Can I ask you a personal question?
Ever feel like a third party to your own email?
Maybe the question isn’t all that personal, but it’s what I’ve been feeling lately. I open my inbox and a dam breaks as I watch a flood of emails load one after another. They’re addressed to me, but it doesn’t feel personal. I’m not talking about work email, I’m talking about personal email. It’s becoming impersonal. Can you relate?
These people emailing me?
They’re not uninvited guests. I’ve subscribed. I’ve Followed. Some offer encouragement and others offer discounts on items or courses that would benefit me. That’s not a bad thing. But I can’t do it all or buy it all. That doesn’t mean I won’t later, just not now.
So what do we do?
- Unsubscribe to posts we never open
- Set a time to open emails, then delete or take action
- Try interacting and change the one-way street to a two-way street
I went through my emails a couple of weeks ago and determined which ones I never read. Nothing personal, I just don’t have time to read them all. First, I unsubscribed. Then I entered the name of the company or blog in the search field and deleted all their emails all at once. That cleaned up the clog-up and freed needed space.
After all, I don’t love that message “cannot take photo there’s not enough available storage” while trying to take a pic of one of the grandkids attempting a soccer goal. A-nnoy-ing.
That last tip of changing the one-way street to a two-way?
Comment. Share thoughts. Interact. Even the most introverted of introverts can comment without leaving the couch. Once you narrow down the focus, you can become a more willing participant.
We can ditch being a third-party spectator by being a first-party communicator.
Those famous, well-known, too-important-to-have-time-for-me people? They are people. They have struggles, doubts, dreams, flesh and blood. Step out and comment. Even if they don’t respond, they’re probably reading their comments. True, someone may manage their comments for them, but show up anyway. Show up and get in the conversation.
You may be pleasantly surprised. It may be easier than you think to communicate with that someone who has encouraged, inspired, and influenced you. They need to hear that too. Because sometimes even they wonder if anyone is listening. Numbers don’t talk, people do.
We can translate this from cyber life to real life, but that’s another post.
So simplify your life. Unsubscribe or take part in your subscription. Take action one way or the other and you’ll find the effort rewarding.
When we change from a third-party to a first-party, that two-way street can propel us to that place we subscribed to be.
Same is true with our faith. We have our own measure but we have to participate. Stepping out in faith is showing up when we make a commitment. What we have to say can encourage others. But let’s choose our commitments and communities wisely, including whom we follow and subscribe to. Pay attention to what they’re saying because their views and values can change.
My most important subscription? I subscribe to follow Jesus and He never changes and He doesn’t need my email address. He’s the famous One, but not too famous for me. Or you.
We don’t have to be a slave to our email. We can take control.
I’m taking first-party action in regards to my email. How about you?
Just a simple message today. I am so thankful for you. May you have a blessed and joyous Thanksgiving.
In Christ’s Love,
Feeling a little picked off, ticked off, and worn out?
It’s no wonder. We’re on the radar. We’re that bullseye on the target.
I love the book of Esther. Can’t wait to meet her someday. She’s the true Queen of Hearts.
Through the providence of God, she saved an entire people from total annihilation.
I’m as appalled as you are something like that could even happen, yet we know it wasn’t the first time and it wouldn’t be the last. Anne Frank’s diary gave us a tragic glimpse.
So how does this relate to us Gentiles?
Are we surprised Christians are continually persecuted? Martyred. Singled out in schools, universities, in the work place, in the media… Targeted.
There’s an undeniable connection on how this relates to us.
Believers believe this…
Gentiles have been adopted into the family of God. In Christ, we are part of a chosen people, a holy nation. We have been grafted into the lineage of Christ. We are of Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise. It’s divine and It’s God’s plan and it’s only through His grace and the blood of Jesus Christ. It’s our heritage along with whatever other bloodline heritage flows through our veins.
That makes me an Italian/Irish Christian girl with a Jewish heritage. I’m a combo of lasagna, corned beef, and matzah ball soup. A smorgasbord of culture transcendent of time.
