Monday, March 23, 2020
Today's blog is about an emotion that many are feeling right now and maybe for the first time ever in their life, which is anxiety. Wikipedia describes anxiety as " a feeling of uneasiness and worry, usually generalized and unfocused as an overreaction to a situation that is only subjectively seen as menacing. It is often accompanied by muscular tension, restlessness, fatigue and problems in concentration. Anxiety is closely related to fear, which is a response to a real or perceived immediate threat; anxiety involves the expectation of future threat. People facing anxiety may withdraw from situations which have provoked anxiety in the past."
The website, gotquestions.org, talks about anxiety from a biblical perspective. "Probably the best-known passage on anxiety comes from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6. Our Lord warns us against being anxious about the various cares of this life. For the child of God, even necessities like food and clothing are nothing to worry about. Using examples from God’s creation, Jesus teaches that our Heavenly Father knows our needs and cares about them. If God takes care of simple things like grass, flowers, and birds, won’t He also care for people who are created in His image? Rather than worry over things we cannot control, we should "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things [the necessities of life] will be added to you". Putting God first is a cure for anxiety."
"We can count on the Lord to provide for our needs, protect us from evil, guide us, and keep our souls secure for eternity. We may not be able to prevent anxious thoughts from entering our minds, but we can practice the right response." [gotquestions.org]
Philippians 4:4-9 "
Anxiety can lead to isolation, but that's not part of God's community plan. "If we want to approach life fully in the way that Jesus Himself modeled, then we will do life together instead of choosing to go it alone. We weren’t made to celebrate victory alone. We weren’t made to suffer hardship alone. We weren’t made to walk through the dailiness of life alone. We weren’t made to be alone with our thoughts. (Are you as happy as I am about that last one? What a terrifying place the mind can be.) We were made to reach out, to connect, to stay tethered. We were made to live together in the light." [Allen, Jennie. Get Out of Your Head] We can still interact with family, friends, our church and others through technology resources, despite having to socially distance ourselves.
Matthew Henry says "Observe, It is our duty and privilege to rejoice in God, and to rejoice in him always; at all times, in all conditions; even when we suffer for him, or are afflicted by him. We must not think the worse of him or of his ways for the hardships we meet with in his service. There is enough in God to furnish us with matter of joy in the worst circumstance on earth. Joy in God is a duty of great consequence in the Christian life; and Christians need to be again and again called to it. If good men have not a continual feast, it is their own fault."
As for myself, I've had anxious thoughts, like everyone else. Yet, I did not understand the true depth of anxiety on a person until after my fall in 2018 . I've never been a fearful person by nature, but some of my strong pain medicines had the side effect of anxiety. It was scary, unnerving, uncomfortable and beyond my ability to control. My anxiety continued even after I was discharged from the hospital. Unlike ever before in my life, I not only needed someone in the room with me, I needed them in my line of sight. I felt ridiculous for having such needs, but I would have sweats, a racing heart rate, and tears of fear without the security of having someone near me. During the three months of weaning off those harsh pain medicines, my Dad and caregivers slept in my room in a recliner, cot or on an air mattress. Thankfully, I got off those drugs and my current pain medicine doesn't cause anxiety or fearful thoughts. I now have more empathy for those who struggle with anxiety for whatever reason. I know without Jesus, as my Lord and Savior, that my anxiety would be a perplexing and consuming challenge for my everyday life. Yet, I do have a peace that only God can give... the comfortable sense of my reconciliation to God and interest in his favor, and the hope of the heavenly blessedness, and enjoyment of God hereafter, This peace will keep me from sinning under my troubles, and from sinking under them; keep me calm and sedate, without discomposure of passion, and with inward satisfaction. There is no other source of peace and calm, about anything or any circumstance, like Jesus can give.
Isaiah 26:3 "You will keep in perfect peace
Monday, March 16, 2020
While we are dealing with the present danger of the Coronavirus pandemic, I want to blog about the reality of dangers around us in everyday, normal circumstances. If you are reading this, then you should recognize God's faithfulness to you throughout your life, while surviving the yearly flu, the past bird flu and the common cold that often turns into pneumonia. We must be mindful, precautious and aware of our surroundings and the dangers that exist in them.
