Everything I Am… ?

“Everything I am will praise and bless the Lord!” – Psalm 104:1

I wonder how many of us can say that EVERYTHING we are praises and blesses the Lord?

With every thought, every word we speak, every word we write or type, every story, every piece of information we share… Every thing we do, our attitude, our heart, our motives… Do they praise the Lord? Do we bless Him?

Everything I am”… What am I? What are you?

I don’t know… This scripture really has captured my attention, my heart and my thoughts tonight. Ponder it with me. Please, feel free to share your thoughts in a comment. I really am interested in hearing what you have to say about this scripture. It can’t just be me that it captivates.

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A Little Goes A Long Way

“… small kindnesses can collect into a lifetime of love. Being a loving person is indeed a journey. Choosing to love others happens one small kindness at a time.” – John Michalak

This week, I was so excited to be a blessing to a co-worker who has been going through so much and trying to keep going despite everything on her plate. Last week she shared with me some of the things that she had going on and how she was feeling.

I encouraged her to take a break and go to her “happy place” in her mind. She immediately said “the beach!” And then took a deep breath. I also asked her if she was a Christian and she said she was, “a messy one”, but a Christian nonetheless.

I couldn’t help but smile. Even now, thinking about her statement, “a messy one”, a smile is on my face.

I reminded her that she can do all things through Christ and gave her a little encouragement. She said she felt better. But, I didn’t stop there.

She was on my heart something fierce last week, and I got this idea in my mind of something I could do for her so I spent the week and even part of the weekend working on something to bless her with.

In our conversation, she revealed that she liked the beach, that a mani-pedi would be great and that she enjoys getting a massage. It was just enough to get the thoughtful and creative juices flowing.

I went in yesterday morning and put this awesome basket on her desk before she got in. I put little notes, words of encouragement on some items, and scripture too.

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She was so overwhelmed she started sobbing and came and gave me the longest hug. She thanked me and told me it was so nice and that it meant so much to her.

I wasn’t trying to “butter her up” or get on her good side, I was simply moved with love and compassion for her and did what was on my heart to do. And it ended up being a heartfelt blessing to her.

So why am I sharing this with you? No, it is not to toot my own horn or to just tell a nice story. I’m sharing with you for two simple reasons.

One, maybe you yourself have had a lot on your plate, have bitten off more than you can chew, are feeling tired or overwhelmed, maybe stressed to the max or barely keeping your head above water… I want to take this opportunity to remind you that no matter where you are at, no matter if you feel like a “messy Christian”, distant from the Lord, or like you’ve lost touch and are now on your own… Our amazingly loving, kind, gentle, gracious, merciful and caring God meets you right where you are. And, He is with you. You are not alone. There is nothing that can happen to you or pop up in your day that you and Him cannot handle together. You are loved, seen, and cared for. You CAN cast your cares on Him knowing that He cares about every detail of your life, and you CAN do ALL things through Christ.

So, keep your chin up, your eyes fixed on your source and keep moving one foot in front of the other. You have the BEST cheerleader cheering you on. And, you CAN do ALL things through Christ Jesus.

Two, maybe you know someone who has a lot going on. My co-worker has been working full-time, going to school, staying up late doing homework assignments, taking care of someone who is battling a disease, doing extra things for others, and being who she is to so many people. She needed some encouragement and to be reminded to take some time to take care of her. She needed someone to do for her.

Which leads me to ask you this question, is there some small act of kindness that you can do for someone in your life that might bless them and encourage them to keep going?

Think of something. Ask God for wisdom or insight or an idea. Then, do it. And do it with love.

What Do You See?

I don’t know about you, but I have been feeling stressed out, overwhelmed, like there isn’t enough of me and there is certainly not enough time in a day or a week or a weekend to get everything done that needs done.

I have been going, pretty much non-stop, for about a month now. Running here and there, doing this and that, helping this person, learning this new thing, getting this done and that done. And, I have to be honest, I am tired. I’m tired of going. I’m tired of doing. I’m tired of not getting rest. I’m tired of feeling tired.

Instead of boring you with the details, I will spare you my complaint fest. Instead, I want to share with you this amazingly timed reminder that I just heard.

“What you focus on you get more of.”

Did you read that? Did you catch it?

What we focus on, we get more of.

That means if we focus on the things that are irritating us or that are weighing us down, or if we focus on the things that haven’t been going right or that we are lacking, we will get more of them.

