Debbie Downer or Grateful Gloria?

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I can be a real belly-acher. I could come up with a million reasons on the daily why my life sucks. I get bummed because I can’t afford a nicer car, my kitchen doesn’t have enough counter space, my lawn needs some serious fertilizing, my shoe collection is dwindling and I think I need a new scale — the darn thing has been stuck on the same number for months now.

I have no filter when it comes to sharing many of these negative thoughts with other people. Everyone from my dog to my Pilates instructor has received an earful of my griping. I’m just not the type to praise my situation. Instead, I dwell on how much improving my life needs.

I suppose some might call me a “Debbie Downer.” Though, I don’t always complain. When good news hits, I’m the first to shout it from the roof tops. It’s just, I have a sort of twisted view on what is, “good news.” My perspective on,”good news” and God’s perspective are quite different. I think, if I really were to take a look at it from the Lord’s standpoint, I’d shut my trap pretty quick before bellowing out another grievance.

1Thessalonians 5:18 Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Praise God, come to him like a little child.

Maybe I have had a hard time giving thanks because thankfulness is not a virtue society pounds into us. There are far more, “Debbie Downers,” walking the earth than are, “Grateful Glorias.” No surprise, with so many ads on tv and in magazines telling  of all the crap we don’t own but should, all the beautiful women in films reminding us of our own figure faults and every other well-to-do person we come across on our daily travels, we’re faced more with what we lack rather than all we have.

If I were to move to Africa, I would be singing a different tune. I’ve been to Africa once before on a family vacation (something I am extremely grateful for) and I saw how difficult life is there. Food is scarce, many children are without schooling, clean drinking water is a luxury. The woman do most of the work in many of the tribes in Africa. According to the website www.charitywater.org,

“the average woman in Africa walks three miles everyday for water.”

I want to punch somebody just for having to get off my cozy couch, drive 2 miles to the post office and pick up the latest Netflix to watch with my hubby by the fire that evening. It doesn’t take a genius to see who has the cushier life. Although, if I really wanted to bring out my “Debbie Downer”, I could complain that those African women have far better muscle definition from carrying all that water.

The thing about being thankful is that it’s not something that easily comes to us. To be a, “Grateful Gloria” takes focus and determination. We have to work for it! That is why God reminds us continually in the Bible to praise him. By giving praise to God, our hearts open to receive more of his grace, which in turn, fills them with more thankfulness and thus, praise! It’s a beautiful cycle!!!!

Psalm 150:6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

1 Chronicles 16:34 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Psalm 35:18 I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among throngs of people I will praise you.

Psalm 30:12 that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.

I have learned the hard way that it’s only when I un-silence my heart and allow it to sing to the Lord that I find true gratitude. I can’t find my circumstances totally sufficient when I view them from worldly eyes. Jesus made it crystal clear ( one of the very view occasions 😉 ) when he said to Judas in John 14:27,

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives.”

An unsettled heart comes from relying on what the world gives, not on what God gives. By putting things in perspective, the problems that turn us in to “Debbie Downers” become trivial. After all, it seems pretty foolish to moan over not having enough counter space when I at least have a kitchen to cook in.

Praise God for all the blessings he bestows upon you — right down to hot showers and fresh coffee in the morning. Ask that he turn your view away from what the world gives and on to what Jesus gives. Remember that through Jesus comes peace — his peace 🙂

Determine to get your mind right. Be a Grateful Gloria!

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Bands that Rock!

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Triumph Rocks!

Today’s band that ROCKS is the Canadian hair band from the 1970’s, TRIUMPH. Often compared to Rush or The Who, these guys were known for their live performances.

What makes them ROCK?

Aside from totally awesome hair, skin tight pants and eight albums being certified gold or higher, they also came out with the righteous song, “Fight the Good Fight.”

Hard to find a classic rock song that empowers the working of God in our lives, but these guys managed to deliver a true salute to the cause.

