Distraction of Deprivation

 I will praise you with all my heart, O Lord my God;
I will proclaim your greatness forever. Psalm 86:12

I walked in from errands and saw a blue bag on the kitchen counter. Curious, I asked my husband about it. He answered by announcing that we were embarking on very restricted diet. The intriguing gift bag was filled with supplements and specific directions. Immediately our meal plan was limited to about 20 different foods. If we were going to be successful, I needed to focus and appreciate these few foods and not perseverate on the deprivation of the goodies I was missing. You know that saying, mind over matter, just by changing my own attitude; I should be able find satisfaction in less.

Modern day psychologists have proven that our attitudes have a direct impact on our well-being, stress levels, and actions. For instance, if we have a pessimistic attitude, focusing on areas we feel cheated or deprived; it can paralyze and overwhelm us. This causes our stress levels to rise, which impacts blood pressure, focus, and more. The converse is true as well. In fact, there is research that proves that people with positive attitudes and appreciative spirits, are healthier and live longer.

Paul reminds us in his letter to the Philippians:

 I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11b-13

Being contented rather than deprived is like the old saying of seeing the glass half full rather than half empty. During the season of Thanksgiving, we naturally take time to express our gratitude for the gifts and blessings we have experienced over the year. I want to challenge myself and others, to keep this attitude of gratitude throughout the year. Take the time to intentionally express gratitude to God and others verbally, through actions, or writing in a journal. Remember research has proven that this is not only healthier for us, it makes each of us more pleasant to be around!

Dear Lord,

Open my eyes to the ways I can give thanks and praise on a daily basis. Help me to seek contentment in all situations for it is You that gives me strength. Amen

Dear Friends,

I want you to know that I am grateful for you and your support. I realize I have been quiet recently and want to share what I have been up to.

First, I have been speaking in Maryland, Virginia, Michigan, and Colorado these past few months. I am now scheduling for 2020. If you know an event planner looking for a speaker, feel free to share my information. https://pegarnold.org/

Second I have been working with CaSH Consulting to update my website. These ladies are great to work with and they donate all their proceeds to help other. Check them out. https://cash2consulting.com/

Finally, my new devotional, Devotions for the Distracted Heart, is now listed on Amazon. If you have enjoyed this blog, you’ll love this devotional. It’s a great gift idea for the holidays!

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1732769923/ref=rdr_ext_tmb

Distraction of Dentists

Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:11

It has been over 50 years since that unfortunate airborne experience, but I still remember it as if it were yesterday. We lived in a house next door to a church and our driveway was connected to the parking lot. Being recently repaved, it was the perfect place to ride bikes. I had an old cruiser handed down to me by my sister, but my younger brother had a shiny new English racer with handbrakes. He had worked for months to save enough money to purchase this new bike and was extremely protective. I was thrilled when he decided to let me ride it.

I climbed onto the bike and was enthralled with how smooth and fast it travelled on the new asphalt. I was doing figure eights, riding one end to the other with the wind in my hair. As I looped around the parking lot, I was completely unaware of my older brother, who had just arrived in the family car to practice for his driver’s test. When I looked up, he was backing up and heading straight for me.

In my twelve year old mind, I thought he was teasing me with a harmless game of chicken and would stop before hitting me. Little did I realize, he never saw me. It was like a slow-motion film as I watched the front wheel of the bike crash into the back bumper. I was still laughing thinking it was all a joke when my body was thrown uncontrollably over the handlebars into the trunk of the car. I can’t imagine the horror in my older brother’s mind when it happened.

The instant we collided, he slammed on the brakes and jumped out of the car. I was still lying on the trunk, while the mangled bike lay on the ground behind the bumper. The next thing I remember, was sitting outside the house with my shocked parents assessing my injuries. My knees were scraped and bruised but it was my front teeth or lack there of, that caused the greatest concern. I had two fangs hanging out, which ultimately required many hours in a dentist chair having root canals, crowns, pegs, and a host of other procedures.

I know that for many, the dentist is the last place people want to spend time. However I needed help and the dentist was my only answer. I had to wait for two days, because it was Saturday night and there was not an emergency dentist available on Sundays. So I experienced excruciating pain as the roots of the teeth were exposed and very sensitive to any temperature change. When I finally got to the dentist, he was only able to put temporary caps on until he assessed the damages with molds and x-rays. Eventually through many visits, the dentist was able restore my smile, but underneath the repairs, the damage to my original teeth was permanent.

