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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,

bobby & family 2016

   For the past year my son, daughter in law, and two small grandsons have been on stateside assignment. For 9 of those months they lived in Scotland while my son worked on his masters. Not living in a 3rd world country, we have enjoyed the luxury of easy access to them via internet.

   At present they are living with us as they prepare to return to Africa. And once again I’m faced with the painful thought that they will be leaving soon. But something unexpected happened while they were home that complicated the  emotional strain of sending them off.

Rach & family

   My husband and I have four children and two of them live near us. We take a great deal of comfort in knowing two of our daughters are close by. That was until recently! In April we were hit with the news that one of those daughters would likely be moving an 11 hours’ drive away to San Antonio, Texas. (And they did just that on August 18th)

   Therefore, this summer has been one of extreme high’s and extreme lows. There was a constant flow of children and grandchildren in our house all summer. Three of those weeks were especially momentous: Nammy Camp for the 6 granddaughters, a family vacation in East Tennessee for all 20 of us, and Nammy Camp for the 4 grandsons. The month of August our son and his family has been spent here with my husband and I.  My life was filled to overflowing with memory after wonderful memory of times spent together.

   The quote from A Tale of Two Cities (post title), describes my emotional state over this past summer quite succinctly. And predictably with every low moment I was hit with a barrage of fiery darts.

   It would have been my undoing had it not been for God’s instruction which had prepared me to not only identify fiery dart thinking but how to extinguish such thoughts as well.  While the pain persists, I’m learning by His tender mercies, how to manage it. My life moves forward as God tenderly and lovingly leads me. 

One of the most helpful Truth Thoughts I have found is Psalm 34:17:

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How does God deliver me from my present troubles and rescue my crushed spirit?

If I cooperate with God, He will give me the desire that pleases Him (Philip. 2:13) He will remind me that He will fill the void when my children move away. (Philip. 4:19).

His presence will restore my crushed spirit. Every time I began to focus on my loss, He reminds me to direct my focus towards His presence and the love He has for me. (Psalm 16:11)

He reminds me that He will work all this out for my good (Rom 8:28). 

Okay, so I have a choice!

I can pick up my shield of faith and face down the enemy with these Truth Thoughts! 

Or I can continue to focus on my losses and grow more miserable with every day!

My choice is obvious!

 

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The benefits of a valley experience!

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   If you’ve noticed you haven’t heard from me in awhile, you would be correct. It seems I am, and have been for quite some time, in a valley. A valley that just stretches out before me with no exits or mountain tops in sight.

   Being the author of a book about negative thinking, I have a working knowledge of how to fight the negative thoughts (my constant companions in this valley). Therefore, I know that God’s Truth thoughts are the key to finding my way out. And for brief periods of time, those Truth thoughts lit up a possible exit. But alas, it was only short lived.

   At this point, I still find myself in the valley. And I don’t have much hope of  leaving this place any time soon. So, what should I do? 

   May I insert here that while I am living in the valley at the moment, it is NOT a dark valley. God’s Truth thoughts which I focus on prevent such darkness. It is not a valley without hope of finding a way out. While the negative thoughts of despair, discouragement, and thoughts of giving up do tempt me, they do not rule my thinking. They do not prevail! 

   Also, I find that in this valley, I am tempted with thoughts of self-condemnation. This judgmental attitude towards myself and others (especially those I have complaints against) keep my vision clouded. And yes, I am weary of the fight against feeling sad, disheartened, and discouraged.

So what’s the answer here?

   Giving into these fiery darts will only plant me permanently in this desolate valley. I DO NOT DESIRE THAT! Nor does God! 

   Here’s a thought! Why not just accept this valley time? I ask myself, “Why on earth would I do that?” To which I believe God gave me this reply:

Isaiah 48:17, This is what the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy one of Israel says, I am Yahweh your God, who teaches you for your benefit who leads you in the way you should go.

   If I cooperate with the LORD, and instead of asking Him to lift me out of this valley (because really, it’s unpleasant and I don’t like being here), then my time in this valley will produce benefits for me.

   So! I should quite spinning my wheels trying to escape this valley I’m stuck in! Instead, I should turn my energies towards cooperating with God in order to learn the lessons He has for me here. Keeping in mind that it is for my benefit.

To Which I reply!

