Distraction of Inability

Submitted by Rev. Jennifer Sakata

Grace Through a Not So Perfect Pot

Jennifer is a sister speaker and author in the book, Whispers of Grace.
I know you will gain from her insights. If her message speaks to your heart, she would love to hear from you- links at the end.

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.” Luke 15: 8-10, NLT

Sandwiched in the middle of two other stories about lost things being found, sits this sketch of a woman and her lost coin. All three stories include some kind of celebration. It makes sense to rah-rah when a lost sheep is discovered or whoop it up for a wayward child who has come home.

But invite friends and neighbors in over a lost coin—a celebration preceded by the admission of having lost something so dear in the first place?

Sometimes, what we’ve mislaid is insignificant and no big deal—perhaps inconvenient, but not life-altering. Like the glasses I left on top of my head or the scissors chillin’ out in the freezer or the keys buried under a pile of papers long-forgotten. Those lost things make us all laugh and appreciate our collective absentmindedness.

But when I’ve misplaced something big like a large amount of cash, or a birth certificate, or some prized-piece of jewelry, I don’t want everyone to know about it.

I’m embarrassed. How could I have lost something so important? How could I have been so careless with something so precious? Why didn’t I set it someplace I’d remember?

Guilty as charged.

Eyes are drawn to my inability to keep track of things I never should have lost.

Such a script forces us to hide, frantically searching for what remains hidden—until it is not.

There is shame and criticism in these voices with their laser-focus on our inability—this toxic spotlight on what I ‘shouldn’t’ have done, or how ‘inept’ and ‘slipshod’ I am.

Meanwhile, something lost or someone off in the distance sits waiting to be found.

Have you ever been there? Ever been so distracted by your inability that the ‘shoulds’ and the ‘would-a could-as’ speak louder than the truth—that we serve a grace-giving God who specializes in lost things being found.

I love this woman’s response: Come on over—everyone! Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin. She’s unafraid to celebrate. Her rejoicing covers any trace of ineptitude or lack of planning or disorganization.

The distraction of inability is quickly replaced by the point of the story Jesus tells: the lost is found; it’s reason enough to make merry.

The woman and her celebrations are such a beautiful image of grace. No more energy wasted on why the coin was lost or how it got that way. No more perseverating on what character flaws caused her to lose it. “Found” is the order of the day, and now it’s time to party!

Grace gives eyes to see and celebrate what’s been found. Grace welcomes a friend and reaches toward a neighbor in recognition of what wasn’t but now is. Grace removes the distraction of our inability and replaces it with God’s sufficiency for His Glory and our good.

Where have you lost something precious?

Perhaps it’s something you’ve treasured over the years.

Or perhaps it’s some way of being and seeing God and others that has slipped through the cracks of busyness, rush, hurry and a mind that’s too full for remembering one more thing.

No matter the reason, let go the distraction; it’s never been about your ability or mine. It’s always about His—through us.  

And besides, the search is always better when shared. So is the party too!

Jesus, thank you for being a Savior and Lord who finds lost things, rejoices in lost things found and calls us to do likewise. When my heart is hard or keeping track of all the ways I ‘shouldn’t’ have, draw me nearer to You, God of Grace. When I’m the one doing the losing, help me not be shamed into silence. Open my eyes to what’s lost and forgotten. Thank you that You call me to celebrate—to look beyond myself to what You are up to. Thank you for finding me each day. Amen.

As always, I appreciate your support and the honor of encouraging you through words of my own and others each month.

Seeking to serve,

Peg Arnold

Speaker/Author

Get to Know Jennifer Sakata

Rev. Jennifer Sakata is a storyteller, observer of life, and grace-growing follower of Jesus. She lives in Central Illinois with her husband Craig and two fun-loving sons. Jennifer is a speaker, writer, and contributing author in two recent publications: She Writes for Him: Stories of Living Hope by Redemption Press and Whispers of Grace by EA Books. Jennifer is active in her community and you might see her cycling around on her hot-pink-tired road bike!

Please connect with Jennifer on her website, Grace Through a Not So Perfect Pot at 

www.JenniferSakata.com

www.facebook.com/JenniferSakata.Author

www.instagram.JenniferSakata

If this message encouraged you, I would love to hear from you! If you are not already connected, reach out to me through one of the following!

