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Archive for the ‘Conqueror’ Category

To reach the start of this section hike, my Mom (our wonderful driver and cook), dropped us off at Stony Brook Road.  This was a gravel road that wound up into the wilderness.  At first there were houses, but as the road deteriorated we only saw an occasional vacation cabin.  At the point where she dropped us off, it was pretty remote.  She could not park right at the trail, so we had to start by hiking up hill up the road about a quarter-mile. Then we headed up the trail, and I mean straight up!

Our 1200 ft. climb in a mile and a halfMy poor daughter, who was already tired after several days hiking, about a quarter-mile in said, “That’s it!”  She sat down in tears in the middle of the trail, threw down her pack, and refused to go a step further. lol My Dad and I looked at each other. What could we do? My Mom was long gone.  We were in the middle of nowhere.  There was no cell reception here. Short of an emergency, there was no way anyone was getting out of here but up and over this crazy mountain!

So after a rest, some water, and a snack, and handing off some of her pack weight to my Dad, she was ready to tackle the trail again. I am really proud of her for sticking it out.  After we were done with our trip she told me how she had learned that she can tackle challenges with perseverance and persistence that once seemed impossible. Both she and I realize how much better shape we are in now, both in leg and cardiovascular strength.

My Dad, who has hiked the entire Appalachian Trail from Georgia to where we were in Vermont, taught us how to handle hills. We learned to take it slowly and steadily and to time our breathing with our steps. I ended up taking one breath for every two steps. And sometimes I would just look down at my feet and concentrate on one step at a time. And of course, I would stop and rest when I’d reached my limit. Using that method, we climbed 1200 feet in a mile and a half. And that was a useful tool to get us through all the other crazy hills in Vermont too.

So we survived our five miles and 1200 feet and were very glad to seem my Mom at the other side. Though the hike was super hard, it was also super beautiful. We had a cool ladder to climb up to the top of a giant boulder. And there were actually a couple of peaks we reached on this trail. Each one had a different look from the scenery on the way up and you felt really rewarded for all that hiking to get to see this unique mountain top that most people probably never see.

I have several more days of Appalachian Trail hiking to write about. And next week we are headed back to middle Tennessee to camp and hike on the Cumberland plateau. This is a super interesting area which I was quite surprised to find in Tennessee.  I actually think it is actually as interesting as Vermont, though only a 4-5 hour drive (instead of 22! lol) It is an area of higher elevation made of sandstone which easily erodes into waterfalls, boulders, rock cliffs and caves. I can’t wait!! This is our last summer fling before Fall responsibilities.  So more posts to come about our Vermont Appalachian Trail and our Cumberland Plateau hike!

I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.  Phil. 4:13

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If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.  Luke 9:23

We are doing a new Bible study at church, Not a Fan, by Kyle Idleman.  At first this guy really gets under your skin because he’s pretty blunt about giving up your life for God.  Of course, I know we are supposed to do that, but I prefer the more gentle approach! lol  We are also using the Follower’s Journal which has something for you to do with God each day, that I am actually really starting to like because it leads you to intimate fellowship with God.

The first day we were to take five minutes to close our eyes, picture Jesus saying the above quote to us,over and over, and then write our reaction to His invitation.  I was really annoyed by this assignment because this verse is so in your face.  I have always tried to avoid it!  lol  But I begrudgingly did it.  Eventually God made me aware of the end of the verse: “follow Me”. I realize this is what God has already been leading me to do.  Stop trying to live for myself, but instead follow Him.

I have been struggling with anxiety, feeling like things are always wrong.  God has been showing me that what I needed to do is choose to live only for Him.  Get my eyes off myself and onto Him.  He wants me to follow Him with tunnel vision, to look only to Him for His approval and not try to human approval.  He wants me to look only do His will each day, for my only goal to be to follow Him, not to try to make my own plans work out.   If I do that then everything is not wrong in my life because I am seeking to do God’s will and follow His plan for each day.  Then no matter if I succeed or fail from an earthly standpoint, I have automatically succeeded from God’s standpoint and His is the only view that matters.

