“Still Working, and Not Worried”

One day on my morning walk, I was contemplating what a mess we human beings have made of this world.

The feeling, as I thought of the latest news (don’t remember what exactly triggered this), was anxiety.

Into these thoughts, into this worry, came an inner “voice,” an impression of words on my spirit: “I am still working, and I am not worried.” Immanuel, breaking into my life again.

The tone was quite cheerful. Confident. “I am still working, and I am not worried.”

“Look up Mark 4,” came next.

I didn’t remember exactly what was in Mark 4, so I looked it up.

I immediately knew the two passages Immanuel’s words were based on.

First, the parable of the farmer (Mark 4:26-29). It’s short, I’ll quote it:

26 And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. 27 He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. 28 The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

The seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself” . . . “I am still working. Whether I see it or not, whether I understand how he’s working or not, God is still working. In the world, in me, in my children.

Despite whatever it is going on around me, God is in control and he is always working.

God also told me he’s not worried. Picture Jesus, asleep on a cushion in a storm-tossed boat (Mark 4:35-41). “Jesus, don’t you care that we’re about to die?” the disciples cry out. (Sort of like I was subconsciously thinking on my walk: “Jesus, do you see what a mess we’re making of this world? Don’t you care that we’re destroying your planet and each other?”)

Jesus gets up and calms the storm  He wasn’t worried . . . because he knew who he was and what he can do.

Do we know those things? Truly, deep in our hearts?

Those cheerful, confident words to me that morning come back to me often, when I’m tempted to think God doesn’t care about whatever it is I’m worried about.

I’m still working,  and I’m not worried.”

As radio teacher Steve Brown always said,  “You think about that.”

 

Thanksgiving–The Healthiest Holiday

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. What could be better than a whole day devoted to food, friendship, and gratitude?

In fact, Thanksgiving is actually the healthiest holiday we have. And I’m not just talking about the turkey and the side dishes.

Thanksgiving is the healthiest holiday because the benefits of gratitude are measurable.

In a WebMD feature, Elizabeth Heubeck summarized some of the health benefits of giving thanks. University of California Davis psychology professor Robert Emmons conducted a study on gratitude, finding that grateful people–those who perceive gratitude as a permanent trait rather than a temporary state of mind–have an edge on the not-so-grateful when it comes to health. “Grateful people take better care of themselves and engage in more protective health behaviors like regular exercise, a healthy diet, regular physical examinations,” Emmons told WebMD.

Gratitude acts as a stress buster. An inability to deal with stress is attributed to up to 90 percent of all doctor visits, and is linked to several leading causes of death, including heart disease and cancer. “Gratitude research is beginning to suggest that feelings of thankfulness have a tremendous positive value in helping people cope with daily problems, especially stress,” Emmons says.

I know this to be true in my own life. I keep what I call my “gifts journal,” noting the things that felt like gifts on a given day. As I thank God for these gifts, my focus changes from any problems I may have to the love that inspired such gifts of grace. I can tell you, this one simple action has totally transformed my life. Not only did it cure me of a postpartum depression years ago, but it has continued to relieve stress and be the source of much joy and strength.

Gratitude acts as an immune booster. When you’re grateful, you also tend to be optimistic. According to Lisa Aspinwall, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Utah, “There are some very interesting studies linking optimism to better immune function.” In one, researchers compared the immune systems of healthy, first-year law students under stress. They round that, by midterm, the students characterized as optimistic (based on survey responses) maintained a higher number of white blood cells (which protect the immune system), compared with their more pessimistic classmates.

Optimism also has a positive health impact on people whose health is already compromised. In separate studies, patients with AIDS, as well as those preparing to undergo surgery, had better health outcomes when they maintained attitudes of optimism.

So as you partake of the wonderfully healthy foods of Thanksgiving, I hope you’ll also take time to feed your soul and strengthen your body by recounting all the things you’re grateful for.

