Category Archives: encouragement

Enjoy the Moment

Dear One,

Right here, right now.   If I could give you one bit of advice, based on everything I know about you, this would be it:

“ENJOY THE MOMENT”.

If I could, dear Seeker, I would take you for a  long, slow walk just before sunset and have a conversation with you much like the one I had with someone yesterday and remind you of the simple things.

I know you want to trust God.  I know you’re tired of being stressed and fearful and feeling responsible for a future that you really have no real control over.   You believe that the LORD is Sovereign; so…

“The path of the righteous is smooth; O Upright One, make the path of the righteous level.” Isaiah 26:7

Relax

Take a deep breath.  You’re alive.

Don’t let disappointments and frustrations control your day.  Days may feel long, but life is short.

  • Internet connections will run slow.
  • Computers will crash.
  • Health will come and go and come again.
  • Appointments and deadlines will be missed.
  • Events will be cancelled.
  • Kids will break things.
  • Appliances and vehicles will break down.
  • Traffic will back up and you will miss a turn.
  • Things will be misplaced.

It’s going to be alright.  You already know it: God is on His throne, and you are not.  Do you really think any of those unexpected-to-you, no-surprise-to-Him, things can thwart the plans of the Almighty?

Even “big deals” are not “big deals” unless we make them into “big deals” by forgetting about our bigger than we know God who made all things.  And, if what’s on your mind seems like a big deal to you, it’s time you put things back in perspective and relax. 

God can handle it.  He has offered to take all our cares if we cast them on Him:  off your mind, off your back, and on to his.

Don’t be shocked by these not so strange and unusual happenings.  It is what it is, and it’s not the end of the world.  He’s got it covered.

  • Things are just things. 
    • Things can be replaced, if they even really need to be.  Most things we can live without, and often living with them makes our lives simpler.  No “thing” will last forever, anyway.  And, remember, “nothing (no-thing) can separate you from the love of God”.
    • Appointments can be rescheduled.  Plans can be altered.  And, you’ll never know what you really missed/avoided by an inconvenient divine intervention.  Commit your day to the LORD, interruptions and all.
  •  People are just people. 
    • Kids will be moody and grumpy and disrespectful every now and again, just like you were when you were in the “still becoming” season of life.   (By the way, you’re in a “still becoming” season of your own.) 
    • Spouses will say things that can be taken the wrong way.  (Whether they meant it that way or not, they need to be graced and forgiven, just like you do for your own “speak before you think/pray” comments.) 
    • Friends will irritate and offend.  (Need I mention how this proverbial shoe fits you, too?)
    • You are just a person.  And, if you’re replaying something from yesterday, ask forgiveness or forgive yourself, or let it go if that is what needs to be done.

So, whatever has a tendency to upset your day, look up and say, “Thank you.”  Maybe it is an opportunity to build your character or your faith, but maybe it really shouldn’t be a big deal at all.  Maybe it’s just something you should let go and over look.

“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”  Proverb 19:11 (ESV)  … and I would add that faith makes us slow to fear, and it is also glorious to overlook an inconvenience or interruption or a disappointment, choosing to trust the LORD instead.

“Above all (NLT “Most important of all”), keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”  1 Peter 4:8 (ESV)

“Bear with each other” (NIV)  “Make allowances for each other’s faults” (LNT)  Colossians 3:13

 

“The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter until the full light of day.” Proverbs 4:18

Rejoice

Your blessings far out number the things that you are calling “not a blessing” at the moment.  And, in the brilliant light of tomorrow, you’re “not a blessing” may wear a new label.

And, in the meantime, thank Him for the obvious.

“In everything give thanks…” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Like one of my favorite old Evie song my parents played when I was a wee thing said, “Just be thankful for the good things that you’ve got…  The good things that you’ve got are for many just a dream; so be thankful for the good things that you’ve got.”

“give thanks for everything”  (NLT)  “always giving thanks for all things…”  Ephesians 5:20 (NAS)

Start thanking Him, now, in this moment.  Out loud, on paper, or in your head,… always, all through the day, for everything.   This is the secret of contentment and really living in and enjoying the moment.

