Tick Tock

Perspective Check:

What do you think when you hear the words “My Time”? Or phrases like, “I only have this much time”, “I’m going to do XYZ with ‘my time'”, or “I don’t have any time for that.”

Is any time really ours to claim? Do I own a minute, an hour, or a week? Can I control time? Make more of it, less of it, or make it non-existent? No, not really. All I can do it utilize time.

My Time

I’ve been reminded of this recently when I’ve had my own agenda of what I plan to do with “my time”, and then someone calls and needs a last minute favor, or a friend calls and is really down about life, and talk on the phone for a long time.

Needless to say, I don’t end up accomplishing the ever-so-important agenda. But when I stop and think about these things, the truth is, time is not “mine.” All time is God’s time! He is the creator of time, the allocater,The Beginning and the End. I just have the opportunity to choose how I’m going to spend God’s time – do I choose to use it for MY purposes…or His?

Which in the long run is more eternal: to run errands that can be done tomorrow, or watch a friend’s child so that they can do something super important?
To work on paperwork, bills, and other items that can be done in the near future, or give undivided attention to a friend who is low and can use some encouragement and love at that very moment?

This perspective makes it simple! It’s not the gratitude and thanks from others that makes it simple (though it’s always nice to hear!!), it’s the fact that in the end, I used His time wisely and took advantage of the opportunities that He put in front of my path instead of wasting them. THAT my friends, is worth all the time in the world, and in the end, we will be rewarded (or not!) for how we spend His time.

 

2 Corinthians 4:18

” So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (NLT)

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HIMsomnia

insomnia

If I’d never have had experienced it myself, I probably…no…I WOULD be someone that would scoff at people who voice their frustrations of having bouts of insomnia. I mean, seriously – you hear so many people who deal with the opposite, like fatigue and the inability to stay awake when they need to, and then these “insomniacs” can just stay awake all night?! How could that be so bad? Think of how much one could get done with no interruptions during the night hours!

Yeah, well, experience taught me the lesson of humility and empathy.  My first bout with insomnia was when I was a young teenager when a medication gave me the wonderful gift of insomnia as a side-effect. Those long, daunting nights were like cruel and unusual punishment after extended days of going to school, doing homework, and then AGAIN being unable to get the much needed rest that my body (and mind) craved! Needless to say, after a week of that, I refused to put another one of those pills in my mouth!

As an adult, I have had spells where I wake up in night, unable to sleep for a period of time before finally falling back to sleep.  Funny how some of those times I would actually wake up at an exact time, on the dot, every night consecutively. Bizarre.

In addition to being very annoying,  it feels like night will never end – like your mind and body are playing tricks on you. I hate to feel like I lack control — especially that I can’t FORCE myself to go to sleep, even though by all normal standards, I should be tired (and there was never a medical reason).  Oh, and no matter what anyone says, you can count as many sheep as you want, but they don’t put you to sleep 😉

There came a point during one of these bouts that, after much prayer for this to STOP, God gave me a very clear picture of why I was having the insomnia: HE was causing it!

Apparently,  I was so busy and focused on my life, everyday filling my schedule and my thoughts to the brim, that this was the ONLY way He could grab and hold my undivided attention.  Sure, I loved Jesus and tried to follow Him the best I could, prayed and whatever else, but He wanted a closer RELATIONSHIP with me. He wanted me to use that insomnia time to just be still with Him…He wanted me to experience His peace and refreshment that comes from being quiet and listening.  If I wasn’t going to make time during the day, He was going to teach me how to do it…even if at night.

Psalm 63:6  says “I lie awake thinking of You (God), meditating on You through the night.”

The Psalmist could have laid there awake thinking of his troubles, his girlfriend, or even plan his schedule for the next day. But he didn’t – he meditated on God.