So that picked off, ticked off, worn out version of us?
We need to recognize what’s happening here. The enemy is targeting us, again. And again. And again. We wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers. We know that, right? Yet, our foot keeps getting caught in the barbed wire fence.
It’s time to walk free, walk tall, and walk worthy of the calling.
I know. I’m right there with you. I’ve used the term “throw in the towel” a few times this week.
But we’re not done. We’re just getting started. Hang on to your towel.
We are in good company and we are family. We were made for community so let’s not go isolating ourselves. We don’t want to make the target even easier to hit. Esther didn’t cower in a corner. She didn’t hide away alone. She called on people to fast and pray with her. For three days people fasted and prayed. We have a lot to learn about asking for prayer and denying the flesh, can I get an amen?
And we know how to deflect those fiery darts, don’t we? Ephesians 5 and 6.
Walk in Love, Walk in Light, and put on your armor. Every day.
I love when Esther says, “If I perish, I perish.” Courage comes from the Lord. Our flesh may fail, but our inheritance is imperishable.
We are targeted because we are chosen. We are singled out because we are set apart for a purpose.
“Now I commit you to God and to the word of His grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” Acts 20:32
Our mission may not look like Esther’s, but it’s every bit as important. Keep seeking the face of God, keep persevering in the face of persecution, and keep serving to glorify Him, because remember this:
It’s harder to hit a moving target.
For more about sanctification, check out this post on Desiring God: http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/how-the-spirit-sanctifies
Grace & Peace,
By the way…
Shopping for gifts? My book, Goodbye, Regret is on sale for a limited time. Check it out here.
We had a plan.
Emphasis on we, meaning hubby & me. I’d reach a certain age, retire, then work in our business. It was a good plan, we thought. But it didn’t quite happen that way.
Things changed at the company I worked for and the above plan launched too soon.
Because the original plan didn’t go as planned, things happened we hadn’t planned on.
Has this happened to you?
We can make all the plans we want and planning is a good thing. But we have to accept our plans may change because of circumstances beyond our control or choices we make along the way.
After years of doubting, I can clearly see the plan we hadn’t planned on is a better one. The new plan is better because it’s God’s. I know this because I never could have dreamed up the series of events on my own. They weren’t random in the least.
Another reason why I know God was definitely in the new plan? I prayed fervently for direction.
So what happens to the plans we make and the dreams we have? Are they meaningless and null and void if God has already made our plans?
Be encouraged. Scripture provides the answers:
Without counsel, plans go awry,
But in the multitude of counselors they are established. Proverbs 15:22 NKJV
God directs us to seek wise counsel in our plans.
Commit your works to the Lord
And your plans will be established. Proverbs 16:3 NASB
God directs us to commit our works and thoughts to Him. When we walk in His will our plans will be fruitful and established. The NLT versions says our plans will succeed.
In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9 NIV
Our plans will do well when our ultimate goal is to please God. Sounds easy except for one thing.
We’re human. We can’t always trust our hearts to do the right thing.
I don’t know about you, but for years the ultimate goals of my plans were to benefit me. I wasn’t focusing on how my plans were going to please God. What a win-win when we set our goals on pleasing God, because when we do, our benefits are far more than we could dream up on our own.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:6 NKJV
When we trust God and acknowledge Him in all our ways, He directs us in the way we should go (or not go). He won’t have us doing a U-Turn in the middle of nowhere or drive us off a cliff like that GPS we place so much trust in.
The most well-known and quoted scripture on plans is Jeremiah 29:11. What plans does God have for us? A future and a hope. Plans for no evil or calamity, but for peace and for our welfare.
How should we make our plans going forward? Here are a few options:
- Seek God. Plan. Succeed.
- Plan. Fail. Seek God to fix it.
- Plan. Succeed by world’s standards. Don’t include God and we won’t know what we’re missing.
