How Much Do We Complain & Criticize…Really?

DSCN1393Trust and thankfulness.  That is how we should live each and every day.  When we trust God, we are remembering that He is fully aware of all of our circumstances.  We remember that He knows all of our needs, that He is in control of it all, and He loves us… He.  Loves.  You.

Thankfulness keeps us from criticizing and complaining about people and situations we face.  Sarah Young (in Jesus Calling, February 21), calls them “those “sister sins” that so easily can entangle you.” 

Daily, moment by moment we get to choose to trust God…or not.  The more we choose to trust Him, the easier it becomes.  We get to choose to be thankful instead of grumbling and complaining.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking it’s no big deal to criticize and complain.  After all, there sure is a lot to complain about in this world.  Whether it’s in the big world or our own little corner of it.  Like the mechanic that really messed up your car, or the waitress that was rude and gave you horrible service.  Maybe things aren’t going so great in your family, or ___________ you fill in the blank!  But to criticize and complain IS a big deal.  Scripture says that it is out of our own heart…what the heart is full of…that is what comes out of our mouth (see Luke 6:45).  If we are constantly criticizing others, and complaining about everything that is not the way we want it to be, those patterns are becoming (or have already become) deeply etched in our heart and mind.

The good news is, there is a way to erase those etchings.  When we realize what we have been doing and confess our sin (yes, it is sin), when we confess it to God we have His forgiveness.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  1 John 1:9

He then has room to create something new within us.  New patterns of trust and thankfulness.  Oh, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy.  We have to make the conscious choice to trust Him when we want to worry or complain.  We have to choose to thank Him before the words of criticism leach out of our lips.  We say this often, and we tend to parrot the words in scripture; “Be thankful in all things…”(1 Thess. 5:18), but sometimes I think we simply don’t know how to look past the situation we are in.  Look past it friend, and look to His face.

When You said, “Seek My face,”
My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.” Psalm 27:8

We can not always be thankful for the situation itself.  Life is hard, and things happen that are frustrating or gut wrenching.  But when we seek His face we gain a new perspective.  We start to see how much we truly have to be thankful for.   If God has allowed it we can thank Him for being with us through it.  We can thank Him for hearing our prayers.  We can thank Him that His promises never fail, that His Word is true, and that His love for us will never end.  We begin to see the myriad of things in our day to day lives that we can, and should be thankful for.

Friend, every time we choose to trust Him instead of being anxious…every time we choose to be thankful instead of complaining, we are creating new thought patterns that can be etched into our hearts and minds.  When we are overflowing with gratitude, we aren’t giving voice to the complaining and criticizing.  A thankful heart protects us from the negative thinking that is so easy to get caught up in.  Let’s purpose to get caught up in all that is right…instead of all that is not.

Problems and irritations will always be there as long as we live in this world.  But we can choose to honor God with how we respond to them.

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I never want to write about anything and not be real.  So I need to be humbly honest with you.  After I started writing this post… I. Was. Tested.  Oh yes.  I honestly wanted to turn my car around and stupid slap someone.  Then it hit me what was going on.

There was the person who cut across the road in front of me so closely I had to hit my brakes to avoid hitting him.  I laid on my horn and muttered “idiot” under my breath.  This was on my way to church.  Yes, it was.  Then there was the poor customer service along with thirty-four minutes on hold before speaking with someone.  After still not receiving the product, I tried two more times to call the company…seventeen minutes on hold…thirty-eight minutes on hold…no one ever answered.  I was not a happy camper.

On the road again to run some errands, and three separate vehicles on three separate roads were riding my bumper.  I was going the speed limit which was apparently not fast enough for them.  I don’t care to get another speeding ticket, thank you very much!  On my way home the incident occurred where I wanted to stupid slap the person.  That’s when it hit me.  That’s when the Holy Spirit sort of slapped me!  I was writing about trusting Him and being  thankful, to keep from criticizing and complaining…and within three days I realized just how much more growing I need to do!

