The Only Person Who Likes Change Is A Wet Baby!

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cute-baby
God is our Refuge and Strength
[mighty and impenetrable to temptation],
a very present and well-proved help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
and though the mountains be shaken
into the midst of the seas.
Psalm 46:1-2 AMP

Okay, My Friends, the seemingly long awaited fall weather is gradually creeping upon us as the summer stealthily steals away behind the falling autumn leaves. Then following close on its heels, impatient to showcase his “Currier and Ives” splendor, Old Man Winter is waiting in the wings. The only way I can face the prospect of his icy blasts is to fast forward to the inevitable return of spring melting him into cascading waterfalls. And so the cycle of change begins and ends and begins all over again.

You surely must know that this poetic expose is leading to a point…the point being, “Change is inevitable.” The only thing that you can be sure will remain unchanged is the process of change itself. (Don’t analyze that too much, it will give you a brain freeze!) I heard someone say, “The only person who likes change is a wet baby!”

But why are we so opposed to change? What’s the big deal? One reason we are so opposed to change is fear of the unknown. We become comfortable with familiar surroundings, sometimes even if they’re unfavorable, and it is very unsettling to step out into the uncertainty of a new environment. Sometimes we effect our own change and sometimes its chosen for us. For instance in job situations or in an unwelcome divorce or when children grow up and leave the nest. These things bring thoughts of instability which produces fear. But God’s Word tells us, For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.” (I Timothy 1:7 AMP) When this fear tries to hold us captive, we have to break the chains by standing on God’s Word and trusting that He will help us make the right decisions.

Secondly, there’s what I call the “what if” factor. Oh my, if I had a dollar for all of the “what ifs” I have uttered in my lifetime, I would have quite a sum! What if…this doesn’t work out? Well, what if it does? Would it really be life-changing to the extent of being irreversible if it didn’t work out as you had expected? Isn’t it worth taking a chance when there is a possibility that it may enhance your life and circumstances? Most of the time we obsess over things, becoming stressed and frustrated to the degree that it keeps us from making the best decisions. Just chill, ask the Lord for wisdom and stop trying to figure it all out in your own strength! Enter into His rest and wait for the answer. But just let me clue you in, He’s usually not early in bringing it, but He’s never too late!

Thirdly, there is the “if only” syndrome. If only I hadn’t made that move. If only I hadn’t said that! If only I had done it this way! If only…if only…if only! If onlys can put you in an unrivaled state of depression. Absolutely nothing can be changed by “if onlys”…that is, nothing but your peaceful state of mind. Once you make a decision to change, don’t turn back. Don’t doubt yourself. Don’t start the “if onlys”. If you made a decision to change and it didn’t turn out right, make the decision to change again…and do it with a positive attitude. Remember, just like the weather, change is inevitable whether we like it or not. We can choose to embrace it or resist it, but we definitely can’t ignore it!

MAKE SOME LEMONADE

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LEMONADE
A miserable heart means a miserable life;
a cheerful heart fills the day with song.
Proverbs 15:15 MSG

When life gives you lemons…make lemonade!” How many times have you heard that saying? I have heard it most of my life and I’m not really fond of it. Over my lifetime I have made lemonade many times and drank it too…sometimes without sufficient sugar! Yes, life can get tedious at times and even have a sour taste to it. That is when we have to become resourceful…thus, the lemonade! The degree of sweetness depends on our attitude. If our attitude is sour too, there is no hope for lemonade, only juice that is almost impossible to drink!

When you’re squeezing lemons, do you squeeze out only half the juice and throw the rest away? No, of course not! You squeeze and squeeze until you’ve gotten the last drop of mouth-puckering nectar and when you add the sugar, it’s a refreshing concoction that can hardly be rivaled!

And so it is with life. When we’re young and full of life, hopes and dreams and aspirations, lemonade is not even on the menu! We don’t have to squeeze out the good times, they just happen naturally. We just show up and the party begins! As the old (very old!) song goes… “Those were the days, My Friend! We thought they’d never end …” It’s when the years slip by like a sleuth in the shadows that we start to realize that there is only so much juice left in this fruit of life. Oh my!!! What happened?! Where did the years go? I feel like Rip Van Winkle! Did I sleep through most of them? Somebody pinch me! I must be dreaming! Is that ME in the mirror?! No, It can’t be!

