HOLD ON!

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DON'T LET GO GOD'S HAND
I cried out, “I am slipping!” but Your unfailing love,
O Lord , supported me.
When doubts filled my mind,
Your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.
Psalms 94:18‭-‬19 NLT

Have you ever been in a situation where you lost your footing for whatever reason and someone near you grabbed your arm to keep you from falling? Did you welcome the help of that person or did you push them away? How foolish you would be to do such a thing! And yet at times we reject the help that is so readily available to us through our Loving Heavenly Father. Sometimes He extends His hand and we slap it away, choosing rather to fall into our pit of self-pity.

When we already have a tendency toward depression it is more difficult to resist when the trials of life come…especially when they persist like relentless waves pounding one after the other eroding our hopes and washing them out to sea. Let me give you a personal example, lest you think I don’t know what I’m talking about.

In October of last year I was visiting with friends in Florida where I stayed in their basement apartment. The day before I was to leave for home I fell on the stairs and broke my wrist and ended up having surgery where they inserted a permanent plate and nine screws. At the same time I injured my shoulder which caused me constant pain. The day before Christmas Eve I had rotator cuff surgery which resulted in twelve-plus weeks of physical therapy. It is now May and I recently had to go to my orthopedic doctor because my knees were bothering me. I had fluid on my knees and I had to have injections for three weeks in a row to draw off the fluid and insert gel. Now the orthopedic doctor says I need to go to therapy for my knees! Nooooo…not more therapy!!! Lord, what’s going on? Help me…I’m slipping!!!

Friends, I know what it’s like to feel like you’re going under for the third time. I know the feelings of hopelessness and despair. And I know how difficult it is to come up again for another gasping breath. Sometimes you just think it would be so much easier to stay down and experience that lasting peace, morbid as it sounds. Perhaps it would be for you…but not for those who know you and love you! I don’t want to leave that kind of legacy for my children and grandchildren. I don’t want to leave behind that message of defeat for my friends and acquaintances. I want to be a “Rocky Balboa”…a fighter to the end! The only one who can keep me down is me and I refuse to tap out! I want to be like the man who said, “I’m never down! I’m always up…or getting up!”

But I can’t do it by myself! Yes, I am a very strong-willed person, but sometimes my will to “get up and go” has “gotten up and gone”! Sometimes doubts fill the corridors of my mind like floodwaters overflowing river banks. I need the strong arm of the Lord to help me…to keep me from slipping. I need the comfort that only He can give…a comfort that gives me renewed hope and cheer. But how do I get it? I’ve begged, I’ve pleaded, I’ve confessed my sins, I’ve asked for a sign!  Nothing is working!

Have you tried letting it all go and giving it to Him, fully relying on Him to work it out? You may have to do it many times. The enemy of your soul won’t give up easily, but don’t you give up either! Be tenacious! Hold on to the promises in God’s Word like a drowning man with a life raft, and keep holding on until the storm has passed! His unfailing love will support you. And I’m telling you, if you’ll do this…it WILL pass!  Wow!  Look up!  Is that a rainbow I see?!!!

Lord, when doubts fill my mind,
Your comfort gives me renewed hope and cheer.

A MOTHER’S REFLECTIONS

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MOTHERS DAY
He gives the childless woman a family,
making her a happy mother.
Praise the Lord! Psalm 113:9 NLT

I entitled this post, “Reflections of a Mother”, because my children are grown and I now have the grand title of “Meme” to my grandchildren. All I have now are memories of their childhood, and sad to say, even those tend to fade as I get older. I still remember looking out the picture window at my son waiting for the school bus when he was in elementary school. He would sign the words, “I love you” and I would sign back the same…precious memories. I remember my daughter singing to me even when she couldn’t pronounce the words correctly. (She still sings and writes music.) Sometimes the mispronunciation was very humorous, but I didn’t laugh…precious memories.

Then came the preteen years when it seemed anything I said or did embarrassed them. I never could figure out why and they never seemed to know definitively. It certainly wasn’t deliberate. But as you know, I’m a little outspoken. They preferred that I keep ALL my opinions to myself. But as a child, I was very bashful and didn’t want them to be that way.

