Vickie's Blog

Thoughts Along Life's Journey


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Regrets Of Yesteryear

Everybody regrets something at some time in their lives.  Some regrets are without great consequence; things like — I forgot to buy milk and bread when I was at the store, or I haven’t yet returned that phone call, or I still haven’t cleaned out the garage.  We may regret all of those things, but none of them will cause anything more than some aggravation.  We may be annoyed with ourselves, but we won’t feel that our lives are ruined.

There are other regrets that cause us to be somewhat disappointed.  Perhaps you didn’t take that job offer, or you opted out of college, or you passed by on an opportunity to move somewhere you’ve never been to before.  We may regret we didn’t take those chances.  We didn’t step out on a limb, and now we feel stuck in a rut.  Again, we may be annoyed with ourselves, but usually, we get on with life and make the best of the decision we made.

The above regrets are things that everybody faces.  It’s life and we just move on.  However,  there are regrets that can definitely strum  deep chords of pain.  These regrets have lifelong results that affect us all the days of our lives.  Perhaps we married the wrong person, and we are stuck in an unhappy marriage.  Perhaps we were unfaithful to our spouse.  Perhaps we were so busy with our jobs that we ignored our children when they were young, and now they want nothing to do with us.  Perhaps we dipped our hands in the office funds jar.  Perhaps we embarked on the wrong career path, and we don’t know how to start over.

I have actually talked with people in my travels, who have confessed to all of the above.  As I would listen to their tales of regret, I could see the depth of anguish etched on their faces; their eyes lacking peace.  There was a sense of hopelessness about them.  They regretted the choices they made, and told themselves that, to live in misery was what they deserved.

Here is some wonderful news.  Jesus died to give you victory over your regrets.  If it’s forgiveness you need, He longs to pour forgiveness into the blackened areas of your life.  He desires to lavish His love upon you.  He waits with baited breath to ease away your pain.  If it’s hope for tomorrow that you need, He wants to put you on a new path that leads to inner peace and joy.  He loves to see His children happy, walking in hope.   How do we get what we need from God?   Ask Him.  Tell Him how you feel about the regrets that live in your heart.  Ask Him to take them away.  Tell Him that you resolve from now on to seek His leading before setting out on a path of your own making.

Many times in my talking with people, they have shared their regreets, and then they have continued to tell me that they won’t ask Jesus to forgive them; they won’t ask Jesus to help them, because they feel they don’t deserve it.  If that is you, may I remind you, that it doesn’t help to be your own judge and jury.  You don’t have to give yourself a life sentence.  When you do that, you’re not helping yourself or those around you.  If regret has dumped you in a hole of gloom — don’t dig deeper!  Crawl out!  Look up and see the hand of Jesus ready to lift you up!  If you do this, I absolutely, positively, no doubt about it, guarantee — Jesus will make the gloom of regrets fade away, and He will make all things new.  It’s a speciality of His — all because He loves you with a passion.  So, come on — look up!  See Jesus reaching down to pull you up and set you onto a good path.

“The strong right arm of the Lord is raised in triumph.  The strong right arm of the Lord has done glorious things.  I will not die; instead, I will live to tell what the Lord has done.”  Psalm 118:16-17

 

 


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Lessons Through Robin Williams

The suicide of Robin Williams has made headlines around the world this week.  Revelations of his battle with depression, which led to his manner of death, has been a shock to many.  As a result, mental illness has been given a fresh highlight.

Depression is a serious issue that affects so many around us.  I have often found, that those who laugh the most, are often the ones who hide the most inner pain.  As Christians, it’s a natural question, in regard to this subject, to ask what Jesus would do, to help a person suffering the silent plague of despondency.

Therefore, let’s look at how He dealt with the hurting around Him.  There’s the example of the woman caught in adultery.  The culture of the time was to stone her to death.  The crowds were focusing solely on her outward act of immorality.  What did Jesus do?  He looked beyond the outward action, and saw into her heart.  There he found someone who was lost.  Jesus offered this woman  love and hope.

There’s also the example of the crowds of people, more than 5000, who were tired and hungry.  The task to be fed was an impossibility; that is, until Jesus took over.  He asked for a boy’s lunch.  Then, taking just a little bit of bread and a few fish, Jesus fed all the 5000 and had 12 baskets of food left over.  The crowds looked at the outward circumstance and saw impossibility.  Jesus looked beyond to His Father; there He found everything He needed to accomplish the task at hand.  He gave the people love and hope.