It seems like when we have to deal with others’ ineptness, lack of work ethic, apathy, rudeness (the list could go on), that’s when the criticizing and complaining comes into play full force.  When it comes to dealing with other people, we struggle.  But honestly, the struggle is not with others.  It is with ourselves.  It is with our old sin nature.  Sure, Satan is out there prowling around looking for someone to tempt, destroy and devour (see 1 Peter 5:8).  He’s  constantly shooting his fiery darts at us to hurt us, to cause us to lose our testimony.  But, if we take responsibility for ourselves and our own spiritual growth (Philippians 2:12-15)…if we are putting on our spiritual armor every day (Ephesians 6:13-17)…if we are not making provision for the flesh (Romans 13:14)…then we will be abiding in Christ and not so easily tripped up by minor irritations of life.  When we are being filled with the Holy Spirit daily, we are more able to offer thanksgiving to God instead of rushing to complain.  You see, God’s Word gives us everything we need to know how to live this life we are given (see 2 Peter 1:2-8).

Take God’s Word in, live God’s Word out.

So what are we to do when that person cuts us off,  or someone is unable DSCN3228(or unwilling) to give the help or service needed?  First I think we should utter a prayer of thanksgiving…for safety, or for the ability to be kind to someone who maybe doesn’t deserve it.  When you think about it, none of us deserve God’s kindness, but He showers it on us anyway.  We can say a prayer for the other person.  Honestly, they have needs we know nothing about.  Show grace.

“Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips will praise You.”  Psalm 63:3

We can choose to be the hands and feet…and lips of Jesus.  Because we may be the only person to be Jesus to someone who desperately needs Him.  We never know.  But Jesus does.

Let’s be less quick to criticize, and quicker to behave Christ-like.  Let’s be quicker to make sure our own behavior is pleasing to God.  Let’s be more dependent on Him and the Holy Spirit in us, and not so dependent on how others behave towards us.  Ultimately our behavior is our own responsibility and there will be no excuses when we stand before Christ.  No blame game.  Only one thing:  were we…are we obedient and faithful to God and what His word tells us.

“Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Philippians 1:27

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength….and love your neighbor as yourself.”  Mark 12:30-31

Yes others will hurt us, misuse us, misunderstand us, and wrong us in one way or another.  We do live in a fallen world after all.  What would it look like…think of the influence we could have for the Gospel of Christ if we were filled daily with God’s Word and His Spirit, and acted Christ-like in the face of adversity instead of reacting in the flesh?  Just Wow.  The things that could happen!

Less criticizing  + More thankfulness = More peace, more joy

Friends, the more we are abiding in Christ…staying close, being filled with His Word and the Holy Spirit…the more the light of Jesus will begin to shine through us.  Others will be drawn to us instead of avoiding us.  No one wants to be around negative complaining all the time.  But when the light of Jesus shines through us, when we show grace to others, we can begin to influence others for good.  Let it start with us.

Glad He’s still working on me!

Love,

Debbie

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Sweet Fellowship

Beauty in Every DayWhom do you most enjoy spending time with?  Is it your spouse after a long day?  Maybe it’s a best friend who has known you since “way back when”?  Could be it’s a parent whom you enjoy having those long conversations with.  The conversations don’t even have to be long.  Sometimes they are brief, but end up being just the encouragement, or filled with the wisdom you needed at that moment.  Either way, you walk away with a smile and a little spring in your step that you didn’t have before your time together.

Friends….that’s the kind of time Jesus wants to spend with you.  It doesn’t have to be all formal, calculated and ritualistic.  Just hang out and chill with Him.  Tell Him your deepest desires and dreams.  The ones you don’t dare tell anyone else because they might think you’re silly.  Ask Him to give you understanding about something you’ve read in His word.  Hey, He wrote the Book…I think He’s capable of helping us understand it!

