The Eraser – The Water – The Blood of Jesus Christ

When I first started learning to blog, I wrote so much that one had to set aside time to read what I posted. For my last blog (3 months ago) I used my husband’s experience of the flooding experienced in Louisiana and Texas this past spring. So I embarked on a “project” months ago, and other things made me wait to get back to the endeavor. The positive things about my project, our deck will look a little cleaner, still have stains that are connected to memories, and secondly, it is a health benefit to me. But then this morning, God spoke in gentle whispers as I decided to give it another try. Yes it is hot here, and I could have started earlier but I did not and the world is still turning. I always tell others to set healthy boundaries in relationships, but learning to set healthy boundaries in our activities is wise as well. Life for me is full of symbolism and it was the same for me as I sat, kneeled, crawled and hoisted myself around on the deck. I have not shared about the health crisis I had in January of this year and I still can not share all of it, but this is a task I took on to regain lost movements, strengthen weakened muscles and fight mental battles. But as I used my “tools” I found God explaining those symbols as it applies to our Christian walk. I like comparison charts so I am sharing this with my fellow Christians as I see it mentally, organized and “neat” (I know who will be chuckling ahead of time).

My Project Tools:
Magic Eraser™
Identified area to clean
Container to hold water
Water
Defined area to clean in set time
Those stubborn stains that are lighter but the reminder remains
Elbow grease
Refill with clean water
Throw out the spent Eraser™
Standing back to appreciate
Checking back after it dries

Purpose:
Cleaning away the dirt
Know what needs to be different
It sets the boundaries for details
Washing away the dirt
Setting aside a time of focus
To look better and feel good
To reach deeper into the dirt and finding the area cleaner
Moving to another area of dirt
To refresh with new ability
See the change
Bring about renewal

God’s Tools:
His Son Jesus Christ
Conviction of Sin
His Word, the Holy Bible
Symbolic cleansing of old self
Prayer and Bible Study
Forgiving us but there are reminders or consequences
Answers to our prayers, growth in Bible Study and yes, scars
Cleansing with Jesus blood
Forgiveness and restoration
Renewing of my spirit
Unconditional Love

Strange way to blog about God’s love for me, but as I scrubbed, assessed and then moved to the next area God was talking to me. You see, there are four Magic Eraser’s™ to a box, so my effort and time is limited on what I will tackle for this day. God told me there were four things I needed to learn. First, when we use our deck it gets dirty and stained. As I live life, I make choices, decisions and omissions that leave me with dirt and stains. Secondly, I can lighten the stains, but I need the reminders. I have been washed in the blood of Jesus Christ, stained for redemption. Third, I have dirt in my life, and as I sit with my Bible at my side and my devotional book and prayer box or prayer journal – I have some cleaning to do. Lastly, as I dumped the dirty water and go for another clean pan of water, I need to dump the old thoughts that give Satan a stronghold in my life – the anger, the self-recriminations, the excuses. And when I stepped back to assess the change I feel God’s ever present love, compassion and restoration. Can’t wait to vacuum because there has to be another life lesson ahead!

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Washed but shadows of stain versus stained and dirty

