Archive | September 2012

Got Encouragement?

Hope is so important to our well-being. When we lose it our world can become very dark and lonely. Our world today seems to lack hope. All you need to do is turn the news on if you want to feel discouraged and hopeless. We need to fight this hopelessness by remembering what God says about this life. We need to remember who we are and whose we are. We are God’s chosen ones, blessed and highly favored. He has called us to walk above our circumstances with Him.

We have several weapons at our disposal to use against discouragement.

1. One is scripture. Here are a few verses that encourage me in those dark times.

John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world.” This verse speaks volumes to me when I become overwhelmed and discouraged.

Matthew 28:20 “…and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Hebrews 6:18 “ so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.”

Isaiah 54:17 “No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; and every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their vindication is from Me, declares the Lord.”

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”

2. Another weapon we have against discouragement is to stay plugged in to those around us. We need to reach out to our support system when we are struggling. We reach out to them to remind us of the truth that we may have forgotten for a time. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 “9 Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. 10 For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. 11 Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? 12 And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.”

3. Still another weapon is looking at our past victories. Keeping a journal of our struggles and how we were able to overcome the obstacles in our past can make this very easy.

4. Reaching out to others in need is also another way to keep our hope. This week as I was struggling with discouragement, a friend of mine gave me the name and number of someone struggling with great tragedies in her life. As I talked with this woman and shared with her what God had done in my life it reminded me what He has done and will do for us when we hold fast to His promises!

When we keep our hope alive it allows us to move through those hard times into victory!

What are you doing to keep your hope alive today? Please share any tools you use or any special scripture that speaks to you in your hard times.

Advertisements

Living in Fear

I originally posted this blog a few months ago and find myself in that place of worry again. Some days it seems that we must go minute by minute giving our worries to God. This morning as I allowed anxiety to envelop me again, I read my Jesus  Calling devotional and again was reminded that worry is something that must be left behind. I Peter 5:6-7  6 “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” So this blog came back to me and I thought that it would be good to share it again as a reminder to us all to trust that God has our back! Enjoy!

How many times do we hear someone say “I’m afraid …”? Fear seems to be prevalent in this world. We fear we will not have enough money to pay our bills or put food on the table. We fear our kids will not make good choices for their lives. We fear that we will lose our jobs or not be able to find a job when we need one. There are so many things we can choose to fear. What would happen if we started expressing how excited we are about our future? What if we started actually looking for good to happen to us rather than fear the worst?

Most of my life has been spent in fear. My outlook on life was rarely one of looking for good things to happen. This started as a child. My parents would talk about their lack of money almost every day. Unfortunately, when I became an adult I continued this tradition with my daughter.

Recently, we were in a very scary place for me. We were told that our landlord was going to evict us from our home. It was in this place of despair that I found the peace that had eluded me for most of my life. When I finally reached the end of what I could do; God was finally able to take control and show me what He can and will do if we simply get out of His way.

The Bible tells us not to worry time and time again. Most of us have heard Matthew 6:25-34. In this scripture, Jesus says not to worry about our needs. He goes on to say that “if we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, all these things will be added unto you.” I used to read this passage and think that I must be doing something wrong. This lie held me in bondage for years.

For years I thought that there was some secret formula to receiving from God. If I could only do the right thing then He would bless me. When I finally humbled myself and came to the end of me, God began to show me truth. He showed me that He was not punishing me by withholding my needs because I wasn’t “holy enough”. God began to reveal scriptures to me that showed his true nature. In Jeremiah 29:11, He told me that He had a good plan for my life and plans to prosper me. In Joel 2:25, He says He will repay the years the locusts have eaten. In Genesis, I read about both Abraham and Isaac being blessed and protected after they told their wives to lie for them. Then we see David, the man after God’s own heart. He committed adultery and murdered among many other sins.

Clearly seeking first the Kingdom of God was not about being perfect and God did not punish us for making mistakes. He soon began to reveal that my fear that He was not going to supply for me was the real issue. Most of the things I had feared would happen throughout my life had happened. Slowly He has begun to renew my mind and I have begun to expect good things for my life. My circumstances have not changed overnight, but there have been remarkable changes that can clearly only be God moving on my behalf.

What good things are you expecting to happen to you?

The Importance of Relationships

Making our relationships a priority is very important if we hope to have successful ones. It seems that many in our world seem to focus on themselves and their needs rather on the needs of those around them. These days it’s very common to have couples struggling to balance work, marriage and family. Many couples have had to adapt to living apart and still working to keep intimacy in their marriage. For the last several months I’ve been struggling with being away from my husband and trying to find the time to let him know how special he is to me while working to break out of debt and working toward the things God has placed on my heart.

I’ve been pet sitting a lot for the last several months and it is a lot of fun. It allows me the freedom to make money while still affording me the time to write. My husband, daughter and I live in a small two bedroom apartment, so working from home can be difficult at times. When the pet sitting started to increase, I was very excited that I would have the ability to get in a quiet space and be able to work unencumbered. Unfortunately, this leaves my husband home alone a lot, so it has been challenging to find time to spend one on one and stay connected.

