Monday, January 31, 2011

"I Feel Blue" (Part One)

Are you feeling blue? Do you ever feel down or discouraged by the circumstances of life? Feeling depressed or sad occasionally is natural and normal. We have all experienced disappointments at some time in our lives. It is at those times that we need to turn to God for our strength. If we don’t, it can feel like the circumstances of life are drowning us from the inside out. Life can feel overwhelming and unbearable at times and if we aren’t careful, that time of discouragement can turn into a serious bout of depression. Here are some things to think about the next time you are feeling “blue.”

Blues Clues to watch for:
Mild
•feeling down, discouraged, sad, alone, depressed, feelings of anxiety, restlessness, irritability, inability to concentrate and focus

Moderate
•wants to be alone a lot, feels out of place, irritable mood often, decreased energy or a feeling of fatigue, and loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary activities

Severe
•changes in appetite or weight, inability to sleep or oversleeping, becomes increasingly withdrawn, feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, dwells on thoughts of death (suicidal)

If you or someone you know has any of these warning signs, you need to read closely. Depression is defined as a state of unhappiness and hopelessness. It affects everyone at some point in their lives. It can be related to the death of a pet, loss of a job, financial struggles, unexpected sickness or the breakdown of a relationship. For most people, depression is gradually relieved through the support of friends and family, the resolution of the problem, or simply time. For others, the symptoms persist and worsen. In these instances, medical attention may be needed.

How can I get out of “the blues?”
There will always be circumstances or situations in your life that will cause you to become discouraged, but it’s how you deal with that discouragement that makes the difference.

I remember at one point in my life, lying in bed feeling hopeless. I felt like my life had no purpose. There seemed to be no hope of it ever getting better. I was experiencing a flare up from the autoimmune disease I have and it just seemed to grow worse by the day. I was bedridden, had no energy or strength, little to no voice, and I was too weak to walk around. My life consisted of attempting to eat and drink fluids, watching TV, and endless sleep. I was at home all of the time and rarely saw anyone besides my family. It seemed like life droned on and the darkness was closing in on me. Instead of getting better, I seemed to grow worse. I couldn’t see any hope beyond where I was living.

I was familiar with “the blues.” I had experienced them before and recognized the warning signs. I knew what to do and who to go to with my dilemma. I immediately went to God when I was at my lowest point. I asked for strength, purpose, and reason to live. He reminded me of my family… my husband and my precious little boys. I shared with my husband my struggles, fears, doubts, and pain. He prayed with me and consistently worked to keep my chin up. He gave me hope, focus, purpose, and reason to live. I focused on taking baby steps (small daily goals) to help inspire me to move forward. In time I overcame my season of depression, but it was a rough road to travel.

I have a friend who has faced some pretty insurmountable circumstances, but has come out stronger in the end. Check out her website to hear more at... http://debbiecalvert.org. She travels and speaks sharing her story of surviving depression with others. It is inspiring. What could God do with a life totally given to Him? Let God turn your “blues” into a beautiful testimony of His faithfulness. His specialty is turning, what seems to be mountains in our lives into miracles to show His glory.

"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28

To be continued...
Watch next time for tips on How to overcome “the blues.”

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"The Bounty Hunter"

Did you know that there is a bounty on your life? You are being hunted and watched. Someone is in pursuit of you. He is watching your life closely and trying to learn your habits and routines so he can catch you when you least expect it. You are wanted… dead or alive. Let me describe this “bounty hunter” to you. He has many aliases that he is known by… he is the great deceiver, the thief, angel of light, prince of darkness, father of lies, the prince of this world, Satan, and the devil.

John 8:44 describes him as this…

“He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

The devil is real whether you believe it or not and he wants to destroy your life. Satan has a bounty out on you. He wants you and he is willing to do anything to get you. He wants to take you out… paralyze you spiritually, impair your spiritual vision, change your perspective, and fill your mind with “stinkin’ thinking”…. Don’t let him win!

In order to overcome our enemy, we need to know and understand him. Let’s look a little closer at his greatest desires and fears…

His greatest desires are…

1. For us to continue to sin.

His goal is to get us to go back to our “old ways” and eventually turn away from God.

