Studying Security – Part One

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Feeling secure . . . feeling loved. As I steadily walk further away from that pit of depression and anxiety, I need mega doses of the security, love and peace God promises in Psalm 91.

            “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand]. I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely and in Him I [confidently] trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2, Amplified Classic)

            Stable and fixed. “Hmm, stable and fixed” I pondered as I read.  Hmm . . . notice the chain of thought in Psalm 91. The priceless promises of provision and safety are conditional. Verses 3 and 4 say then God will deliver us, then He will cover us. Verse 9 says because we make God our refuge and make Him our dwelling place, or our home, and verse 14 says because we set our love upon Him. Please study Psalm 91 for yourself in the Amplified Classic Version (available free on line at Bible Gateway and other websites) or another translation of the Bible – but study!

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I recently told my counselor that, although the medicine has greatly helped, the biggest reason I am so much better is time in the Word and meditating on it throughout the day. Each morning, I study the Bible—for myself!–for help in areas like finding peace, feeling God’s love, and overcoming fear. In studying the Word and pondering it all day, I am making God my home, the place where I am secure and the place where my needs are met.

Study for yourself. And I am going directly to the Word now and trusting Holy Spirit to speak to me, rather than relying on other people’s teachings. 

I read slowly, using the Amplified Version, and talk to the Lord about it. I look up cross references, and most days I write a passage in long-hand and carry that around with me all day, repeating the phrases to myself. This has now, praise God, become a habit. Out of His mercy and goodness, God is renewing my mind (Ephesians 4:23) I am so grateful to Him!

I always read the Bible and studied it, but for a while I lost the self discipline to study it. I also lost the self-discipline to do much reading outside the Psalms. No wonder my spirit became so weak and my mind such easy prey for the enemy’s thought arrows! 

Having the Word in my mind all day is one way God is showing Himself to be that “ever present help in time of trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

Obedience brings blessing. I am finding as I continue writing, that God has some definite things He wants me to say to you, including sharing my failures and sins. (James 5:16) Being so vulnerable is challenging, but I want to help you and . . . I want to stay free!

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What things are you thinking about?


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Four a.m. ideas. Two hours before the tinkly melody of my phone alarm would sound. I lay awake, like a child on Christmas morning, thinking about the afternoon ahead with my grandsons. After pickup from school, I would bring my five-and-a- half and seven-year-old delights back to my home for a comic party, their latest creative idea for which they had prepared all week at their own home. They did not know I had planned two games of my own invention and decorated my tiny home with balloons and streamers.

            Though my hip and feet ached a bit, I smiled as I pulled the quilt to my chin. Then, a gentle thought: “You are happy now because you are “thinking on good things”

            “Thank You, Lord, yes, Phillipians 4!”

            For the preceding many months of depression, early morning awakening had meant hours of lying sleepless in the dark, my sluggish mind tormented by cycling fears and fretting. Daily, this has improved.

            Prompt obedience. I smiled into the darkness. “Thank You, Father, thank You so so much!” I took my mussed hair, unwashed face and uncoffeed mind straight to the computer, stopping only to feed my beloved Barny cat.

            My loving Heavenly Father was, again, guiding with tender pats on my head. I recognized an idea for a blog post when I had one! He had awakened me yesterday with an idea, too, but I had begun my morning routine before I sat down to type. And the post had not been written. However, God is rich in grace and mercy, so . . .

Yesterday’s pondering passage had been I Corinthians 8:3: “But if one loves God truly [with affectionate reverence, prompt obedience, and grateful recognition of His blessing] he is known by God [recognized as worthy of His intimacy and love and is owned by Him.] Notice the verse says prompt obedience. . . And my Bible reading last night had included Genesis 18, where Abraham had RUN to show hospitality when the Lord appeared to him.

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            The word of God is alive (Hebrews 4:12) and it had borne fruit in my spirit. This morning, I promptly obeyed God.

            Trust . . . and God will be with you! My life verse is Proverbs 3:5-6. After 37 years of walking with my beloved Father, I am understanding, a little. The previous day at work had included many moments of struggle with insecurity, but I had consistently—by His great grace—pondered I Corinthians 8:3 and tried to do every little task for Him and in His presence. And when I came home, I had prayerfully worked a bit more on blogging tasks, all the while still not feeling so good.

