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Category Archives: Spiritual Reflections

Give in, Get rest

fightingsleep

This morning when I got up, I kept hearing Chris Tomlin’s song “Lay me down,” in my spirit.  I like the song, it’s upbeat and catchy.  But, I really started thinking about the lyrics and what it actually says.  Often I can hear something, but not really listen to what its saying.  I hear the sound, but don’t listen to the message of it or just don’t really think about it.  While I was thinking about it, I started visualizing a kid who fights a nap.  I’ve seen kids do everything possible to fight sleep and avoid rest.  Kids can do some really silly things to stay awake.  They wiggle, ask for food or drink, go to the bathroom a million times, cry, sneak and play after the parents leave the room.  But, after a long fight, usually sleep just overtakes them or they skip the nap and become unbearable the rest of the day.

If I don’t get enough rest, I know that I can be hard to live with.  I try to medicate myself with enormous doses of coffee, but that’s just a quick fix to the problem.  Anyway, after thinking those few thoughts, God spoke the verse “Be still and know that I am God.”  The thing is, if you are still and not fighting rest, you find it pretty quick.  Your eyes get heavy and the next thing you know, you’re in dreamland.  After thinking about that verse, I wrote down some key words that I felt went along with my whole visualization that I know God gave me, for at least my own personal life.  The four words I wrote down were lay, listen, rest and know.   I started digging in the word and wrote down some verses to look up later when I had more time to examine what God may be trying to show me.

First, for lay, I read about Jesus laying down his life for his sheep….for me and you.  (John 10:11)  Jesus’ death on the cross was the ultimate sacrifice.  Next, I read 1 John 3:16 and it says that Jesus is our example of love because He laid down his life for us and that we should do the same for our brothers.  Sacrifice involves laying down things that are hard to lie down; otherwise it wouldn’t be a sacrifice.  The thing about sacrifice is that God isn’t going to force us to lay that sacrifice down, he wants us to be obedient and willing to do so (John 10:18) Jesus became willing to go to the cross.  So, back to the thought of a kid taking a nap, in order for the kid to receive rest, he has to first decide to lie down.

Second, listen.  Listen is an action word.  I cannot hear well, I wear hearing aids and often I have to really focus on the person speaking to hear them.  Other noises that are louder will distract me from actually hearing someone who is speaking soft.  When I was a kid myself and couldn’t go to sleep, my Dad would tell me to just close my eyes and think of good things.  I would most of the time listen to his advice and do that and fall asleep.  But if I listened to the worries of the day or the fears that lingered in the shadows, I’d toss and turn and have trouble falling asleep.   So, the first thought is that to find rest, I need to listen to my Father (Heavenly one).  John 10:27 says “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”  Proverbs 1 says that those who are wise listen yet fools despise wisdom and discipline.  I don’t think I want to be a fool, but I know that I have been and sometimes I’m foolish and stubborn because I don’t listen.   1 Samuel 3:9, “So Eli told Samuel, Go and lie down, and if he calls you say, speak Lord, for your servant is listening.  So Samuel went and lay down in his place.”   In this verse, the word servant stands out to me and the word Lord.  The Lord is lord of my life, He reigns over me and I need to be willing to be submissive to hearing what He wants to tell me.

Third key word is rest.  My first key scripture took me to Job 3:17.  Job is upset and he’s tired, he wishes to never have lived and wants death because he sees that as the quickest answer to his problems.  He wants to find rest and he thinks that death is it.  I’ll admit that I’ve had those thoughts myself in the past.  What I can take from this verse or the whole passage is that when I look inward, I’ll only find wrong answers.  I’ll hear the wrong voices that want me to quickly destroy what God’s answer is instead.  But, Psalm 62:1 says my soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him.   I don’t have the answers to my problems; I can’t save myself or others, my rest and salvation come from God alone.  How do I find that rest?  Matthew 11:28 says “come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”  So, I have to go to Him to find rest.  I know when I was a kid and if just thinking good thoughts wasn’t enough for me to fall asleep and find rest, then the next thing I needed to do was seek my Dad and have him hold me.  It was easy to fall asleep in my Dad’s arms.  I was safe there.

