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Are You Part Of God’s Amazing Patchwork Design?

Once I watched a friend labor over a needlepoint project. From where I sat, tapestryit looked like a total mess. All those patchwork colors were joined in scrambled directions. What in the world was she working on? Was this her first attempt; was she over her head? Did she know what she was doing?

Then she turned it over. On the other side lay beautiful crosses atop a hillside of colorful flowers. Who knew??? It was so lovely and intricate; revealing a life lesson to me to not judge a piece of work until it is finished!

How very much like a needlepoint design, is God’s intricate work in us.

Several years ago I worked for a Christian drug recovery organization.  The women who arrived at the facility were messy, beaten down by life and shattered into pieces. Life’s choices hadn’t been good to them. Most had become drug addicts.

Sometimes their addiction began as a cry for attention. For some, it was to cover painful emotional attachments to everyday family issues, boyfriend or peer pressure situations. Others to dull the pain of loneliness, self esteem issues or friends urging them to join into the “thrill” of drugs and alcoholism.

Regretfully and unbelievably, several had begun their dangerous meth or drug habit merely to lose weight or worth. Now they’re addicted. What a half-truth Satan proclaims when he tells a young woman that she will gain beauty, popularity or lose weight through drugs. Weight loss? Of course – through malnutrition and death!

The half-truths of this world mislead many, just as it has since Adam and Eve. (“Surely you will not die . . .  ” Genesis 3:4) And any drug which artificially jumpstarts one’s metabolism will hang on to every pound after the “goal” is reached as an act of survival. Losing weight through manipulating drugs  WILL. NOT. WORK! Please do not even think of attempting a drug (diet pills) to lose weight if you are a Christian. You are God’s holy temple and drugs change your biochemistry and brain function!

Today many of these lovely women (but sadly not all) have conquered the satanic bonds that anchored them to this world’s view of beauty.

Those who placed their trust in Christ are now firmly anchored to His Truth of Salvation instead of drugs. They are healthier and happier as Christ demonstrates each one was worth the sacrifice He endured for them. They are now a child of the One True King! When their minds truly believed that, they began to act like the royalty they are.

“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

A lured idol has a powerful tug of the heart. But the Word of God is stronger! I pray that the intricately woven Word of God will be able to assist you in resisting the ever present, powerful enticement towards a degrading lifestyle of weight loss pills and other fallacies.

If our life is God’s tapestry, it is unclear even to us how His work will turn out until our lives are completed. God’s prick of the needle can be painful as He works on us. And sometimes God needs to modify His creation by reworking the pattern if we go astray. (Genesis 50:20) His Patience and His Timing is perfect. He will never put us aside and forget about us.

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

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Like Searching Thru Luke Skywalker’s Backpack

Does your pet have as much paraphernalia and play items as ours has?

Remember the scene in Stars Wars when Yoda is scavenging through Luke Skywalker’s backpack? Butt in the air, he’s throwing items hither and yon?

Well sometimes our pooch is like that too! He has his own toy box in our kitchen corner filled with balls, chewy’s, several Kongs, rope toys and other items to occupy his time. Butt in the air, he throws out most of his stuff until he finally chooses one item. But not for long for it seems he is never satisfied!

In fact, we found he’d rather frolic, chewing leaves and twigs than play with the myriad of items which occupy his precious box. It reminds me of Christmas years ago when, as parents, we would lovingly put together some intricate toy for our children to play with and after a few exclamations of joy, found exploring the box it arrived in more enjoyable than the item itself.

Aren’t we still like that today? Even as adults? We gather as many materialistic possessions as possible and after a while we grow bored, restless, wanting that next great iPad, phone, Kindle, computer, TV, sports car, kitchen utensil or whatever. Are we really that hard to please? Why do we spend so much time on things that don’t matter and won’t last, rather than lay up treasure in Heaven which lasts eternally?

What does it take to satisfy a restless heart? What can fill an empty one? Only Love! Isn’t that what we do when we skip from one activity to another? No amount of activity, drug or even food can fill the empty void within an empty heart. Only Jesus can.

I discovered what my little dog is searching for isn’t a new anything. He is searching for time, attention, joy . . . with his master. “Throw it again Mom, so we can play!!! You’re my favorite toy!!!”

We recently came back from a camping vacation at a beautiful state park. Our site had sporadic cell phone service, no television reception to speak of and only  intermittent Wi-Fi when our cell phone service’s hot spot reached a signal.

But it was heaven to us. Nothing but time together, no stress, a gorgeous lake view, changing tree colors, reading material for an upcoming bible study, a quiet camp fire, relaxed husband and a cherished pet who happily traipsed along with us on trail after hiking trail. Although we had taken toys along for the vacation, he never missed them, for he craved time with us and that’s enough.

