I Am A Nazarene

I dare you to read my blog this week.  I double-dare you to read all the way to the end and not be impacted.  You are going to be tempted to read only part of the way through and lay it aside.  Don’t do that.  Don’t be passive … don’t be squeamish.  Read this blog and ask God to speak to you.  Today.  I dare you.

Each week, as I pray exactly what write about in my blog, I am sure that I hear God’s voice.  I attempt to partner with the Creator of the universe in addressing issues which have the potential to impact women’s lives at this moment in history.

I write about prayer … and about parenting.  I write about raising teen-age girls … and the importance of studying the Word.  I write about saying good-bye and choosing to worship loudly during every season of life.   I write about the degradation of “selfies” and how to live dangerously for God.  I write about losing weight, dealing with regrets and how to celebrate this event called “life”!

This week, however, it is not “business as usual” on my blog.  My heart is broken … it has been ravished by what is happening in Iraq.

Children are being beheaded because their parents are Christians.

Mothers and their daughters are being raped because they refuse to deny Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Fathers are being murdered in front of their families because they have chosen to follow Jesus Christ, the Nazarene.

Christian women and children, who have fled the evil regime, are starving and dying of thirst on Mount Sinjar.

Mothers are throwing their children off the mountain rather than have them raped and then beheaded.

500 women and children have been buried alive.

God … why wouldn’t You let me write about the varied seasons of life this week?  Or how to deal with a cantankerous 2 year old?  Or how to enjoy a late summer morning?

Why God?

This is the worst genocide in generations.  Not since Adolf Hitler systematically attempted to destroy an entire race of people has such evil been intent on targeting and assassinating a people group.  The people group that is being annihilated are my brothers and my sisters.  We serve the same Savior.

Please take 5 minutes and watch this video that will rip the neutrality out of your Western Christian mindset.  http://gnli.christianpost.com/video/isis-systematically-beheading-children-in-iraq-32988

The IsIs (Islamic State) in Iraq is a homicidal sociopathic group of jihadists that has been declared a terrorist group by the United States in 2004.

They have chosen to massacre Christians of every age.  Young and old.  Rich and poor.  Grandmothers and newborn babies.  New brides and widows.  Seasoned and wise men of faith and young, valiant men.

Oh!!  How I wish I were writing about something else today … anything else, indeed!  I wish we were sharing favorite recipes … how to get mascara out of white pants … how to love difficult teen-agers … or why I have been married for 37 years.  But I can’t write about those things … my heart is broken over dead babies whom I have never met.

I am haunted by the eyes and hearts of mothers who ache for laughter and for one more day with the children they gave birth to.

I have been guilty of being an ostrich … I put my head in the sand and ignore political events and stands that cause me to sweat and squirm.  I tend to live life like Mary Poppins believing that a spoonful of sugar can change anything.

I am like Pollyanna … I have built a life on playing the glad game.

I try to remain apolitical so that I am not drawing exclusive circles that only  alienate those who I am desperately trying to reach.

However, I can remain silent no longer.  Babies are being beheaded and their precious, guileless heads are being placed on spikes along side the roads of Iraq.  These babies are guilty of no crime or of any sin.  Their parents have simply chosen to say, “I am a Nazarene.”

What has it cost you to say, “I am a Nazarene”?

This is an issue that goes beyond being conservative or liberal … Republican or Democrat … right-wing or left-wing … blue or red.  This is a matter that concerns all of us who call ourselves “Christians” … “Believers” … “Charismatics” … “Evangelicals” … “Fundamental Bible Believing Christians” … “Nazarenes.”

Click on this picture posted by my friend, Stephen Mansfield, and ask yourself, “If I lived in Mosul, would such a mark be placed on the doorpost of my home?”  https://twitter.com/MansfieldWrites/status/490891667483152384/photo/1

This is what we can do, as the Body of Christ in America, to make a difference in the lives of the Christians in Iraq.  Please!!  Make a difference!!

1 – Pray!  Your prayers make a difference as the powers of darkness attempt to wipe out those who identify themselves with the Gospel of Light.  Pray for safety and protection for Christians around the globe.  Pray that this demonic attempt to terrorize and slay Christians would be divinely and powerfully stopped.  Get on your knees right now and cry out to God for the lives of those who are being murdered simply for loving Jesus.

What will happen if the Body of Christ around the world prays for the Christians in Iraq?

2 – Fast!  That’s right!!  Fast a meal today … fast all day tomorrow.  Fast for three days like Esther did when her entire race was about to be destroyed by a government edict.  The fact that Esther chose to fast in the face of great inhumanity and evil sanctions changed everything for the Jewish nation.  Esther saved an entire people group when she chose to fast for 3 days.

What will happen if the Body of Christ around the world fasts for 3 days for the deliverance of God’s people in Iraq?

3 – Get your head out of the sand and read about what is happening to believers around the world.  Read what Stephen Mansfield is writing about the Kurds in Iraq.  Go to www.christianpost.com and read about what is happening to Christians in Iraq.  Get sick to your stomach … and read it anyway.

4 – Call your senator or congressman and tell them that you are personally willing to offer asylum in your home to Christians from Iraq.  Let your voice be heard in the political avenues of America.  Let your senator and congressman know that your church will take in, house, feed and find jobs for Christians from Iraq.  America should boldly and courageously be one of the nations that will offer asylum to Nazarenes from any and every nation.

5 – Pray for America.  Thank God that you still live in a nation where you can read your Bible, go to church, send your children to Christian schools and universities, and give money to Christian causes.

6 – Love the people whom you have been given.  Love the children on your street and at your church.  Encourage teen-agers to stay strong in their faith.  Send a care package to college students who are preparing to serve God.  Give a homeless person a gift card to a grocery store.  Ask your pastors what missionaries you can pray for and support.  Be a force for good in this evil world that we live in.

7 – Post on Facebook and on Twitter, “I am a Nazarene!”  Say it in honor of our brothers and sisters in Christ who are being persecuted today.  Put a sign on the front of your home that states, “I am a Nazarene!” so the world knows that we stand with those who are dying unjustly.

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Dear Mom of A Teenage Daughter-

Dear Mom of a Teen-age Daughter,

It’s hard, isn’t it? 

It’s hard to raise a daughter, whom you believe is destined for greatness and for service in the Kingdom of God, in this age of sleazy wardrobes, sex-before-marriage, everybody’s-doing-it, world that we live in.

It’s hard because the voices of our culture are so loud, the gray area is so vast and the tension is relentless.

It’s hard because no parent ever wants to fight with their teen-age daughter over cleavage, how-short-is-too-short, and what placing your body on display communicates to a sex-addicted world.

It’s hard because there is so little to say “yes” to in our world gone wild.

It’s hard because there is always the risk of rebellion.

Its. Just. Hard.

Although my 2 daughters are now out of the teen-age years, I can tell you this:  there are some battles worth fighting.

There are stands worth taking.

“No” can be a very positive, loving word.

You are the parent.  Act like it.  You are not the best friend.  You are the mom.

You are the mom who has been a teen-ager and knows infinitely more than a 15 year-old whose hormones are raging.

When you take a stand, take it with firm love and deep conviction.

When you fight a battle, fight it without raising your voice or accusing.  Fight with love and with deep conviction.

Let me assure you that you really do know what is best for your daughter and your word should be the last word and the guiding word.

What you allow is what will continue to grow in the life of your daughter who is more precious than words can ever express.

If you allow sexual attire and provocative Instagram pictures and questionable hashtags … that is what will continue to grow in her life.

The battle is relentless, isn’t it?  Even the toughest warriors grow weary in the battle that is fought for the highest and noblest of causes.  Fight on, mother.  Fight on. 

May I give you 5 suggestions today?  My prayer is that these suggestions, from a seasoned mother, will help you to craft a strategy as you endeavor to disciple your daughter.

1 – Be the mom.  Your goal is not to be her best friend, her confidante or a raucous cheerleader.  Your goal is to be the cartographer … you set firm boundaries.  The boundaries that you set should be dictated by the principles found in the Word of God and not by the unstable whims of the culture.

Modesty was required in our home when our girls were teen-agers.  Jeans that were ripped above the knee were not allowed.  2-piece bathing suits were not allowed.  Tight, revealing shirts were not allowed.

Do you want to know why they were not allowed?  Provocative attire … and let’s call it what it is … it’s provocative … is meant for one purpose and one purpose alone: to cause a guy to give you a second look.  It’s mean to get the attention of a young man in an unwholesome manner.

I believed that my daughters were made for more than that.  They were made to be cherished and to be loved based on who they were and not on the amount of skin they were revealing.  I loved my daughters too much to allow them to dress inappropriately.

And when they were unable to make that decision for themselves, I made it for them.

2 – “No” is a powerful and loving word.  When “no” is birthed in love and protection it determines your daughter’s future.  Never be afraid of saying a firm, yet loving, “No!”

  • “No, I love you too much to let you dress like that.”
  • “No, I love you too much to let you go to that party.”
  • “No, I love you too much to allow you to put those pictures on Instagram.”
  • “No, I love you too much to have 20,000 followers because you use the #sexy.

And whenever conviction leads you to say the firm but loving, “No,” always try to say a better “Yes!”

  • “Yes … you can have some friends over for a girls’ night!”
  • “Yes … you can have a new outfit that is stylish, fun, attractive but not provocative.”
  • “Yes … you can go to that Christian concert!”

3 – Pray with your daughter.  When you have been engaged in a difficult discussion with her, end the discussion with heartfelt prayer.  Take it to the Father and ask Him for wisdom and to bless your relationship with her.  Hold her hands while you pray and let her know that she is loved.

