Thursday, April 30, 2015

Pass the Ice, Please

Today was the day for my chiropractic adjustment, work-out and massage. After getting my adjustment, I entered the work-out room in high spirits of what I was going to be able to accomplish today. (Yes, I've learned to walk in with a positive attitude. It helps tremendously whenever you're having a bad day and don't "feel" like doing it. So I challenge myself!) Having improved my mile from 16 minutes down to 12; I was mentally calculating how I could beat my current time. There was only one problem...
...my knee was cranky today. I set the treadmill speed to 4.1 mph and began my 20 minutes. At 1.5 minutes, I hopped off and did a couple of leg shakes and stretches hoping to get rid of the cinch. Determined, I got back on and started once again. OK, I've got this! I cranked up the speed to 6.0 mph for my interval training and ran 1 minute. Then, I lowered the speed back down for a minute of speed-walking, then repeated the routine again. About 7 minutes into my routine, I was favoring my that leg because of the pain in my knee, but I tried to hide it. Slowly, it became more and more noticeable and the doctor and trainer made me stop completely. I had reached my limit. I was led back into a room where I was adjusted again. Then up for a test run. Nope! Back on the table for more adjustment followed by another test run. After a couple times, the pain in my knee was gone and I returned to finish my work-out minus lower body exercises. (Ice-downs prescribed for my knee.)
I told you all those details so hopefully you'll get the full picture and be right on board when I explain to you what God brought to my mind:
There are times in life when we are running along just fine. Then something happens and we find ourselves in tremendous pain and hurt but we continue on trying our best to hide it. (Yeah, that would be pride! Ouch! That hurts!) Maybe nobody else around us notices it at first, but it doesn't go unnoticed by God for even one moment. Sure, He'll let us run on for a bit, but soon enough He'll do what He has to for us to give in and allow Him to work on our situation or brokenness. It's that "break" that we sometimes think of as punishment for not being strong enough - not passing the test. However, God doesn't see or treat it that way. He gently works on (or adjusts) us in the areas of our pain. He's gentle and never beats us down for any weakness. (Very "unlike" us - or usually me anyhow.) We've got to allow Him to do so though...we've got to lay down and give Him complete access to that spot...all walls down. When we do, He can fix it. We might find it takes a minute - or thirty - to get back into the treadmill of life and press on; but we'll get there if we'll be patient and allow Him to work on us.
So, to you - and to me - let's not try to be a super hero and carry loads we're not intended to carry alone. God doesn't expect us to do His job. He's given us reminders throughout His Word that we're His children and He wants us to grow - and He will help us along the way. He knows we won't grow without bumps and bruises and He's prepared to administer the help we need. He's not ashamed of us for stumbling, but wants to help us grow stronger each and every day. Just like I've improved my mile, He wants us to improve by allowing Him to take control of our situations sooner. Don't tread one moment longer or another mile by yourself! Allow God to mend your brokenness and start you on the road to recovery. Now, somebody pass the ice, please!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Folks, Pop & Cornbread

Depending upon where we live in the country, our choice of words might be different yet have similar meanings?
Is it "y'all" or "you guys"?  Pop? Coke?  Or soda?

I wanted to share with you something that happened in our last small group Bible study. Hopefully it will bring a smile to your face as it did ours. God is amazing!

I was reading aloud Acts 5:16: 
"There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one."

All of the sudden, I noticed one of our newest Bible study members, eyes open-wide, as she leaned down really close to her Bible as if inspecting it word by word. As she did so, her sudden movement caught everyone's attention and suddenly all eyes were upon her. We wondered what had caused her reaction, so we asked her about it.

"Sick folks..." she replied with a big grin, "I had to look to see if those words were really in the Bible." We all chuckled as comments were made about "good ole southern folks" showing up in the Bible. Which led to us wondering if they had cornbread and collard greens at their gatherings? FOLKS. Did you know, this is the only verse in the Bible that uses this particular word? God covered it all, didn't He? 

