Changing Seasons

Originally broadcast as a Facebook Live Event on April 15, 2018 @TerriHutchinsonAuthor page (Hearts Encouraged). This post includes the dialogue as well as Self-Encouragement Tips found at the end of this post.

Hello and Welcome to Heart Lift! Today, I’m bringing you a Heart Lift to encourage, inspire, fortify, refresh your heart and mind. Today’s Heart Lift centers on the verses from Isaiah 58:11, the New Living Translation.

The Lord will guide you continually giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength.

This verse comes to my mind as I listen to the personal stories of women and men who are pouring out of themselves to the point of soul-dehydration. What I mean is they are giving their time, energy, love, care, or emotions so much so they are becoming depleted. Some examples include the caregiver that’s becoming physically and emotionally exhausted or the parent whose heart is intensely hurting for their child.  We can get in a state of soul-dehydration because we aren’t being filled as we pour out.

Water pouring

Another form of soul dehydration is an emptiness within our heart. It can happen because life wears us down. It can happen as we endure a long stress-filled season or with an ongoing battle with fear and anxiety. Soul dehydration occurs when we lose hope. And, it happens when we wonder if God sees us, hears us, or cares one bit for us. I'm here to tell you God sees, hears, and cares for you! We can trust our Lord to restore what has been poured out. When you go to the only Source that restores, revives, and refreshes, you will find a safe place. A place of rest.

Seasons 1I want to share with you some things I’ve learned from my season of depletion that is transforming into a season of restoration. First, some background information—in 2014, my husband and I stepped out in faith purchasing land, then building a house in South Carolina. Throughout the process God blessed our steps. Moving forward to July 2017, we felt it was time to move our lives to South Carolina. This would mean living and working in a new state, a new community, and require me to follow Jesus adventurously. As I embarked on this adventure, my deepest desire then, and now, and is to be surrendered, living in a state of intentional trust as the process unfolds.

Being adventurous with Jesus sounds fantastic at the start until you get into the heart of it and you start to feel lost. You wonder if you and God are on the same path anymore. As the weeks and months passed by, staying steadfast, in resolute trust that God was in control became difficult. By December 2017, the waiting led to wondering that led to questions, doubts, and fears. In my plan, there was no waiting. I had everything falling into line, with the timing of events occurring seamlessly. I’m certain your laughing right now saying, “Really, Terri?” Yes, that was silly of me but then that's me. Soon enough I would realize God’s plan, unlike mine, had waiting written all through it.

The reason the waiting is hard is because waiting chips away at our trust in God's plan, timing, and control. Though I’m committed to trusting God there have been days I’m not sure I have the strength to remain encouraged and surrendered.

By the time January 2018 rolled around, I started wondering if this adventure was less about moving to South Carolina and more about winning a spiritual battle of trust over doubts and fears. One thing is certain, God’s faithfulness is written all over my life and I feel strongly that He deserves my trust. I determined in my heart to win this battle pushing through obstacles and trampling fears. Staying strong, in intentional trust, surrendered to God’s timing,  left me spiritually dehydrated and depleted. I have been using internal resources to win the battle of trust over fear and anxiety.

So, what would you tell me now that I’ve confessed this? I think you would say, “Terri, you know you can’t win a spiritual battle on your own. Why didn’t you ask God for His strength to fill you, to help you stand firm? Would you believe me if I said I forgot? I don’t know why I come to have this untimely “amnesia” when life ramps up and stress increases. Who wouldn’t ask for the things Jesus says is available to me: rest, peace, or carrying my burdens. I want my soul refreshed and renewed. Thank goodness for changing seasons!

Relaxing

There’s a new season on the way, a season of rest and refreshment. What has changed? Two things. I’ve finally awakened to the fact that the Lord has been waiting to fill my heart and to refresh my energy stores. Second, I changed my perspective, my focus. With my family now in South Carolina while I remain in Ohio, my responsibilities have diminished. I’m living with friends who are graciously housing me until details are finalized. It’s a place of peace, a respite. Life has gotten simpler. My pace has slowed. The change in my perspective from what isn’t happening to what is happening has caused me to see what God is doing for me. Seeing it, I'm able to accept this season of rest as the gift God intends it to be. Am I still waiting on God’s plan to unfold? Yes. I’m still fighting the urge to doubt and question our decisions and steps that brought us to this point. But, I’m intent on receiving and enjoying this brief time of rest that God has written into His plan for my life.

Let me emphasize this point: the moment I ask Him, God gives me what I need. The only One who is able to replenish my soul and help me stand strong is Him. I am so very thankful God deeply desires to partner with me, with you too, as we move through difficult seasons.

Seasons 2I wonder if you’ve experienced a season of rest or restoration after a difficult time? For example, have you received strength in spite of what were capable of? Or, maybe you received a boost of courage that you didn’t think possible. Perhaps, it was a profound sense of peace.

What we need to remember is there is no one, but God, who knows our life, our heart, our cares. He delights in you and is ready to refresh your soul the very moment you ask. Yet, asking is just the first step. If you ask for it, then anticipate it. The act of anticipating opens your spiritual eyes and ears as well as your heart to receive God’s provision. You don’t know the form or the way your need will be met, but you want to be in a mode of anticipating, a state of readiness, so you’re open to receive it.

You, dear friends, have an invitation from God for a never-ending conversation. No concern or need is too unimportant to share with God. So, share! To close, let your heart be lifted and your soul quenched by this refreshing truth.

Icon Hearts Encouraged (2)You are a delight to the Lord

He is living life with you

He concerns Himself with your troubles

He is ever ready to meet your needs

He hears your unique voice 

If you are interested in activating your inner encourager, see below for tips on how to be a self-encourager. Thanks for reading! Please share with those who need encouraged!

Tips for Becoming a Self-Encourager

One way I engage in self-encouragement is to find nourishment from God’s word. I search for a heart lifting gem in the Bible and then transform it into a digestible nugget that feeds my soul. For example, I take a verse like Psalm 31:7-8 and write it into a simple narrative, or I might bullet point it. Then, I add a picture that further embeds the verses or truths into my heart. I put it in a place that is easy for me to access or see. For example,

Woman

I have God’s unfailing love

God concerns Himself with my life.

He is ever ready to meet my needs,

calm my fears, and tend to my trouble.

He hears my unique voice.

I matter to God.

Psalm 31:7-8

See how I've reworded this verse in a form that helps me digest it and, receive it into my heart and mind so it can stick! I think that’s the main thing – determining how can you get the encouragement to stick with you.

Once you have created these encouragement gems for your use, then its easy to take this self-encouragement and gift it to someone else. When you’ve been through difficult times, you can see the signs in another woman or man. If they’re struggling with a current life experience that exhausting and depleting their soul, your encouragement may be the heart lift they need.

Another tip is to keep encouragement verses very close to you. I have two verses under my work computer screen that only I can see. I have one in my wallet. I have one in my car. The purpose is to have it handy so that when I feel a surge of overwhelm, fear, or anxiety then I have an immediate remedy. A sniff of lavender oil helps, too.

