I am thankful for God’s words to me through the Bible.
While it can become cliche to quote simple verses, the realization that those words are God’s written for me to read, timeless, yet relevant for my current situation is amazing.
I am thankful for Psalm 56:8-11, “Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll–are they not in your record? Then my enemies will turn back when I call for help. By this I will know that God is for me. In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise–in God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me?”
Comment below with a verse that you are thankful for.
Have you ever thought that God was working against you? Sometimes it seems the harder you try to do what you think He’s asking you to do, the more adversity you face.
The Israelites found themselves in this very situation. Moses sent people ahead of the Israelites with a proposal of peace to the King of Sihon. All they wanted was to peacefully pass through the king’s land.
Deuteronomy 2:30 tells us the story,“But King Sihon of Heshbon refused to allow us to pass through, because the Lord your God made Sihon stubborn and defiant so he could help you defeat him, as he has now done.”
The first part of this verse is so discouraging! It specifically says the Lord made the king stubborn and defiant. Why? Isn’t that the very cry of our hearts? Why did this happen? Why, when I’m following your instructions are you working against me?
His gracious response is in the second half of the verse is, “so he could help you defeat him, as he has now done.” It’s easy to simply question why rather than consider God’s plan to include blocking your way. For Israel, it was blocking their passage through the land. Maybe for you it’s blocking your way to financial freedom, you lost a job or came into some unexpected bills? Whatever it is, take heart! When you think God has abandoned and forgotten you, made your life seemingly hard, maybe He’s lining things up for you; to give you victory in your situation.
The rest of the chapter two tells us of the victory the Israelites had over The King of Sihon. Not only were they allowed passage, but they completely annihilated all the towns and people. They plundered livestock and anything of value.
The Israelite army was not intimidating by worldly standards, but time and time again they were victorious when the Lord fought for them. But, they had to be at a place where they allowed the Lord to fight for them. Sometimes that included God hardening the hearts of kings and pharaohs.
I don’t know what you are facing today. I know in my life there have been times when it felt like God had abandoned me, when His ways made no sense and all conclusive evidence pointed towards Him working against me rather than for me. In those quiet moments, it takes trust and faith. Faith that God always has our best in mind. His ways are higher than ours.
God, thank You that Your ways are the best. Even when we feel like You might be working against us, may we keep our focus on the promises of Your Word that tells us that You work all things for good. Give us the strength to trust in Your promises even in the hard times. Amen.
Hope Can Overcome Even Our Most Discouraging Days
HOPE. It’s one of my favorite words. I mean, thank goodness this word exists. Can you imagine a world without it? When I began writing this last month, I found myself deeply concerned for our world. I had experienced great disappointment during a particular instance of blatant disrespect. On this very discouraging day, I had a choice to make: I could bellyache about it and harden my heart; or I could turn my eyes upward and ask for His guidance (Psalm 121:1-2). So, I decided to reach into my verse box (I keep an index card box where I write down verses, thoughts, ideas, experiences, quotes, etc., for a book I am working on – I guess it’s my way of journaling) and “randomly” pulled out a card with Romans 15:13 on it. This is what I read:
“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost.”
Wow, this was the exact verse I needed and God knew it (not such a “random” selection after all). It turned my day and attitude around. Here’s why:
These three words: Hope, Joy and Peace! Words God knew we would all need during our sojourn on earth. He is so good and has thought of everything to take care of us! Let’s look at these three words in more detail:
- Hope is defined as a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen; a feeling of trust; desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment.
What beautiful definitions! I find it refreshing that Hope is associated with positivity. Notice, we don’t hope for dreadful experiences or disappointing circumstances, it is a better situation we always hope for. My favorite name for Jesus includes the word Hope: “Blessed Hope”!
In Titus 2:13 it tells us we should be, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and of our Saviour Jesus Christ;”. Such a wonderful verse about our Savior. I love that hope exists for mankind, Jesus Christ is that hope. And I love that I can pray for whomever I want, any time I want and can hope those prayers will be answered.
- Joy is defined as a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. God wants us to be filled with this, no matter our circumstance. How encouraging this is to me and I hope to you as well!
James 1:2 inspires us to have joy during the difficulties of life: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations:”
- Peace – is defined as freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility. Now it is made clear to us that our earthly lives come with many trials and tribulations, but God wants us to have His Peace in the midst of our circumstances. And that Peace is possible when we trust Him to move us through the storms:
Isaiah 26:3, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusteth in thee.”
Romans 15:13 also mentions the word “believing”. Believers accept His Word as truth and as a result have hope. The verse says “ye may abound in hope.” ABOUND! God wants us to have plentiful, abundant, generous amounts of HOPE – not just dabble in it as some of us tend to do.