So it is with other challenges in our lives. God desires us to take each situation to Him for restoration. He cannot change the actual events, but is able to strengthen, heal, and renew our spirits. How many times do we hold onto things and wait before seeking the Lord? Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:11

Over the years I have spent hours with numerous dentists, but my favorite is actually my brother, not the one who was driving the car, but the one, who eventually forgave me for ruining his brand new English racer.   What situation can Christ make new for you today?

Dear Lord, Thank you for restoring all things that I bring to you. Help me to realize there is nothing in my life that you cannot handle. Amen.

 

Distraction of Moving-Distraction Devotion

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

Rick and I just returned from a trip to MD. It still feels like home, but I didn’t feel homesick, if that makes sense. Connecting with dear friends and family was the highlight of each day. We had lived there for 38 years and raised our family creating a multitude of  treasured memories. Preparing to move to Colorado two years ago was a bittersweet process, yet I know God has been with us guiding each step. Here is a poem describing revelations that helped me let go, grieve, and prepared me for this new season.

 

Melodies of the Home

Empty rooms and echoing halls once filled with

the music of laughter, voices and footsteps.

Walls that were decorated with faces of loved ones’ smiles,

are now bare, with only the memories soaked inside.

Oh if these walls had voices, the ballads they would sing

If the floors were instruments, the rhythm of life would be a symphony.

First the bouncing beat of babies and toddlers

Full of giggles and teary-eyed cries

Boo boos being kissed and bedtime stories retold.

Next the chaotic cacophony of school books and

choruses full of chatter, chiding and cheers,

Interspersed with descants of backyard picnics,

Refrigerator Picassos, piles of laundry, and insatiable appetites.

As the family grows into the teen years, the symphony reaches a climax of

             the dichotomous joys and challenges that accompany emerging independence,

Ending with a mournful melody interspersed with harmonies of joyful expectation!

This home embraces the many memories and movements carved into the

walls and floors from each season of life.

But just like seasons, houses change, families grow up and move on.

This house now silent; cleaned spotless, swept clear of generational legacies,

Becomes an empty score for the composition of a new family chorus.

God bless this home, the tunes that dwell within and the harmonies of a new song.

                                                                              By Peg Arnold 2017

Distraction of Daily Devotions

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” Lamentations 3:22-24

Since Easter I have had the opportunity to travel with both friends and family. I just returned from the WinSome Women conference at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in Northern Michigan. This island is like stepping back in time. When getting off the boat you are met with a horse drawn carriage to take you to your destination. Bicycles are the only other mode of transportation. As I stood on the porch of the hotel, I was surrounded with expansive views of Lake Huron, lighthouses, and the Mackinac bridge. It was beautiful and I felt close to God surrounded by His creation.

The conference with its theme of Precious Promises was also inspiring through the messages of the speakers and the fellowship of the women. I find I reconnect with the Lord through these experiences and His revelations can include both encouraging messages and difficult ones too. Once again God convicted me about the importance of daily devotions. Yes convicted. He revealed to me that if I was praying daily without carving out specific time for reading scripture and devotions, it was like driving a car and never refueling.

Daily devotions provide that time of refueling. It is when I am able to connect in a deeper way with our Lord Jesus, through His word, study, reflection, and yes, prayer. When I fix my eyes on Him each morning, He is able to fill me with His wisdom, His strength, and His peace. During this time of stillness before Him, He may comfort me or convict me to address those areas that are challenging. Whatever happens, these moments help me to grow in my relationship with Christ and equip me to be more effective in my service to Him.

So why do I return from experiences like this and quickly allow the daily events and distractions to fritter away my time? How do I make these devotions a priority in my routine? The following quote is one that truly convicted me. “Excessive planning can cause stress and perpetuates an undue focus on the importance of self. This in itself is a form of idolatry and hinders our relationship with Christ.” If I continue to make excuses about my distractions, letting the planned and unplanned events of the day control me, it can be a form of sin and idolatry. Ouch!

Remember one of the Ten Commandments was “You shall have no other gods before me.” The gods of our lives today are not golden calves, but come in the form of schedules, technology, media, materialism, exhaustion, challenges, worries, prestige, goals, dreams, fitness, and even the god of wasted time. These “gods” can clutter our mind causing us more stress and perpetuate the focus on our own importance. This hinders our relationship with God and is a form of idolatry. When we allow ourselves to focus on earthly stresses, without taking them to God, we are no better than the early believers that made graven images. There is to be nothing, absolutely nothing that is set higher than your relationship with God.

