When People Need From You

I love this verse I came across today: “Samuel was displeased with their request and went to the Lord for guidance.” [1 Samuel 8:6] One verse, THREE takeaways…
  1. To me, the first six words are quite liberating. Who requests things of you? Bosses? Coworkers? Peers (in the name of pressure)? Old friends? New friends? Patients? Addicts? Students?  What I like in this verse is the instinct to request; but also the permissible response to be displeased by it. People request a variety of things from me.  Sometimes my human-heather is displeased. The old adage is true that we can’t please everyone–which means displeasure is sometimes normal and ok.
  2. But the second five words are important too. Samuel was displeased with his people’s request.  But he didn’t throw shade on his people. He didn’t throw-up gossip on his squad. He didn’t vent to social media with subliminal-messages. He went to God. Did he go bananas, throw up and vent to God? Maybe. But that’s OK–God can handle it, He’s got the big(gest) shoulders. I need to go to God with requests of others–especially if I’m struggling with them. Because God is NOT struggling with them, so He is truly the perfect source of stable and sane help.
  3. Which leads to my last takeaway… Samuel asked God to guide him with the requests and his displeasure. Nowhere in this text is there subtext that Samuel wasn’t sure or was iffy if God would respond. He went to God fully anticipating God would give him guidance. Do you? Do I? These last two words raised my game in anticipating God to give me guidance.  To not add worry IF God will guide to my impending need FOR God. To have CONFIDENCE in his GUIDANCE!
One small verse, depths of application. I hope this encourages someone today.

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When Panic Attacks

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A Beautiful Mind

“A Beautiful Mind,” was based on a true story about a paranoid schizophrenic named John Nash. John’s biggest obstacle was the many voices he heard in his head, which ALL seemed real. In the movie, John says: “We all hear voices. We just have to decide which ones we are going to listen to.” True, True. Often, we hear different voices in our head.  As a Christian, I KNOW God’s voice is in there, but distinguishing it above all others is my dilemma (and goal!). How can God’s voice be THE voice? I found a cool answer in John 10: “The shepherd walks right up to the gate…and the sheep recognize his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice. They won’t follow a stranger’s voice but will scatter because they aren’t used to the sound of it.”  From this, I found two things to help me. One, “the sheep recognize his voice.” If I was a little girl and was at a crowded Nordstrom’s Rack because there was an amazing shoe sale, and I couldn’t find my Dad but I could hear my Dad, I would walk toward the voice of my Dad. Similarly, with God, His voice is going to be trusted and sound right. It won’t confuse me. It won’t contradict scripture. It won’t “compete” for the first-placement of other voices. His voice is a prevailer, clear, truthful, all-loving. If any of these are in question, it’s not His voice. Two, “they are familiar with his voice.” When I’m wondering, “God, are you there? Is that you?” It shouldn’t sound foreign. Back to the shoe-sale, what if the voice sounded like my Dad, but it was in Portuguese? Then I would not go to that voice. My Dad’s voice is familiar to me–in English, only. God’s voice will be familiar to you, the longer you walk with God. But you have to walk with Him day-by-day-by-day-by-day. If you aren’t hearing his voice, one self-consideration is, am I walking closely enough to Him to hear it? I know this is a basic post–but so am I.  Besides, I don’t wanna keep you longer than my 1-minute promise! I hope this encourages someone today!

 

 

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Onward
Courageous Leader!

I was born a leader and I don’t mean that as a self-paid compliment. I literally didn’t have a say in the matter because my parents had three boys after me. Thus positioning me as the oldest of four and posturing me as the leader (babysitter) to them. In the book of Joshua, Joshua didn’t really have a say in the matter, either. Especially when the Father above all Fathers called him into his leadership role! In Joshua 1, God literally speaks to Joshua and says, “Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people.” Growing up, I had to lead my brothers a lot because both of my parents had to work; but I only had to lead three of them for a few hours. When God called Joshua to leadership, he had to lead more than two million people into a foreign land. There are a lot of leadership characteristics required of such a fete, but as I read Joshua 1, there was one that stood out: courage. In this one chapter, where God calls Joshua to his newfound leadership and mission, “be strong and courageous,” is used four times. And of those four, God delineates further, and in verse 7 says, “be strong and VERY courageous.” Courage got the “very,” as in, the further emphasis. In today’s emojis, that would be like a fist bump, a bicep, an exclamation point and prayer hands. Courage is essential in leadership, from leading three brothers in a home to leading millions into a strange land, and everything in between. It took courage to lead my three brothers during midwestern tornado warnings. It took Joshua courage to lead the Israelites through enemy territory. It takes courage to lead a marriage through a violation of trust; it takes courage to lead a child through rebellion; it takes courage to lead a business through a bad economy; it takes courage to lead oneself through an addiction. Someone once said, “Leadership isn’t the absence of fear but the courage to walk through it.” WHERE are you leading but lacking the courage to walk through it? WHO you are leading but lacking the courage to walk through it? The lion asked the fictional Wizard of Oz for courage; but we ask the true Lion of Judah, King of Kings and Lord of Lords! Commit to asking God for courage! Commit to asking God to remove your fear. Don’t know how? It’s ok! I had to learn too. Here’s a prayer you can commit to praying each day, based on Joshua 1: “Lord, help me to be strong and courageous! Don’t let me be afraid or discouraged. Be with me wherever I go. Amen!” I hope this encourages someone today!

