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Sierra Pines Church

12 Ways to Turn Your Pain into Praise

Sapphires from Psalms

Better Than Jewels

As we move into the Thanksgiving season, one of the things I’ve learned to be thankful for is the pain in my life. Who knew that one could be grateful for the heartaches? When we let Him, God can form all of our hurts into those things that give us our greatest blessings.

Maybe you’re like me, and you have had a lot required from your “internal forgiver.” God took me on a long, but valuable, journey to forgive folks I should’ve been able to trust in my life. In the process of forgiving, one of the most important things I learned was to “Recognize God’s Restoration.” (Joel 2:25 says, “I will make up to you for the years the swarming locusts has eaten.”)

Nearly every day in my counseling office, God uses the hurt He has brought me through to let someone know that they will make it too. God taught me early on that, “Forgiveness doesn’t make our offender right, it just makes us free.” It frees us from the job of judge and jury and leaves that job to Jesus who is far more qualified than we are. Then we are free to have the life God intended for us without the weight of bitterness and resentment. That is something to be thankful for. If bitterness is robbing you of the joy of the season, here is a gift you can give yourself:

Healing the Hurts that Are Holding You Back Workshop For Men and Women
You can register now.

At Sierra Pines Church Nwest Campus
When: Friday, January 19, 2018,  7:00 pm—9:00pm
Saturday, January 20, 2018, 9:00 am—3:30 pm


The Workshop is limited to no more than 17 people, so register while there is still space available. Cost: $149 per person. If you need a place to stay, there are a few newly remodeled bed and breakfast rooms available on site for an additional $49 per night. At this price, why not stay an extra day and enjoy Yosemite National Park while relaxing in God’s beauty.

Continental Breakfast and Lunch will be provided on Saturday.

In the beautiful location at the Sierra Pines Church Northwest Campus near Yosemite National Park, you an learn to: Stop renting space in your head to bad memories and offense, and  find tools to forgive others, yourself, and God.

To register email me at lindanewtonspeaks@gmail.com.

Happy Thanksgiving!

My heart hurts when I think of another brutal shooting...in a church, no less. I have been praying for the families and those who lost loved ones, and for those who were wounded, and especially for the pastor who lost his fourteen-year-old daughter and has to pick up the pieces of all who have sustained loss. I am praying for a world that needs the Lord, and that I can be a beacon that can lead others to the light and hope He offers. When I find myself circling the drain in the despair that continually presents itself every time I open my computer, this verse comforts me. I pray it comforts you too today.

Psalm 55:22, “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you.” The word sustain means in the Hebrew: to provide, to feed, guide, to comprehend.(He gets you. He gets what’s going on around you. You don’t have to worry about tomorrow. He’s already there.) It means to NURTURE and to hold. In the Hebrew the word for sustain is KUWL—pronounced in English-COOL. And I think it is pretty cool, don’t you?

 

17Bless What?

 

Matthew 5:44, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you...”

This can be a tough scripture to apply to our lives especially when we have grown up with statements like, “I don’t get mad; I get even.” We live in a culture that constantly purveys an attitude of, “I don’t have to put up with that.” Then the Lord says to pray for the people who hurt us. O, we can pray...for God to smite them blind and stupid!  But we learn in recovery that our resentment poisons us more than the person we are resenting.

So here is God’s prescription. Bare in mind, He will walk beside you as you make this happen. Make a list of the people who have hurt you, mistreated you, or whom you just don’t like. Then pray for each by name and sincerely practice forgiving each one. Ask the Lord to bless them all. Tell the Lord that you want to mean this. Repel the thought that after all, you are “justified” in your resentment because of all the hurt they have caused.

Then speak kindly about these persons to others. (Or if you can’t muster kind words, trust the advice of Thumper from the Bambi movie, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.) This may in time break down barriers, but even if it doesn’t, the effect on you will be amazing. It will free you! It will open up the channel of God’s love through which spiritual power can flow into you.

Trust me. It’s worth it. Like they say in recovery, “Resentment is me drinking poison and hoping you die.” Resentment is toxic. If you find that you just can’t get past the offense, then maybe you would benefit by sitting in a Christian counselor’s office or from a phone session. You can respond to this email, and we can make that happen. Don’t stay stuck.  Trust me as one who did for way too long. God’s freedom awaits you.

 

 

 

 

 

Every now and then, deep unsatisfied longings well up within us, don’t they? We may seem to have everything our hearts desire and ought to be perfectly satisfied. But still these vague dissatisfactions diminish our happiness.

Because we live in the land of plenty, with freedom, opportunity, and abundance all around us, without oppression it’s easy for us to think that we are entitled to and easy life where everything goes our way. Then we look on Facebook or as Pastor of Elevation Church, Steven Furtick calls it, “Fakebook”, and we see how everyone else has such an awesome life, so we should too.

But things aren’t perfect this side of heaven. In fact, Jesus lets us know that in this world, we will have trouble: irritable babies, IRS audits, car accidents, bum knees, job loss, hair loss, cellulite, need I say more? All kidding aside—even the horrors of mass shooting and rumors of war. We have the promise of a perfect world in heaven, but when we feel the pangs of trouble on this mortal soil, we can remember Jesus words in John 7: 37, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.

When you feel the pangs of an imperfect live robbing you of the joy of all that you do have, recite this verse and remember that ultimately the most important thing you do have is the water of life, abundant life on earth an eternal life in heaven. It’s Christ’s gift to you, free for the asking. As you say the verse, imagine how Jesus looked when he said these words: the kindness, the understanding, the peace on His face. Try picturing yourself receiving from Him a drink of cold water, symbolic of the water of life that completely satisfies thirst, so that you will never be thirsty again. Affirm that gift of grace and salvation that He offers you, and let the peace of that prize soak into your soul. Things won’t be perfect for a few decades on this earth, but we have the rest of eternity to rest in perfection. Can I get and AMEN?

 

 

People often manufacture their own unhappiness by the negative way they think about things. Have you seen it? Have you suffered from it? We can work with our minds to re-slant our thoughts for happier living. I love when neuroscience proves what scripture told us two millennia ago. Paul explains that in Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Try this exercise to renew your thinking: Drain your brain (I know. You feel like you’re on brain-drain most of the time. So does everyone else. This time it’s intentional.) Drain your brain by consciously seeing yourself as dropping out every destructive thought, every fear, every inferior feeling. See your mind as completely empty. Then start filling it with thoughts of God, and Christ, and every good and pleasant thing. Practice this twice a day, morning and evening, to counteract the older negative habit of allowing your stinkin’ thinkin’ to occupy your mind. Soon those unhappy thoughts won’t feel at home any more in your mind, and those happy thoughts will transform you.

I keep my Blessed List in the back of my journal. I read it twice a day, and add to it often to pack my brain with the positive. What’s on your Blessed List to renew your mind?

 

My story The Blessed List was chosen to be shared on the Chicken Soup for the Soul Podcast on Sept 4th! You can catch it by clicking here.

Hateful Brain vs. Grateful Brain

Fascinating research by Dr. Daniel Amen http://www.amenclinics.com

 informs us that what we think about can actually dictate our brain health. For years we have known that brain chemistry can dictate our thoughts. Current analysis of the brain tells us that the reverse is true as well, our thoughts can dictate brain health! If we choose to focus on negative thoughts it can cause damage to certain sections of the brain.

 If you want your brain to work better, be grateful for the good things in your life.  Dr. Daniel Amen at the Amen Clinic in Southern Cal. and Psychologist Noelle Nelson and did a study on gratitude and appreciation.  She was working on a book called the Power of Appreciation and had her brain scanned twice.  The first time she was scanned after 30 minutes of meditating on all the things she was thankful for in her life.  After the “meditation appreciation,” her brain looked very healthy.

Then she was scanned several days later after focusing on her major FEARS. She had a string of frightening thoughts:  “If my dog got sick, I couldn’t go to work because I would have to stay home to care for him…I didn’t go to work, however, I would lose my job...If I lost my job, I wouldn’t have enough money to take my dog to the vet and he would likely die... If the dog died, I would be so depressed I still would be able to go back to work… Then I would lose my home and be homeless.”

 Her frightened brain very different from her healthy gratitude brain and showed seriously decreased activity in two parts of her brain.  The cerebellum was completely shut down.  When the cerebellum is low in activity, people tend to be clumsier physically and less likely to think their way out of problems.  They think and process more slowly and get confused more easily.

 The other area of her brain that was affected was the temporal lobe’s, especially the one on the left.  The temporal lobes are involved with the mood, memory, and temper control.  Problems in this part of the brain are associated with forms of depression, but also dark thoughts, violence, and memory problems.  When Noelle frightened herself with negative thinking, her temporal lobes became less active.  Negative thought patterns change the brain in a negative way. Practicing gratitude literally helps you have a brain to be thankful for.

PRIORITIES

Imagine you have just moved into a new apartment. What would you unpack first? I doubt it would be the Christmas tree ornaments or the shoe polish or the bridesmaid’s dress you wore in your sister’s wedding a decade (You actually moved that...just sayin.’)  You would prioritize what you unpack and get the most important things first.

 In Matthew 6:33, Jesus talks about the most important things, “Seek first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Then He goes on all through the gospels to live his life as an example by loving God and loving people.

This was no syrupy, sappy love. This love went way beyond expectations to care for those in need. This love told the truth, never mind the consequences. This love refused to be manipulated. This love took our Lord into uncomfortable situations, and it created unlikely relationships.

What’s more, Jesus’ love was by no means cheap. In the end, he paid the ultimate price, and unimaginable price. Jesus’ love—his love for you and me—cost Him His life.

Our Savior died for the times we focus on ourselves rather than on Him. He died because we choose to chase after second, third and even fourth priorities. He died for our cowardice I “being nice” when real love would “be honest.” He died for the times we’ve done what was convenient rather than what was best for the person.

And now Jesus calls us—the forgiven—into His own first-things-first lifestyle. We may feel timid about stepping out into that kind of risky, self-giving love. But we know we can do it, knowing we will never walk alone. He walks right beside us, filling us with peace and leading the way.

We can lay aside our worries about every detail, right down to what we will eat or drink or wear. He promises, “All these things will be given as well” (Matthew 6:33). It’s and all-inclusive promise by our ever-loving Lord!

 

 

When school started for me as a kid in the south, the air was crisp, and we broke out our sweaters. It’s a little cooler here now, and I love it, don’t you? Still we can find our days long and our strength fading. What I count on is that God will energize us, if we ask Him to.

In Him we live and move and have our being,” Acts 7:28. This verse has intrigued me ever since I came to faith.  Paul has such a handle on what it meant to be a Christ-follower. When I stop and soak in the meaning of this verse, I feel its power.

It is a formula for maintaining physical, mental, and spiritual energy. The stress of modern living saps us of our energy. But we have a renewal method. This scripture reminds us that God created us and that He can constantly and automatically re-create us! As we stay in constant contact with Him asking Him to replenish our energy, He will bring vitality into our weariness. He loves to show off like that. (In our weakness He is strong.)

Everyday, preferably about midafternoon when an energy lag usually comes, try repeating these verse while seeing yourself plugged into God’s spiritual life-line. Thank God for restoring you with His energy. Take a deep breath, breathe out your fatigue and breathe in God’s faithfulness. Then thank Him again and watch your mood lift and your energy increase.

Let me know how this works for you.

 

To move ahead in life—to have good mental health and to live successfully, we have to move away from past failures and mistakes and go forward without letting them weigh us down. In this case the art of forgetting is essential. I hate the fact that I can’t remember anything—passwords, friend’s names, even where I put my coffee cup. Experts call this, “age-related cognitive decline.” I call it a bummer! But when it comes to past failures and regrets, forgetting comes in handy.

Every night when you go to sleep, practice dropping the day into the past. It’s over—finished. Bask in the moment. Nestle into the folds of your bed, and rest in the Lord’s almighty arms—Deuteronomy 33:27, “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Then we can quiet our hearts and bask in the truth that God is in charge—and He can make us newer every day—if we let Him.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “This one thing I do: forgetting what is behind, and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus, Philippians 3:13-14. Paul had to let go of his past. He killed Christians, but and he is also the guy who brought the message of Christ to the Gentiles. If he wallowed in his guilt and shame, we wouldn’t be believers today. He took his own advice. Now we can. Let’s move ahead.

 

No doubt about, People, it’s been hot! Could anyone use some refreshment? Jeremiah 31:25 reads, “I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” Experts say the seven in ten doctor visits are fatigue related. That’s a lot of weariness! Sometimes fatigue is a symptom of disease. But fatigue has other sources, too. Long-term stress. Grief. Ongoing frustration. Clinical depression. The list goes on.

Always, though, fear and worry make weariness worse. Anyone who has lain awake at night stewing about an aging parent, a straying spouse, or a sick child knows how quickly fear and worry can dig a pit—and how deep that pit can be.

In our darkness the Lord shouts His promise to refresh us. Far more helpful than even a splash of cold water on tired eyes, far more effective than two cups of stiff coffee, God’s promise touches our hearts, planting seeds of hope. “I will refresh the weary,” He says.

A tall lemonade on a hot day. The first dive into the pool after a stuffy afternoon in traffic. Rocking on the porch swing after just as the sun sets. These things refresh us.

How much more refreshing, though, to see a friendly face, to hear a loved one’s voice, to receive a hug from someone who cares deeply about us. The presence of those we love during life’s lonely, troubled times—now that’s refreshing.

And how much more so when the one who comes to refresh our souls is the Savior, who loved us to death—his own death on the cross!

At times we find ourselves as innocent bystanders in the troubles that engulf us. At other times, we have caused the train wreck of our circumstances. (Or, at least, contributed.) But always, Jesus come to forgive and heal, to refresh and satisfy our hearts with his love for us. In the light of his promise, worries melt and fears shrink.

Are you fainting today from weariness? Are you struggling with unresolved illness? Are you carrying a burden of guilt? Whatever your cause of fatigue, pause and invite your Savior to refresh your soul.

From God’ s Promise to a Woman’s Heart

Stayin’ Cool,

Linda Newton

Want to know an antidote for so many of the feelings that we let defeat us? If you feel drowned in your circumstances, even though you are going as hard as you can at them, this will remind you that you do not need to depend on your own strength entirely. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength,” Philippians 4:13.You have Christ! He is with you and within you, and He is NOW giving you all the help you need.

Memorize this verse. Then remember it when you need strength. When we call on His name, He is there for us. When we practice this, we will see Him work, and believe this promise all the more. As we continue to affirm this truth of this scripture-that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us- we will find ourselves meeting problems with new mental force. Christ’s power to “lift” us will feel amazing.

 

 

 

 

When you are filled with self-doubt, and in the grip of inferiority, don’t give up saying, “I can’t do it; I don’t have it in me.” You do have a big “it” within you! You have the kingdom of God within you, and I can prove it: “The kingdom of God is within you, “ Luke 17:21. “See?”

Our self-doubt can cripple us. But God has placed within each of us special talents, specific skills, unique personality traits, desires and all the abilities we need. When we believe in ourselves, in the “God-fidence” that He makes available to us, His strength is released.

The next time you are debilitated by self-doubt, try saying Luke 17:21 this way, “God’s abundance, peace and power are with in me. I lack nothing!” Then watch what happens.

Here’s to being done with self-doubt!

God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in time of trouble. Psalm 46:1. 

As moms our job is to help everyone else. Where do we go when we need help? We have the help we need to handle anything, and He’s only a prayer away. How many times a day to your hear someone call, “Mom,” and expect you to find it, bind it, fix it, or just be there? We have someone who is there for us, 24/7/365. When we get to the end of our strength, He is the one we can call on. When life gets to be more than we can handle, and we need comfort and protection, God will provide it. Frequently remind yourself, Mother, that God is with you, and He will never fail you.

The next time you hear, “Mom, Mom, Mom,” and you don’t feel up for whatever is required of you, say to yourself, “God is with me, helping me.” What a comforting thought. Let the truth of this flood your mind and fill you with new strength. When a particular trouble arises, before you do anything about it, sit down quietly and recite this verse a half dozen times. Feel the power of His Word giving you the help you need.

Enjoy your Mother’s Day!

A mentor of mine in college called this verse “the cure for the nervous breakdown." He repeatedly said, “This will help you avoid one if you’re heading there, and help you recover if you fall over the edge.” He instructed all of his students to write this on a card and carry it around until we had committed it to memory. Now we can put it in our phones and read it all day long: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, Proverbs 3:5. I think he was on to something.

The cause of most stress is frustration. The antidote for frustration is a calm faith, not in our own clever ideas, but in God’s guidance. The cure for frustration is the belief that God will help us find our heart’s desire. I don’t know how things will turn out, but I know Who does. So I will trust Him. How about you? Beats a nervous breakdown any day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a thought; imagine yourself actually looking at all of your difficulties like an army lined up against you. Then realize that you have backing that can overcome them all because you do!

As you face these enemies of your—discouragement, frustration, disappointment, hostility, weakness, fear—ask yourself, “What will I say to these things?” Then answer is, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31.

Now spend a minute realizing that God is for you and say this: “God is with me, God is for me. God is greater than all these things.”

Then visualize these enemies of you soul slink away as they give way to God’s power in your life! Personalize this verse; own it as your own. “If God is for me, who can be against me!” As you quote it, feel the power in His word move you from victim to victorious.

I love the eggs, the baskets, the CANDY, and of course, the pastels. But the real meaning of Easter can move me to much-needed self-reflection, and this awesome writing by Max Lucado helps with that process...

Want to know the coolest thing about Christ’s coming?

Not that One who hung the galaxies gave it up to hang doorjambs at the displeasure of cranky clients who wanted everything yesterday, but couldn’t pay for anything until tomorrow.

Not that he, in an instant, went from needing nothing to needing air, food, a tub of hot water and salts for his tired feet, and, more that anything, needing somebody-anybody-who was more concerned about where he would spend eternity than where he would spend Friday’s paycheck.

Or that he resisted the urge to fry the two-bit, self-appointed hall monitors of holiness who dared suggest that he was doing the work of the devil.

 

While I was preparing my Valentine’s talk for Sunday morning at Sierra Pines Church, I  found this gem in my file. It’s worth passing on.

When you love someone, you love them as they are.

       not as you wish them to be,

       not as you “help” them become,

       but as they are.

 When you love someone, you love them because they are they.

       not loving in order to change them,

       not loving as a way of remaking them,

       but loving them because you love.

 When you love someone, you love them warts and all.

       not blinding yourself to their faults,

       not denying the other’s imperfections,

       but loving in spite of. (God did.)

To love another is to commit oneself with the risk of rejection.

Love is not contingent on the beauty of the loved,

      but on the appreciation of the one loving.  

To love someone is to affirm that they are worthy to recognize,

      to recognize their dignity as a person,

      to invite them to grow, and

      to inspire them to become all they can be.

By David Augsburger

Here’s to love! Happy Valentine’s Day,

I have found this verse to be one of the best therapeutic tools for worry and fear. 2 Timothy 1:7, “ For God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, of a sound mind.”

It tells me, first, that fear is overcome by power. What power? There is a force more powerful than fear, and that is faith. When fear comes to my mind, I can counter it with affirmations of my faith that God is in charge, and He has my best interest at heart. Instead of focusing on the worst-case scenario, I try to remember all the times God had answered my prayer and come through for me.

Second, love overcomes fear. Love here means that God loves me so fully that I can have trust, confidence, and complete dependence on Him. When I practice this attitude, my fear diminishes.

The third element is a sound mind, a mind that isn’t hindered by complexes, quirks, and obsessions. Knowing that God can and will handle my fear, gives me a sound, steady mind where shadowy fear can’t lurk.

Whenever we are afraid, we can verbalize against the thing that we fear using the words of this verse and feel God’s strength and comfort. What a blessing!

 

 

Let’s Make America Kind Again...

That was printed on a hat that I saw in a Chicken Soup for the Soul newsletter that I receive because I have written stories for that publication. I am not a hat person or would buy one and wear it everyday. Just after seeing the hat online, I opened up to this by Max Lucado. I can’t think of a more effective way of making America kind again than by being like Jesus.

“ God rewards those who seek him.  Not those who seek doctrine or religion or systems for creeds.  Many settle for these lesser passions, but the reward goes to those who settle for nothing less than Jesus himself.  And what is that reward?  Nothing short of the heart of Jesus. “And as the spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more like him.” (2 Cor. 3:18TLB).

 Can you think of a greater gift than to be like Jesus?  Christ felt no guilt; God wants to banish yours. Jesus had no bad habits; God wants to remove yours. Jesus had no fear of death; God wants you to be fearless. Jesus had kindness for the diseased and mercy for the rebellious and courage for the challenges. God wants you to have the same...he wants you to be like Jesus.”

 Thank you again, Max Lucado. I, for one, needed to be reminded.

 

Before we take down all the decorations, drag the tree out to the burn pile, and set Christmas aside until next year, I think it’s good to revisit the message shouted from the heavens by the amazing angel choir “Fear not!”

Even when you open up your credit card bill and finally register all of your holiday spending.

Fear not when you take a look at your kid’s report card, and you wonder if he will ever leave home because he can’t even pass math.

Fear not when you get the results from the doctor’s office and all those problems you thought were behind you aren’t.

Fear not when you open your computer to MSN and there is more dissention amongst the ranks and fearful news about everything from lethal asteroids to deadly hemorrhoids, as media ramps up your fear to keep you opening up your computer to click on the latest thing to fill you with fear and rob your courage and resolve.

Fear not when your world is turned upside down with grief and loss and you wonder how you are going to function while your heart I breaking in two.

Why so do we decide to Fear Not? Because the Messiah is here, Emmanuel God with us. Don’t be afraid. You lose your fear when God is near. God’s presence trumps our panic any day.

 The rock concert in the sky that night in Bethlehem was to let us know for millennia that the baby born that night would grow into a man who is capable of HANDLING IT ALL and YOU IN THE PROCESS. These are good tidings of great joy.

To the man with leprosy he said, “Be healed.”

To the woman bleeding for 12 years, Jesus said, “Daughter your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be free of your suffering.”

To the disciples in a storm, he said. “Take courage. It is I. Don’t be afraid. I got this and you got me. Fear not!”

To all of us he said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! (Have courage) I have overcome the world.

Fear not. I’ve got this. No matter how daunting your situation, how difficult the circumstances, I can handle it. In John 14: 27 Jesus said, “ Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” My paraphrase: You’ve got me, and I got your back! Fear not.”

To all of us who let Him, He promised, “I will be with you always, to the very end of the age,” Mathew 28:2.

Fear not appears 365 times in Scripture, that’s one “Fear Not” for every day of the year. Here is your “fear not” for today.

(Taken from a talk done at a recent Christmas Tea.)

Happy New Year!

Christmas is the sufferers holiday.” That was a profound statement made on our Surviving The Holidays video for our Grief Share class last week. Dr. David Tripp encouraged those who had experienced the loss of a loved one in the past months not to shun, dread, or avoid this sacred holiday, but rather to embrace all it means. Christ came to end all of our suffering. His birth in a manger and death on a cross was to insure that we could gain access to our father in heaven where there would be no more tears, no more sorrows or separation from this we love...forever. He went on to say, “If there was no pain, discouragement or death, there would be no need for Christ.” But there is all of that, and he came to SAVE us.

This added a new facet to the wonder of the holiday season for me. I pray that amidst the shopping, wrapping, cooking, and partying you can catch a moment to reflect on the magnitude of what Christ came to do for the person sitting in your seat. And if this season is bittersweet for you because it reminds you of your loss, let it also remind you of your Savior.

 

Here are some useful tools from the recently published, Kingdom Marriage by Tony Evans. Curiously, I believe they will work for an adversarial populace as well. (Except for the date night part. That would be weird.) But it wouldn’t be weird if, just like in marriage, we could look a what we have in common with each other rather than what is driving us apart.

Ejecting the offense

Biblical forgiveness means you release your spouse from a debt owed to you. Forgiveness is not contingent on how you feel about your spouse. It is a choice to no longer blame your spouse for an offense.  1 Corinthians 13:5 details this in a most straightforward way: Biblical love "keeps no record of wrongs" (NIV). Biblical love doesn't justify wrong, nor does it ignore wrong, excuse it or pretend it doesn't exist. All of those types of responses to wrongdoing would lead to enablement. Rather, biblical love acknowledges and addresses the wrong and then forgives and releases it. I've been in counseling sessions with some couples who bring up things that were said or done not only years ago but decades ago. When I hear this — and it happens far too often — I sigh inside because I know that the roots of bitterness and unforgiveness run deep.

One of the better analogies for forgiveness is comparing it to ejecting a DVD or Blu-ray Disc from a player. You can't play two discs simultaneously. You must eject the first disc to play the second. Likewise in marriage, you can't experience a healthy, thriving relationship with your spouse if you keep replaying whatever he or she did to anger you. You have to eject that offense and replace it with love. You have to turn the offense over to God and replace your thoughts of anger, hurt and pain with thoughts of thanksgiving — gratitude that God has given you the faith and ability to be released from the stronghold of unforgiveness.

Resolving anger

You may be surprised at the advice I give when I encounter a lack of forgiveness. I've seen this method work in countless marriages, and I believe in its effectiveness because it addresses the unresolved anger that often feeds our failure to forgive. Arguments frequently become so toxic and volatile in their language and tone that they drive a deeper wedge of division into the marriage. So this is what I propose for couples who are in a marriage with unresolved anger:

Say or do something every day that expresses value to your spouse. This might be a note, an unexpected phone call, a hug or a time of cuddling. Married couples are good at doing big things on birthdays, anniversaries or Valentine's Day, but they often neglect small, consistent ways of expressing that they value each other.

Pray daily for and with each other. This is a specific time for you to come together — holding hands or holding each other, kneeling beside the bed or sitting on the couch — and pray aloud for your marriage. This is not an opportunity to hash out differences by bringing them before the Lord in prayer. It's a time to pray that God will bless your spouse and that He will bless the two of you together with His grace and mercy.

Date regularly. By date, I mean doing something fun together every other week, if not more often. It doesn't count if you're just grabbing dinner at a restaurant because neither of you feels like cooking. Too many marriages get caught up in drudgery or routine, and spouses lose the joy they once shared.

Enjoy your Halloween, and may the candy calories on your lips never find their way to your hips!

Do you have the nasty habit of missing the moment you are in because your time is consumed with worry about what is gong to happen tomorrow? Or do you rent space in your head wishing you had said this or responded like that to something you cannot change? Do you find yourself rehearsing regrets like a script for a play, a bad one? 

One of the steps on Mindful Meditation is to stay in the moment, to live in the Now, not to waste our moments pining away about the past or fretting about the future. That will wreck our perspective.

Check out the body benefits of meditation at https://www.facebook.com/answersfrommomanddad

One woman said, “First I was dying to finish high school and start college. Then I was dying to finish college, so I could work and make some money. Then I was dying to marry and have children. Then I was dying for my children to go to school, so I could return to work, and then I was dying to retire. And now I am dying. And I realized, I forgot to live!

Yesterday is history.

Tomorrow is a mystery

Today is a gift.

That’s why they call it “the present!”

LIVE IN THE NOW!

 

 

I taught leadership class on Sunday and promised to re-post these STEPS TO MINDFUL MEDITATION and how they can help you as you try settle down and find God’s peace in your prayer time. Here they are with more explanation of each one.

1. As you open up your prayer time, focus on your breathing, either at the nostrils or the abdomen. Shut everything else out and pay attention to the Lord.

Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You,” NKJV. As you breathe slowly and deeply...

2. Allow your body to relax and your mind will follow along.

Isaiah 30:15,“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength. But you will have none of it.”

Listen to this verse in The Message, “God, the Master, The Holy of Israel, has this solemn counsel: “Your salvation requires you to turn back to me and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves. Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me—The very thing you’ve been unwilling to do.

His Lavish Love

Have you ever attended a formal dinner? A really formal dinner? The etiquette of such an affair could fill an encyclopedia. All the flatware must rest one inch from the end of the table. Only the soup course has one piece of flatware; all others have two. A soupspoon may go between the knives if there is an appetizer before the soup. On it goes.

If you sat down at such a table, you would expect food well beyond burgers and fries, wouldn’t you? Instead of hot dogs and ice cream, you would expect a menu filled with truffles, prime rib, and Baked Alaska, right? The word lavish comes to mind—extravagant, over-the-top, unrestrained, excessive.

This verse uses the word lavish to describe God’s love for us:

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. Ephesians 1:7-8.

In light of that love, our hearts break when we remember the many times we have failed to do the kind and good things that please the Lord. Our hearts are crushed when we think of the times we let God down.

Still, God, who I rich in mercy, continues to lavish his love on us. In the cross of our Savior, repentant hearts find forgiveness.

We can be greedy with his grace—using all we need and there is still more to give away. So let’s not hoard it. Instead, let’s look for ways to be a conduit of Christ’s grace, his undeserved love today!

 

Counseling Sessions With God

Do you ever find yourself stuck? Your thoughts are unsettling, and it’s difficult to pinpoint the cause. You would like to release your burdens to the Lord, but you need more clarity to know what those burdens are, to understand the exact nature of what’s troubling you.

I have stumbled onto a tool that has been very helpful when I get stuck. I have named this tool my “Counseling Session With God,” and here’s why. As a counselor for the past twenty-five years, I have a lot of experience with how counseling sessions flow. The client comes in, shares his/or her presenting issue, talks for a while, then expects the counselor to sum things up, and offer clarity regarding what was presented.

With this pattern in mind, I idle down in my Divine Counselor’s office, under a tree, beside a rock, in my office, anywhere in the universe will do since He owns it all. Then I put my pen to the paper and write out what is consuming my thoughts. I am the kind of person whose mind can run 1,000 miles a minute, but as I simmer down, I can get in touch with the deeper layers of what I’m thinking and feeling. If I am seriously troubled, I simply start with what I am feeling right now in this moment, just as a client would do in my office. Writing is better than talking because it slows me down and fine-tunes my focus. As I write, I ask the Lord to speak into my life.

I write until the issue crystallizes. Sometimes that happens in a few lines. Other times it takes a few pages. But I find as I slow down enough to write, I can better hear the Lords “gentle whisper.”

A pastor friend of mine explains that God often speaks to us as, “an interruption of thought.” As I quiet myself, my mental commotion dies down, and a crystal clear thought dispels all the others. When God is trying to get my attention, it’s not just some random interruption. It’s a clear succinct thought that provides peace and offers help. The wisdom and clarity presented are far beyond my ability to conjure up in that moment, leaving me more convinced that ever that the message is divinely inspired.

As that clarity comes, I write down those words just as I have written my thoughts and feelings, but I’ll highlight the current words of wisdom. I may need to keep writing to finish getting my feelings out, but I can come back later to those words of insight for the answers that I am seeking. I will read and re-read the counsel they offer me.

Please understand, I am not one of those people who claim, “I do whatever the voices in my head tell me to do!” The interruption of thought is uncluttered by confusion and unencumbered by fear, and it possesses a power to bring peace, and an assurance that it is the Truth. The old saints of the church would often call that one’s “Inner Witness” referring to the voice of God in each of us who follows Him, or the presence of the Holy Spirit seeking to guide us from within.

The Inner Witness, God’s gentle whisper, or a Divine interruption of thought are all ways we seek to wrap words around the what defies explanation, God speaking to us. It is something more easily experienced than explained, but we can always check the validity of the message by God’s Word. He won’t contradict Himself. So the crazy-eyed guy on TV who says God told me to kill a certain person, clearly didn’t hear from God.

God can’t go against His nature, and that nature is represented in the person of Christ who as He walked the earth, loved sinners, encouraged saints, and died to prove it. Even if my counsel that day from the Lord is corrective, it never comes from a place of anger or disgust. It’s helpful and uplifting for me and for the people in my life.

My counseling sessions with God have supplied me with answers as straightforward as, “Let go of your offence. That person doesn’t mean to hurt you,” to as specific as, “Now is not a good time to make major purchases.” Sometimes it’s a reminder of what I already know, that God has a plan, and that He can be trusted to take care of my problems no matter how troubling they seem.

 

A grateful mind is a great mind, which eventually attracts itself to great things. Plato

 This is 10-11am Pacific Standard Time. Join the other authors and me as tweet about the stories we have in this publication!

 

Has the state of the nation got you so worked up that you can barely work? That’s what was happening to Nadine. She needed a counselor and I was glad to be there for her. Sitting down across from me, she unloaded her burdens. (Don’t worry. Nadine said I could share this because she isn’t the only person to come to me needing encouragement with the current state of the world.)

She opened up about her workload and her worries. She had worked two jobs and taken care of her ailing parents for the past six years. Her parents were gone now, but stress was still taking its toll.

“I come home from work, watch the news and it’s all downhill from there. I stress out about whether the company I work for will last. I look at who is running for president and my confidence in our nation plummets even further. I get so depressed that the values our nation was built on aren’t even considered by either political party. And if the country goes down the tubes, I don’t know if I’ll ever get to retire. I can’t sleep and my stomach hurts all the time. I need help.”

 “Nadine, you are obviously a hard working lady,” I informed her. “You are doing the best you can. There comes a time when we realize that we are to do our best and leave the rest to the Lord! Otherwise we will circle the drain in hopeless despondency—and clearly, lady, that is what you have been doing!”

I shared with her some tools from my book, Twelve Ways to Turn Your Pain into Praise: Biblical Steps to Wholeness in Christ, that have helped others on their path to peace.  “It isn’t easy for any of us baby boomers who are close to retirement age,” I offered, “but this is when having faith in God pays off! He’s in charge and we’re going to let him be. It’s our only choice, thank goodness!”

The current state of our nation can get so tied in knots, so discouraged that we can barely function. If we give up, nobody wins, except Satan! Here are some tools I passed on to this dear lady in my counseling office, as well as examples of others who found faith foundational for any of life’s hurts.

1. FIX YOUR EYES ON YOUR FOUNDATION

Larry was new to the church and to the faith. He discovered God in a recovery meeting eight years prior and when his friends invited him to church, he discovered Jesus. “I finally get my life together after drinking for years. My marriage is good, my business is better than it’s ever been because I’m not drunk on the job any more. But I’ve busted my hump for the seven years to make sure the wife and I had a nest egg and now I have to watch all I’ve worked for crumble!” Larry lamented. I could feel for him. Can’t you?

Then I remembered what my old pastor used to say, “Did it ever occur to you that nothing ever occurs to God?” He asked that question a lot to get us thinking about God’s sovereignty. I had to concede that God knew before time began that we would all be going through this financial, political, and moral insecurity, and He can be trusted to bring good out of it.

“His Word tells us that God is our security (Psalm 91:1 That’s my “911 Prayer,” I shared with Larry. “When hard times come, we are going to focus on our foundation not our 401K!”

 2. FOLLOW THE FREEING THREE

 Psalm 91:1 isn’t the only scripture that gives us peace. God’s Word is alive and it can change our hearts. When we know the truth of His Word, it sets us free. I recommend you search for three verses that address your need. Here are some examples: Fear--Isaiah 41:10, 2 Tim 1:7; Anxiety--1 Peter 5:7, Isaiah 26:3; Hope--Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 15:13.  Write down 3 Verses and read them 3x a day for 3 weeks. Put them in 3 Places where you will see them often i.e. your screen saver, mirror or if you’re like me, put it on the refrigerator. I’m bound to see it there! Let these words become your self-talk instead of the worries or the nightly news.

3. FOCUS THE FAITHFUL FIFTEEN

Larry had a lot to thank God for. His marriage had never been better. His drinking had caused him to lose his first marriage. “Since I became sober all of my kids have reconnected with me. It’s wonderful to have them back in my life. I’ve even got grandkids now and a chance to make up for what I missed out on with my kids. I realized I do have a lot to thank God for,” Larry admitted.

“Take the first fifteen minutes of each day to thank God for His faithfulness,” I advised, “and watch how it changes your perspective. Neuroscientists say that it will even change your very brain chemistry for the better.

“Instead of focusing on what’s not in your wallet, focus on what is!” I know that can be difficult. But I used to chronically see my cup half-empty,” I confided. I’ve worked hard for years to stay positive, and I’m still working at it.”

“You may have lost money in the stock market, but you have a roof over your head,” I continued to instruct. “You may not know what is going to happen to your company if the economy shifts during the upcoming election, but you have a job today. There is always something to praise God for. Look for it.”

4. FIND YOUR STRIDE

Satan would love to keep you so busy worrying about the future, you miss all that can be done in the present. There is very little you can do about who us running for president, but you can do something about the kids program at your church. There is work to be done today. Let God handle tomorrow. Get busy and you’ll find yourself worrying less. Remember to keep your eyes on the Christ, not the crisis!

These tools are simple but not easy. They require focus and intentionality. God is faithful and He will prove that to you.

Nadine took these tools to heart. She shifted her focus to something she did have control over and found herself in a much better place.

 

I love watching the Olympics where the world’s best athletes perform their best. It’s inspiring. I can never watch these people compete without thinking about the Apostle Paul who grew up where the Olympics started, and compared competing in a race with running for the gold in life.

 This life is a race, not a rat race. You don’t want to be a rat, but you might talk to those closest to you to see how that’s workin for ya! Life is not, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” He or she who dies with the most toys is still dead! We are running for the ultimate prize, going to heaven with Christ and taking as many folks as we can with us.

 1 Corinthians 9:24-25, reads,” Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

I grew up in the South hearing people say, “Southern girls don’t sweat; they glisten. They get the vapors, honey!” Outside was where you placed your lounge chair. Then I came to California and saw girls actually running and playing sports, on purpose:) I was  impressed, to say the least. Paul was talking to those folks, folks serious about the race.

If we examine the original language in this section:“ Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training,” we can see what Paul was trying to get across to us here. The word competes means to strives for mastery, to agonize with every muscle and nerve strained to the breaking point. Remember Paul lived in Rome where the Olympics began. In Paul’s day, your very life could depend on your victory.

Strict training in the original language means temperate in all things.” Let’s look at this word temperate. It’s not just disciplined. The word temperate infers a self-discipline, self-control. Paul is saying that the strict training that we are undergoing requires hard work and self control on our part. Temperate means that we act out of the power that we have in our hands.

We’re not victims. We’re not reactive. Satan would like us to think we are. Paul is saying here “grab a hold of your goal. Seek the Holy Spirit’s help and give it all you got! Live like it matters. Give it all you got, even if it hurts.”

When it comes to sin, we can’t say, “It’s Not that bad. This is a little sin.” Or, I’m tired of holding to Christian standards. My friend’s don’t.” Or, “I’m not as bad as him/her?” or the saddest excuse ever, “God will forgive me anyway.”

just because god’s grace is free doesn’t mean it’s cheap! The kingdom of God is struggling today because people think it is! We don’t strive to be temperate. We become self-indulgent and as we rationalize, minimize and justify our stupid. We miss God’s best, and we waste what God has for us.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to “fight like a boxer beating the air.” I don’t want to miss what really matters. I want to go for the ultimate gold, pleasing the Lord.

For some tools to help you run the race check out our latest post on https://www.facebook.com/answersfrommomanddad

 

 

The perfect story for the week that school starts. Whether it’s kindergarten or college, when our kids grow up, it gives us cause for pause.

The First Day of School For the Baby

What Dina Said:

“Mike, I don’t know what you’re scared of.  Mother’s going to be right here when you come home.  My goodness, you’ve got a nice little yellow bus to ride in your own lunch box in your name pinned on your sweater.  Now what could go wrong?

You’re a big boy, now,  and you have to like one.  You’re going to make all kinds of new friends. You mart right out there and sit on the curb stop acting like a baby.  You don’t have a thing to be frightened of.”

What Mike Didn’t Say:

I don’t know anything.

I have new underwear, a new sweater, a loose tooth, and I didn’t sleep last night. I’m worried.

What if the bus jerks after I get on and I lose my balance and my pants rip and everyone laughs.

What if I go to the bathroom before we get to school?  But if the bell rings and everyone goes inside and a man yells, “Where do you belong?” and I don’t know?

 What if my shoelace comes untied and someone says, “Your shoelace is untied. We’ll watch you tie it?”

What if the trays in the cafeteria are too high for me to reach, and the thermos lid on my soup is too tight and when I try to open it, it breaks?

What if my loose tooth wants to come out when we’re supposed to have our heads down and be quiet?  What if the teacher tells the class to go to the bathroom and I can’t go?

What if I get hot and take my sweater off and someone steals it question?  What if I splash water on my nametag,  and my name disappears and no one will know who I am? 

What if they send us out play and all the swings are taken? What do I do?

What if the wind blows all of the important papers that I am supposed to take home out of my hands? What if they mispronounce my last name and everyone laughs?

 What if the teacher gives a seat to everyone and I’m left over? What if the windows on the bus steam up and I won’t be able to tell when I get to my stop?

What if I spend the whole day without a friend?

I’m afraid.

What Mike Said:

            “See ya.”

What Dina Didn’t Say:

            What am I doing, sending this baby out into the world before the umbilical cord is healed?  Where’s all the relief and exhilaration I’m supposed to feel?  If only I hadn’t been so rotten to him all summer.  “Go play! Get out of the house! Take a nap!”

             I think I blew it. I talked too much and said to little. There are no second chances for me.  It’s all up to someone else now.

             Now it’s my turn. My excuse for everything just got on that bus. My excuse for not dieting, not getting a full-time job, not cleaning house, not re-upholstering the furniture, not going back to school, not having order in my life, not cleaning the oven.

             It’s the end of an era. Now what do I do for the next 20 years of my life?

             These walls have been so safe for the last few years; I didn’t have to prove anything to anyone. Now I feel vulnerable.

             What if I apply for a job and no one wants me?

             What if I’m kidding myself about writing the book that I told everyone was inside me?

             What if I can’t let go of my past? It’s 8:15 in the morning.

I’m afraid.

 This story was written three decades ago by one of my favorite authors, Erma Bombeck. It still captures the bittersweet angst of motherhood.

I posted a story on our Answers From Mom and Dad Fbook page about how to survive your Empty Nest. Check it out. You may not need it now, but you will.

I grew up in landlocked Tennessee with rolling hills and plenty of trees, but I always dreamed of seeing the ocean. I dipped my toe in the Pacific the first week I came to California to go to college. I can still remember the endless expanse of water and the waves that pounded the shore. It took my breath away.

Still, I can’t comprehend just how vast the ocean is. Though they haven’t measured it drop for drop, experts estimate that earth’s oceans contain some 36,614,237, 300,000,000,000,000 gallons of water!!! (Can you tell my time at the beach has consumed my thinking?)

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand? Isaiah 40:12. We know the answer—it’s Our Creator-God! In posing this question, Isaiah underscores the Lord’s wisdom and power.

Does that truth make you shudder? Go weak in the knees? After all, a being with such power could crush us all like bugs. Worse still, because of our sins, he would be justified in doing so. But instead, in gentle grace God has chosen to LOVE us. His is a “just because” love. We have done nothing (and can do nothing) to earn his love. He loves us anyway—just because he does!

In love he gets involved in the details of our daily lives, caring for us in the same wisdom and power he used as he formed the oceans. You may feel insignificant. You may consider your thoughts and words as trivial. Other people may take you for granted. But your Lord notes and treasures each word, each thought, each action, because he loves and cares for you deeply. Feel that love.

 

 

 

We just spent time at the ocean. We even had to deal with the threat of Tropical Storm Darby. (Darby ain’t got nothin’ on Tennessee thunder and lightnin’) Still, the ocean, while beautiful, is quite intimidating. How you ever pondered just how deep it is? Explorers have mapped several of the deepest regions. In fact, they call these areas “deeps.”

There’s the Murray Deep, the Campbell Deep, and so on. The deepest of these deeps, Challenger Deep, lies some 149 miles southwest of Guam. Parts of it descend more than seven miles below the oceans surface. The great Marianas Trench cuts through it like a jagged scar. Even in our most technologically sophisticated submarines, it takes hours to descend to the bottom, and only a handful of explorers have dared to try.

With that in mind, I read the words of the prophet Micah: You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea, Micah 7:19.

I think the prophet Micah chose this word picture to reassure us of the truth that God forgives. Because Jesus lived a perfect life in our place, Jesus rose victorious from that death...God has dismissed our sins entirely. Let that soak into your bones.

No matter what you’ve done—or failed to do. No matter how often you have sinned or how awful your guilt has been, you are fully forgiven in Jesus.

Checking out the magnitude, the depth and expanse of the ocean, if I were to lose my wedding ring while gazing into the deep blue sea, I could forget about seeing it again. The word “unrecoverable” comes to mind. The Lord casts our sins into the sea and they are unrecoverable! So let them be.

Do you live married to your guilt or shame? Then before you leave his page or click on the next email, ask your heavenly Father to drown those things in the ocean of his forgetfulness. And every time you visit the ocean or even view a picture of the great deep, let it remind you of the depths of the Lord’s great love for you.

Do you have trouble calming your anxious thoughts and reigning in your mind as it goes a mile a minute? God’s Word issues an invitation for us to be still because He knows there’s a great blessing in store for us if we can calm our restless minds an open up our hearts long enough to get a download from Him.  Psalm 46:10 reads, “Be still and know that I am God.” 

In the Old Testament there are several different words for still. There is the word used in Psalm 107:29, which means to calm or quiet—as in, “He (God) caused the storm to be still (or quiet).” In other verses the word still is used as in, “Are we still listening to Madonna?” (How old is she any way?) 

David didn’t use either of these words for still.  In Psalm 46:10, he used the Hebrew word raphah.  It means to slacken or cease; to be faint, feeble, or idle; to leave alone or let go; to draw toward evening, like you’re sitting on your front porch swing, sippin’ your sweet tea waitin’ and for the lightnin’ bugs to show up, (That’s the Linda Newton version.)

This gets even better because the root word for raphah is the Hebrew word rapha, same word without the h. It means to mend by stitching, to make or cause to heal or repair, to thoroughly make whole. The Lord is saying,  “Sit down, hush up, and chill out so I can thoroughly make you whole.” When we calm down long enough, surrender our agenda and embrace His, He can do just that.

For a valuable tool to quiet your mind, to truly be still in God’s presence,  check out the latest post on https://www.facebook.com/answersfrommomanddad

 

When you are on your reserve nerve with your kids this summer...read this...

Tahiti. Bora-Bora. A desert island in the middle of the Caribbean. Do you dream about getting away, at least sometimes? From time to time, most of us think about what it might be like to chuck are smart phone off a cliff and board a plane headed for a faraway places.

Even as we dream about a life-changing getaway, though, the Scriptures remind us of two things we can't escape – ourselves and our Savior.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. Psalm 139:9-10. The author of Psalm 139 celebrates the Lords constant, caring presence. At the same time, he is not naïve. He does not live in some bubble, sheltered from reality.

No, he faces very real, very powerful enemies (verses 19-22).  What’s more, he lives with anxieties (verse 23), and he suspects that he commits many more sins then he even knows about – the “offensive ways” of verse 24. Can you identify?

Like this Psalm’s author, we can’t escape ourselves, not even on Bora-Bora. No matter how far or how fast we run, when we turn around, there we are!

We can’t get away from the Lord either, and that’s good news.  It’s good news because he comes, not to judge, but to save and help. The cross of Christ proves it!  When you lie down to sleep at night, Jesus is thinking about how much he loves you. When you wake up each morning he is still thinking about that:  How precious to me are your thoughts, God. How fast is the sum of them...When I awake, I am still with you. Psalm 139:17-18.

This is yet one more way to gauge our Lord’s immeasurable love. Even when we forget or fail to trust him, he is there for us – leading us to repentance, comforting us, lifting our burdens, and bringing us hope.

Lord, you are my refuge, my ultimate getaway.  Can I get an Amen!