4 – Use your words to create positive self-esteem in your daughter during these challenging teen-age years.

  • Tell her that she is loved every single day.
  • Tell her that she is beautiful and that she is bound for greatness.
  • Talk about her in positive ways in front of others.
  • Point out the things that she does well and praise her for positive choices.

There may be seasons during these teen-age years when your daughter won’t like you very much, but there should never be a day when she doesn’t know that she is loved unconditionally by you … her mom.

5 – Send her on a missions trip.  I believe that sending a teen-ager on a missions trip is one of the most life-changing events in a teen’s life.  She will come home appreciating the blessings that she has been given in new and vibrant ways.  Her focus will have changed from blending in with her culture to serving her Creator.

Parenting teen-age daughters is not for sissies.  However, you can do it, mom!  You can stay the course and disciple your daughter in spite of the cacophony of the world in which we live.  God has chosen you to parent your daughter through every season of life.  You are enough … you are more than enough to be a wonderful mom!

With love and prayers,

Carol

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How Do You Say Goodbye?

How do you say good-bye?

How do you say good-bye to a season of life that was so valuable and precious that it instigates both smiles and tears?

How do you say good-bye to a dear friend who is moving across the country?  To a loved one who has moved their residence from “earthly” to “eternal”?

How do you say good-bye to a child who is leaving for college?  Or the military?

How do you say good-bye?

It always seems as if the end of summer brings a season of bittersweet good-byes in our lives.  While the days are filled with glorious sunshine and gardens are bursting with a colorful harvest, it is in that contradictory moment that suitcases are being packed in preparation for new seasons and new challenges.

How do you say good-bye to a person whom you have loved more than life itself?  How do you say good-bye to a season of luscious growth and fruitful joy?

It has been my experience that the only way to say good-bye is to say it with hope.  Hope changes every good-bye into an experience not of finality but of expectation.

“And hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:5

I’ll never forget the day that our oldest son, Matt, left for college.  You know, when boys leave for college they rarely turn around and wave good-bye.  Young men are so intent on all the independence that lies ahead that their determined faces are set like flint to the future and not to the past.

Matt’s Grand Cherokee was packed with everything that a college freshman could possibly need.  We had supplied him with new sheets, towels, a laundry basket, an iron (that would never be used) and a semester’s supply of snacks.  What you couldn’t see in his car was my heart that was packed into every nook and cranny.

I stood at the door that August morning and waved good-bye with his 4 younger siblings. Tears ran unabated down my cheeks … my body heaved with sobs. Our family would never feel whole to me again. 

Matt, his dad and that burgundy jeep drove away from the safety of the 4 acres of home.  I waved with visible grief … Matt didn’t look back.

I cried … he couldn’t wipe the grin off his 18 year old handsome face.

I remembered … he anticipated.

I learned in that moment that the healthiest way to say good-bye is with hope.  Since the day that Matthew had been placed in my inexperienced yet welcoming arms, I had hopes for his life.

I wanted him to change the world.

I wanted him to serve God … to be president … to be a doctor … to preach the Gospel.

I longed for him to walk in his God-ordained destiny and to make this world a better place.

I wanted him to travel and to fall in love with an amazing girl.

I hoped that he would be a leader of excellence and integrity.

I desired that he would know the joy of holding his own infant son in his arms and thereby understand me, his mom, in deep and magnificent ways.

I ached for him to trust God with all of life’s challenges and disturbances.

I yearned for his heart to be broken at least one time … so that he could be merciful and compassionate toward others.

And so, that bittersweet August morning, rather than wrap myself in emotional pain, I wrapped myself in the joy of hope.

How do you say good-bye?  You say good-bye with hope.

Hope is the human commodity that allows love to soar and grow.  If not for hope, relationships would grow stagnant with selfishness and paralysis.

If not for hope, yesterday would be more important than tomorrow.

Hope will never become the joyful reality that it was meant to be without a solid good-bye to all that has been.  “All that has been” was never meant to be what defined an individual’s life.  We are defined by hope.

Hope, by its very definition, turns one’s affection toward the future.  As believers, we are a people of hope and faith.  We set value on those things that are not yet seen.  And, joy of all joys, we serve the God of all hope!

“Now, may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13

One of the reasons that God has allowed the human experience to embrace the finality of torturous and heart-wrenching good-byes is so that we would not allow people or seasons to be to us what only God was meant to be.  He is the only One Who will never leave us or forsake us.  Children grow up and leave home … bodies wear out and enter eternity’s glory … friends come and go.  Jesus is always with us.  Always.  There is no good-bye that will ever be required in your relationship with Him.

Seasons of life change rapidly.  Life flies by with no apologies.  God, however, never changes.  His presence and character are the immutable, constants in a world of vicious and mocking instability.

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” – Ephesians 1:18

I don’t know who or what you are saying good-bye to during this season of your life … but I can assure you that when “Good-bye!” is said hopefully … that you will encounter true peace and joyous thanksgiving.

“Good-bye” becomes “God-Speed!” when it is said with hope.

“Good-bye” becomes “God Bless You!” when it is said with hope.

“Good-bye” becomes “Thank You!” when it is said with hope.

Hope places an eternal “Hello!” in every good-bye.

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8 Ways to Wring the Sunshine Out of This Summer

Summer lasts for exactly 95 calendar days this year.  The Farmer’s Almanac cites its onset as June 21, 2014 and lists it’s farewell on September 23, 2014.

95 days.

After 3 too-short months of mosquito bites and baseball games, the beach towels will be packed away … the flip flops will be thrown away … and the lazy, hazy days of summer become a sweaty memory.

95 days. 

And, do you want to know what else is a sobering reality of summer?  You only are given 18 summers of 95 days each to share with your children.

18 chances to make sunshine memories and popsicle promises.

18 opportunities to read the books of childhood to your little ones … to splash in the sprinkler … and to make s’mores after a dinner of hot dogs and corn on the cob.

18 occasions to spit out watermelon seeds in the front yard … to play kick-ball all afternoon … and to catch fireflies in the waning daylight.

18 shots at teaching your kids to ride their bikes with no hands … to play hopscotch on the front sidewalk … and to make homemade ice cream before bedtime.

95 sunshine filled days fly by.

18 summers evaporate into adulthood.

Rather than live with a heart-filled with regret when September 23 rolls around, perhaps this is the summer you will endeavor to wring the pure sunshine out of every day.  Here are just a few of my favorite summertime activities that will last long after autumn has come knocking at your door and well beyond the brevity of 18 summers.

1.  Make a measuring stick at least 6 feet tall and about 6 inches wide. Mark off the inches and the feet on it so it resembles a huge ruler.  Hang this piece of wood on a wall in your home and measure your children every year on June 21 and on September 23.  See how much they have grown during the 95 days of summer!

In addition to June 21 and September 23, choose other days of the calendar year to measure each child’s height.  Perhaps measure each one on Christmas day as well as on their birthdays.  Put each child’s name and the date next to the marks on your family’s unique measuring stick!

2.  Go to the library at least once a month during the 95 days of summer and choose books to read together as a family.  Make it a celebration to read the books out loud to your children that were read to you when you were a child.  It has been my experience that my daughters loved hearing “Tom Sawyer”, “Mr. Mulligan and His Steam Shovel”, and “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” as much as my sons did!  And, my three sons were riveted, as much as the girls were, by the adventures of “Caddie Woodlawn”, “The Little House in the Big Woods” series and “Pippi Longstocking”!

Set aside time every day to read out loud to your children whether they are 4 years old or 14 years old.  Pop some popcorn, hand out a bowl of fresh strawberries and put on classical music while you read.

3.  Have a contest at least once a week!  Have you ever had a watermelon seed spitting contest?

  • Or a sidewalk chalk art contest?
  • Or a whistling on a piece of grass contest?
  • Or a cannon-ball contest at the neighborhood swimming pool?
  • Or a decorate your bike contest?
  • Or who can kick the ball the farthest contest?
  •  Or who can hit the baseball the farthest contest?
  •  Or a squirt-gun contest in the back yard?
  •  Or who can say the alphabet backwards contest?
  •  Or a paper airplane building contest?
  •  Or who can memorize the state capitols contest?

The possibilities are endless!  Do it!

4.  Choose a Bible verse to memorize each week for the entire family.  Announce the verse of the week every Saturday morning and write it on a white board in your kitchen.  Put the weekly verse on the bathroom mirror and on every bedroom door.  Then, on every Friday afternoon, have each child write out the Bible verse and decorate it with glitter, pieces of fabric and stickers.  Insert each child’s page into their own 3-ring binder so at the end of the summer, they will have a beautiful, creative record of the Bible verses of the summer of 2014 … and then 2015 … and then 2016.

 5.  Teach your children to embrace the fun and purpose found only in giving to someone else.  Perhaps you could have a yard sale and give the profits to a missionary.  Volunteer, as a family, to paint a Sunday School room at church.  Go to a widow’s house and weed her flower gardens or wash windows for her.  Volunteer, as a family, to baby-sit for a young couple so they can have a date night.  Make cards and take them to the residents of a local nursing home.

The very best memories you will ever give your children will not be made at Disneyworld, at an exotic beach or even at the neighborhood playground.  The very best gift you can give to your children is found in the meaning of serving others and giving to others.

6.  Make a list of interesting and free places to visit within 2 hours of your home.  Pack a lunch every Saturday or Sunday and visit these unique places that are within driving distance of where you are raising your family.  Make sure that you listen to great music while you drive.

