Accepting Imperfection

Thumbelina

Thumbelina, as a child, she was my most treasured Christmas gift. I really don’t remember how long I asked my parents for her, but it seemed like a hundred years 🙂

When I was a kid I had some major health problems. My folks had me tested, even to the extent of putting me into the hospital for a couple of weeks. The conclusion was that I had some allergies and that I liked attention. It wasn’t until I collapsed on the floor of the bathroom and went into respiratory arrest when I was 34 that anyone in the medical establishment recognized the severity of my problems.

There were many things that I simply couldn’t do, that were expected of children my age and giving up my thumb sucking was one of them. My parents resisted Thumbelina for a while because they didn’t want to encourage my unacceptable behavior, but finally they gave in.

For them, I am sure it wasn’t a huge deal, but for me, it was everything. I suffered from huge rejection issues. No one knew what was wrong  with me, not even me. I just knew I was wrong, I was bad. Thumbelina proved to me that my wonderful parents accepted me and loved me with all my imperfections. Thanks Mom and Dad, for demonstrating unconditional love!

Freely Given

7 Weeks to a Happier You is formatted so that you can print it out for use in groups or Bible studies. There are gaps in the material to allow space to write on hard copies. To access weeks you can’t see, just press the “older posts” button at the bottom of the page. Please feel free to print out as many copies as you like, but do not sell them without my permission. I also ask that you would include my contact info:


Author: Sue Whitson
http://gramasuesrainbow.com/


Please give me feed back! I’d appreciate questions, suggestions about how to word things differently, help with grammar and punctuation and any testimonies you might have about this Bible study or times you have put these principals to work at any time in the past.


God Bless You!


*Unless otherwise stated, all scriptures are from The New King James Bible.

The Plan


The Plan

God made everything for a purpose. Even those things we perceive as “bad”. The larvae of flies, clean up waste products. Fevers kill invading germs. They are even finding that the waves of chicken pox that children went through each year kept adults from getting shingles, a much worse disease. When God created us, He knew we would live in a fallen world, so he equipped us with defenses to help us overcome.

If a general perceives that his army is loosing a battle, he will call for a retreat. He pulls back, gives his men a chance to rest, rethinks his strategy and tries to gather re-enforcement and supplies. A retreat can be a good thing, but if he stays in retreat, he will loose the war.

Depression is a God given, physical response to trauma that allows us to pull back, rest, regroup, gather resources and focus on the problem at hand. Depression can be a good thing, but God does not intend for you to stay there.

The mind is like the earth. If you walk over it once, there is little evidence you were ever there. However if you take the same path over and over again, it becomes a well established path. Eventually, it can become a deep rut that you fall into and need help getting out. This is when depression becomes a trap.

The number one priority to overcome depression is to retrain your brain. Instead of going down that path every time those negative thoughts float by, you have to consciously choose to go a different way.

The revelation that changed my life was that I had the ability to choose my thoughts! In fact, I have a duty to choose my thoughts! I’m not sure if this idea had never been presented to me before, or if I just hadn’t caught it, but I honestly thought that every thought that came into my brain was something I had to listen to. Amazing!

But how do you do that??? Think about an elephant. What kind of a tail does it have? What color is it? How are it’s feet shaped? How does it sound? How big are it’s ears?

Now, don’t think about an elephant … I said, DON’T think about an elephant. Don’t think about an elephant!

Were you able to not think about elephants? Unless you know the secret, there is no way you can do it.

Now, think about a kitten. Think about how soft it is. Think about how a kitten loves to play with yarn or chase a bug. How does it sound?

Are you thinking about an elephant now? No, because you replaced that thought with another one.

Over the next seven weeks, we will practice ways to retrain your brain. This will involve every aspect of your life, spiritual, mental, physical, emotional, social, career and finances.

When using a new recipe, a good cook will often has to make some decisions. She asks, “Do I have this ingredient?” and if not, “Can I get it or make substitutions?” “Are there ingredients I want to make substitutions or adjustments for?” (such as honey for sugar or using less salt). Once these decisions are made, the cook will gather the ingredients and try the recipe. It may not work well. If it doesn’t and she still wants to make the recipe, she will go over everything that she did to see what might be improved the next time she tries it. Sometimes it may take several tries before she gets it right, or she may decide that recipe just isn’t for her.

Seven Weeks to a Happier Youis like a recipe. God created each of us uniquely. What works for one person may not work for another person. As you go through the 7 weeks, ask God how to make it work for you and what substitutions or adjustments you need to make. Once you have made these decisions, you have to make the commitment to follow the plan all the way through. If the cook only puts the flour and the yeast together when making bread and quits, the bread never gets made. You may find that you get sidetracked while in this process. Don’t get discouraged! Just go back and try again!

Warning:

If you are on meds for depression, do not quit taking them without consulting your doctor. Many drugs have severe withdrawal symptoms. Quitting cold turkey could derail your attempt to conquer depression and could even kill you. Unless you are 100% sure that God has told you to get off them now, don’t do it!

Many years ago, I started learning about how Jesus took 39 stripes on His back. Through His wounds, the Bible says, we were healed. (I Peter 2:24) I was having great difficulty breathing, but I refused to take meds because I felt taking them would be denying my conviction that the Bible was true. At one point, I told my pastor that I was trying to stand in faith, but I had been struggling for a long time. He said, “Honey, your problem is that you know the asthma better than you know God. Go ahead and take the medicine. It will give you a chance to focus on God. The more you know Him, the less you will need that medicine.” He was right. I still take some OTC meds for asthma, but I don’t need the heavy duty meds that I once used just to get to the “50% of my lung capacity” point and I almost always breathe at 100%.

If you are on meds, it is probably wise to just stay on them for now. Retrain your brain, then slowly back off the meds under your doctor’s supervision.

Ready to make the commitment to God’s Emotional Boot Camp? I can’t promise you will never experience any more periods of depression. But by the end of the seven weeks, you will have the tools to effectively deal with it.

Week 1


Week 1

Renew Your Mind

Genesis 1

 1In the beginning God (Elohiym) created the heaven and the earth.
 2And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God (Elohiym) moved upon the face of the waters.




In the Bible, the darkness came before the light. What an amazing place to start. If you are reading or listening to this, you or someone you love is in a place of darkness. It may seem so deep there is no way out, but Holy Spirit is moving over the face of your tears.
If God started in the darkness, then it’s a good place to start. Before we go on, I want you to take some time to analyze where you are at.



How long have you been suffering this depression?















Do you know what the trigger(s) was/were that set this off? Take some time to list any situations occurring now or in the past that have hurt you deeply.















Take some time to write down the negative thoughts and words that come against you.












What is missing in your life?















OK, now it’s time for verse 3 – Gen. 1:3God (Elohiym)said, Let there be light: and there was light.



