Here’s To A Happy Heart

Heart WreathFebruary is awash with hearts. Valentine’s Day and National Heart Health Month make it nearly impossible to avoid those little red wonders.

Having received a frightening diagnosis, and with a difficult procedure looming ahead, I was surprised that I had felt happy. Finding out a loved one has cancer is no easy pill to swallow. I marveled at those moments and wondered how they were possible in the midst of such difficult circumstances. Like bright rays shining through thick dark clouds; the happiness, like sunshine came from other places. In this case, it was places of the heart.

Just as proper diet and exercise contribute to the health of our hearts, what I fed my soul contributed to the happiness of my heart. I was alone, facing surgery, peaceful and happy.

Benefits of a Happy Heart 

The overall condition of our hearts impacts other aspects of our lives: our attitudes, our actions, our relationships and even the things we say.Berry Wreath Door

Consider the many benefits to having a happy heart. First, it helps us feel better. “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” Proverbs 17:22. Secondly, it improves our looks. “A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.” Proverbs 15:13. Thirdly, it impacts our speech and behavior. “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good…for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. ” Luke 6:45.

Preparations of the Heart

While I long to be happy, peaceful and kind, I tend to base my ‘happiness’ on my ‘happenings’. Consequently my attitudes, feelings and behaviors blow with the changing winds of circumstance. The difference comes when I properly prepare my heart.

There’s an awesome heart-healthy recipe found in the book of Philippians, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:8. The peace of God is promised to accompany such meditation and I have found that to be true.

How About You

Have you found your happiness driven by your circumstances? Would you like to be characterized as someone with a happy heart? Maybe you find yourself cold at times, hard-hearted and without any good feeling at all. It could be that you need a new heart. God made a promise to His people that I have requested for myself. “Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh,” Ezekiel 11:19. It’s a good promise and a good prayer. May God grant you the happiest of hearts.

God bless you and keep you,

Roxanne 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Middle heart wreath compliments of: http://everbloomingoriginals.com.

Seeing Clearly

20160209_141431I got new glasses a couple months ago. At 50 blah-blah-blah years old, it was about time. This new pair was a double whammy for me; bi-focal & progressive lenses. They made me dizzy and nauseous. The ‘vision specialist’ said it was normal and would soon pass. This swanky pair of spectacles came with instructions; I’d have to find the sweet spot. I must say, there is something almost magical about the ‘sweet spot’. In this case, I could see clearly and didn’t require Dramamine®.

I remember my first pair of prescription glasses. I don’t mean the ones I pretended to need in Junior High (sorry mom) but the ones I needed as an adult. Putting those glasses on for the first time was amazing! I was shocked at how much and how far I could see. We drove to Santa Barbara that afternoon and I was like a child in the car. I kept taking the glasses off and putting them on, comparing my vision with and without glasses. What clarity. What beauty. What a difference! It’s as if I had been blind.

20160209_204414Clearer Vision

There’s another day that I will never forget; a day far better than when I picked up my glasses. It’s the day I began seeing with eyes of faith. All of life became clearer and more purposeful. Whereas I once saw only the masterpiece, I now perceive the hand of the Master. With broad strokes and tiny brushes He paints the detailed picture of my life. His blessed word is both a wounding and a comfort to my soul. By it I am assured that any discomfort, any crucible of pain or suffering at His hand, is as needful as a chisel in the hand of a sculptor. So, whether the colors are bright and beautiful or dark and defining, I yield to the touch of the Master’s hand. I can see clearly in the dim valley of vision because “I walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians. 5:7.

Perfect Sight

One thing remained unclear for so long; how to reconcile a perfect God with an imperfect person as myself. I stood in my own way, hindering my own view. It became clear when I found the ‘sweet spot’, the one place where justice meets mercy. It was at the cross. “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.” Hebrews 2:9.

Someday I will lay my glasses aside, never to need them again. I can’t understand it all this side of heaven but I know this “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” 1 John 3:2. Then I will at last say, “I once was blind but now I see.” -John Newton-

How About You?

Are you having trouble seeing things clearly? Need help making sense of things, of life, of loss or pain?  You might need a ‘vision specialist’. The Psalmist made a simple request of God that might be helpful for you as well, “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law.” Psalm 119:18. 