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If you haven’t gotten a copy of my devotional, check this out. It makes a great gift!

https://www.amazon.com/Devotions-Distracted-Heart-Peg-Arnold/dp/1732769923/

A Mother’s Day Tribute


But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:9
Hi Friend!
It is Mother’s Day weekend and I wanted to share with you a tribute to my Mom, Ardis Merrill, who died August 2012. I still miss her and especially feel that absence when I walk by the card aisle. My mom left a legacy of love and faith for three daughters, two sons, and many grands and great grands.
The following poem is a tribute my sister wrote following her death. I pray it not only gives you a glimpse of my legacy but may it open doors for you to appreciate yours as well.

I Wear Her Face………..
By Beth Byerley
Peering through the lens of time to backward years
That lie like a long string of dominoes
Still falling forward – and feeling the momentum
As I am propelled forward with them, I wear her image like a cloak
All-at-once identifying me, coloring who I am.

We lost Mom’s presence nearly a year ago,
When her favorite season was coming to an end – Summer.
The time when her home on the lake was swelled with
Children, grandchildren, family, friends.
She cleaned, laundered, swept, and baked her way through summer,
Time measured by pitchers of koolaid, cribbage games, needlepoint projects.
Her presence permeated through
Smells of morning coffee, freshly baked muffins,
Through vases of the flowers she gathered –
From spring’s lilacs to late summers’ lilies;
Through the sounds of her smooth, warm voice
Talking low over the breakfast table…
The sweet beginning of a summer day with Mom.

I knew my Mother well – her deep faith in God
And her pervasive love for her family.
Fiercely loyal and true to her beliefs, she had her share of heart dents in life…
The wounds of prejudice,
The slights caused by battles with callousness and ignorance,
Poverty…
She wore her wounds like a soldier – fighting forward, suffering in silence,
Aware that other’s wounds were worse than her own.
And she loved us with openness of heart on the ground floor of life,
Where the anger could be expressed, the grief could be cried,
And the love could be embraced.

Mom decorated life from the time she entered it, until she left it.
Whether it was her beautiful face, the colorful scarves,
The art treasures she created with her hands in swift stitches on fabric,
Bold strokes with brushes and watercolor on canvas,
Or the creative ways she transformed “ordinary” into “beautiful”,

Mom left this world a more beautiful place because she was here.
She lived her life like a missionary: giving herself away to others,
Mentoring people behind her on the journey of life and faith —
Sharing truth with them; supporting them through their struggles.

She gave herself to us and our families…
Welcoming us for holidays and family gatherings…
Coming to our homes to care for our children,
Bringing the warmth and security of her presence while we traveled away,
Giving us peace of mind as we entrusted our precious families to her care.

Mom loved to travel….seeing the world at its best time…
Before wars and hatred tore our human fabric into fractured pieces.
We all have treasures from various parts of the world
As she brought home small pieces of its exotic beauty to us.

She shared her life with us, even as it began to close at the end….
Her eyes becoming her only way to express her love
As her brain dulled and her speech stopped.
We could see her frustration as she tried to join with us,
Participate in our circles of conversation,
Let us know her thoughts — but not being able to
Make it through the maze of twists and turns
As her Alzheimers slowly blocked her pathways through to us–
The people she loved most in the world.

When we said our final goodbye, surrounding her in the
Tight circle of family she had created in her womb…
Whom she had nurtured and served all her life,
It was to release her to the freedom of heaven,
To the great love of God and all who had gone before.
And what is left behind?
We are her legacy….
The sons and daughters and loving husband;
The beloved family she adored;
The friends and churches to whom she gave pieces of herself and her heart.

And to us, her daughters, she gave a more visible legacy –
Features from her lovely face.
May I be a credit to the legacy and all that it means….
May I love well and fully through a heart that loves Jesus first
.May I mentor and guide others to health and wholeness.
And may I love my family in ways that undergird them
With the secure knowledge of unconditional love.
I Thank God that being perfect is not the requirement for being loved.
Because love grows and prospers in
Grace, Forgiveness, and Healing.
That is what I learned from ARDIS MARIE, my Mother.

I pray you have a Blessed Mother’s Day!

As always, I appreciate your encouragement and seek to serve!
Peg Arnold
Bringing Stories to Life!
Check out Peg’s Mother’s Day Message- Avoid Comparison Games, Embrace Your Design https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfVo77yuixc&t=845s

If this message encouraged you, I would love to hear from you! If you are not already connected, reach out to me through one of the following!

