I wanted to share some things with you that have been on my mind lately, no pun intended (see title). And, my purpose in sharing this information is to educate you. So, before we go any further, I need to point out that while I hope this information is useful to everyone, I think it will be especially useful for those of you who “over-think” things.
I am an “over-thinker”—and I hate it. I honestly think sometimes about how nice it would be to be able to “flip a switch” in my brain and turn it off the part of me that cares about things so much. (Hence, the over-thinking.) I know that sounds bad, but, I am just being honest. Or, I think about lobotomies. I had a great-uncle that I never got to meet who had a lobotomy. (At least, I am pretty sure he did.) And, being a theatre nerd, it leads me into thinking about The Glass Menagerie and Laura/Rose. But, I digress.
I guess I just like the idea of being able to turn off my thoughts when I need to. I am learning, or trying to learn, to love myself just as I am. I mean, after all, this is the way God made me. And, the Bible tells us that BEFORE God formed us in the womb, He knew us and that we were set apart. (See Jeremiah 1:5) Plus, I also know from the Bible and experience that, through God, we are made strong in our weakness.
So, how about you? Are you an over-thinker like me? Do you pick things apart and go over them a million times? Do you obsess about people or things and wish you could change them? If so, I am here to tell you that you are not alone and there is help. Isn’t that great news??
I am part of a book club. I call it the Bible book club, as it is through a church and we read books by Christian authors to help us grow spiritually. (Side note, it is one of my favorite activities!) We recently finished reading the book The Mind Connection by Joyce Meyer and it has truly been a God-send. The secondary title of the book is How The Thoughts YOU Choose Affect Your Mood, Behavior, And Decisions (emphasis mine). Our book club not only reads books, but we work on the study guides that go along with the books we read. And, The Mind Connection has a great study guide for you to use. It helps you think about the topics more deeply and get more out of the whole experience.
I just love Joyce Meyer! If you have never ready any of her books, I strongly urge you to pick one up. Joyce writes from her heart and she writes in way that is easy to understand and follow. And, once you know her history, she will become an inspiration to you. But, this book in particular has been so helpful to me. I have already decided that I am going to re-read it again soon. And, it is one of those books that I now carry around with me, so I can quickly go back to certain sections when I need to.
For whatever reason, many people believe that they have no control over their thoughts, but it is not true! The main point of this book is for you to realize that YOU are the only person who can control your thoughts. Joyce points out that what you think about is reflected in your words, actions, decisions, and emotions. With God’s help, you can control what you think about. With God’s help, you can renew your mind and your thoughts. You can get better!
There is a question that Joyce asks in an earlier part of the book, that really struck a chord me with. She says, “I wonder how many blessings and provisions we miss in life because we simply have the wrong attitude. How often is God merely waiting to see how we respond to difficulty before He moves to help us?” My bet is A LOT! What do you think?
So, if you are like me, and over-think everything all the time, you need to read this book. You need to take all the great advice and recommendations in it to heart. It may take some time to wrap your head around it and to act upon the information in it. But, if you want to see changes in your life--if you truly want to change, with God’s help, you can! I know this is true because it is working for me right now.
Thanks to Joyce and her book, I am changing the way I think about things. And, I am NOT focusing on things or people like I used to. I am not where I want to be yet, but I am making progress. It is all about baby steps for me. I am handing off most of the stuff that I can’t deal with to God. And I am adjusting my thoughts to the good and positive things in my life. And, I plan on staying the course. Read this book and join me, won’t you?
In my last post, I wrote about how we need to grow up in Christ. And, there is definitely more to say on this subject, so here I am, writing more about it!
When you were a kid, do you remember having pains in your legs? I sure do! I have a high tolerance for pain, but I clearly remember my legs hurting so much sometimes as a kid, that I would be in tears over it. I would tell my parents that my legs hurt and they would tell me it was just growing pains. And, that basically meant that there wasn’t anything they could do. (And, there wasn’t.) It was just something I had to deal with. In my head I could picture myself getting taller, and because I wanted to be taller, I was ok with the pain. I realized that that was just a part of life. (Looking back, that is a pretty great lesson to learn early on in life.)
And, in much the same way, we will experience growing pains as we grow in our spiritual lives as well. Because, let’s face it, to grow means to change. And, change is hard, ergo growing is hard. In the Bible we learn in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; The old has gone, the new is here!” When we believe in God and give our lives over to Him, we become a new person, a new creation. We change. We are no longer the old person we used to be.
