Four truths about those pesky feelings

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A beautiful morning but . . .  This 42 degree, overclouded morning, I stood with my daughter and son-in-law as my kindergartener grandson, costumed as Ralph S. Mouse and my first-grader (Tock the dog), along with 200 other schoolchildren marched around the freshly-mulched schoolgrounds for the Book Character Parade. Parents sipped coffee from go mugs and shared stories of last-minute costume disasters. I silently thanked God for the blessing of being close to my family. Happiness warmed me from the inside out. But it began to fade as I parted from my family. Those old self-doubts and fear began to spin. Uh oh! By God’s grace, I stopped them as I recalled four truths about feelings.

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[1] Negative feelings are part of normal life. Having negative feelings does not mean you are not healed. Every human being has problems. I so appreciate Joyce Meyer and other great Bible teachers who share that they, too, battle thoughts and feelings – daily! When negative thoughts and feelings surface as we move away from entrenched mental and emotional habits, we may think: “Oh, no! I am still depressed (or anxious, or whatever else) But the truth is every human has normal ups and downs, positive and negative feelings and everything in between. I Corinthians 10:13 tells us that every temptation and problem we face is something other humans do, too. This morning, I remembered to remind myself: Thoughts and feelings like this are normal. Everyone feels a bit sad when parting from loved ones. This little sad feeling does not mean anything is wrong. Calm down. Feelings cannot hurt me.

[2] Living by feelings brings darkness and death but living by faith brings light and life to my soul and spirit.  Psalm 34:5 explains that “Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy. . . ” (NLT) I can focus on one thing at a time. If I think about God and His goodness, I experience His joy. If I think about myself, my mind is not on God and easily sinks down into fleshly habits. While in the pit, I made two mistakes in handling feelings:  constantly checking feelings, and letting feelings determine what I did. I am tearing down those strongholds!

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[3] Monitoring feelings keeps you stuck in them. When I left my family this morning and faced the rest of the day alone,I felt sad.Out of habit, my mind at once focused on the sadness. I wondered “How am I feeling? Down? Fearful?” Like being tied to an anchor by a chain I had grown numb to, my thoughts circled, going nowhere, looking downward into my inner self.

But by God’s grace, He is exposing this habit day by day for me. He is helping me do what I cannot do myself. As I do my part, He is doing His part. As I have been faithfully looking into the mirror of God’s Word, He is showing me what needs to change. (James 4:22-25.)  and He is giving me His strength to do what He tells me to do.

[4] Feelings should not determine your actions. Philippians 2:12c-13 tells us: “Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. (13) For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.” (NLT) Now, when I see I have focused on feelings, I choose not to let them control my life.

I deliberately start repeating a Scripture, out loud if possible, I remind myself of His promises to care for me and I look for something to do for Him, no matter if I still feel afraid or sad or whatever. I smile at the person standing next to me and say something positive, I do the next task in my hands at work as unto Him or, if alone, I smile up at God, pray for someone and choose to honor God by trusting Him to take care of my heart (and its sometimes pesky feelings) as–in proportion to—my depending upon Him! Psalm 33:22 “Let Your mercy and loving-kindness, O Lord, be upon us, in proportion to our waiting and hoping for You.”

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It still takes effort but keeping my mind fixed on Him gets easier every day. I pray it does for you, too, dear friend, no matter what may try to steal your joy! May we both be radiant with joy as we look to Him for help!

Run at fear – with praise and thanksgiving!

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Facing fear exposes it. All day yesterday, I struggled with anxiety, painfully unlearning the wrong way and relearning the right way to respond to fear. When I got to work, I knew I felt anxious but I kept vaguely thinking about it all day long. I remembered several times to quote a Scripture but fearful thoughts popped up repeatedly, thoughts like “You are never going to be really free of fear, your health is getting worse, your finances . . ..”

As evening approached, I was weary and still thinking about (and thus feeling) the fear. Yuk! All day long, that stinking fear had dived back into the depths of my thoughts, like some oversize fish running around the bottom of an aquarium stirring up all the dirty stuff hidden by gravel. Because I had not clearly identified fear and exposed it, it had grown.

