Category Archives: GRATITUDE

The heart of that little drummer boy

 Piano lessons. As a girl, I took piano lessons, which meant practice! I began in fourth grade, when practice consisted of a few minutes a day after homework was finished, before I could go play baseball in the empty lot next door with my brothers and other neighborhood kids. As I grew older, practice sessions grew as did my pleasure in playing. I began getting up early to practice before school. Image result for royalty free picture of upright piano

Like many families in those times, we had a living room we seldom used. It could be, and usually was, closed off by a sliding pocket door that disappeared into the wall. On those early mornings, with darkness still at the windows, Daddy already at work, Mom having morning devotions in the family room and my two brothers still sleeping, I slowly slid that door open, relishing the cooler air of that isolated room, the lemony scent of furniture polish wafting from the piano, and that not quite dusty but distinctive smell of infrequently used rooms.

Youthful dreams of a youthful heart. Some mornings, before I crossed the room to the light switch, I stood in front of the picture window, another popular feature of mid-century homes, and gazed at the few lighted windows in the houses of our neighborhood, the sparse street lights, and the brightly lit convenience store at the foot of the rolling hill atop which our house sat, imagining I was gazing at the night-time streets of New York, where I dreamed of living as a writer. Then I turned to the piano and opened the sheet music, edged with purple, with the profile of a little boy and a drum.Image result for royalty free picture of neighborhood at night

That winter of seventh grade, Mrs. Rich was teaching me how to play with more expression, which was proving to be a much-needed outlet for my overly sensitive, adolescent soul. I leaned over the piano, intent on gently playing, four times, the chord that repeats throughout the tender song. Then I sang quietly while I played, “Come, they told me, pa rum pa pum. A newborn king to see, pa rum pa pum. . . “

The anointing God has placed upon that song calmed my heart, even though I did not know Jesus at that time. I played it so often that the entire family could join in. The love and comfort of that tender melody soothed the simmering emotional storms. Fifteen years later, I finally opened my heart to that awesome King I had been singing about and found His gifts of real love and real peace.

A gift fit for our King. Throughout the Christmas season we often hear that much-loved song. What a stirring thought that the little drummer boy perceived the deity of the tiny baby in the manger and wanted to give Him a gift fit for a king! Sweetest of all is the bashful gratitude the little boy expresses as he perceives that playing his drum has pleased the tiny king. “Then, He smiled at me, pa rum pa pum. . . rum pa pum. . . me and my drum.” Image result for royalty free picture of little drummer boy

I, too, have no gift that’s fit to give the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.   However, like the little drummer boy playing his best, I can live my best for our risen Lord. I can fulfill Romans 12:2 which urges “. . . offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–which is your spiritual act of worship. (NIV)”

Listen friend! Do You hear His love, do you perceive His smile of pleasure as you offer yourself a living sacrifice, striving to please Him in all that you do? “Pa rum pa pum, rum pa pum, rum pa pum.”

Dear Father,

Thank You for sending Your Son to be our Savior. Thank You for showing us clearly in the Bible how to please You. Holy Spirit, teach us how to live our lives as a gift. We love You, Lord! Happy Birthday Jesus!

Joy in the secret place

Image result for Royalty Free Clip Art of Christmas Carols

Christmas carols. What is your favorite Christmas carol? Is it “Silent Night”? How about “Away in a Manger”? One of my favorites is “Joy to the World” because the words, the message, and the melody are all uplifting. Just humming the melody revives my spirit.

Carols for Consecration. I recently finished a booklet entitled “Carols for Consecration: Beloved Truths for Singing to the Melodies of Beloved Carols”. It contains new verses, expressing biblical truths, that can easily be be sung to the melodies of well-known Christmas carols. The booklet is available on this website on the Resources page.

One of my favorites in the booklet is “I Dwell in God’s Own Secret Place”. The recast verses proclaim some of the blessed truths in Psalm 91–and they fit the cheering melody of “Joy to the World.” (See below.)

