Thursday, November 21, 2019

A Personal Story of Gratitude Rediscovered

Hey Friend,

As we head into November, I would like to share a popular post from around this time last year.  We hadn't yet experienced a pandemic, but we probably took some things for granted that we'd love to have right about now.  I'm still working hard in book publishing bootcamp...hope you enjoy this post!

The last thing I could remember was the bright lights of the operating room almost blinding me, even though it was ten o'clock at night.  The room was sterile and cold. The two kind nurses were running through the drill of what was going to be happening.  It was a drill I'd heard many times before.  

The next thing I knew, as I tried to wake up and somehow shake off the fog I was in, was that two different nurses were looking at me, hovering, and talking.  My eyes followed my arm to my hand that was holding the warm hand of my husband standing at my side.  The lights were low and all was quiet around us.  

"It's 2:30 in the morning, Bev," my husband whispered to me.  I scrunched up my face in disbelief.

"Can I get you some water to drink?" the one nurse asked gently.  "Do you want some crackers with it?" Even though I hadn't eaten anything for over 20 hours, my throat was parched and scratchy.  All I wanted was water and to sleep.

When the aid came in my room the next morning, boy was I happy to see her.  "I've got your coffee and some eggs and hungry?" she chirped as she whipped off the metal cover keeping it warm, and smiled.

"You bet," I replied.  I held the coffee in my hands.  It felt warm to the touch, but I didn't smell the usual coffee aroma.  I sniffed it again...nothing.  One of my very favorite things is cradling a hot cup of coffee in my hands, early in the morning, and inhaling its distinct, somewhat nutty aroma.  

I couldn't smell the eggs.  I couldn't smell or taste the orange juice.  The nurse reassured me that losing your sense of taste and smell could be a side effect of the anesthesia and that it would probably wear off soon.  It didn't.

For three weeks, I gagged on what I ate and drank because it tasted like metal nothingness. I didn't even want my beloved coffee because it actually made me start to cry because I couldn't enjoy the whole "coffee experience."  It was gone and I didn't know if it was ever coming back.  

How could I have taken the simple gift of smelling and tasting for granted?

Each day I hobbled around smelling things with distinct and powerful odors, hoping and praying that my senses would wake up.  Perfume, garlic, flowers, vinegar...nothing. I began to lose weight because there was no joy in eating.  I ate only to sustain myself.

Days passed, and I still couldn't taste, or smell, anything.  Depression crept in like a gray fog and settled over me.  How could I have been so ungrateful for these simple pleasures?  I didn't like my new normal.  I wanted those gifts back.

Then, one morning heading into the fourth week, I clutched my coffee in my usual pretend routine and I made my husband jump when I shrieked with excitement, "I can smell it!!!  It's not real strong, but I can smell hints of coffee!!!"  You would have thought I'd won the lottery.  I sat there, wiggling my nose, like a bunny in a field of clover, inhaling between sips.  Tears ran down my cheeks.  There was hope. The blessing was being renewed.

Slowly but surely, over the next several days, my sense of taste and smell returned.  I scurried around smelling and tasting everything I could stick under my nose or put in my mouth.  It was enchanting getting reacquainted with the senses I'd desperately missed.  

I remember praying - O, Lord, you are so good to me.  Please don't ever let me take the gift of taste and smell for granted ever again.  Don't let me take any gift you give me for granted ever again.  

I wish I could say that I was forever grateful for everything from that moment on. But much like the Israelites who mercifully came through the parting of the Red Sea, it wasn't long before I was whining about something I didn't have or that wasn't going how I thought it should.

A writer friend of mine queried in one of her recent posts, "What if we lost everything we hadn't thanked God for?"

That stopped me in my tracks.  I thought of all the people, places, things, joys, experiences, miracles that I had failed to thank God for.  

In my exuberance I had run off skipping, like the healed lepers, and I had failed to go back and thank the Healer. 

Lord, let me make Gratitude a priority in my life because it honors You and in doing so, it ushers in joy.  In order to make Gratitude a priority:

1.  Let me thank you God, in advance, for what You are able and about to perform.

2.  Let me pause, in the moment of blessing, and praise Your holy name. Don't let me hurry to move on until I've fully taken in Your blessing.