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What you focus on grows. Thinking about something grows it, as surely as water grows plants (or weeds!). For most of yesterday, I repeated a mistake made for many months. I actually meditated, or pondered, the fearful, negative thoughts, and they had grown. Yuk again!

Identify the negative then run at it!  One technique I learned during group counseling was to be mindful of, or to face, negative feelings, rather than automatically running from them and then doing something to numb the emotion. It is like David running at the giant Goliath. (I Samuel 17:1-54).

For me, as a believer, facing fear means stopping to talk to God about it. So, this morning when I got up and began to feel shaky again, I prayed:

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“Dear Father, I confess I am feeling afraid again. Please forgive me if I have done something to cause this fear and show me how to change it. Yet, I know You died so that I might have a blessed, joyful, wonderful life (John 10:10), so I thank You for that, Lord! I praise You that You have made the way to conquer all my problems. Lord Jesus, You said I will have problems in this world but I am to rejoice and be happy because You have overcome the world! (John 16:33) Thank You, Lord, for teaching me how to have right thoughts. Thank You for helping me meditate on Your word. Thank You that I can go to the gym this morning, be friendly, pray silently for everyone I see and know my prayers make a difference. Thank You for enabling me to exercise and keep my earthly tabernacle healthy, thank You, Lord . . . “

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Two powerful spiritual weapons: (1) Praise, and (2) giving thanks. God inhabits the praise of His people. Psalm 22:3 tells us that God is “. . . enthroned on the praises of Israel.”(NLT) God is with us when we praise Him. What a privilege! I believe one reason God tells us to praise is that when we talk about how powerful and loving and faithful God is, it reminds our human minds of truths that our all too human flesh tempts us to forget.

And in First Thessalonians 5:16 God tells us to “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (NLT).  When we choose to trust that God has good plans for us even when our circumstances seem hard, it makes a powerful statement in spiritual realms.

Long-standing problems can be overcome.  In learning from my mistakes, God is mercifully training, or disciplining, me (Please, please study Hebrews 12:6-13!) He is training me because He loves me and wants to “ . .  strengthen and harden me to difficulties” (Isaiah 41:10).

Truly, as the song says, He is a good, good Father!

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No matter how it seems

No matter how it feels, no matter how it seems

God has given grace to shatter Satan’s schemes.

No foe can fight against you, no enemy arise

That can stop God’s mighty warrior, eyes fixed upon the prize!

Press on! By grace, in faith, pursue!

Let God complete His work in you!

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No matter how it seems. When I wrote that 11 months ago, I thought my struggle with depression must surely be nearly over. However, I did not start climbing out of that pit for another nine agonizing months. I learned the truth of Isaiah 54:17: “But no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper . . . “ I grappled under a dark and heavy cloud for many months. Although it seemed hopeless, God came through as I kept trying to do my part. I use the word try to emphasize that I usually did not feel I was succeeding.

No foe will succeed. During those months, Proverbs 2:7 reassured me: “He holds victory in store for the upright, He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for He guards the course of the just and protects the way of His faithful ones.” (NIV). Well, it did not feel like I was on my way to victory! But feelings and circumstances do not matter. What matters is truth. One blessed truth is:  God promises victory if we live upright, blameless lives. And if we press on!

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Fix your eyes on the prize! (Philippians 3:13-14) I did not understand why the darkness seemed to deepen but I held to the truth that God loved me, I kept seeking God for help, and, I did everything He showed me. With hindsight, I see that I was standing firm in the Lord and keeping my eyes focused on Jesus. (Please pause to ponder Philippians 3:1 – 4:1).

God will complete what He begins. The apostle Paul writes that he is thanking God for the believers at Philippi because he was “ . . . confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:3-6, NIV) That is another verse I white-knuckled. God repeats that thought in Psalm 57:2 “I cry out to God Most High, who fulfills His purpose for me.”

