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Peace or Power? Which Do You Pursue?

Some who seek “peace” are actually Counterfeit Christians, striving for dominance over others. Some feel if we will simply fall in line behind them, the kingdom will have peace. This is a falsehood. True Peace, Joy, Love is only found in doing what God desires of us.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  (Matthew 6:33)

In this life we can build up or tear down another’s hopes, dreams or self-esteem. One can profess half-truths to obtain attention or destroy another through biting words. We can be a help or we can hinder another’s godly works. We can talk ourselves into success or forge on alone, foregoing Godly Counsel.

The question is: which type of person are you? To answer that, we must go back to our roots.

If your childhood was one with a dictatorial parent, a spiteful sibling, later a dominating spouse, suffered painful abuse or loss, it’s usually masked by either a false bravado or intimidating control or it made you stronger, more compassionate and more discerning. You have a heart for others because you identify with another’s pain.

As a result, the first will either bully, tear down others through words, acting as a mean girl to overcome that sense of inferiority and insecurity of never being good enough.

The second will overcome tribulations, building godly self-esteem and through strength reach out, coming alongside others to encourage them.

In essence the first attitude is projecting “I am the master of my OWN fate! No one will ever control me again!”

The falsehood here is, we will always have someone else controlling our thoughts and actions – either God or Satan, good or evil – no other! By allowing the devil to enter our mindset and puppet us, it not only hurts us, it hurts everyone around us.

By letting go and allowing God to control our life, we become stronger, content in all things, at peace with God’s Laws, provisions, pathways.

Inferiority is like having the devil whisper, you aren’t good enough!

I have news for you: no one will EVER be good enough. In this large world someone will always be and do something better, be tougher, kinder, prettier, wealthier . . .  even cook or sing better.

That’s the purpose of explaining to my patients why mental, physiological and Spiritual health is like the Westminster Dog Show. How can one judge a Golden Retriever against a Cocker Spaniel, a Pug against a Poodle, a German Shepherd against any Terrier? You can’t. Therefore each has a different standard of individuality set down by the American Kennel Club Rule Book and are judged accordingly.

Similarly, we are all uniquely designed by God and must be judged individually accordingly to His Book: The Bible.  Are we our best according to God’s Standards? I know I’m not and yet I continually strive to be excellent in all I can to please and glorify my Lord who rules over me, whispering “You are my child. I love you. You are enough.”

As a work in progress, I recognized early in my Christian life that it’s no fun being outside of God’s Favor. In fact, it’s scary!

Personalities who don’t truly believe in themselves and feel inferior, seek to find validation by tearing others down in order to build themselves up. I suspect you know people like this. One can never build themselves up by tearing others down.

Do you search for strength, peace, wisdom, but it evades you? Stand firm for Truth! Ditch Satan’s strings – seek Godly values and discover Joy.

 

 

 

 

 

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Calling All Biblical Teachers and Homeschooling Families

Remember when Andrew first met the Messiah? What was his first reaction? He ran to tell his brother Peter the Good News! Well, that’s how I felt when given a wonderful children’s book entitled, “Where Are The Other Nine?”  (The Story of the Leper that Came Back to say Thank You) by Max Reid. I found an excellent Biblical resource and wanted others to know!

Max Reid has written and published 14 children’s Kindle Bible Stories (2 of which are compilations of 5 stories each)  and 1 Picture Book for toddlers. All of these are affordable, available in both e-book or paperback form, starting at $.99 on https://www.amazon.com/Max-Reid/e/B071P2ZSJW/https:/

Today, I am reviewing “Where Are the Other Nine?” Written from the point of view of a Samaritan family; it places us in the shoes of the one afflicted. I found it relatable and intriguing, inviting much discussion of faith, trust and how we treat others.

At first glance, gazing at the cute cover, I mistakenly believed this book to be for those of a younger age. (It’s a sweet cover, as are all of Max’s books.) But what I discovered was so much more. These books are targeted perhaps toward the 4-10 year age group but easily could be used as practical Biblical instruction in Sunday School, homeschooling, children’s church or during family devotions.

