Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The lie behind hopelessness and helplessness...

Hopelessness and feeling helpless are one of the cruelest weapons of the enemy against us.  satan relentlessly lies to us that our situation or circumstances are hopeless and that we are helpless to do anything to change it. The enemy tries to get us to accept this as the truth and to paralyze and immobilize us from moving forward in life. Thoughts of hopelessness, helplessness and despair are not from God, our God is the God of hope!

Listening to the story of someone's struggle and responding with compassion is one way that we show the love and compassion of Christ.  Yet, it seems that we often go beyond what Jesus did.  Jesus never encouraged self pity or remaining in the role of the victim.  He never let someone remain in an attitude of hopelessness and helplessness.  He helped them up, then sent them out to live a changed life.  He didn't tell them life would be better for them if only they weren't under the thumb of the Roman government.  He didn't tell them that because their circumstances or situation was unfair, they were stuck living a less than life.  He didn't tell them that because they were a Samaritan or a woman or a leper that they were permanently doomed to live a subpar existence.  In the name of Christ-like compassion, in our attempt to listen to someone's heart, let's not feed the lie that they may be believing, the lie that they have no hope and are helpless to change because of some outside force that is holding them down.  We can acknowledge their pain without feeding their pity. Let's not point to some political change or some sort of societal reform that has to happen before they can live a hope filled life.  Let's not foster the belief that because they were born into a dysfunctional family or into poverty their future is limited. Let's point them to the God of all hope, the God who wants us to grasp onto and really believe that with Him nothing is impossible!  

Let's face it, this life is not fair.  Injustice abounds.  As Christians we should be involved to the best of our ability to fight against injustice, to work toward righteous social reform.  But, if our hope is based on societal or governmental reform or on human leadership to make all things right with our world, we will be sorely disappointed.  Jeremiah 17:5-8 makes it pretty clear, "Thus says the Lord: Cursed with great evil is the strong man who trusts in and relies on frail man, making weak human flesh his arm, and whose mind and heart turn aside from the Lord. For he shall be like a shrub or a person naked and destitute in the desert; and he shall not see any good come, but shall dwell in the parched places in the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. Most blessed is the man who believes in, trusts in, and relies on the Lord, and whose hope and confidence the Lord is. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters that spreads out its roots by the river; and it shall not see and fear when heat comes; but its leaf shall be green. It shall not be anxious and full of care in the year of drought, nor shall it cease yielding fruit."  A fruitful, fulfilling life is the desire of God for everyone, no matter their race, their gender, or their socio-economic status. However, confidence and hope in God is the foundational key to that happening, not hope placed in some manmade fix that may or may not happen somewhere down the road.  

After Daddy left Mama and us kids, my little brother, who was seven at the time, really struggled. He struggled in school.  He struggled getting into trouble with kids in our neighborhood. Let's face it, he had a lot of unfair strikes against him. But, somewhere along the line he grabbed onto the truth that God had a good plan for him. Somewhere along the line he grabbed onto the hope that God extended toward him.  He quit being a helpless victim of his unfair circumstances and made a decision to become more than a conqueror.  With God's help and grit and determination and discipline, he graduated high school at the top of his class.  He graduated college and became a pastor, and eventually a missionary in East Africa.  He worked hard toward and obtained his master's degree and then his doctorate. Because of God's great grace in his life, he has pointed others all over the world to this same hope that he found.

I've faced some difficulties in my life as well, I've faced unfair circumstances that made me feel hopeless and helpless.  But, the reality is, there's someone reading this who has faced things far more difficult, who has faced things far more life altering than I.  Yet, the truth is the truth.  No matter what horrific, unfair, unjust things that you've had to face in this life, you do not have to remain in hopelessness and helplessness.  There's a God in heaven who wants to reach down and lift you out of the pit of despair and set you on a path to a fruitful, fulfilling life.  He's not going to wave a magic wand and suddenly make everything easy for you, but He can give you the strength and guidance you need in order to take the first step towards a changed life, and every single step after that one.  Come on friend, grab onto some hope along with me. (I'd love to pray for God to help you do so. Just leave a comment.)

