Think Carefully about YOUR Ways

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Photo by Juan Pablo Arenas on Pexels.com

I admit it, I have been down and discouraged lately about my health and my weight. In my mind I have tried and failed over and over again. I have asked myself why things aren’t working and have lied to myself to feel like I was working really hard. I felt that I was asking for God’s help and nothing was coming of it. With all my hard work it must not be me causing the downfall of my healing journey so why isn’t God answering?

This morning I was given a healthy dose of truth and the truth ALWAYS sets us free.

I opened my Bible to the Book of Haggai and began reading chapter one. It was painfully obvious that I was being given an answer to my desperate pleas for my health and my weight to change.

Haggai had prophesied the rebuilding of the temple. He oversaw the rebuilding. I imagine He spent time encouraging God’s people to rebuild God’s temple, especially after they had been freed from exile. In the beginning they were filled with vigor and built the foundation and the alter but then discouragement began to spill into their spirits. They became derailed by a lack of focus. After two years, they left the temple to sit while they focused on other things. They had excuses, but the one that truly caught my attention was in v.2 “the time has not come”. They had determined in their minds that the time was not right, God’s timing was not here so they didn’t need to work on it.

I am sure they had some great reasons to feel that God’s timing was not there yet. I am sure the work was very hard. They were broke. (Haggai 1:6) They suffered crop failures and drought. (Haggai 1:10-11) Enemies were resisting. (Ezra 4:1-5) and of course the all time favorite excuse of any human being: they fondly remembered the easier times in the past.  In other words, by speaking against God’s timing they were rationalizing the many reasons they didn’t need to work on the temple.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Action expresses priorities” and in this case, as is usually with all cases, the action exposed the priorities of God’s people. They were more concerned with their own homes (v.3) than they were with God’s house. As a result, nothing was filling the God-shaped void in their lives (v.6) and they were unfulfilled. All the hard work they had put into their homes and their land was for very little return (v.9). Their priorities were way out in left field and no where close to hitting a home run.

I found truth in the command God give in verses 5 and 7, “Think carefully about your ways.”  God’s people should have found no rest until God’s work was prosperous and they should have been willing to sacrifice their own discomfort to make it so. In verse 8 God tells them to do the work and He will be pleased and glorified. When God is pleased we reap reward and we see God’s hand working diligently in our lives. God was waiting for their participation and when it wasn’t there He caused a drought to get their attention. (v. 10, 11)

Think carefully, my daughter, about your ways. Where have your priorities been? 

It was like a major mic drop moment for me as I sat there soaking in the truth. Clarity, although quite difficult to accept, began to flood my mind.  The truth is, my priorities have been off. Healing begins with God and requires our participation. Yes, God performs miracles, and there are also times that He requires our participation. Participation that keeps priorities straight and a heart that  understands no one else can do this but me. God will heal. God will guide. God will provide. He wants my participation and is waiting on me to get started. The drought I have been in with. my health and my weight loss and many other things has been brought on by my priorities being out of sync.  It’s time to put God first and let Him be glorified and in that process healing will come.

Let’s talk excuses now. I often say I cannot eat healthy foods because I do not have enough money to do that. I often say I cannot exercise because today I feel sick and am in pain. I say I cannot focus because I feel overwhelmed. I have a list a mile long. Do you? The answer to all my excuses is priorities. Instead of spending on the clothing that I hope not to fit in because I will lose weight, I could spend that money on healthy foods. Instead of thinking I cannot exercise because I can’t do it like the girls on Instagram, I could do what my body allows. I can do something to exercise even if it only starts out for 5 minutes. Instead of laying on the couch watching tv all day because I am so overwhelmed, I could pick up my Bible and get some focus. I can gain strength in God’s word. I can find direction in God’s word. I can find hope in God’s word. I can find LIFE in God’s word.  It’s time to put away the excuses and work on God’s temple. I am God’s temple. You are God’s temple. It is time to make God’s temple a priority and glorify Him with the one and only temple we have been given!

Vulnerability in the Middle

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I found myself imagining the Israelites as they stepped between the raging waters as shared in Exodus. Exodus 14:29 tells us that “the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground, with walls of water on both sides.”  I imagine it was amazing to see but quite unnerving to participate in. They had no clue when the waters would fall. In those moments, walking between the waters of the Dead Sea they were at their most vulnerable and had only their trust in God to see them through to the other side.

Isn’t that what happens to us the in the middle?  When we are in the middle of suffering and no matter which side we look  are walls that seem to want to crash down on us we are forced to allow Jesus into our vulnerability and trust that He has our lives in His hands. In the middle isn’t always pretty. In the middle can be messy. It can be difficult. It can be beautiful or it can be devastating. It can be painful or joyous. The middle is where the meat of life is found. It is where everything is at stake. It is where we are formed and made for more in His glory. It is also where we find ourselves at the peak of our vulnerability.