Father, In the Name of Yeshua, the Precious Lamb of God, I ask that by the power of Holy Spirit who is hovering over this lost one, that the dawn would break right now and grow brighter and brighter till it shines as the noon day sun. Amen. (Proverbs 4:18)



I want you to take a look at the account of creation in Genesis. Please take a pencil, pen or highlighter, mark each time the word “said” is used and count them.



Genesis 1 (from whatsinanamebible.blogspot.com )

 1In the beginning God (Elohiym) created the heaven and the earth.
 2And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God (Elohiym) moved upon the face of the waters.
 3God (Elohiym)said, Let there be light: and there was light.
 4God (Elohiym)saw the light, that it was good: and God (Elohiym)divided the light from the darkness.
 5God (Elohiym) called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
 6God (Elohiym)said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
 7God (Elohiym)made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
 8God (Elohiym)called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
 9God (Elohiym)said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together to one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
 10God (Elohiym)called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God (Elohiym)saw that it was good.
 11God (Elohiym)said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
 12And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God (Elohiym) saw that it was good.
 13And the evening and the morning were the third day.
 14God (Elohiym)said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
 15And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
 16God (Elohiym)made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
 17God (Elohiym)set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
 18And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God (Elohiym)saw that it was good.
 19And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
 20God (Elohiym)said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
 21God (Elohiym)created great whales, and every living creature that moves, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God (Elohiym)saw that it was good.
 22God (Elohiym)blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.
 23And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
 24God (Elohiym)said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
 25God (Elohiym)made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creeps on the earth after his kind: and God (Elohiym)saw that it was good.
 26God (Elohiym)said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.
 27So God (Elohiym)created man in his own image, in the image of God (Elohiym) created he him; male and female created he them.






How many times was the word “said” used? This account could have easily been written like this: On the first day God created … On the second day He created … Why is there such an emphasis on the word “said”? It is to stress the fact that God creates by His Word.






Now look at verses 26 and 27. How is man created? Answer: in God’s image. We are like Him. How does God create? With His words. We are not God, we are created in His image. An image does not have all the power of the original, but it is similar enough that it can be recognized. Our words do not have all the power of God’s words, but they do affect the world in which we live. The really good news is that God’s words are much more powerful than ours. Over the next 7 weeks, you will learn to replace the negative words that have ruled your life, with the positive, creative and life giving words of God






The saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” is a lie, a bold faced lie. You are where you are because of the words that have been spoken over your life. Some of them were spoken by your parents, your teachers and your peers. Some of them were spoken by you. All of them have been internalized and have worked together to dig you into this impassable hole.






This week, we are going to work on replacing some of those words. This is the number one concept you need to get from this program. Later, we will talk about some physical things you can do that will help, but this one concept is key. Everything else is built on it. Practicing this alone can rebuild your life.






Back when I was so terribly depressed, I started attending a church that taught the importance of words and thoughts. Over the course of a few years, I practiced this concept, but I was still having days where I was overwhelmed. At the time, I was still very, very sick physically and I knew absolutely nothing about nutrition. On one of those “I can’t stop crying” days, I was standing in my kitchen, tears streaming down my face. I kept telling myself, “It’s OK, Sue. There ‘s nothing wrong. This is just a chemical imbalance and God will get you through it.” over and over again.






I started thinking about a song that our worship team did and in my mind I could hear Shannon (one of our worship leaders) singing it. “I’ll not be defeated. I’ll not be defeated. I’ll not be defeated anymore. For when the Holy Ghost came in, He gave me power over sin. I’ll not be defeated anymore.” Did I tell you that God talks to me? I’ve never actually heard an audible voice, but that day, from way down inside of me, I heard a soft voice. “Sing it.” At first, I resisted, but I kept hearing it, so I grudgingly began. “I’ll not be defeated.” I wish you could hear how I did that. You know how you tell a child who is angry to say he’s sorry and they snap back, “SORRY!” in a tone that tells you they are anything but sorry? That’s how it was. I was rolling my eyes and dragging the words.






SMACK! Well, God didn’t physically smack me upside the head, but it sure felt like it! This time an incredibly strong voice yelled at me inside my spirit. “SING IT LIKE YOU MEAN IT!” I belted it out. As I did, I literally felt something being pulled out of me. From that day on, I’ve never been in that ditch again. I’ve had some sad days, but there’s always been a real reason, not that miserable for the sake of being miserable stuff that used to debilitate me on a regular basis.






When I was young, no one understood my physical problems including me. I knew something was wrong. I lived in a fog. It was difficult for me to remember things, follow directions or even function at times. Frequently, I heard words like, “lazy”, “inconsiderate”, “not working up to potential” and “bad”. I wanted to be good, but I couldn’t. All these had made a negative path in my brain. That negative path was as much a physical problem as the asthma. God could have healed me instantly, but if He had, I would have quickly seared a new negative path. I had to get my mind renewed first. There are physical strategies that will help your mind heal, but to begin with, we are going to concentrate on changing the words that reign in your head.






For this weeks assignments you will need a Bible, a concordance, a thesaurus, a pen or pencil, a notebook and some index cards.






Assignments:






Each day read one chapter in Proverbs, Psalms and in the Gospels (the book of John is the best place to start in my opinion). Proverbs is a book of wisdom, Psalms is a book of praise and the Gospels are basic to your salvation. If you can, find audio versions and play them all day long. You got into this place because you heard negative words. We have a tendency to believe what we hear most. Make it a priority to read and hear God’s Word on as much as you can.






Each day look up one of the negative words you identified earlier in this lesson in a concordance. (There are lots of online concordances. My favorites are http://www.blueletterbible.org/index.cfm and http://www.biblegateway.com/) Write down verses that speak to your situation. Try to fill at least one page in your notebook. If you can’t find enough, look up that word in a thesaurus and look up synonyms and antonyms of the word.






Personalize one verse and write it on several index cards. To personalize scripture, ask God how the verse applies to you and then decide on how to make it first person.






Example: This is a favorite of many people. It is from 1 Corinthians 13:






4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails.






Here’s how I have personalized it:

    God’s love has been shed abroad in my heart. I choose today to let His love flow through me. Therefore: I am patient. I am kind. I am not jealous. I don’t brag and I’m not arrogant. I am not rude, crude or nasty. I do not seek my own will, but God’s. I am not easily provoked. I do not hold grudges. I don’t rejoice in unrighteousness, but I rejoice in truth. Through Christ: I bear all things. I believe the best of every person. I have hope in every circumstance and I can endure anything. God’s love in me will never fail.
Post these cards in places where you will see them frequently. When you see them, take the time to stop and read them out loud.

Before or after you eat physical food, take the time to eat the spiritual food you have prepared here. Read out loud the verses you have gathered at least 3 times a day. If you have access to a voice recorder, record the verses and listen to them as well.






Next week we’ll add to this and start working on some of the physical things you can do.


Week 2


Week 2

Physical Helps

Last week you complied a list of scriptures to meditate on and started Bible reading program. This week, continue to read your scriptures out loud to yourself 3 times a day and read 1 chapter a day in Proverbs, Psalms and John. Keep doing this and write down any new verses you come across that speak to your situation, adding them to your list.

