Hills and Valleys...haven't you heard it said that life comes in hills and valleys? Sometimes you're up, sometimes you're down. Sometimes things in life are exceptional, sometimes they're unbearable. If you're in a valley, just simply hold on, for soon you will be uplifted to the top of the next hill - sailing through once again.
That can certainly be true. However, one time I heard someone say that their life was more like two train tracks running along each other at the same time...always some good and almost always some bad mixed in with that.
It made perfect sense to me.
Blessings & Battlefields, both! The trick is to NOT land or stay on the Battlefields track alone. Many things in life are out of our control. Those aren't our fault, but no doubt, we must do our part to always be looking at the Blessings too, especially when we are stuck in a Battlefield.
Life can be beautiful if we can learn to balance both sides. Prayer & Faith help tremendously. Psalm 41:6 says God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Sleeping, eating well, exercise, water (& coffee) can be huge benefits to living a life well lived. Believe it or not, some of us need to be told to sleep. :)
In those fantastic times when we land and stay only on the Blessings rail...
Well, ENJOY & Be GRATEFUL!
Rain, snow, or sun. Cloudy, bright, or windy. Busy, calm, or intense. No matter what the day looks like...Love Others.
Driving to the grocery store on a cloudy day, this thought -
“It’s a Beautiful Day…Love Others,”
came to me, obviously not an original thought.
It overwhelmed me. Isn’t this exactly what Jesus calls us to do? Isn’t this exactly what Jesus did? It’s such a powerful, engulfing concept. As I pondered it, I had the “God” bumps, otherwise known as goosebumps.
It moved me deeply and even welled up my eyes a bit.
But then, I got home. And someone, who shall remain anonymous, super irritated me. I was offended. I can’t even remember what exactly that person had said or done. I just remember my physical reaction was negative. My eyebrows furrowed and my eyes rolled. My skin tightened and I went into defense mode.
In my mind I angrily stomped around for a while until that small voice reminded me of my earlier discovery that morning: “It’s a beautiful day…Love Others.”
That includes everyone. Love all others, even and probably
especially the person who offended me.
Ugh, Ugh, Ugh.
Now HOW was I supposed to do that?!
Jesus is the perfect example of that,
but I am no Jesus.
So let’s simply be reminded:
Time can heal.
Prayer can heal.
Letting go and letting God can heal.
Forgiveness can heal.
Looking at the plank in our own eyes can heal.
Compassion (co-suffering) can heal.
Communication, a hug and ultimately Love heals.
God is Love.
Through him, while working on our own healing, we can Love.
There is NO doubt that EACH DAY is a BEAUTIFUL day
in which we can Love Others, as we are called to do.
Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:8a
Get me to the other side, please! I need to move beyond this, get to the other side of the street or over the mountain, please. Have you ever said that out loud to God or inside your mind to yourself?
I couldn’t even begin to tell you the number of times I’ve cried out those words. Logically, I know there is only one way in life and that is forward. Keep trudging, keep going, you can do it!
And we can.
But, sometimes, we can’t.
It may be a job we are needing to stay in for financial reasons or a place of excruciating heartache after losing a loved one. It could be a health diagnosis that has us tied to treatment for a year or possibly forever. In those places we scream to push through and get to the other side, but the other side just doesn’t seem to be coming towards us.
In my bible, underneath the subtitle Jesus Calms the Storm, Luke 8:22 says that “One day Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side of the lake.’” There are so many wonderful truths in Luke 8, but let’s just concentrate on this one today: While we are in a storm, Jesus is in our boat with us taking us to the other side of the lake. He is calming the storm. In some cases, we may be the storm!
As we prayerfully wait for the worldly proof that we have made it to the other side of a situation, let us always remember that Jesus can calm us. Let’s let him! He can and does give us peace and strength to endure. He walks forward with us everyday as he makes all things new.
He releases us from our past. And if, in fact, we are contributing to our storm and participating in our storm, he calls on us to take our thoughts to him instead of the storm. Look up and look to that other side. You will get there, but most likely it won’t look like you envisioned. It will be his vision, his purposes, and his will.
This is truth that we can always depend on.
This is how we can Keep Moving Forward.
The Lord appeared to us in the past,[a] saying:
"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness."
Do you have one?
If so, I’d love for you to leave
it in the comments.
Not everyone needs a word of the year,
but I have found that after Christmas
it gives me something to pray about
and look forward to having a
conversation with God about for the new year. He does make all things new!
It usually sounds exciting, fun, goal oriented and fulfilling. It also sounds like it will carry you through the year, reminding you of what God may have placed on your heart and mind to ponder this year. I say may have, because if you are like me at all, it can sometimes be difficult to know for certain whether my Word of the Year is divinely inspired or just dictated by my emotions.
