Do Not Worry – No, Really, Do Not Worry

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Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.

Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.

Are you not much more valuable than they?  

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Matthew 6:25-27

I could be a professional worrier. I used to have an odd believe that crept up on me unawares, I believed that if I worried about something enough, it couldn’t happen.  Odd, I know. When my oldest daughter began driving, I worried about her getting in a wreck because of the roads being bad (Montana ice and snow roads) and I worried that she would drink and drive and I worried that someone else would drink and drive and an accident would occur and on and on. Seemed to be no shortage of things I could worry about regarding her driving. There was something addicting and oddly comforting about worrying. Surely those things couldn’t happen because I worried about them enough.

When her car became airborne and hit a power pole several feet up in the air, none of those reasons were the cause. A neighbor chose to check his mail by parking on the wrong side of the road and when my daughter came around the turn, she saw headlights in what she thought was the other lane. She drove to the right of them, right into a power pole.

My worrying had accomplished nothing. Even in my wildest worrying imaginings, I couldn’t have come up with this scenario. I’d like to say I learned my lesson about worrying, about what a waste of time it is, but alas, I didn’t.  My worrying had no power to prevent anything. Worry only stole from me. Worry stole my peace and my ability to enjoy the present moment. Worry gave me nothing in return.

“When God tells us in the Bible not to worry,

it isn’t a suggestion.  It’s a command.

Worry and/or anxiety is specifically mentioned twenty-five times in the New Testament alone as something we should avoid.”  

Joanna Weaver

Apparently God takes this “Do not worry” command seriously and understands our propensity we humans have towards worrying.

Maybe one antidote to worrying is found in this verse in the question – “are you not much more valuable than they?”

 The more I believe in God’s love for me, the more I can trust in His care for me.  

I am more valuable than the birds in the air and He feeds them. He will feed me.

He watches over them. He will watch over me.

 He created them and designed them to be unique.

 He created me and designed me to be unique.

He hasn’t turned his back on the birds. He won’t turn His back on me.

Heavenly Father, how gracious You are. You know me intimately. You know the minutes, OK the hours, I spend worrying when I could be talking to You. You have proven Your love to me over and over again. Please forgive me for the times I allow worry to preoccupy my mind and my time and my affections. Thank You that my life is in Your hands and You lovingly watch over me and mine.  You are truly  a good God.  Amen.

 

In The Presence Of My Enemies

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“Thou dost prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies”.

Psalm 23: 5

I  wonder what good food would do for me in the presence of my enemies. Am I going to pelt my enemies with spaghetti and meatballs?  Do I poke their eyes out with bread sticks? This part of Psalm 23 didn’t really make sense to me and I would ordinarily skim right past.

But recently, I saw this verse differently. The table He has prepared is laden with everything I have inherited through Christ – every spiritual blessing, every physical blessing, every weapon I will ever need, every provision I will ever need. All there – laid out for me. When I am in the presence of my enemies there I will find my weapon. The God who spoke this world into existence and created the many species and ecosystems and gave each exactly what they needed not only for survival but also to work in relation to other ecosystems for mutual survival, prepared a table for us! An orderly, lavishly decorated table with everything we have need of in the face of enemies.

When the enemy of fear comes against me, all I have to do is look at the table prepared before me and find what God has provided to combat fear – peace, truth, the spirit of power and a sound mind.

When the enemy of pain or sickness comes against me, I can find on this table the healing Christ paid for on the cross.

When the enemy of worry comes against me,  there on the table lays the  peace that passes all understanding.

When the enemy of rejection comes against me, I browse the table until I find the adoption papers that assure me that I am His.

 

All these and more are piled to overflowing on this banquet prepared by the Lord. And all I have to do is believe and feast on His provision.

 

 

picture credit: weddingbuffet.net

 

God’s Economy

 

 

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Years ago, when I lived in Montana, I had a wonderful gelding named Apache. The whole family loved that horse. Anyone could ride him; he was totally trustworthy. I especially liked taking him out on short jaunts in the woods. Fearless, smart and oh, how he loved to run, but there was one thing he would not do. He would not jump over anything. No, not ever, which most of the time was fine. But sometimes, in the woods, when a tree had fallen across the trail it would have been nice if he would have just jumped it. But alas, he would not.