When you meet with your prayer partner(s), share the verses you have on your list and talk about how doing this has affected you.
This week, I want you to add some actual scripture memorization. Ask God which of the verses you should work on and personalize it.

Don’t try to memorize a long passage all at once. Read the whole thing over out loud once. Then work on one phrase at a time. Read it out loud several times and then try to say it without looking. A few hours later, see how far you can get with out looking and then repeat the process only adding another phrase if you had the first one down.



As you get these scriptures in your heart, you will find yourself doing or saying things that are contrary to them and they will pop up in your thoughts. This will enable you to change what you are doing or at least to tell someone that you should have done it differently. Listen to your spirit and act. Soon the verses will pop up as you are about to do or say the wrong thing and eventually it will not be a problem anymore.



At one point I realized that my fear of tornadoes was damaging my children. I needed to deal with it. There are several verses that speak of how God is a refuge and a shelter in times of trouble and through storms. I decided on a simple personalized mantra to speak to this fear. “Jesus is my shelter in the storm.” Every time the fear would try to grip me, I would repeat this out loud as many times as I needed to. Eventually the fear would subside. Today I live in a trailer on the prairie with no basement or root cellar to run to. THAT is a miracle. Every now and then I have a little healthy nervousness, but that overwhelming fear is gone!












Now on to the physical part …
Exercise!
The brain is a physical organ. It needs blood flow to work properly. Use the following space to brain storm about ideas that will help you move more, even if it’s just 5 minutes more than you are moving now. Some people do better with going to a gym or concentrating on one activity like walking. Others need a variety of activities. I personally try to incorporate a variety of activities into my day from parking a little further from my destination to jumping on my mini trampoline 100 times.






















































Choose some goals and make a chart to check off when you’ve done one of the ideas. Or keep a journal of what you did each day. Writing it down or checking it off helps establish your new habits and gives you a sense of accomplishment. Share your accomplishments with your prayer partner(s) when you meet.





An activity chart is available in the next post.






Light and fresh air!
You were not built to live in a cave. Go outside for at least 5 minutes every day even if the weather is bad. It’s amazing how spending a few minutes outside can clear your mind. Turn on the lights in your house. Get a full spectrum lamp and sit under it every morning. (Do not put it on while you are sleeping though. It will do more harm than good.)
Diet
Go on elimination diets. Sometimes certain foods can aggravate physical conditions that contribute to depression. Eliminate any food you think might be a problem for a week and then add it back in to see if it is a problem. Sugar and grains are often culprits.
Fasting is a great way to flush your system of toxins. Try fasting lunch to begin with. Once you have that down, try a couple of meals or a whole day.
Warning: Anytime you fast or go on an elimination diet, your body is likely to protest. Try to schedule the first day or two during a time when you don’t have much you absolutely must do.
Supplements
There are many supplements that have been proven to be helpful with depression. I will give you a list of the ones I know about. Get the highest quality that you can and make sure they say “natural”. The synthetic ones aren’t absorbed as well and can cause more problems down the road.
St. John’s Wort is a well known supplement for depression, but please don’t take it if you are on any psychiatric meds. It can interact with them and cause an overdose.
Please consult your doctor and your pharmacist before taking them, but don’t stop there! Do your own research and consult with God as well. Find out about possible drug or supplement interactions. Try to find out how and why they work. Learn everything you can, read both the positive and negative articles, then pray and ask God to help you make decisions. Not everything will work for you.

If you have access to the internet, type the name of the supplement into the search bar and read or listen to several sites about it. Then type the name again and the word “warnings”. Read or watch several sites there. Then if you take any prescription meds, put the name of the supplement in again along with the name of the med. Once you’ve done all this, you will be able to make informed decisions. And if you start to use a supplement and you find yourself having problems, stop using it! Each person is unique. Do what works for you!

A few websites that I have found very useful are:
It cannot be stressed enough: Include God in every decision. He is the one who made you. He can tell you just how you work.

At one time, I was having a lot of problems with my knees. I tried taking glucosamine/chondroitin, but it gave me really bad gas. I went to God and asked what to do. I had a very very strong impression that I should take more oils.
At the time, I was taking the recommended amount of flax oil and evening primrose oil. I doubled the dose, taking the oils at breakfast and supper. This gave me some relief but not total, so I added another dose at lunch. That did the trick! Some months later, I got tired of taking them so I quit. In a few weeks I was having great difficulty walking again. Went back on them and I rarely have any problems! A few years later, I started reading studies about how these oils help with inflammation! God is able to give answers when no one else can!

So here’s the list:

Omega 3 oils – krill oil is the best, but flax or fish oil will help too.
Vitamin D3 – This is not the same vitamin d that is in milk. The D2 found in milk is a synthetic form of D. D3 works better and it is rare that enough can be ingested to be toxic.
B12 – Get the sub-lingual type. It is absorbed better
Magnesium – Make sure it comes from a source that ends in “ate”. If the chemical source of a mineral ends in “ide”, the source is a rock. “ate” means it is from an actual food source.
Vitamin C – C can cause stomach upset. If this is a problem, get the “Ester-C” variety.
B-complex – great for your nerves
Chromium – again, get the “ate” stuff
Beta Carotene – This is a natural form of vitamin A that is very difficult to overdose on.
Natural Sea Salt – Get the kind that has colored flakes in it. God put salt into other rocks so that you would get the trace minerals along with it. White salt is pure sodium. These trace minerals that are found with salt are the only kind of “rock” supplement your body is built to absorb.

You will need to research dosage and experiment with what works for you Every person is different. Starting only one supplement at a time and giving it a couple of weeks to see if you have any negative reactions is a good strategy. But remember, when using nutritional supplements, it may take up to 3 months to see a real difference. When I try a new supplement, I usually take a break from it after a few months to see if it has made a difference. Do what works for you.

If it helps with inflammation or circulation, it’s probably good for depression. My personal (non-medical) opinion is that inflammation and lack of oxygen to the brain are probably the two biggest physical culprits in chronic depression.
A while after the doctors got my breathing under control, I was caring for a little girl. This little girl found a couple of feather dusters and started playing “cheerleader” with them. Right away, even before my breathing was affected, I literally felt my brain swell. I became very frustrated and angry and started yelling at her. Later, I realized that I had spent most of my life like that. It’s no wonder I was such a pain to be around!

If you have allergies of any kind, this is probably happening to you too. Maybe not as severely as what I experienced, but inflammation may very well be a factor. Inflammation is a physical reaction that God designed to surround toxins so they can’t kill you quickly. It’s a good thing, but it can get out of control. At the very least, inflammation makes you tired and it’s difficult to function or think well when you are tired.

It will take a long time to rebuild your nervous system. Be patient and concentrate mainly on renewing your mind!

Week 3


Week Three

Plant It

Psalm 126:4 Those who sow in tears, shall reap in joy.

