Strength

My devotion this morning tasked me with writing about a time when God strengthened me to handle something that seemed impossible to me at the time. I have to chuckle because that time is every day.

Every day that I live with Cervical Dystonia, and every day as I grow older, God strengthens me to handle it. Some days I don’t even want to try. I’m tired of the pain, I’m tired of the struggle, I’m just plain tired. I am plagued by the voices in my head telling me to “Get up. You’re not hurt.” (Dad) and “it’s mind over matter.” (Grandma). These same voices tell me that I have to be productive. I have to DO something today. But, what if I really don’t?

I think one of the ways that God strengthens me is that He lets me cry, He lets me rest, and He tells me it’s okay. He gave me an EXTREMELY supportive and loving husband who does the same. God also reminds me of all the good that is in my life, and how much I enjoy life; my family, my friends, exercising my gifts and talents. He has given me SO much to enjoy and appreciate and I don’t want to let any of it go to waste.

I remember that when I was little I hated taking naps because I was afraid that I would miss out on something. I never wanted to be left out of the fun! I still kind of feel that way. I am definitely more appreciative of naps now, but I still don’t like to miss out on any of the fun. God made me with this innate desire to experience and enjoy as much of life as I possibly can. He made a lot of people that way, maybe even all of us and some of us have just learned to ignore it. It’s a fire in me though, and I think it’s a lot of what keeps me going. When I’m done crying, when I’m done resting, I go at it again. Sometimes, its’ not for very long before I need to rest again, but I have never given up completely and as long as I have Jesus in my corner, I won’t. The biggest way He strengthens me is by being in my life – by BEING my strength!

😊💕

It’s That Simple

“So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” -Galatians 2:20b

This is so simple! For so long, I have stolen my own joy by over-complicating the Christian life. I always say, “It’s not religion. It’s a relationship.” And yet, I often act as if it WERE religion – rules to follow; don’t do this, do that, do this a certain way, follow it all to the letter! My motivation has been more performance-based than love-based.

I know exactly where this comes from and yet, changing it has been extremely challenging. I always felt that my earthly father’s love was performance based and that I could never do anything well enough for him. He criticized and corrected constantly. I rarely heard praise from him, if at all (I’m sure I did at some time. He wasn’t a total monster). The criticism is what stayed with me though and I have transferred that feeling to God. I more often feel like He’s disappointed in me and less often feel loved by Him. That’s on me. I know differently in my head, and a little in my heart, just not enough in my heart, I don’t think.

This feeling that God is disappointed in me is like a little black cloud over my head. I would really like to get rid of it. I want to know that God loves me with every ounce of my being. I want to feel His love and the joy that goes with that. At least most of the time. I don’t expect that, as a human, I can maintain joy 24/7. That’s just not realistic, I don’t think.

The verse above really spoke to me this morning. I felt God telling me that it really is that simple and to stop over-complicating things. Stop with the legalism. “For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.” -Galatians 2:21. Jesus loved me and gave Himself for me. I need to keep reminding myself of that. He didn’t wait to see if I would perform adequately before He loved me and sacrificed for me. He didn’t even wait for me to be born! He already knew me and He already loved me.

I am such an emotional person. I do a lot of things intuitively, but at the same time, I sometimes over-analyze and stress about doing things “right”. It’s like the natural me and the conditioned me are at odds. I was conditioned by my dad’s criticism to over-analyze things and make sure I was doing it right, but I think God created me as more of a right-brained person. My point is, things stick with me more when I feel them – like Gods’ love. I have felt it, immensely at times, and I still do. Just not as often as I once did and maybe that’s contributing to the doubt?

Now I’m wondering if it’s because I am disappointed in me? I’m not doing things with my life that I would like to do, or that I thought I would be doing by now. Granted, I have a pretty good reason, but me being me, I don’t like to let “reasons” get in the way. Maybe I need to follow His example and give myself a little grace. Maybe if I look at what I love about myself and my life, I will be able to see His love in the blessings He’s given me. And maybe, if I think about that more than the ways I’ve failed myself, my attitude will begin to change and there will be more “renewing of my mind”? Because the Lord knows I need a new mind! (C.D. joke). 😆

Neurological disorders aside, my attitude does need some renewing. I pray that the Lord will keep me reminded of His love for me and increase my level of joy, for the joy of the Lord is my strength! Amen!