Lastly, know; when I rest what do I know? I know that He’s God (Psalm 46:10). I have to know that God is above all, He is in control, not I.  John 14:17 reminds us that the world doesn’t recognize God because they don’t know Him.  As His child, I know Him and I know His voice.  I can trust Him, because I know Him and know that He loves me.  Romans 7:18 reminds me that apart from Him, nothing good lives in me.  I am sinful by nature.  Romans 8:28 reminds me that I know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.  God is working in all situations, even when I can’t see it.  I have to rely on this love and because I see and know this love, I’m supposed to show the fruit of love to others (1 John 4:16).  Finally, 1 John 5:14 – 15 says “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.”

So, in conclusion, I lay me down, I’m not my own.  I belong to you alone…….

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Posted by on December 3, 2017 in Spiritual Reflections

 

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Precious Life

hands-holding-newborn-baby-feet“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

Sixteen years ago, I was anxiously waiting the moment of going to the hospital to be induced for labor. I was very nervous about what to expect and I prayed throughout my pregnancy for a healthy baby. All of my prenatal appointments went well for the most part. I was screened early on for my sugar and was told to watch it because the sugar levels weren’t the best. So, I stopped eating my usual honeybun for breakfast before work and started watching what I ate. The last month of pregnancy is the hardest when you are a first time mom. I questioned every small pain or twitch, wondering if I needed to rush to the hospital or not. I have a pretty high pain tolerance and because of it, I ignored any small amounts of pain. However, a few weeks before I was induced, I was having a lot of pressure. I thought it was time for me to go into labor. I called my husband in a panic and then my mom and mother in law to quiz them to see if I should go to the hospital. My husband came home and went onto the hospital. Once we got there, they checked me and said I was fine and that it wasn’t time. I was upset and didn’t want to go home because I knew how I felt and I was overly anxious. When I got home, I took a warm bath, cried, and prayed.
The day arrived for me to be induced. I expected everything to run smoothly and figured I’d be a mother before the end of the day. Instead, I was dilating slowly and my blood pressure was going up. Next, the medical team informed me that my platelet count was low and that I would not be able to receive an epidural. I wasn’t hurting too bad yet, so I thought, “Eh. It’s ok, I’m tough and can handle it.” My husband, mom and mother-in-law were in the room with me that evening waiting for my son to arrive. I was nervous and I know they were anxious and probably nervous as well. Meanwhile, there was a waiting room full of family and friends waiting for the baby to arrive. But, that day was not the day that my son would be born and the closer it got to midnight, the thinner the audience was in the waiting room. I honestly can’t remember much after midnight because the pressure was starting to mount and contractions were becoming stronger. The pain was kicking in. I kept thinking to myself, “any minute”….but every time the nurses checked they would shake their head no and leave the room. The rest of the evening is a fog in my memory. I remember asking for something for the pain, they gave me Demerol. It’s the only thing they could give me for my condition. I remember around seven o’clock in the morning that I was pushing and trying to have my son. There was a lot of concern during that time. I learned afterwards that they were close to doing an emergency C-section on me, but at 7:38 a.m. April 25, he arrived. I remember hearing his cry and then I crashed. I fell asleep.
I was diagnosed with HELLP syndrome. I had never heard of it before. It’s a severe stage of preeclampsia. When my son was born, the doctor noticed the placenta wasn’t attached to him. I was told a lot of things medical wise that I didn’t understand. Both my son and I had to stay several days to make sure we were alright. I was told that I would probably need a bone marrow transfusion. I didn’t want that to happen, I prayed and others at my church prayed. My blood count went up in a few days and I didn’t have to have that transfusion. I was told by my doctor that I was very lucky. They were worried that they were going to lose me, the baby or both of us. But, God had different plans. I know God’s hand was on me and my son the whole time.
Now, my son is about to turn sixteen. He’s almost an adult and this year because he’s approaching adulthood, I’m keenly reminded of the miracle of his life. I’ve been asking him lately what his goals are. I don’t really want him to grow up, but you can’t stop that. Right now, he’s unsure about what he wants to do. I pray that he will understand that God has him here on this Earth for a reason; He has a plan for His life. I pray that he seeks God first on all things concerning his life.

