We have choices to make~

 

choose_hope_by_marinkostrena-d3991jf

Can I be honest? There are a lot of sad and disruptive events taking place these days. There truly are concerns that have many people feeling unsettled and uncertain about their world, their leaders, and their futures. I have talked to many of them; they are feeling overwhelmed, feeling sad. There are days when I do as well.

Disheartening events impact us on every level: thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Violence inspires worry, fear, and anxiety. The anxiety created by current events is all-encompassing and can keep us from living fully. And that is my concern. Having such increased social media and television shows/Books that mirror the events in our world only make it more challenging to come up for air!

What steps can we take to help ourselves or those we care about to redirect their anxieties and use that energy in a fruitful, impacting way? Is there anything tangible that we can do? Well, what we know about fear and anxiety is that underneath it all is a lack of feeling a sense of control; being left at the effect of someone’s leadership choices, weather events, or other disruptive situations.

We cannot control all those factors but we can control a number of choices we make that would calm our concerns and build purpose in our lives. We can make some life changes that would give us peace in the midst of uncertain days.

First and foremost, find a place of worship.   Knowing that we have a God who is incredibly mindful of us, taking time to pray about the concerns in our hearts, and locking arms with others of strong faith will make an surprising and powerful difference in how you see the world.

Limit (I mean really limit) social media. By saying this I am not saying that we put our heads in the sand but seeing news stories over and over again is unhealthy. We know for sure that what the media reports is a steady diet of what is going wrong; we rarely hear a story of what’s going right. Do a daily “flyover” but try not to make social media a steady diet.

Keep a gratefulness journal each day. What went right? Where was kindness shown? Who did I help?  What made me laugh?  When we commit to looking for the good in each day it can literally change the way we see our circumstances.

Do something good for others. Give your time where you can impact your community in a positive way! No, we cannot change the whole world but we can make a difference in the community around us.

Always be sure to spend time with life-giving people; family and friends. Talk about things you can celebrate, appreciate, and enjoy. Try to stay out of a host of doomsday conversations; rather ignite hope and vision in one another.

Again, we cannot control all the elements in our world but we can take back control of how we choose to live and navigate our lives and behaviors!  Choose well, choose hope.

 

 I have told you these things so you may have peace in Me. In the world you will have much trouble. But take hope! I have power over the world!” John 16:33

 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

Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men ~ Let it begin with me.

flat1000x1000075f

Ah, Peace on earth, Good will to men.   I would love that.  A world where everyone loved and respected on another, valued each other, and did all they could do to live at peace with one another. I think that actually only lasted for a short season in the Garden of Eden way back in the beginning of our Biblical history.   It’s a fabulous way to live…………but nearly impossible when humans are added to the mix.

With our humanity comes competition, envy, drive for power, and  the desire to conquer.  We’ve seen this down through the ages.  However, with humanity also comes kindness, a giving spirit, willingness to compromise, and the desire to help others be better. But, it’s a fine tension.

Do you believe that change in the world begins with us?   Do you believe we can influence peace at all?    How can I make a difference?  In elementary school I was in the  Glee Club and we sang a song that started like this: “Let there be peace on earth and let if begin with me…..”  I do believe we can impact the world around us!

As we all enter this new year where there will be much good and yet also much unrest, let’s all be people who encourage others, smile at our neighbors, reach out to those in need, and share the true hope that we know we have in God. And if we find ourselves in a place where we have to stand up for what we believe or stand against those with whom we disagree, let’s speak the truth in love.  The shouting matches of 2016 did nothing to promote “peace on earth”.

I wish you a 2017  full of impact, influence, joy, legacy, and yes, peace.

“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.”
~ Albert Einstein

Merry Stressmas?

images

It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. But for women, it can also be the most overwhelming.   From decorating our homes, to preparing and sending Christmas cards, attending Christmas parties, and purchasing gifts that will bless family and friends near and far. We do all of this while working, volunteering, homeschooling, and navigating all of our other natural responsibilities.