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

all things French...

 (Kim Klassen's partings texture, hard light, 50% opacity)
When I'm out antiquing or thrifting, I have a hard time resisting anything I find that comes from France, anything within my budget that is.  (My ancestors on my Mama's side were from France and some of the first settlers of Prince Edward Island, where Mama was born and where the family homestead still remains in the family.)
 (no texture)
On our last trip to the Oregon coast  I went to my favorite antique/junk store.  There I spied this little olive oil bottle marked Marseille, France.  It was inexpensive, which meant it was a no brainer that it was coming home with me.
(Kim Klassen's cares texture, hard light, 20% opacity)
The book, On Rue Tatin, was a Goodwill find.  It's a thoroughly enjoyable read about a young couple who turned an old convent in Normandy into their home.
(Kim Klassen's worn and weathered texture, multiply mode, 50% opacity)
I was blessed to be able to spend a day in Paris last summer when we were in London.  It was a dream come true. My heart is hurting today over the news of another horrible act of terrorism in France.

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Monday, July 25, 2016

In gratitude...

I'm late with my weekly gratitude post this week due to the combination of fighting a nasty migraine for several days and the busyness that comes with being in full time ministry.  So, in the spirit of better late than never, here's this past week's gratitude journal.
Since 2009 I've been counting my blessings thanks to the prompting of Ann Voskamp.
 I continue to count my thanks
piling up gratitude day by day
in my journal.
(and capturing some of my blessings via my camera or iPhone)

-this waking up early habit
-a crafty day-making a BAKERY sign,(success), and trying macrame, (fail!)
-homemade meatballs for dinner
-my friend stopping by to pray together

-morning sun
-a day of play with my two youngest granddaughters

-a nice neighbor fixing their broken riding toy, (that they are too big for but still play with)
-my friend is making a new apron for me!

the beautiful morning
-a long walk by the river and around Fort Vancouver
-a yummy summer dinner of grilled steak, fresh corn on the cob, salad and iced tea

-the Holy Spirit ministering to me in a deep way during my devotions
-phone calls to two friends needing encouragement
-prayer walking the neighborhood around our church,
 (a lady on the street approaching one of our groups about coming to church)

-a horrible migraine on our day off that left me in bed all day-my hubs who took care of me

-feeling well enough to at least function somewhat
-sweet young couple from church who came by to help 
-everything prepared for a church function at our house tomorrow, thanks to our helpers

-such a great message this morning
-a sweet gal who went to Nicaragua with me coming to our church today
-a house full all afternoon and into the evening,
 (and strength to enjoy it even with a lingering headache)

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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Let the peace of God rule in your heart...

"Let the peace of God rule in your heart" is easier said than done in the world we are living in right now.  Just scrolling through the divisive memes and snarky comments on many Facebook pages or checking in on what's happening in the news can seem to steal a person's peace, can't it?  Yet, if God tells us to let the peace of God rule in us, it must be possible.  Let's look at the verse in context and see if we can find some clues on just how we let the peace of God rule within.  (Join me for the rest of this post on Sunday, July 24th, at Woman to Woman Ministries where each Sunday I share a bit of Sunday Soul Food!)

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Friday Favs...Accessorizing your home with bargain store decor

