I Just Need…

Sharing today from Oceans Never Fill.

I Just Need…

Our thought life is a tricky thing. It can dictate so much in steering our emotions and actions, yet, I find myself justifying my wrong thinking often; after all, they’re only thoughts.

But are they?

In 2 Corinthians 10:5 Paul talks about “taking every thought captive to obey Christ”, within context he’s referring to arguments made by philosophers with whom he engaged regularly, essentially saying he was submitting their thoughts to Christ, and thereby  destroying their validity by comparing them to God’s word. Since our thoughts are essentially our inner philosopher, and our wrong thought-life is generally adopted from some past or present philosopher, it isn’t much of a leap to hold ourselves to a similar standard, in which case whenever our thought life strays from what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable, it must again be held against the light of truth, and if found wanting, replaced by what God has said.

When our thoughts stray from truth, which they often do, they need correction, and our minds need to be re-captivated by God’s word.

There are of course the more obvious wrongful thoughts, lust, envy, hatred; but I find  myself resting in a more easily justified–but no less insidious–mode of thinking; it creeps up on me in moments of exhaustion, frustration, and sorrow. It repeats within my mind like an incessant cawing crow:

I just need…

And as I fill in the end of the sentence, I find myself justifying all manner of behavior:

Read the rest here.

When We Are Neediest

When We are Neediest 

When you are the neediest, He is the most sufficient.

When you are completely helpless, He is the most helpful.

When you feel totally dependent, He is absolutely dependable.

When you are the weakest, He is the most able.

When you are the most alone, He is intimately present.

When you feel you are the least, He is the greatest.

When you feel the most useless, He is preparing you.

When it is the darkest, He is the only Light you need.

When you feel the least secure, He is your Rock and Fortress.

When you are the most humble, He is most gracious.

When you can’t, He can.

—Source unknown

When you can’t, He can

WhenYouCantHeCan-ManDespair-50--AMP

When We are Neediest 

When you are the neediest, He is the most sufficient.

When you are completely helpless, He is the most helpful.

When you feel totally dependent, He is absolutely dependable.

When you are the weakest, He is the most able.

When you are the most alone, He is intimately present.

When you feel you are the least, He is the greatest.

When you feel the most useless, He is preparing you.

When it is the darkest, He is the only Light you need.

When you feel the least secure, He is your Rock and Fortress.

When you are the most humble, He is most gracious.

When you can’t, He can.

—Source unknown

Please and Thank You

Please-ThankYou-Arrows--AMP

A couple of weeks ago I encouraged you to try the Thank You Challenge 2015. I didn’t remember until recently how and when my own thank you lifestyle began, so I want to share that with you today.
 
Back in the late 90’s, I served as a counselor at Royal Family Kids camp, for abused and abandoned children. On the last night of camp when all counselors and administration staff gathered to pray, we counselors were surprised to receive a special gift. Although we didn’t know it, the camp administration team had been watching all of us counselors as we interacted with each of the children in our charge. They met each night to search the Scriptures and find just the right verse to describe each of us.
 
To my utter surprise, Hebrews 11:1 was given to me.
Heb11-1-FoggyMtnTop-sm--AMP

God called me to this ministry even though I felt totally unprepared and uneducated for the task. I tried to ignore God’s call on my heart but He kept showing me that He wanted me to go there. I resisted, until one night at a prayer meeting I heard Him whisper to my anguished heart, “I want you to do this for Me.”

How could I ignore that?

One of the little girls in my charge was a particularly tough case. This sweet little 8-year-old had been shuffled from one foster home to another. She was certain of only one thing: that she could expect abuse or negative treatment on a regular basis. Like so many of these abused children, she learned to bury her true emotions and instead developed a defensive posture, along with the frequent tendency to declare “No!” in response to any suggestions, fun or not. 

Her stubbornness was not easy for any of us to deal with. Whenever we were to start anything new, whether it was crafts, chapel, or even games, her standard response was “No!” She would literally crouch down and keep shouting this over and over again. I found myself praying almost constantly that entire week. My prayers would start, “Please, God…” and as the Lord helped me deal with each difficulty, they then became, “Thank you, God…” 

Our goal was to give these children a week of carefree fun, but her tantrums kept testing my patience and that of the camp directors. After a couple of days of this negative behavior, we had a discussion about sending her home early which greatly upset me. How could we take away this one week of fun from someone who rarely had the chance to do anything enjoyable? I pleaded with the directors to give her another chance and they agreed. 

