Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Look Up, Look Down, Look All Around

Look up, look down, look all around...
and hope will be found...
in God alone.

That's not quite the version we sang as children, but it's just something that flowed from my heart as I began this sixth chapter titled "Look Up: Hope in God, My Soul." Check what others took from this chapter by going to Lelia's. Or sit back and reap whatever encouragement I can sow to you, dear ones.

Unshakable and fearless that's to be desired. Not falling into despair.

We can be:
~Overcome with fear
~Shaken by doubt
~Bonded in guilt
~Intimidated by despair

Or we can be:
~Grounded in hope
~Anchored by hope
~Living full of hope
~Clinging to hope

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Psalm 42:5

Many times in the busyness of the day, I can feel something not right within me. I have to literally stop and ask myself what is the piece of sand rubbing in my shell. I, then, can recognize it again--oh yeah--I'm hurt over a friend's comment, I'm worried over a relative's spiritual state, I'm self-conscious about a conversation, I'm regretful over a harsh word, I'm bothered by an insensitive reaction...whatever it is, my heart must stop and face it again. Instead of letting the busyness of the day cover it.

Jennifer says "Christians who have every reason to hope experience feelings of hopelessness." Though the examples previously given do not cause me to feel despair and hopelessness, I do feel overcome with these feelings more times than not regarding more serious situations. Along with that, comes the guilt of knowing I have so much for which to be thankful and hopeful, yet...yet, I can be filled with sadness, disappointment, blues, depression, despair, and hopelessness...shamefully so, for me.

Emerson wrote "Life is a train of moods like a string of beads." However, I want my string to be made of unshakeable and unbreakable material. A string that is worn and torn is likely to break dispersing all the beads on the floor. God is my string. He will not break. He will not be shaken. Our beads will be secure on the string of God. He can keep our moods in tact. He can keep our beads together.

Jennifer gives a wonderful illustration of us being like a table with four even and sturdy legs: emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual.

Emotional Leg
Emotions can: give false conclusions, take over, cause despair, enslave, deplete.
Instead they should: serve, strengthen, compliment the truth.

"Our problems usually have less to do with our circumstances than with the way we choose to feel about them." Amen, sister. You speak right to my heart and convict me. I know this is so true for me. I can get wrapped up in my feelings of: worry, fear, what ifs, uncertainty, sadness, concern, hurt, etc. However, this is really just all in vain. I do not need to worry over my future. It doesn't matter. All that matters is that I am in my Father's Hands. Period. Worrying past that is just ridiculous. Plum ri-dic-u-lous!

Physical Leg
Jennifer mentioned the three basic components of our physical leg: rest, food, and exercise. If we examine each of these, we an see they all boil down to two things: discipline and desire. We have to discipline ourselves to get adequate rest. We have to discipline ourselves to eat healthy. We have to discipline ourselves to exercise regularly. We must also desire to do each of these, or rather, desire the results of them. The health of our soul and thought life does have much to do with our physical state. Our bodies are His temples.

Mental Leg
Jennifer shares "With way too much idle mental time, I overanalyzed my marriage and husband. The results were unreasonable expectations, despair, and frustration." Oh how I can see me in that. I remember so many nights I would ask beloved if he minded we watch Wheel of Fortune as I felt bored. He questioned whether I was bored with him. I now see it was my need to be mentally challenged. (Some may think I'm mentally challenged but that's beside the point...I mean to be challenged mentally, stay with me now.) In reflection, I see my mind was craving challenge. I needed my mind to work, to figure, to solve. Mentally, my mind seems to be at its best and fulfilled when I'm extremely busy at work. The down times can be torture on my brain. In the latter of my marriage, I now can see how I was playing solitaire and computer games to challenge my brain. I wasn't active in Bible studies or small groups so I didn't get challenged there. My mind is now being challenged with so many things: two Bible studies, faithful Bible reading, and continual thoughts of words to write for the Lord. Jennifer states this leg is the one frequently neglected. That is easy to see

Spiritual Leg
"When the spiritual leg of your table isn't secure, the weakness isn't always obvious. This seems to be the invisible leg, but it is really the weight-bearing leg of the table." I hear ya now, Jenn. My weakness in my marriage wasn't obvious to me either as it involved my spiritual leg. Mine was off-kilter and boy did the symptoms show up in my other three legs. In retrospect, I can see how my spiritual needs weren't met and everything failed in me physically, emotionally, and mentally. I see in each of these areas where I had major issues and ailments as a result of my spiritual leg becoming very unstable and shaky. (No sleep, illnesses, extreme moods, intense stress...I could go on.)

The deepest longing of my soul was to commune more closely with God. When that wasn't happening I looked to the other three legs, only to be frustrated and disappointed because they could not substitute my need of a closer walk with God.

Our Table
Once our four legs are secure, our table will be solid. Then, we must choose hope. Jennifer's section on 'Hope in God' was very convicting to me. By not purposely choosing hope, I'm choosing despair by default. No, wait, I don't want the default. Why in the world would I, you, we willingly choose despair over hope? We shouldn't. We can't anticipate hope will cause a burst of optimism but it can most definitely shift our focus onto the potential. That's a definite start, amen?!