Miracles do not expire …

When I wrote my book, Asking What: No More Whys,10341610_796015433751071_4934119075792289721_n I really thought I had discovered how best to handle tough life experiences. Let me begin the way I tend to begin, “Did I tell you I was angry, yet again?” As another challenge came into my life, I began to question so many things, but in the process, another lesson … about what God will do! In the past year I have done some much needed Bible Studies either through my church or through Women’s Bible Café, an online ministry led by Christine Abraham at http://womensbiblecafe  ©. As I saw the topic patterns develop and as my health took another change, I could see God was teaching me another aspect of His love. Here are just some of the recent studies: Beth Moore’s Believing God (online study), Beth Moore’s Esther (with my church), Breaking Free (with my church), Beth Moore’s The Armor of God (online study) and the current online study of Joseph: The Journey to Forgiveness (Melissa Spoelstra). Miracles are in every story God gives us when we look for them, it is the same way with the miracles in our personal lives. God gave me a health miracle twenty-three years ago which I wrote about in my book. Last Christmas (2014) I received a “miracle”, I awoke with a new breast! I was immediately filled with fear, the doubt and anger came later. After 180cc’s of fluid was pulled off on December 31, I had that feeling that something had changed, but I also thought it meant the cancer God took from me so very long ago had returned. So I began my study with the miracle that I associated with for myself, the woman with the issue of blood (Luke 8:43-50). Jesus told her it was done — go live the life I have for you. Then I looked at Lazarus (John 11:43) whose miracle was one to teach people about faith, because we know he did experience a second physical death. After nine months of needle aspirations (each ranging in 60 to 120cc’s of fluid being pulled off) followed by surgical placement of drains for two months, I had decided or listened to the Deceiver enough to return to the place where anger takes me, rapidly. The only effective way to challenge what Satan is saying is to dig into God’s Word, and I am so there now. I use two approaches which can be found on Pinterest© (http://Pinterest ), the S.O.A.P. method and the approach learned in the Armor of God study, P.R.A.Y.SOAP Example

I found so many answers in my use of these tools, my notebook filling rapidly. The first miracle God told me to look at was for the purpose of teaching me that healing can come in stages, healing is a process (Blind Man at Bethsaida, Mark 8:22)Process Healing. “I see stick people” was the first step of finding the answer to “What has happened to my miracle?” I had become stuck in the stick people mode, which was a move backwards for me. I had used a wonderful doctor who is also a servant of God, and we prayed together almost every month over that needle process. When I had to go to the placement of drains, I just knew my miracle was gone. This is not true, the man with the withered hand (Luke 6:6), the man by the pool at Bethesada, who got us and walked off after his miracle (John 5:5-9) — none of those miracles were on a timeline of expiration or best used by date. So I started my search so that I could go into a second Double Mastectomy confident that what ever it was, it was not the cancer God took care of so many years ago. Every journey is different, every outcome is different, my reaction to the process is only consistent in one way — ANGER. Joe, my husband and Christian of 12 years, was part of my lesson this time because he was not my husband 23 years ago, so I also had to be aware of the setting God was using. I am proof that miracles do not expire, none of this was cancer. I can not be reconstructed this time, but maybe looking this way is an add-on lesson to expand my understanding of what God is doing for me. I even thought God was moving me from the church family from whom I get so much love and strength. I quickly learned, be still and know …. It is where God wants us. I learned I could not run, unless I was running to God. I am still dealing with the new surge of anger about all of this, but these things I know because I asked “What?” Being in my personal dungeon like the dungeon the king placed Joseph in (Genesis 39:19-23) was for the same reason, to be still and know that God is in the midst of the events. First the people, I discovered a relationship with my cousin that I never knew was there, what a blessing. My cousin called me and prayed for me on those days that I just felt so defeated, and I felt love in place of that defeat. Secondly, the women who pray so faithfully, earnestly and in love at the Women’s Bible Café, I felt the prayers and I felt the sincerity and love. What I was over looking is third, Joe, who was on the sidelines 23 years ago and this time he is in the battle with love and prayer. His strong arms help me out of bed, his love helps me get the compression bandage on – and he loves me, deeply. The fourth thing I noticed was how God had changed the people He used to love me, new friends, who have just called at the time I most needed to feel God’s presence. From people who have come into my life at the camp, high school friends, church of origin friends, and all the way to professionals who can now choose to love me as a person. My prayer journal and prayer box look different now, my use of scripture to pray has made my prayer life important and specific, and my confidence in the Lord continues to grow, just as God had promised (Luke 11:9-13). The last thing I need to share is how the players in my life have changed. My daughter who lives near me has not blinked, where before she threw her hands on her hips and declared I was not the mother who had raised her, oh the love she has shared with me. Then there is my cousin who, like me has lost her parents and has life scars that are visible, but she loves me deeply, I just never realized it. The Women’s Bible Cafe© where women pray, women believe and women are confident in God as they too go through health problems, family challenges and are women, who like me are looking into their relationship with God and trying to grow a faith based on the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-17)Ammor of God Wall Chart, God’s truth and the strength to walk in the shelter of God’s hands. The big lesson, I need to depend on God and stop trying to get on the wings of the eagle (Isaiah 40:31) without God securing me on its wings. No, not as angry as I was three weeks ago; yes, growing in my relationship with God — the God who loves me.