As parents, we are commanded to teach Biblical values daily to our children: “Teach them repeatedly to your children. Talk about them while sitting in your house or walking on the road, and as you lie down or get up.”  (Deuteronomy 6:7) 

This thought-provoking book is based on the miraculous healing of the ten lepers by Jesus found in Luke 17: 11-19. This event opens up a myriad of questions which transcends into our modern age, bringing to light many “what if’s” to a young person’s mind.

How do we treat others who are not like us? How often do we walk right by someone who isn’t: the poor, homeless, disabled, disfigured . . . and ignore them or believe they are “below” us? (Does God look at our outside appearance or our heart?)

Levi’s father, through no fault of his own, became one of the lepers and an outcast. He couldn’t work any more. Therefore he had no money and had to beg for food, clothing, warm blankets. Money meant nothing since he couldn’t enter a store to shop and had to rely on the kindness of others for his very existence.

What if your entire comfortable lifestyle was taken away? What if we lost everything, how would we react? (How do we thank Jesus for his many blessings, even amidst trials?)

And what if that leper was you? How would you like to be treated? With compassion, help or disgust? What if that outcast was your own parent? You’d never feel their arms around you, kiss your cheek or tuck you in at night.

Life certainly would take on a different perspective, wouldn’t it? Would you be kinder? What did Jesus do and what does that teach us?

What becomes most important in your life? How would you feel if you were suddenly isolated from your loved ones because of illness? What would be your first reaction? Would you shake your fist at God and blame Him? Would you pray, trust in God or turn from Him?  

The author, Max Reid is a talented writer who has taught children’s Bible Studies in his church for 18 years and it shows. Beautifully written, this book draws the reader in by presenting the gospel adapted for today’s generation. I urge you to purchase and use his books in your church or family’s devotional time!

 

Where Have All the Relationships Gone?

I came across a cute cartoon on Facebook which was created entirely of emoji’s and icons. (not this one, wasn’t sure if other had a copyright) It professed that after more than 3,00o years we’ve returned to speaking through modern day hieroglyphics. How true!

Real one-on-one communication today seems to be disintegrating as quickly as paper books. Twitter, Texting and Facebook have emerged as conversations without actual voices. A happy face icon is replacing actual laughter and a physical hug and in this extremely mobile modern world, even close friendships can dissolve quickly.

A study conducted by the University of North Carolina indicated that stress levels were lowered when participants hugged each other. Hugging releases chemical feel-good endorphins such as oxytocin, described as a hormone of love and the neurotransmitter, serotonin. This allows us emotionally to feel safe, secure and in trusted hands. No amount of x’s, o’s or happy face icons attached as an internet hug can replace a physical one!

God, time, communication and laughter in my opinion, is the glue that holds friendship together. Your spouse should also be your friend.

GOD is the Anchor. He instills a moral compass as well as the Golden Rule. There is no coincidence with God. He brought you together for a reason. Do you care? That which you treasure, you take care of. Protect each other’s feelings through a lifetime commitment of respect, courtesy and love.

LAUGHTER keeps a relationship young-at-heart. What seems like a crisis  in a relationship can often be a learning experience which over time is usually laughed about when relating that story to family and friends years later. Don’t sweat the small stuff, as the saying goes. In perspective, it’s all small stuff. Only what we do for our Lord matters.

TIME. In a strong, loving, balanced relationship, a couple should continually allocate more time together than apart. Never stop supporting, learning and growing together! God created us as complex creatures. It’s exciting to discover new interests that add to a couple’s extensive memory portfolio in marriage!

Communicate! Don’t let your relationships become complacent! Complacency leads to boredom. Sadly, many marriages are disposable in today’s throw-away society. How many times while counseling did I heard the phrase: “We used to talk for hours, but he doesn’t communicate with me anymore!” Wouldn’t most women prefer good communication from the heart than a gift from the store?

