Tag: help

Discouraged? Don’t deny yourself the encouragement God has for you!

This week I’m volunteering at and attending a Christian Writers Conference. In the past it has been a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the craft of writing, but even more, a chance to meet with and connect with people who are gifted like me, and be encouraged by them.CCWC001

Yes, it will interrupt the usual flow of my week and take me out of my comfort zone with realizations of how much I do not know and still have to learn about writing better and the process of publishing. But what a gift, a blessing to be able to receive training and support from others God has gifted similarly.

pexels-icsa-1708988How encouraging to sit at the feet of those who have been where I am and have succeeded. To learn from mistakes they have made without having to make those mistakes myself. and to be recognized and rewarded for my efforts along with receiving encouragement and guidance.

What are you in the midst of that you would appreciate some guidance and encouragement for?

God has planned for and placed just what you need within your grasp. You need only reach out to receive it.

question-mark-40876__340Do you face challenges at work? With a hobby? In your marriage? Parenting? Grand parenting? Are you looking for direction to find your purpose? Your strength? The solution to a difficulty? Encouragement to keep going?

Be willing to interrupt your usual schedule to go where you can find the encouragement you’re looking for. To learn something new. To hear from someone who’s been where you want to go, or who’s had a victory over what you’re struggling with.
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No more suffering in silence!  Call a friend, a co-worker. Take a class. Attend a conference. Seek a mentor or counselor. Talk with a doctor or someone at your church. Find a support group in person or online.

holding-hands-752878_640You are not alone. And I believe God will not give you more than you can handle. But He doesn’t intend for you to handle it all by yourself.

He has provided. It’s up to us to open our eyes and see it. It may not be in your comfort zone – but it is within your grasp.

Reach out!

Through the Water

Are you in deep water?  Are you still in the boat?  Is the trip getting scary?

Did you sign up for a 3-hour tour and get Gilligan’s Island?

God’s people were familiar with rough seas. Literally and metaphorically.

hand-792920_640At a time in my life when I felt like the water was closing in over me, the Lord led me to this verse.  I found comfort, reassurance and hope. Not only did the verse speak to me, but I heard a melody and a picture formed in my mind.

Whatever you’re experiencing, I am asking God to speak to you as well, through these verses, and this song He gave me.

Begin by putting your own name into the verse Isaiah 43:1

But now, this is what the Lord says – He who created you, _____,

He who formed you _____:

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you, _____;

I have summoned you  by name; you, _____ are mine.

Through the Water

Sometimes the sea around us gets too rough

But we think we can handle it all.  We think we’re so tough

The water deepens and we can’t make it thru

And then Jesus reaches out His hand to you

water-1013329_640Chorus   He will go with you thru the water

Though the darkness swirls around you

Do not fear it will not drown you ’cause He is with you thru the water

This world will cause you suffering and pain

Oh but God has overcome this world, His victory is your gain

So count on Jesus, He’ll always be true

And take the hand He’s reaching out to you

water-5535_640Chorus   He will go with you thru the water

Though the darkness swirls around you

Do not fear it will not drown you ’cause He is with you thru the water

waterpolo-4813899_640And though the darkness fills you with despair

Just count on Jesus He is always there

And he’ll be with you thru the water

Chorus   He will go with you thru the water

Though the darkness swirls around you

Do not fear it will not drown you ’cause He is with youjesus-christ-4676641_640

Jesus is with you

He’s always with you, thru the water

(c) 1993 Laura Fail Shaffer

Isaiah 43:1-2

Fear vs Faith

“I was afraid…”  These are some of the first recorded words that Adam said to God.  And if we’re looking at scripture, it’s usually the first thing angels say when they appear to men: “Fear not.”

Fear has been a part of the human condition almost from the beginning.

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There are a lot of things that cause fear in our world today.  People are afraid of being alone, or of not being accepted, afraid they won’t measure up to their own or others’ expectations.  Basic fears of losing something you have, or never attaining something you want.  Rejection, poverty, illness, vulnerability, death.  Loss of something treasured: youth, health, money, status, a relationship.

Some fears are even of fear itself.  Unfounded.  Faceless.

I love acrostics.  They’re a word play that uses the letters in a word to make a point.  So FEAR could be:

False Evidence Appearing Real

This is especially true of those things we worry about happening in the future because we can’t see all the pieces clearly.  We make guesses or assumptions and base our actions, our fears, on what may not even be true.

What are you are afraid of?  Is it something that keeps you frozen, unable to act?