Tell Him all about that situation that irritated you and frankly, makes you angry.  Ask Him to help you gain His perspective on it.  Then just sit…  relax…and listen.  Listen to His sweet voice falling on the ears of your heart like the morning dew on the grass.

 

In The Garden

I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.

Refrain:
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

He speaks, and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.

                                                                                 Charles A. Miles

Garden

Some days it is admittedly harder than others to be still and take that time to communicate.  But after all Jesus sacrificed for you and me, don’t you think that we could sacrifice a few minutes of sleep, or (ah-hem), a television program to invest in the most important relationship in our lives?

I guarantee dear friend, you will walk away from that encounter with a smile on your face, and a song in your heart.  You’ll have a new spring in your step as well as the strength for whatever lies ahead.  The more time we spend with Him in His word and prayer… the more we realize how we can’t… or don’t want to live without Him in any of our days.

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!”  Psalm 34:8

“The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”  Zephaniah 3:17

      Think about this for a few moments;  If you look back at Genesis 1:24-28,  you see that God created all living creatures; cattle, creeping things, beasts, etc. “according to its kind”.  But when He created mankind He said;

Let Us (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;”  Gen. 1:26a

All of the creatures and critters were created according to their own kind, in their own likeness.  But we…mankind…we were created in the image of God…after His likeness.  Dear friend, He created you…He created me…for the purpose of having fellowship with Him!  Just let that sink in.  The Creator of the entire universe created us to have fellowship with Him!  But He won’t force Himself into our days.  He waits, like a gentleman, to be invited in.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. ”   Revelation 3:20

     Friend, I do hope you will invite Him into your day…everyday…to enjoy sweet fellowship together.

If you’ve been encouraged, I’d love for you to please share. 🙂

Blessings,

Debbie

Monday Moments – Puzzle Pieces

After a few crazy weeks, I felt I needed to get back to being mindful of my Mondays again…rather than allowing them to overwhelm and stress me!  This one started out just like that…until I had some serious time with the Lord.

I had a difficult time getting to sleep last night.  One set of our kids have been through a lot recently.  Still are and more.  I felt overwhelmingly burdened for them and was trying to pray.  But even though I was praying, just thinking about some of the issues was only making me anxious.  When I woke up this morning…yep…my mind started going again.  I knew I needed some time in the Word and prayer.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7

After praying for them for quite awhile, I returned a call from our other set of kids who were thrown a curve today.  It looks to be a major change is in store for them.  One that at first glance seems not so good, but after some consideration, it could possibly be a blessing.  But they will have to figure it out.

All morning I was so burdened, so anxious about things on our children and their families’ behalf.  As I was talking with God, I was reminded that He opens our eyes to see problems.  He allows our adult children to share their problems with us (which is a blessing).  And He will burden our hearts for them – not to cause us more anxiety, but so we diligently pray for them.  We cannot live our adult children’s lives for them.  We cannot step in and try to “fix” their problems for them.  Though it’s hard to watch them struggle, that’s not our job.  It’s God’s.  God can fix their problems if He so chooses.  But more than likely, He wants for them to search for Him themselves in the midst of their problems, and grow in their faith.

God does not burden our hearts to cause us anxiety. 

He burdens our hearts so we will pray.

After we have prayed, we then trust Him to do the necessary work in their lives and meet their needs.  When we trust Him for what is needed, we don’t have to be tied up in anxious knots.

Many years ago I heard a speaker who likened our lives to the pieces of a puzzle.  When we keep trying to make something work out how we think it’s supposed to and it just isn’t happening, we get frustrated and stressed and cry out to God.  It is then we hear Him say;

“My Child, I want to help you.  I do, and I will help you with your own puzzle pieces.  But you keep hanging onto a puzzle piece that is not yours.  It belongs to someone else.  Let go of that and you’ll be surprised at how easily your own pieces fit together.”

As a parent of adult children and a grandparent, we definitely fit in the framework of the puzzle….but we no longer have to hold all the pieces and try to make them fit.