Since I was a young kid, my parents have taken me fishing. I love to fish, and especially catch them. We have had our memorable moments, including a fishing pole involuntarily jumping in the Lake Conway and an almost runaway boat scare on Bull Shoals. But I want to talk about a certain period of time of fishing in my life. Since I was age 12, my dad took me down to his cousin's property in Scott, AR to go night fishing with yo-yo's and trot lines. For those that don't know, yo-yo's are spring loaded devices with fishing line wrapped in it with a hook on the end and trot lines are underwater ropes held by empty bottles with hooks spaced out on the rope. As I was now old enough at 12, my dad taught me how to drive the boat; on/off the boat ramp, up beside the dock, down the river and up to yo-yo's and trot lines. So you realize this is in-the-dark fishing and the creatures of the night are all around us in full force. As my dad sits on the front part of the boat, I am to drive him up into the shore line of trees to get a fish off the yo-yo. We use a spotlight before going to the tree to see if a fish is dangling or needs new bait. As we all know, snakes like darkness, trees and camoflague. Personally, I am not a good snake spotter in day or night. Snakes are a real and present danger around us all night and the thought of one falling in the boat is terrifying. The thought of my dad getting bit is scary and frightening too. We did not panic or abort our fun plans but we were mindful, careful and choosy about which yo-yo's to go to and when. When my dad would clearly spot a snake and tell me of it, I turned the boat away and moved on to the next. After many years of fun and good catfish to eat, I can say we were in the realm of danger and fear but God faithfully protected us.
I share this story to show that God is faithful to protect us, even in regular dangers or new ones. We are to do our part by being aware of dangers, mindful with our choices, diligent to take precautions and think of others before ourselves. The Coronavirus outbreak is not a surprise to God and his will of protection will cover us, if we put our trust in Him.
World-wide fear is nothing new. The world has been terrified into panic before. "C. S. Lewis’s words—written 72 years ago—ring with some relevance for us. Just replace “atomic bomb” with “coronavirus.”
"In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”
In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.
This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds. [— “On Living in an Atomic Age” (1948) in Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays]
May our trust always be centered on God who is always in control over all things.
Wednesday, March 4, 2020
This week's blog is about generosity and how we are to give in all different ways. I would suspect that many turn a deaf ear to messages about giving because we think here they go again after my wallet or pocketbook. Giving can be done with your time, talents, wisdom, resources, material goods, friendship, as well as money.
"Above all, God demonstrated His generosity when He offered His Son as a sacrifice to atone for our sin. In the face of such generosity, we can only say, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15). The gift of Jesus to sinful mankind was the ultimate act of generosity."
As we are to follow Jesus and his example, that includes being generous with others in all different ways. 1 Timothy 6:17-19 " Those are truly rich who are rich in good works. That they be : not only to do it, but to do it willingly, for ." [M. Henry]
Proverbs 19:6 "Many seek the favor of a man, and everyone is a friend to a man who gives gifts." My Dad has taught me and been my example about generosity. Of course I know he is my biggest fan and is biased when it comes to me, but he is generous to everyone he knows. While I was growing up, he had to go on business trips pretty often. There was never a trip that he didn't bring me a gift back from, usually a stuffed animal. Oh, the looks he must have gotten while flying home with a life-sized Smurf, that I still have to this day along with about 40 other stuffed animals. He, also, used to bring my mom music boxes or figurines when he returned from trips. Still even now, he shares his time and resources in the most generous ways.
When I was about 13, I had earned and saved enough money from doing chores and mowing the grass that I wanted to 'really treat' my parents on their anniversary. I made reservations by myself at a restaurant inside the Excelsior Hotel in Little Rock. We all went and I had my money rolled up and tucked in my jeans pocket. I told them, "Order whatever you want, I have it covered." I was so excited and felt grown up enough to really do something on my own for my parents. We ate and the bill came. I reached confidently in my pocket, but it was empty! Frantically, I looked all around my chair and the table. I had lost my $80 and my dad paid for the meal. I was devastated and disappointed in myself that I let everyone down. As we left, we told the manager the description of the $80, as four $20 bills rolled up together. It was a long ride home for me because my generosity was now squashed into a heap of frustration. When we got home, the restaurant called saying that they had found my roll of money. "Ah, God is so good and there are some honest people in the world"...were my thoughts.