 

Can we talk …….. at all!

The art of speaking with one another, we just do not do it well anymore, not that we did it with such style and grace previously.  Listening to the current events in the nation leads me to think all we do is fight, argue, bully and kill each other.  Not much going on in today’s world that makes us want to engage other people in conversation – I know I fear getting out in public more because if I do speak and someone takes it as an offense, then what will the outcome be, probably not what I expect.

I use to find such enjoyment in going to the movies, I loved watching great movies on the “big screen”, and it is the one time I mindlessly enjoy popcorn; it is a must for the theater.  As of last Thursday night, July 23rd, I have no desire to be in a darkened theater if someone is angry at the world and is there with a hidden legal handgun and repeats what happened in Lafayette Louisiana.  That was for me, the undoing of another place I considered to be safe.  I will still attend my worship services with fellow believers, but the senseless tragedy in South Carolina is robbing me of peace in my surroundings.  What I have concluded is that we, as humans who have the ability to reason, verbalize and choose our behavior; we are becoming incapable or unwilling to use that God given ability.  Yes, we all have free will given to us by God, the right to pursue happiness given to us constitutionally and because of the freedom of speech which gives me the ability to blog and pen a book, it has all changed for me – and I do not think I am alone in that perception. Just as the Ten Commandments were ordered to be taken down in Oklahoma, I feel my individuality is under attack and being taken down.  As my children and grandchildren go to the beach, I worry about their safety and simultaneously place them and their safety in the hands of my God and Savior.  When choosing my word for the year, perseverance was the one I found that appeared to meet my needs scripturally and spiritually. In 2 Peter 1:5-7 of the New King James Version of the Bible I found these words that would lead me to my goal of inner peace and strength to persevere.  Peter writes: “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.” As I review the road to perseverance I am checking off my mental ‘to do’ list that will take me on my journey as well as a framework for checking off my progress.  Proverbs 31:10-31 instructs me on how to become virtuous as a woman (always a work in progress), then I started searching for knowledge, not book knowledge but knowledge about the character of God so that I capture growth in faith and perseverance, I embarked on a journey of studying God’s Word. After starting and stopping on daily study on my own, God provided the opportunity to participate in organized and topic focused study through a small women’s group at my church on Friday night and through the Women’s Bible Café (www.womensbiblecafe.com) online. I am learning so much about God, my own faith and gaining an understanding of the scripture that was lacking in my life.  The self-control  in the above list is where I find myself at this time in my life due to my awareness of the violence; hatred and anger are in the world, outside of my safe place to fall which is on God, and out of my control.  I repeat the scripture “Be anxious for nothing …” (Philippians 4:6), and that calms me but I still am concerned over how to stop this downward spiral that is happening around me.  In trying to simplify the problem, communication is the key, or the missing link, which is totally based on my perspective of the day.  Advancing on my goal to grow in the areas found in 2 Peter as mentioned above, our ability to talk by social media or on media, texting or email – we do not communicate thus we do not do well in social interactions.  The lack of open feedback, challenges to our interpretation of actions and events and the inability to cope with our emotions leads us to where we are today. We are a people who are civilized but do not practice civility, or the love that is the goal of walking by faith in the Lord.  Closing with a scripture, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29). This is just one solution to the lack of caring about one another, speak only wholesome talk and build one another up not tear them down because of their personal beliefs.  Be available to speak those encouraging words, when it is an observation that a person is isolating and withdrawing – speak an encouraging word, extend a willingness to listen in hopes that this will be an exchange of thoughts so an opportunity for enhancing a person’s ability to cope or just being a sounding board of acceptance.  Even if we disagree, we do not have to say we disagree immediately – give an answer of “I hear what you are saying and I need to think about that” which tells them you honor their opinion at least enough to think about it and end with something encouraging.  Determine to not be a catalyst of anger, bitterness and resentment.  I am not there all the time, especially since anger has been both my strength and my lesser strength that has helped me to cope.  But I have learned to not act on my anger; my anger is my problem, and not something to take out on other people or to act out publicly in a violent manner. I have to give that to God, He loves me unconditionally.