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and lean from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

Good night friends.  May your sleep be sweet.

Debbie

 

Resurrection Day…For You

DSCN3239I want to wish each and every one of you a Happy Easter and Blessed Resurrection Day.  For the Believer it is a glorious day indeed!

This is not what I had originally intended to post.  The Good Lord has allowed me to be “out of commission” these past three days so I have been unable to finish writing what I had planned.  But I wanted to at least leave you with a thought.

The Old Testament is full of prophecy of not only Christ’s coming to Earth as a baby…God in human flesh, but also His death on the cross, His burial, and His glorious resurrection.  The New Testament records for us the fulfillment of those prophecies.  The Gospels; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all give us vivid accounts of those days our Savior walked the Earth teaching, healing, performing miracles.  All the while…He knew what His purpose was.

That purpose was to suffer… horrifically… and die an unspeakably cruel death.  Why?  Because we are all born sinners, and nothing we can do ourselves could ever make us “good enough” to stand before a righteous and just God.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Romans 3:23

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 6:23

“But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
”  Isaiah 53:5

Jesus paid a price that we could never pay.  He paid it…because He loves you…He loves me…THAT MUCH.  We only have to repent, turn away from our sin and believe that God raised Him from the dead on the third day.  That’s the glorious part.  That’s the why we celebrate Easter.  He is Risen Indeed!  And He wants to have a personal relationship with you!

In the twentieth chapter of John, he records for us a personal encounter.  Mary Magdalene was at the empty tomb weeping.  This is the same Mary who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, wiped them with her hair, and anointed them with fragrant oil.  In verse 47, Jesus said of her;

“Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much.  But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”

This Mary was at the empty tomb weeping.  She was distraught.  The two angels, glowing in white, sitting where Jesus had lain didn’t even seem to faze her.  She thought someone had taken Jesus away.  Then Jesus himself asked her why she was weeping, and whom she was seeking.  She supposed he was the gardener and was pleading with him to tell her where he was so she could take him.  Then.  Then Jesus.  Spoke.  Her.  Name.

“Jesus said to her, “Mary!”  She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!”  John 20:16

Jesus spoke her name.  She immediately knew it was Him.

When it comes to Easter there is so much to think about, but the thought I want you to ponder is this;  Jesus knows your name.  He knows every little detail about you and yes, He loves you anyway!  That’s why He suffered and died for you, so you can have victory over death and live with Him for eternity!  But He wants you to have a relationship with Him now.  He is calling your name.  If you hear Him, run to Him.  You will never be the same.

He Is Risen Indeed!

Easter Blessings,

Debbie

Grateful Acceptance

I had a good, long chat with my doctor last week.  There is not much more that can be done for what ails me at this point other than what I try to continue to do.  So I asked her for her wisdom and honest advice on how to move forward and live with this chronic illness.  I go back and forth between acceptance and wanting desperately to be “fixed“!  No matter how I try to take care of myself this simply isn’t going to go away.  Yet I want to “fully live”, so I need to change some things.

My sweet dr. proceeded to remind me that I am fifty-five, almost fifty-six years old.  I will never again have the energy I did when I was twenty-five  (Gee….thanks for that reminder!).  She encouraged me to continue with all I’m doing to feel the best I possibly can.  She reminded me to not push past my limits and avoid stress as much as possible.  Both flare up symptoms.  Well, this I know all too well.  But when you have a family…and grandbabies…you do what you have to do…or at least you try to.  And if you’re alive and breathing you will have stress!

From the rest of our conversation, I gleaned some things that I  know need to change and I am working on them.  Things like not allowing myself to be fueled by others’ expectations of me, and not allowing guilt to run over me when I can’t live up to expectations…others’ or my own.  I tend to get horribly down on myself when I cannot be the wife, mother (in-law), grandma, friend, housekeeper, or writer/blogger that I “should be” or long to be.  I have even uttered the word “worthless” concerning myself when I  can do no more than lie on the sofa because I am overwhelmed, in pain, and/or beyond exhausted.  Big no-no!  I need to “live more by faith and trust.”  Yes, that was her words!  She was right.   Especially because I do know that in God’s eyes I am worth far more…than less.  I can show I trust Him by humbly accepting those things that He allows into my life, and remembering He knows, and will provide all I need…for now, in this season.