The Huffington Post ran a terrific article that may allow you to embrace needed permission to do the holidays a little more stress free! 🙂  Here is a few of the choices to consider:

1. Spending big bucks on the best presents.  A homemade gift can be worth much more.

2. Thinking up the perfect present for everyone on your list.  A gift certificate may not be the most personal choice, but they will really  like it.

3. Giving the same gift to multiple people. Unless they live under the same roof, they’ll never know!

4. Cooking everything yourself. It’s okay to delegate! Costco is your friend.

5. Staging elaborate scenes with your Elf on the Shelf!

6. A homemade pie crust. No one will notice.

7.  Sending Christmas cards/photos. You keep in touch with the people you want to keep in touch with already. Shoot your other friends a “Thinking of you” email and save yourself the stress of staging the family photo.

8. Wrapping stocking stuffers. That’s what the stocking is for!

9.  Accepting every holiday party invitation. It’s important to say no to certain things to say yes to the most imporant experiences!

And finally….

10. Trying to cram in every single Christmas tradition — going out to look at lights, building the perfect snowman, making sure you bake the Christmas cookies, having the house all decorated. If you run out of time for one (or a few!) of these traditions, remember: There’s always next year!

At the end of the day Christmas will always be remembered by the memories we make with those we love……

“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of  happy family and friends wrapped up in each other.” ~ Burton Hillis

 

Fear or Faith?

 

images

 

Recently, a dear young mother asked me to write a blog on a particular topic that concerned her.  I have been sitting on her request for weeks simply because I don’t feel that I would be the final authority on this subject.  Nevertheless, I have prayed and pondered about it and feel like I have something to share.

Her topic? How do we walk out a faithfilled life with all that’s going on in our world?  How do we find peace in the midst of so much world turmoil??

Let’s be honest, there’s a lot going on in the world that is, frankly, scary.  I have written previous blog posts that have touched on the challenges we are all facing.  Young parents fear for their children’s’ futures, seniors fear for their healthcare, and financially there are great uncertainties. Some people fear chem- trails, GMO’s, immunizations, and public schools.  So many real concerns!!

ISIS, Ebola, Russia, China, and Israel are creating unrest in all our hearts. No matter how you lean as a voter; all of us have concerns about our government.  All these things have potential to cause us to be fearful, anxious, and hopeless.  I hear it in conversations I have with people daily.

Some folks would say that it is all the sign of the times and wait expectantly for the Lord’s quick return.  Some folks would say that “back in their day” these kinds of things took place and they too, thought it was “the end of days”.  And it could truly be.

BUT…………

What if there are still generations of people to be born and life continues on this earth?  How do we navigate these uncertainties without making knee-jerk, fear based decisions?  How do we live an intentional, hope-filled life free from the burden of paralyzing fear?

In God’s wisdom and goodness, He knew these times would come.  He gave us messages of encouragement and ways to live in His Word that have key answers to these questions.

John 16:33 says, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Phil 4: 6-7 says, “ 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.

 Matthew 6:25-34 says “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Proverbs 12:25 tells us, “Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.

1 Peter 5:7 promises us, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”

Hebrews 11:1 says,” Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

Life is full of many concerns stemming from the absence of certainty and control over our future. While we can never be completely free from worry, the Bible gives us powerful promises to show us how to minimize worry and anxiety in our lives.

When I am filled with fear I find that I am severely distracted from the people and opportunities that God wants to bring my way. Fear works to cause us to have tunnel vision, missing out of the chances today to make a difference, and THAT is a tragedy.

God has called us to live fully, purposefully, and faithfully “until He returns.” Making fear based decisions for our lives, our children’s’ lives; will stand in the way of the peace God promises us.

Now, making wise decisions, being smart in our choices is imperative.  God promises to give us wisdom if we simply ask for it.

My last thought to share is this:  Prayer is powerful and we must be people who pray during uncertain times!! Prayer is a gift to us; we can bring all those things that burden our souls to Him.  We can pray for those in harms way.  We can pray for peace.

2 Chronicles 7:14 says, ” if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land!”

I know this is an especially long blog on a seemingly a negative subject; but I believe it is timely. I hope you do too.  🙂