Spiritual Drano

Have you ever tried to fix something yourself, and while you think you have the solution, you discover it isn’t working? At the same time, there is an avenue that will definitely solve the issue, yet it is not adhered to? Time goes by, and you continue to do the same thing that doesn’t work. In fact, the problem worsens, until you decide to go down another road, the road that has the solution. And that solution is done quickly, and in comparison to the long time you took to solve the problem, you conclude that the issue could have been solved so much sooner, if only you used the solution that would solve the problem.

God has answers for our problems. Why do we not go to Him? Perhaps it is our ego that tells us we have the answer. Perhaps it is because we are so used to providing the answer, even when it is only a temporary solution. And, to be honest, while the answer may work, there could have been a much better solution if we had presented it to God. Let me give you an example.

I discovered my kitchen sink kept stopping up. I invested in bottles of Drano to unstop it, and for a while it worked. but it wasn’t long before the water again kept being stuck, and wouldn’t go down the drain. This went on for months, me pouring the thick liquid down the drain, hoping the problem would be solved, but the problem got worse.

Finally, I called the office for the repairman to come and investigate. I thought the garbage disposal was on the fritz, but that was not the problem. It was the drain that was clogged, causing water to back up in the dish washer, which I didn’t consider. Once the dish washer was turned on to eliminate the water, the drain was unclogged, and my faucet was also fixed, so the water could shut off. The repairman had to find some parts, but the total of time to repair everything took less than an hour.

My solution took months and the problem was not resolved. The repairman’s solution took less than an hour, and all is well with my kitchen sink.

Consider this:

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” Matthew 7: 7,8

  • Be encouraged to ask God for solutions to problems you can’t resolve.
  • His solutions are permanent, while yours may be temporary
  • He has your best interest at heart, and when He gives you an answer, it is a solution that lasts.

So reach out and ask God for the true answer to life’s problems. When life get a bit clogged, allow God, who is rich in grace and mercy, to be your spiritual Drano. You’ll get declogged a lot sooner…

Sometimes It’s Just the Simple Things

For years I have attempted to roll an Italian r. I just couldn’t do it. I thought it was the way my mouth was formed that was preventing me from doing it. I suppose you could say I blamed myself for it.

Years ago I took voice lessons and the instructor gave me an Italian song to learn. He tried and tried to teach me how to roll an r, and the more I tried the more frustrated I became. I felt the song I was singing wasn’t good enough because I couldn’t give this one consonant the Italian justice it deserved.

Fast forward to today. I decided to no longer be attached to not doing something, but to at least do some research on how to roll an r. YouTube has just about everything on how-to do stuff, and sure enough, I found plenty of videos of how to do this. Many of the presenters said it took them years to learn how to do it. Well, I didn’t have years to learn, as my current voice instructor gave me an Italian song that was full of this letter. I wanted to experience how it sounds to include this in the music, and honor the language.

Today was my voice lesson, and I asked her (who has a lovely soprano operatic voice, and one who is used to singing opera) how to do it. The good news is what she told me was similar to what the YouTube video presenters said (where to position your tongue and where the sound should come from). As we went through the song piece by piece and came across a word with an r, I practiced it, and much to my surprise we both heard me roll an r. Sure, it was a fraction of a second, but my instructor confirmed I had done it! Needless to say, I was over the moon! But I had to quickly come back to the moment and finish the song. (But I wanted to jump up and spin around in pure happiness!)

Later this evening I replayed that moment in time, and it brought a broad smile to my face. Sometimes God will provide times, no matter how quickly they come and go, that lets one know that what seems impossible is indeed just the opposite. It undergirds a notion that perhaps if that can happen, it can be so again, even in a song that is full of Italian rolled r’s.

What blesses the soul is the little simple things that make the impossible seem doable…and that’s my strengthenize moment of the day.

A Cure for the Stuffed Head

If you are like me, many allergy sufferers have to deal with a stuffy nose. Our sinuses become full of mucus, which can make it challenging to sleep at night, as it becomes hard to breathe.