But, I must point out something very important. Just because we are a new person, it doesn’t mean we are instantaneously changed. Well, ok, it does--but it doesn’t mean that we magically become a new person all at once. At least, not in terms of how we think and act. As the old saying goes, “old habits die hard” and it will take us a while to break these old habits. The fact is, it just takes time and intentional pursuit; discipline.
When we become saved, it really just means we are at the beginning of our journey. A seed has been planted inside of us; one that changes our way of thinking and enlightens us. But, it is up to us to care for that seed, feed it, water it, and nurture it, in order for it to grow. And, just like a tomato seed we plant in our garden, we can’t expect to plant the seed and then five minutes later have a full-grown tomato that we can eat. It will take some time before we start to see that tomato grow. The same is true for the growth in our spiritual lives.
Note, however, that we are the ones responsible for our own growth. It is up to each of us to spur our growth and start reaching upwards. (It is up to us to grow up.) This seed of God that we have within us has the potential to produce amazing fruit. It is the fruit of the spirit and it is the fruit by which others can see Jesus through us. (See Matthew 7:15-20) But, bearing this “good” fruit is not easy. Growth is involved, change is involved, pain is involved.
To reach our full potential and be the people God wants us to be, we must change our outlook and the way we think and the way we do things. We need to see life and other people through the eyes of God, not our own. We need to live our lives as Christ would; including seeing and treating others as Christ would see and treat them.
This is awfully hard stuff, especially when you realize that you need to do things like love your enemies. (See Luke 6:27-32) Because, as the Bible rightly points out, it is easy to love people who love you. It is extremely difficult to love those who hate you or who treat you badly.
So, if we want to grow in Christ and grow to be more like Christ, we have to start doing things that are hard, things that are painful. As Needtobreathe tells us in their song Hard Love, “It’s not enough to just feel the flame. You’ve gotta burn your old self away.” We have to become a new person in Christ. We have to be disciplined and embrace the pain that comes along with this change.
I truly believe that, as Christians, this is the best course to take in our lives. This is the narrow road. This is the narrow road that leads to life! Don’t you want life? I know I do. As Matthew 7:13-14 tells us, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
The weather here in the south has been pretty cold as of late. We have actually had real snow twice in the last two months. I think that may be a record. (Honestly.) We usually only get ice here, and ice sucks. I mean, you can’t play in it, and it wreaks havoc on the roads. It is kind of pretty to look at, but not worth it with all the down trees and power lines it causes. Snow—the real stuff—is so much better.
That being said, I am tired of cold weather. Ok, I have never liked cold weather, so even after about a week of it, I am tired of it. Hey, I was born and raised in the south, what can I say? This is also why I will never be able to live anywhere but the south. (Or, at least anywhere that is not warm at least 75 percent of the year.) My body doesn’t do well in the cold. I digress.
Anyway, God blessed us this past weekend. We had beautiful weather. It got to 69 degrees on Sunday. It was a perfect day!
And, the kids in my neighborhood took advantage of it. (As did I.) In the evening, as I gathered Clancey for our walk, I could hear some of the kids playing baseball in the backyard of a neighbor’s house down the street. I could hear the thwack of the ball being caught in a leather mit. I could hear the bonk of the ball being hit off a wooden bat. I could hear the kids all yelling and having a good time. As Clancey and I were headed down the street I was thinking about how much I wanted to be a kid again and be out there with them. It was at that moment that I heard one of the kids say, “keep your eye on the ball.”
As we walked on down the street, I kept repeating that over and over in my head, “keep your eye on the ball, keep your eye on the ball.” I started wondering if I was keeping my eye on the ball. Then, my next thought was, as an adult, what does that even look like or mean? Immediately I realized that, to me, it means keeping my eyes on God. And, try as I might—and I have been trying mighty hard lately—I have not been doing the best job of that.
I try to write at least one blog post a week. I read two devotionals each day. I try to read some of my Bible every day. And, lately I have been reading up on how to pray better. (I really want to work on my prayer life. It is fast becoming a priority in my life.) There are great Christian blogs that I follow and read each week. I listen to a great contemporary Christian radio station going to and from work each day. I participate in a women's reading group where we read books by Christian authors and we meet every other week to discuss said books and pray and just visit with each other. I am honestly working to make God a priority in my life. And, I do truly know that He should be my ONLY priority. (I know that when we make God our top priority, everything else falls into place. God is cool like that. It is like magic!) Even with all this, I still feel my eyes drifting from the ball.
