Tag Archives: peace

A Message of Hope From the Manger

The farmhouse is only half decorated.  We put up a lot of twinkle lights: on the fireplace mantel, sprawled across the buffet, outside on the front porch, and on the Christmas tree, but that’s the bulk of my decorating. Twinkling lights everywhere kind of make up for the lack of other decorations, in my mind. (Also a fire crackling in the fireplace. And hot cocoa in pretty mugs. That’s perfect decorating, right there.)

Oh, and I also got a wreath from Trader Joe’s and put it on the smokehouse outside (which everyone thinks is an outhouse building, when they first drive into the farm.) While we were at Trader Joe’s, the cashier saw my daughter and I in deliberation over a new brand of cookies. I wasn’t sure I wanted to get them.

He opened the canister and  said, “Go ahead, try them out first.” The two senior ladies checking out behind me heard the cashier’s words and came over to peek at the cookies. I motioned them to join in and we had an impromptu tea party, right then and there, courtesy of Trader Joe’s. Honestly, the generosity and cheerfulness of the place was so heart warming. My daughter and I walked out of there, wheeling our full cart, and singing “Joy to the World, the Lord has Come” at the top of our voice.

I so love Christmas. But I’m already eagerly anticipating New Year’s Day, the day of fresh beginnings and new resolutions.

It’s actually because of what we celebrate on Christmas Day, that I do look forward to what comes next. It’s not just the birth of the Savior, but His overcoming life He lived- and lives through us today- that we celebrate. And emulate.

And here’s His trajectory:

From the humble manger—> to influencing the whole wide world.

So don’t despise the day of small beginnings, Zachary 4:10 tells us. You can add to that,  Don’t despise the day of:

  • humble beginnings
  • insignificant beginnings
  • troubled beginnings

Do you know the opposite of the word despise? It’s

Those are all the words we need to apply to our humble beginning, our shaky start we made to any dream we felt called to. And it’s never too late to get back in the saddle of any dream we had set aside, out of discouragement, and start moving forward with it again.

If we don’t despise Jesus’ birth in the lowly manger (but instead we respect and cherish that scene), then we shouldn’t despise ourselves or our own humble, meager beginning…of anything.

That start of your dream? That shaky beginning you made when you went back to school? That relationship you wanted to build on the solid ground of integrity and love? Don’t despise it. Don’t disparage yourself or hang your head down in shame. Don’t kick yourself, or let anyone else kick you, if you’re down or not on track– because you’re not out of the running, friend. It’s not too late.

It’s time to accept your past, cherish that dream you have, that calling to help and give back, that desire to love again. And respect yourself, your humble beginning; and respect the process that is at work.

We go from strength to strength, Scripture tells us. From the manger, then out to impact a whole wide world.

I’ve got a big dream– with a humble, seemingly insignificant beginning. And you do too.

Pick that broken dream back up and get on with what you know you want your life to be about.  Forget how much you stumbled about in the beginning, how you missed connections or lost your way.

Move forward with God leading you, from the place of the manger scene, and out to the whole wide world.

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Post Mountain Top Pep Talk on FEAR & ANXIETY

If you’ve recently made a breakthrough in your life, but now you’re struggling with fear or anxiety, I’ve got a pep talk for you that will cause you to stand up straight and march on!

I’ve recently spoken at 2 Women’s Retreats here in the Northeast and I can tell you that the women in this region are still strong, still kicking, and that we don’t go down without a fight. And that even if we go down, we come back up …because

NOTHING CAN KEEP YOU DOWN!

Sometimes after you’ve heard an invigorating talk and you’re ready to implement some new strategies in your life or determined to break an unhealthy pattern in your life, you get all fired up…only to get cooled down by criticism or naysayers, problems that balloon into obstacles, or just that old enemy of your soul who doesn’t want to see you break FREE.