My head is also pretty stuffy, but for different reasons. Though I try to stay away, I look at the news from CNN to the local news. Covid-19 is usually at the forefront, especially when our leaders contract the disease. There’s the constant news of people getting killed, shot, and many of all ages are missing. The election is soon to come, and I must make a choice of who will receive my vote. I want to travel, but am afraid to do so. I feel distanced from everyone, and on and on it goes. All this and more is causing my head to become stuffy from the mucus of this world, not to mention my own personal issues. There has to be a prescription that I can take to open up my brain passages for my mind to function more like God created it to be: one of peace and tranquility.

The 88th Psalm was written by Herman the Ezrahite, and it is full of what he was experiencing at the time. Here are a few descriptions:

  • without strength (verse 4)
  • feels like one in the lowest part of Sheol, the pit (verse 3)
  • friends are far from him, making him feel shut in and can’t go out (verse 8; sound familiar with what is going on with the pandemic?)
  • constant crying (verse 9)
  • feels rejected by God (verse14)
  • feels like darkness is his only friend (verse 18)

Yet, with all this stuffing up Herman’s head, he continues to say this:

  • “I cry out to you day and night…mMay my prayer reach your presence; listen to my cry.” (verse 1, 2)
  • I call to you for help Lord; in the morning my prayer meets you.” (verse 13)

Herman the Ezrahite does not forget to cry out to God. He verbalizes what he inwardly is experiencing, what he is feeling, what is causing his head to become stuffed up. Intertwined between all types of despair, he cries out to God day and night, and when a new day dawns, he prays again, hoping that the prayer will reach God’s presence.

Herman the Ezrahite encouraged me. I can identify with what he is going through. Herman’s prescription for an unstuffed head is to pray to God, asking for help when he is in a dark place. Asking for relief early in the morning, and like taking medicine for an ailment, we can take a cue from this man and pray as well. It may take a while, but when we give our issues to God, telling him what we are going through, let us cling onto hope, like Herman did, that our prayers will reach his presence and he will listen to our cry.

God promises to unstuff our heads…

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me and rescued me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4

“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. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” Jeremiah 29: 11, 12

Be strengthenized…

God Buts

Recently I received some information I had been waiting for. I anticipated it, but when I got it I was very disappointed. The inner war began inside me:

  • the struggle of continuing vs. giving up
  • hearing lies of the enemy of continuing

This week has been a physical struggle as well. Not feeling well and going through some health issues had me feeling down.

However, there were God buts that kept popping up in my mind (italics mine):

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9

“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:6 (NIV)

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 (NIV)

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 (KJV)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6 (NIV)

The more I read the scriptures, the better I became inwardly. If I continued being stuck in the negativity of my mind, based on the news I heard, the way I physically felt, I would downwardly spiral into an abyss I could not get out of. But God, who is rich in mercy, and full of compassion and love towards me, let me know my only recourse is to continue on. And when I do, He will be there, continuing to encourage and strengthen me.

And so I encourage you to watch out for God buts. Read them and tuck them away in your heart. And when you feel like life is taking you down a negative thought pattern, remember your buts from God, and be strengthenized.

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness…” Psalm 85:15 (NIV)

Behold

I started watching the latest season of a favorite tv show, which got me thinking some things. It was like God was talking to me, assuring me of something, that I’d like to share.

As is usually the case, the show’s writers create the script that is full of confusion, chaos within family relationships, even chaos from within. In this episode, the matriarch used one of my favorite verses in her sermon: Isaiah 43:19:

“Behold, I will do a new thing; shall ye not know it?”

Within my mind came a thought: When you wait for the chaos to settle, the answer will come.

At that instant, tears came down my cheek. I started breathing hard, I felt like God gave me a word. I can’t explain it anymore than that. I worshipped the Lord, just thanking Him for the ‘heads up’. Now I don’t what is about to happen, or who it will happen to. I only know that God saw to it that through whatever means necessary, He gave me something I needed to know. I prayed that when chaos comes, to remind me of this moment.

In the tv show, though the family suffered a loss, the chaos calmed down, answers came and decisions were made. And even though I know the episode was created from the minds of the show’s writers, I know God can use any vehicle to get His word across.

Behold…

Brand New Possibilities

Today I had an agenda to hold myself accountable: a) finish cleaning my apartment, b) clean the Benny the cat’s bathroom, otherwise known as the liter box, c) not to get nervous about today’s virtual book release party. Well, 2 out of 3 isn’t so bad.