You do this too, I am sure. Why? Because we are humans. We are sinful by nature and often seek the desires of our flesh. And, the devil knows all of this. And, he uses it against us as much as he possibly can. And, sadly, sometimes it doesn’t take much. I know that he easily gets into my head and there are times when I have real trouble getting him out. Sometimes I find myself sinking pretty low and I can feel the devil just punching away at me. And, once you slip into the devil’s pit, it can be awfully hard to climb back up out of it.
I have realized that the devil knows when we are working extra hard to keep our eyes on God and he just jumps at the chance to work overtime on forcing our eyes elsewhere. That is when it becomes up to us to stay calm and keep our eye on the ball. It is just one of those things we need to remember each and every day. It is important in baseball and it is vital in our lives. (Especially our spiritual lives.)
I truly believe that we can get to a point in our lives where looking to God and keeping our eye on the ball can become second nature. I am striving to get there. But, again, because of my sinful nature, I want it right now. I have zero patience. But, I am working on that part of it too.
In the meantime, let’s help each other out. Let’s be kind to each other. Let’s be forgiving of each other. Let’s show each other grace, the way God does for us. In other words, let’s remind each other to keep our eye on the ball.
I am sure you know that old expression, “better the devil you know than the devil you don't.” It means that it is often better to deal with someone or something you are familiar with and know, even if they are not ideal, rather than take a risk with an unknown person or thing.
This expression has been on my mind a lot lately. Why? I honestly have no idea, other than it is something that God has put on my heart to dissect and examine.
From the onset, it rubs me the wrong way. And, that must be because it has the word “devil” in it. I can understand the meaning behind it and can see why that way of thinking is appealing to people. It is something I have heard my own husband say on several occasions. I begrudgingly admit that there is some merit to it. But, to me, it shows an inherent weakness; it is a saying that gives someone an easy way out. It is a cop-out. This sounds harsh, doesn’t it? I don’t mean it to. I just think that there are better options. Or, in the very least, better ways to think and expressions to use.
I read an amazing blog called Everyday Abiding, by Jessica Bowen. Earlier this month she wrote on the topic of being uncomfortable. (You can read her post here.) In it, Jessica reminds us that, as Christians, to grow spiritually, we need to get uncomfortable. I couldn’t agree more. This is probably why “the devil you know” has been on my mind.
I mean think about it, doesn’t “the devil you know” basically mean you are in a comfortable place and don’t want to change things? YES! (You know it does!) And, that is the devil for you. He wants to stunt you, keep you exactly where you are and stifle your forward momentum and keep you from gaining any prosperity. The last thing the devil wants you to do is to stretch your spiritual muscles and grow closer to the Lord.
To me, this expression is EXACTLY what it says: the DEVIL YOU know. The devil is the devil is the devil. There is no purpose to the last part of this saying. I don’t think there is a devil you don’t know. You know the devil and he knows you. Or, at least he thinks he knows you. (As a Christian, I hope you prove him wrong.) But, he certainly knows our sinful, human nature. He knows that new things scare us. He knows that staying exactly where we are in life requires no effort on our part. (And, we have so much going on in our lives, the things that require the least amount of effort are usually our go-to options, whether we mean them to be or not.) He knows that we are creatures who love our creature comforts and our comfort zones and our habits. And, he knows how to get into our heads and screw with us daily.
And, I think for all these reasons and more--these are why I dislike this saying. I think we need to adjust our way of thinking. Rather than thinking of the “devil you know” we should be thinking of the God we know.
Our God is a loving and kind God. Our God is merciful and just. Our God created you in your mother’s womb and made you to be uniquely you. Our God wants you to have a good life and live in abundance. Our God wants you to live in accordance with His Word and to reap all the blessings and benefits that He has in store for you. So, what are you waiting for?
Are you in a situation where you feel like your best option is to stay with the devil you know? Stop thinking of all the reasons why you can’t do something, and start thinking about all the reasons why you CAN do something. The only thing you really need to remember is that when you have God on your side, you can do anything!
Look back over your life. You have faced many challenges and hardships, haven’t you? Yes, you have. (We all have.) And, you came through them. If not, you would not be reading this post.
So, rather than thinking about “the devil you know” change your thinking and start thinking in terms of the “God you know.” This much better way of thinking will, in turn, hopefully, push you in a good direction—one out of your comfort zone.
With God by your side, you can do amazing and great things in your life. Take a “leap of faith” and trust God to see you safely on the other side. He won’t let you down, I promise!
Yeah, I know, I am a little late with this post. But, as the old saying goes, “better late than never.” So, here is my Thanksgiving post. Thanksgiving is a national holiday that started out as a day to give thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. And, while it is nice to have a nationally recognized day to give thanks, one day just isn’t enough.