  • for stained carpet, wobbly tables, leaky faucets, squeaky doors, pealing paint, …  find the beauty and the blessing in it, remember the memories made and the people you made them with…
  • the old neighbor with the long-long stories, for the town gossip, the kid with the runny nose and holes in his shoes, … for all the interesting people in your world.  Every book, every movie, and every life is better with unique and well-developed characters. (I’m thinking of Anne of Green Gables’s  Marrilla and Matthew Cuthbert, and Rachel Lynn, and Anne Shirley, of course.)

A bit blurry picture, but a favorite moment of my evening.  We stood silently for quite a while watching the doe on the middle of our wooded path.

P.S.

I thought you might like to know that I was on the receiving end of this conversation, and though Handsome’s words have been expanded upon by the Holy Spirit in the past 24 hours or so, the core wisdom and truth of his message to “enjoy the moment” are probably applicable to all of us women.

“ENJOY THE MOMENT.”

Tuck that away in your heart.

Slow down.  Look around.

This is where the LORD wants you to live… right here, right now, in this moment.  Trust Him.  God’s will for you is more than just enduring life.

He has yesterday and tomorrow all under His Sovereign reign, and He really does have “the whole world in His hands”… that includes you and me, sister…and your itty bitty baby, and my not so little 6’4″ baby

…and the doctors, and the politicians, and the teachers, and the bankers, the soldiers, the college professors, the tech support, and the UPS man,  everybody here, and everybody everywhere.

Knowing God is in control means we really can enjoy life, every moment, every day, and in every season.

It’s the enemy, not your heavenly Father, that would want you to shroud your spirit with gloom, worry, anxiety, fear, bitterness, doubt, insecurity, anger, frustration, hatred, resentment, tension, strife, or any other unsettling emotion that would smother your faith or douse your joy.

Remember who God  is, enjoy Him and enjoy this moment with Him.

He is “I AM”, living and ever-present.


Dear Seeking Friend,

If you’re reading this, I am praying for you.  May you remember that you are safe and secure “in Christ” and nothing can take you out of His hand; so may you rest peacefully in Jesus tonight, wake up refreshed  in Jesus tomorrow, and walk in abundance in Jesus all through the day.   May you see the handiwork of God all around you and hear the heavens declaring the glory of God when you look up.  May the Holy Spirit quiet your heart, calm your spirit, help you to slow down, and enable you to view your circumstances with an unhurried gaze.  May you have a twinkle in your eye and a happy expression as a result of your Heavenly Father’s love and the hope of eternity in your heart.  May you be a source of contagious blessing to others as you choose to enjoy your moments, one by one.  And, may you find yourself enjoying a divinely appointed walk with the LORD and hear Him say to you the words you are most needing to hear.

Keep Seeking Him… and enjoy the adventure, moment by moment.

Restore and Remodel your Temple (Tea Party)

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I am blessed to have a fellowship group made up of a seven amazing gals (and an occasional special guest) that meets for tea and prayer.   Seven months out of the year, we take turns hosting a night of fellowship and prayer in honor of one of the other ladies.

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We celebrate our friend with her favorite foods and a unique theme in her favorite colors and styles (many  ideas often coming from checking out her Pinterest boards), but what is most precious to all of us is that we write down prayer requests and pray for each other regularly.

With seven ladies, and each of us praying for a different person on each of the seven days of the week, we all know that we are being prayed for everyday.  Additionally, because we’ve given each other little gifts over the years, we have prayer reminders all around our homes (books, lotions,  shower gels, teacups, jewelry, lip sticks, notes and cards, …). 

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tea party 02This month it was my turn to host.

The tea-girls chipped in to buy the a gift card from a major hardware store for our “unbirthday-girl”, and this inspired the night’s theme…

“Home Improvement” (and, a.k.a., in keeping with our Bible study in preparation for our Spring retreat,  “Temple Improvement”).

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If you’re anything like my tea-party ladies, you love daydreaming about home-improvement projects (remodeling a kitchen or bathroom, chalk painting or refinishing a dresser or coffee table, furniture, or decorating a room in a fresh style or color), but we know that what our house (our home, our body, our temple) really needs to improve the atmosphere is a different type of restoration.