Personally, the last few months have led me to seek God’s presence more than ever before. You may have passed through a similar process. It is indeed a joyful thing when we (finally) learn to abide in the secret place, with our minds fixed on Him! During this busy season, I pray you and I both will remember to “lean, rely, and trust” our loving Father.

“I Dwell in God’s Own Secret Place” for singing to “Joy to the World”

[1] I dwell in God’s own secret place.
He overshadows me.
His mighty power no foe can withstand. Image result for Royalty Free Clip Art of a Fortress
In Him I am at rest,
In Him I am at rest,
In Him, in Him I am at rest!

[2] I say of God, He is my Lord,
my Rock, my refuge.
On Him I lean, most confidently!
I lean, rely and trust,
I lean, rely land trust,
I lean, I lean, rely and trust!

[3] He rescues me, from every trap
because I dwell and trust.
He keeps me from all harm and deadly disease.
I live abundantly,
I live abundantly,
I live, I live, abundantly!Image result for royalty free picture of flying eagle

[4] He covers me with His great wings.
I trust and dwell in peace.
His promises my armor, His wings my steadfast shelter.
In Him I say “Rejoice!”,
In Him I say “Rejoice!”,
In Him, in Him, I say “Rejoice!”

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 91:2 AMPC)

Love and prayers,
Freda

I need You, my Lord!

Image result for free clip art of thanking god

Thank You, my Father, my Beloved, my One
for all You have given, for all You have done.
You stopped all the fighting, my struggling within.
Your love set me free from deliberate sin.

No more do I struggle with wanting to stray,
for Your spirit within me shows me Your way,
the way I should walk to glorify You,
to show Christ to the world in each thing that I do.

Let that be one offering of thanksgiving and praise,
for I am so grateful my Comforter stays. . .

. . . that Your Spirit indwells and evermore stays,
and comforts my heart through each of my days!
Your presence to stay and never to leave
is almost too much for my soul to believe,
for Father, I need You, oh! so desperately!
I need You, My Lord, to abide with me!

Image result for Free Picture of Sunrise And Clouds

 

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!


God gave me love . . .

Thank You, dear Father in heaven, for my beautiful plants!  You know how each one delights me as I sit with You at sunrise and again at sunset. I see the fingers of Your dawn through a feathery fern, heart shaped ivy leaves, and the clustered leaves of my poinsettia. I see the last wistful glimmers of sun each evening through the scraggly arms of a plant I found by the dumpster but which has survived. 

And I am reminded of my own life.  You took what was a wrecked and painful heart and made it live and grow.  You gave me love, just like the song that led me to give my heart to You, Jesus.

And dear One, as I look up that song on the internet, tears flow at Your deep and tender stirring.  I remember that night, 35 years ago, as I cried out for help to I knew not who – and You answered with this song by B.J. Thomas on the car radio. 

Thank You, dearest Father, for healing all that pain and  bringing so much joy through all of these years.  Thank You for giving me a place of service, through writing, for others who need your love. Help them see that–though they may feel as undesirable and broken as a plant tossed in the trash–You long to heal them and make them whole and to fill them with Your peace and joy. 

Help them also learn to let Your love shine through them to reach other hurting souls. Show them that Your full love and Your full beauty reside in each heart given to Your service, no matter the outward appearance of the earthly tabernacle in which that heart dwells. 

Dear friend, listen to this song.  You will feel God’s love . . .

http://yhoo.it/29R9U4Z

Leaf in the Rain 3 1

Seven Reasons to Be Grateful. . . Every Day

Blue Sky

Everyone I know has problems, and sometimes they seem overwhelming. My personality type tends to fret and worry and see the negative – about everything!  But that is merely a tendency, and by the grace of God, I am getting better at replacing that negativity with a grateful attitude.