I came to realize that I didn’t always have control over going to sleep, but I did have the CHOICE to use my insomnia for Him, instead of loathing and ‘wasting’ it. I actually began enjoying this personal time along with Him, and seeing it as a gift. In fact, I coined a new phrase: “HIMsomnia” (well, at least with myself, haha!) I didn’t focus on the lack of sleep or the annoyance factor anymore…I focused on Him and listened to Him. Talk about a way to grow and get to know Him!  There have been times when He has had brought a specific person or situation to mind and I’ve been able to spend time in prayer for those. It was pretty neat, and I now count it as a gift that my Creator and the Maker of the universe wants to spend time with ME. While I usually do take time during the day to spend with Him now-a-days, there’s still something different about the dark, void of distraction, wide-awake quiet time with Him that I miss a bit…though don’t get me wrong, I’m not wishing for a chronic problem of HIMsomnia 😉

Disclaimer: There are many reasons for insomnia, some of them medical/emotional/physical and I in no way am trying to diagnose, treat, cure, or downplay insomnia in any way. I’m only sharing with you my personal experience, and perhaps offering a way to simply enrich your life, if you should ever go through something like this.

 

Once Upon a time

Once upon a time, in a faraway land, there was a princess who was rescued by her prince – all their dreams came true and they lived happily ever after…..

***Insert gagging sound***

My hubby & I at Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany 2013.

My hubby & I at Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany 2013.

Sure, I get that fairy tales and other such fiction may be invented as an escape to help us forget the troubles of our own life for a brief time, but in a world full of so much pain, heartache, and other yuck, there has to be something more lasting and REALISTIC to look to that will give us that ‘happy’ feeling instead of fairies, castles, and princesses.

This week, in the Bible study that I’ve been doing (Namesake – when God Rewrites Your Story by Jessica LaGrone) there was a homework day that focused on discontentment where we were asked to complete this sentence:

“I’ll be happy when ______________.”

Here’s how some people might complete it:

I’ll be happy when I find my soul mate….I can have a baby…my baby sleeps through the night…my kids pick up after themselves…I lose 20 pounds…my spouse shows me they love me…my divorce is finalized…I finish school…I get the perfect job…I have my own house…I get out of debt…I’m not in pain anymore………….

Here’s how I completed my sentence:

“I’ll be happy when I get to Heaven and this life doesn’t matter anymore.”

That about sum it all up? Does it sound depressing and hopeless?  Maybe not as much as you think.

Happiness is a roller coaster feeling that we ride up and down the entire time we’re here on Earth. One of those above mentioned situations may help a person feel ‘happy’ for a brief moment (kinda like watching a Disney fairytale movie) but it won’t be long before we encounter the next difficulty that plummets us right back to that feeling of discontentment.  Having everything that we want will never truly make us “happy.”

Life really isn’t about our happiness, but it’s important to note that our life on Earth DOES matter, and we only have one shot at it. And I hate to break it to you, but there are no perfect fairy tale lives here  — behind all of the makeup, smiles, and computer screens there are REAL people with REAL problems who often times are really discontent, too.  This world is full of sin and sinners who make mistakes, hurt people, are selfish, and compare themselves to others, judge others, cheat, steal, kill, destroy.  And did you know that this earth will eventually be burned up?

Nothing “happily ever after” about any of that.

Ok, I’m done with the doom & gloom and on to SOLUTIONS 🙂  Even though there are no real life perfect fairy tales, your life story doesn’t have to end in discontentment. In fact, you CAN have a ‘happily ever after’ ending by accepting Jesus’ gift of eternal life that will allow you to spend eternity with Him in Heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, ).  Can’t get a more ‘happily ever after’ than that!

But what about the daily troubles; the ones that leave us discontent in the moment?

Here are some ways to have a better “once upon a time” TODAY.  Are you ready?

1) Identify WHAT it is that you’re discontent with.

Is it a relationship? A situation? A personal flaw? A lacking of something in particular?

2) Stop and think about what you identified and ask yourself WHY this makes you discontent or unhappy.

For example, is it a baby that is waking you up all night? Why does that make you feel discontent: maybe because you’re tired and want more sleep.  Is it a relationship that is distant and you wish that s(he) would be more romantic or loving or even just acknowledge you. Why does this make you feel unhappy? Maybe because you feel entitled to receiving love from your spouse or a call from a friend and you are trying your best to reach out to them — you DESERVE to have your needs met! Or maybe you are struggling to even pay the bills.  Why are you discontent with the amount of money that you have? Maybe because you’d like to be able purchase some of your ‘wants’ without having to worry about bouncing a check, and you’re tired of others laughing at your old jalopy that billows smoke as you pull out of the parking lot. I’m overweight. This makes me unhappy because I have no energy, I feel ugly, and I don’t feel good about myself.

