Category Archives: DAILY LIFE

One key fact about fear

 Fight off the fretting, the worry, the woe!
Don’t give fear a foothold – not even a toe!

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Resist the devil at the outset. When I first awoke this morning, there was the fear–again!–but disguised this time as vague anxiety. Could I do what I needed to today and stay in the peace of God’s presence?

“Okay, Father. I am going to get up, have our devotions and then write while I wait on the car.” Ten minutes later, Barny’s fur warmed my thigh as he lay next to me in the big rocker while we had chamomile tea and honey. I scanned the yellow high-lighted portions in Psalms, testimony to countless times when I had searched the Word for promises about peace. As I dressed, I repeated my basic Scriptures over in my head. (More about this later.)

Soon, I was out the door and into the fresh, cool smell of the gray, 59 degree morning, driving to the family-owned car repair shop I trusted. I sat in the waiting room on the big black easy chair with its cracked leather back and ripped arm rest, and pulled out my clipboard, enjoying the steady hum of the heater. I began pondering what I had learned about mastering fear.

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How Jesus resisted the devil. In Mathew 4:1-11, Jesus demonstrates how to resist temptations. Three times the enemy talked to Jesus and each time Jesus answered with the Word. Jesus did not engage in discussion or arguing; He simply quoted the Word of God, and the devil finally left him. Jesus did not focus on what the enemy said. Rather, Jesus focused on the truth of God, and spoke those truths.

It took many painful lessons before I learned, for myself, that what you focus on grows. Rather than trying to fight the fear, I gradually learned to speak God’s Word when I felt fear and then keep my mind focused on His truth by pondering it over and over all day, as I endeavored to imprint it on my heart, to memorize it so that it would be ready on my lips the next time I felt shaky.

A father’s caring heart. As I sat in the repair shop, pondering how the Bible said to handle fear, I marveled that there was only a faint whiff of gasoline and rubber, unlike many car repair shops I had sat in over the years. It was clean and tidy, a well cared-for business. I felt a quiet camaraderie with the shop owner and his daughter as they sat just beyond the open door of the waiting room, he at his big desk behind a huge counter and she at a lower table next to his.

Fatherly Love

“Janie, do you want the rest of your milk?” said a low, resonant voice. “No, Daddy” came a soft murmur. “Well, we will put it in the fridge so you can finish it later.” This earthly father was taking care of his child’s needs.

A few minutes later: “Sweetie, you have to put this big puzzle piece in before the little ones.” This earthly father was keeping careful watch over what his child was doing.

A bit later: “We have to remember to take this sweater home with us tonight.” This earthly father was looking ahead to the tiny details of his child’s every need.

Meditate on our heavenly Father’s love. As I reflected on this father’s obvious love for his child, I realized that God’s fatherly love was the theme of four Scriptures I had learned to roll over and over in my mind whenever I felt afraid or worried. Four passages remind me that: God is good and He is near, so I can wait, and not fear.

[1] God is good. “The Lord is good to those who depend on Him, to those who search for Him. So, it is good to wait quietly for the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:25,26) (NLT)
[2] He is near. “And behold, I am with you and will keep [watch over you with care, take notice of] you wherever you may go, and I will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done all of which I have told you.” (Genesis 28:15, AMPC)
[3] I can wait. . . “Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14 AMPC)
[4] . . . and not fear. “Fear not, [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice. (Isaiah 41:10, AMPC.

I can memorize – by grace and hard work! I wrote those verses on folded pieces of paper  and looked at those pages repeatedly– while I cooked, while I exercised, when I sat down to rest a minute on the couch, at stoplights,  and in grocery store lines. Like the velveteen rabbit, those pages are well loved.

After countless repetitions, I had the verses memorized and meditating on them worked every time I did my part and kept them foremost in my mind. But sometimes, I could only remember one of the verses or part of one. Like an actor who knows his lines but needs a little prompting, I needed a prompt for times when I could not whip out my trusty notes.
I learned that if I memorized the headings themselves (God is good, He is near, I can wait, and not fear) I could then repeat all four verses one after another, while I was driving, or going to sleep, or waiting in a doctor’s office. And those four phrases actually spell out another truth: That God is always good, that He is always near us, and that if we keep that in our minds, we can wait and not fear.

By God’s grace, I am learning to use His Word as soon as fear starts and to keep my mind focused on His truth by pondering Scripture over and over. It does take steady, consistent work but being desperate for His peace provides the motivation. Are you desperate for the peace of His presence? I pray God will help you “. . . take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” (Ephesians 6:17b, NIV).

