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Encouragement in Your Wellness Journey

Category Archives: Devotional

Time in His Hands

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Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord. . .” (Colossians 3:23)

I don’t have enough time. We are all guilty of expressing this sentiment.  Sometimes it is frustration, sometimes it is weariness, and sometimes it is an excuse not to do add more to an already busy schedule.

Colossians 3:23 reminds us to work at all we do with our whole hearts. We might find encouragement in that verse when we are teaching Sunday school, singing in the choir, or taking a meal to a sick friend.  We are serving others when we do those things, and we know that work is for the Lord.  But what about the tasks we work on at home or our jobs? Do we take pleasure in housework, laundry, yard work, and grocery shopping?  Do we enjoy our jobs? Are we doing those unto the Lord?

And what about the added work that comes with the holiday season? Do you take pleasure in the extra cleaning, decorating, cooking, baking, and shopping that comes with the season, or is it just something you do because of tradition or expectation?

I have always enjoyed preparing for the holidays, but I often resented my “regular” work because it was taking my time from doing the holiday things I enjoyed.  However, as I now have more time on my hands, I find those chores more pleasant, or at least less irksome.  That led me to the realization that it isn’t really the chores themselves that are the problem.  The problem is my possessiveness of my time. MY time! Do you see the problem with that attitude?  My time is not my own time; and if I operate in that mindset, of course I will be frustrated.

If we are walking the path God has set before us and being led by the Holy Spirit, our time is in His hands.  Psalm 31:14-15 says, “I trusted in, relied on, and was confident in You, O Lord. I said, You are my God. My times are in Your hands. . .”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 says there is a time for everything, and we generally interpret this verse to realize we have seasons in our lives.  But what if we read it as there is time for everything?  Would we be less stressed and possessive of our time if we really believed we have plenty of it? What if you really do have plenty of time?

We know times goes quickly, and as we get older, the time seems to race by even faster.  We all have a list of things we want to accomplish—whether it’s today’s to-do list, this year’s goal list, or a lifetime purpose list.  But if God truly has a plan for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11) and He orders our steps, we do have time for everything.  Psalm 37:23 says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD,” but can you quote the second part of that verse?  “He delights in our way.”

If God takes delight in our way—in our daily steps, our mundane tasks, we can rejoice in Him and delight in our way ourselves.

Does that sound too easy?  Are you looking at your holiday to-do list and thinking there is no delight in it? It really is all about mindset. It takes a proper outlook and practice. It takes believing God’s Word about time is as true as everything else He has said, and then acting on that truth.

Here are some steps that may help you cooperate with God’s timing and bring the joy and delight back to your busy holiday season.

Set your mind. Cultivate a positive mindset. Rejoice in the day God has given you. “This is the day God has made! Rejoice!” (Psalm 118:24) You get to spend the day with God, the King of the universe!

Pray. Before you start your day or any of your tasks, ask God to order your day and give you strength. I have found, time and time again, that this is the best way to approach a day when I feel overwhelmed by the number of tasks I need to complete.

  1. Ask God to order your steps. He has promised to do that. Remind Him of His promise. (Psalm 37:23)  Claim it for your life. “In their hearts, humans plan their course, but God establishes their steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)
  2. Ask God to keep you from distractions. Explore these promises.
    • Ephesians 5:16 “making the most of every opportunity…”
    • Hebrews 12:2 “Fixing our eyes on Jesus…”
    • Proverbs 4:25 “Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.”
    • Matthew 6:34 “Do not worry about tomorrow…”
    • Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.”
    • Psalm 90:12 “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Let your words match your mindset. We know words have creative and destructive power, so eliminate negative sayings, like I don’t have time; express positive things: I can do all things through Christ; My steps are ordered of God.You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.” (Psalm 16:11)

Combine things you like to do with tasks you find challenging. Listen to music, a podcast, or a book as you work.  Count your blessings as you shop, thanking God for the provision to purchase groceries and gifts.  Check your email or social media while waiting for an appointment.

Rest and recharge. When your task list is long, make sure you schedule times for quiet, reflection, prayer, or just something you love to do. Don’t neglect that workout time, coffee date, or favorite holiday movie.  Psalm 23:2-3 reminds us God cares about our rest. “He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me besides quiet waters; he refreshes my soul.”

When we look forward to time with family and friends over the holidays, it is rarely about what we do. We just take pleasure in being with them.  If we take that same approach to our time with God, then we can enjoy His presence regardless of the tasks we need to accomplish. And we can take pleasure in the tasks because we take pleasure in Him.  We can rest confidently in the knowledge that He is aware of our time and our to-do list, and He will make the most of it, helping us to redeem the time we have efficiently. There is a time for everything.

Giving Thanks – 30 Reasons To Be Thankful

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Psalm 107:1 (NIV) -“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

November brings thoughts of being thankful. Hopefully, it is more than thoughts, and our hearts really are filled with gratitude for the many blessings in our lives.  I truly try to walk with a thankful heart all year long, but during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons, I find my heart welling up with thanks for the overwhelming gifts that God pours out to me on a regular basis.  Today I share 30 reasons to be thankful—one for each day of the month—though this list could be much longer. I encourage you to cultivate gratitude in your life. Focusing on positive things helps to avoid negative energy and depression, which can rob us of life’s little joys.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

I am thankful…

  1. That Jesus Christ is my Savior.
  2. That the Holy Spirit guides me each day of my life.
  3. For God’s Word, the Bible, which teaches me all I need.
  4. For a loving husband who is supportive and a true partner in life.
  5. For two beautiful daughters who love the Lord.
  6. For two outstanding sons-in-law, who love my daughters and are good fathers to their children
  7. For five wonderful, awesome, intelligent, handsome grandsons.
  8. That my children and grandchildren live very close to me, and I am able to be involved in their daily lives.
  9. For a happy childhood and parents who loved and nurtured me. And for my in-laws, who have always been second parents.
  10. For siblings and extended family–the love we share and the fun times we enjoy.
  11. For friends who encourage and challenge me.
  12. For my career as a teacher and all who touched my life in those years.
  13. For new visions and tasks to conquer that I may use my gifts and talents unto the Lord.
  14. For the beautiful home God has provided me that keeps me safe, warm, and allows the space to gather family and friends.
  15. For the beauty of God’s creation that is ever changing and the fact that I have a front row seat in my home to the nature that is all around me.
  16. For health and wellness for my family.
  17. For times of relaxation and vacation and travel.
  18. For finances that supply my needs.
  19. That God allows me to participate in His kingdom by giving to others out of what He generously gives to me.
  20. That God helps me to grow, despite my failures, into His plan and purpose for me.
  21. For answered prayers.
  22. For a country where I can freely worship.
  23. For a country where I can vote and have an impact on my world.
  24. For those who give their lives to protect the freedoms I have.
  25. For the many blessings that come with technology that has been gifted to us.
  26. For books to read that I may gain knowledge and wisdom from others’ experiences.
  27. For sleep each night that restores my body.
  28. For the food I eat and the hands that prepare it.
  29. For the gifts that God gives to others that I may be blessed by their talents.
  30. For the gift of writing that I may share with others and for those who share with me by following.

May your heart turn to God in thanksgiving this day and every day. “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)

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.