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Hold fast to His hand. Dear friend, no matter what you struggle with, hold fast to His truth and press on with your life, leaning your entire heart upon Him. His mercy and loving kindness are with us “. . . in proportion to our waiting and hoping for Him.” (Psalm 33:22, Amplified Classic)

Studying Security – Part One

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Feeling secure . . . feeling loved. As I steadily walk further away from that pit of depression and anxiety, I need mega doses of the security, love and peace God promises in Psalm 91.

            “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand]. I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely and in Him I [confidently] trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2, Amplified Classic)

            Stable and fixed. “Hmm, stable and fixed” I pondered as I read.  Hmm . . . notice the chain of thought in Psalm 91. The priceless promises of provision and safety are conditional. Verses 3 and 4 say then God will deliver us, then He will cover us. Verse 9 says because we make God our refuge and make Him our dwelling place, or our home, and verse 14 says because we set our love upon Him. Please study Psalm 91 for yourself in the Amplified Classic Version (available free on line at Bible Gateway and other websites) or another translation of the Bible – but study!

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I recently told my counselor that, although the medicine has greatly helped, the biggest reason I am so much better is time in the Word and meditating on it throughout the day. Each morning, I study the Bible—for myself!–for help in areas like finding peace, feeling God’s love, and overcoming fear. In studying the Word and pondering it all day, I am making God my home, the place where I am secure and the place where my needs are met.

Study for yourself. And I am going directly to the Word now and trusting Holy Spirit to speak to me, rather than relying on other people’s teachings. 

I read slowly, using the Amplified Version, and talk to the Lord about it. I look up cross references, and most days I write a passage in long-hand and carry that around with me all day, repeating the phrases to myself. This has now, praise God, become a habit. Out of His mercy and goodness, God is renewing my mind (Ephesians 4:23) I am so grateful to Him!

I always read the Bible and studied it, but for a while I lost the self discipline to study it. I also lost the self-discipline to do much reading outside the Psalms. No wonder my spirit became so weak and my mind such easy prey for the enemy’s thought arrows! 

Having the Word in my mind all day is one way God is showing Himself to be that “ever present help in time of trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

Obedience brings blessing. I am finding as I continue writing, that God has some definite things He wants me to say to you, including sharing my failures and sins. (James 5:16) Being so vulnerable is challenging, but I want to help you and . . . I want to stay free!

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What things are you thinking about?


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Four a.m. ideas. Two hours before the tinkly melody of my phone alarm would sound. I lay awake, like a child on Christmas morning, thinking about the afternoon ahead with my grandsons. After pickup from school, I would bring my five-and-a- half and seven-year-old delights back to my home for a comic party, their latest creative idea for which they had prepared all week at their own home. They did not know I had planned two games of my own invention and decorated my tiny home with balloons and streamers.

            Though my hip and feet ached a bit, I smiled as I pulled the quilt to my chin. Then, a gentle thought: “You are happy now because you are “thinking on good things”

            “Thank You, Lord, yes, Phillipians 4!”

            For the preceding many months of depression, early morning awakening had meant hours of lying sleepless in the dark, my sluggish mind tormented by cycling fears and fretting. Daily, this has improved.

            Prompt obedience. I smiled into the darkness. “Thank You, Father, thank You so so much!” I took my mussed hair, unwashed face and uncoffeed mind straight to the computer, stopping only to feed my beloved Barny cat.

            My loving Heavenly Father was, again, guiding with tender pats on my head. I recognized an idea for a blog post when I had one! He had awakened me yesterday with an idea, too, but I had begun my morning routine before I sat down to type. And the post had not been written. However, God is rich in grace and mercy, so . . .

Yesterday’s pondering passage had been I Corinthians 8:3: “But if one loves God truly [with affectionate reverence, prompt obedience, and grateful recognition of His blessing] he is known by God [recognized as worthy of His intimacy and love and is owned by Him.] Notice the verse says prompt obedience. . . And my Bible reading last night had included Genesis 18, where Abraham had RUN to show hospitality when the Lord appeared to him.

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            The word of God is alive (Hebrews 4:12) and it had borne fruit in my spirit. This morning, I promptly obeyed God.