A misconception that most of us develop is that in order for us to be happy, we need our needs met. This is just plain wrong. We are made in the image of God. Do you know what God gets a kick out of? Blessing His creation! Yes, we do derive some joy and happiness from receiving, but to be really satisfied, we need to be a blessing.

Think about the last time you did something that really helped someone or even something. Maybe you participated in a fundraiser for something you really believed in, or sat with a sick friend or even rescued a kitten. How did that make you feel? Share some of those experiences with your prayer partner(s).

One of the most important concepts we all need to understand is the law of sowing and reaping. Those of you who have never gardened or farmed might not be familiar with these terms. To sow means to plant and to reap means to harvest. God has set up this spiritual law with a natural example. It is found in
Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.

I’m a gardener. I started out with a little 4 x 8 sand box that I decided to make into a garden one year when the cats had used it for a litter box and the kids were no longer using it much. My life was pretty much like this sandbox, full of icky stuff and not much use to anyone. I decided to mix a little dirt into this sandbox and see if I could grow a little food. It was amazing how much food came out of that little garden. I was addicted! I didn’t do it perfectly at first, but God blessed my efforts in spite of me and I learned. Soon, my whole back yard was a garden. Then my husband started helping. Now we produce so much that we spend our summers going to farmer’s markets and providing food for others. We are still learning and trying new things. Sometimes things flop, but for the most part, we see growth and a better harvest every year.

At the same time I was learning about the spiritual law of sowing and reaping. It made sense to me, so I decided to try it. The results have been amazing! My husband was sitting back watching and he is now sowing his own spiritual seeds! Through the years, I’ve been able to share this concept with many others and let me tell you, the satisfaction you get from being a blessing and then watching others succeed at being a blessing is immense!

If I go out to my garden and sow a pack of pea seeds, when the plants mature, I will reap peas, not corn. If I don’t prepare the ground properly and just throw the pea seeds out there without really planting them, they are likely to be eaten by birds or mice and I’ll wind up with a patch of weeds.

In the same way, if I sow time or provisions or kindness or any variety of things into any of God’s creation, I will reap those things in the future. The really great thing about it is that whatever you plant will be most likely be multiplied! There are some things that can steal your harvest, but we’ll discuss that as we go along.

Over the last two weeks, you have been sowing the Word into your spirit and nutrition and exercise into your body. Your spirit needs to be constantly fed the Word of God to keep it healthy just like your body needs to be fed good things. Keep doing these things!

This week we are going to start sowing blessings outside of ourselves and into the earth. Sowing is a deliberate process that we need to be doing on a constant basis to ensure a constant harvest in the future. But sowing is just a part of the process in reaping a harvest.

When I go to plant a garden, the first thing I do is decide what and where I’m going to plant. I look at several things when considering this. First, I choose what I want to plant based on what I need or want. Then I ask myself: How much light does this plant need? What kind of soil does it need? How much water will it need? Based on this information I make decisions about where I’m going to plant.

What are some of the things you need in your life? Hope? A kind word? Help? A hug? Take 5 minutes and list those things here:





















Think about places where you could plant these things. Is there soup kitchen you could help at? Could you adopt someone in a nursing home? Those are big things … Could you write a little encouraging note to a friend? Read a book to a child? Mow a neighbor’s lawn? Pay a toll for the stranger behind you?The possibilities are endless! Take a few minutes to brainstorm possible ideas here:


















One of the things I find myself most in need of is time. Over the years, I’ve invested quite a few volunteer hours in the church cleaning, teaching Sunday school and organizing events. Occasionally, when I’ve had super busy seasons, God has slowed down time for me so I can get more done. I have no idea how He does it, but the days will seem like they go on forever and I get twice as much done as I normally would.

After I decide what and where I’m going to plant, I need to prepare the soil. I dig it up, take out any plants or weeds that are already there and put some fertilizer on it. In the spirit we have to do similar things.

At one time, I felt very unlovable. I needed to be accepted and there was a woman in our church that I really didn’t like. I asked God how I could love her. He told me to give her a hug every time I saw her. At first, it wasn’t pleasant hugging her. I really had to work to make myself do it. But over time, I grew to love her and she became a huge part of a breakthrough that I desperately needed.

I came from a fairly affluent family, but the decisions I had made in my life got me into a place where I felt that I was the family charity case. I believed I was a burden and somehow not worth loving because of this. God used several people to help me in this area, but it all came to a head during a trip to a women’s conference in St. Louis. On the way home, there was a woman in the van that I hardly knew. She knew nothing about my situation, but she saw a vision that depicted my life perfectly and then started ministering to me about how God accepts me just like I am and that I didn’t need to be ashamed.

At the next church service we were asked to share what we had experienced at the conference. As I was sharing about what had happened on the way home this woman suddenly ran up to me, grabbed my shirt and stuck some money in my bra. She declared, “Sue, God says He wants Your cup to be full!” Suddenly, all the shame totally broke off of me as my tears burst into laughter. From that moment on, the curse of poverty was totally broken off my life.

I had been planting seeds with my tithes and offerings for years and I had reaped little miracles here and there, but the huge weed of shame in my garden was shading out those seeds and stunting my harvest.

Your life is your garden. When you first establish a garden, there are other things growing there that you have to clear out. Some of them may have good uses, like grass, but you don’t want grass growing up in your garden. Look at your life. Are there things there that you really don’t want? Maybe things other people have planted that don’t fit in your life? Weeds like unforgiveness, condemnation, shame and rejection? The Bible emphasizes these particular weeds in Ephesians 4:31 “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.”They are incredibly nasty invasive weeds that will steal your harvest. Make sure you deal especially with them and are vigilant about these weeds if they try to creep back in.

Take some time to identify the weeds and things that just don’t fit in your life.














Ask God for help in removing them. You won’t get them all right away and even when you think you have them conquered, they will pop up again. Just keep at it. I have found that it generally takes 2 to 3 years of intensive weeding to establish a new garden bed in my garden, but it gets easier after that. The same thing goes for removing weeds and unwanted things from your heart.

Now that you’ve made some decisions and prepared your soil, it’s time to go out and plant! Remember, He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” That’s found in I Corinthians 9:6. It may seem like you just don’t have any seed to plant. Ask God for seed. He loves you and will get you started! Plant whatever you can. Ask God to multiply it and plant more next time. You will see it grow!

The hardest part is now done, but there’s still a few more things needed to get your harvest. The two most important things to do are watering and weeding. In the spirit realm, Watering has to do with prayer. Tell God how thankful you are for the crop He is giving you. Do this on a regular basis. Weeding is just repenting of those sins that creep in and keeping your eyes on Jesus! There are other things you might have to do depending on the situation. God will show you as you go along.

Then comes harvest time! It’s important to know what your harvest is going to look like and for that you have to have God’s wisdom.