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Today

We are living in some strange times. I am really feeling that today. We received news yesterday that my brother-in-law’s brother passed away from COVID while in the hospital. A precious sister-in-Christ is fighting a fierce battle with cancer and once again had to be admitted to the hospital. The weather that has taken lives recently and wreaked havoc on others. The wildfires in California. The situation in Afghanistan. And that’s just the headlines! I’m sure there’s more that I just don’t know about because I don’t pore over the news all day. In fact, on days like today when I feel overwhelmed by all the sadness, I avoid it altogether. It’s not that I don’t care. It’s that I care too much and it affects my emotional state in an adverse way.

I don’t want to be an ostrich with my head in the sand and, to be honest, I don’t want to be hyper-sensitive either. Unfortunately, I’m a little of both. When I hide my head in the sand it’s because I’m feeling hyper-sensitive. I want to do something to help and know that there’s not a lot I CAN do. So, I pray. A powerful thing to do, really. Asking the person in charge of it all to do something to make it better – that’s definitely doing something. The thing is, I have no guarantee that my prayers will be answered in the way that I would like them to be. The God of the universe allows things to happen the way they do for a reason – a grand scheme that only He knows all the details of. It’s hard to understand and even harder to accept sometimes, but anything else would be pure hopelessness.

I have to believe that there is a purpose to all of this. I believe in the God of the universe and my Savior, Jesus Christ, for my own personal reasons. Reasons I cannot refute no matter how little I understand of His workings. Why He allows bad things to happen to good people – HIS people – I have no idea. I know that for some reason, sin has to run its course in this world. I know that one day He will put an end to it all; pain, suffering, death will all be done away with. Sin will no longer have its way in this world. There will be no more darkness, no more sickness, no more tears, only light and joy. That’s what the Bible tells us and because I believe Jesus I believe the Bible.

Even for someone who has faith, hope, and the peace of Christ that passes all understanding, life can get overwhelming at times. For so long I have felt bad for being so sensitive. I’ve been teased and criticized for it. I have decided, however, that God made me this way (also for a reason) and I’m no longer going to apologize for it. We all deal with life the best way we know how. We’re all different. Some of us may charge headlong into whatever problems face us. Some of us stop and analyze the situation before acting. Then some of us FEEL what’s going on; the pain and sorrow that others are feeling. We have to emotionally process and sometimes have a good cry either before or while we’re trying to figure out what to do. Lately, there’s just SO much going on. There is so much pain and sorrow in the world right now that it’s overwhelming almost to the point of paralysis. I feel that way a little today.

So today, I’m praying. Today I’m playing uplifting music and leaning into that peace I mentioned earlier. Today I am emotionally processing and seeking direction for what I can do. I want to be productive and helpful. I don’t want to feel for others and not back that with action. It’s like feeling sorry for the hungry, homeless person, but not giving them the power bar you always carry in your purse. It’s like faith without action being dead. The feelings are meaningless if they don’t lead to some sort of helping action, and yes, prayer is a helping action. Sometimes we’re too far away to do anything practical, or we’re unequipped, or we’re in dire straits ourselves. No matter what our situation, we can ALWAYS pray. We can always have hope, and we can always ask others to pray alongside us. There’s real power in the fervent prayers of many!

Today I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by what others all over the world must be feeling; fear, sadness, despair, confusion. Today I’m asking the Creator of the Universe to bring peace, comfort, strength, and hope to those who need it. I’m asking for healing of bodies, hearts, and minds. I’m asking for provision of practical resources, and for a calming of the storm. I’m asking all of these things in the mighty name of Jesus Christ! And, I’m asking those who also believe to pray alongside me. Amen!

December Devotionals

The Lord is My Rock – Day 13

No Greater Faithfulness
“The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” -Lamentations 3:22

How amazing to think that God’s compassions never cease – NEVER. Do you know anyone else who is that way with you? Anyone else who is never impatient with you, or grumpy toward you? Who always treats you with lovingkindness and compassion ALWAYS? I sure don’t. I know of no greater faithfulness than God’s and I am eternally grateful to Him for it. Express your gratitude for His faithfulness today.

Father, thank You for Your compassion toward me. Thank You that I get to wake up every day to new mercies from You, and that Your lovingkindness and compassion toward me will never fail. You are an amazing God, and I give You all glory and honor. Amen!
🙏🏻💕

December Devotionals

The Lord is My Rock – Day 12

A Redeemer Has Come
“A Redeemer will come to Zion . . .” –Isaiah 59:20a

God promised the Israelites that a redeemer would come, and He kept that promise. Jesus Christ came as their Redeemer, and as ours. As the words in the song proclaim, “My Redeemer lives”. Does your redeemer live? Is the Redeemer, Jesus Christ, sent by God as promised so long ago, the One you know as your redeemer? Commit all to Him today and allow Him to be YOUR Redeemer in every way.