Recognize that most cases of discontentment can be narrowed down to a ‘why’ that centers around “Me, Myself, and I.” I want something. I should be treated better,etc.

Note: None of the above things are ‘wrong’ to desire, but it’s what we do with this desire and how we let it affect us and the people around us that can potentially be a stumbling block in life.

3) Take ACTION to do what you can to improve the #1, based on your ‘why’.

You can try to find ways to help your baby sleep through the night (but ultimately, you can’t control whether or not they sleep!) You can make sure that you have a great attitude toward your spouse and speak their love language, have a heart-to-heart talk with them and share (kindly) how they could make you feel more loved and appreciated (but ultimately, you can’t control how they treat you.) You can be very frugal and wise with the money that you have and make attempts to earn more money or cut costs in other ways (but ultimately, you can’t always control a job-loss, or unexpected medical expenses, etc.) You can watch what you eat, exercise, make healthy choices for weight-loss (but ultimately, you can’t 100% change your genes or your bone structure.)

4) CHOOSE to be content and JOYFUL even when you’re left with undesirable situations that are out of your control.

I’m not going to lie, this is the toughest part. However, contentment IS a choice, and sometimes choosing to be content is the only part of a situation that we can actually have any control over.  We’re told the ‘secret’ to being content by Paul in the book of Philippians, “… for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all things through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11-13)

 

There’s so much more on this topic; maybe for another day. I need to be honest here and say that I have been dealing with discontentment myself, but am working through all of this, just like maybe you are. We can all help each other to write our stories from this point forward. On Earth they may not end in “Happily ever after”, but I hope you’ve chosen that for eternity! On the other hand, we DO have a “Once upon a time” – you can start your story of living a content life right…..NOW!  (**poof** I’m gone, just like a fairy godmother 😉

How to relate with God

Can you think back on a day in your childhood when you were really sick? Maybe you remember being stuck in bed, coughing and sneezing (or barfing) all over the place, and how vulnerable that felt? Do you recall what you longed for more than anything in the world…maybe even MORE than getting well…?

Oftentimes it’s the comfort of a parent that a child craves during a sick spell.  Maybe your Mom, Dad, Grandparent, or whoever raised you would hold you tight, stroke your hair, take your temperature, make you chicken noodle soup (whoever made that into a ‘healthy’ comfort food I’d like to know!) and stay with you until you drifted asleep.  You needed that presence of comfort and safety. To know that you were cared for, and that everything would be “all right”.

Quite a few years have passed for me since I’ve experienced that kind of longing for my Mom to cuddle me as I lie there sick and debilitated.  I’m grateful to God that I rarely do get sick, and thankful that He uses the Reliv products in my life to help keep my immune system strong, but this past week was an exception to the norm. I was REALLY sick: high fever, chills, cough, head throbbing, pain pulsating through my body; you get the idea.  It caught me by surprise that I was taken back to that feeling of being a child again, longing for my mom, or someone, to hold me. To take care of me. To assure me that ‘everything is going to be OK.’

As a grown woman with two kiddos and a husband to refrain from transferring this awful virus to, I had to forgo the hugs and cuddles that sounded like sweet medicine to my soul.

And I survived.

Sadly enough, as I type this sitting at the foot of my youngest’s bed, she is sleeping soundly due to a high fever. She  was awake in the night with a headache and stayed home from school (I’m PRAYING she doesn’t experience all that I had to!)
She’s also rarely ill and so I haven’t experienced the role of being ‘nurse mom’ to a sick child all that often, but it was a special revelation for me today.

She wanted breakfast in bed…she got it 🙂  To see her face light up to the simple raw-honey-smothered whole grain toast and her chocolate Reliv NOW for Kids shake (complete with a pink straw, I might add), it made me feel good inside. Furthermore, she hasn’t asked much of me at all, but she desires my presence. She looks up at me with those sweet eyes and pale sad face and says, “Mommy, please don’t leave.”

And I haven’t.

I’ve folded laundry in here, done some work, and now here I sit, typing away.  Sure I’m uncomfortable as I occupy the only small empty space on her bed  as her long body sprawls out all over the place, and yes, my days plans are severely disrupted, but I WANT to care for her and provide all she needs to be healthy and happy!

