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He will cover you.

(Courtesy of Google images.)

“He will cover you with his feathers,

and under his wings you will find refuge;

his faithfulness will be your shield…”

Psalm 91:4

Faithful.

Constant.

True.

Loyal.

Amazing.

Just.

Compassionate.

Merciful.

Omnipresent.

Forgiving.

Strengthens the weak.

Protects the weary.

Refuge for the wounded.

Solid rock.

Sovereign.

God.



Happy Saturday :)

Hope everyone out there is having a beautiful weekend!

Psalm 18:28

You, Lord, keep my lamp burning;

My God turns my darkness into light.

(Courtesy of Google images.)



“Prodigal Son” song.

Luke 15:11-32

The Parable of the Lost Son

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”



On healing and pain… not so pretty.

A few weeks ago a sister in Christ and mentor dropped an Oswald Chambers quote about living with grace on one of my post’s here… “Grace… is knowing there is at least one thing you don’t know about in another persons life.”

I’ve thought of this quote as I’ve been moving through my fairly new job, my dealings with my family members, growing up with my peers, working with my co-workers and integrating into a new family system thanks to marrying my amazing husband. How can I live a more graceful life? Or better yet, how can I gracefully move away from disgraceful situations? Some things  and dealings in life are so ungracious and have been so ungracious that I am finding it really difficult to deal with them and to move through them…

As I have reflected on this, I keep hearing that I don’t really have to do anything besides accept God’s own grace in my life. This is really contrary to what I really want to do though, which would be my nature to help, mend, fix and correct or to just totally vent and yell about the situation!  I am starting to see how truly gracious God is to fulfill our need for mercy and grace in these difficult moments of life. But we have to go to Him for the grace!

So a few days ago I wrote about patience, too… I think patience is kind of like grace because they both involve forbearance. A waiting period!

pain

“Patience is more than endurance. A saint’s life is in the hands of God like a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see, and He stretches and strains, and every now and again the saint says–‘I cannot stand anymore.’ God does not heed, He goes on stretching till His purpose is in sight, then He lets fly. Trust yourself in God’s hands. Maintain your relationship to Jesus Christ by the patience of faith. ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” – Oswald Chambers –

Info on Oswald Chambers found here: 

Oswald Chambers was not famous during his lifetime. At the time of his death in 1917 at the age of forty-three, only three books bearing his name had been published. Among a relatively small circle of Christians in Britain and the U.S., Chambers was much appreciated as a teacher of rare insight and expression, but he was not widely known.

Chambers was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1874, the youngest son of a Baptist minister. He spent his boyhood years in Perth; then his family moved to London when Oswald was fifteen. Shortly after the move to London, Oswald made his public profession of faith in Christ and became a member of Rye Lane Baptist Church. This marked a period of rapid spiritual growth, along with an intense struggle to find God’s will and way for his life.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

I am after God’s heart right now and am really doing my best (at least I think, for the moment!) to hear him and heal from the past, but it has not always been easy. It’s not always easy when you encounter the same ungracious situations or relationships and really have to question your purpose in all of it. Must my heart continue to break? What if healing never comes?  So, I think this final quote by Chambers kind of sums it up.

“If through a broken heart God can bring His purposes to pass in the world, then thank Him for breaking your heart.” – Oswald Chambers –

I am thanking God for my broken heart and the times in the past when my heart was broken. For surely he was saving me and preparing me for something better.

And I thank God for ungracious circumstances and ungracious people in my life, for surely it is there and in those moments where I need to go and seek after God’s grace and freely receive it, surrendering all to Him. I think of all the times when I have been ungracious, unforgiving, unyielding and stubborn and I think, maaaaaaan, this really is some AMAZING grace.

 

doves



Finding.

Hebrews 12

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

God never fails.

He doesn’t lie.

It’s not a part of his character.

Where there is confusion there is not peace.

Take refuge in His perfect peace today.

Take heart. Take courage.

Be.

At.

Peace ❤



Very inspiring.

