Distraction of Denver

I lift up my eyes to the hills— from where will my help come?
 My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth
,” Psalm 121: 1, 2.

On my first trip out west, I was mesmerized by the ever changing landscape. The Rocky Mountains slowly rose as white ghosts of snow-capped summits into view and took my breath away. For the first time, I was witnessing the sights that must have inspired the lyrics, “purple mountain majesty” and “the mountains declare the glory of God.”

As I arrived to the city of Denver, the sights quickly consumed my view: the new baseball stadium, quaint café squares adorned with statues and fountains, remodeled antique store fronts contrasted with shiny modern architecture. These new highlights diverted my focus from the beautiful landscapes in the distance. I loved the sights of the city, but they completely distracted me from the splendor of the mountains on the western horizon.

Then it struck me. How much is this like my daily life? I often spend devotional time in the morning when I lift my eyes vertically to the Lord and am refreshed with His power and glory. But when I leave my devotional time and jump into my day, I become consumed with the horizontal demands and sights close at hand.

God is like those mountains that surround the western side of Denver. He is always there watching and waiting to offer strength and refreshment. When we look vertically to Him, we are aware of His presence, but many times our thoughts and view are consumed with our horizontal daily demands.

We are called daily to lift our eyes, vertically, to the hills. This is where our help comes from.

I lift up my eyes to the hills— from where will my help come?
 My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth
,” Psalm 121: 1, 2.

It is only then that He endows us with strength and empowers us to reach out horizontally to others.

Dear Lord, How Majestic is your name in all the earth. As I seek to serve you daily, help me to focus on the glory of your vertical insights that will strengthen and guide me in my horizontal demands. Amen

Note to my readers I want to share an exciting opportunity I have to publish some of these devotions in a book called Devotions for the Distracted Heart. I will keep you posted on the details when the book comes available, hopefully by June 2019. This has consumed much of my time, so I wanted you to be the first to know about this.

Also if you are interested in meeting in person, Check out this link for some of the places I will be speaking or conferences I will be attending. Let me know to look for you there!  https://wonderofwomen.org/events

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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February Love Verses Album 2

Here are the rest of the February Love verses. I pray these are an encouragement to you. You may share these freely. The images are taken from Word Swag Free images.

I look forward to sharing some exciting news with you next month. Its a project I have been working on this month also.

 

Distraction of Detours #devotion

Fear not, I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, help you and uphold you by my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 

On our way to dinner the other night, my husband took a new route putting us on a  convoluted detour. Rush hour traffic further delayed our scheduled arrival time which increased the anxiety in the vehicle. As he turned to get onto the familiar route, the sight of the moon hovering on the horizon, caused us to both draw in a breath. It was at least ten times its normal size. We pulled off to the side as we were  mesmerized with a gift we would not have experienced without the detour.

There are many types of detours we experience in life. Some that reroute our path while travelling. Then there are those detours that interrupt and meander our lives in directions we had not planned to journey. Sometimes we end up on a detour because we have made an error. Sometimes it is the results of circumstances out of our control. Each detour has its own set of challenges. It can increase our anxiety as we travel unknown paths with unexpected twists and turns. Sometimes it is filled with ruts and bumps that cause pain. It can also increase our distress as we fear that we will never return to the path of comfort, familiarity and strength.

In Isaiah, God promises that we are not to fear or become dismayed at any time in our life. He reassures us that we are never alone, He is with us.  He explains to us that He will give us the strength and the help we need by holding us through our journey by His righteous right hand.

This verse means a lot to me as it is one that my dad has recited through many detours and challenges in his life. It is one of those verses that comforts me with reassurance of God’s presence. In spite of detours that bring dismay, loneliness, loss, and fear into my life, He is there holding me. I love this image of being held and guided by my Lord. I may not know where the next turn is in the detour I am travelling, but I know that in my weakness and fear, He will be there to strengthen me and . . . “hold” me.

Depending on His wisdom and His strength helps me to recognize the gifts that He gives along the way. There are gifts we receive even when we are travelling challenging detours. Sometimes, we do not appreciate those gifts until we get back to the familiar path. It is by looking backwards that we are able to recognize His unfailing grace.

What detour are travelling today? No matter what put you on your unfamiliar path, Fear not, do not be dismayed, the Lord is with you, He will strengthen you and help you by holding you in His righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10.

