariat. But when God’s power surges up in our hearts, we pull ahead further and further and further.  The enemy is totally defeated.  No contest whatsoever. He is not even in the running.

So, when the bills add up, when the body complains, when the everydayness of life gets me down, I watch Secretariat run this race. And I ponder the omnipotence of my loving heavenly Father.  How can I not have hope? The  One who created and sustains the universe loves me beyond the telling, and He is on my side. I’ve read the end of God’s book, the Bible, and we win!

http://yhoo.it/2drKcBD

How many times can God renew hope?

Shimmering, glimmering leaves in the wind –  let me so yield to whatever You send!

In bright golden times and dark, dreary days – let me so live that my living gives praise!

Running out of hope. This morning, like most mornings, I had coffee while looking at the large oak growing beside the patio door. An early gentle wind of autumn blew through the leaves, making them glint like ripples shining on a lake.

It had been a hard month, with challenging medical and financial news, not one but two bouts with a cold, a flat tire, and on and on I could go with things of the world that had too often stolen my peace.

“Lord, I need Your help every moment now more than ever it seems. This growing older is hard! I am tired of having to work so hard to have a good attitude about it all!  It is so hard not to get discouraged as one thing after another pops up with my health and as I see every day why folks complain about a fixed income.  And then there’s all that is happening in the world …” 

Nature speaks. I carried on like that a little longer. Then, slowly, the beauty and simplicity of nature began calming my pessimistic and destructive thoughts. Those leaves twisting in the wind would soon be gone and replaced next spring with tiny green shoots. Some of the smaller branches in the tree would be blown down by strong winds. The leaves and the branches yielded to the wind, silently playing their part in the grand scheme of nature. The tiny chipping sparrow clinging tightly to the swaying branch would live a few years and then be gone.

Renewed hope. But God says He knows when each sparrow falls. And He says I should not worry because I am worth more than many sparrows.

“Oh, Lord! Forgive me for complaining yet again.  Help me remember that You love me much more than many sparrows, that everyone living has problems, and that You have good plans for my life. Thank You for speaking through creation. Thank You for hope that rises every morning, faithful as the sun!”

“His Eye Is On The Sparrow” by Sandy Patti    http://yhoo.it/2cE2tRd

When you’re tired of hoping …

... male cardinal dsc 0344b Free Wallpaper Male Cardinal Birds Desktop

Freedom from worry?? Late afternoon sun glinted off the pickup truck parked outside my tiny patio. I took a sip of iced decaf, twined my fingers through Barny’s velvety tummy fur, and read, again, Joyce Meyer’s comments on Hebrews 4:3 “Rest is freedom from excessive reasoning, struggle, fear, inner turmoil, worry, and frustration, which develop because of our working to do what only God can do.” (The Everyday Bible, featuring notes and commentary by Joyce Meyer.)

Peace-stealers.  “I am” I said to myself, “once again trying to do what only God can do.” It had been a rough few days.  Some new financial issues had to be researched, paperwork had to be put in order, and consultations had to be arranged – and precisely when I needed new glasses, my back was acting up, it looked like I might need even more dental work, that pesky rash would not leave, and on and on and on.

Reminders of joy. I sighed, kept praying, kept reading the Word. The crimson of the dollar store cardinal caught my eye.  The tiny bird perched on my work table, propped against a beloved picture of my father and daughter.  My oldest grandson and I had had the most wonderful time imaginable last Christmas. He had jumped up and down, putting paper mache soldiers, glittery stars, miniature trees, and much more into our cart at the dollar store. That perky cardinal on my work table reminded me of what was truly important. I felt peace start to bubble up.

God knows what we need. I stroked Barny, my beloved Tonkinese rescue, stretched full length, belly up, across my writing papers.  Like his predecessor, he is my constant, loving shadow. As a long-term single person, caressing his silky fur and holding him close is a particular and blessed comfort.

“I need to be still  and let my God love me.Thank You, Father, for loving me so much, over and over and always and always, no matter how weak and frail my mind and emotions are sometimes. My head knows You are working in all these apparent problems. I know that! You have done miracle after miracle for the 35 years I’ve known You as Lord and Savior. I’m truly sorry for letting doubt and fear settle in again. Forgive me, Lord.

Thank You for reminding me of the love You’ve poured into my life. Thank You for, once again, reminding me that You long to cover me with Your peace and all I have to do is to be still, think about unseen, eternal things, and let You love me.  Just like the song I heard so long ago …

http://yhoo.it/2aMA5Zf

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

A Month Eating Out of My Cabinets – An Exercise in Humility

1cupof coffee

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!

Trusting God – Easier Said Than Done!

Trusting God vs. Overplanning

planning papers 2015

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.

Family First 

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.”

http://bit.ly/1NIky6u

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!”

http://yhoo.it/1QQqjW2

 

What the World Needs Now. . . A True Fortress

autumn leavesI

I was pondering what would be appropriate to say about Christmas in general, as the days of mid December fly by.  Here in central Texas, the golden and red-hued leaves are starting to fall off the trees, all at once it seems, as the wind blows, and sometimes blasts, through the branches.

In the last post, I included a link to a video by Christy Nockels and Janna Long.  I think the best thoughts I can offer you today about Christmas are in the link below.  In it, Christy Nockels sings a beautiful rendition of the classic hymn “A Mighty Fortress is our God’, which is based on Psalm 94:22.

In the middle of this stress-filled world we live in, at this time of year when so many are troubled by what they do not and cannot possess, what better thought can there be than this simple unalterable fact:   the God Who created the universe is with and tenderly watches over His children?  He truly is our fortress, no matter what comes.

Let this video help you keep your eyes and your heart on our loving Creator during times of personal unrest and distress.  And remember the comforting words of Jesus to those who have decided to follow Him:

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. [emphasis added]”   (John 10:27-28, New International Version)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRQp1bUJkBE