So here is your Post Mountain Top Pep Talk, for any who need shoring up; for any who experienced a recent revelation and now things are a bit murky and gray:

  • You are not going back into a state of fear or anxiety. You’re done with that gripping attack on your mind, that lie that you are at risk, at a disadvantage, or that you are no match for the problems or challenges you face. That kind of feeling of panic comes from forgetting that not only is God for you, but He Will COME THROUGH FOR YOU EVERY TIME. Just remember, the way God comes through is never the way we thought He would. He’ll use a variety of interesting circumstances and people to reach out to us and pull us up to a place where we can stand on solid ground. When a scary situation occurs and your initial reaction is complete fear, remind yourself that God won’t drop you, and God won’t leave you. Remind yourself that the biggest battle is to keep your trust in HIM alone, so that your mind won’t become a playground for Anxiety and Panic to run about freely.
  • You’ve got a Sound Mind. The soundest of all minds respects God, experiences and knows His love day by day, trusts fully in Him, and can respond to Him in love- not out of fear or dread.  A sound Mind is clear, settled, and at rest. It’s at rest because it is set on God’s unlimited power and on the truth of God’s pure motives towards you– He wants you to be at peace. So accept the peace. Embrace it. Because what you dwell on is going to become more real to you!
  • When you go through the Valley of Disaster, just remember you are not going to live there permanently. You are just traveling THROUGH it.  And that you are going through it with God at your side. And He’s out in front. And He’s behind you as well. You’re covered. He’s like a Seal Team x 7. What’s more, He can work all things together for good, and can transform your trouble into a time of Hope. And Hope is not a light feathery thing– it’s an anchor for your soul!! 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that the alpha team of Faith, Hope and Love outlast anything.
  • Lastly, if you’re going to have an expectation of anything, which is a type of faith, have an expectation that GOOD is ahead. Have godly convictions that line up with God’s Word. Jer 29:11 says He has good plans for us. So we should learn to expect good from God and not dread what’s ahead! Dreading things is looking forward but only “seeing” bad things coming down the road. When you dread the future, you are anticipating and expecting negative things and literally experiencing the fear of them happening– before they’ve happened. Proverbs 11:23 tells us that the expectation or the hope of the righteous is only good! Dreading is a type of reverse Faith. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that we should have our Faith (confident assurance) in God and have the certainty that what we are hoping for is waiting for us. Is God’s good plan waiting for you– or is it a life of misery and hopelessness waiting for you? 

Let me shout out the answer to that last question: Nothing but God’s good plan is waiting for you. His peace, his path of abundant resources and abundant grace, are in His hands and those hands are stretched out to you today.

He’s saying, “I’m a Big God. I’m bigger than your fears. My heart is bigger than the heart of those who want to bring you down. My plan for your life is bigger than the plan you would have for your life. And my plan is for your GOOD. So, yes, I’m a Big God, a capable God, a powerful God. But I’m a Loving God too. Merciful and Compassionate and Strong and Wise. I’m telling you, you’re safe, with Me.”

As the song goes, He’s the God on the mountain, and the God in any valley you might walk through. I’ve found Him to be completely trustworthy. And because of that, I’m finding myself….Fearless and FREE.

Come join me on this journey.

More Than Chills and Signs: How To Experience God’s Presence

Here’s the good news for those of you who have gotten frustrated in your walk with God because you don’t feel you are disciplined enough: growing in your faith is not just about discipline.

I’ve spent over 40 years pursuing a relationship with God that certainly involved what some call the main “spiritual disciplines” of prayer, Bible study, accountability and fellowship. There’s no doubt that these are crucial for a healthy walk with the Lord. But as I look back on some key turning points in my spiritual walk, there were definitely times when I was just spiritually needy and emotionally desperate – and I experienced God’s life-changing powerful presence.

More than giving us chills and supernatural signs, God wants to meet our deepest emotional needs in an encounter with Him. While you can’t build your faith on feelings alone, they nonetheless are part of experiencing God’s presence. Emotional hunger and honest expression of your feelings can ignite a wave of spiritual renewal.

