Sunday, June 23, 2019

Why is "One Day at a Time" So Hard?

Hey Friend,

I thought I was doing pretty well.  After all, my beagle and I endured the "demolition" phase of our water leak.  I held his shaking body close to me as we listened to the circular saw chew through our hardwood floors.  Then there was the ripping and tearing out of three fourths of our kitchen.  A major bank of lower cabinets and counter tops was pried away from a kitchen wall.

Then came the industrial fans and huge drying machines in our kitchen and dining area.  Even more were below the house in the crawl space.  Imagine living on the tarmac at the airport for two weeks.  The deafening roar went on 24/7.  I couldn't hear myself think.

Now is the calm before the next phase in which we will have to be out of the house for twelve days as they begin the repair process.  It will be "cozy" in our little efficiency...especially with a beagle who plaintively howls if left alone in a strange place.  Where I go, he will have to go.  Maybe I could claim him as my therapy dog??

I kept telling myself this would be an "adventure," but I don't think my body was believing my mind.  My lower eyelid developed a nervous twitch.  No big deal, I thought, just my anxiety disorder showing its head.  I ignored my body until my back joined in the "dance of spasms" and had me laid flat out on muscle relaxers and pain meds for two days.  "Get a grip, Bev," I chided myself.

Why is taking "one day at a time" so gosh-darned hard??  Perhaps if this was one isolated incident, I would be sailing through this, but it came on the heels of several other incidents wherein I felt "sidelined" from normal life.  At this point, I'd just had it!

In my praying and pondering, I realize I have come up against a sneaky adversary - the need or desire to want to be "in control".  I have no idea how the upcoming weeks are going to go.  I can control my attitude, but events?  That's a giant question mark.  I know that I don't like question marks, because it means that I have to loosen my death grip on my futile attempts to remain in control.  Is that pride I hear talking? I thought I'd won this battle already?

Usually I'm not one to look back, but in this case, I needed to look back to all the things I've come through...experiences that I was afraid of, and realize that God was right there with me through it all.  His righteous right hand always had a firm grip on me even when I felt like I was sinking.  

God never left nor has He ever forsaken me in my troubles.  He gave me grace and peace that can only come at the point when we are in the "blue flame" of the crucible.  Grace doesn't come even a moment before we actually need it in order to simply get us through. 

In scripture, God promises to be a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psalm 119:105)
He doesn't promise He'll shine His high beams into the dark forest to illuminate all the turns and obstacles up ahead.  No, He promises, only, to light the path of our feet as we take one step at a day at a time. 

So, the question is, do I trust Him?  As I look back upon all the "Ebenezers" I have raised to His faithfulness in the past and I have to ask myself, straight up, do I trust Him to bring me through this process?  Do I trust that if trying moments come, that He will show up in my time of need with His peace and grace?  He's done it many times before, so won't He do it again?

Oh how the enemy wants me to believe otherwise.  He wants me to be fearful, but fear is just a liar running out of breath.  Fear is of the enemy, not of the Lord.  I realize I need to take these thoughts captive.  I need to gather all these negative thoughts up in a giant sack and plant it firmly before the Lord...and leave it there.

Click HERE to listen to "Not Today" by Hillsong United...

We tear down arguments, and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God; and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Yes, I'm writing this post to myself, to remind myself of the Truth that I know and that I can cling to.  "Greater is He who is in me, than he who is in the world..."  (1 John 4:4)

I've just let you read along in my "self talk" in case you ever find yourself in a situation where you just don't want to hear, "Take it one day at a time." It sounds trite.  It sounds cliche, but it also sounds scriptural.  The best news is that God doesn't ask us to do it in our strength alone, He promises His enabling strength to see us through.  We are never, ever, left alone.

The Lord will fight for you(me), you need only to be still. (Exodus 14:14)

I have a feeling that I will be reading and re-reading these words God has given me as the days and hours tick away.  May we both be reminded that He is the same almighty God, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  Faith as small as a mustard seed can topple mountains of uncertainty.  