            When your ways please the Lord. God is blessing as I try to write for Him and His kingdom’s sake, with: wakeup calls via blog post ideas; the renewal of my mind; and a more balanced, connected life. “When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies live at peace with him.” (Proverbs 16:7, New American Standard Bible.)

            I am faaaar from perfect, dear  friend, but God is rewarding my baby steps to serve Him. He longs, earnestly, to do the same for you!

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God loves you – earnestly!


Anxiety knocked. Don’t you love it when God speaks to you through events as clearly as if you could hear His voice with your physical ears? Anxiety kept knocking at my door today, but I resisted, cast my cares on God, and kept truths about God’s love and protection cycling through my brain whenever I was not actively engaged in other things.

Today, those other things included being at work, where the future existence of my job has been uncertain for months now. Once home, I made a long-dreaded call to a repair person and we fixed my problem over the phone. Although I had thought it would cost two hundred dollars minimum, God worked it out for free!

God showed up! And, the repair person was a believer! In the gaps while the computer was processing my information, I mentioned something about God and got a positive response. We chatted briefly about our favorite hymns and where we were in our daily devotions. I hung up the phone and whooped so loud I startled my cat! I had prayed late in the day for God to reassure me of His presence, just because I needed it. And He did!

As you will soon hear on this blog, I recently sensed God directing me to share my experiences with overcoming depression and anxiety now, rather than waiting until I feel I have it all together. This post is the first step of obedience about that.

Stay in the present moment, with your mind on God. I woke up this morning with the start of a poem: “Stay in this day; don’t fret His gifts away.” I see now that God was lovingly telling me how to have victory today. By His grace, I did focus on Him and I did do my work as if unto Him; therefore, when I came home I had a calm and grateful spirit, I was excited over the call about the repair and I wanted to write this post. God is soooooo good ALL the time!

Fight the good fight and earnestly believe the truth of these verses in Isaiah 30:15 and 18 (Amplified Classic version)

(v. 15) “For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: In returning [to Me}, you shall be saved; in quietness and in {trusting} confidence shall be your strength. . . (v. 18a) And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing} to be gracious to you and show loving-kindness to you. . . “

Did you catch that? God earnestly waits and longs to be good to us . . . if we will just trust Him! The One whose hand formed the mountains longs to abide with you and me. Ponder that!


Out of the Wilderness

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Out of the wilderness. Out of the wilderness, place of deep pain, my spirit has risen, refreshed as with rain.

My cold barren places He’s touched and He’s healed, for only in pain was my darkness revealed.

Only when hurting, all helpless, undone, only through trial was victory won.

Feelings (and “failures” do not matter) I wrote that a week and a half ago but today?  Today I’m not feeling victorious. My struggle with depression and anxiety has been long. I have times of victory, like when I wrote that poem,  but I have had dark days and trials that seemed more than I can bear.

My last post, “Never Give Up” was dated September 9, 2017, more than a year ago. At that time, I shared that I had not written for more than 10 months, but I was going to start again. I did not do that, though I tried.

God is faithful. Yet, here I am now, writing mainly, I think, dear reader, to encourage myself. I need to declare that God is faithful, and that He is good. Our loving Heavenly Father has been true to His promises – He has rescued me and protected me all along this path, even though it has been and is still hard. And He is the One I am counting on now, to finish this good work of healing He has started.

So, as I said more than a year ago, dear friend:  Whatever you are going through, no matter how hard it is, know deep in your heart that God loves you and He is working on your behalf.

God will deliver us. God DOES have victory stored up for the upright, no matter what our feelings may say today. (He holds victory in store for the upright, He is a shield to those who walk is blameless. Proverbs 2:7, New International Version.)  And He promises that, although weeping may endure for a while, JOY WILL COME. ( … weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.  Psalm 30:5 NIV)

Joy is coming! Read the words below out loud, and may the living Word of God comfort your heart, as it comforts me.

“I fear not, for God is with me; I am not dismayed, for He is my God. He will strengthen me, yes, He will help me. He will uphold me with His righteous right hand.  (Isaiah 41:10 New King James Version)

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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.

Feelings come, but they don’t stay!