“But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God.” I John 3:8-9


2. For us to become comfortable where we are.

When we begin to become satisfied with where we are spiritually, we will stop growing and moving toward God. We need to be continually learning, changing, and growing becoming more like God each day. When we become comfortable… going to church becomes a hobby, reading the Bible becomes a duty, we stop telling people about God, and we can begin to see ourselves as “good enough” and we stop serving and growing. Just like a plant if we aren’t growing, we are dying. I want to be growing daily to become more like God, what about you?

3. To steal, kill, and destroy us.

John 10:10 says…

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

Many of you have been robbed and you don’t even realize it. Satan has stolen… your joy, peace, self-esteem, purity, innocence, and so much more. Some of you have even been “bound up” by Satan. He is trying to keep you from God. He has tied your hands in an attempt to make you ineffective. But Jesus wants to set you “FREE!”

"Christ has set us free to live a free life.” Galatians 5:1

Freedom means to be “set free, delivered, cut loose, rescued, let out, unlocked, turned loose, released, or let go.”

“…wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17

“So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” John 8:36

Jesus wants to set you free today!

Not only does the devil have great desires for you, he also has great fears concerning you.

His greatest fears are...

1. …that you will become spiritually FEARLESS.
What does that look like?
…Extravagant love for God and others, Extraordinary faith (believing God for impossible things), and Extreme behavior (living for God in a radical way daily).


2. …that people will be drawn to the love of God in you.
God’s love wants to invade every area of our lives… trust Him with your heart. The more of God you get inside of you, the more capacity you have to love others. It’s God’s love shining through us that shows when we reflect Him with our actions.

3. …that you will start believing what the Bible says and start stepping out to do RADICAL things (Extraordinary Faith)

Matthew 19:26 says…"With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

Radicals believe God will do what He says He will do and live by that fact. Shake up your faith and believe God for the “impossible” today.

4. …that people will get healed, delivered, set free, miracles will happen, and people will notice and be drawn to God.

He is afraid that if we do the things above, that everything is going to get out of control and he won’t be able to stop it. Woohoo… you betcha it will. I’m ready to see things get a little out of control for God with the result being … Lives being changed forever.

So, now that we have learned that Satan has a bounty on our lives, his greatest desires, and his greatest fears… what should we do about it? Should we find a witness protection program and hide? Should we live under the radar and just do the status quo when it comes to God? Should we just stick to going to church and skip the relationship with God thing? No, no, no, no, a thousand times no. Don’t hide, don’t run away, don’t become a “closet Christian.” Step out and allow God to do amazing things in your life this year. The devil is no one to be afraid of… “…greater is He that is IN ME than he that is in the world.”

Now that you know the facts… go out and rock your world for Jesus. Shake up your faith and step out to do radical things for God. Begin a holy uproar of chasing after God and lives will be radically changed along the way as a result. May God turn you and your world upside down for Jesus this year.

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Do you need a "Trainer"?

Have you ever seen “The Biggest Loser” before? It’s an inspiring TV show that conveys how lives can be transformed with the help of another. The main focus of the show is helping each person overcome their life-long obstacle… weight. The trainers’ are tough and the expectations are high, but in the end lives are transformed as they walk forward opening up a new doorway to their future.

Each contestant on the show is competing for the prize. They are given the tools to accomplish the task over the course of their journey on “The Biggest Loser Campus.” They have to learn the importance of trusting their trainer. That trainer is like a guide to a new and better way of living. The trainer knows what is best for each contestant’s body. They understand how to help each person move beyond what they thought they were capable of doing. They push, prod, cheer, and run with them along the way to get them to their destination. The end result is inspiring.

I can hear those trainers’ in my mind and see them speaking hope into those contestants. Hope for a brighter future filled with possibilities. As they see each contestant with potential not as what they are… but what they can be… I am inspired as well.

Life is a journey and no journey is the same. We all need hope and inspiration spoken into our lives. We need a guide or trainer to help us along the way to a better way of living. We all share obstacles of some kind that slow us down and can hinder the view of our path ahead. The route can be rough at times. There are bumps, ruts, and distractions to avoid. The weather is unpredictable and the terrain is hazardous. The only way to guarantee we will make it safely through is to choose the right guide to lead us.

