Out of the ashes!

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   The Las Vegas tragedy leaves us feeling that evil has the upper hand. The enemy of all of mankind, Satan, would have us  drowning in despair. He would have us questioning God as to how something so horrible could happen. He would have us becoming angry with God. His aim is to manipulate our thoughts so that we can’t find anything to feel hopeful about. 

  There’s a verse in the Bible, John 16:33, that tells us that in this world we will have tribulation. Well, we certainly know that’s true. Las Vegas only confirms it. We know from personal experience as a nation and as individuals that trials and troubles are a common thing in this fallen world we live in, Yet, our initial reaction when tragedy strikes is to cry out, “Why God? How could you let this happen?”

In times such as these, we must remember :

   God has warned us and tried to prepare us for the consequences of sin. After we messed up His original plan, He didn’t give up on us. He made a way where we could know peace in the midst of turmoil and tragedy. Because He knew that our rejection of Him would bring inevitable and sometimes tragic consequences.

But take heart:

   Jesus not only has overcome the world but He will return and straighten out the mess Satan has made of it. But until then we must not allow the fiery darts of hopelessness, anger, or despair blind us.

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   May we light the candle of faith. Only then will we see good triumphing over evil in Las Vegas. It’s an unspeakable horror, yes! But we can’t let that rule our thinking. Instead we must focus on the truths of God that pour forth in abundance from the beautiful stories rising out of the ashes of Las Vegas. 

   One by one, prayer by prayer, people are seeking God for His strength in overcoming this evil. They are reaching out to each other to assist, protect, or bring healing, With every act of bravery, self-sacrifice, love, compassion, etc. the enemy is being defeated.

 

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The Secret of Survival

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   My summer has been jam packed with mountain top experiences. As much as I could, I lived in the celebration of every moment. Yet, I knew that come the end of August, it would all come to a screeching halt. Then would come the valley.

   I think one of the most troubling aspects of my valleys is that I am tempted to forget what I know to be true about God.  The reason being is that Satan never lets up with those fiery darts. With all those fiery darts swirling around in my thoughts, it’s hard to sort through all that mess and find those Truth Thoughts.

   And I know that if my low times become severe enough, depression can set in. Depression is a wicked thing! One of the most deadly tactics used by Satan in depression is to drain our thoughts of hope. He will shoot one lie after another, clothe them with common sense truths, and if we fall for it… Yep, depression!

Because of that common sense truth, we will entertain the thought, and the poison of the lie will permeate our thinking. It is the lie that will motivate our actions, which is contrary to God’s will. p. 38, 3rd Edition FD

  In a previous blog, I wrote about my summer of extreme highs and lows. I had a future to face that looked bleak to me. I couldn’t figure out how I was going to face it or handle it. Then one night as I was reading my bible, I came upon the following verse: Proverbs 23:18

   The key words for me in this verse were ‘future’ and ‘hope’. As I meditated upon this Truth thought, the darkness began to recede. I’m still in the valley, but I’m not in despair. It’s still hard, but it’s not hopeless. 

   Then just yesterday, a friend shared another verse with me: Jeremiah 31:25

   I have been languishing, for sure. And I certainly am weary. Yet, I know that it is vital for me to ‘receive’ those Truth’s. That’s the secret of my survival.

  Therefore, I take one day at a time (that’s scriptural) and proceed forward. Perhaps with caution, but nevertheless forward. 

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

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   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.

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   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!

 

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!”

 

GOD’S DESIGN

   Too often our minds are cluttered with thoughts not of God’s design. Cluttered thinking prevents us from hearing God’s quite voice. Life get’s confused and complicated. Solutions to problems evade us. Our vision becomes clouded and we loose our direction. Thoughts such as these are what I call ‘fiery darts.’ Designed to undermine the work of God in our lives.

   If you have ever been plagued with such thoughts, perhaps the following will give you a lift:

God’s Design

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Beyond the boundaries of my front porch view, lies a world troubled and confused.

A world full of people who have lost their way.

People who can no longer recognize the beauty of truth.

Peace escapes them, in spite of all their grasping.

Solutions to problems remain unfound.

Life is lived at a fast pace, so, little is heard of God’s voice.

Loosing sight of what’s valuable, is the result.

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But here on my front porch, time stands still.

Allowing me to pause and experience His quietness:

A dove cooing in the distance, joins the bird chorus nearby.

Hummingbirds buzzing near my porch feeders.

Silky, gentle breezes offers accent to my reverie.

I feast on the green of the hay fields, and mown lawn laid out before me.

Trees in the spring freshness of their green bordering my view,

Allow me to bask in a morning set at the perfect temperature.

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As I gaze upon the scene before me,

Disturbing thoughts of worry and fear give way to thoughts more sublime,

Thoughts more in keeping with God’s design.

Motherhood? His Calling?

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   I love being a mother! I love being a grandmother! I have always felt these roles to be more of a calling for me than anything else. My perspective on Motherhood finds its basis within that calling. Motherhood fulfills me like nothing else.

   Yet, I raised my four children in a time when Motherhood had begun to loose its splendor! The feminist movement had a lot to do with that, I think. Fortunately, my mother and my maternal grandmother were splendid role models. Their positive influence offset the negative influence of society’s changing perspective on Motherhood for me.

   But the most powerful force that shaped my mindset regarding Motherhood was the awareness that God had called me to this role. 

   His calling on my life, carried me when I felt like a failure as a mom. His calling gave me strength to mother when I felt I had none of my own. His calling motivated me to respect the individuality of my children. His calling influenced  me to take a positive approach with my children. His calling impressed upon me the importance of being a godly example to my children. His calling kept me grounded in what was truly important concerning my children. His calling defined the values I wanted to instill in my children. His calling helped me to teach my children how to stand against the world.

   I could go on and on. But suffice it to say, having a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, made ALL the difference in how I mothered my children. It was  His calling  that helped me recognize the fiery darts that were set to undermine my role as a mom. His calling empowered me to reject the lies the World declared about Motherhood. His calling implanted His Truth in my mind and replaced those lies.

   Too many women have allowed the world’s concept of truth to alter their thinking about Motherhood. Rejecting the role given to them by God, they have given themselves over to lies and manipulation. Removing God’s Truths from their lives and replacing them with the lies prevalent in our society has deadly consequences. For the unbeliever, obviously, but for the believer as well.

Christians, weakened in spirit, will not have the strength to stand against the world. It stands to reason, then, that the weaker Christians are spiritually, the more likely they will succumb to fiery dart attacks, designed to alter their attitude and actions toward what’s going on in the world. p. 48 FD, 3rd Edition

WHILE YOU WAIT

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I sit by an open window.

Gazing upon the greenness of the fields and trees in view,

Feeling the cool gentle breezes brush across my face,

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Listening to the sweet songs of the birds,

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As I pour my heart out to You.

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With all this the fiery darts compete,

Blinding me from the view from my window,

Distracting me from the comfort of the cool gentle breezes,

Drowning out the sweetness of the bird’s songs.

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And the answers I seek don’t come.

I wonder how long must I wait?

Then the serenity of the view from my window,

The cool gentle breezes caressing my face,

The sweet songs of the birds blessing my hearing,

Awaken my senses.

It’s then that I see, feel, and hear Your voice,

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Do not fret or worry, for I’m working on your problem.

While you wait, take comfort in the serene view from your window,

Relax as the cool gentle breezes caress your face,

Allow the sweet songs of the birds to calm you.

They are gifts from Me to you,

To comfort you while you wait!