January 31, 2012

A Penny for Your Thoughts

Do our thoughts really matter? Do the things we think about really affect our lives? I believe they do. Because where we put our thought energy is where we will direct our lives. Perhaps that is why pessimistic people remain so, and optimistic people are forever looking forward, believing that good can come from any situation. 

Let’s back this thought train up a bit. Think about what occupies your thoughts the most. Do the burdens of life crowd your impressions of the day? Do you have control over your thoughts? Can you push away negative thoughts that threaten to overburden you? 
This isn’t always easy to do.

It seems to me that negative thoughts get caught up in a cycle of repetition. Something we’ve done or said that we later regret plays over and over in our minds, making the situation seem worse than it really is and making us feel worse in the process. 

Can we stop the cycle? Is it possible to look for a positive spin on the problem and force a new thought to overcome the abrasive one? I wonder, could this be as simple as living with gratitude?

Spending time worrying about paying the mortgage or other bills won’t get them paid. Worry only causes distress that can manifest itself into physical symptoms of illness. As I lay down to sleep at night, I could toss and turn worrying about the future. But I don’t. Instead I choose to end my day by giving my thoughts to God. With thoughts of thankfulness for the day and gratitude that I have a warm home and a place to sleep, I drift off into a peaceful slumber. 

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34 (NIV)

Is this what it means to hold our thoughts captive? Giving our worries to God? And perhaps not just our worries, but also those thoughts that threaten our peace? In our humanness, our minds may wander to less than ideal thoughts. We need to hold those thoughts captive and present them to God. I’ll bet we’ll stop thinking unclean thoughts in a hurry if we know we have to be accountable for them.

So what will it take to capture our thoughts, to make our minds obey the rules we lay down? Consistency, in not allowing our thoughts to stray where they shouldn't, and realizing when we have lost control. When our thoughts wander and threaten our peace, we will have to seize them, acknowledging them before God, and relinquish their power over us. 

With practice, our thoughts will become more consistent with the lifestyle that the Apostle Paul wrote about in 2 Corinthians: "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."  2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

As we endeavor to improve our thought processes, we will invariably fall prey to the vicious cycles of negative thinking that threaten our peace of mind. We won't always experience completely forward progress, and that's okay. What is important, I think, is to gain an awareness that we are able to exercise control over own thoughts. And through prayer and communion with the Holy Spirit, we can give our fears and worrisome thoughts to God, freeing our minds to focus on what is really important - the beauty of life, and living each day in the example of Christ. 

Blessings on your journey.

January 30, 2012

Our Unique Self

What would your dream job be? Have you ever thought about what it would it take for you to be working in your preferred vocation?

The work week begins. Dragging yourself out of a warm bed while it’s still dark and preparing to be out in the world for another day takes much more energy than it should.

How wonderful would it be if everyone could work in their career of choice. Imagine having excitement for your job and being filled with enthusiasm as you begin each work day. 

Believe it or not, that is the way it should be! If we can find a career path that challenges and excites us, our work can make us feel energized instead of drained.

And if we can’t change our job, perhaps we can view it in a different light. Sometimes changing our perspective can change our outlook. What do you bring to your position that is uniquely 'you'? Can you expand on an aspect of your job that you enjoy the most?
Not everyone can be a superstar athlete or movie star, but we can find fulfillment in positions that are far less glamorous. Each of us has gifts and talents and something special to share with the world. We need to realize our unique gifts and understand how we can bring our own energy into the workplace.

Finding that role is our challenge. Do you like working with people, sharing your smile and perhaps brightening someone’s day? It means so much to have a courteous and friendly individual assisting in the many service-oriented occupations. It is a great gift to be able to provide that for your patrons.

Is there something you have always dreamed of pursuing as a career? A position that you feel would bring you fulfillment and offer an opportunity for you to share your unique talents with the world?

The first step is to identify what makes you feel energized. Do you enjoy being with people or working alone? Is there a particular career path you’ve always wished you could pursue? One that you thought you would follow “someday”?

Take some time and self-reflection to discern what career would inspire you to get out of bed in the morning and make you look forward to going to work. Then follow through with the necessary steps to pursue your dream job.

This may require taking some classes or gaining certification in your field. For myself, as I pursue a new career in freelance writing, I am participating in writing workshops and conferences to gain knowledge of the writing industry. I plan to travel in May to the Blue Ridge Christian Writer’s Conference. I view this as my continuing education, and look forward to the opportunity to learn more about myself and my goals as a writer.

