Thoughts versus Emotions

Happiness. Good cheer. Positivity. Kindness. Goodness. Self control.

Lack of peace. Confusion. No boundaries. Dismay. Despair.

The two groups of words contrast just like light and darkness.

Many times, when I have shared my story before a group of people at an event, at church, or elsewhere, people have asked me ..

“How do I get over it? How do I release the pain of my past? What do I do with these feelings of depression and despair? How do I forgive the one who hurt me?”

And our conversation then floats to the usual .. what does your support net look like? Have you considered counseling? Are you in a church?

Do you have any close friends who can walk beside you? Do you have any hobbies you enjoy?

The room gets quiet as the soul considers .. what can I change to bring about my healing?

For me, emotions flow freely. It goes along with creativity. Creatives see and feel, express. Emotions come out in my writing and in my crafts. I turned to creativity as I worked through confronting the pain of my past.

Then later, I learned, through various friends, counselors, books and podcasts, that one can improve one’s emotions through a renewed thought process.

Replacing downer thoughts with positive thoughts.

Example: I could never attempt that (goal, dream, occupation, pursuit, etc) because I am not enough (not smart enough, not physically strong enough, not mentally strong enough.)

The Flip: With God’s help, I could accomplish that. I am not sure how, but I am willing to research, learn, grow, practice.

Our emotions and general outcomes can improve when we go after our thought process.

Last night, I delivered a talk in front of nearly 75 people.

And did so with confidence.

There was a time in my life .. even ten years ago .. where that would have been a challenge. But one of my college professors told me that I would one day be a professional speaker and have the ability to move people to greater things. I remember shaking my head, and also remember how all of us in speech class, except one, shook like crazy when we got up to speak.

Thoughts.

A very sweet lady I know has claimed Philippians 4:13 (from the Bible) as her verse, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Encouragement.

There is more we could explore on this topic. But for today, ask yourself .. is there something you are not doing, or not trying, exploring or living because of the fear of failure? Or because the emotions just are not there?

I feel like thoughts are the wagon that pull our emotions. If we determine our thoughts, our emotion will follow.

Sunday Thoughts

Church online.

Today, I took a rare day to sleep in, ward off the chill, wrapped in blankets with the blinds drawn until well after sun up.

Then crocheted on my granddaughter’s blanket while taking in a church service from a church I used to attend long ago. Once in a while I do this, usually when I just need a slow day.

Tonight, warming my hands and my coffee cup by the fire, I think of my precious friends at the church I have attended the last few years, and how they bless my soul, how gathering together ignites my spirit.

Yet the day of rest was a day well spent. I feel energized for the week ahead, and can’t wait to see my choir friends on Wednesday night. They sounded great today indeed! (I heard them online as well.)

I was thinking of how many churches are begging their congregants to return, masks on or not, vaccinated or not, please return to life as we knew.

I also notice that fewer people are wearing masks than a year ago. Slowly, life is returning, and I know someday our grandbabies will ask us to explain the year they were born.

We have an Ever Present hope in Jesus our Messiah, in this God, our Creator.

As the fire kindles the logs beneath, I think also of how many people say “there is so much anger in the world today.”

Some days it is more obvious than others.

But light begets light, and when we look for the blessings, we soon find more reasons to say “I am blessed beyond measure.”

Coming together as believers at church is a way for us to encourage one another, face to face, to uplift, say hello, hear about another’s week. Online services definitely bridged the gap when many were, or are, stuck at home. So many do not have a way to church, whether young ones whose parents do not attend, or shut-ins.

What a blessing it is to go to church.

On another note, have to say I would not have the love for the church or the Lord had it not been for my family (both sides were devout Christians) and friends at church who gave me rides to church because my Dad worked nights and was asleep before 9 am so he could go and work all night again.

I wish I could find them and thank them. Did a social media search (for my friends) which proved to be fruitless. Will keep trying. I truly am indebted to them and their influence.