“Okay, not the answer I was striving for! My flesh would much rather You would just lift me out of this valley. Make things easier, you know! But I recognize those fiery darts for what they are. There’s only one way out. That’s Your way, not my way!”

 

Some relief please!

   Does your life seem complicated at times?  Do you feel like you just don’t have God’s full attention? You pray for guidance but it seems God remains silent. Does the peace you earnestly seek for continue to elude you? You fast, but the answers and the peace do not come. And while you are still waiting for answers, you get punched in the gut with more problems! 

  Yet, you have the sense to know that answers won’t come from any other source. Therefore, you know you must persevere. So you keep on asking the LORD.  All the while wondering when the relief will come.

  In the meantime, fiery darts are messing with your resolve to seek the LORD. They plant doubt and confusing thoughts into your mind. With these fiery dart thoughts,  your seeking the LORD grows more complicated. For now you must sort through these dark thoughts to be able to hear from and be guided by God’s Truth thoughts. 

What do you do in these valley times? 

   Might I suggest that you attack the fiery dart thoughts (those thoughts of negativity, hopelessness, discouragement, doubt, fear, impatience, etc) as soon as they enter your mind. Replace them with Truth thoughts such as Isaiah 54:17, Jeremiah 29:11, Hebrews 11:1, John 14:27, James 1:2-4, Philippians 2:13, Isaiah 43:4. Words from God to encourage you, give you hope, and to lift you up.

  And we’ve all lived long enough to know that sometimes the answers won’t come quickly (which seems the rule not the exception). At times, we might find that we just have to wait for the answers that seem so long in coming. It is during such times that we must arm ourselves with verses that instruct us as we wait.

waiting on God

  It is good for us to remember, that these dark times have a purpose. (Romans 8:28) God will use these times for our benefit and His glory.  Therefore, focusing on the following word from God, will keep our heads above water. And though the answers still may not come for awhile, these words will give us the relief we need to keep on keeping on. 

 Isaiah 48:17, “This is what the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel says:  I am Yahweh your God, who teaches you for your benefit, who leads you in the way you should go.

 

Our Nation’s Peril and Our Nation’s Hope

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   First of all, may I ask you a few questions?

Do you condemn yourself or put yourself down?

Do you think others, especially close to you, don’t think well of you?

Do you over focus on your fears?

Do you find yourself doubting God?

Do you struggle with inconsistency in reading your Bible and praying?  

   Have you recognized questions such as these as the fiery darts Ephesians 6:16 identifies? Satan knows quite well, that these fiery darts will never permeate the Shield of Faith. Therefore, what do you think his first plan of action will be with individuals? Of course, tempt an individual to search everywhere but God’s Word for the answers to questions like the ones above. And if he can manipulate enough individuals to reject God and/or His Word, then his plan to destroy a nation falls easily into place.

   Our country’s leaders, some even calling themselves Christians, speak and act in ways that contradict God’s ways. For example, the Bible makes it quite clear how God feels about abortion. Yet, some of our most powerful leaders stand firm in their support of organizations that promote abortion! I just don’t get it. Why would anyone, claiming to be a Christian, support something God is against? But wait, I think I do!

   People who have rejected God and His word, are easily manipulated into seeing lies as truth and truth as lies. You recall those questions I started out with? Well, Satan’s plan is to get us so self absorbed that we loose sight of who God is and the good plans He has for us.(Jeremiah 29:11) We can’t believe that He can take the bad things we are experiencing in life and turn them into something good and thereby enrich our lives by them. (Romans 8:28)

   We look for solutions to the problems we encounter in our lives and Satan makes sure that our search for answers takes us no where near the Scriptures. Every idea we get from him may feel like an answer at the beginning but only serves to intensify our problems and complicate our lives even more. (Proverbs 14:12)

  As Christians, we must seek God’s will and wisdom and apply them to the problems we face. As we hold up our Shield of Faith, then we are protected from being manipulated and distracted by the fiery darts aimed at us by Satan.

   Here’s how it works!

    God’s light will shine forth for all to see and as God helps us, then we can help others. (2 Corinthians 1:4) As His light is experienced and shared then that light grows and the darkness is dispelled. (John 1:5) Eventually, as individuals turn back to God, then a nation has hope. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

  

 

God: Our Logistics Coordinator – Part Two

Friends, for such a time as this!