And don’t stop at Thanksgiving Day, either! (I have s sample journal you can use to keep track of your “abundant gifts” throughout the year. )

For more health benefits of gratitude, visit my Healing Heart Issues blog for an article on the latest research:

Still a Time for Miracles …

Vonnie, a pianist and one of my clients, shared with me an incredible true story that happened to her the week before Christmas. I thought it was a perfect reminder that God is a God of miracles, any time of the year.

For years I have almost been crippled with this stabbing sensation of fear just before going on stage to perform. Even though the concerts with my group usually went well, I was a complete wreck inside before and all during the performances. No one ever had a clue how much I was suffering & would often tell me I appeared completely professional on stage.

A couple of weeks ago, I had been working on the custom Healing Code Diane gave me for the fear of making mistakes in a performance. I had not had a lot of time for practicing for this particular performance and was quite stressed about it, but the night of, by some miracle (thank you God through the Healing Codes), I actually felt calm and prepared.

However, I was not prepared for what happened at the end of the concert. Continue reading “Still a Time for Miracles …”

In God’s Providential Care

I lay down and slept,
yet I woke up in safety,
for the LORD was watching over me.
–Psalm 3:5m NLT

A good friend of mine, Cathy, had a near brush with death a few months ago. Here is her story.

On October 25, 2011 I had a heart attack.

The problem was, I didn’t know it was a heart attack.  Women, pay attention!  It’s true that our symptoms can be VERY different.  I woke up somewhere around 2:00 AM with ‘discomfort’ in the middle of my chest.  It was so minor that I told myself to go back to sleep.  I couldn’t.  So I got up and went to the living room wondering what it could be.  It was not pain, pressure, indigestion – just an uncomfortable ‘sensation’.

Here is the Angel part.  I decided to call a good friend who lives close to me.  I dialed her number and it rang twice and I got a fast busy signal.  Hmmm – I tried again, paying particular attention to the digits I was dialing.  I got a busy signal.  I thought about it a bit more and decided to dial 911.  I didn’t even know what I was going to say but when the dispatcher answered I told him I THOUGHT I MIGHT be having a heart attack.  Where did those words come from?  They were not in my consciousness before I said them.  When I got to the hospital I asked them to call my friend and they got right through.  She looked later and I didn’t even show up on her caller id!

IF I had gotten her on the phone, we would have talked about it some, then she would have gotten up, put on some clothes and came here.  By the time that would have taken, I was in the ambulance (they took 5 minutes to get here from the time I was talking to the dispatcher) and I already had an EKG, nitro, aspirin and an IV and we were flying, lights and sirens, to the hospital.  I was furious that I could not get her but later realized that it might have saved my life that I could NOT get her on the phone.  Thank you God!

Be encouraged; the heavenly Father and his angels are not only watching over Cathy, but you as well.

If you have a story of God’s care or a miracle, feel free to share it below or send it to diane at abundant-gifts.com.

What a Mere Smile Could Have Done

In my work now, helping people heal their “heart issues”, I hear some incredibly sad stories.

Stories of nearly unspeakable cruelty, doled out by people who themselves are damaged.

You and I walk among wounded people. Some people hide their scars pretty well. Some do not.

One man told of being at a church gathering. Because of health issues and a son with major difficulties, the man has been on disability, unable to work. At the gathering, the usual, “So, what do you do for a living?” question was asked. The man had no ready answer. As he stumbled through the truth, he noted how the other men looked away, not sure how to handle such honesty.

The man never wanted to go back to that group again. Acceptance? No. He felt judged and dismissed. Yet another incident to add to his pile of “I’m unworthy” belief.

I heard a story told about a young woman who ended her life by jumping off a bridge. When police went through her pockets, looking for a clue as to why she did it, they found a note.

“If only one person had smiled at me today,  I would not have jumped.”

A simple smile would have saved her life.

A simple smile and a “That must be a hard place to be right now” could have turned my client’s uncomfortable situation into an experience of acceptance.

Take the time to look into someone’s eyes today and smile. Take a moment to really listen to what a person says, and let your heart form words of acceptance, of life.

Realize that nobody has their act together. We are all walking wounded, to some extent. We all long for the same things: acceptance, significance, peace, love. Hope.