I find myself enjoying my time alone because it’s easy. When we are by ourselves we don’t have to decide when is the best time to eat dinner or have someone watching TV when you want things to be quiet, you get to do what you want, when you want, the way you want. Then I go back home for a few days or weeks and struggle to adjust to not having it all my way. We miss each other while we are apart, but it is challenging to fit back into each other’s lives after being apart for weeks or months at a time. This gives me much more respect for those who have loved ones serving overseas. It doesn’t begin to compare to what they face, but it reminds me not to take the small things for granted.

This week my husband and I have been blessed with a unique opportunity to spend a little time away from the craziness that has become our lives. He’s going to come help me with my pet sitting and I’m going to take a break from all the other activities that keep me running constantly. We are taking a break from technology and other people so that we can take some time to connect with each other again. I found that it was difficult to tell everyone that I would not be available this week. I actually felt guilty for wanting to take care of myself and my husband, but it has become apparent that we need this time.  It’s at times like this when God convicts me of my pride, and reminds me that the world will get along just fine without me. He is the savior of the world, not me.

This truth that the world is not my responsibility has given me the freedom to enjoy life again. It seems many women struggle with realizing that it is not our job to fix everything. We were designed to be nurturing, but we often miss the opportunity to take some time to receive nurturing. We must remember that we can only give to others what we have ourselves. So I challenge you today to take some time to allow yourself to be refreshed.

 

What can you do to take care of yourself today? Please share some creative ways you have found to stay connected with the ones you love.

Tough Love

Loving others isn’t always warm and fuzzy. Sometimes loving others means being willing to call them out on the stuff that they either don’t know or that they are in denial of. You’ve heard the phrase “cruel to be kind”. That’s just what love looks like sometimes. I remember watching a nature show where a man had nursed a bear back to health after finding him half dead in a bear trap. The bear had come to trust the man so much and he knew that the bear had lost his natural fear of man and this put him in grave danger. He had to make the bear afraid of him to give the bear a fighting chance at life.

This is similar to what we need to do with others at times. Some lessons are painful to learn, but without them we would not be able to make it in this world. We have to be willing to let our loved ones fall and fail once in a while to learn how to survive and to thrive. Being a co-dependent, enabler most of my life has made this a difficult lesson for me to learn. When I swoop in every time someone has a need it teaches them dependence on me. While this feels good temporarily it takes away their self-respect and they come to rely on others to always take care of them instead of being responsible for themselves. Ultimately, this is not for their good or my good. They become unable to care for themselves and I become resentful and worn out, unable to be of use to anyone.

I remember some of the people God placed in my life that chose to love me by confronting me on my behavior. My foster Mom, my husband, my aunt Sis are just a few of the people who God used to shock me out of my self-destructive behavior.  My foster Mom was willing to show me love me by setting healthy boundaries and teaching me how to treat others. When I moved in with her after being abused by my family, she allowed me a time of adjustment, but then she made it clear that if my behavior didn’t change I would have to go to a new home. My husband stood by me for a long time, probably longer than he should have, but finally he left me know that my behavior needed to change or the marriage could end. My Aunt Sis also confronted me about the way I was treating her after she allowed me to move into her home to get away from an abusive relationship. She finally told me I needed to move out of her home.

Each one of these people had a hand in helping me become who I am today. I am a hard-working, responsible, loving woman, who doesn’t depend on others to give me everything or allow me to do whatever I want, when I want. These were painful lessons to learn at the time, but so invaluable to me and I can’t help but be thankful that they were willing to love me by being tough and risking losing me.

Sometimes tough love is what we need most.

Who do you need to confront in love today? Who has confronted you in the past and changed the course of your life?

Real Love

Real love is messy and risky. It means you might not get a return on your investment. When we reach out to broken people it usually means we will get our hearts  broken sometimes. We will not be able to save everyone from themselves, but we must not allow our hearts to harden to them. We must learn the balance between setting healthy boundaries and just seeking to keep ourselves safe.

Jesus came down to this earth to love on us. It was risky; He knew we all had the freedom to reject Him and His love, but that didn’t stop Him. He willingly laid down His life to save us all and knew that many would reject His valuable gift, but He kept His determination to see it through to the end at tremendous personal pain and torture. He chose to give us this gift no matter the cost.

That is what we need to keep in our mind when we say we want to share Christ’s Love with others. There will be those times that we give a gift of great price and it is rejected or even squandered, but we must remind ourselves that showing love is not about us. Really showing love is giving others the freedom to reject our gift or squander it and choose to love them anyway. We can give a homeless person some money and find out that they have spent it on booze, but we need to be careful not to judge every homeless person based on that one person’s choice.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t exercise some discernment when we seek to help others, but to truly make a difference we need to take a risk once in a while. We must know that the people whom we reach out to might not treat our gift the way we think they should, but we shouldn’t let that stop us from giving it. We have to continue to be willing to look like a fool once in a while if that’s what it takes to keep our hearts tender to the broken people of the world. I Corinthians 13:4-7 4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

This doesn’t mean that we have to allow people who don’t respect our boundaries walk all over us; it just means going out on a limb and being willing to give for the sake of giving. Matthew 22:36-40 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”I challenge you to try it. Today, take the risk of giving a gift to someone without an expectation that they will acknowledge you for it or even treat it the way you think they should.