So when I go throughout my day and I find myself wandering down into the negative pit,.  I may be thinking something didn’t work out the way I thought it was supposed to or that I am doing something wrong.  I wander farther and farther into negative thinking about all the problems in my life.  I need to stop myself and purposely redirect my thinking to choose to look at God and what He wants me to do.  I need to remember that if I am following Him then everything works out the way He wants it to.  So nothing is wrong.  If I can learn to think this way on a regular basis, develop a new habit of it, then I become a conqueror in Jesus.  I can live above the ups and downs of circumstances and emotions. I can be free, flying above it all with Jesus.  So God help me to do that because You know I can’t do it without You.  But I can do all things through You who gives me strength.  Help me to fly with You.

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And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith…so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Heb. 12:1-3

At the beginning of this year I started a new goal for my health. I’ve had success with weight loss in the past but have always gained it back. So this time I chose a more modest goal of losing only 1/2 pound per week, hoping in the process to change my eating habits permanently. It has been about eight weeks, and I had been having good success, but my progress seems to have stalled. I have lost a few pounds, but not my goal amount. I am tempted to become very frustrated by this. I really have been doing very well as far as exercising and following my diet. This success is due to God’s power in me and acknowledging that I cannot do it without Him. But to not see the full effects on the scale is very frustrating.

I can easily believe my emotions and be dragged down by satan to believe his lies, that I am failing and all my hard work for two months has been for nothing. But I have to choose to reject that lie, and instead believe the big picture truth that God is showing me. Boy is it hard though.

As I was thinking about it, God was telling me that I have been a success. I know my body is in better shape. I can walk more miles, I can scramble up hills when we hike, and jump mud puddles and not strain anything! Now if only the full effects of this would show up on that darn scale! lol But what God was also showing me is the big picture of the changes He has made in me. Not only have I not gained any more weight, which I found myself doing easily after 40, but have actually lost a couple of pounds. So God is telling me that I have had success physically, but more important are the changes He has made in me have been more spiritual and emotional. He is teaching me to be disciplined in how much I eat and exercise. I am learning to be steady in the amount I eat and in my weight instead of constantly going up and down. And He is slowly loosening my grip on food as an emotional comfort, which basically as an idol. I believe these internal changes are actually more important than the external ones and hopefully will lead to positive physical and spiritual change for the rest of my life.

God, thank you for the success you have given me thus far. I really do feel like I have become more stable in my eating and weight and that you have more control over this part of my life. Protect me from frustration and discouragement. Give me the strength to reject satan’s lies and to believe You. And I know I can’t do any of this without you. So give me your strength to continue working towards my health goal and help me to figure out what I need to change to get there. I know you love me no matter what and are proud of my progress. You see my heart and my effort and my desire. You see internal success that doesn’t always show up on scales or visible externally. Help to me choose to see with Your eyes. I love you. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. James 4:7-8

 

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No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. (Rom 8:37 NIV84)

I struggle with feelings of defeat, as if everything in my life is wrong and everything I do is wrong. Logically I know this is not true, and I am very blessed. I know that it is satan attacking me, trying to incapacitate me by putting my focus in myself and my weaknesses. It’s really awful when this happens. I can get stuck in this pit and have a really hard time trying to remember how to get out or even have the will to get out.

A couple of nights ago my God Calling devotional (ed. by A.J. Russell) really helped me. It said:

Joy is the sovereign balm for all the ills of the world, the spirit-cure for every ailment. There is nothing that Joy and Love cannot do…Aim at conquering…the world around you. Just say, “Jesus conquers” — “Jesus saves” — in the face of every doubt, every sin, every evil, every fear…Do this to every ill and it will vanish, as night when the sun arises.

So the night I couldn’t sleep, I read this devotional and prayed over and over, “Jesus saves. Jesus conquers. Jesus heals.” Immediately I felt my fear leave me. I felt God calming me and I fell right to sleep.

I have wondered why saying this has such an effect on me. I know it has power because it is truth from the Bible. It also gets my focus off of myself and puts my eyes on God and all the amazing things that He can do. I see Him as my Great Savior from all sin and defeat. I see Him as my Conqueror who can do all things through me, conquer any pain or fear. And He is the Great Healer who has the power to heal all that is broken in me.