We wonder why there are people who never seek God, may not even believe in God, yet appear successful and lacking nothing. It can seem that way when we base success on the standards of this world.
But I don’t want to be in the “don’t know what we’re missing” community. If we miss seeking God and including Him in our plans, we’ll always feel there has to be more. We’ll always want more. There will always be something, or rather Someone, missing.
Therein lies the lacking of those who seem to lack for nothing. A misdirected hunger for things of this world.
When we hunger for God, He can satisfy like nothing else can.
To You Lord, we commit every single step.
Let’s invite God into the beginning of our plans. Let’s map out our plans with the ultimate goal of pleasing Him instead of pleasing ourselves because when we do, we will be delightfully surprised.
Let’s make pleasing God our ultimate plan in life.
What are your thoughts? Have you experienced a change in plans?
Have you ever served on a jury?
I have and found the experience to be quite fascinating.
The big, bad insurance company vs. the little guy, who paid hundreds of dollars in premiums to said mega-company in exchange for the peace-of-mind-in-case-something-happens homeowner’s policy.
Well something did happen. The little guy’s home was burglarized.
Then his claim was denied.
Not having heard the details, one might be inclined to think the big, bad insurance company wasn’t keeping up their end of the bargain.
But that wasn’t the case.
On day one, a critical section of the policy was read aloud to the jury. It clearly stated if any portion of the claim was false, the entire claim would be null and void.
After the closing arguments, twelve of us “little guys” sat around a table sharing our key take-a-ways. Opinions went flying, but the one thing we all agreed on? The little guy lied. Not about all of it, but about some of it.
So we had no choice but to rule in favor of the big, not-so-bad-after-all insurance company.
The moral of the story?
Even a half-truth doesn’t pay.
We all face times when a lie seems right, when a lie seems easier, nicer, softer in a where’s the harm in it kind of way.
Maybe we’re afraid the truth will hurt. Maybe we’re shielding people like that famous line from Jack Nicholson, “You can’t handle the truth.”
Who gave us the authority to decide who can’t handle which truth?
We try softening lies by referring to them as bending the truth. We label less significant untruths as little white lies because it makes them sound fresh and crisp like laundered linens. Truth is, sin is sin. We can dress it all in white, but it won’t make it pretty and it won’t make it truth.
And while we don’t like to think of ourselves as full-blown liars, I’m pretty sure God isn’t on board with little white ones or half-truths either.
Warm and fuzzy lies don’t move mountains.
It may be hard, but when we tell the truth, it frees people. It allows people to experience what they need to experience. It allows people a choice to make positive changes in their life.
We don’t need to be hateful to be truthful. And don’t forget, we need to hear the truth, too.
Then there’s the whole lying to ourselves thing, including how we’re of no value, not able, and not good enough. The truth is, we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.
He thought we were worth going to the cross for, so let’s believe Him.
Here’s more truth. Satan whispers lies to us, but we can’t give him all the credit. We tend to help him out in this department, am I right?
Lies may seem harmless, but they can quickly grow from a seedling to a bean-stalk. Bean stalks lead to fee-fi-fo-fum and the giant is real. But we can slay the giant. David showed us that.
Here’s some good news. It may come as no surprise that telling the truth has positive health benefits.
WebMD published an article on the health benefits of telling the truth:
“Our findings support the notion that lying less can cause better health through improving relationships,” says researcher Anita Kelly, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Notre Dame. “Improvements in the relationships accounted for a significant improvement in health.””
“What we are suggesting is, not violating others’ expectation of honesty is likely to build trust, which may be key to good health through improving our relationships.”
The findings echo some other research findings by Sally Theran, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at Wellesley College in Wellesley, Mass.
“My research on girls and boys … indicates that the process of being authentic, or being honest and open in meaningful relationships, is significantly related to feeling less depressed and having higher self-esteem,” she says.
Honesty is also related to feelings of intimacy in friendships, she has found. “There may be increased conflict, as a result of being open and honest, but it leads to better quality of friendships,” Theran says.