  • Begin with worship music for the first 20 minutes or so.
  • Then listen to Broadway Show tunes or Disney songs.
  • Introduce culture to your family vehicle with a classical piece or two.
  • Every family needs a thorough knowledge of and appreciation for Patriotic tunes!  Sing along to “You’re a Grand Old Flag!”, “Yankee Doodle Dandy”, and “God Bless America!”
  • How about playing some popular music from your teen-age years?
  • And as always … make sure to end your day with worship.

 Have the youngest members of the family draw a picture of what they saw that day and encourage the school-age children to write a short report of the landmark that you visited.

 7.  Buy ice cream from the ice cream truck at least once during the summer!

 8.  Show a movie for all of the neighborhood kids on the side of your house or garage!  Rent or borrow a projector and show “It’s a Bug’s Life”, “Pollyanna” or “Cars” at twilight on a Friday night.  Invite ll of the families on your street and have them bring lawn chairs and blankets to sit on and snacks to pass around.

95 days are gone in a flash.

18 summers disappear like vapor.

The ache that fills my heart every year at one minute past September 23 has little to do with the frost on the morning grass or the vibrant colors of the leaves.  The ache is birthed in the knowledge that 18 summers have come and gone.  I’ll never have the opportunity again to make blueberry popsicles … lay in the grass and name the clouds with a giggling girl … or catch a salamander with a freckle-faced boy.

95 days.  18 summers.  That’s all you get.

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My friend, Michelle Cox, has written a book entitled “Just 18 Summers”. Her book inspired me to write this blog post.  If you’d like to order a copy of her book or visit her website click here.  

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3 Ways to Fight Your Enemy

Worry. 

Fear.

Anxiety.

Three words that possess the deceptive capacity to steal your joy … diminish your peace … and demolish your trust.  Many, many Christians deal with this ferocious triumvirate on a daily basis.

If you are a victim of worry … a headache immediately becomes a brain tumor as worry magnifies the potential for harm.

If you are a kindred spirit of fear … watching the daily news is a lethal dose of poison.

If anxiety is your emotion of choice … a peaceful, restful night of sleep is a rare and foreign occurrence.

One of the worst mistakes that worriers make is when they choose to worry out loud.  When worry verbalizes the fear and anxiety that has nestled its way into our hearts and minds, we are giving it a power that it does not deserve.  The only thing that should be coming out of your mouth any day of any year is the Word of God!

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.” – II Timothy 1:7

If worry is your emotional disease, it’s time for you to be healed.

If fear is your constant companion, it’s time for you to make a new friend.

If anxiety makes you physically sick, it’s time for you to have open heart surgery.

If you have lived your entire life imprisoned in a world of worry, fear and anxiety, let me boldly say to you today that you are listening to the wrong voice!  It’s true, we are oftentimes unable to control our circumstances, but we are always able to control our emotional and spiritual response to those circumstances.

There will always be circumstances and events in life that we loathe and would never choose but these temporary conditions should never stir up a storm of agitation and panic.  Rather than worry, the response of a passionate believer should be worship!

Worry, fear and anxiety have absolutely no place in the heart or mind of a disciple of Jesus Christ.  If you are ready to shed yourself of these fleshly reactions to life, you need to go back to the basics of your faith.

These are the powerful basics of faith that will enable believers to fight off the fiery darts of the enemy:

  1. God is good all the time.  God knows of no other way to be than eternally, infinitely and perpetually good.  His goodness is the greatest power in the entire universe and He has aimed His goodness at your life.  God’s goodness is chasing you down during the most confusing and despicable days of life.  Do you believe it or not?    "And I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will never stop doing good for them.” – Jeremiah 32:40
  2. God is trustworthy.  You can put all your trust in Him because you know completely and believe emphatically that He is good and that He will always have the last word.  Choosing to rest in the Father’s arms and trust Him with your questions will usher in the greatest moments of your life on planet earth.  "You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You because he trusts in You.” – Isaiah 26:3
  3. Worship is the anecdote to worry.  Worship will blast the voice of the enemy with the power of heaven’s fighting battalion.  If you will choose to worship rather than to embrace fear and anxiety, you will be among the leaders of the cause of Christ in this generation. "When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.  In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; What can mere man do to me?” – Psalm 56: 3 & 4

  

The truth is this … we all have something to worry about, don’t we?!  We all have something that could cause us to crawl into the corner and stay in a fetal position the rest of our days.  But Jesus Himself has commanded disciples in every generation to shake off worry and to embrace His power.

"For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor father into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not worth much more than they?” – Matthew 6: 25 & 26

We all have a choice.  We can choose to worship or we can choose to worry.

We can choose to be guided by faith or be consumed by fear.

We can choose to embrace anxiety or to receive the power, love and sound mind that God has already given to each one of us.

Do not blame your tendency to worry on your circumstances, your parental heritage, the network news or the economy.  Allow me to reiterate with courage … If you are worrying, it is only because you are listening to the wrong voice!  You are listening to the father of all lies!  You are downloading your information from the enemy’s camp!  You have given more attention to the lies of the enemy than the truth only found in the Word of God!

Let’s all agree today to be done … to be absolutely finished … with worry and fear.  We will not worry alone and we will not worry together.  We will put all of our trust in our eternally good God Who is so worthy of our highest praise!

But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” – Matthew 6:33

I’d love to pray for you today.  Rather than choosing to worry about what is going on in your life, would you share a prayer request so that we can join you in trusting that God is working His goodness into your life?  

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And Then I Became a Mom...

mountain.JPG

I’ve always wanted to move mountains.  I’ve always wanted to make a difference.  I have always believed that I had been born to make an impact that would long outlive my life.

I thought that I would write best sellers … speak before 1,000’s … compose great symphonies … travel to unknown lands with only my Bible and the power of Christ … leave my mark on humanity in some significant manner.

I thought that I could be the first woman president … or be the first female anchor for the network news … or break the corporate ceiling that no woman had ever been able to break.

And then I became a mom.

I changed diapers and inserted pacifiers back into little rosebud mouths in the middle of the night.

I rocked and sang and rocked and sang.   I loved the way a baby felt in my arms.  I loved smelling newborn skin … so fresh from heaven.

I made up sweet little songs that spoke of love and wonder and the miracle of children.

"Think about growing up … think about getting big;
Think about Mimi’s house and think about ice cream cones.
Think about bunny rabbits and think about going to the beach;
Think about Mommy and Daddy and Matthew and Chrisser and Jordan, Joy and Joni.”

Some of my unforgettable lyrics on the hit-parade of motherhood are just too good to be true:

“Cuz you’re the sweetest and the best!”
“You’re precious and you’re special to your mom!”
“I love you when you’re little … I love you when you’re big … I love you anytime at all … I love you little-big!”
"10 more days ‘til Christmas … 10 more days ‘til fun! ...10 more days ‘til presents … you’ll love them everyone!  10 more days ‘til Jesus was born upon this earth;  10 more days and we’ll celebrate His birth!”

I made thousands of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and most days ate only the left-over crusts for my lunch.

I read “Little House on the Prairie”, “Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel”, “Pat the Bunny”, and “Carry On, Mr. Bowditch”, until I had each story memorized line by wonderful line.

I painted Easter Eggs by the dozens … celebrated birthdays with incredible love and enthusiasm yet stayed on a budget …  and endeavored to discipline with tenderness and resolve.

I was a homeschool mom for 23 years.   I gave up corporate success, high-paying jobs and momentary recognition for multiplication tables, American history and laughable art projects.  Was I crazy or what?!!

I folded laundry without ceasing … wiped runny McLeod noses day and night … laughed at knock-knock jokes time after time after time … and fell into an unmade bed absolutely too exhausted to breathe every single night.

But do you know what else I did?  I prayed and hell shook.

I prayed and heaven applauded.

I supplicated for the 5 little lives that I had been given and my prayers created masterpieces.

I stayed on my knees and a great and glorious symphony was born in the heart of a young man who would grow up to be a worshipper.

I cried out to God and the heart of a missionary was born in one freckle-faced girl when she was too little to talk.

I begged God for His favor and a leader who would change the world was discipled under my roof.

I petitioned the Creator of the universe and He called forth power and wisdom in the life of a little boy who loved frogs, fireflies and the forest.

I asked God to give me the ability to change the world and He gave to me a daughter who would carry on in my stead.

Moms … never overlook the important calling that you have been given in the midst of the mundane.

Grandmothers … know that your prayers are making a rich and eternal difference in the hearts of the next generation.

Aunts … stay on your knees!  That is your position of power!

If you think that all you are doing is making beds, warming up left-overs and trying to pay the bills … my, my my!  You have it all wrong!

You are here, mother, to bring down strongholds with your powerful entreaties!

You are alive, grandmother, to make a way where there seems to be no way!

You are called, aunts and sisters and step-mothers, to believe when everyone else has given up.

And Then I Became a Mom pic 1.jpg

Never look at the ordinariness of your life and mistakenly believe that you will never make a difference in anyone’s life.

When the heart of a mother is committed to prayer … mountains crumble and fall.

When the voice of a woman cries out to heaven … history is changed.

Believe me … I know.

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God Bless America

I have always been an “All-American” girl.  I love America.

I cry every time that US Olympic athletes step to the podium, have a medal placed around their necks and then stand at attention to our national anthem.

My heart swells with patriotic pride when I hear a baseball ump say, “Play Ball” and the crowd roars in anticipation.

I smile with All-American fervor whenever I see an American flag hanging from someone’s front porch.

