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When I am Overwhelmed…

Have you ever been overwhelmed? I know I sure have and especially in the last few days after several days of isolation. I have begun to get a healthy dose of cabin fever. When you get excited to go to the grocery store just to get out, it is kind of bad. I have been dealing with things the last few days that I have never experienced before in my life time. I had been going and doing and having full days of busyness. Now, I find my days being filled with a different set of things to fill my days. Today, I find myself identifying with David. In the verses we just read, David is crying out in great distress. He very well could have written this psalm as He was in exile or perhaps running for his life. From what I have studied on these two verses is that David cried out in prayer. He was loud and pouring out his heart to his God. I have had a few days where I have done the exact same thing. I poured my heart out to God and asked for help. I was overwhelmed and troubled. God was there in that moment and He is with me now just as He is with you too. So how can you and I move from the place of being overwhelmed to the place of victory with God. Let’s take a look at Psalm 102.

Do you see me? (Psalm 102:1-2)

I was watching the Andy Griffith show the other day and “Mountain Wedding” came on which is one of my favorite episodes. Earnest T. Bass was trying to get the attention of Charlene Darling Wash. His first act was to throw rocks through the windows. Then He decided to serenade her. So, He held up a lantern and held it close to his face and shouted, “Hey, look out here. Do you see me?” I know in my life I wonder if God really sees me where I am right in this moment. I can say with absolute certainty that He does. When I cry out to Him He sees me and asks me what do you need or want. When we are overwhelmed with everything that is going on in our life, God sees us! The first step the Psalmist took in this Psalm was in pouring his heart out to God. He uses the words afflicted and overwhelmed. David cried out with a loud voice. David wanted God to see where he was and the distress he was under. David entreats the Lord to not only see him but to hear him as well. David asks God to lean in (incline thine ear) to him and to answer right away. David was not guarded in his prayer, but had come to the point of getting real with God in a real way.

Please See What This Affliction is Doing. (Psalm 102:3-11)

The Psalmist was very specific with explaining to God what he was really feeling with very specific word pictures. v. 3, He speaks his days with one seeming to burn into another with no relief. Several times over the last few weeks, I have felt this way myself. I have had to ask Gordon, “what day is it?” One day seems to consume into the next with no end in sight. v.4, He speaks of being so dry and overwhelmed that he does not even want to eat. The problems of his life are such that no relief seems to be in sight, and in verse 5, he refers himself to feeling just like a bag of bones. No appetite, and so dry and in need. There have been times in my life when I have truly felt this way. So overwhelmed that the thought of eating just turned my stomach. While this has not happened often, I have been there. I don’t know what you are facing today. I do know that if you are relating to the psalmist here you are not alone which we will see in a few minutes. v. 6-7, He refers to himself to an animal that is not in his natural environment. We see pelicans at the beach, owls in the woods, and sparrows in houses or nesting for protection. Every area of the Psalmist life seems to be affected by what he was facing at the moment. He wanted to be completely and utterly open with God about what the affliction was doing to his mind and body. In your prayers are you specific with God about the details of how you really feel? Sometimes I think we try to “sugarcoat” things with God and only tell Him the things we think that He wants to hear from us. God wants us to be bold to come before Him with our hearts pouring out to Him. The Psalmist wraps up in v.10-11 that He feels beat up and so very dry. Then wonder of wonders we find the tone of this changes as we see God move him past the feelings and into praise of who God is and what He will do.

Praising the God of the Overwhelmed. (Psalm 102:12-18)

When was the last time you sat down, limited every distraction, and then took the time to think of as many ways that you could praise God.

God is Eternal. (v.12) A God who endures forever will not give up on me in my distress. He will always be there to encourage me and strengthen me for the days ahead. He remembers where I am at all times and will not abandon me or leave me alone where I am. Because God is Eternal, He will continue to do these things for all time. It is encouraging to know that God is always and will always be there.

God is Merciful. (v.13-16) I am so glad we serve a God who extends mercy to me. God’s glory is shown in His ability to show grace and mercy to me. So often, I am not worthy of the grace and mercy that He offers to me. Yet, That is the very definition of grace, unmerited favor. He gives us favor that we don’t deserve because of his love and because of Jesus Christ. Jesus took our place so we would be able to experience the grace and mercy God offers. It comes at a price that has already been paid. In v. 14 and 15, even those outside of God’s children will see the favor that God extends. It is a gift for all who will receive it. This becomes our testimony. I do not receive mercy because of me, but because of Jesus. In verse 16 we see the glory of God revealed. My husband several years ago found the parallel that whatever begins in grace will end in glory. God has given us grace to accept and then to glorify the Father for all He has done for us.