 

 

 

My daughter had a book on the shelf for my granddaughter, and when I pulled it off to read her a good night story, I couldn't finish this little child’s book without tears filling my eyes. Complete with adorable illustrations of a loving Mama Bear and her cub, this author totally captured both the joy and the angst that fills a mother’s heart.  This summer as the days get hectic, and the kids have you ready to pull your hair out, think about this poem and realize these are the best days of your life. Enjoy them.

 I am your parent; you are my child. I am your quiet place; you are my wild.

 I am your calm face; you are my giggle. I am your wait; you are my wiggle.

 I am your carriage ride; you are my king. I am your push; you are my swing.

 I am your audience; you are my clown. I am your London Bridge you are my falling down.

 I am your carrot sticks; you are my licorice. I am your dandelion; you are my first wish.

 I am your way home; you are my new path. I am your dry towel; you are my wet bath.

 I am your dinner; you are my chocolate cake. I am your bedtime; you are my wide-awake.

 I am your finish line; you are my race. I am your praying hands; you are my saving grace.

 I have your favorite book; you are my new lines. I am your night-light; you are my star shine.

 I am your lullaby; you are my peekaboo. I am your good night kiss; you are my I love you.

“You Are My I Love You,” by Maryann K. Cusimano. Her dedication: To all the parents who love and all the children who need our love.

Her name was Grace Short but she should have been called Grace Long because she was so long on Grace.  This gentle Southern lady in her seventies was my junior high Sunday School teacher.  Week after week she came into our class with the patience of Job and the persistence of the Apostle Paul. She needed them both to tackle our class full of unruly adolescents.

My twin sister and I were babies in the faith.  Having not been raised in a Christian home left us at a disadvantage when it came to behaving as proper children in church.  My mom worked the night shift at the local restaurant and when she left each evening, we ran wild in the neighborhood.   So sitting still for an hour in Sunday School was going to take some doing.  We were the kids about whom proper Southern women with beads and beehives would sip their sweet tea and say, “Those kids just ain’t had no raisen’!” And they were right.

 But that didn’t scare Mrs. Short.  She showed up each week with a lesson she had clearly spent hours preparing as she shared scriptures, illustrations, and my favorite--personal stories.  To be honest, I came as much to be around her as I did to hear what she had to say.  She was soft-spoken and gentle and no one in my life was like that. Her white hair rested against her wrinkled cheeks, but she always looked put-together with her pearl necklace and matching earrings.  She carried a lily-white hankie to dab her eyes as she cried easily when she shared stories from God’s Word that clearly meant so much to her. When she got excited about David’s courage or Saul’s transformation, she talked about having chill bumps.  She always called me “sugah” or “darlin.”   I felt like I could trust her and that was a foreign feeling for me.

One Sunday morning after class, she asked me to wait for her.  I had been asking questions all morning about Moses.  Where the Ten Commandments came from?  Why did God pick Moses?  What was that plague thing all about? And locusts?  Why locusts?  Mrs. Short asked me to follow her to the church library.  We walked up the stairs to a small room just off the entrance.  It was lined floor to ceiling with books.  After riffling through the dust-filled shelves, she pulled off a tattered paperback Good News For Modern Man Bible and handed it to me. 

“I’m so sorry,” she offered with her sweet Southern drawl.  “This is all I could find.”

“Find for what,” I responded, not knowing what she had in mind.

“To give to you, of course.”

“ Do I get to keep this?”  I asked not believing my ears.  My own mother wasn’t prone to acts of kindness so I was baffled by this lady’s generosity.

“You asked so many questions that I thought you would enjoy reading the stories for yourself,” she stated with a broad smile.

“Yes, ma’am!” I thanked her profusely.

 On the walk home I found myself in awe of the woman’s kindness.  Why would she care this much for me? I wondered.

  I read fifty pages of my new Bible before my next Sunday School class.  I couldn’t get enough of God’s Word.

The next Sunday, Mrs. Short told me before class she wanted me to meet her on the steps of the church.  What could she have in store for me now?  I was still in awe of last week’s caring gesture, I thought as I headed to the church entrance after class.  There I met Mr. Laxton, a tall friendly retired pastor from the congregation who was our acting Sunday School superintendent. 

“Grace told me how glad you were when she found a paperback Bible for you in the church library.  I thought you might really enjoy this one,” he said handing me a red leather-bound Bible with my name engraved on the front.

I was too stunned to speak.  Tears filled my eyes.  “This is for me?” was all I could choke out.

“Has your name on the front,” he chuckled.  You can thank Mrs. Short for that.  She was so excited about your desire to learn about the Lord, she wanted to make sure you had a way to do that.”

Now I was the one dabbing tears from my eyes as Mrs. Short leaned over hugged me and said, “Don’t it just give you chill bumps?” 

What a thoughtful wonderful woman. I hadn’t had many role models in my life to that point, but now I wanted to be just like Grace Short who was long on grace and full of God’s love.

 

One of my greatest desires is to bring joy to people by saying the right word at the right time. I want God’s love to shine through me, so I pray that my words will speak healing to those God brings across my path. And he often arranges for others to return the favor.

 Nancy’s Note

One of the best parts of my ministry is working with women at retreats. Whether I’m speaking to a group or counseling one-on-one, I feel God’s power and presence during those weekends that are devoted to him. That was true the weekend I met Nancy.

Just in case your kids forget to say Happy Mother’s day, I am saying it to the bravest, smartest, most capable and resilient people on the planet...MOMS! We have to have hearts softer than a pat of butter and hides as thick as a rhino’s as we love deeply and let go just a freely. Here is a story for you, Competent and Caring Mom!

Push Me Higher, Mommy

My daughter Sarah was born brave. As the oldest of my three kids, she definitely fit the characteristics written about the oldest child. A natural high-achiever, when she first learned to talk it was it full sentences. Within a week of her first step, she was running to meet her dad as he walked through the door each evening. The second I sat her on a swing set she shouted, “Push me higher, Mommy. Now turn loose.” So I don’t know why it came as such a surprise when she told me she was considering enlisting in the military.

At twenty-eight years old, in the middle of her doctoral studies in psychology, Sarah decided that she wanted to help soldiers returning from Iraq with post-traumatic stress disorder. Her husband, Shaun, was all for it. Shaun had served terms in Iraq just before he became an EMT. He was even considering reenlisting to join his wife in the Air Force. I’m glad he’s supportive, but I’m not convinced that my daughter will be all right in the military while our country is at war--the thoughts resonated in my head.

 I did my best to form my worries into prayers as I considered my daughter’s desire. I wondered where she be stationed. She assured us that her work would keep her out of harm’s way, but I knew our daughter. She was the kid who wanted to drive four hours from work to the coast to meet us on our vacation only a month after she got her driver’s license! I worried she would volunteer for hazard duty. I was concerned about her stress level, too, while dealing with so much post-traumatic stress in others. I hadn’t shared these concerns with her because I never wanted to be a meddling mother. If she believed the Lord wanted her to help soldiers, who was I to get in her way?

As hard as I tried, I struggled to be okay with my petite, beautiful daughter becoming an officer in the United States Air Force during wartime. “This was going to require a lot from my trust muscle,” I told the Lord. God is faithful and the more I prayed, the more I felt his peace.

Sarah kept us informed as she received a scholarship in the field of neuro-psychology at one of three Air force bases in the US. She kept us in the loop as she traveled to interview at each base. When she accepted a residency 1400 hundred miles away, I sat aside my mother’s sadness to rejoice with her at this prestigious placement. The week before she left, we made a date at Time for Tea, a darling teahouse in our little town. Tea parties were something we enjoyed since she was barely old enough to hold a teacup. We could always talk more easily over tea.

As we sat across from our salad and scones in the Alice in Wonderland room, it wasn’t what we said but what we didn’t say that was important.

 What I said was, “How’s your salad?” What I didn’t say was, “I will miss you not living down the road from me.”

What Sarah said was, “My salad’s great. I love the dressing.” What she didn’t say was, “I’m scared. I’ve been academic for so long I’ve forgotten how to be physical. I don’t want to be the weakest link at boot camp.”

What I said was, “I hear the base you’re going to is beautiful.” What I didn’t say was, “I’m worried about you having so much stress so far from home, with out me, I mean.”

What Sarah said was, “I met several retired officers who came back to retire near the base because they loved the area so much.” What she didn’t say was, “Shaun and I are finally ready to have kids and it will be hard living 1400 miles away from my mom.”

What I asked was, “Have they sent your uniforms yet?  What I didn’t ask was, “Have I taught you all I can for this challenging task that lies ahead of you?”

What Sarah said was, “They are being altered as we speak. I got combat boots and they look like they are made for little kids!”

What I said was, “Will they call you captain or doctor?” What I didn’t say was, “I’ll miss you so much it hurts, but I won’t tell you that because it might get in the way of all God has for your life.”

What she said was, “I’m not really sure. I guess I’ll find out when I’m there. Let’s order another scone. I can’t get enough of this lemon curd.”

 What I heard was “Push me higher, Mommy. Now let go.” And I did.

 

 

 

Eugene Peterson, the translator of The Message, points out something powerful about prayer as he seeks to explain the elusive “Middle Voice” in the Greek language. 

“My grammar book said, ‘The middle voice is that use of the verb which describes the subjects participating in the results of the action.’  I read that now, and it reads like a description of Christian prayer—the subject is participating in the results of the action. I do not control the action; that is a pagan concept of prayer, putting the gods to work by my incantations or rituals. I am not controlled by the action; that is a Hindu concept of prayer in which I slump passively into the impersonal and fated will of the gods and goddesses. I enter into the action begun by another, my creating and saving Lord, and find myself participating in the results of the action.  I neither do nor have done to me: I will participate in what is willed.”(Page 114, Yancey Prayer.)

God could handle the issues of the world and the people in it quite capably by Himself, but He chooses to involve us by our prayers and our actions for our benefit and growth. When my kids were growing up, they liked to “help” me in the kitchen. (In fact, now that they are grown, my son is the best cook—better than all of us!) I remember the pressing, busy nights when one of the kids would wander into the kitchen, pull a stool up to the counter and ask me to show them how to do something. So many times it was so much easier to just do it, but they wanted to be part of the process. When dinner was ready, whoever volunteered was quick to take credit, but the work I had to do behind the scenes to make that happen was enormous! Still they participated in the results. I think it’s like that with God. He could bat an eyelash and make it all happen, but He will go to great lengths to involve us the process, for our growth and good. That’s makes us pretty special to Him, don’t you think?

Were the Rolling Stones right?


Former Presidential Advisor, Arthur Schlessinger Jr., stated, “Our society is characterized by inextinguishable discontent.”  We long for fulfillment but we search for it in all the wrong places.  We scrimp and save to buy the new car, but the new car smell goes away.  We sacrifice for the new home in the upscale neighborhood, but if we’re not careful, what we own soon begins to own us.  The “stuff” we seek doesn’t bring the satisfaction we long for.

Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived and the richest man of his time wrote this in Ecclesiastes 7:29, “God made mankind upright, but man has gone in search of many schemes.”  We fill our lives with many schemes to bring us happiness, yet I submit that there is a vast difference between happiness and joy.  Happiness depends upon “happenings” or circumstances.  Joy is a deep abiding understanding that God is in charge and He will work all things out for good for those who love Him no matter what the circumstances (Romans 8:28).

The Apostle Paul teaches us how to find the joyful life we seek in the book of Philippians.  Chapter four opens with him thanking the church in Philippi for their concern and care for him.  But he informs them, “ I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  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.”  Then he caps off his proclamation with this profound statement, “I can do all things through him (Christ) who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:11-13).

The word “content” in this section of scripture is the Greek word “autarkia.”  It means sufficiency.  Paul found his sufficiency in Christ. Being in the center of God’s will brought contentment and satisfaction.  Even though the Rolling Stones trained us that we “Can’t get no satisfaction,” Paul’s words dispute their claims.

The Apostle didn’t decide God was his sufficiency only when he’s living in the lap of luxury being fanned by beautiful women and eating fresh grapes that were freely supplied to him. He wrote these words from prison! His contentment wasn’t dependent on his circumstances; he sought his satisfaction in his sovereign Savior. A few verses later he proclaims to all who will listen, “God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:19.

I want to be like Paul—finding contentment wherever I am.  It sure saves a lot of empty striving, don’t you think?

I confess that I can get so busy planning amazing Easter events that I can forget to truly reflect on what this event means to mankind and to me personally. Perhaps you are like me and this will inspire you like it did me.

“Untethered by time, he sees us all. From the backwoods of Virginia to the business district of London; from the Vikings to the astronauts, from the cave-dwellers to the kings, From the hut-builders to the finger-pointers to the rock-stackers, he see us. Vagabonds and ragamuffins all, he saw us before we were born.

And he loves what he sees. Flooded by emotion. Overcome by pride, the Starmaker turns to us, one by one, and says, ‘You are my child. I love you dearly. I’m aware that someday you’ll turn away from me and walk away. But I want you to know, I’ve already provided you a way back.’”  Max Lucado.

Perhaps, like me, you are crazy-busy on your path, take a moment to stop and thank him for his death and resurrection, for providing a way back to him from sin and shame.

Perhaps you are still out there on that path sowing your wild oats and praying for a crop failure, come back. He’s waiting for you.

Perhaps you are convinced he doesn’t want you to come back to him because you have come back and then left again so many times. That’s Satan talkin’. He’s a liar. Don’t believe him. Stop and pray and watch Jesus welcome you with open arms. Then find a place to worship him this weekend and let him know how grateful you are.

Have a Happy Easter!

Creativity and Worry

This study supports what I learned years ago in college about the power of the positive.

The study was an intriguing experiment with college students. A cartoon mouse was shown trapped inside a picture of a maze, and the task was to help the mouse find the way out. There were two different versions of the task. One was positive, approach-oriented; the other was negative or avoidance-oriented. In the positive version, there was a piece of Swiss cheese lying outside the maze, in front of a mouse hole. In the negative version, the maze was exactly the same, but instead at the Swiss cheese feast at the finish, and an owl hovered above the maze, ready to swoop down, and capture the mouse in its talons at any moment.

The maze takes less than two minutes to complete, and all the students who took part in the experiment solved their maze. The contrast in the aftereffects of working on different versions of the maze was striking. When the participants later took a test of creativity, those who had helped their mouse avoid the owl turned in scores that were 50% lower than the scores of students who had helped their mouse find the cheese. The state of mind elicited by attending to the owl had resulted in a lingering sense of caution, avoidance, and vigilance for things going wrong. The mind-state in turn weakened creativity, closed down options, and reduced the students flexibility in responding to the next task.

 This experiment tells us something very important: the same action even something a slight solving a simple maze puzzle has different consequences depending on whether it is done to move toward something we welcome (activating the brain’s approach system) or to avoid something negative activating the brain’s avoidance system.  In the maze experiment, aversion was triggered by something as minor as the site of a cartoon owl.  It led to reductions in exploratory and creative behaviors. This is dramatic evidence that the avoidance system can narrow the focus of our lives, even when triggered by a purely symbolic threat.

For Application 2:

When it comes to motivating people in your life, your kids, your students, employees, friends, sponsees, or parishioners, YOU WILL GET BETTER RESULTS WITH ENCOURAGEMENT, or REWARD, THAN WITH THREAT.

It works for you, too. If you constantly tell yourself what you are doing wrong and how you mess up, you will make poorer decisions, and continue on a downward spiral. If you celebrate your wins and reinforce the things you do well, your creativity and problem-solving skills will improve.

For APPLICATION 1 (and it is worth it) click on https://www.youtube.com/user/answersfrommomanddad

 

 

Once there was a man who dared God to speak. Burn the bush like you did for Moses, God. And I will follow you. Collapse the walls like you did for Joshua. And I will fight. Still the waves like you did on Galilee, God. And I will listen.

 And the man sat by a bush, near a wall, close to the sea and waited for God to speak.

And God heard the man, so God answered. He sent fire, not for the bush, but for the church. He brought down a wall, not of brick, but of sin. He stilled the storm, not of the sea, but of the soul.

 And God waited for the man to respond. And he waited...and waited.

 But because the man was looking at bushes, not hearts; bricks not lives, seas and not souls, he decided that God had done nothing.

 Finally he looked to God and asked, “Have you lost your power?”

 And God looked at him and said, “Have you lost your hearing?”

 From the ever-so-effective Max Lucado, A Gentle Thunder

 My goal is to keep my ears open, and look for God to show up, everyday! How about you?

 

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It would surprise you the things that experts say destroy relationships. It isn’t so much the ugly knock-down, drag-out fights as it is the little things that happen day to day.  Don’t get me wrong. No one likes ugly, inflamed battles, but according to John Gottman, relationship expert, there are moments that happen every day that can make or break a relationship.  It is as simple as “turning toward your partner.”

Have you ever been in a conversation when you were talking and your partner didn’t respond at all?  Perhaps you are the busy person, and your partner is talking to you, and you don’t take time to reply. You might be thinking inside, “I get it,” but your loved one doesn’t get the benefit of your internal dialogue. Those moments leave a partner feeling misunderstood and ignored. They  collect in the relationship, and believe it or not, it is one of the main causes for divorce according to Gottman.

When you “turn toward your partner,”you are acknowledging their value, the importance of what they're saying, and the fact that you care about what is going on with them, even if it is as incidental as, “I think we are out of laundry soap.” You, as a partner, can choose to ignore this comment, perhaps giving it mental assent but saying nothing, or you can look at your partner, and simply acknowledge with a nod or a, “We’ll have to get some.”  Seems simple, doesn’t it?  It might even seem ridiculous that the laundry soap comment needed a response, but I didn’t do the research. John Gottman did, and in a 20-year study he found, that responding to these little things create big love in the long run.

When we stop and think about it, we realize that all of us want to be understood, acknowledged, and valued on a regular basis.  So take a little time it takes to make sure that you respond to your spouse.  “Turning toward” you partner is one of the easiest ways to fill his/her love tank, and keep the embers of love burning for a lifetime.

Happy Valentines from Mom and Dad!

They have worked for my husband and me keeping us each other’s Valentine for 40 years! Try one each day or all of these in the next ten days, and see if you have a Happier Valentine’s days for years to come.

1. Take the first 5 minutes right after you walk through the door to greet each other.  ROMANS 16:16, “Greet each other with a holy kiss.” Let your spouse know that you are glad he’s home, glad she’s alive! Life is so daily, and our stresses erode us, but we can help fill each other back up by our reactions.

2.Express, on a constant basis, what is good about your spouse (& your kids). PROVERBS 3:27, “Do not withhold good from those deserve it, when it is in your power to act.” Make praise an atmosphere in your home. Look for something each day to brag about for each one of your family members, especially your spouse.

3.Spend 15 minutes everyday, just the two of you, talking not about serious stuff if this is new to you. Just visit. Talk eyeball to eyeball, nose to nose, knee to knee, not with one person checking email, cooking dinner, or watching TV.  The more you do it the easier it will become. It may develop into the most favorite part of your day.

4.Ask for behavior adjustments in an appealing way Proverbs 16:24, “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Bruce gets credit for the idea of the “Pauline Sandwich.” If you look at any of Paul’s letters in the New Testament you see the pattern. They start and end with positive regard for those he is addressing, and the body of his letters, he addresses challenging issues. If we follow Paul’s example, we pay a legitimate compliment, then share our issue and end with more affirmations. This is much more “palatable” than pointing a finger of accusation with, “You never, you always or why can’t you…?”

5. Laugh together-a lot! Don’t take yourself too seriously. Life is short. Marriage is fun.  Find the joy in them both.  PROVERBS 17:22, “A cheerful heart is good medicine but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” From HELPGUIDE.ORG we read: Laughter activates the chemistry of the will to live and increases our capacity to fight disease. Laughing relaxes the body and reduces problems associated with high blood pressure, strokes, arthritis, and ulcers. Find things to laugh about and build memories and endorphins together.

6. Listen with your heart.  God gave us two ears and only one mouth because He wants us to listen more than we talk! PROVERBS 18:13,“ He who answers before listening-that is his folly and his shame.”

TOP TEN WAYS TO HEAR WITH YOUR HEART

 Do make direct eye contact. (You have all of my attention.)

 Do focus all your attention on the other person.(It ways, “You’re most important person in the world right now.  More important than the game, the newspaper, or the mac & cheese that I have on the stove.)

Don’t interrupt or finish his/her sentences. (Be the one person who will give those you love the gift of hearing your spouse of letting him/her get it out-of letting him/her finish.)

Don’t give immediate or simplistic advice. (i.e. “You need tell that boss off.”  “What you ought to do is quit if you’re not happy.”  “You just need top pray about it.”)

Do encourage more sharing with leading questions. (What happened then?  How did you feel about that?)

Do match the sharer’s pace, and pitch and tone.  (If they are quiet  & contained and you are loud and rowdy, your behavior will shut them.  Just like a stray cat learning to trust, any sudden moves will scare it off. Sometimes hurting people are like cornered cats.

Do give feed back. (i.e., “That must have been hard.” or “I think you handled that well.” Even nods and sighs say, “I’m with you. I’m taking it all in.”

Do keep an open, warm, accepting, non-judgmental attitude. Repeat that please.

Don’t be afraid of silence.

Don’t be afraid to reach out and pat, hug or hold your loved one. (If you’ve correctly done what is on this list, you have earned the right to “reach out & touch.”  Do it judiciously & cautiously).

 

7. Don’t get lazy. Invest in the marriage regularly with classes, books,  online articles and finding friends who are making marriage work and hang out with them.

8. Protect your relationship. HEBREWS 3:12, “Beware then of your own hearts, dear brothers, lest you find that they, too, are evil and unbelieving and are leading you away from the living God,”TLB. In his book, His Needs, Her Needs, author Willard Harley presents the concept of the “Love Bank.” When you meet my needs, a big deposit is made in your account in my love bank. When you do something not so nice, a big withdrawal is made. After enough withdrawals, I’m sucking fumes, but with significant deposits I can have a lot more grace for you. The by-line on Harley’s book is Building an Affair Proof Marriage with the premise that when we meet our partner’s needs, we will keep them, happy and they won’t have a need to look somewhere else. This info challenges us to stay current in the need- meeting department. There is truth to his statements. I have found that nobody ever strolls into my office and says, “I’m gonna go have myself an affair. I’m gonna go trollin’ to find it.” Folks come in broken into tiny little bits saying, “I didn’t ask for this. I didn’t know how much need I was in, and there he was, there she was.”Please hear me, this is not a license to sin. It’s an invitation to invest. This is a reality that happens to way too many well-intended Christians. They forget to watch their backs. They fail to invest, and we have the Holy Spirit’s help! An example he uses, one that I have “southrened-up,” is that of Samantha Jane who marries Buford, the strong silent type, a good man and great provider, but not great in the compliment or conversation departments. Then Samantha gets a job working with Billy. He’s friendly and constantly complementary, telling her, “You look nice today. That color looks great on you.” She helps him with a sale, as per her job and he writes her a little thank you note. She helps him again, he invites her to lunch, and before she knows it, she’s in over her head. Then she heads into my office wracked in sobs saying, “I never meant to be an adulterous woman.” Now she is torn and lost. She didn’t know she was running on empty, sucking fumes. Take inventory and seek to meet your partner’s needs.

9. Be thoughtful. If your husband likes chocolate, pick up a $3 chocolate bar when you are at the grocery store.  If your wife appreciates flowers, yank one out of the yard and surprise her. It doesn’t cost a lot to let your partner know that he/she is special!

10. Don’t give up. Keep looking for tools and persist! PHILIPPIANS 4:13, “For I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power,” TLB. I thought of using Paul’s words, “…fight the good fight,” but somehow I thought better of using that in context with marriage!  The Lord can transform us if we let him.

 Happy Valentine's Day!

Dr. Daniel Amen’s Story About Fortune-Telling ANTS

No one is safe from fortune-telling ants, not even Dr. Amen. Several years ago he wrote an article for Parade Magazine called, “How to Get Out of Your Own Way.”  When the article was published, his office received more than 10,000 letters asking for more information about self-defeating behavior. The media got wind of the response, and he was invited to appear on CNN.  It was a great opportunity for him to get the word out about what he was doing at the Amen Clinic, but he had never been on TV before, and he was nervous, really nervous. Here is his description:

 "I was sitting in the green room right before I went on, and all of a sudden, I had a panic attack. I couldn't breathe, my heart was racing, and I wanted to get the heck out of there. Thankfully, I treat people with this problem. I told myself the same things that I tell my patients: ‘If you were having a panic attack in a safe situation, don’t leave, or panic will rule your life.  Slow down your breathing. Write down your thoughts and what kind of ANTS are there.’ So I stayed put, took a deep breath, and grabbed a pen to write down my thoughts: ‘I’m going to forget my name’—fortune-telling ANT. ‘I’m going to stutter’—fortune-telling ANT. ‘Two million people are going to think I’m stupid’—fortune-telling ANT.

With just one look, I knew I had a fortune-telling ANT infestation. Then, just like I tell my patients, I told myself to talk back to my thoughts.

‘Okay, if I forget my name, I have a driver’s license in my pocket and I can look it up.’

‘I don’t usually stutter, but if I do, all the stutterers out there watching will have a doctor they can relate to.’

 ‘And as for people thinking I'm stupid, I'm reminded myself of the 18/40/60 rule which says that when you're 18, you worry about what everybody is thinking of you. At 40 you don't give a crap what anyone else thinks. And it 60, you realize no one has been thinking about you at all. Most people spend their days worrying and thinking about themselves.’

“This little exercise helped me calm down so I was able to go on TV, and I did fine. I did not forget my name. I didn't stutter. And I didn't get any phone calls, letters, or emails from two million people telling me I was stupid. The next time I was asked to appear on TV, I was not quite as nervous. And with each subsequent appearance, I became more relaxed. Since that first time, I have appeared on TV more than 100 times, and it no longer makes me nervous at all.  Just think if I had listened to my lying, fortune-telling ANTS and had run out of the studio. I probably never would have accepted another invitation to be on TV, and it would have dramatically changed my life and career in a negative way.”

For more information about how to combat Automatic Negative Thoughts , ANTs, check our Mom and Dad FBook page:

https://www.facebook.com/answersfrommomanddad

 

 

 

 

Have you ever noticed in the western movies how the Bounty Hunter travels alone?

 It’s not hard to see why. Who wants to hang out with the guy who several scores for a living? Wants to risk getting on his bad side? More than once I’ve heard a person spew his anger. He thought I was listening, when I was really thinking,  I hope I never get on his list.  Cantankerous sorts, those bounty hunters. Best leave them alone.  Hang out with the angry and you might catch a stray bullet. Debt settling is a lonely occupation. It’s also an unhealthy occupation.

 If you’re out to schedule the score, you will never rest.  How can you? For one thing, your enemy may never pay up.  As much as you think you deserve an apology, your debtor may not agree. The racist may never repent. The chauvinist may never change.  As justified as you are in your quest for vengeance, you may never get a penny’s worth of justice.  And if you do, will it be enough?

 Max Lucado, The Great House of God

When I read this in my devotional book this week, I realized just how right Lucado is. If you have difficulty letting go of past pain, needing to settle the score, and ruminating on your offenses to the point of distraction, may I invite you personally to this workshop.  After many years of working through what it takes to forgive the folks who have harmed me in my own life, I’m offering an opportunity to help others do the same.  Unpacking this kind of painful baggage is so worth it.

 

Healing the Hurts that Are Holding You Back Workshop For Men and Women
You can register now.

At Sierra Pines Church
When: Friday, January 29, 7:00 pm—9:00pm
Saturday, January 30, 2016, 9:00 am—3:30 pm


The Workshop is limited to no more than 17 people, so register while there is still space available. Cost: $149 per person. If you need a place to stay, there are a few newly remodeled bed and breakfast rooms available on site for an additional $49 per night. At this price, why not stay an extra day and enjoy Yosemite National Park while relaxing in God’s beauty.

Continental Breakfast and Lunch will be provided on Saturday.

Perhaps you’re there! You ate enough over Christmas that it takes a front loader to get you out of your chair.  You feel so heavy and tired that you need dynamite to get yourself out of bed in the morning.  You go to put on your favorite jeans and the tangs of the  zipper are screaming, “ Help Me!”  And with all of this, you’re finally sick and tired of being sick and tired. 

What you don’t want for the New Year is another diet that you start out doing with great guns, only to fizzle out within a few short weeks. What you need is a Live It! You need tools to help you live in a food-oriented world and not look like you do.

My Qualifications:  I am not the super scrawny gal who eats seaweed and sauerkraut and exercises two hours every day.  When those people talk about weight loss, I tune out right away. They are exceptions to the rule; they’re not like the rest of us in the real world.

I am a “Foodie.” I love to eat, and I love to cook for myself and for other people. It’s one of the cheapest ways to show your love for someone. We didn’t have a lot of money when my kids were growing up, but we still had to eat.  So our vacations were always built around food. When my son was dating his now wife, he saw pictures in their home of snowboarding, and water skiing vacations.  When we went places, we could barely afford to be there. We had to eat, so our vacations centered around the next place to have dinner!

I’m not one of those folks who hates the kitchen and eats to live, just enough to survive, and doesn’t really want to be bothered with the whole food thing. I’m not the naturally thin person with good genes who always looks good in jeans and says, “I just forget to eat.” I agree with the female comedian whose response to skinny chicks is, “I have forgotten my password, my car keys, and my mother’s maiden name. But I have never forgotten to eat. You gotta be some kind of stupid to forget to eat!” If you love food too, but you want to Live Lean for Life, check out some of the many tools we will focus on during the Living Life Lean workshop.

Live It Goals

  • Handle stress in positive ways rather than resorting to overeating, abusing alcohol, smoking or other destructive behaviors
  •  Figure out the triggers that keep you over-eating
  • Find great hacks to help you lose weight and keep it off.
  • Discover tools that help you work around life’s speed bumps that interfere with your Live It program
  • Understand how to get your program back on track when you get stuck
  •  Discover confidence you never knew you had to Live Lean Life.

Here is the Workshop Info. The cost is a little more than an hour of counseling, only you will get nearly 7 hours of help! Don’t miss this opportunity.

Living Life Lean:

What to Do When What You’re Eating is Eating You

Workshop

This was such a helpful workshop that we wanted to make it available to more people so we have stream-lined the teaching to fit it into one day and the cost to your budget.

Saturday, January 9th  from 8:30am-3:00pm

At Sierra Pines Church Nwest Campus
 

  Cost $69  includes continental breakfast and lunch on Saturday. To find out more check with Linda Newton at lindanewtonspeaks@gmail.com or call at 559-683-2882 ext. 21

 I'D LOVE TO SEE YOU THERE!

 

Give Me the Strength to Be Weak

Years ago I read a song by this title, and I had no idea how much relevance it would come to have in my life. I have to confess, I hate being weak, and I hate having to depend on other people.  I’m the person others get to depend on, and that works well for my identity. But God had different plans this last month.  I have had some debilitating back pain, something new for me.  I’ve had to reevaluate my fast-paced schedule, and recognize how much God is letting me know that I am a “human being,” not a “human doing.”  I’m discovering more every day the different facets of the verse, “Be still and know that I am God.”  One translation reads, “Cease striving and know that I am God.”  I guess God knew I wouldn’t cease striving and be still if I wasn’t stuck in a chair. He’s right, and I am learning a lot. I opened up Jesus Calling book yesterday and here is what I read:

“Make me the focal point of your search for security. In your private thoughts, you were still trying to order your world so that it is predictable and feel safe. Not only is this an impossible goal, but it is also counterproductive to spiritual growth. When you’re private world feels unsteady and you grip my hand for support, you are living in conscious dependence on me. 

Instead of yearning for a problem-free life, rejoice that trouble can highlight your awareness of my presence.  In the darkness of adversity, you are able to see more clearly the radiance of my face. Accept the value of problems in this life, considering them pure joy, (James 1:2) Remember that you have an eternity of trouble-free living awaiting you in heaven.

Psalm 139: 9-10, “ f I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”

 Resting, well, trying to rest in Jesus,

Linda

Remember to Remember

O, Snap! I came across this in my morning readings, and it made me sit up and take inventory of how I move through my days. It made me more aware of the opportunity we all have to embrace more empowered lives. “We often choose to face life’s issues and circumstances in exactly the same way as someone without the Spirit of God.  We worry, strive, and grieve no differently than unbelievers. While it is true that we are humans like everyone else, it is also true that we are humans with the Spirit of God dwelling in us. Yet, whether consciously or not, we essentially say to God, “I know You raised Christ from the dead; but the fact is, my problems are just too much for You and I need to deal with them by myself.

“ ...Perhaps what you need is wisdom to know which decision to make. Or courage to do the right thing, even though you might lose your job. Or maybe you need love because you feel alone. Or do you want people with a similar vision to journey with and support you along the way. Whatever you need, the point is that God is aware of  your circumstances, and he knows what you really need. He is able to bring these things, people, and circumstances into your life.

"... God desires to do more than “help out “a bit. He wants to completely transform us. He wants to take a timid heart and set it ablaze with strength and courage, so much so that people know something supernatural has taken place—life change just as miraculous as fire coming down from heaven.”

Francis Chan, Forgotten God.

This made me aware of how often I live like a person without the power of the Spirit of God dwelling inside of me.  I wring my hands in wasted worry, because I think I have to solve my problems myself.  I actually forget to call on the Holy Spirit for help!  Now I can forget my password, and my mother’s maiden name; I can forget my driver’s license number, and even where I parked my car.  But it is really lame to forget that the Spirit of the Creator of the Universe dwells inside of me and can get me through anything.  So I have decided to remember to remember. How about you?

Lovin’ Jesus~

Linda Newton, 

Empowerment Educator

https://www.facebook.com/answersfrommomanddad

https://www.youtube.com/user/answersfrommomanddad

Twitter @Momanddadanswer

 

 

Expect God to Act.

 Psalm 52:8, “But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love forever and ever.

I like that word flourishing. It means succeeding, prospering, blooming, blossoming like the towering tree; empowered, capable, confident!

I deeply desire to be like that flourishing tree, don’t you!

We can direct our thoughts more than we realize, especially if we ask the Holy Spirit to help. Here are some tools I’ve found when those faith-less, negative and sinful thoughts threaten to rob all peace:

Reject crippling doubts about the future, that negativity, that sinful thinking. We can get stuck in our stinkin’ thinkin’ or we can

Recognize that it is toxic for us.  That seems like a DUH! But many times we wallow in our misery, our self-pity, our fear, our anger. If we are consciously aware that these thoughts are destructive, we are far more ready to embrace healthy ones. Then we are less likely to get stuck in, “This is the way it is.” or “I don’t deserve better.” Then we

Refocus our thoughts to the truth from God’s word, to the memories of His faithfulness and provision empowering us to walk in strength.

We can be that flourishing tree when we I trust in God’s unfailing love forever and ever~Psalm 52:8, “But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.”

If you have difficulty with chronic stinkin thinkin that tends to keep you  from the abundance God has for you, then we would like to invite you to our next

Healing the Hurts that Are Holding You Back Workshop For Men and Women
You can register now. It may seem far

At Sierra Pines Church
When: Friday, January 29, 7:00 pm—9:00pm
Saturday, January 30, 2016,  9:00 am—3:30 pm
Continental Breakfast and Lunch will be provided on Saturday.
Where: Sierra Pines Church Northwest Campus in Oakhurst, CA (Take the driveway next to the church on the same side of the street)

The Workshop is limited to no more than 17 people, so register while there is still space available. Cost: $149 per person. If you need a place to stay, there are a few newly remodeled bed and breakfast rooms available on site for an additional $49 per night. At this price, why not stay an extra day and enjoy Yosemite National Park while relaxing in God’s beauty.

Respond to his email or call Linda at 559-683-2882 ext. 21. If you keep reading and rereading this offer and talking yourself out of coming, then I personally invite you to come take care of yourself! It could make a difference in you for the rest of your life.

The Healing the Hurts that are Holding You Back Workshop is not just for women.

Here is what EVAN has to say~

 I wanted to let you know that God made some amazing changes in my life this weekend at the Healing the Hurts Workshop. I honestly believe that He healed me of my self-hatred and has given me a clear picture of how to find the support I need to complete the work that He started in me

 I have disqualified myself from so many opportunities that God has been building me up and preparing me for over the years. I can see now that God has taken me from a timid, depressed, self-conscious teen to a capable, adult that has been placed in a position of influence in many young people's lives. I am so glad that I can now move forward into the new things that God has with a view of myself that is closer to His view of me.

 I honestly have not felt this alive since very early on in my walk of faith that started almost 12 years ago. I am greatly appreciative, and I know how hard it is for men to consider these types of things as being worth the time. I want to do on record encouraging guys to attend. Keep changing the culture, Linda and Bruce.

 

 

Proof of Just How Valuable You Really Are...

I recently read this in Francis Chan’s book, The Forgotten God about the Holy Spirit. It stabbed me awake. I pray it will open your eyes a well.

1 Corinthians 12 shares all the different gifts that are needed in the church.  Francis Chan says, “I want you to take 1 Corinthians 12 seriously, to believe that you have been given a manifestation of the spirit and that your church, the worldwide body of Christ, and the world are crippled without your involvement. I write this because I love the church and I want you to trust that you are more than just a helpful addition. You need to believe you are a vital member. As real estate brokers, sales clerks, restaurant servers, barista’s, teachers, dietitians, therapist, students, parents, farmers, school board members, and city Council officials, you are vital members of the body of Christ.  Ask yourself, do I believe the church she needs me like a body needs a mouth?

 It is true that God may have called you to be exactly where you are. But it’s absolutely vital to grasp that he didn’t call you there so you could settle Lynn and live out your life in comfort and superficial peace.  His purposes are not random or arbitrary. If you’re still alive on this planet, it’s because he has something for you to do.  He placed us on this earth for purposes that he orchestrated long before we were born. (Ephesians 2:8-10)  do you believe you exist not for your own pleasure but to help people know the love of Jesus and to come fully alive in him?  If so, then that will shape how he live your life in the place where you are.”

In Prince Caspian, part of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles, the children Peter, Susan, Edmond and Lucy all find themselves in Narnia after a long absence. Aslan, the great King lion, is nowhere to be seen. Lucy, the youngest of the children, aches to see him. One night she wakes to a great stirring in the forest, and to a voice calling to her. While the other children sleep, she ventures forth through the woods and into the clearing. Here’s what happens:

A circle of grass, smooth as a lawn, met her eyes, with dark trees dancing all around it. And then—oh, joy!  For he was there: the huge Lion, shining light in the moonlight, with his huge black shadow underneath him.

 But for the movement of his tail he might have been a stone lion, but Lucy never thought that. She never stopped to think whether he was a friendly lion or not. She rushed to him. She felt her heart would burst if she lost a moment. And the next thing she knew she was kissing him and putting her arms as far around his neck if she could burying her face in that beautiful rich silkiness of his name.

“Aslan, Aslan. Dear Aslan,” sobbed Lucy. “At last.”

The great beast rolled over on his side so that Lucy fell, half sitting and half lying between his front paws.  He bent forward and just touched her nose with his tongue. His warmth breath came around her. She gazed into his large face..

“Welcome, child,” he said.

“Aslan,” said Lucy, “you’re bigger.”

“That is because you are older, little one.”

“Not because you are?”

“I am not. But every year you grow, you find me bigger.”

I want what Lucy had. A deep love and trust in my Savior, Jesus. And I deeply desire to trust the Lord more so that with each passing year, I doubt less and trust him more. Every year, He grows bigger, more capable, more effective in my eyes. Then I can wrap up in His loving arms and relax and rest in perfect trust and peace.

How about you?

The more we know of God’s character, his mercy, grace, and unfailing love, the more we can cling to him when troubles come and life brings us down. Then it will be the character, the loving presence of the Lord that we focus on when trails come...and that will lift us up.

The Apostle Paul encourages in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Wait a minute. I just read, “Though outwardly we are wasting away...” Who is he referring to? Parts of me just are doing anything but wasting away!  My pants say yoga but my fanny says McDonalds! My mind, now that is wasting away. I can’t remember anything. I’m grateful the Lord admonishes me to hang in there.

Here is that same verse in The Message...

2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. 18 These hard times are SMALL POTATOES compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. That’s the glory, coming good times, PARTY IN HEAVEN, YA’LL!

18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Instead of seeking to fix the problem, we fix our eyes on the problem solver, Jesus! That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

Tonight is the lunar eclipse.

I just spent the weekend with some awesome ladies speaking at a retreat, and I don’t usually sleep much at these events.  I hope I can stay awake long enough to see the super-moon and the eclipse.

When it comes to life, I want to be awake to the fact that the urgent can often eclipse the important as I allow time to run roughshod over my days. I have heard pastors talk about the difference between chronos time and kairos time saying the chronos time is the minutes ticking by, but kairos time is sacred, when God shows up and time stands still. But what I didn’t know was the origin of the word chronos. It paints a more dramatic and troubling picture.

Chronos is named after one of the gods of the Greek pantheon who devoured his children, a glutton and a cannibal who was never satisfied! Goya depicted him in a painting gaunt, ravenous, wild-eyed with greedy hunger gorging on his own child. It’s too repulsive for words, but the point must be considered. Chronos is the presiding diety of the driven.  For more about the plight of being too busy, check out our latest post on our Answers From Mom and Dad Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/answersfrommomanddad

The forward march of time will devour us unless we TAKE THE TIME TO MAKE MOMENTS AS THE MINUTES MARCH ON.

Make time to listen to a child, to take a walk and enjoy nature, to pray and actually listen for God’s response. Don’t let the urgent devour the important. Don’t’ let your menacing schedule eclipse meaningful memories.

 I’m going to go take my own advice now and stare at the moon.

Happy Star Gazing,

Help For Recovering Worrywarts

In her book, Having a Mary’s Heart In a Martha World, author, Joanna Weaver states that she was born a worrier. She worried about the obvious and even the ridiculous. If what she worried about didn’t happen she stated that, “In some twisted way, this confirmed my thesis: Worry so that it won’t happen!”

Have you been there? I have. Worry becomes a way of life, a miserable one at that!

The author continues, “We can think that we are being concerned  and SPIRITUALIZE OUR WORRY, convincing ourselves that it is our duty to fret about such things as the state of the world, our finances, our futures.”

The author goes on to explain that, “Concern draws us to God. Worry pulls us from him.”

 In a very helpful chart, she further clarifies the difference between concern and worry.

  • Concern involves a legitimate threat; worry is often unfounded.
  • Concern is specific (one thing); worry is generalized (spreads to many things).
  • Concern addresses the problem; worry obsesses about the problem.
  • Concern solves problems; worry creates more problems. Concern looks to God for answer; worry looks to self or other people for answers.

As a seasoned worrywart, I’m considering putting this list on the fridge to help me from frittering away valuable time fretting! 

Philippians 4:6-7 offers instructions to rid us of our worry and help us seek God’s help: 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I am ready for some of that peace, how about you?

 

 

Here is a recent quote from the Cannes Film Festival, by Woody Allen. After hearing this, I am much more likely to form my philosophy by listening to Toy Story’s, Woody than Woody Allen. At least Woody and Buzz Light-Year were can-do thinkers who had hope. There is hope in the world, and it doesn’t just come from fictitious Pixar characters! But there is a pervasive attitude in culture, often found in media-types, that we come from nothing and are going nowhere. Artsy-types may see this as creative and real. I see is a negative and depressing! There is hope in the world, and before you buy into the idea that, “Life stinks and then we die,” WATCH THIS CLIP from @answersfrommomanddad.

 

You can have 1000 friends on Facebook and still be lonely. Yes, you can! Researchers from the University of Chicago have proven it. They’ve also explored the dangers of loneliness. Being chronically lonely can cause many health problems as high blood pressure, obesity, lack of exercise, or smoking. Who would’ve thought that?!

It turns out that loneliness causes our bodies to release stress hormones.  It interferes with the body’s immune function. Is impedes cardiovascular efficiency. Lonely adults tend to sleep less efficiently, eat foods higher in fat, and age prematurely.  In truth, loneliness acts like a disease!

God created us for relationship—relationship with him and one another.  That’s one reason this promise matters so much: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you,” our Savior says.

Other people leave us all the time. They move to another state to take a job. Couples divorce. Best friends drift apart. Children grow up and establish lives of their own. Death can snatch away those we love.

No relationship on this earth is totally secure, but we can rely absolutely and without question on our Lord’s promised presence. He will never leave us. He will never forsake us.

Can I get an AMEN to that?

 When we read the words of this verse, it doesn’t say God sends trouble into our lives so that we can learn to comfort others. It says that God comforts us in our troubles so that we can comfort others.

Praise be to the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of compassion and the God of all comfort, Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.

One of my friends fought breast cancer—and won. Cancer free for many years, now she volunteers in a breast cancer clinic, counseling and encouraging patients who are battling the disease.

One of my friends fought breast cancer and lost. She is with Jesus now. In the last months of her life here on earth, her courage and concern for others testified mightily to the peace Christ gives.

Given the choice, most of us would rather avoid cancer altogether. Most of us also prefer to sidestep doctors and debt, fiascoes and fatigue, insomnia and inflation. I’m not wild about mice either!

But God has not promised us a trouble-free life. In fact, the furnace of difficulty can prepare us in a unique way for service. Consider these words of the apostle Paul.

Praise be to the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of compassion and the God of all comfort, Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.

The verse includes two beautiful names for God – “the God of compassion” and “the God of all comfort.” How reassuring!

This verse does not urge us to pony up comfort for others from inside ourselves. Instead, it points us to the compassionate Christ as the source of the comfort that will bless others who suffer.

God promises to work in every situation for the good of those who love him. One way he does that is by working through us to comfort others. Both of my friends found this true, not despite cancer, but because of it. When have you seen our Savior do something similar in your own life?

God's Promises to a Woman's Heart

I recently went to a Pinterest class at Sierra Pines. I learned so much, and got to demonstrate the one quick and easy craft I can do with kids.  Here are my One Minute Minions.  If you are like me, and don’t have time to bake the cupcakes, then you can buy them at the store.  I simply scraped off the colorful icing and frosted them in the blue! Watch THIS CLIP from @answersfrommomanddad

 

Before the days of animal psychology, especially the Dog Whisperer, house-training a puppy or kitten had very few rules. You watched your pet closely so as to move it outside when nature called. If you missed the cues and the pet had an accident, you rubbed it’s nose in the resulting mess.

I'm not sure what theories were behind this method or what it was intended to teach. But the expression, “rubbing my nose in it”, has come to describe being shamed and blamed for someone’s misdeeds.

It would be easy to mistake our Lord’s invitation to confess our sin as a shaming and blaming ritual, as a way He “rubs our nose” in our sins. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Instead, He intends our confession is a means by which we FIND FREEDOM. It’s the only way we can find true healing. We can ruminate about our misdeeds until the end of our days, but if we confess them to the One who has the power to forgive us, we can feel His reassurance that we are loved in spite of ourselves.

God Not Only Wants Your Heart Whole; He Wants Your Whole Heart

Last Sunday at Sierra Pines Church, I shared about the life of Joseph from the first book in the Bible, Genesis. He was facing the toughest challenge of his life, and he had some tough ones. Sold into slavery, unjustly accused and sent to prison, then the difficult task of fulfilling all of Pharaoh’s expectations. He managed all of that. But the mixture of hurt and I hate that surged inside him when he saw his bothers who had thrown him into a pit and left him for dead...Joseph didn’t know what to do.

Maybe you don't either. Your family failed you. Your early years were hard ones. The people who should have cared for you didn't. But like Joseph, you made the best of it. You made a life for yourself. Even started your own family. You were happy to leave Canaan in the rearview mirror. But God isn’t.

He asks us to go deeper. He not only wants your whole heart; he wants your heart whole. 

Why? Because hurt people, hurt people.

Think about it. Why do you fly off the handle? Why do you avoid conflict? Why do you seek to please everyone you know? Why do you find yourself stuck and recycling the same issues over and over again?  Might your tendencies have something to do with an unhealed hurt in your heart. God wants to help you for your sake.