The year my son was entering college, their father and I divorced. It was a hard time for everyone. My son was very angry with me and lashed out verbally on many occasions. I kept asking myself, “Why is he so angry with me and not his father?” Then it came to me…I’m his mother. He knows I love him unconditionally. He knows he can vent his anger on me without serious repercussions. It wasn’t easy, but I did understand. After all, that’s the way my Heavenly Father loves me…unconditionally and with much grace!

However, I must have done something right as a mother. Both of my children are happily married and productive members of society. My daughter has made me a grandmother to four beautiful girls that she home schools. My son works in the corporate office of Virginia College. I am very proud of both of them and give God the glory!

That’s the encapsulated background of my motherhood. Now that I’m pushing sixty (I won’t tell you which way I’m pushing!), I feel that I am experienced enough to give you some advice on the subject if you’re interested. And if you are…please read on, though it may seem a little lengthy. You really don’t expect me to give a lifetime of advice in a few sentences, do you?

(1) LIGHTEN UP!
I can look back now and see so many things that would have made time with my children more enjoyable if I’d just lightened up! One facet of my personality is perfectionism. When my children were small, I didn’t even realize it. Have you ever noticed that things that are blatantly obvious to other people, we often receive with a blind eye. When I was pregnant with my son, my first, I was petrified that I wouldn’t get to the hospital on time. I had hair below my waist and I was so paranoid that it wouldn’t be fresh when I went to the hospital, I washed it every other day. My poor son was probably traumatized before he came out of the womb!

(2) ENJOY EVERY MOMENT
Even in the trying times and mundane tasks that are required of motherhood, make an effort to savor the moment. So they found your scissors and cut off all their beautiful curls…it will grow back! Or maybe they used themselves as a human canvas with permanent marker!!! Don’t blow! Use it as a teaching tool, although it takes every effort not to manifest your horror.

(3) DO YOUR BEST NOT TO STRESS
This was the hardest for me, being a perfectionist. Stop for just a moment before jumping into crisis mode and ask the Lord to give you peace, wisdom and understanding. Most things in life are not worth the pounding stress gives your body. Ask yourself, “Is this permanent? Is it fixable? Will it make an impact on our lives a year from now?” If not, its not worth the stress.

(4) MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF
This is something I rarely did when rearing my children. (By the way, I was a stay-at-home mom, so I was with them constantly.) I felt guilty when I made time for myself…a false guilt of course. It doesn’t have to be long periods of time, just little moments to reflect on your own hopes and desires. Spend five or ten minutes in a devotional time each morning. God understands your busy schedule. It doesn’t take Him long to speak peace into your day. Give Him the opportunity and give yourself the pleasure of His blessing.

(5) MAKE TIME FOR YOUR HUSBAND
Many times as mothers, our children become priority and our husband gets left behind in the whirlwind of numerous activities and projects. Don’t let it happen! He needs your love and attention too. If you can’t work out a date night, just put the kids to bed early and enjoy some alone time. It is of utmost importance! Many marriages don’t last after children come because couples grow apart in the wake of increased responsibility.

In short, if I had the whole motherhood thing to do over again with the insight I have now, I would live, laugh, love, breath in life deeply and only exhale after holding it as long as possible!

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, MY SISTERS AND FRIENDS!

MOTHERS DAY HEARTS

THIS TOO SHALL PASS

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IN TOWEL 2
For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long.
Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them
and will last forever!
So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now;
rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.
For the things we see now will soon be gone,
but the things we cannot see will last forever.
2 Corinthians 4:17‭-‬18 NLT

This verse just came to my remembrance this morning as I was taking care of my little dog, Lucy. If you’ve read many of my devotionals, you know that the Lord often speaks to me through my interactions with my pets. I have written many a devotional about Rosie, my cat who has gone on to kitty heaven now. But…back to Lucy, my little four pound Yorkie, who was a recent gift from friends who thought she would be a perfect companion for me. And they were right! What a blessing she is!

