Author: Barb Smith

A crop close to harvest near Lohbusch, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany Credit: Christian Kortum/Flickr/Creative Commons

The womb of God’s provision

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:13-14) The growth and the nurturing we received while in our mother’s womb is a wonderful example of God’s great care for us. It is a clear picture of how God our Father wants to provide for us while we are in the womb and out of it. Our nine months in the womb, as an embryo formed into a tiny baby, is the precedent to experiencing the hand of God outside the womb. This tiny form deep inside the mother did not demand the nourishment it needed to develop. Before the babe knew what it needed the nutrients were already there for the next stage of growth as the hands, fingers, feet and toes, eyes and ears needed to develop. The baby was in perfect alignment with the Spirit of God who had prepared beforehand what was required for the …

Just say no Credit: Dylan Todd/Flickr/Creative Commons

When I want to say ‘No’ but say ‘Yes’

What do boundaries, healthy boundaries, have to do with our relationships? Why is learning to say “no” important and why is it so hard? Because if you continue to do things you don’t want to do, you eventually become, angry, resentful and bitter. If like me you choose to be a martyr and say “yes” when you really want to say “no,” you will become what some describe as a “bitter martyr.” But as one psychologist puts it,  “it’s not too late to turn the ship around.” To remove the bitterness, we must become better at telling the truth to ourselves and others because saying “yes” when you want to say “no” is being dishonest. Why do we struggle with this? It’s the little girl in us acting out our childhood training to be nice. According to psychologist, Terri Cole, growing up with a mother who was a people-pleaser makes it difficult for a person to say “no” when it is the last thing we want to do. If you lived in a home where …

Sky diving over Palau Credit: Richard Schneider/Flickr/Creative Commons

It’s okay to be afraid

Sometimes we are being pushed out of our comfort zone and often think fear is telling us to pull back. But in reality it’s a signal to move forward, push through the fear and jump. I have been acknowledging my uncomfortable feelings these past weeks. At times I almost feel paralyzed by fear and anxious thoughts. Have you ever felt this way afraid, nervous and excited all at the same? It’s an uncomfortable feeling. And often we judge ourselves for being afraid of our next big step. We have this misconception that fear is telling us “not” to do it. Well, the good news is that fear is just a natural emotion that means you are stretching yourself out of your comfort zone. Being stretched is uncomfortable in the physical and the natural. Growing and expanding beyond where I have been comfortable for some time now. Fear is a normal part of life, but it is an emotion we must control before it conquers us. Writing for Proverbs 31 Ministry, Bobby Schuller says: “Fear is …

Scaly Breasted Wren from Ecuador Credit: Nick Athanas/Flickr/Creative Commons

A song in the day and a song in the night

For the past couple weeks a robin has been singing in our backyard. Its clear melodic sound has drawn me outside onto my deck to be entertained again and again. I typically make a cup of coffee so I can sit down and appreciate the solo performance that seems to be for my ears only. The other day, as I sat down on my chair with coffee in hand, there was silence. I thought I had missed my morning performance. Then I heard rustling in the branches hanging over our deck. He was sitting right above me and sang his beautiful song over me once again. The sound and intensity of the song was so wholehearted, clear and clean. He was singing his heart out to me. This song from Zephaniah resonated through me: “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in his love, He will joy over thee with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17) God sings over us. He …

Choosing the right path. Credit: Bertie Mabootoo/Flickr/Creative Commons

Veering off the path

Psychologists believe that many of the health issues women experience today stem from our fear-based emotions and false beliefs about ourselves. Like ‘I am not good enough, I don’t have enough money to be successful , I am too fat etc. As I look back over a few of the more dramatic or traumatic events in my life, there were signs leading up to them. Signals, a sense of something not right. Really, it was a whisper of the soul and sometimes they were from Jesus as the Lord will speak to us: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:27} And I realize now that as time went on and I ignored this voice, clearer and louder messages followed. But deep down I knew that something was up and I didn’t really know what to do because fear was there too. And as I continued to ignore these warning signs I was  hit by what some call “a cosmic 2×4.” I like how Stacey Martino puts it, …

