This is the view from my front door this morning. Only during the barren, winter months can we see the water from our house. In the glory of Summer, the trees are full and block our view. Likewise, during the cold, barren winter seasons of our lives, we often see glimpses of God’s Glory and Majesty that are overlooked when everything is going great. Always look for His presence during the hard times, for He is always there.
Getting up in 2020
It’s been a great year of learning, trial and error, triumphs and defeats. I kept of few of last year’s resolutions, but not many. The list is long for each of us, as there are countless ways to improve our habits, health-wise and otherwise. But the number one thing I will strive for in 2020, and I encourage you to do the same, is to heed the healing words of Jesus: “GET UP and WALK!”
Whether your issue is a physical illness, a tragic accident, or being overwhelmed with depression/anxiety, grief, etc…. we simply cannot just “take to our beds”, give up or give in. We cannot melt away into our recliners and melt our brains and ambitions binge-watching unreality-TV. We cannot keep straining our necks and eyes on tablets and smart-phones for hours on end.
While we cannot always choose the cards we are dealt, we can always decide how to play our hand. Our attitude determines our outcome, time and time again. In John 5:6, Jesus asked the paralytic man, “Do you want to be made well?” At first glance it seems a silly question. Of course he wanted to be made well! Who wouldn’t? But the underlying question should be asked of each of us. What do we want, and how badly do we want it? What are we willing to do to improve our lives? And do we believe that we can?
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
I understand that bad things happen to good people, and genetics certainly play a role. Sometimes we have limitations that others do not possess. But I want to tell you about two of my elderly neighbors who I check on frequently. Both ladies are the same age. Both of them have had double knee-replacements. Both of them live alone. Each of them has a pet cat. The one lady is depressed and sulks because of her situation. She eats very little, and it is a fight to get her up and out of the recliner just to move over to the dinner table. She refuses to get dressed unless she has to go out for a doctor’s appointment. She spends every one of her waking hours watching a continuous news channel, or Hallmark movies… all of which she has seen two dozen times. She is just “waiting to die”.
The second lady has no computer, no smartphone, and gave up her television years ago. She gets dressed early every day. She loves to cook and have friends over. Her house stays clean, and unless it is raining, she can usually be found outside working in her yard trimming bushes, raking leaves, or hauling sticks and tree limbs to the back of her lot. She always greets me with a smile and never turns down a walk through the neighborhood. I want to be like her.
So of all the resolutions for 2020 that I can and will be making, the #1 thing that I MUST do is to GET UP! I will not wallow in my circumstances, no matter how depressing it may be. I will strive to eat healthier and exercise more. I will not be filled with wine or the cup of despair, but rather with the Spirit of the Living God. Daily will I praise His Name.
Did you know that taking a simple walk has been proven to be the BEST overall exercise for both our physical and mental health? Walking outdoors in the fresh air is even better! Research also claims that prolonged sitting can be just as detrimental to our health as smoking! (Jury is still out on that full claim.) So in the words of my adventurous, mountain-hiking nephew, “Turn off your TV and go outside!”
Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. (John 5:8-9)
He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” (Mark 2:10-11)
Just Don’t OVER-Do It!
Today is the first time in four months that I have been able to sit still, assemble my collected thoughts and put them on paper (or electronic device). Considering the fact that I have a blog, albeit a grossly-unattended one, this is completely unacceptable. Whether I write for profit, inspiration, or my own medication… I must write. It is who I am. It is what I do. I am taking time for myself today, a proverbial “mental health day”, which actually benefits spirit, mind and body.
“You can’t pour from an empty cup.”