 

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All I’m asking is for a little respect

In light of the disdain and outward opinion from our society with the newly elected President, I have noticed we lack something vital. That something is respect. To respect is to have due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of someone else. Now, please realize that I do not care for most politicians myself. I don’t trust what they promise or say. I did not care for Donald Trump and things he said and did while he campaigned. But, he is our president now and we have to respect him as our leader. 1 Peter 2:13 – 17 says, “For the Lord’s sake, yield to the people who have authority in this world: the king, who is the highest authority, and the leaders who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right. It is God’s desire that by doing good you should stop foolish people from saying stupid things about you. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Live as servants of God. Show respect for all people: Love the brothers and sisters of God’s family, respect God, honor the king.”

Yield to people who have authority. Think about the headlines that have hit media in the past year. We witnessed throughout the country that policemen were targeted as evil and provokers of violence rather than civil leaders who place their very lives in danger every day to protect civilians. Why do we think we shouldn’t yield to their authority? A policeman’s job is hard, stressful, and low paying. They have to be on guard for anyone they approach in any dispute, matter, or traffic violation. They have to expect the unexpected because they never know if the person they are questioning is a loose cannon or not. Let’s respect and yield to those who are in authority…..for the Lord’s sake. The highest person in authority in the United States is the President. Like him or not, we must yield and respect him. We should also pray for him and others that are placed in those authoritative positions. We need to pray for wisdom for our leaders, that they will make just decisions and listen to both parties and rising smaller political parties that represent our country. All political parties need to respect one another, by not screaming and calling each other names, but coming together and finding that common ground. I can’t stand politics. I always disliked it and I’ve loathed it even more in the past decade because of the nastiness and arrogance of people arguing for their party to the point of belittling those opposed to their party. I’ve observed the lack of respect on both sides. So, respect is definitely missing from the picture.

Tearing more into the scripture, it states that God’s desire is that by doing good (not disrespecting, name calling, accusing, screaming, belittling, mocking, ect..) it will stop people from saying stupid things about you. How do we do good? First, don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. In other words don’t say things like “It’s my God given right to……(you can fill in the blank). “ Second, we are to live as servants of God. A servant in this context is defined as a devoted and helpful follower or supporter. As a servant, when you are out and about, however you act represents who your Master is. Do you represent God the way He wants others to see Him? Third, we are to show respect for all people. All means everyone, even those who are different from you. Fourth, love your Christian family. Don’t gossip and hate on someone in your Christian family, but love them. If it’s hard to love a certain someone in your family, ask God to increase His love in you to achieve that love and respect for them. Lastly the scripture says to respect God and to honor the king. God is our heavenly king. He is the ultimate one in charge of all things in Heaven and on earth. We respect God by being obedient to him and adhering to the golden rule. Love God, love others. I’m not saying that is an easy thing, but it is possible if you allow God to empower you to love by His spirit.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2017 in Life, Spiritual Reflections

 

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Unconditonal

amazinglovePeople are so fickle.  I was thinking about how easily others get upset with people on social media because they aren’t getting enough attention or likes. They threaten cleaning out their friends list because people don’t talk to them enough or God forbid they vote differently from you or have an opposing viewpoint. It seems more often than not, that we attach many conditions to friendship.  Why do so many people not allow for others to think for themselves or have their own opinion about something?  What happened with listening to each other and agreeing to disagree on certain matters?

