Tag: encouragement

wisdom

When we doubt past decisions

I’ve often written about making good decisions.

But what about those times we find ourselves doubting past decisions? And don’t we all at some time or another?

If you’re one of those rare people who doesn’t, then I envy you. I’m not one of those. I do doubt past decisions. That means I must doubt whether or not I’ve always heard God clearly. And to that I say, yes, I think there have been times I’ve not heard God clearly. Probably, only because I haven’t asked.

I’ve never doubted that God has had my best interest at heart always, but I do wonder at times if I’ve confused his voice with mine. Please someone out there, tell me you’ve been there, too.

Haven’t you all looked back and asked yourself whether you really heard God or not? I hope so because I firmly believe it’s only through some self-examination that we grow in our life and in our faith. I believe Romans 12:2:

 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

I would contend that we renew our mind only by examining our mind first and for me, that means examining past decisions because our decisions say a lot about us. In fact, one could say it’s our decisions, our choices, that say the most about us.

Sometimes we jump ahead of God and make our decisions never giving God a thought.  Then there are those that can’t make the simplest decision because they worry they will be stepping outside of God’s will. That’s as dangerous.

It’s a conundrum.

That’s why I love Proverbs. It’s chocked full of helpful and practical advice. For example, over and over again there is the imperative that if you want to reap a harvest, whether it’s veggies and fruits, or ideas and decisions, you have to put in the work first. It’s why every day I ask for wisdom for the things that come my way. For the most part, I would say I’ve always felt I’ve received the wisdom I needed.

Every day I ask for wisdom for the things that come my way. For the most part, I would say I’ve always felt I’ve received the wisdom I needed. Even when I’ve had to make on-the-spot decisions. I’ve learned to accept that no matter what decision is looming ahead of me, I will receive the wisdom I need when I need it. Guaranteed.

With my mom’s illness, I was surprised (I shouldn’t have been) how I always had the resources I needed, whether a magazine article, something someone said, a news report, that would be the answer to what I was questioning. In fact, when I look back over these past few years, I feel truly blessed that God made my road clear every step of the way.

Even the day of her death.

Somehow “wisdom” stepped in and made it clear that I should not leave her house, that death was imminent. Nothing had changed in her condition. But God instilled in my heart the knowledge ahead of time. I just “knew”.  And I think that’s because I’ve learned that the wisdom I seek can always be trusted to be there.

The day she died, I had gone out on her deck for just a few minutes. I was only there a very short while when once again there was that “prompt” to go back inside. The minute I walked into her room, again, I knew, as only God can make a person know anything, that she was within minutes of leaving this world. I called my brother in immediately. I called my husband who had just left to run some errands. Within ten minutes she was gone with the people that knew her the longest holding her as she slipped from this world to the next, me, my brother, my husband, and my brother’s ex-wife.

That’s what wisdom does if we trust God to reveal it to us. 

If this is an area that has been lacking in your prayer life, asking for daily wisdom for whatever decisions you may have to make that day,  you might want to consider adding that request.

God bless and have a good day.

how do you give back a blessing?

google images

google images

My husband and I received a very big blessing today. An all-clear medical report for one of our children and for the other one a few weeks ago. Before I write anything else,  I want to share with you what Oswald Chambers wrote for his January 6th devotion in My Utmost For His Highest.

“Whenever you get a blessing from God, give it back to Him as a love gift. Take time before God and offer the blessing back to Him in a deliberate act of worship. If you hoard a thing for yourself, it will turn into spiritual dry rot………..God will  never let you hold a spiritual thing for yourself, it has to be given back to Him that He may make it a blessing to others.”

But how? Do I find a way to give back right away today? Do I wait and watch and listen for that prompt from God as to something specific?  How is it even possible to give a blessing back to God?

Some authors suggest an extra financial gift to a needy organization. We have done that in the past as a way of passing on a blessing.

There are times when saying “Thank you, God”, just doesn’t seem enough. For God, it probably is but do we always want to do just enough? Aren’t there times we want to do much more?Today is one of those days for me.

I have decided I will be alert for a special prompt these next few days but until then I want to do something today. So here it is.

First of all, would you thank God with me for this blessing we’ve received? I would love to think that the heavens are being inundated with praise. And secondly, as you go about your day, would you be alert to that stranger that might need a prayer? And would you offer one up for them?

Years ago when I was in Brazil, I sat poolside on the roof of our hotel and noticed an unusual bird flying nearby. I was feeling pretty alone that day as my husband was working and no one else was on the roof with me. I kept watching that singular bird and thought how much we were alike. Both of us by ourselves. But soon that bird was joined by a flock of birds and he was no longer alone. Other people showed up on the roof and I was no longer alone.

For some strange reason, I felt God “speaking ” to my heart that day telling me to pray for those people on the roof. I had never felt the urge to pray for complete strangers before, but I did that day. (I mean how does one pray for a stranger)? I found it far easier than I would have thought and even today, years later, I often find myself praying for people I don’t know.