What we magnify is what we see. So, if we are focused on the negatives, we will see negatives and then see more negatives. Similarly, if we focus on positives, we will see positives and more positives.

magnifying glass

It’s all about what we are looking for.

This weekend I’ve been looking at the negatives in life surrounding the last month or so. But, tonight and going into this week, I am challenging myself to change what I’m looking for and focusing on, and to look for the positives.

Instead of focusing on what there isn’t enough of, I want to focus on what the Lord has blessed me with and through.

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“Lord God, I pray that you keep my thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. Fasten my thoughts on every one of Your glorious works. Let me, and help me praise You always. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

Light at the End of the Tunnel

I know life can be challenging. Sometimes we can feel like we’ve been dealt a bad hand, or like we just got our teeth kicked in. We can feel overwhelmed by circumstances beyond our control, especially if we feel things are out of control and there’s nothing we can do. We can feel paralyzed, frightened, angry, hopeless, fearful…

We can also feel joy, and peace, and hope and excitement and exhilaration. Like we’re on cloud nine, walking on air, like we are finally getting ahead and things are going our way. We do have moments when we can breathe a deep breath of air and relax and take pleasure in life, in the journey, in the trials and disappointments and how much we have overcome. We can even feel excited about what lies ahead, and look forward to what a new year, a new opportunity or changes might bring.

When we are feeling good about life, it is easy to stay encouraged and hopeful and positive. It’s when life seems pretty crummy or like all hell is breaking loose that we tend to feel the struggle to keep our peace, our joy, our motivation and positive outlook.

And, it’s during the times when chaos is ensuing or we feel like we are surrounded by trouble, despair, turmoil and problem after problem that we need encouragement. Sometimes we do need a loving and caring friend to take us by the hand, wrap us in a hug, and speak to our hearts.

Today, I want to be that friend for you.

No matter what is going on around you, in your life, what has been said about you or to you, or what situation you find yourself in… I want you to know, and remember, there IS light at the end of the tunnel.

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There is still a light in the darkness. His name is Jesus. And, you are NOT alone. God is for you. He is for you, not against you. He is the one fighting for you. He sees you. He knows everything that you have said, done, the intentions of your heart, the decisions you face, the circumstances surrounding you, surrounding your loved ones. He knows. He cares. He isn’t just watching like your life is a television show… No, He is watching, He is working, He is doing something about it, and He is doing something for you. The things that happen to you, matter to God because you matter to Him.

You matter to Him so much that He has already made a way out, made a way for you. No matter what wilderness you find yourself in, or how long the tunnel feels, His provision for you is already there. You might not feel like you can see it, but it is there.

Who is the one who condemns us? Christ Jesus is the One who died [to pay our penalty], and more than that, who was raised [from the dead], and who is at the right hand of God interceding [with the Father] for us. – Romans 8:34, AMP

Christ, and God Himself are interceding on our behalf. And honestly, when you really think about it, that is ALL we need.

“What then shall we say to all these things? If God is for us, who can be [successful] against us?” (Romans 8:31, AMP)

Is there really anything bigger than God? Stronger than God? More powerful than God?

Friend, we have the Lord of Heaven’s armies, Jehovah-Sabaoth, on our side, fighting with us, fighting for us.

There is a reason God tells us not to fear… When we have the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Alpha and Omega (The Beginning and The End), the great I AM, on our side, fighting with us and for us, there is no reason to fear and nothing to fear. Nothing. Absolutely, positively, no matter how you turn it, twist it or look at, NOTHING to fear.

Christ Jesus IS our provision. He IS our way. He IS our Light. He IS our hope.

As I said before, there IS a Light at the end of the tunnel. His name is Jesus. Keep your eyes on Him, on that Light. Don’t get distracted by what is behind you, beside you, even right in front of you. Look ahead, to that Light. Keep moving forward.

And, keep going.

I want to end with this, a song titled, “Surrounded”. A friend shared it with me months ago and every time I hear it, everything in me jumps and comes to life and it’s like my Spirit is roaring. It is powerful. It is true. It is good. And, I pray it encourages you as much as, if not more than it does me. Be encouraged and be blessed!

 

 

Pep Talk

Sometimes we need encouragement.

Today has been one of those days.

I’ve been torn between writing and doing a job search today. My heart isn’t really in the job search, but I was feeling like I couldn’t write and like no one would want to read anything I had to write anyway. Then, I went back to the job search idea and thought about how I might never find a job that is suited for me and that I’m suited for.

And yes, this has gone on for like 2 hours, back and forth.