My eyes well up with emotion when I recall George Washington at Valley Forge, Patrick Henry declaring, “Give me liberty or give me death!”  And I picture that old North Boston church.

My heart constricts with zealous joy when I see a little boy salute Old Glory, when I see a red, white and blue ANYTHING, and when I hear the lyrics to “God Bless America!”

But this year on the Fourth of July, I am especially praying for, and weeping with the mothers and fathers who have lost their sons and daughters in service to our great nation.

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Who prepares a mother that her little boy, who loved frogs, grilled cheese sandwiches and football will grow up to be a young man who is shot on a battlefield far from home?

What can possibly comfort the heart of a parent who receives a phone call, a telegram or a visit from a high-ranking government official informing them that the little girl, whom they loved more than life itself, will never come home again?  Never again.

Today … I am praying for those moms and for those dads.

I am praying for the parents who live in uncertainty … for the moms who wonder if their sons and daughters are safe today. 

I am praying for the fathers whose hearts have been ripped out of their chests and merely survive minute by minute knowing that in one horrific instant everything can change.

America means many things to those who live upon its soil.  It means the Freedom of Religion … the Freedom of Speech … and the pursuit of happiness.

America is the majestic Grand Canyon, the dependency of Old Faithful and the sun-drenched Gulf Coast. 

It is the lazy Mississippi River, the towering Redwood Forest and sunflowers splashed across the Great Plains.

America.  The Land of the Free.  The Home of the Brave.

I love freedom.  I love it so much that it hurts.  I love reading my Bible, and owning a home, and boldly giving my opinion on Facebook.

I love preaching the Gospel … and choosing how to educate my children … and fighting for the rights of the unborn.

But do I love America enough to give my son or daughter?  Do I value freedom enough to grieve for a child the rest of my life?  Do I?

And so, this week-end, while you celebrate with waving flags, cheering at parades and exclaiming at fireworks … I want to ask you to remember and to pray.

While you eat your hot dogs and watermelon … remember the homes that are quiet this Fourth of July because nothing tastes good any more.

While you watch your children splash in the pool and hand out popsicles to the neighborhood kids … pray for the parents whose hearts are empty and who wonder if they will ever smile again.

And when you think about America and all that it means to you … ask yourself what you would be willing to sacrifice to continue to live in freedom.

This year, on the Fourth of July 2014, I am grateful for men like Abe Lincoln who stood up for righteousness and then wept with parents who gave their sons for freedom’s cause.

I am deeply thankful for the heroic leadership of General Eisenhower, Audie Murphy and John F. Kennedy.

But, in my heart, I am praying for parents like Jim and Julie Webb and Scoti Springfield Domeij whose sons, Jeff Webb and Kristoffer Domeij, will never come home again.

I wonder what their homes look like … and sound like … and feel like … this day.

If you have served in the military, I would love to know your name so that I can pray for you.

If you have a son or a daughter or a husband or wife serving in the military, I would love to know their names so that I can pray for them on this Fourth of July.

And, if you have lost someone to Freedom’s Cause, we would love to know so that we can pray for you and salute you.

You can simply leave your name, or the name of the one who is currently serving, in the comment section below.  Please let us know what branch of the military you or they serve in.

If you are leaving the name of someone who has died in service to our great nation, please let us know that as well.

God bless you all … and God Bless America.

“O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife,

Who more than self their country loved,

And mercy more than life!

America! America! May God thy gold refine

Till all success be nobleness,
And ev'ry gain divine!”
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21 Days to Beat Depression - Day 21 (FINAL DAY!)

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“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” - Hebrews 12: 1 & 2

Jesus went through trials and difficult circumstances while He was living on earth as a man.  The cross was more than a trial and greater than an inconvenience.

The cross was pain!  It was suffering!  It was the greatest agony known to all of mankind.

How could Jesus endure the cross and the torment of the physical pain that was thrust upon Him?

He endured the cross, even though He despised the pain, because of the joy that was set in front of Him.  What was the joy that Jesus saw when He was on the cross?

What was the extraordinary joy that He kept His focus upon when the pain was nearly too much too bear?

The joy that gave Jesus the strength to carry on was you ... and it was me.  We are His joy and He is our joy!

day 21
day 21

Jesus knew that He had to die so that we could live ... that was pure joy to Him!  Jesus knew that He had to be nailed on the cross so that we could be set free from pain, addictions and depression ... that was indescribable joy to Him!

Jesus knew that His Body had to bear the pain of a horrific death so that we could be healed ... and He counted that as pure joy!

Did Jesus like what He had to go through?  No ... the Bible tells us that He despised it ... but He did it because He named you “Joy”.

The only reason that we can experience joy during our tenure on earth is simply because we have Him!

  • MAKING IT PRACTICAL -
  1. Today, would you write me an e-mail?  Write to me at carol@justjoyministries.com.  Let us know how “21 Days to Beat Depression!” has helped you.  Also, let us know how we can pray for you!  
  2. Read through your “Thanksgiving in January and February!” journal.  Remind yourself about all of the things for which you are thankful.  Make one final entry today!  Today, list 10 things for which you are grateful.  #beatdepression!  Mine are -
  1. All of you who have gone the distance in “21 Days to Beat Depression!” 
  2. The opportunity to serve the Lord at this time in history.
  3. The Bible!
  4. Pandora and Spotify where I listen to great worship music!
  5. Unsweet iced tea with lemon
  6. A great team of women who work with Just Joy! Ministries.
  7. Blizzards, hot tea in beautiful mugs and books to read.
  8. The Holy Spirit!
  9. The view out my kitchen window.
  10. That joy has the power to demolish depression in Jesus’ Name!
  • DECLARATION -

I declare that the power of depression has been broken in my life!  From this day forward I will walk in the joy of His presence and in the power of the Holy Spirit!  I will live an abundant life this side of heaven!

  • PRAYER FOR TODAY -

“Dear Jesus, I thank You for the Bible.  I thank You for dying on the cross for my sins.  I thank You for sending the Holy Spirit to empower me to live a life of joy and purpose.  You are God and I will praise You all of my days!  I thank You for Your presence where there is always fullness of joy!  Amen.”

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21 Days to Beat Depression - Day 20

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“Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.  Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You.” - Psalm 51:11 & 12

One of the delights of my life is to “chew” on Scripture.  Today, we are going to do just that with Psalm 51:11 & 12!  Let’s read it again ...

“Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.  Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You.” - Psalm 51:11 & 12

Do you see what this verse says?! When you have joy in your life, it will increase your testimony!

When joy is restored to your life, you will have the power to make a difference during the days of your walk upon earth.

Sinners will listen to you because you have joy.

Transgressors will be interested in what you have to say when you exhibit the joy that only salvation brings.

Isn’t that what we all want?  We all want to make a difference during the span of our life.  We want our life to count more than just for a dash on our tombstones.  We want to leave a legacy found in the lives of people who have been changed because they crossed our pathway in life.  Joy will enable you to make a difference in someone else’s life.

Joy will strengthen your witness and you will have the capacity of changing someone else’s life.  If you thought that joy was invented just to make you feel better you need to change your thinking!

God needs a generation of joy-filled people who are willing to make a profound impact on the world in which we live.  I’m in ... how about you?!

  • MAKING IT PRACTICAL -
  1. Today, practice joy!  At work ... exhibit joy!  At the grocery store and post office ... demonstrate joy!  At home ... be a joy not a killjoy.  As you begin to express this Fruit of the Holy Spirit, that you may not feel in your soul, you will make a difference in the lives of others around you.  
  2. Thanksgiving and joy are so dependent upon one another that I just have to challenge you one more time to express what you are thankful for today.  Me?!  I am thankful for daughters-in-law, walks through rustling leaves in the fall and Panera! #beatdepression!
  • DECLARATION -

I declare today that I will express joy regardless of how I feel.  I will change the world as I establish my life upon the Fruit of the Spirit known as joy! 

  • PRAYER FOR TODAY -

"Lord Jesus, You are my God and my King.  Thank You for restoring to me the joy of my salvation!  Thank You for giving me a willing spirit that will enable me to express joy to the world around me.  Lord, I thank You that as I demonstrate joy I will be making a difference!  In Jesus Name I pray.  Amen.”

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What Makes a House a Home?

This post is part of the Atlas Girl Blog Tour which I am delighted to be a part of along with hundreds of inspiring bloggers. To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! 

What makes a house a home?  What turns mortar, 2x4 pieces of lumber and rough  shingles into a palace filled with love … joy … peace … and wisdom?

Although I am not a perfect mom or a perfect wife, all of the addresses under my watch resounded with laughter and celebration.  The addresses at which the family known as McLeod lived, ate, slept and grew were not known for gourmet meals, immaculate floors or an abundance of creature comforts.  However, each house that we called home echoed with a lifestyle of unreserved joy and contagious faith.

Here is my heartfelt blueprint of how to build your home into a place where memories are made, the flame of faith is fanned and where grown children long to come home to again … and again … and again.

1 – We laughed.  Make sure that every day is a day of unrivaled joy. 

Tell jokes at the dinner table every night. 

Giggle with the little girls and snort with the boys. 

Watch funny movies and read humorous novels together.   Who doesn’t love, “Green Eggs and Ham”, “Pippi Longstocking” and “The Muppets Take Manhatten”?!

 Give everyone a nickname that does not mock but is filled with the wittiness of humanity.  “Toast-Opher”, “Jo-Jo”, “Angel-Face”, “Mr. Man” and “Boo” were among our family’s favorites.

2 – We established family traditions

On Thanksgiving Day, before the family blessing, we went around the table and had everyone share something for which they were grateful.