God answers prayer. (v. 17-18) God will hear the prayer of those who cry out to Him and He will indeed answer them. God will answer our prayers. Have you ever said to yourself, “I don’t know what God is doing in this situation, but I hope He’s doing something!” Believe me when I say, God is working! Sometimes I only see the trials and the dark places. The places may feel like they are closing in and around me and I am overcome with the gravity of them. I feel weighed down and sluggish as if I was wading through a bog. Even when I feel this way, God is there and He will answer my prayers. He will go with me through the trials and hard places and give me a firm foundation for my feet. I am not the first or the last to experience hard times. I can take comfort in the fact that as God was with those in the Old Testament God is with me too. All day, every day, God is there, and will answer when I call out to Him sincerely and with my whole heart. Because God answers prayers, I have another reason to praise Him I can praise Him for all He is to me!

The next time you feel overwhelmed run to your Heavenly Father. Let Him extend the grace and mercy to you that you need for the day. Pour out your heart to God and then praise Him for all He does for us every day. Rest in the presence of the God of the Overwhelmed.

Who Are You Trusting Today?

WHO ARE YOU TRUSTING TODAY?

My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:2, KJV

As I beheld the wonder of the sunrise this morning, I knew deep down in my heart that I would not face anything today alone. God will help me. What my Heavenly Father asks from me is total and complete trust.

When trying circumstances cross our path, our instinct should be to reach out to God and lean in even deeper to Him. We must trust God to guide us and teach us more about Him along the way. We learn to trust God more in the times of dire circumstances. My trust in Him grows when the only direction I can look is up. I must develop my spirit to look to my Heavenly Father first for my daily provision. Sometimes, I wonder why I wait trying circumstances to propel me toward God instead of trusting God fully from the beginning of my day.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6, KJV

I have read and studied over Proverbs 3:5-6 several times over the years. It remains as two of my favorite verses on trusting God. However, when I read it over again today, all I could seem to see was to “lean not on your own understanding”. I want to trust God with all my heart, but, all to often, my own will factors into this process. My human nature wants to do things my way, and to interpret the circumstances in my life in the light of what I perceive about a situation. The unfortunate thing about my understanding comes from the fact that my understanding is flawed. I do not see all sides of a situation. I do not have perfect understanding. Only God has perfect understanding, therefore it would be best for me in any given situation to trust Him above all else, even above what I think to be true. Our help does come from our Heavenly Father as we read in Psalm 121:2. Our help comes from a God who does see all sides of all circumstances, and His understanding of them is far above anything I could imagine. To Trust in God fully means I must comply my understanding and my will into His will. I choose to give up my will to trust that He knows what is best for me. In other words, I completely takes my hands off of the situation I find myself facing, and totally trust God to take care of it and me along the way.

Trust in God often can be a heavy task. The reason for the weight of trust comes from our ability to want to handle the challenges of life on our own. Our pride rears its head, and Satan whispers, “You can do this; You don’t need God!” This is a grievous lie! My help comes from God. My trust in God is often shaken because I fail to heed the verse 6 of Proverbs 3. In everything I do I must recognize that God wants and is present and active in my life. I must acknowledge Him in all that I do throughout every day. With this acknowledgment comes a beautiful and precious promise. When I acknowledge daily in every situation, “He shall direct my paths. (verse 6) His help will be ever present in my daily life.

As I fully lean in to God in total and complete trust, He guides me in the path He has designed for me to take. I challenge you today to be ready to sacrifice your will to God. Recognize the limitations of your own understanding and fully give it over to the Lord. Then you can be assured He will guide your footsteps and you will feel a new found freedom in living a life that is in complete compliance to His will for you.

Trust: A Fragile Thread

Trust is a fragile thing at best as fragile as a thread.  As my boys were growing up, I often told them they not only needed to be careful who they trusted, but they also needed to prove themselves trustworthy. Trust is one of those rare things that has to be earned, and it continues to be built upon over time.

