Remedy for an Unhealthy Heart

I had assumed blockage and hardening of the arteries was a problem only for the elderly. Today we hear of the serious health threats of obesity in children. It puts a new spin on what goes unseen beneath the surface; if beauty is skin deep it has a lasting relationship with cholesterol and arteries under attack.

I am not fluent in medications jargon. Frequently someone with medical background will confidently unravel a string of drugs given as treatment for ailments and I smile as clueless as a tourist in a foreign country. As a young girl, a new word entered my vocabulary; Grandpa Ford took digitalis. He had heart problems, rested after lunch and followed his doctors’ orders.

There is another remedy for an unhealthy heart: Did-ya-tell-Jesus?

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7 NAS).”  

Making Decisions Under Stress

Women are emotional by nature. That’s not a bad thing. God created us that way. Our emotions come from the passions we feel so strongly about. It’s kind of like a well that is so full of water that it can’t help but spill out. That’s us.

Normally, I’d be a staunch supporter of encouraging women to not be ashamed of their emotions. We need to feel comfortable in crying when we feel like crying and giggling when we feel full of joy. But there is one area in life that we need to be careful of in letting our emotions pour out and over – and that is the area of making a decision.

Decisions are things that take a lot of thought, research, prayer, and advice at times. They need to be weighed in the proper lighting with perspective and discernment so that we can feel peace about the choice we make regarding that certain issue, circumstance, or challenge facing us. We need to be so careful when we are feeling our emotions full throttle. Making a decision when we are emotional can be damaging not just to ourselves but also to others for oftentimes we can react rather than responding in a thought-out, methodical manner.

We’ve all seen it (or even done it). We see that mom who storms in somewhere on behalf of her child and yells at the teacher or person in charge when she could have let the matter settle in her heart for awhile instead of reacting in the heat of her emotion. How about buying something when we are upset and later regretting that purchase? Yes, we can make rash decisions when we are emotional.

Stress does a lot of things to people. It makes them panic, angry, and it can make you feel like you need to take action immediately. But sometimes it takes getting away from a situation temporarily, or letting the dust settle a little to be able to objectively look at something enough to handle it in a mature and wise manner.

I think we will find that if we make decisions under stressful circumstances that it is much harder to feel confident about the choice we make. And I realize that it’s not always possible to think about something for a long period of time before a decision is required. I’ve found that in these situations, it’s often good to take a brief “getaway” if for nothing than my mental state. Go to a movie for 2 hours, play a game with your kids, bake some cookies – anything to calm your heart and mind and allow some clear thinking to invade those high-strung stressful emotions. And of course, always, always pray and ask God for His help and guidance.

Women’s emotions can be a beautiful thing. They showcase a tender, passionate heart for those she loves. We just need a little reminder to tame those emotions once in awhile. Believe me, when all is said and done, you will be so glad you did.

~ Dionna Sanchez is a freelance writer and Founder of the Emphasis On Moms Ministry.
You may email her at madetomom@yahoo.com

FIRED UP!

Angry. So angry. Not at anyone in particular, or even at God. I was just furious at life and how it was turning out.

My childhood dreams didn’t include gut-wrenching endless pain. I never set out to be crippled. My bucket list never came close to this.

Few people seemed to grasp the severity of my illness. Everyone seemed so carefree and happy. While my peers shopped for adorable Easter outfits for their children, I was at home gasping for my next breath.

Offense came easily. Patronizing comments bothered me the most: “Do you have good days and bad days?” No, every second of every minute is hell. Or, even worse, the benign noncommittal, “I’ll pray for you.” Please don’t tell me that. I need your HELP. I need my house cleaned. I need dinner on the table. I need my laundry folded and put away. I need someone to play with my kids.

Like I said, I was angry.

My only escape was in the Lord. He knows me. The mess in my heart wasn’t a secret to Him.

Countless times I cried out for relief. Lord, I HATE this! Please help me. Give me one hour without pain. I’m begging you for mercy.