How I wish I had overcome this habit of mind years earlier!  Recent clinical research is repeatedly showing strong linkages between heart disease and negative states of mind, such as depression and anxiety. But I choose to look ahead, not behind. I am striving to do as the apostle Paul said in Phillipians 3:12, to “press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Jesus came so that we may have abundant life – not one filled with sorrow, sadness, and worry!

So, this day, although it is blisteringly hot in Texas and the world in general seems a dark place at this point in history, I am grateful that:

  1. God sent His beloved and only Son Jesus to save me from my sins and give me eternal life. (John 3:16)
  2. God promises to never leave me or forsake me – never, no never!
  3. God always empowers us to do whatever He tells us to do. Jesus said, “Be of good cheer because I have overcome the world!” We CAN have an upbeat attitude!
  4. God has given clear guidance in the Bible on how to live a blessed joyous life – I only have to study and apply what I learn.
  5. When I have doubts about how my life is turning out, I can rely on the promise in Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him [act like you know Him—my words] and He will direct your path.”
  6. James 1:5 reassures us that “If any of you lack wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” Verses 6 through 8 tell us that we must believe and not doubt that God will give us wisdom. Remember: He empowers us to do what He tells us to.
  7. Finally, when doing the things listed above seems hard, I read Psalm 103 over and over and over. I especially focus on verses 11 through 14:  

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; 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; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.

As I gaze at the clear blue sky, that vast expanse of moisture that cradles the earth, I marvel at God’s unavoidable reminder of His love and compassion for us. He has placed His blue heavens over every human being on our planet, just like a human father tenderly places a soft blanket over his sleeping child. How dare I doubt His love?

Blue Sky

 

Six No-Cost Ways to Encourage Yourself

We All Need Encouragement

Every human being  has some ho-hum days and some days when they just feel down.  It is part of the human condition.  Sometimes, such days are indicators that we need to take time to consider how we are living and whether we need to make some changes.  Other days are just those ho-hum days.

God Longs to Give You Comfort and Hope

Here  are five cures for those days when you just feel your life is blah, though you know it is not.

  1. Simply talk to God, out loud , just as if He were a human being and could not understand you unless you spoke in actual words. Putting words to our feelings always calms us down because it prevents wild thoughts from spinning around and around inside.  God wants us to bring each detail of our life to Him, the good and the bad.  He tells us that in I Peter, chapter 5, verse 7:  “Cast all your anxiety on Him [God] because He cares for you.” [emphasis added]    It often helps to write out your prayers to God.
  2. Count your blessings – literally. Start making a list.  Here is a link to several versions of the beautiful hymn that says to “Count your many blessings, name them one by one. . . and it will surprise you what the Lord has done. ” Listen, really listen, to the words.   http://yhoo.it/1SHAXP0
  3. Get the focus off yourself by calling a friend who is going through hard times and give them the encouragement you wish you could hear for yourself. Do this in a conscious effort to obey God by helping to carry each other’s burdens. (Galations 6:2) http://bit.ly/23vE1lk   You simply cannot “outgive” God.  He always rewards obedience.  Try it and see.
  4. Soak your heart in the Psalms, or your other favorite Bible passages. Here is a link to a list of six Psalms that will encourage you, along with comments by a pastor, Zac Poonen, of a church in Colorado. http://bit.ly/1NCSfoR
  5. Listen to uplifting music. Try some of the 30  uplifting  Christian songs listed at this link.  Whether you feel like it at this moment, you ARE  an overcomer by the power of the blood of the spotless Lamb of God! http://bit.ly/1PUWUEr
  6. Get outside and look at the beauty of God’s creation.  Nature has power to soothe  and to heal.

    Nature is everywhere - because God loves us!
    Nature is everywhere – because God loves us!