Both mine and Benny’s bathrooms got cleaned. Once my publisher arrived, we set up doing a conference on Facebook Live regarding my book launch. At first things were going smoothly, friends came to the launch and all was well…until the technical difficulties started. While everyone was patient and we got back on after three tries, I felt a bit frustrated. My nervousness, at the beginning had left, but soon returned. Kyra my publisher remained patient, and before long we were back on track though we had lost some time dealing with the difficulties.

I remembered a verse of the day reading I glanced at before the launch party began:

“I will refresh the weary

and satisfy the faint.” Jeremiah 31:25

What I truly did not like had nothing to do with the launch party: it was my face looked on the computer screen. I looked every bit of the weight I had been carrying for years and I didn’t like it. Perhaps this is where the feelings of being weary and faint were stemming from. Though I started a new diet this week, the moment I looked at the screen, I felt defeated. But the above verse gave me enlightenment and encouragement to continue.

After the launch party was over, I thought about going to a restaurant to get something that was not full of any nutritional value to drain my feelings as I usually do. I can’t explain it, but I didn’t go. Going for fast food is the thing I would have done, but today that did not happen. I knew that decision did not come from me. It was the result of praying earlier for help, and that Source kept me from venturing out and doing something that would make me feel negative about myself later.

And so I will continue on with this weight struggle. I will continue to learn what it means to not rely on myself, but on the power of God to get me through to victory. Today I believe was significant.

“You are o-pen-ing my eyes, You’re o-pen-ing my eyes Lord, to brand new pos-si-bi-li-ties…” from the song Edge of My Seat by TobyMac

God Weight

I was thinking over some things and a term came to mind: God Weight.  I defined it as weight that was only intended for God to carry, yet many believers make the attempt to carry weight they’re not equipped to handle on their own.

Since I can only speak about myself, I am guilty of being a God-weight carrier.  Words like control and independence come to mind. I try to do my best in my independent mindset to handle the challenging situations myself, rather than ask for help. This goes against God’s invitation extended to us, of being available to come to our aid, if we would only ask. For example,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”                 Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

“Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you.” I Peter 5:7 (KJV)

There is no need to carry what is too heavy for you, when there is Someone mightier and more than able to handle the weight, full of solutions that will conclude the matter once for all. I invite you to stop carrying God weight, give it over to Him, and I will try my best to do the same. Be strengthenized…

Feeling Dry? Get Some Hydration.

With all this hand washing I have been doing in the past months, I found my hands were getting very itchy. I realized by process of elimination I could no longer use soap from the dollar store. It seems there was something in its content that my skin was reacting to. Once I stopped using it, the itching went away in a couple of days.

I also realized that drinking water was very helpful. The more I drank, the better I felt. But when I stopped, I didn’t feel as good. I especially felt this way when I would drink a lot of water for a week, and for some reason stop.

Have you felt dry lately? Is it your prayer life? Jesus made it a point during his time on earth to consistently make time to pray to the Father, particularly early in the morning. I believe it was the energy that resulted from his praying that gave him the power to continue throughout the day. Perhaps we should prioritize prayer.

What words are you reading? Is it media soundbites of the pandemic that keep you dried out, stressing from the latest news of the virus, crippled by fear of what would happen if you or a loved one gets it? Perhaps the ‘watering’ of God’s Word will help you experience that His love through His Word casts out all fear, giving you a sound mind in the process.

How are you spending your time? Binging on watching tv shows can be a drying experience that drains the time that could be spent just talking to God, emptying how you feel about what’s going on in your world, and giving Him control of those things you can’t solve. Spending time with God is quality time put to good use. Yielding those concerns over to Him can replace the dryness you may be feeling.