3.  Let me go forward in confidence and courage because I have looked back, with gratitude, to all the times You've been faithful to me, Lord.

Let praise for You, O Lord, always be on my lips...Amen.

Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.  (1Thessalonians 5:18)

What about you?  Are there any blessings in your life that you have taken for granted?  Would you lose a lot or a little if what you hadn't thanked God for suddenly disappeared?  How can you make gratitude a priority in your life?  Will you share?

Be blessed...

Want to do some early Christmas shopping?  The newly released devotional "Take Heart - 100 devotions to seeing God when life's not okay" (in which I am a contributing writer) makes an excellent Christmas gift for friends and family as they embark upon a new year.  Available on Amazon and most booksellers.


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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

On Giving Gifts With Eternal Benefits - GIVEAWAY

Hey Friend,

I purposely saved the huge box, wrapped in smiling Santa paper and a big shiny red bow, for last.  

My tender young heart knew deep down inside that Santa would not disappoint me.  As I ripped open the wrapping, as only a child can, I saw the picture and the glorious words...Easy Bake Oven!!

I knew Santa would come through.  It was my long wished for and anticipated Christmas gift.  Nothing could contain my excitement in the moment.  I couldn't wait to get "baking"...

Many years have passed since I received that gift.  It's long since gone the way of the trash heap (even though it's now considered a "vintage" toy and is a collector's item lol). 

What about YOUR gift giving list?  Are most of the gifts you'll be giving bound to wind up on the trash heap some day?  Are you giving any gifts with eternal benefits?  If not, here's your chance...

Nisha came to Redeemer Christian School five years ago.  At the time, she was nine years old, and was cleaning houses in order to get food to survive.  She is just one of many orphans and destitute children that Redeemer Christian Foundation serves.  

Nisha's life has changed dramatically and her spirit has been transformed.  Once unsure that there was a God who really cared about the awful conditions in which she lived, she now leads a children's weekly Bible study.  She has been surrounded with the love of Jesus in Redeemer Christian School, which is nicknamed the "House of Hope".  She knows her identity is found in Christ and she is assured of her salvation.

What an awesome gift to give a child?!  Salvation, and the hope that an education affords.  This is what YOU can give today...

This year, I invite you to join us in the gift of giving back.  Every year, on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, we celebrate Giving Tuesday - a day to extend kindness by sharing with those in need.

Your Giving Tuesday gift of kindness will ensure a future for children like Nisha.  Please join me today in keeping these children in school and off the streets, sparing them from the entrapments of poverty, child labor, human trafficking, extremist recruitment, and more.

Are you ready to literally change the life of an impoverished child?  Your donation will go directly to ensuring these children receive both the Word of God and an education.

As a special incentive, I am providing a FREE GIVEAWAY for those who donate because you read this blog post.  You read that correctly.

TO ENTER: Go to our "Share Your First Fruits" Giving Tuesday donor page.  PLEDGE ANY AMOUNT (all gifts matter) and NOTE IN THE COMMENTS THAT you gave because of "BEV'S BLOG". 

All gifts with this special notation will be entered in a drawing to win a copy of:

DaySpring's latest book:  "Women of Courage: a Forty-Day Devotional."
Lean into the strength of the Lord when your own strength is not enough. MSRP  $16.99. B&H Publishing.

Here's the link to the GIVING PAGE:  

Be sure to mention "Bev's Blog" in the Comment section when asked why you gave.

Prefer to write a check??  Fill out and send to:  RCF, Inc., 103 Silver Lining Lane, Cary, NC  27513.  Write "Bev's Blog" in the Memo line.

You'll automatically be entered to win. US and Canada only. 

Drawing will take place on: December 5th.

Be sure to visit our website:
All gifts are tax deductible.  We are a registered 501c3 with excellent standing.

Be blessed by giving the gift of eternal life this year....don't wait...give today!

Monday, November 4, 2019

Are Self-Care and Soul-Care Mutually Exclusive?

Hey Friend,

There seems to be an ever increasing debate as to whether we need self-care or soul-care?  I thought I'd add my two cents to the discussion.

Our long weekend in Pittsburgh was fun-filled and fast paced.  First stop, my MIL's place.  We combined catching up with her with a wonderful walkabout of the city that we love.  