Credit: Srubhiker (USCdyer)/Flickr/Creative Commons

Expanding Grace

Recently, I was at the theater watching Jurassic World with my family. Beside me, there was a four-year old boy sitting with his father and throughout the movie I passed judgement on the father for bringing this young boy to that sort of movie. Later, I made a comment and my own son said, “maybe the man didn’t want to pay for a babysitter and decided to take him to a movie instead.” I was convicted afterwards by my judgemental perception of the situation I knew nothing about. Good on my son for choosing a positive perception of the situation. But, how I grieved afterwards about my opinion. And, even though I have worked hard to change my perceptions of people and circumstances, my original state creeps through and I judge again. I am reminded of the story of the man who was forgiven a large debt by his lord and then went out and demanded payment from someone who owed him money. He did not show this man the same mercy he had just …

Credit: quimby/Flickr/Creative Commons

Open your heart again

Sometimes jealousy strikes me when I least expect it. It could be a Facebook post where someone shared a great thought or perception of their life. I am ashamed to say that I find myself closing my heart to that person. And then I must do the brave and honest thing if I want my light to keep shining out into my world and open my heart to that person once again. Maybe you are like me and find your heart opening and closing many times in a day. Open to the prospects of a new day and then closed again because someone said something hurtful or jealousy crossed your path. Whatever it is closing our hearts and leaving them shut is hurtful to us and not anyone else. That person on Facebook has no idea what happened, so you haven’t hurt them. Good on them for showing up and making a good point or posting a great photo. Yet, for years I was afraid to show up and allow my true self to be …

Flamenco dance, Seville, Spain Credit: Laurence Vagner/Flickr/Creative Commons

La Danza de la Vida

baile flamenco, Sevilla, España Crédito: Laurence Vagner / Flickr / Creative Commons English: The Dance of Life Estas últimas semanas mis ojos se han abierto a mi necesidad de amor, respeto y aceptación de los demás. Tiendo a acusar a otros de ser indiferente cuando se descartan mis planes e ideas. Exijo de otros lo que me falta en mí misma y hago que los demás sean responsables de lo que siento. Cuando deje de culpar a otros por la forma en que me siento (enojada, herida, rechazada ), sólo entonces puedo ver cuál es el problema real y me doy cuenta que en su mayoria es mi falta de autoestima. Tengo  que preguntarme ‘por qué’ estoy yo culpando a alguien más por mi falta de autoestima y mis inseguridades. ¿Por qué siempre quiero tener la razón? El resentimiento y la ira nos quitan todo poder. Nos debilitan y nos paralizan, sin embargo, sin saberlo, nos apoyamos en ellos como muletas para obtener el apoyo emocional y el amor que tanto necesitamos. Cuando buscamos amor sin darnos …

Credit: Natalie Downe/Flickr/Creative Commons

The millennial challenge

We often joke with our daughter about being a “millennial” because she and her generation have a strong sense of entitlement. I realize now we are actually demeaning them and putting them in a shame position that makes it harder for them to move into adulthood. Several nights ago, I saw a young boy running with his teammates during a football practice and he couldn’t keep up. He was embarrassed. It broke my heart to see him caught in the throes of obvious comparison and failure in the eyes of his team mates. I wondered if this was what he wanted to do? Or was he playing football because that is what his parents’ wanted? On our journey through the child and teenage years, my husband and I realized that many times we were living our hopes and unmet dreams through our children. This was a harsh reality for us. It took time to undo the damage in their lives, our son in particular. We had to apologize and say “sorry” more than once. Many …

Credit: Jessica Meckmann/Flickr/Creative Commons

Pushing through our fears to victory

Choosing to push through our fear often means not knowing what lies on the other side of it. We waver wondering if we are doing the ‘right’ thing or if we’re going to end up making another mistake. It is always the ‘right’ decision to push through your fear.  Many times we won’t know what the outcome will be, but we do know that God is with us in the good and bad decisions of our lives. The Lord will work it out because we did the ‘right’ thing trusting Him in our decision to move beyond our uncertainty. The great men and women of faith had a deep understanding that God was always with them: “King David said this about him: ‘I see that the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.” (Acts 2:25) It is the same belief that all of us need. When we push through our fear God honors our choice and walks with us. The whole weight of God’s presence, power …