At this point we can do one of two things: We can sit down in a rocking chair on the front porch and watch the rest of life pass us by or we can pick up that blooming lemon and squeeze out every last drop of juice! Now I realize that some folks have physical problems and can’t do that, but as long as my gracious Heavenly Father gives me health and strength, that’s exactly what I’m going to do! And I’ll give Him all the glory!2

Perhaps you can’t do that. Maybe you are confined for one reason or another. Can you move your lips? Then you can pray. Pray with all your might…for our government, for the sick, for the oppressed…I could go on and on. When it is your time to stand before the Heavenly Father, don’t let it be said that you gave up. Let it be known that you squeezed that lemon until there was nothing left but a shriveled rind! Do what you can do. Make the difference you can make in the years you have left. Don’t spend them in anxiety or worry about things that have happened, should happen or could happen! Spend them making things happen. Spend them making good things happen for you and for others!

And if you’re still young, don’t say, “Well, this doesn’t apply to me.” Yes, it does! Learn to be wise sooner than I was. Learn to face life without limiting yourself by small thinking. Have faith in God! Know that He made you unique and wonderful! And most of all, know that it’s never too soon OR too late to pursue the dream that God has put in your heart!

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord.
“They are plans for good and not for disaster,
to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

THIS TOO SHALL PASS

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SUN . RAIN 2
For he looks throughout the whole earth
and sees everything under the heavens.
He decides how hard the winds should blow
and how much rain should fall.
He made the laws for the rain
and laid out a path for the lightning.
Job 28:24-16

All good things must come to an end…” How many times have we heard that statement. And usually, whether we verbalize it or not, our next thought is, but bad things last forever!  And I must admit, sometimes it seems that way!

The saying, though true in its concept, is not a truth, but a half-truth. All good things must surely come to an end, but so must all bad things. Nothing lasts forever and there is definitely comfort in that fact. Sometimes there are things that we can do to effect the process and sometimes there is not. The only thing we can control in either situation is our attitude.

When the sun is shining on your face and life is good, bask in its rays…exult in its warm embrace. Throw off your cloak of worries, fears and inhibitions and walk barefoot through the lush green meadows of contentment with a song of thanksgiving in your heart!

But what about the times when the dark clouds gather, thunder is heard in the distance and only lightening illuminates your pathway? Those are the times, My Friend, when you put all of your trust in the Lord. In the midst of the storm, you confidently take His strong hand and learn to dance in the rain! Look up to the heavens and whirl and twirl between droplets and be refreshed by those that hit their mark, knowing that it is the rain that makes the flowers grow. And know above all, that the sun is still behind the clouds and will emerge again in all its splendor…if not today, then perhaps tomorrow. But it will surely return with a rainbow announcing its presence!

You must fight the good fight of faith each day no matter what the climate…stay the course and never, never give up! Set your face like a flint in the face of the storm and push through the wind gusts one step at a time…three steps forward, two steps back. It doesn’t matter, you are making progress and that’s what counts. And when the wind subsides and you only feel soft raindrops on your face, begin your dance once again… a dance of joy at God’s faithfulness!

And make a conscious choice to believe another familiar saying… “This too shall pass.” I love this verse from the Bible in Isaiah 43:2-3 NLT. “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”

Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.
Psalm 30:5 NLT

IS YOUR “HOPER” BROKEN?

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HOPE REBUILDS

Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago
to teach us.
And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement
as we wait patiently
for God’s promises to be fulfilled.
Romans 15:4 NLT

You may be wondering why I am continuing to write on the subject of Hope after covering it from so many angles. Personally, I feel it’s a subject that cannot be overemphasized. After all, it is the precursor to faith, which is the capstone of those things for which we are hoping. Even the secular world believes in Hope. What is the phrase that we hear most often from people of all cultures, religions and walks of life? “Don’t lose Hope!”

Now if you already have what you’ve been hoping for, you don’t need to hope any longer.  The Bible puts it this way…“We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)” (Romans 8:25) This particular scripture is referring to the Hope of Jesus second coming. We, as Christians, are still hoping for it because it has not yet manifest. We are waiting patiently and confidently and we must do the same for the other things for which we are hoping.

You may be thinking, “Well, I don’t have what I’ve been hoping for and I’ve been hoping for so long that my “Hoper” is broken! I no longer have any hope.” I once heard a minister say, “If you’ve lost your hope, go to God’s Word and get you some hope!” The grammar is not exactly proper, but the point is well taken. The best place to get Hope is in the infallible Word of God. Look at what the Bible says about God keeping His Word. God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?” (Numbers 23:19)   And…I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness; for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name.(Psalm 138:2) I know those from the older generation remember being taught that “your word is your bond.” Well, without a doubt, God’s Word is His bond! The Bible tells us that He exalts His Word above His name. (Psalm 138:2)

When depression tries to raise its ugly head in my life and scare Hope into reclusion, I have one recourse and only one. I start to quote God’s promises. And as I do, my fainting Hope is revived and breathes deeply once again!