And just one last thought. Remember, that prayer you offer up for that stranger today may be the only prayer that has or ever will be prayed over that person. That really puts a different spin on things, doesn’t it? We know that no prayer ever goes unheeded. God hears them all.

Notice that stranger today and let God lead you to the words you will pray. You will both be blessed and thus I will have passed on my blessing to you.

God bless and let me know how it goes.

god hiding 2

What to do when God seems to hide

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 I don’t know about you but I find life pretty messy a lot of the time. The perplexities, the questions, the downright confusion. I have a hard time understanding where God is at times. It’s like he’s hiding.

Do you ever feel that way?

god hiding 2

When really good people get seriously ill, I think, “Why him?”, “Why her?” Shouldn’t cancer be reserved for murderers, rapist, terrorists, etc? (Yes, I know how that sounds coming from someone who’s a Christian. I’m just saying what a lot of people think.)

And yet many of these people would be the first to tell you of their faith and why they still believe God loves them.

This prayer from tworiversblog.com says it all:

“God, sometimes it is so easy to believe and sometimes… I know You are good. I KNOW IT, but sometimes… it just gets so hard to see it. You love me. You want the best for me far more than I even want it for myself. Sometimes I just don’t know how You are working good through the mess this life sometimes tosses me. In those times, as I seek understanding, help me to never lose faith.”

We put on a good front, but when no one is around, when it’s just us with our thoughts:

We doubt.

We question.

So if that’s you today, be assured.

God knows.

God understands.

God bless and have a good day.

 

 

 

 

 

God bless and have a good day.

questions

Why it’s ok to question God

I had a great conversation with a twenty-two-year-old yesterday. She admitted she was struggling with her faith, that she had a lot of questions.

questions

“Good,” I replied.

“What do you mean?”, she asked.

Here’s how I explained it.

“I wasn’t brought up in a Christian environment although I did go to Sunday School as a little girl. In fact, one of my most treasured memories is of a dear teacher with one totally cloudy eye. She was so loving. Her eye didn’t even bother me, an eight-year-old who is usually put off by such things. Anyway, because there was no one in my family to teach me, I asked a lot of questions. The cloudy-eyed teacher never had a problem with that.

When I got to be a teenager and then a young adult, I entered the stage where one asks the big philosophical questions, the ones they think no one before them has asked, but in fact, have been asked by young people since the beginning of time.

“What does it all mean?”

“What is the meaning of life, anyway?”

“What is my purpose on earth?”

“Why is there good and evil if God is all good?”

You know the questions. They are typical of any emerging, thoughtful mind.

Hers is no exception.

I went on:

“I find that even now, I’m still asking questions, maybe even more of them. That means my faith isn’t handed-down by parents, teachers, or preachers, or books and sermons. It’s mine. I’ve done my homework. You should do yours. Besides, you are in good company.

Throughout the Bible, people questioned God. I can’t think of a single incident where God chastised them for it. In fact, there are a lot of words in scripture like, “seek”, “find”, “learn”, “embrace”, “be transformed”, etc., all of which, in my opinion, means asking some questions first.

God is open to all honest questioning. He invites it by the word choices he inspired.

It is those people who never question who never grow.

I present this next little popular Pinterest ditty as exactly how not to think. questions(I just want to hit my computer some days when I see what people post and what people believe is scriptural. I hate these little sayings and I’m very careful how I use them.) Trust is not the absence of questioning. Trust is the product of questioning. If Abraham hadn’t put a period where God hadn’t intended, the whole Sodom and Gomorrah situation might have turned out differently. He stopped too soon. How’s about we trust God while we question?

 

To trust someone without the answers is the greatest trust of all.

 

We are in a classroom all the time, the classroom of life. The greatest minds, the strongest Christians, have always been those with an inquiring mind, those who don’t just ascribe to the “standard” formula of faith. The most faithful of Christians are those who don’t let God “go”, much like Jacob. They keep asking until they are given some sort of answer, even when that answer is something like, “That can’t be revealed just now. Wait on me.”

We went on to talk about why she doesn’t necessarily “buy” into certain theological concepts. We’ve had these conversations before and as usual, I didn’t try to persuade her any different. “A person persuaded against their will, is of the same opinion still“, is an absolute fact of life. Instead, I encouraged her to continue asking and never quit.

Some of you may wonder if I wasn’t a little afraid to go that route. What if she falls off the deep end? What if she gives up on her faith?

She won’t. And now you’re sure to be asking how I can be so sure.  Now, you are asking the questions.

I know because she is my granddaughter and I’ve prayed for her her entire life. My hubby and I were intimately involved with her and her brother’s childhood. My son and his wife invited us into almost every decision regarding them. We have spent countless hours (My spell-checker told me this was a cliché. I ignored it as some clichés are totally correct) with them. We have been there through their struggles and their triumphs.  They are more like our children than our grandchildren.