Father, thank You for sending me such a wonderful Redeemer. Thank You for loving me enough to redeem me in the first place, from the bondage of sin. Thank You that I can sing with all of my heart, “My Redeemer lives!” In the magnificent name of the Redeemer Himself, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Amen!

December Devotionals

The Lord is My Rock – Day 11

Be Neither Fearful Nor Anxious
”Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.” -Isaiah 41:10

We have many opportunities in this world to be afraid. Just going to the movie theater and seeing some of the previews can be pretty frightening. Do you realize that all of those opportunities to be anxious or afraid are opportunities for choice making? We can choose to remind ourselves of God’s Word, like today’s passage, and not be afraid. We can choose to remember that He is with us and He is our almighty God, stronger than any fear or anxiety we may encounter. Start today to make it a practice to choose God over fear. As fearful thoughts come, take them captive in the name of Jesus, out loud if possible.

Father, I choose today to no longer be afraid or anxious, but to remember that You, mighty God are MY God and You are with me. Hallelujah and Amen!
🙏🏻💕

December Devotionals

The Lord is My Rock – Day 10

Victory Belongs to The Lord
The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but victory belongs to the Lord.” -Proverbs 21:31

We fight many battles in a lifetime. The battle for a job, the battle against old age, the battle of the bulge, the battle for our children . . . any number of battles for any number of different causes. But, no matter how hard we fight or how much we pat ourselves on the back when we win, the victory is ultimately not ours. We win because God allows us to win. Our lives belong to Him, as do all of our victories. The purpose of our lives is to glorify Him. So, prepare your horse for battle, but remember that victory belongs to the Lord. Thank Him for all your victories today.

Though I stand prepared to fight for righteousness in my life, thank You, Father, that I don’t fight alone, and that victory is ultimately Your responsibility. I give You all the glory. In the mighty name of Jesus, Amen!
🙏🏻💕

December Devotionals

The Lord is My Rock – Day 9

Safety From Your Enemies
“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me. You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me.” -Psalm 138:7

When I think of the “wrath of my enemies”, I don’t think so much of people, but rather of just the troubles of life on this planet. Stress, fatigue, illness – these are enemies that keep me from being the best I can be for God. That doesn’t mean there aren’t people who come along in life who we would consider enemies by the way they treat us, but as children of God, we have protection against THE enemy. The enemy of our souls. I also often wonder how much the Lord has protected me from, that I don’t even know about.

We walk in the midst of trouble every day. Sometimes those troubles come in the form of people, usually people who are hurting and need the peace of Christ. My greatest defense against people like that has been to pray for them, pray for my attitude toward them, and to understand that hurt people hurt people.

If life has been too much for you lately. If trouble abounds and you need rescuing and reviving, ask the Lord for it now and be rescued from your enemies.

Thank You, Father, for not only rescuing me from the enemy of my soul, but for being a safe haven from all my enemies. Thank You for rescuing me from the enemies of this life that threaten to drag me down and make me ineffective for You. I ask that You strengthen and revive me today, Lord. In the precious name of Jesus I ask. Amen!
🙏🏻💕

December Devotionals

The Lord is My Rock – Day 8

No One More Capable to Help
“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord Who made heaven and earth.” -Psalm 121:1-2

Who do you turn to in times of need? When you need help, who do you call on? Do you believe God wants to help you with your problems? Large or small, if He is your Heavently Father, God wants to help. He waits for you to call on Him. Call on Him now. Write down the smallest problems you have in your life at the moment, the ones you think are too small for Him to want to worry about, and ask Him to help you with them. Then watch and wait in eager anticipation.

Thank You, Father, for Your mighty help with all of my problems, large and small. There is none more capable to come to my aid. I thank You and I praise You in the precious name of Jesus. Amen!
🙏🏻💕

December Devotionals

The Lord is My Rock – Day 7

Wait for God . . . Only
My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. He only is my Rock and my Salvation, my Stronghold; I shall not be shaken.” -Psalm 62:5-6

What are you waiting on in order for your life to be better? Are you waiting for your ship to come in, or for your kids to start behaving, or for your spouse to get it right? Where does your hope lie? There is only ONE who can truly make things better, and only ONE you can completely, one-hundred percent rely on all the time. List the things that you may put too much hope in, and then choose to put your hope in Christ alone, with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Though troubles abound, and insecurities threaten to mount, I will wait for You alone, God. You are my Rock and my Salvation, and in Christ Jesus I shall never be shaken. Amen!
🙏🏻💕