In God’s hands, I really can do anything. I can chose to reject fear and spiritual attack because He is so powerful, and I belong to Him. Satan has no real power over a son or daughter of the Great King! Because of God’s power, I am more than a conqueror. So…

Jesus saves.
Jesus conquers.
Jesus heals.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalms 23:4 NIV84)

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, [Jesus] because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, (Isaiah 61:1 NIV84)

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20130215-105434.jpgThe joy of the Lord is my strength.  Nehemiah 8:10

One of the things we like to do to train for our Appalachian Trail hike this summer is to take shorter walks throughout the week and a longer one on the weekend.  Our town built a nice walking trail that leads from our neighborhood to a nearby park.  You have to cross over a highway to get to the park.  One day as were doing our usual walk I noticed, someone had pained a big smiley face on the side of the bridge.  So you look down at cars zooming below you but also see this giant face smiling back at you!  I thought it was quite comical and a bit out of place so that it is a pleasant surprise, something you do not expect when crossing over a highway!

Sometimes I struggle with mild depression.  I just feel down and anxious and I really don’t know why.  I know its satan trying to bring me down and distract me from the amazing things God has planned for me.  If I am stuck feeling bad about everything, then I can’t very well live victoriously or move forward  with God.  It pretty much incapacities me.

But I forget God’s love for me and His joy.  Last night I had a dream of someone who loved me dearly and something happened that I seemed to find hilariously funny.  I woke up in the middle of laughing hysterically with this overwhelming sense of joy, so much that I felt I couldn’t contain it.  So that’s what I’ve been missing…a sense of His deep love for me, of being in love with Him…and joy.  Just inexplicable, overwhelming joy when you just forget all your cares and relax and trust God.

After all we really have no reason for anxiety. Our Father loves us dearly and accepts us unconditionally.  He has conquered sin and death so we know the end of the story.  We win!  And actually we win now too.  God is in complete control of our lives.  Everything that happens to us has been filtered through His love and all is worked for our good.  So we can’t go wrong.  We just follow Him and we win.  There is no need for worry because our loving Father has taken care of everything for us.  We just have to trust HIm.

So Jesus, help me trust you.  To give up my incessant worrying and to give up believing satan’s lies that things are always wrong.  I know it’s a lie, but it takes so much strength to fight.  But you reminded me last night what it feels like to give up all that worry and to trust you as if I haven’t a care in the world, to laugh freely, and to be loved.  If only we truly understood the reality of our life with you.  Help us to understand.  Thank You for giving this to us!  In Jesus name, amen.

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20130128-095448.jpgWow! This was the sunset in our back yard last night!  I am always in awe of the spectacular works of art that God creates.

Recently, a friend asked me about one of the things I struggle with, feeling unworthy. (Read her blog here.) One of the ways she described the Christian life to me was “faultiness yet success”.  I thought what a perfect way to describe it!  I had never heard it put that way before,  but that is it!  We are not perfect, just forgiven.  So I told her about my struggle with this and what God is teaching me:

“I’ve struggled with feeling inadequate too.  I’ve learned that I just need to acknowledge that I am weak and when I have failed, like when I struggle with pride.  If I adopt an attitude of repentance in my heart, agree with God that what I did or thought was wrong, that is what He expects.  In my mind, I picture myself kneeling before Him, admitting my mistakes.  And I know He accepts me.  I can be humble yet accepted at the same time.   I believe what He really wants from us is humility, not perfection.  Then we are forced to admit our weakness and our neediness for God.

I’ve really struggled with feeling unworthy, to the point where it was driving me away from God.  But I finally got to the point where I understood that that had to be satan.  (Of course it is, because his goal is to separate us from God.)  So at some point, with God’s help, I just decided to reject those evil voices:  “You’re not good enough, you’ve failed again.  God has had enough with you…”   I just said ‘no, I’m not going to accept it’.  I knew it wasn’t God, and I don’t have to accept these lies.  I’m still working on this.