If you have moved beyond your career and are enjoying retirement, do you still desire to share your gifts and life experiences? Is there some way that you would like to share the knowledge you have gained with future generations? You might consider an opportunity in volunteering. Volunteer opportunities are plentiful, and would allow many to benefit from your years of experience. 

Finding our passion in life may help set us on a course for change. Through prayer and reflection we can discern our path as we look forward to the satisfaction of sharing our best selves with the world.

Wherever you can find the best use of your talents, whether within your current field or through choosing a new career path, the time and energy spent in aligning your work with your aspirations will be rewarded in renewed energy and excitement. And the world will surely benefit when each of us shares our ideas and our unique selves.

January 28, 2012

When the Sun Won’t Shine

Overcast skies. Fog. Gloom. I wonder, is weather a state of mind? It is for me, as I am much more likely to feel sunny myself when the sun is shining. When the day is gloomy and gray, I’d just as soon stay in bed and take a nice nap.

And when the sun isn’t shining in my heart, life feels dreadful. Sometimes sadness overcomes me and I feel like I can’t go on.  When my heart is sad, gloomy and gray, I feel like the clouded skies. There ‘s no hope in sight. Gray clouds stretch from horizon to horizon, and the weariness on my heart seems endless, too.

Have you ever flown on an airplane, climbing up through a bank of clouds? Sometimes it’s so thick you wonder how the pilot can see. The moisture-laden clouds streak droplets of water across the window. All is dark and gray.

Then suddenly, you are in a different world! The plane breaks through the tops of the clouds and it’s a new day! The sun is blazing and reflecting off a sea of cottony looking clouds that create shapes in the dips and valleys, and reach high peaks to look like the tops of mountains piercing through the thick, white stratum.

The realization of this glorious sunlight atop the clouds is a good perspective to keep. All that can be seen from below the clouds is gray and gloomy. Yet just above that thick layer of clouds, the warmth of the sun is blazing. Surely it won’t be long before the sun breaks through the clouds and changes the view of the landscape below.

And when it is stormy in my life, and I feel heavily laden with worries or despair, it helps to keep a perspective that it won’t always be this way. I try to remember that tomorrow is another day and things will change.

I woke this morning to dim morning light revealing clearer skies. Indeed the troubles of yesterday had floated out to sea, and the growing light revealed the stormy skies had passed. It was another reminder to remember that nothing stays the same. Change is the only constant in life.

So bask in the light when life brings you sunshine. And when we have gray days, and we will, it helps to keep the perspective that whatever problems we are dealing with will surely resolve with time. Don’t get overwhelmed. Step back and take a deep breath. And try to remember that tomorrow the skies will change, and you will be dealing with a completely different day.

Yesterday is gone. Live for today, with great hope for tomorrow

January 25, 2012

What is Destiny?

Is there something inside you that feels like it is pulling you toward a goal? Sort of like a nagging feeling that vies for your attention?

The way I feel it is almost annoying, disturbing. It causes me unrest. Like there is something more I need to do. Something calling me forward. Like the universe is asking more of me.

What is it I need to do? What drives us to achieve? Is it to fulfill what is thought of as our destiny?

Our future stretches out before us into the unknown. What guides us in the choices we make? Do you ever wonder if you had chosen to go a different way what might have been altered in your life?

There’s no going back, that’s for certain. So we look to the future with hope. Each part of our lives is a new chapter, and we have the ability to write it.

But is any of it predestined? Are there forces that somehow determine the outcome?

We are creatures of free will. Our Maker saw to it that we would have the drive inside each of us to choose our own path. Nothing says that once we are on a certain route that we can’t veer off to another destination. We can, at any time, change our direction and follow a new course.

So what is our destiny? It would be comforting for our journey to trust that we have the protection and care of providence on our side. Either through nature or Divine intervention, we could know that we are cared for as we step into our future.

Do you believe in kismet - the idea that our lives are controlled by fate? Fate would dictate that events in our life are predetermined and out of our control. Or perhaps fate is the guiding force that leads us in our decision-making.

What about God’s will for our lives? Could this be the unseen force that draws us to reach further, to want to know Him and use the talents and gifts He has given us for His glory?

