Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Toad-ally Beautiful

I discovered this little guy on my car one day. 



He rode the hood for quite awhile before I actually noticed him. I have no idea how he stayed on, but he did. 

Beautiful, isn't he (or she)?

A few nights earlier, I discovered this guy hanging out on our patio.



I'll bet your reaction was not quite the same. Maybe, "Ew, yuck!"

But I've grown quite fond of Mr. Toad, as I affectionately call him. He actually appears every night when it gets dark, and hangs out on the patio for hours. Lucy (the dog) goes out, sees him, sniffs him and watches him hop away. She then continues on in her quest for a suitable place to pee, and Mr. Toad hops back. 

I like to think of Mr. Toad as our "outdoor" pet and Lucy as our "indoor" pet. (I love the fact that our outdoor pet is maintenance free!) They seem to respect and accept one another's habitats and existence.

Sure, Mr. Toad's appearance is far less beautiful than Mr. Praying Mantis. And he's a commoner. A townie. He's one of many. He's...Ordinary. But he's loyal. He visits me every night. I've come to really like him...as long as he stays outside.

Mr. Praying Mantis is beautiful, yes. Royalty. Extraordinary. The extreme opposite of Mr. Toad. But he visited for only a moment and went in search for greener grasses. His visit was fleeting, as if he was blessing me with his presence. Uppity insect!

It makes me think of the old saying, Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Here are some more:

Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it. (Confucius)

Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God's handwriting. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

How do you see yourself? Do you see a praying mantis or a toad? Are you sure that who you aspire to be is a better option than who you really are?

Being a praying mantis is what the world tells us is the more desirable choice. Being beautiful. Stately. Majestic. Rich. Famous. Talked about. The one everyone looks up to and wants to be. But outward beauty comes with a price: upkeep! When you're no longer beautiful, the world turns to the next beauty.

I've decided that Toad living is the better choice. 

Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised (Prov 31:30)

I would rather be known as a woman who fears the Lord than a woman who is outwardly beautiful...okay, well, I'll admit...I'd like to be both...I'd prefer not to have people say, "She is such a godly woman! It's a good thing, because she's so ugly she looks like a toad. Good thing God loves her." 

I'd prefer not to actually look like a toad. You get my drift.

Keeping up appearances gets tiring. I'd rather let the world see my toad-ness. You can be repulsed by me, or you can accept me...(excuse the pun)...warts and all!

I want to be like Mr. Toad...returning to loyalty. Not pretending I'm royalty, like the praying mantis.

What will you choose today...Loyalty or Royalty?

Blessings Along the Path,










I know I've used this video before, but it's a great reminder not to judge someone by their looks.
"Ugliest Girl" gives motivating speech (Lizzie Velasquez)


Linking up with Testimony Tuesday, Word-Filled Wednesday, Winsome Wednesday, Thriving Thursday, All Things Bright and Beautiful

Monday, September 29, 2014

I Miss the Simple Beginnings

Okay, I'm exhausted. And overwhelmed. I'm overwhelmingly exhausted.



Fellow bloggers, is it just me, or are any of you finding it overwhelming to keep up with everyone's posts?

Don't get me wrong. The Linkups are terrific! I am having a blast getting to know you all. I'm establishing connections, learning from you, and hopefully encouraging some of you. I'm impressed (and admittedly, a bit envious, but I'm working on that) with how many of you have written books!

I've learned so much in the last few weeks simply from reading your posts and checking out your sites. I've (hopefully) improved my own site from ideas I take away by looking at yours.

I'm especially impressed with the younger women of faith---how mature you are. How much more you seem to know than I did when I was your age. How blessed you are to have this network, and Pinterest (which I still don't quite get). When my children were young, we didn't even have an internet. Actually, I don't even think I had a computer (can you believe it?!).

I can relate to some of you more mature women of faith. Jean Wise's Falling With Grace. I loved that. Sheila Kimball's finding love the second time around.


I love the humorous and sarcastic posts. I love the contemplative and thought-provoking posts. I love the bible study posts. I even enjoyed reading the posts meant for home-schoolers or Sunday school teachers. 