 If you have difficulty getting past the pain in your life,  if you keep tripping over the same hurts again and again and those hurts  hold you back from the abundant life God offers, ...........

We will be offering the HEALING THE HEARTS THAT ARE HOLDING YOU BACK AGAIN THIS JULY 24-25 AT OUR AMAZING NWEST CAMPUS.  Checkout the bottom of my Home page for more details.

Wisdom From Dad’s Dad

 Sometimes you witness things in others that you want to make a part of you own life...

 We were blessed to learn how to give from Dad’s dad. TAKE A LOOK at what we learned @answersfrommomanddad

 

Have you ever heard the notion that focusing on your stressors can help you get rid of your stinkin’ thinkin’? That seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? It is true, but there is more to the technique.  To find out more, take a couple of minutes to WATCH THIS TOOL from @answersfrommomanddad

 LET YOUR HEART BREAK.

“The world is full of what seems like intractable problems. Often we let that paralyze us. Instead, let it spur you to action. There are some people in the world that we can’t help, but there are so many more that we can. So when you see a mother and her children suffering in another part of the world, don’t look away. Look right at them. Let them break your heart, and let your empathy and your talents help you make a difference in the lives of others. Whether you volunteer every week or just a few times a year, your time and your unique skills are invaluable.” Melinda Gates is a co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

What a great perspective! I don’t know where this compassionate lady’s drive comes from.  But her heart and her goals greatly impress me. She has the desire and the financial resources to help others.

My passion to help other people comes from the help Christ has offered me.  And with His empowerment, I am able to make a difference in the lives of other people. It is such a blessing to be used as His hands and feet.  It fills our tank while we’re filling others. What is the Lord prompting you to do to make a difference?

 

 

Let’s face it. When two people are married for any length of time they’re going to get on each other’s nerves. It is so easy to live in irritation that turns to frustration that turns to resentment.  Or we can employ the wonderful gift of forgiveness. Can you use more forgiveness in your relationships? WATCH THIS CLIP from @answersfrommomanddad

 Then be merciful to each other. After all, God is merciful to you because just about the time you grow a mustache, your husband’s eyesight goes, and he can’t see it!

Ever feel weary?


“Come to me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest...” Savor those words of our Savior... especially the word “all.”  Let the invitation soak into your soul.  “Come to me,” our Savior says. He speaks to “all who are weary and burdened.” That includes you and me.

Weary goes beyond needing one good night’s sleep.  Burdened means much more than fending off the worry or two that occasionally pops in our heads. What wearies and burdens you right now? When we find ourselves in the long, dark tunnel of weariness and burdens, Jesus meets us there.

Just think of that! Jesus meets us there in those dark places, those dark times when we feel lost.  His presence and His promise transform the darkness, making even our weariness in our burdens a blessing. After all, these things have opened our ears in our hearts to his invitation. They drive us into our Savior’s arms.

It’s all good. Or, rather, it’s good when we let our Savior’s words of hope and promise seep through, transforming our pain. It’s good when we turn our back on the sins of worry or pride that have led us into a darkness that threatens to crush us. It’s good when we trust our Savior’s promise to forgive, to heal, to help. It’s good when we rest in his all-inclusive love.

"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world,"  John 16:33.
Not all promises warm the heart.

“We will audit you,” promises the IRS when taxpayers take too many unusual deductions-legitimate or not.
“We will ticket you,” promises the highway patrol when motorists fail to fasten their seatbelts.
“There will be unpleasant hospital visits, even graveyard ones," promises that none of us get out of here alive...at least in body.
 Not all promises warm the heart – and that includes Jesus promise of trouble in John 16:33.

As promises go, this one falls under the column labeled “disturbing.”  Note, though, that these words are not a threat.  Our Lord simply states a fact of life, life that on our fallen planet often includes trials, traumas, and turmoil.  In the midst of trouble, however, we have hope. It comes from Christ’s second promise:

 Take heart! I have overcome the world.  Take heart me it’s in the original language “to have courage.”  Be brave, God’s got this.

 From our Lords cross and empty tomb flows ample proof that those who cling to Christ in faith simply cannot lose! Victory belongs to us – in life and in death alike. “God’s got this!” we can say – even when we must shout those words into the sharp wind of life’s scarcest storms. Christ has conquered! He lives and reigns, now and forever.

Trusting that Jesus has overcome and that he shares his victory with us makes every promise of our Savior comforting—even his promises of trouble and trials. Our Friend knows how to tough life’s troubles can get. He understands and empathizes with us. Still, his love and power go much further. They make us victorious, no matter what!

Do people of faith take more risks? Watch THIS CLIP from #answersfrommomanddad

And check out this article titled, God Is My Co-Pilot: Thinking About Religion Makes People Take Risks by Rachel Grossman

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2015/03/religion_makes_people_take_or_avoid_risks_skydiving_versus_drinking_gambling.html

It’s Spring, even though we barely had a winter. We’re already talking about planting flowers and vegetables for the summer. But this awesome reading from Max Lucado talks about sowing more important seeds, seeds of peace

Want to see a miracle? Plant a word of love heart-deep in a person’s life. Nurture it with a smile and a prayer, and watch what happens.

 An employee gets a compliment. A wife receives about bouquet of flowers. A cake is baked and carried next-door. A widow is hugged. A gas-station attendant is honored. A preacher is praised.

 Sowing seeds of peace is like sowing beans. You don't know why it works; you just know it does. Seeds are planted, and topsoils of hurt I shoved away. Don’t forget the principal. Never underestimate the power of the seed.

 

I never equated worry with unbelief until I read Sarah Young’s devotional, Jesus Calling.  She writes, “worry is a form of unbelief.”

She’s right. It can pose as a caring concern, or a conscientious safeguard against bad things happening.  But with barely a second thought, it makes great sense that if I am fretting about the future, I am clearly not trusting that God can handle it or me.

This has changed my view toward worry. Instead of seeing it as an inevitability, I now see it as a sin that separates me from God. But I don’t pull out the flogger and beat myself. I merely remind myself how stupid it is to waste valuable time, and I give my problem over to the Lord.

Oh, I’m good at taking it back, but the Lord is patient. And the more I practice trusting Him instead of worrying, the easier it gets to trust Him in the first place. Here is Jesus’s promise:

John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

I hope this helps you, but I’m not worried about it:)

Take a look at the latest stats about what guys are looking for. It may surprise you. The same thing you want in a guy may just be the same thing they want in you, DESPITE what media portrays. WATCH THIS short clip #Answers from Mom and Dad and send this to your struggling single friends. They will thank you.

Last entry we looked at finding help in times of need. Sometimes the help we receive is the hope that things will get better in the future. I don’t know about you, but when my day goes smoothly and my prayers are answered, I’m all smiles chanting, “Yay God!”  But when the answers I seek art forthcoming and my days are full of stresses and setbacks, I can be a bitter whiner, and I can’t even stand myself!

It helps to remind myself that the help I am looking for many times is the hope that God on the job. I may not see what he is doing in the moment, but He has come through for me so many times, it’s a big waste of time to forget that! I have to remember to allow the Holy Spirit into my life every moment so that I can overflow with hope. That means I have to get out of the way and let the Spirit do it in me. Kyle Idleman says, “It's not about trying daily it's about dying daily.” The God who has worked things out for you and me in the past, is still working for things in our future!

I love Paul’s prayer in Romans 15:13. It’s my prayer for you...and me, May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  

 

Got Help?

Have you ever lamented to your family, “I could use a little help here?”

or wished in quiet moments while you are buried under paper work in the office or knee deep in yard work that you had someone to come alongside of you? There have been so many times that I have whined for help, only to realize that the Lord has been there all along giving me what I need to tackle any job or handle any situation. The Psalmist David figured out what I am finally realizing, and his words help me, pun intended.

Psalm 28:7, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.”

Psalm 46:1-3, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

Whether it’ physical help or emotional strength, the Lord will give us what we need. Look for Him each day, especially in the struggles.

 

If schools can adjust their schedules for bad weather, why shouldn't we? Rather than fretting through rainy days because the kids are complaining that they can't play outside, use the time to make special memories. Watch this clip from Answers From Mom and Dad to learn how!

 

 

Do you ever say Yes to a project, favor, person, or event when deep inside you doubt your ability to follow through? Do you say Yes because you’re afraid people won’t like you, the boss won’t promote you, or your friends will disown you? Do you worry into the night about how you are going to accomplish what you have committed to and wish again and again you had simply said No? This video is for you!

Happy boundaries in 2015

I recently read a great description about those moments that we can experience in soul-touching prayer, when we feel the reality of God’s presence so much that we know we have truly been with Him. Here is one author’s compelling description:

“It is in this special place that you were able to come to know how special you are to the Lord and begin to understand the depth of His love for you.  This is where you come to understand His plan and purpose for your life so you can walk together in fulfilling it.  This is where you sit at His feet and learn from Him. This is where you find all you need is Him, and He is your source for everything.  It is drawing close to God and not being satisfied until He meets you with His tangible, palpable presence.

There are times it feels like you are in the throne room and you worship or sometimes a classroom and you listen and learn from the Lord. Then there are times when He will enfold you with His love and meet your deepest needs. Afterwards you feel refreshed, renewed, and strengthened for whatever life holds."

Psalm 16:11, “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

 These are the moments with God that I strive for. How about You?

 

Avoiding the Rumination Rut

In Webster’s dictionary ruminate means: “to go over in the mind repeatedly.” The next definition is to “chew repeatedly for an extended period.” Let’s see, stewing and chewing in response to stress—boy, did Webster get that right! When we fall into the Rumination Rut, we mentally stew over the same worry and problem until we are emotionally drained—yet we’ve solved nothing. While we are stuck in this negative mindset—which can last a day, week month, a year—we can easily give up on our goals and dreams that we were so excited about in the new year.

 

Listen to yourself sometime: I’m fat, I’m ugly, I’m stupid, I’m a loser, My legs are too short, Nobody wants me... Would you let your child or dear friend talk about herself like that? Not likely. Besides, you can’t change your life if you are busy engaging in self-abuse. Watch THIS CLIP to Avoid the Rumination Rut!

 

Transformation Not Resolutions

Several years ago, I read that 85% of folks abandon their resolutions each year. That’s when I decided that I wanted my the long-term goal to be Romans 1 Transformation in every area of my life, even my relationship with food. Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” That’s what I’m talkin’ about. That’s my desire!

It’s often easier to believe that God can provide for us with our finances, comfort us in our grief, and even counsel us in relationships, but we easily give up on calling on Him when it comes to our eating. His desire is to help us. We read in Psalms 46:1-2, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.” Like the folks who think that the roof will cave in if they show up in church, you might think that if you lost weight, the mountains may fall into the sea! I assure you, God is bigger than that.

 My Living Life Lean Workshop doesn’t tout a particular weight loss product or program.  My goal for the weekend is to dispel myths and inspire new habits. All weekend long we will be talking about HEALTHY ATTITUDES that inspire WINNING BEHAVIORS and foster RESILIENT CONVICTION to help you be the best You that You can be! And I can help you deal with the stinkin’ thinkin’ that keeps you returning to the cookie jar for comfort. I have a few spaces left.

 

Living Life Lean:

What to Do When What You’re Eating is Eating You

Workshop

January 16-17, 2015

Cost $149, includes breakfast and lunch on Saturday.

Come to Sierra Pines Church North West Campus near the southern entrance of Yosemite National Park, and spend a Friday Evening and Saturday and you will—

Learn earn how to

  • Understand the emotional triggers that keep you stuffing your face
  • Defeat the dreadful “stress eating” demon forever
  • Discover healthy-weight “hacks” to help you stay lean for life
  • Finally establish a balanced attitude toward food and make peace with the scale once and for all!

 

There are newly-remodeled bed and breakfast rooms available onsite for an additional $49 a night. You won’t get a hotel in Oakhurst for that.

Linda Newton at lindanewtonspeaks@gmail.com or call at 559-683-2882 ext. 21

Christmas Love

We want to know how long God’s love will endure. Not just when we are at church when our shoes are shined and our hair is fixed. Not when I’m peppy and positive and ready to tackle world hunger. Not then. I know how he feels about me then. Even I like me then.

I want to know how he feels about me when I snap at anything that moves, when my thoughts are gutter-level, when my tongue is sharp enough to slice a rock. How does he feel about me then?

Can anything separate me from the love of Christ has for us?

God answered our question before we asked it. So we’d see his answer, he lit the sky with a star. So we’d hear it, he filled the night with a choir; so we’d believe it, he did what no man had ever dreamed. He became flesh and dwelt among us.

He placed his hand on the shoulder of humanity and said, “You’re something special.”

From In the Grip of Grace, by Max Lucado

I appreciate those who Liked our page. We are trying to spread the word about Answers From Mom and Dad. Congratulations to JoAnn Prieto for winning the drawing for a copy of either Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen or Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What? I have a story in both and I will sign the book and get it to you by Christmas. Let me know which one you choose!

Holiday Eating Without Regret

“Tweeting through your evening will leave you with less regret than eating through your evening!”

Every year people pile on pounds during the holidays. I used to be one of them. I LOVE Christmas candy, party feasts, and celebrating, but not when it takes me the next six months to diet off the unwanted weight! Over the years I have collected and tried out a few principles that allow me to enjoy the party without any guilt.

In my Holiday Party Survival Tips post, I talked about grabbing a sparkling water (or just plain water) and sizing up the buffet table for what you must have. That’s better than “sizing up” your jeans after party season is over!

After you have chosen the 3 things you can’t live without, tasted them, (You don’t have to down everything you have put on your plate!) you need to keep yourself engaged so you don’t circle the buffet table like a vulture!

If you can’t find an interesting person to talk to at the event, use your virtual ones. You might hate those folks who tweet about their moments rather than living in them, but tweeting through your evening will leave you with less regret than eating through your evening! Get engrossed in your phone if you can’t keep yourself away from the chocolate peppermint bon bons!

If necessary make a trip (or three) to the bathroom to give yourself a good talking to in the mirror about the benefits of not stuffing your face. Once you have tasted what you can’t live without, you aren’t depriving yourself you are thriving in the long run.

 This isn’t the last resort, it’s the most powerful tool: Get help from your Higher Power, God. Ask Him to give you self-control. (Well, that would make it God-control and that’s a lot more effective.) It’s worked for alcoholics for over 70 years, and the Lord would love to be called on!

 

 

CHOOSE A JOY VERSE FOR THIS SEASON.

Instead of the most wonderful time of year, Christmas can be the most stressful time of year—a whirlwind of traveling, shopping, standing, baking, partying, entertaining, and even churching.

According to the American Psychological Association, 7 out of 10 people feel stress from not having enough time for their Christmas activities, and the same number—69  percent to be exact—worry about having enough money. Over half those surveyed battle anxiety selecting the right presents for loved ones.

Not surprisingly, most of the stress balls on women. Far more women than men worry about gift-giving, and women are more likely to take on added workloads by running to purchase last minute gifts and working overtime in the kitchen to feed all the guests. www.apa.org/pi/women/resources/news/holiday-blues

Here’s a helpful tip. According to David Jeremiah you can

 CHOOSE A JOY VERSE FOR THIS SEASON. There are hundreds of text about joy and rejoicing in the Bible, and they don’t take December off.  Comb through the Bible for verse and say something like:  This Christmas the joy of the Lord is my strength (Nehemiah 8:10).  This Christmas I will offer sacrifices of joy in his tabernacle (Psalm 27:6).  This Christmas my soul shall be joyful in the Lord; it shall rejoice in his salvation (Psalms 35:9).  This Christmas, I will rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4).  This is the Christmas the Lord has made me glad. I will rejoice and be glad in it (Psalms 118:24).

Let God’s Word bring you joy as you enter into this season!

 

T

PRE-PLAN YOUR FOOD PARTICIPATION AT PARTIES

I am a foody, no doubt about it! I love to cook, to feed people, and yes, to EAT! I am not one of those super thin ladies who says, “I just forgot to eat.”

I agree with the comedian who stated,“Skinny people make me sick when they say, ‘I just forgot to eat.’ I have forgotten my passwords, my car keys, and my mother’s maiden name. But I have never forgotten to eat! You gotta be some kinda stupid to forget to eat!”

All that to say, "I likes me some food!" But I don’t like unwanted pounds. So here is a weight-loss hack for the holidays to let you enjoy eating but not have to deal with back-fat in the new year!

Here are some eating-at-party hacks to keep the festivities from making you fat in no time flat!

  • Grab a sparkling water or diet soda (Unless you are worried about bone density depletion...then just get a bottle of water.) Let the water fill you up. I know the food table is calling your name! But if you sip your water and you won’t go home disappointed in yourself.
  • Walk the buffet table before you even pick up a plate. Decide the 3 things you can’t live without. Put only those things on your plate.
  • You don’t have to devour an entire piece of cake. A little dab will do ya. Take a bite of the cherry cheesecake, not the whole slice. Don’t feel guilty about throwing the rest away! It’s better to store it in a trashcan than to store it on your hips!
  • Practice good self-talk. Ask yourself the question, “Do I really have to have this?” The answer might be yes! Just make sure you have left room for it on your calorie intake for the day.

 If you want to make 2015 the year you were finally successful at being the person you always wanted to be, then you are invited to attend:

Living Life Lean:

What to Do When What You’re Eating is Eating You

Workshop

January 16-17, 2015

See the Home page for more details.

No Thunder Thighs this Thanksgiving!

During the holiday season, it’s so easy to over eat. Here is a great weight-loss hack to keep you from regretting all of that pie do you managed to stuff in your face during the Thanksgiving celebrations!

Here is a tip to help curb the calories.

Pick one day to eat freely!

Let’s face it, we can do a lot of damage in one day. But we do even more if we let ourselves enter into an eat-a-long-a-thon for the whole four-day weekend.

Don’t decide to pig out just because it’s Thanksgiving! Enjoy yourself, but remember it’s about giving thanks, not getting fat! And you enjoy yourself more when you don’t make yourself sick or have to stare at the scale with regret for the next few weeks.

Make a decision about which day during the Thanksgiving season you will allow yourself to indulge. Plan what you will have. If you have mashed potatoes, stuffing, and sweet potatoes, then you probably can’t have three pieces of pie! So maybe you’ll pick the stuffing and skip the mashed potatoes and the sweet potatoes in lieu of having both your great aunt’s apple and pumpkin pie.

But the next day you can move back to “Living Life Lean.” You won't choose to indulge with two or three pieces of pie, (but one won’t kill you:) or several helpings of mashed potatoes slathered in butter. You won't decide that you have been chosen to single-handedly make sure all of the turkey legs don't go to waste. After your day of indulgence, move back into moderation. Not only will it make it easier not to gain unwanted pounds, but you won’t make yourself sick either!

 For this and so many more weight-loss hacks, as well as some help with insights as to what keeps us stuffing our feelings, here is a workshop for you!

 Living Life Lean:

What to Do When What You’re Eating is Eating You

Workshop

January 16-17, 2015

Are you tired of yoyo dieting and feeling guilty every time you step on the scale? Do you dread doctor’s visits knowing that you are going to get “the lecture” again? Do you continually find yourself stuffed and sick from stress eating? Do you obsess about food choices until you give up and eat anything that doesn’t crawl away?

Then what you need is not another diet. You need a

Live It—a food program that works for any person, in any scenario, during any stage of life.

 

Come to Sierra Pines Church North West Campus near the southern entrance of Yosemite National Park, and spend a Friday Evening and Saturday and you will—

Learn earn how to

  • Understand the emotional triggers that keep you stuffing your face
  • Defeat the dreadful “stress eating” demon forever
  • Discover healthy-weight “hacks” to help you stay lean for life
  • Finally establish a balanced attitude toward food and make peace with the scale once and for all!

 

Cost $149, includes breakfast and lunch on Saturday. To find out more check with Linda Newton at lindanewtonspeaks@gmail.com or call at 559-683-2882 ext. 21 or visit her online at www.LindaNewtonSpeaks.com

 

 

 

 

HELPING A GRIEVING PERSON

There are times when someone we care about loses someone they love. That is where I was this week, trying to provide comfort to a grieving mother. I have never been afraid to wade into someone’s pain with them. Perhaps it’s because of my own hurts and losses along life’s path. Many times folks avoid a grieving friend because they don’t know what to say. Here is some awesome advice from Grief Share, an organization that meets in churches to help folks deal with the daunting task of grieving for someone they love:

Often times the best thing to say is nothing at all, but just to be present. Tears are a normal and proper response in times of mourning. It is good to weep with those who have experienced loss.

DO:

Keep it Simple.

“There are no words to say.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“I love you.”

Let them know they are not alone.

“ Thinking of you today.”

“We’ve been praying and we will continue to pray.”

Tell them you’ll be there for them.

“If there is anything I can do, no matter how small, I want to help.”

“If you ever want to talk, day or night, please call me.”

Don’t avoid talking about their loved one.

“He was such a good guy.”

“I always admired how sweet and kind she was.”

Reminisce.

“I remember the time when she and I got to talk about...”

“I’ll never forget the day he pulled that funny prank on me.”

DON’T

Don’t compare their pain with your own.

I know just how you feel.”

“My grandmother died too, so I understand.”

Don’t rush to the end of the grief process.

“You’ll get over this soon,”

“Time heals all wounds.”

Don’t try to explain God’s actions.

“God always picks the prettiest flowers first.”

“God must have needed her close to him.”

Don’t substitute.

“Let’s be thankful you still have other children.”

“It must be a comfort to you that your other grandfather is still living.”

Don’t theologize.

“All things work together for good; God will bring good from this.”

“God never gives us more than we can handle.”

Don’t be fatalistic.

“It must have been her time to go.”

“This is obviously God’s will.”

I pray this is a help to you,

Lovin’ Jesus~

Linda Newton, 

Empowerment Educator

https://www.facebook.com/answersfrommomanddad

https://www.youtube.com/user/answersfrommomanddad

Twitter @Momanddadanswer

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balancing Work and Family Life

I read this great article years ago that helped me balance work and family life.

Here are some quotes from it:

“Stressing out about your workload is more likely to cause problems at home than the actual amount of time you’re putting into your job,” according to research by Remus Ilies, PhD of Michigan State University’s Eli Broad Graduate School of Management.

“To make sure you leave your work at the office, set a daily limit (5-10 minutes maximum) for venting about your job to your family.” I talked in my counseling office to one woman who felt like her husband’s anger bordered on abuse of her as he ranted on for hours about his job. Another husband disclosed how sick he was of hearing his wife b______ about her boss! If we aren’t careful we can turn the folks who love us into people who need to vent about us!!!!Set a limit on the negative and move on. 

Another idea: Keep a nightly log of good things that happened at work—it could put out any lingering fires from earlier in the day and allow you to relax more at home.

Facebook can be a great place to connect with family and friends across the miles, to share information, and to find entertainment. But it’s a lousy place to deal with conflict in relationships. Be careful of the Passive-Aggressive Facebook Punch. It’s counterproductive.

We can pray in faith, not in fear, pray in hope and not out of our hurt.

I have noticed that there can be a difference in how I seek the Lord. I can come to him wringing my hands in worry, about the future, fearful and fretting and full of regret. When I am in that state, I have “sticy-fingered-prayers.” I hand my issue over to God, but I never really let go, because I am so wrapped up in the outcome.

That’s when I know that I am listening to the pain of my past, and allowing it to dictate my responses in the present. It’s hard when we have had regressive pain and plenty of reasons to fear because the world we lived in didn’t feel safe. That’s when problems surface and our brain plays tricks on us.

Those painful memories stored deep in the amygdala of the brain, kick up the same feelings that we felt during those vulnerable times. They can overtake us and we end up living under the bondage of that fear, regret, or self-loathing. Without realizing there is a better way, we stay victims of our past and our pain rather than embracing the victory God makes available to us.

Now we are all grown up and we are no longer subject to anyone else dictating our destiny, we call our own shots. Now we can choose to trust the Lord who always has our best interest at heart.  

I am learning the difference of praying in my fear and embracing new faith in a new life lived relying on God. Instead of responding out of the past hurt I experienced in life and seeing life from the point of view of that vulnerable person whose life felt adrift on a sea of lonely and crazy, I can pray in hope that God’s got my back now!

 Micah 7:7, “But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord. I hope for God, my savior; my God will hear me.”

Psalm 27:13-14, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take hear and wait for the Lord.

If you keep recycling the same hurts and have difficulty trusting that the Lord will work things out for good in your life perhaps this is the Workshop for you...

HEALING THE HURTS THAT ARE HOLDING YOU BACK

At Sierra Pines Church
When: Friday, October 17, 7:00 pm—9:00pm
Saturday, October 18, 9:00 am—3:30 pm
Continental Breakfast and Lunch will be provided on Saturday.
Where: Sierra Pines Church Northwest Campus in Oakhurst, CA (Take the driveway next to the church on the same side of the street)

I am very grateful God gave me the courage to attend the Healing the Hurts workshop. For the first time, God revealed the “why” behind the “what” is happening in my life. I learned how my past effects decisions I make today. I now have tools and the knowledge on how to make better decisions and to stop settling for less than what God desires. The environment of the workshop was a place I felt very comfortable and God worked in me to provide peace, healing and restoration    -Katie

The Workshop is limited to no more than 17 people, so register while there is still space available. Cost: $149 per person. If you need a place to stay, there are a few newly remodeled bed and breakfast rooms available on site for an additional $49 per night.

Call me at 559-683-2882 ext. 21 or email me at lindanewtonspeaks@gmail.com.  It could make a difference in you for the rest of your life.

My calendar says that Fall is here! While the temperature is less severe, in California we are still praying for rain and hoping not to go up in smoke!

Growing up in the South, Autumn was my favorite season, the cool crisp mornings, the brilliantly colored leaves, the shadows cast as the sun sank low in the sky each evening all conspired to make the change of the seasons delicious!

Change can be welcome and beneficial, but sometimes despite our best efforts, change escapes us. Then we continue with damaging habits, resentments that rob our joy, and negative thinking that keeps us from moving ahead in life and especially relationships.

If the change you desire escapes you this season, perhaps you need some help. Here it is~

Healing the Hurts that Are Holding You Back Workshop

In the beautiful location at the Sierra Pines Church Northwest Campus near Yosemite National Park, you can attend this ten-hour intensive that will teach you tools to~

¨     Identify the stuff that keeps you stuck

¨     Stop renting space in your head to bad memories and offenses

¨     Learn to forgive others, yourself, and God

¨     Relinquish the stinkin’ thinkin’ that causes you to emotionally circle the drain

¨     Learn how to love yourself and the challenging folks in your family

¨     Stay connected to Christ with time-tested tools to process your pain

¨     Let go of your hurts and let God fully empower you as you live for Him

 

I am very grateful God gave me the courage to attend the Healing the Hurts workshop. For the first time, God revealed the “why” behind the “what” is happening in my life. I learned how my past effects decisions I make today. I now have tools and the knowledge on how to make better decisions and to stop settling for less than what God desires. The environment of the workshop was a place I felt very comfortable and God worked in me to provide peace, healing and restoration    -Katie

At Sierra Pines Church
When: Friday, October 17, 7:00 pm—9:00pm
Saturday, October 18, 9:00 am—3:30 pm
Continental Breakfast and Lunch will be provided on Saturday.
Where: Sierra Pines Church Northwest Campus in Oakhurst, CA (Take the driveway next to the church on the same side of the street)

The Workshop is limited to no more than 17 people, so register while there is still space available. Cost: $149 per person. If you need a place to stay, there are a few newly remodeled bed and breakfast rooms available on site for an additional $49 per night.

Call Linda at 559-683-2882 ext. 21. It could make a difference in you for the rest of your life.

Sometimes the worst of circumstances brings out the best in people.

It has been a rough couple of months in our sleepy little town of Oakhurst. We have had three fires in 2 short months. The last one took 30 homes, and displaced so many people. In our church of over 700, no one lost their homes, praise, God. But we are such a close-knit community, we are feeling deeply for the folks who did.

In the midst of pain and loss, people have opened their doors to strangers, and businesses are seeking to raise funds for those in need. Check http://www.sierrastar.com for what is happening in the community to help those folks who are affected.

Today I was in the bank and a teller told me of a woman who came in, sat down in a chair, and fell sound asleep. No one woke her when realized that she was one of folks whose home went up in flames. I was so grateful for the management and employees of the bank who didn’t let the rules of their business establishment get in the way of their human kindness.

Another woman who had to flee the fire said that 8 years ago she was in a self-imposed prison, hating everyone including herself. She came to God and he led her to church. “Back then, no one would have called me. Today when folks heard about my situation, my phone rang off the hook with offers of help, food, money, and even places to stay.”

That makes me proud to be from our sleepy but loving little town. And it makes me real glad to part of such an awesome family of God. 

Would you please pray for the folks who have lost their homes that they don’t lose their hope. Pray for our firefighters, and PRAY FOR RAIN.



If you have ever suffered from anxiety you know how crippling it can be. Some folks spend so much time worrying that it becomes a way of life, and a miserable one at that! Take a moment and watch this QUICK CLIP from Answers From Mom and Dad for some tools to help you conquer anxiety. While you are there, if you haven’t already, subscribe to our Youtube channel.

One thing I always wanted to do is write. When my kids left home, I decided to make that dream a reality. (Keep reading for more on how to improve your concentration for whatever goal you have in mind by Gretchen Rubin.) I started with writing stories, and I was blessed to sell some to Chicken Soup for the Soul. Two of those books came out this year and I had fun signing them last Friday at Branches Books & Gifts in Oakhurst.

HAVE TROUBLE CONCENTRATING? TRY THESE SUGGESTIONS

By Gretche Rubin

We all know the feeling of being overwhelmed, of being beset by distractions.

Too many things clamor for your attention. People are trying to reach you, by phone, email, text, Twitter, or old-fashioned yelling up the stairs. Colleagues interrupt. You need to update, check in, post, or ping. Ads jump at you from the most unlikely places. Devices buzz, ring, chirp, and vibrate.

There are steps you might consider to quiet the buzz in your brain – even if you don’t want to take up meditation.

In addition to feeling calmer and more focused, you’ll probably be more efficient, too. Turns out that people aren’t very good at thinking about two things at once. One study showed that when people were interrupted to respond to email or IM, it took about fifteen minutes for them to resume a serious mental task.

So consider taking steps like these, at least occasionally.. They may not all work for you, but you may find a few that will help you focus.

1. If you keep the TV, radio, or music turned on in the background – while you’re getting dressed, say – turn it off. Some people love background noise, but I find it very draining.

2. I have a sticky note in my bedroom that reads, “Quiet mind.” Whenever I see it, I drop my shoulders, relax my jaw, and try to smooth out my thoughts. It actually works.

3. Organize space so it’s attractive, well organized, and well lit. One of my most important Secrets of Adulthood: Outer order contributes to inner calm.

4. Cut down on the multi-tasking. Don’t talk on the phone while you’re doing dishes, don’t check your email while you listen to a conference call, don’t sort the mail while your child explains the school project that’s due next week.

5. Turn your cell phone ringer off. Hearing your cell phone ring – or even imagining that you’re hearing it ring – is a big source of jumpiness.

6. Take a break from doing errands. Keep a list, but don’t try to cram them in throughout your day.

7. Use the internet only to look up specific pieces of information; no jumping from link to link, no browsing.

8. Turn off your email for some parts of the day.

9. In her book The Creative Habit, Twyla Tharp mentioned an interesting approach: occasionally, for a week, she’d “stop counting.” She avoided looking at clocks, contracts, bank statements, bathroom scales, or anything to do with numbers, in order to let the other part of her brain take over.

10. Exercise. If I don’t exercise regularly, I’m too jumpy and restless to sit still and concentrate. I keep popping up and down. It’s true that taking regular breaks is good for focus — but within limits! (Here are some tips for getting regular exercise.)

11. Flee temptation. I find it hard to work in my home office, because my family, the phone, my email, and the internet constantly beguile me away from my work. So when I have serious writing to do, I go to a library near my apartment which has a study room with a strict rule of silence.

It’s important to have space in which to think. Yesterday, I overheard someone complain, “My phone was dead, so I was so bored during my cab ride home. I just had to sit there.”

There are few things that I love more than looking out the window of a car, train, or bus. One day, when I was gazing out of a bus window, I was struck by a thought: “What do I want out of life?” “Well,” I thought, “I want to be happy.” It occurred to me that I never thought about whether I was happy or not, or how I could be happier, or even what it meant to be happy.

“Zoikes,” I thought, “I should have a happiness project!”

If I’d been checking my emails, I might never have had the idea for my book The Happiness Project.

Finding Purpose

Last week I wrote about a dark time in my life when everything seemed hopeless. I was required to go to counseling and among the many things my counselor suggested, he encouraged me to give myself away!

My internal response was, “You’ve got to be kidding. Have you seen me? I don’t have enough for myself, much less to give away!” But at the time I was such a cowering codependent people-pleaser that I didn’t have the courage to say that out-loud. So I dutifully did what he said, and it turns out he was right.

Now forty year later, I still believe that to be true. But don’t take my word for it. Trust the latest research. Watch this SHORT CLIP from Answers From Mom and Dad about a new book by sociologists from Notre Dame.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Paradox-Generosity-Receive-Grasping/dp/0199394903

Coming Opportunities~

BOOK SIGNING AT BRANCHES BOOKS & GIFTS—PLEASE COME BY. There are some great Chicken Soup titles you can use for gifts. Do some Christmas shopping early!

Chicken Soup for the Soul Signing –

Friday, Sept. 5, from 5-7pm

40282 Hwy 41, Suite 14

Oakhurst, California 93644

559-641-2019

I have been blessed to have stories in 6 different Chicken Soup for the Soul books. The 2 most recently released are~Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What? and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen.  I'll be signing copies at Branches Books & Gifts in conjunction with Party on the Plaza!!!! 

Come and join us:)

Check out more info at

http://www.branchesbooks.com/event/book-signing-chicken-soup-soul-cat-did-what-featuring-local-author-linda-newton

https://www.facebook.com/events/1386580101629425/

-       See more at: http://www.lindanewtonspeaks.com/calendar#post-314

Suicide

My heart breaks as I continue to read articles about Robin William’s tragic death. With all of his talent, money, and fame, with his amazing ability to make us laugh freely and think deeply, a man who achieved the highest honors in his field...it begs the question, what helps a person find hope?

This has forced me to look at a time in my life that was so dark (and I’ve had some dark times.) that I have hardly been able to face it in all these years. I have seldom talked about it, and I certainly haven’t written about it, or spoken in public about this pain.

I was in college feeling like a duck out of water. It had been less than a year since the painful night my mom had a major meltdown, and this time she got so violent the cops showed up in the middle of the night. Then one minute I was living in Chattanooga, Tennessee planning on graduating with honors surrounded by all of my friends, and the next minute I was in Charlotte, North Carolina living with a dad I barely knew, a step-mom I had only met once, and a little sister I had never seen before. At least it wasn’t my mom, an angry crazy lady who considered her kids as cheap labor at best and bothersome pests, at worst. Still I felt lost.

My self-esteem was nonexistent and despite the fact that I was a good student, and I couldn’t reconcile that I was good enough to make it in college. I was constantly haunted by the fear that I would live down to my mom’s expectations and, “never amount to anything in life.” Along with the fear of failure, I was a southern girl in a California culture, and I felt the difference of not fitting in. That contributed to me being too self-conscious to make friends.

One night around the Ides of March, feeling hopeless, helpless, and alone, I went into my dorm room and tried to end it. Then my memories get fuzzy. I’m not really sure how anyone found out what I had done, but the next thing I remember was riding in a car. I dozed and woke up in the emergency room.

I remember sitting on the table in the exam room. The doctor asked me what happened. When I did manage to spit out what I had done, he walked over, flung open the door to the waiting room full of patients, and screamed at me, “Look out there, dammit.” These people are sick, and you did this to yourself!”

Perhaps there are those who would question his response to me. Perhaps if it had been a less busy night in the ER, he would have questioned it himself. But I needed his words to wake me up. It was the first time I could look at myself objectively. He was right. I brought this on myself.

Other than violently puking up black charcoal, the rest of my short hospital stay was a blur. I do remember a slender man with no expression on his face stopping by. He said he was the on-call psychologist. He asked me what happened, I told him a few of the details, and still with no expression on his face, all he said was, “I think you need group therapy.”

The next few weeks were dark days. In fact, I remember sitting in the dark for hours. I couldn’t eat, or sleep, or study. I could barely cognate.

 A few years prior, I found faith in God. That experience was life changing, but I had lost my way with all the hurts that had happened in recent months. But in the quiet hours in that dark room, I cried out to the God I had given up on. I realized I was angry at God because even when I had tried to follow Him, my life still fell apart, or so it seemed.

I didn’t know where to turn, so I turned to Him. I needed a Higher Power, a power greater than me to restore me to sanity (Where have I heard that since?) and He was there. Even when I flipped Him off and tried to take the very life He had given me, He didn’t give up on me. I made a decision in that moment to talk to Him whenever I felt hopeless.

I opened up the Bible and found comfort again, like I had done in years past. Everything I read showed me how much God loved me. That was something I had a hard time believing because my own mother couldn’t love me. I didn’t feel alone anymore (Duet. 31:6). I started to download that He loved me with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3) and that He had welfare, not calamity to give me a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11). The more I let God back into my life, the more hope I felt.

The college I attended required that go to counseling. It was the best thing that I could have done. I wasn’t used to talking about my problems, so it was hard at first. But the relief it brought made it worth the challenge.

My counselor was a compassionate, wise Christian man. It was obvious that he cared, but it didn’t take long before I realized he wasn’t going to indulge any of my self-pity. In fact, whenever I would lament about what was wrong, he would constantly point me toward what I had going for me. It built my non-existent self-esteem. Before long, I realized I did have quite a bit to be thankful for.

The tiny thread of hope I embraced on that dark night in my dorm room was the beginning of a total transformation. I don’t know that fragile, hot-mess of a girl who wanted to check out. I know now I was seeking a permanent solution for a temporary problem. I am so thankful that I was unsuccessful at my attempt to stop the world and get off. Otherwise I would have missed so much—graduating college with honors (and I was the girl who felt like she wouldn’t graduate at all.) finding my wonderful husband of now 37 years, my 3 awesome kids and their spouses, and now a delightful grand daughter.

I had distanced from God because I didn’t like the way things were going. Now I see in hindsight so much good that has come from my pain, not the least of which is the passion I have as a counselor. I know what it’s like to feel pain, and I know how to help people get past it.

Please trust me and don’t check out. YOU HAVE TO WAIT TO SEE HOW THE MOVIE TURNS OUT.  I can’t express how grateful I am that I did.

Still embracing hope,

Linda

 

 

 Gardens, like life, require attention or we won’t get the results we are seeking. I might be able to slack on my garden, but when it comes to life, I need to pay attention. Watch this SHORT CLIP from Answers from Mom and Dad to inspire you to stay intentional each day with the things that really matter.

Don’t Correct, Respect!

Have you ever been with a couple that as they continually correct each other when one is trying to tell a story? Doesn't it make you feel uncomfortable? If you know someone with that bad habit, show them This 2 Min. Video from Answers From Mom and Dad. It could make them better partners for each other and easier people for you to enjoy!

In her book Jesus Calling, author Sarah Young writes in the first person as if Jesus is addressing the reader. Here is a favorite quote from her book, Christ’s words to me...

Be still in my presence even though countless tasks clamor for you attention. Nothing is as important as spending time with me.

Psalm 37: 7 states,  “Be still in the presence of the Lord,
and wait patiently for him to act.” 

It is always so much easier for me to wait patiently for him to act when I have spent time soaking in the peace I can find in His presence! When I can idle down and surrender my agenda to Him and His agenda, I feel His unconditional love and bask in His peace. Then I have what it takes to wait on Him for answers to life’s constant issues. As for me, I am going to mosey out to my deck and sit a spell. How about you?

 

Years ago, we were told by a very successful business mentor that there are 3 kinds of people in life. He likened them to birds. To find out which one you are, take 3 minutes and watch THIS VIDEO from Answers From Mom and Dad.

 

What a Thrill

I just finished teaching a 5 week S.H.A.P.E. class at church. It’s Rick Warren’s amazing curriculum to help folks understand how God has “shaped” each of us for His special purposes. We looked at our Spiritual gifts, Heartbeat or passion, Abilities, Personality type and Experiences to see how God has been grooming us for years for the tasks He has called us to! I loved watching the folks in my class light up as they learned more about who they are and how their skill sets can make a difference for eternity.

My husband, the musician, explained to me that if you have two stringed instruments in the same proximity, and you play an A-note on one, the A string on the other instrument will vibrate as well! He said that is known as “Thrill” or the thrill effect. I personally think it gives both God and us a “thrill” as we play the music our lives were designed to create by using our gifts for His kingdom. In fact, I don’t think there is any greater thrill in life than being used by the Lord to make a difference in someone else’s life!

What song has He empowered you to play?

Start Over

Failure can either build our character or tear down our resolve. Face it; we will all fail at some time in our lives. We might find ourselves down, but we don’t have to stay there. Here is a video with 3 WAYS TO START OVER from Answers From Mom and Dad.

 

 

Repetition Compulsion

While Sigmund Freud needed Jesus real bad, he was dead-straight-right on his theory of repetition compulsion. He believed that we replay the pain of our childhood in our present relationships as we are compelled to repeat what is familiar to us. It often happens at a subconscious level, so we aren’t always aware when it is happening. Here is SHORT CLIP that can help you avoid this damaging downfall.

I posted a story on our Facebook page about my journey to avoid playing out my own repetition compulsion. Check it out. https://www.facebook.com/answersfrommomanddad

 

Asking and Receiving

James 4:2,  “You do not have, because you do not ask God.”

Trusting God to be there for us is easier said than done. Many times we don’t believe He is trustworthy. Maybe you are like me and, you have a lot to overcome in the trust dept.

I moved in with my dad when I was barely 17 years old after my mom had a major mother meltdown and decided she was done with parenting gig. I tried so hard to earn my mom’s love. I made A’s in school, cooked dinners, did laundry, cleaned the house. But she could always find something wrong and the acceptance and approval I was desperate for always eluded me.

Despite my best efforts, my mom she still threw me away. In the middle of my senior year in high school, when I was scheduled to graduate as salutatorian, Mama sent me to live with my Disneyland-dad, step-mom only met once, little sister I didn’t know I had.

In my new home, with my dad and step-mom, I was afraid to ask for anything—help, coat hangers, even food. I was skin and bones because I was afraid to ask for anything to eat. I don’t have to tell you that’s not the case any longer! He sad truth is that my new family would have gladly supplied those needs, but I didn’t have because I didn’t trust that I could get what I needed.

There is a story in Matthew 7 where Jesus is making a point. He was trying to explain to a group of people the all-encompassing favor God has for His children. To do that, He chose the most obvious example of unconditional love He had available—the parent–child relationship.

Matt 7:9–10 reads, “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?”

Maybe if you were there that day you would day, “Uhh, ME!” Because many of us feel like Charlie Brown from the TV special, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. As he was trick-or-treating with his friends, going from one door to the next, Lucy crowed, “I got candy.”

Linus beamed, “ I got gum.”

But Charlie Brown

moaned, “I got a rock!” With each new door they knocked on, the outcome was the same.

The other kids got candy or gum, but over and over again, Charlie Brown just got a rock.

God set the human family in place so that parents could pave the way for their children to understand the relationship of unconditional love and acceptance he has too offer them. Yet parents who are difficult, demanding, unaccepting, or unsupportive train their children to feel like Charlie Brown when he muttered, “I got a rock.”

God expects our parents to love us. When they choose not to or they aren’t able to,

He is as disappointed as we are. However (and there is always a “divine however”), God

can take that rock that we’ve been given and polish it into a precious diamond—if we let

him. When we let him do that, his power transforms us.

He did that in my life, and He will do it for you if you let Him. I

If you have difficulty letting Him, please spend a workshop weekend with Bruce and me and allow us to help you work through your hurts so that you can draw close to the Lord.

Healing the Hurts that Are Holding You Back Workshop For Men and Women
You can register now~

At Sierra Pines Church
When: Friday, June 27, 7:00 pm—9:00pm
Saturday, June 28, 9:00 am—3:30 pm
Continental Breakfast and Lunch will be provided on Saturday.
Where: Sierra Pines Church Northwest Campus in Oakhurst, CA (Take the driveway next to the church on the same side of the street)

The Workshop is limited to no more than 17 people, so register while there is still space available. Cost: $149 per person. If you need a place to stay, there are a few newly remodeled bed and breakfast rooms available on site for an additional $49 per night.

To register call Linda at 559-683-2882 ext. 21. It could make a difference in you for the rest of your life.

A couple of weeks ago,  my post was from a talk I did about the ABC’s of Connecting With God. I referenced the “C” as Confess Your Sins to the Lord Regularly. Here is more from that talk~

God is not against us for our sin; He is for us against our sin.

We tend to have a false view of God seeing Him as Dirty Harry in the sky with His hand hovering above the smite button on His cosmic computer saying, “Go ahead, Punk. Make my eternity!” Isn’t one day like and eternity to God?

That is not who God is. If we want to know His nature, we can see His character presented in His Word:

Psalm 103: 10-12 tells us, “He does not treat us as our sins deserve 
or repay us according to our iniquities. 11 for as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

Hebrews 8:12 states,  “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

God forgives us, and we need to do the same! But often when we are dissatisfied with our behavior, we tend to feel unworthy of God’s love. Then we unconsciously punish ourselves by withdrawing from God, all the while attributing the distance to God not being happy with our performance. Then either we attempt to be good enough for God by trying harder on our own or giving up all together. The real solution is to come to Him, accept His love and forgiveness. Confess and let Him do the rest!

In the words of Max Lucado, “Our Savior kneels down and gazes upon the darkest deeds of our lives and with compassion says, ‘I can clean that if you want me to.’ And from His basin of grace, He scoops up a palm full of mercy and washes our sins away!”

(Don’t you love that!)

 

 

 

 

Recently at a restaurant, I watched as a family if six seated themselves and for the next 20 minutes, no one looked up from their cell phones. The food showed up, they ate quickly, and buried their faces again, missing a great opportunity to connect. It broke my heart. Some of my best family memories were clowning around the dinner table with my kids, talking about the day, making jokes and building relationships. It’s hard to get your kids to tell you the important things if you don’t talk about anything.

We can be dumb with our smart phones. Don’t let that happen to you. Watch this from Answers From Mom and Dad.

Blessings as you “unplug” and live in real time with the real people in your life.

A couple of weeks ago, I spoke on the ABC’s of connecting with the Lord. I had several folks ask me for a copy the “C” that I described. Here it is.

Confess Your Sins to the Lord Regularly

Many times we don’t trust the Lord because we are not convinced we are worth His while. We don’t feel worthy of His love, so feel too messed up to even ask Him for His help. But that is why Jesus died for us. When I can own my bad and let it go, and move past it by confessing is to God, then I can be free of it!

Romans 3:23, "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."

Rick Warren says, “We all have our falling shorts!” He’s right. None of us is perfect. But David knew what to do about it.

Psalm 32: 5 reads, “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not over up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord — and you forgave the guilt of my sin.’” NIV.

Our unconfessed sin, our resentments, and hurts, the wrongs we’ve done, and the things that have been done to us can collect in our souls and corrode our connection to Christ. And that erodes our trust. But we can dump baggage of guilt and shame we tend to carry around, dump it on God.

 1 John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” It doesn’t say some it says all!

Confession keeps us in real time with God. It is a valuable tool for staying current with the Lord and building trust in Him.

