What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Dealing with Shame

Many people experience shame at some point in their life. I often feel shame as I’m not what I hope to be. I’m not thin enough, smart enough, good enough, loving enough, athletic enough, and many other enoughs. Actually, I go farther than not being enough of something to holding the position that I’m bad, ugly, fat, cynical, unloving, stupid, weak and out of shape. I identify myself by those things. I say, “I am             .” instead of I’ve done something bad or unloving. I’ve learned I’m not supposed to do that, however what replaces the feelings of shame is a question that was answered in my Quiet Time with God this morning.
Psalm 34:5 tells me how to avoid feeling ashamed: “They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces shall never be ashamed.” [NASB] The NIV version of the Bible says it a little differently: “Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” The answer comes from looking to God for my value and self-worth. He sees me totally different than I see myself.
When I’m looking to God for my value, I am radiant. Radiant means, “sending out light; shining or glowing brightly.” That’s what I want to be: Shining and sending out the light of God to others. When I’m filled with shame and seeing myself from that point of view, it is much harder to shine forth God’s light into the world. Another Psalm puts it this way: “Indeed, none of those who wait for Thee will be ashamed.” [Psalm 25:3a] Or in the NIV: “No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame.” The Amplified Bible adds some dimension to what waiting for Thee means. “Yes, let none who trust and wait hopefully and look for You be put to shame or be disappointed;” Trust, wait hopefully, and look to Him.
That’s the remedy for shame. I need to look to God and His Word, trust what He says about me, and patiently wait as I place all my hope in Him. Then shame and disappointment will not be an overwhelming feeling in my life, and it will show on my face.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Thoughts on Patience

We’ve all been told at one time or another to be patient. I remember hearing that a lot from my parents when I was a child. I still hear it from time to time from my husband, children, friends, therapist, and doctors. I guess it’s because I usually want something to happen right now. However, I have learned to be more patient in some areas of my life so that’s progress.
A recent example where patience was necessary dealt with our daughter getting a scholarship to Western Michigan University. She applied to WMU and for this specific scholarship in early September 2015. There was the waiting and wondering (and worrying) about whether or not they had received all the paperwork they needed. Our daughter contacted them in October because we hadn’t heard anything yet.
They said that someone would call to set up an interview. More waiting. This situation was teaching all of us a little about patience. When there’s nothing more you can do in a given situation and waiting is the only option available, you can be patient or you can be in agony. Getting impatient won’t make things move along any faster, so why get worked up? This was a situation where we really couldn’t make anything happen faster.
As parents we had to demonstrate patience. Mostly that just meant not bringing it up everyday or wondering aloud what was going on. For our daughter it meant going about her days doing what was before her. However, prayer was a definite part of my patience (praying for the outcome and praying for patience and forbearance with the process).
So October ended, and we were getting into November and we still hadn’t heard anything. Then one day, our daughter gets a call and they set up a telephone interview for the next day right after school. This required a renewed practice of patience. For us, as parents, we weren’t even privy to the interview so we didn’t know how it went. Our daughter thought the interview went well, but who knew for sure? They told her they would be making decisions starting in January. More waiting involved more patience.
We didn’t hear anything in January. We were getting a little anxious, but that’s not what patience is all about. One of the definitions for patience says, “An ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay.” So to have patience in this situation we had to suppress the restlessness and annoyance we felt at not knowing.
However, as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, “All things come round to him who will but wait.” In early February, we went to an “admitted student day” at Western. Not having heard anything from the scholarship office, our daughter called them, while we were on campus, and asked when we could expect to hear from them. The woman who answered gave us the answer we were hoping for. The acceptance letter had been sent in the mail in January, but due to address issues we often face having a post office box (they mailed it to the street address), we never got the letter. She was in!!
The Bible says we are to be long-suffering (King James Version), however, I think suffering is optional when we are being patient. We didn’t really have to wait that long to find out the answer about the scholarship, so I don’t know how patient we were. However, the end result is the same. We were able to go about our lives, get tasks done, and not be upset, annoyed, or too anxious while we waited to hear. I think we all learned a little bit more about being patient.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Some Review in Isaiah

