Come Boldly

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:16

photo credit: Shawn-Tron via photopin cc

photo credit: Shawn-Tron via photopin cc

We quote it, we love it…this verse speaks to us and comforts us.  But how hard is it to actually put it into practice!  Why is that?  As I was examining this verse, I thought of two things that keep me from the promise. 

The first thing that keeps me from coming boldly to the throne is something that is a stumbling block for so many of us in so many parts of our life… our pride.  While it is true that chronic illness, disability, and pain are the ultimate lessons in humility, it often seems that part of us holds even more tenaciously to the pride that is being stripped away.  We are determined to keep some shred of our dignity, and sometimes we confuse the two… but that’s for another blog on another day.  Our pride whispers, “you can do this, you don’t need help”, or “just fight a little harder, your strength will grow”.  Pride always encourages a dependence on self.  The scriptures tell us, and especially the one above, that when we are in need, we can come to the throne of God.  It tells us to come boldly, not groveling or ashamed, because God has just what we need and He longs to help, if we will only ask.

The second thing that keeps me from this promise is that it is a gift.  Mercy and grace cannot be earned.  They are freely given by our Father, and He is generous!  He will grant them each time, with no thought as to whether or not we have asked before or how much we have already received.  That’s the problem, isn’t it?  We are programmed not to ask for gifts!  We are even taught that to accept such a generous gift without protest is rude and inconsiderate. 

But this is God we are talking about here!  This isn’t a stranger who longs to lavish extravagant gifts on us, it is Christ our brother and God our father.  The relationship we have, the relationship they long for with us, is not one that is ruled by etiquette rules of our society.  They ask for our dependence on them. They wish for us to come with bold confidence before them.  They hope that we will trust in the promise.  And they will never fail to provide.

 

Dear Lord, help us to lay aside our pride today and approach Your throne boldly.  Please grant us the grace and mercy we so desperately need.  We can never thank You enough for the gift of Your extravagant love!  In Jesus’ Name, Amen…

 


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Shelly

Asking Why

You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’
It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me. – Job 42:3

photo credit: e-magic via photopin cc

photo credit: e-magic via photopin cc

I have asked God why, I won’t say I never have, but I try not to go down that road if I can help it because I know there really is no answer to it and no satisfaction in going down that path. I do know that God did not do this to us and he does count our tears and care about our pain and sorrow very deeply. There is nothing we have done in this life or any other that has brought this on us, it isn’t a punishment of any sort; it’s just a terrible part of living in this broken and evil world we live in that is run by the evil one.

I truly think what that old devil wants is for me be stuck in that cycle that truly doesn’t have a satisfying answer.  Instead of asking myself why in the negative sense, like “why is all this pain being piled on me?”, I find that I have to turn that around to a different kind of Why questioning.  It looks something like this:

*Why out of all the people in the world, did you bring Brian and I together?  Wow, what a miracle that we would meet at just the time we did and fall in love.

*Why did you allow me to have my precious children, despite all of my other health issues? Why did you favor me by bringing me back from the brink to see their precious angel faces turn from baby cheeks to handsome young man and beautiful young lady?

*Why, though hundreds of miles and sometimes a sizable pond separate us and we will probably never meet in person, did you make a path for me to connect with other amazing people through the internet?

Those types of Why questions can help us see the ways that God is caring for us through all the struggles life is throwing our way, and can help to keep us focused on those things rather than on the negatives that really have no rhyme or reason.

Why do we suffer and have pain? Because the devil finds great delight in heaping it on us at every chance he gets, then blaming the God instead. Don’t fall into that trap. Begin to ask Why questions that point us back to the true nature of our Lord. 

 

Dear God, we cannot thank you enough for your blessings.  Help us to focus our mind on those, instead of fruitless questioning of things that are too wonderful for us to understand.  I know we will never be disappointed if we pursue those things.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen…

 


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Shelly

Overcoming Fear

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. – 2 Timothy 1:7

 

photo credit: stuant63 via photopin cc

photo credit: stuant63 via photopin cc

 

Let’s face it, a life of chronic illness, disability, and pain is fraught with fear.  Fear of the unknown, fear of death, fear of facing other people’s judgment, fear of letting down those you love… my life is no different.  The first step in removing fear is to face that fear.  Yes, we are all fragile, and we could all fail at any time.  But I’ve found some nuggets in scripture that have really helped me to face my fears with a different attitude, and the above scripture is a prime example.