Even though I may not understand His methods, I may disagree with His choice of routes, or even if I am ready to give up, I trust “my guide” completely with my life. He knows what is best for me. He knows how far along the path I can go on which days. He knows when I need to rest and when I can run. He pushes me beyond where I thought I could go and challenges me all the way. He prods me, encourages me, empowers me, and makes me stronger in the end. He is my trainer, my guide, my hero, my friend… His name is Jesus. Thank you, Jesus for joining me on this journey. I couldn’t make it with out you.

Don’t do life alone… let Jesus be your “guide.” Let’s take it a step further… don’t just let Jesus be your guide… let Him become your “trainer” as well. He wants to help grow you stronger in your faith-life. He wants to help prepare you for whatever obstacles you may face along the journey. He will give you inspiration, hope, and a life filled with new possibilities. No matter what you are facing on this journey called life, Jesus wants to be there with you to help you on your way. Invite Him to walk with you today. He makes all the difference.

“…For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie

Sunday, January 9, 2011

God's "Waiting Room" (Part Two)


Have you ever visited God’s “Waiting Room” before? It’s that place where God wants to teach you something new and take you deeper in your walk with Him. I’ve sat in God’s “waiting room” many times in the past. It’s a place of growth, building trust, increasing our faith, and drawing us near to God. It is life-changing.

The best thing about God’s “waiting room” is that He never wastes a moment of our waiting. He has a purpose and a plan in it all. Some of my past visits there included… seeking God’s direction for my life career-wise, waiting on the man of my dreams, waiting on a child after a miscarriage, seeking new direction for our family ministry-wise, and seeking healing inside and out. God is faithful no matter what season you are facing in your life right now.

Previously we talked about different reasons why God might have us wait. Let’s look at them again briefly…

Reasons why God might ask us to wait…

1. Maybe… He is “growing us” so we are mature and strong enough to face whatever may come next for us in life.

2. Maybe… He is “healing” us so we are ready to move forward spiritually well inside and out.

3. Maybe… He wants to give us “new directions” for the next phase of the journey ahead.

4. Maybe… He is working out the details for the next phase of His plan for our lives (“setting the stage” for what’s ahead).

I am not a patient person and I do not like to wait. It’s no fun… especially when there is no expected time frame. I especially do not like waiting rooms. They can be tedious and at times time consuming. I always bring something to do because I never know how long I will be waiting. I read, but others make lists, check messages, watch TV, etc… You can be productive and accomplish much while you wait, if you choose to do so.

Why not make the most of your time in God’s waiting room however long that may be. Don’t waste time getting angry, becoming bitter, letting your spiritual life die, or doing nothing at all. Be productive and make the most of where God has placed you for this season. Another season is coming after this filled with exciting possibilities. Prepare for it now! Here are a few things you can do to be productive in God’s “Waiting” season of your life…

What can we do while we are waiting?

“…Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.” I Corinthians 13:13

What can we do while we are waiting…

1. Love Extravagantly

Extravagant can be defined as “without restraint, to lavish, beyond ones means.” Extravagant love for God is… a radical love relationship with God. Head over heals in love! It’s a radical love and commitment to God that is reflected to others by our words and behavior. Let’s look at this “crazy love” a little closer.

Love God- In the midst of your “waiting” time… keep loving God. Keep growing, keep doing what you’ve been doing all along… keep reading the Bible, keep Praying, and keep going to church. Don’t allow this “waiting” time to become a big pause in your walk with God.

Love People – In the midst of your waiting time… keep loving people. Don’t let the stupidity of others scar you for life and shape who you become. People can be hurtful and hateful at times… choose to forgive and allow God time to heal your heart. Unforgiveness only hurts you. Don’t even allow bitterness the opportunity to enter your life. Choose to let God love people through you. It is only through Him that we can truly love everyone.

Love Life – In the midst of your waiting time… keep loving life. Keep moving forward. Don’t pull back and isolate yourself from everyone. Hiding from the world doesn’t bring healing to your heart, it only postpones it. Instead choose to stay involved… in your family, church, activities, and living. We need each other. Find people to share your life with and invite them to grow with you. In times of trouble and difficulty our family and friends can become a life support to us. Life is better with others to share it with us.