I hope these tips help you be a strong self-encourager! My prayer is that your heart sings with the knowledge that God is with you and for you! Believe it!

 


Let Yourself be Captivated

Hello and Welcome!

I am excitedly anticipating the beauty of spring and can't wait to explore all the newness that comes with this season. This post encourages you to let yourself be captivated with the nuances and details of life as it presents itself to you. Enjoy! 

Can you remember the last time you let yourself be caught up in the details? I’m not talking about critiquing an email or a proposal. I’m not referring to critically judging effort or choices. When was the last time you moved in close and used every sense to experience the moment?

Lukasz-szmigiel-33891-unsplash - Forest

It seems like it was another lifetime ago when I walked the local metro park to exchange the energy of the city for the color and comfort of the woods. My desire was to meld into the scenery, being present and anticipating the surprises it held for me. I heard sounds of thick branches falling and the rustling of the forest floor as squirrels searched for treasure. I enjoyed the falling rain on the tree leaves and the refreshing scent filling the air. The cardinal’s red splash of color against the brown limbs made me smile. I remember being intensely startled by the sight and sound of 20 deer bursting out of the woods into the field. Such power and grace in motion. What a “wow” moment that’s forever embedded in my memory.

God designs creation with unfathomable detail and it’s made known to you and me when we stop and consider it. What benefit do you receive by fixating on notes within a melody or the individual brush strokes of a painting? What do you gain by letting yourself be fascinated with the tiny nuances of anything? As for me, I have to counter those questions with, “Do I have the time to let myself be captivated?” The answer is yes and for good reason. 

Here's what you gain--

Appreciation 

You gain deeper appreciation for the talent and gifts of others that allows them to create beauty in the same way our Father has.

Real Time Presence 

By narrowing your focus on the details, it brings you very present in the present.

Renewed Curiosity

Letting yourself be fascinated helps you see and listen with more clarity in that moment and beyond.

________________________

Here’s what can change within you as you focus on the details--

A slowing down. A physical change where mind and body are at ease.

Your curiosity comes awakens and is activated.

You're open to the richness of life and creation.

__________________________

Karl-fredrickson-74973-unsplash - SpringSee, I’m doing a new thing! Are you not perceiving it? Isaiah 43:19

I know I’m moving so fast through my life that the details are a blur. I’m also aware that I’m missing “it”. I don’t understand how I got so that I only want the snippets of the story, the bottom line, and the point. I’m deliberating throwing away the details as insignificant. Who has time for “it”? Do you? As I choose to appreciate, be present in this moment, and be curious, I connect with creation, the person in front of me, and with God. God is doing new things all around me and connecting to Him is like connecting to wi-fi thereby increasing my sensitivity to the now. I want to perceive! I want to see God at work in my life, in the lives of others, and in this world. That won’t happen unless I’m paying attention.

Anthony-rossbach-59478-unsplash - SpringDo you ever wonder what you might be missing?

God likes details. He was all about the fine points when he instructed Moses and the Israelites on the preparation for the Tabernacle. If you read Exodus, the specific design, measures, colors, and ornamentation ordered by God is incredible. From clothing to woodwork, God had a design and was concerned with every tiny bit of it. But, it goes deeper than that. God is very much concerned about the nuances and details of every human life. Let me show you. In Genesis, God came to Hagar in the desert calling her by name. He consoles her and leads her back to the camp. With His eyes roaming the earth, He found Hagar. God’s detailed plan for her life didn’t include that desert experience and He led her out of it. God demonstrated his care of her. In John’s gospel, Jesus' conversation with the Samaritan focuses on the relationships in her life. Not to condemn, but to show her a different path. Is God really that concerned with the paths you take? Definitely. Even more, Psalm 139 says God knows when you sit, when you rise, perceives your thoughts, and is familiar with all your ways. God cares about every detail of your life. Because God is interested and invested in the details, I want to do the same. 

Maarten-van-den-heuvel-239204-unsplash - BulbsMarch Challenge

With spring’s arrival there will be plenty of opportunities to engage your senses and get curious about spring’s display as things that are dormant renew in infinite ways. I encourage and challenge you to appreciate the details that are revealed as bulbs sprout, buds open, birds sing, the earth thaws, and spring's colors burst forth bit by bit. It will mean you’ll have to stop moving, take a look, train your ear, slow the rhythm of your thoughts and appreciate. You might have to bend low or turn you head up toward the sky. My hope is that as you let yourself be captivated with the details you will experience "time standing still" moments. When was the last time you were so fully engrossed in an activity that you completely forgot about the element of time? If you can’t remember, then I believe you should try this challenge. Live fully present. Perceive what God is doing within you and around you! Be amazed by the glory of the Lord.

Icon Hearts Encouraged (2)
Blog Update

In the near future, I will be creating a Facebook (FB) author page and posting FB Live videos. The purpose is to provide real time encouragement for you as you pursue God and take that relationship to the next level. You can join in during the Live event and comment, or you can watch later. Comment anytime as I will get those and respond. I’ll post the link here and on my personal FB page when the Author Page is up and then you can Like It.

Always, I am thankful for you being part of this Hearts Encouraged group and I’m very open to your feedback and special requests. Just let me know. Thank you for sharing the blog fellow encouragers!

Fondly, Terri

 Credits

Photo by Karl Fredrickson on Unsplash  (Spring)

Photo by Anthony Rossbach on Unsplash (Bee)

Photo by Maarten-van-den-heuvel on Unsplash (Bulbs)



My Quest for Peace Stressed Me Out

Don’t you just hate it when you lose something? It’s even worse when you lose it a second time. I had peace, then it left me or I lost it. All I know is that my search for peace left me stressed out. You can’t experience peace if you’re pressuring yourself to be at peace! That’s just being crazy which is where I find myself frequently these days. Yes, I live better when my heart and mind is at peace but striving for it is not the method Jesus prescribes. So, how do I hold onto this treasure, make it my lived experience? Last month’s post focused on stress and how it can consume our life and steal from us. This month I’m encouraging you (and me, too) to let peace have its way in your heart and mind.

Peace 4 - Peace path

When I dwell on what peace can do, I think of so many wonderful possibilities. Peace is that healing balm for a hurting heart, a craving for a busy mom, or a sense of well-being that calms a worried mind. Peace soothes and refreshes over-whelmed senses. The Bible says peace is found in God’s promises, peace is Jesus’ gift to us, the peace of God stands guard over us, and the Holy Spirit counsels us to receive peace. The Bible is filled with encouragement on how to let peace take root in your heart and mind. My mission is to receive and hold onto the peace Jesus promises that I can have.

Peace 5 - Girl with Bible

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.

I do not give to you as the world gives.

Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”. (John 14:27, NIV)

When I’m face to face with trouble or an escalating problem, too often I head straight to the intersection of Worry Way and Anxiety Avenue. Unfortunately, my immediate reaction to turn to worry and fear-filled anxiety is deeply embedded. It’s a habit I need to resist for two reasons. First, my inner turmoil affects those who interact with me. My lack of peace can keep me from responding to others with the peace of Christ. I very much want people to find peace and leave with peace after they have been with me. The second reason to resist worry and fear is because Jesus tells us we should.