These words were inspired and written when God had full knowledge of what you and I were going to face in life: the good, the not so good, the discouraging, the bad, the heartbreakingly bad, and even the most painful trials of our lives.
Our God is a God of HOPE and he wants his children, His believers, full of JOY and PEACE so we may ABOUND in HOPE.
If you are in one those devastatingly painful trials, take heart! All is not lost, my sister, it is NOT over . . . because Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior is the Blessed Hope we all need. Maybe you are having a particularly frustrating day, as I was. But in each situation we are to take a hold of His HOPE. During Discouraging Days or in Rock Bottom situations, there is plenty of HOPE to go around, my friend, actually more than plenty. The familiar acronym, Hang On Pain Ends, is so true. Pain does end, so does frustration, so will sickness, so will heartbreak, and so will _____ (fill in the blank). We have to hang on and trust in God. I encourage you to Glorify and Honor God in whatever season you are experiencing, for it will please Him and encourage others in the faith, or better yet, bring them to faith in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
I challenge you to memorize Romans 15:13, or find another verse that speaks Hope into your life to memorize, then cling to it on your bad days. On the flip side, if you are in a season of abundance, I urge you to, please, be that messenger of HOPE for someone else who needs it. The hopeless are all around us, we just have to be willing to open our hearts to them.
Praying for each of you to have a HOPE filled life with abundant JOY and PEACE from God above.
This may seem like one of those articles that is done and redone to a point that is boring. How many times can you read an individual’s story about weight loss or weight gain? It’s tiring, right! I hope that mine will be a little bit different, but I will leave that up to you.
I have a very up and down story with food, eating habits, and health. Growing up I was healthy. My mom cooked good meals and made sure that we had all our food groups. I didn’t think twice about the food I ate. I was a healthy and happy child. When we moved to a new town the middle of my freshman year, I found myself wanting to fit in and I was willing to do just about anything.
I changed the way I dressed and talked. I tried to be more outgoing and I even auditioned or tried out for clubs, cheerleading, sports, choirs. I did it all.
While sitting in math class one morning, I remember wearing a long peach dress that had flowers on it. This dress was pretty modest, but had a slit up one side that went up to my knee. So, when I sat in my desk the dress would fall and expose that one part of my leg. There was a boy, not really of any importance to me, but he made a comment that stuck with me. He said, “She’s a little chubby….” to one of the other guys in class.
Ok, I know that it was high school and boys are pretty stupid during that stage of life, but the way I saw myself was vulnerable. I was trying to hard to be liked and pretty, but they thought I was chubby. Can I just tell you I was anything but chubby. I was a size 5! This didn’t matter to me and nothing any of my friends or parents said would change the way I saw myself in the mirror from that day on.
That is when my battle with food began. I saw food as an enemy that wanted to make me ugly. It was my nemesis. I would fight it every day. I stopped eating. I told myself I only need enough to keep me going. So, I would eat salad without dressing. I would throw away the lunches my mom would make me and I would only drink water. When she made dinner, I would sneak the food into my room and hide it in a paper bag under my bed. When I was around people and they would make a comment about me not eating and how thin I was getting, I would get so mad and eat something to please them, but then I would feel so guilty for eating it and go work out for an hour or two just so I could burn the calories I just ate.
Here’s the thing…no matter how much weight I lost, I still saw this fat teenager in the mirror. I hated what I saw. I would go into my room at night and lay on the floor to knock out 500 crunches every night before I could go to sleep.
I had a huge problem with food. I needed it, but I didn’t want it and I was killing myself without it. My mom noticed the weight loss. I am sure my friends voiced their concern to her as well, but one day she found the hidden food and that’s when the ultimatum was made. I was either to start eating or I would be sent to a hospital where I could get help. I hated her for presenting these terms, but I know that it was because she was scared and loved me.
I didn’t want to leave my friends and family and feel shamed. I wanted to be normal. I wanted to be healthy. I started to see a counselor at school and accountability partners were set in place that would report back to my counselor and parents on my habits. It took a long time, but I started to gain weight back and begin to be a healthier version of myself. It takes everything in me to fight the urge to hate food a lot of days, but I have another problem with food now. I love the bad for you stuff.
After I had my children, I was in survival mode. You moms know exactly what I am saying. My children were small and they didn’t sleep. It was all I could do to heat up a hot dog and eat it for dinner. I had no energy or time to make delicious and healthy meals. I wanted sleep. I had extreme weight gain after my second child. I ate whatever made me happy. I didn’t think about carbs or sugars. I thought convenience and feelings. I found myself on the opposite end of the food spectrum now. I liked all the bad things too much.
