Tuesday, September 6, 2016

To Decide is to Commit to What is Important

"...Ask for ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it: and you will find rest for your souls."

Jeremiah 6:16

Four-thirty in the morning comes early, but I have made up my mind the night before that this day is our cycling day. My husband and I rise early four out the five weekdays to get our exercise in before we leave for work. We are on the road by five with headlights streaming through the dark, early morning hours. It is a commitment we make and keep because we have decided this is what we are going to do. Yes, some mornings I feel groggier than others, and some mornings I am the one reminding my husband that what we decided the night before will be followed through in our moment of weakness. 

Why do we decide and commit? Because we both know that our aging bodies require movement to stay functional. Like most people, we want to take our lives into the longest distance possible and exercise is a tool toward achieving this goal. 

To decide and commit is to understand what is important. Once you understand what is important, following through with a decision to commit becomes easier. 

The ancient paths, as noted in Jeremiah, is a reference to the truths of God's ways. These truths have been tried and evidenced as true through the lives of those who have acted upon them in faith. History reveals blessings and rest to those faithful and obedient to His revelations. 

Like exercise, I too have decided that God's truths are important. And when I decide to commit to them, "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and selfcontrol" are the gifts I recieve and bestow onto others (Galatians 5:23-24).  

Today, decide what is important and commit. When you are weak, remind yourself of the blessings and rest in following through. 

When you make up your mind, following through becomes a matter of remembering what you have decided. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The River of Kindness

"Where the river flows, everything will live."

Ezekiel 47:9

The gentle flow of a river has always captured my attention. I am awed by its beauty, fearful of its power, and thankful for the many ways a river nourishes and replenishes the earth. Rivers provide a source of food, electricity, transportation, and a venue for outdoor recreation. Historically, where the river flows, people live. 

Today, I experienced another type of life giving river, kindness. Not one to spend money on expensive drinks, I debated, prayed, yes prayed, and dialogued with myself as to whether or not buying a chai tea on my way to work was good stewardship of the provisions God had granted me. Finally, concluding that I could splurge today, I went to a popular coffee and tea shop to place my order at their drive through. I ordered and began to reach into my wallet to get the exact amount ready that was required. To my complete shock, the kind woman at the window smiled and explained that the man in front of me had paid for my order. Hard to convince, I required confirmation that I had heard correctly. Yes, my painfully debated drink had been paid for. 

Pulling away from the window, tears welled up in my eyes. God had reminded me of the life nourishing impact of kindness. My belief in the ability of mankind to be kind has recently been teetering from watching too many news reports of presidential hopefuls spewing venomous accusations at one another, pictures of cities protesting against perceived or actual injustices, and many other forms of anger displayed through mankind. My belief that kindness remained has been dangling.   

Research supports the impact that kindness has whether we are the receivers or givers; blood pressure is lowered, immune systems are strengthened, depression is lifted, and happiness is bolstered. I would like to offer some of my own, unresearched, thoughts about the power and impact of kindness:

1. Families are restored. 
2. Marriages are healed.
3. Poverty is reduced.
4. Hope is restored.
5. Purpose is discovered. 

My list could go on, but that would take away the time needed for you, the reader, to get up and write a letter, make a phone call, volunteer, or find another way to extend kindness. 

Where there is kindness, people will "live". 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Power of "I Will"

"I will"

~Psalm 101~ NASB

This morning, my eyes popped open at 3:30 a.m. My attempt to reclaim the restorative benefits of sleep was in vain. So, I chose to rise and take advantage of two sleeping children, a snoring husband, and two still dogs. It is always to my advantage when my 155 pound Great Dane is still.

Rather than moan about the lack of sleep I felt, and think about how tired I would be throughout my day (this temptation crossed my mind several times), I decided to finish my laundry, clean up my e-mail account, and read Psalm 101. 

In the first three verses of this Psalm, the words "I will" is used five times. The psalmist continues with his theme for the remaining five verses. Personal integrity is his goal, and he set his life in this direction by declaring "I will." 

Through grit in my eyes, I was struck by the power of these two little words-I WILL. I wondered what would change in my life if I employed the same tactic and determination of the psalmist. 

Each day we are given a choice on what we will do with our time, circumstances, friendships, marriages, families, jobs, down time, money, our sadness, joys, sorrows, our health, illnesses and diseases, and most importantly we get to choose how we spend our lives. Knowing each decision leads to somewhere, perhaps it is time to choose with intention and power. 

Change does not happen because we desire, but rather it happens when we, like the Psalmist, declare "I will." The direction of your life will follow what you declare.