I've faced much, much higher mountains than this, so here we go.  Hand in hand.  One step at a day at a time.  Our God is able.  

Dear Heavenly Father, I praise you and thank you for all the trials you have brought me through.  This may seem small in comparison, but the enemy is prowling about.  I claim the promise that at the precious name of "Jesus" the enemy must flee.  Thank you for the grace, peace, and strength that you give me in my hour of need.  Thank you for being the lamp that lights my feet, one step at a time.  Be with me as I go forward, holding onto your righteous right hand.  Comfort me with your whisper of, "Be still."  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

What about you?  Are you facing something that has you anxiously looking into the future?  Do you struggle with taking things "one step at a time"?  What might God be speaking to you, here, today?  Do you trust Him?  Will you share?

Be blessed....

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Sunday, June 16, 2019

I Will Never Leave You

Hey Friend,

It was a sunny day outside, but my mood was far from sunny.  I sat, by myself, in a very official looking conference room in the office of the mediating attorney.  My soon to be ex-husband sat in another conference room somewhere removed.  

My attorney stepped out of the room to meet with my husband's attorney and the attorney who would be facilitating the mediation.  Mediation is "short" for after 25+ years of marriage, it all comes down to a giant balance sheet of who gets what and who owes what.  Bottom line.

As I sat there, alone, I wondered how did it come to this?  I never thought I'd find myself in this situation.  Never in a hundred years, yet here I sat solitary with my thoughts.  It wasn't long before my eyes welled up with tears.  I wished my dad, who had passed away less than a year before, could be with me.  I needed his composure, his wisdom, his strength.

My hand began to tremble as my fingers fumbled around in my purse.  I pulled out a starched and ironed handkerchief that was my dad's.  He always carried one of these in his pocket.  I learned to iron by ironing my dad's cotton handkerchiefs when I was a little girl. Holding it up to catch my tears, I suddenly felt his presence.  I knew he was with me, there in that room, and I knew I would get through what the next few hours would dictate.  

I look back on that memory and my dad's presence comes readily to mind.

What a comfort to know that I wasn't alone in my hour of need.

If my earthly father, who had passed away, gave me that amount of comfort, how much more so could my Heavenly Father give me strength, peace, grace, and comfort in my hour of need?

For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

That memory of my dad has pointed an arrow directly to the love of my Abba, Daddy.  I admit not always having an intimate relationship with God the Father.  I related more to Jesus, but as the years have ticked off, I find myself drawn to a God whose heart softened time and time again to His people, Israel.  No sooner would they swear allegiance to upholding their end of the Covenant, then they were off worshiping idols and defying God with their disobedience.  

Even with such blatant disobedience, God remained faithful to His

If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. (2 Timothy 2:13)

Despite what I may have thought, God never becomes disappointed with us.  It's simply not in His character.  Even when we are faithless, He remains faithful.  Nothing can ever separate us from His love.  

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities,  neither the present nor the future,nor any powers, 3neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.… (Romans 8:38-39)

As I think upon and remember my dad today, I find I miss him even more as the years have gone by.  His love language to me may not have been in the words so dearly wanted, but He spoke to me through his reliability, his providing, his quiet strength and wisdom.  I've learned to appreciate these facets of my dad's love.  

Knowing that I could count on my dad, has helped me to know, without a doubt, that I can count on my Heavenly Father.  His love is far beyond any human limitations we place on it.  God's very definition is "Love" and He cannot deny himself.  

Praise for His goodness that is never-failing!  His lovingkindness endures forever!

Thanks, God, for giving me my dad and for the way that His life pointed an arrow directly toward you.  To my earthly and heavenly Fathers...thank you that you never leave nor forsake me.  In this I take confidence and strength.

Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you, today especially, for my earthly father and how his love reflected your love.  But, for all those whose earthly fathers may have let them down, help them to know that Your love is always constant and never forsaking.  Thank you that you are a Father who can be trusted always.  I praise you for your lovingkindness and your goodness.  You ARE the very definition of love.  Work that truth deep into our hearts.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.  

What about you?  Do thoughts of your earthly father point to God or make you wary of God?  What does the Bible say about the character of God?  Do you trust that it is true for you?  If not, would you take this moment to invite God into the hurting places in your heart?  Feel free to share your thoughts...

Be blessed...

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Sunday, June 9, 2019

The Hazards of "Future-Tripping"

Hey Friend,

You would think I would have learned my lesson by now, but sadly history keeps repeating itself.  Before each of my numerous surgeries, the pre-op anxiety starts months before and then builds to a huge crescendo as the hour draws near.  

What if I don't recuperate well from this surgery?  What if it doesn't work?  How bad is the pain going to be this time?  Will I have the same obstacles as before?
What if, what if, what if?

A writer friend of mine coined the term "future-tripping", and I have come to realize I'm quite adept at it.  I look ahead to a point in the future and it's like I'm holding a magnifying glass over the situation. With the sun blazing through the glass, it isn't long before I've created an inferno.  

Anxiety takes hold and then, like someone who is drowning, I flail about grasping at anything that resembles grace, but it's nowhere to be found.  I want peace in my future imaginings and it, too, is elusive.  Why?  Doesn't God promise us His grace in our time of need?

Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  (Hebrews 4:16)

The greatest hazard of "future-tripping" is that grace doesn't show up in our futuristic imaginings, or in our past lamenting, it can only be found in our exact time of need.

Each time we experience God's grace in the moment, it gives us confidence that He will pour out His grace the next time we need it.

In our angst, grace guides our mind back to the Gospel of Jesus Christ where Truth is found that will counteract the lies that anxiety digs up.

Grace has shown up when I was scooching onto the operating table, squinting at the bright lights glaring down on me, and readying myself to go under anesthesia.  That's when grace gave me overwhelming, unexplainable comfort.  It was a reassurance that I was in God's hands and a confidence in His goodness.  For the first time, I could breathe easily.

So why do we worry about the future?  Is it because we think that in doing so, we can somehow control the outcome?  

Control is born of fear, not love.

And He said to His disciples, “For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. 23“For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24“Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! 25“And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? 26“If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? 27“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. (Luke 12:22-27)

My anxious worrying does not add a single hour to my life.  I am learning, albeit the hard way, to just do the next thing, and leave the future to God.  

His grace will take care of me in the future.  My job is to trust Him in this moment, on this day.

My form of trying to take control of an undefined future is to "awfulize".  I imagine the worst case scenario and then test my emotions to see if I can handle it.  This approach does no earthly good because I usually end up turning up the heat of the anticipatory anxiety.  

Another hazard of "future-tripping" is that it almost always projects weakness.  Maybe I'm just a "glass-half-empty" kind of gal.  OCD anxiety doesn't help.  More often I project myself as cowering vs. conquering.  God has an answer for this as well:

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But, he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:8-9)

It's okay to be weak, in this moment, at some point in the future, anytime, because THAT is precisely when God's grace will show up so that others will see how He lifts us out of the slimy pit and places our feet on solid ground.  They will see, be in awe, and place their trust in Him.

God is most glorified in our weakness, therefore, it's okay to be weak. 

Paul admonishes us to boast in our weakness.

The fact that this anxiety-ridden girl has come through six major surgeries in six years, is a testimony that God's grace is real.  I have experienced it - not in my "awfulizing" and "future-tripping," but in the exact moment I needed His peace and comfort. I found it in surrender. If He can do this for me, He can do it for you too, but it takes practice and the enabling of the Holy Spirit, to stay in the present. 

No more "future-tripping"; let's live in this grace-filled moment.

Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for the gift of your grace.  You are faithful to show up in my hour of need and not a moment beforehand.  I praise you for the unexplainable peace and comfort your grace delivers.  Help me not to look, anxiously, to the future.  Keep my eyes focused on You in this moment.  Enable me to embrace my weakness and even my fear, knowing that your perfect love casts out fear and in my weakness You are strong.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

What about you?  Do you find yourself "future-tripping"?  What happens when you do that?  How do you stay in the moment with your eyes fixed on Jesus?  What are the benefits?  Will you share your experience(s)?

Be blessed....

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Saturday, June 1, 2019

Add A Little Levity

Hey Friend,

Perhaps you read my post from last week, "Coming Alive Again".  In it, I describe a wonderful "mountain top" experience that had me tapping into my God-given bents that made my soul soar.  I really felt exhilarated after that trip.

I believe that God gives us those experiences, because eventually, we will find ourselves back in the valleys of life.  I just hadn't expected the plunge to be so fast and so far.

Memorial Day Morning - my husband and I discussed that we noticed more "cupping" than usual in our hardwood floors in one area of our kitchen.  A trip to the crawl space of our home revealed a dark rain forest steaming below.  A water pipe was leaking and had been spraying hot water directly upward, like a whale spout, for who knows how long.  In addition to the crawl space, our hardwood floors and sub-flooring in the kitchen were soaked.

Thus began a dizzying week of workmen coming in and out of the revolving door on our home.  Two huge dryers and six industrial fans roared continuously on the first floor with a plethora of the same in the crawl space.  It was like living on the tarmac at the airport.

It's no surprise that about midway through the week, my composure gave way to a pity party complete with ugly crying.  "Really, God?" I queried, "Do I really need this?" I asked angrily. 

 A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength. (Proverbs 17:22)

This is what God gave me.  Did He really want me to be cheerful in the midst of this mess?  I was definitely experiencing the second half of the verse - my broken spirit had totally sapped my strength.

Okay God, I'll try it Your way.  I thought, how can I get a good laugh out of this?

I have always had a funny bone that was easily tickled.  I remember, as a girl, I would break into fits of uncontrollable laughter.  I would literally roll on the floor, clutching my stomach, howling with laughter.  Afterward, I remember just how GOOD it felt! 

God gave us emotions for a reason - to be used.  Just as my tears were a cleansing catharsis of my frustration, perhaps laughter could be good medicine as well??

This is what I came up with...  I snapped a few selfies as I stood in front of one, of six, industrial fans.  

Then I looked at the pictures and that childlike reflex of wanting to roll on the floor with laughter returned.  I got so tickled with it all that my husband feared I had gone off the deep end.  I then started striking poses, like the super models in front of those fans, only imagine, "Vogue" gone horribly wrong!! LOL. 

  • “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” - Charlie Chaplin
Could it be that if we choose to infuse a little levity into a situation, it can actually be good medicine and have a healing effect?

Yes, I think so. 

I am learning that life doesn't always have to be an "either/or" - either I'm miserable or I'm joyful.  Instead, it can be a "both/and" - I can be both downhearted and silly at the same time.  

It is possible for conflicting feelings to coexist in us.  

Giving way to the ever-offered grace of God can help us tap into a joyful strength when life is at its most difficult.  

We still have a long way to go on this project, but I know I need to keep adding a little levity along the way.  God gave me laughter, as a gift, and it's up to me to use it.  Selfies anyone?

Dear Heavenly Father,  I praise You that you care about every detail of my life and you care deeply about my feelings.  Thank You for the emotions you've given me to be able to express them, often with healing benefits.  Help me to not live my life always in the "either/or," but enable me to allow room for the "both/and."  Even in my trials and struggles, let Your praise always be on my lips.  A cheerful heart is, indeed, good medicine.  Let me choose to add a little levity to life when it hands me lemons.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

What about you?  Are there two opposing emotions trying to coexist in your life?  How can you help the situation by adding a little levity?  Have you ever been joyful in the midst of did you do that?  Will you share?

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