It was a great moment of connection with our newest member. It broke the ice and allowed a moment for the Bible to come alive for people who are just being introduced to it. And isn't that just like Jesus? He goes out of His way to reach out to anyone who is hungry for more of Him. I was thinking about the way He taught parables to those who wouldn't understand His teachings any other way. He used stories for the people of that day so they could understand and relate to it better. He didn't have to, but He did. He was a dedicated teacher then...and still is today.

Folks (or guys...or whatever it is where you may live)...the Bible is still relevant for us today. Old book. Same message. Real. True. Living. God's Word is alive and well today. Let's dig in and allow something to open up to us in new ways. The Bible...cornbread for the soul.


Friday, April 24, 2015

Walls...It's Demolition Time!

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm a builder. Yes, I said it - I. Am. A. Builder. Which makes sense, I'm a daughter of a builder. While I was growing up, my Dad's favorite phrase was, "Keep your tools on you!" (In other words, have them at your side so you're not wasting time looking for them! That's what they made tool belts for.) While I'm not helping my dad build these days, still I find myself occasionally on a building project of a different sort. I'm sure you do as well. Of fine furniture? NO! Beautiful homes? Absolutely not. I am a professional WALL BUILDER! (There, I said it! Not proud of it. Admission, the first step to recovery.) I find that whenever I allow stress or anxiety to get the best of me, I frantically start building. And friend, the walls can go up in a matter of seconds (Which would be great if I were building a beautiful home!) and there they stand straight and anchored  down tightly...except, they're right smack-dab in the middle of my heart. Have you related yet? Do you build too?
Why do we build walls? I suppose most of the time it's to protect ourselves; just like we live in houses to protect ourselves from the elements outside. However, just as walls protect us from danger or what we deem "harmful", they also can keep good, wholesome things from getting in. Think about it, without a door, friends and loved ones couldn't come into your home. However, in the home of our heart, things like love, peace, joy, forgiveness, and relationships may have a hard time finding an entrance if your heart is surrounded nothing but walls. No, some walls are not good for us! Building walls can cause us to lose faith...but we're human, so it happens. Scripture tells us to "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7) What assurance! God is our refuge and fortress! He can and will protect us if we have faith in Him. He always knows what's best for us too.
Like I said, I'm a daughter of a builder - times two. Jesus, the Master Builder builds with extremely accurate detail and excellence. There is no flaw in Him. In Him, I can rest safe and secure, knowing that He is my protector, my shield. I don't have to worry because I know He is able to take care of me. I don't have to rely on my wall building skills to do the trick. (Now, if I can just transfer that information from my brain to my heart. What about you?) It's easier said than done, true. But learning and growth are all part of this Christian walk, aren't they? It's normal and expected. One step at a time...
So take the challenge with me today...let's have a demolition party and begin tearing down walls we've erected in the past. Even if we've torn walls down in the before, something - a memory of, or a similar incident - can be triggered within us and we are immediately tempted to begin a building frenzy all over again. We might have to apply this concept often until we have learned it; but next time we feel the hammering begin, let's stop and take notice, then pray. It would be kind of like obtaining a "building permit" before we begin on one of those building projects. 
Right now, let's RENOVATE! Let's consciously begin opening up our hearts for MORE by creating an "open floor plan" that God can work with. I'm sure we'd all be surprised at the plans He has for us, as well as the ways He intends to use past heartache and the scars we bear in our heart for His glory! Let's have a new plan...and much improved...by hiring the best architect around - JESUS! Now, let the demolition begin...let's speak to our walls, "Come down!"

Dear God, help me to recognize those ugly walls that seem to 
find their way into my heart when I am caught off guard.
You are my refuge and I can cast all my anxiety upon you. Help
me to learn to trust in you and allow you to make all 
things beautiful. Help me to allow you to work
through my "mess" and allow the message of 
your handiwork to speak loud and clear
to those I come in contact with.




Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Rain, Rain, Go Away

If you've been in the area near my little town in the recent weeks, you know we've been bombarded by rain, storms, rain, dark clouds, rain, wind and, oh, did I say RAIN? Quite honestly, I got to the point where I was questioning God, "When will the sun shine again? I'm so tired of the gloomy days!" I suppose I'm probably not the only one either. (By the way, today the sun is shining brightly and it's a beautifully glorious day! Thank you Jesus!)
Since I've had numerous days to contemplate about the dark, dreary days, I was thinking about how we go through seasons in our lives. Some are bright, cheerful and happy and we're loving and living life to the fullest; then one day we hear the distant thunder roll and see the lightning flash and we find ourselves in dark, uncertain days and we wonder when they will ever diminish. I don't know about you but after about 2 days of rain, I'm done with it! I'm afraid I feel the same way about the rainy seasons of life even though I know God has a purpose in each season. 
So, what's a girl to do? Well, as bad as I'd like to push a button and it be gone (don't we all wish we had a couple of those kinds of buttons at one time or another?) I've learned that it usually doesn't happen quite that way. We have to endure....wait for it, wait for it. Today a dear friend put a verse on Facebook that went right along with my thought:
Psalm 91:1, "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty."
So, the answer to this season is...to tuck ourselves safely into that secret place and hide under the shadow of the Lord. He is our safe-house. He is our shelter in time of stormy seasons. He will hold us up. He will carry our burdens if we will cast them on Him. He will give us rest, strength and endurance to hold on until the sun shines in our lives once more. We can only get to that secret place if we continuously dwell there even on the sun-shiny days. It's a lifestyle of dwelling and abiding in our precious Savior.
My friend, when the storms are tossing you to and fro, when the torrential rains are battering you and you feel as if you'll fall to pieces, just hang on. This too shall pass. How hard is it to remember this when we're in the middle of our crises...that God controls the storms too. Curl up in the arms of Jesus and rest safely knowing He is in control. He may calm the storms of your life, or He might allow you to sleep peacefully right beside Him until the storm subsides. Regardless, know this...the sun WILL shine again. Take heart, be of good courage today. We have this hope!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Be Mine...BELONG

While we are a couple months removed from February and Valentine's Day, my mind has been tossing around the phrase "Be Mine." We all long to belong. This is one thing we each have in common no matter our status in life, our age, personality, or any other distinguishing factor. Think about it. Can you recall walking into your elementary lunchroom wondering if someone saved a seat for you? What about waiting to be picked on a team for recess kickball? There's something about being chosen, belonging...we all have that inborn desire to belong.
I recall another phrase: "Everything has a place to belong!" Hang-up clothes go in the closet, folded clothes in the dresser, dirty clothes in a laundry basket, etc. (They don't belong on the floor! Imagine that!) No matter what IT is, IT has a place to belong. After all, that's how a clean house is derived, right? That "pen" belongs in the basket next to the "bill basket." (Oh my, how organized that sounds! If only!)
So, where do we fit in? Sometimes those ugly feelings that we don't fit in anywhere may pop up out of nowhere. We're too this or too that to fit in this group. We're too old or not old enough to be in this certain group either. See? We none like to feel this way! Nobody. While there are requirements to fit in certain places, there is one special place that you'll never be secluded from unless you choose not to be a part. Yes!!! You can belong.
John 14:3  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, 
there ye may be also.
We none belong on this earth. This is just a temporary home for those who follow God's ultimate plan. We belong with Him! Just think, He prepared a place especially for us. WE FIT SOMEWHERE PARTICULAR! There's a special place for us! We belong. So, when we find ourselves with those feelings of not fitting in, know that God has something special in mind just for us. He wants us on His team! He wants us on His side forever! Where else would we find a more perfect fit? What better place could we want to be? God is extending the invitation to each of us today, saying, "BE MINE!" The choice is ours...we were created to belong.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hello!


I'm sure every girl's been there...and most certainly some of us "bigger" girls. It's just life...
The moment - you're spilling your guts (maybe heart sounds more lady-like! lol) and you realize the person on the other end of your conversation isn't even "involved" (listening/paying attention) in the conversation.
The reminder - God is always listening (even when the conversation isn't directed at Him), intentionally, fully involved and engrossed in you and your situation. He cares and loves you right where you are today!

 Psalm 34:18  "The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart..."

Monday, April 13, 2015

Night...It Is Good!

