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Encouragement in Your Wellness Journey

Category Archives: Devotional

Consider the Lilies

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Consider the lilies of the field and learn thoroughly how they grow; they neither toil nor spin. Matthew 6:28 (AMPC)

 Today when I read the above verse in the Classic Amplified Version, the highlighted phrase “learn thoroughly how they grow” caught my attention. How do lilies grow? What can I learn from studying lilies?

Lilies are beautiful.  They don’t work to look like that.  They don’t spin yarn or weave thread to create their own beauty.  They are already beautiful.  We are also beautiful, just as we are.  We are created in God’s own image.  And even though this verse is specifically addressing the concern of clothing, the entire section addresses worrying about things in life that we shouldn’t worry about.  So, when the verse said, Learn how lilies grow, I was curious.  What is important about how lilies grow? What can I learn from studying lilies?

Here is what I found.  Please note I am not a botany expert—not even amateur botanist.  I am just applying what I learn about lilies to draw a deeper understanding of God and His desire for me, His daughter.  Though there is much technical vocabulary I don’t really understand, there are lessons here.

“Lilies…form naked…underground bulbs, which are their organs of perennation.”[i]  I did not know what “perennation” meant, so I looked it up.

Dictionary.com defines perennation this way:  “To survive from season to season for an indefinite number of years.”  Wikepedia.com says, “In botany, perennation is the ability of organisms, particularly plants, to survive from one germinating season to another, especially under unfavorable conditions such as drought or winter. It typically involves development of a perennating organ, which stores enough nutrients to sustain the organism during the unfavorable season, and develops into one or more new plants the following year.”

What does that mean?  A lily has the ability to survive challenging seasons of life by having an organism which sustains it.  This challenging season bring forth new life the following year or season.

How can we be like the lily? When we have challenging seasons in our lives, what will sustain us?  What gets us through the challenge to come out not only whole but also sprouting new growth?  What is our perennating organ? What stores enough “nutrients” for us to survive unfavorable seasons?

I believe it is faith! And how do we store up faith?  Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” Therefore, by studying the Word and applying what we learn, we can store up faith for the challenging seasons in our lives when we know God is working, but we cannot see Him working.

Many scriptures encourage us to grow in our faith.

II Peter 3:18 – “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Hebrew 6:1 – “Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity. . .

Jeremiah 12:2 – “You have planted them and they have taken root; they grow and bear fruit.”

1 Peter 2:2-3 – “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.”

Colossians 2:6-7 – “…continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith you were taught. . .”

So, what do we learn from lilies?  We learn to increase our faith through study of God’s Word so that when we have struggles and difficult seasons in our lives we can press on in faith, knowing that our struggles will produce new growth and fruit in our lives.

James 1:3-4 – “…the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

[i][https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lilium]

Changing the Routine for Your Mental Health

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[Jesus] said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”        -–Mark  6:31

Summer is winding down. Did you have a chance to escape your normal routine? A vacation should be just that—a break from your normal routine. It doesn’t have to cost a lot; it just needs to be something you enjoy. Getaways are important not only for physical health to rest the body but also for mental health to rest the mind.

I just got back from a week with some of my family. I enjoyed sunshine, sun tanning, and sightseeing. You don’t have to go far away to get rest and relaxation, but getting away from your every day environment helps the brain to slow down.  It is hard to rest at home when there is a heap of laundry on the floor, a stack of dishes in the sink, and a pile of papers on the desk. Breaking your routine allows you to turn off that portion of your mind that is constantly thinking about what needs to happen next.  On a vacation, you don’t have to have a schedule.

Maybe you can’t take the time for a week of vacation.  Psalm 23:2-3 says, “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.” Block out a Saturday, Sunday, or weekend to get outside and enjoy nature.  There is something peaceful and calming about considering Creation.  I love when my vacation takes me to a place where I can sit on a beach and view the ocean; however, I find the same calm come over me when I’m on my deck at home viewing a field of corn or the green grass and the trees that surround me.

Really all you need to do to rest your mind is get away from the usual to the unusual.  A family cookout, an hour at the spa, or lunch with a friend can bring refreshment and renewal to help you rest your mind.

As students and parents return to fall schedules and all that comes with them, I encourage you to take advantage of the late summer and fall days.  Get outside. Enjoy nature. Rest your mind. Refresh your soul.  Be renewed in your purpose.  Give your body and your mind the rest they crave. It is important for your mental health.

 

 

Sorting Hat Devotions

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I’m continually amazed how God speaks to us through His Word.  He uses my particular devotional for a day, which comes from a book I chose from many options, which is prepared well in advance by writers and publishers to speak to my particular need on an exact day and time through a book that thousands of others, who have very different needs, read at the same moment, and it speaks different things to them.  It is beyond comprehension.