Jesus tells His followers to not let their hearts entertain fear because fear (being afraid) and peace cannot dwell together. Further, the apostle Paul told his beloved Timothy that he was not given a spirit of fear, but the Spirit of power! It’s a reminder for you and me, today. As a Christian, peace is a choice-point and the Holy Spirit will lead me to it. Choosing to let peace rule my heart instead of fear gives me power to resist worry, anxiety, and fear. It's my love relationship with Jesus that gives me access to his gift of peace. Realized or not, our souls hunger for a strong peace, a sustaining peace. We need a peace that fortifies and heals. By going too long without the peace of Christ, we become parched, weary, and lifeless. Jesus wants us to live with well with courage and with hope. His peace within us restores what stress, worry, and fear deplete.  

Peace 6 - Guard

“Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7, NLT)

Can you conjure a mental image of peace as a guardian ready to defend your heart and mind from the poisoned arrows of dark fear and worry? Peace is your guardian when you let peace take control of your heart. Our God knows we cannot stand against the constant assault by the world day after day. While peace can be our response towards people and trouble, it's challenging. For that reason, we have the Holy Spirit as our necessary counselor leading us to peace.

Your first step to safeguard your heart and mind from turmoil, anxiety, and fear is this--let the peace of Jesus control, guard your heart. (Colossians 3:15, NLT)

Dark fears and uncontrolled worry poisons your mind leading you towards a pervading negative outlook. But, God’s peace draws you to a different experience—a calm quietness encapsulating your heart and mind. Jesus wants to carry your fears and worries, lifting that burden off your frame. You get to choose to exchange those burdens for peace. When peace is in charge of your heart and mind, then it controls your response instead of the circumstance.1

I’m writing this post about peace knowing full-well I struggle with the practice of peace. Frankly, I get frustrated with myself letting anxiety take hold. Why don’t I have more self-control and go straight to the peace path? Where I am weak, the Lord provides. Thankfully, the Spirit prompts me and nudges me to receive the alternative. I’m so grateful I’m not alone in the spiritual battle over my heart and mind. I’m developing the practice of seeking peace in heart and mind with the Lord as my teacher.

Peaece 3 - Reflections

Your Soul at Ease

Imagery is powerful and David’s 23rd Psalm portrays tranquility. Mindfully imagine the scene in these verses:

“You, Lord, make me lie down in green pastures, and You, Lord, lead me beside quiet waters. You alone restore my soul. And You, Lord, guide me to paths designed for me.”

This word picture creates within me a craving to experience what David writes--moments of quiet, contentment, and stillness of heart and mind. David’s words help me imagine those things that my Father in heaven wants me to receive: rest, restoration, calmness, and a relinquishing of every one of my worries and concerns.

Having all this information in your back pocket perhaps you’re thinking, “Yes, I agree that peace is all that you’ve described and I would love to have it and live peace-filled, but is it realistic?”

What I can and can’t do

Icon Hearts EncouragedI simply can’t manufacture peace out of my own resources.

Icon Hearts EncouragedI can ask the Holy Spirit to help me let peace supersaturate my heart and mind.

Icon Hearts EncouragedI can mindfully let His peace control my heart so it’s my automatic choice.

Icon Hearts EncouragedI can embed that sense of peace, the experience of God’s peace, as a remembrance so I will seek it.

Icon Hearts EncouragedI can choose peace as my response.

Icon Hearts EncouragedI can intentionally seek peace moments with God. 

Peace Prayer

May You, the God of Hope, fill me to the full with joy and peace as I trust in You. Please let me overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

(Romans 15:1, NIV paraphrased)

Praying this verse is your request for a joy and peace that super-saturates your soul and envelopes your mind. You’re saying you trust God to fill you with peace and you believe there is no limit on the duration or the amount of peace you can receive. Believe it, sister! You’re making this request with an expectation of receiving joy, peace, and hope so you can endure and remain encouraged in every situation.2

And don’t forget that the Holy Spirit leads you, shepherds you to peace, and helps you respond with peace. It’s worth the effort to resist fear and worry and hand the controls over to peace. It’s a way of living that Jesus died to give us.

I would love to know of your experiences with seeking and receiving peace. Your comments do so much to encourage others. Thank you so much to those who commented on the stress post in January. Blessings, Terri

References

1 - Psalm 9:10; Isaiah 26:3; Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (2nd printing new ed. 2011). Page 891. Hendrickson: Peabody, MA.

2  - Romans 15:4-6


Stressed?

Another Saturday and another trip by me and my husband to the Lowe’s in Columbus, Ohio. These frequent trips were happening because we were the proud owners of a lot in South Carolina. A lot begs for a house to be built and we took the challenge. We weren’t novices at house building but this was different and it felt like an adventure. This house would require us to oversee every tiny detail from selecting the house plans to finding a builder to doing what we were doing that day. All of it from Ohio. On this Lowe’s trip, we were in the lighting isle, heads up, and staring at the brightness and dimensions. I was daunted as I considered every room, every crevice I might want to have lit. Looking down at my list in hand, I felt a heaviness in my chest. I rubbed it to make it go away. Not again, I thought, what’s wrong with me, now? I shifted by mind back to the lights just wanting to get it over with.

Stressed person

Have you ever found yourself experiencing internal turmoil because of the stress in your life?

I happen to be one of those people who haphazardly manages my stress. Sure, you can lecture me on all the significant health effects stress has on the body, but I already know all that as a nurse. And, I won’t bore you with the health statistics but trust me when I say that the terms significant health effects and stress will always be in the same sentence. It’s true that low level stress can have positive effects on our performance, but constant and sustained stress is bad for us at every level.

Every time I walked into Lowe’s to make house selections, I felt like a python was squeezing me to death. Of course, you saw the connection as you read the story, but I couldn’t put it together at the time. The stress kept me from doing so. Multiple stressors were tapping my resources and this one women show was starting to bomb. I was worrying about everyone and everything. When I was told the chest heaviness and stomach issues were causing panic anxiety, it didn’t sit well with me. My first thought labeled that as ridiculous and lame. Panic anxiety? I couldn’t believe I had that much stress to cause that kind of anxiety. The physician prompted me to share the matters and concerns in my life. As  I heard the list with my own ears, only then did I realized the burden I was carrying. One stressor heaped onto another had brought me to my knees.

Stress-2902537_640Stress steals

What has stress stolen from you? Sleep? Peace of mind? Health? Life hours? Self-control? Joy? Laughter? If you spend any time thinking about it, you’ll find that stress causes casualties. Excessive stress steals and it can draw you away from God. It’s really important to monitor the forms of stress and the amount of stress in your life. Believe me, I don’t want to get to the point where my body tells me I’m on overload especially when I can proactively monitor the stress in my life. I have to let go of what I can’t control and ask the Lord to lead me through what I can control. I deny myself peace when I fail to remember my lived experience of His provision over the course of my life.