One day, I came across a fallen log in our path. Way too big for him to step over and no way to go around the log. I sure didn’t want to turn around and go home and he sure didn’t want to jump it. I got off and studied the situation. I got behind him and pushed him on his rump. He glanced back and me and switched me with his tail. Out of frustration, I kicked the log and, to my surprise, the formidable roadblock  just caved in.

Dust flew upward and pieces of bark fell downward. Where the log had crumbled, I noticed tiny evidences of life. Intrigued, I bent down for a closer look. The log which had appeared to be dead, totally useless, too rotten for even good firewood, concealed underneath it an entirely new ecosystem. The sprouts were white from lack of sun exposure and unidentifiable to me.

At the time of this trail ride, I had just ended a 23 year marriage to a man who preferred drinking to sobriety, other women to me and being gone from home more than being at home. I spent a lot of days kicking myself for what I called wasted years.

But, while I studied this undergrowth, the Holy Spirit spoke these words to me, “In God’s economy, there is no such thing as waste.”

Hope blew across me like a gentle breeze.

What wonderful news this is when we are going through a time of limitations. A time when we say no more often than we are able to say yes. Ever feel like this time of being sick or being in pain or hanging onto a relationship that destroys your life is such a waste? I certainly have. Then I remember this story and I am comforted to know that God doesn’t call those times a waste. He is able to bring new life out of old and even in the midst of our waiting and wondering, He is able to use us and our seemingly wasted years for our  ultimate good and His incredible glory. That’s good news, isn’t it?

 

pic credit:  Diane Reid

 

Hello, It’s God Calling!

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I pushed the snooze button twice this morning. I don’t usually do that. But this morning, my bed was far more comfortable than usual, my pain level (normally an 8) was down to maybe 2 and the blankets were warm and the air coming in the window over my head was cool and it felt so right. Because of pain, bed is not always a comfortable place to be, but today it was all that.

I spent the time in quiet prayer. Just talking to God about nothing in particular, just whatever crossed my mind. Little kids at work come and sit in my lap and talk and talk about whatever is on their mind and this felt like that, like I was snuggling up in God’s lap and He was patiently listening.

For days leading up to this, I sensed a quiet cry in my heart to be comforted. I wanted desperately to be held and hugged. I never expressed my desire to be hugged to anyone, not even God, but of course, He knew.

When I did get up and read my devotional, this is what I read:

“Real worship is not mechanical or rote, nor is it habit or tradition. It is our inner response to the deepest callings of God on our lives”.

  James A. Davey

I have always thought of God’s callings as being something He draws us to so that we can do something for Him -ministry being one example. Being a performance oriented person, I never thought of God calling me just to comfort me.

What if these stirrings in my heart for the past few days were just that – God calling me to Himself?

At work, I make myself available to the kids that need snuggle time. I find a comfy chair, sit down and open my arms and invite them in. God makes Himself available to us as well, we just have to accept His offer to snuggle.

If, as Davey says, snuggling up in God’s lap and allowing Him to comfort me and hold me might  be my response to a deep calling of God, then snuggling with Him could be a form of worship.

If I view snuggling  that way, maybe approaching His open arms would come easier.

What about you?  Have you snuggled with God lately?

 

 

 

pic credit: comicbookfx.com

System Of Inequality and Divine Healing?!

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 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

3 John 2:2

I have been in hot pursuit of divine healing for upwards of twenty years. Healing is promised in the Bible and numerous verses can attest to that fact. I have read them and memorized them and confessed them and put my trust in them and still I am not healed. My pursuit continues.

I read this verse a while back. No doubt familiar to those in search of divine healing  – every book on the subject I have read has included it. But this day, I saw the promise differently.

Instead of seeing it as an iron clad promise of healing, I saw it as an algebraic equation. Weird, right? It struck me as a system of inequalities. On one side of the equation are the variables of prospering and being in good health. On the other side would be the variable of our soul which is our mind, our will and our emotions. Three variables on one side and two on the other.