There are a couple people whom I believe God has put on my heart to invite to church. Maybe they will say yes, maybe no, or maybe maybe.

And if they do, maybe I will have paid forward, at least a little, what was done for me.

Selah.

Monday will be here soon. May you have a productive week.

Make yourself a priority

Bicycles capture my eye everywhere I go and I would like to think that I am close to the goal of purchasing one and also a hitch for my car to carry it.

Life speeds by sometimes, and a month quickly passes, six months pass, a year, and we find we are no more closer to our goal.

Why?

Everyone needs mentors and friends who feed into their lives. I have been seeking advice on all fronts of my life.

The word is the same from all: I pour into other people (community workers do, so do ministers, teachers, doctors, etc.) and need to frequently .. not just once in a while .. fill my cup.

Long ago, a spiritual mother wrote in my bible that I should fill my cup so I could continuously pour to others.

Rejoining our church choir was one step I took to recharge my spirit.

Anyone who serves can tell you that if you don’t have outlets for your creative energy, or ways to decompress, rest, contemplate and so forth, you will burn out quickly.

Track.

As a kid, I was never a good runner. It hurt to breathe, and now I know that was just the way I was built.

Everyone else could run.

In high school, I was tired of being overweight and bullied, and started “jogging.” Eventually I could jog maybe a quarter mile. A coach at school wanted me to train for cross country.

He liked my pace, and said that with training, I could go far.

I never did.

Presently, I think it would be great if I could work out three times (or more if possible) a week.

End goal: so I will have enough stamina to go on some bike rides. As a kid, I loved to ride my bike everywhere.

The other goal, besides catching up on several holiday gift projects, is to carve out time to finish my books. (Writing them. And then crafting those marketing letters and getting estimates on publishing costs etc.)

My first book, The Brighter Side of A Darker Thing, is sold by WestBow Press and is also on Amazon. It was a self published volume through WestBow, which is connected to Thomas Nelson Publishing Company. My goal was to get that book going, but I have made little effort to do so.

Also a goal.

Recharge. Reflect. Renew. Restart.

Makes sense to me.

And connect with friends whom I dearly love, yet have not spent any time with in a couple (yes, a couple of years).

I feel strengthened and empowered in putting my goals and dreams to words. And as I spoke to one of my friends earlier today, they reminded me that the purpose of my blog is for the sheer enjoyment of writing, and if I have even helped one person, then that is great.

Seeking God in the chaos

Psalm 63:1 “O God, You are my God, Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You, In a dry and thirsty land, Where there is no water.”

Many words have been written about the noise of this current age.

“When I get home, I want it absolutely quiet,” said a woman I knew years ago.

“Quiet,” I said, “as in no music even?”

And she said that yes, silence is what she sought.

It seems to me that worship can be musical, loud, cheerful, mournful, patiently waiting, shouting, quietly meditating, dancing, art, cooking dinner and more.

Our world is moving at such a fast pace. Cars get angry when they have to wait in line, or traffic slows. Everyone is moving fast and the wheel of life seems to be speeding up with the pace of the pack, so to speak.

Then you draw into your quiet place at the end of the day, and “chill.”

Or do you?

When my kids were little, such quiet time only occurred at 5 a.m. It was hard to sit in the glow of the kitchen stove light with a cup of coffee and try to read my Bible and pray. Some days it lasted a whole hour. Other days, five minutes or a half hour.

What does your life look like?

Everyone serves someone. There are those you are either responsible for (moms and dads take care of kids, older children care for aging parents and so forth) or to whom you provide a mentorship. Maybe you have a job, community or church responsibilities.

But are you “on” once you are “up” in the morning, or does that take time?

As social a person as I am once the sun comes up, I admit that until I see that golden orb peek above the horizon, I am not truly “up.”

Or I might be up, just not ready to be social 🙂

Why is that?

The more you pour out in a day to the world and your family, the more you need to be filled up with the benefits of prayer and positivity before you head out to face the world.