Through age and experience we learn that not everyone we come in contact with on a daily basis is trustworthy. Many times, I have put my trust in someone only to have it broken, and my feelings tossed aside for their own agenda. On the flip side, I can say I have a wealth of people in my life who I can trust because they have proved to be trustworthy over and over again. So, in reflection, it really is all about where you put your trust. 

I am so thankful I have a Heavenly Father that I can fully and completely trust. I can trust him for my daily provision, protection, peace of mind, and a poultice for my grieving heart.

Psalm 62:8, KJV, “Trust in him at all times, ye people, pour our your heart before him. God is a refuge for us.”

In times of trials and trying circumstances, it is important to know who you can trust. God has proved himself faithful and trustworthy over and over again in my life. As I child, I put my trust in him for my salvation. This was the first thread of trust. Over the years, through each trial or need I have faced, thread upon thread has been added to the trust cord between God and me. I know without a doubt that I can trust him at all times as Psalm 62:8 reveals. Because God strengthened the cord of trust between us, it is stronger than ever and I know it will stand the test of time.

Sometimes we need to talk with someone and do not know if we can put our trust in them to keep it confidential. So often we bury our feelings deep to avoid putting it out there, and risk trust being broken by another. The second half of the verse 8 gives us confidence to know  there is a place where we can pour out our feelings and have them kept safe. We can go to God and tell him everything. Going to God is a proactive plan because he is active in our lives and continues to prove himself to be a refuge (safe place) for us.

Perhaps you are in a place where you feel you can trust no one. You need to know you can trust God. Reach out to him with that first thread of trust, and let him build between you and him a strong cord that will not break. When it comes right down to it, It really is all about who you put your trust in…

Blessings to you!

Amy

The Storm rages on…

This morning I awoke to the sound of our bulldog barking uncontrollably. Something outside had set her off to be sure because she is not one given to barking all the time. Only when she hears something out of the ordinary does she let us know. She let us know early. . . As I looked out the window on to front porch, I could not see what had bothered her, but I did see the early morning beauty. The sun was coming up and a haze surrounded our neighborhood. It was a beautiful day. Lately, it has been storms that have set off my four legged friend. I have been studying the significance of storms recently and came upon something I had not seen before in Psalm 107:25, “For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.” There are times when you may feel like the devil is after you and don’t get me wrong spiritual warfare is real and happens every day. In this verse we see that sometimes God raises the stormy wind and the storms to blow in our lives. Why would we experience a storm at the hand of God? If you keep reading in Psalm 107, you will find your answer in verse 28 and 29. “Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.” God causes the storm to rage so we can see our need of him. In our culture today we are called on to handle things ourselves. “Get in there and get it done!” “You can’t rely on anyone but yourself.” are the messages we are constantly bombarded with daily. We sometimes miss that “still small voice” calling to us to come to the Father for our daily provision. So the storm rages on getting our attention so we will cry out to the one who has been waiting for us all along. I love Psalm 107:30, ” Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.” Does God need to bring you to a place of quiet this morning? Don’t wait for the storm to rage. Run to your Heavenly Father and let him quiet and refresh your soul.

Blessings to you!

The Battle is not mine…

The spiritual battlefield tires you out, and takes the strength out of you. For those who are in a battle today, I am with you! The last 3 or 4 days it seems like the devil has had my number and is calling it in to the head honchos of the spirit world. My eyes are continuing to tear up, and I just can’t blame it on my allergies. So here I am at the place that I am ready to do battle again…

In the middle of my musings, I realize something significant. I am not alone on the battlefield. In fact, I am never alone and the battle really isn’t mine to win. The Savior is my defender. God will fight for me when I am weary in the battle. I love the verses that speak to all that God is to me.

Psalm 73:26, “…but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Nahum 1:7, “The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble…”

Psalm 28:7, “The Lord is my strength and my shield…”

Isaiah 46:4 “… I will carry you , and will deliver you.”

And the list goes on and on! God is all these things to us and more. The battle may rage hot for you today, but remember who is fighting for you.  Ephesians 6:12, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. We cannot fight a spiritual battle without the help of our Savior who knows how best to fight. So let’s get on our knees together and fight the only way we can with prayer and a whole lot of Jesus.

Hang in there, sweet friends. The battle is not mine or yours. It is Christ’s battle to win.

Blessings to you!