And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. (Mark 6:31)
Life gets busy, and I have been busy; but busy doing what? I have been busy doing life: working, cleaning, shopping, and balancing checkbooks. I have been keeping check on neighbors, my car engine light, and my thyroid levels. I vacuum almost every day due to that loveable, 55-pound four-legged fur-ball we adopted, and my husband’s allergies. They are completely worth it, but I applaud and give heartfelt thanks to my light-weight Oreck vacuum cleaner, and for Rosie, the Roomba-Robot. I have apparently not, however, been busy enough dusting the furniture. But I digress …
With a mere six weeks remaining in this calendar year, I reflect back on the past 11 months, and the promises I made to myself. You know, those so-called resolutions we all make but seldom keep. I have not gone to the gym as routinely as I intended, and not at all since early summer. I have not yet designed new t-shirts for our ministry. And I have not recorded the weekly videos for the ministry You-Tube channel, as intended. I have not lost those last 15 pounds, nor have I abstained from all things sweet-n-starchy, as intended. And I have not, alas, finished that third book I planned to publish by the end of this year, nor have I started it. I am not lazy and I am not a failure. I am overwhelmed.
Resolutions. Plans. Noble intentions. We all have them as we should. I believe it is imperative and healthy to “write the vision” and set new goals. Taking on new challenges can be educational and rewarding. But how about we take inventory of our lives and assess ourselves accordingly? I recently did this (again), and hung my head in shame. Or perhaps it was mere exhaustion, but my gaze was downcast nonetheless. Not very fitting for a motivational/inspirational writer/preacher/teacher gal.
The above-stated inventory contains three unprofitable income stream attempts, 27 Facebook groups (four of which I moderate), and six Facebook pages to manage. I have a stack of unread books by my “quiet-time” chair, and random paperwork strewn across the “to be filed” corner of my desk. I have furniture piled high in the garage waiting to be polished or painted for the “Robin’s Nest” booth. Did I mention the used furniture/home decor store I opened in late summer? Much of my free time has been spent in building and collecting that inventory, but that venture has been a pure joy and a fun hobby that my husband and I do together. If we continue, it promises to be profitable for us and the ministry. But it does take time.
Nike coined the phrase that has become the motivational mantra of our generation: “Just Do It!” The problem lies when we try to just do it all. We often spread ourselves too thin with those resolutions, plans, good intentions and new ventures, leaving precious little time for the most important things: 1) Prayer/Spiritual life; 2) Family & Friends; 3) Physical/Mental Health; and 4) our true gifts and calling.
So after a night of prayerful reflection and meditation (I have become a chronic insomniac), I return to the resolution I made on January 1st of this year: Prioritize. Eliminate the things/activities that hinder the more important things. Just say “no” to the unprofitable time-wasters. Focus on my health, my family, and the work that God has called me to. If it does not move me toward my goals, it has to go. I must “just say ‘no’.”
In my first writing class nearly 30 years ago, the instructor emphasized this one thing that we should adhere to: “Find what you do, and do it well.” This will require pruning and just saying “no” to many things. It will require consolidating and utilizing better time management. It will require living everyday life with intent and purpose, and prayerful focus. It will require simplifying and downsizing. But I can do this. We can do this. We must do this, for our own sanity and sense of accomplishment.
Now, let’s just do it!
Re-Building the Temple
I was recently back home for two consecutive weekends, and both times my older sister asked me to join her on a morning walk. Both times I had to decline because I knew I could not keep up, but it motivated me to do better!
Back home, my idea of a walk consisted of driving to the park, taking a 15-20 minute loop around the track, then driving back and stopping at Dari-O to “reward” myself with ice cream for going on said walk. But my big sis is now taking a loop through the park as a small part of her one-hour long walk all over town! Again, I knew I could not go that far and that long without getting incredibly light-headed and possibly fainting. I blame my Hashimoto’s and low iron for this, but I am tired of being the victim.
So today, I start rebuilding my stamina! I have done a 20-minute walk in my neighborhood, and jumped on my mini-tramp for 10 minutes. That does not sound like much, but I am winded.
I took my iron supplement, drank my green smoothie (with spinach and Avon Espira powder greens), and am now starting on my first 30-oz Yeti cup of water consumption for the day. (I try to drink three of these a day.)
It is so easy to simply say, “I don’t feel well, and I need to rest”, which is true. Rest is a key part of the fitness equation. But the Bible says that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit wherein He dwells. I must take better care of it! Besides, if I do not have my health and stamina, physical and spiritual, I am no match for the devil, and certainly no use for the Kingdom.
Today, I start re-building the temple. What will you do with yours?