Thank you, Shaun from the blog prayingforoneday for this acknowledgement through the interwebs in bestowing to me the “Very Inspiring Blogger” award. It’s really nice to hear this from someone other then friends and family (who I suspect have to tell me I’m inspiring just because they love me and I never stop talking about my blog… i.e. “Omg, here comes Steph and she’s referencing her Word Press site again *eye roll.* )

Bloggers like Shaun and many others in the Word Press community have really inspired me through their writings and very honest sharing of life stories and struggles. Blogging and writing can be a very personal and very difficult endeavor. I’m grateful to have this humble lil’ avenue to speak my mind and heart and to connect with others. And it’s nice to know – just once in a while maybe – that you can inspire someone! Lord knows I have found much inspiration here!

inspiringbloggeraward2

The rules of the Very Inspiring Blogger Award: 

1. Display the award logo on your blog.
2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
3. State 7 things about yourself.
4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award and link to them.
5. Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award’s requirements.

Seven things about me…

1. Jesus is my King, my love, the song in my heart… the most graceful, loving kindness.

2. I love going to church and having church. I love talking about religions and spirituality. Who says you can’t talk about religion and politics among a group? Put a pot of tea on, pull up a chair and lets get talking. I’ll make a snack! Or, we could just talk about the weather or sports. Booooring.

3. I just signed up to run a seven-mile race in August to raise money for adults with autism and brain injury research and treatment (stay tuned for future blog posts on this.) Umm, I’ve never even completed a 5k succesfully. We’ll see how this goes…

4. Sometimes I bite off more than I can chew. (Umm, refer to number 3!)

5. I have a 12-year-old cat named after the biblical prophet Elijah. He is the most socially aggressive cat ever. Yesterday he head-bumped my beer bottle into my teeth in an attempt at a cuddle. He also drools like a dog.

6. One of my favorite movies is “Waking Life.”

7. I’ve lived in Madrid, Costa Rica and five small towns in Pennsylvania before moving to Cape Cod. I love it here.

My nominations for the “Very Inspiring Blogger Award” are…

1. Sethsnap Join 11,000 + followers for some pretty inspiring photography and travels here. Sethsnap was also one of the first bloggers to frequent my site. Yes, I noticed. And I thank you 🙂

2. Bucket List Publications Travel, Adventure and New Experiences

3. A Devoted Life Practical, daily devotionals for the real world. (So real and so good!)

4. Broken Light, A Photography Collection – very artistic photographs taken from people who are managing or struggling with a mental illness. So many of the posts here really encapsulate what mental illness can be like. Great understanding in this site for anyone working to erase stigma in mental healthcare.

5. The War in My Brain – A very brave and honest blog about living with an OCD diagnosis and managing the symptoms.

6. Full of Roses Inspirationals – Christian inspirational photography and poetry

7. ShrinksAren’tCheap – Very creative, very playful, dark, fantastical work. This blog title is one of the best I’ve seen. What is better therapy than writing, after all? I mean, if you’re a writer.

8. Words of Balance – Great inspiration and clear-cut simple tips and tools for life.

9. The Better Man Projects – Very inspiring. Enough said.

10. OneBraveSurvivorHealing – I am of the firm conviction these days that healing does take courage. So this blog is very inspiring and I nominate it with gusto.

11. CHRISTian Poetry by Deborah Ann – Very inspiring and beautiful words, stanzas and verses here.

12. Shift – because the only thing constant is change – And this blog constantly inspires, too. That hasn’t really changed.

13. Seeker of Truth – A fabulous literary blogger who also loves to talk about Jesus. A gal after my own heart.

14. True Warriors of God – Ephesians Chapter 6 🙂 and many other lovely thoughts.

15. Take a Walk on the Wild Side – Great nature photos and wildlife information here. One of a few wildlife blogs I subscribe to thanks to the influence of my biologist hubby. Have you hugged a tree today?

That is my list of the 15 nominations for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. I frequent these sites at least once a week. There are so many more great blogs out there, but this is a little view into what I’ve been reading and what has most recently inspired me. Check them out. Very inspiring, indeed!



A heart at peace.


“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”
Proverbs 14:30

 

We talk about heart healthy diets and preventing illnesses and heart disease, but we don’t often talk about the emotional and spiritual implications of a healthy heart – a heart at peace.

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you;

not as the world gives do I give to you.

Let not your heart be troubled,

neither let it be afraid.

Jesus in John 14:27 

The more vital alone time we spend in the word of God, restoring, renewing and knowing and feeling God’s peace… the more time spent with others begins to take on a different temperature. The more time spent with God, listening to Him (instead of all the noise around us) the more time he spends dwelling within, keeping hearts at peace, even in the tumult of a busy day – even in the face of less than friendly people and less than happy circumstances. God is so faithful in his practice of love, peace and mercy. Often, we are very unfaithful in our going to Him to receive such things that He offers so freely for those who ask and believe.