Other days, when I was able, I drank in Scripture:

“O my Comforter in sorrow, my heart is faint within me.”
Jeremiah 8:18

Or,

For I am about to fall, and my pain is ever with me.
I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin…
O Lord, do not forsake me; be not far from me, O my God.
Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Savior.”
Psalm 38:17-22
And,
I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”
Psalm 40:1-2

His words were like an old friend, who spoke what I felt but couldn’t quite say. God continues to strip my heart of rage. Layer by layer, bit by bit, He pulls back hurt feelings, displaced dreams, and wounded pride. Occasionally a temper tantrum rears its ugly head, which the Lord patiently excises while reminding me I’m a work in progress.

Has anger got a grip on you, too?
    CRITICISM                  bitterness           FrUStrAtIOn              RAGE        disappointment

When anger takes center stage, life becomes miserable after awhile. If you’re like me, it’s exhausting carrying such a heavy load. I can only take so much.

Although I can’t offer a magic pill to make everything perfect,  I can point you to the One who is perfect:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30
Weary one, have you come to the Lord lately?
I’m not so angry anymore. Certainly, it’s not self-effort that got me here, just a day-by-day working of Christ.
He has given me rest.
Would you like rest for your soul, too?
Carrie Cooper @ comfortedbyGod.blogspot.com

GOODBYE, SUPERMOM!

God, my life is a mess. How are you ever going to use me again? I don’t understand why you’ve allowed this to happen. Lord, please help me.”

I prayed those words countless times over the past four years. In 2006, I was diagnosed with a crippling autoimmune disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis, which causes hardening of the hips, spine, and major organs. Within months of the first symptoms, my life was transformed.

I was Super Mom. Maybe you know what I’m talking about: wife, mother, Kindergarten Room Mom, entrepreneur, Registered Dietitian, Bible teacher, crafter, family gourmet cook, and last, but not least, manager for my daughter’s modeling career.

ARE YOU TRYING TO BE SUPER MOM TOO?

I certainly tried, but God showed me I couldn’t do it. The illness crippled me. I spent three years as a prisoner in my own body, unable to move without excruciating pain.

My former Super Mom Super Powers were gone. I couldn’t stand up long enough to cook dinner, fold laundry, or sit on the floor to play with my children. All of those roles were delegated to someone else, while I took up residence on the living room sofa.

Those haunting prayers returned, “God, how are you ever going to use me like this? I’m more than broken—I’m shattered. You have stripped me of myself. I don’t know who I am anymore.”

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN SO BROKEN THAT YOU THINK GOD CAN’T POSSIBLY USE YOU?

I was there right where you are. It took time—years, in fact—for the Lord to humble me and then build me back up in Himself. By pouring myself into the Bible

I DISCOVERED MY IDENTITY WASN’T SUPER MOM, IT WAS IN CHRIST.

God doesn’t love me for everything I accomplish on a daily basis. He loves me because His Son died for me and on the third day came back to life, paying for my sins.

GOD LOVES YOU TOO, BUT NOT BECAUSE OF WHAT YOU DO FOR HIM.

Can we ever DO enough? Can we ever BE perfect enough?

Super Mom isn’t the answer. Jesus Christ is.

I HAD A CHOICE TO MAKE. I could either spend the rest of my life blaming God for ruining me with this horrible disease, or I can trust that even in the midst of the gut-wrenching pain, my life counts in Christ.

YOU HAVE A CHOICE, TOO.

If God has allowed you to be broken, maybe even shattered, you have a decision to make. Will you shake your fist at Him for destroying everything? Or, will you surrender to His plan, even though it’s NOT what you desire? Will you say Yes to His call on your life?

WILL YOU SURRENDER YOUR MESS TO HIM?

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail.

They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.

I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.”

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him;

It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Lamentations 3:22-26

WILL YOU WAIT QUIETLY FOR THE LORD?

Carrie Cooper @ comfortedbyGod.blogspot.com

Is Anything Too Hard For Our Lord?