A Busy Summer Indeed

Is anybody out there? Yoohoo? I know corny use of an opening. I bet you think I have forgotten about you, but that is not the case. My summer has been one that went into busy super drive. I pause to catch my breath. The good thing is I have been studying and writing. The bad thing is that it has not happened here. This Summer I have been leading a weekly ladies Bible study. I long for the moment when I will have my act together to such a degree that I can accomplish both. Until then… I will identify with Mary, “she has done what she could!”

I will say that of late that Psalm 46 is becoming more and more dear to me. I love verse 1, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” This verse fills me with comfort and hope to know that He is there when I need Him most. There is also beauty in the verse because He is there all the time even when I don’t think I need Him. His refuge and strength is not conditional on me. I know however in my heart I need Him all the time, in every situation. My head often is the problem. It sometimes wants to do what I think is best rather than what God thinks is best for me. So, I repent, and recognize, “God Is…” In the midst of all the busy, “God is my refuge.” God is “my strength.” God is “a very present help in trouble.” Our pastor issued a challenge to read Psalm 46 every day during the month of September and post what God is teaching us about Psalm 46 so I reckon you may be hearing from me quite a bit more as God teaches me. For now I rest in the God who is my refuge! Thanks for reading.

#psalm46challenge

Blessings to you all!

Only Today…

I have in the past week been on a trek of profound reflection. It could be the fact that I became a great-aunt a week and a half ago. It could be the fact that my friend who graduated from high school the same year I did proclaimed on Facebook that she graduated 30 years ago. Wow. I’m not sure which one did it, maybe it was the combination of the two. However, I began to look over my life of the past, ahem, 30 years and began to take stock of what I have accomplished in those years. On first glance and pondering, it didn’t seem like much. As I looked deeper I realized that I have gone through quite a bit in those years. I have gained a wealth of experience and knowledge. I met and married an awesome man. I had two amazing boys who are Jesus loving, well-rounded, and daily amaze me. My husband and I have served in ministry for all of our married life together (almost 24 years at 3 churches). We have a great family and a wealth of friends. To you it may not seem that much, but that doesn’t matter. What truly matters is have I taken the time the Lord has given me and served Him to the best of my ability. Have I done everything perfectly? Not a chance. On reflection, I feel I have followed the Lord faithfully to this point. Would I have liked to have accomplished some great things? Well, Sure! but I know that this is not the end. I have today. I am not promised tomorrow so I will take the day I have been given and live it out how I know Jesus would want me to do. I can show compassion, I can love Him with my whole heart, I can serve others in the work place and in my home, and I can live out the plan He has set before me for today. No matter what amount of time I have left, I can finish well the course the Lord has for me. Paul wrote to Timothy in II Timothy 4:7, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:” This is what I want. I want to be counted among the faithful. A lifetime is made up of what we have done with all of our “todays”. We cannot do anything about yesterday or tomorrow. We have today. Let’s take our today, and put in it all that God would have us to do with it. Serving Him, Trusting Him, Loving Him, Worshiping Him, and Living Life with the purpose of bringing glory to His name will be my goal today. It is indeed a worthy calling!

Heart Check Up

This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. ‘ Matthew 15:8-9 

I have always been a cheerleader at heart. Yes, I did have the uniform to prove it from 1985-1988. Even after my cheer leading days were but a memory, I loved to cheer on the underdog. The one who always seemed to get the short end of the stick so to speak was the one I tried to lift up, encourage, and cheer on. In my quiet time today I was reading in Matthew 15. At the get go, in this chapter, the Pharisees were after Jesus and disciples again. They were criticizing the disciples for not holding to their traditions and doing things a different way. My inner cheer leader hollered, “Get ’em Jesus!” He did. Yet what He said gripped my heart. “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” (v.8) 

Wait a minute! Am I guilty of this? Am I quick to honor God with my words when I know my heart is not honoring Him with my actions? Is my heart far from God? Do I say all the right things because people are watching, yet in my heart I know I am not where I need to be? I had some self evaluation time with my Savior. I won’t give you the results. That is between Him and Me. I will say it has set me to look after the things that I say.

I want to draw close to him with my whole heart not just my words. I want my motives as well as my lip service to be in line with God. The reason this issue is so important is because in the next verse it reveals why. A heart not right with God affects our worship of Him.(v.9) When we sing in church on Sunday, do the words we sing reflect what is in our heart. We may lift up His name with our mouth, but does it echo from our heart or merely lip service. Do we do more sinning in the song service than out in the world? Can I truly say with my heart “I trust and obey”, or “I surrender all”?