But I'm finding it exhausting to read all these posts and comment and linkup and remember to link back and add widgets and gadgets and enhance my pictures with PicMonkey and create pictures with biblical sayings and make sure I reply to comments left on my page (something I never had before!). I don't want to forget anyone or leave anyone out or come across as rude or uncaring or self-serving. All of this seems to take several hours a day. Oh, and I work full time (yes, I'm doing it on company time, but I work for family. It's okay).

I kind of miss the early days of my blog when all I did was write what the Holy Spirit downloaded into me. I just wrote my blog and stole borrowed downloaded pictures from Google Images. 

Am I doing something wrong? Am I striving? Does anyone else spend THIS much time doing all of this...stuff? How do you do it? How do you make your blog look so beautiful, write posts, linkup, comment, reply to comments..(and so on) AND take care of your family and home and work and friends and...

AND to boot, you post these adorable how-to things, like crafts and food...when do you actually find time to cook?

Maybe you're reading this and you're not a blogger and you have no idea what I'm talking about. Still, you have something similar in your circle...maybe you're a professional and you're trying to stay current on LinkedIn, or maybe you're a busy mom, or a nurse who works 12 hour shifts. Or maybe you're retired and you're wondering why you don't have the time you thought you'd have. Or maybe you're sandwiched in between still caring for your children and now caring for your elderly parents.

We all come face-to-face at many points in our lives with overwhelming exhaustion, especially in this age of social media and technology. Don't you sometimes just miss the simple beginnings?

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin (Zech 4:10).

So often, we want more. We want to build our blog. We want to be known. We want big ministries. We want to be asked to speak. We want to write a best seller. We want to be in the Million-dollar Realtor club. We want to have that corner office. We want to be the popular mom with the popular kids. We want, we want, we want. When is it my turn, Lord? When will the world recognize my talents and gifts? Why doesn't my church ask ME to speak/sing/teach? Why doesn't my boss see all the good I'm doing?

Too often, in all that bustling to move forward, it's so easy to lose sight of the One who promotes us, who enables us to move forward. We forget Who we're serving.

I spend hours perusing blogsites. I read and I write and I read some more and I comment and I read some more and I research and I read some more until I realize I don't even know what I just read. I'm just going through the motions. It's exhausting!

So, my blogmates, I hope you'll understand if I forget to reply to a comment left on one of my posts. I hope you'll forgive me if I forget to thank you for hosting. I hope you realize that I may not comment, but it doesn't mean I didn't read your post and that I didn't like it. I hope you can relate. Because I think I may have stirred up that old anxiety and I can't relax. I can't enjoy what I'm reading and what you're writing. 


I need to step back and step into rest.



It's more important to me to remember Who I serve than to build my blog. It's more important for me to remember Who is supposed to increase and who is supposed to decrease. It's more important for me to remember my simple beginnings. I'll get to everyone. Just not today.

Blessings Along the Path,

Mary


Song of the Day
Psalm 121 (Sons of Korah)


Sharing today with Sharing His Beauty, Playdates With God, Everyday Jesus, Testimomy Tuesday, Word-Filled Wednesday

Friday, September 26, 2014

Observations From a Mediocre Gardener

I love my garden, but this year it was severely neglected. I rediscovered my love of hiking, and every Saturday, Hubster and I decided to play in the woods instead of in the back yard. Therefore, my garden turned into this:




One of the good things I noticed however, is how my morning glories took off this year. Vines grow very fast, and have to be trained to climb something. They need something to grab on to. Their tendency is to reach up, unless the vines are redirected around something, like a fence or a trellis.


If what they're climbing suddenly stops, they'll reach for something, anything. Mine ran out of fence, so it ended up wrapping itself around the shovel. It didn't know any better. It didn't know that the shovel is not something strong that will hold up in a storm, or grounded and won't move, thereby breaking the vine and killing the growth.

As we grow in our walk with the Lord, we become like the Morning Glory vines.

The Son nourishes us and the Living Water sustains us. We reach up, desperate to hold on to that which will give us life, help us grow.

But all too often, we get distracted. Enticed. Tempted. The fence is still there, but we wonder, What's on the other side of the fence? Oh look, it's a shovel! And all I have to do to get there is just hop over the fence and grab on to the shovel.