Stress quotes-933816_640Jesus knows

If you consider everything Jesus went through during his time on earth, you’ll find he fully and completely understands the stressors in your life.

Jesus knows the stress associated with meeting demands. The people came to him day and night for healing, prayer, comfort, miracles, and teaching. He knows your weariness as you try to meet the needs of those in your circle.

Jesus understands your difficulty managing the conflict between God’s commands and daily influences. Jesus was sought by Satan, faced political powers, and others in authority who tempted and mocked him.

Jesus came face to face with betrayal and rejection as those in his intimate circle deserted him. He sees the toll it takes on your heart when you experience the same.

Jesus’ responded to the death of Lazarus and John the Baptist with great sadness. He deeply understands the stress you experience of losing those you love.

We were not meant to face high stress situations and traumatic events alone. Human to human, heart to heart is how we grow endurance, resilience, and hope. When we allow ourselves to be supported by God and His people, then we find a strength we can never create on our own. It is not a sign of weakness to reach out for help. I used to think needing help meant I was insufficient to handle it on my own and that was a bad thing. Now, I know better. Asking for help is a sign of wisdom and the way to live life well during stressful and overwhelming situations. There is a tendency for us to think we have to be strong and endure but if we do this out of our own strength we will eventually falter and crash. Don’t let your pride say, “No thanks” to God’s help or any other help as it comes to you.

God will meet you and lift you up  because of His great love for you

Intentionally choose to deeply trust God. There’s nothing in your life that’s too unimportant for God. He wants to get in it with you. Isaiah 40 from The Message Bible helps to explain God’s desire to meet you in your immediate need.

“Why would you ever complain…saying, “God has lost track of me. He doesn’t care what happens to me”? God doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired, doesn’t pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles. They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.” (Isaiah 40:27-31)

Peace-3010107_640Your faith is power-packed to help you remain resilient

In the studies conducted on resilience, a key factor was identified and a question was posed: Why are some individuals able to “bounce back” better than others? This is how the term resiliency gained importance. The studies discovered that some of us have developed protective strategies as we are confronted with stress and one such strategy is spirituality. For believers in Christ, one of the key protective elements is faith, hope, and trust. We see God as a source of security, a sure thing, when all else seems to be crumbling. With our faith built on the foundation of God’s promises, we can exist within the circumstance, hold on to the good, and move through the stress or traumatic event one small step at a time. Truly, that’s all we are able to do--take one step at a time, believing God has hold of us, and He will stoop down to meet us in it.

Rely on God for…

Icon Hearts Encouraged (2)God provides relationships, particularly unlikely relationships or people who come into your life for just a season--for such a time as this.

Icon Hearts Encouraged (2)God provides inner direction through the Holy Spirit. You need only focus on quieting your mind and heart in order to hear.

Icon Hearts Encouraged (2)God provides the capacity for you to endure.

Icon Hearts Encouraged (2)God speaks tenderly to your heart to increase your confidence in your ability to stand strong. God provides wisdom.

Icon Hearts Encouraged (2)God can help you see how He is working and how He is using you as a source of strength to others as they view your example of strength and endurance. And, when you can’t be strong, He will provide those resources through people who will come along aside.

What worries will you let go of and place into the Lord’s care? Will you receive the peace of Christ letting it rule rather than stress? Is stress stealing something from you? Take it back! Are your thoughts taking you down the path of worry or anxiety? Put up a mental roadblock and capture those thoughts. You’ve got this!

Thank you for reading and I pray peace fills your heart and mind. Please share this post to encourage others.  Blessings to you, Terri

 

References

Mayo Clinic link for Healthy Lifestyle – Stress Management:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/HLV-20049495

Impact of Stress on the Body

Bartol, G. M. and Courts, N. F. (2005). Holistic Nursing: A Handbook for Practice. The Psychophysiology of Bodymind Healing. B. Dossey, C. Guzetta, and L. Keegan (Eds). Sudbury MA: Jones & Bartlett; Graham, J. E., Robles, T. F., Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., Malarkey, W. B., Bissell, M. G., & Glaser, R. (2006). Hostility and pain are related to inflammation in older adults. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 20, 389-400; Tully, P. J., Cosh, S. M., & Baune, B. T. (2013). A review of the affects of worry and generalized anxiety disorder upon cardiovascular health and coronary heart disease. Psychology, Health & Medicine, 18 (6), 627-644. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13548506.2012.749355.

Jesus Knows

Luke 22:39-44 (stress of upcoming death); Matthew 14:13-16 (demands and needs of the people); Matthew 4:1-11 (tempted); Luke 22:1-6, 54-62 (betrayed and deserted); Matthew 27:27-31 (mocked); Luke 23 (crucifixion); John 11:35 (wept); Matthew 14:6-12 (John’s death); Matthew 27:11-26 (Pilate, religious leaders)

Resiliency

Resilience to loss and potential trauma. Bonanno, G. A., Westphal, M. & Mancici, A. D. (2011). Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 7, 511-535. doi: 10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-032210-104526

Resilience to loss and potential trauma. Bonanno, G. A., Westphal, M. & Mancici, A. D. (2011). Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 7, 511-535. doi: 10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-032210-104526;

Navigating hardships in old age: exploring the relationship between spirituality and resilience in later life. Manning, L. K. (2012). Qualitative Health Research, 23 (4) 568-575. doi: 10.1177/1049732312471730

Spirituality and resilience among post-graduate university students. Gnanaprakash, C. (2013). Journal of Health Management, 15 (3), 383-396. doi: 10.1177/0972063413492046

Resiliency in action: Practical ideas for overcoming risks and building strengths in youth, families, and communities. Henderson, N. (2014).  Retrieved from http://www.resiliency.com/free-articles-resources/hard-wired-to-bounce-back/


Brave Enough To Keep Going

If you’re like me during the month of December you gather with friends and family and, inevitably, get to reminiscing about holidays past or just about anything else. Sometimes, we end up laughing so hard our stomachs hurt. Those are good times! And, there are other memories that are more respectfully solemn and wistful. I wonder what holiday memory has quickly surfaced in your mind even as you read these words.

Christmas-bauble-3009430_640

As for me, the Christmas of 2003 is a memory I will never forget. No song or colorful light display could bring joy to my heart. I entered the season struggling with muscle weakness that affected my ability to walk and speak. The weakness caused me to fatigue so much so that even to bring food to my mouth and chew was an effort. It was a depressing time because I had no diagnosis and the neurologists were puzzled.

We were living in Cincinnati and planned to drive to Columbus on Christmas Eve to be with family for a couple days. We reserved a handicapped accessible room at a hotel so I could shower. I couldn’t step in and out of a tub without someone helping me to lift my legs. Both of our parents’ homes had very small bathrooms with tubs. My pride and shame of needing someone to help me shower and dress is what drove me away from staying with them.