"The Bible teaches the general principle that those who are generous will find favor: “One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. People curse the one who hoards grain, but they pray God’s blessing on the one who is willing to sell” (Proverbs 11:24–26). God’s Word is clear that the generous are remembered and rewarded, whether in this life or the next." [gotquestions.org]
"In our generosity, we are not to expect repayment in kind. Our reward will come from the Lord, in His way and in His time. We are to show generosity even to our enemies: “If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. . . . If you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? . . . But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked” (Luke 6:29, 34–35)." [gotquestions.org] I was told this principle by a former pastor that when he lends a tool, he never asks or expects it to be returned but if it is, it's a blessing.
My generosity continues on to this day but I will not boast about those efforts. I want to just be an example to others in the same way I was taught and raised to be generous, without expectation of anything in return. I am blessed and encouraged by the parents who teach their children thankfulness and gratitude. In this day and age, the sense of entitlement is an obvious sin that is running rampant and needs to be dealt with.
I have been the recipient of so much generosity by friends and family over the years. I want to spotlight one of those, as an example. My friend, Lilly, handmade a huge quilt around age 13 for a class project and she gave it to me. I hope to one day return it to her as an adult, because it's a treasure to be treasured by her own family one day.
We can apply these encouragements to our own lives and strive to be generous and wise with everything God has entrusted to us.
Monday, February 24, 2020
As we wrap up this last week in February, the month we celebrate 'love', I want to blog on what I've seen or experienced myself, as what 'love one another' doesn't mean. This command, love one another, is addressed directly to Jesus’ followers. Christians are to love one another. This doesn’t mean that we don’t love people who are not Christians. To the contrary, we are to love everyone always. We are to love our neighbors regardless of race, religion, age, or political affiliation. Love doesn't mean agreeing on issues that are biblically wrong, but it means loving the lost towards Christ. Romans 5:8 is our example towards this goal, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: re , Christ died for us.
"Having God's unconditional love doesn't mean you have his unconditional approval." [M. McPherson]
I'll begin with the sinful, hurt of gossip. Proverbs 11:13 "A betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret." I've been on the receiving end of gossip from a friend about another friend that was struggling with a low point in her life. I immediately said, "STOP, that is gossip and I won't listen to it or be a part of it." That is how we stop sin in its tracks and show love for the victim of the gossip thread. As Matthew Henry says, " In the lips of a slanderer and backbiter , not only to brand his neighbor’s reputation, to smoke and sully it, but to consume it." Proverbs 16:28 "A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a separates close friends. There is a difference about gossip in that it has a destructive motive without care or concern for the spoken of. May we always choose to be peacemakers and build each other up, in and with love.
Next, I'll confront the issue of sincere love, because the bible has much to say about it. Romans 12:9 says " must be . Hate what is evil; cling to what is good." A person who was once a friend of mine and to me before conflict arose, now says they 'love me' yet won't refer to me as 'friend' anymore. That is not sincere love but a twist on semantics. 1 Peter 1:21-23 "Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
Why are we surprised by failure in the body of Christ?" So many people I know personally want to know God more but their scars from the Christian community keeps them at a fragile distance. To them I say, "“If you’re waiting for our church to disappoint you, I promise you we will. In spades. We’re a bunch of sinners. But if you’re looking for friends who will show you their wounds too, who will go to Jesus with you and trust God to heal us all together, then that’s who we want to be." [intouch.org] The hurt is real out there, but we can't let people keep us from God's invitation of eternal love and hope. "With each year’s demographic reports, we hear how people are exiting religious communities at a rapid clip. Curiosity around general “spirituality” is on the rise, but fewer and fewer people have any interest in belonging to actual churches. " May we recognize our own sinfulness as we encourage others to be a part of our Jesus-led lives and churches, so they might have the same hope and saving grace that we have been given.
May we love one another in all the 50 ways the bible says to. "By obeying the Spirit, through the Word of God, the believer can love like Christ does. He shows that unconditional, sacrificial, forgiving love to fellow believers, but it doesn’t stop there. He also shows the love of Christ to friends, to family members, to coworkers, etc. Even enemies are the recipients of Christ’s love. Those who love like Christ in the Holy Spirit’s power will give evidence that they are disciples, or learners, of Jesus Christ." [gotquestions.org]
Saturday, February 15, 2020
This week's blog is an extension of last week's theme on the weakness in my extremitities. I had said 'the loss is greater than one could imagine' so I want to expound on what that means. There is so much that our hands and arms allow us to do that we take for granted. It's no secret that a pat on the back, a warm embrace or a touch on your hand can make you feel special but what if you can only accept those kinds of love and not give them anymore. It's an awkward, uncomfortable feeling of what you might call sensory deprivation.
