From fear to hope

I feel so small and alone, standing by the Christmas tree. Tears seep from the corner of my eye and fall unnoticed. I feel frozen in time, invisible. I scream. No one turns their head – no one notices -no one helps…I don’t know what to do. Have you ever felt completely alone and afraid?

Kind David did.

His worst fears were confirmed when he found out Saul was trying to kill him.  While trying to escape, one of Saul’s spies recognized him.  He freaked out and ran to the hometown of none other than Goliath. When he got there, things went from bad to worse. The king recognized him and so David decided the best means of escape was to act insane.

Talk about being alone, scared, and not knowing what to do! In Psalm 34 David shares his thoughts during that time of fear and running in his life.

5 Steps to Hope

1. Praise – In the middle of fear, David focuses on God’s power, love, and mercy.

Psalms 34:1-3 “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!” 

2. Pray – He then turns to God for help, guidance, and deliverance.

Verses 4-6 “I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. The poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.” 

3. Shift your focus – In the middle of messy circumstances, David acknowledges that God is good. He can’t be anything less that good – because that’s who God is.

Verse 8 “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!”

4. Fear God – He runs to God and takes refuge in Him. He chooses to seek peace -knowing that no matter what is going on around Him, God is with him and working all things for good.

Verses 8b-14 “Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”

5. Deliverance – David rests assured that even though the situation may not change, He is not alone. God will be with him all the way through whatever he is facing.

Verse 7 “The Angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.”

Verse 20 “He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.”

Verse 18 “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”


Like David, I know God is good. He is redeeming the years the locust have eaten.  There is no guarantee I won’t face scary circumstances again, but I do know I won’t have to face them alone.  I am not unseen and unnoticed -I am delivered, answered, saved, redeemed, safe, heard and lacking no good thing. God, is my refuge. Angels are encamped around me. The same truths David prayed are true today. I can rest in a God that is unchanging, eternal and always good.

 

 

The 10 Gifts of Christmas 2015 *Updated

 

Last year I did a 12 Gifts of Christmas challenge.  It was so much fun, I think I’ll do it again this year.  Who wants to join me?  The rules are simple.  Pick 12 (or any number you want) ways you can give/bless others this Christmas season.  It can look like whatever you want it to, but the idea is to chose people that are outside your general circles.  (So, no buying presents for your children doesn’t count. 😉 )  Leave a comment below letting me know you are going to participate.  Leave another comment when you complete your list. Watch for my New 2016 List coming soon!   Have fun – and Merry Christmas!!


I can be a hum-bug when it comes to Christmas.  Our local radio station began playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving. I forbid anyone to listen to it. I contemplated buying a little pre-lit tree, so I could technically say we had a Christmas tree and not have to spend half a day dragging the tree up from the basement.

And then I had one of those “ah-ha” moments.  You know the kind – the ones where the angels start singing and streamers shoot up in every color.  OK – so there were no angels or streamers.

A friend shared 12 ways she intended to give to people she didn’t usually give tHow_the_Grinch_Stole_Christmas_covero during this holiday.  I read and re-read her post three times, letting it sink in. We always give a “Gift to the King, ” and we would make an additional donation to a charity, but Christmas had become a chore.  I think the Grinch sums it up best:

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

So after much thought, I made up my own list.  I wanted to make it 12 items so it would rhyme with the 12 days of Christmas and all, but I can only think of ten. I’m five days into it, and I’m having a blast.  It feels so good to get outside of my little world and make a small difference in the lives of others.  I’ll share my list for accountability.  My friend said if she didn’t finish her list she’d kiss a pig.  I’m not going to make any promises – but here’s my list.  Feel free to check up on me. If you make a list – post a link in the comments, I’d love to see it!

  1. Drop off gift basket to encourage hurting friend Friday 12-4
  2. Christmas Groove donation to Laura’s House Saturday 12-5
  3. Operation Christmas Child – made a shoe box online Monday 12-7
  4. Christmas shopping (ok, cheating a bit here, but I did it with a smile) Tuesday 12-8
  5. Smile and say a kind word to cashiers and sales people Wednesday 12-9
  6. World Vision – clean drinking water Monday 12-21
  7. Write about Christmas  Monday 12-21
  8. Donate canned goods to the local food bank Wednesday 1-13-16
  9. Pray for the people in my community  Saturday prayer meeting 12-19
  10. Make candy bar gifts  – be sure to check these out, they are so cute – and easy! This was a fail.  I didn’t take into account that I don’t have a color printer.
  11. New #10   Make Peppermint Bark for gifts. 2-14 It took me until Valentine’s Day – but I did this and officially completed my list!!
  12. New #11  Found 20 adorable bracelets to give to a woman’s group to encourage them. Friday 12-18

*12-21 Update:  So, I’m making progress – still hoping to finish by Christmas.  As you can see – Candy bar gifts were a flop for me – so I added a new #10.  I also added #11.  One more idea and I’ll have 12. Not sure if I’ll come up with another one –  Ideas??