 That fear we feel is NOT coming from God, so guess who it’s coming from… that old devil plants it in our hearts, feeds it into our minds, screams it in our gut.  He keeps us awake with it, tortures us with it, and controls us with it.  The blessing is, that once we recognize this, we can stop him.  He has no right in our hearts or minds! 

 Instead let’s replace that spirit of fear with what God did give us!  We can replace it with power; not our own power, but the power of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.  They live inside us, and that leaves no room for Satan and his tricks.  We can replace it with love, and what could be more powerful than that!  The love from others gives us strength in this cruel world, but the love we return to others is where our true strength lies.  The next time you are afraid, find someone to heap a little love upon.  Finally, we can replace fear with self-discipline.  This self-discipline is something I work on daily, trying to instill scripture into my heart, putting on the full armor of God, not letting my fearful thoughts take root and run away with me.  Together, these three will provide us with what we need to dispel our spirit of fear, if we will lean on God for the strength and reminders!

 

Lord, thank you for providing us with all we need, all the time.  Help us to learn not to be fearful.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen…


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Shelly

Window Shopping

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5

photo credit: chuckp via photopin cc

photo credit: chuckp via photopin cc

One pass-time that I have never quite enjoyed is window shopping.  The premise of window shopping is basically to go into a place with things that I cannot afford to purchase, and dream and drool over them, hoping one day I will be able to own them.  It always seemed to me to be an exercise in frustration and futility; in short, a waste of time.  The above scripture reminds me to be content, and not be envious of things that others have.  The whole experience of window shopping is in direct opposition to this scripture.  

Yet, how many times a day do I window shop my health?  I look around at the seemingly healthy people around me and long for even a piece of their “normal” lives.  I spend hours dreaming of the things I would do once again if my abilities were returned, even for just a day.  So many times, I allow frustration and envy to grow in my heart as I am snapped back to the reality of my life. 

Thank God that his Word tells me not only what to avoid, but how to combat these feelings.  The scripture tells me in the last part of the verse, For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”  Christ has guaranteed that He will be with me!!  Wow!  Through my health window shopping, I am basically telling Him that HE is not enough.  When looked at from this angle, I am rocked back on my heels!  Christ will always be enough… more than enough… and He has promised not to leave or forsake me, meaning that he will meet all of my needs. 

 

Lord, help me to curb my habit of window shopping, and rely completely on You to meet all of my needs.  Thank you for keeping all of your promises all of the time.  Please help me to be content.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen…

 


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Shelly

Shadowboxing

So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. – 1 Corinthians 9:26

photo credit: kizette via photopin cc

photo credit: kizette via photopin cc

When I came across this verse last week, it really struck me.  What is shadowboxing?  The dictionary defines it asto make the motions of attack and defense, as in boxing, as a training or conditioning procedure” or “to go through boxing motions without an opponent”.  The thought intrigued me… am I just shadowboxing?  Or do I run with purpose in every step?

Our Christianity isn’t a “dry run”!  We only get one chance at this life, and we are told that it is indeed a fight that we are in!  I want to be certain that I am fighting my true opponent, and to do that I need to understand who or what that is.  So often I find myself fighting against my temporary frustrations and affliction. 

I jab at my failing eyesight, pivot and kick at my pain, send a mean right hook to my lost dreams.  But each motion hits only air.  I am shadowboxing when I focus on these temporary enemies. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18) They are actually just distractions sent in by the real enemy to wear me down for the actual battle.  (1 Peter 5:8)  The true enemy is not something of this world, and I cannot fight evil by shadowboxing with these distractions, because they are not my true opponent.  (Ephesians 6:12)

So what can I change to be sure that I am running with purpose in every step?  The first thing that I can do is to recognize that although these things I battle are intense, they are not eternal.  That will help to refocus my mind onto the things with which I should be concerned.  Then I can put on the whole armor of God:
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” – Ephesians 6:14-17
Now I am ready.  And I need to do these things each day, not once for all time.  The battle rages on, and it is much bigger than the things that go wrong inside or beside me. 