God bless you and keep you,

R. Marie

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

Substance and Evidence

20160125_102655A heavy snowfall made both town and country roads hazardous and in some spots impassable for standard vehicles. That left me stuck at home and my husband stuck at work for two days. Once the roads were cleared, my husband was able to drive home; though not up our long driveway. He parked in front and trudged up the snowy path to the house. A neighbor saw the truck parked at the road and offered to bring the skip-loader over and remove the snow. 

Seeing is Believing

The following morning I sought quiet time to read and pray before starting my day but just couldn’t focus. I couldn’t find the words of thanks or praise. Going outside had often cured that problem so I took a walk. I noticed the driveway that had been covered with knee-deep snow was completely cleared and a rather large pile of snow stood at the far end of the driveway.

Though I never saw the neighbor, or his equipment working, I saw the substance: a cleared driveway & huge pile of snow and the evidence: very large tire tracks. The man said he would clear it, he said how he would do it and all the evidence backed it up.  I believe.

Believing is Seeing

While we have no trouble attributing sky scrapers and farmhouses to unseen architects and builders, we struggle with the concept of a God we cannot see. We fail to apply the same principles of reason when it comes to creation and the word of God. The order & whimsy and simplicity & majesty we see in nature testify of a creator. Consider Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.”

While I have no trouble believing in God, sometimes trusting Him is a different story. Circumstances loom large in front of me and, though I don’t doubt His being, I have at times forgotten about Him and His capabilities. Jesus addressed this common problem in the Sermon on the Mount. He said, “Look at the birds of the air” and “Consider the lilies of the field.” Matt. 6:26 & 28. Understanding the definition of faith helps. Hebrews 11:1-“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  All that we see gives us reason to believe the One we cannot see.

How About You?

Do you get stuck in your faith with a lack of faith? Do you worry about how you’re going to make it or where help will come from? You may even wonder if God exists at all. God’s message to His people applies to us as well. Jeremiah 29:13And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” If you really want to know ‘if God can’ or ‘if God is’, look around you and listen. Creation speaks.

God bless you and keep you,

Roxanne

Read more about reasons for faith in Psalm 19, Matthew 6 & Hebrews 11.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Predator-Proof

20160125_092158[1]Strange tracks ran from the driveway straight to the chicken coop. I couldn’t recognize them from the house but got a better look when I opened Penny’s cage in the morning. The tracks encircled the entire coop and within them were paw prints. Claw marks were on the side of the coop and on the nest box. I’m not sure if the marks and prints were from a dog, a coyote or what but something had a hankering for a chicken dinner. “Better luck next time dog-breath, this coop is predator-proof!” I’m sure that’s what Penny was thinking. She was safely perched in her condo waiting for me to release her.

This was not the first time. Out in the country where we live, dogs roam freely sometimes and more than one has made its way to Penny’s coop. They bark and scratch and make Penny nervous but they can’t get to her. In fear, she flies squawking into her condo and is safe. Seeing the paw prints around the coop this morning, I was reminded of the account of Daniel in the lions’ den.

Trapped

Conspired against by jealous princes, Daniel was forced to obey a temporary ordinance designed to trap him or to remain faithful to his God. Daniel knew the decree mandated that no one but the king could be worshipped for 30 days, yet he chose to pray to his God as he had always done. Daniel was caught. Displeased with himself for signing the decree that could not be altered, Darius had no choice but to command that Daniel be thrown into the den of lions.

So Close and Yet So Far

Daniel was facing the lions. Were they circling him and licking their chops? Were they roaring and swiping at him with their paws? As near to them as he was, Daniel was quite out of the lions’ reach. The king rose early the next morning, ran to the lions’ den and called for Daniel. Daniel responded, “My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so that they have not  hurt me.” Daniel. 6:22. Though unseen to Daniel, God was as real to him as the lions that stood before him; and far more powerful.

We are all faced with troubles in this world. Sometimes the danger is very real and right before our eyes. Sometimes the enemy is unseen and working in ways we are unaware of. Many times the fear is of our own making. God has not left us unprotected and alone. He has provided a means of safety and rest if we will but trust Him. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1.

What about You?