We also experienced time with our Master and Lord – that was enough for us too. Isn’t it amazing when one actually clears the mind of noisy distractions, one can focus on what is truly important in life? Peace.

“Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.”  (Hebrews 12:14 NLT)

Through Our Brokenness, God Heals

After the 2011 Japanese Tsunami, women in Japan at first experienced only pain. They found their cherished but broken ancestral pottery destroyed, strewn across a desolate landscape. As they began the process of picking up the broken pieces of their lives, they lovingly gathered the broken pieces of pottery as well. Through their brokenness they created intricate, beautiful necklaces, selling them around the world. Through this godly  testimony, they began to recover financially, creating something to be proud of, thus reclaiming their dignity.

If you will allow Him, God will heal the pain of your past too. He touches and changes hearts. When God is with you, it’s never hopeless. There is no challenge you’ve experienced or anywhere you can hide that He isn’t there with you! He is the only one who can fill the void. Drugs, alcohol, food, activities simply mask the pain. Only God can truly heal and renovate your hurting heart, starting from the inside.

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” (Psalm 139: 7-10)

Desire to change must come from the inside.

Many of us place smiles on our faces and when asked how we are, profess the superficial, “I’m fine, how are you?” meanwhile holding our pain secretly within; believing, “People only want to be around happy personalities.” or “If they really knew me, no one would like me.”

Sometimes it’s a trust issue. Perhaps in the past a friend betrayed them, family member belittled or a boss ridiculed them in front of others. Therefore they place that shield around their heart. It’s safer that way. “If I don’t get close, no one can ever hurt me.”

But it becomes a vicious circle. Telling yourself you have no need of  relationships comes  across as unfeeling, mean-spirited or apathetic which drives others away. Something else then numbs the pain of loneliness.

Sadly, the covering surrounding our heart becomes so tough, no one except God can break through.

Others have been taught as a child that one doesn’t show their true feelings in public. They put on a false front. Sad? Place a smile on your face! Scared? Put on a swagger and bravado that shows a confident attitude. As they have grown they have mastered their feelings. But God has known us since the womb. (Jeremiah 1:5) He understands feelings; after all He created them!

Become proactive, trust our Lord and we won’t feel out of control!

  1. Memorize Scripture.  God knows you can be strong!  1 John 4:4. 
  2. Talk to a true friend; one who wouldn’t tell you only what your itchy ears want to hear ( 2 Timothy 4:3) or allow you to wallow in self-pity.
  3. Seek out wise women of God who allowed God’s Word to change their broken spirit. Learn from their example. Become precious in God’s sight.

“Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket.”  (Psalm 25:11)

It’s true some days we might feel like Job. Life is messy. Worlds crash through no fault of our own. At that time, the last thing we need is to sit and mope. Our first thoughts should go to the Lord. He understands heartache, betrayal, hunger . . . suffering. He was tested, tempted, overcame and endured it all. Cling to our Almighty Fortress and find Strength.

 

 

 

 

 

Resolve to Become Stronger in Your Health Goals

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?”

Well not necessarily  – especially when it comes to what you eat. We have a choice and I trust you’ll choose life-giving nutrients.

Have you ever heard someone say that they’re “dying” for a piece of pie, fried chicken, bacon, mac and cheese or a hot fudge sundae? Yes those are delicious and I doubt if consuming a bit of anything will kill them if they are healthy to begin with and eating in moderation. However, if one suffers from diabetes or a heart condition, eventually wrong culinary choices could.

Anything is fine in moderation and there is no formula or one size-fits-all-diet-plan because each person is created chemically unique. With the billions on Earth who have lived, there has never been anyone exactly like you. Amazing isn’t it? (And “diet” is a generic term, meaning only what we consume each day. Therefore everyone’s on some kind of diet daily.)

Whoops wait, regarding that anything in moderation remark! (Written tongue-in-cheek.) I seemingly must add a caveat for those who will write to me and state if one is allergic to it or if it’s a poisonous berry DON’T consume it, so actually everything isn’t fine in moderation . . . sigh. My mother used to say, “Don’t put beans in your ears,” too, referring to whatever is basically common sense and should be easy to figure out as well.

So that being said, have you decided how important is it to YOU to consume healthier food? Do you love food more than playing with your children, hiking in the Alps, dancing at your daughter’s wedding or being  able to sit in an amusement park seat? Sadly, these are true incidents of patients of mine who loved food more than the joys of life itself.

Abundant health isn’t something you can obtain by sending in a form and receiving a certificate in return. Nor is it something you can purchase for any amount of money. Health can only be acquired through individual desire, a denial of self and a disciplined nature. Ask yourself how much do you want to be healthy? Or have you truly made food an idol which you’d rather not give up?