God Is Not Through Yet … It is not just a cliche

It has been months since my last blog because of so many things. Part of my growth as a Christian is that I have to study, really study the Bible. What I learned first was that I was clinging to my “old” understanding of the Hall of Heroes of the Bible: Moses, Saul, David, Solomon … just so many who I thought I knew. Time allowed me to set my understanding in stone, but studying with new eyes and an open heart and mind has absolutely excited me for even more studying. I had tried doing my own Bible study from devotional books, but that is not studying, that is reading for me. The last time I “really” blogged, I talked about the five stones David went into battle with against the Philistine Giant, Goliath. To learn that he did not kill the giant with his stone, just rendered him down on his level, and the death blow came from the use of Goliath’s sword to defeat him for his king, Saul (1 Samuel 17) taught me that I needed to visit the stories of my youth. Since that time, I have completed directed studies through The Women’s Bible Cafe'(that is a trademark) and can be joined by women interested in truly learning the meat of God’s Word (www.womensbiblecafe.com). My heart has been so blessed by the women in these online studies. A brief overview is that these groups are only an hour long with the individual using a study book/guide to read and study five daily lessons prior to the meeting time one chooses. They have groups every day, several time options to choose from and the participants are from everywhere, different ages, different life experiences and we learn together by answering five questions about the studies of that week. There have been times I have felt God talking to me through the keyboard. The two studies I have done online were: “Jeremiah, Daring to Hope in an Unstable World” by Melissa Spoelstra, and the most recent, “What Love Is” by Kelly Minter, a study of the Love Letters, 1,2,3 John. Although I am considered “mature” at the age of 64, I found myself a baby compared to the depth of some of the women who shared online. I encourage you to consider the option of online Bible study with this group. Having said that, the next study begins March 23, and you have a choice from two studies. I have already signed up for that study and have ordered my book, but books can be purchased from Lifeway Christian Book Store. I encourage you to visit The Women’s Bible Cafe’ at: http://www.womensbiblecafe.com and follow the studies and choose the one you want as there are usually two from which to choose, and do it today so that you can find your own group and your study topic and join a group of women on March 23. The leader of this site is Christine Abraham and joining her world has been the greatest experience for my soul.

While doing these studies, the first for 10 weeks and the second for 6 weeks, I was also participating in a study with a small group of ladies at my church, but we had women from other churches who participated. This group was initiated by two young mothers who attend my church, they were responding to God calling them to study. What a joy to see the devotion of those who take our places as we age and transition out of leadership ourselves. We studied “Seeking a Heart Like His” which was the study of David’s heart, the heart that God loved so very much. This was an awesome experience and I did this at the same time of my online studies. And I am going to do this yet again as we have decided to do a study of Esther, also beginning in March after we do the last video study with David, as led by Beth Moore. I have learned so much, I fell in love with the two young ladies leading the study and came away hungry for the fellowship with these young ladies, the ladies who sat at the table and ready for more. I miss the weekly time together. I have such a respect now for the young ladies, for Beth Moore and for all the women who have studied and put together this group. Cotile Baptist Church may not be on your life’s map, but it is on mine.