What follows is what I shared for the devotional/prayer activity for the night.

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I chose brochures from the paint section of the hardware store to match each individual’s personality, style, and colors.

When the ladies arrived, I had instrumental music playing, and I challenged them to use the items specifically chosen for them as prayer prompts.   I told them to pay attention to the swatches of color with their descriptive names, the images, and the headings and use them as starters for prayers about their Home and their Bodies (both being temples/dwelling places for themselves and the Holy Spirit).

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With a black fine tip Sharpie, they could write in single words (Nouns, Adjectives, Adverbs, Verbs) or phrases that represented needs, longings, desires, dreams, or anything they wanted to pray about concerning their life.

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Though the layouts were all pretty much the same, because the images (and our hearts) were so different, each trifold prayer pamphlet was unique to each individual.

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Dear Seeker,

The LORD is everything you need Him to be and more.  His is the great Creator, Designer, Architect of the Universe.  He made YOU!   His is a Marriage Counselor, a Mentor, a Life Coach, a Teacher, a Fitness Trainer, and Friend.   Who could you hire that knows you as well as He does?

Let me ask you a question, and I want you to answer.  How long has it been a while since you went out on a “date” with the LORD? 

Here’s a suggestion, take a drive with the LORD up to a city with a Lowes or Home Depot, pick out a few paint swatches with Him.  Buy a fine-tip Sharpie, and then hang out with God for an hour or two at a Coffee Shop as you fill in your sample booklets.    (This is exactly the kind of thing I do with the LORD on my prayer days.  And, I’m addicted to hanging out with Him!  — Try this, and I think you’ll begin to see why once a year, once a month, and once a week is never enough time with the LORD!!!!)

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One more thing.  Are you lonely?  Even attending church can be lonely without deep authentic fellowship (vulnerably sharing in a safe place what God is teaching us, where we are struggling, and what God is doing in our lives, in our ministries, and in our families).

Consider starting a fellowship/prayer/encouragement group of your own.  (You don’t even need to have tea!)  Fellowship is a gift from the LORD!  We all need others to inspire, challenge, and encourage us in the trials of life and in our walk of faith.

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May you chose your confidants wisely.  May the LORD lead you to a handful of like-minded women that will become some of your dearest friends and your greatest intercessors.

Though no one is “perfect” (not even you), I pray you will know the blessing of a safe and loyal group of prayer warriors that you can grow with.  May you take the risk with a chosen few to share your darkest struggles, your highest joys, and deepest sorrows.  May you be a blessing them, and may you be mutually encouraged as you see the answers to your prayers for each other.

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Keep on Seeking!   — If you’re reading this, I’m praying for YOU!

Healing for the Soul

Have you ever tried to hobble around with an injured spirit or an aching heart (on a not-so-little “stress fracture” of faith, a careless self-inflicted “fall”, or bruises from an “accident” caused by another)?  Too often these hurts go undiagnosed because these don’t show on an X-ray.

From shin splint to sprains, the treatment for many minor injuries is R.I.C.E.:  Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.   And these treatments can aid in the healing of a wounded soul, too.

Care for the Wounded Heart

  • R – Rest (Rest in the LORD)
  • I – Ice (Ice the Negative Thoughts)
  • C – Compress (Compress the Pride)
  • E – Elevate (Elevate your Perspective)

…more on this in a minute.

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“The steps of a man are established by the LORD, and He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, because the LORD is the ONE who holds his hand.” Psalm 37:23-24

My momentary slip was a result of high heels and gravel, a precarious combination.  I was in a hurry, literally “running” late in my favorite pair of Sunday sandals.

“Didn’t you see ‘Mom’s Night Out’?” asked my son, the only witness to my awkward scene.  “Mom, even I know that you’re not supposed to run in heels!”    —    It didn’t seem as funny at the time as I remembered Sarah Drew looking in the movie, but now, I do kind of wonder how I might have looked stumbling in slow-mo. 

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“High Heels are a Sprained Ankle Waiting to Happen.”  –  I read that on a medical website last night.  – I believe it, but as I see them still lying on the floor, I feel torn. How can I not wear those wonderful shoes again!?!  – Some beautiful, yet potentially so called dangerous, things are worth the risk. — Like love… marriage, parenting, friendsips, even trusting God.