Candles in darknessWhen we arrived at the hotel, you can imagine my dismay when I found out that the promised handicapped accessible room was not available. This devastating news meant our only alternative was to stay at my in-laws house. This was the very thing I wanted to avoid. I felt vulnerable and defeated. I wanted to go back home. I cried out to God, “Wasn’t it was enough to bear the look on their faces as well as the questions that I had no answers for. Why this, too?”

I needed to override those emotions and re-focus. But how? I knew in my heart my perspective was distorted. There were things that were right with my body. I knew the only way to keep going was to recognize that everything is a gift from God. I may not have been walking properly or very far but I was still able to walk. I could see, hear, and speak even if the words were sloppy. I could smile. I could laugh. I needed to be brave despite what I was experiencing.

Storm clouds

I wonder if you know someone who has faced an unexpected, unanticipated situation this year that has rocked their world. Through local and world news, we come face to face with women, men, and children whose lives have been irrevocably changed. Is it possible for them to be brave enough to keep going? Yes, because God is with us in it.

Brave enough to keep going is about maintaining a steady, fixed gaze on Jesus. It was his laser-focus on God that kept him walking the path all the way to the cross through to the resurrection. Jesus knows what you need to take the next step and the step after that. Whatever courage I can muster will always falter, but how much stronger I am when I lean on Jesus.

I made it through the Christmas of 2003 with the love of my husband, family, and friends. There would be many more days after that requiring courage, trust, and hope. In August 2005, I successfully completed six months of intensive therapy so I could walk and perform those essential activities like laundry and running the sweeper. You wouldn’t think that someone could look forward to that, but I sure did! Yet, the outcome is not the focus of this story. The important point is that in 2003 I couldn’t see what was in store for me in 2005. But, I intentionally chose to trust God one step at a time, one day at a time.

Winter pathEven today, I have to decide if I’m brave enough to follow God. If I want to experience everything He has planned for me, I need to commit. What about you? Are you in need of courage to follow? To take the next step? Perhaps not today or tomorrow, but in the future you and I may need to be brave enough to keep going. When you ask for courage you can count on God answering that prayer!

The following verses* and encouragement statements sustained me during those difficult, dark days in December of 2003 and they sustain me today. I hope the Word of God fills you with courage, hope, and peace. Blessing and peace to you, Terri

Icon Hearts EncouragedBe fierce in trusting God.   Psalm 37:23, 27:14

Icon Hearts EncouragedBe thankful.   Colossians 3:15

Icon Hearts EncouragedStay present in this day.

Icon Hearts EncouragedDeliver me from all my fears.   Psalm 34:4

Icon Hearts EncouragedGod has given me a Spirit of power, love and

   self-control – USE IT.   2 Timothy 1:7

Icon Hearts EncouragedHave I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.

Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged,

for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

Icon Hearts EncouragedHelp me receive the Spirit’s wisdom and revelation.  Ephesians 1:17

Icon Hearts EncouragedQuietness and trust first, then I can hear His call.

Icon Hearts EncouragedEagerly expect and anticipate God’s presence,

   leading, counsel, and direction. 

Icon Hearts EncouragedKnow God delights in you and will open the way

   if He delights in your steps.   Zephaniah 3:17, Psalm 18:19

Icon Hearts EncouragedRely on God -- be bold, fearless, courageous

   He has commanded you to do it.   Joshua 1:9

Icon Hearts EncouragedGod’s resources are unlimited!  Romans 8:32

Icon Hearts EncouragedGod reveals his plan in his perfect time.

Icon Hearts EncouragedGod will fulfill his purpose for me!  Psalm 57:2-3

*Many verses are paraphrased and come from the New International Version.


Gratitude Notes

Welcome and Hello!

For November, our encouragement focus is on gratitude. These Gratitude Notes are meant to encourage you to dwell in a continual state of gratitude. May your gratitude shine forth in any and all circumstances. Blessings, Terri 

Gratitude - poster

Have you ever met a person with such a warm, deep appreciation for the kindnesses they have received that it streams through their speech and attitude? I have. And it amazes me. At first, you sort of wonder if it’s real until you meet them time and again and the message is consistent. They live from a foundation of gratitude. What's their secret? They live present-focused.

Gratitude is a way of being, a way of thinking. You express it through non-verbal pathways—your eyes, your expression, and your posture. Gratitude directs your thoughts and your speech. It starts by planting a seed of gratitude in your heart. Next, you nurture that seed with intentional thoughts of appreciation and recognition of the Lord’s presence in your life. The result is gratitude rooting deeply, blossoming in your heart.

Gratitude is a choice. When you utter words of thankfulness, praise, and acknowledgement of God’s faithfulness and love, particularly in a difficult situation, you are sharing a powerful message of hope, of trust and gratitude. Gratitude feels illogical and irrational until you experience the strengthening peace enabling you stand and take that next step. There are many ways to respond in times of discouragement and despair. Gratitude statements help bring your focus back to what God has done, is doing, and will do.

Gratitude is an act. Your offering of gratitude to the Lord is of such great worth that nothing in this world compares to it. Nothing! The reason is because it’s from your heart which is so highly treasured by your Heavenly Father.

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There are many inspiring Bible verses and quotes about gratitude and thanksgiving. I have provided a few quotes and verses as a jump-start for you to create personal Gratitude Prompts. I encourage you to take this list for a test run. Test these on a day that’s not discouraging or eventful. Read these aloud mindfully, being very present focused. As you read, or after you’ve finished, assess the effect of these words on your heart or thoughts. If you feel renewed gratitude in your heart, then take the next step. Create personal, meaningful gratitude statements to use on those difficult, discouraging days! I hope you'll discover anew what the Lord has done, is doing, and will do because of your trust and hope in Him.

Woods-1072819_640Seeds of discouragement will not grow in the thankful heart. –Anon.

Lord, I will cultivate thankfulness in my heart. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. I will give it plenty of room in my life.... I will sing, sing my heart out to God! Let every detail in my life—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.   –Colossians 3:15-17 The Message [with my paraphrase]

Gratitude is an offering precious in the sight of God, and it is one that the poorest of us can make and be not poorer but richer for having made it. – A. W. Tozer

Thank you, Lord, that you hear your people when they call to you for help. You rescue them from all their troubles. You are close to the brokenhearted; You rescue those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.  --Psalm 34:17-19 NIV [my paraphrase]

Gratitude is the memory of the heart. –Massieu

 

Icon Hearts Encouraged

 

Gratitude Statements

 

What a relief to know I can place in your hands my heart-felt cares and worries! 1 Peter 5:6-7

God, the knowledge of your unfathomable love and forgiveness fortifies my hope and encourages me. Romans 4:7-8

Thank you for promising to never withhold your love from me. I live assured of Your love for me. Psalm 66:16-20

When my heart seeks you, I find a rest for my soul that is like no other. Psalm 62:1-2

Thank you for your presence in my life – my hope and trust are renewed when I call to you. Jeremiah 6:16

I’m so grateful for your graciousness toward me. Lord, you know the details of my life and You are with me with every step I take. Psalm 37:23-24