I struggled with an up and down battle with my weight for the last fourteen years. I would take a stand for myself and start a workout program only to find myself back to an emotional binge or just giving up because I was tired and it was hard. I quit when I couldn’t see results in the hard work it took every day. I never had a full length mirror in the house because it reminded me of all the times I tried to be healthy and failed.
So, what’s different about now?
I lost a lot of who I was while raising family and supporting my husband. Part of why I struggled so much with sticking with healthy is because I didn’t know who I was and why I needed to fight for me. Shortly before Christmas, I just couldn’t deal with this feeling of not knowing who I really am. I became angry. Angry at myself, my husband, my children. I wasn’t comfortable with myself or how I fit in anything. I wasn’t comfortable with life or putting aside what mattered to me because it wouldn’t fit in with how my family saw me or what they wanted to do.
That anger drove me to pray about making changes in my life. I realized that I had put so much before the health of myself and I could no longer do this. I knew that changes were going to be a must and it would not make everyone happy in my family, but I needed to find myself and the first step was with my health.
I, again, started to slowly work out. I don’t have a gym membership, so I looked up some things I could do at home that wouldn’t be too hard at first. I needed something that would build my strength and endurance. I made a plan and printed it out. I need checklists. They keep me motivated. Then I started to change the way I ate. No more junk would be bought for our home. I make meals with all real and raw ingredients. No processed food. I cut a lot of sugar and starches from my diet and focused more on protein and wholeness. I now drink more water than anything, but when I need something extra, I reward myself with a fizzy zero calorie drink.
I don’t starve and the food I make is delicious. The family even loves it.
I am only beginning, but I am journaling this journey and I asked God to take the blinders off so that I can see the results of my hard word and dedication. I am a month in, and I can honestly say that I feel better and look better. I am finding myself again and my happy. I hope to do a follow up article with before and after pictures for you in a few months.
Can I just encourage you to take just one step toward health and freedom? Maybe it’s drinking more water today and going for a fifteen minute walk tomorrow. Progress is progress, and you don’t get anywhere without taking the first step. We were meant to live a healthy life and be full of happiness.
Lord. I ask that you reach into the lives of those who are struggling to make a change in their life to better their health. This decision isn’t always easy, and we often feel defeated when we can’t see change. Remove anything that hinders us from seeing the good change for better health and keep us on the right track. Thank you. Amen.
Some people are going to think I am crazy, but I am thankful for freshly fallen snow.
Yes, I love it early in the morning when the air is cold and crisp and there is a fresh layer of snow on the ground and in the trees. It reminds me that Jesus died on the cross and made me white as snow. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow,” Isaiah 1:18.
What is something you are thankful for that others may not be?
When? When will this be done? I don’t have time for this!!!
Do you get irritated, frustrated, discouraged, or mad when things don’t go the way you thought they would, your plans change?
I went to this appointment, knowing I had kids to pick up afterwards, not thinking I would be delayed 20 minutes. I caught myself starting to feel irritated, saying “I don’t have time…” There are days I wish time would go by faster or wish things would not hold me back from going places I want to go so I can go do the things I have on my agenda/schedule, or what I am excited about, or what’s going to satisfy me. Sometimes I try to rush things, so I can get to the next thing or get distracted that I end up missing the purpose of the moment. I have had moments where I look back and ask: When did that happen? Where was I when it happened? I have realized, in my busyness of life, or the distraction of my phone that I have missed being a part of some special moments: like watching my daughter grow up (scoring points for her team) and missing out on the moments when God speaks to me (praying for someone who is sick or just simply listening to someone who is hurting), because I am too busy, drowned in the noise of life.
Amos 8:5-6 “When will the new moon be over…? And the Sabbath…?” (The merchants, in Amos 8, were concerned about what they could get accomplished or in making money. They wanted things to be over, so they could go do what was on their own agenda.)
Are you a person that feels pressured with time because you have your own agenda, thinking those things are important like: appointments, a vacation, weekend, family coming/going, a special occasion, paycheck, grocery store, meal, or whatever is your own interest? I know I have missed out on the teaching moment, understanding the “why” in the delay. Missing the fact that he tries to use our attitude to minister to someone while he has us standing in that check out lane an extra 5 minutes when our schedule says we’re to be some place in 5 minutes and it’s a 10-minute drive. Or for instance, when someone states they are sick and you say I’m sorry you’re sick and go on about your own business and miss the opportunity to pray for them. I have been learning new things from my grandma who always had a schedule and stuck to it, that life happens, and you just got to go with the flow.