It has really made me think….isn’t this what God has given to us as a  small example of how He wants to care for us?

Jesus picks up a child and tells us in tells us in Matthew 18:2-5 that, “unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven.”  He also tells us to come to Him when we are weary and carry heavy burdens and He will give us rest…that He is humble and gentle at heart and we will find rest for our souls in Him (Matthew 11:28,29.)

Well…Many other reminders come to mind of how Jesus wants to be the one we long for and run to in all circumstances (not just when we are sick or feeling on death’s door,) BUT…….my daughter has awakened and is asking for an orange.

I’m far from God the Father – I’m just a human mom – but I’m very thankful for the reminder of how to better relate with my God.  He is The Father and we can choose to become His children. And that loving parent/child relationship is a way that we can begin to relate with Him.

OK, I  must go now! 🙂

(Maybe I’ll post more in the comments later, and I invite you to do so, too!)

Happy New Year: Recipe for Prosperity

Happy New Year!

Can you believe it’s already 2014?
You may or may not have set goals, plans, intentions, or resolutions for 2014, but I bet you’ve at least given it a thought. It’s nearly impossible to start out a brand new year without reviewing a bit of the positives and negatives of the past and have wishful and hopeful thoughts of the future.

I don’t make “New Year’s Resolutions”, per say, but I do have a lot on my mind that I’m still working out, and I can’t barely wait to share it all with you! Coming soon…. 😉

One quick thought: Do you know what the meaning of “prosperity” is?
The dictionary defines it as “a successful, flourishing, or thriving condition, especially in financial respects; good fortune.”
Sounds good to me. Although, personally I don’t feel that it needs to be a financial respect — I’m all for becoming more successful, flourishing, and thriving in other ways as well! Friendships…relationships…spiritually…goal achievement…etc

So how does one attain ‘prosperity’? God’s word says in Joshua 1:8, ” Study this Book of Instruction (The Bible) continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”

Hmm…that’s something to ponder, isn’t it? You may or may not believe those words, but would it cause any harm to ‘study and meditate’ and see what happens? Have anything to lose?

Let me know if you’re open to checking out this recipe for prosperity, and if you’re interested in any help along the way.

Wishing you a year full of good health, prosperity, and joy that comes from The Source of all joy (Jesus)!

I’ve Got My Eye on You

It’s nice to be driving to my next destination with a few minutes to spare.  Lacking the typical thoughts of “hurry up, you’re running late!” makes room for relaxing thoughts and the ability to be mindful of where I am, and what’s going on around me.

I had this rare experience yesterday. As I came upon a small, yet busy, intersection a man in a yellow construction vest was directing traffic because of a lane closure due to construction.  I was the first vehicle in my lane, so while I really needed to keep my eye on the traffic director in order to know when it was my turn to go, I couldn’t manage to keep my focus on him. Seriously, it was boring  to watch him wave his arms around this way and that way like a mechanical gorilla, especially when I was intrigued by the massive construction equipment that was  productively moving dirt right next to me. No matter how many times I attempted to focus on the traffic director, again and again I got distracted by other things in my peripheral.

I didn’t want to miss my turn and get honked at, so I eventually stifled my curiosity and began to stare at the annoying yellow-vested guy. All of a sudden, the thought hit me: If he made one mistake, accidents could come from any of the 4 directions.  He had a very important role! There was no way that this intersection of vehicles could manage to figure out when to stop or go. In fact, we couldn’t see down the lane closure to the area that the road became two lanes again, but the traffic director was in a position to see the whole picture.

Additionally, it took the responsibility of each individual driver paying attention to the traffic director’s cues in order for every other vehicle to stay safe.  If I missed one cue, I could either A) be stuck sitting in the same spot wasting time when it’s my turn to go, or B) start driving when I shouldn’t and run into someone or cause another accident.

It may only be occasionally that I run into a situation involving someone directing traffic, and yet, this parallels so well with my every day life.  There are many times that I come upon a crossroads or problem, and instead of keeping my focus on The One that guides me and protects me, I’m busy looking all around and distracted by everything else.  Some of those distractions are sin in my life that keep me from focusing on Jesus. Others are just mindless ‘big moving objects.’  There are even times that I just get stuck in the everyday mundane things of life and I don’t move on because I’m not keeping my eye on Him when He’s motioning for me to move forward.  Sadly, I admit that there are times that I have made huge ‘accidents’ and hurt myself (and even others) because I wasn’t watching Him as He attempted stop me, but I ignored His direction.