 

Father, help me to see the eternal picture each day.  In that way, help me to focus beyond myself and discover how to run with purpose.  I want to run toward you!  In Jesus’ Name, Amen…

 


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Be Led, Not Driven

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. – Romans 8:14

photo credit: B4bees via photopin cc

photo credit: B4bees via photopin cc

For years I have heard the old anecdote, “I will be led, but I will not be driven.”  It always makes me smile, and reminds me of my strength and independence.  But today I was admiring that phrase through a different lens.  Let’s look at it from God’s perspective.  Why would it be better to be led and not driven?

To be driven implies a sense of urgency.  I picture driving cattle, or chasing chickens into a coop; the animals rush about.  There is a sense of panic about their actions. No thought is required, and the thought is absent because of fear.  And there’s always a wildness in the eyes of anything being driven.

When I think about being led, I picture a shepherd with his sheep, or an owner calling the pet in from the outside.  Unless the subject is running toward his master in joy, there is no rushing about.  Instead of panic we find calm, hushed voices and quiet obedience.  Being led involves not only thought, but a conscious and willing choice on the part of the follower.  Instead of wildness in the eyes, we find hope and trust. 

So often in our busy day to day lives, we can be driven by things without even realizing it!  Driven by worry, driven by the world’s demands, driven by a sense of “not enough time”, driven by our desire to overcome our weaknesses, we can feel frantic and helpless.  Jesus wants to lead us out of that terrible and confusing mindset.  He wants to lead us with his voice alone, to a place that gives us hope and a refreshed spirit.  Will we be driven today, or will we be led?

 

Lord, help us today to listen for Your voice through the driving forces around us.  Help us to resist the temptation to rush about wildly.  We know we can be led by you to much higher places.  Thank you for your care for us, your followers.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen…


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Shelly

30 THINGS ABOUT MY INVISIBLE ILLNESS YOU MAY NOT KNOW

iiweekadget-blogging1. The illness I live with is: Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (Pseudotumor Cerebri), Essential Tremor, and Interstitial Cystitis
2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: 2011
3. But I had symptoms since: 2003

4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: letting go of what once was
5. Most people assume: that if I feel better this minute, I will feel better the rest of the week
6. The hardest part about mornings are: convincing myself to get out of bed (but in all honesty, I was this way before I got ill)  😉
7. My favorite medical TV show is: oh please, like I don’t get enough of that in real life?  I don’t watch those.
8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: my laptop
9. The hardest part about nights are: pain
10. Each day I take 7 pills & vitamins. (No comments, please)
11. Regarding alternative treatments I: am open to the possibilities
12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: neither…. I would choose a temporary illness
13. Regarding working and career: these will probably never be a possibility for me again, but my goal was always to be a career Wife and Mommy, so those are the skills I miss
14. People would be surprised to know: that I laugh just as much or more now than I ever did before
15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: becoming an invisible person as I lose the abilities that matter to the world
16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: live in joy
17. The commercials about my illness: don’t show real people or real life
18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: driving
19. It was really hard to have to give up: being active in my Church
20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: watercolor painting (mostly bookmarks)
21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: Thank God!
22. My illness has taught me: humility, patience and a greater dependence on God without shame
23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: I’ve been sick for (3) whole days, enough is enough!  I have too much to do to be sick! *commence eye rolling*
24. But I love it when people: hug me, laugh with me, and really listen
25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: “That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16
26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: YOU matter, GOD is your strength, and let’s find your CAN!
27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: how much good we can still do, and how much we still have to offer!
28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: pray for me
29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: invisible illness shouldn’t create invisible people!  
30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: honored, humbled and thankful

 


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Shelly

God’s Watermarks

Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” – John 7:38

photo credit: sandyhd via photopin cc

photo credit: sandyhd via photopin cc

I lived for many years in a desert.  A desert is a truly beautiful landscape.  I relate to the desert because desert landscapes and animals can sustain themselves in the harshest of conditions.  One of the most fascinating things about it is that even in long periods of time with little or no rain, it is easy to find the pathways where life-giving water has flowed or pooled…  channels cut deep into the rock, black marks showing the borders of streams and waterfalls, and odd shapes chiseled by flowing water.  Most importantly, you can find trees and flowers, plants and other signs of life along the path where water has flowed before.  Their roots dig deep below the rock and sand to find the remaining water that sustains them during the periods of drought.

