Wait Training

One of the hardest things God asks us to do is wait. Psalm 27:14 says “Wait on the Lord and be of good courage, and He will strengthen your heart.” Easier said than done. We want what we want, and we want it…NOW!

As we study God’s word, the Bible, we learn all sorts of things about Him. We learn that He takes care of His own. We also learn that nothing is too hard for Him. Another truth He wants us to understand about Him is that His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are higher than ours.

Most people understand what it means to trust in God, but trusting in Him fully is something we rarely do. When times get rough, we eventually resort to praying. This should be our first line of defense, but it rarely is. We pick up the phone and call family and friends, which is a good thing to do. But it shouldn’t be the very first thing we do.

At the first sign of trouble (and how often do we actually recognize the first sign?), it should be an automatic response to turn to God and call upon Him for help. And even after doing that, we tend to expect rapid response. Let’s be honest. Waiting for the solution to any problem is hard.

Part of the problem is that we find it hard to believe God is able to solve our problems. Another hindrance to our faith is our unwillingness to trust that He will take care of us. Many people don’t feel His love. It’s there, according to Scripture, but realizing it is difficult for most people.

Because of all the pain and degradation people have been forced to endure, they assume that God doesn’t love them. If He did, why would He allow those terrible things to happen? (Remember, His ways are not our ways.) We claim to know better than He what’s best for us. Well, we don’t.

Nobody enjoys suffering, and God certainly doesn’t enjoy watching us suffer. But He is able to see the big picture of our lives, as well as eternity. He can see the end as easily as the beginning, and He is the only one who can see how suffering helps us learn to depend more upon Him and less upon ourselves and other mortals.

Once we realize how much God truly loves us and longs for a close relationship with us, then we are more willing to trust Him with our lives. When we open our hearts to Him through faith in Christ Jesus, He takes ownership of us. We belong to Him. That means we no longer have to be afraid of death. Leaving this world means being with Him forever.

So why do we, as His children, worry and fret when things don’t go right? Why do we panic and despair? If we know that we belong to Him, shouldn’t we trust Him to lead us and guide us according to His perfect will? His sovereign will?

Waiting on Him to do what He wants to do in our lives shouldn’t be difficult. Not if we truly believe in Him. Not if we know we are His for all eternity. But even those of us who have received Christ Jesus as our personal Savior find it hard to wait for Him to provide what we are longing for. We find ourselves wondering if what we desperately want or need will really be ours.

One of the things God does in the lives of His children is orchestrate events that, hopefully, compel them to look to Him for comfort and courage. Sadly, those events catch us off guard and we are often thrown into a tailspin. Even though we have devoted many years to studying the Bible and have developed a fairly strong prayer life, we still freak out when our plans get blown apart and we’re faced with catastrophe. Or at least something overwhelming and perplexing, not to mention heartbreaking.

At times it seems downright cruel to make us wait. Especially when a loved one is in critical condition or we’re on the verge of bankruptcy. But being a child of God doesn’t mean we’re exempt from pain and terror. It means we have been equipped with spiritual strength to endure. It means we have a loving heavenly Father who uses surprising methods to draw us nearer and condition us to rely upon Him before we rely upon anyone else.

Parents, spouses, friends, and those in spiritual leadership are some of the people we call upon for help when we’re in trouble. But God wants us to turn to Him first. Scripture tells us that He is an ever-present help in trouble. He will never leave us, nor will He ever forsake us. Although we often feel as though He has abandoned us, all we have to do is spend time reading and meditating on His word to realize that He has not.

If we rely on how we feel, we will be tossed about by every wind of doubt and deception. Satan is the father of lies. Remember what happened to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? The devil appeared as a serpent and told Eve to eat from that tree. Well, he is still lying to us. We can choose to believe what he says, or we can choose to believe what God says. And we won’t know what God is saying unless we are reading his word, seeking His will, and waiting for Him to speak to us.

Sadly, what we hear is often not from God but from our own stubborn determination. We want what we want, and we want it now. But when we reach the point in our lives where we are willing to surrender our will and trust God to know what’s best for us, we will find it much easier to endure hardship as well as uncertainty. We will find it much easier to wait on the Lord and be of good courage. Our hearts will be strengthened as a result of the spiritual training He provides.