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Don’t Give Up
Be The Snail 🐌🚢

Do you ever want to give up? Do you know what God says? “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial,” (James 1:12) Parent, persevere when your child is stressing you. Spouse, persevere when you don’t feel love. Boss, persevere when your team isn’t getting it. Volunteer, persevere when nobody is noticing. Student, persevere when you failed a test. Addict, perservere when you are tempted. And GOD declares that *when* you do…you will be blessed! One of my favorite quotes of ALL TIMES is, “By perseverance the snail reached the ark.” (Charles Spurgeon). Through every temptation and trial to quit, those two snails kept scooting. With every slow, slimy, wobbly scoot, they got closer to the ark. And we know they made it to the ark from the worldwide flood, ‘cause I have them in my yard to this day! You keep scooting. You’re closer than you think. You will make it if you persevere. You won’t make it if you quit! And parent, the child who overwhelmed you? Only made you melt when he wanted your shoulder to cry on. And spouse when you didn’t *feel* love anymore? You replaced it with action and gave love a second chance. And leader whose team didn’t get it? One day, their united lightbulb went off and they reached that goal. And volunteer, your service that was unnoticed? Is getting a standing ovation by ten thousand angels in Heaven. And addict, that addiction? Is one day a faint memory eclipsed by a new freedom! And student, the test you failed? Makes you more determined for the next one; and you do the best yet. Be the snail. Persevere. Scoot. You’ll get to your ark. Your blessing awaits!

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Gambling at the Cross

“Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive these people, because they don’t know what they are doing.’ And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.’ (Luke 23:34) As Jesus was hanging on the cross, those who put him there were gambling for his clothes. If this wasn’t in the bible, I’d have a hard time believing it. I recall the scene in “The Passion of the Christ,” when brutalized, disfigured, bleeding, naked Jesus hung on the cross. I had to look away from that scene; but these soldiers were AT the scene, able to gamble in front of it. What kind of savages?!? Who could be distracted from the Son of God dying as a guiltless sacrifice for the human-family so they could have abundant (John 10:10) and eternal (John 3:16) life? Actually? Our propensity for distraction happens all the time. Maybe I’m not rolling dice like Roman soldiers, but I’m missing Jesus around me because I’m too distracted by something in front me. He was in the sunrise this morning. I missed Him because I was too distracted by passing every slow car in front of me. Jesus was at church last weekend, in the presence of his people making music, greeting guests, restocking paper towels, preaching a message, and rocking babies. I missed Him because I was too distracted by the proverbial “very-busy-week” I could see ahead of me. Jesus was in my bible app on my phone last night, but I was too distracted by my Facebook app to meet Him there. These days, we aren’t distracted like gambling soldiers at a cross, but we’re still distracted. And it is still a gamble. Not for the clothes of Jesus but for the love, hope, peace of Jesus.  There is and always will be a rush of His love coming in from all angles around you. The question I’m wrestling with lately is, “what is distracting me from Jesus, the One who has never been too distracted for me?”

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Labor-Day Storms

I had no idea a tropical storm was hitting our area. I woke up with plans, but when I saw the local news, I had to change plans. [enter obvious blog-post] Weather storms can take us by surprise and change our plans. So can life-storms.  As I type this, I can count on twenty phalanges people who are in a life-storm that took them by surprise and changed their plans. The bible says, “He [Jesus] replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and waves, and it was completely calm.” (Matthew 8:26). One time, when Raul and I were dating, we went out on a boat. We were (according to my Midwestern eyewitness account) in the middle of nowhere when a storm struck with blankets of pelting rain, thunder, lighting, even a tornado (aka, “water-spout”). I was FREAKING OUT. Raul wasn’t. He was calm. I’m not gonna draw conclusions between Raul and Jesus, but I will say that in our storm, Raul was a lot more like Jesus than I was, but that’s another post. Moving on… It rubs me the wrong way when I hear, “God will never give you more than you can handle.” First, I have yet to find that in the bible. Second, there have been storms in my life where God did give me more than I could handle.  In the aforementioned verse, I bet those disciples ON the boat, IN the storm, were thinking this is more than we can handle! How do we know? The immediate digression of their faith and the escalation of their fear (v26, “little faith,” “so afraid”). I think the disciples couldn’t handle the storm terrorizing them much like I couldn’t handle the storms that have terrorized me. But they and I were WITH Someone who could. Some of you are going through storms that are more than you can handle. And if Jesus isn’t your captain, I don’t know how you’re doing it. There are 3 life-storms I can name that were so beyond what I could handle, so beyond what anyone could do, that Jesus was all I had. He wasn’t my last option, but He was my only option. Those 3 storms had a fierce, blind-sighting strike…they also had a slow, fading away. I haven’t forgotten those 3 storms, but I’m also no longer in them. As I recall those 3 storms, I know, that I know, that I know, there was only ONE who got me through them. I hope you know Him. I hope He is the captain of your ship, the mast on your deck, the lighthouse of your life, and the anchor for your rescue.  If He is, you will get through this storm. Don’t give up. This too shall pass. <3