Lucy lost a toenail on her right foot recently and had to be treated for it. I have to give her antibiotics twice a day and soak her paw in Epsom Salt for five minutes three times a day. Now I can say without any exaggeration that Lucy hates taking the antibiotic and from the look and smell of it, it certainly is justified! The only up-side is that she gets a treat afterward. She doesn’t really like the foot soaking, but does tolerate it much better than the antibiotic. I keep telling her that this ritual is going to make her paw much better. (Don’t tell me you don’t talk to your pets!) But I’m certain she thinks that I must be punishing her for some unknown sin, although while the foot is soaking she does gets to cuddle in my lap on a fluffy towel.

It was while this was going on that the Lord brought the verse in Corinthians to my mind. Lucy doesn’t like what’s going on right now. It seems harsh and hard and is very uncomfortable. She doesn’t understand! Why would her master who purports to love her allow such things?! Do you see where I’m going with this?

Many times in our life things happen that we don’t understand…troubles come, depression comes, heartaches come, disappointments come. We don’t understand! We’ve been doing the best we can. We search our heart for some unconfessed sin. Is God punishing us? There must be a reason! But let me tell you, My Friend, sometimes the only reason is that we live in a fallen world full of chaos brought on by the enemy of our soul. Sometimes there is no reason except this…“Life Happens!” Lucy didn’t do anything wrong, nor did you. Lie back in your Master’s lap on the fluffy blanket of His love and just chill for a while.

We have to encourage ourselves with this tried and true phrase…“This too shall pass!” The trials and adverse circumstances that are affecting my life now won’t last forever, although they are quite uncomfortable. I can’t let myself get bogged down in the mire of self-pity and hopelessness. God is ALWAYS for me and never against me! I refuse to look at the present troubles, rather I will “fix my gaze” on Jesus, Whom I know is working behind the scenes to make a way of escape for me! I’ll keep traveling down this bumpy road of life with its potholes and sinkholes and manholes…and I will do it in joyous expectation that my deliverance may be just around the next corner!

FIGHTING CLINICAL DEPRESSION

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LITTLE NANCY
Nancy (3 Years Old)

Because You are my Helper,
I sing for joy in the shadow of Your wings,
I cling to You, Your strong right hand holds me securely.
Psalms 63:7-8 NLT

I would like to address a subject that is often swept under the rug, not because it’s deviate or inappropriate, but simply because there is a stigma attached to it…a stigma brought on by ignorance. Yes, I said it! I’m talking about clinical depression. Oftentimes people who suffer from this malady try not to let it be known because the condition is associated with mental illness or instability…not so! Are people with other chronic illnesses that are caused by chemical imbalance (for instance diabetics) considered mentally ill? I don’t think so.

Now, I’m not talking about a down day here and there. We all have those. I’m talking about something these people have to deal with every day. Circumstance doesn’t cause it, although it can worsen it. You just wake up with it and you go to bed with it and you just have to deal with it.

And for those of you that would get on your “high horse” regarding divine healing…I am not excluding that possibility. God is certainly able! He has healed me more than once in my lifetime.

You may be thinking, “Well, what makes you an expert on the subject?” I’ll tell you what…the best schooling one can have…experience! I have suffered from depression for as long as I can remember, although I didn’t know what to call it. Even as a child I was never happy. All of my pictures from childhood depict a solemn, stoic-faced mini-person. At the same time, I was almost always angry. Only my family knew this side of me and they didn’t really understand.

Now, you may be thinking that I was a spoiled brat, but that really isn’t the case. Most of the time I was a good little girl and a perfectionist about everything…even my behavior. I have come to the conclusion that something in my childhood that I don’t even remember must have triggered this dysfunctional behavior. I’ll probably never know what. My mother used to kid me by singing this nursery rhyme, “Once there was a little girl who had a little curl right down in the middle of her forehead; When she was good, she was very, very good, but when she was bad…she was horrid!”

I grew up in a middle-class home with parents who provided for me and gave me the care and comfort I needed. They showed me love in the only way they, as survivors of the “great depression”, knew how. My father worked incessantly to provide for us a better life than he had experienced as a child. My mother was a homemaker who cooked, sewed and performed her motherly duties without complaint. One fond memory I do have when in grade school is coming home and opening the front door to the wafting aroma of fresh-baked tea cakes! Ummm! My mom could make the best!