Some years that word of the year is AWESOMENESS! A word like: Winner or Courage. Other times it can be calming or balancing, like: Be Still. Yes, Be Still is what he shared with my heart and mind this year. I get it, I run ahead of myself. I think I know best. I push. I think too much. I dream. While all those attributes can have advantages, none of them are super great on the submission or trusting side of things.
It just so happens that as we sit here, mid-year, I am reminded of my word of the year – Be Still – because I am literally flat on my back after ripping apart my lower back muscles (otherwise known as lumbar) from doing a basic household chore. Really???? Like I can’t walk or bend and there are bad words jumping out of my mouth.
Maybe the true point to this Word of the Year
is to cherish it. When He reminds you of it in certain situations throughout the year,
thank Him. He is a glorious, all-knowing, all-powerful Lord who loves you…even in and especially in the trying times. Scripture says if you go to him for anything, he hears you.
He will use that Word of the Year to remind you to love him and love others, to refine you, and he is with you, if you let him.
If you don’t have a Word of the Year, maybe think about grabbing one now. If you do have one, no matter how that Word entered your being for this year, use it to your advantage. My guess is sometimes it will encourage you, humble you and even if you’re flat on your back, it will give you a squeeze and say, “I’ve got you!” Amen.
I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.
You’ve heard it said:
The days are long, but the decades fly by.
Enjoy the season you’re in, for it will soon be gone.
It’s only the little things that truly matter.
While I don’t find fault or disagree with any of those statements, I’m finding it difficult to stay in one mindset.
Like I jump around all the time. I get settled in one mental and emotional spot and then I literally catapult instantly into a different spot. I can go positive for a good stretch, but then instant negativity.
It is whiplash!
Life can be that way, right?! One pretty Friday morning my loving husband was taking me to my “every 3 month cancer checkup” and on our drive there our daughter called to tell us she had just been offered her dream job, at her dream school, in her dream grade. SO wonderful! Praises! Reigning in my doctor/hospital PTSD, we made it through the doctor appointment looking good and left making the date for the next 3 month checkup. Praises again! As we drove home one undercover police car after another undercover police car, sirens blaring, zoomed past us. All heading in the same direction. Immediately the text came from our youngest that he was in lock down at school. A high school shooting had occurred in a nearby school district. Whip. Lash.
As a world and as a people, just look at what we’ve been through in the last several years. Even strong believers can experience whiplash.
Which is why I’ve learned to
find something to Cherish…Actually a
few things: Coffee & yoga.
I don’t put pressure on myself to make
sure I drink coffee and do yoga
every day, but most days I treasure
They fill me up, relax my whiplashing mind and heart. I can steady my emotions and body. They somehow, pour into my soul.
Have you ever thought about relaxing your jaw? Seriously, stop right now, think about your jaw and tell it to relax! It’s astounding how much we all clench our jaws all day long. I cherish that I have learned that at any time I can consciously tell myself to relax my jaw and it works.
Coffee and yoga are NOT my God or my savior, but he has blessed me to see that I need a few things to cherish because the days can be long, the season can seem unending and little things do matter. I do not idolize them but cherish. Think how Jesus cherishes us. How he is big enough to cherish each one of us.
What is it he has given you to cherish?
“‘“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’ Numbers 6:24-26
For I knew how stubborn you were;
your neck muscles were iron,
your forehead was bronze. Isaiah 48:4
Anybody??? There are times in our lives when we KNOW the facts. We KNOW what needs to be done. We KNOW you did something wrong. We KNOW we should take that road. We KNOW we are Right! How dare someone let us know we are NOT Right! How dare someone challenge us to take a different path, a different way, a better action, or a better choice.
We are not having it. Our faces turn red, set in stone. Eyebrows furrowed. Wrinkled forehead. Our arms folded at our chest, which is puffed out stoically. Our head shakes left to right, physically saying, “No.” Feet cemented to the ground.
Not happening. Stubborn.
There could possibly be a joke around our house that Mom is always right. It could possibly be written on my forehead and worn as a very sparkly crown. Of course, I am always right! Who would even question it?
Obviously, I am beyond stubborn in my thinking that I am always right. I can be so stubborn in my correctness that even in my teen years, you could literally see the knots in my neck. Migraines might very well be a result of my neck muscles being iron! Unmovable. Stubborn.
While God clearly tells us, “HUMBLE yourselves. REST in me. LEAN on me. LISTEN to me. Let me be your Shield, Refuge and Strength. Do not be Stubborn!” He also tells us to have STUBBORN FAITH!! Hallelujah!