What I have learned is that we never stop growing if we listen to God. I also learned a different approach to praying (from the Women’s Bible Cafe’) through the use of a Prayer Journal or a Prayer Box (this one is my preference). I can now see God’s hand in my prayer life, I get to touch the card on which my request is written, and I have learned to pray and leave it with God. This is huge for me because I tended to want to help God answer my prayers, on my timeline and in the way I am sure is what HE will be doing. Yes, I have a control issue that now I am trying to change. I pray for women whom I have never met, except through the responses they type in the 60 precious minutes we are connected through the internet. I am thankful there are no cameras because I am sure I looked utterly dumbfounded when women from Hawaii, California, Maine, New Mexico were talking and sharing with me. My world is so big yet so small now. And although technology is one of my “idols” that steal my time, I am so blessed to have this gateway that provides me with what my heart and soul needed.

Doing two studies at the same time is not good for everyone, and it would be easier for me to do one or the other, but I have never approached anything I do with a mindset of it being easy. I advise that you do one, and really commit to doing the kind of studying that is beneficial. I use the book, write all over the book in the format of the study book, but I also have a notebook where I capture my thoughts and sometimes even more references as God leads my time with HIM. The 20 or 30 minutes of study each day for me becomes much more because of what I need from God and what HE needs from me.

When I started typing this morning, I had my own agenda. After two lines, God led me to HIS topic for today’s blog. Yet another reminder to “let go and let God …”, it is HIS message that HE wants me to share, a reminder to be willing to study, to learn and grow. Yes I am sharing with you because God directed me to write my book of “growing my faith”, but that growth did not stop just because I did what was started in 1985. My journey of growth in understanding and faith continues, and I am grateful for that.

Facing Life’s Giants … Using David’s Pattern …

Living in this small community has such benefits, one of which is a small country church.  A place of worship that is loving, growing, learning and building the character of its members.  The great part to me is the Bible Study we do on Sunday and Wednesday nights.  It is great simply because of its structured approach to learning.  Our pastor, Johnny Miller, will lead one week and the next week one of our deacons, Earl Dugas, leads the next week.  Their approaches are different and this makes those of us who are participating are the ones who benefit from this approach.  We also have the uniqueness in that we, the congregation, the assembled believers and yes, the students are encouraged to share how we see the scripture selection as we move verse to verse.  The openness of communication allows us to not only learn the foundation of the truths that have been before us for years while allowing the new view or understanding through the interpretation and growth of life’s experiences.  The referenced reading is 1 Samuel: 17, the Bible story that all children hear early in life, even if they are not in church, the victory of the shepherd boy over the giant.  But there is more to that story, more to the ritual of preparing for war/battle/conflict, the choice of the weapons we use and the motives or desires behind our actions.  Stepping into my professional training, the sociologist, the behaviorist in me has a new understanding of the story that is often called a Children’s Bible Story; this child of God needed a new understanding of the battle that changed the life completely of the shepherd boy.  Beginning with verses  4 -11 describes the giant, the Philistine warrior and the force he represented.  Tall, powerful, skilled, well-armed, a seasoned victor – he knew his ability and strength, and an idol of his fellow soldiers.  So what about our giants, the giants we face in our daily walk.  My giants have traveled with me a very long time because I gave them breath and I was so small in comparison to the giants of fear, anger, self-doubt, a weak spirit and Cancer.   There are probably a lot more, but I chose to identify five, one for each of the smooth stones that David chose to place in his pouch (1 Samuel 17:40)

.220px-Osmar_Schindler_David_und_Goliath

The artist’s interpretation [David and Goliath, a colourlithograph by Osmar Schindler (c. 1888)] of the overwhelming size of the giant, Goliath, over that of his challenger, David, is a symbolic representation of how we as humans often feel when facing the trials and tests that come as we journey through this life.  I can only speak from my own personal journey of faith, and yes, the giants in my life have been astonishingly strong in their ability to invade, control and paralyze my ability to live the life God had planned for me to live.  Fear froze me in a negative path of “what ifs” and kept me from pursuing the things that would serve to worship God and bless others once I reached a certain measure of growing through the test to a level of faith that would surpass the fear, anytime that giant returned.