Love and blessings,

Freda

Jesus laughs, ho ho all the way!

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(To the tune of “Jingle Bells”)

Living daily life, in this crazy world,

sometimes is so hard, that my heart grows weak!

but Jesus lives in me, and in His joy I’m strong,

so I say to you, my friend, come laugh and sing alo-ong!

Chorus: Jesus laughs, Jesus laughs, ho ho all the way!

Jesus loves to laugh and play, every single day!

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 When the day starts out dark (A little pun there!) When I woke up this morning, the last thing I felt like doing was laughing. As I thought of the day ahead, and my life ahead, everything felt dim and discouraging. But, as I lay in bed, I repeated several basic passages about trusting God that I have memorized, by virtue of desperately reading them to my anxious heart over and over and over again.  Once out of bed, I sat in the rocker, stroked my cat, and read Psalm 71.

 

“I am feeling a little better,” I thought grudgingly. “Thank You, Lord. Please help me get my attitude right!”

I began texting a dear friend. I stated briefly that I felt discouraged and I intended to indulge my feelings by texting her about my troubles. But, lo and behold!!! I found myself texting that I was going to trust in God and thank Him for this day, keep my mind on Him rather than my problems, and look for ways to bless everyone He put into my path this day. I then texted another friend, who is walking a hard path right now, and that time I managed to only be encouraging and uplifting.

I listened to the bird perched in the tree by the window as the deep blue-black of night began fading to a softer blue. And I just sat and waited on Him, looking out the window at the miracle of a new day.

The Word changes our minds. “Wow, Lord! Thank You!”, I prayed. “All this time of pondering the comforting truths of Your Word really have renewed my mind. It really worked! You have done a deep work inside my heart, I know, because even though I feel discouraged on the surface, You are keeping my thoughts focused on the truth of Your Word and I am not sinking down into despair, like I used to do. You are guarding my heart and keeping me in constant peace as I keep my mind fixed on You! (Isaiah 26:3)

You have lifted me out of the pit, I have your reassurances that You are always with me and will never fail me, and somehow, You are teaching me to truly enjoy each day and to laugh with You, even when things are difficult.

Ho ho all the way! Then I was out and about, taking care of the business of my day, with my mind set to enjoy this day that the Lord had made and prepared especially for me. As I drove through morning traffic, I heard a good teaching on Psalm 71, the same psalm I had been reading earlier. Coincidence? No way! I know Jesus loves to reassure us that He is with us every moment, no matter what we feel like and no matter if we feel we have failed Him, I know He has a sense of humor, and I know He laughs with us –ho ho all the way!

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Finding peace, in a park

Time to stop fretting myself. “Yes, darling, you can run ahead to the playground. I’m right behind you.”

My grandsons, six and a half and almost eight, ran at top speed toward the play equipment in the center of Garrison Park. I swung my big green bag to my left hip, holding the big thermos of cold water in my right hand. The bag—the same type of nondescript, reusable grocery bag I used for years as my “Nana” day bag when I spent weekday mornings with my preschool darlings—contained a snack for the boys, my cell phone and a lime green folder. The folder contained three different bunches of paper, paper clipped together, filled with margin notes, crossed out lines, and numbered points, the fruit of a two-month struggle to write the second in a series of blog posts about seeking the presence of God.

The boys raced over a field of grass lightly browned from lack of rain. Soon, it would be truly brown from the frost of fall mornings. I sighed as I trailed slowly behind them. I was not ready for change, for the boys to continue growing up, and not ready for autumn, my favorite season. I had planned to have so much more writing done by now!

I had been counting my blessings all morning, struggling to maintain a positive attitude as I had struggled at the computer for four hours.

“Thank You, Father, for the idea to take the boys to the park. How sad it would have been to miss this good time with them because I was cooped up, fretting about my work for You.”

I paused in my thoughts. Wow! In that moment, truth shifted my perspective and my feelings. I knew God did not want any of His children to stress about doing their work for Him, whatever that work is. Jesus says, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30. KJV) And God tells us to rejoice always, so that means each minute of our day, which includes work of all kinds.

After seeing that Ben was on the slide and Ansel was on the ramp, I sat on the fully shaded wrought-iron bench. Wind blew, gently, starting at the top of the old oaks bordering the playscape. Like an invisible curtain, the wind swirled around and downward, small brown leaves polka dotting its movement and making the unseen visible.

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Accepting change. Autumn was in process. Change was coming, no matter how much I wished for delay.