Stubborn donkey on a Mediterranean beach Credit: vad_levin/Flickr/Creative Commons

Stubbornness: The inner-child monster

Many psychologists today talk about our “inner child.”  And often the way we respond to people and the circumstances of everyday life has to do with our “inner child” desperately seeking and needing the approval of our peers. Many times we get knocked of our feet by our own perception of ourselves. In the end, it’s not really about what anyone said or did, it’s our childhood woundings and insecurities holding on to the past. And for many the trauma and woundings were real and the love and attention needed was not there to support the wounded child. It helps me to picture the “child within” still wanting the love and support that was needed at crucial times in our lives. Many of us have had a good family life but no parent or family is perfect. Some wounds go deeper for one child while another sibling may not have been affected in the same way. Later as adults, we find ourselves stuck in the same old patterns of seeking approval and attention. Sometimes, we …

Peter healing the lame man by Raphael (1483-1520) Credit: Wikipedia/Creative Commons/{{PD-US}}

Stepping into Christ’s authority

I remember standing with my sister-in-law around the counter in my niece’s kitchen. My niece who was fighting a rare form of cancer was worn out from the many rounds of chemotherapy and treatments to help battle this disease. These were desperate times, and her life was literally hanging in the balance. She had made a commitment to God when she was fourteen at a Bible Camp. And now, with the diagnoses of cancer she had renewed her commitment once again. I asked if I could pray for her adding that I wanted put my hands on her shoulders and her head as I did so.   There was no argument from her and I could see that her heart was prepared to receive from God. I was nervous about it and had sensed a few days earlier that I would pray for her. It was what God was asking of me and I knew it. But still there were questions. Who was I to lay my hands on her and pray boldly for her healing …

Youth Park, Bucharest, Romania Credit: Sorin Mutu/Flickr/Creative Commons

Seeing our reflection in others

Just before we shut the TV off a few nights ago, we watched a few minutes of Les Miserables, the story of Jean Valjean. In the last scene as he enters heaven, Jean, reminded of the mercy shown him by an old priest, sings: “to love another person is to see the face of God.” Those words challenged me to look further into what this means and in my mind I have tied this to judging.  God commands us to not judge others or we will be judged. In His sermon on the mount, Jesus said: 7 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:1-2 NASV) The message Jesus was delivering is that we are all the same.  We are all created in the image of God, but after the fall of man we all have that same ugly, sinful nature. We are no different from the person we are …

Credit: Camilla Carlstrom/Flickr/Creative Commons

The judging stone

I recently attended a funeral for a friend of ours and I found out something about Bill I had never known before. About 40 years ago his wife first accepted Christ and her transformation brought Bill to a place of decision in his own life. But after becoming a Christian, he became very judgemental of family and friends. But, that all changed when one day he read a story from the Gospels. In the account, the Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman caught in adultery. They asked Christ if she should be stoned for her sin according to the law of Moses. Christ responded: “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” – John 8:7 (NIV) After reading this, Bill went into their backyard, picked up a stone and put it in his pocket. He carried that stone with him for 38 years as a reminder that he had a sinful nature and could not cast the first stone of judgement.  I can picture him grabbing that stone whenever …

Credit: Varanos/Flickr/Creative Commons

Bouncing back from disappointment

Disappointment is a ball that lands in your lap with a thud after it’s missed its mark and bounced sideways off a wall. Suddenly, it’s there and you weren’t even expecting it. Recently, I experienced a disappointment that threw me into a state of confusion and doubt, particularly about myself. But we are meant to learn from these setbacks in life even though they are not pleasant or comfortable. God’s intention is always to teach us about ourselves during these difficult times. I am learning that it is never about the person on the other side of the disappointment, it is always about what is best for me. This is God’s heart and desire and the sooner I learn the lessons from mistakes, regrets and disappointment, the sooner I will be aligned with God’s plans and purpose for my life. It’s also okay to let the ball sit there for a while, until you have had time to process what just happened. You might need a day or two to feel the different emotions attached …

