Big Changes

Life is different today than it was a year ago. And, with so many unknown curves ahead, things are likely to keep changing. So what can you do to manage what lies ahead?

We are all facing big changes that cause stress and give rise to emotional reactions that affect us personally, as well as how we relate to other people. Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind as you cope with the stress of impending change.

In 2019, life felt more predictable. How could we have known what was ahead? Working at home seemed like an impossible, but desirable dream. Now a lot of people are doing just that. But homeschooling kids while you try to work at home? Who saw that big change coming?

Normal used to be …

  • Going out for dinner & a movie.
  • Hanging out with friends.
  • Attending church.

Now “normal” wears a mask.
Anxiety & depression are increasing.
So are domestic violence & suicidal thoughts.

And we don’t know what is just around the proverbial curve for us. So let’s be mindful as we move forward & learn to take charge of our responses.

1. Big Changes make us more emotional & more defensive.

Big Changes – whether pleasant or unpleasant – are fraught with Feelings … in Floods & Flurries. It’s part of being human, you know. We are designed to respond to/interact with our environment. How dull life would be if nothing ever changed!

Feelings are like gauges or thermometers that tell us something is going on around us & inside us. But we need to learn what to do with those feelings. (I’ll say more about that in a minute.)

Because personal experience – especially when it’s been traumatic – has the power to make us overly cautious. Consequently, our emotions can quickly make us Default. Pulling back into shame and self-protection as a way to survive. Whether the threat is real or only imagined.

The purpose of most of today’s news channels is to elicit enough fear to keep us watching obsessively. We become hypervigilent, and fear starts driving even more fear.

2. Sometimes fear takes us by surprise.

If we’re not mindful and have a system for processing our thoughts and feelings, we can get hijacked by them. We always need to pay attention to them, but we do not always need to ACT on them!

  • Notice something is wrong.
  • Identify the actual feeling (sad, hurt, angry, afraid, guilty, ashamed).
  • Ask yourself what need is being triggered as evidenced by the feeling.
  • Seek a solution to your need. Ask someone who loves you to help by doing something specific, such as holding you or reassuring you that you are not alone.
  • Receive and replay (in your heart & mind) any positive response to your request. If you did not get what you asked for, ask The Lord to meet your need through His infinite resources

The fact is that our brains are always collecting “evidence” to keep us focused on fear … especially painful reminders of past rejection & failure.


3. Big Changes have Rumble Strips to keep us on track.

When we’re driving down the highway, rumble strips are there to warn us that we’re out of our lane, possibly even veering completely off course. Tires suddenly hitting the rumble strips make a loud and distinct noise that’s designed to alert the driver to an adjustment that needs to be made. In fact, the noise can even wake someone who has fallen asleep at the wheel. That’s the whole purpose of rumble strips on the road.

If we’re not mindful and have a system for processing our thoughts and feelings, we can get hijacked by them. We always need to pay attention to them, but we do not always need to ACT on them!

  • Notice something is wrong.
  • Identify the actual feeling (sad, hurt, angry, afraid, guilty, ashamed).
  • Ask your self what need is being triggered as evidenced by the feeling.
  • Seek a solution to your need. Ask someone who loves you to help by doing something specific, such as holding you or reassuring you that you are not alone.
  • Receive and replay (in your heart & mind) any positive response to your request. If you did not get what you asked for, ask The Lord to meet your need through His infinite resources.

What Big Changes are you facing today?

Whether those Big Changes include something you’ve wanted for a long time, or something you have dreaded, you get to choose your response to your own emotions.


What if unpleasant emotions are like rumble strips? Signals that evil is trying to pull us off the very course that Our Creator wants us to take?


  • Evil’s intention is for us to DEFAULT to freak-out mode.
    • Doubt our identity and the Goodness of God.
    • Derail. Over-correct. Drive completely off the road.
  • The Lord’s intention is for us to RESET to who we are in Christ.
    • Run toward Him as Much-Loved Children.
    • Refocus on The Father’s Love. Be restored to A Higher Calling.

Default or Reset?

It takes mindful practice. Lots of practice!
Tough? Yes. And so worth it!

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” ISAIAH 30:21
https://youtu.be/R0eXlEV18TM
click here for more videos on stress relief

When Things Don’t Go as Expected

I think we’d all agree that this quarantine is lasting longer than expected. People are getting more and more anxious. Frustrated. Impatient. How are you doing today?