I’m reading through my old journals as I work on my second book. Back in late 2005 through early 2006, I was reading in Isaiah from the Amplified Bible for my Quiet Times. I’m amazed at how much I got out of Isaiah. There were many encouragements.
One encouragement was found in Isaiah 50:10. As I read that verse again, I recognized that sometimes my perspective on my struggles doesn’t match God’s perspective. I think when I’m struggling and everything seems like doom and gloom, I’m not seeing life the way God wants me to see life. Verse 10 says,
“Who is among you who [reverently] fears the Lord, who obeys the voice of His Servant, yet who walks in darkness and deep trouble and has no shining splendor [in his heart]? Let him rely on, trust in, and be confident in the name of the Lord, and let him lean upon and be supported by his God.”
First, this verse says we may (probably will) have times of darkness and deep trouble and be without the shining splendor (joy) in our hearts. God recognizes that. He says that there are people (like myself) who may walk in darkness even while they fear the Lord. That may seem depressing to you and maybe you feel it lacks the hope you are looking for in your life. That’s how I often see things. I think if I’m not always joyful and uplifted then maybe I don’t really reverently fear God. If you have had your doubts in that area, be assured that you can be one of God’s chosen people and still suffer from trouble and suffer through darkness in your lives. This verse says so.
Second, let’s not miss the second part of this verse. It tells us that there’s a way to persevere through the suffering and hardships. We can rely on, trust in, and be confident in the name of the Lord. We can lean upon and be supported by our God. That tells me where to go when everything else seems to have failed me (and maybe I should go here first). I can go to God. And when I do go to God, my perspective on my suffering changes. My situation may still be dark and full of trouble, but there’s ultimate hope that God will see me through. That support is not available anywhere else. Only God is truly reliable and knows how to support us.
Again, ultimately, He’s already given us everything we need for eternal life: Jesus Christ. That’s where our hope can come from. Even if my depression seems to be ruling in my life right now, I can look at things from that eternal perspective and know that this life is not the end. Better days are ahead.

Thursday, February 4, 2016


I have a life long struggle I’m going to let you in on. Mindfulness. What am I talking about when I say mindfulness? I’m talking about giving my attention to the task at hand, one at a time, not allowing distractions to get in the way of serious thought and action toward the given task. I was told recently that this is not unique to me. There’s actually an enormous amount of scholarly research on this topic. Why? Because all humans suffer from not being mindful to some extent. Some worse than others.
I have spent a lot of time in my lifetime avoiding mindfulness. Not wanting to confront problems head on, avoiding possible painful (and often pleasurable) experiences, are just two reasons mindfulness is not a skill I have readily available to me. I actually went to some extremes to remain mindless including drinking, dissociating, even day dreaming when I was supposed to be confronting a situation with my full attention.
However, I’ve been told (and am coming to believe) that mindfulness is a desirable state to be in. I’m not totally convinced yet, but I’m dabbling in trying to be more mindful to see if the quality of my life changes. The research indicates that the more mindful a person is, the greater their enjoyment of the things that make up life.
I also discovered that mindfulness is a characteristic of God. Psalm 8:4 in the Amplified Bible says, “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of [earthborn] man that You care for him?” It’s amazing to me to realize that God does mindfulness perfectly and constantly. It’s just a fact for Him. I know how hard it is for me to remain mindful for even short periods of time, yet God does it all the time. And, what is He mindful of? Mere man. As Psalm 8:4 implies, man is not worthy of the Almighty God’s thoughts. Yet He chooses to be thinking about us and concentrating on mankind.
I feel like I can try being mindful a little more often. I’m especially thinking, “If God can be mindful of me, I can try to concentrate more and with better quality upon God.” I can spend five more minutes reading and meditating on His Word. I can spend a few more minutes in concentrated prayer. And if I can learn to do that, I can learn to be mindful in other areas of my life. So here’s to practicing mindfulness.