Telling the truth can feel risky, she says, but when you do so, you can feel less inner conflict. “When we lie,” she says, “it adversely affects our self-esteem and increases our sense of shame. So, it’s not surprising at all that the authors found that telling the truth was related to all these positive outcomes.”
Did you catch the part about how lying increases our sense of shame?
When we lie to others, we’re not doing them any favors and we’re not doing ourselves any favors either.
Let’s be totally real and totally honest. It’s better for our relationships, health, and spiritual well-being.
Always offer truth because truth = trust. tweet it
We can always trust God and He always tells the truth. The Word tells us Jesus is the truth. Let’s follow His lead.
Truth is freedom. Let freedom ring…
“Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another.'” Ephesians 4:25 NKJV
Have you avoided telling the truth to spare someone’s feelings?
Share your comments…
Excerpt taken from the article: Fewer Lies, Better Health By Kathleen Doheny
WebMD Health News © 2012 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
Ever have that dream where you’re standing on the edge of a cliff?
I have to admit, I have a fear of heights.
It amazes me how window washers trust that flimsy platform ten stories up. And how can crews building skyscrapers walk across beams like gymnasts? Freaks me out.
You know that screamer at the top of the Ferris Wheel? Me. Yup, me.
Actually, that fear of heights? In reality, it’s a fear of falling.
Life can make us feel as though we’re teetering on the edge of a cliff. We hold tightly to colorful balloons we used to call our life, but when things change, it’s as though we’re barely holding on. We don’t know what’s worse, falling off the cliff or letting go of those balloons.
What happens when the life we knew or hoped for, turns into something strange to us? Uncharted waters? The seas can be rough.
Read this verse out loud slowly:
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23
What lies ahead doesn’t have to be scary, although it may be different. He who promised is faithful. He’s got this. We’re in good hands, and I don’t mean Allstate.
We exist for a purpose. Our life has meaning no matter what threatens to push us off the cliff.
And you know what? We can let go of those balloons. It’s hope we want to hold on to.
While falling isn’t pleasant, sometimes we have to fall so we can get up. Did you know God holds our right hand? How far can we really fall if the God of the universe is holding us up?
Then there’s the hurting…
Hurting doesn’t mean we’ve lost hope. When it’s hard to see through the pain, we can reach our hand up to the Lord while He holds it. We don’t even have to say a word. He’s right there.
And you know what?
We are loved with an everlasting love. And although God’s love is greater than anything we could imagine, He blesses us with friends who want to hold our hand, too. Don’t miss that. It’s precious and part of His plan. Jesus said the greatest commandments are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. And love your neighbor as yourself. Our sisters care.
Let’s let go of whatever keeps us from holding tightly onto hope. Hope is an anchor for our soul when our life wants to drift away from God. Hope keeps us grounded.
Don’t worry if you feel you’ve lost hope, because unlike the usual definition of lost (losing sight of something), hope that is seen is no hope at all.
“For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?” Romans 8:24
And having confidence in what we hope for but cannot see? That’s faith.
Can I pray with you today?
Thank you for another day to live and breathe in deeply what your hand has provided. Help us to see our life and value through Your eyes; that we may love like You do and serve in a way that’s pleasing to You. When we walk along the edge of the cliff, hold our hand, Lord, and help us to always hang on to hope. Lord, when we fall, help us to get back up and when we do, help us to reach out our hand to others. Thank you, Lord, for the plans you’ve designed for us and that we are precious in Your sight. Thank you for Your unconditional love, mercy, and grace. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Be encouraged, friend, and draw near to God. Nestle in the shadow of His wing.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
Have you ever felt your faith was being attacked? How did you react?
Today I welcome my friend and inspirational writer/blogger, Abby McDonald, for a visit here on Walking deeper. Abby and I met through a writing course and I’ve been so inspired by her words. I know you will be, too. Check out this encouraging guest post…
I looked at the words typed across my screen in disbelief, not knowing what to do. Should I ignore the person? Block them? My spirit stirred and I felt shaken, stumbling for my footing.