Trees spring to life. Credit: hoho_simon/Flickr/Creative Commons

Unwrapping guilt and shame

I remember feeling numb and barely able to move at times as I began to take responsibility for some of my harsh experiences in past years. Whoever else I had been blaming for my problems was no longer the issue. I had to be real and heal. Denial that I could have possibly played a part or even been responsible for some of my  experiences kept me in the dark. Denial does that. It could include denial about our part in a relationship gone wrong, a breakdown in family relationships or a situation turned bad at work. Facing the facts and focusing on the role we may have played is the first step to turning things around in our lives. When we remove denial and start owning up (being real, and honest) about some things that have not gone particularly well, we begin to move from death to life. The scales  fall from our eyes as we take responsibility (even if it was just a small part). But once we have accepted our role, we …

Humbolt's main street Credit: Monique Vezina/Wikipedia

Where was God? The Humboldt Bronco tragedy

They did not know they were going to be the latest news and that it would send waves of shock and sorrow across the nation. The Humboldt Broncos, a hockey team in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League consisting of 16 to 20-year-old players, were headed to a play off game in the northern town of  Nipawin, in Saskatchewan, Canada. Their team bus t-boned a semi-trailer crossing highway 35 killing 16 of the 29 people on board — 10 players and 5 team personnel including the head coach and the bus driver. The Humboldt players had all dyed their hair blonde which made it difficult to identify them. Tragically because the players were so badly hurt, two were misidentified. It would take a couple of days for one family to find out that a son they had thought died was actually alive, and for another family to sadly learn their son was dead. How heart breaking this must have been. What were the players thinking as they traveled on the bus?  The bus was quiet recalls …

Credit: Kerri Lee Smith/Flickr/Creative Commons

Cultivating thanksgiving

Yesterday started out well but then in the afternoon I had a couple of hours of frustration when something didn’t go the way I wanted. I ended up taking two hours to complete a task that should have taken 10 minutes. But me, computers and technology don’t always see eye to eye. I quickly fell into a slump and was starting to get depressed. I was surprised how quickly things had taken a turn for the worse. I knew I needed to pull myself out of this slump and real quick. The Apostle Paul tells us to: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) All circumstances, describe good and bad and in the midst of bad we are to give thanks. Paul was right, because according to writer J.D. Roth, studies show that roughly 10% of our happiness is determined by our circumstances and 40% of our happiness comes from “intentional activity” which involves what we think and do. Knowing what will …

Credit: Ron Adams/Flickr/Creative Commons

Reach for your thread of hope

God’s faithfulness has been my lifeline through  the desperate times when it seemed that there was no hope in sight and nothing to reach for. But at the last moment when my faith was at its lowest and my desperation at its peak, a  very thin thread of hope would appear dangling in thin air, barely visible . This was the case of the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’s garment – it was her last thread of hope. Mark said she had suffered at the hands of physicians for years (Mark 5:26) and the fringe of Jesus’s cloak was her lifeline. “20 And a woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak; 21 for she was saying to herself, ‘If I only touch His garment, I will get well.’” (Matthew 9: 20-21) There is a thread of hope hanging from the hem of Christ’s robe just for you. Desperation and fear often brought me low, but it also positioned me to …

Do you love yourself? Credit: chandrika221/Flickr/Creative Commons

Forgiving yourself is not just about you

For many of us, our biggest forgiveness issue may be forgiving ourselves. From blowing your budget, stealing, lying or cheating on a spouse or perhaps you were in a war where people died because of you. Whatever it was the awfulness of it sinks you with guilt and shame. God may forgive you, but can you forgive yourself? According to Dr. Luskin, Director of Stanford University’s Forgiveness Project, the biggest obstacle to self-forgiveness is the tendency we have to wallow in our guilt. He says: “It’s not just that we feel bad because we know we’ve done wrong, Everybody does that. But some of us actually draw those bad feelings around ourselves like a blanket, cover our heads, and refuse to stop the wailing. He states, that it is a crazy form of penance. We curl up in a ball and say, Hey, Look how bad I feel! See how I’m suffering! I’m pitiful! I’m pathetic! I can’t be punished any more than this; it wouldn’t be fair!” Instead of taking responsibility for what we’ve …