Dear Lord, As I travel this road filled with challenges, changes, loss and other unknowns, I realize that You are the source of strength and comfort. Help me to be aware of the support of Your hand surrounding me and guiding me. Amen.

Distraction of Doughboys #devotion

 Rejoice always,  pray continually,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

The snow falling this past weekend reminded me of the wintry mornings when my children were little. There was one storm in particular that had everything closed for the day. This gave me that gift of time to prepare a special breakfast for the family. I had all the ingredients to make one of the kids’ favorite treats, cinnamon surprise rolls. They loved helping to dip the marshmallows in cinnamon sugar and butter, then wrapping a crescent roll around them before putting them into the oven.

I had just started to assemble the ingredients and hadn’t even opened the crescent rolls when I heard a little voice call out, “Mommy, me help you!” My son toddled into the kitchen dressed in his footie pajamas and not waiting for a response, used all his strength to slowly push a stool over to the counter where I was working. He looked at the roll and said, “me do it?” I helped him to begin peeling the label off . When he completed that task (leaving piles of blue and silver confetti on the floor) he looked at me and said, “Now?” I nodded my approval and he slammed the tube against the kitchen counter… nothing happened. With every ounce of strength in his body he tried again, still nothing happened. Frustrated, he handed the tube to me and said, “you do it mommy”.

I took the tube while he watched every movement I made. I slammed it on the edge of the counter, breaking the seal, allowing the dough to ooze out. I half anticipated a cheer from my son, but when I looked down at him, he peered up at me with tear filled eyes, whimpering “ Where’s the little man?”

The little man? I immediately knew what he was looking for. His little toddler heart was expecting the Pillsbury Dough Boy to jump out of the tube when it broke, just like in the commercials. I had to stifle my giggle as I tried to explain and comfort his disappointment at the same time. It didn’t take much time, before I had him distracted with marshmallows, cinnamon and the fun of wrapping each one in dough.

Have you ever experienced circumstances where reality did not match your expectations? In my child’s case, it was media images that inspired his false hope. Sometimes the expectations are set by our own dreams and goals and sometimes they are set by others. It’s not a question as to whether we will ever experience shattered expectations, but how will we respond when it occurs. Do we get angry, cry, pout, ignore, or respond in some other way that shuts us down?

I know that my response to shattered expectations can lead to me to a place of disappointment, worry, stress, anxiety and more. With my toddler, it was easy to distract him from his initial disappointment, but how do I bring myself back to a place of acceptance and move on? It’s not as easy or quick for me but seeking wisdom and counsel from others can provide balance. Focusing on prayer or attitude of joy and thanksgiving helps me more than just deal with disappointing situations but also grow in understanding and God’s purpose. Paul reminds us in his first letter to the Thessalonians,  Rejoice always,  pray continually,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I’ll be the first to admit, that rejoicing always is not the easiest thing to do when expectations have been shattered, but having that mind of joy, prayer and thanksgiving, can truly help to redeem a seemingly disappointing situation into one from which I can learn and grow.

Dear Loving God, You yourself knew many shattered expectations including the first betrayal of Eve and Adam in the garden. Yet you continued to love, sacrifice and guide. Help me to know that when reality does not meet my expectations, you have a plan, a plan to give me hope and a future. Sometimes, my plan is not the best and I need to trust in you and not my own understanding by seeking your will through prayer and gratitude. Thank you Lord! Amen

Distraction of Discipline 2019 #devotion

He has shown you, O man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you?   To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8 

It’s the beginning of a new year and once again, I am contemplating what new goals I want to set. Will it be losing weight, starting a new exercise routine, spending more time with family, limiting technology, establishing daily devotions, taking a class, or even getting up earlier to accomplish these new practices? Each of these endeavors requires not only discipline but commitment. Discipline is required whenever we implement new routines.

The word discipline comes from the same root as disciple. I thought this must mean that disciples were organized, committed and disciplined thus setting a bar of expectation to one that I would never achieve, However when I look at the lives of many of the disciples, I am comforted that they are human, and make some of the same errors that I do. Then when I looked it up, the definition of disciple, said “One who accepts and helps to spread the teachings of another.” (wordcentral.com).   This means that I can be considered a disciple of Christ if I accept and spread His teachings in spite of any faults or weaknesses.