The next day, we headed up the highway to visit my college alma mater and I gave my hubby a tour of my old stomping grounds.

Day three had us getting ready for a 40th high school reunion.  "Hey, I sat beside you in Algebra...Do you remember the time when?"...conversation...catching up...laughter...condolences...lots of good to see you my good friend.

Next day church and lunch with all the cousins.  

Home. Exhausted. No words left.  Desperately needing God's word.  Earnestly seeking my own comfortable bed.

I hadn't had my daily quiet time with God for five days.  I missed Him.  I needed the refueling from His word.  But first, I needed sleep.  I needed the self-care of sleep before I could even concentrate on the soul-care of His word.  

I believe that God understands that we need basic self-care in order to pursue soul-care.  Sleep, good nutrition, shelter, exercise.  Do we need a massage and a mani-pedi first?  Probably not.  Are massages and manicures evil.  No, I don't think so.

I think the whole debate comes down to:  What or Who are we seeking first?

Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.  (Matthew 6:33)

Signs that self-care is all about YOU:  You are the controller of your destiny and your happiness.  The whole "self-care" industry would love to have you buy in to the notion, that it IS all about YOU.  You deserve to be pampered; you deserve to have your needs met. You NEED all this in order to survive.

Is your desire to be healthy and maintain a temple fit for the indwelling of the Spirit, or are you more concerned about your pant size and how you look to others?

Is your pursuit devaluing the image of God within you? Do your pursuits of the "ideal" keep you from being content with who and how God has made you?

Does you pursuit of self-care look more like beauty appointments and vain pursuits that distract you from the work God would have you be doing?  

If your answer, to these questions, is "Yes" then perhaps "self-care" has become an idol in your life.

Soul-care, on the other hand, centers on GOD as the source of your strength and being able to "make it" through life.  The self-care movement centers on YOU being that source.  Big difference.

While self-care and soul-care call us to respect our limits and rest, the motives are very different.

Self-care:  Calls us to respect our limits and rest as a means to replenish and protect OUR reservoir of comfort, happiness, and mental peace.  It's a recognition that the world is not safe and that one must look out for oneself as a means for survival.

Soul-care:  Calls us to respect our limits and rest as a means to worship the One who exists without limits.  It's a recognition that our strength to live in the world, with all it's demands and pain, comes from the Lord. 

I have always struggled with my weight and have tried every "diet" known to man.  The problem was, my motivation was all wrong.  Yes, I wanted to look better and feel better, but the motivation was all about me.  "Me" wanted to fit into a smaller dress size.

It wasn't until I was diagnosed as being pre-diabetic and the Dr. told me, "50% of those who are pre-diabetic will have full blown diabetes within five years."  This jolted me to my senses.  I realized I was not taking good enough care of the temple God had given me and I was not thinking of my husband and family who may want to have a healthy me around for many more years.

Also as one who struggles with anxiety, is a HSP (Highly Sensitive Person), tends toward people-pleasing, and am an introvert at my core, I have had a bad habit of relationally and emotionally overextending myself.  

God calls us to live our lives "sacrificially" - serving others, but, get this, He DOES NOT ask us to do it to the detriment of our spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental well being.  

Self-care is not only okay, but necessary - so long as "Self" does not become your master.

Soul-care is paramount, but cannot be done without taking care of basic needs.  

When in doubt, turn back to the greatest commandment:

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength."  The second is this, "Love your neighbor as you love yourself."  (Mark 12: 30-31)

Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last...J-O-Y...a great prescription for self-care and soul-care.

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you that you care about ALL my needs.  You are the ultimate provider of everything that I need.  Help me to check my motives in order to determine priorities in my life.  Give me the desire to seek first YOUR kingdom, knowing that you will take care of the rest.  Let your word and not my own selfishness be master of my life.  Thank you for the Sabbath rest you command me to enjoy - let me take this precept seriously.  Sustain me, Lord, so that I can be about doing Your will.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

What about you?  Do you tend to over-extend yourself?  Is God calling you to self-care, soul-care, or both?  What are your thoughts on self-care vs. soul-care?  Will you share?

Be blessed....

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