Here’s another set of acrostics someone told me for FEAR:

Forget Everything And Run

or

Face Everything And Rise

While often my gut tells me to Run, my spirit calls me Rise.  It’s kind of like when you hear two separate voices – like the little angel and devil figures in cartoons that sit on your shoulders and give you opposing opinions.

When you Run, the Everything eventually catches up with you.  And you end up having to handle it anyway.  Often by then, it’s an even bigger mess.

adventure-1807524_640But when you Face Everything, remember that you are not alone.  You have resources you may not have considered.  And you don’t have to deal with everything at once.  Plus, you can ask for help from other people.  No doubt you already know people who can support you, encourage you, who have been through something similar and can coach or guide you.

The Rising gives a sense of confidence that builds as you do handle things.  And results in courage to keep you going.

FAITH can help dissolve FEAR.  In a way, it’s the opposite of Fear.  Fear can paralyze you with inaction.  Faith can move you forward.  While Fear focuses you inward, Faith helps you see beyond yourself.

Faith can be:

Feeling As If There’s Hope

And when your hope is in God, your hope is strong and true.  He is able and willing to care for you in any and every situation.  He is bigger than any problem.  Calling out to Him connects you to the Creator of the Universe!  The One True God.  The Everlasting Father.

So, what are you afraid of?

Call out to God and tell Him all about it.  Romans 8:31 says “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

Isaiah 41:10 says “Do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

Stand with Him.  Face Everything.  And Rise with Him.

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I pray you will reach out to God with every fear.  And that with God at your side, you will sense His presence, and Feel As If There’s Hope.

And in that Hope, You will Rise!

Are you F-I-N-E?

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When my Mom died, then my Daddy, then my own breast cancer came on the heels of a challenging auto-immune disease, these were times I remember saying I was “fine” but I really wasn’t.

I don’t think it was because people didn’t want to know or weren’t willing to listen. It may just have been because I didn’t even know how to ask for help.

 

In saying “FINE” to others, on the inside I was really saying:

“F: Frankly

 I: I

N: Need

E: Everything

but don’t know how to ask.”

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Once a pastor pointed out that when wheat grows, the topmost part of the stalk called the head, becomes larger and heavier as it matures and ripens.  When the head of the stalk is so heavy it is bowed down, it is ready for harvest.

 

People grow and mature also.  But what makes their heads bow down is when they have a lot on their mind or on their heart.  Just looking for that prompts me to ask how they’re doing.

Then when they look up, I can see in their face if they look tired, worn out or discouraged.  Often their posture and face will give away what their words do not. So now when someone tells me “I’m fine,” I take time to go deeper.

I may offer something specific, like bringing a meal, or babysitting, or going out together for a cup of coffee.  But even if none of those seem to be a good fit, I can call on God to meet their needs in ways I cannot.  So I always ask “How can I pray for you?”

use me hands

 

And then I do. 

You could too.

“Carry each other’s burdens…” Galatians 6:2

Where do your tracks lead?

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Walking around the lake in winter is very different.  Things that are easily noticeable in most seasons may be covered in snow.  The plant life that is visible looks barren.  There are fewer types of wildlife, and those that remain behave differently.

Circling the lake today, I was amazed at how many tracks were clear in the freshly fallen snow.  Mine were the only human footprints, but there were many solitary and group trails that led in one direction: toward the water.

The path the ducks and geese took to get to the water was made plain in the snow.   I had never wondered about the specific route these birds take to the water, but with tracks in the snow, it was easy to follow their exact steps.

bird_tracks_animal_track_reprint-2

I wondered if the snow was a hardship for the birds.  Were their feet cold as they stepped through the wet, frigid moisture?  Did they hurry to get to their destination?

 

 

Did the slips I could see on the steep slope into the water upset them?  Did they squawk when they slipped?

Many people would agree that regarding weather, cold and snow are a hardship.  In our lives though, there are many kinds of trials to be endured.

Oddly enough, like those ducks leaving footprints in the snow, we leave the most visible trails when our paths take us through hardship.  Others can see our actions and our path more clearly when they trail through hard times.

It presents a challenge to be more careful of our steps.  As a Christian, my real help comes from God.  But is that the first place I go in difficult times? Or do my footprints show confusion, heading in many different directions?

Like the ducks, in fair weather, we can do many things that don’t leave a trace.  But in difficult times, our every step leaves a clear trail for all to see.

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What do your steps show?  Where does your trail lead?  If others follow it, will it lead them to God?

Whatever your hardship, God is your very present help.  Turn your steps heavenward.  And lead on!