Whether we believe in fortune or chance, the truth is we don’t know what guides us in the choices we make in our lives. Many of us feel comfort through prayer. When a difficult decision looms, and we are uncertain of our path, we pray to God for guidance. It is our hope that God will show us the way we are to go.

Life is all about choices. Each of us has the power to choose the path we will follow. Right or wrong. It is our free will. But it would do us well to draw on whatever energies we feel may guide us in making the choices that feel right for us. Emotions can clog our perception. It is best to take our time in seeking the pathway for our lives. Pray for guidance. And trust your instincts.

To live a life fulfilled, we need to satisfy the desires of our heart. Master your own destiny. But do it with guidance from a higher power.

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:11

"Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow." Psalm 25:4 

January 24, 2012

Seeking Inner Peace

We live in a world of whim. What we think we desperately need to get us through the day will change in a matter of minutes. The things we desire to purchase will bring us only momentary satisfaction.

What we really need is inner peace, and that can be hard to find. I wish it were as simple as a shopping trip to a nearby store. But it’s not. It takes work. It takes focusing our thoughts away from our troubles and putting our eyes on the One who can truly offer us peace.


The pathway to finding peace is different for each one of us. There are many meditative arts that calm the mind and soothe the spirit. From my own experience, I find yoga to be very relaxing and invigorating. My focus is on my breath, breathing in and out, being conscious of how my body responds to that breath, the rise and fall of the abdomen, the fresh oxygen coursing through my bloodstream. Just breathe. There, now don’t you feel better already?

Walks in nature make me feel lighthearted. No matter how cold it is, I find myself walking along with a silly smile on my face. All is forgotten except for the next step, one foot placed in front of the next, watching, observing, and enjoying my surroundings.

Perhaps what both of these activities have in common is concentration. During yoga, while I focus on form and balance, the emphasis is on my breath. No outside thoughts are allowed to interfere. It’s just me and my body, and the concentration of energy within myself.

When I am hiking in nature, the world of buildings and roads is left far behind. My focus is on the natural world and the beauty to be found in all seasons. When I am in nature, my alertness to my surroundings focuses my concentration. I am observant of the surface on which I walk as well as the nearby terrain and surroundings landscape. Perhaps this focus takes my mind off of everyday problems, because I seldom worry when I am out in nature. And if a concern comes to mind for someone, I simply pray and give that concern to the powers of the universe.

Each of us needs to find our source of peace and contentment. We need to shut off the video screens of our electronics and reconnect with the natural world outside of and within ourselves. The true inner peace we seek begins with knowing ourselves intimately, and learning to trust our judgment in the choices we make.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."  John 14:27

January 23, 2012

Facing Changes

We took down our Christmas tree last night. The guys pushed and pulled the giant tree out through the sliding glass door. Then my sweet husband propped the massive tree up against my clothesline post so that I could continue to enjoy it outside the window.

When the frigid weather returns, I will toss birdseed into its boughs for my feathered friends. The tree will offer the birds shelter from the wind and snow, and thus its usefulness will continue throughout the season.

Our sons have gone back to college. The younger one left just this morning, with a grocery sack full of home-cooked food for the days ahead (including freshly baked chocolate chip cookies!) The house seems empty and quiet again.

I am very aware of change today. All of the preparation for the holidays and having our sons home from college has ended and life is back to a daily routine. Light snow is falling outside my window, though heavy rains fell through the night, melting much of the existing snow and ridding our driveway of ice. Change seems to be everywhere.

I have much to do today with putting away the ornaments and reorganizing our living spaces. This is an opportunity for me to keep very busy and not think too much about missing my boys. I see this busyness as a blessing.

Endings can create new beginnings. Change is the one constant in our lives. And with acceptance we move forward into what is yet to come.

I don’t know how I will handle being an “empty nester” when it happens . This house is too big and too quiet already. I know that somehow, God will be in those changes, too. Maybe I will be a grandmother by then (!), or perhaps my career will involve some travel so that I am not always home in the empty house.

Whatever the future holds, I know that God will be there with me. Through every change and new beginning, He is either beside me or leading the way. I follow gladly and lean on Him for support. My prayer continues to be, “All that I am, and all that I am meant to be, let it be in Your will for me.”

I go forward trusting that God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. So if change is a constant, so is the presence of the One who can carry me when I am too weak to stand; the One who gently reminds me of His love every day, and shows me the way I should live.

Enjoy this video of beautiful pictures & Mark Schultz singing 
"He Will Carry Me"

Email subscribers click here to watch the video on my blog.