Do you ever feel tired, stressed out, beaten up, worn out, or bruised? Life tends to run us over sometimes doesn’t it? As a mom, there are so many days where we don’t feel that pretty. Our lives encompass a lot of “duty” in them. When we do tasks like laundry, cleaning toilets, making the bed, and sweeping – we don’t feel that glamorous. And then there are those single parents that don’t have a spouse to rely on to give them a break when they are worn out. There is the working mom who is juggling both her work and home environment. No one set of circumstances has all of the answers or perfect solutions to a life that won’t leave you feeling stressed out or tired at times. Its just “Life” – all of it will bring these feelings upon us at times.

I think of Genesis 18:14 where it says, “Is nothing too hard for our Lord?” and it brings me comfort. It reminds me of the God who molded and shaped beautiful hills and mountains with His own hand. It reminds me of a God who can bring plagues, raise someone from the dead, and part the sea.

If God can do miracles and do things that we don’t even dare think of, can’t He also help me get through a tough day? Can’t He help me fix something that is broken, find time to fit in my necessary chores, give me a few hours of much-needed sleep, or keep me safe? Can’t the God who helped David beat Goliath, the God who gave Esther the courage to save her people at the risk of death, also give me the strength I need to not yell at my children when I feel overwhelmed? Can’t He help me find the time to love on my children after a full day at work? I believe He can. I KNOW He can.

So often we forget that God cares about the details of our daily lives. I think we tend to ask for the BIG things because He is a BIG God. We may not think He cares about our laundry piles, broken dishwasher, or ant problem. But He does. He cares about them because He cares about us. NOTHING is too hard for our Lord. He is the best problem solver around!

God wants to get personal with us. He wants us to come to Him with things we think are silly or insignificant – yet things that are concerns or issues for us. He wants to amaze us and show us just how much He loves us. Just as you desire to show your children how much you love them!

We will have bad days. We will have moments where we just want to crash. But, we can be encouraged and remember in those moments and on those days that nothing is too hard for our Lord. Give Him a chance to show you just what He wants to do for you in your life. You’ll feel so wrapped up in His love, if you do. It just takes a little faith.

~ Dionna Sanchez is the Founder of EmphasisOnMoms.com. Sign up for her free monthly ezine geared to encourage your life as a mom, wife, and woman.

Some Things Are Learned Only Through Hardship

You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 2 Timothy 2:3 NKJV

Until recently I never completely understood this passage.  Endure hardship, yeah, okay when it happens I’ll endure.  Let me tell you it is harder than you might think.

The last two months have been a whirlwind of unexpected chaos.  I’ll spare you all the details, but allow me to outline some of what we went through.

We had planned an all expenses paid cruise to Bahamas for just my husband and me.  I looked forward to this trip with great expectation. It’s been almost 15 years since our last “alone together” trip.  The weekend before our trip, out dog started having problems walking.  He’s only 6 so it wasn’t like he had arthritis or something like that.  Some testing at the vet revealed high calcium levels, bladder stones and various other ailments.  We continued test after to test to find the cause of the high calcium. Meanwhile, the dog grew sicker, worse each day that we ended up cancelling our trip.

The bummer was the trip was a company reward and didn’t cost us anything.  When we cancelled we lost the “free money”. Not only that, but I allowed the enemy’s lies to penetrate my mind with thoughts such as “the dog is more important than me.”

The timing was just terrible.  My elder son has been struggling with his grades had final exams the same week of the dog crisis.  I became anxious about him staying focused on his studying.

We also experienced car trouble. Not just one of our cars, but both cars needed multiple hundreds of dollars in repairs. With the dog doctor bills, the car repairs, my other son’s school tuition became due a month earlier than usual.

At work, we were planning an event which I would be facilitator.  There were many late nights preparing, last minute changes which led to my unease about having an effective meeting.  It also caused my family to be upset with all the late nights.