Lyrics to Fight the Good Fight

The days grow shorter and the nights are getting long

Feels like we’re running out of time

Every day it seems much harder tellin’ right from wrong

You got to read between the lines

Don’t get discouraged, don’t be afraid, we can

Make it through another day

Make it worth the price we pay

The Good Book says it’s better to give than to receive

I do my best to do my part

Nothin’ in my pockets I got nothin’ up my sleeve

I keep my magic in my heart

Keep up your spirit, keep up your faith, baby

I am counting on you

You know what you’ve got to do

CHORUS:

Fight the good fight every moment

Every minute every day

Fight the good fight every moment

It’s your only way

All your life you’ve been waiting for your chance

Where you’ll fit into the plan

But you’re the master of your own destiny

So give and take the best that you can

You think that a little more money can buy your soul some rest

You better think something else instead

You’re so afraid of being honest with yourself

You’d better take a look inside your head

Nothing is easy, nothing good is free

But I can tell you where to start

Take a look inside your heart

There’s an answer in your heart

CHORUS

Fight the good fight every moment

Every minute every day

Fight the good fight every moment

Make it worth the price we pay

Every moment of your lifetime

Every minute every day

Fight the good fight every moment

Make it worth the price we pay

Yeah

Praying in the Spirit

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"Whatever you want for me God is what I want."

I have come to see that very little of what I pray for comes out of my great and holy desire to better God’s kingdom, but rather to confirm my own convalescent plans. I shed sweat and tears over making things right and perfect in my world and I get no more in return than an anxious heart and a weakened mind.

I’ve been forced to ask myself — what would my prayer life look like if I prayed only for that which would benefit the kingdom? For as it stands now, I want his riches and his glory without having to change my story. I want to be blessed without having to clean up the mess. I want to be made wise, not being still, but by forcing my own will. I say things like, ” I want this God, but only if it is your will.” Yet, I ask with fingers crossed behind my back. What I’m really thinking is, ” God, I hope I can convince you why you want the same things I do. We both know how much happier I will be if I get what I want, Lord.”

I can be the master of manipulation sometimes. As a woman, it’s a polished skill. While it may work on the people in my life, God is not at all impressed by it. What is scary to think about, is that my prayer time with God is never meant to be a time of manipulation or selfish requests. I want nothing more than to do the will of my Father and to make him proud of me. It’s that dang deceitful heart that keeps getting in the way. Even when I think I am in the Spirit, I find I am sometimes in the flesh.

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

Deceit is a bitch.

Cute and Innocent deceitful bitch

Selfish & Proud deceitful bitch

There is the cute and cuddly me I think I am when I am praying, and there is selfish and proud me I can sometimes really be. I know I’m not alone in this. Much of following Jesus is about allowing the work of the Spirit to remove our own need to be the vine and replace it with a pure and joyful desire to be the branch. Even Paul in Romans admitted he struggled with the nature of the flesh.

Romans 7:19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.

Amen, Paul! This verse could very well be the summary of my entire waltz with God. What struck me recently, is that I have ascribed this verse to concern specific areas in my life that already seem pretty “fleshy” to me. For instance, I often think of this verse when I go for that third margarita, or take a drag off a friends cigarette, or put my husband down in the middle of a disagreement, or buy a pair of totally amazing shoes on a credit card I am trying to pay off. I have never put this verse in context with my prayer life. Oh, but the wool was pulled heavily over my eyes on that one!

 Ephesians 5:15 “Be very careful then how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”

The clear message here to me is — foolish is the opposite of Gods will. So, any prayer that doesn’t consist of a complete release of my will and total embracing of God’s will is a prayer with some foolishness sprinkled in. In order to be wise, I must allow God to  answer my prayers in his perfect ways, not try to manipulate my own lame ideas into the outcome.

The other thing to note here is that “the days are evil.” It doesn’t say, ” the mornings are evil,” or, “that coffee break is gonna be evil,” or even, “that phone conversation with so and so will turn out evil.” No — it says the DAYS are evil. That is 24 hours, seven days a week where evil is on patrol looking to harass and destroy.

The devil in, "Legend" was so scary-- Satan is a million times worse!

The devil can get us anywhere. It’s easier to think its only when we are doing the, “obvious” evils that he is attacking. It’s a much harder concept to trust that he is at work in the areas where we only wish to do good. The Bible tells us over and over again that Satan is a crazy, calamitous, contaminating, corrupter. That devil will catch us every which way he can. Nothing is sacred to him, not a single hour in our day is free from his ruinous  attacks —  not even our prayer time!

Ephesians 6:10 Be strong in the Lord. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 6:13 Therefore, put on the full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes you may be able to stand your ground.

Ephesians 6:17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert…”

Perhaps it is a lesson I will have to learn over and over again, but I hope not. I want to  keep my prayers to the Lord pure and my desires in accordance with his will. Whenever manipulation and self- gain rear their ugly heads, I want to shout ” Out, damn’d spot! Out, I say!