Credit: Piers Canadas/Flickr/Creative Commons

From Victim to Victor

Refusing to forgive others keeps me in a victim mentality (poor me) state of mind. The victim mentality places the responsibility for my choices and actions on someone else and has become a stumbling block that many in this day are falling over. We see it every day in the news particularly the anger and blame directed towards others that deflects personal responsibility for one’s happiness.  This victim mentality is ripping our society apart. Feminists are blaming the “patriarchy” (code word for men) for their imagined oppression. It is always someone else’s fault. Yet, there are women from horrific backgrounds who have gone on to lead very successful lives, somehow men did not hold them back. The victim mentality prevents us from reaching our full potential. It is a stumbling block made up of blame, anger and reliving your victim story over and over again until it takes on a life of its own. It can take over your life and locks us into a limitation that we have unknowingly placed on ourselves. By holding …

Credit: quantumlars/Flickr/Creative Commons

Forgiving, the springboard to a better future

Has anyone ever told you to “move on” or “get over it.” I am learning, after a few years of dealing with unforgiveness in my life, that you never really get over the past.  And much to my relief, it’s OK! The act of forgiveness is a process and not just a one-time act. It has been helpful for me to understand that we need to develop the capacity to forgive. It is a skill we must learn and practice every day. We each have our own unique story of anger and hurt, but there are two components to forgiveness: Step 1: Grieving what was and what could have been. Step 2: Letting go – of the suffering Most think that a big part of forgiveness is about forgetting the incident or person that brought so much hurt and anger. But denying our past, without first acknowledging it, does not make it easier to forgive. Several experts on forgiveness talk about the importance of grieving over what happened and what could have been. We need …

Credit: Mussi Katz/Flickr/Creative Commons

The Breath of God, the Breath of Life

Whenever I get that ‘lost’ feeling where life seems out of control and I am overwhelmed, I remember these words spoken by God at creation. “The Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils, the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” I recognize the signals that are warning me to slow down and when all else fails and I am really desperate I go back to the beginning, to the “breath of life.” I often take a deep breath and allow the breath of God (life) to flow through me. The Hebrew word for spirit in the Old Testament is “ruach” and it means “air in motion.” The same word is translated “breath” and “life.” When talking about the Holy Spirit, Jesus said He is like wind or “pneuma,” which means “a current of air, breeze or breath.” “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where …

Credit: NaturesFan/Flickr/Creative Commons

Deep Calls to Deep

There are times when ‘life happens’ for all of us. We find ourselves stranded in deep waters where waves of trouble and trials crash over us again and again. Our emotions are in turmoil. Many times, I have found myself in a place where words could not be spoken. The heart cry of my sadness and grief echoed out over the waters of my despair. But during these times God reaches out to us: “Deep calleth unto deep at the voice of thy waterspouts; all thy waves and billows are gone over me. Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindess in the day time and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life. I will say unto God my rock why has thou forgotten me? (Psalm 42:7 KJV) This is also the only place in the Bible that refers to waterspouts. Waterspouts are created during ocean storms when funnels touch the water connecting the ocean with the heavens. It speaks of the connection that God …

Credit: Visions Photographiques/Flickr/Creative Commons

It’s time to re-calibrate! You don’t have to save the world

It’s easy to lose ourselves in the spinning and twirling events of our daily lives. Often, we burn out when we give all our time and energy for a worthy cause or in meeting the needs of those around us. I am learning that I am not indispensable and that the world can do very well without me for a while. The harsh reality is that we often become “indispensable” in our own eyes. We get lost in the illusion that the world can’t make it without us. We must step away and take a good look at who we have become. My ego loves the attention and the “need to be needed.” I call it my “save the world mentality.” My husband can attest to the many times I have asked him to remind me that “I don’t have to save the world.” Because that mentality has ruined my health, run me into the ground, hurt my most valued relationships (husband and kids) as I ran off to save the world, leaving them and …