My husband gave me love like this for a while. He remained stable and loving despite my rage and anger for a long time. He truly loved me when I did nothing to deserve it and didn’t know how to return it. This was one of the biggest blessings in my life.

Who can you love on today? Who has loved on you and changed your life?

The Value of Accountability

Accountability is one of the best tools we can use to help us create success. It makes it easier to reach our goals because we have someone watching us and reminding us why we are doing what we’re doing when we’d like to slack off just this once. If we choose the right person, they can remain objective on those occasions when we are being ruled by our emotions. We’ve all been there, we have a challenging day and we think “I can let it slide just this once.” For many of us this can mean a death sentence for our dream, because it can start the vicious cycle of guilt, self-condemnation, lack of worthiness, and apathy.

When we choose to hold ourselves accountable we increase our chances of success dramatically no matter what we are seeking to achieve. It’s not easy to follow through with allowing ourselves to be held accountable, nor is it easy to be an effective accountability partner.  You have to prepare yourself to be brutally honest with yourself and whoever you choose to be accountable to. You have to be willing to have that person call you out when it’s necessary. The accountability partner has to be someone who is willing to tell you the truth no matter what even if you don’t like it all the time. You probably want to choose someone who is at the very least a reformed people-pleaser. You also should choose someone who has some experience with achieving simular goals.

The last year I have been working with several accountability partners in different groups. One group is Celebrate Recovery. As I was working through several of my defects of character it was invaluable to have a group of woman going through the same experience at the same time. They knew a lot about me and the different things I would usually use to justify my behavior. It really made the difference for me and caused me to think before I acted. It was also so nice to know that I was not on this journey alone. It gave me the ability to break free from pain and my stinkin’ thinkin’ as Joyce Meyer likes to say.

The second group I met when I started working with a leadership team at Klemmer and Associates. This group connected me with a group of leaders that were committed to making a difference in the world by discovering and using the gifts and talents they had been given. The first seminar I went to was a weekend long and it revealed to me the person I was and why I was constantly sabotaging my efforts to move forward in my life. I came out of the weekend with a challenge to write the book that I had been talking about for 20 years and publish it within 90 days. It was amazing to have a group of people check in with me constantly and hold me accountable to reach my goal. As many of you know, that goal was reached and it was an amazing ride.

So in closing, I’d like to offer you a challenge. If you are like so many others and are a good starter and not such a great finisher, or just have trouble getting started on your life. Start looking for someone who would be willing to love you enough to hold you accountable to step out and make a difference.

If you’re not sure where to start there are a group of women I know that are offering a 10 week Coaching Package to help you get started on your journey. They are Jenny, Tammy and Michelle of Everyday Lifeline Coaching. Here’s their website if you want more information. http://everydaylifeline.com/

What do you want to break free of? Please share any victories you’ve had to help encourage us all.

I’m Still Here!

There are times when the only thing we can say is I’m still here; times when life has shaken us around like a ragdoll and left us for dead, times when it hurts to breathe. Those are the times when we have to stand on faith that God has our back and He has The Plan. If we listen to our emotions during those times we can easily fall into despair and slip into victim mode without even realizing it. That’s when we need to stand firm and remind the devil that he has no power over us because we are God’s chosen.  That’s when we pull out the arsenal of scripture we have that reminds us that God is good and He is in control. Here are two of my favorite go to verses. 1 John 4:4 “4 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”  John 16:33 33 These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” Getting into the Psalms is also good when we are in that dark place. That’s when we tell the devil that we will outlast him. We rely on what we know is true until our feelings catch up with the truth.

There are a few more things we can do to keep us on track.

1)      When the hard times come we look back at all the victories God has given us and remind ourselves that He will do it again.

2)      We remind ourselves that things don’t always work out the way we planned, but in the end God’s Plan is always better than our own.

3)      We realize we are not meant to walk through this on our own. We need to reach out for reinforcements to stand in the gap and pray for us until our feelings catch up with

what our spirit knows.

4)      We remember that there is always something of value that we can learn through each and every thing we experience. We are being given the opportunity to show God’s power

to those around us.

5)      We need to remember that this is only temporary. (This is only a Test!)   

 

If we continue to walk in faith eventually one of two things will happen. 1) Our circumstances will change or 2) We will change. There are times when God uses our circumstances to test us and reveal our character. Joyce Meyer has a saying that I repeat very often in times of trial. “God is not nearly as interested in our comfort as He is in our character.” As much as we try to avoid pain, we only truly grow when we are uncomfortable. It’s during those dark times that we truly get to know the nature of God.

Who can you call to stand in the gap and pray for you?  

Please share your victories to encourage others or any tests you are going through so I can support you in prayer.  Also feel free to share some of your favorite verses.

This entry was posted on September 6, 2012. 1 Comment