If You Feel Down Often

Dear reader, if you consistently feel down, you may be depressed and not realize it.   Go to this link  http://abt.cm/1CBrYso    There is a quiz at the top of the page you can take.  If you are consistently feeling down, you most likely are depressed and you need to talk with a counselor.   Please, please do so.  If you do not get help, you will keep feeling worse and worse.  I was in that position many times over my lifetime until I learned to reach out for professional help when I needed it.  Depression is dangerous and hurts you as well as  everyone around you.  If you do not get help, it gets worse each time it happens.  Please get help. Do not try to do it alone. 

The Magic of Love

The Power of Love to Give Joy and Hope
The Power of Love to Give Joy and Hope

The first time I held my baby daughter in my arms I felt courage and determination flow into my heart.  The hospital window framed the faint pre-dawn light as I nursed her and then snuggled her close. It was a moment I knew I would remember for all my life.  I had never loved this fiercely before, ever, and I would do anything to protect her and take good, good care of her.

Not only did I feel an infusion of courage to face my dominating in-laws, I also felt totally, thoroughly happy.  Blissful is the word.  And that bliss endures to this very day whenever I see her.

This experience of falling in love with our children is common to most parents. And once our babies are all grown up and gone from our nest – but never our hearts – we have time to reflect on how giving love to our children changed us and how it benefitted us as much as them.

Why?  Love floods the lover with warm and tender feelings, whether you are feeling love for your baby, a child, a pet, or another adult.  There is a scientific basis for this that I did not know  way back in the mid 1970s when my precious little baby girl was born.  A hormone called oxytocin is released into our bodies when we experience love.   Here is one explanation of this blessing God has given us.

This Bliss Hormone Can Heal Your Body: The Many Benefits of Oxytocin

A special chemical in your body, called oxytocin, helps to create the feeling of falling in love.

Sometimes referred to as the hormone of “forgetting oneself,” oxytocin plays an important role in birth, lactation, bonding, and orgasm.

The hormone of love, oxytocin, influences the digestive system as much as it influences the brain. Oxytocin has been proven to cool gastrointestinal inflammation to alleviate food sensitivities, autoimmune disorders, and even Candida infections!

Oxytocin can act like a psychological buffer. Nature wired both men and women to experience an oxytocin surge (or several) during moments of bonding with each other or their children.

Oxytocin naturally enhances a sense of:

  • Optimism
  • Trust
  • Mastery
  • Self-esteem

(retrieved from   http://bit.ly/1Ph4e2E   on January 20, 2016)

Simply loving my daughter for all these years has helped  me far, far more than it has helped her. Being in love with my daughter has healed hurts so deep I did not know they existed. And trying to take good care of her has shaped my decisions for the good.

What is the source of all love?  Chapter 4, verse 8 in First John tells us “Whoever does not love does not know God because God is love.”  (New International Version) [emphasis added].  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

How like our loving Heavenly Father to make what He tells us to do be so beneficial for us.  And how can we not love Him for loving us?  Loving Him floods us with an even more intense feeling of bliss that truly transcends the power of words to express.  Thank You, Lord!

Join me  in returning this love to Him as you listen to the song “The Love of God” by Mercy Me.    http://bit.ly/1V8qxWD

How Much God Loves Us
How Much God Loves Us

 

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is the love of God for those who fear Him.”  Psalm 103:11 (NIV)

Think about it.

 

 

Daddy called me “baby doll”

Words can hurt

Words can hurt and words can heal, as we all know.   Bullying labels from childhood can sting long into adulthood.  As a six-foot-tall teenager back in the 60s, my constant greeting from one boy was “Ho, ho, ho.  Here comes the jolly green giant.”  You can see the commercial that led to this emotionally crushing moniker at   http://yhoo.it/1KaYAHH

It took decades, literally decades, before I could accept that God did not make a mistake when He made me six feet tall.

Words can heal,  encourage, and nurture the heart

Fortunately, although I had the painful experiences common to all teens,  I also had a loving, tender father.   On the outside, and in the outside world, Daddy was a John Wayne kind of man – masculine, no-nonsense, strong and often silent.  He was the superintendent of a rock mine and in that role as a leader of men, he had to be strong.