I can’t believe in life you can’t find something to talk about:  vacation plans, politics, sports, travel, world events, work, music, television shows, a joke you heard, a Bible study point of view . . . there’s literally a world of items to discuss!

We surround ourselves with such busyness and noise and yet more and more, as humans, we are so lonely. Then we reach for anything that temporarily satisfies, food, drugs, alcohol, shopping. We find ourselves in a void, falling further and further away from God’s love. Get back to the Word!

Surround yourself with godly people who encourage, build you up and believe you are worth speaking to. It takes commitment, patience and the Lord as the center of any relationship to ensure longevity. Reach out!

 “Whether it is pleasant or unpleasant, we will listen to the voice of the LORD our God to whom we are sending you, so that it may go well with us when we listen to the voice of the LORD our God.”  (Jeremiah 42:6)

Find Healthy Support Thru A Redwood Forest Analogy

This has been my most viewed (and most “copied”) post in the past 5 years so I thought it bore repeating, especially this time of year:

If you’re attempting a  healthier lifestyle, you shouldn’t do it alone. Find someone to be your Champion – someone to hold you accountable, encourage, motivate and celebrate your victories with. A friend who will support you like a Redwood tree!

Have you ever driven through the magnificent Redwood National Forest in northern California?  As you gazed upon those majestic 350 foot tall trees towering above you, you probably thought as I did, Man, their roots must tunnel 50 ft. into the earth! 

Amazingly, that’s not the case. Their roots are only a few feet deep! So what’s to prevent them from toppling over and being destroyed, you ask, when diaster strikes? Surprisingly, support from fellow trees.

“Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy;” (Psalm 96: 11,12)

As Christians we can learn valuable lessons from the Redwoods by copying their support system when trials occur in our lives.

1.  The tree’s root structure supports each other by interlocking their shallow roots with the other Redwoods surrounding them. When under duress, the older trees buttress each other by developing roots on the downward side of those under stress. The younger trees are bolstered up by the older ones, thus supporting the younger generation.

When we recognize someone struggling to become healthier in mind, body and spirit, do we encourage or hinder them? Do we strengthen them with Scripture or sabotage them with tempting treats or disparaging statements? Allow them to struggle on their own? Everyone needs some  “atta-boys” to keep them going along their pathways to health. Do we offer wise, practical strategies or defeatist advice?

2.  The charring of their bark actually makes them stronger!

When exposed to challenges like fire, they develop a protective shield.

Has God strengthened you through challenges? Many have gone through the worst that man can dish out; drug, mental or sexual abuse, abandonment, cancer or other health obstacles, but inwardly they’ve strong. They’re still standing!

3.  A fallen Redwood will ultimately branch out and grow. Still useful; its roots become other trees.

Never give up simply because you face obstacles. Overcoming adversity and temptation makes us stronger, wiser and more confident. Pass along those life skills to help others because God bestowed them on you for a reason.(Genesis 50:20)

Just as in life, some young trees won’t survive, but many will because of the support of older trees.  Proverbs 22:6. Young Redwoods are more vulnerable, just like young Christians.  Instill in them that growth is a valuable process.

4.  Surprisingly, the chemical composition of the bark is distasteful and even poisonous to termites and other pests! Develop ‘Bodily Armour of God’ so strong  that even the demons don’t dare to bother us!

5.  Which brings me to my last point.  The bark of the Redwood is a foot thick!  Fire and man are the Redwoods only natural enemies, similar to trials and worldly temptations for Christians. Strive to develop a thicker skin when criticized. Whether it’s about being too “thin,” too “heavy” or too “Christian,” the only one we need to impress is our Lord.  Stand fast. Never give in to peer pressure.

Everyone needs a support system.

“For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:10)

 

Sage Advice From a 100-Year-Young Friend

“Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.”  (Job 12:12)

Everyone desires to live a productive and happy life. Few achieve it. My dear friend Judy exemplifies it!

