Encouragement

We Shall Overcome: Embracing an Attitude of Bravery

Helen Keller once said: “The world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming it.”

Perspective plays a role in how we view our current physical, emotional, spiritual, and attitudinal situations. Is the sum total a barrier or an opportunity? Like a kaleidoscope, we can tweak the patterns of what we see, what we feel, how we respond via our perspective.

For Helen Keller she chose to see the human situation of suffering and seized every opportunity to overcome suffering. When we stop and think about it, overcoming is a lifetime decision. We can either wrap ourselves in a cloak of suffering to insure our self pity and woe is communicated clearly and heard by the masses, seeking sympathy with “poor me. No one knows the trouble I bear.” Or we can embrace an attitude of bravery in Christ—overcoming the suffering.

There are many tough, life-impacting decisions in our lives, but choosing to wallow in the mire of our pain and be satisfied with a life of self pity just doesn’t seem like a healthy life decision. In fact, that’s not why God created us.

First and foremost, God created us to have a personal loving relationship with Him. Hmmmm.... Based on my personal research, Bible study, and life experiences, this means a two-way relationship, including a:

-A relationship with God
-Freely inviting God into every aspect of your life.

No sloughing off here, because God wants every part of you in this relationship. Your mind, soul, spirit, body, and heart. Don’t hold back, or you’ll end up back at that pity party, and we don’t want that do we?

John 10:3-5 gives a relationship view for us to strive for:

Unbreakable Grace

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. Romans 6:14


For years, I've had a small Jesus statue, depicting thanksgiving to God for the loaves and fishes. This statue has traveled from Portland, Oregon to Dallas, Texas to our current locale of Minnesota. And, over the years and states, it has, unfortunately been broken at least a couple of times. His small hand, holding a broken loaf of bread, has repeatedly been glued back on.

It's irritating, yet also meditative, as it got me thinking about the whole grace thing.

Memories: Ouch!

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation;
and uphold me with thy free spirit.
Psalm 51:12


Autumn floods me with childhood memories of locusts inhabiting our farm and caterpillars on twigs, kept on mason jars, just waiting to become monarch butterflies.

And, with that flooding, often comes the tinged bittersweet feelings that accompany a childhood innocence of long ago.

I recently caught a funny post on the internet. It read: "Memories: Ouch!"

They say humor is humor because it is unflinching truth. And that certainly was the case with this post.

The Irony of Resisting Change

The adventure of life is to learn.
The purpose of life is to grow.
The nature of life is to change.
The challenge of life is to overcome.
The essence of life is to care.
The opportunity of life is to serve.
The secret of life is to dare.
The spice of life is to befriend.
The beauty of life is to give.
~ William Arthur Ward

It's raining steadily and that always makes me glad to be inside and comfortable in my own surroundings with simple comforts close at hand.

It also disposes my mind to become more reflective and focused on what is important and relevant.

A cloudy day is no match for a sunny disposition."
~ William Arthur Ward

How strange that though change is the dynamic of life, the nature of human beings is to resist change. The irony being that the very circumstances that we fear could ruin us may be the ones that open us to the blooming potential of who we were meant to be.

Change, like sunshine, can be a friend or a foe, a blessing
or a curse, a dawn or a dusk.
~William Arthur Ward

Sometimes there are no answers to life's questions. Accepting the things we cannot change, without question, shows a strength of character that few possess.

Seizing the Gospel of Grace for Yourself

This maybe one of our most daunting challenges; to daily apprehend through faith, the gospel of grace for yourself and others aggressively.

"Aggressively" literally means it will be marked by obtrusive energy and will be strong in effect and intention. Wow! Too daily apprehend through faith, grace strongly and intentionally toward ourselves and others.

Instead, most are passive about their daily faith in the gospel of grace. Whatever will be will be? No! May it never be!

Your salvation is not a reward for good behavior! It was a grace thing from start to finish; you had no hand in it. Even the gift to believe simply reflects His faith! Ephesians 2:8 (Mirror)

You did not invent faith; it was God's faith to begin with!

It is from faith to faith. Romans 1:17 (Mirror)

He is both the source and conclusion of faith. Hebrews 12:2 (Mirror)

This aggressive grace journey progresses in/by a "mind shift" away from re-penance (faith in the law) to (faith in grace).

"The word 'repentance' is a fabricated word from the Latin, penance, and to even give it more 'religious' mileage, the English rendering became re-penance!" ~Francois du Toit

That is not what the Greek word means at all! The true word that sets the journey of grace, by faith in motion is "Metanoia." This comes from (meta) - meaning together with, and (nous) - meaning to mind together with God's mind; continuously perpetuated by a "radical mind-shift."

The Gigantic Fridge isn't So Big Afterall

The refrigerator -- the bane of so many of our life issues, huh?

When I was a little girl, I almost had the entire Sindy doll set up. I had her accessories, clothes, horse and of course, doll furniture. This refrigerator was part of the kitchen set. And, as part of my play, I had different food items kept in there: chicken, orange juice and even a teeny tiny ice cube tray with itty bitty ice cubes. It made playing with my Sindy, Barbie and Ken dolls all the more realistic.

Still, I knew this yellow fridge was a toy.