My mama was a believer in saving up and buying something of good quality that would wear well.  I followed in her footsteps, and appreciate the difference in something of quality that is well made, and something that is cheaply made with poor craftsmanship.  When we bought our leather couch, chair and ottoman sixteen years ago, we bought good quality furniture that was on sale.  Even then, it was still an investment, but it's lasted for the long term.  In the end, buying good quality is cheaper than buying poorly made furniture that doesn't wear well and needs replaced frequently.
I try to save up and buy quality for the things that get a lot of wear and tear, then fool the eye with bargain priced accessories that still look nice. The key to this is to recognize the items that look like they could have come from high end decor stores, but that you actually got at Homegoods or Ross or similar bargain priced stores.  In the photo above the mirror above the t.v. came from Ross, the media cabinet was on sale at Target, (I'd like to find an antique or vintage piece to replace this at some point, but didn't want to leave the space blank in the meanwhile). The side table was on clearance at Marshalls, the drapes were name brand but very inexpensively bought at Homegoods and the chair came from Ross. (An occasional chair only gets used occasionally, and most of the time just sits there looking cute.  So, while I wanted it to be sturdy, I didn't need to spend a bundle.  I just made sure it looked well made.)
The antique trunk that serves as our coffee table came from the Goodwill and was half off the Goodwill price!  The basket came from Homegoods, the Johnson Bros. tureen made in England came from TJ Maxx, the vase from Ross, the pillows and quilt on the couch from one of three stores, Homegoods, Marshalls or TJMaxx, which are owned by the same company and often have the same sort of things.  You can get great deals on name brand items for bargain prices!
When looking for art for my walls I try not to fall into the trap of buying cheaply made mass produced wall art that looks like cheap hotel decor.  I look for things that are unique.  The wooden key came from Ross as did the large letter S, which was on clearance and painted in zebra print before I took it home and spray painted it.  The wooden arrow was made for me by my son-in-law, the ironstone platters were either thrifted or found at antique stores.  The mirror was another Ross find. I changed the frame with some paint.  The hello was a cheap chipboard sale item at the craft store and I took it home and spray painted it gold.  The h-o-m-e letters were Christmas ornaments from Target as were the glittered feathers that I placed inside of a clearance sale frame.  The red lamps were purchased at Marshalls, the blue planter at Ross and the large basket in the corner on clearance at Ross.
This blue and white planter was four dollars at Ross.  I don't think anyone would know it wasn't purchased at a high end store.  I love it.  The shelf near the big chair in the photo below was purchased at Ross and the little side table at Marshalls. The large pillow was a gift from my daughter, purchased at Target.
The moral of this story.  Save the big bucks for items that will need to take a lot of wear and tear.  Accessorize with items that won't break the bank, but fool the eye into thinking they are more expensive than they really are.

Well, it's almost Friday, friends!
Have a HAPPY, HAPPY Friday
a safe and BLESSED weekend!


Shabby Art Boutique

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


I think the saying "happiness is a journey, not a destination" is a profound truth.  It may sound like a trite cliché that looks great on a sign you hang on your wall, but I propose that it's a good guiding motto for life.  Too often I've lived with the wrong mindset that I'd be happy if this person would change, or that circumstance in my life were different.  Happiness became as elusive as chasing the wind.  There were two events in my life that dramatically changed that way of thinking for me. 

The summer I turned fifty I went to the beach by myself overnight.  I knew there were some things twisted up inside my heart that could only be straightened out with a good long talk with God while I walked by the sea.  My heart was full of unforgiveness and bitterness towards others and about circumstances in my life that I was unhappy about.  I can take you to the exact spot on the beach where God spoke to my heart these three simple words, "Build your life".  He gave me the understanding that I had been focusing on all of the unchangeable things in my life, other people and certain circumstances that I had no control over, while I had been ignoring things I could change. Shortly after that I quit a job that had become way too stressful and which was limiting my availability for ministry at our church.  I also began pursuing things I love to do,  such as writing and photography.  
Not long after that trip to the beach, I also began to keep a gratitude journal, which I have now been keeping for over six years.  Every day I take notice of at least three things to be thankful for and I write them in my journal. Each Sunday evening, I write a blog post about all of the blessings that I counted from the previous week.

It was those two things, choosing to shift my focus to the things I could change about my life rather than focusing on what I could not change, and learning to see and give thanks for the many daily blessings in my life, that caused me to find happiness in the journey of my life.

(You can pre-order my friend Jennifer Lee's new book The Happiness Dare.  Find out how here!)

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