You’ve probably heard the old story about the preacher who lived in a town that was about to be flooded. When he was told that he should evacuate because the levy was going to break he refused to go saying, “My God will deliver me!” The flood waters rolled in and he had to get up into the second story of his house. A boat came by and offered to take him to safety, but he refused saying “My God will save me!” Later, he had to cut a hole in the roof of his house to get above the flood waters. A helicopter came by and put down a rope, but he refused to climb it, still believing God would rescue him. When he got to Heaven, he asked God, “Why didn’t you save me LORD?” And the LORD answered, “Well I sent someone to warn you. Then I sent a boat and a helicopter!”

That preacher had probably been involved in saving and rescuing many people. He had planted, but he didn’t recognize his harvest when it came.

Several years ago my youngest son was 18 and needed more space than the little room he inhabited in our house. During his teen years, he had worked for his dad and helped us buy the little plot of land our trailer sat on so he owned it along with us. As I was praying one day, the LORD told me that by March of the next year we would have a new house. I got so excited! I dreamed about a new house on our property that would be big enough for us and the family that Jesse dreamed of. Early the next year, my husband started looking at a piece of land that had 7 ½ acres and a house. I was wondering how we could possibly buy that property and build a new house when it suddenly occurred to me that this place might be the new house God was talking about. We closed on the place in March. We not only had a new to us house but 7 ½ acres to boot!

Sometimes our vision of a harvest isn’t the same as God’s. Pray for His wisdom to recognize your harvest.

This week’s assignments:

Focus on one weed. Find scriptures to personalize and memorize concerning that weed. See how many you can memorize this week.

Plant something in the spirit realm every day. Share what you did each day with your prayer partner(s). Also discuss any harvests you receive with them.

Continue with your Bible reading, scripture meals and physical goals.





Week 4


Week Four

Forgive

Luke 18:21Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. 23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
28 “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down at his feetand begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’30 And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. 32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ 34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”






Shame, fear, greed, lust and many other sins will slow your garden down, but, judgment, condemnation and unforgiveness will shut down the flow of blessing into your life from God. They are more than mere weeds. They poison the ground of your heart. I can work the soil, plant and weed all I want, but unless God sends His rain, warmth, and light, nothing will grow. God promise that if we will let go of judgment, condemnation and unforgiveness, He will bless us.


Luke 6:37-38 Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

Understanding these things is absolutely essential, so let’s look at these in depth.

Many people point to the above verse and conclude that we are not to judge anything. But! – the Bible needs to be taken in context, considering the entire book. If we are not to judge anything, why does God instruct Moses to set up a system of judges in the Old Testament? And why does Paul instruct the Corinthians to judge the man who is sleeping with his father’s wife in chapter 5? The Bible obviously instructs us to judge behavior. What Jesus is talking about here is looking down on someone while thinking of yourself as better. If you read the rest of the sermon Jesus was preaching in chapter 6, you will see that He is talking about being humble and loving your enemies. He is not saying you shouldn’t judge behavior or belief systems.

So what does judging look like? We are all guilty! Have you ever said something like this? “Well, I’ve ______, but at least I never _______; or I would never __________. There are things that you do that aren’t right in the eyes of others. There are even things you do that aren’t right in the eyes of God. And odds are that if you look down on others in judgment, you will wind up in a similar place.

I often joke about the supplements I take. When I was younger, my husband’s grandparents had a cabinet full of supplements that they took. I thought that was just stupid and told people it was probably the reason they got cancer. Now I take a handful of supplements with every meal and if I don’t, I wind up not able to walk! That’s a happy example of winding up in a similar place.

My husband and I often talked about how badly some family members handle their finances and looked down on them. They wound up in bankruptcy and we shook our heads in disgust. Guess what? We wound up going through bankruptcy too.

My friend talks about how she judged her mom for staying with an alcoholic husband. This man was her step-father and made life very difficult for her as she grew up. After my friend married, her husband became an alcoholic. When she heard this message about judgment and forgiveness, she realized she had been holding grudge against her mom and had wound up in the same situation. She wrote to her mom and apologized for not forgiving and understanding. Shortly after, my friend’s husband got born again and is free from that addiction!

Are there ways in which you have judged people? Take some time to think about this. Write down anything that God brings to mind.













Ask Him to help you. It might be something you can handle with just repenting to God, however if He impresses on you to go talk with that person or to discuss the situation with your prayer partner(s), do it! God created us as social beings. We need to interact to be healthy. That’s why He told us to “confess our faults to one another” in James 5:16

Now let’s look at the word condemn. To condemn means to pass a sentence of punishment on a person. Does this mean that we should never discipline our children or send anyone to jail? Again, we have to look at the entire Bible in context. God does tell parents to discipline their children, in fact, Proverbs 13:24 declares that the parent who fails to discipline a child, hates that child. The Old Testament is full of laws with prescribed punishments for law breakers. In Acts 5, Peter proclaims that Sapphira will die because of her deceit.

No, in this verse, the word condemn is referring to judging someone as being worthy of hell and irreversible rejection. The Bible clearly advocates discipline and punishment for those who sin, but our attitude in carrying out these judgments must be in love. First, to protect the innocent, and secondly, to bring the sinner to repentance if possible.

The third word we want to look at is forgive. Many people think that in order to forgive, you have to let people walk all over you. But it’s just not like that. In the Amplified Bible Ephesians 5:1 says: “THEREFORE BE imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitatetheir father].In order to find out what true forgiveness looks like, we have to look at how God forgives.

God is a just god. He is a perfect god and He is the one who created everything. He knows how it works. If something exists, there is a purpose for it. No matter how much you or I think God should have created us with detachable arms for ease of sleeping, God has a good reason for it. (In my case, He knew I would loose them.) Many people think the world would be better off without flies. But, did you know that if you put a maggot on an infected wound it will eat the dead flesh that is causing the problem and leave the live flesh alone? And think about how much animal manure would be heaped up if it weren’t for flies. Did you know that spiders play a huge role in controlling insects that destroy crops? Or that snakes keep the rodent population in check? Did you know that mosquitoes rarely bite healthy people?

The truth is that God created the cycles of life. In order for a building to be built, things have to be destroyed. Trees need to be grown and cut down. Rocks need to be formed and then cut or crushed. Metal needs to be extracted from the ground and then heated in the fire to be formed into pipes and wires … Farming involves tearing the ground, burying seed in it, growing the plants that have come as a result of the death of that seed, cutting them down, feeding those plants to you or to animals that must be slaughtered and cooked to feed you.

God in His wisdom created all things in balance so that no one thing can take over and destroy His creation. God also has a reason for allowing people to experience pain and death.Let me be very clear! It is not God’s will for His children to be sick or in lack of anything!Jesus said, “The enemy comes to steal and to kill and to destroy, but I have come to give life and life more abundantly.” He also instructed us to pray that “God’s will be done on earth as it is in Heaven” (Matthew 6:10) In James 1:7 it says, “Everygoodgiftandeveryperfectgiftis from above, andcomes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” Pain and suffering are not God’s will for His children, but He does allow it. The reasons may not be clear to us, but in the endwe will understand. It is my personal belief that most of it is to draw us to Him, to motivate us to pray for ourselves, our loved ones and for the salvation of all who will come to Him.