Now you may be wondering why I am telling you this…am I just airing my dirty laundry so to speak? Absolutely not! What purpose would I have? I know that many people suffer from depression and many, like me, may not even know the reason. Many feel guilty about it, especially if they are a Christian. If that is true of you, I want you to know that I understand and empathize. You are not alone and it’s not your fault! But I do want to open for you a door of hope. I do want to tell you that there is something that you can do about it. Yes, I said something YOU can do!

I don’t want to write a book on this one blog entry, so if it’s okay with you, I would like to write a series on this subject. I would like to share my experiences and my lessons learned. I will share my pain and my progress, my defeats and my victories, my losses and my gains. If you don’t have a problem with this silent, sinister spawn of Satan called “Depression”, I’ll bet you know someone who does. And if I can share one nugget that will help them to overcome, I will not keep silent. I leave you with this thought, “Don’t judge another until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes!”

TURN ON THE LIGHT!

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WITH SLING
There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.

Proverbs 18:24b

I would like to apologize to you, my followers, for not posting in quite some time. I do have an excuse. Now, sometimes an excuse is not really a valid reason, but in this instance, I think perhaps it is.

The first week of October 2015 I was visiting friends in Florida and staying in their basement apartment. I have visited often and walked up and down the somewhat steep stairs numerous times before…no problem. But the night before I was to leave I walked down without turning on the light (Duh!), missed the bottom step, lost my balance and fell with a rather large thud on the cement floor. Shock waves surged through my body like a small earthquake! Even though my body was immobile on the outside, I still felt like I was bouncing on the inside…kind of like an instant replay in slow motion. My first thought was, “Oh my…I think I’ve broken EVERYTHING!” I caught myself with my left wrist and after sitting there stunned for a moment, I finally managed to pull my arm around to see that my wrist was about twice it’s normal size and was apparently broken. I was a little freaked, since I’ve never had a broken bone before, but at least nothing was sticking out!

I called for my friend’s husband, Mike, who had already gone to bed and was asleep. My friend Elaine was at work. Their little Yorkie, Ripley was standing at the top of the stairs barking frantically at the commotion below. I started yelling for Mike to no avail. Ripley was helping as much as he could by barking in his loudest Yorkie voice! Still Mike did not wake up. I finally decided I had no recourse but to drag myself up the stairs. I finally got myself up and scooted up the steps one at a time pulling myself with my good hand. (Do you feel sorry for me yet? LOL! Hey, I can laugh about it now!) When I got to the top, I started yelling for Mike again and by this time, Ripley realized something was terribly wrong, jumped on his chest and continued barking…my hero! Mike awakened with a start, jumped out of bed and the saga continues.

We called another sweet friend, Liz, who came in the middle of the night to take me to the hospital in the town nearby. By the time we got there, Mike had called Elaine and told her what happened. She works in the sheriff’s office at the county jail. So in she comes decked out in full uniform…utility belt, gun and all and sat down beside me. After a while we noticed that the people who came by looked at us very strangely and with what seemed like a little apprehension. It was only later that we realized that they thought I was an inmate that she had brought in for treatment. We had a really good laugh in the midst of my pain!

The doctor put on a temporary cast and said that I would have to see an orthopedic surgeon, for I would definitely need surgery. The next morning, Mike and Elaine drove me the eight hours back to my home, one driving my car and the other following behind even though they had to leave early the next morning to go back to their home and jobs. Now that is when you know you have true friends!

I had surgery three days later. The doctor put a permanent plate and nine screws in my wrist! So now I say I’m partially bionic! However, by God’s grace, I have healed in record time and done amazingly well. I can’t play my guitar yet, but that also is coming, for my God is faithful!

I will write again soon and share with you the lesson I learned from this experience. So until then . . . be blessed AND turn on the light!

A CHRISTMAS STORY

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NATIVITY
A Christmas Story by Sherry Evans

The cool air swirled around her feet giving her an unwelcome chill. The animal beneath her bristled. She wondered about the unknown. The babe kicked from inside the womb, a gentle reminder of what was to come. “Am I ready for this?” she pondered. “God will be my strength,” was the assurance from within. The journey was far. Joseph tirelessly walked onward even though last night he was the watchman. The caravan was slow. The large robust group had made good time and were probably already in Bethlehem. Joseph had insisted they stay behind with the stragglers, the elderly, the sick, and those expecting. The trip would take twice as long but Joseph was right not to take chances with such precious cargo.