 

Have you ever spent a sleepless night trying to figure out how to manage a critical person in the workplace? Do you ever struggle with petty people putting you down? Here is A TOOL from Answers From Mom and Dad that cam help! It is born out of some down-home southern wisdom that is tried and true

A Mother’s Prayer

One weary mom shared her story with me at a women’s luncheon. She has given me her blessing to share this with you! Yolanda was heavy-hearted mother whose youngest son had just boarded a plane for Arlington, Virginia, leaving her with an empty nest, and mind filled with worries and concerns. She had known the Lord long enough to know that He was trustworthy, but this was her precious son, and he was heading off to be trained for military service during a time of war! 

“I fell asleep that night praying for my son and for me, that I could trust God and not worry myself into a early grave,” she shared.

“I had to work that Sunday morning, but my soul felt dry and doubting. I needed to go to church. Even though there was only 20 minutes left in the service, I made my way to one of the back rows looking for a seat. I didn’t know we were having a guest speaker that day. Just as I sat down, I heard the speaker say that he was in California all the way from Arlington, Virginia! I felt God-bumps up and down my arms.”

“The minute the service ended, I bee-lined up the aisle to the speaker, introduced myself, and told him my story. He graciously offered to pray for my son. Then he went one step further. He asked for my son’s contact info and offered to help him find a church in town when he arrived.”

 You can’t tell me that was a coincidence. God heard this weary mother’s prayers, and He was already at work in her son’s life. In less than 24 hours her prayers for her son were answered! God is good, and he hears mother' prayers.

Happy Mother's Day!

 

 

I recently came across this quote, "The success of marriage comes not from finding the 'right' person, but in the ability of both partners to adjust to the real person they inevitably realize they married!" John Fisher. I believe that Mr. Fisher is onto something.

This week we celebrate 38 years of marriage! Shouldn't we get a letter from the president or something? That's quite a feat in today's culture! We have not been without our struggles. But we have gone the distance by learning which hills to die on and which ones to adjust to. Perhaps this SHORT CLIP from Answers From Mom and Dad can clarify what that looks like.

Loneliness is a major health risk for the elderly and it can increase the risk of premature death by 14%.” Shocking news, huh? This is a quote from a recent study sharing the health risks of loneliness which will be posted on our FB page at

https://www.facebook.com/answersfrommomanddad

There comes a time in every person’s life when even the most die-hard independent soul needs other people. This Short Video from Answers From Mom and Dad shares the benefits of being part of a “collective connectedness, which comes from feeling that you're part of a group or collective beyond individual existence,” also quoting from this research.

 Please click the red button to subscribe to our channel for more videos~

https://www.youtube.com/user/answersfrommomanddad

Happy Easter!

 

Here is a powerful letter I received from a very articulate woman after she viewed our “Forgive and Forget?” video from Answers From Mom and Dad. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4u4B0gGbhxI

 Her comments is amazing and insightful, not to mention very helpful.

 Hello Linda,

 I was blessed to attend a retreat where you spoke last year. You shared with us about Forgiveness. We spoke shortly after you talked about Saul and David.

In your sharing, you referenced that Saul’s jealousy of David drove him to madness and a thirst for revenge.  It was at that point that David realized that he could never return to how things were between them, no matter how much Saul spoke of how he loved David as his own son.  Also, the fact that David could have killed Saul in the cave, but chose to cut off a piece of his robe and show Saul that in fact, he made the choice not to.  But then, David left Saul and did not return home with him.   David could have chosen the wrong path and gone with Saul to his home, but he was waiting for God’s timing and not his own.  He made a deliberate choice and knew that it was only a matter of time before Saul would be back to hunt him down.  So, they parted ways at that point.  I have held that your message was from God that day.  Your perspective you shared that day changed everything about what I believed.  I want to thank you.

On March 10th, my mother passed away.  She was the Saul in my life.  When I met you, I had already heard from God clearly to wait on his timing and not return to the relationship that I had with my mother.  As painful as it was for me, I also made a deliberate choice.  It was also painful to know that up to that point, no pastor had ever made a clear distinction between forgiveness, and what that might mean in some cases where the relationship was abusive.  So, I was conflicted with what I know God had clearly given to me; what I knew to be the truth about my mother, and the seemingly overwhelming message from the pulpit that you need to restore the relationship.  Your sharing of Saul and David opened a door wide enough for anyone, with any sense and understanding of wounded relationships, to comprehend the reason God had placed the account of that event in the bible.  It clearly shows that even though God wants us to forgive, he does not want His children placed in harm’s way when it becomes obvious that the other individual has no intention or desire to change.

My mother had been in the hospital for almost 2 ½ weeks.  She had suffered a brain aneurism and was placed in a deep induced coma. With the passing of my mother, I am no longer in bondage.  I have completely forgiven her and am actually happy for her, because I know that she is now free.  I know that there are people who judge me because I am not “broken hearted” and possibly shattering the norm in how people are “supposed to behave” when a loved one dies.  But in actuality, I dealt with this four years ago, when I realized like David did, that she was never going to change; nor would she even try.  But let me share with you what has happened since her passing….

In helping my father though this, our relationship has changed.  We now speak of things that we could never speak of, and talk about issues openly.  I always sensed that he too would be free, and I was right.  He has sought out a church on his own, and has been reading his bible as well. God is working in him.  God is restoring the relationship with not only me, but his sons as well.  My father has an amazing network of friends, and they have stepped up to make sure that he is doing well.  I am excited about finally having a relationship with my father.  My brothers are too.

So in the end, I look forward to restored relationships in heaven.  I look forward to the day when there will be a healthy relationship that could have never been here on earth.  Until then, I am now free to live guilt free and suffer no more pain or feel no more obligation to what could have never been.

And oh yes, I watched the video, “Forgive and Forget?”.  I plan on sharing it with my students in my Human Relations course, because I believe that it will help them with their own relationships.

Thank you for letting God work though you.

Sincerely, Nancy

Have you ever had to deal with people who continue to hurt you over and over again? Then This Short Video from Answers From Mom and Dad is for you, no foolin!

 

 

 

I have always heard, “Attitude is mind over matter,” but my mother-in-law added, “Yeah, if you don’t mind it don’t matter!” If you are like me you can “mind” a lot of things. Then they get under your skin, keep you awake nights and generally wreck your sense of well-being. Here is a QUICK TIP from Answers from Mom and Dad to help you.

 

Last week we looked at what makes a guy feel valued in a relationship. This week, we look at how to meet your wife’s needs to create a relationship that will go the distance. Watch this QUICK TIP from Answers from Mom and Dad.

Please subscribe to our YouTube channel so you can see more helpful videos!

 She says, “He walks away before we ever get anything resolved.”

 He says, “I feel like I have to follow her around if we are ever going to deal with our stuff. Then she gets mad and accuses me of stalking her!”

 She says, “Whenever anything challenging comes up, it’s off to the garage so he can retreat to his man cave! I’m getting more and more hopeless that we will ever find a way to talk about our problems.”

 He says, “Why can’t she be like my brothers. We talked it out, even yelled if we had to. But we didn’t just let things go. How can we get any better if we can never finish a discussion?”

 Here is a doable solution for the “Pursuer/Avoider” dynamic that can frustrate a perfectly good relationship! Watch this SHORT CLIP from Answers from Mom and Dad.

Are there challenging topics that cause conflict in your relationships? Do you often find yourself recycling the same argument again and again without any resolution?  Would you like to have a solution-based template for better understanding?  Here is another tool in your Communication Tool Belt. Watch this SHORT CLIP from Answers From Mom and Dad...Talk With the Hand.

Only 12 more shopping days until Valentine's Day~

Valentine’s Day is just a few weeks away! Here is a gift for any spouse. One of the best tools for communicating challenging issues is the “Pauline Sandwich.” It will help you focus on the positive, express things in a pleasant way, and make communication more effective while diverting conflict. Watch this from Answers From Mom and Dad.

 Try it and share with us on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/answersfrommomanddad how things went!

 

 

Are you often your own worst enemy sabotaging your success with your stinkin’ thinkin’? Do you ever wish you could REPROGRAM your mind and be rid of those negative thoughts that debilitate you. Are you looking for tools to empower yourself in the New Year. Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz has some helpful ideas to help you retrain your brain. WATCH THIS.

New Year’s Resolution: “Be more encouraging to the people in my life.”

Try it and see if the atmosphere in your home and workplace improves! See if it doesn’t bring a smile to your face and change how you view the world and the people in it!

Encouragement is win/win. It empowers those you praise, and it fills the tank of the encourager as he or she begins to focus more on the positive.

WATCH THIS before your prepare your list of New Year’s resolutions. Let’s become encouragers and make the world a better more hopeful place!

 

We recently filmed a short piece about “mindfulness,” or staying in the moment, especially during the Christmas season. Life always provides a way for us to practice what we preach, doesn’t it? We filmed this before my hubby fell in the snow and broke his leg!!!!!

In the video we encourage folks even in the midst of the shopping, cooking, decorating, wrapping, planning, and partying to find some time to get away and quietly reflect, to be MINDFUL of the moment and not just move from one task to the next. That advice was as much for me as it was for anyone else. My middle name is Multi-tasker! I don’t live in the moment; I live on my way from one moment to the next.

But now life has come to a screeching halt. Bruce isn’t mobile and I have to keep an eye on him. Current circumstances dictate that we have many quiet mindful moments.  I must admit, it is quite therapeutic! Relax a moment and watch this.

If you would like to check out the article we quote from in this clip, click on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/answersfrommomanddad

Before your schedule kicks into full throttle this holiday season, can I encourage you NOT to hurry through every moment as you journey from one project to the next, goin' 90 miles-an-hour on a dead-end street! Christmas will come whether you make memories or mahem! Memories always make us feel better.

Take some time to bake cookies with your kids. If they are grown, make cookies for them and enjoy the process. If you are worried about calories, here are a few tongue-in-cheek rules to help you. Watch this fun Christmas Clip.

I fell in love with the sweet old poem about THANKSGIVING! I hope you enjoy it too.

THANKSGIVING REMEMBERED

This is our day for remembering
How Pilgrim feet of yore
Were led to God’s green pastures
On a cold New England shore.

Of strong but aching fingers
That clutched His staff and rod,
To march through death’s dark valley
Because they trusted God.

Remembering those whose courage
Called faith and freedom twain;
Who walked the paths of righteousness
With souls man could not chain.

Their grateful hearts remembered
How God their needs did bless.
So they joined their hands together
In mutual thankfulness.

Let us remember also
Our cups that runneth o’er
Because they have been filled
From God’s abundant store.

Goodness and mercy are with us
Where freeman know the right,
For the Shepherd who led the Pilgrims
Is guiding our feet tonight.

Sweet, isn’t it?
HAVE A HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!!!

CONTEST: It’s getting close to Christmastime, so here is a chance to
WIN A BOOK
for yourself of someone else.
 If you are on Twitter, follow me on @Momanddadanswer

and I will put your name in a drawing to win a copy of Chicken Soul for the Soul: Angels Among Us. Drawing will take place on Dec 9th so you will get the book or books in time for Christmas!


Lovin’ Jesus,
Linda Newton, Empowerment Educator
https://www.facebook.com/answersfrommomanddad
https://www.youtube.com/user/answersfrommomanddad
Twitter @Momanddadanswer


I am thankful for getting older only because I have a chance to get a little wiser. I have learned the hard way over the years not to worry so much about what others think of me. Most people are so worried about themselves, they aren't even thinking about me...or you anyway! If you have difficulty feeling comfortable in your own skin, watch this SHORT CLIP.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Lovin’ Jesus~
Linda Newton,
Empowerment Educator

THE POWER OF AN ENCOURAGING WORD

Despite the fact that my youngest daughter, Ashley was born with life-threatening heart problems necessitating several heart surgeries before the first grade, she always managed to stay positive. That is until a doctor visit threatened to sink both our spirits.

Ashley was having some girl issues so we had to move from our wonderful pediatrician to a new doctor. New doctors posed a challenge because they had so many questions about all of Ashley’s issues and her many procedures. We were down for that and even for the doctor-like grunts and groans. But this lady couldn’t stop herself from commenting on all of my daughter’s scars and marks.

 “Wow, this is a real mess. You have some real scars here. I don’t think anything can be done for all of these.”

As if that wasn’t bad enough, she felt compelled to share her observations about Ashley’s luck in life.

“You’ve been dealt a real hand! This is going to be a challenging lot to deal with.”

 Normally, I am very protective of my kids, and I would have stepped in to silence the discouragement, but this professional’s lack of professionality was so hard to believe, it left me speechless! I knew that all of these thoughts had passed through my daughter’s mind at one point or another, but she had worked hard to dismiss them and focus on the positives she had in life. Now it was all being shoved in her face.

 Before the exam was finished, Ash and I looked at each other as if to say, “Let’s bolt.” Before “Dr. Sunshine” could tune up again, Ashley was dressed, and we were out the door.

We sat wordlessly in the car as we drove into town, me feeling such deep pain for my daughter and her, afraid to open her mouth lest a flood of disappointment, anger, and frustration would spew out threaten to drown us both.

 

“I need to stop at the drugstore for a minute,” I broke the silence. “Want to come with me?” Ashley was always up for a visit to the makeup counter.  Not wanting to push my luck, I rushed through the store and caught up with my forlorn child in the checkout line.

 

Just as the lady behind the counter she punched in my last item, she looked up at Ashley.

 “Is this your daughter?” she asked looking at me. Before I could answer, she burst out with, “She is just beautiful. Look at those big blue eyes. I bet you are so proud of her?” the kind-hearted cashier offered.

 “There aren’t words to describe how proud I am of her,” came my response.

 Ashley already had a tiny tear forming in her eye as we walked out to the car.

“I am proud of my beautiful daughter,” I told her as again as we drove home. Ashley had a good cry, and after we found another doctor we were able to discuss and even laugh about our experience.

That kind clerk had no way of knowing how significant her encouraging words were that day. But she taught me to share uplifting words whenever possible because you never how the difference they can make in someone’s downcast day.

Proverbs 12:25, “Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up,” NLT.

 

DO YOU EVER WONDER WHY PEOPLE DO THE THINGS THEY DO? Would you like to learn ways to motivate yourself and others around you, your kids, spouse, co-workers? Here are some short ciips to help you understand the different temperament types that Hippocrates figured out over 2000 years ago. They have be re-represented with everything from colors to animals and even in the DISC profile that is so popular online. Take a moment to check out what temperament you are. If you would like a Personality Profile to see what personality you have, just email me:)

Intro to Temperaments        Sanguine Temperament         Melancholic Temperament        Phlegmatic Temp

Choleric Temperament  

AUTHOR'S INTERVIEW: STEFNE MILLER

How did the Salvaged web series come about?
I was working with Director, Paul Morrell on a movie adaptation of my third novel, Collision. We had just completed the screenplay and were about to move in to the next phase, when I told him about an idea I had for Salvaged. I'd always believed that it would make a great teen drama series - either on television, straight to DVD or web streaming. He loved the idea and was interested in doing it. Within days, a friend that I mentioned it to, offered to pay to have a pilot/proof of concept reel developed. Less than a month later, I was in LA holding a casting call. Two weeks later, a cast and crew of 25 were in a rented house, shooting for five days. We decided to take the pilot episode and also release it as a web series so that we could introduce people to the story, characters and our quality of work. We believe that this can only help both the Salvaged and Collision projects.

What is the big goal?
The big picture goal is that a network or distributor would pick up the series. I've already written the scripts for eight 45 minute episodes or what could easily be turned in to a mini-series.

Who are you hoping to reach with this series?
Salvaged, the web series is based on my first novel by the same name. It is a young adult Christian fiction novel that was able to transcend the lines of Christian fiction and also move into the secular market. Salvaged was first picked up in the mainstream young adult fiction blogging world and the reviews and ratings landed me on the Goodreads.com Reader's Choice Awards finalist list for Debut Author of 2010. I am hoping that Salvaged will continue to reach out into various audiences and present them with a powerful story that has the ability to impact lives - no matter the way in which they receive it (book, web series, tv show, etc).

When does the series come out?
There are six episodes. The first was released on September 25th. The remaining episodes will release every Wednesday at 8 am (CST) through October 30th. 

Where can viewers find the episodes?
Salvaged has it's own YouTube channel at: youtube.com/salvagedseries. The episodes will stay on the Salvaged YouTube channel for viewers to watch far into the future.

Where can we find out more about the series and the book? 

You can also learn more about the series on the official Salvaged web site at salvagedseries.com. You can read an except of the first chapter of Salvaged, the book, at my web site, stefnemiller.com, or purchase a copy online or at your local bookstores. 

What are more ways we can get involved in the Salvaged Series blog tour? 

  • Post a comment on the Facebook page for this book tour - CLICK HERE
  • Join the Salvaged Series Blog Tour & watch new episodes - CLICK TO TWEET
  • Watch the weekly episodes on the Salvaged YouTube channel ... Post comments and give thumbs up - CLICK HERE



This blog tour is hosted by Christian Speakers Services' CSS Virtual Blog Tours.

Super Courage


I recently saw an advertisement for the TV show, The Agents of SHIELD. I’ve got to Hulu that one! As a kid I was smitten by super heroes as I read so many of the Marvel comics wishing I had super powers so I wouldn’t have to put up with the painful antics of the dysfunctional people in my life. If I had super strength, I’d show them.

Well, I obviously never became a super hero, but I did find one. And I never “showed them,” but He showed me how to rise above the dysfunction. Jesus gave me peace in the midst of the crazy, and I’ll trade that for x-ray vision any day.

I read this in Max Lucado’s, The Applause of Heaven, and I wanted to share it with you:

Could you use some courage? Are you backing down more than you are standing up? Jesus scattered the butterflies out of the stomachs of his nervous disciples…
We need to remember that the disciples were common men given a compelling task. Before they were stained-glassed saints in windows of cathedrals, they were somebody’s next-door-neighbor trying to make a living and raise a family. They weren’t cut from theological cloth or raised on super-natural milk. BUT THEY WERE AN OUNCE MORE DEVOTED THAN THEY WERE AFRAID! And as a result, they did some extraordinary things.
Earthly fears are no fears at all. Answer the big question of eternity, and the little questions of life fall into perspective.

Here is the interview I promised from the die-hard atheist after he opened up the book of Genesis. It truly blessed me. While this genius biologist remains an evolutionist, he found the Bible to be verifiable!  Don’t miss the last line of the interview to see the impact his findings had on him.


METRO ONLINE
DR. ANDREW PARKER, “THE BIBLE GOT EVERYTHIING RIGHT.”


 Dr Andrew Parker, 41, is a biologist at Oxford University. His latest book, The Genesis Enigma: Why The Bible Is Scientifically Accurate, claims the story of Genesis matches the history of the universe so accurately it could only have been written with divine intervention.
Interviewer: Have you proved the existence of God?
Parker:I don’t think I’ve proved the existence of God. I’ve proved there is space in the universe where God might exist.
Interviewer:It would be quite a scoop.
Parker: Well, yes. But if I find evidence there isn’t a God then as a scientist that would satisfy me too.
Interviewer: Isn’t this another example of religion masquerading as science?
Absolutely not. I devoted most of my early career to science and leaned toward being an atheist. That’s changed during the writing of this book, which revealed surprising parallels between Genesis and the scientific history of the universe. Not only is the sequence of events in Genesis scientifically correct but some of the events themselves are really quite precise, which would have been impossible for a human to know at that time. You have to conclude that either the author made extremely lucky guesses or something strange was going on: divine inspiration.
Interviewer: That’s a massive leap, isn’t it?
Parker: To say there’s something mysterious going on is probably not too great a leap. What I reveal is something beyond human intelligence, beyond testing with scientific equipment.
Interviewer: In Genesis, God creates the earth in six days, makes man out of dust and there’s no mention of the Big Bang. If it was written with God’s help, why is so much wrong?
Parker: It’s the authors adding their artistic interpretation, shoehorning the facts into the type of story people would be able to understand.
Interviewer: You say the second ‘Let there be light…’ refers to the evolution of the eye but you edited out the rest of the line, which clearly refers to the Sun, Moon and stars. There’s no mention in Genesis of the evolution of the eye.
Parker: Um, OK. I’ll probably have a look at this in more detail again. The first page of the Bible doesn’t spell out the eye but it doesn’t spell out any of the science in detail.
Interviewer: Your argument seems full of holes.
Parker: I would say it’s the best guess with the best fit.
Interviewer: Is there any real evidence, or just speculation?
Parker: If you want to say it’s 100 per cent evidence for God, no. With this book, there might be indirect evidence – it’s the strongest evidence for the existence of God I’ve come across. I’m not sure how you would describe it.
Interviewer: Flawed.
Parker: Well, that’s an opinion and that’s something I’m interested in. I’m not trying to fool anyone. I’m just trying to get to the bottom of this.
Interviewer: Are science and religion irreconcilable?
Parker: The atheist movement argues that with science there’s no more room for religion. So you either have faith in religion with no rational backing whatsoever or you follow science – and science dictates there’s no room for God, which isn’t true. There are things beyond our realm we can’t solve with science.
Interviewer: You say creationism is harmful to both religion and science. Why?
Parker: Creationism is totally unfounded. It is as dangerous as fundamentalism in other religions.
Interviewer: Creationists say evolution and the Big Bang are just theories. What do you think?
Parker: The problem with calling them theories is that anything can be called a theory. It doesn’t suggest the probability of it being right. On probability, you have creationism at something like 0.0001 per cent and evolution at 99.9999 per cent so it’s not fair to put them in the same category.
Interviewer: You criticize atheism because you think it’s disturbing to believe there’s no God or heaven. Just because those things might be comforting doesn’t make them true, does it?
Parker:  No. But what I’m saying is that if the evidence doesn’t necessarily point one way or another, perhaps we’re better off with religion.


Scientific Support!

 I love seeing your responses to my posts that prove the Bible isn’t some fictitious book.  The stories bless me and I am delighted they build you faith as well. Support for the veracity of the Bible comes from some unlikely places, Dr. Andrew Parker, biologist at Oxford and card-carrying atheist came up with the light switch theory. It is that the first eye evolved about 521 million years ago, just about the time of the Cambrian Explosion. He wrote a book in 2003, entitled, In the Blink of an Eye: How Vision Sparked the Big Bang Explosion. After the book came out her wrote this:

“I received numerous letters from readers of my book suggesting something completely unforeseen—that there were parallels between the scientifically generated history of life on earth and the creation account given in the first chapter of Genesis. It was the evolution of vision—the cornerstone of the light switch theory—that had caught their attention to decipher the ever-puzzling biblical phrase, “Let there be lights…to divide the day from the night V14. This appears after the initial, “Let there be light” or the formation of the sun in V3.
The light switch theory became the final number in a combination lock guarding a biblical secret.
Mainly out of courtesy, I gave the matter brief attention.
Without expecting to find anything, I discovered a whole series of parallels between the creation story on the Bible’s first page and the modern scientific account of the history of life. This at least made me think, and I was considering the scientific account first—a detached review of the facts and chronology of evolution—which ruled out partiality or clouded judgment.”

Dr. Parker is an evolutionist, but in an interview with a New York paper he responded to a hostile reporter:
Interviewer: You criticize atheism because you think it’s disturbing to believe there’s no God or heaven. Just because those things might be comforting doesn’t make them true, does it?
Dr. Parker: No. But what I’m saying is that if the evidence doesn’t necessarily point one way or another, perhaps we’re better off with religion.

I will post the entire interview with Dr. Parker next. It is displays how his thinking shifted when he explored the TRUTH of the Bible.

Here is another story for you PROVING that what is written in the Bible actually happened. I love this stuff! I hope you are enjoying it. Let me know…Does it build your faith and strengthen your case for Christ when the Bible is verified by archeology and science?

Leonard Woolley was an archeologist and a contemporary of T.E. Lawrence, Lawrence of Arbia (Awesome epic movie with Pete O’toole and Omar Sharif.) In September 1922,  he was on his was to Barsa in present day Iraq to lead and expedition for the British Museum and the University of Pennsylvania to the ancient cite of Ur the birthplace of Abraham. It is burial site for many Sumerian Royals, a non-Jewish culture that formed a series of city-states in the area known as Mesopotamia between the Tigris and Euphrates. It was there that Woolley found tombs, the inside of which contained paintings depicting ancient Sumerian culture.
In a telegram to the University of Pennsylvania, couched in Latin to protect his news from interception he wrote, “I found the intact tomb, of Queen Puabi, adorned in a dress interwoven with gems, flower crown, animal figures. Tomb was filled with magnificent jewels and golden cups.”

Queen Puabi’s 4500 year old body was preserved with items of gold, silver and an intricately carved cylindrical seal which served to confirm her identity. Unearthed was another seal, less stirring in its simple coin-like form, which was misunderstood by Woolley and labeled, “Aramaic.” Later comparison with ancient texts gave these characters a better-informed interpretation. It was inscribed with, ”chemosh-nathan,” the name of its owner. The first part of the name is the name of the God worshipped; the second part is the verb meaning, “he is given.” So its owner had worshiped Chemosh and lived in Ur in the 7th century BC. Just as Yahweh was called the God of the Hebrews, Chemosh was described as the God of the Moabites who inhabited Ur.

Again proof that the stories in Scripture are not someone’s fanciful imaginings but they actually happened!

It’s no surprise to you, I’m sure that the Christian faith has its detractors, but the Bible is the Real Deal. Over the next few weeks I will share some stories with you about how sources outside of the Bible itself verify that truth. You’re gonna love this!

In 2007, Austrian archeologist, Dr. Michael JURSA was one of the few field scholars who could read cuniform. Cuniform is the oldest form of writing known to us. Marks are made by pressing a wedge-shaped tool, usually a cut reed into moist clay. It first appeared in the Middle East 3200 BC lasting up to the 2nd century AD. By early 2nd century cuniform had spread all over the biblical regions and was widely used.

 Dr. Jursa’s work was to reinterpret the British museum’s well-documented Babylonian tablets—long overlooked since their original excavation. He discovered the description of a mundane commercial transaction that took place in 595BC. A little dull so far, perhaps the date is as well, but the tablet named an official, one NEBO-SARSECHIM. According to Jeremiah 39 a character called Nebo-Sarsechim was present with King Nebuchadnezzer II at the siege of Israel that is known to have taken place on 585BC!

Are you impressed?  I was when I read this. Countless archeological findings confirm that what the Bible says is true. I believe that because it’s the truth of the Bible that sets us free from the bondage of pain and hurt!


GOT STRENGTH?

Isaiah 12:2, “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation."
 
Have you ever been in a situation where you were at the end of your strength? My friends were and God took over. Take a moment and watch this SHORT CLIP. It will fill your tank and build your faith!

What are some of your everyday miracles? They will help you stay positive on the dog-days of summer.
 
EVERYDAY MIRACLES
God let me be content
With simple things;
The twinkling of a star,
A bird that sings,
The roaring of a wave,
A sunset view,
A tiny blade of grass,
A drop of dew,
Autumn’s golden splendor,
A flower fair,
The echo of a woods,
A baby’s stare,
The stillness of the night
A sky of blue,
Memories to treasure,
A friend that’s true
A swallow’s swift descent,
A timid fawn,
A mother’s loving care,
The sun at dawn.
Simple things? Forgive my
Human frailty!
Each one a miracle
Revealing Thee.

Lovin’ Jesus~
Linda Newton,
Empowerment Educator

Check out my Blog: Savvy Choices at
www.LindaNewtonSpeaks.com
http://www.youtube.com/user/LindaNewtonSpeaks1
Twitter: @LNewtonSpeaks

CONTEST: PLEASE SUBSCRIBE TO OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcWy4w6fZdQ AND LIKE OUR FACEBOOK PAGE. You will find it under our title Answers from Mom and Dad. Invite your friends! When you do BOTH, you will be entered into a drawing for my books: 1st prize, Better Than Jewels, 2nd prize, Sapphires from Psalms and 8 other people can win a You're God's Priceless Pearl CD:) Contest ends in 2 weeks, so like and subscribe now!!!!!

 

An Invitation to an Online Community~

Since my spiritual gift is making a short story long, here goes…
A few months ago my daughter, Ashley said, “Mom and Dad, you need to start an online Vlog/Blog titled, ‘Boomers Answer Generation Next,’ where you answer questions about every thing from gravy to God, and I will tweet that I am listening to my parents podcast.  Because of her job, Ashley has the unique fortune of having attracted over 100,000 Twitter followers. You read that correctly. That’s more than 3x the population of Oakhurst. Ashley is based in LA, but her followers are from all over and decidedly unchurched. We see this as an opportunity to introduce a generation of people to Jesus, much like we do at Sierra Pines, by loving people until they realize Jesus does.
 
After much discussion with my other LA kids, we decided to call the Vlog/Blog "Answers from Mom and Dad, with the by-line, "High on Advice, Low on Criticism."My son, Jake said that Next Gens would think that Boomer was something, or someone from Duck Dynasty.   Jake is putting together the website as I write this.

We will devote our focus to five areas: Relationship Rehab, Emotional Empowerment, Enjoying Parenting, Free Family Fun, Finding Functional Faith and do vlogs and blogs in these areas. We welcome feedback and answers quest questions.

We would love to have you be a part of this. ruth and hope we can make this generation forget about the Westboro Baptist Church picketing funerals and TV preachers with big hair asking for money.

We would love to have you be a part of this. We want to present a place on the web that will show  this generation that Jesus loves them and help them forget about the Westboro Baptist Church picketing funerals and TV preachers with big hair asking for money. You can help us a win prizes!!! See above!

A Realignment of Everything


As I put together the book I am writing about prayer, I came across this quote from Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? by Philip Yancey that seems to explain so much. He asks, “Why pray? I have asked myself this question almost every day of my Christian life, especially when God’s presence seems far away and I wonder if prayer is a pious form of talking to myself. I have asked it when I read theology, wondering what use there may be in repeating what God must already surely know. Prayer has become much more for me than a shopping list of requests to present to God. If has become a realignment of everything. I pray to restore the truth of the universe, to gain a glimpse of the world, and of me, through the eyes of God.”


Thank you so much for those of you who gave me your subtitles for my new book. I will be showing them to my agent today. Check out in my last post all the titles that were suggested. It will be fun to see what others posted. Here are the results of the random drawing:

Kathy Baker won the Stress Management for the New Millennium 4 CD set.

Gail Showalter won my book 12 Ways to Turn Your Pain Into Praise.

Christina Ericksen won Divine Design, 4 CD set.

I will be holding another contest soon and give you a chance to win more teaching material. Thanks so much for your participation.


CONTEST!!!!! I need your help and I will reward your efforts. I have 3 prizes which means 3 chances to win. I need a byline for the book I am writing, a subtitle for my book on prayer, a one-line statement that would make you say, “I want to read this book!”

The working title is The “P” Word: This is where I need the subtitle.
 
It needs to be catchy something like~The “P” Word: This is Your Brain on Prayer
Or The “P” Word: What Your Soul Was Intended For

If you will email me your subtitles, I will enter your name in a drawing for one of 3 prizes, my Stress Management for the New Millennium 4 CD teaching set, my book, 12 Ways to Turn Your Pain Into Praise, or my Divine Design, 4 CD set. Please let me know your age group too, 18-30/ 31-50/ 51 plus.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Stop Procrastinating
by Gretchen Rubin


How many times each day do you try to work yourself up to tackle some undesirable task? If you’re like me – several. Nothing is more exhausting than the task that is never started, so I’ve come up with some tricks to use on myself:
1. Put yourself in jail. If I feel pressure to jump in and finish something in a rush, and therefore can’t bear to start, sometimes I put myself in jail. If you’re in jail, you have all the time in the world. You have no reason to hurry, no reason to cut corners or to try to do too many things at once. You can slow down, concentrate. You can take the time to get every single detail right.
2. Ask for help. This is one of my most useful Secrets of Adulthood. Why is this so hard? I have no idea. But whenever I have trouble getting started because I don’t know exactly what to do, and I ask for help, I’m amazed at how much it…helps.
3. Remember: most decisions don’t require extensive research. I often get paralyzed by my inability to make a decision, but by reminding myself that often, one choice just isn’t that much different from another choice, I can get started. Also, I try to identify a knowledgeable person, and just follow whatever that person does.
4. Take a baby step. If you feel yourself dismayed at the prospect of the chain of awful tasks that you have to accomplish, just take one step today. Tomorrow, take the next step. The forward motion is encouraging, and before long, you’ll probably find yourself speeding toward completion. In the same vein…
5. Suffer for 15 minutes. You can do anything for fifteen minutes, and fifteen minutes, day after day, adds up surprisingly fast. That’s how I finally dug myself out of my crushing (if virtual) load of digital photos. Fifteen minutes at a time.
6. Do it first thing in the morning. The night before, vow to yourself to do the dreaded task. Get everything ready — any phone numbers of information you need, files assembled, everything ready to go. And the next day, at the first possible moment – as soon as you walk into work, or when the office opens, or whenever – just do it. Don’t allow yourself to reflect or procrastinate. This is particularly true of exercise. If you think you’ll be tempted to skip, try to work out in the morning.
7. Protect yourself from interruption. How often have you finally steeled yourself to start some difficult project, only to be interrupted the minute you get going? This makes a hard task much harder. Carve out some time to work. Shut the door.
8. Remember, work can be one of the most pernicious forms of procrastination. Don’t kid yourself.
Note: Pay attention to the amount of time you spend working on tasks you dislike. No one enjoys getting invasive medical tests or preparing tax returns, but if you feel like your life consists of nothing but going from one dreaded chore to the next, you might be better off figuring out a way to avoid some of those tasks altogether.
On the other hand, novelty and challenge, as uncomfortable as they can be, do bring happiness. The chore that feels onerous today may give you a huge boost of satisfaction tomorrow, when it’s behind you. Keep that in mind, too.
What are some other strategies that you’ve found useful in trying to get yourself to jump some hurdle?
To read more about this subject, check out Happier at Home, chapter six.
•    Join the happiness discussion on Facebook, where every day I pose questions meant to help you think about your own happiness--also, just fun. Or join me on Twitter, @gretchenrubin, or Pinterest, or Instagram, or YouTube.

Thank you for responding to my post about "Making Momments." The winner of the drawing for my gift book,  Better Than Jewels is Debbie Herold! Congrats, Debbie!!!!

I received this awesome article in my email, and I wanted to share it with you. This is a common lament from folks who take care of everyone else and fail to put themselves on the list! Perhaps it’s your turn for some TLC.


I Need Counseling But Don't Have Time
By: Christine Hammond at Life Works Group  http://www.lifeworksgroup.org/Page.Home.html


Do you ever feel like there isn’t enough time to do everything that is needed, wanted, or demanded?  Time seems to slip by unnoticed like a thief in the night who has taken all of your prized possessions with little satisfaction left over.  Minutes turn into hours, hours turn into days then years just disappear with hardly a remembrance of a fulfilled passion or dream.  The sadness looms over you and knowing that some direction, guidance, wisdom and counsel is absolutely essential just adds to the frustration of a ticking clock.

So when the stillness of the early morning hours finds you pondering random thoughts over and over, you finally give in and get up searching for answers.  Googling results in numerous blogs, all with helpful tips, but nothing really satisfies.  Praying brings some peace but nothing really changes.  Even if a friend was awake the conversation would result in a competition over how busy one person was over the other.  So what to do?

Organize time.  “The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin” has an amazing (admittedly unattainable) daily calendar with hour by hour mapping of time.  While your workday is most likely already on a calendar intermixed with demands of your family’s schedule, scheduling time for “your” activities should also be evident.  This should include days of intentional rest, time for exercise, time for friends and even time set aside for a fun activity.  If it is on the calendar it is likely to be done.

Prioritize time.  Steven Covey has a wonderful time matrix (see picture) separating daily tasks into priorities.  The beauty of this matrix is the more you focus on “Important, non-urgent” matters, the less will be forced into “Important, urgent”.   The exhaustion from constantly dealing with “Important, urgent” matters drains all of your creative energy because so much of it is needed just to overcome the challenge of the crisis at hand.

Identify wasted time.  Once life has been organized in time blocks and prioritized by importance, then huge time wasters will rise to the surface.  Time wasters of TV watching, busy work, and internet surfing are more obvious.  But the worst time wasters are yet to surface.  Time wasters of wishing things could be different, http://www.blogger.com/nullfantasying about winning the lottery, obsessing over the last comment your boss made, or replaying the argument with your husband are all wasted moments of opportunity.

Recognize productive time.  Gather all of the wasted time into an imaginary block of time and put it towards an “Important, non-urgent” issue.  Counseling and coaching both best belong in this category as they work towards goals.  Too often, however, people wait until in crisis mode because their marriage is falling apart or because of unemployment.  While counseling and coaching can be helpful during these times, this is crisis time and not the most productive time to be getting advice.

Most likely, there is time for counseling but things need to be reorganized and prioritized in order to get there.  Don’t wait; you won’t be disappointed with the results and maybe a few extra hours of sleep will actually happen for a change.

Happy 4th of July!!!!

I ran across this in a file and thought it was appropriate as we celebrate the anniversary of our nation’s independence and the wise men of faith to whom we owe a debt of gratitude. It’s good advice even today.

Thomas Jefferson’s Decalogue
1.    Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.
2.    Never trouble another with what you can do yourself.
3.    Never spend your money before you have it.
4.    Never buy what you don’t want, because it’s cheap.
5.    Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold.
6.    We never repent for having eaten too little.
7.    Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
8.    We suffer so much worry for evils which never happen.
9.    Take things always by their smooth handle.
10.When angry, count to ten or 100 before you speak. If very angry, count to 100.

Applicable & Cool, huh?

THE POWER OF 60


I have only just a minute,
Just sixty seconds in it;
Forced upon me—can’t refuse it,
Didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it;
I will suffer if I lose it,
Give account if I abuse it,
Just a tiny little minute,
But eternity is in it.

When I read poems like this, I used to feel guilty for not packing every minute with productivity. As I “season” in life, I realize that many times the best use of time is to let it idle by while I rest my hyper-self or soak up the presence of God.  I’d love to hear your 1-3 word ideas for some of the best things you have done or plan to do with your minutes this summer? I'll enter you name in a drawing for a free Better Than Jewels book for taking time to respond.

 

Spiritual Breathing


When I was in high school, I read the 4 Spiritual Laws put out by Campus Crusade for Christ. Anybody reading this old enough to remember those pamphlets? The idea of “Spiritual Breathing” was mentioned in this brief tract, and I never forgot it. We breathe out our sin and breathe in the Holy Spirit. That keeps us prayed up and ready for abundant living. Psalms139:23-24 reminds us to take an inventory, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.”

In an earlier blog post post I talked about reactions we have when we screw up, how we can either deny our sin or distance from God because of it. But God is in the restoration business, not to give us license to sin but to give us liberty from it.

Unlike this guy who was visiting Las Vegas and called the preacher to ask what time the services were on Sunday morning. The preacher was impressed, “Most people don’t come to Vegas to go to church.”

“Oh, I’m not coming for the church,” he responded.

“I’m coming for the gambling, and parties, and wild women. But if I do half a much as I plan on doing, I’ll need to come to church on Sunday morning.”

It is not the intent of grace to promote sin. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to be released from selfishness, so why return to it?  

1 John 1:6-10, “ If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.


Here are a few insights on repentance I have used when I take that inventory and need to change some things~

REPENTANCE
Repentance is made up of 3 things. As we offer up our confession to God…
1. There is a change of mind. We wish to do good instead of continuing in our sin and doing stupid things that we will regret.
2. There is a change of heart. Instead of loving sin we have “set our affections on things above.” We love Jesus and His commandments. “O How I love the law,” Psalm 119:97. For this we have to rely on the Holy Spirit. God works in us to give us the will and the want to, Philippians 2:13 (That’s the Newtonian paraphrase.) He does that through the Spirit’s power in us. Ask the Lord to give you “a new heart” and “a new spirit,” Ezekiel 18:31. When that happens, we are “partakers of the divine nature,” 2 Peter 1:4.
3. There is a change of life. (I’m not talking about the change that makes you hot flash until you can’t breathe.) This is a change in behavior that results from a new heart and mind. Repentance in the Greek language means to turnaround and go the other way. When we change our hearts and our minds, we live that out with the decisions we make each day. Then we witness a God’s amazing transformation.


I love this quote: When we know Christ as our Savior, confession doesn’t alter our position with the Lord but it enhances our peace with Him.

I was asked to write a column for the Christian Women’s Connection about how girlfriends are good for us. This is for all the friends who make a difference in our lives. YOU GO GIRLS!!! I'd love to hear about the girlfriends who have come through for you in tough times.


GOOD FRIENDS CAN MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE
Tammy’s world collapsed when her husband walked out. “I feel like I am going to fly into a million pieces,” she opened up in my counseling office. “Eric’s gone and he’s not coming back. He’s moved in with this secretary. My boys are crushed, and want nothing to do with their dad. Can’t he see how betrayed they feel that he broke up our family? I don’t know what I am going to do,” she sobbed. “

I listened to her pain, let her cry, and we spent the rest of the hour unpacking the hurt and abandonment she was feeling. Among other tools to help her cope, I suggested that she get involved in a women’s Bible study or a small group.

“You are really going to need your sisters right now,” I urged.

Despite her pain, Tammy wanted to be there for her kids. She took my advice to heart and joined a ladies lunch time Bible study that in her words, “kept me sane and on the straight and narrow.”

There she met Janet who found her a part-time job to help make ends meet.

“If it wasn’t for Janet’s encouragement and counsel, I wouldn’t have found confidence to even interview for the job after not working in ten years,” Tammy confided.
     
“Trudy, the study leader was amazing. She helped me through some major meltdowns, praying for me when I was too distressed to pray for myself. I don’t know where I’d be without the acceptance and guidance I received from the women God put in my life,” Tammy informed me.

The Scripture paints a picture of wise women benefiting from each other in the book of Ruth. Since the days of Ruth offering up her strength to glean grain (Ruth 2:2) and Naomi offering advice and concern (Ruth 3:1-4) we see how women can benefit from the counsel and support they get from each other.   

As often happens with the passing of time, science validates what scripture states. For years the concept of “fight or flight”—the need to face one’s fear and fight or turn and flee—in response to stress has dominated scientific thinking.  However, Shelley Taylor, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, describes how stress can elicit another behavioral pattern they call “tend and befriend”—especially in females. Taylor's team found that, during stressful times, females spend significantly more time tending to vulnerable offspring, and they form especially close, stable attachments with other females. The researchers suspect that endorphins—proteins that help alleviate pain—and oxytocin—a female reproductive hormone—play a part in their response. This research confirms that God has wired us to connect.

Tammy didn’t need proof. “The ladies in my lunch time group loved me until I realized God did. Now that I’m on my feet again, I am looking forward to being a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on for other hurting women, just like my girlfriends were for me.”


Confession is Good For the Soul

God is not against you for you sin: He is for you against you sin. Powerful quote, huh?
We tend to think that when we have made mistakes, God hovers over the smite button on His cosmic computer waiting to press it and blow our sorry selves away! That is not what the Bible says. Psalm 103: 8 and 13, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.  As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.”

In our humanness we can have one of two responses when we do stupid, we DENY our sin or we distance from God fearing He can’t use us any more. Let’s check out our denial. 1 John 1:6-10, “ If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives”. We have to own our bad. Call it what it is and surrender it to the Lord. In verse 9 we read, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

That brings us the comfort that God will rid us of our sin. We don’t need to distance from Him in shame. When we fall He is there to pick us up, and He gives us His holy Spirit to help us not continue to do those things we regret like getting angry or drunk, petty, jealous, smug, pious, hateful, cranky or judgmental. In the last section of Scripture we read about the Light.

That light referred to in verses 6 &7 will illuminate our souls. So we can spend quiet time with the Lord. Tell him all about you, honestly. Bask in His transforming light as you recognize His character described again in Psalm 103: 8 and 13, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.  As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.” Here is a great short little story that illustrates this perfectly.

Duck and the Devil
There was a little boy visiting his grandparents on their farm. He was given a slingshot to play with out in the woods. He practiced in the woods, but he could never hit the target. Getting a little discouraged, he headed back for dinner. As he was walking back he saw Grandma's pet duck.  Just out of impulse, he let the slingshot fly, hit the duck square in the head, and killed it. He was shocked and grieved. In a panic, he hid the dead duck in the woodpile, only to see his sister watching! Sally had seen it all, but she said nothing.
 
After lunch the next day Grandma said, "Sally, let's wash the dishes."
But Sally said, "Grandma, Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen." Then she whispered to him, "Remember the duck?" So Johnny did the dishes.

 Later that day, Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing and Grandma said, "I'm sorry but I need Sally to help make supper."  
     Sally just smiled and said," Well that's all right because Johnny told me he wanted to help." She whispered again, "Remember the duck?" So Sally went fishing and Johnny stayed to help.
     After several days of Johnny doing both his chores, and Sally's, he finally couldn't stand it any longer. He came to Grandma and confessed that he had killed the duck.
     Grandma knelt down, gave him a hug, and said, "Sweetheart, I know. You see,
I was standing at the window and I saw the whole thing, but because I love you, I forgave you. I was just wondering how long you would let Sally make a slave of you."
       Whatever it is that the devil keeps throwing in your face (lying, cheating, debt, fear, bad habits, hatred, anger, bitterness, etc.) you need to know that God was standing at the window and He saw the whole thing.  He has seen your whole life. He wants you to know that He loves you and if you will ask Him, He will forgive you.  He's just wondering how long you will let the devil make a slave of you. The great thing about God is that when you ask for forgiveness, He not only forgives you, but He chooses to forget. Now it's our turn!


When Bad Things Happen to Good People

We believe in a God who takes personal interest in us and that He intervenes in our lives, right? But since He has the power to intervene, why does He allow bad things to happen?

We’ve all wondered that haven’t we? Why is there so much suffering?  More specifically we ask why is this bad thing happening to me, or to my loved one when we didn’t do anything to deserve this?  We wonder about the gentle church secretary, who never looked at cigarette, now has emphysema from living in LA for years. The senior pastor who played hand ball on his lunch hour and had the heart of a 20-year-old but dies from prostate cancer.  The baby who never did anything wrong who is born with life-threatening heart problems. Sometimes we want to say, “Lord, you said you wouldn’t give me more than I can handle. Well I think you better take inventory.”

You gotta hear me on this?  God does intervene, and He does love you perfectly.  He is all-knowing and all-powerful.  So if bad things are happening to you that are not of you making—IT’S BECAUSE GOD TRUSTS YOU WITH THEM.

He trusts that the situation will make you BETTER not BITTER.  He trusts that you will remain faithful.  He trusts that you will use it to bring others to Him. You may not trust you.  Your palms are sweaty and your heart is pounding.  You’re convinced you don’t have what it takes to get through this. But the Creator of the Universe is persuaded otherwise. And Hebrews tells us that our “trials will produce a harvest of righteous and peace for those who have been trained by it.” One thing is for sure, Lord will help us get through those trials. So ask Him for the help.

Hebrews 4:15-16 urges, “We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin.  16 So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.”

Then is Psalm 37:23-25 from the NLT we read, “The steps of the godly are directed by the Lord. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will not fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand. Once I was young, and now I am old.
Yet I have never seen the godly forsaken, nor seen their children begging for bread.”
 
So much of my identity has been defined by the pain in my life—especially by my daughter Ashley’s chronic heart problems.  There wouldn’t be a Sierra Pines Church if it wasn’t for the faith that built in us as we struggled with whether her heart problems would allow her to survive her early childhood. We lost all of our money to doctors and hospitals in the first year of her life.  And I can still remember my husband coming to me asking,  “Since we’re gonna be poor, do you want to be poor for God again?”  I am ashamed to say that if he had asked me that a year prior, I would have laughed in his face. We had tried ministry and it was difficult.  But the Lord had a chance to tenderize my heart. When my baby was sick, I was all ears.

Now it’s been 16 years since her last surgery.  All of my kids are grown and God has graciously allowed me to see some of the harvest that was grown in that trial.

