Feeling Less Than

These are trying times. Whatever we say tends to make us feel “less than”. It doesn’t matter what side of a topic you hold. It seems folks have stopped discussing and have instead, turned to arguing. It breaks my heart.

And if it breaks my heart, how is this affecting the Holder of the Universe?

Check out Lori Roeleveld’s latest post Washing Feet in an Angry World. Let’s do what we can do … and that means starting with me.

After looking at myself first–and hardest–like Lori says, I feel a bit lighter. I might not be able to change the world. In all reality, I can’t even change you. But I can change my attitude. I can choose to see good instead of pouring over the not-so-good.

When I focus on Me and what I can do, my feelings of Less-Than leave. When I focus on me, I have more power than I realized before. It’s a good power. A calming power.

Give it a try. You’ll be surprised how good it feels.

Using Words that Count

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Our hearts are full of love as we set a course full of good things when we hold our swaddled babies in our arms. We never want heartache and pain to enter their little worlds.

But it does, and sometimes we can’t save them.

Take a moment and read Beth Miesse Saadati’s latest post, It Shouldn’t Have End This Way: The Epilogue to My Daughter’s Suicide Note. Beth has felt pain no parent should feel. Maybe her words can be used to reach that special person, letting them know that they are loved.

Our children need to hear us–really hear what we say–when we tell them bad situations don’t last forever. They need to know they matter; that they fill our lives with joy every day.

Love you, Beth, and am praying for you and your family..

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Survival’s Guilt

ShoesSurvivors of tragedy see the significance of a new day—its beauty and splendor—clearer than others. I say that not to boast, just as an observation. Every morning when I’m in that almost-wake state but not ready to open my eyes, I thank God for giving me the opportunity to welcome another day. I am also cognizant that greeting the day does not guarantee putting it to bed. Years ago a good friend told me of her husband’s passing saying, “You may put your shoes on in the morning, but never know who will take them off at the end of the day.” I thought that was a powerful statement then and it took on even more strength after I was diagnosed with meningioma (tumor on the brain).

I rarely challenge gratitude in my life. I do, however, have times of struggle when it comes to survival’s guilt.

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God Loves Broken People, A Review

God Loves Broken PeopleIn God Loves Broken People, Sheila Walsh explores the feeling of brokenness in a world where we are expected to have lives that fit in neat little packages. She offers story after story and example after example of how pain has been internalized or when we believe the lie that we are useless to God as we are. Sheila challenges the reader to allow—and even promote—these circumstances to assist in growing closer to God. And as is Sheila’s style, personal examples are shared as she dealt with her own brokenness.

God Loves Broken People offers hope for those who deal with emotional wounds from either past or present relationships. It shares stories as well as scriptures from some of the most broken people found in the Bible. As a bonus, it even includes a Bible study guide for a more in-depth coverage for individuals or even small groups.

This is another great book from Sheila Walsh. I would recommend it for any who is hurting and looking for a fresh new perspective; on the beauty of brokenness. Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze book review bloggers program. I am not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.

… The Rest of the Story

I posted not too long ago about some fears that I had regarding returning to my childhood hometown to catch up with friends and family I haven’t seen for many years. Would they welcome me with open arms or would they hold me at arm’s length because I hadn’t measured up to their expectations?

The answer is yes.

But I must say that God blessed me abundantly though it all. I experienced the warm and all-encompassing love that only could come from a person who has known someone for years. It was wonderful to chat over pizza and share my heart with them. What a blessing it was to offer up my brokenness—not try to hide it or justify it—and have them see it as a part of my past, not as what defined me; and then love me unconditionally. It was also incredible to get together with my best friend from years long past and pick up on our relationship just as if we still lived down the street from each other. The only noticeable changes were our waistlines and the ages of our children. I even had the opportunity to share my brokenness to the next generation—as an example of God’s grace. Additionally, I was blessed with the gift of spending time with a grade school classmate who had dealt with her own brokenness … and we shared with each other the miracles that can only come from an all-powerful Heavenly Father. I get chills thinking about sitting with her at her kitchen table, holding hands and praying together. To top off my time away, I had the greatest opportunity to connect with new friends who told me I was a blessing to them. What a gift!

And I concerned myself with not being enough?!

I could tell you about the moments of awkwardness when I was with other folks who did, in fact, continue to see me as someone who will never meet up to their expectations. It happened; it was real. But it’s not worth mentioning. I can say, without a shadow of doubt, that the blessings I received far outweigh any snubs or awkwardness I dealt with.

It’s always scary to face down fears … but I didn’t do it alone. Thank all of you who prayed for me in my struggle. I felt God’s protection was all around me.

I can’t wait for my next trip back!

Review of Ascent From Darkness, Michael Leehan

From an early age, life seemed to leave Mike wanting. His family life was dysfunctional, he never felt safe due to suffering a nearly lethal attack from a stranger, and he had been labeled suicidal due to an accidental overdose from pain pills and alcohol. In his search for relief from fear and desperation he prayed, but only found hypocrisy in the Christian religion he saw around him. It wasn’t long before Mike sought and then embraced life as a Satanist. From the making of a blood covenant with Satan to hearing, seeing, and experiencing his evil minions, Leehan’s life was controlled by Darkness.  Ascent From Darkness journals his trek back from Satan’s isolation and destruction to Jesus’ grace that waited for him.

Leehan’s style of writing was easy to read. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the story, although I found the graphic details involving satanic worship a bit disturbing. Because he wrote about well-known characters (e.g., LifeChurch members and Pastor Craig Groeschel), I have no doubt that all the explicit details shared in this book are true. Unfortunately, I found I needed to stop reading and distance myself from the book for a couple of weeks to be able to return to it with a discerning and prayerful spirit.  This helped when I continued into the later chapters.

I strongly recommend this book for well-grounded Christians only.  Evil is real and all around us. Citing one example of Leehan’s account of the evil spirits’ saying, “I don’t think he can see us,” should be taken as a serious warning; be sure that they are always looking for new victims.

Clarity is Andy Stanley’s Forte

“When we’re on the receiving end, grace is refreshing. When it is required of us, it is often disturbing.” Ouch.

In The Grace of God, Andy Stanley once again shares the word of God in a highly accurate fashion while keeping it easy to understand. This is a wonderful book for Christians who have been walking with Christ for many years as well as the young Christian just learning about God’s love for His children. It brings to light how God demonstrated grace throughout the Bible—Old as well as New Testament—and how God shows grace as only a perfect God can do.

We’ve all been on our knees asking for God’s grace sometime in our lives. We’ve all made mistakes. But in addition to asking for grace, Stanley shows us account after account through many familiar stories of the Bible—stories of Rahab, King David, the Apostle Matthew, Jonah and the Ninevites to name a few—that there is no possible way to be worthy of receiving it. It also shows very clearly that God’s grace is not found in the absence of consequence to sin (or The Law in Old Testament examples) but in conjunction with that consequence. It’s a packaged deal. He shows, through scripture, that grace was a critical part of his relationship with Adam and Eve when they sinned and were banished from Eden, and again, showed how because of grace he chose a man named Abraham to begin the process of giving us a way to set things right again through Jesus Christ.

Before reading this book, I thought I understood grace. I know realize I only understood what it was to be given grace. I understand more clearly how incredible a gift it really is and how awesome God is to offer it to everyone. All that we need to do is accept it. I give The Grace of God a rating of five stars and highly recommend it

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”