January 21, 2012

Resisting Temptation

Temptation. We deal with it every day. What is your temptation? Is it the sweet or fattening food that you are trying to avoid to fulfill a resolution for the new year? Do you struggle with an addiction? You certainly are not alone.

We are all drawn to the feel-good attractions in life. Our spirits crave joy, and we think we can find that joy in the momentary pleasures from a myriad of choices. But when we look to consumption for our satisfaction, we realize it is only a matter of time until we need another “fix” to make us feel good again.

It becomes a cycle. A cycle of addiction to something that will never satisfy the craving within us. It just keeps coming back, taking more and more of our time and our life. It’s time to break the cycle.

Ah, but this is so much more easily said than done. We want a good, healthy lifestyle but we struggle with all that we are “supposed” to do to keep ourselves well. It is so hard to stay on track to meet our goals for self-improvement.

Do you realize some people are actually addicted to exercise? Can this be a bad thing too? I think anything in excess is more than we were meant to do. Too much work, too much food, or turning to drugs and alcohol to quiet our minds only numbs us to what we really crave.

Deep inside we all crave peace. And joy. Belonging. Relationship. It is easier to reach for temporary satisfaction outside of ourselves than to realize that our desires run deeper than momentary satisfaction. Sometimes we hide ourselves in work or busyness to avoid dealing with internal issues we want to avoid. But we were meant for so much more.

I believe that the One who created us set inside of us a deep longing which causes us to become searchers, seeking something that will fulfill that desire within us. Some people search outside of themselves, and some search within for fulfillment.

I think the longing that we feel is a desire to connect with our Maker. I believe we are preprogrammed to want relationship with our Creator. Our belief in a Higher Power predisposes us to crave relationship with Him. It is through knowing our Maker intimately that we begin to feel our place in this world.

It may be hard for you to believe that a relationship with God can cure your addictions to the things of this life, but I know this to be true. Here are words of a song that has yet to be finished:

“You’ve got to give it all to God.
You’ve got to have the love and faith to see it through.
You’ve got to give it all you’ve got -
Enough to let it go.”                            
                                                                ~Colleen Reske

Don't expect your addiction to be cured in a flash of lightning. It takes time to build a relationship and time to understand what drew you to your need in the first place. Giving it all to God opens you up to the healing powers of the universe. All that is available to you for recovery is out there. You need to seek wellness with the same desire as you sought solace through substances. You need to earnestly seek God for help in getting well. 

It is very freeing to “give it all away”, to give it all to God. When you do, you start to develop trust, believing that there is a better way which God will show you. You have to be receptive to hearing suggestions from those people that God will put in your path, and you have to want to get well. 

There is hope for health, and freedom from whatever binds you. You have to take the first step by admitting your weakness, and cry out to God for help. Our God is all-powerful, and He can use that power on your behalf. All it takes is belief, and a desire to know the One who knows all.

The hope in finding help begins with prayer.  We can't do this all on our own, but there is hope and there is help if you want to find it. Blessings on your journey.

Third Day performing "Cry Out to Jesus", especially for my Christian viewers though this powerful message is for all. Email subscribers click here to view the video on my blog. 


January 18, 2012

Sunshine on Snow Sparkles like Diamonds

I believe all the riches we will ever need go mostly unnoticed. I wrote a poem decades ago where I lamented that most people probably don’t even pause to see a beautiful sunset. I wonder how many people took a moment out of their busy morning to notice the diamonds strewn across the fresh snow blown smooth by yesterday's winds.

As I gaze outside my window, the long shadows from a low-lying winter sun cast patterns in blue across the smooth surface of the snow. Where the sun touches white, tiny sparkles appear as the light is reflected off of even tinier surfaces on thousands of fallen snowflakes. Am I the only one who finds delight in this?

The other evening another sun pillar formed as the sun set. I’ve seen them even more rarely in the sunrise. A perfectly formed column of light shooting straight up from the orb as its light reflects off ice crystals. I watched in awe and delight.

Ice formed an enormous ring around the full moon the other night. It was Cosmo’s moon (from Moonstruck), glowing huge and bright and drawing me outdoors into the cold night. I was awestruck by the gigantic ring of light reflecting off ice crystals some distance from the moon. It seemed to fill the entire night sky. If I hadn’t ventured out, I would have missed seeing the spectacle.

