Time to Rest

#God, #inspiration, #JesusMy husband and I have just returned from a mini-vacation. We travelled a little over an hour from home and spent three nights in the mountains.

In such a short distance and time frame we enjoyed a complete change of pace. No goals or expectations were set ahead of time. This proved to be key to our experience.

Jagged mountain peaks were visible from our room. We appreciated some time outdoors in the crisp mountain air, but had no desire to fill every moment with activity. Instead, we spent quiet hours relaxing in the spacious lobby area where a large rustic fireplace dominated one wall.#inspiration, #God, #Jesus, renewal

Any other time we would have felt guilty for not being outside exploring. On these days we relished the time to rest and recharge. This is something we would not have been able to accomplish at home where many tasks constantly call out for our attention.

There are always things we can be doing, but how often do we give ourselves permission to just be still?

Rest is a biblical concept. Jesus took time from his hectic life to withdraw to a quiet place for prayer. This was a necessity for him. After spending quiet time with God, he was better prepared to face the busy and trying days to come.
When I do the same, I am allowing the Lord to breathe new energy and focus into my life, preparing me for what lies ahead.

The news about Jesus spread even more. Large crowds gathered to hear him and have their diseases cured. But he would go away to places where he could be alone for prayer. (Luke 5:15-16 GST)

Giving Thanks

#God, #prayer, #inspirationCanadian Thanksgiving has its origins in Europe, where festivals of thanks and celebrations of harvest took place in the month of October.

Today, Thanksgiving is a celebration of being thankful for what one has and the bounty of the previous year. For some, the main focus is a turkey dinner followed by pumpkin pie.

I do appreciate gathering together with my family and turkey is one of my favourite meals. However, I don’t feel one day is enough to express gratitude for the abundance in my life.

I like to start my mornings by giving thanks for a new day. God has given me a fresh page on which to write the next chapter of the story of my life. I want to express my gratitude for this gift and use it to make a positive difference. I say I want to, because it doesn’t always happen. I do know my day will be off to a much better start when it begins with this kind of communion with The Lord.

In the past, I thought I’d have to do something huge and life changing in order to make a difference in the world. Now, I know it may be as simple as having a positive attitude. I may never know the effect a smile and friendly hello has on a stranger I pass on the street. The same goes for holding the door open for one following behind or allowing someone to merge in traffic in front of me. It is possible my words and actions will have a ripple effect much larger than I could possible know.

I will never be in control of every event in my day, but my attitude is totally within my control. I have learned that I can choose how I act, despite how I feel. After all, God gave me the gift of free choice. In that case, why wouldn’t I choose to be positive and thankful?

Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:20 NIV)

No, I’m Right!

#Jesus, #prayer, #inspirationDo you ever talk back to your GPS? Not only do my husband and I talk back to ours, we challenge it on a regular basis!

When I stop to think about it, the technology in these devices is quite remarkable. They pick up a signal pinpointing my location and then analyze routes to find the best one to get me to my destination.

Why would I pay for one of these units and then disregard what it tells me? The short answer is because I think I’m right!

We recently looked at a map to visualize our route before putting the address into the GPS. It didn’t take long before the familiar voice (we call her Susan), told us to turn and we said, “No, that’s not the right way.” It recalculated and gave new directions, which we also ignored. We carried on like this for close to two hours.

After reaching our destination we discovered the route Susan wanted us to take would have been more direct. There was more than one way to get to where we were going and the one we stubbornly stuck to was not the best one.

How often in life do I seek advice and then ignore it because I’m convinced I know best? When I’d rather be right than listen to other options, my objectivity suffers. Who knows what I might learn if I take the opportunity to listen to others? My lesson this time is that I’m not always right!

“There is no one as deaf as he who will not listen.” Yiddish Proverb

Do You Know Where You’re Going?

#God, #inspiration, guidance, prayerMy husband and I recently attended a performance in an outdoor amphitheatre. We were searching for our seats when a helpful usher said, “Do you know where you’re going? Can I help?”

I thought we were close to our seats so wasn’t sure we needed assistance. Her guidance, however, proved to be very helpful.

We were seated close to the main walkway and observed this scene repeated numerous times as other struggled to figure out the seating arrangement.

Many patrons gratefully accepted assistance. A few surprised me by snapping, “I’ve got no idea.” as they carried on, not stopping to receive directions. Help was there and they refused it, preferring to keep walking in frustration.

I wondered how often foolish pride has kept me from accepting help when I needed it. Sometimes I just need to be pointed in the right direction. Other times I require more guidance. Either way, I won’t get the help I need unless I stop and ask.

There is one who always knows in which direction I should be headed. Not only does God know where I’m going, he is willing to show me the best way to get there. Sometimes he does this by sending someone to walk beside me. Other times he gives me the wisdom needed to find my way.

All I need to do is pray and then stop long enough to listen to the answer.

Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left. (Isaiah 30:21 NLT)

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5 NIV)

Music to My Ears

#God, #inspiration, prayer, music to my earsIn the pre-dawn hours, I awakened to the music of birdsong. I’m used to hearing birds in the daylight but the night time melody caught me by surprise.
Once the sun rose, the distinctive sound heard hours earlier was no longer evident.

I soon discovered that this was not a one-time occurrence but one repeated nightly during the late spring and early summer.

As I enjoy the happy sound of this nocturnal chorus I wonder if God gets the same pleasure from hearing my voice when I call out to him. Is it like music to his ears?

In some ways, I’m similar to the night time warblers. I call out to God in my darkest hours but, sadly, my voice can become silent when the light returns to my life.