1john wayne

But as soon as Daddy came home each night, my world was complete and my heart was at peace, just because he was there.   Daddy called me “baby doll”, a term of deepest endearment I still use with my own grown-up daughter.  And it is a strange thing – whenever I call Sharon “baby doll” I still feel Daddy’s love – and that feeling gets richer and warmer each passing year.

A father’s love – a priceless inheritance for his family

My parents both did a wonderful job raising their family.  They taught me values that have shaped my life for the good.  As a Daddy’s girl, the tender love of my father was the greatest of all possible gifts.  That love helped me accept the concept of a Heavenly Father who was loving and tender and who would take care of me and keep me safe.

This unfathomable love of God for us is described in Psalm 103, verses 11 through 14.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His [God’s] love for those who fear Him; 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; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust. [emphasis added] (New International Version)

I am grateful beyond words for an earthly Daddy who showed me what my Heavenly Father’s love is like.  And I am so very grateful I get to pass that love on to family and friends!

1montana sky

 

A Month Eating Out of My Cabinets – An Exercise in Humility

1cupof coffee

It had been such a beautiful Saturday morning!  I “awakened the dawn”, as the Psalmist David says.  For a solid hour, I sat with a cup of coffee and watched the sun rise and then dapple the trees with its rays, then shine in full brilliance.

After such a glorious start, motivation was high enough to tackle cleaning up my writing papers, a most necessary but long-delayed task.  During that dreaded process I found an unexpected bill for $100, due this month, which meant I could not do the too long delayed oil change, pay the small fee to have the ring my daughter gave me 20 years ago repaired, nor could I keep buying lots of low calorie fresh food which had FINALLY helped me take off five of the 30 pounds I needed to drop because of high blood pressure.   My happy bubble burst and I just lay down for a few minutes – to rest and to pray.

“Well, Lord, maybe now is the time to finally eat out of my cupboards until they are totally bare.  You know I am trying desperately to lose weight and losing weight with the food that I already have in the house seems impossible, but I am going to try it.  I will trust in You to either help me lose weight or else be content with staying as I am. 

Please forgive me for ungrateful for all Your generosity.  Help me fully appreciate that it is a luxury to even think about weight loss when so many are desperately trying to just stay alive.  Teach me this month, dear Lord, what You want me to learn. And thank you for reminding me of the Scripture “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” (Proverbs 24:10, New American Standard version).   Help me be strong in what is really an easy task.  And let’s have fun with it!”

To be honest, that thought about having fun with it surprised me, but then when I pray I am always surprised at the wonderful thoughts God gives.  I’m sure He laughed at that one.   Here is a record of the fun we had that month.

  • I immediately put a bag of pinto beans in water to soak.
  • I made a list of my low calorie soup ingredients, which were cheap as well as healthy and would be enough fresh food.
  • I checked everything in every kitchen cabinet and found I had more than enough to do just fine, I had:    A box of popcorn, two boxes of diet chocolate pudding, five cans of beans, four cans of vegetables, a box and a half of oatmeal, two jars of applesauce, two boxes of six-pack crackers for snacks for my grandsons, one box of chocolate poptarts (my secret super indulgence for years), five tins of smoked sardines (which I genuinely like), two packs of ground beef in the freezer,  and on and on  – you get the picture.  I had PLENTY of food in my cabinets and refrigerator.

Bottom line?  That month was just fine.  I never went hungry and even managed to stay the same weight.  And through it all I was reminded, each day, with every meal and snack that I had, that I was eating far, far better than many Americans were eating this month and countless millions across the globe.

What I initially thought was a bad thing God had, as always, turned out for my good.  I had needed a fresh reminder to be truly, sincerely grateful and to fervently pray for those struggling in true poverty.

What a kind and loving Father He is to gently nudge us toward truths we need to remember!