            Trust . . . and God will be with you! My life verse is Proverbs 3:5-6. After 37 years of walking with my beloved Father, I am understanding, a little. The previous day at work had included many moments of struggle with insecurity, but I had consistently—by His great grace—pondered I Corinthians 8:3 and tried to do every little task for Him and in His presence. And when I came home, I had prayerfully worked a bit more on blogging tasks, all the while still not feeling so good.

            When your ways please the Lord. God is blessing as I try to write for Him and His kingdom’s sake, with: wakeup calls via blog post ideas; the renewal of my mind; and a more balanced, connected life. “When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies live at peace with him.” (Proverbs 16:7, New American Standard Bible.)

            I am faaaar from perfect, dear  friend, but God is rewarding my baby steps to serve Him. He longs, earnestly, to do the same for you!

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God loves you – earnestly!


Anxiety knocked. Don’t you love it when God speaks to you through events as clearly as if you could hear His voice with your physical ears? Anxiety kept knocking at my door today, but I resisted, cast my cares on God, and kept truths about God’s love and protection cycling through my brain whenever I was not actively engaged in other things.

Today, those other things included being at work, where the future existence of my job has been uncertain for months now. Once home, I made a long-dreaded call to a repair person and we fixed my problem over the phone. Although I had thought it would cost two hundred dollars minimum, God worked it out for free!

God showed up! And, the repair person was a believer! In the gaps while the computer was processing my information, I mentioned something about God and got a positive response. We chatted briefly about our favorite hymns and where we were in our daily devotions. I hung up the phone and whooped so loud I startled my cat! I had prayed late in the day for God to reassure me of His presence, just because I needed it. And He did!

As you will soon hear on this blog, I recently sensed God directing me to share my experiences with overcoming depression and anxiety now, rather than waiting until I feel I have it all together. This post is the first step of obedience about that.

Stay in the present moment, with your mind on God. I woke up this morning with the start of a poem: “Stay in this day; don’t fret His gifts away.” I see now that God was lovingly telling me how to have victory today. By His grace, I did focus on Him and I did do my work as if unto Him; therefore, when I came home I had a calm and grateful spirit, I was excited over the call about the repair and I wanted to write this post. God is soooooo good ALL the time!

Fight the good fight and earnestly believe the truth of these verses in Isaiah 30:15 and 18 (Amplified Classic version)

(v. 15) “For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: In returning [to Me}, you shall be saved; in quietness and in {trusting} confidence shall be your strength. . . (v. 18a) And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing} to be gracious to you and show loving-kindness to you. . . “

Did you catch that? God earnestly waits and longs to be good to us . . . if we will just trust Him! The One whose hand formed the mountains longs to abide with you and me. Ponder that!


Out of the Wilderness

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Out of the wilderness. Out of the wilderness, place of deep pain, my spirit has risen, refreshed as with rain.

My cold barren places He’s touched and He’s healed, for only in pain was my darkness revealed.

Only when hurting, all helpless, undone, only through trial was victory won.

Feelings (and “failures” do not matter) I wrote that a week and a half ago but today?  Today I’m not feeling victorious. My struggle with depression and anxiety has been long. I have times of victory, like when I wrote that poem,  but I have had dark days and trials that seemed more than I can bear.

My last post, “Never Give Up” was dated September 9, 2017, more than a year ago. At that time, I shared that I had not written for more than 10 months, but I was going to start again. I did not do that, though I tried.

God is faithful. Yet, here I am now, writing mainly, I think, dear reader, to encourage myself. I need to declare that God is faithful, and that He is good. Our loving Heavenly Father has been true to His promises – He has rescued me and protected me all along this path, even though it has been and is still hard. And He is the One I am counting on now, to finish this good work of healing He has started.

So, as I said more than a year ago, dear friend:  Whatever you are going through, no matter how hard it is, know deep in your heart that God loves you and He is working on your behalf.