I pray that my life is like that.  Even in times of hardship, I want people to be able to look at me and see God’s watermarks.  I want Christ to be recognizable in me, no matter what circumstances surround me.  Even if my life looks like a barren wasteland from the outside looking in, I hope that I can show the world that God refreshes me often with his living water.  I want them to see proof of my faith that the rains will come again, and when they do, they will flow and pool right here.

 

Dear God, even if my day is barren and dry today, please help me to show others that your living water flows through me.  Let your watermarks show without any words from my mouth.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen…

 


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Shelly

Am I Diminished?

He must increase, but I must decrease. – John 3:30

photo credit: Refractious via photopin cc

photo credit: Refractious via photopin cc

Anyone suffering with a disability or a chronic illness can tell you that one of the hardest struggles in the journey is feeling diminished.  I am no different.  I feel diminished as a wife and mother, as I am no longer able to care for my home and family.  I feel diminished because I am no longer able to work outside the home.  I feel diminished because whether I am trapped at home because of frequent illness and pain, or trapped in a wheelchair, I am often invisible.  I feel diminished because so many people who do talk to me will never see me as a vibrant person with something to contribute.  I have had to relinquish or restructure many of the dreams, plans, and goals that I held for myself, my family, and my future.  Although sometimes I am still frustrated by these circumstances, studying this verse has helped me so much. 

The first thing that struck me about this verse is that it comes directly from the lips of John the Baptist, regarding Jesus.  Doesn’t that put me in great company?  John immediately recognized that the role he had been playing was now changed.  He inherently understood that Jesus was the one who was the star of the show.

The next pearl in this verse is that John’s pride did not play a role!  Hasn’t my pride had not just a “bit part”, but the starring role with all the best lines?  Shame on me!  John understood his new role; me, not so much.  But am I willing to learn? 

So, we’ve established that I’m no John the Baptist.  And Jesus no longer walks the earth as a man.  Does that make this verse any less applicable to my life and my situation?  I don’t think so.  When I begin to view my diminished state as something to be embraced, rather than disdained, I am able to start learning my new role.  I’m learning my lines, trying to hit my marks, developing a new rapport with my fellow cast members.  And all the while, I’m doing my best to look to the Director for guidance.  He is the only one who can teach me how to showcase Christ in this present condition.  I am NOT diminished to God.  I merely have to remember who really has the starring role.

 

Heavenly Father, please help me to feature Christ in my life instead of my own pride.  Thank you for never seeing me as diminished, despite my circumstances.  Thank you for always being able to use me.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen…..

 


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Shelly

Humble Yourself

In the same way, you younger men must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, serve each other in humility, for “God opposes the proud but favors the humble.” – 1 Peter 5:5

photo credit: me'nthedogs via photopin cc

photo credit: me’nthedogs via photopin cc

Our scripture today refers to submission and humility.  Often when we hear the word humility, we tend to associate it with weakness.  A mere mention of it can set off spasms of scoffing, eye-rolling and sighing.  Try to hold those till the end. 

My mom is the strongest woman I know.  Her strength comes from some pretty surprising places.  My mother’s strength is based in her submission.  This is a quality that seems to have skipped a generation, so I do my best to study her and I hope one day to emulate what I learn.  While she is no shrinking violet, and no one pushes her around, my mom approaches life with a quiet acceptance.  She interacts with others in such a way as to draw them in, wrap them in her peaceful presence, and allow them simply to rest there.  She has given me a new outlook on submission and humility.

I have learned from my mom that instead of stealing strength and confidence, submission grows them.  When she submits to a will that is more perfect than her own, a will that wants only her best interests, she is in fact making her future more secure.  She is showing strength of character to be able to temper her desires under a more holy desire.  She is in fact following the scripture more perfectly when she shows the humility to shout with her actions what I usually only proclaim with my lips, that pride has no place in a Christian walk. 

 

Dear Lord, help us today as we practice walking in submission and humility.  But even more, help us to grasp hold of these traits as something to be desired, rather than something to be avoided.  We know this won’t be easy, so please motivate us with positive reinforcement for our efforts as we strive to form new habits.  Bless my mom for the blessing and example she is to me.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen…

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8WmAoM8kPs>


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Shelly