I am so guilty of allowing time, circumstances or people to shift my focus from my “heart healthy” time that I need for personal restoration. Sometimes the pressures of life seem so insurmountable, so many obligations and duties, so busy, that I must grasp to keep up and feel “on top of the game.” But the words of Jesus in this verse remind that His peace is different. He says “Let Not” your heart be troubled… “neither let it” be afraid. He commands us to guard our hearts and minds in Him. Let yourself be peaceful. It’s a commandment. One I’d rather follow.

It’s in these hard times that we must learn to listen more closely.

Be a little more quiet.

Don’t allow confusion, noise or trouble to rule you.

Let peace rule in your heart.

How challenging to carry that peace around with us wherever we go.

It’s comparatively easier to find the peace on a comfy sofa with a cup of coffee.  A reasonably reachable practice.

It’s more challenging to have that peace and hold it – not letting your heart be troubled – at work, at school, with people who unconsciously or not, allow other things to rule their hearts. It’s difficult to find the good in a situation – the small seed of light – when things just appear so bleak.

How wonderful to fill the heart with peace and guard it in all circumstances – letting not thief, darkness or hate drive it out. Always hoping, always praying, always cultivating peace.

Because that’s what Jesus did. And He still does. And that’s what He commands us to do. Lovingly, knowingly, always reassuring that peace is a better choice.

heart

Peace is a practice. And it’s easier (and far more pleasant) to practice with others who reinforce your efforts with encouragement, blessing, praise and reassurance. But often – especially if you are Christian – you will have to go it alone (seemingly, though you are never really alone without God.) But the support of people is not always there. Sadly, even in churches where division, gossip and human failure can creep in when we are not careful watching and listening. Even in family systems, support can fail and falter – we choose to listen to the confusion instead of listening to the peace.

“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…
But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Joshua 24:15


Doing… along the way.

People seldom do

what they believe in.

They do what is convenient,

then repent.

– Bob Dylan

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Very often we see hurting people as an interruption to our day instead of the object of God’s will for our life. Compassion is never compassion until we cross the street and get involved in someone else’s pain. Don’t structure your days so rigidly that you lock out God from working with you in the middle of your life. Loosen up your life enough to be ready for interruptions. – “Undaunted: Daring to do what God calls you to do” by Christine Caine – 

“All I Really Want to Do” Bob Dylan

I ain’t lookin’ to compete with you

Beat or cheat or mistreat you

Simplify you, classify you

Deny, defy or crucify you

All I really want to do

Is, baby, be friends with you

No, I ain’t lookin’ to fight with you

Frighten you or tighten you
Drag you down or drain you down
Chain you down or bring you down
All I really want to do
Is, baby, be friends with you.
I ain’t lookin’ to block you up
Shock or knock or lock you up
Analyze you, categorize you
Finalize you or advertise youAll I really want to do

Is, baby, be friends with you

I don’t want to straight-face you

Race or chase you, track or trace you

Or disgrace you or displace you

Or define you or confine you

All I really want to do

Is, baby, be friends with you

I don’t want to meet your kin

Make you spin or do you in

Or select you or dissect you

Or inspect you or reject you

All I really want to do

Is, baby, be friends with you

I don’t want to fake you out

Take or shake or forsake you out

I ain’t lookin’ for you to feel like me

See like me or be like me

All I really want to do

Is, baby, be friends with you.



The role of family in mental illness recovery.

I could hardly believe the commonality of so many conversations had this week among people at work, at church and in my leisure time. We all share the same thing in common… someone we know and love has a mental health diagnosis or is in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.

I bet anyone reading this knows at least one person (and dare I say a handful of people) affected by mental illness:

anxiety disorders

depression

delusions

avoidance

alcoholism

drug addiction

eating disorders

Two days before having all these relevant personal conversations I was perusing the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Web site, of which I became a member this year. There are always great articles with new research, clinical treatments and support groups available to individuals with diagnoses, clinicians, care-takers, guardians or family members. If you or someone you know is facing the challenges of a mental health diagnosis, I highly suggest you take a look at NAMI.

It is an abundant resource for a difficult subject.