Once I learned to challenge the unrealistic components of my fear, the giant was no longer so powerful – just a stone’s throw to defeat each time it would return.  Anger, one of the stones that seemed extremely weighty in my life, became the next giant I was to battle.  Once I knew I was angry and that it was not a sin to experience that emotion, I could manage its power over my life.  David, the youngest of Jesse’s son, fair to look at, but of small stature in comparison to Goliath and his contrasting size and weaponry, helped me to understand the giant is only a giant if I see myself as small and ill-equipped.  So one by one I visited those five stones over the next few days before our small Wednesday night group would meet again.  My stones were becoming smooth because of the acknowledgement of them in my life and because I named them and gave them to God, because God is the only controller of my life.  The fear, anger, self-doubt, a weak spirit and Cancer each had to be faced.  Facing those things that hinder the maturing of faith in life have to be acknowledged, challenged and defeated.  Those five stones bullied me much like Goliath bullied the soldiers of Israel every day – come and fight me, for I will win. In verse 10, the giant would present his challenge “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together”.   The giant knew the power he had over the armies, simply by daunting them with the task of fighting one on one, sure of his size and ability.  That is how much power I was surrendering my own power given by God to the giants in my life.  They seemed very large, very sure of my weakness, I was sure of my weakness – thus the stones self-doubt and weak spirit.  Cancer is huge, there is no doubt of that, it claims lives daily but there are those times the giant loses.  Prayer, personal bible study and exercising faith through prayer and trust in a God who is greater and able to do “… super abundantly able to do above all we dare ask, think, hope and desire …” (Eph. 3:20, Amplified Bible) became my weapons for battle.  But that is only three stones, and David took five stones into battle, and so do I, daily.  It is those three stones plus two more – the first stone being the love of the people who God has placed in my life, and the fifth stone being God working through the doctors and their skills to defeat the giant.  There is more to this David and Goliath story, but that comes later.  Join me next week as I move to the rest of the story.

All the same questions … yet again … What is the new lesson?