I love to try to figure out God by imagining how this happens.  I have imagined a “Harry Potter”-like text, where as the book opens, words appear.  The words are just for you, and when you close the book, they fade.  Can you see it?

You pick up the devotional book; and as you open, it the words on the page appear, shift, change, until text clearly emerges—words that speak directly to your need at the moment.  If you close the book and come back tomorrow, words appear again—different words to meet different needs.  And if your spouse, child, or friend opens the book, the words for you have faded, and new words meant for them have appeared.

And perhaps the book talks to you, like the Hogwart’s Sorting Hat.  It would reveal things that clarified direction in your life or spoke to a specific situation.  Like the Sorting Hat senses student personalities and assigns them to a particular House, the “Sorting Book” points you to a particular path—a path chosen just for you.  Wouldn’t that be cool? A sentient Sorting Devotional book with changing words, meanings for different times and situations, and a perfect path for you to follow in life?  Wow! People would be standing in line to buy a book like that—much like they stood in line to purchase new releases of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter adventures.

But wait! There IS a Book like that. The pamphlet or book you use for your personal devotions draws from that BOOK! The Bible is that Book!  The book isn’t sentient.  It’s God, the Author of the Book, the Living Word!  Jesus! And God speaks to our hearts, personally, individually, any moment of the day in any situation. When we turn to The Book, we find wisdom and guidance. God’s Holy Spirit helps us see the Word and words in light of our momentary need, providing comfort, encouragement, direction, and insight.  And God’s Holy Spirit provides illumination for our path—our life path.  And God has a complete plan for our lives; His Book has already been written.  We are walking it out. . . not as characters, because we have choice and free will.  But when we use The Book as a guide, we are walking out His Perfect Plan for our lives.

The Hogwart’s Sorting Hat is only for certain times, certain decisions, and certain people.  It is a tool that is locked away except for special occasions.  But God’s Book is never locked up. It’s available always.  The Sorting Hat has occasionally made mistakes, but God never makes a mistake.

You are not a mistake.  Your life is not a mistake.  God has a plan for you. And He will speak that plan and purpose into you if you listen and follow.  And because His Word is living, it may come to you through The Bible, a devotional, a sermon, a word from a friend, a line from a story, or any myriad of ways. You will know because the Holy Spirit will quicken it to your heart. And you will be able to receive that Word and respond accordingly.

Our imaginations are wonderful gifts.  And God has planted in the hearts of many the ideas for stories that carry us off to magical worlds. But nothing compares to God’s plan and His story for us.  “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”  NLT  1 Corinthians 2:9

So open The Book or a devotional, and wait with the same anticipation you might if the book you were opening was “magical.”  Because God’s Word is magical and mysterious, in the best possible connotation of those words.

Wait is an Action Verb

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Luke 24:49 – I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Acts 1:4:  “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.

Stay, tarry, remain, and wait.  Wait is defined by Dictionary.com in the following ways:

  1. To remain inactive or in a state of repose until something expected happens
  2. To be available or in readiness
  3. To postpone or delay something
  4. To look forward to eagerly

Inactivity. Repose. Resting. Doing nothing. That is hard to do in this busy world; however, if we want to hear from God, we have to wait.  But wait is an action verb.  So what should we be doing while we wait?  How do we actively wait?

  1. Pray –
    1. Psalm 5:3 In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.
  2. Trust the timing –
    1. Psalm 31:14-15 But I trust in you, Lord; I say, “You are my God. My times are in your hands…
    2. Psalm 25:5 …for You [You only and altogether] do I wait [expectantly] all the day long.
  3. Expect and hope –
    1. Psalm 39:7 And now, Lord, what do I wait for and expect? My hope and expectation are in You.
  4. Be still and silent –
    1. Psalm 62:1 For God alone my soul waits in silence;
    2. Psalm 62:5 My soul, wait only upon God and silently submit to Him; for my hope and expectation are from Him.
  5. Wait in patience
    1. Psalm 37:7 Be still and rest in the Lord; wait for Him and patiently; lean yourself upon Him; fret not yourself because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked devices to pass.
  6. Focus – Eyes looking up for a vision
    1. Psalm 145:15 The eyes of all wait for You [looking, watching, and expecting] and You give them their food in due season.
    2. Habakkuk 2:3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time and it hastens to the end [fulfillment]; it will not deceive or Though it tarry, wait [earnestly] for it, because it will surely come; it will not be behindhand on its appointed day.
  7. Wait with strength
    1. Isaiah 40:31 But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.
  8. Get YOUR answer, not someone else’s
    1. Isaiah 30:18 And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]!
  9. Wait for Him
    1. Isaiah 25:9 It shall be said in that day, Behold our God upon Whom we have waited and hoped, that He might save us! This is the Lord, we have waited for Him; we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.