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To the tune of “Jesus loves me” —

Feelings come, but they don’t stay. Feelings always fly away. You might be mad, or even sad but very soon you will be glad. No, feelings don’t stay! No, feelings don’t stay! No, feelings don’t stay!  Feelings fly away!

I cradled my grandson closer to my chest, laid my cheek atop his fawn brown hair, crooned the words softly, and inhaled the clean scent of sunshine. He was, once again, having a hard time being four years old.

A few weeks ago, I had been praying for my grandsons and also studying how to help them handle feelings, a challenge for any preschooler. One morning during devotions, “Feelings come, but they don’t stay … “  floated into my mind, a simple and tender gift from God for them.

I have sung the little song about feelings often to both of my grandsons and have heard big brother sing them to little brother, too. I have sung them to myself while I’ve been studying fear, and getting at the root of the causes of fear in my life. The best thing I’ve learned so far is to meditate upon how much God loves me and to remind myself how powerful God is, that He is the absolute ruler of the universe. That makes the fearful feeling indeed fly away – like a butterfly!

God cherishes us! First John 4:16 says, “And we know (understand, recognize, are conscious of, by observation and by experience) and believe (adhere to and put faith in and rely on) the love God cherishes for us. God is love, and he who dwells and continues in love dwells and continues in God, and God dwells and continues in him.” (the Amplified Bible)

Notice the word cherishes. If the One who established north and south, the One who told the waves where to halt, the One who sees each bird of the air and each flower of the field, the One who sent His Son to die for me so that I might have intimate communion with Him – if that One is the One who cherishes me, dotes on me, keeps me in His mind, adores me and holds me dear, how can I not trust Him to take care of whatever has troubled my little heart? Oh, for the heart of a little child!

Jesus loves me! Jesus loves me, this I know! For the Bible tells me so. Little ones, to Him belong. They are weak, but He is strong!  Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me!  Yes, Jesus loves me – the Bible tells me so!

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Strength for your heart

My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.” (Psalm 73:26, NLT)

Image result for free clip art of the bibleA word in season. I listened to my Audio Bible CD as I stopped the car at the drive-in window of the drug store. “Thank You, Lord,’ I breathed. “I finally get it. That’s the second time I’ve heard that loud and clear this weekend. Thank You for Your reassurance and Your peace.”

Another episode of paroxysmal atrial tachycardia (PAT) had come Friday night. And it lasted three hours this time. During those hours I prayed but I also heard fear hum in my head like swarming bees. The nurse at the cardiologist’s office had said “PATs are not dangerous.” She had told me to take a pill and that I could go to the ER if it did not stop.

Yes, the PAT finally stopped, but the buzzing fear had not – all weekend long. I had prayed, proclaimed God’s Word about healing, asked friends to pray, and tried to keep my mind occupied. I burst into hot tears when I asked for prayer in Sunday School. I was a mess!

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God is working! But God was working it all out for my good. (Romans 8:28) Today, when I “coincidentally” heard that verse for the second time, something happened. God’s peace came in, slowly and gradually, as He gently reminded me:

  • He would never give me more than I could bear. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
  • He would either heal me or give me grace and wisdom to handle it. (Hebrews 4:16)
  • He does not give us a spirit of fear but of power, of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)

As I’ve prayed and pondered and sat with the Lord this afternoon, looking at the beautiful wind blowing through the trees, God gave me an idea for a book about overcoming fear. He also showed me how to resume writing this blog, something I had delayed for FIVE months – because of fear.

I have a lot to share in the coming weeks about fear. And this blog will change for the better. Stay tuned! I am going to enjoy seeing God work out this good thing that the enemy meant for evil! Woohoo! Go God!

He never leaves us, never forsakes us, is always for us, always thinks good thoughts about us, always has good plans for us – He is a good, loving, ALL powerful and faithful Father! Praise Him from whom all, all, ALL blessings flow over into our lives, “ … exceedingly, abundantly, beyond all we can ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20)!

He is the one who gives orders to the morning, the one who makes the clouds rise from the ends of the earth, the one who tells the eagle when to fly. How can we fear, oh we of little faith? Go God!!!Image result for free photo of eagle in clouds

 

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.)

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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)

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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!

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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.

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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!

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