Taking all our cares and worries to our Lord Jesus who loves us and died for us on the cross, is a privilege. To honor that privilege, daily devotions are one of the most important things we can do to honor Christ. By spending those moments with Him, He can help us to focus on what’s important, organize our time, and give us strength and wisdom to handle whatever distractions or challenges that may invade our thoughts and our schedule. It is when we lose focus of Him that we become vulnerable to the demands of those around us. Lamentations 3:22-24 says “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” You don’t have to travel to a remote place to connect with Christ, He is waiting for you right where you are now. Take time and start refueling with Him.

Dear Loving Lord, Forgive me when I make excuses and leave You out. I never thought that my surrender to the distractions in my day was creating an idol that removed my focus from You. Help me to seek and refuel with Your mercies every morning. I want to find my strength in You and intentionally live each moment for Your Purpose. Amen

Distraction of Doubt

 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”Matthew 14:31

Have you ever been in a situation where you are asked to step out of your comfort zone? During those times, do you feel that you have not been equipped with the abilities or the confidence to complete the tasks that you face? Think about a time that you were asked to take on a new job, make a presentation, start a new business, watch a friend’s child, plan an event, move, teach a class, or some other responsibility.

Did you face it with confidence? Were you excited to “step out of the boat?” Or did you second guess yourself and ask the questions;

Why me?

What do I have to offer?

Who wants to listen to me?

Why would they trust me?

Why didn’t they ask her because she would do it so much better.

Or worse yet, “If they really knew me, they would never have asked me to do this! “

Self-doubt, it is a voice that can control, haunt, limit and/or paralyze you from accomplishing things that God has equipped you to do. The world holds up a measure of perfection making us doubt ourselves as parents, friends, workers, teachers, and more.

Doubt: defined as the state of being unsure of something, is an internal message that can rob us of the confidence to accomplish a goal. It is a thorn that slivers into our spirits and festers into a wound that if untreated could leave a scar for life.

            Doubt may come from voice in our past telling us we would never measure up. Doubt may come from the comparisons of society that tell us we are too impatient, too disorganized, too young, too old, too heavy, too thin, too lazy to shy, too outgoing, too injured, too   ______ . You fill in the blank.

If we listen to these voices of doubt over the voice of God, we allow ourselves to be filled with a constant questioning of our abilities. These voices distract us from the gifts and talents God has equipped us with and limit our own potential. Would we ever allow a child in our care to question his or her worth and abilities in the same way? Then why do we allow ourselves to fall into the trap of unworthiness and doubt?

            I have to be honest with you that I experience times of doubt. Like Peter, when I am put into a situation of “stepping out of the boat,” I am not sure if I have confidence or feel equipped to accomplish the task that is before me. My friends and family will tell me that I have the abilities, but, for instance, when preparing to speak, sing, perform or even write this blog, I am very vulnerable to those voices inside that say:

  • Who do you think you are?
  • What makes you think you have something worthwhile to share?
  • Why would others want to listen to you?

My stomach can become tied up in knots, my legs become shaky and sometimes I become so nervous, my insides feel like mush. Just as Peter doubted the ability to walk on water with Christ, right there in front of him, I am doubting my God given abilities. Yet, what happened with Peter? When he kept his eyes on Christ, he would stay on the top of the water. But when he looked away from Christ and doubted, he would begin sinking. I need to remember every day that doubt is not from God and doubt will limit what God can do through me. It is only by girding myself daily with the reassurance of God’s word, and keeping my eyes on Him that I have the confidence to accomplish the tasks I am required to do.

Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

Do you believe that Christ has created you with gifts and equipped you with the abilities to do His will in whatever environment He has placed you? Do you feel God calling you into a new direction? Guard your mind and spirit from the voices of the world that want to distract you with doubt and fill you with lies of unworthiness. You are worthy, step out of the boat, keep your eyes on him, listen to His voice and take His hand, Jesus will not let you sink!

 

Lord, Forgive me when I spend my time doubting the gifts and abilities you have entrusted to me. Help me to see myself as you do and ignore the doubts the world screams into my ear. I want to hear your voice, focus on your eyes and step out of my boat. Amen

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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