 During the darkness of night, there are things which cannot be seen such as animals, criminals and danger. Nighttime is usually associated with vulnerability, danger and evil. Crime is usually worse at night as well as sickness, loneliness, and of course, nightmares. Simply put, during the night, things are likely to happen which may frighten us to the point we can find ourselves eagerly anticipating the first peaks of morning light. Yet GOD made and named this thing called night. (Gen. 1:4)

Late last night my husband's cell phone rang. Instantly, my "motherly instincts" were on high alert because we were over five hours away from home and our "grown" teenagers. You know the feeling, when something's not quite right. Yes, something is definitely wrong. (Every mother I know comes with this special radar installed!) I'm hearing only my husband's side of the conversation:

     "What?!"
     "Is it bad?"
     "Are you OK?"
     "How bad is it?"
     "Are you OK?"
    "Hit the animal, don't swerve." 

By now, I have a vivid picture in my mind and I'm laying beside him silently praying that everything is going to be alright. "Oh God! One of my babies is out there alone in the darkness and something is not right. Please help!" The conversation continues and I listen as he assures my daughter that all is well and he's just glad she's safe and unharmed.  He ends the call and I get the final verdict: Yes, she hit a mailbox while trying to avoid a deer that ran out in front of her. The car is damaged but drivable. She is safe. And every parent's (of teen-drivers) dilemma...the insurance will sky-rocket if we turn in a claim. But she is safe! It could have been so much worse. God is good! She is safe! Thank you Jesus!

And although it's during the darkness of night, though she's there all alone, although I feel completely helpless because I'm so far away...my God "is a very present help" to help us all. (Ps. 46:1) Protecting, consoling, being a companion, giving peace and assurance...WOW! We can trust Him even in the late night hours when darkness threatens to consume us with fear and steal our peace. He is always there. He's an ever present help in the time of trouble. Yes, He made the night...but He called it GOOD. Why? Because He knew He'd be right there with us during it...and that, my friend, is always good.




Friday, April 3, 2015

What's In a Nick-Name?

My childhood purse
"Stephie"...only 2 people in the world call me that. Otherwise, it's usually "Steph". What's in a nick-name? (I think William Shakespeare mentioned "What's in a name?" if I remember my senior Lit class correctly.) When I heard "Stephie" on rare occasion last week, I was amazed at how it made me feel - kind of like enjoying a warm, soothing cup of my favorite tea with a couple delicious poppy seed mini-muffins with someone special. Comforting. Special. Loved. Made me think about God and his vast list of "nicknames". 

As I looked heavenward last evening at the beautifully, colored sunset I couldn't help but whisper a thank you to "Elohim" (My Creator) and give thanks for such a marvelous wonders He created for us to enjoy. This morning I thought of "Jehovah-Rapha" (My Healer) as I gave thanks for the healing a dear friend. And I can't help but to call Him "Moshia'" (My Savior) this weekend as I thank Him for dying on the cross and being my Savior. I could go on and on, but I'm sure by now you're thinking of your own list. I imagine God smiling with delight when we use these special names. (Remember, not everyone uses our personal nicknames.

He is able to meet EVERY request, and supply EVERY need...He has it all covered...He is the great "I AM"! Let's not be one of the  people who use those precious nicknames of our God...but OFTEN. He's eagerly waiting to hear from us no matter where we are in life. We can't go wrong when we pray! To use one of his specific "nicknames" in the area which we need a prayer answered is just an added privilege of being His. Let's take advantage of ALL He is. Look up some of those nicknames for yourself. Yes, you can type it straight into Google! After all, how close can our relationship be to someone without learning their name? 

What's your favorite nickname? How does it make you feel? Please share it with us or leave a comment below. Suddenly an old song, More Than Wonderful by Sandi Patty and Larnnel Harris, popped into my mind - 
"more than amazing, more than marvelous, more than miraculous, could ever be....He's more than wonderful...that's who Jesus is to me." (Find it on YouTube)
Now, I think I'll go enjoy that cup of tea as I think more upon the goodness of the Lord and how each nickname reveals yet another magnificent character trait of our God and exactly who He is. Who is He to you today? Blessings on you, my friend, as we bless the Lord together today.