God's Promises
What promises from God do you need to remind your soul of to help you not lose hope?
These are only a few of the promises that first came to mind. May they give you some encouragement also.
~He is good to us as we wait on Him. Lam. 3:25
~He has plans and hope for us. Jer. 29:11
~He will work for our good. Rom. 8:28
~He will direct our paths. Prov. 3:6
~What He's joined together no man can separate. Matt. 19:6
~He is sovereign and in control. Psalm 3:19

I'm attaching my hope in God to the promises of God. How about you? Do you have some promises from God on which you can cling? Cling tight!
Hoping in Him,

I hope you can see the detail in the ice on my bush. The snow storm caused a lot of chaos but boy did it provide a lot of beauty. Click on it to enlarge. Magnificent.


skoots1mom said...

gorgeous pic!! I love what ice makes for our eyes but hate what it does sometimes...especially when it takes down a tree or a power line...
loved your post!

Runner Mom said...

This was so powerful! I am sure that God wanted you in this study...your words are just touching my heart!

Your picture on the sidebar is precious! As are you! Remind me again which college you're at...my son received info from one in IN., and I think it might be yours!


Nicole said...

Great post! The section about idle time and needing mental challenge has me thinking. I feel like I'm reading this book just by your overview. Well done.


Sheryl said...

wonderful picture!!

that piece of sand you say that you have rubbing inside the shell...it will turn into a pearl eventually. i believe you are well on your way.

andi said...

I love the picture...it was in the 70s here today, so it made me smile to see ice. Thanks for your encouragement!

Pam said...

i love the picture! the best thing about it is that this time it was NOT on my tree!! it is amazing though!

I am with you on this post. walking it out along side!

Sharon said...

Heyyyy, Yep I just got my Paula fix and I thank You for it.
I am just like you in this Wow when you spoke of the wheel of fortune that is me, I enjoy the challenge and my hubby says why do we have to watch this, I do say I like the challenge, then comes jeopardy, I am awful at that but I get excited when they have bible questions, now brad has been getting into jeopardy he likes it when he can guess the answers. I don't think I am bored I just like the show. Are you sure you are just bored? :) or did you realllly loike the show too? :)
I pray that I will conquer the physical leg, I have the sleeping problem going on, I just don't sleep.
I remember when our spirtual leg was cooked and ready to just fall off, but one thing I did learn was I had to change myself, once I started this the leg got stronger and stronger until it stands on it's own. I use to challenge myself in wanting to change everybody and everything around me, As I got deeper in the word and really started getting revelation word I saw myself and what I needed to change, as I changed so has everyone and everything around me.
Am I making sence here! hahaha!
I feel as though all four legs are steady on the floor, but would I get up on this table and dance on it to see how steady it is NO WAY!
It's something I have to keep working on. I want God to remind me to Relax he is in control, that he is giving me the peace I need to do all things and the strength I need to conquer this busy life style that we live in.
I love you and so appreciate what your heart writes. I can always relate. You always have my mind going a mile a minute after reading your posts.
Thank You again for another Ms. Paula fix it!
Have a Blessed day my friend
Love ya
Ohhhh yea you like my new blog look! :) I like it too, I love what the backgrounds say.

sure my post makes sense hahaha

Sue said...

This was my favorite chapter so far. I enjoyed reading your post about it, too. It was timely for me, because I am in a situation with my church, that I'm in the process of leaving, where if these things had happened a few years ago, I would be in despair.

God has already prepared me for this in other ways, too, but this group and study are blessing me, and helping me see the ways God has given me reasons to have hope, and I'm actually relieved and looking forward to seeing where He leads me.


grey like snuffie said...

"All that matters is that I am in my Father's Hands. Period. Worrying past that is just ridiculous. Plum ri-dic-u-lous!" Loved it!

I have conversations with myself and "we" discuss how ridiculous what I'm feeling is...most of the time when I speak out what I'm thinking I realize THAT IS NOT WHO GOD IS!

Angela Simon said...

It is the first time I have visited your blogI read some of your post and I felt uplifted. Thank you for the post.

Liz said...

Thank you for your wise and insightful words! Isn't it wonderful when we take the time to keep all three legs strengthened? I rejoice with you in the work the Lord is doing!
And the tree...awesome! It makes my skin bump up with chills just looking at it. Thanks for sharing it.

Pamela (His maidservant) said...

Paula-you commented on my blog today: "I wait in anticipation of what He will do in my "tomorrow". Oh, yes, Lord, make Yourself known to me in spectacular ways. Bring it on, Lord. I'm all ears, all eyes for You".
I so know this is your heart and that as his maidservant you are indeed waiting and searching and your tomorrow will be the blessing you so deserve. You are in your Fathers hands! Keep anticipating!!!

You are such a sweet blessing!

In His Graces~Pamela

Carol said...

Hi Sweets,

I love the ice picture. I don't get to see things like that out here.

What a wonderful post. So much of your heart in it, and what you said here "Jennifer's section on 'Hope in God' was very convicting to me. By not purposely choosing hope, I'm choosing despair by default. No, wait, I don't want the default. Why in the world would I, you, we willingly choose despair over hope? We shouldn't."

Isn't it true how we can so easily choose to despair over hope. I don't want default either. This chapter was so powerful, and you bring it to life here.

Love you my Friend.


Pat said...

I never visit your blog that I am not challenged to think bit more deeply and consider who God is more intimately. And your photos! Wow, they make me feel like I am there!
Be blessed today sister, as you are always a blessing,

Tonya said...

Hey there, Sweet Friend..

I wanted to hop over here and say "THANKS" for all the encouragement you've given me over the past weeks (and months). I've not done so well with keeping up with you guys.. but I DO HOPE to do better! (I'm so VERY THANKFUL for you!)

I hope you have a WONDERFUL weekend...