The question becomes what symbol is between the two sides. Is it an equal sign or not equal, greater than, less than?

My desire to be free of physical pain has so occupied my quest for divine healing that I never even considered the other variables that combine to make my health, holistically speaking.

I simply didn’t care so much about the others; I wanted to live free of physical pain. But God, in His wisdom, knows how much I need all of these variables to be healed if I am going to live the life abundant that has been promised. He is a holistic healer.

I have had to relinquish my ideas about how my healing would manifest and give God permission to heal other areas of my life, even if that means I continue to live with chronic pain while He balances out the equation.

What about you? Are you in need of healing?  I would love to pray for you and join my faith with yours for your healing.

If you have a testimony of how God has healed you, I would love to share it here with others who need encouragement.  

pic credit: pinterest.com

Hurricane Ike Band

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He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.

Psalm 107:29

In September of 2008, my son and I flew to Houston for a weekend. My daughter flew down from Montana and we all stayed at my sister’s house.  We made these reservations long before we knew Hurricane Ike was headed right towards Houston.  Having grown up in Houston and being very familiar with hurricanes, we began the work of preparing for possible disaster.

We bought food and water and put things up that were outside and boarded up what windows we could, rounded up flashlights and batteries and the radio.  All that was left to do was pray and wait.  Hurricane Ike hit Houston in the middle of the night.  The winds were howling, rain was pouring and all power went out and the city was dark.  When we got up the next morning, we surveyed the damage and realized we were housebound for several days along with the rest of the city as workers worked to get roads open and power on.

My sister has two guitars, a piano and a keyboard that didn’t require electricity and we started playing songs.  We spent a long time singing and playing instruments and laughing at our not so good songs and marveling at our great ones. We called ourselves the Hurricane Ike Band!  It was a wonderful, memorable time together waiting out the storm.

You may not be going through an actual hurricane.  I certainly hope not, but what storm howls at your door and causes you sleepless nights? What answer are you waiting on?  Are you in need of divine healing that hasn’t come? Waiting stinks, but it doesn’t have to.  We could have huddled over the radio listening to all kinds of bad reports and wrung our hands and made ourselves sick with worry, but we chose instead to create music.  Peace in a storm is possible.  Remember when Jesus was sleeping on the boat when the storm hit the lake and the disciples freaked out?  Jesus woke up, calmed the storm and the disciples were left scratching their heads.  Who is this Jesus?

Jesus is the calmer of the storm, the peace in the midst of bad reports, the Comforter who holds us through difficult times.  Whatever the storm of your life is, He is greater and He is for you not against you.  Isn’t that something to sing about!

Jesus, calmer of my storms, thank You.  You are always present, always here for me no matter what the circumstances of my life may be and I am so grateful.  Thank You for keeping me safe through the storm and giving me new songs to sing.  Help me, I pray, to remember that when the storm comes I can count on You. Amen.

 

pic credit: texascoastgeology.com

Why Doesn’t God Heal Him?

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“Could not this man,

who opened the eyes of the blind man,

have kept this man also from dying?”

John 11:37

Our dog Molly gave birth to 9 beautiful puppies. People had placed their deposits and were anxiously counting down the days until they could take their puppy home. Names had been chosen, collars and leashes and toys and puppy chow all lay in wait for the puppies to come to their new home. All systems were go, and then, one day, for no explicable reason, 3 puppies could not use their back legs. They were belly crawling around on the ground and crying. Not from pain, from just not being able to get to mom and nurse. As if that weren’t enough, a fourth puppy was having issues with his front legs; they were terribly bowed out and clearly not supporting him very well. I took one puppy to the vet and she ran many xrays and sent them off to be examined by an Orthopedic Surgeon and several days later came back with this report, “We don’t know”.

We were heartsick. It was terrible to see these puppies like this and to think of breaking the bad news to the families who were expecting their pups in just 3 weeks. But, there was more to it. These puppies are our means of support. Four puppies that we had to return deposits on was a severe financial blow.

My husband mentioned this to people at church and they prayed for these puppies. The pastor and his wife and many good people prayed. Within a week, all four puppies were upright and walking like they were designed to walk! We were all so excited and grateful.