The days were grueling with frigid temperatures, rain and sickness all around. Mary’s heart went out to the suffering around her. Mary wished for an end to the days but the nights were worse. Hungry animals prowled the edge of the camp each evening. And rumors of bandits floated throughout the camp from terror stricken lips. Mary knew God would protect them but unwelcome fears still lurked in the background. The days stretched on. Mary dreaded giving birth on the road. Her heart silently plead, “If only we can make it to Bethlehem before the babe arrives.”

When the first birth pangs began, Mary feared they would not make it in time. By the time Bethlehem’s gates were visible the regular spasms caused her to catch her breath…people everywhere, noises and smells. Nausea made her dizzy as Joseph paced determinedly from house to inn in search of a resting place. He could see she was in pain. The furrowed lines etched upon her brow told him that time was short. There was no room. Would No one show any kindness to a young girl when her time had come?

The last innkeeper opened to the knock of Joseph’s shaking hands. “Sir, my wife…” Joseph pled. The desperation in his voice caused the innkeeper to look beyond the man to the young girl atop the mule gritting her teeth amidst the pain. This innkeeper was not known for kindness. He was a business man. But the haunting eyes of the girl in such straights caused him a momentary pause. “You can take her to the Livery. It’s dry and warm there. I can do no better. GO!”

Joseph stood in shocked silence, then quickly gathered his charge and entered the mouth of the cave. Mules with servants milling around parted and made a path when they saw the young girl. The atmosphere was quieter and more serene in this alcove, sheltered from the outside chaos. Female servants hurried over when they realized the state of things. Joseph now searched for a midwife. Time was short. Things were happening too quickly for Mary. This was not what she’d envisioned. The babe was coming in a stable. This was no place for a king! The pains were strong and unlike anything she had ever known. She wished for her mother or sister’s comfort. And then it was finished. Cries echoed into the cavern. Mary’s eyes watered at the first sight of this babe. The babe cooed softly and with wide eyed wonder he stared out into the world. His mother searched his eyes. She felt an electricity, an intangible force felt by all present. This babe knew her soul.

The midwife returned with Joseph just in time to see that all was well. Joseph felt the power in the room and timidly approached. Gingerly taking his adopted son in his arms for the first time the weight of the responsibility hit him hard. Joseph searched the eyes of the child and wondered if he was able to provide for this small babe of wonder. His eyes were mesmerizing. A peace filled his soul. He was comforted.

Joseph placed the babe in the arms of his mother and looked up. Everyone could feel a slight tremor in the air. Everything was changed in the short span of time since the babe had come. People spoke in hushed tones of reverence. The activity of angels was unknown yet overpowering, causing the air to be electric and alive. The babe saw the angels about and giggled aloud sending chills throughout the group of onlookers as his mother smiled at the sound. Outside a solitary star outshone the moon guiding others to share this vision. Shepherds entered the cavern in search of the truth. Unbeknownst to all, after this night the universe would never be the same.

NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE

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MARY, GABRIEL

Since this is the Christmas season and only a short time until Christmas Day, I would like us to focus on events relative to that celebration in our upcoming devotionals. In particular I would like to examine the people who took part in that first Christmas, the birth of our Lord, and their reactions to it. In so doing, I hope that we can get some insight into our own feelings and emotions relating to the season.

In the sixth month God sent the angel Gabriel . . . to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph.
Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman!
The Lord is with you!”

Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.

“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.
He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High…
His Kingdom will never end!”

Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God . . . For nothing is impossible with God.”

Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her. Luke 1:26-38

Wow! Can you imagine having an angel visit you? Like Mary, you probably would be a little apprehensive, wondering why he was there! Put yourself in her place for a moment and try to think the way she may have thought. You’re busy, going about your everyday life when suddenly an angel appears right in front of you! To say you’re surprised would be an understatement! Afraid…of course! Apprehensive…no doubt! Confused… inevitably! Well, Mary experienced all of those things as well. But the most important thing recorded relative to Mary’s reaction was submission…obedience to the will of God, and after that…overwhelming peace and joyful anticipation.