Resting, Leaning, Listening, Believing, Trusting and Loving Others all require stubborn faith in our Lord.
Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Matthew 17:20
Let’s take our mustard seed faith and let it grow. Let it change throughout our lives, sometimes strong, sometimes small, but always a stubborn faith.
Be stubborn by forever holding on to our faith.
So let us turn our necks of iron down into our praying hands
and love God and love others.
She's obviously Giving something away, and it appears to be COFFEE, which happens to be my blood type.
When I was younger I lived by the "You owe me" concept. Everyone owes me. The world owes me.
One day it occurred to me to actually do something special for someone else. Imagine! I started doing small things, picking up the house after someone, sending
a note of appreciation to a teacher, letting someone in my lane during congested traffic. As the years went on, my mind became "retrained" to focus on others' needs, and my own challenges seemed to greatly diminish. Each time I sat in front of my own challenge, the answer was to immediately focus on giving in some way, to someone else.
When our 13 year old dog passed away, our kids were devastated. A friend called and said, "You know there is only one CURE to that devastation...a new puppy!" As with our own lives, the only way to CURE a "You owe me" mentality, is to realize that we actually owe the world!
Our care and counseling pastor addressed us calling on all of us to make the world a better place. He said that even though he counsels people who are struggling daily, he would call on them too. Think outside of ourselves to make our part, of our world, a better place.
The key to moving beyond ourselves is to reach out to others, expecting
NOTHING in return. Sometimes we will be let down by family, friends, or co-workers. Sometimes we will even let ourselves down. Stand back up and give anyway. We will be amazed at the blessings we receive.
Not only will it change them, but us.
Change Lives.Give to Others.
**To Who & What could you give right now???
A hug, a smile, flowers, a meal, a call...**
I’ve been thinking, a lot.
I’ve been thinking my entire life.
In fact, thinking wears me out, tears me down and sometimes keeps me from the good I have right in front of me.
I have heard it said that thinking sucks, doing is good. However, even when I do good, I’m still thinking. Ugh!
Attempting to turn my thinking into REACHING, I cry out to God. I call out. I study God’s living Word, I pray, I write down what I’m thankful for each morning, I count my blessings while I walk, I pray at night,
sometimes ALL night, I have scripture placed around our home, I have His Word carved into my heart, I meet with friends who share His love and wisdom with me,
and on and on.
I REACH. I reach.
In this season, though, REACHING has not sufficed.
A wise, dear friend casually shared the word RELINQUISH, and I thought I might pass out.
WOW! BUZZ WORD!
That is a whole new meaning of REACHING. Like, it’s actually the opposite for me. Instead of standing, arms up toward heaven, stating my cares, my needs, my wants, my dreams…I would actually be SURRENDERING all of that! I would change my “ME” stance into a “HE” stance. I could turn my self-pity, self-thoughts to Him.
Trusting, hoping, and rejoicing in the fact that I don’t have to carry my thinking thoughts
if I let Him carry them.
As we REACH and RELINQUISH, we will get see REDEMPTION. I don’t think we talk enough about it because we easily miss it in our day to day. One definition of REDEMPTION is being delivered or rescued. How many times has that happened in our lives?
Once, 10 times, daily?
It was most obvious to me as I was able to share a mother/son dance at our son’s recent wedding, during COVID. After a pretty bad diagnosis a few years ago, surgeries, treatments, etc. I was able to have that dance. What a blessing. What REDEMPTION. I know that my ultimate redemption will be when I go with Christ, our co-heir, who gave his life for ours.
For now, I suppose I will continue to think, reach, relinquish and be reminded of the wonderful redemption we get to experience here on earth. I trust that you will too.
I pray that the same buzz words that have shaken me lately, shake you:
GRATITUDE GRACE GREATNESS REACHING RELINQUISHING REDEEMED
LOVED FORGIVEN FREE
I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Psalm 16:8 NIV
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
This is one of my greatest. Our kids gave me “50 Reasons Why We Love You,” complete with color coding per child and a key to help me identify who said what. Pretty clever, pretty neat, pretty enlightening, and very thoughtful. I savored the gift, choosing only one color each morning to read, making it last for days. As I walked by the gift every morning, it literally brought a smile to my face and brightened my heart. I couldn’t wait to see what creative things were said about me each day - Ha Ha!
Changing Lives by Giving to Others makes the world a better place. There's a reminder on my phone that goes off every morning, asking myself the question: “How can I give today?” Some days the answer pops out like a freight train. You know, where the world can see what amazing thing "I" did to bless someone else…like the Greatest Gift Ever. Some days, the gifting is medium and some days it’s minuscule.