That week, at the Life Group we attended, a man who had prayed for the puppies shared the testimony. Everyone agreed it was a wonderful miracle. Later in the evening, a man shared of his life experiences with physical pain beginning when he was 14. He spoke of morphine and suicide attempts (3) and how the pain had redefined his life and how, at times, he was angry with God for leaving him like this. Everyone agreed it was a horrible way to live.

Driving home that night I couldn’t help but wonder at the irony there. God healed 4 pups that had been alive only 5 weeks, did not serve Him, did not acknowledge Him but left a man who did serve Him, who did acknowledge Him unhealed for decades.

Too many times I have heard pat answers – he doesn’t have enough faith or there is sin in His life. I have been on the giving and receiving end of pat answers to the question – why doesn’t God heal him? Why heal puppies and not this man? Pat answers offer no comfort and usually end up hurting the one who receives them.

I have severe arthritis in my knees that has been there for 41 years and God hasn’t healed me. But He healed the puppies. Don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful for those puppies being healed, but it does beg the question – why them and not this man? Why them and not me?

After 20 years of actively pursuing divine healing, I have come to the same conclusion that those vets came to – I don’t know. I just don’t know. But I know this: I know who my Healer is and He is enough.

P.S. Our prayer group at church is believing for a notable miracle in this man’s life – feel free to join us in prayer for him if you’d like.

Why is The Sky Blue?

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On Netflix, I have been watching the series “Life”. It’s about a man who is wrongly incarcerated. While in prison, he discovers zen principles and puts them to work in his life as a detective. He never directly answers a question, all his remarks are ethereal and designed, I think, to keep him at peace, but not fix other’s problems. It makes me laugh and at times it is annoying, but I decided to put some of it to the test in my own life. Here’s how it went down one day at work:

A boy was cutting in line and being disruptive, kids around him were getting frustrated. I could tell they were getting frustrated because they were raising their voice and telling him to stop doing whatever it was he was doing. For expedient’s sake, I asked the boy causing the problems to go to the end of the line. I say ask, but actually I told him.

He started walking back, but on his way, he started yelling all kinds of things, use your imagination here, but finally, he yelled the question, “why do I have to go to the end of the line?”

I responded in my new experimental zen-like way with, “why is the sky blue?”

The boy looked shocked but he stopped yelling. Then a girl in the line says, “yeah, right, I have always wanted to know why the sky is blue”.  Another child pipes in but I am no longer listening, I am watching the boy at the end of the line and trying to hold back a laugh ( I never said I was great with kids). He was in shock, speechless, or yell-less as the case may be. He appeared to be pondering the new question – why is the sky blue? We all pondered it until, at last I said, I guess God wanted the sky blue and they were satisfied with that and we went out to play.

I am sure it would be annoying to others if every time they tried to put their problem on me, I could use words, zen-like or not, to let the problem fall exactly where it needs to fall – in their lap, but I think for me, it would be a great relief and help me stay at peace if I could do just that. It would aid tremendously in the healing God is doing in my body to just refuse to take on what is not mine to take on. I am positive that much of my emotional pain for most of my life has been due to my inability to do this and I becoming more convinced that many of the pains in my body are related to this emotional burden.  I tend to try and fix things and when I can’t, I internalize the mess and believe it is due to some lacking on my part.  Do I hear codependency in here?!?!?

I am reminded again of the powerful and freeing concepts found in the Serenity Prayer:

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Have you had similar experiences? I’d love to hear about them?  Do you watch the show “Life”? Does he drive you nuts and make you laugh all at the same time?

pic credit 1: etsy.com

pic credit 2: madaminsideout.wordpress.com

 

Holistic Healing

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  I thought when I began this journey towards healing, that all I needed was physical healing. I was in search of physical healing when I began this blog. I received a tremendous amount of physical healing, but somewhere along the way, the journey took a turn I hadn’t expected. About 10 months into this blog, I encountered this verse for the hundredth time, but this time I saw it differently:

Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.  