And we do.

Little by little, the source of the vine becomes blurred, a distant memory. 

But what happens when someone who doesn't care so much about our growth, our nourishment, our existence, comes along needing that shovel?

We are carelessly tossed aside. We lay twisted and broken in the dust. 

We need to be sure that we are growing in a place of safety. A place where we will continue to flourish and bloom.

Sometimes, especially when we are new in our faith, the boundaries of Christianity seem confining. We're so conditioned in our old ways that our tendency is to "hop the fence" and then hop back. But that gets tiring and eventually we need to choose.

We need the Gardener to come alongside us every day and gently weave our wild shoots back onto the trellis. Because sometimes we are not even aware that we've fallen away. That's the thing about sin. It's deceiving. We are not always aware that we've been enticed onto the shovel until it's too late. 

I don't want you to think I'm one of those eccentric old women who talks to her plants, but here's an observation from a mediocre gardener: 

I think that my morning glory vines like being retrained, rewoven onto the trellis. 

Just as I enjoy being in the great Gardener's presence.
I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in His presence (Pr 8:30)

And here's another observation:

I enjoy weaving them.

Just as our great Gardener enjoys weaving us. 
For the Lord takes delight in His people (Ps 149:4)

And although the space on the trellis seems confining, it's really a place to get creative, especially in the early stages of growth. There is plenty of room to weave and plenty of opportunities to grab hold of. Eventually, we discover that whoever told us that Christianity was confining was lying to us.

I'll leave you with one more observation from a mediocre gardener:


The garden is a reflection of the gardener.

If I neglect my garden, it will certainly show. But if I take the time and give it the care it requires, watering it when it's dry, pulling the weeds in order to expand the root system, and continually weaving the vines around the trellis to make it look the way I want, it will reflect that care and attention. It will be a garden of glory.

In the same way,  

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Cor 3:17-18)

I want to be a reflection of a life worthy of my Lord. I want to be a trained morning glory. 


I want to be transformed into His image and reflect His glory as I become His Morning Glory.


What about you? Would you like to share the trellis with me?

Blessings as You Grow,









Song of the Day
Glory to Glory (True Worshippers)

Sharing this post with Faith Filled Friday, Faith Barista, Sunday Stillness, The Weekend Brew, Counting My Blessings

Thursday, September 25, 2014

I Want to Be Like Pearlina

I recently heard about a black bear attacking and killing a hiker in West Milford, NJ, not far from where we hiked the day before. I couldn't help but wonder, "That could have been me."

Fear

Photo credit: Kevron2001/Dreamstime.com WalkingThroughtheWaterPhoto

That night, a special report interrupted the show I was watching to tell us that the U.S. launched an attack on ISIS in Syria. I couldn't help but wonder, "What if they retaliate and we get bombed?"
Fear

Then I saw a video of Stacy Dooley, a young woman whose town (Luton, England) was taken over by radical Muslim Extremists. And I thought, "That could happen here. It really could."
Fear

Meanwhile, Christians are being beheaded. And I can't help but think, "That could happen here. That could be me."
Fear

Meanwhile, a sweet and brave young woman from my town, Katie Meyler, has risked her life to go back to Monrovia, Liberia, where her Non-Profit Organization, More Than Me is stationed, and where she has lived for the past six or seven years. More Than Me helps get young girls off the streets (where many of them are forced to work as prostitutes just to be able to afford a glass of clean water) and into school. 

But Katie is doing more than that-more than me for sure! She was given special permission to enter a quarantined area to help the victims of Ebola. According to the MTM website, 

More Than Me  has formed the Ebola-Free West Point Coalition, a group of government, community and NGO partners to end the Ebola epidemic and stop the spread of the virus. The objectives of the coalition are simple: to provide information to the West Point community about Ebola and coach them on prevention, identify the sick, treat the ill, bury the dead, reintegrate survivors, and support the families of the affected.

Sounds anything but simple. It's heartbreaking to follow her stories. This is one of the more hopeful ones:


Pearlina (used by permission More Than Me Foundation)
Meet Pearlina. She's 3. This precious pearl watched her mother die. No one wanted to take her because they were afraid. 