One of the verses that I have memorized and personalized is Isaiah 41:10. It is usually the first promise that comes out of my mouth when my Hope is compromised. As a matter of fact, I have put it to music and sing it as a chorus. I state it this way…I will not be afraid…You are my God. I will not be dismayed…You are with me. You will strengthen me! You will help me! You will uphold me with the Right Hand of Your Righteousness!”

This is what the Psalmist David said in Psalm 43:11 (The Message Bible). “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!”

Don’t sit around without any Hope! Proclaim these verses or find others to which you can relate. And now, My Friend, I leave you with this prayer…I pray that God, the source of Hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident Hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

A PRISONER OF HOPE

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Return to the stronghold [fortress], You prisoners of hope.
Even today I declare that I will restore double to you.
Zachariah 9:12 NKJV

Have you ever been a prisoner? Personally, I have not been, in the sense of being incarcerated. Usually that is what we think of when the word is mentioned. I looked up the meaning of “prisoner” in Miriam-Webster Dictionary and these were the definitions: 1. a person deprived of liberty and kept under involuntary restraint, confinement, or custody; especially one on trial or in prison 2. someone restrained as if in prison [a prisoner of her own conscience].

Am I reading this wrong or does it imply that someone can be a prisoner, not only physically, but mentally, emotionally or spiritually as well? We all know the answer to that. Have you ever known someone who seemed in bondage to fear, anger, depression, worry, alcohol, drugs or any number of other things we could name. Many people are incarcerated in a prison of their own making. Now, I’m not saying it is deliberate. Oftentimes the bricks are laid by other people who hurt us, even in our childhood. But we supply the mortar by our reactions to those hurts in the form of anger, resentment, low self-esteem, fear, etc. And each time we put on a layer of mortar, someone places another brick until the prison is completed and we are captive to its seemingly impenetrable walls. Have you ever thought to yourself, “Why am I acting this way? What is wrong with me? I want to stop doing this…I want to stop reacting this way but it seems beyond my control.” Let’s face it, you’re not just in prison, you are in solitary confinement and it’s very lonely and restricted there! Let me help you find a way out. I say “help YOU” because just like you supplied the mortar for the bricks, it is you who will have to tear down the walls, perhaps one brick at a time. God will help you. God will guide you if you just lean heavily on Him one day at a time. May I give you some guidelines that have worked for me. They say, “Experience is the Best Teacher”… and believe me, I am the voice of experience on this subject!

(1) Don’t lose Hope! You may be thinking, “I lost hope a long time ago. I’m just surviving now.  Well, if that’s the case, go back and find Hope!!! You didn’t lose it. You just misplaced it. You CAN find it again! In my experience, the place to get hope is in the promises in the Bible, the infallible Word of God. Remember what David said, “I would have been without hope if I had not believed that I would see the loving-kindness of the Lord in the land of the living.

(2) Run to God and hold fast to Him!The Lord is my Rock, my Fortress, and my Savior; my God is my Rock, in Whom I find protection. He is my Shield, the Power that saves me, and my Place of Safety.” (Psalm 18:2)

(3) Have faith (fully believe) in the promises in God’s Word! There are those who say that Hope has nothing to do with faith and if you’re hoping, you’re really not believing. Well let’s see what the Bible says about it. “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1) The Lord explained it to me this way…“Hope is the Outstretched Arm of the Hand of Faith.” Hope must first reach out in order for Faith to grasp the desired result. Flex your muscle of Hope until it is strong once again. Then reach out and grasp your dream with the Hand of Faith! You can do it with God’s help! I know you can! I believe in you and so does God!!!

And if you’re going to be a prisoner of anything…be a Prisoner of Hope!!!

INFINITE HOPE

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I would have been without hope if I had not believed
that I would see
the loving-kindness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Psalm 27:13

I know I’ve used this saying before in my devotionals, but it is surely one of my favorites and worth repeating. “I am never down. I am always up or I’m getting up!” This is my confession. This is my mantra so to speak. And this attitude, along with the Word of God and His great promises, is what keeps me from giving up in this fight of depression and the challenges of life.

You may be thinking, “Well you just don’t understand how bad it really is. You don’t understand what I’m going through!  You don’t understand what I’ve been through!”

Oh, I beg to differ with you, My Friend. I do understand…for I have been there, done that and have more than one t-shirt! Twenty years ago, after going through a divorce after twenty years of marriage, I was severely depressed. Not only so, but aside from the clinical depression, I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. In other words, I had a complete physical and emotional breakdown. I didn’t have the strength to get off the couch except for short periods of time. I had to get on disability because I couldn’t work to support myself. I was about as low as I could get without just laying down and quitting. If it had not been for the help of my precious family and friends, and my belief in the goodness of God, my hope would have been gone.