God accepts us just the way we are.  He doesn’t expect perfection this side of heaven.  He loves us because we are His, with all our flaws and our assets.  He is not so fickle as to change how he feels about it based on our performance for the day, thankfully!  He sees all the amazing things we have accomplished so far through His power, and He doesn’t expect us to be running a marathon when we’ve just accomplished crawling, walking, and talking.  He’s just really so thrilled at where we are now and how amazingly far we have come already!

And…God loves us!  Just the way we are now.  When we accomplish lots or when we accomplish little.  Even when things are really bad, and we aren’t able to accomplish a single thing. Even when we can’t walk, and He has to carry us, He still loves us dearly then and delights in His sons and daughters as much as He ever did.  Nothing we can do can ever separate us from His love.  He is our Daddy and He delights in us!!  Because we are His!

‘Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?  [satan tries but its all lies. he has no real power.]  It is God who justifies.  Who is he that condemns??  Christ Jesus…is at the right hand of God…interceding for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine?…No in all these things we are more than conquerors though Him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death or life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers…nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!’   Romans 8:33-39

Wow-I really need to learn that verse better.   Isn’t that awesome?  That is our key to being conquerors and rejecting satan’s accusations, which are all lies, and to be confident that God accepts us completely.  Once we accept that, we can experience peace and confidence.  We can just relax because we’re not performing anymore for God’s acceptance.  We’re just accepted, no matter what.  We can accept ourselves, because God has accepted us.  Then we can relax, experience joy, and laugh, because we are loved, no matter what!”

My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest.  Exodus 33:14

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…Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.  Psa. 29:5

These past 2 1/2 years have been hard with my husband losing his business and us struggling financially.  Even though there is not much evidence of it yet, we are learning to believe that God does indeed have good plans for us in that area, and we just haven’t seen the evidence of it yet.  Earlier I wrote how God has given us a little example of how God can bring a really good thing out of a really bad thing.  My 15-year-old was so sick last year that she was out of school for the second half of the year.  But out of that, not only did He do a lot of physical healing in her, but also spiritual and emotional healing as well.  I realize that it was all worth it for how God has changed and healed her.

Today I remembered another way that God has brought good out of bad.  When we lost our business, my husband had to take an over-the-road trucking job.  He went from being home 24/7 to being gone 24/6.  On top of that we lost our church family of eight years.  It was pretty devastating.  It felt like we had lost almost everything.   We tried a different church for a few months, but we never seemed to fit in there.  

Then one day we impulsively decided to try a different church.  Gradually over several months, this church began to grow on us.  Everyone was so friendly.  This was a larger church than our old one, so they had more programs for the kids, but yet they were more friendly.  They seemed to want to know new people, and they also seemed to want to serve.   They pray a lot and seek to do God’s will. 

I enjoy our Sunday morning women’s study.  The women there are like a family.  They share their lives and pray for each other.  I enjoy the teaching, and often God speaks to me through it.  They are friendly and are very willing to include new people, to notice when someone isn’t there, or to care for someone who’s sick. 

I also love our church service.  I love the music.  It is very easy to worship God.  I often run into the service a little harried, on the verge of being late after chatting too long in the women’s class!  But once I’m there and the music is playing and people are singing, it is so easy to slip into worshipping God and to praise Him.  I believe that the Holy Spirit is at this church leading people to worship, to pray, and to love eachother.   It makes me feel so privileged to be part of a church where God is working.

So I realized that I LOVE my church!  I am in love with God, and He has made me fall in love with His church too.  He has given us a new church home, a new church family.  And I also realize that it is another example of how He brings a wonderful good out of a really bad heartbreaking situation.  In fact, while we loved our old church, God has now given us something even better.  Out of the heartbreak and pain, He brought new life, even better life than before.  Isn’t that just like Him???  So now we remember these examples of His goodness and continue to learn to have faith that there is good in store for my husband’s job as well.   

Thank You God for bringing us through some of the heartbreaks over the past couple of years.  You sustained us during that time with Yourself, comforting us and caring for us, providing just what we needed.  And some things You have already healed and resolved and given us even greater good than before.  Help us to continue to trust You and to believe that You are working out a great plan for my husband’s job as well.  And thank You the greatest gift of all, You.  We love You dearly.  Amen.

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