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart rejoices, and I praise Him with my song.” (Psalm 28:7)

Why do so many think of God as Lucy to our Charlie Brown? Remember how Lucy used to snatch away poor Charlie’s football when he was hopeful she’d finally hold it for him? God only wants to provide GOOD for us! He gave us all these fabulous choices for us to eat, why don’t we choose those? It wasn’t God who messed up our environment – we did just fine by ourselves by greedily plundering the soil of nutrients.

There’s always a trade-off to health.  As mentioned, there’s discipline involved. I’ve seen what wrong choices do, not only to one’s waistline, but to one’s mental capacity as well. We ARE what we eat and I’d prefer to maintain adequate energy and mental function as long as possible. I enjoy being flexible enough to touch my toes as I approach age 70. Please choose health, you won’t be sorry!

This is a time of the harvest when Farmer’s Markets have an abundance of fabulous fruits, vegetables, cheeses and herbs for purchase. Fresh herbs and spices add flavor to foods so much more than plain salt. Experiment with different selections. Praise God for a truly abundant life!

 

A Tribute to Our Little Walking Buddy

I’ve been putting off this post for weeks because of my broken heart.  Our beloved Lhasa was only 10 years old when she unexpectedly developed bladder stones last month and had to be put down. Our other two Lhasa Apso’s lived 16 1/2 years and we had no reason to expect she wouldn’t live as long. It was with a heavy heart we made that decision rather than have her endure an intricate painful operation which  provided only a 50% chance of survival at best.

For many years she was my little walking buddy. She kept me on my toes literally. Our two mile walk in Arizona was one I wrote of frequently. She rode shotgun beside me on the passenger seat while I drove the 2500 mile drive from Arizona to Ohio.

I used illustrations I saw in her and our beautiful 14 year old Cocker Spaniel’s behavior many times in my blogs.  It became easy to relate canine behavior to our relationship with God and health. She inspired me to write about trust, discipline and eating habits among other topics which can be found via my search engine on my webpage.

When she was a puppy she was so sweet and affectionate! She would climb upon my chest, wrap her little paws around me and give me an actual hug.  She was a favorite at the dog park at the RV resort we lived in at the time.

Then something happened after we moved into our new home. In most Arizona communities, people went to work, drove home, entered their enclosed garage and sat out on their private patio afterwards, enclosed behind a 6 foot high fence. We failed to keep her socialized and she became over-protective and sadly mean-spirited with strangers.

This was a terrible mistake on our part but we learn from our mistakes. Dog owners aren’t perfect, neither are parents or individuals. I needed to forgive myself and instill necessary changes. So I vowed last year after our beautiful Cocker Spaniel passed, that we would absolutely socialize our transitional pup, “Mr. No-no.” Happily he has become the most loving of pets.

Five years ago when I began this blog, I had no idea what God had in store for me – that He’d ask me to become a pastor’s wife 3 years ago. (You want me to do what God?) I never expected His leading to take me down this pathway. But I began to listen to my Master’s Voice, trust HIm and grew in a closer relationship with my Lord.  Throughout the decision some tough choices had to be made. Now here I am in northeast Ohio surrounded by family and friends, being more blessed than I ever imagined.

It takes an enormous amount of faith to trust God, even through sorrow, knowing that He only has our best interests at heart. Life is messy, hurtful, unfair at times. She was my last tie to my daughter and for that I will be forever grateful for having her in my life.

Someday I’ll know why God’s pathway has lead me to where He wants me to be now, even amidst sorrow. For I’d rather have memories of my little Lhasa buddy than to never have had her in my life at all.  Until then, He has His arms around me, soothing me with comforting Words. All I need to do is trust and learn not pull on my leash. Trust – it’s a liberating word.

“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)

 

 

 

Why Make Dietary Rules Complicated?

 

While on Earth, Jesus didn’t insist on complex, laborious, ritualistic do’s and do not’s on how to live a pious life. Rather than repressing his disciples with a lengthy, involved list of rules and regulations, Jesus encouraged Believers to live by God’s Ten Commandments which are clear-cut and simplistic. These principles projected explicit guidelines on leading a Holy life and honoring God as well as the personal temple of the Holy Spirit within us.

In  Matthew 22:34-39, the Pharisees and Sadducees approached Jesus with a question to test him.  Those leaders still believed  in following complicated religious ceremonial regulations and practices. But Christ had come to fulfill those requirements. Over 450 Old Testament Scriptures prophesied of the coming Messiah. (And He Fulfilled Every One!)

As those Jewish leaders tried to trap him, Jesus silenced them by declaring that they failed to know the Scriptures and that’s why they couldn’t  understand!  The truth is that one will never be misled by false beliefs if he comprehends and memorizes God’s Word!