When I am in distress You alone can bring healing consolation and support.  Isaiah 33:2, Psalm 94:18-19

God, you are my hiding place. You protect me from trouble. You surround me with your unfailing love. Psalm 32

How blessed I am that you’ve given me the Holy Spirit to counsel me, lead me. Romans 12:2

I call to You, Lord and I know You hear me. Thank you for taking great care with my soul, holding it in Your hands, restoring what feels broken. Psalm 34:17-18

Lord, your faithfulness is a secure promise and my life proves it to be truth. I’m so thankful I am never lost from your sight. Hebrews 4:13, Psalm 145

Thank you, Lord, for what is good in my life: __[fill in the blank]__

Icon Hearts Encouraged
Thanksgiving Prayers

 

I will fulfill my vows to you, O God, and will offer a sacrifice of thanks for your help. For you have rescued me from death; you have kept my feet from slipping. So now I can walk in your presence, O God, in your life-giving light. --Psalm 56:12-13

_________________

An easy thing, O Power Divine,

To thank thee for these gifts of Thine,

For summer’s sunshine, winter’s snow,

For hearts that kindle, thoughts that glow;

But when shall I attain to this—

To thank Thee for the things I miss?

–Thomas Wentworth Higginson

I always welcome your comments and suggestions! God's Word asks us to encourage one another and I thank those who are sharing these with their friends and family. Blessings, Terri


Drifting with the Current

Hello and Welcome! Today's post is brimming with tip points and action steps to encourage you journey on your faith walk. Last month was the blog's birthday and if you haven't yet received your birthday gift for being a subscriber, just go to the October link under Archives in the sidebar for information on how to get your free book! Now on to the post...

Have you passed by a conversation in process and get a vibe? Or, have you ever gathered for a meeting and felt the tension in the room? How do you feel when you’re part of negative, pessimistic, derogatory or sarcastic conversation? I truly believe negativity has a feel to it. Even more, when we are in a negative environment, it changes the status of our muscles, blood pressure, heart rate, breath, peace, thoughts, and attitude. Negativity dims and tangles the heart and mind. Just talking about it makes me gloomy!

Thankfully, we are also wonderfully affected by the polar opposite of negativity! We do our body and soul good when we offer affirming and positive words, receive smiles, share laughter, listen with understanding, and extend gratitude. These acts lift and brighten our hearts. I can remember a day I watched some people having a great laugh and I thought to myself, when is the last time you laughed, grinned, or giggled? I couldn’t give myself an answer. I don't know how long it's been since I laughed until my stomach muscles hurt and tears were rolling down my face. That bothered me so I decided to take note of how much negativity I’m exposing myself to on a day to day basis. Breaking news! is always negative. Then there are the prompts by media to look at the disturbing video and listen to the angry exchange of words. I get to see and hear way more than I need. Advertisers, too, try to get my attention with negative twists.

Snorkel boatHe reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. --2 Samuel 22:29

In deep waters is where I found myself several years ago when I became immersed in negativity.  I liken it to my experience of snorkeling. I’ve snorkeled a few times in my life so far in Mexico, Grand Caymen, and the Turks and Caicos. It was in Grand Caymen that I learned what not to do. Whether on land or sea, I get distracted. When I snorkel in the ocean, I’m so focused on the beauty of the coral and other ocean life beneath me that it’s easy to lose track of my position. I can’t truly gauge my location from the boat because I’m face down in the water. I’m unaware that the tide and current is causing me to drift, moving me further and further from the boat. If the current takes me away from the boat, then I will have to fight that current to get back. That’s the mistake I made. By the time I came up to check my location, I was a significant distance from the boat. The only way back is to swim against the current and if it’s strong then it can be very difficult and tiring. (By the way, the boat won’t come to you.) I made it back but it was hard and exhausting.

So, how does drifting relate to negativity? Negativity causes you to drift from your starting point--that being a heart filled with gratitude, hope, and trust in the Lord. When you’re focused on the negative you don’t realize your position has changed.

Snorkeling-1197011_640Drifting with the current…

There was a time when I indulged myself an occasional complaint or a grumble. I justified it as a harmless act of stress relief. And, it did feel like relief. It’s the kind of relief you feel when you enter refreshingly cool water on a blistering hot day. It felt like I was off-loading, unburdening, releasing the frustration. That’s reasonable, right? It’s no good to keep things bottled up. But, there’s a danger zone. The more often I indulged myself the further I drifted from my starting point. My stress and frustrations coupled with external negativity acted as a steady current pulling me to into deeper water. Occasional complaining or grumbling turned into a consistent pessimism and gloomy outlook. A habit was forming. My complaining, grumbling steadily transformed my mindset and attitude and day by day I drifted away from gratitude. So far from where I started, I no longer had a proper perspective on what was right and well with my life. I became a person with an all-encompassing negative outlook and viewpoint.

Why did it happen? I can’t really say except that I let it happen. Eventually, I figured what I needed to do to get back to my previous heart position. Unfortunately, it took me a long time to turn my thoughts and attitude around. Unlearning requires endurance.

 

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What are the signs and symptoms of a negative attitude and perspective?

Loss of sight. The eyes of the negative heart can see no good thing. The mind’s eye becomes a negative view-finder focusing on what is not right, not fixed, not happening, not healed, and not working.

Forgetfulness. We ignore God’s presence forgetting His past faithfulness. This mindset dismisses all else that God is providing, working out, or resolving.

Ingratitude. We cannot, or choose not, to offer thanks and gratitude to God for what is and for what is not. As a negative heart and mind persists, it transforms and reforms our will.

Anxiety. Negativity increases our stress and our hearts become anxious. Negativity erodes our faith, hope, and peace.

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone whose focus is directed at the negative and unable to see what is right with their life? Let’s make it more personal. What do you reflect on more, the positive aspects of your day or the negative conversations and experiences? Take a moment to think about it. Where do your thoughts land? On the positive or the negative?

Good day

Restore Balance

Go to what delights your soul

Entertain peace in your heart

Fill your eyes with beauty

Tune your ears to songs that praise

Nurture your body with rest

Refresh your thoughts with the Word of God

Surrender unknowns to the Lord

Choose to see, perceive God’s active, working presence in your life.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power at work within us. –Ephesians 3:20

You simply can’t imagine or comprehend all that God provides to you on a moment to moment basis, but it is possible to intentionally reflect on His constant presence intervening, influencing, resolving, strengthening, directing, and involving Himself in your day.

Icon Hearts EncouragedFurther Action Steps

Catch a Negative Thought. Stop a negative thought in process and move your frame of mind in the opposite direction.

Spot the Positive. A proper perspective allows you to create positive momentum within your thoughts that is reflected through your speech and attitude.

Do a Body Check. When you catch your thoughts propelling you down the path of negativity do a body check. Is your jaw clenched? Is your heart rate increased? Are your muscles tight particularly in the abdominal region, neck, or shoulders? What you think about directly affects your body.