I have to accept the fact that I will have “those days”.  Days where I don’t feel well, am a weak and fatigued mess, and simply need to rest…and not stress over it.  Those are the days I need to learn contentment like the Apostle Paul talked about in Philippians 4:11-13.  I guess I am not always the best student.  Those are also the days I need to live 1 Thessalonians 5:18….

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

A thankful heart changes everything.

I am asking God to help me learn to live graciously within the limits of this chronic illness, because I don’t want to continue to feel confined and so controlled by it.

Balance.   It’s.  Not.  Easy.

I am learning that it is more important than ever for me to seek God’s direction for what He wants me to do each day.  That means I need to be still and quiet much more these days, so I can actually hear His voice.  I can’t afford to be wasting precious energy on things that are not His priorities for me on any given day.

Interestingly, a few days after the doctor visit, I was reading an issue of Sunflower-801349Mature Living.  In one article, Mike Glenn was talking about how sunflowers always face, or turn towards the sun.  He said:  “The flower’s capacity to grow is related to its turning away from something and turning to something else.  If we are going to keep growing, we will have to turn away from some things in our past and face some things God has planned for our future.”

That’s when it hit me.  I’ve talked before about how I’ve had to give up many things over the years with this chronic illness.  It seems as time marches on, I am having to give up more and more.  That discourages and frustrates me.  But I am coming to realize something….

God still promises, and wants for me…and you…abundant life.  

Not only for eternity, but also a better quality of life here on earth.  Not necessarily a life filled with bigger and better “things”.  Definitely not a life without struggles and trials.  But a life of abundance in Him.  Through Him we see things differently.  We have a deeper enjoyment of, and appreciation for life.

So maybe, just maybe, I have not been able to receive the abundance He’s had for me now, because I have no more capacity to receive it.  I’m so full of “stuff”.  Stuff like…

The desire to do things the way I’ve always done them;

  • to have friends over and entertain…”like I used to do”.
  •  to be more organized, disciplined and scheduled…”like I used to be”.
  • to be active in ministry…”like I used to be”
  •  to take and play with my grandchildren more than I’m physically able to do.

If I am so full of “used to be’s” and “want to be’s”, there is no room to receive anything new!  I may have given up a lot…but I realized I have neglected to let go of it all.  I keep hanging on, longing to have the health and energy to do all those “used to’s”.  I’m pretty sure I have been missing out on some sparkling new things that God has waiting for me, because I need to  let go of a bunch of old stuff…turn away from it…and turn to something new.  Only then will I continue to grow.

“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.”  Ecclesiastes 3:1

God wants us to enjoy the life He has given to us, and I want to fully enjoy this season of life He has placed me in.  In doing so, I believe I will honor Him.  It is spring here in North Carolina, with its clear blue skies, sun shining, and birds singing.  In kind, there are days I feel well and can function almost normally and enjoy life.  Then there are days of wind and rain and gray skies.  Likewise, days of fatigue, pain, and brain fog where nothing gets accomplished.  That makes consistency difficult, in writing or anything else.  Many days are in between the extremes.  Each and every one is a gift from God.   I want to embrace each one…no matter how it may look…with a thankful heart.

DSCN2791 So here is where I’m asking for your feedback…just like we’re sitting down having a cup of coffee together.  If you are living with a chronic illness or any other disease that has changed the trajectory of your life the way you pictured it, please share in the comment section to encourage and help one another….