We, especially those of us who call ourselves Christians, should be giving thanks to God each and every day of our lives. That is how God wants it, and it should be how we want it too. We are to give God thanks for everything in our lives, even the trials and misery that we face. While that sounds backwards to many, once you become a Christian, you start to understand why this is a vital part of our spiritual growth.
God wants us to take the adversity that we face in our lives and use those opportunities to lean on Him. He wants us trust in Him to get us through. He wants us to have faith in Him that everything will be okay. Or, at the very least, that He will work everything out for our good. How do I know all of this? The Bible tells us so. (This is why it is so important to read your Bible daily.)
Do you remember being a kid and having some aches in your legs? I sure do! I had them often. When I complained to my parents, they would always tell me they were growing pains. If I wanted to get taller, that was the price I had to pay. Our spiritual growth is the same way. Anytime we grow and stretch ourselves, there will be pain involved. So, while giving thanks to God during our trials is tough at first, and maybe even counterintuitive, it is the best possible thing you can do for yourself during those times. God sees and hears you and eventually He will bless you for it.
So, as we continue through this season of thanks, remember to give thanks to God each and every day for every circumstance, good or bad that you have. Stretch your spiritual muscles and grow strong in your faith and in the Lord.
If you are a fan of “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young, today’s devotional lines up perfectly with this post. Sarah writes:
“Rest in the deep assurance of My unfailing Love. Let your body, mind, and spirit relax in My Presence. Release into My care anything that is troubling you so that you can focus your full attention on Me. Be awed by the vast dimensions of My Love for you: wider, longer, higher, and deeper than anything you know. Rejoice that this marvelous Love is yours forever!
The best response to this glorious gift is a life steeped in thankfulness. Every time you thank Me, you acknowledge that I am your Lord and Provider. This is the proper stance for a child of God: receiving with thanksgiving. Bring Me the sacrifice of gratitude, and watch to see how much I bless you.”
1 Peter 5:7; Ephesians 3:16-19; Psalm 107:21-22
I will end by circling back around to what I said at the beginning: giving thanks only one day year is just not enough! Let’s all remember to give thanks to God every day.
After work each day, I take our dog, Clancey, for a walk. Getting in this little bit of exercise each day is good for both of us. I have always enjoyed being outside, feeling the sunshine on my face, and getting fresh air. A few months ago, I realized that this is also the perfect opportunity to spend time with God. I have now gotten into the habit of using this time to just be thankful. I review my day and simply thank God for all the good things I have in my life. If you have the chance to do this each day, I highly recommend it. Even if you don’t have a dog, go for a walk by yourself. Actually, you won’t be by yourself, you will be with God! It is a great way to spend your time—it is refreshing on so many levels.
Yesterday during our evening walk, I had a revelation. (Stick with me now, it will take me a bit to get to the revelation.)
Now that the time has changed and it gets dark early, people tend to stay inside more. By the time I get home from work, change clothes, and have dinner, the walks we take are completely in the dark. Usually our neighborhood is teeming with kids running around and playing and a good number of adults are outside doing yardwork or are playing with their kids. We are blessed to have nice neighbors and I enjoy hearing the kids playing and having fun.
Yesterday was different. Now that it gets dark early, no one is outside much. And, yesterday it was a cold and rainy day. That means even fewer people are outside. (And, I don’t blame them. I prefer being inside where it is dry and warm too.)
By the time Clancey and I got outside for our walk our neighborhood felt deserted. It felt like we were the only two living creatures on the planet. I mean, I couldn’t hear birds or squirrels or even the wind pushing the leaves around. It was different from our norm.
As we made our way down the street, this peacefulness settled on me. Clancey, God bless him, must stop every ten feet to sniff the grass and bushes and flowers and mailboxes and dirt and rocks. (You get the idea.) Most of the time our walks feel more like a game of stop and go.
But, as we were stopped and as Clancey was sniffing, this beautiful peaceful feeling just came upon me. I mean, I felt like it literally grabbed me, it was so eye-opening. There was this permeating silence. It was eerie at first, almost other-worldly. I looked around and saw no-one and heard nothing. (Again, no birds, no squirrels, no wind, no cars from the nearby street, nothing!)
Being the music lover that I am, I immediately starting singing the lyrics to the Eagles song, “Peaceful Easy Feeling” in my head. Right after that though, I started to think about God, and it dawned on me, this stillness, this quietness, this peacefulness—it WAS God. I just knew it was Him in my gut. I got tears in my eyes. I immediately began thanking Him for making himself known and for such a beautiful, peaceful, breath-taking moment.