Fear

It's not safe for her in the hospital and Katie and her staff are trying to find Pearlina's family. Meanwhile, she is staying in a quarantined guest house run by the MTM staff of social workers and other caring individuals. You can read more about Pearlina here.

After eight days, Pearlina tested negative for the virus. She is still being monitored, but they (and all of us who follow Katie's stories and pray for Pearlina) are hopeful.
Pearlina (used by permission More Than Me Foundation)



I am simply in awe of this young woman's bravery and compassion. I confess, I can't help but think, "I'm glad that's not me."


Fear

Black bears. 
Beheadings. 
Bombings. 
Ebola. 

Is it a reason to stop living? To live our lives in fear?

That's what the devil, the radical extremists and the black bears would like. To be paralyzed with fear. Afraid to go out. Afraid to speak up. Afraid to do the things we enjoy. Afraid to help. Afraid to hope. Afraid to live. To just give up.

But then I look at Pearlina. The joy amidst the sorrow. The laughter among the tears. Hope in the midst of fear. She is probably too young to truly grasp the severity of this epidemic. She only knows that someone reached out and plucked her from the darkness and devastation. Someone cares. Someone will take care of her.


In the face of my fear, whether it is real or imagined, I want to be like Pearlina. 

To be like a child. I choose to have laughter among the sorrow, joy in the midst of my fear. Hope. 

Because Someone cared enough for me once to pluck me from the darkness of my despair and my certain destruction. 


Jesus reached out his hand and I took it. He wasn't afraid of the possibility of catching a fatal virus from me. 

He took me, scarred, battered, dirty...a sinful woman...and he embraced me anyway.
He scooped me up, took me in and cleaned me up when the world was ready to abandon me.

And when I took his hand, I agreed to let Him take care of me. His Word instructs me to give all your worries and cares to God for He cares about you (1 Peter 5:7)


Photo credit-cBCritchley/Dreamstime.com-AutumnForestPathPhoto

When fear and anxiety creep in, I want to be like Pearlina. 

I want to fall into, trust and remain in the arms of my Savior. I want to laugh in the face of devastation. I want to have hope that the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic, like well-fed calves (Mal 4:2). 


I want to frolic like that. Like Pearlina.

Blessings Along the Path,

Song of the Day
I Am Not Alone (Kari Jobe)


If you would like to donate or become a partner with More Than Me, and help young girls like Pearlina, please visit the MTM website for more details. Meanwhile, please join me in prayer for Precious Pearlina and many others like her, and do visit the website if you have time. It truly is amazing what this young woman is doing for these girls in Liberia.

One more plug: Katie in the news-the Liberian Observer thanking World Bank and the International Monetary Fund for granting over 100 million dollars to fight Ebola in 3 countries---and Katie Meyler, for scooping up Pearlina when everyone else was ready to abandon her. Read about it here

Katie's Facebook response..."..she owns me that sassy baby girl."
God bless you, Katie!

Linking up today with Thriving Thursday, Thought-Provoking Thursday, Faith Filled Friday, Friendship Friday

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Hey, Mary's Full of Grace!

There is a picture hanging in my living room called The Singing Butler by Jack Vettriano. 


http://www.heartbreakpublishing.com/
I have no idea why it's called that, because what I always focus on is the graceful woman in the red dress (not the butler). So not me. I'm not graceful. Not at all. My sister and I once took a jazz dance class and ended up laughing at each other through the whole thing. When I audition for musicals, I never worry about the dance portion, because I disclose on the form that I can't dance. I can move. I don't move well, but I can move, and with a lot of time and work spent with a choreographer, I can get by. But I can't dance.

I am choreographically challenged. Graceful I am not.

The other day I read a post by Barbie Swihart (My Freshly Brewed Life) which highlighted a beautiful song that I hadn't heard by an artist I really like. It's called We Dance  (Steffany Frizzel Gretzinger & Bethel Music). Barbie mentioned that it's highly anointed, and boy, she wasn't kidding. 