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Twitter @ArnoldPeg           

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Or you could order my book Devotions for the Distracted Heart- https://www.amazon.com/Devotions-Distracted-Heart-Peg-Arnold/dp/1732769923/

Restoring Re-Entry

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6,7

Hi Friends!

I wanted to share a resource with you this month. Many of you may remember the reflection sheet I shared last year, titled, “Required Retreat”.  Well now that things are opening up and we are each deciding what our New Normal is going to look like, I created a follow up sheet. Some of you may have seen this online through Facebook or Instagram. It’s called Restoring Re-Entry. It is my prayer that you can use it as a source of support, accountability, and encouragement. I chose the word Restoring as a way of reminding us of the promise that God made to the Israelites;
      And I will restore or replace for you the years that the locust has eaten, Joel 2:25a

Others have used words like rebuilding or refreshing as they make decisions for the future. What will your new normal look like? I have focused on the same four areas of our life impacted this past year: Emotional, Physical, Social, and Spiritual. With each area, I have given two ways to refocus your thoughts and actions, a Scripture reference, and on the worksheet, I provide a space to record your personal thoughts. 

I’d love to hear from you if this reflection sheet is helpful. How you used it. How it encouraged you or supported someone else.  Please let me know by a comment on my page or responding to this email.

Thank you for joining me on this journey of faith. May we all continue to grow and discover ways to grow closer to Christ and to each other. In challenging times, one of my favorite verses is Isaiah 41:10;

So 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

For a copy of the reflection worksheet, use this link.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Pb3nRdx2xtPYcU0J5-kXaUtoPyQ7ngHh/view?usp=sharing

As always, I appreciate your encouragement and seek to serve!

Peg Arnold

Bringing Stories to Life!

If this message encouraged you, I would love to hear from you! If you are not already connected, reach out to me through one of the following!

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Twitter @ArnoldPeg          

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In addition to getting this monthly encouragement, I post a monthly devotion as well. To receive this, follow my Devotions for the Distracted Heart Blog : http://www.pegarnold@wordpress.com  

Or you could order my book Devotions for the Distracted Heart- https://www.amazon.com/Devotions-Distracted-Heart-Peg-Arnold/dp/1732769923/

Seek and Find

A guest devotional from a sister Whispers of Grace author and speaker, Colette Shaffer.

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. in the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. John 17:33

Did you ever play hide-and-seek as a kid or even as an adult? Did you prefer to hide rather than seek? Seeking takes work and diligence to find who or what it is you are looking for. When my kids were young and would play this game, I would often hear one of them yell (when they were seeking), “I give up!” It’s easy to give up on what we are seeking before we find it, but how rewarding it is when we are persistent and discover what we are looking for!

We play this game of hide-and-seek almost every day to varying degrees. As I have scoured over the images on Pinterest (yes, I’ve got sucked in, too), it seems we all are seeking the same basic things. We look for better organization, knowledge, a tip, a yummy recipe, decorating, the latest trends in style and design, or a great fit body. I believe, however, that we are also seeking more profound things for ourselves. As believers, we long for such wisdom, knowledge, and ultimately fulfillment in our lives through our God-given purpose.

I believe the most daunting task for people is seeking to find who they were created to be. You have probably heard or have even stated yourself, “I just need to find myself.” What that really means is that they need to find out who they are and what it is that will make them feel at peace, complete, and whole. Unfortunately, people (even Christians) try to use things of this world or even other people to accomplish their longing for wholeness.

Jesus told his disciples in John 17:32, “Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone.” Now Jesus was speaking specifically to his disciples and their situation, knowing that He soon would be crucified. His disciples would be scattered and leave him alone, but I also believe that there is a message to Christians today. I have seen so many scattered Christians, interested in their own things and leaving Christ and all he did for us alone.

Jesus went on to explain himself, saying, “These things I have spoken to you, that in ME you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” He’s saying you don’t go looking for peace and fulfillment in the world – there is nothing but hardship and hopelessness out there. He says that He already overcame those things so that you wouldn’t have to wallow through them but find yourself IN HIM.


 I guarantee that you will not be disappointed if you seek to find who you are IN HIM! He will far exceed anything you could have hoped or imagined for yourself. Seek Him daily, and you will find precisely who you were created to be.

Father, I thank you for sending Jesus to overcome the world. Help me to stay diligent in seeking out the One who brings peace to every situation I face. Amen.