Peter said, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”

However, when resolution is delayed or not going the way you want it to go, your emotions will prompt you to take back your burdens & your fears.

Know why that’s a really bad idea?

Because YOUR solutions are always filtered through your SHAME!

Whereas His plans for you are so much greater than you can imagine.

Yes, even in an extended quarantine!

Instead of your former shame
    you will receive a double portion,
& instead of your past humiliation
    you will rejoice in your inheritance.
Because He fully intends to give you
a double portion of His goodness right where you are,
    & everlasting joy really can be yours.

ISAIAH 61:7
[Dr. Debi’s “amplified” version]

Yes, it is time we lay all of our burdens & our pain at Jesus’ feet.
Leave everything that concerns you in His hands. Let go.
He has promised you & He will do it!

Because God always fulfills His promises.

God is not human.
He does not lie or
change His mind.
Does He speak & then not act?
     Does He promise & not fulfill?

NUMBERS 23:19

Yes.
Hope deferred
makes the heart sick.
But a longing fulfilled
is a tree of life!

PROVERBS 12:13

Good Friday

it is finished

It is finished. Looks as though the enemy has won the battle against Jesus and everything He stood for. But nothing could be further from the Truth. And that’s what makes this Friday the Good one.

The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father. (John 10:17-18)

Jesus is crucified, dead, and buried.
But, of course, there’s more to Our Father’s Love Story than meets the eye.

His Plan is working.
By paying for our sins,
Jesus is buying us back!

He declares, “It is finished.” (John 19:30)

Done.
We are redeemed!
Free from the bondage of sin and death.

And so much more …

Disturbing News

betrayed

Picking up where we left off Jesus has supper with His disciples and shares disturbing news. One who’s eating with them will betray Him. Jesus will die, and they’re all going to scatter. They can hardly believe their ears. But it’s true.

He prays while they wait.
He’s betrayed and arrested in the Garden.
An interesting place for that to happen, yes?

His trial is mockery, and He is beaten severely.

That same crowd – the one that hailed Him into Jerusalem just a few days before – chooses a criminal to be released for Passover. When asked what to do with Jesus, the people shout,

Crucify Him! … Crucify Him!
(Matthew 27:22-23)

It looks like the enemy is winning.
The Son of God’s beaten. Literally.

To be continued …

Doing Good

Doing Good

Yesterday, I wrote about our Defensive strategy. Today let’s review our Powerful First Line of Offense against the attack of the enemy of our souls. It’s not what we’d think of first, is it?

Jesus begins His ministry. He goes “around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil because God was with him” (Acts 10:38b). Soon He’s very popular. Which doesn’t sit at all well with the religious leaders. It’s time for the Passover, and they’re getting really worried about Trouble in River City. Not that Jesus is opening a pool hall, of course.

He’s just messing with their teachings.

He says dangerous stuff like,
“You have heard that it was said .… But I tell you that ….” (Matthew 5:27-28).

Despite what the people are saying – or maybe because of what the people are saying – the religious leaders don’t like Him at all. And they try to trap Him – more than once.

Can you imagine?

Trying to catch the Son of God doing something wrong? How crazy is that? Of course, they don’t have a clue that He is Who He is. They think He’s just some troublemaker dude from Nazareth. Boy, are they wrong!

At the peak of His popularity, Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey. His disciples are more than pumped about His Kingdom. The people spread their coats on the road ahead of Him. Some are waving palm branches …

The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Matthew 21:9)

Well, you can just imagine how well that goes over
with the religious leaders. Their plot thickens.

It is Written

it is written

Virus. Quarantine. Economic uncertainty. We’re all involved in battle right now. What’s your first line of defense?

Picking up where we left off yesterday … Jesus then meets up with John and gets Himself baptized. The Father loves the whole scene and announces how pleased He is with His Son. Then Jesus heads into the desert for 40 days. And guess-who shows up.

That old fallen angel – the one known as the adversary – evidently has no idea Who he is trying to mess with out there. So he pulls a few tricks out of his infamous bag of lies.

Jesus doesn’t fall for any of them.
Instead, He quotes Scripture.

And the enemy takes off.
He can’t stand against the Truth.

Never has. Never will. Remember that.

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan!
For it is written: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.
Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
(Matthew 4:8-10)

For God So Loved the World …

John 3:16

The Word became flesh and blood,
    and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
    the one-of-a-kind glory,
    like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
    true from start to finish. John 1:14, MSG

We’re not the only ones to go through troubles. The World was messed up when Jesus arrived, too. But that didn’t stop Him from loving people.