There are some who tell me, no ma’am, I have my quiet time at night before I go to bed. And they give all their concerns to God so they can sleep.

Another tells me that for them it is a constant conversation with God throughout the day. Not a set time.

Whatever it is for you or me, or anyone else, the important thing is to somehow carve out time to seek God.

I find that when I hit a dry period, a thirsty period of my life, I ask myself when was the last time that I truly eliminated distractions so I could seek God.

In the mountains of West Virginia are a million little streams of crisp, clear rushing water. Just the sound of it soothes the frazzled nerves, rejuvenates the weary.

The streams beckon our souls. In the midst of our day, we are seeking God.

Swimming in the sea of humanity

As the sea gulls chirped at each other and hopped around on the sand, the beach started to fill up with people, it seemed, from all over the world.

Beach umbrellas and chairs, towels and coolers dotted the shore for as far as the eye could see. Listening to chatter in other languages, someone turned on some Latin music, and the celebration began.

Families gathered to smear sunscreen on each other, talk about their trips thus far, and sprawled across the sand here and there, some even taking naps in the middle of the day, while others enjoyed beverages and still others bobbed up and down in the waves.

This truly is the sea of humanity, I thought.

And I am in it, like a grain of sand among other specks on the sea shore.

The white sand clung to my legs that I had carefully smothered in sunscreen (to no avail, I still am red as a lobster.)

So instead of trying to brush it off, I played in the sand with my hands.

It was like sugar.

How it reminded me of baking as a kid. And how I loved equally making sand castles.

Somehow I must make more time to go to the beach. My happy place, indeed.

The salty air is good for all things that need healing.

Tonight, I will sleep, knowing I swam a little in the ocean.

“Vitamin Sea,” my youngest daughter calls it.

Time with God

An antique lamp illuminated the bedside table where my great grandmother’s Bible rested. But she did not rest at night until she had, as she said, her “time with God.”

Every night, she read the Bible, and prayed for her family, and thanked God for the day. She was widowed many years prior, and she slept in a twin size, adjustable, hospital bed because she had numerous heart conditions.

She was active in her church, and Saturday night was a busy evening, preparing Sunday dinner for an after church spread, ironing church clothes and setting the table.

Prayer was folded around her day, every day, from sun up to sundown.

Her kitchen table was a welcome sight in the morning as she drank her coffee and read the paper and her edition of My Daily Bread, a free devotion book that churches distribute to their masses in order to help guide their quiet time.

It would be decades before I would come to see the fruit of a dedicated quiet time in my own life.

I was pregnant with my second son, Aaron, when I started having those times with God, and it is interesting that he is also the child who has been actively, non stop, working in the church in some capacity since he was a teenager.

Presently, I have two devotions a day.

After listening to an online devotion by Rick Warren, I put on contemporary worship to listen to and use to praise God as I get ready for work.

Night time devotions are shorter.

Everyone has a different approach to their time with God. One lady I know says she prays in the shower because that is the only time she is alone. Another goes for a walk with worship music in her headphones and that is when she prays, as she takes care of a husband whose health is failing.

Anyway, today was a great day. Had some fellowship time after work with one of my spiritual mentors.

Also took some time to get a haircut and get my nails done. Vain? No. I just like feeling put together. Then my head is free to deal with the other parts of my life.

On another whole side note (and yes I changed the subject three times), I feel grateful tonight for life, and my senses of sight, sound and smell. These are all things we take for granted, right?

May you be blessed as you explore your own quiet time with God.

Is God Relevant?

“When kids come to our church youth room, they find a place where they can kick back and fellowship, enjoy a soft drink, some snacks, play games and listen to music.”

I was stunned as a large mega-church youth and college leader showed me their enormous youth room. Much larger than the youth rooms I visited elsewhere in my own teen years. (You know, back when dinosaurs walked the earth. Lol.)

Yet the concept was still the same. Keep up with trends .. we are at this blessed place in history. Technology, transportation, fashion, entertainment, even occupations have changed drastically in the last two hundred years.