Jake, my middle son, said, “My friends wonder why I discuss my decisions with you—why I value your input so much.  Heck, they marvel that I like to hang out with you guys at all. Our situation with Ashley made us close.  We had to stay close to get through it.”

Sarah, the oldeset, said, “Mom, you guys didn’t raise wimps. You raised warriors,” as she discussed again her job working with soldiers returning from war who suffer with PTSD. “We’re all stronger because of all we had to deal with.”

But it was Ashley on her 21st birthday who said to me, “Mom, people say that I am wise for my age.  They say that I have the insight of a much older person. I wouldn’t change anything that I went through because it’s made me who I am.”

Here is the kid who lived in the hospital for the first 3 years of her life.  She has had four surgeries, had her chest cracked open twice.  She has scars from her neck to her belly button.  She has never been able to run or exert like other kids her age.  Her future is uncertain, her child-bearing is questionable and she WOULDN’T CHANGE ANYTHING.  I want to be like Ashley when I grow up.

Whatever evil has befallen your life or the life of those you love, know that God trusts you with it.  Lean on Him, and watch how He brings good out of the pain you have gone through.

Cast Your Cares…
When challenging things happen that are unexpected, whether it’s financial set backs, sudden illnesses or loss, or random tornadoes, the stress can become debilitating. That’s when I’ve learned to practice casting my care on One who is bigger, stronger, and more capable than I.

Psalm 55:22 reads. “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” That verse gives me great comfort.

To really get the full impact, we have to put it in perspective. When I think of casting, I think of sauntering out onto the pier, flipping my wrist as the line zipps effortlessly out over the lake and leisurely holding the pole as I fish. The fisherman at the time of this writing didn’t have fancy rods and reels. They fished with nets that weighed 200 pounds.
They didn’t have cranes to help. They had to heave those heavy nets as they cast them.

There’s our picture:
We heave our heavy burdens at the feet of Jesus. Once I give God my burdens, the hardest job becomes not to take them back. That’s when I have to be consistent. As soon as I realize that I am worrying again, I heave them back to Jesus. This goes on until, at last, I leave them there.  I can be thick sometimes and waste a lot of time worrying to no avail. The best part of this verse is found in the meaning of the word sustain. The word sustain means in the Hebrew: to provide, to feed, guide, to comprehend (Jesus gets you. He gets what’s going on around you. You don’t have to worry about tomorrow. He’s already there.) It also means to nurture and to hold.

So the picture painted is that in the midst of our fear and confusion, we dump our problems at the feet of Jesus, then He pulls us up in His lap, and quietly listens to our pain while offering us comfort and direction. Dudn’t get much better if you ask me! The next time the world deals you a hand that is more than you can hack, think of this verse and let Jesus sustain you. And BTW, the Hebrew the word for sustain is KUWL--pronounced COOL. And I think it is pretty cool, don’t you?

Blessings,
Linda

Cellulite and Self-Talk

A new friend of mine, Debe, sent my Push Me Higher story to her sister, Melody and this is the feedback she got. I loved the sister’s honesty and related to her response because I have felt the same way at times. That’s why I had to address this…

Melody’s Feedback:
Beautifully written.  Very touching.  Deeply insightful.  What I didn't say is WELL, if it isn't Linda who not only is a conference speaker with great biblical knowledge, but she can write as perfectly as she speaks and thus is published and her children are not only perfectly educated but perfectly raised and leading perfectly admirable lives thus validating the fact that they had a perfect mother.  I can find absolutely nothing to sneer at and I am therefore highly incensed.  It is good that I didn't say any of that, huh?

I hear the tongue in cheek in Melody’s voice, but I so had to respond to this because of all the times I resonated with her feelings when I heard some lady’s story or saw her share at a women’s event. I have to set the record straight by saying that I am irritatingly imperfect in every one of the areas mentioned above.

What this lady doesn’t know is all the times I screamed at my poor kids until my neck veins bulged, and my innocent children would scurry off to hide in their bedrooms waiting for the Mommy Dragon to spew fire again. Or all the times I stressed out about work and failed to be present in my presence with them. She doesn’t know all the tearful apologies I had to make to my kids or all of the incessant insecurity I felt practically the entire time I spent raising them worrying about the job I was doing.

Now I fight that same insecurity daily with regards to my writing. Not all of us can craft a sentence like Max Lucado and since Beth Moore has cornered the Bible Study market and Joyce Meyer has a huge audience, who’s going to care what I have to say??? But I keep going because God won’t let me quit!

Every one of us has cellulite and lousy self-talk…no matter what we see on the screen, read in tabloids or hear from others. I had to use cellulite as an example because of all the perfect pictures we look at, only to walk away with self-loathing because we don’t measure up. Super models even feel this way, just ask Cindy Crawford.

So Darlin’, if you’re going to feel second-rate, please don’t waste any energy feeling second rate to me because I have as much cellulite and stinkin’ thinkin’ as you do! And I know we aren’t alone. Most of the mothers reading this would agree. So let’s pat ourselves on the back for doing the best we can and realize we’re fortunate that God loves us warts and all…or should I say cellulite and all!


As a mother it can be so hard to let go. This is a story from my book, Sapphires From Psalms about how God gave me the courage to do that and it ends with some tools that will help. Whether you are a mom trying to trust that your child will be okay at preschool or saying “goodbye” as your kid heads off to college  in the fall, this story is for you, Courageous Lady.
           Happy Mother’s Day to the bravest peeps on the planet~Moms!

Push Me Higher Mommy


My daughter Sarah was born brave. As the oldest of my three kids, she definitely fit the characteristics written about the oldest child. A natural high-achiever, when she first learned to talk it was it full sentences. Within a week of her first step, she was running to meet her dad as he walked through the door each evening. The second I sat her on a swing set she shouted, “Push me higher, Mommy. Now let go.” So I don’t know why it came as such a surprise when she told me she was considering enlisting in the military.
At twenty-eight years old, in the middle of her doctoral studies in psychology, Sarah decided that she wanted to help soldiers returning from Iraq with post-traumatic stress disorder. Her husband Shaun was all for it. Shaun had served terms in Iraq just before he became an EMT. He was even considering reenlisting to join his wife in the Air Force. I’m glad he’s supportive, but I’m not convinced that my daughter will be all right in the military while our country is at war--the thoughts resonated in my head.
 I did my best to form my worries into prayers as I considered my daughter’s desire. I wondered where she be stationed. She assured us that her work would keep her out of harm’s way, but I knew our daughter. She was the kid who wanted to drive four hours from work to the coast to meet us on our vacation only a month after she got her driver’s license! I worried she would volunteer for hazard duty. I was concerned about her stress level, too, while dealing with so much post-traumatic stress in others. I hadn’t shared these concerns with her because I never wanted to be a meddling mother. If she believed the Lord wanted her to help soldiers, who was I to get in her way?
As hard as I tried, I struggled to be okay with my petite, beautiful daughter becoming an officer in the United States Air Force during wartime. “This was going to require a lot from my trust muscle,” I told the Lord. God is faithful and the more I prayed, the more I felt his peace.
 Sarah kept us informed as she received a scholarship in the field of neuropsychology at one of three Air force bases in the US. She kept us in the loop as she traveled to interview at each base. When she accepted a residency 1400 hundred miles away, I sat aside my mother’s sadness to rejoice with her at this prestigious placement. The week before she left, we made a date at Time for Tea, a darling teahouse in our little town. Tea parties were something we enjoyed since she was barely old enough to hold a teacup. We could always talk more easily over tea.
As we sat across from our salad and scones in the Alice in Wonderland room, it wasn’t what we said but what we didn’t say that was important.
 What I said was, “How’s your salad?” What I didn’t say was, “I will miss you not living down the road from me.”
 What Sarah said was, “My salad’s great. I love the dressing.” What she didn’t say was, “I’m scared. I’ve been academic for so long I’ve forgotten how to be physical. I don’t want to be the weakest link at boot camp.”
What I said was, “I hear the base you’re going to is beautiful.” What I didn’t say was, “I’m worried about you having so much stress so far from home, with out me, I mean.”
What Sarah said was, “I met several retired officers who came back to retire near the base because they loved the area so much.” What she didn’t say was, “Shaun and I are finally ready to have kids and it will be hard living 1400 miles away from my mom.”
What I asked was, “Have they sent your uniforms yet?  What I didn’t ask was, “Have I taught you all I can for this challenging task that lies ahead of you?”
What Sarah said was, “They are being altered as we speak. I got combat boots and they look like they are made for little kids!”
What I said was, “Will they call you captain or doctor?” What I didn’t say was, “I’ll miss you so much it hurts, but I won’t tell you that because it might get in the way of all God has for your life.”
What she said was, “I’m not really sure. I guess I’ll find out when I’m there. Let’s order another scone. I can’t get enough of this lemon curd.” What I heard was “Push me higher, Mommy. Now let go.” And I did.
 
“For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.” Kahlil Gibran

If you have ever had trouble letting go of your stuff, house, children, or your youth, I recommend you read Psalm 103:1-15. Then post it on your screen-saver, refrigerator and/or your mirror. Read it often as you practice “letting go and letting God,” and use it as self-talk to help you release what keeps you wringing your hands in wasted worry.

In light of the bombing at the Boston Marathon, my husband posted this on his Facebook page and I found it so profound, I needed to highlight it in my Blog:

I rarely ever post an "open share" on Facebook. But in response to Boston, and all the daily crazy violence that has stepped up to plate in the last few months...I feel compelled. The most dangerous thing in the world is not a gun, or a bomb, or any other instrument of violence. It is the heart that pulls the trigger and sets the fuse. So, guard yours carefully. Fear nothing. Love everyone, including the ones that aren't easy for you to love. You won't be going home one second before God wants you there, and He already knows the day that will happen. So relax. Love people. Heal them. Spread hope. Tell them somebody loves them, and that you've been sent as proof. Carry on.

For an article on how to minister to hurting people click HERE.

I am sharing this blog post  for some ladies I had the privilege of speaking to from San Jose who wanted a copy. I am writing it near Mother's Day for those like me who have hurtful memories of their mothers, but far enough away from Mom's Day not to impact the delight of that holiday. With God's help, I've been blessed to break the chain and instead of crying in the Hallmark store trying to find a card to fit the crazy relationship with my mom, I am crying as I read the precious things my wonderful kids write in their cards to me. A long time ago when I was cryin' Jesus came bringing love and sanity. He became my mother and my father. He healed the hurts and filled the voids. Where would I be without Him?

Here is the poem. If it resonates with you, ask Him to heal you. He did it for me.

It’s Okay, Mama, Mama


You could never love me, Mama.
Not like I needed to be loved
I cried when I was little
Needing you, Needing you
Needing your eyes to be soft
Needing your lips warm on my forehead.
Needing you to say
“It’s okay baby, baby
Soft, Soft.”

You could never say those things, Mama.
Your eyes were dull
Your lips a hard line,
The hardness all over.
You could never say,
“Baby, baby.”

It’s okay, Mama
I’m all grown up now.
A long time ago when I was cryin’
He came, he came.
His eyes were soft.
His lips warm on my forehead,
He said, It’s okay, Baby, baby,
Soft, soft.

It took along time, Mama.
For the pain to go away
It took a long time.
He stayed a long time, Mama.
Jesus stayed.

It’s Mother’s Day, Mama.
I looked for a card for you.
One with soft eyes,
Lips warm on your forehead.
To make the hardness go away.
One that would say,
“It’s okay, Mama, Mama.”
Soft, soft.


The racks had goosh and gratitude
And butterflies
And flowers and poems
But they can’t say what I want to say.
(I hope the Hallmark lady doesn’t see me crying.)
Cause I want so bad to tell you,
It’s okay, Mama, Mama. Soft, Soft.

 

My heart breaks at the loss that Rick and Kay Warren face with the suicide of their son, Matthew. This family has contributed so much to make the lives of people better here and abroad. Would you join with me and pray daily for them over the next few weeks as they sort out their emotions and deal with the media, all the while quietly grieving and holding it together? They need our prayers now more than ever.

You’re a Big Deal~No Foolin’

You may have never been asked to host the Oscars or to sing with the New York Philharmonic. You may have consistently been chosen last for the teams at recess, and the only thing you have ever won was a bunny rabbit from the hardware store that your mom wouldn’t let you take home. But you are a big deal, and I can prove it.

We just celebrated Easter when the Creator of the Universe, the one who spun the planets in their orbit, who set every sparkling star in the sky, the architect of every intricate system in your miraculously functioning body, died on the cross to prove to you how valuable you are. The words of the old gospel song ring in my head, “When He was on the cross, you were on His mind.”

It took a lot of years before I realized that Jesus could love me like that. My own mom couldn’t; how could God? I believe it now because He has come through for me over and over again, providing peace in the midst of problems, money from the craziest places when the bank account was empty, hope that He would be there to get me through anything that happened in my life.

Written below are verses all found in the Bible that describe how God feels about the person sitting in your seat. The personal pronouns are left out so that you can write your name in and internalize these verses. Let them speak directly to you. Knowing that He is crazy about you changes how you feel about yourself. It lets you know what a big deal you really are.

•    Psalm 40:1-3, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to _________  and heard ________’s cry.  He lifted ___________ out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set ________’s feet on a rock and gave ________ a firm place to stand. He put a new song in _________’s mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.”

•    Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with_________; do not be dismayed, for I am _________’s God. I will strengthen__________ and help__________; I will uphold__________ with my righteous right hand.”

•    Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for_____________,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not calamity to give___________ a future and a hope’” NASB.

•    Isaiah 43:1-3,“Fear not, for I have redeemed__________ I have summoned  ___________by name; ___________is mine.  When_________ passes through the waters, I will be with___________; and when ____________passes through the rivers, they will not sweep over______________. When____________ walks through the fire, _____________ will not be burned; the flames will not set _____________ablaze.  For I am the Lord, ____________’s God, the Holy One of Israel, ___________’s Savior;
Christ’s love is life-changing. No foolin’

Easter Reflection~

I found this amazing reading by the inimitable Max Lucado and I thought how perfect  to prep my heart for Easter. You might think so too.

He came to serve others and give his life a ransom fo many people, Matthew 20:28.

Jesus refused to be guided by anything other than his high call. His heart was purposeful. Most lives aim at nothing in particular and achieve it. Jesus aimed at one goal—to save humanity from its sin. He could summarize his life with one sentence: “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10 RSV.) Jesus was not so focused on his high goal that he was unpleasant.

 Quite the contrary. How pleasant were his thoughts! Children couldn’t resist Jesus. He could find beauty in lilies, joy in worship, and possibilities in problems. He would spend days with multitudes of sick people and still feel sorry for them. He spent over three decades wading through the muck and mire of our sin yet still saw enough beauty in us to die for our mistakes.

I believe this to be true and it has changed my life~

Happy Easter,
Linda

Ladies Night Out at SPC~

We had a great evening talking, getting to know each other, and learning how to post things on Mountain Swap. I made "Watergate Salad." Don't know how the name evolved, I just know I made it a lot around St. Patrick's Day when the kids were younger because it's green. It was a hit! And it's so easy. For those ladies who wanted the recipe, Viola!

Mix together

1 3oz pkg of Pistachio Pudding (I used Sugar Free)

1 8oz. tub of Cool Whip (I used lite)

1 Can of Crushed Pineapple

2 Cups of Miniature Marshmallows

1/2 cup chopped Walnuts

After mixing, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Told ya it was easy!

It's still February the "Love Month." And even though Valentine's is past, we can still remember to demonstrate love whenever the opportunity arises. This story reminded me once again how important it is to show kindness to those around us, and the difference that can make. I would bet that the man who showed concern on this dreary night had no idea what he would get in return.

One night, at 11:30 p.m., an older African American woman was standing
 on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rainstorm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car.  A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960's. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxicab. She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home.
A special note was attached.  It read: "Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits.  Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband's' bedside just before he passed away...God Bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others."

Sincerely,
Mrs. Nat King Cole

Cool story, huh?

In honor of Valentine’s Day, here is a very helpful article~

Selflessness is not a marriage strategy but a heart transformation in Christ.
by Clem Boyd

It was late Sunday night. Julia had slipped into something more comfortable. I could hear water running and smell scented soap. I knew what she was up to, and I loved her for it — she was cleaning the kitchen.

This is usually one of my household duties. After a weekend of nonstop activity, it would be understandable if Julia just plopped down and rested. Instead, she chose to clean the dirtiest room in the house — for the sake of the family.
Acts of sacrifice, sprinkled freely throughout a marriage, make love richer and deeper. We know that, so what's the problem with doing it? Self.

Self constantly asks for more: What about my needs? What about my hurts? What about my time? Sacrificial love challenges us to give to our spouse in uncomfortable or unreasonable ways — ways that cost us emotion, time and pride.
If we pray to become more selfless, God will act. But self-giving love as a regular virtue in marriage means that we deal with some tough questions:

How can I love this way when I'm feeling unloved?
For newlyweds, giving comes easier. After a few months, though, we need renewable motivation to maintain selflessness for our husband or wife, in spite of the cost to ourselves. Selflessness has to start with turning to Jesus.

Through Christ, we are promised God's love forever. To be selfless requires thinking about how God's love for us cost Him His Son. How can we apply this type of selflessness to loving our spouse?

Why put myself out when my spouse is acting like a jerk?
What better time is there? Jesus didn't wait till we became more kind or thoughtful before He died for us. He did it while we were still selfish and uncaring. This same extraordinary kind of love, shown in small acts of generous behavior, will improve your marriage.

One of the most selfless things about Julia is the way she listens when I'm a jerk. Recently, I was pretty negative about a youth ministry we're involved in. It was hard for her to hear that I questioned why I was doing this outreach, that it felt burdensome, that I thought it was really more her thing than my thing.

Julia didn't respond in anger. She listened, expressed her feelings and prayed quietly. She offered a gentle answer that settled my wrath, allowing me to think through the real problem. (As much as I love working with kids, it drains me.)

What's the difference between selflessness and passively letting my spouse get his or her way?
My friend Martha Manikas-Foster puts it this way: "Selflessness costs something dear, and conflict avoidance protects something dear. When my husband David became more willing to work out conflicts, putting aside his natural tendencies to avoid them, then I saw he was being selfless."

Often I'll find ways to care for Julia, but if it means discussing a problem and enduring the intense discussion that might ensue, I avoid it. The most loving thing I should do is pray about it, talk about it and stop pretending it's not there.
How can I love my spouse more when I feel as though I'm giving so much already?
You may feel overwhelmed with work, kids and church. How can you do something extra for your spouse?

When I'm out of energy, I admit it to God, then my weakness becomes a conduit for divine strength. Maybe I'm extra tired, and Julia asks me to rub her back. So I pray, God, give me energy.

Other times we may want to be the giver but won't admit our own needs. Occasionally, the most selfless thing we can do is to acknowledge feeling overwhelmed and articulate our inadequacies.
• • •
Selflessness is not a marriage strategy but a heart transformation in Christ. "Jesus defines selflessness from the Incarnation to Calvary, so to be selfless is to identify with Him," says Martha's husband, David. "The point is to value your spouse so much that her best really is your goal." 

This article first appeared in the December, 2006 issue of Focus on the Family magazine.

Happy Valentines,
Linda

http://www.youtube.com/user/LindaNewtonSpeaks1

TRUE CHANGE
My husband amazed me again with his thorough research and the way he applies it. Last Sunday he preached a sermon from Romans 12:1-2, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

In his sermon, Bruce referenced Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz’ work in the field of neuroplasticity. Dr. Schwartz refutes past research that our brain is fixed by the age of 5, and it cannot be altered except by an injury or the use of medication. With these four steps, he has seen amazing progress treating patients who suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder proving we can actually reprogram ourselves.  The steps are~

1.    Relabel: We relabel our unwanted thoughts as false messages. We refuse to be tricked by our own thoughts.
2.    Reattribute: Instead of accepting those thoughts  as true, we attribute them as the brain misfiring, or we consider that unwanted thought as a brain glitch. We examine where these false messages came from and challenge them.
3.    Refocus: We replace negative thoughts with positive ones, bad behavior with helpful patterns, destructive self-talk with empowering messages.
4.    Revalue: As we progress in this way, we form new neural pathways and begin to see old patterns as simple distractions to our goals of being healthy, empowered and whole.

Sounds a lot like “renewing our minds,” doesn’t it? I love when we find out through yet another channel (in this case neuropsychology) what the Bible has taught us for years.
Many Blessings,
Linda

Every year I spend quite a bit of time pondering my New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, read more, or get in the best shape of my life. I work vigilantly for 3 weeks, fail miserably, and castigate myself for the rest of the year. In 2013 I decided to skip the misery and embrace these words by Max Lucado. They inspire me to live one day at a time doing the best I can in the moment. I pray they inspire you too.


Today I Will Make a Difference


Today I will make a difference. I will begin by controlling my thoughts. A person is the product of his thoughts. I want to be happy and hopeful. Therefore, I will have thoughts that are happy and hopeful. I refuse to be victimized by my circumstances. I will not let petty inconveniences such as stoplights, long lines, and traffic jams be my masters. I will avoid negativism and gossip. Optimism will be my companion, and victory will be my hallmark. Today I will make a difference.


I will be grateful for the twenty-four hours that are before me. Time is a precious commodity. I refuse to allow what little time I have to be contaminated by self-pity, anxiety, or boredom. I will face this day with the joy of a child and the courage of a giant. I will drink each minute as though it is my last. When tomorrow comes, today will be gone forever. While it is here, I will use it for loving and giving. Today I will make a difference.


I will not let past failures haunt me. Even though my life is scarred with mistakes, I refuse to rummage through my trash heap of failures. I will admit them. I will correct them. I will press on. Victoriously. No failure is fatal. It’s OK to stumble… .I will get up. It’s OK to fail…I will rise again. Today I will make a difference.


I will spend time with those I love. My spouse, my children, my family. A person can own the world but be poor for the lack of love. A person can own nothing and yet be wealthy in relationships. Today I will spend at least five minutes with the significant people in my world. Five quality minutes of talking or hugging or thanking or listening. Five undiluted minutes with my mate, children, and friends. Today I will make a difference.
From Shaped by God (original title: On the Anvil)
 by Max Lucado

Happy New Year,

Linda

In light of our country’s recent tragedy in Connecticut, these words from my Christmas music collection titled, Grown-up Christmas List
echo in my head. Perhaps this can be the prayer for us all.

...So here's my lifelong wish
My grown-up Christmas list
Not for myself
But for a world in need

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start,
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end This is my grown up Christmas list.
As children we believed.
The grandest sight to see.
Was something lovely
Wrapped beneath our tree.

Well heaven surely knows
That packages and bows
Can never heal
A hurting human soul

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grown-up Christmas list

What is this illusion called the innocence of youth?
Maybe only in our blind belief can we ever find the truth
(There'd be)

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end, oh
This is my grown-up Christmas list.

Praying for a Merry Christmas,
Linda



        





REST & REFLECT
I am not one of those people for whom the idea of rest comes easily. Perhaps you are like me, and you have o work at relaxing:( Because of that, I plunged into what God’s Word says about taking a rest from stress. During this hectic holiday season in the midst of the planning, preparing, and partying perhaps this short study can help you carve out time to rest. We’ll start with a definition of what rest means.

  The Encarta dictionary defines rest as: (noun) state or period of refreshing freedom from exertion or a rhythmic pause between musical notes.
(verb) to be in a state of tranquility or to cease activity. In Scripture there are several words used in the Old Testament for rest.

In Psalm 116:7 we read, “Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” In order to gain the full impact of what David is saying, we should start at the beginning of that chapter.
In Psalm 116:1-9 David writes, “I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. 2 Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: O Lord, save me! The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me.”
After all this David extols, “Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living.”
The word for rest in this verse is the Hebrew word mnuwchah. It’s pronounced men-oo-khaw`, and it is what we think of when we read the word rest. It means to repose peacefully, to be comfortable, at ease, quiet or still. Because of God’s complete care, we can relax and rest regardless of our circumstances. That flies in the face of the activity addiction of the age we live in. How can we know He’s God if we can’t be still? Sitting quietly in the Lord’s presence is a discipline we can learn. We won’t find the deep peace that God provides rushing through our days. As we turn down the noise in our minds and press into His presence, we will find peace in the midst of pain, calm even in chaos, and triumph over any trial.
 The prophet Isaiah uses a different word as he instructs his readers in Isaiah 30:15, “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength,’” NIV. The word for rest  used in this verse is the Hebrew word nachath, pronounced nakh`-ath.  It means “to sink, to descend, to comedown, to depose. The definition for depose is “to remove someone from office or position of power.”
Stay with me on this. My spiritual gift is making a short story long, but I do have a point here. As a kid in church, I often heard my youth pastor ask, “Who is on the throne of your life. Is it you, or are you letting the Lord reign in your desires and decisions?” That question always gave me cause for pause. As a type-A person, I was proud of the fact that I planned my work and worked my plan. Almost without realizing it, I could bump God off the throne as I mowed through my busy days. If I took a mental inventory and repented of trying to be king of my own life, and quietly trusted the Lord to be in charge, I found far more strength to deal with the challenges life dished out. If I failed to depose myself and comedown from the throne of my heart, my selfishness landed me in hassles and heartache. The notion of resting in this verse implies resting from the job of running your own universe and leaving that job to the Lord who is far better qualified to handle it.
In one of my favorite sections of Scripture, yet another word is used for rest. It is the Hebrew word  damam, pronounced daw-mam`. Psalm 37:7 states, “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him;” NASB. Before I give you the meaning of this word for rest, once again it would be helpful to check out the Psalmist’s message leading up to his instructions to rest and wait for the Lord.
David writes in Psalm 37:4-6, “Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. 6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday” NASB. To really get the full value of this section we have to not only explore the word rest in the original language, but we need to dig deeper into the meaning of the word delight.
Usually to delight in someone or something means to take great joy or pleasure in that person or thing. That is one of the meanings for delight in the Old Testament, but that is not the word for delight that David chose to use in this instruction. The word for delight in Psalm 37:4: Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart,” means to be soft and pliable. Be soft and pliable to the will and purposes of God, and He will bring you salvation, satisfaction, plan, and a purpose—the very thing your heart desires. The longer we follow the Jesus, the more we become like Him, and the more easily our desires fall in-line with His desires for us.

The more I surrender my agenda to the Lord, the more fulfilled I become. The more I dare to trust the Lord, the more He proves Himself trustworthy, and I marvel at how He gives me what I desire or transforms my heart to desire what He gives me. As you seek to be soft and pliable to the Lord’s leading and as you commit your way to Him you find that,  “He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”

David goes on to add, “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him;” NASB. Now we can investigate what the word rest means in this passage. The Hebrew word is damam, pronounced daw-mam`, and it means to be dumb, (implied) to be astonished, to stop, hold peace, quiet self, put to silence. When we remain soft and pliable before the Lord, seek to die daily to our own selfish desires and embrace God’s desires for us. As we submit ourselves to the Lord and let Him mold us to His will for us, we will find ourselves speechless and astonished at His mighty work in our lives—the miracles, peace provision, and power.
Just like the angels on that night so long ago who found themselves glazed, dazed, and amazed as they heard the angels sing. Remember or definition for rest: (noun) state or period of refreshing freedom from exertion or a rhythmic pause between musical notes. As you sing carols this Christmas take a rhythmic pause between those songs and rest as you reflect on all the season means.

Praying for a blessed Christmas season,
Linda Newton  

The Choice to Rejoice

1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” There are times in our lives when this instruction for the Apostle Paul is easier said than done. But one persistent Christian woman followed Paul’s advice, and it changed her life. He success was so profound. I asked her if I could share her story and what worked for her. Here it is in a nutshell~
Darlene was done! After 25 years of marriage she was ready to throw in the towel. “My husband is so rude to me. He says some of the most hateful, hurtful things. My daughter-in-law told my son she didn’t like hanging out at our house because of things my husband says,” Darlene told me.
“Don’t get me wrong,” she added. “I can dish it back pretty well, too. He just gets me so upset.”
As she sat telling on herself, it was clear she was a big part of the problem. Together they were fire and gas. If I could stop her from throwing gasoline on the woodpile, there would be less need for him to light the match. If she improved and his abusive talk continued, she would have other choices to deal with. But for now, she owed it to herself to deal with her part.

She was game for the challenge ahead. I told her to write a “Blessed List” stating everything about her life and particularly her husband that was good.
“Make it as copious and thorough as possible,” I instructed.
Then my job was to convince her that nobody can make her mad. We have to allow ourselves to be mad. We steer our ship. When we allow Him, Christ will man the wheel. In the Not a Fan series I read “It’s not about trying daily; it’s about dying daily.” Darlene would have to trust the Lord to help her hold her tongue and not engage in the insanity and fuel the fire.
“You know who you are,” I encouraged Darlene. “When your husband succumbs to his irritating mood, tell yourself the truth about who you are in Christ. Don’t forget, ‘A soft answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger,’” I shared with her from Proverbs 15:1.

Darlene was a devoted Christ follower, so she made a decision to give this plan all she had. It worked! She is more in love with her husband now than she ever imagined she could be. Because she had such remarkable success without even dragging him into counseling, I asked her if she would write out all she learned to help others who are struggling. This is Darlene’s plan.


1.    First you have to have a willing heart. I wanted to be willing to allow God to have His way more than anything else. Not my way. That was the hardest part of the program. Once I surrendered my will to the Lord, the rest of the plan was a lot easier. It wasn’t without it’s challenges, but I had the resolve to stick with it.
2.    I took Linda’s counsel and made my Blessed List. When I saw all the good things God provided and all that my husband brought to the table in our marriage, it softened my hardened heart. I can’t encourage you enough to write that list. Be wiling to break it down to thanksgiving to God for each individual thing. This could take hours. There is much to thank a loving Lord for even if things aren’t going how you planned.
3.    As you read your Blessed List everyday and express your thanksgiving, something wonderful begins to happen inside you. It’s no longer about your problems. It’s about a great God who has already been at work in your life. Be willing to add to the Blessed List even the smallest morsel.
4.    Be willing to allow God to show you your faults. That was hard. I had to own my faults as sin. Then repent or turn way from that stinkin’ thinkin’. It was amazing what happened when I stopped blaming and started claiming God’s promises!
5.    Begin to pray God’s Word not your own. You can’t go wrong with God’s Word. Instead of praying all the changes I wanted for my husband, I asked God to show me what He wanted for His child. I had to surrender my long list of things that I wanted changed, and look at what God had in mind. God led me to Ephesians 3:16-19. I left out the pronouns and inserted my husband’s  name. While I was at it, I inserted my own! Everyday as my husband left for work, no matter how our morning went, I continued to pray these verses for him. It’s amazing how hard it is to be offended by someone you are praying these blessings for.
Ephesians 3: 16-19, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
6.    If Jesus becomes your main focus, your troubles fade away in light of His presence. I had to be willing to put God first above my own way. Walking in His way changed my perspective. I viewed my problems differently in the blanket of God’s grace.

I think Darlene just about sums it all up, don’t you?

Happy Thanksgiving,
Linda

Avoid Weight Gain During the Holidays

That “bowl full of jelly” may work for Santa’s belly but not for me! In the King James Version we read, Philippians 4:5, “Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.” When it comes to Holiday eating, I can use some moderation. How about You? I ran across this article in Healthy Living magazine and found it well worth passing along. It stated that most people gain 5lbs. The older I get the harder it is to shed my Fantasy Fudge and Pumpkin Pie pounds.
These tools are simple and easy to remember. I’m sure going to try.


Strategies for dodging winter pounds.
A Tufts University study revealed that people who already overweight (And who isn’t?) are likely to pack on 5 unwanted pounds. Follow these tips to ensure that the holidays are about celebration, not weight gain.

hoHoH2O!
Carry a bottle of water everywhere and drink it throughout the day. Water fills your stomach and reduces feelings of hunger. Drink your fill before going to the party or fancy restaurant, and you will probably eat less.

AVOID THE BREAK ROOM.
Studies show that people snack more when they see goodies, so avoid the break rooms and other areas where well-meaning folks leave sweets. Instead, of a break time, take a brisk walk and fill up on healthy, portable snacks.

Choose the smaller plate.
Research shows that people tend to eat whatever they put on their plates—even if their brains are screaming,”Stop. You’re full!” If you hit the buffet line with a large plate, you’re more likely to overeat. Instead, take the smallest plate possible. If you’re still hungry, you can make a return trip. (Just don’t take a dozen like me at the dessert counter:0)

WALK IN THE WINTER WONDERLAND.
One of the simplest ways to prevent holiday weight gain is to exercise every day. Unless the weather is terrible, find reasons to walk daily, including walking with your family between main course and dessert. (I just took a jog up and down my driveway with my rowdy lab before I sat down to write. It was great!)

Start your resolution Early.
People sabotage themselves by planning to get fit starting to in January, leading to a ”diet tomorrow, indulge today” mentality. Avoid this psychological trap, and give yourself the gift of an early start. Resolve to eat 50% more fruits and vegetables during the holidays and begin the year leaner.

(I hoped you find this article helpful! My daughter is helping us with a Weight Watcher’s Thanksgiving dinner. She worked for WW for a few years, and I find when I hangout with her, I can keep my waistline in line! I’ll let you know how it works. You might be able to try it for your Christmas dinner:)

During this season of giving Thanks, I am thankful for you!
Linda


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forgiveness Three~
This is the third and final section of my article focusing on forgiveness. In the process of forgiving one of the most important things I learned was to “Recognize God’s Restoration.”  That was illustrated for me one afternoon and I sat in my living room listening to Sarah Ann, a lady who was new to our church, share her story. Sarah Ann’s life of abuse and neglect made my life sound like a picnic in the park by comparison. As we cried and prayed together, she looked up from her Kleenex and made a remark that stabbed me awake.  
Sarah Ann said, “I’m so glad you’ve had pain in your life, Linda, because I know that you can understand what I’ve been through.  I’ve never been able to share any of this with another Christian before, much less a pastor’s wife. But I can tell you all of this crazy stuff because I knew you’d get it.”    
     After she left, for the first time in my life, I got on my knees and thanked God for my pain. I thanked Him for the empathy I had for Sarah Ann and so many others because I did get it. And the blessing of helping people access the abundant life God has for them, fills my tank to overflowing.  I wouldn’t trade my pain for easy street because of all it has taught me.
Joel 2:25 says, “I will make up to you for the years the swarming locusts has eaten.” I love this verse, and it has proven true in my life. I want to encourage you to look for the Lord’s restoration. The pain you have been through can offer others hope and healing, and there is no greater rush than being used by God to comfort someone else.

My friend Carolyn ONesky made this for a baby shower and it was so adorable and creative I just had to share it!!!

Sometimes the person we need to forgive most is sitting in our seat. When we are hurt and angry because we have been damaged, we often make poor choices in our brokenness and rebellion. Those choices can keep us bound up in guilt, and Satan can use that guilt for the rest of lives to keep us from being all we can be for the kingdom of God.  

Forgive yourself. Micah 6:9 instructs, “He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  The Lord wants us be merciful to ourselves. After all, He is merciful to us because just about the time a woman grows a mustache, her husband’s eyesight goes and he can’t see it! I consider that to be pretty merciful, don’t you? If you are bogged down in guilt, write down every dastardly deed you’ve ever done, confess that to the Lord (1 John 1:9) and then receive the Lord’s forgiveness. If we can’t forgive ourselves when God does, we are saying to Jesus, “Your death on the cross wasn’t enough.” Think about that for a minute.

 Sometimes we have to forgive God because things didn’t work out the way we thought they should. We angrily question Him, “Where were You? “Why did You?” or “Why didn’t you?” We may be smart enough not to throw Him away all together, after all He is God. So instead we tell Him to “talk to the hand.” We say, “I’ll pray but not a lot. I’ll open the Word if I feel like it. I’ll go to church when it strikes my fancy,” because in our hearts we are blaming God for the challenging circumstances present in our lives.
 
There are times He even gets blamed the things we bring on ourselves. So it’s worth a very thorough evaluation to see the part we play in our current troubles. Ask someone you trust to be honest with you about your present circumstances. It’s easy to rationalize, minimize, and justify away our responsibility and look for someone to blame. But if we find we’re angry that life isn’t going the way we planned, then we need to climb out of our miff tree and stop telling God to talk to the hand. We have to let Him off the hook for the crimes we have attributed to Him or we’ll distance from the only One who can truly help us. When we make peace with Him, we discover that our best interest is His first priority, and we can see how His hand has been working in our lives for good all along.

Everyday people come into my office joyless and  troubled, and I can often trace their decent into stress to the time when they got mad at God, and pushed him away in resentment.

The solution: Tell him all about it. He knows anyway but you need to get it out. Plan a time in prayer when you sit down and unload your hurts to your Healer. If you have difficulty identifying the root of your resentment, perhaps writing down your frustrations will help you. Don’t let another minute go by holding on to this unforgiveness. You will never reach your full potential if you only let the Lord in so far.


FORGIVENESS & FORGET?
In my counseling office, I encounter a lot of folks who fail to forgive those who have offended them because they have the mistaken notion that forgiveness requires forgetting the offence. For folks who have been deeply wounded, that seems like too much to ask. What a relief it was for me to find out that forgetting wasn’t part of the deal.
The Bible lets us know that in an excerpt from the life of David, who was called a man after God’s own heart. The scene opens in 1 Samuel 24 with David on the run from Saul. In times past Saul had been like a father to David, but now because of petty jealousy, Saul was trying to kill him. While David was on the run more and more misfits joined him.  He and six hundred men were hiding in the goat caves of En Gedi.  
     Saul, hot on David’s trial, went into the cave to relieve himself. (It’s right there in verse three; you can read it for yourself.)  David’s men informed him, “God had delivered your enemy into our hands for you to deal with as you wish.” David crept up unnoticed and sliced a piece off the hem of Saul’s garment. Then David felt conscience-stricken and realized he could not kill Saul, God’s anointed King of Israel.
     I can see it in my head now. Saul saunters out of the cave. David and his men file out after him.  “Yo, Saul.  Does this look familiar to you?”  I hear David shouting.  “I could have slit your throat. I was this close, “ he confesses, holding up the piece of cloth. “But I didn’t think God would be pleasing to the Lord.” Then David heads into an impassioned speech wherein he even refers to Saul as “father.” You can imagine the confusion and frustration filling the fugitive’s head. God as my witness, Saul, I don’t know what your beef is with me. I killed a giant for you, fought valiantly beside you. I even played my harp to calm your frazzled soul.  In verse 11-12 he states, “I have not wronged you but you are hunting me down to take my life. May the Lord judge between you and me. And may the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me but my hand will not touch you.”  
      Saul responds, “You’re right; I’m wrong. You’re good; I’m bad. Boo hoo, boo hoo.”
     The life-changing truth of this passage, found in the last verse of the chapter, is a so subtle it could almost slip past you if you aren’t paying attention.  The final sentence in
 1 Samuel 24: 22 reads, “Then Saul returned home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.”  David didn’t say, “It’s all good, Saul. Let’s just forget about all your abuse and go back to the palace. We’ll and hunt and fish together. I’ll play my harp for you and everything will be hunky dory. David knew that Saul’s heart hadn’t changed. I believe that God Himself imparted that wisdom to his servant David, and, sure enough, two chapters later Saul is trying to kill David again.
     David didn’t slaughter his offender even when he had the opportunity and the encouragement from his troops. He didn’t let hatred for Saul consume him to the point that he constructed a voodoo doll of Saul to stab every time he felt vindictive.  But neither did he rush back to the palace and set himself up to be disappointed again by his jealous father figure, Saul. I find it interesting that the NIV uses the word “stronghold” to describe the Crags of En Gedi. I believe those caves were as much of an emotional stronghold for David as they were a physical one.        
      We see that it isn’t forgive and forget. It’s forgive and set boundaries. Setting boundaries requires that we maintain a healthy distance from our offenders and spend time with the Lord.  He will either give us strength to speak up to bullies or thick skin to ignore them. Like David, we retreat to our stronghold, distance from the damage, and invest in the empowerment we get from seeking God. In 2 Peter 2:22, states, “A dog will return to its own vomit.” We just don’t have to be there when it does!
    I pray this new insight will give you courage on your journey to forgive.
In a couple of weeks I will send out a follow up with more info on FORGIVENESS.

I am currently taking registrations for the Healing the Hurts that Are Holding You Back Workshop For Men and Women. Only 17 spaces are booked so that each person attending can get focused attention.
 
If forgiving an offender seems beyond your ability right now, then check out my website for this workshop,
Friday, October 26, 7:00 pm—9:00pm
Saturday, October 27, 9:00 am—3:30 pm
At the Sierra Pines Church Northwest Campus in Oakhurst, CA (Take the driveway next to the church on the same side of the street)
Check out my website for more info
www.lindanewtonspeaks.com

Lovin’ Jesus,
Linda

Check out my Blog~Savvy Choices at
www.LindaNewtonSpeaks.com

Here is an easy awesome summer recipe that’s light, cool and low cal. Hope you enjoy it.

COPPER PENNIES~

2 lbs. Carrots
1 Green Pepper
1 Medium Onion
½ Cup Olive Oil (I only use ¼ cup.)
¾ Cup of White Sugar (I use Splenda made for cooking.)
1 can Tomato Soup
¾ Cup of Rice Vinegar
1 Tsp. Prepared Mustard
Salt & Pepper to taste

Peel carrots and boil in salted water until tender, not mushy.
Cool then slice into rounds.
Chop green pepper and onions.
Combine carrots, pepper, and onions in a bowl.

Make marinade with olive oil, sugar (Splenda), Tomato Soup, vinegar, and mustard. The instructions say to combine them & mix in a blender, but I never do.
Pour marinade over carrot mixture and let it set overnight for best flavor.
Enjoy!

Proverbs 3:2-4, “Never let loyalty and kindness get away from you! Wear them like a necklace; write them deep within your heart. 4 Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will gain a good reputation.” I think this is the perfect kind of Bling!

I read this story called Lesson Learned and it reminded me of the value of every person. In light of the disenfranchised people in today's culture who shoot up classrooms and movie theaters, I think kindness is more needed than ever!

“During Bill’s second month of college, his professor gave a pop quiz. He was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions until he read the last one: "What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?"
“Surely this was some kind of joke,” Bill commented to himself.
He had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50's, but how would he know her name?
He handed in his paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward the quiz grade. "Absolutely,” said the professor.
"In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say "hello." Bill never forgot that lesson. He also learned her name was Dorothy.”

Awesome lesson, huh? When I heard Gloria Gaither speak several years ago, she stated that the last step in determining whether a person is hired by the Gaither organization is to take them to a restaurant and watch how they treat the waiter or waitress! If they treat them like servants, then they aren’t the right fit for their incredible Christian organization! I found it interesting and admirable. Every person on the planet needs to be treated with dignity, respect and love. I try to remind myself of this as I mow through my day. Some days I remember better than others!

Sometimes I read scriptures thinking I know what they mean, but when I investigate in the original language, the verse changes entirely in meaning. This is one of those verses.
 Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight your self in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this:  6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”

I took this verse to mean that if I am delighting in God, or glad to have Him in my life, He will give me what I want. Don’t we all want our desires satisfied? Isn’t God capable of anything?

In further study I found that there are several words used in the Hebrew language for “delight.” In Esther 6:6 when the king wanted to reward Mordecai he said, “What should be done for the man the King delights to honor.” In this verse the word is Khaw-fates, which means “to be pleased with.”

In Psalm 119:77 we read, “Let your compassion come to me that I may live, for your law is my delight,” the word for delight here is Shah-shoo-ah. It means “enjoyment, delight, or pleasure.” These two verses support my original idea about what delight means.

But in Psalm 37:4, the word for delight is Aw-nag, which means to BE SOFT and PLIABLE. The Psalmist is telling us to be soft and pliable, moldable to the will and purposes of God as He offers up salvation, satisfaction, a plan and a purpose. This lets us know that God either gives us what we want or transforms us to want what we get! Either way we win.

That makes me more committed than ever to spend time in His presence, calming my heart so that I can hear His Gentle Whisper. Here is a TOOL FOR YOUR BLING-COVERED TOOL BELT. This is working for me. Before I open the computer, before I turn the page in my daily planner or wander into the kitchen to face what I didn’t clean up the night before, I stumble toward the coffee pot, brew myself a cup and make my way to the deck. I open my Bible and enter into God’s time. It is hard for me to surrender my agenda because I have so much to accomplish. But I see that as Satan’s trick to distract us from what really matters~spending time with the Lord and letting Him instruct our day.

Psalm 34:5 further expounds, “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this:  6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.” I want my righteousness to shine like the dawn and the justice of my cause like the noonday sun, so that means I will do my best surrender to his shaping.  I don’t always like the process when His will and mine conflict. But I have found, He always knows what is best for me. What does He want to reshape in your life?


I read this in an article by Cindy Krischer Goodman and I thought these tips were worth passing on. I find when I practice them I sleep better—especially the last two. Moderation in all things.  As I seek balance, I find these tools helpful. Let me know if you do too.


•    Prioritize~Decide the task you really need to get done. Figure out a time and a place in your schedule early in the day to get that one thing done.
•    Focus~Spend 15-30 minutes on your priority, without interruption.
•    Start Earlier~Make your to-do list well before bedtime an if you’re troubled, write down problems and solutions. You want to be done worrying and planning hours before sleeping.
•    Eat Early~Eat a light dinner at least two hours before sleeping and consider walking after the meal.
•    Power Off~Keep your smart phone and laptop out of your bedroom.
•    Slow Down~Don’t hop into bed right after checking Facebook, sending email or visiting a website. Shut off your computer an hour before bed.
•    Unwind~Rest for at least 20 minutes before you sleep. Try listening to music or reading. You’ll find it easier to fall into a deep sleep.

This is a true story about a real dad whom I know quite well, my hubby. He showed me and his kids a lot about how God loves them.

ASK YOUR DADDY

  It was one of those rare summer days in California when the sky darkened and the air smelled like rain.  Ashley Rose, my five-year-old daughter, was playing outside with the little neighbor girl, Jessie.  Those two would occupy themselves for hours making all kinds of mischief and loving every minute of it.  But with the clouds coming up, I worried lightning might soon follow so I decided I had better call the girls inside. 

     As I approached the front door, their conversation caught me off guard. They spoke with hushed tones in meaningful discussion, uncharacteristic of the kindergarten girls who filled the hours with playful chatter.

   Choking back tears, Jessie shared, “I have to have surgery on my foot. And I’m scared!”  I watched as Ashley wrapped her arm around her playmate and patted her back, knowing all too well what Jessie had to fear.  Ashley Rose had already survived three heart surgeries and was awaiting a serious open-heart surgery in just a few months.

      Ever since talk of this next heart surgery started, Ashley made it a ritual to squirm her lightweight frame into our bed every evening.   Needing a lot of reassurance, she would cuddle up between her dad and me and pose question after question.  “Is it going to hurt like it did the last time?” she asked with her big blue eyes open wide.  “Can Sissy and Jake come and see me? she questioned, referring to her brother and sister.  “Will they let me keep Bobo with me?” she wondered about her favorite teddy bear. 

     As I lay next to her all I could do was pray for fear that if I spoke, my words would belie my own fear and dread.  Yet as she voiced an endless stream of concerns, her daddy patiently answered her questions even as the doubts she shared became more personal.  “Why am I like this and Jake and Sarah aren’t?  Will I always be this small?  Am I going to die?” However long it took to send his little girl off to sleep with peace, is how long her Daddy spent with her. 

     That’s why it came as no surprise to me that, as she sat with her arm around Jessie, Ashley shared with all the assurance in the world, “You Don’t Have To Worry.  You Just Have To Talk To Your Daddy!”  Ashley had first-hand knowledge that her Daddy would do every thing possible to comfort her and to make it all better.  Our Abba-Father, our Daddy, longs to do the same thing for us if we’ll let Him.

     How long has it been since you curled up next to Him in the wee hours of the evening to let Him know your doubt and fears?  He’s waiting and He’s got all the time in the universe for you.