There is the latest fab called the Insta Pot. It is supposed to help meals get done in less time. (From what I have heard it works well.) There is also the drive through windows that is supposed to cut time so you don’t have to get out of the car, but that is not always as quick as we think it should be. We live in a fast-paced world where we want things right now, instantly. The thing is when we get things instantly, it doesn’t seem to last or satisfy us very long until we want something else, the new latest fab. Then we miss out on the moment. Don’t get me wrong, I have learned that sometimes the quick easy meals make you available for events.
Let me ask you to take a moment to reflex on these few questions.
- Do you get easily angered when your schedule is changed? Are your priorities straight?
- Are you caught up in accomplishing greater gain for yourself, that you have no interest in God’s word or what he wants you to learn or how he wants to use you if you would just make yourself available?
- Are you living his purpose or your own?
“But Mama I love her, ” she pleaded while I begged to throw out the tattered doll for the umpteenth time.
“But your birthday is coming. I’ll buy you a new one.”
“No, Mama. Please. I chose her because I love her.”
And that was it. There are moments when arguments with a stubborn, loveable, cute-as-a-button preschooler are simply unwinnable.
This shabby little doll continues to make her home in the usual comfy spot, just at the foot of the bed, lovingly wrapped in a seen-better-days blanket. Just where a sweet little girl placed her. Just where she was chosen to be. Her name is “Victoria,” a regal name for such a dilapidated dolly. A dolly with an uneven haircut, mismatched clothes, and her previous owner’s name scrawled onto the bottom of her foot. And despite her seemingly unfortunate situation, she was chosen for this. By one four-year-old girl who took note of her value. Chosen and loved.
There are moments when I feel like Victoria. Washed up, burnt out, and broken. The world can be a lonely place for a tired soul. It is easy to feel tossed aside and forgotten either because of something we have done or something that has been done to us. Sometimes those forgotten feelings are reinforced by others around us, barely standing through their own pain. There are moments when fear constricts and cripples when you least expect it.
Oh, to be chosen and loved all at the same time. That is just what God does. You, Dear One, were chosen for love. To Love. And be loved. Love is the very essence of who God is. He is the Father-God who artfully designed and created each person for greatness. For purpose. For love. 1 John 4:8 tells us that “God is love.” It is who He is. It is what He does. And He does it so well.
1 Corinthians 13 paints a beautifully simple definition of love. The Greek word for love in this instance is “agape” meaning “affectionate, dear love.” It is the love that loves when love is not returned. In it’s plural form, it literally means “love-feast.” (Wow.) In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul is absolutely clear when he explains what love is not.
Love is not envious.
Love is not boastful.
Love is not proud.
Love is not rude.
Love is not self-seeking.
Love is not easily angered.
Love keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil.
And what is love exactly?
Love is patient.
Love is kind.
Love rejoices with truth.
Love always protects.
Love always trusts.
Love always hopes.
Love always perseveres.
Love never fails.
Love is the GREATEST.
And when the fear creeps in? The anxiety that chokes the life out of you? When you can’t quite remember who you are created to be?
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. ” 1 John 4:18 (NIV)
That’s God. Because only perfect love can do such a thing and love is only perfect in God. Fear and love cannot co-exist because they are simply incompatible. When we take hold of God’s offer of love, fear is dispelled. Love enters in and fear dissipates.
Even when you may feel like a shabby little “Victoria,” you have been given a regal name, too… Beloved. God has called you “Chosen.” God knows your value. His name is inscribed on your heart, because you belong to Him. On the darkest of days and in the moments of triumph, he longs to be with you and celebrate everything that you are.
You are chosen. You are loved. To love and be loved. And THAT, my friends, is the greatest.
Do you think it is easy to live as one that was “chosen for love?” What is your greatest fear? Do you think there is anything that God cannot handle? How can you press in to God’s perfect love today?
The complaint in second grade this morning was that I teach them wrong. I don’t do it like their real teacher. I am a substitute teacher. This means that I walk into classrooms proven to be ripe with influenza, colds, stomach ailments, and strep throat to teach from material that I most likely have not seen before…on purpose. Sometimes I don’t even know I will be doing this until twenty minutes before school begins. So, I do hear what I do wrong A LOT. I have learned to accept that I am going to make mistakes, that I’m not always sure what I am doing, and quite often I have to change things so I can fly by the seat of my pants.
So, back to this morning…the second grade “spokesman” informed me that what I wasn’t getting was that they already knew the lesson so they can just work through and not participate with the part of the class that doesn’t know the lesson yet. My question was this: Do you know what the lesson is?