We can learn a valuable lesson from Mary’s story. Often when new or unexpected circumstances appear in our lives, we are initially taken by surprise. Then fear tries to grip us, as we become apprehensive about the outcome. Sometimes we are confused, thinking, “Why me?” But if we can ultimately get to the point where we turn it all over to God and submit to His divine will and purpose…if we can trust in His loving kindness and mercy that is new every morning, how can anything but hope arise in our heart? Then, as with Mary, surely overwhelming peace and joyful anticipation of good things to come will follow!

“. . . For nothing is impossible with God.”

SONGS OF DELIVERANCE

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HOPES CAR

The Lord is my light and my salvation— so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
so why should I tremble?
Psalm 27:1 NLT
You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.
Psalm 32:7 NIV

My oldest granddaughter, Hope, was traveling home from work recently on a very rainy day. She works the night shift at a hospital about forty miles from her home. She had just finished her twelve hour shift and was traveling home on the interstate when her car hit a wet spot and she lost control. She said the car spun around a couple of times, facing oncoming traffic before sliding off the road into a shallow ditch. Miraculously Hope was not hurt and the car was not damaged. The angels had to be surrounding her as it says in Psalm 91…a psalm I pray over my family regularly. The picture at the top of this devotional is an actual picture of the car at its resting place beside the interstate. Please notice the cross in the background. How awesome is that! It’s as though the Lord is confirming His power to protect and deliver in every situation! Glory to His name!

Have you ever thought about how many times a year, a week or a day that the Lord protects us from danger? I travel to work on the interstate each morning and many a time the Lord has protected me from an accident. When He does so, I think to myself, “How many times does He protect me from situations of which I’m not even aware?”

The psalmist says in the above passages that as children of God, we have no reason to be afraid. Our Lord will protect us from danger and trouble. I love the next half of that verse… “He will surround us with songs of deliverance!” Doesn’t your heart just resound with joy when you know that the Lord has delivered you from trouble of any kind? And He does it joyfully…with songs of deliverance!

The Lord is not only able to deliver us from physical danger but from spiritual and emotional troubles as well. This is what the Lord Himself says, “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27) And Jeremiah the prophet says this about it…“O Sovereign Lord! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you!” (Jeremaih 32:17)

In this generation more than any other, we have numerous opportunities to fear…terrorist attacks, unprecedented weather changes, gang violence, home invasions and unstable economy, to name a few. But as I heard someone put it very succcinctly, “When Fear knocks at the door, send Faith to answer!” This is something we need to settle in our minds before the circumstance arises, expected or unexpected…“I will not fear!” When your car (or circumstance) starts to spin out of control, you need to know that the Lord is your Deliverer in time of trouble! You need to know that He is surrounding you with songs of deliverance! Listen carefully. I’m sure you can hear the music.

Lord, You are my hiding place; You will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.
Psalm 32:7 NIV

STRENGTH FOR THE WEARY

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EAGLE GOLDEN
Haven’t you known, haven’t you heard
that the everlasting God, Adonai,
the Creator of the ends of the earth,
does not grow tired or weary?
His understanding cannot be fathomed.
He invigorates the exhausted,
He gives strength to the powerless.
Young men may grow tired and weary,
even the fittest may stumble and fall;
but those who hope in Adonai will renew their strength,
they will soar aloft as with eagles’ wings;
when they are running they won’t grow weary,
when they are walking they won’t get tired.
Isaiah 40:28-31
Complete Jewish Bible

Are you weary today? Are you tired of the “rat race” so to speak? Well, I am. I have to depend on the Lord to renew my strength daily. And you know what I’ve discovered? He usually doesn’t give it ahead of time. He doesn’t give me tomorrow’s strength today. He gives me today’s strength for today and tomorrow’s strength will be there when I need it.

We can spend our entire life anticipating the future and it won’t change it one bit. But if we spend our entire life trusting in God’s grace for the future, it changes everything! Rest follows very closely on the heels of trust. If you are truly trusting, you will abide in rest. There is no place for stress in the believing heart. Oh, you will have opportunity for it, but don’t let it get a foot in the door. When stress comes knocking…send a trusting heart to answer. For once you let stress get a foothold, you have to expend a lot of energy and more stress to get him out. Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:7) Let’s learn to just head it off at the pass!