Choose to no longer be dehydrated from the cares of this world, devoid of natural and spiritual moisture. Instead, seek the freshness of God’s Word, extending an invitation to be moist in the newness of God’s hydration through prayer, reading God’s Word, and experiencing fellowship with Him. I will do the same as I drink my bottle of water…

Be strengthenized…

From the NIV of the Bible:

“And when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”                  Matthew 6:6

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”  Psalms 119:105

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2

Analysis of 21 Days

One day I felt awful. I didn’t know why, but I realized for the past few days I spent my days slumped in the chair sleeping the hours away. I didn’t feel sick, but I did feel terrible. Something has to give, I thought to myself. I knew I had to do something to change how I was feeling. Since I have read that doing something for 21 days will initiate a habit, I decided that whatever I did, it would be for twenty-one days. So here was my plan:

  • use my newly purchased spin bike for at least 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week. I would go on youtube.com and search for 20 minute videos: I took a liking to the GCN site
  • I would find cardio videos for 20 minutes and videos that used weights, all to mix it up, so I wouldn’t be doing the same things every day
  • I would change my eating habits, so I bought cookbooks with the Mediterranean diet recipes, and learn how to make veggie/protein bowls

I was ready to begin. The day before the first of 21 days began, I went to the grocery store and got the food needed for this plan, and once home I cut up the veggies and lettuce, and cooked the protein; that way it would not take long to put the bowls together for a meal.

The first day was a beast on the bike, I was so out of breath, and sweating profusely; but at least I got through it while keeping pace with the video. As time wore on, it seemed after the first week I wanted to do more than 20 minutes on the bike and 10 – 15 minutes of cardio, so I upped the ante on each type of exercise. I did cardio at least 20 minutes, and one time I did it for an hour! I admit I had to stop the video a few times, but again, I got through it and felt pumped of that accomplishment. By day 15 I changed the bike class to 40 minutes, but that proved too much, so I found a sweet spot in doing 30 minutes. Then I discovered I no longer hated the bike; I started liking the exercise. Go figure!

The veggie bowls were fine, but there were many times I just didn’t want to eat anything. There were times when I forced myself to eat, and other times all I wanted to do was eat. But I noticed I cut out fried foods, soda and candy (though I did sneak in a slice of cake from time to time).

The twenty-first day was today, and I promised myself that I would not weigh myself until today. Two pounds lost….wah, wah, wah.  😦   That’s all? I thought. I fought plummeting into a valley of despair, praying to God and apologizing for not doing better.

But I realized some things had happened that was more than just the weight issue:

  • I was sleeping better, more soundly, and I was getting back to having a sleep schedule that aided in my sleeping habits.
  • My belly was so huge as it once was. There is more to be worked on regarding this, I acknowledged, but there was much improvement in this area. Also my ankles weren’t so swollen as they once were
  • I stuck to drinking more water
  • I didn’t eat a lot of restaurant/fast food anymore. Of the 21 days I may have done that once a week, and the last week I didn’t eat out at all. That means I utilized my kitchen and cooked a lot, putting cooked meat in the freezer and taking it out when I needed it. In turn, that cut down on expenses. And regarding the cake, if I went to the grocery store when it opened, the bakery did not put the slices that early, so I couldn’t get any
  • I committed myself to exercise six days a week, at least 30 minutes a days, which adds up to 180 minutes a week.

While I have to focus on the positive of what has taken place, I must do an analysis on those areas that need improvement. In this case, it is food intake. More veggies, less protein and more fruit. As for another twenty-one day commitment: I think I can do that.

Through praying to God, I felt encouragement to continue and not stop because I did not achieve a substantial weight loss. In talking to others, I still hear testimonies of losing ten pounds or more, which discourages me. But the question I ask myself is should the negative outweigh my goal of losing weight and getting healthy? Thank God I can say no to that question. So I will continue.

Another point I have to admit to myself. I can’t do this all by myself, I need help. The encouragement of others and constantly asking God for his power that enables me to say no to myself when I want to devour a pizza or eat a piece of cake. God says if I seek His kingdom and His righteousness, all these things shall be added. God told Joshua to keep the Law, meditating on and doing it constantly, and then he would be prosperous and successful.  I need to do the same.

Whatever is challenging  you, prosper and be in good health, even as your soul  prospers. Focus on what God has to say regarding how to live life, that He will always be with you no matter what, and if we emphasize and implement what He says in our everyday living, success will come. Be strengthenized…

“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”   3 John 1:2

“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayeth observe to do…for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” Joshua 1:8

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”  Matthew 6:33