1. I will choose to not get lost in the details of my circumstances, but rather view them through a wide angle that displays purpose. Romans 8:28
2. I will choose to accept the hard assignments in life as my responsibility and steward over them with wisdom. James 1:2
3. I will choose to see God's goodness in the presence of pain. Psalm 100:5
4. I will do the next right thing. Galatians 6:9
5. I will be faithful to employ what I know and trust God for what I do not know. Deuteronomy 29:29
6. I will focus on what is true, pure, honorable and right. Philippians 4:8
7. I will love in the presence of hate. Galatians 6:7
8. I will offer grace and forgiveness. Matthew 6: 14-15
9. I will offer kindness and compassion. Ephesians 4:32
10. I will receive forgiveness. 1 John 1:9

What will be your next "I will"? Remember, what you declare will be where you take your next step.

Share with other readers what your next "I will" will be by posting a comment in the comment section. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Law of Attraction

As a man or woman thinks so is he or she. [Emphasis is mine]

~Proverbs  23:7~

The law of attraction is a belief that likes attract likes, and that our beliefs and actions are a result of our focus. In other words, you become your focus. 

A friend of mine shared a story from years past when her now grown daughter was then a young girl. Together, they had shared a canoe and began their adventure with my friend at the back of the canoe and her daughter in the front. With paddles in hand, they began to head toward a large boulder located near the side of the river bank. My friend, quick to realize the law of attraction, began to instruct her daughter to look at the center of the river. She understood that once her daughter began to look at the center of the river she would begin to paddle in that direction. Without fail, their canoe began to turn and they averted the boulder that could have overturned their canoe with them in it. 

Living with depression is like paddling down a river in a canoe. There are many boulders in the life of those living with depression. These boulders have names like: worthless, hopeless, useless, helpless, friendless, faulty, fearful, guilty, angry, and on and on. When one, or many of these boulders are hit, lives are overturned and often unable to return upright and function as intended. What the person living with depression needs to understand is that they need to change their focus and divert the hopelessness that these beliefs create. 

Living with depression means you must change your focus and begin "paddling" your "life canoe" in that direction. Your focus, or thinking, must change from worthless to "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14), from rejected to accepted (Psalm 27:10), and from hopeless to hopeful (Romans 5:1-5). You may not control the circumstance you are in, but you can control your thinking. It is work, but "in depression the new way of living is to believe and act on what God says rather than feel what God says." (Edward T. Welch in Depression: The Way Up When You Are Down)

Some ways to begin to paddle in a different direction and avert the black hole depression drowns you in are:

1. Replace the words of worthlessness with the words "I am fearfully and wonderfully made." 
2. Daily, write down 1 attribute you have that has value to you and those in your sphere of influence. 
3. Remind yourself daily that you are loved with an everlasting love. Jeremiah 31:3.
4. Quit listening to yourself about what is broken, and speak to yourself about the healing that is possible. 
5. Each day, invite into your heart songs and words that point to hope and healing.    
6. Move your body, eat right, think right, and believe in the healing power of God's daily compassion and lovingkindness (Lamentations 3:22-24). 

These practices move you into the direction of healing and wholeness. 

Your life is always being steered by what you focus on and ultimately believe. Steer in the direction of right thinking and believing, in spite of what your feelings are speaking to you. 


Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Gift of Presence

The choir and trumpets made one voice of praise and thanks to God...singing and playing praise to God: Yes! God is good! His loyal love goes on forever! Then a billowing cloud filled The Temple of God-Then....the Glory of God!-that filled The Temple of God.

~2 Chronicles 5:13 The MSG

There is a song I recall from years past. I remember the first time I heard this song. It drove to the heart of how lonely people feel: Even in a crowded street I felt alone. With the pain of just existing I had no where to belong (Brush Arbor). Indeed, this is how I had often felt growing up. In fact, this is how loneliness feels-surrounded yet lonely. 

Research supports that for many people in marriages, relationships, and successful careers, loneliness is often their constant companion. Feeling lonely and being alone are not the same. Loneliness is a common emotion experienced by mankind. Its causes are often complex and unknown. For some people, loneliness is triggered by loss such as a death or divorce. For others, loneliness can be triggered by the experience of depression. What ever the cause, loneliness impacts our mental, spiritual, and emotional health. 

The above verse from Chronicles provides insight into one way loneliness can abate-praise and thanksgiving. When we praise God and give thanks to Him in all things (1 Thessalonians 5:18), we begin to focus on the eternal hope we have been promised through Christ. Praise fills the empty spaces of our heart that loneliness occupies. It reminds us that the joy of the Lord is [our] strength (Nehemiah 8:10). We are reminded that God inhabits the praise of His people (Psalm 22:3). 

Want to experience the presence of God and fill your soul with His presence? Give the sacrifice of praise and receive the gift of His presence. 