You may be thinking, “Well, God may get tired of me constantly depending on Him.” Are you kidding me?! Our Heavenly Father loves for us to be totally dependent on Him. He wants us to rest in His unending grace, the unmerited favor that Jesus purchased for us with such an awesome price…His own shed blood. And Our Father never gets tired or weary. He’s always there, waiting for His children to call on Him, day or night. But you know what is even better? We can just abide in His grace, knowing that moment by moment He is providing our every need. Knowing that, as an eagle, He will give us the strength…physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally to soar above the temptations, trials and stresses of this life. Hallelujah!!! Now make a decision that from this moment on, you’re going to abide in His grace, rest in His love…and trust Him to help you soar with the wings of an eagle!

I WILL NOT BE DISMAYED!!!

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CAT SHAME w.Words

Fear not, for I am with you;
      Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
      I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you,
      I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
Isaiah 41:10

This is absolutely one of my favorite verses…so much so that I even set it to music. Think about it…how many times a day do we have the opportunity to be dismayed? Webster defines dismay as, “to cause to lose courage or resolution; to upset or perturb.” “The thief (Satan) comes to steal, kill and destroy” and might I add, to cause us to be dismayed. (John 10:10) Steal, kill and destroy what? Whatever he can…our peace, our joy, our health, our finances…just our general well-being. Does he do it by cataclysmic occurrences that permanently alter our life? Ninety-nine percent of the time…No! He does it by seemingly insignificant, little nit-picky annoyances that never seem to come one at a time, but in duplicate or triplicate form! Let me give you a perfect example and one that prompted this devotional. (“By the way Lord, why do you keep giving me personal examples? Can‘t I just use someone else‘s?”) Anyway, one morning I was absolutely determined to get to work on time. (Those who know me know what a challenge that is in itself!) I was really doing quite well time wise and so I decided to do something I’d been meaning to do for a while…set off some flea bombs under my house. Yes, you read that right… flea bombs. Although I have no animals in my house, I have a number of cats outside and have surprisingly found a few of the pesky critters trying to invade my domain. I thought since the cats often take refuge under the house, the fleas might have come up from there. I decided I would set off the bombs right before leaving for work. With bombs in hand, along with all of my other paraphernalia, I shut the back door. The open soft drink bottle in my hand slipped and fell on the ground. Before I could retrieve it, half of my morning Dr. Pepper was watering the grass! I picked up the drink, found some Kleenex and wiped off the dripping bottle. “Oh, well”, I said to myself, “I will not be dismayed. I didn’t need but half of that sugar anyway.” I put the remainder of my stuff in the car and refocused on my mission…the flea bombs! It was no easy task since my house is enclosed with siding, but I found a small breach, pulled back the excess panel and after practically standing on my head was able to activate the first can and throw it under. I was making progress. I took the second can, got on my knees to see what I was doing, activated the can and threw it under. It hit one of the air conditioning ducts, bounced back and was thoroughly spraying the cement support nearest the opening. I retrieved it to try again! I have to stick my whole head under the house while holding my breath to keep from inhaling the poisonous fumes. I grab the spewing can and try to take aim so that I don’t hit something else and have it boomerang back in my face. I close the door (with no little effort!), get up off the ground (with no little effort!), dust off my knees and say, “I absolutely refuse to be dismayed!” I then make my way to the car and head off for work. When I look at the clock, I know I will be at least ten minutes late…again!!!

Do you think I meant this to be funny? Of course I did! I thought you could use a laugh today. But do you get the moral of the story also? We have opportunities each day and usually very early in the day to allow “the thief” to steal our joy and peace. It is entirely up to us whether or not he is successful. I could have fussed and fumed and stomped and kicked the cat! (And I’m not saying I wasn’t tempted.) But my day would have pretty much been ruined. So, when the enemy comes bringing circumstances the size of elephants, OR fleas…stand up…look up and declare...“Lord, I will not be dismayed!”