One story that always comes back to me is the one Corrie Ten Boom tells in The Hiding Place.Corrie and her family became the leaders of a large resistance group in Amsterdam in WWII. At one point they were captured and put into a concentration camp. She and her sister were put in barracks that were horribly infested with fleas. Her sister insisted they give thanks for the fleas. Corrie resisted this idea, but finally gave in. They got down on their knees and thanked God for the fleas. They were not allowed to pray or speak about God anywhere in the camp. However, the guards would not come in the barracks because of the fleas, so they had complete freedom there. As a result, thousands of people heard about Jesus on their way to the gas chambers and went to Heaven. It may not always be comfortable for us, but God will always use whatever happens for our good and for His glory.

So what does all this have to do with forgiveness? God created the universe. He created laws that demand justice to protect His creation from destruction. He has every right to be angry and to punish us for our sin, but He loved us so much that He Himself took the punishment for our sin on the cross. He chose to put aside His anger and pay the price for our sin Himself. We too may have the right to be angry, but we must follow His lead. We must set aside our anger and choose to love and have mercy on those who sin against us. Jesus said we are to “ loveyourenemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you”. We do not know who will turn to God through our kindness.

This does not mean we are to let people walk all over us. Jesus did not do this. The Gospels records several times when people came to kill Him, but until it was the Father’s timing for Him to pay the price for our sins, He simply walked away. He also defended the innocent, spoke of the scribes and the pharisees as serpents and vipers and even took a whip to those who were cheating people in the temple.

We are to do the same as God leads, but most of the time, we simply need to step back and allow God’s Word to work. Those who will come to God and repent will escape the ultimate destruction and those who will not, will suffer the destruction they bring on themselves.

It was not God’s will for Hitler to rise to power, however, God loved him and his supporters enough not to snuff them out the day they were born. He gave them every chance He could to repent and turn to Him. And in the meantime, He used the evil that Hitler wreaked on the world to bring multitudes into His kingdom. You may not think that this was the best way to do it, but you are not God. You don’t understand how everything works. He is way smarter than you could ever hope to be. Just try collecting all the atoms that it takes to build a blade of grass and put them together! He knows what He is doing and we have to choose to trust Him.

Here’s the deal: God is the only source of life. He gave us a choice. We can choose Him or we can walk away from Him. If we walk away from Him we choose death and destruction. Jesus said it this way in John 12:46-48 “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.

In Ephesians 4:31 the Bible says, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.

Does this mean we should never be angry? Again, we need to look at the entire Bible to discern what this means. If you’ve ever studied the Gospels, it is quite evident that Jesus got angry at times. So, let’s look at the verses surrounding this verse.

26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil. 28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. 29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

Clearly, this verse is talking about frequent or sustained anger and bitterness. Anger is a gift that God has given us, but frequent or sustained anger will destroy you. So what is appropriate anger? We need to follow Jesus’ example. Jesus did not become angry when people attacked Him personally. He got angry when other people were being hurt and He acted in love to protect those who were being hurt. This is not to say you should never fight against evil that is directed at you. A rapist or a burglar must be brought to justice. In the absence of consequences, they will continue in their sins and hurt other people. Hitler was able to
gain control and commit the atrocities he did because good men failed to stand up against him … and he lost the war because good men saw and decided to give their lives to defeat him.

This week, look up the words anger, bitterness and wrath in the Bible. Find out how it is to be used. And if you have problems with frequent or sustained anger or bitterness, ask God to help you put it away and love those with whom you are angry. You may even be angry with God for allowing things to happen in your life. Confess this to God and forgive Him. Tell Him that He is smarter than you are and ask Him to use those things for your good and for the good of others.



Week 5


Week Five

Be Content

Philippians 4:11 For I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

So far, we have been working on self-control. This week, we’re going to turn around and work on letting go of control – of the things and people around us. Most of us spend a lot of time trying to control things we cannot control. The truth is, the only thing we can have complete control of is ourselves. Our actions, words and work can make changes in the environment around us, but there are so many other factors involved!

I don’t know about you, but I tend to suffer from this horrible disease called “Mommy God Syndrome”. It’s a common problem among moms, but I understand there are other forms of it that infect fathers, single people, and even kids! Some of the symptoms are ADHD No-Sleep Sheep Brain, Pity-Parties, My-optic Misery, and Screaming Witch Voice.

Mommy God Syndrome, and all the other forms of this disease, have a mistaken identity at their root cause. You are made in God’s image, but you are not God! Get a revelation of that! There are some things you just can’t do. You can’t always magically make everything all better. (Although your faith and prayers can help bring about miracles that bring great deliverance.) You can’t control your spouse or your friends or your grown children. You can’t be in two places at the same time. And you can’t know all things! Understand that and you will feel so much better!

Your prayers and your words can do a lot to change your personal circumstances and the direction of the world, but we live in a world of many people and God is concerned about all those other people too. Their prayers (or lack of them) along with the wisdom of God may or may not create circumstances to our liking. BUT! We have this awesome promise from God in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”So, even though we can’t control everything, we can trust God to bring blessings out of everything that we encounter!

So how do we learn to be content and overcome “Mommy God Syndrome” or its evil counter parts?

Thank God in All Things.

I Thessalonians 5:18 In everything, give thanks. Not for everything, in everything. In every circumstance, we need to thank God for the good things He will bring out of it, even if we can’t possibly imagine any good coming!

The circumstances Corrie Ten Boom went through in WWII were truly created by demonic forces, but God used those fleas to rescue! No matter how horrible your circumstance. Thank God in it and You will see miraculous things occur!

Trust God.

Choose to believe He is able to provide for anything and everything you need. Don’t put Him in a box. Often times, we think we need something at a certain time or in a certain way, but remember, God is smarter than you! He may have something different planned for you. If He doesn’t answer your prayers the way you thought He would, trust Him. He’s probably got something better in store for you.

I’ve found that the best way to remove stress from my life is to make a list of things I think I need to have or do. Then, I ask myself, “If this doesn’t get done, or I don’t have this, will it make a big difference in 100 years?” Most of the time, there’s not anything on there that will really make a big difference that far in the future. But if there is, I put it on the top of my list. The rest of it, I put in the order of how much I want it. Then, I work on accomplishing it. God is able to provide. If I don’t get my peas planted, He’ll find a way later to get me some money to buy some … or He might send someone with some jars or cans of peas when I need them. And if He doesn’t, I probably didn’t need them anyway!