That night I asked God what I could say or do to help her adjust better because I wanted her to enjoy her camping experience. He showed me that her life was full of commands. She was never asked about anything. He then gave me one word: choices. 

Even at camp she was expected to adhere to rules and a schedule, which in itself is not a bad thing, but difficult for her to deal with considering what the rest of her life was like. As I prayed about all of this, God showed me that if she was given some limited choices, her responses might be different. 

That week at camp was a mixture of faith and fear, trust and anxiety, exhilaration and fatigue. God heard my Please and Thank You prayers and honored them as I faced each new challenge. The completely awesome part of this whole story is that before camp week was over, my stubborn yet sweet little charge asked Jesus Christ into her heart. And not only that, but a few years later, I heard that she was a counselor-in-training there! 

Beloved, Please and Thank You are very powerful words. They bless the giver as much or maybe more than the receiver.

 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
—James 4:10

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought,
and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.

—G.K. Chesterton

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Joy and Laughter

Wonderful Wednesday

Joy and Laughter

Surely God does not reject a blameless man or strengthen the
hands of evildoers. He will yet fill your mouth with laughter
and your lips with shouts of joy. —Job 8:21

I’d like to talk today about chronic illness because it is my life these days. So why would I think of it in terms of joy and laughter? I mean, there is nothing about chronic illness to laugh about. Or is there?

The other day I got my vitamins mixed up. I tried to swallow my chewable Vitamin C tablet and chew my coated multiple
vitamin. Yuck! The Vitamin C refused to go down my throat, even with lots of water; the cracked multivitamin released its bitter taste. Double whammy! I had inadvertently confused the one for the other.

Even though the taste was nasty, I just had to laugh at how I mixed things up. The problem is that these kinds of mistakes occur almost everyday. If I’m not seasoning my food with pepper instead of salt, I’m confused by the huge variety of groceries at the store and end up buying something I don’t need or can’t eat. This has only gotten worse now that I have to read all labels to avoid the many ingredients that are allergens for me.

And what can I say about the time I wore different-colored shoes to church? different-color-shoesNo, this isn’t a photo of my feet but I did about the same thing: wore two shoes exactly alike except for the color. Well, it was an easy mistake because it was dark in the closet and the two pairs were right next to each other. My apparent choice of colors? Black and navy blue, so it’s obvious why I got confused. Right?

I can either lament these occurrences or laugh them away. I admit that it’s sometimes hard to laugh at yet another memory lapse, but in the long run it is a better response. I don’t believe God wants us to feel sorry for ourselves or bemoan our circumstances. He wants us to rejoice in Him and trust that He’s there to take care of us, no matter how much we hurt or forget things.

In this particular Scripture passage,one of Job’s friends is trying to remind him that God has not forgotten him. His words are meant to encourage and uplift Job in the midst of his circumstances. Job had the security of knowing that he could trust God, and so can we.

Snoopy-LOLI wish I could say I’ve gotten better at laughing these things off, but to keep it real for you I have to admit that I’m not as good at that as I believe God wants me to be. This morning I accidentally knocked a jar off the counter and rather than getting angry at myself over my clumsiness, I just stared at the mess on the floor and shrugged. Then I went to get the mop and dustpan to do damage control. Although I didn’t laugh at what I did, I didn’t stress or get angry and frustrated over it. That’s a big step for me, because about this particular part of my life, I am apparently still a work in progress.

So what’s the wonderful part of this? That God still loves this pathetic work-in-progress. And that He is always so close to me that anytime I need help with my attitude, all I need to do is ask Him.

How about you, Beloved? How do you handle frustrating situations?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, there are so many times when I’m tempted to complain and whine about what I can no longer do or how I mix things up. Help me to always remember that nothing happens that You and I can’t handle together. And remind me to grab on to my sense of humor during these times. Amen.

AnnaSmile…..

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Happy Blogiversary!