Although I am not asking the questions I used to ask when circumstances arise that I do not understand, I still struggle in advising, listening to or providing an ear to others who may be having difficulty with changes in their lives, unexpected and possibly tough changes.  Recalling not only what my dad would say when he struggled with the illnesses and deaths of two of his children, what I said to him as we discussed it along with my cancer diagnosis 22 years ago returns to my mind so quickly when things change.  Today I know, with a certainty, that I serve a loving, living God and that these events come into the lives of those whom I hold dear, and it is not a bad thing but an opportunity to have the reassurance of who holds us in the palm of His hand, forever (John 10:29).  Although the next 48 to 72 hours will be my allowed emotional reaction time out, I know that all will be well just as my favorite song states, “It is Well With My Soul” (Swafford) and I will cling to the “…lively hope …” of which I am assured in ! Peter 1:3-5.  I do not deal with change well, who does?  My dad would say that he wanted to know the sin that was being visited on his generations.  Then this past Sunday the lesson brought up those same scriptures again:  Moses and the first generation of Israelites who did not get to enter the promised land because of the sin of returning to the religion of their Egyptian captors when the going got tough being visited upon them (complaining, doubting and disobedience …) Numbers 20:12 KJV, David and the murderous act resulting that cost him the death of his firstborn child (Nathan bore the news of his judgment … 2 Samuel 12:13-14) … all reminders of our human reaction to unsettling events.  It is so easy to fall back into the questions and the emotions that cause us to fail, doubt, give in to worry and fear, and my all time stand by – ANGER.  While I am in the midst of Breast Cancer Awareness month and focused on sharing God’s work in my life in multiple events to include my book signing (The Galilean Religious Books, October 11, 12:00-3:00), I am attempting to help with crises from two directions in my life, and am trying to counsel those who reach out to me on what to do next, I find myself almost stumbling on the Baptist clichés that were crippling to me so many years.  Although I celebrate the victory in my life, I still have strong reactions to the “cancer” threat to others in my life and the possibility of facing the disease that took my brother, diabetes.  Heredity is not always a bad thing, but for me those two diseases bring up so many memories and fears.  In trying to shatter the fear in my loved ones’ lives the words are difficult because it is so near to my heart.  Finding myself struggling to find the words to reassure, strengthen and support others, the carnal me, the scared me, the doubting me attempts to return.  My goal is to spread the good news of God’s great work in my life, but find myself once again wishing “not my loved ones”, and I am aware that is selfish of me and is a step backwards to an infant state of Christianity where I once again want to return to the milk from God’s Word because it hurts to be mature, knowing the meat of the Word and my faith (1 Corinthians 3:1-3, 14-15).  I halted as I started to tell someone “remember to ask what of this journey”, because fear and tears do not allow a person to ask the greater question of what.  As we face struggles, challenges and changes we have to deal with the emotions that come first.  The fear (False, Evidence that, Appears to be, Real) is consuming and we have to face it and deal with it.  Then I realized that tears and fears are also a part of grief, it is part of my training as a mental health professional to know these things, the label of who I am in these circumstances: Sister by another mother, mother, and grandmother challenges every fiber of who I am.  Then I hear from those with whom I am talking that “this just isn’t fair…” and I return to my old feelings of playing by the rules and it still not working out the way I think it should be, that I share in my book “Asking What: No More Whys … Soaring on Eagles’ Wings Defeating Life’s Labels, Anger and Cancer.”  This thought pattern was mine as discussed in the failure of my marriage, the man who tried to kill me (Living someone else’s dream …), conquering those mental tapes of playing by the rules and expectations of society (Be sure you have on clean underwear … Chapter 5) and it plagues me when I allow my faith to waiver.  In today’s world, we can find answers and new approaches to the very diseases and illnesses that were at one time a diagnosis that meant death … at some point … a diagnosis that would shorten one’s natural life span.  When I find myself returning to my professional mode, the best way for me to help others, I go through the steps: 1) Validate their feelings, yes you can feel that way …; 2) Figure out what you are really feeling that leads you to choose to be angry (the emotional coping mechanism with which I continue to deal); 3) Start writing in a journal until you work through your feelings, find your direction and your personal peace (some people do not want to be told pray about it and trust God…); and the most difficult thing to say is 4) You’re a mother/grandmother/family member/brother/sister/spouse and you don’t have the option of being emotional in front of those who look to you for strength.  It is important for each of us to find the scripture that can be what we call on every time we are faced with a new mountain, trial or struggle.  I have my cancer scripture, Isaiah 40:31, Before that became my go to scripture, I also used Ephesians 3:20, and then was led to the woman with the issue of blood for twelve years (Luke 8:43-48) who stepped out in faith to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment, “… your faith has made you whole…”.  Mountains can be conquered by “soaring” over them by the method/instrument or person God brings into your life for that one purpose/season; rough ground can be made smooth (the Children of Israel crossed the Red Sea on dry land, Exodus 14:21-22); and our storms will be calmed in spite of our fears (Luke 8:22-25).  No, there are times when life does not appear to be fair, times get tough and we shed tears of fear and confusion – it is our human nature.  But we have the ability to ask professionals the right questions so that we are better equipped to handle what is at hand; we can turn to the world wide web (internet) to glean information needed to take appropriate action and make needed changes in our lifestyle or environment that may be necessary to equip us for the new journey we may be facing and there are those who God has already prepared to help us that have been through the same journey we may find ourselves on and are waiting for God to direct them to us.  No, it doesn’t necessarily go away, but we can be equipped to handle what comes as we learn the lessons needed to launch into our battle mode that will strengthen us and make us available to someone else once our journey of growing our faith is completed in this area of our lives.