The point of this blog is just to share that there are resources available for knowing how to handle and cope with a mental health diagnosis. NAMI is an excellent educational resource on mental health diagnosis and the journey of healing.

Mental illness can be a taboo topic – mostly because it’s mysterious, mirky and difficult to comprehend – but the national spotlight has been turned on mental healthcare in the wake of incidents of gun violence that have left so many lives shattered and so many people asking, “Why was nothing done sooner… how could it come to this?”

This is not to say that all mental health diagnoses escalate into extreme violence. These are complex, isolated incidents. Mental health diagnoses can run the gamut from very treatable mild situational anxiety to difficult and often destructive sociopathic personality disorder. (This is not an example of an actual mental health spectrum.)

I repeat, not all people with mental health diagnoses are dangerous. I repeat, there is often hope, healing and positive symptom management when family is involved in the proper care.

People suffering with mental illness have a diagnosis they are not their diagnosis. In other words, their entire identity is not based off of the diagnosis. It is a name for a dysfunction. Once a dysfunction is named it can be treated and managed. (i.e. Louis has bipolar 1 disorder not Louis is bipolar or Louis is nuts or Louis is off-his-rocker.)

The language with which we speak about our loved one with a mental health diagnosis is very important.

Family cannot always understand the why of mental illness. Family cannot always fix the mental illness. Family is the closest to the diagnosed individual and often find it difficult to separate themselves from this person’s identity or perhaps from a deeply ingrained dysfunctional cycle or relational dynamic based off of the diagnosis.

If coping with a mental health diagnosis within your family, the best thing you can do is learn as much about the illness as possible and find healthy ways for yourself to cope with the diagnosis and the potential implications of the illness.

“Families often feel anxious and bear feelings of guilt that they are the cause of the problem. Denial of the illness is a natural response at first. Grief and recognition follow with the reality that this is an illness that is here to stay. Families are an extremely important component of the recovery process, and their roles are complex. Families need to learn how to meaningfully participate in recovery and realize that their acceptance will positively impact how a loved one responds.The Family Role in Recovery: Understanding the Illness and Embracing the Process by Wendy Brennan, M.S., NAMI New York City Metro Executive Director

It is difficult for family and friends to understand and cope with a loved one’s diagnosis.

But with greater care…

Greater research…

Greater reach…

Greater understanding…

There is greater hope.

 



Always delighting vs. peevish bemoaning

Sun

Sunrise 6:43 a.m. Chatham, MA

“Those who can repress complaints, murmurs and peevish bemoaning will really find that their little daily worries are turning into blessings.” – H.L. Sidney Lear

Release it here… toss it among the waves, hand it over to God and let him handle the business of life, which He tends to so much better.

So human.

So lacking.

So small in this big world.

sun2

And paradoxically, though this a seems self-deprecating and “weak” description, there is no better way to be here. There is no greater joy than to delight in the smallness of being human and enjoy the vastness of God.

In this Lenten season (February 13 – March 31) believers are reminded of the beauty of letting go… the grace involved in delicately releasing problems to the source of all love.

Believers are consoled that Jesus Christ, Himself, who came for people – preaching, teaching and healing – was drawn into the desert, tempted and disciplined in order to complete the calling on his life. He was not without human suffering – he was not without challenges – but he was obedient unto them… even unto death on a cross. So obedient was he to follow after the Lord that he turned all of Himself over so that others could see his submission to the Lord and it would live on and on as a testament to God. Whether one believes Christian theology or  not, one cannot deny it’s persistent presence throughout the ages and it’s ability to continue shedding light and mercy to those who would choose to better understand.

sun3

Whether you are a believer or not, you can take this example of Christ’s life as a metaphor for the daily strife and life struggles that no human is immune to. We often run away from our pain (avoidance) or seek to heal our own pain (self-medication) or cover-up our pain (over-compensation, denial, manipulation.)

A positive coping skill for dealing with pain would be a tactic employed to produce greater feelings of flexibility and positive health.

Positive copings skils:

A beloved hobby (sports, art, music, creative expression.)

Taking time outs from stress through a quick walk, relaxing stretches, short mediations or prayer, silent counting, calling a beloved friend or relative, writing in a journal.

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Other ideas for positive coping skills when dealing with life stress and change… anything that creates a feeling of spaciousness or peace in your life without negatively deteriorating your health or the well-being of those around you. 

Sun5When tempted in the wilderness…

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39




Valerie Rumfelt

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