“Even in laughter a heart may be in pain.”  (Proverbs 14:13) It’s the sadness behind the smile.  I saw it in the eyes of a friend just the other day.  It reminded me of a look I’ve seen in the mirror before, and I ached with empathy.

There isn’t a lot humor in how our hearts are wounded, especially if there is laughter at our expense or unanswered questions that cause our faith to quake in the aftershocks of a trial.

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It hurt when I stumbled, but not too badly at first.  Then, as the day went on, my ankle became stiffer and movement more painful.  Eight hours later, I was unable to walk from the car to the house; so Handsome scooped me up and carried me to the couch.

And, three days later, here I still sit with my foot up and unexpected time on my hands.

Time doesn’t always heal.  Sometimes it makes us hard, crusty prisoners of bitterness; gun-shy and withdrawn in insecurity or angry and over-reactively shooting at everything that breathes and we don’t know why; or desperate for approval or shut off and pretending to need no one.   We can become more controlling, more fearful, or all the more vulnerable victims, or maybe worse, just more manipulative and obnoxious old nags.   There are so many ugly and twisted alternatives to healing.

The Enemy doesn’t want us to be whole and strong in our faith or walking in victory.  Satan wants to conform us to his evil image, lame from false healing and lies, a counterfeit of everything Christ desires for us!

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Life is hard.  We are imperfect people, sinners, living  in a fallen world of imperfect people, also sinners.

  • Things break.
  • People get sick.
  • Strangers offend us.
  • Those closest to us say hurtful things.
  • We make unholy choices and cause more ripples trying to catch the echoing consequences.
  • … not to mention the seeming chaos of a maddening sinful world in rebellion against God.

We’re hurt, or embarrassed, or regretful, or offended, or one of a hundred other things that invisibly wound us.  We brush ourselves off, tell ourselves we’re alright, but left untended, we secretly struggle along, about as successfully as me trying to fake walking on this ankle.

I could continue to list common causes of a sprained spirit, but if this post resonates with you at all, deep down you probably already know what ails you.

To continue to limp along will only make maters worse; so let me offer you some healing advice.

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R. – Rest In the LORD

“Trust in the LORD… Delight yourself in the LORD… Rest in the LORD, wait patiently for Him… Wait for the LORD… He is their strength in time of trouble.  The LORD helps them and delivers them… because they take refuge in Him.” Ps. 37

Remember Who He is:  the LORD.   He owns everything.  He knows everything… even the future, the good and glory at stake in this situation.  He made everything (you, them, every cell in every body… even brain cells, ways-of-thinking cells and memory cells).

If you’re in a mess, if you made a mess, if someone is creating a mess, God can clean it up and make something beautiful of it.   And, if it seems that He isn’t, rest.

God is always working.  God is always good.  God is not in a hurry, and His ways are perfect!  Perfect for you and for whatever difficulty you’re facing.

God can carry the whole world on His broad shoulders; let Him.  If He’s told you something specific to do, do it; if not, don’t invent something.  Trust Him.  Keep living, breathing, and doing those everyday things that you know are His will.

Rest in His revealed will.  Lay your head down on His promises each night and let Him carry you through the day as you remain in His presence.

This is probably the hardest truth of all to apply because you don’t “DO” anything.  You believe what God said, trust Him, and allow your faith to grow as you watch and wait.

Resting has been the hardest part of healing my ankle too.  There are so many things I want to DO, but to stop walking around in my own strength and to stop putting all my weight on this injury is the best thing I can do.

I. – Ice the Negative Thoughts

“Do not fret… Do not be envious… Do not fret; it leads only to evil doing…” Ps. 37

So ya’ want to DO something?  Try a couple of these Scripture based prescriptions…

  • Take your thoughts captive . (It’s impossible to think on two things at the same time.)
  • Think on excellent things
  • Be thankful (Do it. Literally count those blessings!)
  • Pray (for yourself, for your loved ones, for your enemies)
  • Read Scripture. Memorize Scripture. Mediate on Scripture.