Since Easter is this weekend, it makes me realize how wonderful it is to have a savior who loves mankind unconditionally.  We all can be punks sometimes.  I wonder how often Jesus feels neglected by mankind, even by Christians. I know personally that in busyness, I often push through life and neglect to give Jesus the attention or credit He deserves.  When Jesus walked the Earth, he taught radical living, opposite from what our flesh wants to do.  He ticked people off because His teachings didn’t line up with theirs.  Many walked away from Him. But, he didn’t move.  He wasn’t afraid of the lepers.  He touched them.  He didn’t care to be seen with a questionable woman.  He breathed real love upon her. For those who had questions,  He sat and answered the questions.  He spoke truth, but didn’t force it on the audience. He endured betrayal, physical lashings, ridicule, anger, and still forgave.  He knew He would be denied by Peter, yet sought him out afterwards for breakfast, after the Resurrection.

Explaining how extreme Jesus’ love for mankind is really unfathomable.  But, once you realize it and come in full contact with it, it’s overwhelming to know you are loved without condition.  When you are smacked with that kind of love, how can you not follow Him?  His love is a magnet.  It moves me out of myself and draws me to Him.  If you haven’t met Him, I hope that you will soon.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2016 in Spiritual Reflections

 

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Thoughts Under a Microscope

thoughtbrainA thought cradled for awhile may dissipate into a thrown away opportunity. I’m sure there have been many ideas that I’ve discarded due to fear of failure or rejection. Some reoccur out of the blue, reminding me there is a reason for them resurfacing in my brain matter. But still, I shove them away or forget them once again.
Other thoughts are harder to push away like those of what ifs, why’s or if only. Don’t you hate those types? They haunt you at the oddest times. They remind you or your mistakes. They pinpoint weaknesses within. They jab you with guilt that was erased forever ago.
Then, there are those thoughts that take you away from your circumstances, the daydreaming thoughts. Most of my daydreams as a child were thoughts that ran amuck slinging colors and ideas on the canvas of my impressionable mind. These thoughts carried me to places I wanted to visit and I imagined living at these places and doing things that I’ve never done. The imagination of a child is a room filled with bright colors, uncontrollable laughter, and surreal happiness.
There are those thoughts that you allow to escape your mouth that are laced with anger, hate, jealousy and bitterness. Those thoughts are arrows often shot at those closest to you and then some ricochet wounding innocent bystanders. Sometimes these thoughts are shared with others with a whisper in a corner. The whispers are poison filled darts.
Thoughts, whether kept to yourself or shared can be an igniting spark in both a positive or negative way, depending on the source of the thought. When we allow God’s thoughts to become our thoughts, only good can happen. God is truth, our own fleshy thoughts confuse us and impair what God wants us to see and know. Examining the source of these thoughts come from dissecting the fruit of the thoughts. “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23. If the fruit is opposite of this, it is rotten, spit it out and throw it away. Discard the thoughts that destroy. “Do not act like the sinful people of the world. Let God change your life. First of all, let Him give you a new mind. Then you will know what God wants you to do. And the things you do will be good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (NLV).

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2015 in Spiritual Reflections, Writing

 

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MawMaw Sandwich

MawMawsandwich

This evening being alone at the house, I decided to fix me a “MawMaw Sandwich.” I call it that because it’s what my grandmother would fix on Sunday evenings. If you stopped in for a visit, she would insist on assembling you a sandwich too, even if you weren’t that hungry. It consisted of toast, fried bologna, cheese, and tomato. Tonight, I added scrambled egg on mine to give it some extra oomph. I lived with my grandparents for a few years when I was in college and having this simple meal with them was a highlight of my Sundays.

My grandparents are gone now, but those memories linger. They were so hospitable and kind, if we had friends with us, they’d extend a sandwich to them as well. We’d sit together, talk, watch tv and enjoy the pleasure of a simple sandwich. It’s those small things that you remember when time passes. I miss those times. I miss them.

My grandparents taught me many things. They taught me to look out for others. They taught me to keep God first. They taught me that God’s love never fails. They taught me the importance of prayer. They taught me that church is important because we need each other….we need community. Nowadays, we have so many ways to communicate. But, my heart longs for old fashioned communication. My heart longs for breaking bread with others. My heart longs for knowing people more, hearing what they struggle with and really listening to them. I’m guilty of being selfish though. I get tired, come home, connect to the internet, and disconnect from those closest to me. I don’t want to keep doing that. It’s time for me to reconnect to the simple things instead.