Cars whizzed by on Stassney, which bordered the park’s western edge. Swings creaked, back and forth. Creak, c-r-e-a-k. Cool air caressed my cheek. Children shouted and laughed and yelled, each of them all at once, a soothing, happy sound. The hamburgers for the birthday party folks at those three picnic tables smelled tasty. A father in a red shirt goo-gooed at a tiny toddler in a white-laced playsuit as he pushed her on the baby swings.

I ponder. In the last seven years how many memories have I stored up from this park, memories of collecting rocks and acorns, building fairy houses out of twigs, marking our path in the dirt with a stick as we took an adventure hike on the trails. How many? I recognize the distinctive sound of Ansel laughing and wonder how close humans come to the capacity of sheep and other animals to distinguish the cry of their own young from others.

The heart of a child about my work for God. I brought the boys here so they would have a fun outing. I also brought my request to God, a request as tangible as the green folder holding the paper-clipped pages.

“Father, keep speaking to me, as I look at the trees and children and listen to the birds. Speak to me about peace regarding my work for You. Lately I always feel I am not doing enough or doing it well enough.”

I watched Ben huddle with three other boys atop the monkey bars, pointing and, as usual I was sure, giving directions. My eyes roved over the whole playscape, gazing at kids running after each other, jostling to climb up ladder to the slide and sitting on the ground, splitting up a crinkled Hershey bar.

Do these children fret about their work, this task of growing up that they are eagerly doing this moment? No! Why? Because it is in their nature to trust their parents and to enjoy each moment as it comes.

“Okay, Lord, I get it. Thank You! I know our work for You will sometimes be difficult but You never want us to fret about it. You tell us to approach You like the little children we are and to trust You. I do know how often You warn against worry and fretting and I know Your Word is filled with reassurances against fear. Oh, Father! Give me the heart of a child about our work! Help me remember Your many reassurances – that You work everything out for our good, that You busy yourself with each detail of our lives, that You show us the way to go if we ask You, that You make our plans succeed if we commit them to You, and so many more life-giving promises, Lord!“

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Ansel walked slowly toward me,  flushed from running, sweat on the edges of his hairline, face filled with the frustration of being little brother. I patted the seat beside me, handed him the thermos of cool water, and he leaned against me. I took out some clean paper from the folder, drew a tic-tac-toe square, and handed him the pencil. Soon big brother walked towards our bench, sat on my other side, and took big gulps of water. I gave him a sideways hug, and kissed the top of his head, inhaling deeply.

His hair smelled of sunshine, fresh air, and a healthy little body, exactly like his Mother’s at that age. Impossibly sweet, touching memories. Ben took his turn with the pencil next, drawing stick figures and asking how I draw feet for stick figures.

A beautiful dance. I wish I could have a picture of us, an older woman in black shorts and stretched out turquoise tank top, support stocking on her left leg, a young boy with straight brown hair pressed against her right side, his small hand resting on her arm and another boy on her left side resting halfway in her lap, drawing.

I cannot take a picture, but, as I have learned, I can deeply imprint this memory on my heart by being fully present and letting love engrave the sights and sounds, the feelings and thoughts.

I smile, listen to the wind rustling the leaves, and enjoy the treasure of feeling cuddled.

“Thank You, Father! Thank You so much for these precious moments today. Help me remember that You care far more about me than about any work I can do for You. Help me trust and rest in You more. And Father, help me accept change. I know that as I yield to Your plans for my life, like brown leaves in this autumn wind, we will make a beautiful dance. I love You, Lord, and I trust You!”

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Fresh hope and cheer for daily life

Need comfort? 6:40 a.m. So tired, like always it seems. With the overcast sky, the light coming through the window is soft and muted. I prop up sideways and stretch my legs out full length, on my big brown corduroy couch. Although I really want to lie down, I need to stay vertical for two hours after eating because that tummy problem has returned. I tuck the cell phone partly under my right hip so it will not fall off the couch. I have already texted parts of Psalm 91 to two friends who are walking through crisis situations and, as I do every weekday morning, I texted with my son-in-law to see how he and my daughter and two grandsons are today.

I clutch my well-worn copy of the New Living Translation Bible to my chest, repeating verses 19 and 22 of Psalm 94 over and over. By God’s loving grace, I just happened to see those two verses after I texted my friends. This moment, I need God’s living comfort in verses 19 and 22 for my own soul. I need to hear: “When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer. . . But the LORD is my fortress; my God is the mighty rock where I hide.” I pause as I sit on the couch in the soft morning light, and I pray, earnestly, because I need His help.

Dear Father, I need You so much! Help me make this day what You want it to be. Oh, Father! Help me work on the writing today. Help me keep my mind on You and helping others so I can stay positive.”