Do you not know that you are the temple of God
and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
1 Corinthians 3:16
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Shop Avon Espira Power Greens here:
The Voice of Daddy
My second book is now available on Amazon! This is a true story detailing my Daddy’s “near death experience” back in 1983. They lost him during a routine surgery, and he briefly saw heaven, his daddy, and Jesus! He spoke with a few other relatives, and then was told he had to return for a little while. He recorded what he saw on an old cassette tape, and died 3 months later. I discovered that tape 14 years later.
This book is written to offer assurance of heaven, help heal grieving hearts, erase all fear of death and dying, and to make certain that you know where you will be spending eternity!
Get your copy today at the link below!
The Voice of Daddy on Amazon.com!
A Vision of Vultures
I had a strange dream the other night, which was more like a vision. Looking out over my backyard, high above the tree line, was a circle of vultures against a bright, blue sky. We see them occasionally here, and it usually means that something out there in the woods is dead. I awoke and the Lord spoke to me ever so clearly. In this vision, the dark vultures represented dark spirits, or the demonic host. Daily they watch and circle, hovering over the unsaved souls of the earth, lost and dying in their sins. They watch and wait, ready to devour each unbelieving and unsuspecting soul. As soon as that poor lost one breathes his last earthly breath, they will dive in and grab hold, tormenting and picking him apart for all of eternity.
He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
This vision and the revelation of its meaning was a vivid reminder of how urgently we must share the Good News of the life-saving Gospel of Jesus Christ! It matters not who the person is, where they come from, or what they may have done. We should pray and intercede for their salvation as urgently as we would pull them from a burning building! Our hearts should ache for the lost, and our prayers should be that all will hear and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
… to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the
power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an
inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.
The image is dark and frightening, and we should be frightened for anyone who does not know Christ as his/her Lord and Savior. But as long as there is breath, there is hope! Pray for your lost loved ones, and rebuke the power and influence of the enemy over their lives in Jesus’ Name! May the Holy Spirit draw them to Himself, to be forgiven, and to live with Him in paradise forever and ever!
For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Daddy’s Glimpse of Heaven
I’ve been seeing a lot of Facebook posts lately stating that seeing someone you love take their last breath is horrible, and an image you will never forget. I disagree with the horrible part, as long as that person knows Jesus! I was with both my grandfather and my mother as they each discarded their earthly bodies and entered into the presence of the Lord. (2 Cor. 5:8) Yes, I miss them! Yes, it’s hard not being able to talk to them again. But I am thankful that I was with them during those last few moments. I did not get a chance to say good-bye to my Daddy, who passed away two weeks after I graduated from high school. I SO wanted to have that chance to say a few more things to him… mostly how much I loved and appreciated him. But I know where he is, and I know where my grandfather and my mother are!
You see, a few months before my Daddy died for real, he had one of those “near death” experiences as they call them. Oh, he actually died alright, and he got a brief glimpse of heaven, speaking with Jesus Himself! He had to come back for a short time, but he really didn’t want to. Hearing his story gave me peace and comfort when he DID move on to his heavenly home that I otherwise would not have had. It also gave me a greater peace when I lost my mother years later, and many other saved loved ones since.
So now I feel led to share my Daddy’s story – one of hope and strength and comfort and love, and NO FEAR! I am writing it now, and pray it will comfort a multitude who have also lost loved ones. Pray that I get it finished and printed quickly, for the need is great.
Shall I Whisper?
Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad. (Proverbs 21:25)
Though they seem like polar opposites, anxiety & depression often go hand-in-hand, and the Bible confirms that. Did you know that anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications are some of the most often-prescribed drugs in America? Did you know that anxiety and depression are the leading causes of drug abuse and subsequent addictions? Did you know that there are many wonderful natural alternatives for treating both anxiety and depression?
We know that Jesus gives us His peace that passes understanding; and fills our hearts with joy unspeakable! His Word is a lamp to our feet an a light to our paths. (Psalm 119:105) Our bodies were made for movement, and exercise is a natural anti-depressant. Getting out in the sunshine is also a natural mood-lifter, as it supplies Vitamin D, which combats depression. There are many things we can do to ease our anxiety as well: deep breathing exercises, walking, and listening to soft music.