So what did I do?

Well, I really felt like laying in the bed crying, but I didn’t want to get up and get in the bed. (And yes, it is okay to laugh, I am while I write this.) And, for some reason, I couldn’t cry either. So I decided to turn some praise and worship music on.

First song and there was a smile on my face. If you’ve never listened to Waterdeep Worship, you really should. “You Are So Good to Me” is a good song for getting your eyes off of you and onto the One who really matters and for getting some much needed truth in you.

While I was listening to the music, I happened to glance up from the computer chair and saw my “Pep Talk” pad of paper sitting there. I thought to myself, “that’s what I need, some encouragement.” Usually when I need encouragement I intentionally find someone to encourage. But today, I decided to encourage myself in another way.

So I filled out the Pep Talk sheet for myself. First time ever, but believe it or not, it actually helped and worked. I’m writing right now. LOL!

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Friend, there are times that we find ourselves needing encouragement, but if you’re like me you don’t go around asking someone to encourage you. No. When we need encouragement, we cannot expect others to fill that need for us; we need to do it ourselves. Like I said, usually I encourage someone else and the process of doing so encourages me as well. But, sometimes, we need to encourage ourselves by speaking to ourselves like we would someone else.

“Self-talk” is the term that comes to mind. This morning and early afternoon, I was not saying good, helpful, inspiring or life-giving words to myself. Instead, I was thinking things that were designed to put me down, beat me up and render me unusable today.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” – Proverbs 18:21

But, rather than disable myself for the day, a different thought came to mind and I decided to give it a try. Now, I’m functioning and moving and doing.

It doesn’t matter what you’ve been saying to yourself today or this week, and it does not matter what challenges are in your path, you too can change the direction you are headed by changing what you are saying to yourself, what you are thinking about you, the circumstance or the situation.  And, you can most definitely change directions for the better when you remind yourself of Who is living on the inside of you and what He says to you and about you.

That’s my encouragement to you today. But, more important than me encouraging you is your answer to this question: How are you going to choose to encourage yourself today, right here in this moment?

Word

Have you ever read a romance novel? Watched a love story? Had someone write a love poem to you? Write or sing a love song to you? Had someone give you a handwritten letter or make a speech telling you all the things they love about you or professing their love to you?

Have you ever read anything out of the Passion Translation Bible?

Every time I open up the Passion Translation Bible and start reading from it something grabs my heart, speaks to my heart, or makes my heart jump with delight.

Allow me to share Psalm 23 with you to give you an example:

The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd.

I always have more than enough.

He offers a resting place for me in His luxurious love.

His tracks take me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss.

That’s where He restores and revives my life.

He opens before me pathways to God’s pleasure and leads me along in His footsteps of righteousness so that I can bring honor to His name.

Lord, even when Your path takes me through the valley of deepest darkness, fear will never conquer me, for You already have!

You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way.

Your authority is my strength and my peace.

The comfort of Your love takes away my fear.

I’ll never be lonely, for You are near.

You become my delicious feast even when my enemies dare to fight.

You anoint me with the fragrance of your Holy Spirit; You give me all I can drink of You until my heart overflows.

So why would I fear the future?

For Your goodness and love pursue me all the days of my life.

Then afterward, when my life is through, I’ll return to Your glorious presence to be forever with You!

 

I want you to hear me, and I want you to let this sink in… not just into your mind but into your heart and spirit too. God’s Word, the Bible, is a love letter from Him to you.

If you ever want to know what God thinks of you, if you need to be reminded of how He sees you, if you find yourself in a place seeking direction, guidance or help… you only need to look to one person, in one place – the Holy and Anointed Word of God.

His Word is a lamp unto our feet, a light for our paths (Psalm 119:105).

He didn’t write it just to teach us or instruct us, but to help us come to know Him. Note, I did not say know about Him, I said know Him. Did you know that we can know Him intimately? That we can have a real relationship with God? Where He talks to us and we talk to Him?

Did you know that His sheep don’t just hear His voice but they know His voice?

My own sheep will hear my voice and I know each one, and they will follow Me (John 10:27).

Just like a child can hear the voices around him and know which is his parent’s and which one he needs to listen to and obey, so the sheep are with the voice of God. We cannot follow Him if we do not know His voice when we hear it.

Do you desire a close, personal, real, genuine and authentic relationship with the Lord?

May I suggest we cultivate such a relationship by getting in His Word?