Lord, you have given me all of your spiritual blessings through Christ. Help me to be strong in you. Keep my prayers away from selfish desires, instead focusing them on your perfect authority. Remind me, Lord, that I am never far from the devil’s attacks but always protected by your mighty hand. For through your love and by your Spirit, I have been given the authority to crush every evil thing under my feet. You are a loving and merciful God and I praise you for choosing me as one of your children. Amen.

Standing on the Promises of God

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Planting My Feet Upon God's Promises

I got a call from my husband this morning. He told me that work would be slowing down and he wold only be needed 3 days a week instead of the typical five. We have been in this place before, but lately, I have not been in the mood for tightening my belt (am I ever?). For a brief moment, I wanted to pick a fight with him and bring up all the reasons I could come up with that made this his fault. I almost let this news be the ruin of the rest of my day. However, I have been working on trusting God. I have been praying for stronger faith that He will meet all of our families needs. I am trying to let go of my own need to control and give in to negative emotions and choose the joy of the Christ instead. Before shouting out blame or allowing fear to rise up in me, I took a moment to pray and to breathe. It worked!  After telling my husband how much I loved him, I hung up the phone and stood to go get ready for work. Right as I stood up, I heard the song, “Standing on the Promises of God” playing in my head and found myself joyfully singing it. Then, I had a vision of a ladder reaching into the unknown. I began to think how much standing on God’s promises is like standing on a ladder. Each rung is a promise that guides us somewhere. We cling to the ladder, climbing up or down depending on where God leads us, our feet landing on a different promise every time. Though we know not where we will end up each day, be it high amongst the clouds or low along the grass, we know that those promises stand firm with a steady strength, ready to give rest to the wobbly feet that land upon them.

Today, I choose to believe that God is holding steady the ladder of his promises. I need only to trust the promise he may guide my feet on for this day.

Till “Irreconcilable Differences” Do us Part.

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It happened again! One of Hollywood’s most beloved couples, Seal and Heidi Klum, have called it quits on their marriage after a mere seven years of “commitment” to each other.

"Seal"ed with a kiss

This is riding off the coattails of Hollywood’s previous juicy split between Katy Perry and Rusell Crowe, er, I mean Brand. Of course, I can’t forget to give a shout out to Kim Kardashian and her husband of 72 days, Kris Humphries.

The rate of divorce these days is redic! I’m not just going off of Hollywood standards. It seems everywhere we look, some couple is signing on the dotted line of divorce, negating all the vows they made and turning their backs on the life they promised to each other.

CNN reported on the split between Seal and Klum, releasing a statement from their publicist that read, “While we have enjoyed seven loving, loyal and happy years of marriage, after much soul-searching we have decided to separate … “We have had the deepest respect for one another throughout our relationship and continue to love each other very much, but we have grown apart.”

Ahh, the old,” growing apart” statement. It’s soooo lame! Have some respect for your fans and at least give the public the tried and true, ” irreconcilable differences.” There is mystery and intrigue behind that one. It could allude to anything — maybe you discovered he had a fetish for eating cottage cheese out of your favorite Calvin Klein suede boots or he caught you hiding a stolen baby in a tent out in the backyard. Those differences have some weight to them — but that you were, “growing apart,” UGH!!!

In Mark 10:5-9, Jesus states, ” But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother will and be united to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no man separate.

I repeat, “two become one” to my husband all the time. It’s a reminder to us both that we made a commitment to one another to become a unit, brought together and blessed by God. If I trusted God to bring me this man who I chose to give my life to, then I also have to trust that God knows the challenges ahead of us and that through God’s strength, we can survive whatever the future brings.

Of course, you’d have to be a fool not to know that this is easier said than done. We all know someone whose marriage didn’t survive. Anyone, from couples who’ve been together for six months to as much as 25 years, can fall victim to divorce. It’s upsetting and painful for all who are involved.

Most people would say that a marriage didn’t survive because the couple “fell out of love.” I think that it might be more a, “falling out of faith” in God. As christians, we need to recognize, not a reliance on our human strength and conditional love, but on God’s super natural strength and everlasting love! I have to believe it’s through love — God’s love, the unconditional kind that can only come from Him that any marriage is able to remain steadfast. By turning our hearts to Christ and surrendering our broken relationships over to his control, we can at least have hope for survival. If we choose, instead, to rely on what our own feelings are telling us, we are doomed. Feelings can not always be trusted and the heart is, “more deceitful than all else,” Jeremiah 17:9. God did not mean to unite us and then leave us. His plan is to unite us and guide us through — all the way through.

My hubby and I have been doing a Bible study called, “The Love Dare.” It’s based on the movie Fire Proof, starring Kirk Cameron (totally had a crush on him in “Growing Pains!”)