 

 

I wrote this story to help young moms find “me time” in the midst of their demanding days. The principles can work for well-worn women on the “Menopause Express” who have difficulty locating their keys, as well. Blessings to you busy women as you read.

Basket Case

It’s a miracle, I thought as I sank into the overstuffed chair. They are both asleep at once. Could it be that I could actually have some me-time? A mom can dream, I thought to myself.


When it came to planning a family, all of my research stated that it was a good idea to have your kids close together so they could entertain each other, and grow up with a close relationship. That sounded good on paper, but having my son just twenty-two months after my daughter was born was a lot more work than I anticipated. Now after weeks of stress negotiating a potty-training two-year-old and a cranky six-month-old teether, I was on my reserve nerve!  It was more than I could imagine to have a moment to myself

.
Music! I’ll relax to my favorite tunes, the perfect antidote for a stressful morning with demanding little ones. I better hurry, I realized. I might get an hour before one of them wakes up. Now, where did I put that CD player? This was before the Ipod or MP3 players made listening to music easier.


I wandered into every room looking everywhere, growing more anxious and ill-tempered with each step. My kids are going to wake up before I even get to sit-down for a second, I lamented! The same thing happened last week when I tried to take a bubble bath in the few minutes the kids were running errands with their dad. By the time I located the bubbles, book and candles, they were pulling into the drive way and I was more stressed than before they left!


 I finally found the CD player in a chair in the family room where I had parked my two-year-old earlier so she could listen to Bert an Ernie. Now I had no idea where my CDs were. After searching in all the obvious places, I was losing hope and patience. So much for a moment to myself, I whined as I heard the baby starting to stir. I might as well throw in another load of laundry. They will both need me in a short second.


I have seldom found my greatest inspiration in the laundry room, but on the shelves above the washer, I spotted my solution. There sat a stack of baskets. I had a plan to solve my problem.
That night when the kids were in bed, I thought of all the things I could do as stress-reducers. First I gathered my CD player, all my relaxing CDs, along with my headphones, and put them in a basket. I placed the basket on top of a tall bookshelf to keep my toddler out of it, and so that I would always know where it was. Now I’d be ready when those few moments surfaced for me to unwind.


I did the same thing with my bath-time delights. Grabbing another basket, I loaded it with bubble bath, candles and fancy face cream. By now I was on a roll. I found a pair of my reading glasses, placed them in yet another basket with the book I had been trying to finish for weeks, threw in a quilt to wrap up in as I read, and stacked it on the shelf too. I even loaded a basket with an exercise video and workout clothes should my energy level ever rise above couch potato status after finally getting the kids quiet!


My idea worked. Several days later I succeeded in getting both kids to nap at the same time and I grabbed my bath-time basket and soaked my stress away congratulating myself on my resourcefulness. When the kids awoke they had a new mommy, renewed and ready to run after them for the rest of the day.
 As the kids grew I was able to train them to both go down for their naps together, leaving me with a couple of hours to de-stress with the basket of my choice. As time went on I added more baskets and even another child!


 Today I am on staff at a church filled with young families. I regularly encourage struggling young mothers to try my basket strategy. My “me-time” baskets certainly helped to restore this “basket case” back into a mellow mom!

I spent the weekend with some wonderful women at the Ashley Inn in the beautiful Cascade Mountains of Idaho! I talked about having a positive perspective and I shared this story from Chuck Swindoll. It’s a letter from a daughter who was away at college to her parents at home. For those ladies who asked for a copy, here it is. It makes us all count our blessings~

 

A Clear View from Mt. Perspective

 

Dear Mom and Dad,

 

Just thought I’d drop you a note to clue you in on my future plans. I’ve fallen in live with a guy named Jim. He quit high school after grade eleven to get married. About a year ago he got a divorce.

We’ve been going steady for two months and I plan to get married in the fall. Until then, I’ve decided to move into his apartment I think I might be pregnant).

At any rate, I dropped out of school last week, although I’d like to finish college sometime in the future.

ON THE NEXT PAGE SHE CONTINUED:

Mom and Dad, I just want you to know that everything I’ve just written so far in this letter is FALSE. None of it is true.

But Mom and Dad it is true that I got a C in French and flunked math. It is true that I am going to need more money.

Could those parents write that check fast enough? This helps me see that things could always be worse. So I refocus my perspective, seeking to stay in the positive, and find what I can be grateful for!

I just left some amazing ladies from Fremont and I am heading for another ladies’ retreat in the Cascade Mountains of Idaho next weekend. I LOVE WOMEN’S RETREATS! We women spend so much time worrying over and taking care of everyone else, but for at least one weekend a year, we deserve to take time off kitchen duty, rest and play, connect with other ladies, eat chocolate and fill our tanks with instruction and inspiration. 

 

If you don’t have a ladies’ group at your church, I would love to help you with some ideas about how to start one.  Maybe you are the catalyst God wants to use to make that happen. 

 

Remember, we retreat so that we can advance!

Here is a poem I shared this weekend at a "New Thing!" retreat with some awesome ladies from Faith Community Church of the Nazarene. I got this from a gal years ago when I shared my testimony at a Women’s Aglow. I use it when to illustrate how Christ came into my life and healed my hurt. I was asked by several ladies for a copy…so here it is~

 

It’s Okay, Mama, Mama

You could never love me, Mama.

Not like I needed to be loved

I cried when I was little

Needing you, Needing you

Needing your eyes to be soft

Needing your lips warm on my forehead. 

Needing you to say

“It’s okay baby, baby

Soft, Soft.”

 

You could never say those things, Mama.

Your eyes were dull

Your lips a hard line,

The hardness all over.

You could never say,

“Baby, baby.”

 

It’s okay, Mama

I’m all grown up now.

A long time ago when I was cryin’

He came, he came.

His eyes were soft.

His lips warm on my forehead,

He said, It’s okay, Baby, baby,

Soft, soft.

 

It took along time, Mama.

For the pain to go away

It took a long time.

He stayed a long time, Mama.

Jesus stayed.

 

It’s Mother’s Day, Mama.

I looked for a card for you.

One with soft eyes,

Lips warm on your forehead.

To make the hardness go away.

One that would say,

“It’s okay, Mama, Mama.”

Soft, soft.

 

 

The racks had goosh and gratitude

And butterflies

And flowers and poems

But they can’t say what I want to say.

(I hope the Hallmark lady doesn’t see me crying.)

Cause I want so bad to tell you,

It’s okay, Mama, Mama. Soft, Soft. 

Bling From the King~Gems of Encouragement from God’s Word

 

For the past few Blog posts, I have been spelling WIN. Acronyms help me remember things, since the only thing I seem to retain these days is water!  For the W and the I, you can checkout my Blog at www.LindaNewtonSpeaks.com.

 

The “N” in WIN, is to NEVER forget God’s power to provide. Solomon instructs in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Those words helped me focus on God to get me through the dark days in my abusive childhood.

 

In our doubt it would be easy to languish in despondency over what we perceive is God’s inaction or jump ahead of His timing and do things for ourselves. The latter didn’t work too well for Sarah, Abraham’s wife, as we can see illustrated in this story in Genesis 16.

 

Sarai, as she was called at the time, learned the hard way to wait for God’s provision.  Running out of patience with God to give her a son, she took things into her own hands.  She sent her maidservant, Hagar, to sleep with her husband. There’s not a woman in any culture who couldn’t see this coming! 

 

 Hagar got pregnant and lorded it over Sarai.  Not a smart move. Abram, in true phlegmatic fashion, stayed out of the fray and let the girls fight it out. Sarai saw the opportunity to get even and mistreated her maidservant (Genesis 16: 6).  Hagar ran away, but God found her and took care of her—even a lowly maidservant. (I love that part!)  And the son Hagar bore has been causing trouble ever since.  It never pays to step ahead of God. He will provide in His perfect time. We can’t forget that. 

 

It’s easy to run ahead of God or give up on Him because He isn’t doing it our way or fast enough! But Scripture tells us in Matt 6:33-34 in the Message, “Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. 34 "Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.”

 

Happy Winning!

 

Blessings~

Linda 

I had the privilege of speaking to some awesome ladies from all over California this weekend in the snow-covered mountains, and we talked about how we “Fight With God” instead of trusting Him! We looked at how to WIN life’s battles by surrendering to God! 

 

In my last Blog post, we started to spell WIN with the W being Wait on God. I believe that the I in WIN is to -INVEST IN THE ETERNAL. We have to choose every minute to make God the main thing in our lives.  

 

That point is so powerfully portrayed in the story of Daniel. He was taken from Israel to a foreign nation to be trained for three years for the king’s service. During training he was offered the best food and wine from the king’s table. But Daniel believed the Babylonian diet was not in keeping with his Jewish ideals.  He wanted fruits and vegetables not the king’s rich menu.  So the Scripture says, “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself”(Daniel 1:8, KJV). 

 

     Daniel could have indulged himself in the immediate, but he had the important in mind. He wasn’t investing in the here and now. He was looking to the hereafter. The line “purposed in his heart,” denotes Daniel’s intentionality.  It would have been easy to partake of the foreign fare that was constantly in his face, but Daniel was determined to make God his number one priority.  He obeyed the Lord and waited patiently for Him to act.  After a ten day, trial He looked healthier and better than any of the young men who ate the king’s rich food (verse 15).  Daniel proved that his new form of “Wait Watchers,” brought blessings in return.


 Since hot mess, Charlie Sheen coined the term “winning” as the public feasted on his instability, we see that word used everywhere. I want to look at what it really means WIN for keeps. Here’s our formula, starting with the first step. The W--Wait on the Lord.  The Psalmist said, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and he heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and the mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  He put a new song in my mouth and a hymn of praise to our God” (Psalm 40: 1-3a).  This scripture tells us to wait on God for strength and answers, and He will lift us out of our mess and plant us in a position of strength. But the answers and the strength don’t come without the wait. 

 

Whenever I think of WAITING on the LORD, I can’t help but think of Mary and Martha. The Lord had come to their home. Luke 10:39 tells us, “And Mary…sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.  40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’”

 

I have an ambitious missionary friend who said, “If Mary has gotten in that kitchen and helped Martha, they both could have been at Jesus feet.”  But those of us who are Martha’s, if we are honest, we know that there is always a distraction. The urgent tends to supersede the important—We have to choose.  Mary chose what is better and, “It will not be taken from her.” Mary had her priorities straight.  She didn’t let the immediate crowd out the eternal! 

     Martha was majoring on minors—how do I look to everyone here?  Will I impress my guests as the best Martha Stewart of Bethany?  We can find ourselves there, can’t we?

 

  “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,  but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

 

The words worried and upset in the KJV are Careful or Care-filled and troubled. The word for troubled in the New Testament is tarazo. It means to upset as demonstrated in John 5 when the angels stirred up or upset the waters at the Pool of Bethesda. But that’s not the word used here.  In this verse the word used is—“Toorbadso” it means too make trouble!

 

Jesus is saying, “Martha, Martha, Martha, you are making way too much trouble for yourself!  Serve store bought Martha honey and spend some time at the Lord’s feet.  Mary has chosen a better way.”

 

In what ways do we make trouble for ourselves…needing to impress the Jones? After all, what good is having something if, you can’t make others jealous of it? (Just joking!) Do we make trouble investing in how we look—being just the right weight, having the right wardrobe, the perfect designer purse? Do we major on minors making trouble for ourselves as we strive for the nice house in the perfect neighborhood or the new car?  Do we kill ourselves to get the promotion or letters by our name all the while missing out on choosing what is better like Mary did?

 

WAITING ON THE LORD MEANS making time to be in His presence. It’s considering Him in the decisions of our lives and not running ahead of Him. It’s focusing our lives around His purposes not our own.  We follow Him in obedience and He provides the peace and satisfaction. When we make knowing God our #1 priority, we are willing to spend time waiting on Him.  The more we do that the more familiar we are with HIS WILL & HIS WAYS. 

Check out my Blog in the next couple of weeks for the I and N in Win!

 

 

 

 

~Thanks to all of you who posted on my Blog for the past month as we focused on relationships! I promised to put your name in a drawing for the Communication Drive CD set that Bruce and I put together. The winner of that 4 CD set is MIKE LAGOW! Congratulations, Mike. Thanks for posting. Email me and I’ll get your chocolate and teaching CDs to you!

This is a story from my book, Better Than Jewels that offers one of the best defenses for, "Expressing on a constant basis what is right about those we love," the E from our LET'S TALK acronym.
 The Blessed List

Earlene was poised and elegant as she made her way to the sofa in my office. In her late sixties, she spoke with confidence but with a twinge of anger in her voice. Her husband had recently retired and she was feeling the pressure of being with him 24/7.
“He’s driving me crazy!” she lamented. “I give him instructions on the simplest things like making coffee or operating a blender, then I end up repeating myself ten times before the task is completed. For goodness’ sake, the man was an engineer for forty years! Have I spoiled him so badly that I’ve made him helpless? The truth is, no matter how much you love a guy, it’s not easy to be around him all the time. I used to miss him while he was at work. Now I miss missing him!”

We both laughed, but I got her meaning. So I suggested she do two things. The first was to write a Blessed List. That’s a list of everything she loved and valued about her husband: everything he was or did that was a blessing to her. The second was to persuade her husband to see a doctor, just to make sure there was nothing wrong physically with him.

Two weeks later, she returned with a lengthy list of her husband’s wonderful attributes. He was a good father and grandfather; he was an excellent provider; he was funny; and on and on. As she finished reading her list to me, she lad it on her lap and said, “I really have to thank you. Your gratitude exercise has changed my life. It made me realize what a great man I’m married to—even if he does drive me crazy at times.”

“Keep reading your list,” I encouraged. “Read it at least three times a day for the rest of the month, then once a day after that. Add to it when you think of new things or when he does something that especially blesses you. The list can never get too long.”
Earlene came to see me a couple more times. She was a quick study and she practiced what she was learning. I prayed that she would keep it up.

Three years passed and I received a letter with Earlene’s name and Montana return address. She was living with her daughter. Three months after she came for counseling, she had convinced her husband to see a doctor, who discovered he had a brain tumor. He died five month later. “I am so grateful I had made a Blessed List,” she wrote. “It changed my heart. I was reacting so negatively until I realized all the good my husband brought into my life. My paradigm shifted and I was able to love him as he ought to be loved before he died. Having an attitude of gratitude was a gift to him, but it was a gift to me as well, one I will never forget.”

Despite her age and experience, Earlene didn’t stop learning. She sought insight that changed her life for the better. We can all learn from her example.

More relationship instruction from Romans 12. Give this a go as you are practicing the Let’s Talk template!

 

GIVE UP- your right to be right!  Give up your goal to win!  Choose instead to be like Christ. Romans 12:1, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God-this is your true worship.” I love Rick Warren’s comment, “The trouble with a living sacrifice is that it keeps crawling off the alter!” Our goal is to seek God’s will in our lives not to be the winner in every conflict! What do you win if your partner can’t stand you? Marriage is made up of compromise not competition. The next time you are in a conflict with someone you love, try 2 things: Step into the other person’s shoes and look at the situation from their perspective. Next~Pray on your feet for God to guide your response to the situation. That brings me to the next part of this verse~

 

GIVE IN-to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.

 Romans 12:2, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Let go and let God change you into the person He desires you to be. We spend so much time focused on our partner’s or our kid’s short falls rather than looking within and taking ownership of our own annoying habits, faulty thinking or selfishness in relationships! I have heard more than one parent complain about how their adult children are selfish because their grown kids refuse to deal with their bad habits!

 

GIVE OUT-the love that God has imparted to you.

Romans 12:9-10, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil: cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love.”  Let’s face it! Loving others can be a tall order, but we can rely on the Holy Spirit’s power to do that in us…when we let him. Have you heard the expression, “That guy has a face only a mother could love”? I think there are people in our lives that only the Holy Spirit can love trough us. We can even go through those times with people we love dearly. That’s when we can’t give up. Things can get better especially if we ask for God’s help. Ask Him and watch Him transform your heart and your relationships.

For those who requested a copy of this~

Safe communication for hormonally challenging times~
Dangerous: What’s for dinner?
Safer: Can I help you with dinner?
Safest: Where would you like to go to dinner?
Ultra safe: Here honey, have some chocolate.

Dangerous: Are you wearing that?
Safer: You look good in beige.
Safest: Wow! Look at you
Ultra safe: Here honey, have some chocolate.
 
Dangerous: What are you so worked up about?
Safer: Could we be overreacting?
Safest: Take my paycheck!
Ultra safe: Here honey, have some chocolate.

Dangerous: What did you do all day?
Safe: Hope you didn’t over do today.
Safer: I’ve always liked you in that robe.
Ultra safe: Here hone, have some chocolate.

After sharing this with a very enthusiastic group of people today, I had so many requests for my out-line I promised to put it on my blog. Then I got the idea to invite folks to post on my blog with how they are doing making these tools a reality in their relationships. That includes you! Let me know how you are doing. I am entering everyone who posts on my blog from Feb. 13-March 14 in a drawing for a 1 pound dark chocolate bar in honor of Valentine’s Day as well as a Communication Drive CD set. Let’s create a community of communicators!

 

L-Listen with your heart.  God gave us two ears and only one mouth because He wants us to listen more than we talk! PROVERBS 18:13,“ He who answers before listening-that is his folly and his shame.” 

TOP TEN WAYS TO HEAR WITH YOUR HEARD

  1. Do make direct eye contact. (You have all of my attention.)
  2.  Do focus all your attention on the other person.(It ways, “You’re most important person in the world right now.  More important than the game, the newspaper, or the mac & cheese that I have on the stove.)
  3.  Don’t interrupt or finish his/her sentences. (Be the one person who will give those you love the gift of hearing your spouse of letting him/her get it out-of letting him/her finish.)
  4.  Don’t give immediate or simplistic advice. (i.e. “You need tell that boss off.”  “What you ought to do is quit if you’re not happy.”  “You just need top pray about it.”)
  5. Do encourage more sharing with leading questions. (What happened then?  How did you feel about that?) 
  6. Do match the sharer’s pace, and pitch and tone.  (If they are quiet  & contained and you are loud and rowdy, your behavior will shut them.  Just like a stray cat learning to trust, any sudden moves will scare it off. Sometimes hurting people are like cornered cats. 
  7.  Do give feed back. (i.e., “That must have been hard.” or “I think you handled that well.” Even nods and sighs say, “I’m with you. I’m taking it all in.”  Do keep an open, warm, accepting, non-judgmental attitude. Repeat that please.
  8. Do keep an open, warm, accepting, non-judgmental attitude.
  9.  Don’t be afraid of silence.
  10.  Don’t be afraid to reach out and pat, hug or hold your loved one. (If you’ve correctly done what is on this list, you have earned the right to “reach out & touch.”  Do it judiciously & cautiously). 

 

 

E-Express, on a constant basis, what is good about your spouse & your kids. 

PROVERBS 3:27, “Do not withhold good from those deserve it, when it is in your power to act.” Make praise an atmosphere in your home. Look for something each day to brag about for each one of your family members, especially your spouse.

 

T- Take the first 5 minutes right after you walk through the door to greet each other.  ROMANS 16:16, “Greet each other with a holy kiss.” Let your spouse know that you are glad he’s home, glad she’s alive! Life is so daily, and our stresses erode us, but we can help fill each other back up by our reactions.

 

S-Stay focused. Invest in the marriage regularly. Protect your relationship.  

HEBREWS 3:12, “Beware then of your own hearts, dear brothers, lest you find that they, too, are evil and unbelieving and are leading you away from the living God,”TLB. In his book, His Needs, Her Needs, author Willard Harley presents the concept of the “Love Bank.” When you meet my needs, a big deposit is made in your account in my love bank. When you do something not so nice, a big withdrawal is made. After enough withdrawals, I’m sucking fumes, but with significant deposits I can have a lot more grace for you. The by-line on Harley’s book is Building an Affair Proof Marriage with the premise that when we meet our partner’s needs, we will keep them, happy and they won’t have a need to look somewhere else. This info challenges us to stay current in the need- meeting department. 

There is truth to his statements. I have found that nobody ever strolls into my office and says, “I’m gonna go have myself an affair. I’m gonna go trollin’ to find it.” Folks come in broken into tiny little bits saying, “I didn’t ask for this. I didn’t know how much need I was in, and there he was, there she was.”

Please hear me, this is not a license to sin. It’s an invitation to invest. This is a reality that happens to way too many well-intended Christians. They forget to watch their backs. They fail to invest, and we have the Holy Spirit’s help! 

An example he uses, one that I have “southrened-up,” is that of Samantha Jane who marries Buford, the strong silent type, a good man and great provider, but not great in the compliment or conversation departments. Then Samantha gets a job working with Billy. He’s friendly and constantly complementary, telling her, “You look nice today. That color looks great on you.” She helps him with a sale, as per her job and he writes her a little thank you note. She helps him again, he invites her to lunch, and before she knows it, she’s in over her head. Then she heads into my office wracked in sobs saying, “I never meant to be an adulterous woman.” Now she is torn and lost. She didn’t know she was running on empty, sucking fumes. 

So we TAKE INVENTORY and INVEST.

 

T-Take 15 minutes to talk, just the two of you, everyday. This is our second “take time” proving, marriage takes time! That’s eyeball to eyeball, nose to nose, knee to knee time together. Continuing in HEBREWS 3:13, “Speak to each other about these things every day while there is still time, so that none will become hardened against God, being blinded by the glamour of sin.” TLB 

 

A-Ask for behavior adjustments in an appealing way Proverbs 16:24, “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Bruce gets credit for the idea of the “Pauline Sandwich.” If you look at any of Paul’s letters in the New Testament you see the pattern. They start and end with positive regard for those he is addressing, and the body of his letters, he addresses challenging issues. If we follow Paul’s example, we pay a legitimate compliment, then share our issue and end with more affirmations. This is much more “palatable” than pointing a finger of accusation with, “You never, you always or why can’t you…?”

 

L-Laugh together-a lot! Don’t take yourself too seriously. Life is short. Marriage is fun.  Find the joy in them both.  PROVERBS 17:22, “A cheerful heart is good medicine but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

 

K-Keep on keeping on! Don’t give up. Keep looking for tools and persist!  

PHILIPPIANS 4:13, “For I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power,” TLB. I thought of using Paul’s words, “…fight the good fight,” but somehow I thought better of using that in context with marriage!  The Lord can transform us if we let him. So we can’t say, “I will if he will” or “I’ll change if she does.”

I just spent the most amazing weekend with some dedicated people attending my Healing the Hurts That Are Holding You Back Workshop. It was obvious throughout the weekend that God was on the job. One of the awesome attendees asked for this insight that I shared from an article in Psychology Today, so I am posting it here.
 Fear of Failure and Fear of Success
Fear of failure will make you try to fit into a standard, but fear of success will make you do anything to avoid reaching that standard. While fear of failure is out there and everybody knows about it, fear of success is hidden so deep in our identity we may not recognize it, but it can be much worse for us.
Fear of failure is associated with making mistakes and not getting approval, while fear of success is the fear of doing things right and therefore not being accepted, not being appreciated and not being able to maintain the level of achievement and success.
While fear of failure results in avoidance, fear of success results in self-sabotage. People with a fear of failure try to avoid the pain of failure. They do not do anything that might lead them to failure. This behavior looks like lack of motivation.
People with fear of success, are also perceived as lacking motivation. If they do achieve success, they quickly mess it up. This way, their unsuccessful identity can be maintained.
They tell stories of "almost success," of self destructive behavior immediately after major success, like "Just when he had enough money, he blew it" or "Just when they bought a new house, he lost his job".
 Sigmund Freud wrote an article in 1915 called,  "Those Wrecked by Success". He described a tendency to fail "precisely when a deeply rooted and long-cherished wish has come to fulfillment... as though they were not able to tolerate happiness".
Sounds funny?
Well, it is not!
Freud described the fear of success as a perceived need to fail, not an option or a desire but a need. Some people develop the identity of a failure and in order to maintain it, they consciously or subconsciously sabotage everything that could prevent them from fulfilling this self-image.
I believe that because the fear of success exists at the identity level, the source of the problem is not only the parents but all the main identity agents - parents, teachers, other family members and, later on in life, peers.
Another theory related to fear of success is the Imposter Syndrome. This is when people develop a belief that their success is not real, and they live in fear others will discover they are not "really" good at what they do and they are only pretending to be successful.
As Christians we know we aren’t perfect, Jesus knows the real imperfect us and love us anyway! We know can’t get it right without the Holy Spirit’s help. Our righteousness is as filthy rags. Isaiah tells us that the Lord exchanges our filthy rags for His righteous robes. Christ in us our only hope of glory. Now we can be real about who we are because it’s not us, it’s Christ anyway! I think that deserves a hearty amen! Don’t you?

This week I attended the funeral of an 86 year-old-lady who lived her life to love Jesus and her family, and so many of the people she cared for attested to that. Everyone there received a program, and in it were excerpts from her journal, insights into a life well-lived. This was one of those insights that she practiced because the results were evidenced in her life~

 

8 Essentials to Be More Like Our Lord

1. Intimacy—Deepening our lives

2. Simplicity—Uncluttering our mind

3. Silence & Solitude—Slowing our pace

4. Surrender—Releasing our grip

5. Prayer—Calling out

6. Humility—Bowing down

7. Self-Control—Holding back

8. Sacrifice—Giving over

 

These words inspire me and provide a template for me to review each day as I seek to embrace more of God in my life. I pray it will help you too.

 

I read this recently and I thought it was the perfect focus on the first day of a brand new year! Happy 2012! May you be inspired~
“You are in God’s place at God’s perfect time. Your hands are in His hands, and He is your future. He has gifted you and placed you and placed His hand upon you to bless you and make you a blessing. The burden of your ministry is not yours to carry—as you rest, He will work; as you abide, He will bring fruit; as you sow, he will give the increase. He is your shield and your exceeding great reward.”

Last night we had an awesome Eve of Christmas Eve service at church, two of them, in fact, because we had so many folks attend. It was wonderful to see peeps who have grown up as kids in the church come back home to visit family, many of them with kids of their own!

We sang my favorite, Silent Night and as the words played over in my head, I heard: Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright… and I thought of all the peace and all the light the Baby Jesus has brought into my life.

Even in times of greatest stress growing up in an abusive home, I felt His calm in the midst of the chaos. In times of fear and darkness when I didn’t know if my youngest daughter would live through another heart surgery, I felt His bright light penetrate the dark gloom that threatened to consume me.

On this Christmas Eve, I pray that no matter what you are going through, you will allow His calm and his bright light to surround you so that you can draw up strength from His.

Merry Christmas!
Lovin’ Jesus,
Linda

I found this Christmas Parable in my file. It’s probably been there for years. It’s so worth sharing now…

Once upon a time, there was a man who looked upon Christmas as a lot of humbug.
He wasn’t a Scrooge. He was a very kind and decent person, generous to his family, upright in all his dealings with others.
But he didn’t believe all the stuff about an incarnation which churches proclaim at Christmas, and he was too honest to pretend that he did.
When his wife asked if he would go to church with her and the kids to the midnight Christmas Eve service, he told her, “I’d feel like a hypocrite. I simply can’t understand this claim that God became a man. But I’ll wait up for you.”
Shortly after his family left, snow began to fall. He went to the window and watched the flurries getting heavier and heavier.
“If we must have Christmas,” he reflected, “it’s nice to have a white one.”
He went back to his chair by the fireside and began to read his newspaper.
A few minutes later, he was startled by a thudding sound. It was quickly followed by another, then another. He thought that someone must be throwing snowballs at his living-room window.
When he went to the front door to investigate, he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They had been caught in the storm, and in a desperate search for shelter had tried to fly through his window.
“I can’t let these poor creatures lie there and freeze to death,” he thought. “But how can I help them?”
Then he remembered the barn where the children’s pony was stabled. It would provide warm shelter.
He quickly put on his coat and his boots and tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on the light.
But the birds didn’t come in. “Food will bring them in,” he thought. So he hurried back to the house to get bread crumbs which he sprinkled on the snow to make a trail into the barn.
To his dismay, the birds ignored the crumbs and continued to flop around helplessly in the snow.
He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around and waving his arms. They scattered in every direction-except into the warm barn.
“They find me a strange and terrifying creature,” he said to himself, “and I can’t seem to think of any way to let them know they can trust me.”
“If only I could be a bird for a few minutes, perhaps I could lead them to safety.”
Just at that moment, the church bells began to ring.
He stood silently for a while listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. Then he sank to his knees in the snow.
“Now I understand,” he prayed. “Now I see why You had to do it.”

 

That is something we need to be reminded of during the hectic holidays. We have to set realistic expectations and refuse to keep up with the Jones, Paula Deen  or Martha Stewart…especially Martha Stewart! Through some frustrating circumstances, I found some help for my need to perform. I wrote about it in this talk. I hope this helps you stop and smell the pumpkin pie this holiday season:
 
Do you find yourself struggling to measure up? You’re not alone. I’ve wasted so much time in my life running myself ragged wondering if I was good enough. I had to pull a 4.0 grade point average, be president of every club, and struggle for first chair in band. Whether it was my weight, grades, housekeeping, or parenting, I made myself neurotic trying to prove that I was worth something.  
One day in my late twenties, after chasing two preschoolers all day, cleaning up the same mess again and again, and wondering why I agreed to not only host a Bible study group but to lead it, I collapsed in a heap of exhaustion.  The words of Matthew 11 echoed in my head, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
     I had just yelled at my kids for being kids and now they were cowering in their rooms. Feeling guilty, discouraged, and wondering why I felt so compelled to be Superwoman, I picked up my Bible to read what I had remembered from Matthew--
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light’ were the words from Matthew 11:28-30.”

I realized that in that moment God was showing me that I am not a human doing--I get to be a human being!  What a relief!
Here is Matthew 11:28, in the The Message—
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.  29 Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  30 Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

         I was laying heavy and ill-fitting trips on myself.
Lord was saying, “You don’t have to be Superwoman any more.”  
       What a relief because it’s way too much work to try to look good in those tights!
      The Apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 2:2 to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. It has been the work of my salvation to learn how to REST! And I am still a student!
At the time when I had my mommy melt-down, I didn’t know why I felt compelled to look up the word “rest” in the Strong’s Concordance—maybe because I needed it so badly.  I know now it was the Lord’s leading me to a rich a gold nugget of life changing information.

Here is the NUGGET ALERT!!! I don’t want you to miss this one! The word “rest” in this verse in the Greek is the word “exempt.” I bawled like a baby as I heard the Lord say, “You’re exempt from your striving, Linda. You’re enough.” I think every woman needs to hear this message because of the standards we hold ourselves to. If we work we feel guilty for neglecting our kids. If we stay home we worry that we are not living up to our potential. If we devote any time to one we feel guilty for shorting the other. It is easy to feel that we are in no woman’s land!
      As I continued to read what God had for me the day of my mommy melt-down, I read, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart,” When I’m in my hyper-vigilant overachiever mode, I am anything but gentle and humble.  I’m harried, angry, and impatient, and everyone around me can attest to that!
That’s why my poor children were in their rooms that day fearing that the mommy dragon was going to breath fire again.”
     Reading those verses in Matthew instructed me to take Christ’s yoke, learn from Him, and I would find rest. A yoke is a set of instructions in the Greek, an agenda, if you will. In that moment I heard the Lord say, “Trade ya, Linda. You take my load and I’ll take yours. An easy yoke is not a joke!”
     Constantly trying to prove myself is anything but an easy load.  That scripture reminds me that I am exempt from needing to be perfect in order to prove I’m lovable, and that Christ in me is my only hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27) I don’t have to prove to anyone—including myself that I’m enough.  Jesus took care of that at Calvary.
When we recognize that we are exempt from living up to the expectations we have for ourselves and from those we can’t please we can instead PLAY TO AN AUDIENCE OF ONE.  If the Creator of the Universe is happy with who we are, that’s enough!  So we seek His will and His yoke. I learned better how to do that at a pastor’s conference we attended not long ago.

    John Ortberg asked at a gathering of nearly 3000 pastors and their wives how we answer when we are asked, “How are you doing spiritually?”  
Ortberg said when I was asked that, “I’d normally give a run down on my quiet time!  Remember at church camp when your spirituality was determined by how seriously you took that concept. But I know now that I can be spending quiet time and not necessarily be drawing any closer to God-just going through the motions to look good to the Christians around me.”
His words made me realize that if I focus on my performance it puts me in that place of being a human doing again.  Orberg then said that he got some insight from Dallas Willard, one of the great thinkers and philosophers of the faith. Willard said, “I inventory how I am doing by asking these questions:
Am I easily irritated?
Am I easily discouraged?
Not how spiritual do I look, or am I checking things off my Christian TO DO List.  It’s what I going on inside of my heart that determines how I am.

HERE IS SOME INSTRUCTION TO HELP APPLY THIS: When I find myself answering yes to either of these questions, I need to take inventory and see if this is my own doing or if it is from the Lord. If it is from Him, it may be difficult, but I’ll feel His peace.  Ask this question every time: Is this an ill-fitting trip I am laying on myself or is this from God? If we can spend quiet time at His feet, He will show us His yoke!

I love the verse from The Message Bible, “Congenial conversation—what a pleasure! The right word at the right time—beautiful! It’s from Proverbs 15:23. I got this positive email at the right time…when I really needed the encouragement. It made me more aware of how much I want to tell people when they bless me. That’s what Cathy did for me!

Hi Linda,
I'm not sure if I ever told you this. Many years ago when the church was still in the little building, when I very first attended, it seemed like every time I had a problem that I was struggling with, if I came to services on Sunday, your husband’s sermon addressed exactly whatever my problem was !
This happened consistently for the first 10 or 20 times that we ever came to
Sierra Pines.
I took that as a personal 'text' from God, and I remember knowing that
in that building, and on that chair, was exactly where God wanted me to be at that moment.
So I kept coming back to your church, feeling very quickly that it was my home.
And now again, in my life, what I'm struggling with is reaching crisis proportions, and I came home from work at 11 pm this certain night, to find that you had emailed me your On-line Encouragement which -of course, and by no accident - addressed and said exactly what God wanted me to hear.  Linda, I broke into tears, not yet solving anything, but definitely knowing that I am not alone, that the God you facilitate for me is there with me, listening, and holding me in His arms.
So I just wanted to thank you for your very special ministry !
Cathy Johnson

Here is the On-line Encouragement I sent Cathy:
Eat a Bullfrog
I was speaking at a women’s retreat a few weeks ago, and I shared this insight I learned in my early working years, and several women told me that it was helpful to them. So I thought I would share it with all of ya’ll.
Have you ever lost sleep or had your guts churn because you had to handle something you didn’t want to deal with? Your peace of mind can be robbed when you don’t take care of things that you dread, and, instead, you let those things ruminate around in your head! (I think I’ve just stumbled onto another “gem of insight.” Don’t be surprised if you hear that in an upcoming talk!)
 Rest eludes us as our stomach roils, and our head aches when we avoid doing things that are difficult. The best thing for our peace and sanity is to get that challenging task over with. I worked for a boss just out of college who said, “Eat a bullfrog in the morning and nothing worse can happen to you for the rest of the day!” His words of wisdom changed my life. Before I would rent space in my head for days, losing sleep and feeing miserable. That took years off my life until I heard this sage advice.
In other words, make your to-do list for the day, and put that challenging matter first on the list. Muster your gumption (Can you tell my boss was southern?) and get it done. Then it’s off your list, and you can go on to have a peaceful and productive day, minus the nail biting, hand-wringing, and the fear and trepidation!
So you may have to tell your husband that your bank account is over-drawn—again! Eat the bullfrog. You may need to tell your adult kids they need to pay rent. That was the agreement they made when they moved in, and they haven’t given you any money in 3 months. Eat the bullfrog! You may have to muster your gumption to tell the boss that you can’t do anymore overtime because it’s costing your family too much stress. (Tell him in the nicest possible way, of course, because he does sign your paycheck!)
When it comes to mustering gumption, God has always helped me out! Ask Him for the strength to do the tough stuff. He will give you the words, the wisdom, and the want-to. He’s done it for me and my days run a lot more smoothly, even if I have had bullfrog for breakfast!

Bless you during this busy season,
Linda

Is it Neiman Marcus in the press for their stand not to clutter up the Thanksgiving season with Christmas? I have to say I appreciate that. I hate the feeling that I am being pressured to focus on Christmas shopping and spending before I’ve even planned my Thanksgiving desserts. However, I’ve tried something different this year. During the first week of November, I set out most of my Christmas decorations interspersing them with Thanksgiving pretties. My house is now decked with “Thanksmas or Christ-giving.” I’ve already had moments to relish the season before the stampede of  scheduled events overtakes me. I have even sat with a cup of tea next to manger scene that my 5th graders bought me fifteen years ago and…rested. That would sadly NEVER happen in December!

 

Being in a pastor’s house, church keeps us off-and-running as soon as we flip over the calendar from November. Not that I don’t love it all, but I usually end up slapping up my Christmas decorations in the slivers of time between dinners, parties and choir presentations. Then I seldom get even a second to enjoy them. Now in early November before any holiday pressure has started, I have one big job already done and I am getting the chance to appreciate both the decorations and the season more. I am going to do this every year from now on! Tomorrow is Nov. 14th, I think I’ll put up my tree!

 

I’d love to know what you think…even if you believe I am desecrating fall by moving ahead too soon!

This was an email I received from a caring mom. I asked permission to share it on my Blog, because I believe it will give hope to many caring parents. May God “fill you with hope” as you read it!

Linda,

I recently attended a retreat where you spoke to us about our ”Bling from the King.” I was very moved at the last session where you asked us to relinquish our burden as we laid down our stone you had given us that represented our burdens. In exchange, we picked up our “Bling,” our promise from God in His Word.

The Word I received was from Joel 2:25, "So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten."  The reason this verse is so significant is because both my children have chosen to live their lives a part from God.  I started attending church when my children were little (my daughter 6, my son 4).  So, it broke my heart when the basically walked away from the church and any form of a relationship with Him.  My daughter chose the path of single parenting and promiscuity; my son is gay and in a homosexual relationship.

When I picked up that verse, I felt like God had seen and felt my pain for the first time in a long time.  And, despite my struggles with faith, somehow this verse held so much "promise" and hope for me.  As if the "uplift" I received from the receipt of this verse was not enough, God went even further.  This past Friday evening, my son called me out of the blue just to tell me that for some reason he could not explain, he felt compelled to go into this church he was passing.  He listened to his heart, stopped his car, and went in.  I'm not sure who he spoke with at the church, but he did speak to someone and they gave him a Bible which he has been reading.  

You have no idea how many times I've tried without success to get my children to go to church and/or read the Bible.  For my son to do this solely based upon the prompting of the Holy Spirit means so much.  It made me realize just how much I need to get out of God's way and let Him work things out the way only He can.

I just wanted to thank you for listening to God, because you allowed Him to use you greatly that day -- at least in my life.  

I know my son and God still have a long way to go in their relationship, but at least the seeds have been put in place.  I'm looking forward to seen what God has in store for the future.

Again, thanks for your service and God Bless.

This is an addendum to my Blog post on 10/15/11. I talked about setting healthy boundaries in relationships and not getting recruited or Conscripted into caretaking those around you. What I shared is actually the third “C” in my Three “Cs” for Healthy Friendships from my book, 12 Ways to Turn Your Pain Into Praise. In this post, I’d like to share with you the other 2 “C’s.” 

  1. 1. Do let Confidence empower you.
  2. 2. Don’t let Comparison infect you.
  3. 3. Don’t get Conscripted (or recruited to care-take needy people).

 

      Our lack of confidence can limit us unless we allow the Lord to redefine us through the positive comments of the people He places in our lives. Then we will realize how much we have to offer. 

     The book of James tells us, “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly Lights, who does not change like shifting shadows,”(James 1:17).  So what we seek is not actually confidence but rather “God-fidence”. That’s an understanding that God gets the credit for what is beneficial and capable in us, and it will cure both our arrogance and our insecurity. We no longer need to alienate others with our self-importance nor avoid them in our self-consciousness. So it’s actually not self-esteem we’re seeking but “Jesus-esteem”.  When we embrace the Lord’s view of ourselves, we’re free to be comfortable in our own skin.  God’s opinion of us is revealed in His Word, through the compliments of other people, and through listening for His gentle whisper every day.  It’s possible to rest in the “God-fidence” of all He has given us, and let it work for us in healthy friendships.

     Not only do we allow insecurity to keep us from relationships but comparison can prove to be an equally detrimental culprit in our efforts to connect with other people as well.  We can avoid people because when we compare ourselves to those around us, we can feel like we don’t measure up. The truth is everybody feels that way to some degree.  We waste valuable time when we feel inferior as we weigh ourselves against others because we don’t know their whole story. 

          That point was made so clear to me when Angela came to see me. She was an exquisite Italian lady with a flawless olive complexion, big brown eyes, and cascades of auburn hair that was her best advertisement as the hairdresser famed for founding the “Best Little Hair House in Kansas.”  She was the talk of Topeka until she married Bart.  Everyone knew it wouldn’t work, except for her.  He was a demanding jealous drunk, but he had money, and he said he’d take care of her. He told her he’d move her away from all of her hard work and build her a beautiful shop in their garage.  Then she could do hair only when she wanted to.  But Angela found out too late that it was just another way for him to control her every move.  

   “He did it again,” she said with tears soaking her perfectly tanned cheeks.  “He came home accusing me of cheating.  Linda, he keeps me so busy cleaning the ‘big beautiful house I worked so hard to buy for you’ I don’t have time to cheat if I wanted to.  I hate my life,” she sobbed.  I want to be Elaine.” 

     Her last statement didn’t surprise me.  Angela had mentioned Elaine quite a bit. Elaine worked with Angela’s mom until she married Ernie.  He was a millionaire and he made sure everybody knew it.  Ernie bought Elaine anything she wanted—a new mustang, cultured pearls, and a fifty thousand dollar kitchen makeover.  He had even purchased expensive colored contacts for her even though she didn’t need corrective lenses.   Angela was always comparing her life to Elaine’s and that left her constantly feeling gypped. 

     After talking about her feelings, Angela explored with me a possible plan to get her husband help with his drinking and restore some sanity to their relationship. As a baby Christian, asking God for help with life issues was new to her, but she prayed with me that God would give her strength and wisdom in her marriage.  She left that day with renewed vigor to seek the Lord everyday for the help and hope she needed. 

      Guess who showed up at my door just one week to the day?  You guessed it—Elaine!  But she didn’t come for help because she had already made up her mind.  Crying a squishy puddle on my carpet, she sobbed out her colored contacts saying,  “I can’t take it any more.  I don’t care how much money my husband has, it doesn’t give him the right to scream at me all the time.  He yells at my boys too.  Nothing they do pleases him. They are good boys and they don’t deserve his abuse.  I honestly think he hates them, and I can’t figure out why. I’m ready to walk.” 

     I learned a valuable lesson about comparing that day. When Angela compared her life to Elaine’s she came up short—only because she didn’t know the real story.  So now, I don’t compare myself to anybody, because I don’t know what’s really going on in another person’s life.  And neither do you.  So you’re fired from comparing! It’s a huge waste of time.  Spend your energy instead on reviewing your own Blessed List.  When your do, you’ll realize how good you’ve got it in God. 

With what I blogged earlier about not getting “conscripted” to do for others what they need to do for themselves, that completes out 3 Cs of healthy relationships. I hope that helps you! It keeps me sane

Recently while I was sharing at a women's retreat, I told the ladies, “If you are remaining as faithful as you can possibly remain, and life still seemed grim, then ask God to show you a trailer…He doesn’t have to show you the entire movie, a simple trailer of the full-length version of how He is working things our for good in your life. Not that we wouldn’t love to see a full-blown version of how God plans to pull things out, but we know faith please Him. So a glimpse will keep us going. Don’t be afraid to ask Him for that. He’s done it for me and He will do it for you." I encouraged the ladies to let me know when God showed them their trailer, and Sheryl did~

  Dear Linda,
I just wanted to take some time to thank you and share with you. Your lessons at the women's retreat were life changing for me. A little back ground… I was with my ex husband from the age of 18-30, and have two children (12 & 10) with him. In 2006 I was introduced to meth as a weight loss help. I was addicted immediately. As a result, I lost everything in January of 2009. I hid this from everyone and did not work my recovery.
In February of 2010 I met a guy, a drunk. We fell in love and enabled each other. Soon became addicted to one another and the hectic lifestyle we lived.
In April 2011, I got clean and in May, he got sober. We started attending Bear Creek Community Church and Celebrate Recovery. This changed my life. I quickly reached out to the women, and taken in as family. I started a step study there and have a wonderful sponsor and amazing accountability partners. I have been clean and sober for 6 months. I needed to be out of the relationship, but was having a hard time standing strong in my decision. I prayed for God to give me confirmation for terminating the relationship at the retreat. Which did happen. I was very stressed because I am not working.

    I received so much mental, emotional, and spiritual healing from your words. But what I really wanted to share with you is that I received my "trailer" on Monday. I laid down my "burden" which for me was this relationship. Then I prayed God would give me a glimpse or a trailer like you suggested. I received 2 offers for part time temporary work. To me this was God telling me, that He's got this. That He is going to meet my needs and be there for me. It was amazing!! I am very insecure and have low self esteem, but I am accepting that I am a precious pearl of the almighty King !!!! Thank you so very much for the beautifulness you spread !!
With Love,
Sheryl 

This is for my friend Barb Parsons who has asked me for pics of my granddaughter! I hope this works. It's tough being a techno-tard! When I saw Eva Lilee a few weeks ago, we read books together. I thought she should start young:) 


If you missed my monthly On-line Encouragement for September, Hope for a Hurting Friend, here it is. If you want to be on my mailing list, please sign up on my website, LindaNewtonSpeaks,com. I have a follow up on this article that I will post soon. It will offer more insight if you have this information first.
You may not think you have much to offer a hurting person, especially if you have not experienced what they are going through. But being there and just listening can be one of the greatest gifts you can give. Have you been there when your friend is melting down and life had just dumped a truckload of pain to her front door?
Maxine finds you at work to tell you her oldest son’s on drugs. Police called last night he’s in custody, and she is devastated.
Cindy comes to you at church. You can tell by the tone in her voice she’s trying not to wig out, “I have breast cancer,” she informs you with tears in her eyes.
Rita calls before you are even fully awake. Her husband just dropped a bomb on her before he left for work. He wants out of the marriage.
We offer the immeasurable gift of a listening ear, but how we will listen is very important. We listen with no judgments. This is not the time for legalistic lectures like…
“Maxine, I told you to set boundaries with that boy!”
“Cindy the way you put away that junk food. I’m surprised it’s not a heart attack!” We will listen with our hearts.
While we suspend any judgment, we also refrain from offering easy pat answers:
     “You need to get that kid to Teen Challenge, Maxine.”
    “Cindy, homeopathy is the answer for your cancer. My coworker’s sister’s cousin cured her cancer with herbs!”
“You should call an attorney right now, Rita. Your husband will take you to the cleaners if you don’t.”
Think of how you feel when someone offers you unsolicited, simplistic advice. Does it create a log-jam in your brain, like it does mine?  Most people can figure things out for themselves…and they need to. Your gift now becomes offering them a safe place to get their thoughts together.
As you respond to your burdened friend, pay attention to your pace, pitch and tone as you calmly ask more leading questions:
”What did the policeman say, Maxine?
“Did your doctor say what kind of cancer you had, Cindy?”
“Do the kids know what’s going on, Rita?”
 As you share with a soft, slow pace, there is more chance your struggling friend will match your pace, pitch and tone and calm down long enough to find comfort in your presence. Then she can regroup for her next step.
Caring for hurting friends can be rewarding, but it can also be stressful and consuming unless we know what to look for. Be careful not to do for your friend what she needs to do for herself. Here is some helpful insight from the book of Galatians.
Galatians 6:2 tells us to: Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Then in verse 5 we are urged,  “for each one should carry his own load.” That can be confusing unless we take a look at these verses in the original language.
The word “burden” in the Greek means “an overwhelming load a Boulder.” If my friend is facing cancer, or sudden loss, or she has a child is in the hospital, that constitutes a burden or a boulder. I’ll help her shoulder that. We look out for each other’s boulders in the Body of Christ. But a load is like a backpack or a knapsack. In that knapsack, each of us has everything we need to do life. Unfortunately, there are folks who will recruit us to carry their knapsacks because, let’s face it, if they can recruit someone to do it for them, they can coast. In our codependence and need to be needed and liked, we will!
In their book, Hiding from Love, Drs. Cloud and Townsend’s offer this helpful insight.  “Boundary conflicts happen when Hiker A tires of his knapsack and wants a free ride.   Hiker B, wanting to be caring, takes it on.  After a few miles, two things happen.  First, Hiker A learns it’s a lot of fun not to have to be responsible to pay his own rent, find a job, or take responsibility for his own happiness.  Second, Hiker B shifts from love to resentment to bitterness as he takes on the impossible task of being responsible for another person’s life.”
If I’m not careful and boundaried, I’ll be paying for Maxine’s son’s rehab, driving every day to he doctor with Cindy, and moving Rita and her four kids in with me…all the while blaming God for my exhaustion!
Our goal is to help others without getting engulfed in their issues. To do that, we empower not enable. Enabling makes the hurting person dependent on us. Empowering lets her see you believe in her, and helps her depend on God. He has more answers, more strength, and more resources than you do, and he’s available 24/7/365! Empower with phrases like:

“You can do this, Maxine.”
“God will get you through, Cindy.”
 “You’re stronger than you think you are, Rita!”