  • What are some practical things that help you cope with it on a daily basis?
  •  What are some practical ways you have learned to live within your limitations without being discouraged by them?
  • Time in God’s word and in prayer changes us…changes our perspective.  How has God changed your perspective in your journey and / or what is a favorite Bible verse that you have clung to?
  • If you have a prayer request, leave that in the comments as well and I would be honored to remember you in prayer.

I look forward to reading your thoughts.  Remember, your comments can encourage others, as well as me!

This post is much longer than usual, as well as the kind I really don’t like to write.  But it is part of this season I am in.  We all need to know that when life gets difficult, we are not alone.  God is with us first, and knows our every need.  He also gives us “each other” to support and encourage one another.

Thank you for taking the time to stop by.  I appreciate you!  As always, if you know anyone that may benefit from this post, please share.

Still gazing toward the Son…He is our Hope.

Love,

Debbie

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A Teachable Moment

I had a moment today.  It just happened on Tuesday instead of Monday (smile).  You know I love mornings…if I could just get my mind and body to get moving to greet them!

This morning my granddaughters were here at nine a.m.  (I did manage to be clothed and in my right mind….well, close!).  I love the time I get with them.  I only wish my energy didn’t give out as quickly as it does so I could take them more often.  Needless to say, roughly three and a half hours later when their mommy took them home, I was ready for a rest!  But the peace and quiet gave me a second wind, so I washed the dishes, swept the floor, and did a few other little chores, then proceeded to make some lunch.

I hadn’t realized how hungry I had gotten.  I was starving!  Before I even carried my food to the table, I said a quick prayer and took a big ol’ bite of my burger at the counter!  Then I heard it.  I heard that still, small voice in my spirit;

“Do you hunger for Me like that, so you simply cannot wait to be filled with My words and My Spirit?”

Ouch.  Oh how I want to.  I do spend time with Him daily, whether a lot or a little.  But….like that?  I had to ask myself; is it usually because I know that I’m no good without Him and I need Him (which is a pretty good reason)?  Or am I truly hungering and thirsting for Him so much that I can’t wait to devour His Word and spend time quietly alone with Him?

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”  Matthew 5:6

Scripture often describes our longing for God as an intense hunger or thirst.  If you have walked with God any length of time, you’ve learned that nothing this world has to offer satisfies our desires and longings like God can.  Time in His presence satisfies our soul hunger in a way that nothing else ever can.  The cool thing is, the more time we spend with Him, the more we desire that time with Him, and the less we desire other “things”.

“O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You….”  Psalm 63:1

The NIV states 1 Peter 2:2 a little more plainly, where Peter tells us:

“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.”

Other translations use the words; desire, long for.  Same idea.  We need to desire, and feed on the Word of God to grow in our salvation.  Otherwise we remain spiritual babies, immature in our faith.

We don’t think twice about feeding our bodies.  I was reminded of this very clearly today, the way I couldn’t wait to get some food into my mouth!   Yet why do we neglect our time in His word?  Why do we allow ourselves to get so caught up in the busyness, and other things in this life that we literally starve our souls?

In John 6:35, Jesus himself said; “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.”

So my challenge to each of us…spend some time in your Bible, feeding on the Bread of life.  As Psalm 34:8 says; “O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!”  You will be filled.  You will be satisfied.  You will be blessed and joy-filled.

Leave a comment and share your moments where God has clearly spoke to your spirit.  I’d love to hear how you are listening to Him and growing in your walk with Him.

Until next time,

Debbie

The Beautiful Dance

Today we are blessed to add one more year to our marriage history…now 37 years. We are so thankful to God for His blessings and how far He has brought us. I had plans of posting some “then and now” pictures and writing a new post…there is so much I’d love to say about life together with this wonderful man! However, if you know me, I cannot always keep up with life and follow through with plans because this chronic illness likes to get in my way more often than not! So for now, I will share this post from our anniversary at the beach last year. Hope you enjoy!