Tomorrow marks her 100th birthday. Yes, she moves a little slower but her mind is still sharp. She resides in a lovely assisted living facility but never misses a Sunday service if she can. With so much energy, I can’t help but think she must have been somethin’ in her prime!

Now imagine all she has seen since 1917; how the world has transposed amidst industrial growth, space flights, world wars, technical advances and changes in society which have occurred over a century.

I interviewed her recently to unearth how she accomplished what so many seek but never find; peace and contentment.

Ellie: Judy, you are one of the most gracious people I know. I never hear you complain about aches, pains or grumble as so many older people do. What’s your secret to being so youthful?

Judy, without a moment’s hesitation deadpanned, “Good genes!” (A great sense of humor is also a wonderful age-resister: Proverbs 15:13.)

E: And that’s certainly part of it. You still look and act young-at-heart. But I also know you’ve gone through challenging times. What has given you such a positive outlook on life?

J:  (pausing) I guess my mother was the greatest influence in my life. When I was a teenager, she wouldn’t allow me to  complain when others had so little compared to us. She always told me to count my blessings.

E:  This was during the Great Depression?

J: Yes, we weren’t rich but we weren’t poor either. My mother was always sharing what we had with those less fortunate than us. Her generosity was a good example to follow.

“I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.”   (Psalm 37:25)

E:  So what was the most important piece of advice your mother ever gave you?

J: She taught me that if you don’t give – you won’t receive. Help others as best you can. Give from the heart but be genuine about it.

E: What’s your secret to aging gracefully? You certainly don’t act 100. I know they feed you well here.

J:  In here, one eats what they put in front of you. (smiling) Well . . . there’s always an activity to occupy our time if we want and I’m happy being here near friends. My mother told me there is always someone who is better off or has less than me so I try to live my best life. Until I see Jesus, this is the life I’m given and I am content.

E: Is that another of your many secrets? So many who live in Assisted Living Facilities miss their previous home and lifestyle, but I’ve never heard you complain.

J: I think I’ve never minded change. I’ve lived a long time and have seen this world change a great deal. Look at how technology has grown. I’m able to watch TV, talk on my cell phone and have friends drive me to church.

E: With that being said, what words of wisdom would you give today’s generation?

J: I’m sorry so many seem to have lost the Godly values my generation had and I’d like to see more kindness.  Young people used to stand aside to allow older people to enter a building. Few do today.

E:  You don’t seem to live in the past as so many do.

J:  I remember my past but I don’t live in it.

Judy epitomizes what being young-at-heart is all about. To be truly content one must be grateful for God’s blessings in one’s life, remain mentally and physically active while being surrounded by loving, supportive friends. Those are the keys to a Joyous Life.

She has truly exemplified Philippians 4:11, “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.”

 

Live in the Moment? Really?

rosesThere is a popular expression which encourages us to “Live in the Moment.” At one time even I thought, sure sounds good. Live for today, live like you would die tomorrow! Then I saw what “living in the moment” actually is.

As I saw my mother slip further away in her mind, she began to live in the moment. At first it was the communication “loop.” She mentioned the same thought over and over again. Gradually she lost track of time. I heard repeatedly how she found a $5 bill on the ground just last week, even though I knew it was two years ago. Eventually over time she didn’t recognize her family and forgot any had called or visited previously. Once time passes, so do the memories.

My mother left a strong, independent legacy for me. If I complained she instructed me, “Now say two good things.” She’d never allow me to live in self-pity. If I complained about our material possessions, she’d mention that there were children without (food, shoes, homes) and be content with what we had. I learned to look for the bright side of any situation and took pro-active actions to encourage others because of her positive personality.

Memories have purpose!

Good or bad we never forget our childhood experiences until we suffer from dementia. How would we feel if we didn’t remember the faces of our childhood friends, family vacations, birthday parties or senior prom? That’s what living in the moment means. There is no past. Sure it might be great to cease to remember a painful break-up, failed test or a school humiliation. There have been times life when I simply wanted to crawl into a hole until the pain dissipated. Let time pass.