Then, I had another revelation: this peacefulness that I was experiencing, it was NOT just a momentary peacefulness—it a new place that I am in in my life! So, in other words, I had the realization that I am in a place in my life where I am at peace. I realized that even though I have my fair share of problems--and I have plenty, they don’t matter. Why? Because I have God. It is just that simple. Actually, it is so simple, it kind of blew me away to think about it.
Oddly enough, the lyrics to “Peaceful Easy Feeling” that ran through my head helped me to comprehend this. Some of the lyrics go:
I got a peaceful easy feelin'
And I know you won't let me down
'Cause I'm already standin'
On the ground
These lyrics made me think of God. Do they you?
God won’t let us down and He is the solid ground that we stand on. Plus, when we put Him first in our lives, He gives us peace.
I doubt that the Eagles had God in mind when they wrote these lyrics, but they fit God perfectly. Then this in turn, made me think of the hymn “The Solid Rock” by Edward Mote.
The refrain of this hymn goes:
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
If you believe in God and lean on Him in your life, you don’t have to worry about anything. He has you covered! It may be hard to believe, but it is true. I hope you will give yourself this amazing gift—the gift of knowing God and His peace. He isn’t called the Prince of Peace for nothing!
In my Christian walk with Jesus, I have been thinking a lot lately about how important it is to plant seeds. Not the kind for growing flowers or vegetables, although I would actually like to do that too, but the seeds that allow others to see Christ in me. These are the seeds of love, kindness, joy, and encouragement. By planting these seeds, my hope is to get others to see how wonderful and amazing Christ our Savior is. I want people to see Christ in me. I want to leave a good impression on people, thereby planting a seed.
Having this on my mind lately has also caused me to think of the parable of the sower. (It is also known as the parable of the four soils.) I love this parable because the four different types of soil represent different types of people. And, the older I get and the closer to God I get, the more I see these four different types of people in my life.
In the parable, Jesus shares with us that a sower scatters seeds, which fall on four different types of ground. The hard ground “along the path” prevents the seed from sprouting at all, and the seed becomes nothing more than bird food. The stony ground provides enough soil for the seeds to germinate and begin to grow, but because there is “no deepness of earth,” the plants do not take root and are soon withered in the sun. The thorny ground allows the seed to grow, but the competing thorns choke the life out of the beneficial plants. But, some seeds fall on the good soil and produces much fruit. (You can read about it in Matthew 13:3-9, Mark 4:2-9, and Luke 8:4-8.)
The meaning of the parable is transparent. (At least, I think so.) As children of God and for those of us who love Christ, we should be spreading the Word of God. We should be telling others about Him and the good news of His son, Jesus. We can start off by doing something simple; planting seeds of love, kindness, joy, and encouragement.
We can be like the sower in the parable and scatter seeds everywhere we go. We can, and should, be kind and caring to everyone we meet. (I know, I know, a lot easier said than done.) Some of these seeds that we disperse we land on hard, stony, or thorny ground. Sadly, and unfortunately, that is where most these seeds will land. But, some will find their way to fertile ground. Some will take hold and over time those seeds will take root, grow, and eventually produce an abundant crop!
And, because you can’t always tell what kind of “soil” a person has, that is precisely why you must sprinkle these seeds to everyone you meet. You never know which ones will take root. Plus, soil, like people, change. And, maybe, over time, that stony soil you planted that seed in will turn into fertile ground. You just never know. And, God has a way of doing that to people. (And, by that, I mean changing them!)
Sometimes rain comes along and washes the seed to a better location. Sometimes a cow comes along and poops all over the seed, therefore fertilizing it. I mean, think about it, most of us only change when something bad happens, when we face adversity, when we are face to face with a truly crappy situation. (This could be it the loss of a loved one, work or financial difficulty, serious health issues, or any combination of a million different things.) And, most of us only pray and seek God in these dark times in our lives. (You know it’s true!)
So, if we, Children of God, are out there in the world trying to make it better by showering it with seeds of love, kindness, joy, and encouragement, we are bound to hit some lush ground. And, for all those times when our seeds hit the hard, stony, and thorny ground, we just need to take heart because all these good seeds that we are throwing will allow us to sow good things in our own lives.
Remember, in Matthew 12:33 we are reminded that a tree is recognized by its fruit. I don’t know about you, but I want to be recognized by my good fruit. And, I think if we make a conscious effort to spread around the good seeds of Jesus Christ, people will see us for the good fruit we produce.
I hope you will join me in spreading some seeds of love, kindness, joy, and encouragement today!
I am a girl who loves God. My goal here is to simply share His love and light and any good thing that I come across.