Sure it was social media and I couldn’t see the other person’s face. But it felt very personal. This guy was attacking my faith, something as vital to me as breathing. I remembered the words of Peter to the church and decided to answer his question.
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” 1 Peter 3:15 NIV
In a few sentences, this person was asking me to prove the existence of God. While I knew I couldn’t do this in 100 character tweets, I shared what I could. I told about answered prayers that couldn’t be explained. Things which couldn’t be justified by logic, reason and even doctors.
But no matter what I said, it wasn’t enough. More questions came pouring into my Twitter feed and when I brought up my testimony, another user decided to jump in.
If I was shaken before, at this point I was ready to retreat. An insult was hurled at the part of my story I hold most sacred, and I felt certain there was a spiritual battle taking place right there on my screen.
I stepped away from the phone and made my kids lunch, trying to put the comments out of my mind. But no matter how I tried to busy myself, the conversation kept circling through my head.
Then, God brought a verse to mind. At first, I dismissed it.
Scripture won’t satisfy their questions. They’ll come up with some sort of retort and it will only get worse.
But Paul’s words kept repeating themselves. They were the answer to the exact issue I was having explaining my testimony, my faith. Things which could only be explained using spiritual terms.
“The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 2:14 NIV
It was plain and simple, but I hesitated.
Then, in a spirit of boldness I addressed the scripture to the other user and waited. And waited. Nothing. No response or rebuttal.
At first, I was confused. Where was this person’s argumentative retort? Where was the question?
The next morning, I remembered the sword. Instead of trying to fight with logic, reason and facts, I had gone to the Word.
And the Word isn’t a dead weight that goes limp when we use it in our defense. It is living and active, able to divide soul and spirit. The same Word Jesus used when he defeated Satan in the wilderness, speaking truth unchanging in its power and application.
I don’t know what happened to the people who questioned me that day. I pray a seed was planted and the Spirit softens their hearts toward the truth. But I learned one thing.
There is a time to use logic and facts. Apologetics exists for a reason and has turned many toward the one true God.
But where logic fails, the Word of God stands. Its power goes beyond anything we can explain with our own reasoning. Tweet
Use it. Memorize it. And when your feet falter, its unwavering authority will give you a firm place to stand.
Abby McDonald is a mom, wife and writer who desires to show women the hope of Christ can be found in the middle of life’s messes. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, you can find her writing about her adventures on her blog, Fearfully Made Mom. You can connect with Abby on her blog, on Twitter or Facebook.
Do you struggle with posture?
When my daughter was a pre-teen and regular passenger in my backseat, she used to catch me slouching while driving. We agreed each time she noticed my less-than-perfect posture her cue would be, “You’re doing it!” and I’d immediately know to sit up straight. Believe me, she was good at her job.
Can you believe I still need to remind myself of this? What should really deter me is the definition of a slouch: “An awkward fellow or a lazy incompetent person.” How’s that for a word picture?
But posture isn’t just about sitting up straight or standing tall.
Posture goes much deeper than walking with a book on our head. It’s a conscious behavior of both standing firm and walking humbly.
Great examples of this type of posture are found in prayer and worship:
- Standing – such as in battle when we armor up, standing firm against the enemy with the Word of Truth (Ephesians 6:10-17)
- Sitting – we are seated with Christ in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6)
- Kneeling – prayer of petition, for mercy, submission and reverence. One day every knee shall bow before the Lord (Philippians 2:9–11)
- Bowing – in a posture of honor and worship
- Lying prostrate – face to the ground in a posture of humility and submission before the Lord.
- Outstretched arms – in a posture of worship, praise, and adoration
These positions of posture are not about sitting or standing up straight. Each position has reverence and meaning. While sitting up straight when driving it’s good for our core, a posture of praise is good for our soul.
So let’s work on our posture because we’re not slackers and we’re not slouchers.