*1-13 Final Update. My son went into the hospital on 12-23 with the flu and dehydration.  This turned my entire Christmas plans upside down.  Instead of Christmas out of town with family, we were just thankful to have the four of us together and my son feeling somewhat better.

I finally made it to the local food bank today to drop off canned goods.  Looking over my list, the temptation hit me to run downstairs and make snowflake peppermint bark – so that I could cross it off my list and say I completed my Christmas giving.  But I won’t, because I’m sure it would confirm every suspicion in my neighbor’s minds about me if I showed up on January 13th with Christmas plates of candy.

In the end I think it’s good that I tried, because I got 10 more things done that I would have if I hadn’t.  The process taught me gratitude at all Christ has given me, and I enjoyed giving to others. Not finishing is also a healthy dose of humility – which is never a bad thing.   I think I might make this a new Christmas tradition!

 

When Rejection Hurts

uni_ss_6-13-01-768x768“Brat.” His words cut through the dark Christmas night. Hot tears slipped unnoticed down my cheeks.  I now know he was speaking from a place of his pain. I wish I could go back to that moment and look into the eyes of my seven-year-old self.

I would tell her those words don’t define her.  I would tell her it was not her fault. I would tell her to spit the poison out before it had a chance to tangle around her soul.

I would hug her tightly and tell her –  You are loved. You are cherished. You are wanted.  You are valuable.

Rejection hurts.

Nobody likes rejection. Ever.

How do you move from hurt to wholeness? As the years go by, I realize more and more it is a process, not a moment. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever be there – but then I look back a decade or two and can celebrate the progress.  I recently read an excellent book on the subject.  In Uninvited, Liza Turkerst’s new book, she shares her story of rejection and her journey to wholeness.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

“My identity must be anchored to the truth of who God is and who He is to me.”

“Live loved”

“I had the truth. But I had not applied the truth. Therefore, my mind did what my feelings wanted.”

“It’s not deciding in my mind, I deserve to be loved. Or manipulating my heart to feel loved. It’s settling in my soul, I was created by God, who formed me because He so much loved the very thought of me. When I was nothing, He saw something and declared it good. Very good. And very loved.”

“Which has really gotten me to thinking about all the many times I assign thoughts to others that they never actually think. I hold them accountable to harsh judgments they never make.  And I own a rejection from them they never gave me.”

“Rejection isn’t just an emotional feeling. It’s a message that alters what you believe about yourself. And the minute you sense that happening is the minute you must stop the runaway thinking with truth.”

“Think about why it hurts so much when other people say or do things that make you feel rejected. Isn’t it in part due to the fact they just voiced some vulnerability you’ve already berated yourself for?”

I am learning to replace the hurt with truth. And to no longer live in bondage to others words but live in the wholeness of who I am in Christ.

Want more? Check out Lisa’s new book Uninvited. She also has lots of free uninvited-3dgoodies at Uninvited book. 

  • Audio Sample of Uninvited
  • Assessment on rejection
  • 5-day challenge
  • Chart for replacing lies with truth
  • Bonus chapter “What is it like to do life with me?”

I love you my friend and pray that you too will strive for the freedom in Christ.  Liza’s book is a great resource, but I would also encourage you to study the Scriptures. It’s the best source truthful thinking.  Get started with a google search like, “God loves me Bible verses.”  Live loved my friend!

 

This post is part of Lysa TerKeurst’s Uninvited Book Blog Tour which I am delighted to be a part of along with many other inspiring bloggers. To learn more and join us, click here.

 

BookLook Bloggers has provided you with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

12 Tips for a Full Thanksgiving

As you are snuggling in bed reviewing the day’s events, what would you want to have happened to make Thanksgiving day perfect? I recently asked this question on Facebook and here are a few answers.

Lots of mashed potatoes -and everyone getting along

Family togetherness – A room thick with love as everyone stands around the Christmas tree holding hands and singing carols.

Sleep in (or at least 5 hours straight), have everything prepped ahead, hang with my littles a lot, and do dishes together

Everyone made it safely to our house and just had a great time all being together.

Nothing gets burned or over/under cooked

Being with family.