God will deliver us. God DOES have victory stored up for the upright, no matter what our feelings may say today. (He holds victory in store for the upright, He is a shield to those who walk is blameless. Proverbs 2:7, New International Version.)  And He promises that, although weeping may endure for a while, JOY WILL COME. ( … weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.  Psalm 30:5 NIV)

Joy is coming! Read the words below out loud, and may the living Word of God comfort your heart, as it comforts me.

“I fear not, for God is with me; I am not dismayed, for He is my God. He will strengthen me, yes, He will help me. He will uphold me with His righteous right hand.  (Isaiah 41:10 New King James Version)

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Never give up!

Image result for free picture of discouragementDo not give up when you (just) need to get up! You know, I began this post with a no-matter-how-tired-I-am-or-how-long-it-takes-I’m-going-to-start-blogging-again-today-attitude. But I had no idea what to write. That, alone, made me want to give up. So did confronting truth. For the last ten months, I had not written, which is my main work for God.

Fear and discouragement. What happened? Fear and discouragement. Two times in those months, I had to adjust daily habits because of new health issues. I made those adjustments but still did not resume writing. Why? I gave in to fear and discouragement — even though I know God is taking care of me, that it is He who works in me, and that if I try to serve Him with all my heart, He is responsible for the outcome, not me. Yet, the enemy of our souls, the devil, is crafty and, as John 10:10 says, ” … the thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy.” (NIV) His goal is the same for all of us.

Do not let the enemy steal what Christ died to give you. In John 10: 1-21, Jesus gives us the parable “The Good Shepherd and His Sheep.” A good shepherd risks his very life for his sheep, lying down at night across the entrance into the sheep pen, ready to fight off wolves and other predators. Not only was He willing, but Jesus did indeed give His life for us. And our beloved Jesus said “I came that they may have and enjoy life and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows.) (Amplified Version).

Notice that Jesus said He came so we could have life AND enjoy life AND have it in abundance. The devil is always fighting against what God is doing. He fights to stop people from believing in God, then he fights to keep them from following God, and then he fights to keep them from having an abundant life.  

Jesus gives an abundant life. Abundant life includes the joy of sharing God with others by using the gifts God has given us. This is what the enemy of our souls stole from me — for a little while– by making me feel afraid and making me feel discouraged. Notice the word feel.

Fear and discouragement are only feelings. Among his other traits, the devil is a liar. I may feel that I will not be able to write but First John 4:4 tells me that the One who lives in me, Jesus, is stronger than the devil, who is in the world. I may feel discouraged, but in Isaiah 41:10 my loving heavenly Father tells me, “… do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

I still feel some fear and doubt, but in Christ we can do all that we need to do! We can quench the flaming arrows of fear that come from the enemy by resisting him with the Word, just like Jesus did.

Try one more time! So I say, dear friend: whatever it is that you have been afraid to do for God, don’t give up! Ask God for His guidance about it and then rely on His strength. When God calls us to do something, He will supply all that we need to do it. All we need do is get up and stop sitting down where we fell down! We can trust God, ask Him to help us stand and then to walk and then to continue serving Him where we left off. He does not condemn or criticize us for falling down! He is close to the brokenhearted and He saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18, NIV)

God understands how we feel! Jesus is our great High Priest who has felt everything we will ever feel and so very much more. God has no favorites. If He can help me resume writing, after ten months of fear and failures, He can help you do whatever He has called you to do to help others Just stand up and lean on Him, not your own understanding and He will guide your path, as He promises in Proverbs 3:5-6.

When we stand up and step out, we may not hear trumpets but, believe me, they are sounding in heaven itself! When we seek to serve God by sharing His truth and His love, the God of angel armies is by our side!

Dear Father in heaven, thank You for once again giving clear guidance to Your child. Forgive me for procrastination, for yielding to fear and discouragement and laziness and whatever else was going on inside that I cannot even identify. I ask for Your help in faithfully ministering this gift of writing. I ask that You help anyone reading this to continue ministering their own gifts to others, whatever those gifts may be. Empower us as we live each day to bless those You put into our path. We love You Jesus! Amen.

Feelings come, but they don’t stay!