Flamenco dance, Seville, Spain Credit: Laurence Vagner/Flickr/Creative Commons

The Dance of Life

These past few weeks my eyes have been opened to my need for love, respect and acceptance from others. I tend to accuse others of being uncaring when they dismiss my plans and ideas. I demand from others what I am lacking in myself and make others responsible for the way I feel. When I quit blaming others for the way I am feeling (angry, hurt, rejected), only then can I see what the real problem is — my lack of self-esteem mostly. I needed to ask ‘why’ am I blaming someone else for my lack of self-worth and insecurities. Why do I so badly need to be right? Resentment and anger are dis-empowering. They debilitate and cripple us, yet we unknowingly lean on them like crutches to get the emotional support and love that we so badly need. When we seek love without giving it to ourselves first, (embracing our value and worth in God and believing that) we will never be satisfied with what we get from people.  We will find ourselves continually …

Blame: The Ultimate Cop-out

Lately, I found myself repeating an old pattern in my life. It’s the one where I suddenly don’t feel good enough or I feel shame about something or an unpleasant memory pops up and I blame someone else for the problem. I recognize in those moments, I have chosen to become a victim and end up dumping my emotional garbage on my unsuspecting husband. He gets to take the garbage out! In a moment, my own personal trash is transferred to him and for a few seconds “I feel better.” But, the “rush” does not last long and soon those sick emotions return. I realize now why many of us like to blame others. It provides a temporary rush that numbs our senses and makes us feel better. But like all addictions, drugs, alcohol or gambling, the problem is not solved. It returns with a vengeance and we need to dump our frustration, anger and unchecked feelings again and again. Blaming someone else becomes our temporary fix. We become addicted to it because of the …

Old watermill in Mabry Mill, North Carolina Credit: Scott Sanford/Flickr/Creative Commons

The Wheel of Gratitude

Somewhere along the way the wheel of my life got stuck. What was I not getting?  I was feeling pretty rough and everyone in our house knew it. I was being pulled under and drowning in self-doubt. False perceptions of myself hung like strings of seaweed on the waterwheel of my life as it lurched and jolted  to a stop. I wondered, what if I am not good enough to accomplish what is at hand for me to do? And even if I do start something, what if I’m not sure what to do next? Lana Vawser prophesied recently that one of the main strategies of the enemy is to whisper in your ear that ‘there’s something wrong with you.’ “One of the strategies of the enemy, is he is coming in as a slithering snake, whispering”there’s something wrong with you.  “God has withdrawn,” God is far away” and the opposite  is true. The Lord is close, and the Lord is inviting you to a deeper place than you have been before.”   (Prophetic word January …

Forest near Oslo, Norway Credit: Thorbjorn Sigberg/Flickr/Creative Commons

Surviving a winter season

As I enter the last half of January, I find myself bracing for the emotional challenges these months have brought in past years. It involves a slow descent into darkness. I often feel trapped, restless and revisit old issues that I thought were healed. Depression and feelings of worthlessness can overtake me as the days get shorter and the cold settles in. But not this year! I am putting  my best foot forward as we descend into the shadows of winter. I am like the groundhog who hibernates and waits for the right conditions to resurface. Actually, in a spiritual sense, it’s the perfect season to ‘exercise grace’. What does ‘exercising grace’ mean?  For me, it’s the  full release of my ‘doing mentality’ that has been known to drive me and others in my family to utter insanity. In other words cease trying to make things happen. It means that over these next couple months I choose to embrace knowing that it is ok to ‘just be’ and that ‘I am enough.’ It’s about accepting …