It is true that it's better to give than receive, but sometimes you just have to be on the receiving end and give in other ways. I've never been a touchy-feely kind of person but in some ways I regret that now. I no longer have the ability to reach out and give someone I love a hug. The best I can do is to lean into their embrace of me. One person recognized that and said, "I love that you lean into my hug." Another loss is the ability to reach out and shake someone's hand. It is awkward on both sides, I hate that I can't and the other person feels bad that they assumed everyone could shake hands and put me in that position. It's okay and not a crime. People either get cowardly and avoid me from then on or they switch to a friendly tap on the shoulder or a fist bump my hand. The latter is preferred. One last touch I miss is reaching out to pet and love on my animalss by my own power. My dog rides in my lap in the van and that touch of closeness is priceless. When I ask, my caregivers will help me pet my furbabies with my hand.
In a world where so much of our interaction is virtual — Facebook, e-mails, texts — physical contact is more precious than ever. "Touch is a much more sophisticated system than we ever realized," says Matthew J. Hertenstein, Ph.D." Touch can boost your immune system and other studies have shown that touch helps asthma, eases migraines, and leads to a more restful night's sleep. "Scientists are discovering that you don't have to touch another person to receive a sensory lift. Next time you're feeling low, cradle a steaming mug of coffee or tea in your hands." [Good Housekeeping]
Even back in biblical times, touch had significant meaning and power. From the garden in Genesis 3:2-3 " Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not approach the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain is to be put to death." In Matthew 8:2-3 "A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. he said. Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy." In Luke 24:38-39, Jesus used the power of touch to prove himself real by "
Sunday, February 9, 2020
"Weakness" is not something that is part of our wants in our will of life, but it is a needed necessity as part of God's will for us. Weakness is a good place for the Spirit to begin it's work in us. Romans 8:26 "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our . We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans." We would rather hide our weaknesses from others and let the Spirit work on an invisible level. 1 Corinthians 1:25 "For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the of God is stronger than human strength." The trouble with our hiding is that pride and anger can get a foothold and sin can take root, where God wants to use us and be glorified. Ephesians 4:26-27 "
The s my light and my salvation— m ? The s the stronghold of my life— of m be afraid?" So, I will be bold, brave and write without fear about my weakness for God's glory.
My disease progressed to affecting my arms and hands about 10 years ago. I haven't been able to use my right arm at all since then and very little with my left arm. With that loss, I lost my ability to physically write by a pen or pencil. This loss is embarrassing and greater than one might imagine. Anytime I have to sign my name, write a check, send a thank you note or greeting card, or fill out paperwork... then I have to ask someone else to do it for me. Such a simple task, as coloring, I cannot do.
I used to have great penmenship. A friend wanted to leave a note on a guy's car once when we were teenagers and she said, "You write it for me, you write better than me." When I worked in the lab, one of my tasks was to fill out the log book for specimens received. Even back then, I could feel the loss of writing coming in the near future. So, I would rest my hand a few minutes and continue on.
One year, my dad took me to the DMV to renew my license, now known as identification, and I was asked to sign my name. After an aggravating discussion with the clerk about how I couldn't sign, my dad put his hand on mine and signed my name. The clerk was satisfied and as we left I said, "Sometimes you have to act stupid to please Stupid."
Even though I can't physically write with a pen anymore, God has blessed me with computer adapted technology to write here on my blog, by email and on Facebook. A friend told me not long ago in bible study, "but you paint a beautiful picture with words on your blog." Just this week, I was filling out paperwork for a doctor's appointment on my computer and I got to sign my name myself by using my cursor and moving my head. It didn't look far off from what my hand used to do.
God gives us all we need to fulfill His purposes through us. We may not have all we want or what we once had, but God's provisions are right, according to his will and purposeful.