God never burns out. He has wisdom for you and your hurting friend. That’s one thing you both can count on.

I shared this at a retreat at Missions Springs for some awesome ladies from Turlock, and they requested a copy.  (I shared some deep stuff, as well.) If you could use a good laugh this is for you. It’s titled, “10 Ways to Know If Your White Trash.” I’ve said many times that Tennessee Trailer Trash would have been a step up for me growing up, so I’m talkin’ to myself here, and makin’ fun of me as much as anyone else

1.    The Halloween pumpkin on your porch has more teeth than you do.
2.    You’ve been married 3 times and you till have the same in-laws.
3.    You wonder how service stations keep their restrooms so clean.
4.    Anyone in your family has ever died after saying, “Hey, ya’ll. Watch this.”
5.    Your hairdo was ever ruined by a ceiling fan.
6.    You have ever used an ironing board as buffet table.
7.    You have a complete set of salad bowls, and they all say Cool Whip on the side.
8.    The biggest city you have ever been to is a Walmart.
9.    You lit a match in the bathroom and your house exploded, right off its wheels.
10.    You missed 6th grade graduation because you had jury duty.

I hope you have more laughter throughout your week! Have a good one.

I just got back from North Carolina where I was spending time with my new grand baby. We read and played, and she took naps on my shoulder. I soaked in every minute. I wish I had been a grandma before I was a parent. We have so much more wisdom as we get older. We now know that the house will always be dirty, and that we have the rest of our lives to reach our full potential. But these precious moments are fleeting, and we have to slow down before they pass us by. I hope some young mother reading this will stop, sit down next to her little one, and be present in the moment before it evaporates before her eyes.

I was at Berean Christian Store this week and the darling girl behind the counter handed me a free greeting card and said, “We are giving these out in honor of National Encouragement Week. You can give this to a friend.”
How cool! But I think every week should be encouragement week. Perhaps this will help to motivate you. It does me. If not, check out Berean, and maybe they will give you a free card to send to a person who needs your encouragement!”

It Isn’t Enough
It isn’t enough to say in our hearts
That we like a friend for her ways,
It isn’t enough that we fill our minds
With paeans of silent praise;
Nor is it enough that we honor a woman
As our confidence upward mounts,
It’s going right up to the woman herself,
And telling her so that counts!
If a gal does a work you really admire,
Don’t leave a kind word unsaid,
In fear that to do so might make her vain
And cause her to “lose her head.”
But reach out your hand and tell her,
“Well done,” and see how her gratitude swells;
It isn’t the flower we strew on the grave,
It’s the word to the living that tells.
--Anonymous

For those who don't get my On-line Encouragement, here are TOP TEN WAYS TO LIVE STRESS-LESS DAYS, but my spiritual gift is making a short story long, so I have 12 ways

1.    Spend time each day focusing on your blessings. Write a list and read it regularly.1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, tells us to, “Always be joyful.  17 Keep on praying.  18 No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” We also learn in Philippians 4:4, to “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” There is power in praise, and there is always something to praise God for. Instead of grumbling that my house is disrepair, I can praise the Lord that I have a house!  Before I waste time complaining about unwanted pounds, I’ll thank God that I’m not pencil-thin from puking my guts up on chemo. When I am looking for things to be thankful for, I’m too blessed to be stressed!
2.    Meditate on Scriptures everyday. Swindoll said that the Eastern religions stole meditation from us. We had it as early as David wrote the Psalms. The Psalmist instructed us quite early on to meditate on God’s word day and night (Psalm 119:97) Don’t let the words fly by as you read them. Let them soak it into your soul. Contemplate the meaning of every phrase, who is saying it, and what it means to you personally. Let’s look at Romans 8:28 for example. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose.”  For “all things” that means everything (not just some things) work together for good (not just so, so, but good) for those who love God. That means you and me. We don’t love Him perfectly but we try. Layering God’s truth into our hearts and minds will mitigate stress.
3.    Do something to nurture yourself everyday.  In my office, I often see stressed out folks who take inventory and find they are doing, giving, and working for everyone else but themselves. They are constantly pouring out, but not pouring anything into themselves. I recommend they make a list of tank-filling activities, and engage in a one of those everyday.
4.    Learn to Trust God with your worries. That’s easier said than done! James 1 tells us, “ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord;  8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. Double-minded means worried! 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to, “Cast out cares (or worries) on the Lord because he cares for us.” When I think of casting, I think of strolling out to the pier and leisurely flipping my wrist as I watch my fishing line zip from my pole into he water. Peter fished with nets that weighed 200 pounds--without fish! Just like fishermen with their nets, we heave our heavy burdens and leave them at the feet of Jesus!
5.    Do something different each day. The definition of insanity in recovery is “doing the same thing over an over again and expecting different results.” If I find myself stressed out, I am going to try doing one thing differently to help me out of my rut. Stormie Omartian in her book, A Step in the Right Direction talked about a time when all she could manage during a stressful day was to organize her sock drawer. “It was exhausting, but I could go back to my dresser, open, my drawer and revel in my accomplishment. Then if I walked through the living room and saw the pummeled rubble, I go back, revisit my organized socks and not feel like a complete failure!
6.    Exercise regularly. You knew I’d say that, didn’t you?  Exercise releases endorphins, helps to maintain weight, and helps to clear your head on a hectic day. It has become my drug of choice! We all have our “musts” not necessarily our “shoulds.” Working out for me has become a must. Without it, I circle the drain!
7.    Think before you eat! Mindless or stress eating seldom provides good food choices. When we go to food to mitigate our stress, we create another problem with unwanted pounds and other health challenges. I’m not recommending another diet. This is more of a “live it!” There are diets that tell us not to eat meat, while others say we need our protein. Experts have told us to stay away from coffee and chocolate. Now they tout he health benefits of both. Scripture has the answer: all things in moderation!
8.    Get plenty of rest.  A famous General once said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” Hopefully if you do the other things on the list, you’ll sleep better.
9.    Meet regularly with encouragers. Hebrews 10: 25 in the NLT says,  “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.”  This may be the last thing you want to do when you’re stressed out. But you need to throw your feet on the floor and show up for church! The Lord and his people will meet you there. We do this walk together; we’re not created to go it alone. Jesus walked and talked and lived his faith with the 12 to show us how it’s done. We are there for each other.
10.     Laugh a lot! Proverbs 17:22 NLT says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” The NIV says it, “dries up the bones.” From HELPGUIDE.ORG we read: Laughter activates the chemistry of the will to live and increases our capacity to fight disease. Laughing relaxes the body and reduces problems associated with high blood pressure, strokes, arthritis, and ulcers. Some research  suggests that laughter may also reduce the risk of heart disease.  Historically, research has shown that distressing emotions  (depression, anger, anxiety, and stress) are all related to  heart disease. A study done at the University of Maryland Medical Center suggests that a good sense of humor and the ability to laugh at stressful situations helps mitigate the damaging  physical effects of distressing emotions.
11.    Seek counseling when needed. Proverbs 11:14 states, “Without wise leadership, a nation falls; with many counselors, there is safety.” Nations fall, and so will we. If you feel stuck and can’t get past your past, or you can’t seem to shake your stinkin’ thinkin’, get help from someone outside of you. Sometimes we need to talk things out. Speak it out takes the power away. Helps us organize our feelings, know where to go.
12.    Involve yourself in something bigger than you! What could be bigger than doing something for the Creator of the Universe, the Living God? The job you do is your “tent making” enterprise, enabling you to serve in  the Kingdom of God. I believe with Bill Hybels that the hope of the world is in the local church. Right now the body of Christ needs the gifts you have to offer.  When you shy away from stepping up, everyone loses. Can you answer phones, cook meals, rock babies, sand furniture, pull weeds or teach a class? Then God has great things to fill your tank! Colossians 3:23  tells us to, “Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”


I grew up watching cowboy shows every Saturday morning. Then when Star Wars came out, Bruce and I truly became Star Wars geeks complete with t-shirts and wall posters. (Mind you, we were in our 30’s:) So it’s no wonder we had to make time to see the movie Cowboys and Aliens. The movie stepped on my toes in the first fifteen minutes with a couple of G---D----s. I HATE when they write that in. I get it that cowboys aren’t prissy pantie-waists, but I don’t get why writers need to break a commandment to make a point??? Still there are lines in the movie that clearly present the Christian position more plainly than I have seen it presented in decades.
As the cowboys prepare to do battle with the invading aliens, the town preacher tells the saloonkeeper that things will go well if they can have faith. The saloonkeeper, known as Doc, retorts, "God ain't done much for me." To which the preacher says that we can't expect God to do everything. "You gotta earn His presence," he says. "Then you gotta recognize it, then you gotta act on it."

Not to give away too much of the plot (I hate when people do that.)The respected preacher also tells Jake, our hero, to help the others, encouraging him with, "God don't care who you were, son. Only who you are." He also informs our hero, "Whether you end up in heaven or hell, it's not God's plan, it's your own." Pretty direct, if you ask me.

On a personal note, I have yet to see Daniel Craig in a movie where he isn’t covered in filth. So much for the glamour of being an actor!

My son, Jake Newton is playing a concert at Sierra Pines this Tuesday August 16th as part of his tour to release his new album, Kill the Past. Jake and the ladies he is touring with, all play worship in their respective churches when they are not on stage singing to audiences across the West Coast. Tuesday’s concert is a fundraiser for the junior high. Our jr. high leader, Matt Sconce and Jake have been friends since the 3rd grade. Matt was both inspirational and instrumental in helping Jake with the Pledge Music campaign for his new album. Jake and his friends will start with a worship set that will include Matt’s kids, and then you will hear some original tunes from these talented artists.

Jake’s music is folk-rock, I know I’m his Ma, but I think this album is his best work yet! There are some up-beat rocky songs like "Spark" and some soulful sounds like "Strong Enough". And there is a song Jake wrote for his first girlfriend, Jill, who died mysteriously in Thailand a couple of years ago as her fiancé struggled to save her life. As a writer myself, my son impresses me with the way he is able to capture the heart of a feeling or a situation. Jake wrote all of the songs on this album, and the music is a collaboration of talented friends, one of whom is the grandson of the late actor/singer Jerry Reed.

I am proud of Jake for the hard work he has done to make his dream of making music come true. I am even more proud that he still makes time to use his music for the Kingdom. Not only is he playing to raise funds for SPC’s youth ministry, but a portion of the funds he collected for his Pledge Music campaign went to a charity the helps to prevent teen suicide.

Come and hear Jake
Tuesday, August 16th
BBQ dinner 6PM
Concert at 7PM on the
Patio at Sierra Pines Church
40855 Covey Ct., Oakhurst, Ca

 

This week some folks that are very dear to us suddenly lost their 42-year-old son. I have had quite a few people confide in me that they don't know what to say to people in grief and pain. So today in my blog, I decided to reproduce a story from my Better then Jewels book. It's titled "Quincey the Comforter", but today's title should read, "All I Ever Needed to Know About Grief, I Learned from My Cat": My husband and I have often stood beside dear friends who were grieving. It’s one of the most difficult times for me, yet I feel honored that people allow us to enter the sacred place of their pain. I have learned that, most of the time, words are inadequate because grieving people don’t want platitudes. They just want the presence of someone who cares. The greatest comfort we can offer is just to hug them and stand beside them.

Qunicey the Comforter

Growing up in a family that rescued many stray dogs, I had never experienced cat ownership. Then we moved our family to six acres in the California foothills. A friend from church warned that we were likely to encounter plenty of rattlesnakes there, since we were the first people to build a home in that area.
“I think I can help you with that,” Marlene volunteered. “I have two ten-week-old kittens that can help to patrol the place.” Their half-wild mother had raised them outdoors, and when the kittens were barely able to walk, mama cat had taught them to hunt.
So Quincey and Nosey came to live with us in early fall, and soon they began to earn their keep. They hunted gophers, keeping my small lawn pristine. They discouraged any vermin that tried to take up residence in our outbuildings. One afternoon, I watched in awe through the bedroom window as they both danced around a rattlesnake, each step carefully orchestrated to avoid its deadly bite. The creature wore itself out striking at them, and within minutes was killed and eaten.
The cats wrestled for hours and slept together in what I called their “kitty-cat clot.” The twin brothers would doze so intertwined that it was hard to tell where one left off and the other began. I would find them balled up together on the sunbathed patio chair, under the front porch, or in an abandoned box in the garage at night. The two were inseparable.
It was difficult to get close them, but Nosey began to respond to us and eventually tolerated affection from the family members of his choice. Quincey remained wary of all humans and only conceded to being petted under duress, preferring the safety of his kitty-cat clot.
One night, Nosey didn’t show up at bedtime. We’d had a heavy spring downpour, which made it difficult the search the area. Still, we combed the hillside, calling for Nosey until the wee hours of the morning. We hoped he had just gone on a long hunting expedition.
After two days with no Nosey, we had to conclude that the worst had happened. But Quincey confirmed it. On the third evening at bedtime, Quincey began crying inconsolably. He yowled and insisted on coming inside the house, a place he had detested before. We let him in and tried to comfort him, but he continued to cry. He finally jumped up on our bed, nestled between my husband Bruce and me, and howled himself to sleep. His actions were completely out of character for this wild cat.
“This is the last cat I would ever expect to want this much human attention,” Bruce said. We wondered what we could do to ease the poor creature’s pain, but we missed Nosey too, so we just grieved together.
This evening ritual continued for several weeks until Quincey’s cries began to subside. After that, he darted in the back door every chance he got, but instead of diving into our bed each night, he would climb to the landing at the top of the stairs and watch us from that safe perch.
After a lengthy phone conversation with my twin sister one evening, in which I learned that she had been diagnosed with cancer, I sat at the dining room table and began to sob. Immediately, Quincey made his way down the stairs toward me. I opened my eyes to see him gently pawing my legs. Without invitation, he hopped into my lap and began to purr. He curled up quietly in my arms until I had stopped crying. Then he jumped down and resumed his perch on the high landing. He had never done that before, and has never done it since. It was as though Quincey knew the pain of being a twin and fretting over the condition of the one you’ve known since before birth, and he wanted to relieve my pain.
Quincey’s attentive presence comforted me more than any words that could have been uttered. Now when I stand beside a grieving person, I remember Quincey’s comfort. Better then words are actions that say, “I’m here for you and I care.”

Have you ever been scared to try something new? I know I have. That is why I am so proud of my friends, Char and Kim. Last night, I had the privilege of speaking at a women’s event, the first Char has ever organized, and the first one that had happened at her church for some time, so she had no one to show her the ropes. But God supplied all the energy and instruction she needed. With constant support from Terrie on the pastoral staff and other tireless servants, it was famously successful! The food, the attendance the participation was awesome!

Kim and her team did the worship for us. She told me that after being on many worship teams, this was the first time she had ever led worship. You would have never known it. Her smile eclipsed any anxiety she may have felt, and our worship time was wonderful!

Here are two ladies who, despite inexperience, let God use them and the end result was that ladies were able to find friendship, encouragement, and some even find Christ for the first time! I don’t think it gets much better than that!

Our theme for the evening was, “Bling for Our King.” When I talked about slipping on that “Gracelet or Bracelet of service,” I used 1 Peter 5:2, Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers-not because you must, but because you are willing…4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” That verse depicts these willing servants. Ladies, you offered some beautiful Bling to the Lord through your efforts and according to this verse, He’s got some Bling, a crown, for you! Thanks for the privilege of working with ya’ll. Let’s do it again sometime~

After 4, count them, services yesterday at church, I had quite a few folks ask me for the verses I used at the end of my talk to expound on Galatians 6. I told them I would post the last couple of pages on my Blog, so here they are. Galatians 6: 7 & 8, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Unfortunately we play with fire…
 I don’t know anyone who would by real estate on the San Andreas fault, or build a summer home at the base of Mt. St. Helens. Few folks would stroke a rhino to see if he’s tame, or light a match to see if their gas tank was empty.

But there is a strange species of Christian who flirts with risks far greater~They rewrite Scripture to accommodate their life-style. Whenever they run across Scriptures or principles that attack their position, they alter them to accommodate their practice.
 That way 2 things happen~
•    Their desires (no matter how wrong) are full-filled.
•    All guilt (no matter how justified) is erased!

Then everybody can do his own thing and nobody has any reason to question anybody’s action. If someone does, we call him a legalist and plow right on! Here are some examples:
•    God wants me to be happy and I can’t be happy married to him. So I am leaving…and I know he’ll understand
•    There was a time when this might have been considered immoral. But not today.
•    The Lord gave me this DESIRE AND HE WANTS ME TO ENJOY IT.
•    Look, nobody’s perfect. So I got in deeper than I planned. Sure, it’s a little shady, but WHAT’S GRACE ALL ABOUT ANYWAY?
•    ME? Ask for forgiveness? That’s ridiculous. My relationship with God is much deeper than shallow techniques like that!
•    Hey if it feels good, have at it! Life’s too short to sweat the small stuff. We’re not under the law you know.

If that’s true, if that’s right, then what does it mean to be HOLY?
1 Peter 1:14-16, “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
What does it mean to be PURE?
1 Thessalonians 4:3 and 5:22  It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality;  abstain from evil of every kind.
How about UNDER GRACE?
Romans 6:15, What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!
Or UNDEFILED?
Hebrews 13:4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage be undefiled; for the fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
The simple fact is this: We reap precisely what we sow. If we sow a life-style that is more comfortable or easier or even what seems in the moment happier—but is in direct disobedience to God’s revealed Word—we will ultimately reap disaster.
Galatians 6: 7-10 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.  Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of God.

I don’t know about you, but I need the Holy Spirit’s help, DAILY to keep from growing weary. The good news is that when I ask for it, He always provides!
   

I love summer…when the heat takes a break, of course! Flowers dot the landscape with color and birds sing like they haven’t a care in the world. I think God gives us all this beauty to communicate His love and to draw us closer to Him. I ran across this reading titled, “God Whispers” that illustrates this. I have to work at not getting so busy with my To-Do list that I miss the I’m-here moments that God has waiting for me. Are you like me?

The man whispered, “God, speak to me,”
And the meadowlark sang.
But the man didn’t hear.

The man yelled, “God, speak to me,”
And thunder rolled across the sky.
But the man did not listen.

The man looked around and said, “God, let me see you,”
And a star shined brightly.
But the man did not see.

And the man shouted, “God, show me a miracle,”
And a life was born.
But the man did not notice.

So the man cried out in despair,
“Touch me, God, and let me know you are there.”
Whereupon God reached down and touched the man.
But the man brushed the butterfly away and walked on.

My prayer today is that all of the little ways God chooses to show me that He is there and that He cares, won’t go unnoticed by my crazy-busy life. I need to take the time to stop and smell the roses! How about you?


Vacation Bible School at SPC was AWESOME! Jodi, my kids told me not to say, "You are the bomb!" any more, but if I could, you would be it:) Your organization, follow through, and love for the kids and volunteers was amazing. Heather, I don't know where you got the energy to keep up with all of those hand motions for the songs, but you could go on the road with VBS aerobics. I'd come!

I loved seeing all of the ministries working together. Janine, with Women’s ministries brought her sister, Linda so Linda’s grandkids could attend. Instead of just dropping off the kids, both ladies stayed and worked their tails off helping with snacks. Ann Driscoll, Karaoke Lady Extraordinaire, I want to use those skills at Women’s Retreat in the fall. I want to perform in Ann’s group

Ron, with men’s ministry was all over the place helping. I think he had as much fun as the kids. Rebecca, never ceases to amaze me. With little to nothing she created wonderful snacks for everyone, and even lunches for our starving teenage staff. Which brings me to my loudest shout out. (I am probably not supposed to say “shout out” anymore either.) THE HIGHSCHOOLERS ROCKED! Everyday I saw little kids adoringly following their high school “Roadies” around. Ya’ll were fun, patient, and there everyday for those kids. You impressed my socks off!!!!

Thursday was altar call day and 21 kids made a decision to accept Christ!!!! I wonder if any of them were like me, lost until the kind people who loved Jesus, loved me. Without that, I don’t know where I’d be. Perhaps wearing a tube top in a trailer in Tennessee somewhere with 6 kids from as many husbands, with my greatest aspirations simply to quit smoking and buy a pick up truck! I pray God’s blessings on all of the Vacation Bible School volunteers. You made a difference!

 In case you missed my June, On-line Encouragement email, I thought I would post it on my Blog. In March, I sent out an article about Forgiveness and I got so many comments saying that it helped with the difficult task of letting go of unfair offenses. It came from my first book, 12 Ways to Turn Your Pain Into Praise, which my publisher has now made is now available as an Ebook:

 http://www.diesel-ebooks.com/item/9781593173166/Newton-Linda/Twelve-Ways-to-Turn-Your-Pain-Into-Praise-Biblical-Steps-to-Wholeness-in-Christ/1.htm

The article I sent out, was written for Salt Magazine, and since I had to limit my word count, I didn’t include this illustration about Bubba which really helps me. I also referenced this book, Mastering Your Moods. In it, the authors, Arterburn, Minireth and Meier offer great insight into the difficult task of forgiving, “Choosing not to forgive allows others to continue to abuse as we endlessly relive their offenses.”
 That truth was brought home to me by, of all things, a TV show, The New Candid Camera. I was wandering through the living room when I saw him on the screen, a large man with tufts of dark hair, a belly-roll hanging over his belt in front, and if he had a name printed on the back of his belt, it would have read, “Bubba.” At that moment I felt the Lord throw down a red flag on the field of my mind and whisper, “Pay attention, Linda.  You’re going to learn something here.”
     The show host described the set up. A sign was posted on the cash register in a convenience store declaring, “We don’t make change.” A camera was hidden to record the responses of the people who were hassled by their gag. First a middle-aged woman walked in and laid a few items down on the counter. The show host, posing as a cashier, rang up thirteen dollars and some change. The lady gave him a twenty-dollar bill and the mock store clerk put it in the register and closed the drawer. Rather annoyed the woman informed him, “I believe you owe me change.”
     “Hey, Lady, read the sign,” the cashier remarked. “We don’t make change.” At that point the censors had to beep out the irate lady’s protests.
     Then “Bubba” shuffled in. He laid down his purchases that came to five dollars and some change. He, too, presented a twenty-dollar bill. The quasi clerk once again placed the twenty in the register and closed the drawer.  Continuing to breathe through his mouth, Bubba uttered, “Uh, I think you owe me some money.”
     “Read the sign, Buddy.  We don’t make change.”
     Bubba then turned on his heels and started to walk out of the store. The cashier moved from behind the counter and went after him, tapped him on the shoulder and inquired, “Hey, we owe you money, a decent amount of money. Why are you just walking away?” Bubba’s response was one I’ll never forget. With his hands in his pocket fumbling with his keys Bubba declared, “Uh, I decided a long time ago, I don’t rent space in my head to nobody.”
     In that moment, I realized that I rent far too much space in my head to way too many people for far too little results! The authors of Mastering Your Moods were right. I was continuing the abuse as I ruminated about the resentment over and over again. Now I try to keep myself from renting space in my head to any stinkin’ thinkin’ not just offenses. Whether it’s worry, guilt, or fear, I try to catch myself before I waste my time renting space in my head on something God has already handled!

OMGoodness! I am so thankful to be alive. On Friday AM I woke up with my face swelled shut, seriously! My eyes would barely open. It hurt to smile, and I was covered head to toe with bright red, blotchy hives! My husband, Bruce took a picture in case we had to go to the doctor. I almost posted it, but I look so hideous, I’m pretty sure my FB peeps would unfriend me.(Although if I get enough dares, I might be persuaded to post it…Not that we should all respond to dares, mind you.) Apparently, I am severely allergic to the antibiotic, Bactrim. Who knew? Not me! My sinus infection was just annoying. The cure they gave me nearly did me in! When I started to have trouble swallowing, my awesome husband jumped in the car to get me some Benadryl. My face is almost back to normal and the only reminder of Friday is the incessant itching, but it lessens by the hour. Since my Blog is titled, Savvy Choices, here’s one: Always keep Benadryl on hand. I learned that the hard way!

This is my awesome daughter who is serving as a doctor in the Air Force helping soldiers unpack their emotional baggage from the ravages of protecting their country. Her husband, Shaun, served for two terms in Iraq and I am very proud of them both. I am thankful on this Memorial Day for my dad, a Navy man and my father-in-law, a flight instructor during world War II, men who sacrificed to keep our country free. While I am eating watermelon, one of my dad's favorites, and grilling salmon, I am thanking God for folks like this.


Have you noticed how the nutrition experts can’t decide on what is or is not good for us? I used to have a sign in my kitchen that read, “My magic diet. If it tastes good, spit it out.” For years chocolate was bad for us. Now dark chocolate is the wonder drug. Same with wine. Recently an article came out touting that drinking coffee prevents prostate and breast cancer— drinking a lot of coffee!
Since the experts can’t make up their minds, I’ve decided to eat whatever I want. That philosophy works well with my favorite recipe for the month. It’s a breakfast casserole that my children lovingly refer to as Comatose Casserole because it’s so sweet, it should probably be served with an insulin syringe! (Although they have no trouble putting it away.) And now, without guilt, you can enjoy it with coffee. Lots of coffee!

I am making it this week for a staff breakfast. If you try it, I’d love to know what you think.

Comatose French Toast

Ingredients:
    1/2 c. butter
    1 1/4 c.  packed brown sugar
    1 T water
    3 Granny Smith Apples
    Cinnamon to taste
    1/2 c. raisins
    1 loaf French Bread, sliced 1 1/2' thick
    1 1/2 c. milk
    6 eggs
    1 t. vanilla
    Nutmeg to taste
    
Topping:
    1/2 c. whipping cream (I use Cool Whip to make it lighter.)
    1/2 c. sour cream
    1/4 c. sugar
    1/2 t. almond extract (I don't use- still great)

    Sliced, toasted almonds for garnish (This helps to cut the sweet taste.)

Directions:
Combine butter, brown sugar and water in a saucepan until bubbling, stirring frequently.
    Place in 9 x 13 pan and cool 20-30"
Meanwhile, peel, core and slice apples, then overlap in rows on top of sauce in pan
    Sprinkle with cinnamon and raisins
    Place slices of bread on top of apples
    Mix together milk, eggs and vanilla, and pour over bread
    Sprinkle with nutmeg, cover and refrigerate over night
    Bake @ 350 60" or until golden brown and crispy on top

Serve upside down, with sauce spooned over French toast

For topping, combine ingredients and whip on high until thickened. (Or just mix sour cream with the Cool Whip—I’m all about easy!) Place dollops on sliced French toast just before serving.

I just got back from spending the weekend at Mt. Hermon with some amazing ladies from Venture Christian Church. Ladies, you make a beautiful strand of priceless pearls strung together to make God look good! I know. I know, you’re God’s favorite. Your group is one of my favorites too!
As per request, here is the poem I used on Sunday morning~
Empty Hands~
One by one, He took them from me,
All the things that mattered most.
Until I was empty-handed.
Every glittering toy was lost~

Then I walked earth’s highways grieving.
In my rage and poverty.
Til I heard I heard His voice inviting,
“Lift your empty hands to me.”

So I held my hands toward heaven
And he filled them with a store,
Of His own transcendent riches,
Until I could hold no more~

And at last I comprehended,
With my feeble mind and dull;
That God could not pour riches into hands already full.

Lovin' Jesus, Linda

My dad always declared the week of his birthday as his “Happy Birth Week,” so I think it’s only fitting that with all the sacrifice mothers make, we should do the same for Mother’s Day!

This is a picture of my new grand daughter, Eva. I have to leave this week, to go home 2800 miles away from her. I relish every moment I get to spend rocking her because those moments are so fleeting. The truth is, those same moments I spent holding my own kids were just as fleeting only at that time, I failed to recognize the that. I worried about the dust bunnies under the sofa and the lint on the rug. Instead of relishing their relaxed frames resting peacefully on my shoulder, I fretted about dirty dishes in the sink and dingy windows. That’s why older folks love being grandparents. Being older has made them wiser and they, like me, recognize the urgent will always rob us of the important unless we set out priorities. Nothing is more important than being in the moment. Purpose in your heart to be "present in your presence" with you kids. Enjoy the here and now. Trust me; you will have plenty of time later to clean windows and corral dust bunnies, but before you can blink, you babies will be gone. Enjoy them and have a Happy Mother’s Week!

It’s Easter Monday and things are definitely settling into a routine at the Jackson house. The routine consists of baby crying and wanting to eat and the sleep-deprived parents accommodating her at all hours! Anyone remember that “routine?”

My new grand baby, Eva Lillee (I spelled her name wrong before. My daughter told me how to spell it when she was in labor, a time when she probably would have had difficulty spelling her own name!) is beautiful! All of you grandparents were right. This is the best gig ever. When I had my kids, I worried too much about stuff that didn’t matter. As a grandma I know the only thing that matters is enjoying quality time with her. Too bad we can’t be grandparents first so we can get our priorities in order before we have our kids.

I have some Facebook shout outs. My mom was absent on the scene when I became an adult so I had no idea what my job was as the mom of the mom. I got help from some wise ladies. Thank you Roberta for the great advice on “my job” of helping Sarah and Shaun. I’ve been trying to take care of business so they can take care of the baby. Thanks, Talitha. Sarah said you gave me the best advice during the birth…Pray in the corner and encourage the dad in his role as coach. Great input! Shaun was tireless and amazing!

I had an AWESOME God-thing by running into Rick and Chris Lowry, Doula extraordinaire) at the airport the day I left! All the times I travel and I never see anyone I know. You can’t tell me that was a coincidence! Chris, your techniques about how to help Sarah with her back pain and how to change the position of the baby for birth were life-savers! And Janine and women’s team, all the wonderful things Sarah got at the shower are all over her cute nursery. I feel totally blessed and I hope you do today too! You are loved!!!

Labor is aptly named! After 18 hours (Sarah, her hubby, Shaun, and I were up all night!) two epidurals (The first one didn’t take.) a dose of pitocin, and three hours of pushing (I know, that’s way TooMuchInformation.) EVA LILLE JACKSON arrived at 8 pounds 9 oz.!!! (Any bets, moms, on why labor took so long?) Her mom, my daughter is my new hero. If labor had been that difficult with her, she would have been an only child!

Eva was born on Good Friday, and that made a Good day even better for our family. She will be released from the hospital on Easter Sunday, the day the One who loves her more than life itself was raised from the dead after dying for her sins, mine, and yours…How cool is that? Happy Easter to all and THANK YOU for all of your prayers. We felt them….Pictures will follow, a lot of pictures!

And we’re waiting…so since we are still here, I decided to blog about it!
This day three of the vigil waiting for the arrival of Eva Lille my VERY FIRST grand child! Monday I got a call from Eva’s mom-to-be, my daughter, Sarah telling me she thought I should change my ticket because he was having contractions twenty minutes apart. So I spent all Monday morning trying to change my ticket the week before Easter, and Bruce spent all afternoon trying to find a rental car for me because when I got to Charlotte, I still had to drive 2-and-half hours to my daughter’s house! Monday evening I rescheduled two full days of appointments threw my clothes together and fell into bed at midnight.

Tuesday morning early I was off to the airport, but my United Flight was late arriving in Fresno. I nearly broke down on the poor girl at the desk telling her, “My baby is having a baby!” So she diligently put me on an American flight. (It’s a God-thing because my United flight routed me through Chicago and my flight from there to Charlotte would have been canceled.) My American Airlines flight sent me from Fresno to Dallas and then on to Charlotte. I arrived at 1:30AM. My sweet sister, Bev, and her hubby, Tom picked me up and I crashed at their house.

The next morning, Tom, gassed-up one of their cars (Thanks so much Tom!) and I was off to Sarah and Shaun’s house. I forgot my GPS (Bad time for a menopausal moment.) so I had to rely on my IPhone (Something I have never done before.) BUT I MADE IT, all by myself. Normal people would probably find little pride in such an accomplishment, but traveling 2-and-a-half hours nearly 3000 miles from home in a car I’ve never driven before without a GPS (I can get lost in a parking lot!) is a feat for me!!! Okay I can’t tell a lie. It wasn’t completely by myself. I did call Bruce once and ask him to MapQuest the directions as I made my way into the country, and was worried I would start to hear banjo music! He let me know I was going the right direction and even gave me an easier route for the last 30 miles.

So here we are, contractions holding at 13 minutes apart, and Sarah and I have just taken our fourth lap around her neighborhood hoping to encourage Eva to come and meet us sooner than later while my doctor daughter laid out her detailed “birth plan” to me for 45 minutes. Dare I tell her that she only thinks she is in control because from here on out, Eva is calling the shots!

Stay tuned and I will keep you posted on the Baby Watch!

I miss my kids. They seemed to grow up and move out overnight. One of the things I’m glad I did when my kids were home was plan to have a meal in the evening where we could all sit down together and connect. As the kids grew and got busy with drama and music practices and, later, jobs we managed maybe 4 nights a week. I realize now that I worked hard to get 7 nights together, but only got 4. If I had worked for 4 nights, we probably wouldn’t have sat down together at all!

I found this article with some great suggestions to “serve up” mirthful mealtime discussion. I loved this idea, and thought you might too.
Give each family member a list of these questions. Try to guess their responses. You can choose a different kid each night~

Favorite food
Least favorite food
Favorite animal
Favorite Bible story
Favorite summer activity
Bravest thing done
Coolest experience
Favorite holiday
Special skill or talent
Favorite place to talk to God
Favorite pastime
Favorite month
Favorite thing to wear
Favorite verse

I hope you can use this idea. When my kids were still home I would have loved useful suggestions to help my kids open up, and especially to encourage discussion about God. Check out this book, Mealtime Moments available on Amazon.com. I hope this helps you!

When you were a kid did you love red-hot candies?  My husband sure did. So he googled recipes and we found this one. It’s easy to make and delightful to eat! It’s a great side dish for company too. You can whip  it up to have something extra on the table that’s colorful and fun. Let me know what you think.

Red-Hot Candy Fluff ~ Ingredients~1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
~1/4 cup red cinnamon candies~ 2 cups miniature marshmallows~ 1 (8 ounce) carton frozen whipped topping, thawed~Directions~ In a bowl, combine the pineapple and candies. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Stir in the marshmallows and whipped topping. Cover and refrigerate until serving. I recommend you let it sit in fridge for a few hours before serving.

Many of you know that my spiritual gift is making a short story long, so here goes! This is a story about my daughter, Ashley~At Christmas time she was home enjoying her family when she got a text from the restaurant where she works in LA saying that they were not going to reopen for the new year because the economy was so shaky! That made her more than a little shaky!

Luckily, she is good with money. (Being poor has its advantages. When you can’t buy everything for your kids, they learn to wait for things and to make do with less. Not a bad thing.) Ashley had some savings in the bank, and because the restaurant closed, she was able to get unemployment, which wouldn’t keep the wolf away from the door just keep her from having pups!

Ashley diligently went looking for jobs, but with current economic conditions, a lot of places weren’t hiring. Two months into her personal famine, I received a letter in the mail from her past employer notifying her that she was owed back wages of $675. The day I called her, she told me she was at an all-time low, which hardly happens to my positive-thinking youngest child.

“I was just praying,” she confided. “I told God I really needed His help because rent was due and I didn’t know how I was going to come up with it. It’s amazing I got this letter now, right when I really needed it. I haven’t worked for Weight Watchers in over 2 years. Mom,” she stated soberly, “Do you know how much I owe in rent? $675!”

Not only that, Ashley told her agent that without the restaurant she really needed to step up her auditions. Like so many people in LA, Ash was waiting tables hoping to break into the entertainment business and praying that her ship would come in before her teeth fell out! Her agent obliged and got her an audition for an Altoid commercial.

Ashley got the job!!! Here is the commercial, and it’s so cute! She’s the beautiful blond who “Likes A Lot,” a role that totally fits her.  Last Friday it had 5K hits today it has 45K! That has a lot to do with me telling everyone in the free world to play it lots so she can quit eating ketchup sandwiches like Dolly Parton did before her big break!
 
http://www.facebook.com/l/232e2sCSDzdy55veVPSJpZSUQTw/www.youtube.com/user/Altoids

Let me know what you think!

Blessings~
Linda
 

I spent the weekend with some awesome ladies in Sonoma! We talked about finding a cure for our stinkin' thinkin' by using the Freeing Three. Here are 3 verses for your Freeing Three.  Print them off, read them 3x a day for 3 weeks, and put them in 3 places, like your mirror, your screen saver or your fridge. Focus on the Word not your worries!

COMFORT
2 Thessalonians 2:16, “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.”
Isaiah 51:3, “The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.”
Psalm 91:1, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”

PEACE    
Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you!” NLT
2 Thessalonians 3:16, “Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all!”
John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”

HOPE
Joel 2:25, “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten.” NKJV
Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’”
Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

FEAR
Isaiah 41:10, “So Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.
I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you” The Message.
 2Tim. 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
Isaiah 51:12 , “I’m the One comforting you. What are you afraid of—or who? Some man or woman who’ll soon be dead? Some poor wretch destined for dust?” The Message.

PROVISION
Philippians 4:19, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”
Psalm 121:3, “He will not let your foot slip — he who watches over you will not slumber.”
Hebrews 6:18, “God cannot tell lies! And so his promises and vows are two things that can never be changed. We have run to God for safety. Now his promises should greatly encourage us to take hold of the hope that is right in front of us” CEV.

SECURITY
Psalm 125:1, “Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.”
Nahum 1:7, “The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.”
Psalm 62:1-2, “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.  2 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”

STRENGTH
Isaiah 40:28-31, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint”.
Psalm 37:23-25 23 The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.
 24 Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand. 25 Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned nor their children begging for bread,” NLT.
Isaiah 43:1-3, “But now, this is what the LORD says—he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior”
Isaiah 12:2, “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation."

UNCONDITIONAL LOVE
Psalm 103: 8-12, “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”
Isaiah 40:11, “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries
them close to his heart”
Psalm 40:1-3,” I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. 3 He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.
Zephaniah 3:17,”The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love he will rejoice over you with singing."

REST
Matthew 11:28-30,”Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
Isaiah 30:15, “This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength,”
Psalm 46:10,”Be still an know that I am God.”

In light of the recent earthquake and its repercussions in Miyagi Prefecture affecting so many Japanese people, it is good to know we can help those around us. I know a way will open up for us to help the folks suffering across the globe, but for your encouragement today I want to bring a smile to your face about people helping people right around the corner. Since my gift is making a short story long, I’ll give you the long version!

In January, around 80 ladies including young girls from Sierra Pines spent the weekend cutting, sewing, quilting, crocheting, knitting and even just tying blankets for our Love Covers ministry. Our leader, Janine had the idea of a project that every lady could be involved in and the end result would bless folks in need. The women attending said it was one of the best events that had been to at the church. They could visit in a relaxed setting with other ladies and create something useful and productive at the same time. We made about 100 blankets for our youth group to take to San Francisco for their missions trip to help the homeless, and we made more to give to soldiers, CPS and hospice.  

Last week I called a lady who works for hospice in Fresno. When I told her what we had for her, she was speechless. I thought this dear woman was going to cry when she heard people she didn't even know miles up the road spent a weekend making blankets for her hospice patients.

After thanking me a dozen times, she told me how significant our blankets would be. "Many times the blanket you give to that patient will be the last thing their loved ones see them with. It's their last memory of their loved one alive and the blanket becomes a precious keepsake." Then this dear woman told how she wanted to come to our next Love Covers meeting, bring snacks, and publicly thank the ladies. It made my week!

I was so blessed at the countless hours the women spent working on blankets to give to others. Then to see how grateful this hospice worker was for their efforts, my tank was full all over again!

I loved Bruce’s sermon today introducing Galatians. I know he’s my husband, but, dang, he’s smart! I appreciated how he paralleled Paul’s life with what was going on with Jesus at the time, and all he presented about what made Paul the man he was.

 I never realized how Galatians started out differently than Paul’s other epistles, because Paul was so frustrated with the Jews who kept adding rules to the salvation process. When we say that in order to be saved that we need God’s grace and…we insult the completed work of Christ on the cross! Powerful stuff!

When our salvation depends on our efforts, we can never measure up. That forces us to hide our sinful selves rather than come clean with who we really are so that God can truly make us clean!

That is one of the things I love so much about the recovery process. When we take a fearless moral inventory, we know we aren’t all that. Then we can be honest with ourselves, the Lord, and those around us. That takes us a whole lot less energy than pretending to be perfect and flinging arrows at others to keep the focus on off our own imperfections. Here is a poem I’ve had since I started codependent recovery years ago. It’s says so much about getting real.

The Paintbrush
I keep my paintbrush with me, wherever I may go
In case I need to cover up
So the real me doesn’t show.
I’m so afraid to show you me, afraid of what you’ll do
You just might laugh, or say mean things,
I’m afraid I might lose you.
I’d like to remove my paintcoats
To show you the real true me
But I want you to try and understand
I need you to like what you see.
So if you’ll be patient and close your eyes,
I’ll strip off my coats real slow
Please understand how much it hurts
To let the real me show.
Now if my paintcoats are all stripped off,
I feel naked, bare, and cold.
If you still love me with all that you see,
You’re my friend as pure as gold.
I need to save my paintbrush though,
And hold it in my hand;
I need to keep it handy—
Someone might not understand.
So please protect me, my dear friend,
And thanks for loving me true.
But please let me keep my paintbrush with me
Until I love me too.

I’m so glad Jesus loves me, warts and all. Aren’t you? I’m glad his death on the cross is all I need for salvation. My gratitude makes me want to give back. Though I could never repay the debt this side of heaven, I’ll certainly try.

Words to Love By~Mother Teresa~

People are often unreasonable & self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind,
People may accuse you of ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.

If you are honest, people may cheat you.
Be honest anyway.

If you find happiness,
People may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today,
May be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have,
And it may never be enough.
Give your best anyway.

For you see, in the end,
It is between you and God.
It never was between, you and Them anyway.

Grandma’s Chicken Soup
(At least I'll be a grandma in 2 months!)

It’s President’s Day so I guess I should post a recipe for Cherry Pie to honor George Washington, but with all the sick folks I’ve talked to this week I thought I’d post this healing soup recipe…
Years ago I watched a TV show that extolled the benefits of homemade chicken soup, which is why so many of our grandmothers made it when folks in the family got sick. The experts on the show explained that in order to get the health inducing benefits, the  whole chicken had to be boiled for several hours to insure that all the healing nutrients were released. I went in search of a good recipe, and for the past decade, before my schedule got so crammed, I put together a pot when folks I loved were under the weather. It remains a favorite for my kids, and if they’re around, they’ll still ask for a batch if they have a case of the “punies.” I hope you enjoy it!
 

1 whole chicken
13 oz. chicken broth
11/2 half tsp. salt
10 peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 onion unpeeled stuck with 2 whole cloves.
1 stalk of celery with leaves broken in pieces.
3 sprigs of parsley.
1 slice of lemon.
1 small onion chopped.

2 small potatoes cubed.
4 large carrot, cubed.
3 stalks of celery.
½ cup of noodles (Can be eliminated if you need the soup gluten free.)
Rub chicken with 1 clove of garlic. Place in a large pot. Add chicken broth, and water to cover completely. Add onion stuck with whole cloves, salt, peppercorns, bay leaf, chopped onions, sprig of celery, parsley, lemon slice. Heat to a boiling. Reduce heat and cook until chicken is fork tender. Remove bones and skin, and cut chicken into bite size pieces. Set aside.
Return soup to heat and boil liquid until it’s reduced by ¼. Then add cubed potatoes, carrots, celery. Cook over medium heat until veges are almost tender, about 15 minutes. Add noodles and chicken cook until noodles are done, about 6-8 minutes. Serves about 8.





If you missed my February On-line Encouragement, here it is:
HOW TO LISTEN    
Listening means that when the other person is talking to you, you are not thinking about what you are going to say when he or she stops talking.
Listening is completely accepting what is being said without judging what is said or how it is said.
Listening is being able to repeat back what the other person said, and what he or she is feeling. Try this:

1. DO make direct eye contact.

2. DO focus all of your attention on the other person.
That says, “You matter to me. You are the most important person in the world to me right now. You are valuable to me, so much so that I am giving you all of my focus.
Here’s the hard part. I have to give that person all of my focus, and stop everything I am doing. I can’t give them all of my attention while I’m on a cell phone, cooking dinner, reading the newspaper, or checking my email.

3. Don’t interrupt or finish his/her sentences. That interrupts their train of thought, keeps the person who needs to talk from cohesively sharing what’s on his/her mind. Some of the greatest help we can offer is being a safe place for that person to share.
If you want your kids to stay open to you, make sure you are a safe place for them share what’s going on with them. They can’t dock the boat if the waves keep pounding. Make sure you a safe harbor for your loved one. We do that by letting them talk. If you continue to cut them off, they won’t feel that it’s safe to share with you.

4. Don’t give immediate, simplistic advice.
Here’s a shocker: That person whose talking to you, probably does not need all of your amazing advice. He really just needs a safe place to share what’s on his mind. She really just needs you to take the time to listen to her. She’s pretty smart, and she can figure things out for herself. Your greatest gift is to be there for her and listen. isn’t that a whole lot easier than having to fix things all the time?

5. DO encourage more sharing with leading questions.
 Like: What did you do then? How did you feel about that?

6. DO give feed back. If you son is sharing about his fear of not measuring up on the team, if your daughter is telling you deep hurt she received from her BFF at school, if your husband has finally opened up to you about the tense relationship with his own father, all of these hurting people need a reaction from you. If you say nothing, it leaves the sharer feeling alone and exposed, and sorry they allowed themselves to be vulnerable. If you asked them to read your mind in that moment, they will say, “I knew I was messed up. I’m so messed up she doesn’t even have words to express it.” But if you offer feedback, you will be a hero. You will be the one person in the world who will allow them to be themselves. You will offer up the soul-healing gift of unconditional positive regard by relating, “I heard your pain and I love you I in spite of it.”
Remember, feedback is not advice. It’s stating that you are engaged. You are with the person and you understand.
Reply with statements like, “This must be very hard for you. I can understand why you are feeling this way.” Or even, “I’m sorry you are going through this.”