If you really want it (and it’s not against God’s will) and you keep bugging God about it, He will make a way, but it’s probably not going to look like what you think it will look like. Just a couple of examples:

When our kids were starting school, I really wanted them to have a Christian education. We were severely financially challenged at the time. We lived in the boonies in a house with no central heat or indoor toilet. My husband was working 3 jobs to make ends meet, we only had one car and the cost of daycare was more than any job I could get. We lived 30 minutes from the nearest Christian school so even if they gave my kids free tuition, getting them there was impossible. Back then, the only thing I knew about homeschooling was that people in Iowa were being thrown in jail for it. I heard through the grape vine that an acquaintance of mine had started homeschooling. I figured it would cost thousands of dollars and that I wouldn’t be qualified, but on a whim I called her to ask about it. I found out that it wasn’t as legally difficult in Illinois as it was in Iowa and that it wasn’t nearly as expensive as I thought. So I wound up homeschooling my kids and then went on to teach several area kids as well.

For many years I’ve wanted a greenhouse. With our veggie business booming, we really need one so I was believing that God would provide one. We could have gone out and borrowed a bunch of money for it, but we just weren’t comfortable doing that. This winter, I was messing around on the internet and I found a plastic bottle greenhouse! It is something that we can build with very little money and it has the added benefit of giving us a unique opportunity to interact with our customers!

In both instances, I could have borrowed a bunch of money or given up, but I kept bugging God and He made a way!

Accept Others For Who They Are.

When my husband and I first married, we had a really rough time. My dad was the ultimate handyman. He could build or fix anything. My husband has some wonderful talents, but when it comes to fixing things … well, it’s just not his strong suit. As a farmer, he has to have some basic mechanical abilities, but he’s much better at growing things than fixing things. Of course I assumed that he ought to be able to fix or build anything, because that was my expectation of what a man does. It really caused quite a few problems until I learned to accept him for who he was and quit demanding that he be something he was not.

Different people are made differently. When we project our abilities or expectations on someone else, we take offense when they don’t live up to those expectations and it can cause big problems.

My husband used to get very upset because I didn’t remember things about him like he does me. One day, he was just sure I didn’t love him because I couldn’t remember some little thing about how he likes his ice cream and cake.



I got a gallon jar and a baby food jar. I put the gallon jar in front of him and said, “This is the amount of room in your brain for memory.” Then I put the baby food jar in front of him and said, ” This is the amount of room in my brain for memory. It’s not that I don’t love you, I’m just not capable!” He realized that I was right and started laughing.

Ask God to Show You How He Sees You and the People Around You

When you look at a baby, what do you see? Do you see a self centered person who spends all its time sleeping, eating, crying, pooping and peeing and has no ability to contribute to it’s own care much less the care of others? If you are like most people, you acknowledge that there’s not much a baby can do, but you also see the potential that little baby has. God doesn’t see you, or anyone else as they are right this minute. He sees you as what He created you to be. When you get a revelation of what God has created you for and the people around you, you will be able to respond to them in an entirely different way.

Many years ago, God showed me that His will for my husband was for him to become a rich man who would support the Gospel. At the time, my husband was a depressed agnostic stuck in a dead end job with absolutely no ambition to become anything more than a farm hand. To the world he looked like a flunky who would never accomplish anything. This revelation totally changed the way I saw him and gave me much more hope and patience. He isn’t rich yet, but over the years, I’ve seen him grow close to God and develop a real ambition to be to be his own boss and to build a business. He has changed so much and I am so proud of him!

In the Amplified Bible, I Corinthians 13:7 describes love as Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fade-less under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].”

Choose to believe the best of every person and don’t give up on them. God hasn’t given up on you!

Appreciate what others do for you.

So often, we focus on what we expect other people to do for us instead of appreciating what they do for us.

Many years ago, my mom was doing some motivational seminars for businesses called Adventures in Attitudes. She wanted me to take the class, so I went with her. The class was a secular class, but the principals were straight out of the Bible. I had been learning most of the stuff that was being taught in church, but one thing I hadn’t heard about in church was a very interesting study that had been done to find out how employers and employees who had good relationships interacted. In the study they discovered that for an employee to feel that the boss liked them, the boss had to give at least seven positive communications (either compliments or positive touches) for every negative communication.

If it takes seven positive for every negative for people to feel liked in a business situation, how much more should we appreciate the people we love? Take a few minutes right now to write down the names of those closest to you. Underneath their names, write down at least 3 things they do for you or things you like about them.











Learn to say NO, and respect the right of other people to say no.

One of the easiest ways to get yourself stressed out is to make to many commitments. You are not God. If you don’t have time to do everything, it’s time to cut some things out of your life. It is better to do a few things well than to be spread so thin that you can’t do anything well.

Recognize that you can’t do everything and don’t feel guilty about it. And while you are at it recognize that those around you aren’t God either. Refuse the temptation to be resentful if someone can’t or won’t do something for you. If they can’t or won’t, just go to God and ask Him to be God! He is able!


Have you been doing your Bible reading, memorization and personalized confessions? Keep it up!

This weeks assignments:

Make a list of all the things you’d like to get done every morning when you wake up or every evening before you go to bed. Circle those things that might make a big difference 100 years from now and then number the rest according to how important they are to you. Pray and ask God to help you with the list. Start with the circled items and then do as many of the rest that you can. Mark off what you get done. At the end of the day, show the list to someone and give God thanks for all He’s helped you accomplish.

Go on a criticism fast. For this week, try your best to not criticize anyone or anything. (This includes the President and the other drivers on the road.) This isn’t something you can keep up forever, but it will help you establish a habit of speaking encouraging words.

Find at least 7 things you can compliment someone for tomorrow. Tell someone they look good. Compliment another person for a good idea they had. Tell another thank you for something they have done. You can compliment the same person every day for the same thing, just be sure to compliment! Keep a piece of paper nearby and make a slash mark for each compliment you give. Try to beat your score every day.

Next week, we will be exploring how to find God’s purpose for your life and how to get where you want to go.

Have a super positive week!

Week 6


Week Six

Purpose


Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Without hope, without a vision of the future, without an understanding of God’s purpose for us, depression is almost inevitable. Unless you understand what you are made for, you will wander aimlessly without hope.

As a teenager, a big part of my problem was the fact that I really had no idea why I was here. I had no purpose in life. It’s hard to not be depressed when you feel like you just don’t matter. But the truth is, you DO matter and God made you for a purpose! Actually, He made you for several purposes and those purposes will change from season to season in your life.

The #1 purpose God created you was so He could love you … and so that you could love Him. Loving God is called worship. Many churches call their services or parts of their services worship. Church services are worship, but there is much more to worship than just singing a few songs or attending a church service! Worship can include anything you do for God and, to be truthful, God desires for everything you do to be a form of worship … your job, your relationships with your family, your hobbies, your entertainment, your eating … everything.

When I first started building my garden, I was obsessed with it. I would spend 6 to 8 hours a day out there, digging, weeding and planting. I was so compelled! For a long time, I asked God why I was like that. It didn’t make sense to me. I worried that I wasn’t making the best use of my time. Wouldn’t it be best spent somewhere else? Maybe handing out gospel tracts or something? Then one day as I was pulling bricks out of the rubble of our old farm house to build a patio, I suddenly understood that I was building more than just a garden. My work was a prayer! As I was taking the old bricks and laying them in the new place, I started praying for God to rescue lost souls from the rubble of the dying world and place them into the courtyard of His temple. From then on as I dug, my prayer was that God would prepare the hearts of people for the good news of His mercy. As I planted, I prayed that God would send laborers to plant seeds of salvation. And when I would pull weeds, I prayed for people to be freed from sin.