Colette Schaffer is a writer, speaker, and recovering perfectionist who lives 2 hours from the nearest Walmart on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. This teacher at heart, and by profession, will encourage and equip you to dive deep into God’s Word so you can apply it to every part of your life–spirit, soul, and body. Colette has been a pastor with her husband since 2006. She has written two books; Expecting Jesus: An Advent Devotional and Planted: A Guided Study to Produce a Peace-Filled Life in an Anxiety-Filled World. She is also a contributor to the book, Whispers of Grace – a collection of stories, devotions, poems, and prayers.

Colette Shaffer

Check out her website! https://www.schafferministries.com/

As always, I appreciate your encouragement and seek to serve!

Peg Arnold

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Bringing Stories to Life!

If this message encouraged you, I would love to hear from you! If you are not already connected, reach out to me through one of the following!

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pegarnoldwow/

Twitter @ArnoldPeg          

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Pinterest Peg Arnold with Wonder of Women

Linked in https://www.linkedin.com/in/peg-arnold-WOW

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Interested in attending Pegs next virtual conference? Ill be speaking about Avoid Comparison Games, Embrace Your Design. Be sure to use SPEAKER for 30% off. Here are the links.

3 day conference

1 day conference

3 day conference with swag bag

Hope to “see” you there!

Or you could order my book Devotions for the Distracted Heart- https://www.amazon.com/Devotions-Distracted-Heart-Peg-Arnold/dp/1732769923/Open document settings

Distraction of Drifts

A discerning person keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth. Proverbs 17:24

While nestled in my warm cozy home, watching the snow accumulate and drift with the latest Colorado storm, I am grateful I do not have to go anywhere.  The aromas of baked bread and crock pot soup waft through the air while I am wrapped in my warm fluffy blanket, savoring my second cup of coffee. When the kids were younger, blizzards were welcome pauses allowing time for family games, sledding, building snow men, and helping with the exhausting job of shoveling and clearing the snow from the driveway and front walk.  During this particular storm, husband tried to get out and remove the snow in shifts hoping to keep the work to a minimum. However, we watched as the wind intervened and the fluffy white drifts filled the cleared pavement deeper than it was before.

Sometimes my intentions drift like snow.  Receiving this gift of time, made me realize how vulnerable I am to this.  It seemed that the unexpected pause should have allowed me the ability to cross off those organizational tasks on my never-ending “to-do” lists. Instead, I seemed to drift aimlessly between tasks and had difficulty focusing on anything. Like the drifting snow, even though some of the tasks were completed, more tasks piled into the space created. I was left with a guilty feeling instead of taking a moment to breathe and relax.

Drifting snow has its changing beauty and tends to slow things down.  Most of my days are so scheduled that I constantly live under a cloud of guilt with the lack of my own productivity. Blizzards can bring a welcome bonus day off that allows more flexibility and opens up special times with loved ones or just plain relaxation. 

Proverbs 17: 24 is a reminder that when we are wise and intentional with our thoughts we are more discerning to what God’s will is for us. But if we wander too much, we can stray from God’s desires.  At first, I interpreted this as an admonishment to my squandered hours during my day off.  However, as I thought about it, God was reminding me to be intentional about how I use these unexpected gifts of time.  He is slowing me down to recognize the immeasurable value to family time, relaxation, and maybe focus on a devotion I might have raced through the first time.  Proverbs 62:5 reminds me to find my rest in God. “Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him.”

Dear Lord, Thank you for the gift and beauty of drifting snow. During this past year, there have been many cancellations and changes that have provided opportunities to slow down. Help me, especially as I approach Holy Week, realize that there is value in relaxation and rest and savor it. Amen


As always, I appreciate your encouragement and seek to serve!

Peg Arnold

Bringing Stories to Life!

If this message encouraged you, I would love to hear from you! If you are not already connected, reach out to me through one of the following!

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pegarnoldwow/

Twitter @ArnoldPeg          

Instagram  arnoldpeg

YouTube- Subscribe to Peg Arnold and the Wonder of Women  Channel

Pinterest Peg Arnold with Wonder of Women

Linked in https://www.linkedin.com/in/peg-arnold-WOW

Interested in attending Pegs next virtual conference? Ill be speaking about Avoid Comparison Games, Embrace Your Design. Be sure to use SPEAKER for 30% off. Here are the links.

3 day conference

1 day conference

3 day conference with swag bag

Hope to “see” you there!