It has been said that trains of thought have polarized greatly. Many studies and statistics say that while there are a large number of Believers in the United States, not all of them are gathering to fellowship, while pastors and youth leaders wonder why this is occurring, the pandemic beside.

Church attendance and participation in service clubs has wained over the past twenty years, I am told, by those who manage those organizations.

Is God still relevant?

Is He relevant to me? Is He relevant to you?

Relevant .. relatable, necessary.

Surrounded on all sides by a Jesus believing family, I memorized scriptures as a kid.

And I craved a relationship with the Lord. My prayers were full of the God blesses, etc.

The “be with” prayers. Be with those who are suffering. Be with those who have lost their way. Be with those who feel empty and don’t know why.

Why is God Relevant?

It seems that those who believe in God really, really believe, and those who don’t, really, really don’t.

A long time ago, someone told me that trying to win the world by admonishment or accusation would never work.

“But your testimony, your story, no one can dispute. And when they see the light in your eyes, they will know.”

They have seen God. The God of all creation, the Almighty Author, the fantastic Painter of all things beautiful. The Creative Musician Who sings over us as we sleep.

Lord, we seek You. Right here, wherever we are. There is no place on earth where You cannot be found. We love you so much, and seek Your Presence in our lives.

Psalm 104:1-2 (New King James Version) “Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, You are very great: You are clothed with honor and majesty, Who cover Yourself with light as with a garment, Who stretch out the heavens like a curtain.”

A desk awaits

A notebook and pen tucked into my daily work bag, my first book, The Brighter Side of A Darker Thing started as a journal of my past and noted my history, penned at the time strictly for my own healing from our family’s dark secret.

Slowly, I crept out of the dark place, sharing my story with friends, at first, and other survivors, who urged me to use my gift of writing to reach others because they said that they were not able to do so for various reasons.

And I respect that. They wanted me to be a light bearer, they said.

I am a survivor. I did not wake up one day and say well hey I am healed from the abuse (intimate) I suffered from age 7 to about 12.

Once in a while, someone says they had a sudden epiphany and poof, they have no more issues with suppressed memories, painful thoughts of low self esteem, panic, inner non-positive dialogue, etc.

Many survivors of sexual abuse turn to drugs or alcohol. Some self harm. Others seek to change everything about their environment or themselves that is a reminder of abusive events.

I sought counseling while addressing my past many years ago, and it was the best thing for me. I did not have a substance abuse issue as even aspirin makes me sick to my stomach, so that was not appealing to me. I wrestled with my existence. Why did God make me, and why did I feel like a freak?

I feel so strong now, compared to where I used to be.

What does strong look like to me?

Well if I am a survivor, I don’t have to do or be anything great to be extraordinary. I made it “through” and am walking on firm ground. I didn’t always think this way. Constantly trying to win approval can get exhausting as you will never make everyone happy.

That said, I love to be the best person I can be. Sometimes I fail. I have learned that one of my challenges is to remember everyone makes mistakes. But it is how I handle that – which determines my inner peace and the outflow of blessing I can be to others.

What mistakes am I referring to? Personally? Not being selfish here, but one mistake was not valuing myself as a human being.

I have as much right to be on this planet as anyone else. And because I believe God made me, I know He has work for me to do.

Yet the telling has been difficult at times.

My eye doc told me I have a type A personality. I was flabbergasted!

(Smile) Big 😁

That was news to me lol!

You see some believe that being bossy is problematic, but is sharing my story bossy?

I think it would be if I were to say ok the only way you can handle etc. is to stand on your head, figuratively. (No this is not a reference to yoga, lol. I wish I could stand on my head, but sadly, I am not that coordinated.)

So that feeling of my type A being too much for others at time has been a bit of a buffer to my desire to continue getting my story out there.

Anyway.

Finished writing this in downtown Winter Haven. A lizard was watching me, and a turtle in a gated nature garden slowly crept along.

Will get back at the blogging. A little each day.