Just a smile can give a small measure of these things to someone else. Energy is exchanged. I believe that positive always wins. Light always drives away darkness, never the other way around.

Give the “abundant gift” of a simple smile. A few words of affirmation and acceptance. Turn the light on.

It just may save a life.

Good Friday Message (On Parenting)

One day in church–it was  Good Friday, actually– I was sitting in the back of the church and a dad was quietly explaining what was going on to his young son. I thought, “I never did that with my kids. No wonder they say they don’t believe in God now.” I felt guilty, and confessed my failure as a parent.

God’s reaction took me by surprise. Very distinctly in my spirit, I sensed him say, nonplussed, “Of course you failed.”

He added, “I don’t expect anything else. That’s why I died. And remember, I rose, and it’s all okay, because I’M the one who makes it okay.

“You are forgiven….”

So I know we’ll survive, and it’s my own perfectionism (and pride) that thinks I can be anything but a failure. It’s not that I’m beating myself up about it; quite the opposite.

I’m free to fail, as a parent or in any other way, because I am a sinner and Jesus is the one who took care of sin, once and for all. So now I’m forgiven and can stand in the truth that he can redeem anything.

If only I believe … but even then, if I don’t believe “enough,” that’s okay, because I can’t do that either, and Jesus believes for me.

Isn’t Jesus wonderful?

That was my personal Good Friday sermon.

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How (and Why) God Gave Us a Free Car

My family has always been rather fortunate with cars. We have never spent more than $10,000 out of our own pocket, and two of the cars were, essentially, free.  (My very first car was free; the story is in Abundant Gifts. )

Our latest car was not only free, but has an amazing story with it that shows something of God’s mercy and ability to make much out of little.

Perhaps one of the reasons we have been so fortunate with cars is, Continue reading “How (and Why) God Gave Us a Free Car”

A Birthday Gift from God

Since my birthday is on Christmas Day,  sometimes I decide to celebrate it later.  This past Christmas was so hectic and stressful, I’d decided to designate another day.

So it’s today. January 28.  I didn’t want it to be too far after the real date, or it wouldn’t happen. Made that mistake once. One year I never had a birthday. (Does this mean I’m a year younger?)

It’s just the morning, but God already has given me a sweet gift. Continue reading “A Birthday Gift from God”

Is the Smooth Way the Safest, Really?

It was the first snow of the season.

Beautiful.

And treacherous, as it turned out.

As I embarked on my morning walk with my Bishon, Millie, the snow was still coming down, muffling the world with quiet.

I passed my neighbors as they cleaned off their driveway. “Be careful,” warned Greg. “It’s slippery. The Big Guy already went down. Hard.”

“The Big Guy” was the man who walked, seemingly almost always at the same time I did, even when I changed the time. He was known as sort of a grump, but he often said hi to me because we seemed to share the same dedication to walking every single day, at the same time.

I picked my way carefully, but I did slip a couple of times. A few hundred yards  from my house, I passed “the Big Guy.” “Slippery,” I said. “I already went down,” he said. “Are you ok?” “Yes.”

So I walked on. I soon realized, after paying attention to where it was I slipped, that it was the smooth places that were most treacherous.

The rough places that were not cleared away were actually the safest.

It hit me: Continue reading “Is the Smooth Way the Safest, Really?”

Giving Thanks for the Tough Stuff

Giving thanks for obvious blessings is not difficult. Giving thanks for the tough stuff, the things that look like anything but blessings, takes real faith.

I’ve written on another Thanksgiving about giving thanks for what I call “disguised gifts” in Abundant Gifts. I wrote that when we give thanks for things that don’t seem on the surface like good things, our faith opens the way for God to turn it into a blessing.

Some things we experience are downright painful, and part of living in this broken world. Death,  for instance, is an enemy that Jesus himself cried over (then conquered and transformed).

There are other kinds of pain I think God allows into our lives because his ultimate goal is for  healing. Continue reading “Giving Thanks for the Tough Stuff”