One morning several summers ago, as I walked up the hill to our house, I stopped in my tracks. Sunlight was caught on the dewdrop at the tip of each blade of grass. I’ve never seen that before or since. The light was just right, and I happened to be at just the perfect angle to see the sparkling grass dewdrops, jewels strewn across my lawn.

How many of these precious moments of beauty slip past us as we hurry through our busy lives? How can we slow down to appreciate the moments of our lives before they become the past?

 We live in a forward-thinking society. New developments and inventions bring technological and functional advancements in living; ever faster, always more. While all of this is good, it seems we are always looking to the future rather than appreciating the time we have now.

Busy calendars keep us looking to the next task at hand. Appointments to be made and kept, birthdays and outings to look forward to; each day has a multitude of minutiae vying for our attention.  But can we pause long enough to pray, to seek connection with the Lord of our universe?

I believe we were meant for more than the hurried lives we lead. And the only way to slow things down is to purposefully do so. Pause. Look at the clouds today. What color is the sky? I fear people living and working in large cities never look up and see the expanse of glorious blue and the great variety of clouds that pass by.

Maybe I have more time to observe the natural world, but it is because I make it a priority in my life. That connection, for me, is what sustains me. And it is not just for its beauty alone, bur for the connection to my Creator. The One who made me also made the world I live and breathe in. The flowers and the trees and blue skies and mountains and rolling fields of wheat are gifts for us to enjoy. The vastness of the night sky and the oceans’ depths are made for us to ponder our smallness in the grand scheme of things.

Our self-importance leads us to believe that we must complete each and every task to feel worthy and accepted, when what we really need to do is stop and realize that this day will never come again; this moment in life is so brief, and should be savored. Bask in the sunshine, feel the breeze across your face. Watch the antics of a squirrel as he goes about his busy day of living.

We are all connected, all of life. Pause to feel that connection. Breathe. This is sustenance as much as food, water and sleep. Life won’t wait. Take the time today to believe in the importance of just being still for a moment. Be thankful for all you have been given. And give yourself the gift of peace.

January 17, 2012

Good vs. Evil

I’ve thought a lot about changes lately. Is it because of the new year and all the hype about resolutions and self-improvement? Perhaps that's a good thing. Maybe we need to have time to focus at least once a year on improving ourselves in order to get rid of bad habits or begin new, better choices that will benefit our health and our outlook on life.

Along with the idea of letting go, we embrace the positive aspect of new beginnings. Healthier eating habits are on many of our self-improvement lists, right along with exercising more regularly. These are certainly both at the top of my list.

Taking on a new life challenge may seem like just another thing to do. It isn’t until we embrace this new lifestyle that we begin to understand the rewards of changing our habits. Feeling slimmer and more energetic are the byproducts of healthier living choices, and who wouldn’t desire to feel better physically each day.

Our church has encouraged a similar philosophy when it comes to our Lenten season and indeed, our spiritual growth throughout the year. Instead of “giving up” something for Lent, we explore the option of “taking on” a new spiritual discipline. Perhaps it might be a small group study that will encourage us to read more or be in the Word on a regular basis. Accepting the challenge of self-improvement is exciting at the onset.

When we begin, we have high hopes for great change in our lives. It is when we try to adapt our lifestyles to accommodate our new ideas that we struggle. We still have the same time constraints as we had before, and now we are trying to cram in something more. While we know it is in our best interest, why do our best laid plans fall to the wayside as we choose instead to grab a bag of chips and plop down in front of the tv for our favorite program?

The self-improvement we seek cannot be considered for only the short term, and must reflect our desire for wholeness in all aspects of our lives. Weight loss is at the top of my list for this year, but so is spiritual growth. I am eating healthier and exercising. I love taking walks in nature and that is one kind of exercise I can easily keep up with.

Maintaining spiritual discipline in my life is so much harder. Not only do we have the busyness of our lives to deter us, but the evil one is so good at knowing our weaknesses and will dangle that golden carrot just beyond our noses for distraction. We can sense the aroma of something promised, something just beyond our reach, that seems so much better than what we have right in front of us.

What a challenge it is to discern if the desires of our heart are laid there by our loving Father or discretely placed by the evil one to sabotage any forward progress we are trying to make.  Both can appear to be our heart’s desire, and pull strongly on the direction of our lives.

How then can we know the difference? The answer is through prayer. Take your desires to the Lord and then wait for an answer. If it is the direction we should travel, the pull on our heart will feel stronger when we pray and lay our concerns at His feet.