At the peak of our vulnerability Jesus wants to meet us and get us through to the other side and when we get there, if we have trusted in Him, we find that it is better than we ever could have imagined.  Right now I am at the peak of my own vulnerability. We are in the middle of our adoption journey and I find each moment of the day comes with different emotions. I am trying to hear God’s voice but the waves of doubt, fear and uncertainty are roaring on either side of me and I am in the middle: vulnerable and scared. The need is so great for families that it has overwhelmed my empathetic soul.

Today, I looked around and found myself angry and frustrated. Pushed over the edge by the words of another so much that I wanted to give up but then I heard God say “Be Still”. As I sat I was taken to Exodus and the splitting of the waters. I was reminded that the minute they stepped into the middle they were vulnerable but their trust in God was greater. I have to trust. I stepped into the middle and now I must trust the process. I must trust that the waters will not crash down. I cannot give them a voice louder than God’s.  I have to stand, in the middle, and zone out the waves to allow God’s voice to be heard trusting that moving forward will bring something so beautiful that I never could have imagined how wonderful it will be.

If you are in the middle, trust God. He is leading you toward a future that will go beyond anything you can imagine!

WHOLEness | The Cross is Enough

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Integrated Wellness begins within the soul. We cannot heal if we do not include all aspects of our lives and the soul is the biggest, yet most neglected, aspect of our lives.It is the soul that is damaged by hurtful words. It is the soul that is guarded when “enough is enough.” It is the soul that aches when loss occurs and it is the soul that disengages when trauma invades.

In essence, our soul is our everything here on earth. It is who we are. It is where our thoughts and our beliefs reside. It is the light within us and when we leave this earth, it is the only part of us that lives eternally.

It is time to think in terms of our souls when we seek wellness. Our souls play a significant part in our health.  Our thoughts determine our healing. If we truly believe in what we are seeking then we will see true healing. For example, a sinus infection can be treated with antibiotics but it can also be treated with essential oils, food and rest.  If we believe that only an antibiotic can heal the infection then all the essential oils in the world will not heal the infection. If we have a true belief in the healing benefits of oils, then we will see healing from the oils.  The soul is a powerful aspect of our healing.

What happens when the soul is damaged? When pain and suffering invade? The hurt doesn’t even need to be of traumatic magnitudes to invade and darken the light of ones soul. A simple negative remark can cut deep. The soul is also them out delicate of our beings. It has to be protected.

How can we protect our soul when we cannot control the environment around it?  The cross. The man who died on that cross.  Jesus Christ. Our soul protector and healer.  Faith in His abilities. A deep understanding that even our soul crushing encounters are a part of the greatness and will of our Father God.

When hurt invades our souls we will feel it. There is no getting around the human design of pain and sorrow. We will cry. We will grasp our chest as we cry out “why?” We will fall on our knees in despair but we have a choice when we have the cross. With Jesus Christ we can forgive and heal. We can see others through His eyes and find understanding and sympathy. We can seek to love even when we are not l loved in return. We can look past judgement to see the hurt, anger, or jealousy to see the soul of another. We can be free to return light to our souls because He is the light.

In the midst of a hurting soul one thing remains true to the end of time: the cross is enough. Today, let it be so. This week, let it be so. Let the cross be enough and see the changes it will bring to your soul and to your health and wellness. Healing begins at the cross.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5

Listening as an Act of Love

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I am known for being the friend that listens. I receive phone calls on a weekly basis in which the few words I speak are “Right” and “Yes” as I listen to the words coming from their mouths. Do I have things to share? Is my day crazy? Do I disagree with them? Do I agree with them? Sure. All of the above, but that is not my purpose on those days when all that is needed is an ear to listen.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “Just as to love God begins with listening to his Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them.” Listening is one of the greater aspects of love. It opens our heart to understand another sufferings and joys. It is an opportunity to learn and if we are so callous that we feel we know everything and have no room for learning then we have reached a point in life where we have a real problem.

In 100% of the conversations in which I have been the listener there has always been something to learn, something that touched me or something that opened my eyes to a deeper purpose in my life. I believe God uses the words of others to touch our lives and when the time is right our words are used to touch others. That is love. Touching each others lives in profound ways that bring us to a better place. We are here for each other and that includes listening to each other.

I have also found when I utilize listening as the ultimate act of love for my spouse or my children or friends and family, I find myself in a bette replace as well. There is a healing property to being able to just sit back, in silence and let another person speak. I find it has a profound affect on my health and my well being.

What about someone listening to me? I will be honest, there are not many in my circle that really want to listen to me because I am surrounded by a lot of people who need to be heard, and I am ok with that because I believe in purpose. I am also blessed with a handful of people who choose to listen to me as an act of love. I cherish them and I am so very thankful for them. I also find that when I am obedient in being a loving listener, God always provides me another who is willing to listen to me. It balances out.

So, take heart, if you are like me: the go to listener in your inner circle. Be obedient and listen in love and in return God will always send you someone willing to listen when you need it. He is good like that!