In January, we read through the Christmas cards and prayed for the families by name who had sent the Christmas cards to us.

On April Fools’ Day, I served green beans and baked potatoes for breakfast and then served pancakes and eggs for supper.  What fun!

On St. Patrick’s Day, I made green mashed potatoes for dinner.

We always, always watched “White Christmas” the Saturday after Thanksgiving while we carefully hung the decorations on our Christmas tree.

On New Year’s Day, we set goals for the coming year and then gave everyone an appropriate Scripture verse for the year.

On New Year’s Eve, we found such pleasure in looking at the ending year’s goals and rejoicing in what our family had accomplished.

3 – In our home, everyone was a builder and not a destroyer. 

I raised a large family, and, let’s face it, siblings can be hard on one another.  However, in our home, unkindness was simply not allowed.  Profanity was not allowed.  Name-calling was not allowed.

If there was friction between 2 children, they were trained to work it out quickly and with complete and immediate forgiveness.  I raised my children to be friends and not enemies or competitors.

Our children learned that sharing was more fun than selfishness and that the word “mine” was not part of our family vocabulary.

4 – Birthdays were celebrated with gusto and delight.  Every year of every child’s life was a reason for intense festivities and grand ceremony.

Although we were never able to spend voluminous amounts of money on a child’s birthday, we always spent immense amounts of creativity and time.

The year that Matthew and Christopher, our two oldest children, were turning 4 and 2 respectively, I had no money for gifts.  Their birthdays were 2 days apart and I couldn’t even buy them each a matchbox car!

And so, I looked at what I had in the craft drawer.  I had different colors of construction paper, markers and glitter.  I made nearly 50 signs and hung them around our 1,000 square foot home.

  • “Matt is 4!”
  • “Chris is 2!”
  • “Mama and Daddy love Matt and Chris!”
  • “January 29, 1981”
  • “January 27, 1983”
  • “Matt is incredible!”
  • “Chris is awesome!”

Well … you get the picture. 

You don’t need designer birthday parties to celebrate well.  All you need is time, ingenuity and devotion.

5 – In our home, we tried to teach our children the absolute wonder and treasure of serving Jesus.  I never wanted my children to falsely believe that being a Christian was a horrific list of “do’s and don’ts” or “rights and wrongs”. 

I wanted these little people, who had been given to me by the Father of all fathers,  to know in their very souls that being a Christian is a grace-filled way to do life.

I longed to communicate to my children that being a Christian means that forgiveness is valued and that love is deep and rich.

When my babies were fresh from the womb, I would place their little hands on the Bible and say, “This is the Bible.  We love the Bible.”

The first song I ever sang over each little life was, “Jesus loves me, this I know.”

We taught our children, above all else, that the Bible is our guidebook for how to treat each other, how to know God and how to find reason and purpose for living.

We taught our children, above all else, that the Bible is the final authority on all truth and that none of us has a better idea than the Bible.

All the theology that my children ever learned, until they were 10 years old, was that Jesus loved them unconditionally and that life is at its finest when children obey their parents.

I never wanted my children to believe that being a Christian was boring or mundane but that the finest men and women in all of history chose to serve Christ and His Kingdom.

We studied not only the heroes and heroines in the Word of God but also the life stories of people such as Eric Liddell, Elisabeth Elliott, Darlene Rose, Hank and Betty Stam, Corrie ten Boom and Robert LeTourneau.

6 – We loved.  We loved one another deeply and sincerely. 

We loved in spite of messes and not because of perfection.

We loved on bad days and good days.

We touched one another with affection.

We endeavored to serve one another without complaint.

When it was hard to love, we did it anyway even though it may have been imperfectly.

And when life was difficult … and games were lost … and tests were failed … and tears were flowing … we loved harder and deeper.

A day was never complete until I looked at each of my children’s faces, from babyhood … to toddler … to teens … to young adult and said, “I love you completely.  There is nothing that you could ever do to make me love you any less and there is nothing that you could ever do to make me love you anymore.  I love you completely.”

What makes a house a home?  It is the daily choices made between the four walls of that home.

It is the words spoken underneath the roof of that home.

It is the forgiveness that flows, the love that is expressed and the joy that is celebrated.

“By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” – Proverbs 24:3&4

Emily T. Wierenga, award-winning journalist and author of 4 books, has released her first memoir, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look. They say the book is like “Girl Meets God” meets “Wild” meets “Eat, Pray, Love.” I say the book is inspiring. You can grab a copy here.


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21 Days to Beat Depression - Day 19

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"Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous ones; and shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.” - Psalm 32:11 Never underestimate the importance of righteous living in your determination to be a joy filled Christian.  If you think that you can live a life of compromise and selfishness and still be the beneficiary of heaven’s joy, think again!

The Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is filled with God’s opinion on the importance of living a righteous life.  I am not talking about legalism or bondage but I am talking about the decision to make sure that your life is aligned with the principles set forth in the Word of God.  Righteousness is God’s idea of freedom and life at its very finest!

Righteousness is simply living your life in submission to God’s ways.  It might mean ridding your life of compromise or second-rate decisions.  It might mean changing the way you talk or how you spend your time.

day 19
day 19

Perhaps today would be a great time to take stock of your life and to ask God to reveal anything in your life that needs to change.  If the thought comes to your mind that you have been impatient with your spouse lately, don’t minimize that thought.  It is probably from God and He is revealing an area of your life that needs to change.

Perhaps, after asking God to reveal areas in your life that need to change, you might wonder if you have been spending too much money lately.  Or you might wonder if you have been wasting too much time on the computer.  Don’t throw those thoughts away.  It might just be God helping you to clean up your life so that you are able to life a life of joy today!

Sin is a thief that targets the valuables  which will determine your potential to live an abundant, joy-filled life.  If Satan can keep you in a place of sin or compromise, you will find it much harder to live a life of heaven’s joy.

This is hard stuff, isn’t it?  We want the joy without having to give up gossiping, fantasy and selfishness.  I can tell you from personal experience that you can’t have sin and joy at the same time.

God doesn’t want you miserable ... He wants you filled with the joy of His presence!  You can do it and I can, too!  We can all determine to demolish the momentary pleasures of sin in order to be blessed with the joy of His dear presence!

  • MAKING IT PRACTICAL -
  1. In what ways have you been compromising your life with sin?  Why don’t you write those things down, repent for each one and then throw that piece of paper in the trash!  Today is a new day and God loves to help us overcome!  
  2. If you don’t understand what joy is all about ... that’s o.k.  This is what I can tell you:  joy and thanksgiving are not so very far apart!  Thankful people just happen to be the most joyful people on planet earth!  So ... today I am thankful for Christmas music, pumpkin pie and the beach.  What 3 things are you thankful for?  Write it in your journal and share it with me on Twitter or on Facebook.  #beatdepression!
  • DECLARATION -

I declare today that I will no longer be in bondage to sin and its chains.  I will live a life of righteousness and joy!  I will put the past behind me and choose to live my life in alignment with the Word of God!

  • PRAYER FOR TODAY -

“Dear Jesus, I know that I have often sinned and therefore disappointed you.  Will you forgive me?  Will you forgive me for my selfishness and my compromise?  Jesus, I confess that I need You in order to overcome the sins of my flesh.  Thank You for giving to me Your Power and Your strength.  In Jesus’ Name I pray.  Amen.”

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21 Days to Beat Depression - Day 18

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21 Days To Beat Depression Blog - Day 18

Enjoy the new single by Chris McLeod - "Remind Me"

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, ‘rejoice’! - Philippians 4:4

Philippians is one of the shortest Epistles in the New Testament and was written by Paul by the murky light of a window in a Roman prison cell.  Certainly a man in the cesspool of life is entitled to write a letter of complaint to the management!  Surely a man who has been beaten and bruised for choosing to preach the Gospel gets to vent his emotions or tell his side of the story at least one time!  None of us would blame the great apostle Paul if he chose to be “real” and share his disappointment with God ... with life ... and with the hand that he had been dealt.

Instead, in this short letter written to an obscure church that existed nearly 2 millennia ago, Paul uses the words “joy” or “rejoicing” no less than 14 times!

One thing that we can surely learn from the life of Paul, is that our circumstances do not need to be perfect in order for our lives to be a walking, talking demonstration of the joy of heaven!

“Rejoice in the Lord always!  Again I will say rejoice!”  This is strange advice written by a man in the bowels of a Roman prison cell.

This is the advice of Paul that is strongly declared from a first century Roman prison cell straight into your 21st. Century heart:  Your inner attitudes do not have to reflect your outward circumstances!

There will always be situations in life that will cause you to be unhappy or unproductive or even weak emotionally.  But there should never be any event in your life that causes you to stop rejoicing!  There should never be any episode or happening that steals your joy.

This is only possible when you are rejoicing “in the Lord”.  It is not possible in our humanity but it is indeed possible in the Lord!

Your joy is a result of a vertical point of view as you are looking straight up into the face of God Himself!  If you have a horizontal perspective on your life, as far as the eye can see you will only gaze at a dry and barren wasteland of existence.  But if you can choose to look up into the face of the Father, you will be captivated by His love ... His peace ... and His goodness!