Nonetheless, it’s on my mind and heart.
For believers, this is the time in the post where we'd expect to hear:
“And the best gift ever given is Jesus.” While that is the TRUTH, let’s take what He did for us and shower it on others. Our gift-giving can come in any form, not necessarily materialistic. Time, face-time, prayer, smiles, texts, 50 reasons why you love someone, flowers, jewelry, porch drops, man-caves – they all work!
GIVE ON & Treasure your Best Gifts Ever!
A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25
Feel free to list your Best Gift Ever in the comments. :)
Anything bad ever happened to you? Like, what is The Worst thing that has happened in your life to this point?
Did it last "Forever?" How did it harm you? Do you think of it every once in a while, every month, every day, every minute?
Not a one of us is free from negative experiences. They can become overbearing, treacherous and idolizing if we are not careful. During this time, as in during the Global Pandemic of 2020, or any time, we can have overwhelming thoughts and emotions of fear, anxiety, discontentment and waves of worry.
I know we can, because I have and I do.
What If we changed our
Worry to Wonder?!
What if we changed our Anguish to Admiration?
What if we changed our Misery for Marveling?
Our Concern for Curiosity?
Our Fear for Fascination?
Our Anxiety for Appreciation?
HOW could we possibly accomplish this?
Simply change the question. If we're worried
about our health, instead of asking,
"What will I do if I get sick,"
"I wonder what I can do today while I am healthy?"
Instead of asking, "How will we ever get through this?"
Make a list of things we are thankful for today.
We all live Blessings & Battlefields.
The most important thing we can do with both,
is bring them before the cross.
Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who
alone works wonders. And blessed be His
glorious name forever; and may the whole
earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen.
– Psalm 72:18-19 NLT
Worry to Wonder!
P.S. Please share one word you can wonder for in the comments!
In times of trouble,
let us be encouraged
And to be encouraged through song Click Here:
The Blessing with Kari Jobe & Cody Carnes
God Bless Always,
To quote Charles Schulz, the creator of the comic strip Peanuts:
"Christmas is doing a little something extra
While reading my devotional from the YouVersion App (Which you can download here from this button) -
- I came across this little, thought-provoking nugget: "Gift giving is honorable, generous, and says, "You were on my mind."
We resemble our Heavenly Father when we offer gifts to others. It's normal and expected to give presents at Christmastime, but what if we were generous all the time? What if we gave to a friend in April just because? What if we contributed to a friend or cause in July? If we made giving a regular part of our lives, we might not have to focus so much on doing it during one month of the year."
As Charles Schulz says: "Christmas is doing a little something extra
Yes, yes it is, among many other things! Oh, how we love to shop, create and deliver our gifts. Oh, how we love to receive our presents.
Oh, how we love to celebrate and EAT with family and friends. Oh, how we love the special time of year. But, let us always remember that Giving has NO Season. Doesn't matter the size, shape, experience,
or cost of our gift,
there is always a REASON to give.
Think beyond ourselves.
Be a Blessing.
Change Lives. Give to Others.
'Tis the season of Thanksgiving - Yes, the time to Count Our Blessings!
While we are doing that, let’s get a little selfish and thank ourselves. Wait, What?
Let me rephrase – let’s be grateful to simply
Be Ourselves AND Be Our Best Selves.
You are a gift. You’ve been given breath, time, purpose and opportunity each day to go out into life and give it your best. You don’t have to push yourself so hard you faint, but you also don’t have to remain stagnant, turning to mush.
What if one of the biggest blessings in life is to accept and love yourself for who you are, while at the same time challenging ourselves to do and Be Our Best Self? I believe we have an innate sense, not to be perfect, but to do and be good… a sense to improve and go after all our potential. I think our inner self knows it needs to continue to move forward in life, even if that comes in small, basic doses.
Whatever it means to you to Be Your Best You,
I bet it includes serving others in the end.
Now, THAT is something to Give Thanks for!
This quote from Joanna Gaines shook
me so much, I’d like to share it with you:
I want to leave you with an excerpt on freedom from this season’s Magnolia Journal:
“…I’m not going to pretend it’s not scary to dig in, to fight for something within yourself that you may not even be able to name. But that’s nothing compared to the aftermath should we choose to pretend that it’s safer to stay the same. Every day, every hour—we get to decide who we are meant to be. The breath in our lungs is the official declaration that we’ve got more growing to do. I believe there’s a whole world of untapped potential buried within me, hoping that I’ll be brave enough to unearth it. I also believe there’s a whole world of untapped potential within you. And it’s hoping, waiting to see if you’re willing to set it free.”
Be the Best You & Enjoy All Your Blessings,
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23