Gazing Toward the Son

AnniversaryThe artistry of dance can tell a beautiful story.  I’m no expert and I’m only a dancer in my imagination.  So please don’t judge me, but despite the scantily clad dancers, I have watched every season of DWTS.  As I watch, I imagine myself light on my feet and breathlessly dancing the Quick Step.  I feel like a princess as I glide around the dance floor (in my imagination of course) dancing the Waltz.  I even bought an exercise DVD of Latin dances featuring some of the DWTS cast.  I thought; “This is going to be so fun!  Exercise and even learn to dance a little!”  Umm…not so much.  Let’s just say that I’m glad I was alone and the blinds were closed!  I’ll stick to dancing in my imagination, thank you very much.  However, I digress.

I think marriage is very much like a beautiful dance.  Sometimes we are…

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Our Refuge in the Storm

DSCN0794I am so thankful that God will never let go of us (Josh 1:9, Isaiah 41:10, Heb. 13:5), nor can anything or anyone snatch us out of His hand (John 10:28-29).  But sometimes we have to seriously work at, and focus on drawing near, staying close, and holding on to Him.  Circumstances in life can tend to rip and tear and pull at us until we are an anxious, frazzled, and weary mess.  Can I get an “Amen”?  Life happens.  Many things we simply can not avoid, so we must know how to ride out the storm safely and securely.

Last week we had a storm blow through.  The wind was howling and whipping around, rain was pelting….and my daughter-in-law sat safe and dry looking out her window, amused at the garbage cans rolling down the street!  But there is usually nothing amusing about the storms of life that blow through.  One minute everything is fine…and the next minute our life can be changed…sometimes forever.  Storms of life can hit any one of us at any given time.  A diagnosis.  An accident.  A job loss.  Death.  I was thinking this morning that when the storms of life strike, it’s a lot like being out  on a boat far from shore, and seemingly out of nowhere a storm blows up.  You have no where to go.  You must  ride.  it.  out. 

Fortunately, when we have a relationship with Jesus Christ, we can run to Him.  He will hold us securely…even as we lose our grip.  He is an anchor for our soul, sure and steadfast (Heb. 6:19).  Many places in the Bible it speaks of God being our refuge.  A refuge is a shelter, a place of safety and protection.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Psalm 46:1

In Matthew chapter 14, we read that after the feeding of the five thousand men (plus women and children), Jesus immediately made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side.  Once He finished sending the crowd away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray.  Verse 23 tells us it was then evening and He was there alone.  Here is where I find this story exciting  (not diminishing the miraculous feeding of over five thousand!);

We read that the boat was already a long distance from land and was being battered by the waves because the wind was contrary.  I don’t believe we can be sure how long they were in the storm, but scripture does tell us in verse 25 that it was the fourth watch of the night, which is somewhere  between three and six a.m., when Jesus came to them.  In the midst of the howling wind and waves tossing the boat to and fro, Jesus came.  Walking. On. The. Water!  Of course the disciples were terrified.  Wouldn’t you be?  They thought He was a ghost, and they were screaming and carrying on like a bunch of… can I say it?  A bunch of girly men!  But Jesus, kind as He is, didn’t chastise them.  He immediately told them:  “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

I love Peter.  Like many of us, he would just speak whatever came to his mind at that moment.  So he just shouted out (in vs. 28); “Lord if it’s You, command me to come to You on the water.” Did you get that?  On the water!  So Jesus simply said “Come!”  I have to believe He just kind of shrugged His shoulders as He said it.  No eloquent sermon or parable.  Simply, “Come!” But really, isn’t that what He says to any of us?  We get battered and tossed about in the storm swirling all around us, and Jesus says simply “Come.”

Scripture tells us that Peter did get out of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 

But he took his focus off Jesus for a split second.

Seeing the wind he became frightened, and began to sink.  But he cried out; “Lord save me!”

Verses 31 and 32 read; “Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and DSCN0048took hold of him and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”  “When they got into the boat, the wind stopped.”

What storm are you in the midst of?  Do you feel like you are drowning and there is no escape?  I wish I could give you a hug right now, but I can tell you this; cry out to Him and He will immediately take hold of you!