Evaluate your Environment. What you take in, is what comes out. Do you need to reevaluate what you consume via TV, internet, and other media? What about your work environment?

Pray. Ask God to help you break the habit of negative thinking. Ask Him to set your physical and spiritual vision on Him. Choose to see through eyes of faith and hope.


Hope Notes

Hello and Welcome!

I’m excited to tell you that the Hearts Encouraged Blog is one year old this month! Big deal, right? It is for you! When there’s a birthday, there’s usually presents. What better way to celebrate this birthday than with a free book for you, my subscribers. I know! You weren’t expecting it, but you deserve it. I’m giving away a wonderful book by Beth Moore called Audacious. If you would like to receive this book, you can email me at heartsencouragedministry@gmail.com and let me know your preferred delivery method of either UPS or in person. If you choose UPS, I’ll need your address but be assured I will not share with any other party. Thank you so much for being a faithful subscriber! I thank God for each of you! Now, on to the post… 

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If I told you that hope is to your heart and soul like water and oxygen are to your body, would you believe me? That statement might seem a little over the top until you talk to people who have experienced profound circumstances. They will share they persevered because they chose to hope. Hope is powerful.

Did you know that hope is now highly regarded by health providers? Clinical teams identify hope as a crucial element for patients living with acute and chronic health issues. Whether it’s depression, cancer, post-traumatic stress syndrome, loss of limb, heart disease, bipolar disorder, or addiction--hope is an element with significant impact causing some people to achieve a level of wellness not thought possible considering their health issue.1 Moving beyond health events that negatively impact life, there are weather events, accidents, fire, death, and more that can devastate our lives. In these situations, still hope survives. When the media chooses to highlight a story of hope within devastating circumstances, we need to see it, hear it.  We need to know that in tragedy hope can rise up, lift up, and thrive in spite of the suffering and harm. Hope gives life meaning and purpose. Hope is a force that enables you to overcome and take those first steps after a significant life event.

Hope v despair

There have been a few times in my life when I thought I could not possibly ignite the dying embers of hope within me. I felt depleted, utterly discouraged, and on the verge of letting my hope slip away. My face to the ground, my body limp without the strength to pull myself up one more time, and my heart so broken the pain was palpable. During a significant health event, if it hadn’t been for my dear friend, Annette, sending me the verse below I might have relinquished hope.

…If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:31-32 (NIV)

When hope is ebbing away you can cry out to the Lord to give you hope, provide a reason to hope, and the strength of heart and mind to hope! The apostle Paul’s prayer for the people is a prayer for you as well:

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (NLT)

Evergreen tree with light

In this season on your life you may not find this post that pertinent or even beneficial. For this I'm glad. However, maybe there's someone else who could receive benefit or this post is something you tuck away for that day, may it never come, when you need it. When lift hits you hard you may not have the strength or time to dig through the Bible for hope statements and verses that will empower and sustain you. By creating Hope Statements , you arm yourself with the word of God so you can stand when trials and troubles comes. I created the following Hope Statements from verses in the Psalms, the gospel of John. and Philippians to get me through days of difficulty. Along with these declarations of hope, I use quotes to help me remember the truth of how God relates to me and His concern over my life. Do you have a favorite verse that lifts you up and reminds you that your hope is well founded because you're God’s child and He is for you? Why don’t you consider creating a statement of hope that is meaningful to you. You can place these Hope Statements in your phone for quick access when you need a boost, a reminder. You are not alone. You have a reason to hope.

Icon Hearts EncouragedHope Statement – Safety, Security

Lord, you are my refuge, a safe harbor in times of trouble. I know you and trust in you. You have never forsaken those who seek you. You have not and will not abandon me. Lord, I believe you delight in me and take great care of me.  (Psalm 9:9-10, Psalm 37:23-24, Psalm 18:19 –paraphrased)

Icon Hearts EncouragedHope Statement – Exerting My Faith

I will choose joy! I believe you hear the prayers of those who pray for me, Lord. I believe the Holy Spirit is helping me as I take this difficult path. What is happening to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope for courage to reflect my faith in you, Lord, as I remain steadfast in this circumstance.   (Philippians 1:19-20 – paraphrased)

Icon Hearts EncouragedHope Statement – Discouragement

Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!   (Psalm 42: 5 NLT)

Icon Hearts EncouragedHope Statement – God Knows Me, Knows My Needs

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. Because You know me, I wait in hope for you, Lord; You are my help and my shield. In you, Lord, my heart rejoices for I trust in your holy name. God, may your unfailing love rest upon me and those I care about even as I put my hope in you.    (John 10:27-28 – NIV paraphrased)

Hope is the positive mode of awaiting the future. –Emil Brunner

If we were logical, the future would be bleak indeed. But we are more than logical. We are human beings, and we have faith, and we have hope, and we can work. –Jacques Cousteau

Patience is the art of hoping. –Vauvenargues

References

1 Snyder, C. R., Harris, C., Anderson, J.R., Holleran, S. A., Irving, L. M., Sigmon, S. T., et al. (1991). The will and the ways: Development and validation of an individual-differences measure of hope. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60 (4), 570-585. Retrieved from teachingpsychology.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/hope-theory.pdf


Paths and Plans

Fall is here! It’s all about pumpkins, cricket symphonies, and squirrels preparing for that other season. What do you enjoy about the fall season? God’s creative splendor is extravagantly displayed this time of year and it’s the reason people travel to enjoy the change of the leaves. I suppose if you were to take a drive you would set your itinerary for the very best views of the fall colors. Take a moment and imagine you’re on that drive right now. There, up ahead, you see the bountiful mix of red, yellow, orange coming into your sight. The bold color of orange is ever so prominent, but wait. Oh no, those aren’t leaves. It’s the dreaded construction sign. It’s a DETOUR.

Detour signs

Have you ever eagerly anticipated taking a detour? What’s the first thought that comes to your mind when you face one? Is it, Great! Looking forward to this. Fantastic! Love the detour. Or, are you like me and your response is, Oh no! What if we reassigned our concept of a detour to a positive category in our brain? Can we change our gut reaction to a detour? More importantly, why should we? A detour may be God’s call for our attention and a reroute to the better way. His way.

I think we can all agree that usually a detour leads you into unknown territory. When you have to take a detour, it makes you wake up and take notice. A detour requires your attention because it’s not the same well-worn path you’re used to taking, and it gives you a different view from what you’re used to seeing. There’s no doubt that a detour can be stressful and create anxiety when you believe there’s only one way to get where you want to go and the way appears to be blocked. You have plans for the day, for your life. God has plans, too. Sometimes your plan and His plan run a parallel course and sometimes it doesn’t. When God is directing you and me toward an alternative route, it’s a call to adjust our vision and plan.