Credit: Howard Jefferson/Flickr/Creative Commons

Clouds of Emotion

Is there a message in the madness when our emotions are out of control and things are not going the way you hoped? Of course it’s about them, the other people, who don’t understand or ‘get it’. It becomes so frustrating as we repeatedly circle the situation with increasing intensity. The light dims as we are encompassed by thickening clouds that become darker and more controlling. We start to lose our reason and perspective. I must admit that I was being swallowed up by clouds of emotion that were surfacing in my life. My elderly parents are resisting the inevitable changes that are coming for them. I have been trying to help them navigate this transition and they have been fighting it. This has been emotionally draining as I watch them struggle in this season of life.  Anger, tears and overwhelming concern for them caught me up in whirling and intensifying emotions.  It was a brewing storm cloud in my life. Often in these difficult times, we want to blame others and I was blaming …

Credit: Greg Tee/Flickr/Creative Commons

Bent, but not broken

There are people whom I can’t help because they are not able to receive or believe words of encouragement or hope spoken to them. But I was no different. Deep down I didn’t feel that I was worthy of the attention or the possible good that could happen. An underlying root of unbelief grew deep into my heart. Because of fear of what the unearthing might expose, I stubbornly stood in the way and for a long time prevented this root from being pulled up. I felt safe in the damp, dark dirt of the past. I allowed some digging and uprooting but when the tangled roots got close to the surface I shrunk back.  The light revealed too much. The fear of unearthing and acknowledging the past in order to heal can be difficult to handle. There has been too much trauma and any further emotional upheaval in the present is almost unbearable. But God wants to heal our emotional wounds. I so appreciate this verse in Isaiah that helps me take a gracious …

A touch of heaven

I felt a light touch and then it was gone. It was a bright and beautiful fall day. My jacket was open because it was getting warm.  My daughter and I were running errands and crossing the mall parking lot to the bank. There was a spring in my step.   Life was good and there was so much to be grateful for lately. The warmth and brightness of the sun made it even better. I saw the truck out of the corner of my eye as it rounded the corner where we were crossing the parking lot.  I hesitated and then stepped forward confident that he had seen me. It was a big, white, wide, 4×4 truck.  As my daughter and I continued across the road I was blinded by a white light in the shape of a large cross.  It was the cross that struck me in that moment. I heard my daughter’s concerned voice urgently say,  “Mom, did you feel that?  That truck touched your leg!” Then, I remembered the gentle touch, …

Credit: -stefano-/Flickr/Creative Commons

What does surrender to God mean?

Does surrender conjure up images of a criminal giving up his gun and surrendering himself to the police?  For many Christians this is what we envision and it terrifies us. In her article, Winning Through Surrender, Kathy Cordova writes: “For most of us the word surrender has a negative meaning because we think surrender is waving the white flag and giving up.” We consider the spiritual process of surrender with giving up, but spiritual surrender is not about defeat. It is about acceptance, joy and faith.   Spiritual surrender is about a mutual relationship with loving reciprocity between the creator and the creation. It’s about  accepting the gift of salvation and experiencing the joy of a relationship with the God of the universe who  not only loves us but knows us well. I realized that after all these years as a Christian I did not have a healthy perspective of what surrendering to God really meant. I felt that I could never live up to the traditional Christian perception of surrender. I was fully aware of …

Credit: Christian R. Hamacher/Flickr/Creative Commons

Struggling to love unconditionally

Loving others unconditionally (without any conditions, or expectations attached) does not come naturally for me or anyone I know. The question is how does one DO unconditional love (live it out, act and think). In order for me to extend unconditional love to others  I must have  a reason. What would motivate me to love others unconditionally and withhold judgement. Glynnis Whitwer from First5.org ministry says that we must ‘find the why’ and reason for our motivation to love unconditionally. The Apostle Paul writes: “For we were once thoughtless and senseless, obstinate, deluded and misled  . .  But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of anything we had done, but because of His mercy.” (Titus 3:3-4) Everyday, I must be mindful of the reason I choose to love unconditionally which is  to  honor God’s gift of grace to me by reflecting it back into my world. In the Old Testament, the Jews had rules and regulations to please God and the Greeks lived to appease their …