What about the woman who had dealt with a hemorrhage of blood for years?  How awkward that must have been for her.  How weak, physically and emotionally, she must have been on a daily basis.  She was just one person in a crowd.  To those walking with Jesus, this woman would not have been anyone special to notice; but Jesus stopped to look at her.  She had touched the hem of His garment; Jesus noticed, and He stopped.  The crowds must have wondered why Jesus was taking time with this woman.  Why, He had other important things to be doing.  Jesus, however, looked beyond His schedule of the day, and He took  time to reach out and touch this woman.  He gave her love and hope.

If you and I are to live like Jesus; if we are to imitate Him, then we must also look beyond the outward appearance, and zero in on the heart of the matter.  Ask the Holy Spirit to give you His own wisdom and insight.  Ask Him to make you aware of others around you.  Ask Him to use you to give someone love and hope.

Do you know someone, and you sense they may be hurting inside, but you’re not sure?  I encourage you, don’t make the mistake of telling yourself, “they’re probably okay.”  Don’t make the mistake of telling yourself, “if I’m wrong, they’ll think I’m really stupid.”  I encourage you, go with your gut feeling.  If you’re wrong, the person will simply know that you are a person who cares.  If you are right — well — you might just save someone’s life.  Who knows, your kind words today, could be the life raft, that saves someone sinking in an ocean of despair.

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to notice those around you.  You don’t have to give someone all of your time.  Jesus didn’t do that, Himself.  What exactly did Jesus do?  Everywhere He went, He was looking for opportunities to seize, in order to make a difference in someone’s life.  Then, very often, He moved on to the next one.  Don’t make the mistake of telling yourself, that you’re busy, you don’t have time for someone you think is hurting today.  Even a smile, or a card arriving in a mailbox, can go a long way to lift someone’s spirits.

If you’re the one who is swimming in a sea of despair today, and you have told yourself that no one notices, or even cares, I encourage you — don’t listen to that lie of Satan.  He loves for you to be in the doldrums, and He wants you to stay there.  Focus on the fact that Jesus loves you passionately.  He is an expert at offering hope.  Sometimes He touches you through someone around you.  Sometimes, it’s just you and Him, and He whispers His words of love into your troubled soul.  Call out to Him — and don’t forget to listen.

Jesus, quite simply, loves to give lasting love and hope to the hurting.  Sometimes, He uses you and me to be His words to soothe, and His arms to hug.  Let’s always be ready to see with Jesus eyes, looking beyond the outward appearance, and into the heart of the matter.

Jesus said, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other.  Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.  Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”  John 13:34-35

 


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When Giants Arrive

Many of you will know that I returned to the States this week to care for my mother who had been very ill.  She’s weak on the outside, but still the spunky lady within.   Two of her grandchildren cared for her until my arrival.  For all of you who are praying for my mother’s good health to return, I thank you.

It became quickly apparent to me, that besides not feeling well physically, she was stressed emotionally.  Two stray dogs had decided to take up residence.  My whole family love animals.  My mother and her grandchildren were all feeling sorry for the starving, thrown away dogs.  They reported the dogs to the animal shelter, and waited.  Meanwhile, of course, they were feeding the pitiful animals.  I will never understand cruelty to God’s creation.

My mother was sorry for the dogs, but added to that stress, her cat, Blackie, had left home. He had been gone for a week.  Obviously, Blackie could not face or do battle with the two giants that had encroached upon his territory.  I took over the search for Blackie, going out at meal times, calling his name, but to no avail.  I walked over to the barn, calling his name, but no results followed.

Finally, men from the animal shelter arrived and took the dogs away.   The handlers were so kind.  My mother was comforted by this, but now, where was Blackie?   I continued my search.  Last evening, just as dusk was covering the earth in shadows of coming darkness, I went outside.  My gaze travelled over the fields around our house.  Suddenly, I froze to my spot, straining my eyes, focusing on something black and white in the distance.  Could it be?  Was it Blackie?  I began to call his name.  The black and white something stopped, also frozen to the spot.  I called again, and this time the black and white something began to run in my direction.  Yes!  It was Blackie coming home!  I kept calling his name, and he kept running towards me.  He ran across the field, under the fence, past the barn, and up the porch steps.  He rolled over, inviting me to tickle his tummy, I made a great, joyful fuss over his return.  He, too, was making a great, joyful fuss over being back home.  Oh, what joy!

Blackie had been frightened away by the giant dogs entering his world.  He could not cope, so he ran away.  That’s understandable for a little animal in its physical world.  However, it’s a greater sadness for us in our spiritual worlds, when we, too, facing giants in our lives, decide the best course of action is to run away.  Perhaps some seemingly insurmountable something has arrived in our world.  It’s big.  We feel there’s no way out.  We begin to vacate, choosing ways to escape.  Perhaps we withdraw from family and friends.  We become consumed with our problems to the point that we withdraw from our heavenly Father, too.  Now, that’s the real sadness.