Saturday, February 1, 2020
Hello again, friends and family. I want to share my thoughts and what I have learned over the past month or so, that made me return to blogging. I was urged in my heart to consider, "what if I took the pieces of my life, no matter what the world says they are worth and began to use them to help others flourish for the sake of Christ." I believe God has blessed me with shareable moments in my life and a way through blogging to not only benefit me, but others as well.
Tim Keller says that "meaningful work is taking the raw materials we are given and assembling them in a way that causes other people to flourish." That is not only what I want, but my blog's goal. "Personal fulfillment is biggest when we're involved in something bigger than ourselves, something for the good of others." My blogging is not just a personal joy and reward, but it is one of the few tasks left that I can do alone without help from anyone and also, enrich the lives of others. That is huge for me and I know it won't last forever. So, one reason for returning is to do it while I can. I exist for a specific reason and no one can express my thoughts from this life, like myself.
So, why did I take time off from blogging? Well, there are a few reasons. When I began my blog again after my fall, I was in a place of doubt. I didn't think I would regain strength, but I did. I didn't think I would survive the year, but I did. I doubted God's faithfulness here on earth back then, but thought more of his eternal goodness coming to me. So now that I am again in a time or season of wellness, I still felt the need for a break. I wanted to have a short season and pull back to listen to God's will for me. God has encouraged me through reading, "Made for This: 40 Days to Living Out Your Purpose", a bible study called "Stuck", and verbal messages from friends and family. I've been told that if your showing god to the world, you're on the right track. May God have his way in and through me and let me have the courage and obedience to follow through with it.
So, what will be different about my blog going forward? I plan to be intentional by being more open, sharing hidden struggles and more memories on a personal level. I've asked myself, "What has god given you here to show his glory?" He has given me a natural gift to blog to show his supernatural powers that have blessed my life. "What if we ran our race, despite our thorns and sin , and let God straighten us out." 1 Corinthians 2:9 "However, as it is written: these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit."
We all need to embrace our uncertainties and weaknesses. In my upcoming blogs, I will write about certain weaknesses that I have felt called to write about, but my pride has held me back from doing it. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ''
Every calling has a cost, but offer yourself as a living sacrifice, dedicated to a service that is pleasing to Him. We must kill our fears and uncertainties because they are from the devil. Romans 12:1 "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship."
I look forward to writing next week's blog and reading your comments. Thank you for sharing this journey with me. XOXO
Saturday, January 11, 2020
First, none of us are totally independent. As it says in John 15:5 "apart from me you can do nothing." So as strong as you are today, you are disillusioned by your physical strength. “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). He supplies our very breath. He also meets our needs “according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). God gives and takes away, over time or in a flash, according to His will, not ours.
Secondly, I am a woman of action, not excuses. My disease is one in which there is automatic qualification for disability. I could have sought out a government paid-off life, but that is not who I am or what I am about. God didn't give me the brain-power and drive to sit on the sidelines and waste away. Happiness comes from growth and purpose. God has blessed me with true joy and happiness throughout my life. Sometimes in life, you have to be your own encourager. I've felt ugly and I've felt beautiful, I've felt dumb and I've felt smart, I've felt weak and I've felt strong. Guilt and shame come from people, not God!
Thirdly, God isn't trying to break me by making me progressively weaker. God is teaching me to rely on Him and his provisions. God knows my heart and that if my will was done, I would strive to be self-reliant and self-sufficient. That's not his will, for any of us. "He doesn’t want our suffering to debilitate us, but when it feels like too much to bear, the promise of eternity and Christ’s presence keeps us from despair " "As human beings, we often have a difficult time perceiving what the Lord is doing in our life. We are limited by the passage of time, the confusion of present circumstances, and a lack of understanding regarding God’s goals and His means of accomplishing them." " The Lord doesn’t want us to simply grit our teeth and bear hardship; He desires that we trust Him and bring glory to His name through our dependence." [intouch.org]
Fourthly, I am writing these words in this blog mostly for myself. I feel unhappy because I don't long for or have growth and purpose anymore. I am gritting my teeth to try to get through each day but trying to stay strong in God's will for me. It is so hard to be not only blessed by others but to have total dependence as well on them. God wants us to grow in Christlikeness, but He doesn’t want to break our spirit. As this is my last blog, I ask that you pray I will finish strong this journey He has purposefully set for me. May I live boldly, peacefully, and effectively for His glory.