I love this song because when I first listened to it, I saw myself just spinning around and around (and not getting dizzy, which usually happens if I go in a circle at all...I can't even go on a merry-go-round). Spinning. Laughing. Full of joy. Not a care in the world except being right where I am, with Jesus. 

Then I listened to it again (I just had to download it immediately after I heard it!). I thought of how the celebrities (or at least most of them) on Dancing With the Stars go from clutzy and clunky to looking like they've been dancing for years. One of the most memorable performances to me was Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough in Season 16. During the interview after the dance, Kellie said, "This performance tonight was about trust and letting those walls down." Trust. Yes. It's all about trusting your dance partner.

One of my most favorite dances (to watch) is the Viennese Waltz. I love to watch the couples spin and twirl around the dance floor, as if gliding on air. dance.about.com describes it this way: 

Dancers exhibit graceful fluency, stamina and timing as they rotate charmingly around the dance floor.

There is nothing graceful, fluent or charming about my dancing. 

Yet...

That is exactly what I see when I hear this song.

Consider these words:


You steady me, slow and sweet
We sway...
Take the lead and I will follow.
Finally ready now to close my eyes and just believe
That You won't lead me where You don't go
When my faith gets tired and my hope seems lost
You spin me 'round and 'round and remind me of that song-
the one you wrote for me
And we dance...

...And I will lock eyes with the One who ransomed me
The One Who gave me joy for mourning
And I will lock eyes with the One Who has chosen me
The One Who set my feet to dancing...we dance
Photo Credit

It's nice to know I'm not alone...I found my home here in Your arms.
(From We Dance by Steffany Frizzel Gretzinger)

Oh what joy it is to know that when my Savior takes me in His arms, He steadies me. He calms my fears. He takes away all anxiety...as long as I let Him lead. Not only am I a terrible dancer, but I have a tendency to lead. Wrong. If I continue to lead, what's the point of the Dance?

What I find most interesting about the Viennese Waltz is that if done "properly," the posture of the dancers is very tight and upright. In fact, they hold their heads away from one another and don't look at each other. That's how I tend to dance. I'm stiff and uncomfortable. I don't really much care for dancing (with a partner). Maybe it's really the intimacy that I'm uncomfortable with.

But when I dance with my Savior, I'm like the woman in the red dress in my painting. I'm graceful. I'm beautiful. Then I close my eyes, and He spins me 'round and 'round, but I don't get dizzy. I only become more focused. And when I open my eyes, His gaze is piercing the depths of my soul. And I lock eyes with the One who ransomed me, the One who has chosen me, the One who thinks I'm beautiful and graceful and charming. I cannot look away.


I never want to look away.
I never want the dance to end.

Blessings on the Dancefloor,









Sharing today with Weekend Brew, Sunday Stillness, Spiritual Sundays, Mondays Musings, Testimony Tuesday, Wholehearted Wednesday, Word Filled Wednesday

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Safety in the Trenches

For those of you who do not know, I work for my son, a landscape contractor. Every week, we have safety meetings, for which I am to buy bagels, and provide a sign-in sheet. You know, office/mother duties.

One of the topics that was covered today was trench safety. When you're digging in a trench, the deeper you go, the more likely you are to be in danger of the walls collapsing. If you don't take the proper precautions, required by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), you risk being hurt, trapped or killed.
This is a very unsafe position for this worker.
© Spettacolare | Dreamstime.com - Photo Credit

I won't bore you with the details of trench safety, as the video was in Spanish, and I didn't understand most of the content, even with the virtual video. (When they got into soil classifications, they lost me).

What did strike me was something my son said. He was explaining that when you are in a trench of more than 5 feet, you must use something called a trench box, which prevents the sides from collapsing, thereby protecting you. 

"If you need to connect a piece of pipe that's outside the box," he said, "you don't step out of the box to connect it. You move the whole box."

Never move out of that box of protection when you're in the trench. You put yourself in great danger. 

So it is in our spiritual life.

God gives us safe boundaries. The more we mature, the more we know exactly when we are stepping just outside of those walls of protection. But sometimes we do it anyway, especially when we're in the dirty trenches of life. "I'm just going to connect this piece of pipe real quick. It's too much trouble to move the whole box. See, I'm only moving my right foot. My left foot and most of my body is still safe within my God Box."