I think of Peter who walked on water toward Jesus, but as soon as he started looking around at the strong wind and the furious waves, he became terrified and began to sink (Matthew 14:22-33).  He took his focus off of Jesus!

Hebrews 12:1-2 says it so practically: “…..let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith…”

You know, I may find it annoying sometimes when I’m stuck staring at a traffic director.   I might even prefer, at times, to focus on distractions in my life instead of keeping my eye on Jesus — I am a messed up person with human tendencies and a myriad of imperfections. Nonetheless, I want to keep my eyes on Jesus, my champion. I want to trust in His protection because I know that He can see the whole picture, and I can just see a portion of the situation. I want to strip off the weights of distraction, sin, and anything that trips me up. I want to avoid accidents as well as be paying attention to when I should ‘go’ so that I’m not stuck in one place staring off into things that don’t really matter. Yes…I want to run with endurance the race that God has set before me.

Reminder taken.

Thanks, Jesus, for the few spare minutes of thoughtfulness…and that pesky man in the yellow vest. By the way, I’ve got my eye on You 😉

Eye on You

More Than I Can Handle??

I can’t count the number of times that I’ve said the phrase, “I can’t take it anymore!”  or ” This is more than I can handle!”

I can't handle this!!

Ok, I admit it, some of those times may have been a bit unwarranted. Maybe even a little — dare I say — over dramatic.  But there are other situations where the phrase can be used in a completely legitimate way.

Like when a child comes home in a frantic to go to the bathroom after ‘holding it’ all day and she misses the toilet by an inch, flooding the entire bathroom, urine rivers flowing into the hallway and pee-waves splashing up the walls.  Then the dog comes to investigate while you’re trying to figure out a clean up plan, and the phone rings, then the neighbor rings the doorbell, and all along, your daughter is crying and you can’t even get your mind to stop racing to figure out what to do to clean up the mess, let alone console her!

Or like when there’s betrayal by someone that you completely trusted, and now your world is spinning in confusion and chaos as you try to figure out what is real, how to be safe again and how to move forward.

Or even when you’re on a 30-day no-junk-food-challenge and you’ve been doing so well, but you’re at a friend’s house and one of them made your FAVORITE dessert.  And you’re super hungry. You’ll just have a bite. That’s all. Everyone else is.  Besides, your friend made it especially with you in mind, not knowing about your personal challenge – you don’t want to offend her! Ohhhh…that chocolately, gooey deliciousness…..   You know you want it!!

Overwhelmed. Scared. Frustrated. Tempted. MORE THAN I CAN HANDLE???!!!

Yes.

So….does that mean that God would give us more than we can handle?

I hear that cliche all the time, that “God will never give you more than you can handle.”  But I don’t agree with it. To some it may be semantics, but to me, something important is missing from that cliche. Here’s how I think it should be said:

God will never give us more than we can handle WITH HIM.

Sometimes I forget the last part – the most important part – and then I fall apart, because I wasn’t intended to handle life, and all that’s ‘given to me’, all by myself.

A great verse to memorize when going through the “more than I can handle” trials is Philippians 4:13. It reads, “I can do ALL things through Christ (Jesus) who gives me strength.”  Pretty awesome and powerful that WITH Jesus, He will supply the strength for us to get through and have victory through those trials that are more than we can humanly handle on our own!

Another powerful verse to keep in our mind bank is 1 Corinthians 10:13.  “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity.  God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation HE WILL ALSO PROVIDE a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.”

There are SO many more verses that share this same concept — that when life is more than I can handle, God is there to rescue, to provide an escape, to comfort, to give peace, to calm fears, to give strength….to HELP me handle the situations that are humanly impossible to handle on my own.

Are you facing something right now that seems like it is more than you can handle? Take it to Jesus.  He’s not a genie in a bottle to run to when you have problems, but He is a loving Savior that is longing to have a personal relationship with you for the rest of your life. And He wants to handle for you, what you cannot alone.  I mean, He’s been doing that for quite some time…He did give His life for us!