So when she left, I knew that all my prayers for her are being answered. She is going to be a strong woman of faith. I know it, even if she doesn’t. It has been hard with both of them to learn to adapt to them as young adults who happen to be our grandchildren, instead of our grandchildren who happen to be young adults. I talk with them as I would any young person their age. And then do you know what I do?

I pray.

I pray as hard as I can for them. I pray that they will always be willing to talk to me and their grandfather, that they will always be one hundred percent sure of our love for them.

I have to say that I wouldn’t want to be a young person at this time of history. Not because I think the world is any more stressful but because my world was “quite-er”. I wasn’t bombarded with everyone’s opinions every minute of the day because of social media. Interesting to note, neither her nor her brother are on Facebook a lot. They don’t “tweet”. Yes, they have Instagram and yes, they are on their phones texting a lot with their friends but the rest of it is not something they’re interested in. I’m grateful for that.

I never take my relationship with my grandchildren for granted. I work on it all the time as they go through the growing up process. I always try to remember what it was like for me and then I get all “teary-eyed” with gratitude as I remember that they have not had my experience. They have always had us to come to.

If you have young adults in your life, treat them with respect. Remember how confused you were at their age. Think what it would have felt like to have an older adult talk with you as they would anyone their own age, who would have been honest about their own questionings, who would have been honest about their own fears. Maybe you did;  I didn’t. I would’ve loved to have had those kinds of conversations with an adult I loved and respected.

Have enough faith to know that the same God you question, and you do, is the same God they question.

questions

He has seen you through and he will see them through as well. Encourage their questions and don’t be afraid that by doing so, you are sending them down a wrong path. If you are praying for them at the same time, God is protecting them.

God bless and have a good day.

 

 

 

 

 

Are you as happy as you could be?

being who we are/google images

google images

It’s summer. A time of family, fun, vacations, swimming, cycling, hiking………ily, fun, vacations, swimming, cycling, hiking………

But for people with mood disorders, summers often trigger depression. It’s not hard to understand why and much of it stems from comparisons. When we’re around people who seem to be having a great time, families who seem to have it all together, lots of laughter, we often wonder why we aren’t that happy. Everyone else is laughing and suddenly we feel like crying.

What has happened?

We feel isolated and lonely. What is wrong with us, we ask.

There was a song from the sixties that went like this “Everyone is going out and having fun. I’m just a fool for staying home and having none……Oh, lonesome me.” Have you ever felt that way?

This is not to rain on anyone’s parade because those people we see may, in fact, be having a great time. It’s genuine. But it’s their present moment. It’s probably not what their lives are like all the time. And we all have those times as well. Days when we’re on top of the world. Days when other people look at us and wonder why they aren’t as happy as we are.

It’s called “comparing”. Or as I like to call it Facebookitis. You know what I mean. If you went by FB, you’d think everyone’s life is perfect. The crazy thing is, everyone else is doing it, too. So here we are, all of us going through life in a constant state of wondering why we’re not as happy as the next person.

But the crazy thing is, everyone else is doing it, too. So here we are, all of us going through life in a constant state of wondering why we seem to fall short on the happiness scale when the truth is we’re all pretty much the same. No matter how rich, famous or educated, we all do it, compare ourselves to others.

One of the bubbliest personalities ever is Goldie Hawn. And yet she suffers from depression. How many times do you suppose people looked at her and wished they could be like her never dreaming that inside she was miserable?

But since when does our happiness have to look like someone else’s? Or theirs look like ours?  I’m simply not a rah, rah kind of person. I have fun. I laugh. But I’m definitely more low-key. I experience lots of joy but it looks different on me. I am never comfortable in crowds;  that used to bother me.

Not anymore.

Sometimes I wish I could be more “over the top”, but I’m not. This is how God, history, and circumstances have molded me. I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I’m not sure it should.

Comparing doesn’t end with the comparison, though. It seeps into every part of our lives, souring our present moment and pretty much guaranteeing our future will be negatively affected, too. It steals our peace, the very peace Jesus promises. But maybe that peace depends on us making peace with who we are not who we think we should be.

Romans 9:20 says it all.

But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?'”

The next time you’re at a holiday gathering or anywhere there are a lot of people celebrating, be comfortable with yourself. You don’t have to act like anyone else. You don’t have to laugh or be outwardly exuberant if that’s not your style. (I’m not talking about social anxiety issues. That’s something else altogether.)

But if happiness is alluding you overall, you could be depressed and that would mean a visit to your doctor.

For today, be brave enough to be yourself and to be comfortable with yourself. I contend that as long as we’re trying to appear or feel different from who we really were created to be, there will be conflict and unhappiness within. Jesus was always who He was even though those that crucified Him wanted Him to be someone He wasn’t either.

They wanted a king, they got a servant.

Don’t let other people do that to you either.

God bless and have a good day.

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