Happy-2-Year-Blogiversary…..
Yup, it was two years ago today that I started this blogging journey. Thank you to all who have stuck with me whether I’ve been here or not. You guys rock!

Two years doesn’t sound like much but I have struggled off and on a lot in these short two years, especially lately. I know I’ve been MIA for too long but I think I’m back … at least part time. As I wrote a close friend the other day, I’m not going to set myself up for a disappointment by planning something I may not be able to complete.

Life for me this summer has been, um, unmanageable at best. During my worst times, I felt like my head was going to blow apart. Most people love summer and everything associated with warm/hot weather. Not me. As June approaches, I get this feeling of dread because I know the combination of hot temperatures, the constant fluctuation of barometric pressure due to our summer monsoon storm systems, and the high-pitched screaming of the cicadas will serve to drive me bananas.

[Side note: I know people who love the “song” of the cicadas, and if that’s you, please forgive me for dissing them. One of my fibromyalgia symptoms is extreme sensitivity to lots of things including bright lights, certain chemicals and odors, tastes, medicines, and yes, high-pitched sounds. Although we don’t have trees around our home, we are surrounded by trees that are home to a certain breed of cicada that appears in mid-summer and don’t leave until sometime in October. There are literally thousands—if not millions—of these creatures in the trees around us, and the extremely high-pitched noise they make starts at around 7:30 am and doesn’t stop until 7:30 pm when it is dark out. I can’t even enjoy my patio without having to wear foam earplugs, which keep out most of the high-pitched noise created by the cicadas while still enabling me to be able to hear and carry on a conversation with my hubby or whoever happens to be sitting out there with me.]

The other day I finally snapped, and I’m not proud of it but to keep things real here, I want to share some of that with you. I’m sure you know people who “suffer in silence”—I guess I’m not very good at that. Oh, I’ll go along for awhile without telling anyone how awful I’m feeling, but toward the end of summer, that gets thrown out the window. Last week, I started stomping around here grumbling out loud about how unfair all this is. Why is it that on top of daily unrelenting migraines do I have to be surrounded by trees that house those awful creatures whose extremely high-pitched cacophony causes me to run for my foam ear plugs? And I’m talking about hearing them even though our windows are all shut!

On that particular day, I grumbled to myself, to my hubby, to God. And of course, every single small thing irritated me, in addition to my pounding head. I kept dropping things and had trouble concentrating, and finally I yelled to my sweet hubby, “This is what my life is like now! I can’t do anything right and those stupid insects are driving me bats!”

God bless my calm, ever-loving hubby’s heart. He listened to my ranting and then calmly changed the subject. Gotta love a man who knows when not to try to fix things!

Oh, but God was working in my heart all that day, and had been for several weeks. I know He patiently listened to all my grumbling and complaining but kept trying to show me how blessed my life is—no matter what I’m going through. The same night I had seemingly reached my limit, this question came to my mind: Why are you kicking against the goads?

Huh? Where had that come from? I recalled reading that in the Bible a few times over the years but couldn’t place exactly where. The next morning I immediately looked it up and found it in chapter 26 of the book of Acts, where Paul is explaining his story to King Agrippa. This is only a small portion of that story (verses 12-15) [emphasis mine]:

12  “On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13 About noon, King Agrippa, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. 14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’

15 “Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’

“ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied.

According to my Bible commentary, an oxgoad was a sharp stick used to prod cattle. “It is hard for you to kick against the goads” (oxgoads) means, “You are only hurting yourself.”

Wow, did that ever resonate with me! All my grumbling, complaining and whining was doing nothing but hurting me! And more importantly, it was beginning to hurt my relationship with my Savior because the more I complained, the more I was moving away from Him rather than toward Him.

Beloved, have you ever found yourself in such a situation? I was crushed that I had allowed myself to wallow in my misery for so long and immediately asked God to forgive my complaining and whining. And here’s the clincher: not only did He forgive me, but He forgot right away and we’ve moved to a whole new level in our relationship! If this is hard for you to believe, read this:

Psalm130-3-4

Psalm 130

Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.

If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.

Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.

Oh, how thankful I am for God’s unfailing love and forgiveness! How about you, Beloved?

AnnaSmile…..

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