No it's not. One foot out is one foot out. And our head, which houses our brain, our mind, our thoughts...the devil's playground...is exposed.

It only takes a second of exposure for an accident to happen. 

Moving outside of the box may be intentional. It may be out of laziness or apathy. Or rushing to get the job done to move on.

Unlike standing on solid ground, when we're in the trench is when we're most vulnerable. When we're in the most danger of getting hurt or trapped. Or, as the devil, would like...killed. Never step out of that box. 

As long as we stay in the confines of God's Trench Box, He will protect us from harm.


© Photographerlondon | Dreamstime.com - Open Trench\' Sign Photo
But here are some cool things about God's Trench Box...


It's not confining. 

You're probably conjuring up an image of a 2 foot wide trench. But not all trenches are the same size. Yes, some may be 2 feet wide. But some could be 10 feet wide. It all depends on the job. Besides, it's the trench that makes us feel confined, not the box. The box is there to protect us. It's on our side.

He moves it

We don't need to do anything. When we need to move a few feet to "connect that pipe," we don't need to physically move the safe boundaries. Before we even move, we pray. The Holy Spirit will either quicken our spirit not to move, or He will move the boundaries of safety. 

We never want to work in the trenches. It's confining, dirty and unrewarding. But there are times when we must. Just remember that you are never alone in the trenches. God's Trench Box is always there to protect you and keep you from harm.

Blessings in the Trenches,
Mare

Song of the Day
It Is Well (Bethel Music with Kristene DiMarco)


Sharing today with Word Filled WednesdaysWholehearted WednesdaysThought-Provoking ThursdayThriving ThursdayFatih Filled FridaysBlessing CountersEssential Fridays

Monday, September 15, 2014

Doubt and Unbelief: Are They the Same Thing?

Doubt and Unbelief. 

I always thought they were the same thing. Until the Holy Spirit spoke to me one night about it.

I've been having sleep issues. One night was particularly bad. I'd been falling asleep, then jolting awake as if I can't breathe (which is basically the issue) for hours. I couldn't just fall asleep and stay asleep. I could feel my peace slipping away. And I whispered into the darkness, "I will not lose my peace. I will not lose my peace. 

I suppose that's all the enemy needed to fuel the fire-my speaking it aloud. Because only moments later, I lost it. I slammed my fist against the headboard and growled in aggravation. 

I'd already woken Brian, and I felt bad about it. But I just couldn't get past my own frustration. I decided to (attempt to) sleep on the couch. Maybe if I was propped up, it would be easier. On the way down the hall, I slammed my arm/fist into the wall...just because...just because I was mad and couldn't control myself. Unfortunately, I missed the wall and hit the door frame and gave myself a very nasty bruise on my arm. 

My anger quickly turned into pain, hurt and self-pity. I cried, somewhat hysterically and dramatically, but quietly, so as not to further awaken my already awake and most likely concerned husband. 

As I reclined on the couch, I decided that I was going to take authority over this...whatever it was...and I would not believe that I had anything "wrong" with me. I decided that perhaps this was a spiritual battle. At that moment, I was unsure of how much of it was physical, how much was psychological and how much was spiritual. 

I prayed and I took authority and I got mad. And suddenly, I felt peace. My breathing slowed, and my tears stopped. I declared myself healed in Jesus name. But as much as I believed what I'd just prayed, I didn't. What if I fell asleep and it happened again? Then I wouldn't really be healed, would I? So, I prayed (just for good measure), "Lord, help my unbelief." 

Then I heard in my spirit, "Your problem is not unbelief. It's doubt."

"Well, I thought they were the same thing," I replied out loud.


"Unbelief comes from your heart. Doubt comes from your head."

Well, I really didn't get that one. And if you'll pardon me...I doubted what I heard. Because it didn't make sense to me, I figured it must not have been from God. As if anything from God needs to make sense? 

I did fall asleep, and I jolted awake again. I decided that "it didn't work." (whatever "it" was), and I didn't really hear from God. I must have made it up.