As we put our lives in His loving, mighty hands and believe with all our heart that He loves us and knows what’s best for us, only then will we bear the agony of waiting for something to happen. It may not be what we were hoping for; but if we’re trusting in Him, we can rest assured that whatever does happen is according to His perfect plan. While we’re looking at only a sliver of our lives, God sees the whole thing. He’s preparing us for eternity. And a big part of that preparation requires our willingness to wait.

“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith.” (1 John 5:4)

 

 

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You’re a Poet! (And You Didn’t Even Know It)

Want to try your hand at writing some poetry? Let’s start by making lists of words. First, we’re going to consider our five senses. Hearing, seeing, touching, smelling, and tasting.

Think of as many things as you can that you dearly love to hear. Your favorite sounds. These could be sounds that come from nature, humans, musical instruments, machines, or any other kind of sound that you really like. Next. make a list of the sounds you absolutely hate.

Okay, you’ve got two lists. Now let’s move on to the next of our five senses. Make a list of things you love to see. Try to be a specific as possible. Don’t just put down sunset or sunrise. Describe your ideal sunset and your idea sunrise. Think about where you would especially love seeing these. The tropics? The mountains? The East Coast? The West Coast? Your own backyard!

Next make a list of those things you hate to see. The sight of these things make you sad, angry, scared. These are things that you try to avoid but cannot always steer clear of. Write these down.

Start another list that includes those things you love to feel. Things that are soothing, energizing, comforting, reminiscent of growing up, or just pleasant. Now start another list that includes things you hate the feel of. They irritate you or conjure up bad memories.

Your next list of words includes those aromas you love. Certain foods, flowers, herbs, spices, or anything else that comes to mind. Sometimes a special type of laundry detergent can fill us with pleasant images and just a good feeling. Now make a list of those scents you don’t like. Again, be as specific as you can.

Finally, make a list of those things you love to taste as well as a list of those you hate the taste of.

Now take one word from each list and put those words in a new list. You don’t have to take these in any particular order, just pick one from each list.

As you read through this new list of words, try to come up with unusual pairings. Put two words together that you normally would not expect to see. You’ll be amazed by the surprising visuals these word combinations evoke.

As you combine more words from each of your lists, you’ll find yourself going beyond the ordinary, coloring outside the lines, and thinking outside the box. Your imagination will begin to soar, and the next thing you know, you’ll be writing poetry!

“My heart overflows with a good theme. I recite my composition concerning the King. My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.” (Psalm 45:1)

(My poem “Shoelaces” won in the Judges Choice category of the 2015 Keene Memorial Library poetry contest.)
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Best-Laid Plans

Let’s face it. Life is scary. Sometimes it’s terrifying. We get ideas, and we make our plans. But we also tend to get our hearts so set on certain things that when they don’t work out, we are crushed. We get scared, and we get angry. The feeling of helplessness, of having no control over our circumstances, compels us to seek out some form of relief. Sadly, the solutions we settle for only offer temporary relief. We humans spend an awful lot of time and money on just trying to make ourselves feel better.

Ever since I started running a small business, I have come to rely much more upon the wisdom and compassion of God. The older I get, the clumsier and more forgetful I get. Sometimes I get mad at myself, but then I remember some lyrics from a Billy Joel song: “You’re only human. You’re supposed to make mistakes!”

When we screw up, it’s easy to imagine the harsh, critical comments that people might be making about us. It’s painful to realize that some people see us as idiots, morons, or mentally incompetent. We all have our moments when we seem to be losing our grip. But the good news is that we don’t have to let this discourage us.

Despite our many flaws, we can take comfort in the fact that the One who knows us best is also the One who loves us most. Psalm 139 tells of God’s perfect knowledge of us. He formed our inward parts; He understands our thoughts; and no matter where we go, we cannot flee His presence. I love the way this psalm ends: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxieties.” What heart doesn’t have anxieties?

I’ll always remember the time I was downright hysterical. There I was, huddled beneath the covers, wailing like a scared puppy. I couldn’t believe the sounds coming out of me. What was I so afraid of? I had myself convinced that two of the women in my recovery group were out to destroy me. I ran away and couldn’t bare the thought of going back. But I had to. And yet returning for more of their meanness was unthinkable.

Fortunately I had people praying for me. I did go back, and I gradually overcame my fear of those women. But it was just a matter of time before another fear presented itself. And unless I wanted to spend the rest of my life checking in and out of psych wards, I was going to have to learn how to accept the flaws of others and not allow them to run over me, leaving me flattened  like roadkill.