OMG- Lov'n the Suspenders!

The movie is about a couple that has lost the spark in their marriage, their love has dwindled and they now take one another for granted. Kirk Cameron’s character is given this book by his dad that is 40 days worth of dares he must take involving his spouse. For example, one day he has to buy his wife something nice (not gonna lie and say this dare isn’t one of my favorites ;).) On another day, he has to ask her to list three things that he does that upset her. In the study, each couple has to watch the movie and then play out the dares in the book. The idea behind it is to grow closer to your spouse by allowing God to get closer to you through the action of these dares. Some of them are really intense and couples may not, “feel” like doing them, but that’s just the point. They’re teaching us to go beyond what we “feel” and do what LOVE calls us to do.

My hubby was very reluctant to do this study with me because we have only been married a short while and are still in the “honeymoon” phase of things. He kept saying, “Why do we have to do this again? This is for couples who don’t love each other anymore. ” I explained to him that while I loved him now, I may not be able to say the same thing after 60 more years of watching him leave his dirty dishes in the sink.

Though it was strange at the start to complete tasks that come easily to my husband and I, such as calling each other up in the middle of the work day to see if the other needs anything, what we have discovered through this study is that these simple gestures can quickly fade if we don’t keep a watchful eye on them. Marriages are like gardens. They need constant care and attending. God planted the seed of love for your partner inside of you and it is your duty to nurture that seed, help it to grow and water it with the sort of love that 1 Corinthians 13:4 talks about — a patient, kind and unconditional love. It is the love that only an all-powerful God can reveal in our hearts.

My prayer is that our society would stop taking the bond of marriage for granted and be more willing to stand by their word, stand by their commitment. Come on people — “tener cojones” to stick it out and trust in God to do a mighty act in those marriages!

Holding on to Hope

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Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

I have a hard time with hope and faith. Oh, sure, when things in life are going accordingly well – that is according to what I believe to be well for me, it’s easy to believe God is on my side. Yet, in those seasons when I find myself stranded in the wilderness and life seems to be falling apart at the seems, it takes an overwhelming amount of strength to have hope and faith that God will come through for me. I struggle relentlessly to sew up any loose seems and place patches over holes and tears that begin to take form. I take the role of master seamstress and by doing so — create garments that resemble rags instead of fine robes.

When you are used to doing things on your own, it takes a great amount of faith to trust in God to do things for you. I believe this process is never ending. Even Moses, who God spoke to through a burning bush and who witnessed the very miracle of the Lord parting the Red Sea, had a hard time putting all his faith in the Lord. He missed out on entering the promised- land because of his unbelief. Let’s face it, we are not creatures of belief by nature — it is something God calls us to. The difficulty comes in answering that call.

I have spent years running and hiding from things in my life I know God has called me to address. I have habitually believed that if I just put it off for a little while longer, God would forget about it and the issue would go away. The truth is, the “issue” was not really the “issue” after all, it was the “lesson” that God wanted to teach me through the “issue” that held such great importance. Yet, my lack of hope and faith in God forced my mind to continually focus on the “issue” rather than on the transforming life the “lesson” from God would bring forth.

One day, after I lay in my bed, utterly exhausted from a severe crying fit of frustration and doubt, God placed an image in my mind that spoke directly to my heart. My eyes closed, my cheeks still hot and damp with fresh tears, I saw myself dressed in workout gear. I was wearing a very snazzy black running shirt and matching Capri pants, the cute kind you would find at Lu Lu Lemons. Dressed in this very professional running attire, I was doing just that –running. Only, I was not getting anywhere because the hand of God was stretched out in front of me, placed smack dab in the middle of my forehead. I was sweating from head to toe, frustrated and exhausted from running with all my might and getting nowhere. Then, I saw God’s hand point to a large white box with a big, red bow on it that stood out in the distance. With one hand of the Lord resting on my forehead, I saw the other hand of the Lord stretch way out to and grab the gift, bringing it towards me. Suddenly, I understood what God was telling me.

St. Augustine said, “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.” The vision that God placed in my head that wearisome afternoon was proof of this. I am an avid runner and work out fanatic, so God knew the personal touch he was putting on my vision when he not only had me running, but running in really adorable workout clothes! He also understood exactly what my problem was – I was wasting too much energy trying to achieve success by my own will. I thought that just because I looked the part and played the part, I could attain the part. However, all I was accomplishing was running in place, wasting precious energy on something God was willingly ready to hand to me if I would just stand still for a minute. The blessing is right in front of us, and God wants to give it to us, all wrapped in a shiny red bow, but he will not allow us to have it by our own will — “Yet not my will, but yours be done,” Luke 22:42.