Living in Fear, Dread, Anxiety …

Today’s news can be very distressing, no, it is distressing!  We have violence in communities that result in death, we have people fighting in airplanes for more space, the news headlines are of wars in Afghanistan, Ukraine, Iran, Palestine, Gaza … you name it, there is strife, death, violence and eminent wars … all that we hear warns us of danger and sets a negative tone in which we must function.  When pondering those things that are adding stress to our ability to function in calm and with an attitude of thanksgiving (1Thessalonians 5:18), I wonder how do we begin.  My mind continues to go back to a well written article by a pastor in our area, Dr. Joshua Joy Dara, Sr.  I love listening to his words each day on the television, they usually bring a smile to my face and certainly provide me with a moment of peace, but I find this article to really provide some answers.  You see, if we know where to start in addressing a problem, something that has a negative impact on our lives, we are able to move beyond the intense fear that comes with worldwide situations, and once we think outside of the fear, we can begin to work on finding a way to be thankful for even the tough situations.  Many have shared that it is a sign that the end of time is near, I know that things are deteriorating in society, but I also know that no one knows when “the end” will come.  But I will agree that for me, things are difficult everywhere we look, and seeing the end of it is very worrisome, but until that time comes I have to be responsible for my choices and my actions.  Yelling at the television, blaming the president, senators or representatives, or  state or city officials will not change our course as a nation, but starting with ourselves we can change the negativity into a spirit of joy and thanksgiving.  Sounds like my cheese slid off my cracker, but Dr. Dara spoke of unity in his article “A Call For Unity” (http://www.thetowntalk.com/story/life/2014/08/17/dara-call-unity/14177297/) in citing Philippians 2:2-4 … having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind … as a way to begin to change the outcomes we are experiencing in society today.  How to start : “… by letting nothing be done through strife …” and moving forward.  Our attitude and a spirit of love.  So we start by loving ourselves the way that God loved us enough to create us then send His Son to die for our sins giving us eternal life, and then loving the people with whom we live … our spouses, our children and then moving to our church and our community. Blaming others does not solve any problem, we all bear some responsibility.  I had a man say to me once after I had presented in a breakout session, that I must be a Baptist because I think love will fix everything.  Baptist or not is not what is important, being a Christian and trying to practice love, unconditional love, is a choice, is a command, is a must in order for our churches, our communities, our society and our nation to succeed.  Fear paralyzes us and freezes us in a never ending cycle that is often negative and defeating, because we are doing nothing, feeling helpless and hopeless.  But taking action empowers us to effect change … even if it is one person at at time.  God has assured me that I survived cancer so that I could make a difference one person at a time … that is where I need to begin, and it is how it has worked for me the twenty-two years since my life altering experience with cancer.  This week on Facebook, there was this beautiful post shared over and over, so I know it must be resonating with many others in the Facebook community.  I want to share it with you because it provides the scriptures to validate what we need to do to achieve the kind of love that will change our world.  We watched the Ebola miracle when a doctor and a volunteer were willing to take an experimental drug so that the people in Africa may eventually be made whole.  So we need the vaccine of “love” to be our miracle that will make our world whole.  I want to share that post with you so that you can find the way to love, genuine, true, agape love that is our command for life and relationships.

10 Ways to love

Try to spend some time this week and choose one action to take, to practice.  For me, praying without ceasing will lead us to the actions we need to take, but it will also push out the negative thought patterns and lead us to a place where we can make room for being thankful and practicing love.  Thanks to the person who shared this 10 Ways to Love with us on Facebook, and I want to thank Dr. Joshua Joy Dara, Sr. for his words of wisdom.