A week or so went by and several times I thought of what I'd heard.  Could they really be two different things? And what does it mean if I doubt but still believe?



Finally, I looked up the two words, and what I discovered surprised me.

Mirriam-Webster.com defines unbelief as "incredulity or skepticism, especially in matters of religious faith." Google defines it as "an absence of faith."

Unbelief is a noun. It's a thing.

Doubt, on the other hand, is a verb, specifically, a transitive verb. This means that the verb must first be an action verb and second must have a direct object. In other words, someone who receives the action of that verb. 

Doubt is a verb. An action. An action towards a noun.


Merriam-Webster defines doubt as "to be uncertain about (something): to believe that (something) may not be true or is unlikely," or "to have no confidence in (someone or something).

What the Holy Spirit was trying to tell me was that I had faith. I know that God is capable of healing me. In my heart, I believe. 

But my head was telling me something else. I second-guessed that capability for myself. I didn't trust. I questioned. When I read that second definition, I felt deep sorrow in my spirit. 

I didn't have confidence in God that He would heal me. That's doubt.


I did some further research, because, forgive me again, but I still doubted this "Word from the Lord." Maybe, I thought, in my sleep-deprived, frustrated state, I made it up."

I found on Christianity.net, the answer to a question someone posed about their faith. It wasn't exactly the same, but this stuck out:

"Doubt is not unbelief. Doubt is a state of mind in suspension between faith and unbelief."

Okay, I liked that. But I didn't know this website. It seemed legitimate, but one can't believe everything one reads on the internet. My goodness, someone might stumble onto my blog and think, "Well, who the heck is Mary Dolan Flaherty of SonRise Insights? Why should I believe her?" Hmmm...I really don't know why you should. Hopefully, you can, but I don't know that you should.

At any rate, I continued on and came across Ligonier.org: The Teaching Fellowship of R.C. Sproul-When Doubt Becomes Unbelief. I read what they had to say, and it made sense too. Consider this:

"Unbelief is the decision to live your life as if there is no God. It is a deliberate decision to reject Jesus Christ and all that He stands for. But doubt is something quite different. Doubt arises within the context of faith. It is a wistful longing to be sure of the things in which we trust. 

The more you worry about your doubts, the less you will look to God. Gradually, those vital links with the life-giving grace of God will wither—and your spiritual life will wither and shrivel. Doubt will become unbelief—because you allowed it to. Feed your doubts and your faith will starve—but feed your faith, and your doubts will starve. Doubt initially becomes a problem, and finally becomes unbelief, if, and only if, you allow it."

And finally, this from my girl, Joyce Meyer: How to Defeat Your Doubts and Feed Your Faith:

"Doubt and unbelief interrupt faith."
"The key here is the Word of God...decide to doubt your doubts."
"We can feed our faith with the Word, rather than feeding doubt with the devil's lies."

Did this "prove" that Word..."Unbelief comes from your heart. Doubt comes from your head."?

I believe that it did. Or does. I think that doubt starts in my head, in my mind. And if I feed that doubt, if I don't counteract it with faith, it will fester, and I will be in danger of having it become unbelief. I must be like Jesus, when he was tempted by satan in the wilderness. His response always began with, "It is written." I must use the Word of God to fuel and feed my faith, thereby starving my doubts. 

To not have confidence in the One who always has confidence in me...to not have confidence in the One who gives me confidence...to not have confidence that the One who experienced something far worse than a sleep issue is not capable...or worse...not willing to heal me...


that is the ultimate rejection of my faith
the ultimate transition to unbelief. 

I don't ever want to travel down that path. 
Father, forgive me.
Jesus, help my doubt.
Holy Spirit, give me faith.

It is finished
Amen

Blessings Along the Path,
Mary


Sharing my post with Naomi, at Monday MusingsLaura of Playdates With GodJoan from Sharing His BeautyHolly of Testimony TuesdayJudith of Wholehearted WednesdayWord-Filled WednesdayThought-Provoking ThursdayThriving ThursdayEssential FridaysFaith Filled FridaysBlessing Counters









Friday, September 12, 2014

Promoting Others

"Everybody's got a book!" I griped to...well to the air, I suppose. The only other breathing being in the room was the dog. And he didn't care. 
Chinook

I recently discovered something called Linkups in the blogosphere. This is when one blogger invites other bloggers to post their own blogs on the first blogger's website.