However, there is a new phenomenon out now that many doctors are recommending for calming anxiety, called “ASMR”. That officially stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, which http://www.dictionary.com describes as: “a calming, pleasurable feeling often accompanied by a tingling sensation. This tingle is said to originate in a person’s head and spread to the spine (and sometimes the limbs) in response to stimulation. The stimuli that trigger ASMR vary from person to person. Some of the most common ones include whispers, white noise, having a person’s complete attention (as in having one’s hair cut by a hairdresser), as well as brushing, chewing, tapping, scratching, whispering and crinkling.”
There are a lot of strange and interesting ASMR videos out on YouTube, and many of them have reportedly helped thousands with insomnia. Yes, I said thousands. One particular young lady has over two million subscribers to her channel entitled “ASMR Darling”.
I have actually experienced these ASMR sensations before many times, but had no idea there was a name for it. I certainly had no idea that people were making YouTube video’s to offer the same effect. Soft sounds such as the ticking of a clock, a gentle whisper or touch, or the sound of soft footsteps have been “triggers” for me. Everyone loves pampering, and when someone brushes or plays with my hair…. well, you get it. Having dealt with anxiety and insomnia myself, I checked out some of the ASMR videos, and am intrigued.
Admittedly, a few of them seem a bit strange, as I acclimate to watching a video of someone whispering to me. Many of them mimic touching you (the camera) with gentle touches to the face, or hair. For some, the sound of hair being brushed just does it for them. Unfortunately, there are a few that seemed a bit too far out there, and the occasional one was a bit too “sensual” in nature for my taste.
I was thrilled to find some channels categorized as “Christian ASMR”. Is this a real thing? Is it safe for a Christian to expose themselves to? Here we find soft whispering of actual scriptures being read. Positive, calming affirmations from the Word of God truly does heal, and brings a peace and calm like nothing else. My wheels began to turn.
I already do the occasional preaching/inspirational video. I have a group on Facebook dedicated to natural health remedies, and counsel countless individuals struggling with anxiety and depression. Should I make my own Christian ASMR videos? Would you watch?
Raise Your Gaze!
I admit it: I get homesick sometimes. Some days this beach-girl misses the salt and sand so much I can hardly stand it. I found myself longing for the past recently, and wondering, “What am I doing here?”
Over the last few days we’ve been doing some serious grading in our yard which has created quite the mess! It has rained nearly every day since the new year, and the red clay of the upstate has turned to sludge-mud (which we could not even stand up in)… and it is EVERYWHERE! Our clothes are stained, our boots are covered, and our white dog has turned orange. Our patio, garage, and half of our towels are covered as well. We have been digging holes and planting new trees and bushes, and I reflected back on our well-manicured lawn at our old house in Conway, replete with dozens of vibrant knock-out roses, white fence, and swimming pool in the back yard. I mused that even the sandy dirt that our dog tracked in there was much easier to clean than this blessed red sludge!
This morning I stood at my kitchen window sipping my morning coffee, looking out over the back yard and the mess that had been created. The sun was shining brightly upon the slow-drying square that Ed finally got leveled out yesterday. Weather permitting, there will soon be a concrete pad poured over that mud pit, and a new pool erected that a precious neighbor is gifting us. Eventually, we will pressure-wash all the mud off of the patio that we just recently laid down ourselves. Yes, we do all these projects ourselves on our limited budget. I raised my gaze up toward the back of the yard and there it was: The remaining cross beam in the old, dilapidated house in the woods behind our property, standing tall and strong, overlooking our domain.
I smiled as I was instantly reminded that our Lord brought us to this place, and He is still with us. He put us in this marvelous home just two days after selling our home in Conway. We could not have asked for a nicer house on a safer street with any more privacy than where we are, moving into a city we knew absolutely nothing about! Ed’s job is going better than ever, and I am slowly getting more part-time hours which helps, but still allows me time to write and hopefully return to fulltime preaching eventually. He allowed the rain which softened the yard for our necessary digging, and has now brought out the sun and gentle breezes so we may dry out (and recover) from our tedious (and messy) labors. He truly is in complete control of this thing, and I need not worry nor fret, nor long for the “days of old”. He did not lead us this far to desert us; He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us.
Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you
have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
So let me encourage you today that no matter how discouraged you may be; no matter how dreary things may look; no matter how dirty and stained your life may seem right now… RAISE YOUR GAZE! Lift up your eyes and know that God has this, and He has you! He watches over you day and night, and truly is in complete control. Surrender every aspect of your life to Him, and breathe easy. Stop looking down at your situation, your problems, and your mess. Don’t focus on the muck beneath your feet, but raise your gaze, and release your praise! The God of this universe who created the sand and the mud, and the luscious green grass, the rain and the sun, the beaches, the mountains and the tall trees of the forests, has you, dear child, in the palm of His hand. You are an intricate part of His amazing plan for the ages.
I will lift up my eyes to the hills – from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your
foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.
Am I There Yet?
Ralph Waldo Emerson penned the famous declaration, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” Stephen Tyler of Aerosmith brought the phrase to a new generation when he recorded it in a hit song back in the 90’s. Today, this sentiment still rings true for me, as it should for you!
My Facebook Memories reminded me that “on this day” seven years ago, I began a new job at Novant Health in Winston-Salem as an Insurance Specialist. This fulltime gig came with great pay and benefits, and I was set! The secure position within this large corporation enabled me to purchase a new car; something I had not been able to do for some time. I made friends quickly as I learned a new side of the industry. Within weeks I was clearing my accounts and getting nods from my supervisor. I was able to tithe generously to the small church I was pastoring, and life was good. I started squirreling away money into the company’s 401(k), and I determined that this would be my spot until retirement. This would actually work out well for me!
My new friend and trainer who sat next to me began to tell me how she used to work for one of the insurance companies that we at the hospital had to contact on a regular basis. Imagine my surprise when I learned that this same insurance company (Tricare) had a large office located in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina! What a dream that would be, to work for that insurance company and live at my most favorite place in the whole world! But I was set, and that was only a dream.
About six months later I visited my long-time friend down at Myrtle Beach and attended her church that Sunday morning. I was introduced to several of her church friends, including a sweet lady who worked in the Human Resources Department of the Tricare office! Was that a coincidence, or a divine appointment? We exchanged emails and kept in touch for a few months. And then I got the call: “We’re hiring!”
I applied online, and scored an interview that November. I was hired in December, and in January I returned to my beloved Myrtle Beach. I was now taking calls from Novant Health and other facilities, having been trained on the flip side of the industry. If not for my friend and co-worker at Novant, I would not have even known about Tricare’s office there. Had I not gone to church with my beach-bestie, I would not have met the friend in their Human Resources office. I had a fulltime job and was living in Myrtle Beach. I was set!
I quickly settled in at church and as a minister, offered to coordinate a new Singles’ ministry there. Later that summer, August 11, 2013 to be exact, the pastor had me stand up as he introduced me to the congregation, inviting any “unmarried” men and women to talk with me after the service. Imagine my surprise when a tall, dark and handsome man approached me, asking, “Are you Robin?” I wanted to respond with, “Are you SINGLE?” but I kept my composure. That is the day I met the man I would fall in love with, and marry a year later. We bought a house and a boat, and we were set!
We enjoyed beach life for five years, and then the Lord opened a door through my husband’s work for us to relocate again, out to Lake Hartwell. We sold our home in just 24 hours, and bought our new house at the lake two days later. It was a whirlwind move, but we will soon celebrate our second year here in the upstate of South Carolina! Are we set and settled? Only the good Lord knows. But I have learned that each new thing, each new job, each new address, is a divine appointment and glorious stop on this journey we call “life”. Each new opportunity is not a dead-end, but rather an unforeseen portal into the next great adventure! I have also learned that while I love each and every place I have lived, this world is not my home. I’m just traveling through, and making the most of every mile along this incredible journey!
So be encouraged! That job, that house, that neighbor, that contact, that random stranger on the street…might just be a hidden stepping stone toward something unimaginable!