Even today, many false preachers are trying to ensnare unbelievers into following ritualistic practices. Some declare that Christ’s sacrifice with its simplistic act of Salvation through Faith alone is too effortless as well. There must be some additional rules that we must follow, they declare, which the Lord inadvertently forgot to tell us about . . . or added afterwards.

Not so. It is through the uncomplicated belief that Eternal Salvation is through Faith alone that we are saved. There is nothing else we need to do to receive Salvation except ask forgiveness for our sins and accept Christ’s gift. 

During my nutritional practice, some believe that the uncomplicated, healthy formula of consuming whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, as God advised since the world began, and then meat after the flood, is too simplistic as well! There must be a magic formula, the say, some complicated process to suffer thru in order to find truth . . .

There are some false diet guru’s today leading many astray through false, ritualistic eating plans. I’m continually researching false claims where others profess certain foods are now unhealthy: potatoes, eggs, nuts, red meat, dairy, bread. I bet you know where I stand on that.  (Gee, did Jesus make a mistake when he declared that he was the Bread of Life?)

Now as a former farm girl, I know the process of raising crops has changed over the years and tomatoes don’t taste like real garden tomatoes anymore, but I mean,  Seriously??? Fibrous whole grain bread is not unhealthy!

So many Christians fall for half-truths! Many are trusting in these complicated, formulaic diet programs which were never God’s plan from the beginning. (Genesis 1:29 and 9:3God’s guidelines for sound eating were given to Adam  in the Garden of Eden and are still true today.

God NEVER changes, nor does He make mistakes.In Hebrews 13:8 we read, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”  What a comforting thought to anchor our beliefs upon.  Since God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, what would make us question whether His physiological design, rules and commands would change through the ages? 

Take care that you won’t be misled by false teaching or mistaken dietary claims.  We should live by sensible culinary guidelines because we strive to be holy and God-honoring, not become fearful through professing man-made false claims.

Godly Lessons Learned From a Pup!

cj-with-chewy-bone-from-dave“Mr. No-No” turned one year old Friday. He is the cutest, fluffiest and most loving dog we have ever had. A new breed, Cavashon is a cross between a King Charles Spaniel and a Bischon. They shed little, are very affectionate and gentle. I can remove a toy from his mouth without getting my hand bitten off. Quite a change from our Lhasa or even our sweet Cocker who sadly we lost last year.

It takes a lot of energy to keep puppies occupied.  I take ours for long walks rain or shine, but since we have no sidewalks, when it’s icy or snowy as it was yesterday, walking is too dangerous. I kept him entertained at home.

I’ve learned many lessons from him and the first was that puppies are meant for younger people.

The second: self-discipline.

Puppies are similar to toddlers. Our floor looks like a bone yard: bones, chewy toys, Kongs are currently strewn all over the living room. No matter how many times I put toys away, he seems to prefer his life disorganized. Sometimes he looks like Yoda rifling through Luke’s pack, throwing items to and fro from his toy box, butt in the air.

As we mature, we should prefer order not disorder in our lives. Order keeps us disciplined and God is a God of Order. A disciplined life evokes what is right even though we don’t feel like it. Yes there are days when it is raining, snowing or 27 degrees when I don’t feel like walking. But if your child is crying and really needs you, you can’t ignore that. Our pup is counting on me too. After I have overcome “self” I feel I’ve conquered negativity while disciplining myself.

Second lesson: Realize what’s truly important. 

Observing all those toys flung over the floor, I wonder if he has a clue how fortunate he is?! “There are thousands of dogs starving in China who would appreciate all he has!”  (Sorry, flashback to being six years old and refusing to eat peas.) The point is, to our dog, those toys are primarily a means to an end. He brings me the toys so I’ll have time with him. It’s the process of playing together with the tuggie or bouncy toy that means the most to him.

Do we understand how blessed we are with the many “toys” God gives us? Or do we long for even more, never satisfied. What’s truly important in life? How much is enough? It’s all just stuff. It won’t last but next year’s new toy is calling your name; “work harder and you’ll be able to purchase it!” If you ask your child what he’d prefer, a new television or hanging out with you at the park, would he answer “I’d rather be with you?” Or have you taught him that the one with the most stuff wins?

Thirdly: Be content with what you have.

I observed Mr. No No lying on the floor watching his sister happily chomping away at a small bone. There was another larger bone and several toys right beside him but he wanted what he couldn’t have.

How like us! God created us uniquely with various body shapes and personalities. Does that make us happy? No. We want to look like Beyonce, Angelina, Brad or Clooney. Appreciate what you have. Strive to be your best for God. You’ll be much happier and content.

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

Lastly God’s Love is unconditional and so is our dog’s. Oh, they grow up so quickly! Love unconditionally too.