Road Closed

Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” The Lord proclaimed through Jeremiah that He has plans for His people and you’re one of those people. The onset of a detour may be specifically directed at impacting your life alone, or so your life can directly impact someone else. The most difficult part of accepting a detour on your life path is surrendering your plans for the sake of the unknown or alternative path God is presenting. My own life has been filled with multiple detours as I was going on the way to fulfilling my plans. I know the exasperation and frustration that comes with a detour. I haven’t forgotten the heartache that set in as I realized what I wanted wasn’t going to happen. Infertility was not a detour that I found acceptable. I had a hard time accepting that I didn’t get to control that situation. A decade later, I experienced the overpowering waves of fear as I wondered what the future held considering what was happening in the present. A health issue was changing my life--the present was hard to handle and the future looked even bleaker.

Was I without children in my life? Definitely not. God brought children into my life just in a different way than I anticipated. Did my health issue turn my life upside down? Yes, it changed me. My eyes were opened and my heart was transformed. God brought new friends into my life that were willing to set aside their own plans to meet my needs when I couldn’t do that on my own. Such wonderful, faithful servants of God represented the love of Christ for me as they served and loved me in the midst of my difficulties. Moreover, I learned something I couldn’t have learned without going through that experience. Both of those events fall into a category I call detours.

  Detours are part of our life story  

   We have access to power and strength through Christ  

I write the previous sentence with a deep conviction and belief. I rely on the fact that when trouble presents as a detour in my life then I will also be presented with a path leading directly to God. God never fails. Consider Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (The Message):

“So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.” 

There really is far more going on than meets the eye during our difficulties. The detour that causes my life path to intersect with another’s life path is a chance to lovingly serve and meet needs beyond my own. There is little more moving than the sight and experience of humanity coming together and prevailing in times of trouble. Today, there’s no shortage of opportunities. Never underestimate your impact on the life of someone else. One deliberate act of kindness, one random act of love has significance because it’s from you. 

Road through forest

Availability

So, how available am I to God’s call to a detour? Wait. Let me check my calendar. At home, my paper calendar governs my personal hours while my Outlook calendar controls my work day. I’m a pro at maximizing the hours in a single day and most of those hours are already dedicated, promised to something or someone. Obviously, living in this manner makes a detour an annoyance, a roadblock, or an obstacle for me. This is how I miss IT.

What’s IT?

The IT is the blessing I can give or a blessing I could receive. The IT is an encounter with the Holy Spirit. The IT is a call to stop, look, and listen for the Lord. Who schedules a chance to bless or be blessed? Who schedules an encounter with God? These things happen to you on your way or in the midst of your doing. Detours are filled with ITs that impact your life and allow you to impact others. It goes back to availability.

Detours will always be part of my story and I might as well expect and welcome each one. Some of these will bless me, others will bring me into the welcoming, loving presence of Jesus, and some detours will be opportunities to reflect the love of Christ as my life path crosses theirs. I’m choosing to be available and surrender my plans so I can experience the Lord’s plan for my life! Are you willing to be available? Are you willing to go off schedule, get off track to participate with God’s plan? It’s worth experiencing. Is there someone who may need the encouragement contained in this post? Feel free to share!

Blessings,

Terri


Unity - It Starts In Me

Hello and Welcome!

Today's post is at the request of my dear friend, Coleen, who asked me to write on the Lord’s Prayer. I say this prayer each Sunday and it’s one of the special times in the service where I join my voice with others who believe that God is our Father in heaven. Though I recite it, I’m not sure I’ve ever thoughtfully contemplated this Jesus-given prayer and how it’s actively manifesting in my life. I hope to encourage you to consider the Lord’s prayer as a call to unity on earth as it is in heaven.

Lord's PrayerWhen I pray God’s will be done, what am I asking for?

What is the Lord’s will?

…a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation,

tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and

in front of the Lamb… And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne,

and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9-10)

Unity.

Unity is what the apostle John saw in his vision and recorded in Revelation--difference brought together – one voice – worshiping the Lord. Can you imagine it? It’s the very reason Christ died so we could be one with the Father. Jesus gave this powerful prayer to the apostles who took to heart the message of unity and we see it manifested in their writings.

…be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble… – 1 Peter 3:8

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of

peace. There is one body and one Spirit… 

-- Ephesians 4:3 (written by Paul)

When I speak the Lord’s Prayer, either aloud or in my heart, I’m saying I want what the Father wants. I want the unity of heaven to be present on earth and I’m willing to make every effort to be in unity with God’s people. Perhaps you're wondering how I've come to see unity in the Lord's prayer. I discovered this view in the two verses following the Lord's prayer. In Matthew 6:14-15, Jesus is recorded as providing what seems like an explanation for one specific line of the prayer. 

For if you forgive men when they sin against you,

your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

But if you do not forgive men their sins,

your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matt 6:14-15)

Forgiveness-1767432_640Forgiveness--not just for me but expected from me.

I pray this prayer every Sunday asking God to forgive me of my sins. And believe me, I’m fully aware of how I’ve put myself first, judged that person’s action, complained about this and griped about that. Oh, how I want to be given that forgiveness! But when I utter the words as we have forgiven those who sin against us I sense the enthusiasm and emotion diminishing in my heart. I’m so intensely eager to get what I need, but am I willing to give away what I’ve been given?

Forgiveness is one of the stepping stones leading to unity. Jesus deliberately and intentionally focused the apostles’ attention to this element of the prayer. How could the apostles effectively share the hope of Christ if they could not birth a desire for unity in their heart especially toward those who would reject them, despise them, and slander them.

Unity is hard. I don’t get to control someone else’s heart and mind. I can’t make that other person want unity. But I get to work the soil of my heart so that it's rich with forgiveness so to grow a desire to be in unity with those around me. As we cannot be united with God without his forgiveness, in the same way we cannot truly live in unity without forgiveness toward each other.

Unity

In Donald S. Whitney’s book, Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health, he believes the Lord’s prayer is followed by the verses on forgiveness because “…a forgiving spirit characterizes those who have been forgiven.” What if my heart and mind dwelt on this image: I, Terri, in the presence of the Father with the full realization of what Christ has done for me and given to me. Hope, love, peace, mercy, grace, eternity with Him. None of it possible without Christ’s sacrifice. Shouldn’t this realization provoke a profound desire within me to forgive anyone of their hurtful acts toward me? It should. The Lord’s prayer brings me back to an awareness that I must make forgiveness the priority over my pride and my hurt. Jesus places such a strong emphasis on forgiveness because of this fact: my lack of forgiveness tremendously affects my relationship with Him. If my relationship with Him is my focus, then I can choose forgiveness knowing my Lord will heal the wounds that have been inflicted upon my heart.

When I let the Lord’s Prayer dwell and root in my heart, I can generously offer forgiveness as is required of me. As I forgive others, the prayer becomes an action and I have fulfilled my promise to the Lord.

I'll close with this verse in Romans because I believe it echoes the words of the Lord’s Prayer.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement allow you to live

in harmony with each other, according to the command of Christ Jesus,

so you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ

with a united mind and voice. –Romans 15:5 (HCSB)

As always, I welcome your comments or emails on how the Lord's prayer is manifested in your life.

Blessings to you,

Terri

 

References:  Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health, Donald S. Whitney, NavPress 2001.