Is there anything good about bad memories?  Yes, because weren’t they turned into learning experiences? The trials allowed us to discern a faithful relationship, strive for more study discipline and overcome stressful situations. When we know better we do better. That’s only accomplished thru time and experience. God has a purpose for everything He does.

God gave us our memories for a reason. Memories mold, comfort, teach and encourage us. Memories are my most cherished treasure. We either learn from our mistakes and better ourselves or wallow in our misery, holding on to regrets and grudges. Why drag that baggage around for eternity?

God loves us just as we are but please strive to represent Him, building memories of excellence, for this world is NOT our home! Remember it is only what we do for our Lord that matters in life.

What would it feel like to wake up one morning and not remember your past? Not recognize your spouse, children, friends anymore? That’s what living in the moment really means. But your loved ones will remember you well after you are gone. What legacy of memories did you leave them? Leave Godly ones and they will meet you there!

 “For, All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever. And this is the word that was preached to you.”  (1 Peter 1: 24,25)

 

 

 

A Tribute to a Remarkable Woman: My Mom

My mother went to be with the Lord last Saturday. She will be greatly missed but never forgotten. Having  a kind heart, she thought of others before herself. Even in death she donated her body to science. As a remarkable woman, she taught her children the value of many things, not the least among them were courage, resolve and integrity.1949 ~ Mom about age 20

When I was seven, our family went to the fair. I walked alone with my brother and watched as he played carnival games. The attendant wondered why I wasn’t playing. “I have no money,” I said but promised to come back. As we approached mom and dad, I told them what I had vowed. My father was furious because we were dirt poor farmers and even a quarter was a lot of money. But my mom knew I had given my word. “A person’s word is their bond,” she protested. So we promptly went back, I gave the man a quarter and quickly lost it on a stupid game. But the lesson I learned stayed with me. She taught me integrity. When one says they’re going to do something, follow through.

In life, she overcame many personal challenges. She was born in Brooklyn, NY, yet never saw the top of the Empire State Building. She had a fear of heights. That fear was rectified when she earned her pilot’s license. In 1976 she viewed that top of the Empire State Building as she piloted her grandchildren and me to JFK to reconnect  with my husband in Germany. “Can’t means won’t try!” still resounds in my memory!

My mom grew up as the daughter and granddaughter of ministers dating back to Jonathan Edwards. But when she married, she converted to my father’s religion. That violent, abusive man wouldn’t know love/charity if it bit him. She stayed for us but when I was 13 he deserted the family. It was the only good gift he ever gave. Mom was never a quitter. Adjusting to her circumstances, she taught us to make the best of ours. My brother and two sisters are all successful because of this determined, faithful, Godly mother.

Our mother worked three jobs to keep us together and off welfare. I resented that at the time; feeling abandoned once again. I didn’t know until much later why she did it; she and her siblings were separated after her father died. Families stayed together! With determination and a knack for turning challenges into opportunities, three jobs became one when she eventually became a Broker/Realtor and practically owned that small town. She patiently took challenges one step at a time.

When asked why God allows such horrible events to happen to the innocent, it concerns me. Why not us? God didn’t even spare His own Son. Jesus endured pain, betrayal, heartache and everything we experience on Earth to be a Savior for us. If our father hadn’t abandoned us, mom wouldn’t have come back to her Christian roots and we wouldn’t have been saved. Lastly, we can either endure/overcome trials, crumble or develop a sense of humor. (Boy could our mom tell a joke! In fact she wore an Energizer Bunny costume for a variety show.) I prefer humor.

My mother is at peace now after facing one challenge she couldn’t conquer, dementia. But I rejoice that she is having the best reunion with the saints in Heaven! And when I see her again, it’ll be as the young beautiful spirit she once was. God is Good.

“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.”  (Proverbs 31:25)