The Bible tells us plainly, “ Be still and know that I am God,” Psalm 46:10. It does not say, “Get moving and make something happen fast or your life will be ruined.” God calls us to do the exact opposite, because it is in being still, in allowing God to do his work, in trusting in his promises, that real life- altering transformations take place.

It can be so difficult to surrender to God’s will. It is easy to get sucked in to feeling as though we are responsible for making things right in our lives when God doesn’t to appear to acting fast enough for us. Even the disciples questioned what they should be doing as workers of God. In John 6:29, Jesus responded to them by saying, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

As believers, we are not called to do anything more then believe. If there is doubt, pray for belief, if there is worry, pray for hope, if there is fear, pray for faith. The God who breathed life into being will come through! For, if we call ourselves believers than we have to have hope, so lets us recall and trust in the words found in Hebrews10: 23 that state, “ Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

Jesus Represent!

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There is a lot of talk in the Christian faith about Jesus standing in for us — acting as our mediator with God. So often, we’re told that when we’re going through something really huge that we totally can’t even deal with, that we should just hand it over to Jesus and let him take it to God for us. Jesus knows our hearts and because his Spirit lives in us, he totally gets all the wacky, icky, even crazy stuff that we have going on inside. As spooky as that can seem, it’s also pretty amazing because it means that He knows just what to say to the Lord on our behalf during those moments when we are too tongue-tied to even pray.

When talking about the death of Christ on the cross, Watchman Nee (How cool is the name Watchman!) states in his book The Normal Christian Life, that, ” He (Jesus) died as our Representative.” Holla! What a cool way of looking at it!  I think the word “representative” really showcases the role of Jesus in our lives.

When I hear the word “represent” it reminds me of today’s urban class.  “Represent” is a word often used in the  “hip-hop” culture-especially within the music. In fact, when I googled the word “represent” the first thing that popped up was a definition given by Urban Dictionary. I figure, if these are the peeps that use the word the most, than I gotz to “represent” and highlight their definition. For all intensive purposes, I am going to include what I believe to be the “Christian” version of what this definition means, so that a clear understanding can be made for those of you are not tuned into the “street” lingo.

Represent 

verb.Go and be a good example to the others of your group or in your position.

Dad: Your Mom wants you to square up this joint, yo.

Kid: So you want me to clean my room?

Dad: Dat would be da hizzy.

Kid: O.K.

Dad: Represent.

Christian Version

verb.Matthew 28:18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, ” Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Jesus: Your Father in Heaven wants you to make believers on earth.

Child of God: So you want me to go out and actually talk to people about salvation, grace and God’s love?

Jesus: That would be just want I want you to do.

Child of God: O.K. but I can’t do it alone.

Jesus: And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Represent.

Represent
A command that provokes someone to make a symbol or sign identifying their gang affiliation.

Represent, motha&^%$@#.

Tupac "Representing" West Side Gang Symbol

Christian Version

Matthew 4:19 “Come, follow me,”  Jesus said,” and I will make you fishers of men.”

Sporting a Jesus fish decal on your car.

School of Jesus Fish is some serious "Representing"

Represent
Lend physical presence or voice on behalf of a constituency defined by geography or purpose, when such manifestation of presence or voice by the whole of that constituency would be logistically impractical or impossible.

Christian Version

Hebrews 7:25  “He is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”

Represent
A phrase showing acknowledgement to one’s background, home, social group, or original place of residence. Also similar to giving a Shout Out to one’s homeboys.

Interviewer: So you’re from Québec?
Interviewee: Damn right, homeskillet. La belle Province, represent!

Christian Version

John 3:13  No one has gone up to heaven except the one who came down from heaven, the Son of Man who is in heaven.

Interviewer: So, you’re from Heaven?
Jesus: Dang right, homeskillet. The throne of the Most High, represent!

Represent
Showing respect to where you come from.

Represent yo clique!

Christian Version

Micah 6:8  He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Show the world you believe Christ is the savior!

There are several great words that the Bible uses to remind us of who Christ is and  they may resonate differently with each of us. For me, the word, “represent” is a word that carries some weight. It is a word I can hold onto. In the greatest moments of joy and the darkest moments of pain, believing that Christ died as a representative for my sinful nature reminds me that I matter to God, that God loves me and that as His child, all my needs will be met through His perfect plan.