The second part of verse 9 states that instead of clinging to the truth of God’s Word we place in higher authority what men say. How we worship God can affect our view of God. I want to say that in my heart I hold what God says to be more important than what man may say. I want to show that my heart speaks and shows honor to God when I open my mouth. Pleasing God needs to come before pleasing man. My husband is fond of saying, “In my life, I serve an audience of One.” We do. We strive to serve God and honor Him alone. In our walk with the Lord, may we be careful that the words we say come from a heart that is drawing close to the Savior daily.

I am cheering for you, my friend. Let us together practice checking our heart before we speak!

 

To Much of a Good Thing…

This dog of mine seems to know how to push my buttons. Most of the time she is a good dog. She minds pretty well. She loves big. She tends toward hardheadedness. Thus, this morning is my beef with her. Annie, the dog, is my rescue dog. She came to our family and fit right in. As she is currently the only dog in our household, so she is very spoiled (my fault, I know). Not long after she came on board, she developed parvo which affected her digestive system. She came very close to dying, but with some quick vet meds and waiting it out she did recover. The illness did leave behind a very sensitive stomach. I have to be very careful that she doesn’t over eat because it will make her sick every time. Yesterday, she got into a new bag of dog food. It went everywhere while I made an effort to get most of the excess up it was more than she usually has access too. I even told her don’t overeat. This morning I woke up to the smell and sounds of a dog tossing her cookies. Yuk! We have hardwood floors in our home. However, her favorite place to do the aforementioned is on the end of the long rug in our hallway.  She forgets, She’s a dog, and She can’t help herself.

Unfortunately, I am like that at times too. My life will get out of balance when I let to many things capture my attention. The fact of the matter is these things are not bad things. They are good things to do. I find myself taking on more and more things, then I find I am stretched to thin and not effective at any of them. I am learning that I am not super woman. I really cannot do it all. We all may struggle with finding balance in our daily lives. Because in all fairness, most of us are more busy than we have ever been. Juggling family, work, church, and friendships can lead to a three-ring circus. I have learned when things begin to feel out of control, I go to Father God who is in control of it all. I take Him my unbalanced, crazy life and we work together on it. In the quietness of our time together, I find a peace and contentment that comes only spending time with Him alone. He knows me so well. He knows everything about me. He shows me what is best for me and what is not. The time spent in God’s presence is time well spent. It is something that I need everyday. Most days, I find a run to Him all through my day. It is in those days that I feel the most centered and the most balanced.

Some may say that having to much of a good thing is the only way, but I disagree. The only way to live it to have all that God wants me to have for that day. God is the one person you can never have to much of. It is indeed the best way to live.

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

When Compassion Meets Opportunity

And of some having compassion, making a difference.’ Jude 22

Well, we are headed back to the ball field. Tonight our little corner of southwest Georgia has begun our annual church softball league. I will say up front that as a former player of this sport, I love when the season comes around again. There is something electric when you get to the ball field. I loved playing softball in high school. I loved watching my boys play baseball growing up. Now, I get to watch them in the church softball league. I’m excited.

I do know that there are times when stuff that takes place at the ball field gets a “bad rep”. Parents going overboard, or kids having meltdowns etc., but in all fairness there is a lot of positives that can happen on our favorite diamond. One it teaches our younguns teamwork, and how to get along well with others. When they get out on the work force after school has ended, they are going to have to know how to get along with other people. It teaches to pursue excellence and doing your best. Also, great lessons to learn before thrust into the situation in your twenties. So for all intensive purposes, you can learn what to do when the pressure is on, and also what not to do.

It really warms my heart when I look back at the coaches my boys had at the ball field. They both had ones that worked with them and helped them, and above all showed them compassion when it was needed. They took the opportunity to show my boys the character it takes to achieve greatness. The boys often discuss the ball field antics now that they are older. The coaches that they remember are the ones that showed them how to strive for excellence, but also understood that character and compassion would be what they would benefit from the most.

So for all those sweet folks that will be out there on ball field across America. Remember, your kid might not be the next great one on the ball field, but if he is wouldn’t it be better for him to have character and compassion before he takes on the world of sports. We sure to need more of those!