But I absolutely refused to stay down! Believe me, it was tempting. It’s hard to get up when you’ve fallen so low, but“I am never down! I am always up or I’m getting up!” I started pumping myself full of the Word of God regarding my healing, both physical and emotional. I listened to sermons. I exercised to praise music (for all of five minutes!). I believed as much as my believer was capable and left the rest to God. Although negative thoughts pounded my mind like the fists of a prize fighter in the final round, I refused to tap out! I was still on my knees and God was still on His throne directing my life.

I know you’ve heard the saying, “It’s not over, ’till God says it’s over.” That is a truth, but in my opinion, it is not an absolute truth. If you give up…if you say it’s over…God will not make you get up. He will extend His hand but He will not override your will. So my advice to you is, get in God’s corner and YOU say, “God is on MY side and it’s not over ’til HE says it’s over! I’m never down! I am always up or I’m getting up! End of discussion, Devil! End of discussion negative thoughts! Negative thoughts, I can’t keep you from passing through, but I won’t allow you to move in and rearrange the furniture! I will immediately show you the exit door. Trouble is inevitable, but misery is optional! It is my decision to be powerful, rather than pitiful! I will overcome this by the Blood of The Lamb and the word of my testimony!”

And let me tell you, My Friends, I did overcome by His grace! I gradually started getting my physical and emotional strength back. I started working a part-time job for a few hours a day. At first I would come home, go straight to my recliner and fall asleep. But I got up a little bit at a time until I was standing tall once again…self-sufficient and off disability! To God be the glory!!! And if I did it, you can do it too! God and I have confidence in you!

But this is not the end of the story by long shot. The saga continues daily. I wake up every morning and I must decide, “Will I follow Jesus or believe the negative thoughts that pass through my mind?” I emphatically say, “No! I’ll never give up! I am never down, I am always up or I’m getting up!” And though it’s not the end of the story, it IS the end of the discussion!

Be blessed, My Friends! And if you would like me to pray for you in this area or any other area in which you’re struggling, please leave a note in the comments and I promise you, I will pray!

DEPRESSION…THE BATTLE IS REAL

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HOPE
Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—
my Savior and my God!
Now I am deeply discouraged,
but I will remember You—
Psalm 42:5-6

I have decided, after getting a favorable response from my readers, to continue to provide insight from my personal experience on the subject of clinical depression. It is something with which most people don’t want to readily identify themselves. Therefore, it is rarely discussed in a candid manner by the people who suffer from it most. The majority of the time it is treated like the magician who throws his cloak over a subject and makes it disappear. It is like the masquerade party where the mask keeps the true identity of the subject from being known or at least being easily recognized.

Clinical depression, especially in the past, has been strongly identified with mental illness, which is definitely not the case. Do we associate those with diabetes with a food disorder? No, we know it is the result of an organ that doesn’t function properly. In the case of clinical depression, the brain does not function properly in releasing the chemicals that cause our moods to be stabilized. One may try with all their might, but without medical help, the problem won’t go away on its own, other than a divine miracle, which I am certainly not discounting.

Clinical depression is not to be confused with simple depression which is brought on by unfavorable circumstances or disappointments. That type of depression can easily be corrected as the circumstance changes or the disappointment has abated.

A person who fights clinical depression cannot control its existence. It just exists…in them! They can only control the extent to which they allow it to control them. It is a constant battle that never ceases. The depression is almost like an entity that co-exists in the same body. However, there is one factor that gives a ray of hope. The human body consists of three parts…spirit, soul and body. The soul is made up of the mind, will, and intellect. Depression is manifest and abides in the realm of the soul. Although it does effect the body, it cannot penetrate the spirit! Herein lies the key to victory over this enemy of our soul brought on by “THE enemy of our soul.” When our human spirit is transformed by the Holy Spirit, though the battle continues to rage, there is always hope for victory…one battle at a time!

Sometimes the battle is just a battle and sometimes it’s an all out war! Speaking for myself, I may be able to win the battles on my own by reading my Bible, thinking positively and exerting my faith, but the wars…no way! There is no way I can win the wars without the help of Jesus Christ, My Lord and Savior. When the battle is raging and I am losing ground, He will come in like a flood and lift up a standard against the enemy. He will fight for me when I don’t have the strength or courage! He will go before me AND He will be my Rear Guard. He is a very Present Help in time of trouble. He is my Refuge and Fortress…my Strong Tower! He covers me with His Feathers and hides me under the Shadow of His Wings. He upholds me with His Righteous Right Hand so that I don’t stumble or fall. He keeps me as the Apple of His Eye! When I am weak, He is strong! He is my Light and my Salvation…my God!!!

If you don’t have that relationship with Jesus. You can have so easily. “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)

Just declare, “Jesus, I believe that you are the only Son of God. I believe you died and rose again to pay for my sins and I accept that sacrifice now. I make YOU the Lord of my Life!”