Ways to praise and be thankful:

1. Write a note to someone thanking them for their presence and influence in your life.
2. Everyday, write down 5 things you are thankful for. This does not require you to feel thankful, just to write thanks. Feelings follow actions. 
3. Before you get our of bed each morning, speak these words aloud-This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24). 
4. Throughout your day, speak words of thanks to at least three people. 
5. Before you fall asleep at night, speak a prayer of thanks to God for the many ways He provided for you during the day. 

Whatever you chose to do, make sure that praise and thanksgiving is part of your daily ritual. This is the gift of presence in the midst of feeling lonely. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Miracles and Mouths

“...The tongue of the wise brings healing.”
~Proverbs 12:18~

“A soothing tongue is a tree of life.”
~Proverbs 15:4~

“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
~Proverbs 15:24~

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue…”
~Proverbs 18:21~

The joy of miracles encompass our lives everyday. Babies are born, illnesses are cured, diseases go into remission, the world flawlessly spins on its axis, the sun rises and shines everyday as determined, and we are surrounded by the ongoing ebb and flow of oceans brimming with life. In fact, the amount of daily miracles could fill books.

These miracles are passive to us as we breathe in their magic and experience their mysterious ability to transform beliefs. We can sleep through them, ignore them, and turn away from them, but the presence of miracles continue to exert their power and presence in spite of our lack of awareness. It is only when we choose to acknowledge miracles that we experience their life giving and changing force.

But, miracles are not only defined by what happens outside of our personal control. Each day we are gifted with ample opportunities to be a miracle to those living inside our circle of influence -- friends, family members, neighbors, clerks, servers, attendants, secretaries, phone marketers, employees, employers, colleagues, children, grandchildren, spouses, panhandlers, and anyone who inhabits our life space.

This daily miracle rests in the power of our tongues. Biblical Proverbs are laced with reminders of the life force our tongues wield. With our words we can choose to speak life or death, along with healing or woundedness. We can become a speaking miracle to a world longing for transformation. In short, our mouths are the miracles.

Teachers speak miracles by giving children hope to believe that their weaknesses become their strengths and springboard into a future filled with success. Doctors and nurses speak miracles of hope to the sick and dying. Parents speak miracles as they extend words filled with grace to faltering children who need reminding that forgiveness lifts their downcast eyes and sagging souls heavenward. Spouses speak miracles as they shoulder burdens by words of comfort. Friends speak miracles as they minister in the waiting room of hurt with those they love.  

Everyday miracles live in the awe of an aptly spoken word. Words that inspire. Words that brim with hope. Words that aspire to transform apathy into ambition. Words that believe all things are possible.

Today, be the miracle that someone has prayed for, longed for and hoped for. Choose your words with love and wisdom as you deliver them with gentleness. Let your mouth be the miracle.

Jesus, speak words of hope inward to my heart and outward through my mouth. Let others experience the miracle of healing and life through the power of my tongue. Today, and each day, I submit my tongue to creating miracles filled with hope.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Exits and Oxymorons

Exits and Oxymoron’s

And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” ... Then he believed in the LORD ... And He said to him, “I am the LORD who brought you out of UR and of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess it.”
~ Genesis 15:5-6, NASB ~

A large exit sign hung over the sturdy, steel door. A push bar was strategically placed mid-way on the door enhancing one's ability to believe that safety was an easy push away in the event of an unplanned evacuation.

My heart was heavy. I was leaving after a decade of nursing the hearts, minds, and bodies of the youth I had grown to love. When my eyes caught the exit sign, I understood that fresh opportunities for ministry lay beyond this land of familiar spaces, patterned schedules, and unpredictable personalities. Wet tears streamed down my cheeks until I read the sign posted on the door below the exit sign: “Absolutely no one is to open this door at any time.” The irony of an exit door with a posted warning sign not to open was too laughable for me to spend another moment teary eyed and nostalgic.

This became my “Abraham” moment. God was showing me that beyond the walls and doors of my present employment was a vast land filled with new adventures, relationships, and meaningful life work to look forward to completing. I, like Abraham, would need to believe and move past the contradiction between my feelings and what I knew to be true.

We each have been endowed with motivational gifts that compliment the life territory that God has ordained for us to possess. And just like the seasons change, our life's work will be completed on various life landscapes. We must be open and ready when God posts an exit sign and points us in a different direction. If we believe that life's exit doors are to remain closed, we will become stunted and our life's work stalled.

What new life territory has God shown you? Have you believed it is time to exit where He has you presently, or have you believed the contradiction of your feelings, friends, or fears?

Today, take a step of faith and push open the exit door God has posted. Look up and believe, and prepare to possess the new land God is showing you.

LORD, today, I will choose to cast my eyes upon you. Give me the courage to push open the doors of opportunity that you have ordained. Give me the strength to believe and trust you as I walk out into new territory.