  • MAKING IT PRACTICAL -
  1. Sometimes it is the simple joys in life that are the best!  I want to challenge you today to participate in a simple joy.  Go for a walk either by yourself or with a friend.  Make yourself a favorite snack.  Cuddle up with a good book and your favorite CD. Call an old friend and have a long chat.  Watch a favorite TV show.  Buy yourself fresh flowers at the grocery store.  Take a deep breath ... and revel in a simple yet valuable joy in life!  
  2. You always have time to be grateful!  Get out that “Thanksgiving in January and February” journal and make at least 3 entries in this beloved book.  I am thankful today for fresh raspberries, Skype and bubble baths. #beatdepression!
  • DECLARATION -

I declare today that I will rejoice regardless of my circumstances.  I declare that my outward circumstances do not have the power to determine my inner attitudes. 

  • PRAYER FOR TODAY -

"Dear Jesus, I love You so much.  Today I thank You for sunsets, for the promise of spring and for freedom.  I thank You for strength to carry on and a song in my heart.  Thank You for being so very good to me!  In Jesus’ Name I pray.  Amen.”

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21 Days to Beat Depression - Day 17

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21 Days To Beat Depression Blog - Day 17

“But let all who take refuge in You be glad, let them ever sing for joy and may You shelter them, that those who love Your name may exult in You.” - Psalm 5:11

Do you believe it?  Do you believe what the Bible says?  If you do ... then you will agree with me and with the Bible,  that when you express joy from your heart that it will begin to heal you!

AT - hormones
AT - hormones

This word “joyful” from Proverbs 17:22 is an active word!  It means to express joy or to rejoice!  When we express joy it acts like a powerful healing agent to our souls.

That’s what the Bible says!!  And I believe that the Bible is the final authority on everything, don’t you?!

It is more important for you to express joy every day than it is for you to take your vitamins, your blood pressure medicine or eat an apple.  Just like a powerful antibiotic heals infections, joy is a powerful healing agent when applied daily to our souls. (Disclaimer:  Please keep taking your vitamins, blood pressure medicine and keep eating those apples!)

The word “heart” in this verse is the Hebrew word “leb” and it encompasses these parts of your life: your heart, soul, mind, thinking, reflection, memory, will, conscience, resolution, appetite, emotions and passions.

AT - birth and diapers
AT - birth and diapers

You must think joyful thoughts!  No more stinkin’ thinkin’ from you!  Change the way you think from depressing, dark, gloomy thoughts to thoughts of sparkling joy!  You can do it!  You choose what you will think about every day.  Today ... just for one day ... think about joy!  This one choice will heal you!  No one else tells you what to think about but YOU!  So YOU can do it ... think about things that are lovely, pure and joyous!

When your memory kicks in, don’t remember all of the times when people were unkind, when you didn’t get your way or how rotten your life used to be ... remember the good times.  Recall the happy days of your life.  Think about childhood friends and kind teachers.  Remember winning moments and precious times.

AT - dreams come true
AT - dreams come true

We all have bad memories.  We all do!  None of us have lived perfect lives ... but the secret to living a joy-filled life today is to leave the pain of the past behind which means not to think about it any more!  Do not rehearse the pain of your childhood, former marriages or evil employers!

Resolve to leave the Eeyore part of your persona behind and become the most joyful version of yourself possible.

I am never offended when people call me Mary Poppins or Pollyanna.  Wouldn’t you rather be identified by those sunny characters than as Cruella deVille or Scrooge?!

Resolve to choose joy ... to express joy ... and to be healed by joy!

It all starts with a single, healthy choice.

  • You can smile at someone.
  • You can think positive thoughts.
  • You can remember happy days.
  • You can sing rather than whine.
  • You can invite a friend to lunch.
  • You can send a sweet e-mail.
  • You can bake cookies and take them to a large family.
  • You can encourage your boss.
  • You can serve your spouse.

You can can thank the Lord that these daily choices of joy are healing your heart!  You can ... you can ... you can!

  • MAKING IT PRACTICAL -
  1. What does it mean to you to “choose joy”?  Write it down in your “Thanksgiving in January and February” journal and then take your own advice!  
  2. I have thousands of things for which I am grateful!!  How about you?  After you write three more things in your journal today, share it with me on Facebook or on Twitter.  #beatdepression
  • DECLARE IT! -

I declare that as I express joy it is healing the deepest places in me!  I declare that I will think joy-filled thoughts and speak words of joy today!

  • PRAYER FOR TODAY -

“Father, I thank You that You are rejoicing over me today and I determine in my heart to live a joy-filled life.  I thank You that as I choose the joy of Your presence that the healing of my emotional pain and heartache has begun!  In Jesus’ Name I pray.  Amen.”

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21 Days to Beat Depression - Day 16

21 Days To Beat Depression Podcast - Day 16

 
 

21 Days To Beat Depression Blog - Day 16

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.” - I Peter 4:12 & 13

There are certain themes in Scripture.  God’s unconditional love for His children is a major theme ... forgiveness is a dominant theme ... giving and heaven and righteousness and wisdom and peace are all mentioned again and again and again.

One of the themes in Scripture that I love the most is the central idea that calls us ... perhaps “demands of us” ... would be a more appropriate way to phrase it ... to rejoice during the difficult days of life.

How can the Bible even use the words “rejoice” or “joy” in the same sentence with “trials”, “fiery ordeal”, “sufferings” or “tribulation”?!  That’s outrageous!

It might be outrageous ... but it is also possible.  It is possible to keep our hearts intent on following the loving, forgiving, compassionate, wise God of the Bible during days of harsh trials and unending fires.

Do you want to know what I really believe?

I believe that we have idolized our feelings to the extent that they have more control over us than does the Word of God when we are going through a trial.  I believe that our human conviction that we must rant, rave, complain, whine and carry on during days of pain are a sad and weak deception.

day 16 fb pic.jpg

God never promised that life would be easy but He promised that He would never leave us or forsake us.  I can worship a God like that!

Jesus never declared that trouble-free living was a part of His assurance of abundant life on planet earth.  He did assure us, however, that He would send the Holy Spirit to comfort us when our lives were uncomfortable.  I can rejoice knowing that the Holy Spirit is the best Comforter in the history of the universe!

Today, my heartfelt prayer for those of you who are dealing with depression too dark and deep to verbalize, is that you would open your mouth and sing.

My longing for your life is that you would lift your hands toward heaven, at your moment of most excruciating pain, and declare your trust in God.

The only advice that I can give you today is to worship regardless of how you feel.  Do not allow your feelings to have the last word.

Joy and rejoicing should have the first ... the central ... and the last words of our lives every day that we spend this side of heaven.

Count it all joy whenever you encounter various trials ... knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” - James 1:2-4

  • MAKING IT PRACTICAL -
  1. What is your favorite worship song or great hymn of the faith?  Write out the words to that song and mediate on them today.  
  2. I am thankful for so much that my heart is overflowing ... how about you?  Let’s share three things for which we are grateful today in our journals and through Twitter and Facebook.  #beatdepression
  • DECLARE IT! -

I declare that I will worship the Lord today!  I will set my emotions aside and allow a song of praise to well up in my soul!  I will not idolize my emotions any longer but will keep Jesus on the throne of my heart!

  • PRAYER FOR TODAY -

“Dear Jesus, thank You for never leaving me or forsaking me.  Thank You for sending the Holy Spirit to be my comforter in days of darkness and pain.  I worship You today in spirit and in truth.  I declare that nothing is too difficult for you and I worship You for Who You are!  In Jesus’ Name I pray.  Amen.”

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#DoneWithSelfies

“Selfie” was the Oxford Dictionary word of the year for 2013.  This is how “selfie” is defined by said dictionary, “A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”

The sentence that the Oxford Dictionary uses as an example of how to use the word “selfie” is this, “Occasional selfies are acceptable, but posting a new picture of yourself everyday isn’t necessary.’

I agree, Oxford Dictionary, I agree.

The editors of the Oxford Dictionary have revealed that the use of the word “selfie” was increased by 17,000% in just one year.  Could that possibly imply that we are 17,000% percent more addicted to self than we were last year at this time?

I don’t understand selfies.  I don’t understand the uncontrollable urge to post picture after picture of “self” on social media.

Before anyone stops reading … let me just tell you … I love social media!  I love staying in touch with far away friends and family due to the magic of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

I love watching your babies grow up … seeing your children get married … and celebrating anniversaries with you.

I love your recipes and your holidays.

I love vicariously going on vacation with each one of you.  I will probably never make it to Maui, London and the Bahamas except through the eyes and camera lens of my friends.

I love reading your wise quotes, silly sayings and pondering life’s deep questions with you.

I read your political opinions but wisely choose not to comment on them.  I have opinions, too, but have just decided that Facebook is not the place for that conversation.

I love knowing what books you are reading … how much weight you have lost … and your grandparents’ love story.

I love your blogs and I am committed to pray for you as you process the empty nest, difficult divorces, tragic losses and running marathons.

However, what deeply concerns me about our culture’s selfish and self-serving addiction to technology is the uncontrollable urge that social media instigates to post picture after picture of self with contorted facial expressions, sexy poses and doe-eyed incredulity.

I do not believe that posting selfies increases anyone’s self-esteem.  I do not believe that taking vast numbers of pictures of oneself adds to one’s value as a person.

Call me old-fashioned … call me out of touch … call me holier-than-thou.  But I can tell you that you are precious and valuable if your picture is never again posted on social media.

Allow me to soften my opinion … have I told you that I adore seeing your pictures from your high school reunion?

I delight in the pictures that you post of your children graduating from high school!

My eyes fill with tears when I see a teen-ager receiving a diploma, an award or winning a championship.

Seeing you with a group of  cherished, life-long friends makes me so happy! 

And … oh my!  Seeing pictures of your holding your new baby or grandbaby sends shivers up my baby-loving spine!