Despite what we know from Scripture and have seen in the movies about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, it’s difficult to fully know what life was like for Him.

But I imagine He was a normal, happy child who grew into a confident adult. I doubt He ever rebelled against Joseph and Mary.

Can you imagine living next door to their family?

You can almost hear the back-and-forth rasp of handsaws cutting fragrant wood and the pounding of His hammer as He creates another Masterpiece with His calloused hands.


The laughter of children playing nearby.
The sweet aroma of baking bread.
His mother’s voice calling Him for dinner.


Yet no one notices anything particularly amazing in Him.

Of course, there was that old rumor about His conception.
His parents weren’t married then, only engaged.

But like any gossip, it had probably died down long before He’d become a man. An ordinary man.

Then one day, He goes to a Wedding.

And the host of the feast runs out of wine … long before the party is over. His mom, who knows the Truth about Him, sets Him up. It seems He’s not especially happy about that, but He steps in and saves the day nonetheless.

Miracle #1

Water turns into wine.
Not just any wine.
It’s like the best wine ever.

Instantly.
No planting the vineyard.
No waiting for it to bear fruit.
No working the winepress.
No aging in wooden barrels.
No wineskins.

No waiting.
No drama.
Simply the best wine ever.
Instantly.

Nothing is impossible with God. Remember that.

For Unto Us a Child is Born

You know, I don’t believe The Father uses people. Instead He writes Himself into their Love Story. Everything had changed for Joseph and Mary. And The Father never forgot that they were made of dust. In fact, He chose to become dust Himself.

We can only imagine how This Beautiful Love Story unfolded.

 

The Nativity Story movie is a new tradition for me. It’s about a spiteful, fearful king.
And three other kings who honored The Lord with their presence and their presents.

It’s about Mary and her family and a community that didn’t understand. And it’s about a man named Joseph. A man of honor. Who accepted Jesus as his son.

  • his disappointment and shame
    when everyone knows that Mary is with child
  • his dedication to his wife and determination
    to protect and provide for her
  • his overwhelming joy upon seeing the Savior
    born and holding Him in his own hands

I cry all the way through this movie.
Because it’s about the Birth of Our Lord Jesus.
And Delightful Surprises in the Beauty of Sacrificial Love.

And because it’s exactly the way
I imagine that it all happened.

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3 Reasons You Are Here

You are here - at this time & place - for a reason.

3 Reasons You Are HereLife can be confusing. Things don’t always turn out like we expected. Problems defy solving. We drift from one thing to another. Looking for meaning. So why are you here? As I see it, the answers are simple. All you need is to realize three reasons you are here. On this earth. At this time in history. Although I believe the reasons are the same for all of us, how we play them out is a matter of our individual stories.

1. You are here to love.

God is love. You are created in His image. That means loving is the most natural thing we do. Because it’s who we are. 1 John 4:8, Genesis 1:26-27

2. You are here to be loved.

Love is an exchange. Not an obligatory form of reciprocity. But something that happens naturally. Because you are lovable. It’s how you are created. Genesis 2:18-25, John 13:34-35, Romans 12:10

3. You are here to take dominion over something.

Life isn’t just one big love fest. But love is the at the core of everything else. Including the particular way you are created to make this world a better place. And, yes, that’s natural, too. To take back what was stolen. To restore. To renew. To rejoice. Genesis 1:28, Ephesians 2:10

Natural? Yes, you are created for these reasons.

Your desire to love, to be loved, and to make a difference is in your DNA. That means it’s “natural” for you.

You also have an adversary. Every hero does.

He’s there to mess things up. To drag your thinking sideways. He tweaks things to make you think …

  • You have to be strategic (manipulative) with your love.
  • That you are unlovable. Or that love is owed to you.
  • And he often convinces you that taking dominion comes first. But it doesn’t. It rises naturally from loving and being loved.

QUESTION: If you were to make a list of reasons you are here, what would be at the top of your list?

3 Steps to More Effective Prayer

What conversations are you having with The Lord? If you slow down and listen to yourself, you might find that you’re falling into a familiar pattern. I know from experience how easily our prayers can become a totally unproductive, one-way “conversation” with Jesus.

For a more effective prayer life,
do these three things:

  1. Listen
    “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” John 10:1-5
  2. Trust
    Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
    in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.
    Proverbs 3:5-6
    And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6
  3. Do
    Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. James 1:22-25