 

 

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Dear Mentally-Well,

Dear Mentally-Well,
Let me start by writing that for any of us with mental illness, we are thankful for you! We struggle with something you have together, and YOU inspire us to stay at it! And I believe in a Soveriegm God who makes the world go ’round with BOTH.  As far as being like us,  I wish I had a Dr. Seuss book that could explain in rhyme and cartoons what it’s like. Because, to the contrary, it’s complicated! For me, it’s a mind that lives in two poles. Imagine living between the North Pole or the South Pole, and never being able to have a stop in between. Furthermore, never knowing when, or for how long, you’ll be at one pole or the other.  One could surmise this would be impossible! But that’s where I’d jump up and down, testifying: “but with God, all things are possible!” God is my equator in my polarizing mind. God is the hope at the end of my rope. God is my anchor. God is the cushion where my erratic thoughts land. God is in my mind, in unexplainable drifts, where no sane person would want to go. God holds my mind in the palm of His hand, lest it be too fragile for my body to hold. A few years ago, I got an unexpected gift from an unexpected person. She said that I was [of all things] on her MIND! It was an ornament with the word “Hope” on it. How did she know to give that key-word on a gift on the day she did? Like I said earlier, God knows our world needs both of us: those who struggle in their minds, and those who give HOPE when we do. The world truly is a harmonic place when we can get along and be who God made us to be.
Love, us

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Are You Bleeding
On The Inside?

This morning I woke up thinking about a message I’ve done on the bible story about the bleeding woman, (Luke 8/Mark 5/Matt. 9). The bible teaches that she had a (constant) bleed for twelve years. Ladies, that’s having a ‘period’ for about 4,380 days. She tried finding cures, but after spending all she had, she only got worse. Long story short, Jesus came to town and she was like “if I could just touch the fringe of his robe I could be healed!” What faith! She didn’t need an exclusive appointment with Him. She didn’t need to jockey for his attention or pity with her embellished drama. She didn’t need to post it on her Facebook page. She didn’t hold out until God “gave her a sign.” She had enough faith to know that a “fringe” of Jesus was enough.  And if you know the story, you know it was.  Maybe we aren’t bleeding like this woman on the outside. But are any of us bleeding on the inside? Which begs another question: what are we gonna do about it now? today? Is it time to take a faith-step and grasp just a “fringe” of Jesus? And today, what’s that look like? Maybe it’s making ONE Christian counseling appointment. Maybe it’s going to church more than ONCE a month. Maybe it’s inviting Jesus into your bleeding heart, in the first place. Maybe it’s reading one chapter in the Psalms one time a day. Jesus shed ALL of his blood on the cross so we don’t have to bleed ALL of our life. There is healing to our inner wounds; and faith is the initial step to get there. To start to stop the bleed…and hear Jesus say, like the woman heard Him say: your faith’s made you WELL. Go in peace.❤️

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Is Your Mind
Your Master?

I apologize in advance for the lack of professionalism with this post. But I wanna do a brain-dump!  I’m going to empty my mind of things that pertain to your mind. Buckle your seatbelt ‘cause this ‘bout to be a purge of crazy proportions.
Your mind may have a mind of its own, but your mind is NOT its owner. It was bought at a HIGH Price: “for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body,” (1 Corinthians 6:20). Your HEAD is part of your BODY so your HEAD belongs to God, not to itself! And sometimes, you gotta put your mind in its place and TELL it that!
Your mind is not your master if Jesus is your Savior: “For we are God’s MASTERpiece.” (Ephesians 2:10)
Your mind CAN weather a thousand storms IF Jesus is the anchor of your soul! Read Jonah 2!!!!
If the TRUTH sets you FREE (and your mind is part of you), then tell your mind the TRUTH. Don’t let falsities, exaggerations, suspicions, assumptions, lies or any of the sort take up real estate in your head. I have literally learned the awkward-art of setting those free. When I have a bad-thought on repeat, I will take my hand up to my head, catch it in my hand, and throw it out my car window! Then replace that now-vacant real-estate with a truth.
What truth? Things like: “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.” “If God is for me who can be against me?” “I am more than a conqueror in Christ.” “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!” “Who the Son sets free, is free indeed!”
Lastly, I’m not an expert, doctor, certified-anything. I’m a regular joe-schmo who has battled my mind my whole life. BUT….
Just because we have battles in our minds, does NOT mean we have to lose to them! The battle has already been won on the cross! The victory is already yours!
I hope this brain-dump encourages someone today.

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