Family, serenity, good food and love

Peace. Encouragement to others. Rest. Love shared with those we come in contact with.

If by some miracle I could see all my family! (And walk to the top of the hill after dinner!)

No migraine headaches for anyone (good, pain free day for those suffering from chronic illness)

Out of 365 days a year, Thanksgiving is my favorite day when it comes to food. I love the smell of turkey, a plate piled high with carbs and sugar. Followed by the resulting food coma that defies the self-control and calorie counting I practice most other days of the year.  Health, Food, family, love, unity – what more could we ask for?

We all shop, prep, set the timer and pray the turkey is moist and stuffing not too dry. By being intentional we create an atmosphere of success. Want to set the day up for the unity and love? Me too. Here are some ideas to get the juices flowing.  Pick one or two – tweak them to fit your needs. Have fun and live loved!

12 Tips to a Full Thanksgiving

  1. Thankful Circle. Pass around a bag of M&M’s and have each person take as many as they want.  Then go around the table and then for each M&M share one thing for which you are thankful.
  2. I Like You Because. Have each person write their name on a post-it note. Then pass the paper to the right. Write one word to describe that person and pass it to the right.  Continue around the circle until you get your own paper back.  I love this activity.  You will then have a paper with all the character qualities others appreciate about you.
  3. Live loved.  Give yourself and those around you grace.  Holidays can be some of the hardest times.  Long after people have forgotten the food and trimmings of the day they will remember how you made them feel.
  4. Laugh.  Don’t sweat the small stuff.
  5. Do a 360. Ask yourself “what is it like to live with me?” Live like someone you’d want to hang around.
  6. Be a blessing.  No matter how good/bad your circumstances are, turn the focus off how you feel or what you want to loving and serving others. You will be amazed at how much happier you are.
  7. Be Still. Slip away for 10 minutes in the morning before all the hustle begins.  Spend 2 minutes on each activity (or more if you have time)
    1. Yoga or stretching
    2. Write out three things you are thankful for
    3. Read Psalms 136
    4. Pray and thank God for the blessings you have
    5. Visualize in your mind how you see the ideal day playing out
  8. Take a walk. Breathe the fresh air. Have a bonfire. Play some flag football.
  9. I love my family because… before the meal, pause and have each person share what they love about their family.
  10. Play Boardgames.
  11. Take pictures.  Group pictures.  Silly pictures. Action pictures.  Have fun with it.
  12. Make Thanksgiving cards. Give each family member a card or letter sharing why you are thankful they are in your life.

 

 

Memorizing James – 5 Month Update

1275254684-quotation-confucius-perseverance-life-education-long-inspirational-meetville-quotes-215554I’ve got some good news and some bad news.

Bad news first:

I’ve been at it this for five months! Each of the Mastery of Memory days takes me about a week.  Their tagline is accelerated learning.  It’s more like keep showing up day after day learning.

And now the good news:

It is working! I’m on my target to finish memorizing the Book of James by the end of the year.  James has 108 verses and I have 90 of them memorized. That’s 83%.  I was at 22% in July. Woot!

Here’s what’s working

  1.  66 Day Calendar – I downloaded, printed and hung this calendar on my bathroom mirror.  I crossed off each day as after I spent 15 memorizing James.  This step really helped me show up each day.
  2. Mastery of Memory – The mnemonics program has allowed me to remember where a verse is based on a memory palace.  Each room in the palace corresponds with a verse in a chapter.  Each chapter has item. So if I wanted to know James 3:5 I would think of the ham (the item for chapter 3) in the attic (the room for chapter 5).
  3. Scripture Typer – I upgraded their app when I hit the limit on the number of free verses you could memorize. It was worth the $9.99 price tag.  I like the daily reminders, heat spots, stats, audio, and flashcards.  This helps me remember the individual verses
  4. Listening to Audio – Listening to the book straight through takes about 15 minutes.  While I’m listening I try and say it or read it. I just added this step last week because while I could locate most verses in my mind, I wasn’t feeling like they were coming together well as a whole.

After so many failed attempts, I am getting butterflies in my stomach at hitting my goal of memorizing the book of James in 2016.  There are six weeks left – and I think it might actually happen!  This process has taught me a lot about endurance. I’ve learned that if one way doesn’t work that doesn’t mean I can’t do it. It just means I need to try something else until it finally clicks.  I am also so proud to not be defined by my limitations. Instead of believing the lie that I have a bad memory, I proved to myself that I can do it.  That feels really good.

One of the ways to reach a goal is to share it with others so they can hold you accountable.  Watch for my next update – my six month and final update when I plan to post a video of me reciting the book of James.