Once I made the decision to cast my every care upon the Lord and trust Him to watch over me , teaching me what He wants me to learn, I realized I don’t have to be afraid anymore. Oh, sure, there are moments when I’m panic-stricken and overwhelmed. But those are only moments. And they pass just as quickly as I shift my focus away from the problem and fix my eyes upon my Problem Solver. The crisis might not be resolved right away, but the feeling of hopelessness and despair is gone when I remind myself that I belong to God and He takes care of His own.

I still get myself in trouble when I try to take on too much or don’t budget my time well. But when I start working myself into a fit of I can’t do anything right, I just ask the Lord to guide my mind and my heart as well as my hands and feet. I commit the remainder of the day to Him and trust Him to help me get everything done that He wants me to get done. Great is His faithfulness!

A big part of running a business is scheduling. And rescheduling. And more rescheduling! I not only use a daily planner and a pencil (nothing is in ink, for obvious reasons), I also put jobs on the calendar in my cellphone. I have to laugh when I think of all the time I invest in planning each day. More often than not, something happens that makes the day turn out quite differently than I had planned. I refuse to believe that all the time I spent planning was wasted. If I didn’t plan my day, I would feel as though I were flying by the seat of my pants, playing it by ear, leaving everything to chance. I wouldn’t be able to sleep, wondering where I was supposed to be and who I was supposed to be working for.

I could get all bent out of shape when things don’t go according to my plan. I could fuss and fret when someone asks me to do something that doesn’t seem to fit into my schedule. But part of the adventure of being a small business owner is figuring out how to fit everything together so that clients are pleased and God his honored. I sometimes have to disappoint one of my clients, but that’s when I have to rely upon the grace of God to help them see that I care and that I really am trying to do well.

Proverbs 16:9 says “A man’s heart plans his ways, but the Lord directs his steps.” These words are comforting when my best-laid plans fall apart and the day starts to feel like a jumbled mess. Sometimes I just say, “Okay, Lord, You’ve got this. I’ve already committed my life into Your care. Now I just need You to guide me through each valley and every hairpin curve.” Now that I know He’s intimately acquainted with all my ways and an ever-present help in times of trouble, there’s no reason for me to be afraid when my plans go awry.

I wasted so much time focusing on me and what I wanted, rather than on what God wanted for me. I could’ve spared myself a lot of anguish and shame by maintaining a close walk with my Redeemer, allowing His Spirit to be my covering my shield. But I chose to allow Satan, the master deceiver, to convince me that pursuing my own interests and catering to my own desires would bring joy and contentment. WRONG.

Now, after years of struggling with the bipolar disorder, letting that mental rollercoaster compel me to make poor choices that hurt a lot of people, I am finally strong and stable, independent of psychotherapy and medication but very dependent upon God’s wisdom, strength, mercy, and grace. After listening to someone describe being delivered from the bondage of alcoholism and meth addiction, I realized that God is able to deliver us from all forms of mental and emotional bondage.

John 8:37 says we are “more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Becoming a child of God in 1977, at the age of eighteen, was the beginning of my new life in Christ. But I had a lot of learning to do, and experience is a great teacher. Yes, I’m only human and I’m supposed to make mistakes. But as a follower of Christ, I’m also supposed to learn from my mistakes and commit my way to Him, delighting myself in Him (Psalm 37). Only then could I expect Him to give me the desires of my heart. Only then would my desires become honorable ones that coincide with His perfect plan for me.

When faced with a marital crisis 2014, I experienced a combination of pain, anger, and fear. Tearfully I called out to my heavenly Father and said, “What do You want me to do about this?” I could feel His words wrap around me like a warm blanket on a cold night. Draw near to Me, and I will draw near to you.  Once I did that, I began experiencing His loving, mighty hand leading me and guiding me.

While reading two devotionals, “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young and “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers, I began spending more time reading scripture and praying. As I developed stronger faith, I also developed courage to apply myself in ways I never dreamed I could. My brother Bill, who saw me through some of my darkest periods, recently said to me, “You’re finally living the life I always wanted for you.”

Some people have this idea that religion is some sort of crutch. Or worse, they see the Christian faith as a form of brainwashing. Well, as a member of the human race, I’m a member of a fallen race (Romans 3:1-19). But thanks be to God, who “so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son so that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Not only has my mind been washed, but also my heart. Washed by the blood of the Lamb.