You see, our heavenly Father is the only One who has the perfect answers.  He’s the only One who knows the way out.  When giants enter our world, it’s not the time to run away; it’s the time to remember, as it says in Isaiah 59:15-16, “The Lord looked and was displeased to find there was no justice.  He was amazed to see that no one intervened to help the oppressed.  So He, Himself, stepped in to save them with His strong arm.”

Are you surrounded today by walls of difficulty, too high to climb over?  Are you running away from those you love because giants of impossibility have trespassed your peace and calm?  Do you feel no one truly understands?  Do you tell yourself that no one can really cares?  Then, please, look up to your heavenly Father.  I assure you; you will find Him looking back at you.  He wants to help you.  He has the strength that you do not possess.  Wherever you are today — will you listen to your Father?  He’s calling your name.  Run to His protection and guidance.  Run into His arms of strength and love.

“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.  There we will receive mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”  Hebrews 4:16

 


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Are You Imitating Anyone?

Earlier this week, a friend of mine posted a picture on Facebook of her husband with one of their little children.  They were outside; her husband stretched out in a lawn chair, and next to him, his little boy stretched out in another lawn chair.  What caught my attention — was the imitation.  The little boy was obviously attempting to sit in the exact manner as his father.   Of course, it wasn’t the same.  His little legs couldn’t stretch out as far, he wasn’t tall enough for his head to reach the top of the lawn chair, and his arms were not making the exact pose.  Nonetheless, the attempt to imitate his father was most obvious.

I stared at this very cute photo.  Something began to stir within me.  I began to wonder, as Christians, is it obvious to others that, we, too, are doing our best to imitate Jesus?  Are we trying our best to walk in the manner of His actions?  Are we making noticeable attempt to talk like Him?  Can others see Jesus in us?

Like the little boy, trying his best to copy his Dad, but not able to get it just right, you and I won’t get it just right, either.  But, oh, the joy that comes with the trying.  When we are doing our best to imitate Jesus, the smile on our faces, the inner peace in our hearts, the sheer joy of making the attempt, will be just like the little boy in the lawn chair.

Let’s remember the passage of Scripture found in Ephesians 4:32-5:2, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ, forgave you.  Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children.  And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”

Isn’t that amazing, to think that when we imitate Jesus, our attempts are sweet-smelling to our Heavenly Father.

It’s also a lovely picture to those who may be observing us.  Be assured — someone, somewhere, is watching how we imitate the One we claim to love so much.  Let’s try, with God’s own help, to make the  picture they will see, a sweet, touching attempt, like the little boy in the lawn chair.


Eyes On The Finish Line

The Commonwealth Games have begun this week.  All countries, still allegiant to the Queen of England, take part in a huge sporting event, on a par with the olympics.  Yesterday I was watching some of the triathlon.  Men were running, swimming, and bike riding, all with one aim — to cross the finish line.  As time passed, you could see the hard breathing, lungs no doubt searing in discomfort, gulping for air to go on.  Muscles were aching, bodies were exhausted, but they pressed on.

Such a race in not dissimilar to the track we run in our spiritual world.  We find ourselves in difficult situations, perhaps it’s hard to breathe, we ache and endure pain of suffering with every event, but we press on, keeping our eyes on the prize — Jesus waiting at the finish line!  One glimpse of His face, and anything endured in our lives will be as nothing compared to the prize of Jesus.

This reminds me of the verse in Job 23:10, But He knows the way that I take.  When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.”  Sometimes this verse is misunderstood.  Some have mistakingly thought this meant that God was deliberately throwing us in the fires of difficulties on purpose; then, if we by our own strength got through, He would reward us at the end.  Oh, no, that is not the meaning!

Have you ever watched a craftsman molding gold?   While it’s in the fire, all the impurities rise to the surface.  Then the craftsman can remove what’s not needed, and mold only what is pure and lovely.  The result is something of great beauty.

When you and I find ourselves in the the midst of the troubles of this world, God has not thrown us in; it’s the result of the fallen and sinful world we live in.  This verse means that, while we are in the fires of painful circumstances, God Himself will offer us His own strength and wisdom to get through.  Then, when we have taken all He gives us to cross the finish line, like the beauty of gold, we, too, emerge beautiful and triumphant!

We know it to be true that God equips us with all we need to daily face our troubles, because there are numerous promises of His help to us throughout the Bible.  When we run a difficult race in our world, God is our coach and trainer, teaching us how to press on, and not give up.  The key is focus.  Like the athletes in the triathlon, their only focus is the finish line.  Let it be the same with us — never giving up, never tripping over a hurdle and laying on the track in failure, but getting up and running again, aiming for the finish line.