Or you could order my book Devotions for the Distracted Heart- https://www.amazon.com/Devotions-Distracted-Heart-Peg-Arnold/dp/1732769923/

Fight Comparison Games and Embrace Your Design

Hi Friend!

I don’t know about you, but, I am  anxious to be able to  meet in person for retreats and events. The fall appears to be opening up for a few in person events which I will tell you more about soon.  In the meantime, I have been offering virtual coffees for small groups at your convenience.  

But there is something bigger happening next month! I don’t usually use my blog to advertise events, but this one is different! I want to invite you to join me at a virtual conference! This conference is directed towards women, but men are always welcome.  In life, there are so many aspects we are always trying to manage, improve, all while glorifying our King. We all know it can get hard, we can feel lost, like we’re barely getting by. This is exactly why I’m emailing you today. I was invited to speak at The Kingdom Women: Bearing Fruit Summit Series. This conference I’m speaking in was created solely with you, the Kingdom Woman, in mind and personally want to invite you.

Here’s the deal…
The Kingdom Women: Bearing Fruit Summit Series was created to provide Christian Women with a space to be encouraged in their faith and grow in their relationships with the Lord. This series is for you; my sister in the Kingdom, in your walk with God while you honor Him in ALL aspects of your life.

Join me and others in serving through teaching Biblical principles in the four major areas of Business, Marriage, Motherhood, and Emotional Health and Self-Care. Everything we wish to convey is solely scripture based as we believe that scripture is spirit breathed and cannot be added to or taken away from. I will be speaking on Motherhood and teaching Avoid the Comparison Games, Embrace Your Design.

The best part? You can enjoy this virtual event from the comfort of your own home. During this event, you will virtually be able to move from speaker to speaker, visit with vendors and sponsors, it is just like a live event, except while you sit on the couch with a cup of coffee! 

Because of your past support of my ministry, you can register at 30% off below with my code: SPEAKER.

 Click Here to receive all 3 days at one special price

Click Here To Register for The Day I am Speaking 4/15

[ Be sure to save 30% by using the Code: SPEAKER ]

If you’d like to learn more about the event, you can read more at: kingdomwomen.net

I look forward to “seeing you” there!


As always, I appreciate your encouragement and seek to serve!

Peg Arnold

Bringing Stories to Life!

If this message encouraged you, I would love to hear from you! If you are not already connected, reach out to me through one of the following!

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pegarnoldwow/

Twitter @ArnoldPeg          

Instagram  arnoldpeg

YouTube- Subscribe to Peg Arnold and the Wonder of Women  Channel

Pinterest Peg Arnold with Wonder of Women

Linked in https://www.linkedin.com/in/peg-arnold-WOW

     More ways to Connect
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Distraction of Definition

February, it’s the time of year when we think about love, mainly because of Valentine’s Day.  I remember as a girl, buying valentines for every single one of my classmates. Each of these had silly little sayings about love, but I would be very intentional about picking out certain ones for specific friends.  At that age, love was more of a feeling I had for my family, friends, and God.  Of course, through the years, my Valentine celebrations morphed into romantic expectations, you know, the kind found in books and movies. Eventually I experienced those early stages of puppy love but also some disappointments. 

Love has now expanded far beyond the celebration of a February holiday and those early days of conversation hearts.   As a believer, love is something I strive to demonstrate to God and others. Being a wife, mom, and nana, I want my actions of affection to be intentional and impactful.  In English, we use one word Love, as a noun or as a verb with various definitions and degrees of emotion.  But in the Greek language, love has eight different words! (listed alphabetically)

  1. Agápe: empathetic, universal love- This is the unconditional love we have for God and others as in the two greatest commandments: You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself, Matthew 22:37-39. 
  2. Eros: romantic, passionate love- This  is the passion you have for your spouse or significant other.
  3. Ludus: playful, flirtatious love- These are the beginning, tingling feelings without really knowing the other person.
  4. Mania: obsessive loveThis is a one-sided and very unhealthy desire for another person built on possession and control.
  5. Philia: intimate, authentic friendship- This is the affection you have for your dearest friends. It’s referred to as brotherly love-as in Philadelphia, and intended to mean a closeness and intimacy without physical attraction.
  6. Philautia: self-love- Remember Matthew 22:39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,  Philautia is the positive emotions we should have for ourselves. I think many of us struggle with this type of love.  Even Aristotle said, “All friendly feelings for others are an extension of a man’s feelings for himself.” If this is true, I need to learn to love myself better so I can love others well.
  7. Pragma: committed, companionate love – This would be the sacrificial love of a caretaker or a mature marital love. It is a love that commits to the well-being of the other person without expectations.
  8. Storge: unconditional, familial love- This is a family and parental type of affection. Unconditional like Agape but intended for our family members. (found in the Greek City Times; comments-mine)