If our pathway is divergent because of the glow of desire, it is probably our own insecurities reflecting off the golden carrot.  Satan is a master artist so do not be deceived. He can make something look so perfect and promising, when what he is really attempting to do is pull us away from God. 

I can speak from experience that he can make a choice in your life seem to shine like gold, and indeed seem to come from God Himself. Satan delights in putting a doubt within us that provides dissatisfaction in our lives, pulling us off our path and away from God.

We often can’t see the truth of the deception until we have chosen the wrong path and have begun to follow it. Then the devastating truth is revealed, and I hear Satan laughing with delight. But he will not have the final victory.

God is always there, waiting for us to return to Him. He is like a loving Father with outstretched arms and we only need to run to Him to be saved. The best time to turn to Him is before we make a decision that will change our lives. Pray for discernment, and for direction. And wait patiently for God to make clear the path He knows is best for you.

And if we err, as we sometimes will, and find ourselves on the pathway to destruction, cry out to Jesus to rescue you, and come to Him in repentance. Pray for forgiveness, and it will be given to you. Then pick up the pieces of your life and find the right pathway once again, the path that will lead you to happiness and peace, walking side-by-side with your Savior in harmony with all of creation. 

January 16, 2012

Choosing Acceptance

When winter came creeping back onto my doorstep last week, my heart was not prepared for it. I was enjoying the days of fifty degree weather in early January, and a part of me pretended that we could just skip the snow and cold this year and morph right into an early spring.

Being born and raised in Wisconsin, I knew this couldn’t happen, yet the prospect sounded very encouraging. When they predicted the storm, the meteorologists and reporters pounced on the story with gusto. But in the early morning it was clear that only a mist was falling out there. Forget the fact that it was freezing to glare ice on surfaces. They were wrong. The temperatures would stay warm and it wouldn’t snow.

My cat, Lucky- he knows how to nap!

Sometime mid-morning the rain began to mix with snowflakes. By late morning, there was no denying that only snow was falling. And a lot of it, too. Usually when the first big snowfall begins, in late November or early December, I am filled with excitement like a child (though I usually don’t admit this to other level-headed adults).  This time, however, I chose to turn my back to the window and took a long winter’s nap.

When I awoke, the flakes were falling fast and furious and the world was already white. There was no denying winter had arrived, and I realized I had two choices, enjoy the snowfall in all its beauty or stay in bed until spring. Accepting winter for the good it brings helped with my attitude adjustment.

Walking the snowy trail behind our home
There is a peacefulness in walking amidst the falling snow which can’t be compared with any other time out in nature. Winter brings a coziness and less-hurried pace of other seasons. I enjoy the solitude, warm fires in the fireplace and the family together under one roof sharing hot meals and time together.

We humans have the innate capacity for acceptance. Making the best of our situations and finding the good in them is essential to finding our happiness. We find God’s peace in knowing we are exactly where He wants us to be. Perhaps our circumstances are not what we hoped. We can easily feel longing for things that might have been or once were. Time is an ever-flowing river, constantly moving forward. As much as we would like to, we cannot hit pause; nor can we go back in time.

Choosing acceptance helps secure our present. When we are fully invested in the here and now, we can find joy in our current situation rather than pining for something that can never be. This takes practice, and letting go.
Rocky knows peaceful rest
Relinquishing our hopes and dreams to the One who really holds our future is a process to knowing inner peace. Trusting and relying on God frees us from worry. With His help, and with prayer, we can learn to let go of the wants and desires that nag at our heart. With acceptance, we can appreciate all that we already have been given and live our lives in gratitude instead of want. 

Audrey Assad has written a beautiful song that touches my heart. 
We cannot find true peace until we rest in God.

Restless, by Audrey Assad

January 13, 2012

Where Do I Turn?

We lift prayers for family members who are traveling a difficult road of life. We pray for healing and comfort for those who are ill or recovering from surgery or another trauma. 

When I pray for others, I ask for God’s presence to be near the person in need. God’s all-powerful presence is calming and peaceful for me, so I pray for others to feel the calming peace of knowing God is near to them, too.

Each time we face a trial, we have a choice. I know not long ago my reaction to a stressful situation would have been to completely stress out. I would feel frustrated and out of control, totally unsure of what to do. Now I have a new tactic. I pray.