At one time my plan was to become an actress. At another time, I wanted to become an executive secretary. I even entertained the notion of being a lounge singer. (Okay, I haven’t altogether abandoned that one yet.) But whatever plans I come up with, I can rest assured that my loving heavenly Father’s plan for me is the very best-laid plan of all.

“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Surrender Your Way to Victory

In the world of military strategy, surrendering is just the opposite of victory. But in the life of a Christian, victory over satanic oppression comes only through total surrender to God. When we yield our hearts completely to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to guide our mind and heart (thoughts and feelings), we find ourselves responding to life’s circumstances rather than reacting to them.

Contrary to popular belief, responding and reacting don’t mean the same thing. I once heard someone explain the difference in this way: If a doctor reports that a patient is responding to medication, that’s good. If he’s having a reaction to treatment, that’s bad. Responding means that we are cooperating with God; reacting means we are not. Reacting means we are allowing our flesh to get in the way (Galatians 5:19-21). When we respond to the Holy Spirit, we allow Him to influence what we think, what we feel, what we say, and what we do (Galatians 5:22-26).

Making the transition from being a reactor to becoming a responder takes time. It requires diligence (effort) and vigilance (paying close attention). We have three factors working against us: The world, the flesh, and the devil. Those who love God and choose to live for Him are at war with all things worldly, fleshly, and satanic. And the evil influence is often so subtle that we often don’t recognize it for what it is (2 Corinthians 4:2-6).

As we draw closer to God and depend more upon Him for strength and wisdom, we must accept the fact that Satan is going to do everything he can to defeat us, to render us ineffective. How does he do this? By convincing us that following Christ means missing out on fun, excitement, and pleasure. In reality, following Christ means we allow Him to change the way we define fun, excitement, and pleasure. Our priorities change, and so do our values.

I used to think that being in church, in Bible studies, and serving in ministry would be terribly dull. I also thought that telling others about Christ and His work of redemption on the cross would be scary. What if they’re offended? What if they make fun of me? One of the amazing things about surrendering our hearts to the Holy Spirit is that our love for God and the desire to please Him overrides our fear of rejection or humiliation.

When something happens that we’re not prepared for, we tend to assume that it shouldn’t have happened. If it causes us pain or interferes with our plans, we decide that it’s wrong. We get frustrated, discouraged, and just plain mad. But once we surrender our hearts fully to God and allow Him to have full control of our lives, then our attitude regarding the unexpected begins to change. We start to trust God to know better than we do how things ought to go (Romans 8:28).

Where we run into trouble and get hung up is when we choose to love people, things, and activities more than we love God. It’s easy to do, especially if you’re a parent. Your relationship with your kids and grandkids can easily become more precious to you than your relationship with God. And when He chooses to allow one of them to die, it can rock your world so severely that you lose your joy. The joy He so lovingly made available to you through His Son’s sacrificial death on the cross (John 3:16).

For some people the loss of an exciting and fulfilling career can be just as devastating as the loss of a child or the end of a marriage. But when we choose to make our service to God our primary purpose in life, we start caring more about how He feels than about how we feel. We start to trust Him to know where we should go and what we should do (Jeremiah 29:11).

Belonging to God through faith in Christ and His finished work on the cross means being His child. One of His own. There’s nothing more precious or comforting than that. Being indwelt by His Spirit means we have His power, His wisdom, and His love at work in us constantly. The reason we’re not aware of His presence is that we are too preoccupied with our own fleshly, worldly desires.

Surrendering our lives fully to God means we are allowing His Spirit to work in and through us, even in the most painful, devastating situations. We can choose to walk in the victory He provided us through Christ by surrendering every detail of our lives into His loving care. Once we do that, we are no longer afraid of what might happen. We know that whatever does happen is being used by God, painful and confusing as it is, to draw us even closer to Him and make us mightier soldiers in His army (2 Timothy 2:3-4).

Surrender means victory if the One you’re surrendering to is the Lord God Almighty (Ephesians 3:20-21).

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I Will Not Forget Your Word

“In this world you will have tribulation,” Jesus tells us. Being a child of God means being an enemy of Satan and his demons. The more fervent we are in our walk with Christ, the harder Satan works to lead us astray. One of the ways we can fortify ourselves against demonic oppression is committing scripture to memory. I like to call it building up our spiritual arsenal.

Although I’ve been a Christian since 1977, it wasn’t until 2007 that I became more intentional about memorizing scripture. I was homeless at the time, living at the People’s City Mission in Lincoln, Nebr. when I was invited to join a recovery program for women called The Mirror Project. The director, Renita (Tyrance) Robinson, provided a small group of troubled women a safe place to work through some tough issues while helping us grow stronger in our faith.