Defining love using the Greek words helped me realize that even as a little girl, I was learning different ways to demonstrate affection to others.  My Dad often reminded me that Agape love was the most important mission in life- love for God and fellow man.  His verse was  Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony, Colossians 3:14 . Another beloved minister taught me that I should have more than one type of love for those closest to me. But the biggest lesson from my “love” definition exploration is how my own Philautia-self-love or lack thereof can affect the impact of my love for others.   How about you?  Which of these definitions of love are new to you? How will that impact the way you love God, others, and yourself?

Dear Lord, What a marvelous God You are! Without You, we would not know what love is, for You are the creator and exemplar of love. You loved us so much that You gave Your only Son, that if we believe; we would have new life through Him. May we learn to love You deeply, others empathetically, and ourselves unconditionally. For the love we have for ourselves, impacts the love we are capable to give to others. Amen.

As always, thank you for your support and encouragement.

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Distraction of Disbelief

I have the opportunity to share a devotion from this talented author and friend, Kim Cusimano. We are both published in Whispers of Grace with several other gifted authors and speakers. I know you’ll be inspired by her words. I’ll be posting my February devotion next week.

Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. Psalms 86:11

“You don’t need to run tests on his right eye. He wears a prosthetic eye.” After trying to talk to the technician at the optometrist’s office about my son’s right eye, I resolved to sit back and find the humor in her actions. She started with the familiar directions, “Follow the red dot. Try not to blink.” After completing all the tests on his left eye, I tried again to explain why there was no reason to test his right eye. She held firm, “I’ll just go ahead and test them both.” One more time, “Ma’am, there is no need. It is an acrylic shell, cosmetic only.” She tested both eyes.

I grinned, realizing there was no way I was going to convince her of the truth. My son’s right eye is hand-sculpted and hand-painted. No matter how real it looks, it is incapable of vision. Countless red dots would not change the fact he is blind in his right eye.

Truth can be a tricky thing. We can declare something to be true that is not true at all. The technician could see an eye that looked real, so she presumed it needed testing for some measure of function. Notice her actions followed what she believed. Also, it was apparent she was influenced by other variables. One variable was her position. She was the technician, and I was not. She had a job to do, a chart to complete. Another variable was her experiences. Had she ever seen a prosthetic eye?  

What would have been a good measure for her to use in validating the truth? She could have listened to his mother. The person who was with him after surgery when they removed his malformed right eye and left an empty eye socket. The person who sat with him while a skilled gentleman worked to create his prosthesis. The person he ran to on the beach when sand would get under it, irritating enough to remove it, “Here, Mom, hold my eye.”

This experience at the doctor’s office still brings a chuckle and reminds me to be careful how I determine truth. The technician had access to the patient’s mother, yet she let her position and possible lack of experience hinder her perception of what was true.

I am guilty of this with God. He is my Heavenly Father, my creator, and yet I do not always go to Him to validate what is true.  He has the position and knowledge to confirm the truth. The Bible says He is the originator of all truth. It belongs to Him. Psalms 86:11 says, “Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.”

Dear Lord, help me walk in Your truth. Help me to recognize what is true in light of Your character, Your position, and Your knowledge. Remind me not to lean on my limited understanding but to be a student of Your principles and truths. Amen

Kim Cusimano is the founder of Full Joy Ministries. She is an author whose poetry and articles have been published in several compilation books. As a mother to four, two of whom are special-needs young adults, she spends her time encouraging those around her to reach their full potential.

Visit her at fulljoyministries.com

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As always, thank you for your support and encouragement. Blessings! Peg Arnold

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Distraction of Distortion

Ponzo Image from wikipedia-Which line appears longer?

 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4: 8, 9

I love puzzles. I remember as a girl, receiving my Highlights magazines and eagerly turning to the Hidden Picture page. As I got older, Highlights was replaced with Games magazine’s eyeball benders and rebus puzzles. But the ones that captivated me the most were the visual illusions like the one pictured above or even Escher drawings. I was fascinated with the pictures that distorted my perception in such a way, that I could not tell whether steps were going up or down, lines appeared to be different lengths when they were equal, or pictures could look like two completely different objects depending on your individual acuity.