I even like the pictures of you and your dog from time to time!!

But let me tell you this … focusing predominantly on self will never reveal your God-given purpose.  You are more than your weight, your make-up or than your new wardrobe.

You are more than your new hair-cut and your fancy pedicure.

You are more than how you look in skinny jeans and in a tank top with a little bit of cleavage showing.  You are so much more.

You are more than your hashtags.

#sexy

#model

#lips

#youaresomuchmore

You were created in the image of God and for His purposes and until you understand that, selfies are a distraction from all that you can be in Him.

You are more than the number of “likes” you get on the selfies that you publish.  God is crazy about you!  He is head over heels in love with you!  He created every inch of you and you are His masterpiece!

God “likes” everything about you!

What if, in spite of culture, we truly applied the Word of God to our principles concerning our relationship with social media?

“He must increase but I must decrease.” – John 3:30

Let’s start a new trend!  Let’s force the Oxford Dictionary to consider these words for their prestigious book …

Servies” – A photograph that one has taken while serving others typically with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.

"Youies” – A photograph that one has taken of friends, family members and strangers as a record of how their beautiful lives are impacting others.

Families” – A photograph that one has taken to celebrate the gift of family!

“Godsies” – A photograph that one has taken to record the fingerprint and creative genius of God on creation.

#donewithselfies

#Helovesme

#Iammore

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21 Days to Beat Depression - Day 15

21 Days To Beat Depression Podcast - Day 15

 
 

21 Days To Beat Depression Blog - Day 15

"In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.” - I Peter 1:6-8

Did you know that you already have been given everything that you could possibly need to live a life of contagious joy?  God the Father, through Jesus the Son, has already provided everything that is necessary to live a life of godliness!  And, because joy is a quality of God’s own character, that includes a life of full-blown, dynamic joy!

Let me share with you an extra verse or two today!   Now ... don’t skip reading these verses because they are so important in your battle against depression!

"Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us EVERYTHING pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.  For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them YOU may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” - II Peter 1: 2 -  4

This is a WOW! scripture, indeed!  Let me explain it to you ...

When you have Jesus Christ, you already have everything you need to deal with PMS, depression, the tendency to criticize, impatience and past failures.  God, Who is more generous than any historical figure of any time period, has already given to us entirely everything that we need to live a life of fullness and joy.

It is a precious promise that we get to be partakers of the divine nature.  We are not an earthly counterfeit but we get to look, act, talk, walk and emote just like Jesus did when He was on earth.  God’s very own divine nature can replace our weaknesses in every area of life if we just allow Him to do so.  When we walk and live in the Spirit, we are actually walking in the opposite direction of our natural tendencies and our own genetic pre-disposition.

If you will apply these verses to your life, you will be the very best version of yourself possible.  Will it take hard work?  Yes!  It takes whole-hearted diligence but God, Himself, will strengthen you and cheer you on as you become more like Him every day of your life!

  • MAKING IT PRACTICAL -
  1. Think about a character trait that you admire in someone else.  Write them a note or an e-mail and let them know what their nature has meant to you.  Now ... determine to embrace that same character trait in your own life.  Ask God to give it to you!  
  2. You knew I wasn’t going to let you off the hook for one day!  It’s time to be grateful.  Take out your “Thanksgiving in January and February” journal and write down at least 3 things, people, events or blessings for which you are extremely grateful.  Share it with all of us on Facebook or on Twitter! #beatdepression!
  • DECLARE IT! -

I declare that I am a partaker of God’s divine nature!  I declare that He has given me everything that I will ever need pertaining to life and godliness!  I declare that I will, indeed, rejoice every day regardless of my circumstances!

  • PRAYER FOR TODAY -

“Lord Jesus, I love You so very much.  I am honored that You would share with me Your divine nature.  I thank You that You have already given to me everything that I need in order to live an overcoming, joy-filled life.  Make me more like You every day ... in every way.  In the sweet Name of Jesus I pray.  Amen.”

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21 Days to Beat Depression - Day 14

21 Days To Beat Depression Podcast - Day 14

 
 

21 Days To Beat Depression Blog - Day 14

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” - Romans 15:13

After years and years suffering from debilitating depression, I have asked God to make me an expert on joy!  I already knew more than one woman should ever be allowed to know about depression so I was determined to turn it all around ... and focus on joy!

This is what I know:

  • Depression weakens you and joy strengthens you!
  • Depression is black and joy is filled with hope and promise!
  • Depression is cruel and joy is kind.
  • Depression cuts off the source of life and joy fertilizes abundant life!
  • The language of depression is blame and bitterness while the language of joy is blessing and benefit!
  • We were not made for depression ... we were made for joy!
day 14 web pic.jpg

The questions remains, however, “How do we get from depression to joy?”

The answer is not always an easy one but is always a hopeful one.

We turn away from depression one minute at a time.  We set one emotional foot in front of the other and determine to walk away from depression and toward the Kingdom of joy.

  • We choose to read the Bible.  Every day.
  • We choose to smile sweetly at a stranger.
  • We choose to worship enthusiastically when we would rather mope.
  • We deny our feelings and offer up a desperate prayer instead.
  • We give generously to people who don’t deserve it.
  • We are selective in what we read, what we watch on TV and what we listen to on the radio.  We only fill our souls with items that will encourage our ravenous emotional appetites.
  • We forgive completely and refuse bitterness.
  • We walk away from depression and toward joy one step at a time ... one choice at a time ... one minute at a time.  The choice is yours.  Which way are you walking today?
  • MAKING IT PRACTICAL -
  1. Determine today that not one negative word will come out of your mouth.  Don’t gossip, criticize or complain.  Allow every word that travels across your pearly whites to only be words of blessing, praise and thanksgiving!  
  2. Be those most thankful version of yourself possible!  Get out that “Thanksgiving in January and February” journal and be lavish with your list of gratitude.  How about listing 4 things today for which you are grateful?  #beatdepression!
  • DECLARATION -

I declare that from this day forward I will only walk toward joy and never away from it.  I declare that the words of my mouth will change and that I will use my tongue as an instrument of blessing and not blame.

  • PRAYER FOR TODAY -

“Lord Jesus, I love You so much and I ask You to sit on the throne of my emotions.  I ask that all of my emotions will bow to Your loving and eternal Lordship.  I need You, Lord.  I need Your presence and Your strength as I travel away from depression and toward joy.  Thank You for Your help.  In Jesus’ Name I pray.  Amen.”

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21 Days to Beat Depression - Day 13

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21 Days To Beat Depression Blog - Day 13

“... Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning!” - Psalm 30:5

There is, indeed, such a thing as a broken heart and the Bible poignantly and powerfully deals with the issues that break our hearts.  A broken heart will make you wretch with pain and heave with sorrow.  A broken heart will leave you gasping for breath.

Knowing that there certainly are circumstances that have the potential of leaving a parade of broken hearts in their wake, how does a Christian deal with a broken heart?  Is it possible for a believer to grapple with a broken heart in a different manner than non-believers?  God truly does have a strategy for broken hearts that is able to put your life – and your heart – back together again.

God knew that while living this side of heaven that there would be people, events and issues that would break the hearts of His beloved children and so He has a plan for the most devastating moment in your life:

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” - Psalm 34:18

The word “broken” in Hebrew is the word  “shabar” and it means “to rend violently, wreck or crush; to maim, cripple, to shatter or break.”  The ancient Hebrew is a very descriptive language and so this word “shabar” comes not only with a listed definition but also with situations that it was used in the description of.  This word was used to describe ships that had been splintered and torn from stem to stern due to ferocious and wild winds.  It was also used to describe the action of tearing and ripping that wild, ravenous beasts performed upon their prey.  It could literally be translated “the ruptured hearted ones.”

When the Psalmist declares that “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted”, his words are words spoken with tender care and great compassion.  He is reminding all of Christendom in the epochs yet to come that the Lord is lovingly attentive to those who are enduring unimaginable pain.  This pain may have been caused by a great tempest in your life or by a wild and ferocious person but the Lord is standing attentively beside you paying diligent attention to your shattered and bleeding heart.

If you have ever suffered from this torturous condition, I can assure you that you were never out of His care.  If, today, you are emotionally torn apart and wonder how you will make it through one more today, I want to comfort you with the surety that He is with you now.  God is close to you and has wrapped His arms of love around your life; He is hovering beside you just as a caring nurse would tend to a victim of an accident.

day 13 web pic
day 13 web pic

If you have a broken heart, or know someone who does, you can count on His presence and His closeness to bind up your wounds and to begin the healing process.  Do not push Him away at these moments of brokenness but welcome Him gladly and receive the comfort that He has for you.  So many Christians squeeze God out of their lives at the very time they need Him most desperately and when He has promised to stay close.  Even men and women who have served the Lord and loved Him for decades, when suffering from a broken heart, seek comfort in other things such as alcohol, overeating, shopping or bitterness.  May I gently remind you, that no one will comfort you like the Lord.

“Surely our griefs He Himself bore and our sorrows He carried.” - Isaiah 53:4.

Jesus has taken all of the things that have broken your heart to the cross of Calvary.  He personally carried each disappointment and anything that caused you emotional pain.  He took the events that brought emotional pain into your heart and He died for those things on the old rugged cross.  He did it because He wanted you to live an abundant life on earth!  He did not want you to carry the griefs and the sorrow and so He did it for you.  He did it in your place.  He took it so that you could carry the joy and gladness and rejoicing with you throughout your entire life.  You don't have to carry the pain … it has already been carried and has been laid at the foot of the cross.