When we cross God’s finish line, everyone gets a gold medal.  Everyone wins.  Everyone who reaches the finish line sees the prize that is waiting for them.  Jesus in all His glory — and we get to live with Him —  in a place of no more tears — forever!  Press on fellow athletes!  Let us obtain the prize together.  Oh, what joy!


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What Brings Ultimate Joy?

My former high school teacher and dear friend, Maurine, has been editing my next book for me.  It’s a book that deals with building our faith and keeping it strong.  As always, my prayer is that it will indeed be a blessing of encouragement and help to all who read it.  I’ve been working this week with doing some correction and rewrite, getting it all ready for release.  I would like to share an excerpt from the book with you.  I hope it will bless you.  It is as follows:

 

The way of obedience follows salvation. When we become a Christian, we want to learn about Him and obey His ways. I Samuel 15:22 informs us that “to obey is better than sacrifice.” Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love me, obey my commandments.” He also said in Luke 6:46, “So why do you call me ‘Lord’ when you won’t obey me?”

Sometimes we forget that God’s ways are designed to give us ultimate joy. They are designed for our protection and for our well-being.  Subconsciously we begin to think that God is a control freak; He’s just telling us what to do because He can. He gives us commands He knows we can’t keep just to watch us fail; then He delights in punishments. What a totally warped view of our Heavenly Father.

I had that view early on in my walk with God. I share that in my book,  Back On The Potter’s Wheel.  I thought God the Father was all thunder bolts and lightening strikes, taking delight in my failures. I’m forever thankful that the folly of that thinking got straightened out in my mind. God the Father is total love. I am warmed to the core when I read in I John 4:9-10, “God showed how much He loved us by sending His only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” Isn’t that beautiful?

God the Father understands perfectly the difficulties and hardships that we face on earth. He knows what sin has done to us. He knows we are like lost sheep, wandering without hope of ever being found by our own devices. That’s why He sent Jesus — to save us, to give us hope and purpose, to give us joy overflowing. That’s why He gives us instructions to follow. He has designed a path for us that will always bring peace to our troubled hearts, courage to rising fear, and strength to weakened faith.

His ways are not our ways but they are by far the best ways. Isaiah 55:8-9 reads, “My thoughts are completely different from yours,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”


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Looking Back To Move Forward

Everyday, the world news is bleak: cyclones and deadly storms, continued disaster in Syria, Ukraine and Russia still at odds, coastal killings in Kenya, a mass family murder in Texas, Israel and Hamas firing missiles at each other — the list could go on and on.  Sometimes it seems the whole earth is spinning out of control.  Wars and rumors of wars widen.  Weather disasters are more frequent.  Brother against brother is nothing unusual.  Political lying, cheating, and backbiting is the norm in any country.  Inflation and unemployment rises daily on every continent.  Hardworking people are sleeping in cars with their families, unable to make financial ends meet.  What in the world is going on?  Is there any hope?  Can any encouragement be found?

First, we must not be surprised by the world’s events.  When countries and individuals choose to make their own way, ignoring God’s plans and directions, then disaster is sure to follow.  The Bible is a historical record of this fact.  When we step off of God’s road, and onto a road of our own making, be assured that the way forward is perilous.

But what about those who are looking to God?  They, too, suffer the consequences of the world’s calamity.  Is there any hope and joy for them?  Yes, indeed.  David reminds us that in the midst of all darkness, God is there to shine His light into hearts that yearn for Him.  He gives faith to the weak of heart.  He gives strength to those who feel they can’t go on.  He gives courage when fear would like to overcome.  He gives peace in the midst of any of life’s storms.

God has never failed anyone in the past.  Therefore, there is no reason to feel He is going to fail anyone today or tomorrow.  Don’t forget, there is a great weapon available to every Christian who feels themselves being pulled down into the mire of this world’s disturbances.  It’s called: praising.  When we praise God for all He has done for us yesterday, it builds our faith to trust Him for all that will happen today.  It gives us peace for the unchartered paths of tomorrow.  As David said in Psalm 103:2, “Praise the Lord, I tell myself, and never forger the good things He has done for me.”

God never changes.  Therefore, it stands to reason that, if God has been your light in the midst of life’s storms yesterday, He will remain your beacon of  safety in dangerous waters today.  He will never fail you.  It’s impossible.  At the core of anything that concerns us, God is there, whispering to us His words of love and comfort; equipping us with everything we need to face anything today puts in our path.

Therefore, why wouldn’t we want to praise Him today for all He has done yesterday, and for all He will most certainly do today?  Remember, He never stops guiding, filling with peace, and kissing our griefs with His tenderness and care.

“Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.”  Psalm 103:1

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