Every Friday morning we gals would gather in the classroom, which doubled as our lounge, where we would take turns reciting the Bible verse each of us had selected for memorization. I had always known that memorizing scripture was an important element in my spiritual growth, but it took The Mirror Project to help me begin utilizing this vital tool and weapon.

Throughout the Bible we see references to spiritual warfare. Sometimes it’s subtle, such as in the case of the serpent convincing Eve that eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was actually a good idea (Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-6). We also see examples where Satan is much less subtle, such as when he tries to persuade Jesus to worship him by offering Him “all the kingdoms of the world” (Luke 4:5-7).

Ananias and his wife, Sapphira had the opportunity to sell their possessions and donate the proceeds to the community chest. Rather than giving all of the money so that everyone  would receive what they needed, Ananias and Sapphira chose to withhold some of it and keep it for themselves (Acts 4:32-35, 5:1-4). This is an illustration of greed, but it also can be viewed as a case of fear.

We’ve all been in situations where we found it difficult to trust that our needs would be met if we gave up control of our lives. But this is one of the things God asks of His children: Surrender ownership of our lives to Him and trust Him to take care of us.

In Matthew 6:25 the Lord Jesus Christ tells us not to worry about our lives, what we will eat or drink or put on. He goes on to assure us in verse 32 that our heavenly Father knows we have need of these things. In verse 33 He says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” This has become a vital element in my spiritual growth.  Allowing God to have His rightful place in my life helps me stay positive when things don’t go according to my plan.

While staying in a homeless shelter, I often worried about my future. At times I got so overwhelmed and discouraged that I attempted suicide. Why would a child of God do this? Because I wasn’t resting on God’s promises. I wasn’t walking by faith. In fact I was allowing Satan to lie to me much like he lied to Eve in the Garden of Eden. He convinced me that God would not take care of me, that life would never again be worth living.

Homelessness is scary, and it can happen to any of us at any time. Companies facing bankruptcy often merge with other businesses in order to survive. This strategy sometimes results in layoffs and downsizing. Many people are not prepared and have nowhere else to go but to a homeless shelter. Earning a college degree is no guarantee that you will not experience homelessness. Poor financial planning or catastrophic illness and a lack of adequate health coverage can also lead to the loss of one’s home.

Thirty-five years after becoming a Christian, I finally learned to appreciate the words found in Psalm 37: “Trust in the Lord…feed on His faithfulness… delight yourself in Him…commit your way to Him…rest in Him and wait patiently for Him…” Verse 11 says we shall delight ourselves in the abundance of peace.

Belonging to God has countless rewards and benefits, but most people think it’s boring to live “the religious life.” I used to believe that until I started experiencing the wrong kind of excitement and narrowly escaped a devastating outcome. One thing God does when we open our hearts to Him is help us redefine the words “excitement” and “fun.”

The more we learn about who God is, what He has done, and what He will do for those who choose to live for Him, the more peace and joy we experience. Let’s face it, this world is getting scarier and more bewildering by the minute. The news can be very depressing. Is it any wonder why so many people are afraid to step out of their homes? Why so many are choosing to kill themselves? But for those of us who choose to trust in the Lord and commit our way to Him, we delight ourselves in the abundance of peace despite all of the evil going on around us.

Fortifying our minds and our hearts with God’s word is one of the ways we guard ourselves from the satanic forces at work in the hearts of unbelievers. Meditating on His promises helps us gain strength in the face of temptation and persecution. Pastor Saaed Abadini surely must be comforting himself with those Bible verses he committed to memory while sitting in that Iranian prison. And you can bet he has shared them with his fellow prisoners. Many people have come to know the Lord while in prison. Ironically, many who are on death row are on their way to heaven because of their faith in Christ.
Dr. James Dobson, who devoted many years to teaching God’s word through family counseling, listened to serial rapist and murderer Ted Bundy give his heart to Christ just hours before his execution. (Bundy had startling things to say about today’s youth and the harmful effects of violent pornography.)

The Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:12 that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against the “rulers of the darkness of this age…spiritual hosts of wickedness.” He goes on to admonish us to take up the whole armor of God, which represents the protection God offers to His soldiers who are willing to engage in spiritual warfare. His word is our sword, and we are to use it to fight against the evil forces.