When doubts fill our mind. I want so much for you, dear friend, and me too, to know, to be convinced of, and cling to the following truth about this day of our daily lives, yours and mine:

The same awesome God who helped miraculously over and over again in the stories you and I read in the Bible and in the testimonies we hear, that very same God Is helping you and me, today, this very moment and He has a wonderful, victorious day planned for us both.

You may, like my two friends, be facing dire health or financial trials today. Or maybe it is the seemingly little things that are troubling you today. My own challenges today, the little things I face that are hard, are to do the work of establishing this writing ministry and to do the work of staying free from depression and anxiety.

As I think about these personal challenges, I remind myself, and you, that God loves us just as much as He does the people in the Bible and the people in the testimonies we hear, and that He is working for us this very moment, to give us what we need today as we follow Him, no matter how imperfect we are.

Regarding my personal challenge of establishing this writing ministry, since school started and my job ended a month ago, my days have felt empty. I miss my grandsons and I miss my part-time job. I do not like being alone but solitude is necessary to write. It is a daily struggle to discipline myself to sit down and write rather than run away from my little home and flee the loneliness. This in spite of the fact that God so very graciously touches my mind when I write. I am so very weak and human and so grateful that God “does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. . . Psalm 103:10, NLT)

Is my not writing “sin”? Yes! It is certainly missing the mark of God’s best. That is the point! On the days when I cannot discipline myself to write and on days when I let other things distract me, I ask God for forgiveness and I ask Him to help me change and do better. And then I trust Him and try my best to do the “good” He has shown me. (Psalm 37:3) As I do that, I “feed on His faithfulness” and He faithfully calms my heart.

“Just to know” (as my grandsons say), here is a picture of my darling Barny. As I was faithfully sitting down, writing this, my furry writing buddy jumped to the desk and curled up in a cubby. Ah, so comforting to have him close enough to touch, saying he loves me in his own sweet way. Beyond all doubt, the loving eye of God is on each of us each moment and He sends us little reminders like this of His love all day if we look for them with expectancy. As He says in Genesis 28:15, “And behold, I am with you and will keep [careful watch over you and guard] you wherever you may go and will bring you back to this land. (AMPC)”

Rejoicing in trials. Regarding my other pressing personal challenge this day–maintaining freedom from depression and anxiety–I am choosing to rejoice that this trial continues. I choose to rejoice that it still requires much daily effort on my part. Why? Because, as He says in John 15:1-8, God uses trials to cleanse our hearts and make us more fruitful. God and I have demolished many strongholds of wrong thoughts and beliefs and I have far more joy and peace, but much remains to be done.

Some days are still really hard and I still often forget, or fail, to do the things I know keep my heart peaceful. But I am getting better and I want my loving Father to continue making me more whole and more healed. Psalm 94:12-15 in the Amplified Classic Bible reassures me that I am blessed because God is still working in my heart, to train me so I can keep myself calm in hard times.

I reassure myself with the message of verses 12-13 “Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whom You discipline and instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law, that You may give him power to keep himself calm in the days of adversity, until the [inevitable] pit of corruption is dug for the wicked.”

So, I sit down and deliberately ponder the whole of Psalm 94. God clearly says He is working with me, for my good, so that I can learn to keep myself calm in the storms of life. He promises He will fight for me and that His comforts will “cheer and delight” my soul, even when my mind is filled with a multitude of anxious thoughts.

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Facing the challenges of your daily life today. I urge you, dear friend, whatever your personal challenge is today—toughing out another hard day at work, caring for a loved one in the hospital, or believing God for rent, groceries, or your next breath—let God comfort you with renewed hope and cheer as you ponder Psalm 94, verse 22. Say out loud, “The LORD is my fortress; my God is the mighty rock where I hide.”

God’s promises in Psalm 94 are working for the challenges of my own daily life this day, as I try to do “the good” I know God has shown me for today. And God’s promises will work for this day of your daily life. As the great hymn “Trust and Obey” says, “Trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus. . . “ Just trust God and do good. You will live in His promises and, as you sustain yourself with His faithfulness, you will be fed abundantly! (Psalm 37:3)

God’s promises never, no never, no never fail! When I was on the couch, eight hours ago, clutching my Bible to my chest like the security blanket it is, I doubted I could get up, start writing and keep myself in peace. However, by His great grace, I have finished this blog post, gone to physical therapy for my feet, run some errands, and tidied up a bit. I will soon be off to Bible study tonight.

God loves YOU and He promises in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that His grace is all we need because His power “. . works best in weakness.” (NLT). Just trust Him and try!