 
 

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Derail Guilt

My family and I returned home from vacation a few weeks ago. When we pulled up onto the street and parked in front of the house, I immediately noticed that the railing for my steps in front of my house was gone. The kids in the neighborhood were outside playing and when they saw us pull up, they ran inside their house. It doesn’t take a genius to spot that level of guilt. One of the parents even called there child inside, which to me was out of fear of confrontation, but maybe I’m drawing conclusions. I’m really not that hard to get along with, so I didn’t understand the level of guilt. My railing wasn’t the sturdiest anyway because I’ve backed into it a time or two with my vehicle. I suspected that the kids decided to play on it while we were gone and with the weakness of the railing, it didn’t take much for it to break. I was more aggravated about the fact that no one wanted to own up to the incident than anything else.

My second year of college, my family bought me a car. I went away to college and the first year I had to rely on other people to get me around town or I had to wait for my family to come get me on long weekends. So, the summer before my second year of school, my Mom and Dad bought me a red Dodge Shadow. My parents came down with me the week before school started to help get me settled in and make sure all was well with everything. I drove down with my Mom in the car and my Dad came in his vehicle. The day before they left to go back home, they said their goodbyes to me and headed to their hotel. I was a little nervous about the start of the new year and decided to go to Wal-Mart to kill some time and get some odds and ends. I went into the parking lot and pulled into a spot, when I pulled in, I misjudged the distance and scraped a van with my front bumper. No one was around, my heart was in my throat and I didn’t know what to do. My gut told me to leave, but I had to check and see the damage. I looked and couldn’t tell anything. But, on looking again I saw a decent size mark. I nervously waited in the parking lot for whoever the owner was to come out so I could tell them what happened. It was hot, I was nervous, I was battling whether to just go and pretend it didn’t happen, when finally after about twenty minutes a family started walking to the van. I approached the father and told him what happened. He looked at the damage and he thanked me for letting him know. We exchanged insurance information and I got his phone number. This was before cell phones were in everyone’s possession. I left and headed back to the dorm, dreading the call to my parents. When I got in the dorm, I went to the payphone, looked up the hotel number of where they were staying and called and told them what happened. They weren’t happy, of course, because this was added expense that they weren’t expecting. They contacted the other driver and paid for the damage out of pocket instead of putting it on the insurance. The other driver was kind and complimented that it was honorable that I waited around for them.

The thing is, the guilt would’ve drove me crazy if I drove off and pretended it didn’t happen. I have my parents to thank for that. They raised me to be upfront whenever I broke something, to be honest in all situations.

Back to the railing, a few days after we got home the little girl across the street started talking to me because I was taking the trash to the curb. After a bit of dialog, she pointed at the broken railing. I nodded and said “Yeah, you know what happened, don’t you?” She nodded back and then pointed to the house beside me. I nodded and said, “The railing wasn’t very sturdy. I’m guessing that it looked like a good place to slide down or swing on. Then when someone played on it, it came down. She said, “Yea, and he hurt his hand.” “That happens,” I said back.

A day or two after the little girl told me, the little boy who had done it waved at me with a bandaged up hand. He walked toward me and I said, “Did you do that on my railing?” He nodded and his sister quickly said, “No, you did it on the slip and slide.” He shot her a look and then I said, “I know what happened. I’m glad you aren’t hurt worse.”

The kids didn’t want to hold on to that guilt either. They were afraid of how I would react. They didn’t want to own up to it, but they couldn’t pretend it didn’t happen either. Confession is freeing, whereas keeping that guilt inside will eat you alive or numb you.

“Few things are more infectious than a godly lifestyle. The people you rub shoulders with everyday need that kind of challenge. Not prudish. Not preachy. Just cracker jack clean living. Just honest to goodness, bone – deep, non-hypocritical integrity.” ~ Chuck Swindoll

 
 

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