Let’s trade a posture of complacency for a posture of praise.
We are children of the one true God who lifts up our head when we lift our heads to Him.
“But You, O Lord, are a shield for me,
My glory and the One who lifts up my head.” Psalm 3:3
Whenever I find myself slouching while driving, I can still hear my daughter’s voice saying, “You’re doing it!”
When we’re intentional about maintaining a posture of praise, we can listen for our Father’s voice as we seek His face in adoration.
Have you struggled with posture? Have these words made you look at posture in a new way?
I’d love to hear about it…
Love & Peace,
By the way, have you heard about my new book?
Goodbye, Regret: Forgiving Yourself of Past Mistakes is now available on Amazon. When you purchase a copy, just let me know on the book tab on this site, and I’ll send you the free printable companion study guide and prayer journal as my gift to you…
In case you missed the announcement, Goodbye, Regret: Forgiving Yourself of Past Mistakes has launched! It’s now available on Amazon. I’ve created a Goodbye, Regret Companion Study Guide and Prayer Journal to go along with it. I’d love to send you the link to the printable study guide as a free gift for purchasing the book. Just send me a note once you’ve purchased the book, by using the tab on my home page at dorisswift.com with the study guide title. I pray the message in this book will reach women who need encouragement to move forward and to forgive themselves of past mistakes. Be blessed and thank you for your support and encouragement XO. ~ Doris
Any new wrinkles lately?
Girlfriend, I can relate.
I’ve wondered, and I’m sure you have too, why God designed these jars-of-clay bodies to age.
We spend time and money trying to turn back time—trying to hold on to a more youthful appearance. It’s pretty ironic really. It’s like trying to go back to our old self when we were younger.
I know not everyone feels this way, but be honest, “age appropriate” isn’t a warm and fuzzy phrase. Some would call it vanity, but it’s okay to make ourselves presentable, as long as it doesn’t become all-consuming.
So what does the Bible say about appearance?
The verses in 1 Peter 3:3-4 say this:
Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.
True beauty comes from the inside out. It won’t matter what shade of lipstick we’re wearing if our lips are flapping gossip and unkind words.
The verse in 1 Peter isn’t meant to deter us from braiding our hair or wearing jewelry, it’s meant to remind us what true beauty is and what truly matters to God.
Besides the regimen of facial cleansers and moisturizers, there’s that whole exercise thing. Staying healthy is important, and regular exercise is a must. But let’s be sure we’re exercising for health and not merely appearance.
Here’s a verse with that word exercise in it. It’s found in 1 Timothy 4:8…
For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.
While this verse is comparing how exercising self-denial of certain foods, denying the flesh as in tradition, etc., profits little compared to exercising godliness by resisting and repenting of sin, the word still has to do with our bodies. It profits us little to do 50 sit-ups a day when we aren’t exercising our spiritual health.
That’s not to say God doesn’t care about our physical bodies. He absolutely does. He meets our every need.
He provided Manna in the wilderness when the Israelite’s needed nourishment. It was a physical substance from the spiritual divine. The combination of meeting a physical and a spiritual need. Food provided by God because God is our Provider.
God cares about our overall fitness, the physical and the spiritual. He provides physical and spiritual strength.
I guess we could call it seasonal strength. He gives us the strength to do whatever we are called to do, in whatever season of life we find ourselves in. And God isn’t as concerned with age as we are. He chooses to use us for His purposes at any age. Isn’t that encouraging?
Let’s not miss what God has for us today. Divine appointments and incredible interactions with God are right before our eyes. Like Manna.
We want people to notice Jesus in us. When our beauty comes from the inside out, it radiates so brightly a few wrinkles won’t even be noticed.
And what’s even lovelier than a woman aging gracefully?
A woman who ages, full of grace.
Share your thoughts.
Even to your old age, I am He,
And even to gray hairs I will carry you!
I have made, and I will bear;
Even I will carry, and will deliver you. Isaiah 46:4