Any translation will do. Read from one that works for you, that touches your heart, that draws you closer to Him and that makes you want to keep reading. The more we read His Word, the deeper our understanding and relationship with Him will go and be.

A Faithful Friend

This picture that is hanging on the wall of my bedroom really grabbed my attention this morning. It wasn’t the colors that caught my eye, nor how the sunlight shimmered over the glass. My focus wasn’t because of what was nearby either. No. Instead, it was on the verse, “A friend loves at all times” (Proverbs 17:17). And, it was the “at ALL times” that stuck out to me.

ALL.

Have you ever really thought about what it means to be a friend? What characteristics one possesses that constitutes them a friend?

I did a little research this evening and “friend” is defined as ” a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.”

Of course, I took the research a tad further and looked up traits and characteristics of a friend. Most of the material I found listed the same, or similar traits: trustworthy, honest, dependable, good listener, attentive, helpful, and forgiving to name just a few. But, there were two articles that shared something a little more unique. … something we don’t always think of.

Accountability.

That is something I have always valued in my friendships, and I have been blessed with some pretty awesome friends who are not afraid to tell me “how it is”. They don’t simply tell me things I want to hear, but they tell me things I NEED to hear, even when I don’t want to hear them, even when they know it will be difficult for me to hear. And, they do it because the love me, because they want what is best for me, because they care about my welfare – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well being.

And, I try to do the same for my friends. I love them and care about them and want to see them succeed and flourish and grow and become who God has designed and created and purposed them to be. It isn’t easy to deliver information to someone you love and care about, especially when you know they are not going to like what they hear. But, if we really love them, we will do it any way.

A few weeks ago, God was really dealing with me to talk to a friend and share some things with her, things I knew she would have a hard time hearing. Instead of jumping on board and being faithful and obedient, I pulled a Jonah and thought I could just avoid it. But… that did not work. Long story short, I ended up sharing, reluctantly, I might add, but I shared. It was not planned out. I did not choose my wording in advance. It was a in the moment kind of thing. Despite my reluctance to share the information, I did so in the most loving and gentle way possible for not planning to do it at all. LOL! And, as I feared, it was not received well.

Actually, it went worse than expected. She ended up getting offended, hurt, upset, and mad. None of which were my intent at all. When I reached out to her to reconcile and move forward, it made it worse. She was still so offended and angry that she misunderstood the things I was saying, twisting my words around, missing the point of the message(s). I don’t blame her. I blame the enemy because he had her hearing through offended ears. He had done a number on her and was still doing it. But, I have not heard from her since. It’s been a couple of weeks now, and we were talking every day.

So, when I saw the picture on the wall, and read the scripture, and the “at ALL times” stuck out. I stopped everything I was doing, every thought going through my head, my entire agenda, and I focused on that word “all”.

A friend loves at all times. “All times” includes the times when it’s not easy to love, when someone else doesn’t love you or isn’t showing love to you or being loving toward you. It includes when someone is mad at you or upset with you or feels hurt by you.

In my heart, I told God that I need to love her through this. She may be upset with me, but I am not upset with her. She is going through a difficult time, and even though she may not want my friendship at the moment, it doesn’t mean I can’t be her friend.

Maybe you have a friend who is mad or upset with you. I encourage you to love them. Maybe you’re offended or angry, frustrated or irritated with a loved one. I encourage you to love them anyway.

Remember Ecclesiastes 4:9-10.

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Sometimes, the best way we can show others love is simply to be there, praying, willing to listen, willing to talk, willing to make amends, willing to forgive, walking in forgiveness and loving from afar.

We may not be able to physically or verbally reach out to our loved ones, but we can ALWAYS pray for them.

Pray.

Fight for them in prayer. Pray for them like you would want someone to pray for you. Mean it with your heart. Let love be the motivation and the inspiration for your prayer. Love them. No matter what they said, no matter what they did, no matter how they hurt you or how many times they’ve hurt you…. love them by praying for them. Fight for them and for the relationship in prayer.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV)

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. – 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NKJV)

Did I mention that the picture on the wall, the “A friend loves at all times” scripture picture, was given to me by this particular friend? The enemy will put things to the test, including friendships, but God can work all things out for our good and for His glory. So, when your relationship(s) gets restored, make sure you praise Him and give thanks to Him so that He can be glorified. And, expect good results.

You are a true friend,

Pointing me to Him,

Lifting my downcast eyes,

Pointing my wandering gaze to the skies.

You are a true friend.

You are a true friend.

~ Twila Paris