Be Hungry For God

Be open to God “showing up” in times when you desperately need Him.

I remember one pivotal moment in my life when this occurred. I was coming home from my junior year of study abroad in Spain. It had been a long year, exciting but also lonely, and I had battled anxiety and anorexia. I was feeling very vulnerable as I sat in the airport in Madrid, hungrily reading a devotional my mother had sent me.

The airport speakers were broadcasting all these songs in Spanish and I was reading my devotional in English when all of a sudden something amazing occurred: just as I was reading the words about how God is like a bridge over troubled waters, the American song “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” breaks through the loudspeakers.

I raised my eyes to the speakers, incredulous that God was speaking to me in literally my own language! I heard the message loud and clear that God was saying: “Lauren, I am with you, everywhere, and always.” Tears streamed down, and joy and hope welled up in me. I can remember and actually “feel” that experience, even to this day.

….

(Continue reading this article at Christian Mingle Believe)

Breaking the Stronghold of Fear

See these women here? They’re about to change their world for good.

Because the way to bring positive change to the world at large is to first bring change  and healing to our personal world, our troubled souls, our deep hidden chambers of the heart. It’s the toughest work we’ll ever do, dealing with our past, our fears, our hurts and pain.

But nothing says  “Womens Liberation” better than to be freed up from the things that hold us back.

So at this Retreat, we first started with my workshop on Breaking the Stronghold of Fear. We talked about our First Fear– our first memory of trauma or loss, and the  resulting broken trust. Broken Trust causes a knee jerk reaction in us and in our subsequent relationships.

Many of us are still frozen back in that painful experience of trauma, and all other fears we later experience are layered over that initial experience where trust was broken and Fear entered in.

These layers of fear over fear can occur overtime until we are bound up by compulsions and unhealthy ways of coping–all resulting from the first fear that’s swallowing us up.

And then there’s the convoluted convictions we develop, that affect our relationships. These are the skewed negative “beliefs” that we have become convinced of, due to the trauma, that now dictate how we approach relationships and handle the ups and downs of learning to love and appropriately trust key people in our lives.

But we don’t do too well in these horizontal realtionships if we are reacting out of our past and having a hard time trusting the most Trustworthy person of all to help us–and that’s God.

Don’t believe the lies that God is out to get you, is angry at you, or is ready to catch you…when you’re doing something the least bit wrong. No, that’s not the God I know. Understanding God’s motive, his heart, and His plan for you will change everything.

It will change your world. It’ll change you. And then you will go out and change the world… for good.

It’s a journey. It involves the uncomfortable work of looking at your past and acknowledging the truth of any past trauma.  But the terror of your greatest nightmare, your worst fear, can not compare to the magnitude of God’s great, healing Love for you. So get ready.

It’s time to Break the Stronghold of Fear.

3 Ways To Resolve Family Conflicts

Every family struggles, to some degree, with arguments and stress. When different personalities and different ages live together in one house, it isn’t hard to imagine how personal interactions can go wrong at times. Add in the challenge and blessing of creating a blended family or bringing your in-laws to live with you, and you may be experiencing a heightened level of stress in your home. But there’s hope for how to navigate these stressful times and bring peace to your home.

Open Doors

In our family, the tumultuous teen years were fun, yet also frustrating and stressful at times. My son and I, in particular, sometimes found it hard to get along and to understand each other. Often tempers flared, and there were plenty of outbursts and slammed doors.

At one point, after a stressful scene with him, I remember crying to a friend that I thought my son didn’t love me anymore. After we talked about it, I realized that the more important thing was that he felt I still loved him, not whether I felt loved.

When we present unconditional love and make ourselves approachable, even in times of stress, we are showing the utmost of grace. As Hebrews 4:16 tells us, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” This grace provides the way for peace to reign in our home ultimately.

Besides offering unconditional love, here are 3 more ways to help bring peace and understanding in the midst of your family fights.

…Read the rest at Believe
“Dating. Marriage. Relationships the Christian Way.”