What can we do while we are waiting…

2. Trust Steadily

Trust can be defined as… “to expect confidently.” Expect God confidently to show up and take care of all of the details of your life. God has shown up and taken care of you in the past and He will do it again. He has everything under control... Trust Him!

Let God begin to fill your heart with “extraordinary faith” … remarkable, amazing, unusual, peculiar, and notable faith. As your faith grows, your trust and confidence in God will grow as well. Faith provides eyes for the heart to see the impossible as though it is. Is there anything impossible that you are facing today? Trust God and believe He is at work behind the scenes on your behalf.

What can we do while we are waiting…

3. Hope Unswervingly

Hope is defined as… “Trustful expectation” or “a feeling that what is wanted will happen.” Believe steadily that God can do the impossible in your life! It’s time to begin to dream again. Let God fill your heart with “God dreams” while in His “waiting room.” Dream of what God may have ahead for you.

What could happen if we started stepping out in faith and believing what God promised? Maybe people will get healed, delivered, and set free. Maybe miracles will happen and others will notice and be drawn to God. Waiting can be exciting as we watch and see the miracles God performs before us. Our lives are His stage to perform His grand masterpiece.

“I wait quietly before God for my hope is in Him.” Psalm 62:5

As you “wait” on God may you become stronger and grow deeper in Him. Remember God never wastes our waiting. He has a purpose for everything and has it all under control. Trust Him with the details. When you waver in your “waiting,” never hesitate to ask others to join you in prayer. Prayer is powerful and where two or three gather together in prayer, God is there. May God bless you as you continue on your journey with Him. I’m believing He has amazing things in store for your life.

“Consecrate (prepare) yourselves for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” Joshua 3:5

Living to leave a Legacy,
Julie

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

God's "Waiting Room" (Part One)


Waiting… it’s something we all have to do. We can’t escape it. We wait in lines at the store, wait for the mail, wait on the phone, wait for our food, wait on our kids, and wait for our checks to come each week to pay for it all. Waiting isn’t fun, but it’s inevitable. Have you ever sat in a waiting room before? Ever stop and think of all of the different kinds of waiting rooms that there are… Doctor’s office, Dentist’s office, Eye Doctor’s office, Emergency Room, Auto Shops, Restaurants, The BMV, The Delivery Room, The Surgery Center, and outside of the Principal’s office to name a few.

I think the hardest “waiting room” of all for me to sit in is… God’s "Waiting Room.” Did you know that God has a “waiting room?” God’s “Waiting Room” is a place of healing and direction. It’s a place to encounter God in new and deeper ways. This place makes it’s mark on your heart and changes you forever.

God’s “Waiting Room” is often a season in our lives where He wants us to STOP and let Him do a deeper work inside of us. We might recognize it by things feeling unclear… jobs may be falling through for us, finances may be a struggle, our future may seem uncertain, and it may appear that nothing is working out. Maybe it’s God’s way of getting our attention. This can be a time of great spiritual transition. God is preparing to move us to greater things and He wants to make sure we are ready.

Whether you have experienced financial trouble, the loss of a loved one, the miscarriage of a child, or unfulfilled dreams… God has a plan. If you are waiting on a spouse, a job, the direction for your future, a baby, healing, or financial breakthrough, God is at work with you in mind.

God always has a purpose in our waiting. Many of the great men and women of the Bible spent time in God’s “waiting room.” Moses for instance, spent forty years there (See Exodus 1-4). Most of us will never have to wait that long. During that time period God transformed Moses from a prince, to a shepherd, to the leader of his people. If you are in God’s waiting room right now, hold tight and listen close because God is about to call your name.

Reasons why God might ask us to wait…

1. Maybe… He is “growing us” so we are mature and strong enough to face whatever may come next for us in life.

2. Maybe… He is “healing” us so we are ready to move forward spiritually well inside and out.

3. Maybe… He wants to give us “new directions” for the next phase of the journey ahead.

4. Maybe… He is working out the details for the next phase of His plan for our lives (“setting the stage” for what’s ahead).

Next time see what we can do while we are waiting...
To be continued...