I had just finished a “fact drills” exercise with them. The math problems they had to answer were all review, simple addition. The goal was to answer as many of them in two minutes as they could. I told them I was giving them three minutes beforehand to look through them and mentally prepare to answer them, and then I would give them two minutes to write down the answers. I set my timer for the first three-minute mental preparation time and told them to make sure their pencils stayed on their desks. Then I started the timer and watched. Some played with things in their desks, some looked at each other and tried to talk, and one boy lined up Matchbox cars carefully across the top of his desk, but none of the seven students actually looked at their problems and prepared for the next step. The timer went off and I told them to pick up their pencils then I set the timer for two minutes and had them write the answers to the questions. Two minutes later I was told I hadn’t given them long enough to get the answers.
Okay…but I needed to know if talking with their friends before answering the problems had helped them answer these problems more quickly. Their answer was no. Had they found something in their desks that helped them answer their problems more quickly? Their answer was no. I asked the boy with all the Matchbox cars on his desk if they had helped him to answer all the problems quickly. He had to answer me with a shake of the head. Why wasn’t five minutes enough time to answer these questions? “How did you spend the first three minutes I gave you to answer these math problems in your head?” I only paused a moment after asking them this then I had them flip over their worksheets – it was a rhetorical question and there was another facts drill to be done. We went through the same process, but this time I noticed that the students were taking the first three minutes much more seriously. Their heads were bowed, and they were reading through the problems. This time they were able to answer all of the problems within two minutes. So, did they learn a lesson in this exercise? I truly hope so.
I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit today. I could see a lesson in this experience for me as well. Like when I have a Sunday school lesson to teach on Sunday, and I don’t bother going to my Bible beforehand to prepare because I feel like I already know the story. I teach Preschool level Sunday school; I should know it already, right? But, am I missing the lesson in it for me? I love it when some of my teachers say they learn more from teaching Sunday school than they did when they were a Sunday school student as a child. They have taken the time to go through the lesson and look at it as a student of the Scriptures. They are building a deeper relationship with God in all this. I want to be in their class, I want to dig deeper into the Bible too…I want to see what the lesson really is so I can share my enthusiasm for God with my students, with the people around me.
Sometimes, we are looking for the wrong lesson in our work, in our daily exercises. And sometimes, we are merely impatient or unwilling to defer our own thoughts and expectations.
The revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. Habakkuk 2:3
Discretion will watch over you, and understanding will guard you. Proverbs 2:11
May we listen closely to wisdom and direct our hearts to understanding. May we always call out to insight and lift our voice to understanding. May we seek it like silver and search for it like hidden treasure; so, we will understand the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding (adapted from Proverbs 2:2-6).
I leave you with the same advice I gave the second grade this morning: It may look simple, you may even have done it before, but stay open and ready for God to do great things through you in every exercise you are given.
I am thankful for my family.
I am thankful for the way we love, even when life isn’t perfect and arguments arise (sometimes more often than we care for).
I am thankful for the blessing they are to me. As major holidays pass and life sets back in, life sometimes becomes ordinary and we forget to appreciate those around us.
Comment below and tell me someone you are thankful for and why. THEN, go tell that person!
Our skin needs extra help , especially in the winter . But regular lotions have a bunch of ingredients I can’t pronounce nor picture in my head . My skin is my biggest organ and whatever I apply on my skin gets into my blood stream within a minute.
Did you know American women put an average of 168 chemicals on their bodies each day, according to a nonprofit group, but federal regulations on personal care products have barely changed since the 1930’s. There are about 13,000 chemicals used in cosmetics. Only 10% have been evaluated for safety.
So, I am taking a stand and choose to be a gatekeeper over our family.
We have switched and ditched a lot of things (see my article from December !) .
This whipped body butter was extremely easy to make!
Step 1. 1 cup of coconut oil and 1/2 of cup of Shea butter melted together in the double boiler until liquid.
Step 2. Add 1 tablespoon of almond or apricot oil.
Step 3. Cool down the ingredients until almost solid again .
Step 4 . Add essential oils of choice ( I used 3 drops of bergamot, lime , northern lights spruce, Cypress).
Step 5. Whip it with mixer for 10-15 minutes until texture is fluffy and white .
Cool down more . It will get firmer later still .
I am not sure how long this will keep , but it doesn’t seem like it will be too long before my next batch ! We go through a lot of lotions in this house!
Here are some other ideas to try:
- Joy and Orange body butter ( my friend Shealee’s favorite combo!)
- Lavender relaxing body butter
- Coconut lime body butter
- Jade lemon and spearmint for refreshing body butter
I wouldn’t keep this whipped body butter in the hot car 🙂 It got pretty solid in the fridge , so I think room temps are just fine!
Enjoy healthy , glowing you!
Much love ,