How many of us are in the habit of carrying a Bible with us everywhere we go? And how many times have we found ourselves in situations where we have the opportunity to talk about the Lord? If we have not committed any scripture to memory, what do we have to tell them?

Our testimonies are made richer and more vibrant when we include scripture. You can imagine how it warms God’s heart to hear His children pray His word back to Him. “Lord, I thank You for being an ever-present help in trouble. I know that You will never leave me nor forsake. Although the enemy has not come but to steal, kill, and destroy, I am choosing to trust in You with all of my heart, mind, and strength. I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

God had made the Scriptures available to us so we would have an “operator’s manual” and “user’s guide” to refer to whenever we find ourselves in a difficult situation, but many are choosing to ignore it and “lean on their own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). When people are willing to listen, so often what they hear is not biblical. The more familiar we become with God’s word, the easier it is for us to recognize false teaching. This is another reason to commit scripture to memory.

At first this seems like a difficult undertaking. But as with any challenge, we can break it down into portions so it doesn’t seem so overwhelming. Let’s start with Psalm 16:11. The first thing I noticed about this verse is that there are three words that start with the letter P: Path, presence, and pleasures. These are the “punch” words, the ones to emphasize to help you remember the entire verse.

Psalm 16:11 can easily be divided into thirds. The first line reads “You will show me the path of life.” Start by saying that line over and over. Write it down on several pieces of paper and tape each one to a location in your home (refrigerator, medicine cabinet, closet door). You might also tape it to the dashboard of your car. Remember to include the scripture reference at the beginning and at the end of this first line. “Psalm 16:11 – You will show me the path of life – Psalm 16:11.”

The second line reads “In Your presence is fullness of joy.” Don’t try to learn this line until you know you’ve memorized the first one. Start by saying the scripture reference and then say the second line of the verse, followed again with “Psalm 16:11.” Add the second line to the pieces of paper you have taped to items around the house and in your car.

When you feel you have the first two lines memorized, add the third line: “At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” By recalling your punch words, which in this case all start with the same letter, you are much more apt to remember the entire verse!

Once you embark upon this exciting journey of scripture memorization, you’ll feel stronger and sturdier in your walk with Christ. And Satan will find it much harder to drag you down because he’ll see how much you’re growing in your faith. Your prayers will become more powerful, and your witnessing will rise to a whole new level.

By committing scripture to memory, you will be fortifying your mind and your heart so that the enemy forces at work in the world will not leave you feeling confused, frightened, or discouraged. And you will be better prepared to share with other those verses that have helped you keep your mind stayed on God in the midst of heartache and tribulation.

“I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.” (Psalm 119:16)

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Do What You Love and Love What You Do

Doing domestic cleaning is like getting paid to exercise. Seriously. I can choose to focus on the good workout I’m giving my cardio-vascular system as well as my muscles and bones rather than on how tired and sore I am. As long as I don’t try to bend in a way that my body doesn’t want me to, I’ll be all right. Nothing that a hot shower and a comfy chair won’t fix.

One of the things I so appreciate about the kind of work I do is the low stress level. My clients let me know what kind of work they need done, and I basically go about it in a way that works for me. As long as it’s all done by the time I leave, the client is happy. I don’t have to stand in one spot for very long, and I don’t have anyone pressuring me to hurry up.

There are a lot of jobs that pay better, but with more money comes more stress. Emotional as well as physical. Sometimes we just have to make up our minds that we are going to settle for less money and preserve our sanity. Otherwise, those nice big paychecks will end up going largely toward prescription medication and psychotherapy because we just can’t handle the stress.

In the current issue of The Heartland News, the street paper I write for, Akili M,A,Yah and her twin brother M,A,Yah II (The Youngest Twin Journalists in the World!), feature their interview with Hot Boy, a popular DJ who works at Omaha’s #1 radio station, 106.9 FM. Hot Boy, who acquired his nickname while living in New Orleans (his section of town, or Ward, was the 10th Ward Hot Boys and Hot Girls), shares some great advice regarding work:  “Never worry about the money, no matter what your career is. If you work for the money, you will never make the money you are working for. Worry about the love and passion. Do something you love, something you are passionate about.”

While attending the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, I had dreams of being an executive secretary, traveling around the world (heh-heh) and living in a luxurious home. My car was to be a green Mercedes-Benz. Ah, well. My beige Malibu is a big step up from my last car. More fuel efficient and much quieter! Over the years I’ve learned to be grateful for the good things that come my way and give God praise for His grace and compassion. It seems that the more I thank Him the more He gives me to be thankful for!