While we are waiting, how should we pray? Pray for

  1. Cleansing from sin
  2. Willingness to surrender to God’s plan, to obey
  3. Cooperation of others who play a role in God’s plan for you
  4. Ears to hear and recognize the voice of the Spirit
  5. Eyes to see the vision God has for you
  6. Strength to wait and resist any lies from the evil one
  7. Patience and steadfastness to wait and not act in your own power
  8. Power to carry out God’s instructions when you receive an answer

As we look to the dictionary definition of wait, we see that the word itself encompasses all that is listed and confirmed in other Bible verses.

  1. To remain inactive until we get specific direction from God
  2. To be available for His response and plan, and not get caught up in something else while we are waiting
  3. To postpone or delay action until instruction is received
  4. To look forward and eagerly await God’s answer because we know it will be amazing. . . and …immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us Ephesians 3:20-21

 To Him be the glory!

A Virtuous Husband

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Proverbs 31 with a twist.

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads and Husbands!  

A strong, sensitive, and spiritual husband—who is she that can find him?

He is far more precious than solid bars of gold, and his value is far above the wealth of Wall Street.

The heart of his wife trusts implicitly in his priesthood of their home, confidently relying in his spiritual wisdom.

He comforts, cares for, supports, and partners her in all their endeavors, and supports her and their offspring as long as there is life within him.

He spends quality time with each child in his family, learning the child’s bent and seeking to develop his or her potential to its fullest.

He finds joy in the accomplishments of his family.  He rises while it is early to study and seek God’s will for his life and the life of his loved ones, and stays up late praying for the growth and safety of his children.

He works diligently to provide for his family.  He considers business decisions in Godly context and does all things with integrity, ensuring his family’s future and well-being to the best of his God-given abilities.

He does not worry over his children’s futures for he has provided a solid spiritual and economic foundation from which to launch them.

He looks well to the care of his home and property and gives excellent care to those material things which God has provided.

He manages the family finances, giving tithes to the Lord and contributing to the needs of the poor and lost.

He is a leader among men and an example to all who know him, and provides whatever help he can to his neighbor.

He opens his hand to his friends and neighbors and shares the fruits of God’s bounty wherever he can.

He speaks words of Godly wisdom and is a father and spiritual guide to all whom the Lord brings across his path.

His children honor him and respect his advice, and he is blessed with grandchildren in his latter years.

He knows the importance of rest and relationships and takes time to celebrate the Lord’s Day and family events.

He takes time to acknowledge his wife—his life partner—and is sensitive to her needs.  He is rewarded with a solid bond, lasting through golden years.

Many sons have done virtuously, but you exceed them all. Brains and good looks are deceptive, and physical strength is vain, but a man who lives with God as Lord of his life shall be praised.

Royal Children [redux]

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golden-crown_MyjTzY_d_LWith the birth of another child to the British Royal Kingdom recently, and a Royal Wedding set for Saturday, it seemed a good time to revisit this blog.  Celebrate your own Royal Heritage in the Kingdom of God.

 

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God…” Matthew 6:33

The British Royal Family is in the news these days due to the birth of a child, an heir to the throne.  Many announcements have been made now that this little one has arrived safely in the world.  A crier reads a proclamation in the streets, news media deliver video, and social media offers comments.  An announcement of the birth of a new royal child is the cause of much celebration in the British kingdom, and the world watches.

Americans vary in how much attention they give to announcements about the British Royals.  We may respond with curiosity, disdain, indifference, or shared joy. But Americans, including myself, probably don’t have an understanding of living in a kingdom ruled by a benevolent king or queen.  And while British royalty is more traditional than authoritative these days, the idea of a kingdom is vastly removed from American traditions of democracy and independence.  Americans are bred to independence.  And I sometimes wonder if that limits us, as Christians, when we come to the place where we are trying to grasp the concept of the Kingdom of God.

Matthew 6:33 is a verse that many Christians like to quote, mostly because of the second part, I expect—“and all these things will be added unto you.”  But do we understand the first part—“seek ye first the kingdom of God”—the conditions?  What does it mean to seek the kingdom of God? What is a kingdom, anyway?

Dictionary.com defines a kingdom as “a state or government having a king or queen as its head.”  What does that mean for us?  Luke 17:21 says that the kingdom of God is within you [in your hearts]. In the spiritual sense, the “state” having the King as head is the “state” of our being or our lives.  Seeking the kingdom requires understanding what living in a kingdom means.

Living in a kingdom involves

  • Living under the authority of the King.
  • Serving in the King’s army.
  • Serving at His command and for His pleasure.
  • Obeying all the laws of the Kingdom.
  • Following the King’s orders and giving them precedence over any plans you may have; setting aside your plans for the King’s plans.
  • Supporting the King and His Kingdom with your finances.
  • Pledging total allegiance to the King; anything else may be viewed as treason.
  • Giving the King your honor and respect as his due.  Bowing in His presence.
  • Recognizing the King is first in the Kingdom.