Friends, for such a time as this!

 

Now for Part Two

(You are simply not going to believe this!)

     It was early Sunday morning and I had stolen away to spend some alone time down by the quiet bubbling creek that runs through the middle of the camp.  The quietness was suddenly broken by the familiar ring of a Skype call from my son.  I had been in communication with him several times during my stay at the camp.  

But this conversation wasn’t to be about “Hey momma, how are things going at camp?”  

No, this time there was trouble! 

    Fighting had broken out a little too close for comfort where my son and his family and team lived.  They were in lock down and on standby waiting for the call that would determine their exit strategy.  

(Okay readers, at this point I’m pretty sure you can imagine the fiery darts aimed in my direction!)

     Immediately, I ran to the cabin to share this alarming news with my friends and to contact my husband. He cancelled his sermon, and led our congregation in a time of prayer for our son and the situation there.  

     That evening my friends and I were attending camp church, where the congregation was challenged to pray about the urgent situation concerning my son.  Then during the course of the pastor’s sermon, he mentioned that my son’s boss would be on campus on Wednesday.

(Stop, did I hear what I just thought I heard?)

     Yes, I had heard right.  But you must understand this.  My son’s boss lives in Africa! I live an 8 hour drive from the camp I was visiting.  This was the very first ladies retreat I had ever attended at this camp.  My son’s boss doesn’t come to America that often! Therefore, consider the logistics God had to coordinate to bring the two of us together at the precise time and location that He did.  

     Yes, there were some tense moments. Yet, just as the fiery darts of fear were in position to reek havoc in my mind and heart, God began glorifying Himself as my Logistics Coordinator!

(Update:  the situation calmed down and while my son and his team and their families have to have armed guards with them wherever they go, they did not have to leave! They are continuing to minister and making Christ known to the blessed ones they have been called to serve. Praise God!)

God – Our Logistics Coordinator! or How to Fight Worry! Part One

 

This is me; not trusting!

This is me; in worry mode!

 

     Awhile back, two of my friends and I took a road trip to attend a ladies’ retreat in the mountains; about an 8 hour drive from our homes. (Of course, that’s just the drive time; we stopped at Cracker Barrel going and coming. The two in one experience–eating and shopping, you know. Well then, let’s say 8+ hours.)  We learned a lot about each other, made a heap of memories, and discovered a rather unique character trait possessed by God.  It has taken numerous experiences for God to teach me that He can work things out without me fretting and worrying over how He’s going to do it.  So while I have been blessed by this trait of God’s, it wasn’t until this trip that I found a name for it.  And here it is:

Logistics Coordinator!

     A logistics coordinator, by definition, is someone who plans, implements, and coordinates the details for someone else.  After reading the illustration below, followed by the 2nd illustration in my next blog post, I hope it will become clear to you that acknowledging God’s ability to work things out for our good (Romans 8:28), is a powerful weapon in defeating worry.  So, let’s begin!

Illustration No. 1

     My friends and I were driving to a quaint little restaurant in the mountains for lunch. We had driven to this little lakeside restaurant the day before but had arrived too late to eat.  This time we left early enough to arrive in time for lunch and to enjoy a spectacular view in the process.  But while time was on our side as we made our way towards the restaurant on that picture perfect spring day, my gas gauge was not!  I notified my friends that we were getting rather low on gas and it might be a good idea to pray.  None of us could remember exactly how much further the restaurant was or even IF we had enough gas to get us there.  So, we prayed for a gas station!

    Now, here’s where the connection to Worry comes into play.  Under the circumstances, I am sure you can understand why we were sorely tempted to fret and worry.  You name the fiery darts that would be apparent on such an occasion and believe me Satan shot them at us.  And as I watched that gas gauge move closer and closer to the empty mark, and no gas station or restaurant yet appeared on the near horizon, I felt it was necessary that I come up with a plan just in case God’s plan was NOT to get us to a gas station in time.  I knew that my friends at the camp would come to our rescue, if needed.  But then we were in the mountains and cell reception was ‘iffy’ at best.  (Okay, sometimes you can over think a situation!)

