Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Stay in Peace

I can choose peace by directing myself to be peaceful inside, regardless of what is happening outside. Joel Osteen says, "Many people are trying to get rid of their problems, hoping they will then be happy;then they can start enjoying their lives. But God wants us to learn to have peace in the midst of storms. He wants us to have peace even when things aren't going our way." There will always be something that has the potential to upset us. If it is something that we cannot change, we might as well go with the flow. What other choice do we have? Will it do any good to get upset about the things of which we can do nothing? Remember St.Francis of Assisi's prayer for God to "grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change." Instead we need to turn the situation completely over to God, knowing He is in control of our lives. How do we show our trust in God? We do it by remaining calm in the midst of the storm. With God all things are possible. One of the ways to stay calm is to soar about the drama like an eagle. I recently watched a video about eagles, which was posted by one of the members of a facebook group I created called "The Greatest of These Is Love". Like an eagle, we need to rise above our circumstances. If we can stay above the storm and not let anyone or anything pull us down, we will feel so much closer to our God who gives us the peace that passeth understanding. He told us to cast all our cares on Him and become more than conquerors. If we can't change our circumstances, let's rise above them by letting God carry us just like the wind currents carry the eagle. Remember the scripture that says we will run and not be weary, walk and not faint, but instead we will rise up with wings like eagles. Joel says, "Be the eagle....Stretch your wings and rise to the level where God wants you to live. You were made to soar; you were made for more." No, these bad economic times will not get us down. Instead we will rise up with wings like eagles.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

It Is Well with My Soul

Can you relax and go with the flow? It's challenging at times. Joel Osteen says, "Stretching can sometimes be uncomfortable." It is during those times that it is important to stay in the present and be at peace. With this peacefulness comes power. That's because when we are at rest, God can take over. "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). Let God take your burdens and with a good attitude and a joyful spirit, let Him bring you the peace that passeth understanding. Our circumstances are not going to change until we do. There is a purpose for everything. "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (I Corinthians 10:13). I certainly have claimed this verse many times, especially when my daughter had a motorcycle accident. I also remembered the Romans 8:28 passage that "all things work together for good", which I am sure I've quoted many times on this blog. This takes a lot of the stress away because we know that if something "bad" happens, something good is going to come from it. Exodus 14 says that "if you will remain at rest and hold your peace, then the battle is not yours, but the battle is the Lord's". We show our trust in God when we stay in peace with a smile on our face. God is bigger than anything we are facing. Joel says, "He can make a way when it looks like there is no way. Don't quit living your life. Don't let that obstacle be the central focus of your existence. Keep pressing forward, trusting God, and knowing that as you believe, all things are possible." Psalms 30: 5 says that "weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning". I remember coming across that verse as a teenager when I was worried about someone caught in a snow storm in Nebraska. When I found out in the morning that he was safe, I rejoiced as I recalled that verse. Sometimes we have to go through trying times for our own personal growth, but sometimes we have to go through trying times for someone else's sake. It's not always all about us. What we go through may help someone else in similar circumstances. I remember my daughter ministering to others in similar circumstances after her accident because she understood their pain as no one else could. Like we discussed last week, we need to embrace the place we are. "Cast your burdens on the Lord. Release the weight of them and God will sustain you" (Psalms 55:22).

Monday, January 12, 2009

Embrace the Place Where You Are

When we were growing up, we formed a mental picture of who we were based on the conditioning we received from our culture and family. We kept dwelling on this picture until we decided that our identity was synonymous with the image we had of ourselves, but it is so dysfunctional to keep the past alive or to project ourselves into the future. We may be saying to ourselves, "Someday, when this, that, or the other happens, I am going to be happy and at peace", but Paul says in Philippians 4:11, "For I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content." We can be peaceful inside no matter what is happening outside because we can choose how we feel about ourselves, others, and the world. Many people are not happy with where they are in life so they worry, try to reason things out, and then try to change things that only God can change. Joel says, "I believe that we create much of our own unhappiness by constantly resisting and fighting against situations and circumstances occurring in our lives." Carl Jung said, "What you resist, persists." We need to relax and accept the place where we are. Is it easy? Well, no. We have been conditioned to wrestle with life and resist our circumstances, but great peace of mind occurs when we REALLY turn things over to God. If we relax and give up worry and stress, we can start enjoying life. That doesn't mean we can't be honest and pray that things will be different, but in the end, we know that God has the final say. If we believe that our God is loving and has our best interest at heart, it is so much easier to give up our struggles. Romans 8:28, my favorite verse, says, "All things work together for good to those that love God." God won't automatically remove every challenge because we have to go through some things to refine and develop our character. That is for our own personal growth, but if we have the right attitude, we will come through these challenges stronger and better than ever. The thing is: GOD wants to give us a GOOD life and fulfill our DESTINY more than anyone. He put a dream in our hearts, and He will direct us to it. At the same time, we need to trust that He knows the big picture. He knows when there is danger ahead or the timing is not right. So with the little knowledge we have that allows us to "see through the glass dimly" (I Corithians 13:12), we need to trust that He knows when something or someone will be a distraction that hinders our destiny. Some of the very things we may be frustrated about right now will be the very things at which we look back in the future with a great deal of gratitude. I remember when my teaching job was RIFed because of budget cuts. I was so heart-broken. Today I am so grateful for the opportunities I've had as a guest teacher to meet so many kids in the district, and mostly I'm grateful for the flexible schedule it has given me so that I can take care of my family. Let's stop being short-sighted and start embracing the place where we are TODAY.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Keep Yourself Happy

Joel Osteen says that "one of the most important keys to a better life is to keep yourself happy, rather than trying to please everybody else." Too often we get out of balance and try to "fix" people and solve their problems for them. Years ago I read a book by Melody Beattie called CO-DEPENDENT NO MORE about trying to rescue people instead of turning attention to our own selves. I learned that I am not responsible for other people's happiness. I am only responsible for my own happiness. I have to set boundaries. We need to quit trying to be the keeper of the Universe. That's God's job. If someone around me is unhappy, I want to be caring and compassionate, but I don't want to become depressed with that person. On the other hand, if I am the one who is unhappy, I don't want to drag someone else down with me. I want to take responsibility for my own happiness. It is truly liberating to realize that I only need to follow my own heart. I want to be a giver, but that does not mean that I have to be a people pleaser. Solomon 1:6 says, "They have made me a keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept." If we keep everyone happy but neglect our own selves, our energy will be drained and then no one will be happy. This new year I plan to less stressed by taking care of myself and my happiness so that I have a huge smile that spreads happiness to everyone else.