My ultimate goal is to become a published author. I have several projects in development, and the domestic cleaning is helping me pay bills while working toward that dream of seeing my name on the bestseller list. After sitting at a computer in State Farm’s word processing unit for seven years, I’ve come to appreciate the perks of domestic cleaning. I don’t report to the same location five days a week, and I don’t work with the same people all the time. Some of the houses I clean include pets, which is a big perk for me. I’m an animal lover! And if the client has a radio, I love listening to the Bott Radio Network while I’m working. That feeds my spirit while I’m earning money.

My home is not luxurious, but it’s a safe place and the rent fits within my budget. I know I can trust God to provide everything I need. I’ve often told people that if I don’t have it right now it’s because I don’t need it right now. When I need it, God will make sure I have it. And that’s where I get my peace and my joy. God will provide; He takes care of His own.

I like what Dr. David Jeremiah (Turning Point Ministries) said a few years back during one of his messages aired on Bott: “God is willing to take full responsibility for any life that is fully yielded to Him.” I started yielding my heart to Him more and more, and He started giving me more and more peace, joy, and contentment. Wow. So that’s how it works!

We can either grumble about how much we hate our jobs, or we can ask God to help us see the good in what we’re doing. He’ll show us if we really want to see it. Maybe the reason so many people just can’t find any enjoyment in life is because they’re leaving God out of the picture. The reason He created the human race was so that we would walk with Him in sweet fellowship. Once I started doing that, life started getting better. I started feeling better. I’m older than I’ve ever been before, and I feel younger and happier than ever. Weird, huh?

I don’t really know how much longer I’ll be cleaning houses (and one church), but I know God will provide me with all of the clients I need and all of the money I need so that I can have a comfortable and safe place to live and a reliable car to drive. Luxury? That’s the freedom from worry and fear. Two things that used to hound me like crazy. No matter what happens or doesn’t happen, I know my loving heavenly Father will take care of me. He’s prepared a place for me up yonder, and when it comes time for me to leave this world, I’ll be there. Forever and ever.

In the meantime, I will serve Him with gladness and refuse to worry about money. Like Hot Boy said, “Do it because you love it. If you love it, and can wake up with a smile, the money will come.” Amen!

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Under the Circumstances

It is so very easy to allow problems and conflicts to govern our thinking. We devote so much of our emotional energy to dwelling on the past, things we did wrong and things others did to us to “make us this way.” It’s time to forgive everyone who ever hurt us, mistreated us, betrayed us, or simply ignored us when we were in trouble. Let’s forgive and set ourselves free from that emotional stronghold!

God never intended for our brains and our bodies to respond well to negative thinking and feeling. He designed us physiologically and psychologically to respond to positive thinking. For me, personally, the most positive thinking is this: I can experience peace and joy even when faced with crushing disappointment. I don’t need to rely on pills to feel okay. I used to. At one time I was taking lithium, Xanax, and Wellbutrin, Years later I was taking Prozac and Zyprexa, both of which I intentionally overdosed on hoping to die.

Now when things go badly for me, I recall the advice He gave me in the midst of heartbreak. “Draw near to Me, and I will draw near to you.” Satan is every bit as real as God, but he is not as powerful. The devil works very hard to convince us that he is more powerful than God, and that’s one of the reasons we struggle so with mental illness. Satan’s lies seem more true than the truth! He is the master deceiver; I know because for years he deceived me into thinking that I would never get well and never be able to get along without meds and psychotherapy. Ah, but God…

God is always there, ready and eager to help us do what we need to do to get well. And the first step, I believe, is to surrender to Him our unwillingness to forgive both ourselves and others. Self-pity reigns supreme in the hearts and minds of those who do not know God and don’t think they need Him.

I used to be so consumed with self-pity and unforgiveness that it opened the door to the Bipolar II disorder. God never intended for me to live this way, but I was allowing Satan to convince me that this was all I had to look forward to. I had resigned myself to this dismal existence. While in the psych ward I received a much-needed visit from a dear friend who prayed with me. God honored her prayer, and away went the fear and sense of hopelessness.

There is hope for all of us, and that hope is found only in Christ Jesus. Let’s turn our hearts and minds to the One who gave up His life for us. It was not taken from Him; He laid it down willingly so that we could experience the peace and joy we all so desperately crave.

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