7. DO keep and open, warm, accepting, humble, nonjudgmental attitude.
Repeat that out loud.
Isaiah 40:4, “The Sovereign LORD has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary.  

8. Don’t be afraid of silence, yours or theirs.
Hearing with your heart offers those you love a great gift. It builds quality communication and close-knit relationships. Try it and see.


The Apostle Paul said in1 Corinthians 9:24-27, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”
If we examine original language in verse 25,“ Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training,” we can see what Paul was trying to get across to us here:
competes means to strives for mastery, to agonize with every muscle & nerve strained to the breaking point. Remember Paul lived in Rome where the Olympics began. In Paul’s day, your very life could depend on your victory.
STRICT TRAINING…in original language is sometimes translated disciplined. But the word in the Greek means temperate which is self-discipline or self-control. Some of you are thinking, “She’s done quit teachin’ and started to meddlin!”
But Paul is saying that the strict training that we are undergoing requires hard work and self control on our part. Temperate means for each of us that we act out of the power that you have in your hands. We’re not victims. Satan would like us to think we are. We’re not reactive; we’re proactive. Paul is saying here, “grab a hold of your goal. Seek the Holy Spirit’s help and give it all you got! Live like it matters. Give it all you got, even if it hurts.”
We can’t say, “It’s not that bad. This is a little sin,” or “I’m tired of holding the standard. Where does doing good get me?” How about, “At least I’m not as bad as him/her?” or the saddest excuse ever, “God will forgive me anyway.” just because god’s grace is free doesn’t mean it’s cheap!  I believe the kingdom of God is suffering today because too many people think it is! We don’t strive to be temperate. We become self-indulgent and we rationalize, minimize and justify our stupid. We miss God’s best, and we waste what God has for us. I don’t want to “beat air”
I don’t want to miss what really matters. Do you?

1 John 2:28 Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. Nasb. “Little children.” I love it when anybody calls me little!
The Greek word for abide in this verse is meno. It means to stay in a given place or state of expectancy: to continue, dwell, endure be present, tarry---To hang in there!
Some translations use REMAIN. We’re going to remain faithful. So we will
1.    Stay close to Jesus and seek the Holy Spirit’s power to help us make good choices for our lives by opening His Word regularly.
2.    Pray every day for God’s presence in us to give us wisdom, strength, peace.
3.    Seek God in all our decisions…what we watch, read, where we go, what we talk about
4.    Hang out with people who are seeking God. The Living Bible says in Proverbs 13:20, “Be with wise men and become wise. Be with evil men and become evil.”
So that when we stand before the Lord, we can stand in pride at the way we lived the life he gave us. We will not shrink away from Him in embarrassment because we’ve wasted the time he’s given us majoring on what doesn’t make a hill of beans difference.
Some day we will all stand before the Lord, we want desperately to hear Him say, “Sugah, (He’s southern, don’t ya know. Nazareth is in southern Galilee!) “Sugah, ya done good. Keep abiding. It will all be worth it.

I found this quote from the writer Isaac Asimov. He made no profession of faith, and I can assume a level of frustration about the way Christians live from this quote~In his last volume of autobiography, Asimov wrote, "If I were not an atheist, I would believe in a God who would choose to save people on the basis of the totality of their lives and not the pattern of their words. I think he would prefer an honest and righteous atheist to a TV preacher whose every word is God, God, God, and whose every deed is foul, foul, foul."

Jesus said in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the father except through me." Salvation comes through Christ alone, not by our works( Ephesians 2:18). But Asimov's words challenge me to make my words match my deeds so that my actions won't keep people from seeking my faith. What do you think about Asimov’s words?

If you aren't getting my Bling from the King Online Encouragement, email me at lindanewtonspeaks@gmail.com and I will put you on my mailing list. Each month I send out my Gems of Encouragement from God's Word to nearly 1000 peeps all over the world. I love it, and I'd love to add your name:) Here is my Bling from the King for January~

There is power in a Positive Perspective. If you are looking for a paradigm shift for the New Year, you’ve found it! I shared these principles with a wonderful group of single parents during a family camp and they asked me to put these tools into print. Perhaps they will help you keep looking up as well.

1. Write what’s right and read it regularly!
Write a Blessed List! If you have known me long, you know I am big on the idea of counting your blessings! After you have written the list, I recommend you read it 3x a day for 3 weeks. It takes 21 days to change a habit. It will become the programming you hear in your head, the truth that sets you free.
If you have a tendency to see the cup half empty, try this for 3 weeks and see if it doesn’t have you singing a tune rather than circling the drain!

2. Recognize the right in everyday, and record it! Add daily to your Blessed List. May not have gotten the promotion you desired, but you have a job! That is saying a lot in today’s economy. Your son may be in trouble for throwing a rock on the playground, but he’s not pushing drugs in a crack house. Your teenage daughter may continue to steal your hairbrush and your mascara, but she’s here and not a runaway on the streets.

I’ve written 2 books of stories, I call them my Bling from the King books, Better Than Jewels and Sapphires from Psalms each full of stories from the God’s blessings that I have recorded, great blessings that I would have forgotten about if I had not recorded them to reread. Like this story from 25 years ago:
 
It was my oldest daughter, Sarah’s first day in dance class. She was only 4. She didn’t know anyone in the class. We were new to the area, and these kids had been dancing together for months. One of the little girls fell and everyone, even the teacher just stood there staring at her. Without a second thought, Sarah filed out of line, walked over and helped the little girl to her feet. I journaled that blessing and it continues to make me smile every time I think of my compassionate little girl who now is a grown up people-helper in the United States Air Force as I write this.
 
3. receive YOUR COMPLIMENTS
Years ago I had a terrible time receiving good things people said about me. Then I heard my ol’ pastor say: Compliments are bouquets thrown from the hand of God. When we don’t take the compliments given to us, it’s as though we are ripping the heads off the flowers God has given us, throwing them to the ground, and stomping them. Compliments are God’s way of telling us who we are. When we receive them it builds our confidence in the qualities and gifts He’s given us. But when we don’t, we remain static and self-critical.

If you think about it, even if the person’s motives aren’t that honorable, the compliment is. They can’t say you’re pretty if you’re ugly as mud fence, and they can’t say you’re smart if you’re dumber than a box of rocks!

I took my ol’ pastor’s words to heart and stopped dismissing compliments some twenty years ago. In that time God has had the opportunity to remake my self-esteem. Before that I had to climb a ladder to look an ant in the eye!

When you receive a compliment, look the giver of the compliment in the eye, and respond with a legitimate and heart-felt—thank you! As you say the words, see your self receiving a breath-taking bouquet from the Lord. Shove your face in the flowers and drink in their fragrance. Examine the exquisite beauty of each blossom. Now take the words that were offered in the compliment and see them permeating your being. Let them soak into your soul. Believe them. Recognize that they are God’s words to you reinforcing the good He created in you.


4. REALIZE THE BLESSINGS IN YOUR RELATIONSHIPS
With those you love, remember what’s wrong is always available, so is what is right. We can focus on all of their short-comings, and (they can return the disfavor) or we can choose to see what is right in the relationship.
 
We have the opportunity for the best relationship we could ever have with Jesus Christ who loves us warts and all, and who walks beside us to daily give us strength (Philippians 4: 13). Acknowledging that power on a daily basis will float your boat into the new decade!



I recently read this quote from an interview with Rick Warren. I think is a perfect perspective to take into the New Year:

I used to think that life was hills and valleys - you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don't believe that anymore.
Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it's kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life. 
No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on.
 And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for. Warren added: Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you're just coming out of one, or you're getting ready to go into another one.  
If this is true, and God is more concerned with our character than our comfort, then how we choose to view our problems, makes all the difference. I can see each of those tracks as a handrail on the precarious bridge of life. I get to choose which one I will cling to. I can clutch on to my problems and fill my days with complaining or I can cling to what I have to be grateful for and focus on what I can learn and how I can grow from the challenges life presents.
The interview ended with these tips from the amazing author of The Purpose Driven Life:


Happy Moments—Praise God
Quiet Moments—Worship God
Difficult Moments—Seek God
Painful Moments—Trust God
Every Moment—Thank God!
This is going on my New Year’s resolution list.

In his book, Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?  Philip Yancey asks, “Why pray?  I have asked this question almost every day of my Christian life, especially when God’s presence seems far away and I wonder if prayer is a pious form of talking to myself.  I have asked it when I read theology, wondering what use there may be in repeating what God must surely know. Prayer has become much more for me than a shopping list of requests to present to God. It has become a realignment of everything. I pray to restore the truth of the universe, to gain a glimpse of the world, and of me, through the eyes of God.”

I experienced the truth of Yancey’s words just after I received information that my five-year-old daughter, Ashley, was facing her third heart surgery. That will get your attention and bring you to your knees. It was late summer and the doctors were looking for a fall surgery date.  My sister and her family were coming for a visit. I hadn’t seen my sister in quite a while and both families were looking forward to a much-needed fun time.
My sister and brother-in-law arrived with good news. Their offer had been accepted on their brand new 4000 square-foot dream home. As we sat outside and watched the kids playing in the water in front of our rental house, she told me about all the plans they had for their new place. I was genuinely excited for her and I showed it but inside I was listening to the Satanic static—Your sister gets her dream home and you get to go through another daunting surgery with your daughter. How fair is that?  After all you do for God in the ministry and he can’t even see fit to heal your innocent little daughter.
I love my sister and I wanted more than anything in this world to rejoice with her so I hated myself for what I was thinking, but still I was dreading what was around the corner for Ashley, and for me.
The kids were winding down with their water play, so I told my sis that she could have the shower first. I was going to sit out in the yard, and enjoy the quiet for just a few minutes. There as the sun slipped from view behind an early evening cloud, I tearfully poured out my fear and frustration to the Lord. As I lifted my head to wipe my eyes, I saw him. Standing less than twenty feet from me right in my front yard was the most magnificent buck I had ever laid eyes on. He had a huge rack of horns and big brown eyes. Here I sat railing and crying in a boldly-colored bathing suit on a bright floral lounge chair, all things that would have made him stay away. But he didn’t. He just stood there looking at me like he knew what I was going through and he was there to tell me it was going to be all right.
I immediately thought of the words to the worship song  As the Deer Pants for the Water from Psalm 42, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.”
 
As the deer panteth for the water,
So my soul longs after you
You alone are my hearts desire,
And I long to worship You.
It was the second verse that really resonated in my head as I sat quietly in that God moment:

I love you more than gold and silver.

Only you can satisfy.  

You alone are the real joy giver

And the apple of my eye.

         As I sat with this song echoing in my head, still staring at the beautiful buck, and he stood silently returning my gaze, I felt enveloped in the warm and comforting presence of the living God. I wish I had adequate words to describe the overwhelming sense of understanding and peace that overcame me. In that moment I knew the Lord heard my heart’s cry. My daughter was still facing surgery, but he would get us through. I didn’t need a new house. His very presence was all the present I needed, but I needed to stay present to feel his presence. (Pun definitely intended. It helps us remember. Say it with me: His presence is my preent so I’ll stay present to experience his presence!) In those quiet moments, God gave me confidence in crisis, and hope that defies despair.  Prayer makes us different.

My favorite Roy Lessen quote: He came to pay a debt He didn't owe because we owed a debt we couldn't pay.

In keeping with the Twinkie Diet (Check out my Nov. 15 Blog post) I have a tried and true recipe for AMAZING fudge. I got this recipe years ago off the marshmallow cream jar. I have seen different versions since then, but this one works the best. My family likes it better than Mama See’s. The secret is in the stirring. Consistently stir it the entire time it’s on the stove or it will be grainy.

2 Cubes of butter. (Paula Dean would love this one!)
1 12 oz. can of evaporated milk.
5 cups of sugar.
Stir together until well mixed. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes. (It may take a while. This is where the consistent stirring comes in.)
Remove from heat and add
2 7oz. jars of marshmallow cream.
12 oz. chocolate chips.
2 cups of chopped walnuts.
1 tsp. vanilla extract.
Spray a pan (I use a 10x16 oblong pan) with Pam and pour in fudge mixture. Let it cool to room temperature and refrigerate overnight before cutting it.

I love buying gifts for baby showers. So many young moms have such cute nursery ideas like pink and brown polka dots or Winnie the Poo and all the adorable stuffed animals that go with Poo and Tiger. But I have never heard any mom say, “I want to decorate with donkey poo and cow slobber, yet that’s the nursery that our Messiah was born into being the lowest of the low to connect with you and me. Here’s a chance for you to read the Christmas story. I hope it’s not your last time this season.

 Luke 2:1-7, “At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. 2 (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 All returned to their own towns to register for this census. 4 And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David's ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. 5 He took with him Mary, his fiancé, who was obviously pregnant by this time.
6 And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. 7 She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn.

Jesus was part of the Godhead, but He gave it all up to be a human so he would know what we go through…so He could identify with the person sitting your seat. When we see manger scenes, crèches, with Mary all pretty pristine and perfect, remember the woman was just in labor. If any of you have had a baby, let that soak in!
Personally, I would be lying in heap on the hay, moaning, “What just happened here? My body is never going to forgive me.”

This holiday season, as you look at a manger scene and see camels with jewel-studded saddles, the shepherds with their ornate lanterns, and Mary looking angelic with her arms crossed on her chest, REMEMBER WHAT IT WAS REALLY LIKE AS God came down to be with us…and sit for a moment in wonder, awe, and gratitude.
 

A Pennsylvania traveler was enjoying a site-seeing trip through the south when he happened on this amusing event. Hear him recount his story: In a small southern town there was a "Nativity Scene" that showed great skill and talent had gone into creating it. One small feature bothered me. The three wise men were wearing firemen's helmets.
Totally unable to come up with a reason or explanation, I left.  At a "Quik Stop" on the edge of town, I asked the lady behind the counter about the helmets. She exploded into a rage, yelling at me, "You stupid Yankees never do read the Bible!"
I assured her that I did, but simply couldn't recall anything about firemen in the Bible.
She jerked her Bible from behind the counter and ruffled through some pages, and finally jabbed her finger at a passage. Sticking it in my face she said, See, it says right here, The three wise man came from afar.

Few stories help me to understand the true meaning of Christmas like this story from Donald Miller’s book, Blue Like Jazz. He introduces the story with these comments: For years big-haired preachers have talked about the idea that we need to make a decision, to follow or reject Christ. They would offer these ideas as sort of a magical solution to the dilemma of life. I had always hated hearing about it because it seemed so entirely unfashionable thing to believe, but it did explain things. Maybe these unfashionable ideas were pointing at something mystical and true. And perhaps, I was judging the idea, not by its merit, but by the fashionable or unfashionable delivery of the message.  

But it was this story told by a folk singer at a concert he attended that gave Miller new understanding:
The folk singer’s friend was a Navy SEAL who was assigned to a covert operation to free hostages in some dark part of the world. He and his team flew in by helicopter, made their way to the compound and stormed into a room where the hostages had been imprisoned for month. The room was dark and filthy. The hostages were curled up in a corner terrified. When the SEALS entered the room, they heard the gasps of the hostages. They stood at the door and called to the prisoners, telling them they were Americans. The SEALS asked the hostages to follow them, but the hostages wouldn’t. They sat there on the floor and hid their eyes in fear. They were not of healthy mind and didn’t believe their rescuers were really Americans.


The SEALS stood there, not knowing what to do. They couldn’t possibly carry everybody out. One of the SEALS got an idea. He put down his weapon, took off his helmet, and curled up tightly next to the hostages, getting so close his body was touching some of theirs. He softened the look on his face and put his arms around them. He was trying to show them he was one of them. None of the prison guards would have done this. He stayed there for a while until some of the hostages looked up at him, finally meeting his eyes. The Navy SEAL whispered they were Americans and were there to rescue them. ìWill you follow us?î he asked. The hero stood to his feet and one of the hostages did the same, then another until all of them were willing to go. The story ends with all of the hostages safe on an American aircraft carrier.

Miller continues, I never liked it when the preachers said we had to follow Jesus. Sometimes they would make him sound angry. But I liked this story. I liked the idea of Jesus becoming man, so that we would be able to trust Him and I like that He healed people and loved them and cared deeply about how they were feeling.

When I understood that the decision to follow Jesus was very much like the decision the hostages had to make to follow their rescuer, I knew that I needed to decide whether or not I would follow Him. The decision was simple once I asked myself, Is Jesus the Son of God, are we being held captive in a world run by Satan, a world filled with brokenness, and do I believe Jesus can rescue me from this condition?

It’s the time of year when we focus on what we have to be thankful for. Tony Robbins is fond of saying, “What’s wrong is always available; so is what’s right.” We get to choose what we are going to focus on. Here is a story I came across years ago, and I have used it in talks ever since. Written by a girl in college to her parents, it helps me  choose to focus on what’s going right rather than fretting about what could go wrong…

A Clear View from Mt. Perspective...
Dear Mom and Dad,
Just thought I’d drop you a note to clue you in on my future plans. I’ve fallen in live with a guy named Jim. He quit high school after grade eleven to get married. About a year ago he got a divorce.
    We’ve been going steady for two months and I plan to get married in the fall. Until then, I’ve decided to move into his apartment. (I think I might be pregnant).
    At any rate, I dropped out of school last week, although I’d like to finish college sometime in the future.
ON THE NEXT PAGE SHE CONTINUED:    
    Mom and Dad, I just want you to know that everything I’ve just written so far in this letter is FALSE. None of it is true.
    But Mom and Dad it is true that I got a C in French and flunked math. It is true that I am going to need more money.

COULD THEY WRITE THAT CHECK FAST ENOUGH?
 
This story and others like it help me to see that things can be worse! It helps me to refocus my perspective, and live in gratitude for what is going right. What is going right for you today?

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to reflect on what we have to be thankful for. Turkey day is just around the corner so here goes…
•    I am thankful for the folks who were Jesus-with-skin-on at that little country church in Chattanooga so many years ago. They loved me when I couldn’t love myself.
•    I am thankful that I like what I do for a living. Whether it’s counseling, writing or speaking, I’m having fun. My daddy always said, “If you like what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life!”
•    I am thankful that people enjoy reading what I have to write. It would be a bummer just to write for myself, but I probably would because I like doing it.
•    I am thankful for my kids who love their mother despite all of my mommy meltdowns and fire-breathing mommy moments.
•    I am thankful for Diet Coke, even though I know it eroding my bones as I write.
•    I am thankful for my husband who continues to patiently care even after years of PMS, and now an extended ride on the menopause express!
•    I am thankful for the folks at church who invite their friends to come, and love on anyone who walks through the doors.
•     I am thankful for holidays when we get to rest and realize that quality relationships are what life is all about!

What are you thankful for?

If you are like me and you try new recipes to create the perfect feast at your Thanksgiving table, here is one for you to try. My little sister, Renee, married into a family of awesome cooks, and promptly became one!  This is a tried & true southern recipe…and it’s AWESOME.

REN’S CRANBERRY CRUNCH~

12 oz. package of frozen Cranberries.
3 Cups chopped Granny Smith apples (About 5 apples).
¾ Cup sugar (or Splenda. I use the kind made for baking).
3 Tab. flour.
Mix together in a 9X13 pan.

In a bowl, combine~
1 stick of melted butter.
½ Cup brown sugar (Again, Splenda Brown Sugar.)
¾ Instant Oatmeal.
¾ chopped pecans.
Mix together and place on top of apple/cranberry mixture.
 
Bake in 350degrees for 40 minutes.
NOTE: It doesn’t look that pretty, BUT IT TASTES GREAT! If you are serving it to guests, plate it first and top with Cool Whip or whipped cream and enjoy!


Prayer Makes a Difference to God
For years in my early Christian walk I supposed that God had everything all planned out so the only thing we could really do was pray for the willingness to handle that plan. Then one evening in my devotional time, I read Daniel chapter 10, and my life was seriously never the same.

In Daniel 10: 1-3, the scene opens with Daniel, the prophet, awaiting a message from God for his people. He was fasting and praying expectantly for God to reveal his vision. The easiest explanation I have heard about fasting is when we agree to give up food and pray to make a statement to God that the answer we are looking for is more important than even our next meal. More importantly, I believe we make a statement to ourselves that God is more important to us than what we eat.

As he prayed, Daniel received the vision he had been praying for. In it he saw a man whose body was like topaz, (That’s my gold-colored birthstone. I know it well…serious Bling from the King!) his face was like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms an legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude” (Daniel 10:4-6.)  How would you like to wake up to that? Weak from a fast, barely functioning, and you see this guy standing before you with his blazing eyes, a bronze body, and booming voice!

The folks that were with Daniel didn’t see the vision, but they were overtaken with fear and they fled and hid themselves. That left Daniel alone, the only one seeing the formidable being. In Daniel 10:8 we read, “I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale, and I was helpless.” Ya think! He only thought that lion’s den was knarley!

Daniel 10:10-14 reads, “A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. 11 He said, "Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you." And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling. 12 Then he continued, "Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. 13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. 14 Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come."

According to the NIV Study Bible, the Prince of Persian kingdom is a demon exercising influence over the Persian realm in the interests of Satan. The Matthew Henry Bible Commentary explains this as Satan himself. The tall bronze-bodied guy reported that in his struggle against the Persian Price, Michael came to help him. Vine’s Bible Dictionary states that Michael is the Guardian of God’s people. We see that Daniel, in his job as prophet, is praying for a message to offer up to the people of God.  As the messenger made his way to Daniel, he was detained by the powers of hell itself. For 21 days, he and Michael fought the resistance of demonic influence before he was able to deliver the divine message. As we see earlier, Daniel had been fasting and praying for 21 days. While Daniel prayed the battle raged until the angel, with Michael’s help, was able to fight through resistance and deliver God’s vision.  Daniel’s prayers made a difference.

Check out Daniel 10:12 where the angel gives credit to Daniel’s faithful prayer, "Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.” In my Newtonian paraphrase~Since you started praying, your words were heard, and Satan tried to prevent me from getting this prophecy to you. But your faithful prayers move the hands of heaven behalf of God’s poeple. Your prayers made a difference to God.

With brilliant insight into the dilemma of whether we should even bother to pray because God already knows what is going to happen—C.S. Lewis offers this—The event has been decided—in as sense it was decided before all worlds began.  But one of the things taken into account in deciding it, and therefore one of the things that really cause it to happen, may be this very prayer that we are offering.”

Doesn’t this blow your mind?

Did you read the recently published article about the Twinkie Diet? (Check link below.) For 10 weeks, Mark Haub, a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University, ate one of these sugary cakelets every three hours, instead of meals, and he shed 27 pounds in two months. After taking a look at this man’s research, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry! Here I sit with 32 sweet teeth having counted calories, shunned sugar, and eliminated fats for half a century and this guy tells me I could have achieved the same result by hauling down Twinkies???? For one 6 month stretch I even went completely vegan until I was ready to eat my own arm off—all for the desired goal of losing weight and looking great. If I knew I could get there by scarfing copious amounts of white flour and white sugar, I wouldn’t have wasted all those meals on Adkins or macrobiotics! The Twinkie diet even lowered this researcher’s cholesterol…all I can say is Fantasy Fudge, here I come!
http://edition.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/11/08/twinkie.diet.professor/index.html?iref=NS1


Veterans Day is approaching. I found this write up about the history of this holiday that helps us recognize and celebrate those who have fought to protect our freedom. It makes me even more grateful for the sacrifice others have made on our behalf, and more determined to let them know it!

In 1918, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month, the world rejoiced and celebrated. After four years of bitter war, an armistice was signed. The “war to end all wars” was over. November 11th was set aside as Armistice Day in the United States, to remember the sacrifices that men and women made during World War I in order to insure a lasting peace.

On Armistice Day, soldiers who survived the war marched in a parade through their home towns. Politicians gave speeches and held ceremonies of thanks for the peace they had won. Congress voted Armistice Day a federal holiday in 1938, 20 years after the war had ended.

President Eisenhower, and later President Nixon, took actions to make Veterans Day the official holiday that is today. Today, Americans continue to give thanks on Veterans Day for the freedom and peace we enjoy through ceremonies, parades and speeches.

Pretty cool! Please tell a Veteran, “Thank you for serving,” this week.

BABY BOOMER BARBIES

 Yes, Barbie has finally turned 50 and officially joined the ranks of us baby boomers.

 At long last, here are some NEW Barbie dolls to coincide with her and OUR aging gracefully. These are a bit more realistic...

 Bifocals Barbie. Comes with her own set of blended-lens fashion frames in six wild colors (half-frames too!), neck chain, and large-print editions of Vogue and Martha Stewart Living.

 Hot Flash Barbie. Press Barbie's belly button and watch her face turn beet red while tiny drops of perspiration appear on her forehead. Comes with handheld fan and tiny tissues.

 Facial Hair Barbie. As Barbie's hormone levels shift, see her whiskers grow. Available with teensy tweezers and magnifying mirror.

 Flabby Arms Barbie. Hide Barbie's droopy triceps with these new, roomier-sleeved gowns. Good news on the tummy front, two-Muumuus with tummy-support panels are included.

 Bunion Barbie. Years of dancing in stiletto heels have definitely taken their toll on Barbie's dainty arched feet. Soothe her sores with the pumice stone and plasters, then slip on soft terry mules.

 No-More-Wrinkles Barbie. Erase those pesky crow's-feet and lip lines with a tube of Skin Sparkle-Spackle, from Barbie's own line of exclusive age-blasting cosmetics.

 Divorced Barbie. Sells for $199.99. Comes with Ken's house, Ken's car, and Ken's boat.

 Post-Menopausal Barbie. This Barbie wets her pants when she sneezes, forgets where she puts things, and cries a lot. She is sick and tired of Ken sitting on the couch fondling the remote. Comes with Depends and Kleenex.

 In a past post I mentioned one of the things that is easier now that I am older~I don’t waste nearly as much time worrying about what other people think. Here is another thing I’ve gained with age. I have grown more convinced with each passing year that God “will work all things out for good,” like He promises in Romans 8:28. I’ve seen His peace present in people undergoing narley stress. I’ve watched His comfort in the eyes of folks who are grieving. I’ve witnessed Him provide miraculously for folks in need over and over.

 It’s hard to trust Him when we don’t know for sure He will prove faithful. But that is what faith is made of. When we venture out in faith, God shows up providing the evidence we need that He is trustworthy. At least some things get easier with age. Knowing God will come through is one of them.

While my recipe didn't win the church's Chili Cook off, lots of folks said it was real comfort food:o)

It might be a great addition to the meals you have to cook when the fam comes in for Thanksgiving!

Here is the recipe:

1 Tab. vegetable oil               1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper

1 Cup chopped onion             1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper

1 clove garlic, minced            1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

1 lb. ground turkey                1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes

2 Cups pumpkin puree            1 1/2 Tabs. chili powder

1/2 Tsp. black pepper              1 dash of salt

1/2 Cup sour cream

 

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and saute onion, peppers and garlic until tender.

Stir in ground turkey, and cook until brown. Drain and mix tomatoes and pumpkin. Season with chili powder,

pepper an salt. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 20 minutes. Serve topped with cheese and sou cream.

Note: to reduce calories, I don't add the cheese and I use light sour cream.

As a special request from a sweet lady who attended one of my retreats this fall, I am sharing my schtick about aging.

"It’s easy to pine away about the good ol’ days. Before we had long hair. Now we’re longing for hair. We’ve traded our acid rock for acid reflux, and given up our Rolling Stones for kidney stones. We used to look forward to going out to a new hip joint. Now we look forward to getting a new hip joint. And we used to long for a BMW.  Now we long for a BM!"

Despite the fact that aging has its challenges, there are a couple of things that are better now that I am older. One is that I am so over what other people think! I have lost track of the hours I wasted worrying about what other people might think of me…people’s whose names I can’t currently remember! How’s that for irony?

 I heard wise counsel in my mid-thirties, “Don’t worry about what other people are thinking about you because they’re not. Like you, they are too busy thinking about themselves.” I could have saved myself so much grief if I had realized this truth when I was younger. Now as I seek approval from God and play to an audience of one, rather than codependently dancing to everyone else’s tune, my life is far saner and so much more rewarding. That’s the positive side to wrinkles, back aches, and acid reflux!

Everyday I have the privilege of telling over-achieving, people-pleasing peeps they no longer have to live up to the expectations of the difficult and demanding people in their lives. Often they have connected with people who are like their care-givers. Freud calls it, “repetition compulsion,” the compulsion to repeat what is familiar. I’ve seen beautiful, capable ladies who could have their choice of any man, but they gravitate to a husband who is domineering and hard to please just like their father was. Then no matter how perfectly they perform, they never manage to measure up. 

That’s when we learn to “play to an audience of One.” The One is God because if the Creator of the Universe is happy with how we are doing, it’s all good. I have had more than one of those beautiful capable women pose the question, “How do you know when the Lord is truly happy with you?” I discovered how God felt about me by reading his love letter to me, and to you—the Bible. He openly shares his feelings in the verses on each page. To keep me from falling back into stinkin’ thinkin,’ I committed many of these verses to memory and I rehearsed them when the age-old demons of doubt threatened to rob my new-found serenity. Verses like Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 37:23-25, Isaiah 43:1 to name a few.

Then to make it personal, I looked for God every day and I still do. He shows his faithfulness in money that comes in unexpectedly, the encouraging word from a friend right when I find myself circling the drain, and when three people say the same thing and I feel confirmation that I am on the right tract in some decision I have to make.

These God sightings make his connection to me real and his love for me believable. If I let myself get too busy to see him working daily, it corrodes my connection, and I find myself circling the drain in self-doubt.

How do you see "God in the everyday?”

I spent this last weekend with some awesome ladies and I had the privilege of speaking on Friday and Saturday nights. Two other ladies shared their testimonies, and while none of us conferred before the retreat, we all marveled at how cohesive all the talks were. We even shared some of the same scriptures! As late as couple of weeks ago I even changed what I was planning to share. After talking with several ladies in my counseling office I saw a need, and I felt the Lord was leading me to talk about “God’s Waiting Room.” Without any communication with the worship team, the first song on Friday night was about waiting on God!

 I personally think none of this was a coincidence. All of us women have been on our knees over the past few weeks seeking to hear what God wanted us to present to His precious ladies.  The Holy Spirit spoke to each of us individually, and orchestrated a flow for the weekend to help the ladies follow the message He wanted them to hear. I am so humbled that God would allow me to be a part of His plan, and I am amazed at all the trouble He goes to make Himself known to us!

When it comes to cures for ailments, I often use myself as a guinea pig. I was watching a PBS special (Yes, I’m so old I like public television!) featuring the author of, Your Body and Your Brain. He mentioned that GABA was an excellent supplement for folks who struggled with anxiety. Along with mental fog, hot flashes and insomnia, menopause also brought me panic attacks which would often accompany my hot flashes, and usually happen at the most inopportune moments. I would wake up with a hot flash, and a heart-pounding sense of panic in the middle of the night.

 I treated enough people with panic attacks in my counseling office to know what was happening. Since it’s hard to get your breath (and the last time I checked, you need to breathe to live) it’s easy to see why folks think they are going to die. I recognized that this was a mental and not a physical response, so I talked myself off the ledge and finally got back to sleep. But losing sleep is not my idea of a good time so I tried the GABA, and IT WORKS! Even when hot flashes wake me up, anxiety doesn’t keep me up. GABA is easy to find and affordable. Let me know if you try it. I keep researching ways to mitigate negative moods for those folks I know and love.  I hope this helps you.

 

Even though I tend to be a Type A busy person, there have been times in my life, incredible God-moments, when I was able to slow down long enough for God to heal me. A couple of days ago, I took some time to sit at the Lord’s feet and my trusty lab, sat at mine. It was priceless. I don’t know why I get so busy with the urgent that I miss this opportunity to surrender my agenda and listen to the Lord. It resets my focus and recharges my spiritual battery.

In Psalm 46:10 David writes, “Be still and know that I am God.”

 In the Hebrew, several words are used for still.  When David says, “He leads me beside the still waters,” in Psalm 23, the word for still means comfortable or quiet. There is also a word for still as in “Are we still listening to Madonna?”  (How old is that woman anyway?)  Neither of those words is used here.  The word for still in Psalm 46:10 is the word raphah which means to cease, to be idle, to let go, to draw toward evening--like you’re sitting on your front porch swing, with no agenda but to sip sweet tea and wait for the lightning bugs to show up. The root word for raphah is the word rapha.  It means to mend by stitching, to make or cause to heal or repair. This scripture informs us that we have to hush up, calm down, and be quiet so God can thoroughly make us whole.

     Are you like me? Do you rob yourself of this awesome blessing? I’m workin’ on it. Pretty sad when you have to work at resting, but it’s worth it!


I had the privilege this weekend of doing a retreat for an amazing group of ladies who truly blessed me with their commitment and passion for God, but none more than Joanne. As the women’s ministry director, she was pretty much responsible for the weekend. So bright an early on Friday a couple of ladies from the planning team met at her house, and they loaded up her truck to head for camp. Getting there early to decorate and set out treats was only a portion of the things they had planned to give the women a memorable weekend.

While they were loading, Joanne decided to let her little dogs out to run around for a little fun time. That worked well for all except Max, the recalcitrant terrier-mix who decided on his own that the fun time wasn’t over. That sent Joanne to the end of her cul-de-sac into the neighbor’s yard with a jar full of treats, trying to persuade Max to come home before they drove away. On the midst of her efforts, she lost her footing, shattering both the glass jar of dog treats and her ankle!

When I arrived at camp at 5:00 that evening, I was met by a bright-eyed, smiling woman with a contagious laugh who was engaging everyone around her while sitting in a wheelchair! There was no pity-me in her voice, even as she informed the group of her misfortune. In the first quiet moment we had, I expressed how much I admired her. Working in church I hear my share of reasons why women can’t make it to retreat- everything from, “I don’t know anybody there,” to “I have company coming that month!” And here sat a lady who had spent the morning in getting x-rays, and now had to spend the weekend in a wheelchair with her boot-clad foot boot propped up in front of her!

“You’re my hero,” I informed her. “I’m not convinced I would have come if our places were reversed. But I am convinced the if I did show up, there would have been no end to my complaints because I have a black belt in whining!”  

All weekend long, Joanne limped or wheeled around ministering to women and not one time did any of us here her grumble. I’ve decided, “I want to like Joanne when I grow up! You go, Girl!”

Get Real, Feel, Deal, Kneel, Peel, HEAL Finishing up our template on Praying Through, we feel God’s power to Heal. I love what David teaches us in Psalms about treading through our trials. David is constantly honest with his struggles, but he is ready to rejoice when God shows up. I love how he paints a picture of the Lord’s love for his kids:
Psalm 40:1-3, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.”
I want you to just stop for a second and get your head around this. God, the Everlasting Father, the Designer of the Universe, the Alpha and the Omega, “turns to you,” the person sitting in your seat. I spent most of my life feeling like Tennessee Trailer Trash, so the thought that the Creator of the Universe turns to me, blesses me to my bones. Does it have that impact on you? If it doesn’t, it should. Like an invested mother caring for her hurting child, God turns to you. Like a capable dad concerned about his wounded kid, our capable Father hears our prayers and focuses on us, and he has the power to handle what we cannot.
The next time you struggle, recognize that God is turning to you, you are that important to him. And he is ready, willing, and able to heal your pain. It's enough to give you the vapors!!!

Thank you so much for your help in naming by Blog. After seeking input from folks on my Bling from the King~On-line Encouragement list, and even asking ladies who attended several of my conferences to vote on a name, the overwhelming response from a couple of hundred people was “Fixing Stupid.” I originally thought of this title for my Blog because I am writing a book with the working title, You Can Fix Stupid: Seven Savvy Choices for Mind, Body and Soul.

This was part of my pitch: Sometimes when I view the news I feel like Will Ferrell’s character in the movie Zoolander, as he yells, “Am I taking crazy pills?” Either the culture’s gone nuts or I have! When I read that Rihanna decided to stay in a relationship that is toxic—when she could have ANY man on the face of the planet, I realize stupid is curable, but we have to know the cure. Apparently “stupid” is so common that MTV launched reality series titled, “Is She Really Dating Him?” about decent girls who are being stupid with guys who don’t deserve them. I want women to know how much they’re worth so they won’t settle for stupid because they don’t think they can do any better. I want to write about fixing the stupid of worthless worry and unwanted pounds, of sleepless nights and second guessing decisions. I certainly haven’t cornered the market on good sense, but if we can all share what we’ve learned, we can make the world a smarter place.

I had a few people who were concerned that Fixing Stupid for a Blog title seemed insensitive and even mean. So I am still prayerfully deciding what to call my Blog. The WINNER of the drawing for those who went on my website and offered input to help me is TONYA DUTRA in Mooresville, North Carolina☺ She will receive my new devotional/gift book, Sapphires from Psalms.

Coming in second place in the vote for a name was “Savvy Choices.” Since I am still deciding, I thought I would extend the opportunity to for you to win something☺ Respond to my Blog and let me know your choice between the 2, Fixing Stupid or Savvy Choices or just go on my Blog with any input for the next month and you can enter to win a free book or CD set of your choice. I’ll put your names in a hat and draw one out on Nov 1.

Get Real, Feel, Deal, Kneel, PEEL, Heal In my past few posts, I’ve been reviewing the steps to Praying Through: How to Pray During Tough Times:
 (If you didn’t get my Bling From the King On-line Encouragement that included this teaching for the month of September, sign my guestbook. I send out a new encouraging email each month.) Today we look at what it means to let God Peel away the layers of pain that plague you as you listen for him to speak to your heart. As you pray, spend as much time listening for the answers as you do asking the questions. Give him permission to get rid of the fear and doubt as you surrender to him. David knew what that looked like: Psalm 86:7, “In the day of my trouble I will call upon you, for you will answer me.”


A beautiful young mother, Claire, shared with me how her parents were divorced when she was 8. Her mother remarried and she was sent to live with her dad. Mom had more kids and Claire tried again and again to connect with her mother. But she always felt like she was on the outside looking in when it came to her own mother’s love. Just after high school her mother said to her, “I just can’t love you because you are your father’s daughter.” After getting real with her feelings, dealing with her pain in the pages of Scripture, and kneeling at the Lord’s feet she heard Christ say, “I can’t help but love you, because you are my father’s daughter.” And the layers of hurt were peeled away as she took time to hear the Lord’s gentle whisper. George Mueller wrote, “The most important time I spend with God is the fifteen minutes I use to listen to His voice and receive his direction for my life.”
How has God provided comfort for you as you listened when you prayed? Was it a feeling? Did he speak to you? How did it change you? Maybe you have a story I need to include in my next devotional book of stories????


Get Real, Feel, Deal, Kneel, Peel, Heal~Still looking at Praying Through, after we decide to get real, give ourselves permission to feel, and seek God as we deal, now it’s time to kneel before the Lord. That’s when we present our problem to the Lord, and ask him to speak to our hearts. There are times when I can be so full of what is on my heart, I don’t have time to focus on what is on God’s heart. He’s God, and he wants to weigh in on our challenging situations. Sometimes I fear I am so busy fretting about how challenging my problems is, and why God let bad things happen in the first place, I don’t take the time to ask him his take on the situation. Psalm 34:4, “I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.”

Not only can we trust God to handle our problems, he gives us peace in the midst of them. I think that is the bigger miracle, and I am convinced that it is his presence that provides that peace. Philippians 4:5-6 in the Message reads: Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” I love how Eugene Peterson states, “Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray.” Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church teaches, “If you know how to worry, you know how to pray.” When we want to obsess on our problems, we instead re-word those worries into prayers and “cast” them on the Lord.

Here is how David describes it in Psalms 55:22, “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” When I think of casting, I think of sauntering out onto the pier, flipping my wrist as the line zipped effortlessly out over the lake and leisurely holding the pole as I fish, after my husband bates the hook, of course! The fisherman at the time of this writing fished with nets that weighed 200 pounds. They didn’t have cranes to help. They had to heave those heavy nets as they cast them. There is our picture as we heave our heavy burdens and leave them at the feet of Jesus. It’s a quick thrust of trust as we cast our cares on the Lord!  
The word sustain in the original language means to provide, to feed, guide, to comprehend, (He gets you. Your boss doesn’t get you. Your teenagers don’t understand. Your husband doesn’t get you, but Jesus does. He gets what’s going on around you. You don’t have to worry about tomorrow. He’s already there.) It means to nurture and to hold. In the original Hebrew the word for sustain is kuwl, pronounced cool. And I think it is pretty cool, don’t you?
Have you ever felt Christ wrap his arms around you and give you comfort and rest? Did you sense he understood you? Did his presence bring you peace as you felt him sustain you?

Get Real, Feel, DEAL, Kneel, Peel, Heal~
Continuing with our Praying Through: How to Pray During Tough Times template, first we Get Real as we try to handle problems that are way to big for us. Our next move as we let go of our worries is to Feel. Then we want to Deal by taking our circumstances to the Lord in prayer, letting Him deal with them as we search His Word for passages that apply to our need.  We meditate on those verses as we pray.  Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

God’s Word provides not only light, illumination and direction, but it provides comfort and hope. Ephesians 6:17, informs us that God’s Word is a weapon, calling it, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Jesus used it to do battle with Satan’s lies, and when he was tempted by the Devil, our Savior responded with the truth of the Word.

It was Jesus who said in John 8:31-11, “If you abide in my word, you are my disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth to set us free.” Do we need freedom from our fears, we find help in Isaiah 41:10, “So Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you” The Message. If we need peace, it’s available for us in Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you!” NLT. If we lack strength, Isaiah offer the help we need: Isaiah 40:28-31, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint”.

When life dishes out more than we can handle, it’s easy to catastrophize. Instead, as we deal with our troubles, we can trust God’s Word and find the hope we need there. (If you are looking for verses that address to your need, check out the Articles section for Verses for your Freeing 3 on this website.)
When Jesus says, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free,” to me that means that I can find out how he feels about me and what he wants to do for me when I open his word. What does that verse mean to you?

I just spent a wonderful retreat weekend with some AWESOME ladies from the Northern California Christian Women Connection. There were churches represented from all over Northern California. Kathy came from Sacramento. On Saturday morning I offered to give away my set of Stress Management CDs to the lady who was closest to turning 50. (I wanted to make her trip on the “Menopause Express” a little easier with some time-tested tools to manage stress. We need all the help we can get on that ride!) I asked the ladies, “Who is turning 50, and has a birthday closest to today’s date?” Several ladies raised their hands, but it was Kathy who won. Her birthday was one week away.

After the session she came to thank me and to tell me her story. Several years ago when was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She beat that only to have it come back in the lungs. With a contagiously positive attitude and the Lord’s leading, she beat that too. “I asked the Lord to let me make it to my 50th birthday,” she offered. “I consider this the start of my gifts from Him for my birthday next week.”

“I am honored to be the one to give it to you,” I told her.

“I look for God everywhere now and He is always there. After all He has done to get me to 50 and He still keeps giving to me. I feel so blessed.”

I marvel at Kathy’s courage, her determination, her sensitivity to God, and especially her positive attitude. Her journey would have leveled a weaker woman. I think a great deal of her optimism comes from her practice of looking for God in the details of her life. When she sees His hand a work, she gives Him credit and praise.

Do you look for God everyday? Kathy has inspired me to keep my eyes open. Let me know when you see what He is doing to in the day to day. Post it so we can all be inspired.


In my last post we looked at how to Get Real as we try to handle problems that are way to big for us. Our next move as we let go of our worries is to Feel. We have to give ourselves permission to feel the feelings of hurt, anger, anxiety, or fear. We express those feelings by writing them down. God can’t heal what we can’t feel!  Let’s be honest God can heal anything. He’s God! But he can’t heal it if we don’t present it to him for healing because we’re too busy avoiding our feelings because they are too difficult to face.
When David was going through trails he asked God to rid him of his sin and pain. In Psalm 51:7 he writes, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” The dictionary definition of purge is to get rid of something undesirable.  We purge your anxious thoughts by pouring them on to the page. I can’t emphasize enough how powerful this process is. In recovery they say that when we speak out our problems, it takes the power they have over us away. I’d like to add, when we speak them out to the Lord, it brings his power to us.
In my counseling office, I encouraged folks to sit down with a cup of tea and a pad and paper. You can give it a try. Pray before you park yourself. Ask the Lord to help you “take every thought captive,” as they ping around in your brain and rob your peace.
You don’t have to have a fancy journal. I use a legal pad because I always have one with me. You just need the time to sit at his feet like Mary did in Luke chapter 10. Start to write what you are feeling, even if you write the first thing that comes to your mind. This pen writes funny or, my cat is looking at me like I’m weird. You have to start some place. As you write, your fearful thoughts will coalesce and your fears will crystallize. As you put them on to the page, see yourself laying them at the feet of Jesus who is far better qualified to handle these concerns than you are. See your Lord and Savior purging you of your pain as he takes them from you offering his peace in their place. This has worked for me again an again. Let me know how it works for you.

I don’t know about you but despite my desire to please the Lord by having faith, my gratitude for all he’s done for me, and all the Scriptures I’ve read that say he has my best interest at heart, I can still let fear overtake me. I wimp out and whine. Truth be told, I have a black-belt in whining even in the face of all that God has done in my life to prove to me that he is trustworthy.

When my truster is rusty, here’s what I call to my recollection. I need to

  • Get real
  • Feel
  • Deal
  • Kneel
  • Peel and
  • Heal

 

Maybe this will work for you too. Let me explain. When life delivers to your doorstep more pain than you can process, the first thing you have to do is to Get real. Don’t deny or stuff your emotions. Don’t slap on a “church face” and pretend everything is okay, and just keep going. You might do all right for a while, but you sooner than later you will blow up or melt down. Own the feelings, so that you can move on to a solution.

In Psalm 51:6 David admits, “You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.” (NRSV).  So we have to tell the truth about how we are really feeling. Tim Hansel stated, “Christians come to God in great need and spend the rest of their lives trying to pretend they don’t have any!”

Do you have difficulty getting real? I don’t always want to admit that I don’t have it together. I don’t want people to know that my faith isn’t perfectly in tact, and that I don’t always practice what I preach. When I come clean with my emotions, God is free to give me what need. What keeps you from getting real with what’s eating you?

 


9/11/10


On the anniversary of 9/11, I was searching scripture for words of comfort. I found them in Isaiah 54:10. But check out verses 11-13. It talks about BLING FROM THE KING!!!! What a promise! I love Isaiah’s metaphor. I want my foundation to be built on the Lord…and be as precious as sapphires. And I want the gates of my life to sparkle with jewels so that people who approach will see God’s love.

Have you felt afflicted but not comforted with the current unemployment rate? Is it comforting to know that no matter how the economy is shaken, or how turbulent our culture becomes, God’s love for us will not be shaken. And he will rebuild us with value.

Isaiah 54:10-13 Though the mountains be shaken
       and the hills be removed,
       yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
       nor my covenant of peace be removed,"
       says the LORD, who has compassion on you.
11 "O afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted,
       I will build you with stones of turquoise,
       your foundations with sapphires.
12 I will make your battlements of rubies,
       your gates of sparkling jewels,
       and all your walls of precious stones.
13 All your sons will be taught by the LORD,
       and great will be your children's peace.

What do you think it means to have your foundation built with sapphires? Are there things that we can do, or not do that contribute to having our foundation constructed by God’s "precious jewels"?

I haven’t seen the movie, Eat Pray Love, but I read the book. In it the author, Liz Gilbert, talked about a time when she desperately cried out to God in her pain while lying face-down on the bathroom floor. I have seldom read a more compelling account of what happens when a person hears from God. Liz is quick to explain that she didn’t get religion or anything, but she was profoundly comforted by her experience. I believe God speaks to us. I will even say that He has spoken to me and it has been life changing. Do you believe God speaks to people? Has He ever spoken to you?

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