  • MAKING IT PRACTICAL -
  1. Even in moments of dire emotional pain, it is important to remember the things for which you are thankful.  Take a few minutes today to record in your “Thanksgiving in January and February” journal and share your gratitude with others. #beatdepression 
  2. Pray for someone whose life is falling apart.  So often when we are struggling emotionally, we forget that others are dealing with their own pain.  Spend some time in prayer for friends and family members who are dealing with tragedy or trauma.
  • DECLARATION -

I declare today that God is close to me.  God has never left me and He will never forsake me.  I declare that when my life seems to be falling apart that I will draw near to the only One Who is able to completely comfort and sustain my life.

  • PRAYER FOR TODAY -

“Dear Jesus, I love You so much and I thank You for Your dear presence even when I am struggling with emotional pain and discouragement.  I thank You that You are working the details of my life together for good and for Your glory.  Thank You for being my very best friend, my Comforter and my Hope.  In Your Name I pray.  Amen.”

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21 Days to Beat Depression - Day 12

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21 Days To Beat Depression Podcast - Day 12

 
 

21 Days To Beat Depression Blog - Day 12

"But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You.” - Psalm 5:11

“No soul that seriously and consistently seeks joy will ever miss it.  Those who seek find.  Those who knock, the door shall be opened.” - C. S. Lewis

Some of us are too busy to ever experience joy while others among us are too bored to ever draw close enough to touch the vitality that joy has eternally delivered.

Which category do you find yourself living in?  Those who are bored?  Or those who are too busy?

We must take time for joy!  Joy is not unattainable nor is it a state of mind only found while visiting the Magic Kingdom.  Joy is a daily reality and a constant source of strength for those who live in the Kingdom of God.

Joy always starts with time spent in His presence.  What does that mean, you may ask?  “Time spent in His presence”?!

I am so glad that you asked ... because I couldn’t wait to tell you!

"Time in His presence” can simply be described as the very best minutes of your day!

  • It is the time that you spend in reading the Word of God.
  • It is the time that you spend in prayer for others.
  • It is the time when you lift your hands in worship.
  • It is the time when you find yourself on your face in worship and awe.
  • It is the time that you spend hearing the Word of God taught.
  • It is the time when you allow the great hymns of the faith to wash over your weary soul.
  • It is the time that you spend asking God to forgive you.
  • It is the moments of serving God while you are serving others.
  • It is being kind knowing that we serve a God Who is Himself kind.

Time spent in His presence are moments when we give more than we can afford to give.

  • It is when we partake in communion with the Body of Christ.
  • It is that moment when you forgive someone who has hurt you, abused you or ignored you.

You will find yourself in His presence when surrounded by His people.

You will find yourself in His presence when you delight in the glory of creation!

It is when you settle down for the night with a cup of tea and a well-loved devotional book.

It is the instant that your feet hit the cold floor in the morning and you find yourself declaring, “This is the day that the Lord has made!  I will rejoice and be glad in it!”

Time spent in His presence is time spent at His feet.

Will you find time for Him today?  That is when you will find the joy that you have been sorely lacking!

Joy is the atmosphere of heaven but it is also the reality of His presence on earth.

When you spend time loving Him ... serving Him ... knowing Him ... talking to Him ... you will breathe in the joy that He has breathed out on your life!

  • MAKING IT PRACTICAL -
  1. Take a few minute today to recognize and enjoy the glory of God in creation.  You might want to take a walk and thank God for His majesty. Stand by one of your windows and look at the open sky or gaze at the sunset.  See His fingerprint in the clouds or His attention to details in a star-lit sky.  Look at the faces of those who sit around your dinner table at night and thank God for their freckles, their wrinkles or their idiosyncrasies.  Observe the creative genius of God in your pets or in gently falling snow.  The glory of God is always revealed through His creation!
  2. I know you can do it!  What 3 things are you thankful for today?  Write them in your “Thanksgiving in January and February” journal and share them with others.  #beatdepression!
  • DECLARATION -

I declare today that I will make time to delight in the joy of Your presence!  I declare that I will look for opportunities, large and small, to notice the fingerprint of God upon my day.  I will spend time with my Creator and my Savior ... my Father and my Friend!

  • PRAYER FOR TODAY -

“Lord Jesus, I truly love You so much today!  Father, help me to find time for You every day.  I want to spend time with you ... it is one of the greatest priorities of my life.  Forgive me for not making time with You a priority.  I know that when I spend time with you that I will discover an eternal reservoir of joy!  In Jesus Name I pray!  Amen!” 

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21 Days to Beat Depression - Day 11

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21 Days To Beat Depression Podcast - Day 11

 
 

21 Days To Beat Depression Blog - Day 11

"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love, give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer.” - Romans 12:10-12

The story of Esther Ahn Kim continues.  If you missed the first part of her story, please read the blog post for Day 10 in “21 Days to Beat Depression!”

Esther was imprisoned with 34 other Christians including a pastor whose faith was unshakable.  On the day that Esther was taken to prison, she held her dear mother’s hands and looked into her mother’s calm yet radiant face, “Now I’m going to enter the advanced course in the college of faith.  Christ Himself is the Principal, so I am sure He will teach me about true faith.  Isn’t that wonderful?”

“You must follow Him completely,” Esther’s mother responded while knowing that she would never see her daughter this side of heaven again.  “If you are to learn from Him, you must lose your life so that Jesus may live within you.  That will mean death to yourself every day, every hour, and every minute.”

Esther and her fellow prisoners discovered the joy of the Lord while physically imprisoned in the cesspool of human bitterness and rebellion.  Esther’s journal recounts the great joy and peace that was found among the Christian prisoners:

“We were all filled with the Holy Spirit and were convinced it was more than an honor to die for the Lord.  We constantly lived in fear of our guards but we were happy and satisfied, envying no one.  Having prayed all night, Pastor would often stand up in joy, dancing and singing, while tears ran down his cheeks.”

Let’s read on in Esther Ahn Kim’s prison journal:

“It was a joyous blessing to have been born in such a place and for such a time.  I realized that it was because of this persecution that I was able to truly experience God’s presence where there is fullness of joy!”

Esther shared a prison cell with seven other Christian women and they spent their waking hours praying, singing and quoting the Word of God to one another.  A deranged woman who had lost her mind to mental illness lived in solitary confinement in a cell just down the hallway from the cell shared by the Christian women.  This woman had killed her abusive husband and had chopped his body into little pieces before being found.  She screamed and yelled shrill profanities all day and all night while the Christians prayed and sang.

One day, Esther Ahn Kim, humbly asked the prison guards if they would bring the mad and demented woman to live in her cell with the 7 Christian woman.  The guards were only too happy to do it because they felt that it would be a mocking test for the Christian women.

Esther Ahn held this woman’s excrement-caked legs for 72 hours straight so that she would not kill anyone in the tiny prison cell.  The women gently ministered to her, wiped her face lovingly and spoke words of endearment and comfort over her tortured soul.  At last, when the fog of mental illness lifted, Esther Ahn led this woman to Jesus who then encountered a clarity of mind and will that was nothing short of miraculous.

When this formerly insane woman, who was now a vision of peace and joy, was led to her persecution, she turned to Esther Ahn Kim and said, “I’ll see you at home!”

How are you treating the difficult people in your life?  Do you invite them into your home and minister to them?  Most of us ignore the difficult people in our lives and when faced with a moment in their presence, we choose to belittle them and un-friend them.  The life of Esther Ahn Kim propels me into taking a long, hard look at how I treat the challenging people along life’s way.  If I am to be a radiant example of God’s love for me, I must gently minister to these fractious pieces of humanity and show them unconditional love.  This is why I am still alive: to reach out in genuine kindness to someone made in the image of God.

Esther Ahn Kim lost most of her sight while in prison and was tortured and beaten too many times to count.  Her teeth fell out during her imprisonment and her toes and fingers suffered severe frost-bite, but she walked out of prison in 1945 singing,

“All hail the power of Jesus’ Name, let angels prostrate fall!

Bring forth the royal diadem and crown Him Lord of All!”

Will you be remembered for the song of your heart or the screech of your life?  We all will leave a legacy that is determined by our daily emotional choices.  The emotional and spiritual legacy with which you choose to endow the following generations, is more important than the finances, houses or lands that you leave.  As you gaze upon the emotional smorgasbord that your culture, your family heritage and your circumstances offer for the substance of your life, always remember that difficult people may be your greatest gift in attaining the character and the heart of Christ.

  • MAKING IT PRACTICAL -
  1. Who is your difficult person?  Are you allowing this person to rob you of the joy that comes from the presence of the Lord?  Pray for this difficult person today.  And then, ask the Lord to show you how you can be a blessing to this difficult person in a practical way.  Perhaps you could send them an encouraging e-mail or take this person out for coffee.  Do it!  Do it today!
  2. I will give you a break today ... you only need to come up with 3 things for which you are deeply grateful ... not 5!  Write them in your “Thanksgiving in January and February” journal and share them with others on social media. #beatdepression!
  • DECLARATION -

I declare that I will not lose my joy due to difficult people who are in my life.  I will be a demonstration of the love and compassion of the Lord in these relationships!  I can do it because I am fully loved by the Father!

  • PRAYER FOR TODAY -

“Lord Jesus, I love You so much.  Thank You for the people whom you have strategically placed in my life.  I pray today that these people will not bring out the worst in me but that they will bring out the Jesus in me!  And, as always, Lord, I thank You for the joy that only comes from Your presence!  In Jesus’ Name I pray.  Amen.”

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