     I resisted the fiery darts with all the strength I could muster from my lessons on how to fight (and win) against  such negative thinking.  I called on the 3 R’s of fighting fiery darts: 1)recognize the fiery darts  2) resist the fiery darts  3) replace the fiery darts (you remember, with truth thoughts.

https://fierydarts.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/the-3-rs-of-fighting-fiery-darts-revised-plan

     It was an effort on my part but by the grace of God, I maintained a controlled calm.  My friends were doing the same, but I knew it was a struggle.  The reason I knew that was because of all the wise cracks they were making.  When you are faced with a dilemma such as ours, sometimes laughter is a beneficial distraction.

     And as so often happens, a few minutes after the ‘need to fill the gas tank asap’ light came on (causing the oxygen level to be seriously depleted as we all gasped for air) there appeared the gas pumps (not station, just a couple of dated pumps outside a run down little  mom and pop type grocery).  And next door to them was the restaurant; still open!  We were rescued!

     Wow, I came away from that adventure convinced I had the best logistics coordinator in the universe (and of course, I did. We all do, actually). There is one more experience that I want to share with you that will illustrate the benefit of seeing God as our very own and personal Logistics Coordinator!  However, this is enough for now, so I will wait till next post and bring all this to a conclusion then.  

All things Work Together for Good!

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. – Rom. 8:28

There they go!

There they go!

A Present Background!

My daughter and her husband are on a cruise celebrating their 10th year anniversary and my husband and I have the privilege to travel to their home so that we could take care of their 3 children, (8 yr. old girl, 7 yr old boy, 3 year old girl).  I use the word privilege deliberately because to my husband and I anytime God makes it possible for us to spend time with our grandchildren we consider that a profound privilege.  

A Little Past Background!

Years ago, when I struggled with God in releasing my children to Him, my mind was bombarded with a fearsome fiery dart.  “If you release your children to God, He might call them to live far, far away from you!”  At the time I couldn’t bear that thought.  Yet, deep within my soul, I knew it was something I had to do.  I couldn’t run from it and I couldn’t hide from it.  I couldn’t live in denial and ignoring this calling from God, would in no way dismiss my obligation to obey God. 

So, by the grace of God, (and I mean ONLY by the grace of God) I lifted my children up to Him with a trembling heart and promised that I would teach my children to obey and serve God–being comforted by the thought that:

The safest place on earth, is in the center of God’s will.

I did ask God for a favor, however.  I asked Him that if His plans for any of my children involved planting their lives in a place far away from me, that God would make it possible for me to travel to where ever they were to spend time with them.   I didn’t demand this or make this conditional.  For I confessed to God that I would do this hard thing, no matter what!  But I would be more than grateful if I could live in the hope that He would make this possible.  And as you might expect, that is exactly what God has done.

My daughter lives  in Florida, so the fact that God provided us the means to purchase airline tickets to go and be with them is just proof positive that He continues to be tender to my request of all those years ago.  God is indeed faithful.

Now, back to the present!

My husband drove our daughter & son-in-law to the port about an hour’s drive from their house to board their cruise ship and in getting there, our daughter discovered she did not have her driver’s license.  (Panic time!)  Which obviously meant that with no picture id she would not be allowed to board the ship!

I got a phone call from them asking me to check the printer to see if her license was still there.  Sure enough, there it was, along with two insurance cards.  There was nothing to do but to contact my husband and tell him he would have to turn right around and go back to where he had been.  Ugh!  (Problem was, he wasn’t answering his phone so the temptation to freak out was intensifying.)  But everyone held on to their trust that God would work this out and resisted the fiery darts that were attempting to undermine our trust.

Finally, my husband answered his phone and it was decided that when he got back to the house, the kids and I  (along with the 3 important cards) would jump in the car with him and we would all return to the port-of-call so we could hand over the forgotten cards.

So how did this all work out for the good?

We had talked about the children being able to see their parents off at the ship, but decided that wasn’t practical. (Not enough room in the car)  Yet, because of the present dilemma, the kids were able to see the cruise ship their parents would be on (note the picture above).  

Another tidbit of interest is that had not my daughter and son-in-law left as early as they did, we wouldn’t have been able to get the driver’s license to them in time and the trip would have been spoiled.

As I prayed with my grandchildren that night, I thanked God for the opportunity we all had to witness how God took something that was not so good and turn it into good for all.  (Just like He said in Romans 8:28)

Isn’t it awesome to be a Christian!