Upon further investigation, I discovered specific spiritual disciplines, practices and behaviors associated with effective and growing disciples. Jesus modelled many of these: solitude, fasting, study, worship, serving, and prayer. These require focus, self-control, intentionality and will ultimately draw me closer in my relationship with Christ.

The beginning of a new year, is a perfect time to focus on some of these disciplines. In fact, our church encourages all members to start the year by committing to 21 days of prayer and fasting. As I anticipate my personal involvement, I want to not only expand my prayer time but choose something to fast from that will draw me closer to God. In addition, I have begun selecting a word and memorizing a Bible verse that guides my focus for the year. For accountability, I am sharing these with you: Intentionality Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.  Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:8-10

Concentrating on these disciplines at the beginning of the year, builds a foundation that guides my focus and actions throughout the year. However, I can still become distracted and easily swayed to disrespect those practices and follow the ways of the world. Having the word and verse not only helps to center me but grow in my faith through discipline.

Lord, help me to establish the habits and actions in my life that will bring me closer to walking with you and serving you each day. Rather than giving up when I fail or become distracted, reveal to me ways that I can improve my daily disciplines that bring me closer to you and allow my heart to know yours more deeply. Amen

Distraction of Darkness #bluechristmasdevotion

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never live in darkness. They will have the light that gives life.” John 8:12

At this time of the year our world is filled with Christmas lights, music, decorations, baking, trees and gift giving. The calendars overflow with parties, programs and obligations that can overwhelm us. Putting up and decorating the Christmas tree is one of the traditions of this season that I love. However, it can be a source of stress as it consumes a large chunk of time in that already-packed schedule. I have fond memories of travelling to the Christmas tree farm, drinking hot chocolate and trudging through the evergreens searching for the perfect tree.

As we began to travel during the holidays, we switched to an artificial tree, for safety and convenience sake. At first we had the old fashioned kind that you needed to string the lights just as you would on a real tree. Now, we have a pre-lit tree – making the process much easier. Imagine my frustration one year when we turned on the tree, and I noticed one dark space, right in the middle of the tree. An entire section of lights had burned out and we could not figure out a way to fix it. This was an annoying inconvenience because we could not decorate the tree until we purchased a string of lights to lace through the burnt out section. There was not time to do this right away, so for about a week, I just turned on the lights of the undecorated tree to enjoy that magical glow.

In the early morning hours, I’d sit and do my devotions in the cozy atmosphere created by the sparking lights. On one of those days, while I was praying for loved ones and friends, that dark spot became more prominent. I began praying for friends who have recently experienced loss, others who are fighting life-threatening diseases, ones who are facing difficult life transitions, not to mention the many families crushed by the recent tragic acts of violence, hurricanes and fires. As I prayed for strength and peace, it became poignantly obvious that not everyone was feeling the nostalgic warmth of the Christmas season. In fact, the very decorations, lights and music that bring joy and comfort to my Christmas season triggered painful memories for others.

In a season when we are rejoicing in the birth of Jesus Christ, the light of the world, there are many hearts that are shrouded with darkness. Their songs of joy have been replaced with reminiscent mournful melodies. Instead of schedules crowded with holiday festivities and concerts, their time is prioritized with doctor’s appointments and medication schedules. Instead of a house filled with holiday smells and sounds, they are struggling to keep food on the table and stay warm. Instead of feeling the comfort of family, there is a haunting heartache that perpetuates loneliness, sometimes even when surrounded by loved ones.

John 1 reminds us;  In Jesus was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Jesus, who came to bring light to a dark world. His light brings compassion to the hurting, healing to the sick, comfort to the grieving, hope to the disheartened and salvation to the lost.

If you are hurting and lonely during this Christmas season, my prayer is that Christ will surround you with His love and light. May God supply the strength, hope and comfort for the challenge or loss that consumes your energy. If you find joy in this season, may your heart be focused on Christ’s light and love. May God open your eyes to be sensitive to those who need support and encouragement. Take time to be a vessel of His love and light.

Dear Jesus, It is the season we celebrate your birth. The world has filled this holiday with many distractions from the true meaning, but we want to focus on your purpose, your hope and your love. Thank you for reminders, like burnt out lights, that help us realize that too often we focus and worry about the unimportant. Comfort and strengthen those who are struggling this holiday season and give them hope in the days to come. You are the light of the world and, as your children, we are called to be the bearers of your light in a dark world. Amen