God wants to hear from me in good times as well as bad. I must remember to let my words of praise and thankfulness be every bit as evident as those of my petitions for help. Maybe the music to my ears in the night is a reminder to let my words be constant music to the Lord.

“Never stop praying.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 GWT)

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” (Colossians 4:2 NIV)

Open Hands

#God, #inspiration, prayer, submissionYears ago I heard of an interesting way to catch a monkey. When a banana is placed in a glass jar, the monkey will reach in and grab the banana. With a clenched fist it will not be able to remove its hand from the jar. Even in the face of danger, it will hold onto something it perceives of value, rather than open its hand and lose the prize.

This makes it easy for the trapper to grab the monkey when all it needed to do to ensure its freedom was to drop the banana.

The story came to mind recently when I felt God impressing on me to keep my hands open. Everything was going well in my life and yet I felt discontent. Something wasn’t quite right and I didn’t know what it was or what to do about it.

Like the monkey, I was holding on to the prize in my hand and found it hard to let go. After a struggle, I was able to say through my tears, “I don’t want to give this up, Lord, but I will if that’s what you want from me.”

By opening my hands and letting go of what I perceived as important I was submitting to God’s will for my life. It was strange to think I had to let go of my own desires to find freedom, but that was exactly the case.

The restrictions I placed on my life have been lifted and I am in awe of what God has now placed in my outstretched hands. His plans for me are far greater than anything I could dream of and I am overjoyed to have him back in control.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

Nightmares

#God, #inspiration, blessings,positive The night seemed never-ending. Strange, vivid dreams disturbed my sleep. I woke frequently to the unsettling dream video playing in my mind. When I fell asleep again I’d find myself in another aspect of this bizarre story.

After many hours of this sequence, I realized that I needed to focus on something else as I was nodding off again. That’s when a snippet of a scripture verse came to mind; “whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, think about these things.”

It took all my concentration to replace the unsettling images with thoughts of God’s blessings. What could be more pure and lovely than that? My final hour of sleep was peaceful.

Soon the alarm went and I was surprised to find my neck and shoulders were stiff and sore. My back ached and it took great effort to place one foot in front of the other. “What happened?” I thought; “I felt fine when I went to bed.”

It was then I realized the negative thoughts in the night had seized my body as well as my mind. If they had the power to make this much impact in eight hours of rest, I wondered what the overall effect of negative thoughts had on my health. This was one experiment I wasn’t willing to take!

Just as I discovered in the night, my focus needs to remain on God. He has provided many blessings in my life. By consciously turning my attention to God and praying about every situation, my mind will stay positive and the tension will be gone.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 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. (Philippians 4:6-8 NIV)

Smell the Coffee

#Lord, #inspiration, #God, prayer, wisdomI was in the middle of an exercise class when the aroma of fresh coffee wafted in from a nearby kiosk. Not being a coffee drinker, it did little for me. Many others were impacted and soon were talking about their desire for this beverage.

The way the scent impacted most of the class made me think of the phrase, Wake up and smell the coffee. My interpretation of this phrase is to stop living in my own little world and to pay attention to what is going on around me.

It is very easy to become inwardly focused. Sometimes I get so caught up in what is happening in my own life that I fail to notice the struggles others are experiencing.

I need to remember life doesn’t revolve around me. This is when it’s time to stop and pray to the Lord for wisdom. He will give me an understanding of the needs around me and the guidance to know what I can do for others. When I follow his direction my life will be a pleasing aroma to the Lord.

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. (James 3:5 NIV)

What Are You Looking At?

#God, #inspiration, wisdom, prayerThe recreation facility has side-by-side pools. In one was the aquafit class I attend. The other had children’s swimming lessons happening at the same time.

One morning I watched with amusement as a young boy was so interested in our class he couldn’t pay attention to his teacher. With great effort, she managed to get him to look at her. Seconds later he had turned to watch us again. Eventually, she moved him to the far side of the pool to minimize the distraction.

This would have been funny if it hadn’t been a reflection of my life. After all, I seemed to be paying more attention to him than my instructor! This brought to mind the times I’ve been equally distracted.

Just as the child was receiving lessons when his attention wandered, I have prayed for guidance and not held still long enough to receive it.

I want God’s direction in my life. He is more than willing to give it. When I ask and then get distracted and let my mind wander, it’s unlikely I will receive the wisdom God wants to impart. There may be snippets that register but much is lost due to my inattention.

The Lord has promised to instruct and teach me. His loving eyes see when I’m not paying attention. The Bible also says, “Come close to God, and he will come close to you.” In order to live the full life he has in store for me, I need to be looking at him.

Come close to God, and he will come close to you. (James 4:8 GWT)

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. (Psalm 32:8 NIV)

Is Your Heart Healthy?

#God, #inspiration, prayer“I feel fine,” I said to my doctor, “just thought the changes to my family medical history should be brought to you attention.”

When the heart disease of past generations started affecting my siblings I decided it was time for me to be proactive.

No problems were found in the initial tests but as a precaution, I was referred for a cardiac risk assessment, which included a stress test.

This made me think of the stress I’ve had in my life. Most of it was self-imposed. When I focus on negative things I cause myself stress. This can be hard on me both physically and mentally.

Thinking of only positive things can be quite a challenge. I used to worry about many things that were out of my control. When I started bringing these troubling thoughts to God, my life became more peaceful. Praying about my worries reduced my stress. I will freely admit that I haven’t perfected this. The good news is, the more I do it, the easier it becomes.

I have learned the benefits of consciously searching for the blessings God has surrounded me with. My attitude of gratitude is what will keep my heart and mind healthy.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7 NIV)