Ride out the storm with a laser focus on Jesus, not the wind and waves.  Have faith that He has ahold of you and He will not let you drown. 

He will keep you steady and calm.  You may feel like you’re only hanging on by a thread, but He won’t let go of you…or me.  Cry out to Him.  Invite Him into your storm.  With Him, we are able to ride out any of life’s storms safely, securely, and calmly.

Have you ridden out a storm with Jesus?  I’d love to hear your story.  Share in the comments…it just may help someone else who’s in the storm.

Keep gazing toward the Son.

Love,

Debbie

 

Monday Moments

So how has your Monday been today?  I pray you have spent some time with the Savior and sensed His great love for you.  It’s good to stop and ponder that now and then.  We need to be in awe of this great Gift we have been given.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  1 John 3:1a

I am so thankful that His mercies are new every morning (Lam.3:22-23).  Because though I have the best intentions, I inevitably fail.  Chronic illness or not, on any given day I will fail at managing my time wisely, eating my proper portion, being the wife God calls me to be, or being the friend I want to be.  I will probably fail at being the godly woman I long to be.

But God….

God knows my desires and He knows my struggles.  And He knows yours too.  No matter what happened yesterday, today, if we opened our eyes, we have been given a clean slate … a fresh start … another chance to get it right, to make a difference!  He’s there cheering us on when we get it right.  And when we don’t … He’s right there to pick us up, dust us off, and help us to start all over again ( isn’t that an old song?)!  All we need to do is keep coming to Him in prayer and in His word.  He will give us the courage, direction, and encouragement we need to keep going.

Don’t let feelings of guilt and / or discouragement cause you to give up on whatever it is you know you are to be doing.  That’s exactly what the Enemy wants for you to do.  That’s his M.O.!  If he can get us to feel discouraged or paralyzed with fear or guilt so we quit trying … guess who’s won the victory by default?

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  1Peter 5:8

In Exodus chapter 17, after God had clearly given the Israelites victory in battle, Moses built an altar and called the name of it …Jehovah – Nissi … which means “The Lord is my Banner”.  He is our banner of victory in all of our spiritual battles.  Don’t quit.  Instead, look to Jehovah – Nissi to be your banner of victory.

Keep remembering and rejoicing because …

  • He lavishes His great love on you
  • His mercies are new every morning … you have a clean slate
  • He is your Banner of Victory in the battles you face … let Him fight them for you.

I pray your sleep is sweet on this Monday evening and you awake with a song of praise in your heart and on your lips for His wonderful love for you!

As always, if you know someone who may be encouraged…please share!

Counting Blessings,

Debbie

Time With Jesus

DSCN2078Hush…just stop.  Stop all the busyness and noise and sit quietly in My presence.  Open My word and read.  Search for Me in its’ pages.  Search as if you are digging for a glistening diamond.

When you are searching for Me with all your heart…to know My heart…you will find me (Jer. 29:13).

Not only am I your Savior, but I am your Friend (John 15:13-15).  Spend some time with Me getting to know Me.  There is so much I want to tell you, so much I want for you to understand!  But I won’t force you.  You always seem so busy and distracted.  I appreciate a good work ethic, and doing good for others.  But sadly, you lose sight of Me and what is most important.

I want to ask you today…please don’t work yourself to exhaustion, or even run around doing endless things you may enjoy, without spending a little time with Me.  I will give you rest (Matt. 11:28-30).  I will renew your spirit and restore your joy (Ps. 51:10,12).

I want you to have so much more than just an encounter with Me.  I want you to enjoy our relationship.  Friendships, vibrant relationships require time and effort.  I’m here waiting to give you all you need, all your heart truly desires.  So won’t you come?  Won’t you stop striving and doing and just be still with Me…for just awhile?  I promise you will find what no one can ever take away from you (Luke 10:42).

I Love You,

Jesus

Be blessed in Him,

Debbie