C – Compress the Pride

“…the humble with inherit the land and will delight in abundant prosperity…the LORD knows the days of the blameless…”  Ps. 37

Stop swelling pride by thinking about someone other than yourself.  The more you think about you and your problem, the more you will think about you and your problem… stop the cycle by encouraging someone else.  Pride won’t help any situation; so don’t waste time being consumed with self:  being self-centered, self-conscious, self-righteous, or giving into self-pity or self-loathing, … or just plain being selfish.

Humble yourself.  Forgive… yourself and everyone else (even Adam and Eve for the fall of man and all the consequences of sin passed down).

Quit asking, “Why?”  and start asking, “Why not?”  (There’s a awful lot of “why-nots” because of God’s grace.  And, even what you’re facing is not removed from the grace of our Loving Father.)  Maybe what you’re facing is not about YOU anyway.

E. – Elevate Your Perspective

“…He will do it.   The LORD knows…  The LORD is the One who holds his hand.  .. the LORD loves justice… The LORD will not leave him…  He will exalt… He is their strength… He helps… He delivers…”  Ps. 37

Look up, and keep looking up!

We’re to have our minds set on (preoccupied with) things above, on eternity, not on these temporary trials and earthly things.

Are you “weary and troubled?  No light in the darkness you see?” The best thing you and I can do is remember and follow the lyrics of the old hymn, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.   Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”

Painful as this moment may be, today’s trials are light and momentary.  It’s difficult to explain, but we all know it to be true:  when we’re distracted time flies and pain is less intense.  As long as we are here, we’ll be tempted to focus on ourselves and our  wounds, but when we see Jesus, either face to face when He calls us home or now if we choose to look up and past the distractions, there is healing for our souls.

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My father often reminded me in hard times that we are physical, spiritual, and emotional beings.  The body, soul, and spirit are closely connected, one affecting the other.  

That's why when we go with out sleep for a long period of time (physical), we can be more easily disturbed (emotional), or when we are in physical or emotional pain for a long period of time, God may seem more distant and we feel more spiritually vulnerable. 

So when we are struggling in one area, we are wise to do what we can to care for the other areas as well.  

If you're going through spiritual testing, don't neglect yourself physically (eat healthy foods, get enough sleep, go outdoors and get some fresh air, take a shower, get dressed), lean on those emotional supports the LORD has given you (don't neglect friends and fellowship, ask for accountability and prayer support, find a wise and safe person to confide in and ask for counsel).   

If you're struggling physically (up nights with child, have an illness, etc...) or emotionally (feeling depressed, are being persecuted, are lonely, etc...), don't neglect yourself spiritually (listen to worship music, read the Psalms and uplifting poetry, attend church or listen to sermons on-line, etc...).

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Since I want to keep running and am already making plans for my next half marathon, I’m determined to care for this sprain as best I can.   So, R.I.C.E. it is:  Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.  And, since I want to run the race of faith well, I will tend to my heart when it is wounded.

We’re all runners in a spiritual race; let’s treat our souls with the greatest care, through preventive spiritual measures, but when we’re knocked off our feet in our walk of faith, let’s be especially quick to come to the Great Physician.  With spiritual symptoms, it is never sensible to wait a day or two.

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So, how are you?   Are walking with a spiritual limp?

Apply R.I.C.E., come to the LORD in REST for His diagnosis.   ICE those negative thoughts by follow His prescription, whatever His Word tells you to do.   COMPRESS your pride by having a humble and sensitive heart to hear what the LORD would say about your situation.  Then continue to ELEVATE your attitude.

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And, if you’re “feelin’ fine” spiritually, be a blessing!  We’re all struggling at times and need extra grace.  So walk gently with eyes attentive for those who are especially vulnerable or frail.  Encourage someone today!

As always, if you’re reading this, I AM PRAYING for YOU!!!!

Rather than waste this painfully unexpected realigning of my plans, I’m embracing it as the gift it is, a Divine adjustment and an opportunity to write.   For whatever reason, the LORD had Couch-Time  with me on His “all-things-together-or-good” agenda.  (He’s been on  me about writing a particular post for a while, maybe that is part of this blessing.) What will you do today?