Turning to God in the midst of my stress is very calming. I wish I could say I always remember to do this right away, but I am still learning! Each day is a new opportunity to try a different way of dealing with the challenges our lives bring. For me, turning to God releases some of my burden. I envision leaning on Him for support, encouragement and direction. My thoughts become clearer, and I look for solutions instead of focusing on the problem.

I have also learned that my emotions are information. Very important information. I used to be afraid of my strong emotions, and I held them inside instead of releasing them. Now if I feel sad, or confused, I try to figure out why. Sometimes it’s good to just let it out (privately if possible). Go ahead and cry or be angry and yell at the wind. Then, when the emotions have subsided, it is easier to see more clearly. Examine where the emotion came from, what caused it and what can be done to remedy the situation.

We are given emotions and nerves to sense our world. Another great tool is our intuition, or instinct. We have come to rely on our material world for all of our needs, but there is a part of us that can sense beyond tactile or other sensory perception. 

All animals are born with instinct to survive. We have protected ourselves in our safe little worlds and don’t often use our instincts anymore. But they are still there. 

Sometimes we have an instinctual feeling about a person or situation, and we need to trust the feeling and listen to that tiny voice. It can be difficult with the noise and busyness of our lives. But if you practice trusting your intuition, you will find it to be a helpful tool to use in navigating your way through this life.

So where do I turn? I learn a lot about myself and how to deal with a situation by understanding my reaction to it. When I am overwhelmed, which is frequently, I turn to my Savior for peace and direction. Most of the time I am sustained with the comfort that acknowledging Him brings me. Knowing that He is always near is a great comfort. His peace calms my spirit so that I can find a direction to resolve the situation. 

God’s Spirit lives in us, when we make our hearts welcoming to His presence. This is achieved through relationship with Him and through striving for right living. He doesn’t expect us to be perfect. We can never be. But we can strive to live our lives according to His principles, learning and growing in our understanding of ourselves and our place in this world.  Through His love, we can learn of His perfect peace. 

Please enjoy this video of Laura Story's thought-provoking song, "Blessings". I have had the priviledge of sharing the message of this song through singing it with my sweet sisters in Christ in our trio at church. Laura has faced incredible trials in her life, through her husband's illness, and this song was born out of her experience of praying her way through that trial.

January 12, 2012

What a Difference a Day Makes

I think it’s time to hibernate. Winter finally decided to come to my hometown. Snow is falling at an amazing pace, with fat, fluffy flakes that are quickly accumulating on every surface. It is a wet snow, sticking to every tree branch and pine needle, painting a picture of a frosted winter wonderland outside my window.

The problem, you see, is that yesterday was 55 degrees and the sun shone warmly on the earth and on my face as I hiked through the hills and woods nearby. Wearing only a thin sweatshirt for warmth, my main concern was trying not to slip in the mud or dirty my shoes.

Now I am gazing out the window in awe of the steadily falling flakes. Realizing that God really does have a sense of humor, I also understand that I need to keep mine.

Very early this morning the warmth lingered. Then, within an hour, I was throwing salt on the asphalt driveway that had become a skating rink of black ice as a soft mist fell and instantly froze to the surface.

In the time it has taken to write this, the grass I raked just last weekend is completely covered from view with a fresh blanket of snow. And the craziest thing is I am feeling a little excited to put on my boots, scarf, hat, mittens and warm coat and go out for a walk amidst the ever-falling curtain of fluffy, white flakes. I know I will find a peacefulness deep in the woods where I am sheltered from the wind.

Winter comes on its own schedule. It was simply a teaser to know spring-like temperatures in early January.  I need to bundle up and head outside to get a load of firewood, and pause to see the Artist at work as He transforms my landscape with layers of white.

As evening falls, the white world takes on shades of blue in the shadows of twilight.  With thankfulness for home and hearth, I will put a big pot of chili to simmer on the stove, and set a fire to blazing in the fireplace. I can rest when I know my family is home safe and sound.

Snuggling under piles of blankets, I will sleep, listening to the winter winds howl through the bare tree branches. As temperatures fall throughout the night, the gusty winds will sweep the snow into drifts. By morning, the world will be changed once again, and we will begin the process of digging out.

But first, I’m going to take a walk in these giant falling flakes and cherish the peacefulness of the first real snowfall of the season. Even if it is almost halfway through January.

Enjoy each day for the beauty you find. It certainly will help to bring peace of mind.