Have you ever been so distressed and scared and felt you had nowhere to hide? Maybe you have forgotten all of the times God has provided for or protected you in the past. Whatever the lions may be for you, remember as Daniel did, you do have a place to run. “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” Proverbs 18:10

God bless you and keep you,

Roxanne

Read more about Daniel in the lions’ den in Daniel, chapter 6.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Treasures in the Snow

20140304_075433Winter is definitely upon us. Today was a whopping 10° in my neck of the woods. No matter how you slice it, that’s cold. As I thought about the colder days ahead, I remembered a day last winter when it was 15° below with the wind-chill factor. It was early in the morning and I had to feed the chicken. I can’t tell you how much I didn’t want to go outside and how unhappy I was that I had no choice.

Duty Calls

I bundled up with all that I could put on and still move, then set out to brave the cold. The first few minutes were, let’s just say, less than comfortable. Once Penny (my chicken) was taken care of, I decided to bring in some firewood and restock the rack. All the trudging back and forth in the thick snow, carrying heavy wood warmed me up quite comfortably. Strangely, I didn’t want to go back inside so I sat on the steps and enjoyed the beauty of the morning. My dear little chicken was eating, the wood piles were taken care of, the view was breathtaking and the sun made the snow glisten as if it were littered with tiny jewels. I thanked God for kicking my sorry carcass outside to experience such a moment and to learn some valuable lessons.

Thinking Over Tea

I sat with a cup of hot tea and thought about my time outside. My comfortable, warm spot on the couch made it difficult to imagine there would be any pleasure out there in the bitter cold. Yet, even though the work was hard I experienced joy in the doing of it and a sense of accomplishment when it was finished.

I find that I put things off because they’re difficult and dread and avoid things or circumstances that may be painful; only to find that the more painful part of the circumstance was the worry and dread. I am reminded that even Jesus looked beyond His circumstances, Heb. 12:2- “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

I also found that just as my layers of clothing enabled me to withstand the cold weather, I need to be similarly insulated to withstand the cold realities of life.  Not everything will be easy but God has provided a means of protection to help us deal with life’s difficulties.  Eph. 6:13- Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

How About You

Are you facing something that seems insurmountable? Dreading a battle that is looming before you? Don’t give up. Put on your armor, look beyond your circumstance and plow through; remembering Paul’s encouragement in Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”

God bless you and keep you,

Roxanne 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

You can read more about the armor of God in Ephesians 6.

Activate. Connect. Commit.

Setting up a blog is supposed to be easy but I managed to complicate it quite significantly. I deleted fields that I couldn’t find again, published things that never posted and messed up my desired web address. There was on-site help available but I couldn’t find it.

I received an email that said, “Thank you for signing up. Click button below to activate your account.” I fussed at my computer. “How am I supposed to activate my account when I’m not ready? I’ve made a huge mess of this thing!” Now, I’m not a lover of drama but there was quite a bit of drama stirred up over this. I cried. I moaned. I called my sister, my son and my friend seeking encouragement, help, a tidbit, anything. They tried. I cried. It was pathetic!

A Ray of Hope

Two days later I saw the email again. In desperation I decided to click the darn button. I got a response immediately. “We’re so glad you decided to join us. Just getting started? We have resources to support you. Need help? We have people standing by to assist you. Need inspiration? You’re now part of a large community. You’re not alone.” Seriously! Was I really that close? Once I was ‘in’ I saw all of my failed attempts (drafts) right away, just waiting to be deleted. I contacted the ‘helpers’ and found out what to do. In just a few short clicks (I won’t say how many) they were gone. It was that easy.

How many times and in how many different ways had I done this very thing with more serious life issues? How many times was help just a prayer away?

How About You?

Do you have a mounting list of ‘failed attempts’, need a clean slate and a fresh start in life? Activate. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Are you struggling with a situation and don’t know what to do and could use some help? Connect. Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call to Me (God)*, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”

Are you teetering on a decision, ready to take that big step but keep doubting yourself or even God’s will for you? That’s where I am; or was. Commit. Proverbs 16:3 states, “Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established.”   With that, I take a deep breath, say a short prayer and with sweaty palms click PUBLISH.

I hope this New Year will be wonderful. There will no doubt be hiccups along the way. Whatever it is, don’t do it alone.

If this has blessed you in any way, let me know. If you know someone it might encourage, please share it.

God bless you and keep you,

Roxanne

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

*emphasis added