 3 John 1:2

It is a promise that appears in just about every book on healing I have read. But this day, in my reading, I saw it differently. I saw it as an algebraic equation – a system of equalities or inequalities.  Think back to your algebra days – remember that on either side of the = sign were variables. Your job was to determine if they were  indeed equal or not. In this equation, “even as” could be the  =  sign. The variables on one side are prospering and being in health. The variables on the other are soul (defined as mind, will and emotions).

It could be written like this:

My  prospering and my  health  is =  to or  not  =  to the degree that my mind, my will and my emotions prosper.

I wasn’t particularly interested in anything other than my body not hurting. I had no desire to go digging around in the soul area. I thought all would be just fine if I could just walk, sleep and function without pain. But God knew otherwise. He knew, like many other holistic healers, that there is a link between our emotional health and our physical health. It is a good God that wants all parts of me healed. This has turned this journey into something I hadn’t expected: lots of digging around in past issues and learning new ways of relating to people and monitoring my thought life better than ever. None of this has been easy, fun or something I would have chosen. But God knew that if I wanted to walk in the fullness of all that He has for me, I can’t carry around baggage that slows me down or cripples my ability to move easily. All of this has been as much work for me and as little fun for me as algebra was in school.  I can relate to the kids who cry out saying, “why do I have to learn this stuff, I will never use it?”

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Now I know that healing is much more than just the taking away of physical pain, the relief from symptoms or the reversal of a diagnosis. It involves all of me and God, in His grace, is showing me that every thing that affects my mind, my will, my emotions can affect my body as well. I am grateful for His loving care and the hope that each day, I grow more and more whole.

Does it help you to know that God cares about all of your hurts and pains and wants to see you walk and prosper in health and mind and will and emotions?

pic credit 1: onlinemathlearning.com

pic credit 2: aplushometutorsblog.com

National Kick An Object Day!

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 For the wrath of man works not the righteousness of God.

James 1:20

I bet you didn’t know this day even existed. I didn’t until recently. An eight year old boy, I have the pleasure of working with, got angry because I said “No” to something he wanted. He ran away from where we were standing and ran straight to a small book case and kicked it. Then he turned to see what I was going to do. I asked him to have a seat at the table so we could talk later. He sat, but he also started yelling at me and one thing he yelled was, “well, didn’t you know that it’s National Kick An Object Day?”

When he calmed down, he explained that you kick an object to keep from kicking a person. I am pretty sure I was the intended person. “No” has a way of bringing out anger in this boy and sadly, it does the same to me. I can honestly say I have never kicked someone or even an object that I can remember. I do remember, though, how strangely satisfying it was one day to take a set of plates out to an open field and smash them into rocks. Not that much fun to clean up, however.

I haven’t felt the kind of anger that drove me to break a set of plates in a very long time. But lately, I feel a lot of anger. Some directed at myself, some at others and some at God. He didn’t heal me like I believed He would. I know, I sound as petulant as that boy who kicked the book shelf. I am not proud of this, just saying. Matthew Henry’s commentary says this about this verse:

Instead of blaming God under our trials, let us open our ears and hearts to learn what he teaches by them… We must yield ourselves to the word of God, with humble and teachable minds. Being willing to hear of our faults, taking it not only patiently, but thankfully. It is the design of the word of God to make us wise to salvation; and those who propose any mean or low ends in attending upon it, dishonour the gospel, and disappoint their own souls.

I have been borrowing prayers because I didn’t have any of my own, but I am willing to open my ears and my heart to learn what God is teaching me by this trial. I can pray that He would do just that.  I desire to be wise to salvation, not dishonoring it. I can’t go around claiming National Kick An Object Day every time I don’t get my way without disappointing my own soul and grieving the Holy Spirit of God who lives in me.

So Father God, help me to refrain from acting out in anger. Help me to be willing to go through this trial with an open mind and a willing heart to what you want to teach me through this. Help me to be a place where Your Spirit is pleased to dwell, a place of peace and humility and willingness to trust You when I don’t see the answers I want or think I need. I need Your grace for these things, because we both know, I don’t like the word “no” any better than my 8 year old friend. I ask in Jesus’ name, amen.

 

pic credit: gopixpic.com