 My first thought was, "Why would you want to promote other bloggers?"

Boy did I have a lot to learn. 

It's not a competition. It's about networking, encouraging and helping. Sharing our stories with other like-minded individuals. Learning from those further along and offering a helping hand to those (like myself) who are just learning.

When you see the links at the bottom of my post...those are the linkups that I've shared on. If you click on those links, you'll find a host of other blogs, many of which might be useful or encouraging to you. We comment on each others' blogs. We follow each other. We might even subscribe to someone's blog if we really like it. That's how you build your blog...through promoting others.

But back to the book thing...

It seemed like just about every blog I visited had beautiful pictures and pages and...well, books! Everyone seems to have written a book. Granted, self-publishing has made that easier to do. Not everyone has an agent or a book deal out there. 

So why was I griping? Why was I...oh, dare I say it...ugh...JEALOUS?



Yes, that is exactly what I was. Why does that person have a book and I don't? 
Because they wrote one and you didn't.

Why do they get to stay home and write and I have to work?
You don't know their situation, circumstances or struggles. But you have a job that allows you to write during down time. 

Someone recently told me, "You can't have bad writing if you don't have anything written."
True.

I have wanted to write a book my whole life. The topics come and go. "The Book" was always more of an idea than a project. It's more romantic that way. 

So I finally buckled down and started writing one...or three. That's the problem. There are only so many burners on the stove, and I have to juggle the pots to see which one I want to cook. 

If I don't write, it won't get written. 

Maybe it's not so much jealousy, but an envy that these people have more discipline than I do. Or more time. Or more structure. Or more...whatever. 


Maybe it's not really about those other people at all. 

When I said, "Everybody's got a book!" it was with a bit of contempt...not toward them, but toward myself. 

I somehow believe that I'm not good enough, smart enough, polished enough, disciplined enough, known enough, educated enough, experienced enough...the list goes on. (But I routinely encourage others with the direct opposite!)

So I just don't bother. It's easier to keep it romanticized in my head. But the problem is, all that stuff in my head needs to get on paper. It's begging to be written.

I look at the pictures of these women on their web/blogsites. They're regular gals, like me. So they wrote a book. So, why don't you buy it? Read it. Promote it. Be happy for their success. Learn from them.

There is no deadline for my book(s). I put pressure on myself. And when I think I can't meet my own expectations, I quit. It's easier not to write it. I have a habit of quitting when things get too hard.

And the cycle begins again.

But here's the most important thing...

I can't do any of this unless God gives it to me. 

Gives me the inspiration. Gives me the ability to write. Gives me the time. Gives me the discipline and the structure and the how-to. Gives me the strength to stand up to the enemy when he tells me all those lies that I'm not________ enough. 

It doesn't matter that I don't have an impressive bio or that I have 25 blog followers and not 25,000. It doesn't matter that I don't have the degree which (in my mind) qualifies me to write a book on any certain subject matter. God doesn't look at all of that.

God looks at my heart. My character. My desire. My authenticity.



All I need to do is write. If I delight myself in Him, He will give me the desires of my heart (Ps 37:4). God will promote me in His time. 

What promotion are you waiting on God for? 

Are you doing your part? Are you jealous of someone else's success? Let's examine our hearts today. Let's promote someone else today.

Please visit these wonderful women's sites who so graciously allow me, and other bloggers to linkup on their sites (partial list; I'm still discovering!):

Mondays: Monday Musings, Playdates With God
Tuesdays: Testimony Tuesday
Wednesdays: Wholehearted Wednesday, Word-Filled Wednesday
Thursdays: Thought-Provoking Thursdays, Thriving Thursdays
Fridays: Faith-Filled Fridays, Essential Fridays, Blessing Counters
Sundays: Sunday Stillness, The Weekend Brew
Please also note that if the link doesn't work, it may be because that "linkup" is closed (refreshes each week). Type the Name in your browser and hopefully that will work.


Blessings Along the Path,
Mary