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To the tune of “Jesus loves me” —

Feelings come, but they don’t stay. Feelings always fly away. You might be mad, or even sad but very soon you will be glad. No, feelings don’t stay! No, feelings don’t stay! No, feelings don’t stay!  Feelings fly away!

I cradled my grandson closer to my chest, laid my cheek atop his fawn brown hair, crooned the words softly, and inhaled the clean scent of sunshine. He was, once again, having a hard time being four years old.

A few weeks ago, I had been praying for my grandsons and also studying how to help them handle feelings, a challenge for any preschooler. One morning during devotions, “Feelings come, but they don’t stay … “  floated into my mind, a simple and tender gift from God for them.

I have sung the little song about feelings often to both of my grandsons and have heard big brother sing them to little brother, too. I have sung them to myself while I’ve been studying fear, and getting at the root of the causes of fear in my life. The best thing I’ve learned so far is to meditate upon how much God loves me and to remind myself how powerful God is, that He is the absolute ruler of the universe. That makes the fearful feeling indeed fly away – like a butterfly!

God cherishes us! First John 4:16 says, “And we know (understand, recognize, are conscious of, by observation and by experience) and believe (adhere to and put faith in and rely on) the love God cherishes for us. God is love, and he who dwells and continues in love dwells and continues in God, and God dwells and continues in him.” (the Amplified Bible)

Notice the word cherishes. If the One who established north and south, the One who told the waves where to halt, the One who sees each bird of the air and each flower of the field, the One who sent His Son to die for me so that I might have intimate communion with Him – if that One is the One who cherishes me, dotes on me, keeps me in His mind, adores me and holds me dear, how can I not trust Him to take care of whatever has troubled my little heart? Oh, for the heart of a little child!

Jesus loves me! Jesus loves me, this I know! For the Bible tells me so. Little ones, to Him belong. They are weak, but He is strong!  Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me!  Yes, Jesus loves me – the Bible tells me so!

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Strength for your heart

My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.” (Psalm 73:26, NLT)

Image result for free clip art of the bibleA word in season. I listened to my Audio Bible CD as I stopped the car at the drive-in window of the drug store. “Thank You, Lord,’ I breathed. “I finally get it. That’s the second time I’ve heard that loud and clear this weekend. Thank You for Your reassurance and Your peace.”

Another episode of paroxysmal atrial tachycardia (PAT) had come Friday night. And it lasted three hours this time. During those hours I prayed but I also heard fear hum in my head like swarming bees. The nurse at the cardiologist’s office had said “PATs are not dangerous.” She had told me to take a pill and that I could go to the ER if it did not stop.

Yes, the PAT finally stopped, but the buzzing fear had not – all weekend long. I had prayed, proclaimed God’s Word about healing, asked friends to pray, and tried to keep my mind occupied. I burst into hot tears when I asked for prayer in Sunday School. I was a mess!

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God is working! But God was working it all out for my good. (Romans 8:28) Today, when I “coincidentally” heard that verse for the second time, something happened. God’s peace came in, slowly and gradually, as He gently reminded me:

  • He would never give me more than I could bear. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
  • He would either heal me or give me grace and wisdom to handle it. (Hebrews 4:16)
  • He does not give us a spirit of fear but of power, of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)

As I’ve prayed and pondered and sat with the Lord this afternoon, looking at the beautiful wind blowing through the trees, God gave me an idea for a book about overcoming fear. He also showed me how to resume writing this blog, something I had delayed for FIVE months – because of fear.

I have a lot to share in the coming weeks about fear. And this blog will change for the better. Stay tuned! I am going to enjoy seeing God work out this good thing that the enemy meant for evil! Woohoo! Go God!

He never leaves us, never forsakes us, is always for us, always thinks good thoughts about us, always has good plans for us – He is a good, loving, ALL powerful and faithful Father! Praise Him from whom all, all, ALL blessings flow over into our lives, “ … exceedingly, abundantly, beyond all we can ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20)!

He is the one who gives orders to the morning, the one who makes the clouds rise from the ends of the earth, the one who tells the eagle when to fly. How can we fear, oh we of little faith? Go God!!!Image result for free photo of eagle in clouds