During all of this my mind was racing, my emotions were swelling, my body ached with tension. My prayer life was all about solving the problems.  I began talking to everyone about all this as though I collecting all the “poor you” comments I could.  I was so disappointed, angry, anxious and stressed.  It sapped my ability to think straight.  I could barely take care of my normal routines.

When I searched God’s Word looking for encouragement, enlightenment, resolution I found 2 Timothy 2:3.  Not exactly what I had hoped for.  But God knew what I needed.

These “trials” were exactly that, a trial to test my faith.  I’m ashamed to say I don’t think I did very well.  But God’s purposes prevailed.  These difficulties revealed many things about the condition of my heart.

First, I was depending on the trip too heavily. My marriage relationship needed some work and I relied on that trip as the major step in the right direction.  God led me to see other small steps I could take to improve things as I follow His leading.

Second, I discovered a hidden pride.  The trip was a “Circle of Excellence” award for good work I had done the previous year.  When denied the ability to use this award, prideful thoughts abound, such as “you deserved that tip” and “next time I’ll take the trip alone.” Of course this would not do.  So a humbly process began.

Third, my thoughts were focused on my circumstances (things of this world) and not on God’s greatness.  God gently got my attention and led me to look at my responses rather the problems.  In that I could see how wrong I had been.

Fourth, I discovered I had slipped back into doing out of my own effort.  I thought I had been in lock-step with the Lord.  Yet my behavior and my attitudes were the warning signals telling me I drifted from walking by faith and was, in fact, walking by the flesh instead.

So whether this was a spiritual attack or not, what was meant for evil God turned around and used for good.  My hope in sharing my weakness is that you may be strengthen, encouraged and lead to call on the Lord in your times of trials rather than trying to figure things out through your own understanding.

©Elizabeth Marks has led small group Bible studies for almost a decade.  Author of ThinkOnItBibleDevotions.com and BeingWomenOfInfluence.com websites she has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.

Manic Mother

Since when is “busy” better? I’ve wondered that often the past few years. It seems that life seems to barrel out of control and we let it.  We let the schools tell us that we need to contribute this, volunteer here, give to this, etc. We add church functions to our schedule, sports activities to our schedule and say “yes” to way too many things. Heaven forbid we should sit at home without the telephone ringing asking for our help! Why then, we might be considered boring or unwanted! No, we feel that we need to be running here and there, and pretty much – just plain running everywhere. When we aren’t running to some activity, function, or appointment, we are running in our heads with to-do lists galore.
 
It’s good to be active and involved in life – with boundaries and limitations. My concern is when I just see mothers active and involved without boundaries and limitations. They may be the most “talked-to” women at the school or church, but where are their children? Who is taking care of them? Who is investing their hearts into them? If they are with their moms usually I see them clamoring for attention and being hushed repeatedly, or running off independently on their own without proper respect or obedience being given the parent in the least. But they are independent because in a way, they’ve had to be. Mom is always busy baking for this event, helping decorate for this function, or planning this activity.  And the family suffers for it.  All in the name of image.
 
Moms – slow down. We need to be wise in what activities and functions we allow into our lives and our homes. Society doesn’t encourage restraint and rest. But we need to recognize that so that it doesn’t have a hold over us.  Not everything is to the benefit or growth of our family. And certainly not everything creates a strong family bond. In fact, some things only tear and rip those bonds making them very fragile, indeed.
 
Our families should be our #1 ministry. Not the church bake sale, the school PTA, or Girl Scouts. As great as each one of those activities are, they are worthless and they are harmful if we can’t first take care of our families physical and emotional needs before attending to the needs of the organization or ministry calling for our attention.

A “manic mom” is never a good thing for a family. Take some time to figure out if you’ve let well-meaning friends and activities take up too much of your time and emotions. Study how much time you put into those “things” and how much time you have left to be a mom, wife, and Godly woman and example in your own home.
 
It’s never too late to make a change.

~ Dionna Sanchez

http://www.EmphasisOnMoms.com