These are the few ideas that occurred to me as the conditions of seeking; perhaps you can add others.

But what things are added when we seek? What are the benefits of living in the kingdom?

  • The King provides for and cares for His subjects and is responsible for the state of the Kingdom.
  • The King protects the Kingdom and its subjects.
  • The King provides the identity for the Kingdom and the land.

What are the benefits to living close to the King and serving Him as your primary duty (another example of seeking)?

  • Those who serve the King live in the palace/in His presence.
  • They get to know the King on a more intimate level because He lives with them.
  • They eat at the King’s table and enjoy His fellowship.
  • They enjoy the protection from enemies, provided by the King’s army and the boundaries of the palace or Kingdom walls.
  • They share in the wealth and prosperity of the Kingdom.

What about those who live in the Kingdom but outside the continued presence of the King?

  • They may be outside the protection of the King and his army, leaving them more vulnerable to enemy attack.
  • They may enjoy some benefits of a healthy Kingdom, but they do not enjoy all of the King’s wealth.
  • They may miss opportunities to serve the King, and thereby miss opportunities for promotion, because they are too far away from the King to be of help when He requires it.

Seeking first the Kingdom of God is putting Jesus first in everything.  That may sound difficult.  It is impossible to do it on our own; however, our King has provided for even that.  He has sent us the Holy Spirit to be our Guide.  The Holy Spirit helps us to obey the King’s commands.  And when we do fail, the Father forgives us when we ask because of King Jesus and His sacrifice.

The truth is, we are Royal Children, heirs of the Kingdom of God.  Our spiritual births were celebrated with as much joy in the Kingdom of God, and our continued spiritual growth and maturity is as important to God as the physical birth, growth, and maturity of the new heir is to the British Royals.  But to claim all the benefits of our Royal Heritage, we must seek to live in service to the King.  Every day we must await His pleasure.

If you are a Royal Child of the Kingdom, all this talk of royals may affect you as it has me.  I want to reaffirm my allegiance to the King of Kings.  If you are not a Royal Child, you can be through spiritual rebirth.  Ask the Father to forgive you because of the blood sacrifice of King Jesus, and pledge your allegiance to His Kingdom first and foremost.  An announcement of the birth of a new Royal Child is the cause of much celebration in the Kingdom of God. And serving Him will bring the blessings and benefits of His Kingdom.

 

The Heart of God

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 And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you… Isaiah 30:18

If you follow this blog, you have by now ascertained that I am a distributor for Young Living Essential Oils.  I have said before that becoming an “oiler” has sparked a journey of health and wellness in my life.  And as I learn, my educator’s heart wants to share what I have learned.  As with most oilers, it has become less about selling something to someone and much more about encouraging people to make wise choices for their health in all areas.

This desire to educate people leads me to host wellness events in my home or at vendor tables in local festivals.  I work hard to prepare and provide as much information and hands-on experience as I can so people can gather knowledge in a comfortable environment.  When I host something in my home, I clean, I prepare food, I set up stations, and then I wait.  When I host a vendor event at a festival, I load my car, unload my car, set up a display, and then I wait.  And sometimes, I wait in vain.  Sometimes, even when people have said they will come, they don’t.  Sometimes, all that work seems wasted.

What I prepare out of a heart to give and help goes unacknowledged or unappreciated because no one comes.  And yet, I keep trying.  I plan again, and I hope, and I wait.

And today as I sat in prayer, asking God to give me a pure heart and pure attitude and guide me in my journey, I had a profound revelation.  This is how God feels.

God sent His only son Jesus to earth, to live a pure and sinless life.  And then, He provided Jesus as a sacrifice—the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  God provided a Way to atone for the sin of mankind.  He planned and He prepared.  He carried out that plan.  Jesus died and rose again.  He sent the Holy Spirit to be Counselor, Convictor, and Gift-Giver. God has a plan for each and every human who lives or has ever lived.  Jeremiah says, He has plans to prosper us. (Jeremiah 29:11)  God wants us to have a great life.  He wants to give us good gifts.  But He wants our hearts.  He wants us to come to Him.  And so He waits.  Each and every day He waits for someone to come. He has so much to give.

There are times when I give up.  I think about planning an event, and then I don’t do it.  I feel it may be a waste of my time.

But God never gives up.  His Holy Spirit is continually at work calling sinners to repentance.  God is not willing that any should perish.  This is God’s heart.

Your physical body will one day die, regardless of whether you take great care of it or neglect it.  Physical wellness is temporary. But your residence for eternity will be determined by your response to God.  He has everything to offer you in this life and for all eternity.  And it is all free.  You will never get a better deal.  Have you made a choice to serve God?  Is He calling you?

I hope He will not wait in vain.