As a counselor, I found these images useful to springboard lessons on conflict resolution. I would present the visual illusion to the class and ask what they see. Of course, their responses differed depending on their perspective. Some students were perceptive enough to see both sides of the illusion, while others were confused how anything other than what they saw could exist. Sharing these viewpoints lead into an interesting discussion about how our individual perceptions and differences influence our communication and even lead to conflicts.

It occurred to me this can impact our own self-perception.  I began using these images with students who were navigating confidence issues.  We discussed how the picture distorted the eyes to think that the lines are different lengths.   I worked with them to identify internal and external messages that were distorting the truth about themselves.  Then of course the next step was to replace those negative messages with positive ones to build their self-assurance.

We have just experienced a year of isolation, cancellation, and separation. It was easy to focus on the brokenness and the loss around us. The difficulties and fears of the world infiltrated our homes on a daily basis through social media and news, disrupting and distorting our realities.   I myself began to listen more to my internal messages of fear, insecurity, doubt, comparison, and unworthiness. Am I the only one? I knew I needed to do something before those statements became my reality.

 Combatting the negative thoughts with His word was what I needed to remove those lines and messages that were distorting and distracting me from my purpose.  Just like Paul says in his letter to the Philippians 4: 8, 9 (bolded text is my choice).

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

His words can bring peace to my messages of:

Fear-Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Insecurity- I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely. Psalm 63:8

Doubt-No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:39

Comparison- For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  Ephesians 2:10

Unworthiness- Lord, you have examined my heart  and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! Psalm 139:1-6

We are at the beginning of a new year. What scriptures and meditations can you fix your eyes on to remove the lines and messages that may have distorted your thoughts this past year. My word this year is Encourage with the verse from 1 Thessalonians 5:11. My prayer is that this message has been an encouragement for you.

So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.

Dear Lord, Help me to focus on the truth of Your word in times of doubt and despair. May I realize I am never alone and even when chaos disrupts my reality, help me feel Your peace.  Amen

As always, I appreciate your encouragement and seek to serve!

Peg Arnold

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Distraction of Darkness

 The star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. Matthew 2:9-10

Today, December 21, is not only the shortest day of the year (for those of us in the northern hemisphere) but then of course, it leads to the longest night.   Because this occurs annually right before Christmas, many churches have a tradition to hold a “Longest Night” service, or some call it “Blue Christmas”.  Unlike all other holiday services that celebrate the hope, joy, love, and peace, this service provides a place of refuge and comfort for those who are mourning.  The ones I have attended have begun with a dark room and then slowly added light through candles, symbolizing the light of Christ.

Christmas, more than any other time, is the season when all is supposed to be “merry and bright”. The hymns, carols, movies, and decorations shout “joy” to the world.  This makes it even harder when we are in turmoil and we put on that paper face smile trying to hide that fact that we are grieving the absence of a loved one, the loss of finances, an illness that has robbed us of our abilities, or the challenges of 2020. When we are struggling, it feels like we are walking in a constant darkness, unable to see or embrace the light.

This year of all years, God knew we would be challenged. In His divine plan, God is sending a gift to all of us on this longest, darkest night of the year. For the first time in 800 years, the planets Jupiter and Saturn will be lining up to create a celestial super star to light the night sky.  It is hypothesized that this could have been the same phenomena that occurred when Christ was born, thus it has been named, the Christmas star. This star (assuming we will have clear skies) will bring the comfort of light to our dark skies much like a candle brings light to a dark room.

Jesus talked about being the light of the world. When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12.  Doesn’t it make sense that God would allow us to experience this light phenomena during the season in which we celebrate His birth? 

God sent His light into the world on that first silent and holy night in the form of a tiny baby. That light is the source of salvation, faith as well as joy, hope, peace and love. It’s my prayer that you can find refuge and comfort in this light that overcomes all darkness. You may not be able to attend a Blue Christmas service, but maybe you can take time to search the skies for this promise of hope, or even light a candle in the dark as a reminder, you do not bear your burden alone. The Savior of the world is with you.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-12

Dear Lord, On this longest night of the year, I thank You for Your creation of the Christmas Star. Just as that star is bringing light to a dark world, reveal Yourself to me in the midst of my darkness. I need to experience Your light, love, hope, comfort, strength, and peace. Amen