Unfortunately, as I grew up, I had a more difficult time seeing the actual refrigerator for what it was, without making it more powerful than it needed to be.

"Is not life more than food?" Jesus, in Matthew 6:25

A fridge was an appliance to contain and cool perishable food. It was not, however, my enemy, a monster plotting to trap and torment me. Neither was it my unfailing friend, soothing and comforting every wound and issue. Yet, with my eating disorder behaviors, that was actually the power I gave to it. Simply stated, I viewed the fridge as larger than life.

For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice: but what I hate, that I do. The Apostle Paul in Romans 7:15

That's part of the challenge of our food and weight issues, isn't it? We see things looming larger and more powerful in our lives than they should be. We use black and white thinking to decide if food, our disorders, our exercise patterns and our refrigerators are for or against us. Many times, we look at our fridges and see the enemy, a Goliath who will only defeat us.

Our heart issues can set us up for failure, for pain and for addictive and disorderly thoughts and actions. That's why God brings the issue up in the first place:

Beyond the 12 Steps

note: there is a worksheet at the bottom of this article

I have spent a lot of years struggling with drug addiction and alcohol abuse. At one point the drug addiction had completely taken me over. I began trying desperately to stay clean but every time I got a little taste of sanity the world would come crashing in and I would crumble under the weight of it all. Before I knew it I was escaping the pain or responsibility of life by using drugs. I had been through the court system, rehabs, 12 step programs, counseling (behavioral and substance abuse), and many psychiatric visits for medications. Nothing seemed to stick very long. Most of the people trying to help me eventually threw their hands up in defeat and passed me off as a hopeless case. I got to a point I started to agree with them. Nothing seemed to work for me. I was living in constant commendation from the world and in my own mind. Every mistake seemed magnified. I would beat myself up in my head over and over until my only relief was escape.

Through divine intervention I was given a book named "Freedom From Addiction." It captivated my attention because it was such an honest account of the thoughts bombarding an alcoholics mind. Not only an alcoholic but a Christian. Now I have to say that believing Jesus Christ died for my sins did not automatically make me Christ like. I was continually going against God. The shame I felt about knowing what was right but not being able to live it was more shame than I could bear. But then this book was placed in my path. As I read it something started to stir deep within me. There was a message of hope written on those pages that spoke to my innermost heart. The message was not about what I have done as a sinner (that already plagued my mind enough) but a message of who God says I am as his child. I started hearing a message telling me he doesn’t see what the world sees when he looks at me.

When I looked at myself and compared myself to the world’s expectations of me I saw all of the bad things I’ve done and how I just didn’t measure up. I owned my bad behavior as my identity but that’s not the truth. God says I am precious,

Compassion Fatigue

I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true.
I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live
by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody
that stands right, and stand with him while he is right,
and part with him when he is wrong. ~ Abraham Lincoln


Compassion is defined as "a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering."

Compassion fatigue is a form of burnout that manifests itself as physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion. Clinically it is defined as a more user friendly term for Secondary Traumatic Stress Disorder which is nearly identical to PTSD, except it affects those who are affected by the trauma of another, perhaps a family member, friend, acquaintance or client.

Caregivers and therapists/practitioners who serve others are particularly prone to this condition. In the broader picture, I believe that many of us are experiencing compassion fatigue as it relates to the world at large. We are assailed by the news
of war, crime, disease, famine and natural disasters. Reportedly, thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of innocents are being raped, kidnapped, brutalized, tortured, sold into slavery or the sex trade, forced to leave their homes and livelihoods, renounce their religions or be crucified and as is becoming more common, beheaded.

Help My Unbelief

Our beliefs can either work for or against us.

Years ago, a life altering point in both my eating disorder recovery and my relationship with God involved the scripture, Mark 9:24:

"Lord, I believe. Help Thou my unbelief."


It punctuated the state of my life. I didn’t think I could believe in who I was, in life and in God. My faith wasn’t "enough."

Through my eating disorders, be it anorexia, bulimia or binge eating, I believed God hated me and was going to send me to hell. My perfectionistic thoughts had obliterated His grace. Increasing amounts of shame from my behaviors, which included theft and lying, made me reach a point of no return. I was "un-save-able."

So, when I encountered Mark 9:24, it validated my struggles with doubt. That ninth chapter in Mark, uttered by a man, centuries earlier, sent the reassurance I needed. I was not the only person to ever think this way. And before Mark 9:24’s zinger, there was the set up scripture of the twenty-third verse:

Jesus said unto him, "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth."

Ordinarily, this would have caused me to despair. If Jesus was telling me it was solely up to me to "believe right," then, let’s face it, I’m a goner.

But again, centuries ago, He responded to another doubting person. Mark 9:24 was this man’s only comeback.

How are Praise, Surrender & Worship Connected?

Perseverance for me is essential because the alternative is defeat and loss of faith. Defeat and loss of faith is totally different from surrender.

Surrender] is knowing that God is Lord of lords, King of kings. It is knowing that I must and need to depend on Him totally and completely at all times.

\0/ praise .....
it is so easy to praise God when all is going well in our lives. We are happy, joyous and free but then the you know what hits the fan and our lives become unmanageable. We find ourselves totally powerless. fear creeps in and anxiety rules.

It is time to ....
/0\ surrender

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