Guilt and condemnation had tried to rob me of the joy of building my garden, but once I understood that it was God’s purpose for me, I was free to be me! God wants you to be who He created you to be, not someone else.

Lately, I have been studying a lot about poly-culture. Poly-culture is an agricultural model that incorporates many types of plants and animals as opposed to the mono-culture agricultural practices that are typical in the United States today like a 40 acre field of corn or a feed lot with thousands of cattle. Mono-culture seems easy because the farmer only has to be really familiar with one plant or animal. However, God created the world as a poly-cultural model. We need all sorts of different plants and animals to create balance and health. While mono-culture may seem more productive on the surface, disease becomes a huge problem and the nutrition of plants or animals raised this way suffers the bigger the mono-culture gets.

He also created people to be poly-cultural. We need all of us to be healthy and prosperous! We need preachers and farmers and scientists and housekeepers and truck drivers and doctors and babies and old people … Just because you aren’t like someone else doesn’t mean what you do can’t be worship and it doesn’t mean that you have no purpose!

So what is/are YOUR purpose or purposes?

To find this out, we need to look at your desires. Not all desires are of God, but the Bible promises us in Psalm 37:4-5 that if we will commit ourselves to God, He will give us the right desires for our lives and that He will bring those desires to pass as well!

So, what do you want to be when you grow up? Take some time right now to dream. Money is no object here. Your Daddy lives in Heaven where the streets are made of gold and He has promised that He will help you get where you need to be. Get out a blank piece of paper and write DREAM SHEET on the top of it. Now, if nothing were impossible … what would you like to do? These don’t have to be all career oriented. Things like having a clean house or a healthy body are just as valid as becoming a rocket scientist. Write each thing down.

Got that done? Take a look at those desires. Are there any that just aren’t of God? Be honest. Winning the lottery or becoming the editor of Playboy are not godly desires. OK? 🙂 Cross anything like that off. They won’t make you truly happy anyway.

Now, take your list, and number them in the order of how much you want them. You might have being a rock star on that list, but if it’s not right up there on the top, you probably won’t get there. Choose to focus on the dreams that are most dear to you.

So what are your top 5? God’s purpose for you right now is probably in those. So how do you get there from here? You have to have a plan. When you go on a trip, the first thing you do is decide where you want to go. Then, if the destination is very far away you break it down into how far you can go each day or week.

Take another piece of paper out. Put the dream in your top 5 that seems most possible at the top.

Let’s pray: LORD, in the Name of Jesus, we give this dream to You. You have said that if we would commit our way to You and desire You above all else that You would be faithful to give us the desires of our hearts. Father, we believe You have given this desire. Use it for Your glory and bless the bearer of this dream with the wisdom and the circumstances to bring it to pass. Amen.

Brainstorming time! Share your dream with your prayer partner(s). Spend some time discussing it with them. Write down all the ideas you come up with, no matter how silly or impossible they seem.

First, think about how this dream can be worship. This will help you understand how to cover this dream in prayer. A dream that is clothed with prayer is destined for success!

Second, come up with ideas for things that you could do on a daily or weekly basis to achieve this dream.

When you are done brainstorming, pick one or two ideas and put them on the activity chart you started in week 2, but don’t throw away your brainstorming sheet! Go back and look at it every week or two. There might be something on it that you want to add to your activity chart later, or you might have some new ideas.

This week’s assignments:

Continue your Bible reading and speaking God’s Word over your life.

Look up the words, plan, purpose and desire in the Bible. Find out what God has to say about them.

Brainstorm about the the other dreams in your top 5. Add one or two things you can do towards each goal to your activity chart. As you are doing them, pray as God leads you.

Find a picture or some other physical object that you can lay your hands on that represents each dream to you. Touch the picture or object each day and pray over it. Thank God for the dream and ask for the ability and the wisdom you need to accomplish that dream every day.



Week 7


Week Seven

Rest

So how are you doing? If you’ve gotten this far, by now you should have established several good habits. You are reading the Word and speaking it over yourself. You are eating better and exercising. You’ve been working on letting go of bitterness and the need to control everything. And you are working toward your future.

There’s one more very important thing! Take time to enjoy your life. God did not put you here to work, work, work. Work is important, but even God took time at the end of His 6 days of creation to rest.

SLEEP!

I’m not going to tell you how much time to spend sleeping. Different people have different needs. The world wants to tell us that if you sleep more or less than X number of hours at such and such an age, you won’t be healthy. They make it sound like if you will just get this magical amount of sleep that everything will be just fine. The truth is that if you are sick you will need more sleep and if you are stressed the adrenaline in your body will likely keep you from sleeping. It’s not the sleeping that produces the unhealthy outcomes. The lack of health causes the sleep differences. Even among healthy people, the need for sleep varies.

If you can’t sleep, pray! And if you seem to be sleeping to much, work on healing your body, not getting along with less sleep. That’s not to say you should never deprive yourself of sleep. There are seasons when you just have to work extra hard, but constant sleep deprivation is unhealthy.

Back when I was so sick, I slept a lot – 10 to 14 hours a day. I felt like I was sleeping my life away and constantly fought it. What was the use in sleeping so much when there was so much to be done? Then I found out that God even uses our sleep.

Sleep is the time where He reprograms our brains and fixes things that have gone wrong. It’s like stopping to defragment your computer or do maintenance on a machine. He also gives us dreams to help establish things in our lives and give us direction. As you read through the Bible, notice how many stories are proceeded by or involve dreams. In them God gives warnings and directions to those that love Him.

He does the same for us today. There was a time when I was having a lot of dreams about tornadoes. These dreams always had my husband and I in them. I would think we weren’t going to make it, but every time we came out alright. Then my husband lost his job and got very sick. These dreams gave me hope. Because of them, I knew we were going to make it. Pay attention to your dreams. Write them down. Study Christiandream interpretation. I say Christian because there are many dream interpretation books and sites that aren’t based on the Bible that can mislead you. Once you get an appreciation for the significance of your dreams, you will be better able to balance your life.

To be healthy, your whole life needs to be dedicated to God. If you are awake, pray and when you go to sleep, ask God to use your dreams.

PLAY!

OK, that sounds weird coming from someone who really doesn’t enjoy playing games. I’ve always been the sort that would rather do the real thing. I tried Farmville on FaceBook, but it was boring, the real thing is much more interesting. As a kid, I didn’t want to play with dolls, I wanted to play with a real baby. Toy cars and trucks didn’t thrill me and balls that I deem worthy of chasing around are few and far between. But honestly, you DO need to take time to play.

Have you ever heard of a repetitive stress injury? When you use one part of your body over and over again, that part becomes worn out. It needs rest. We are not built to do the same thing day in and day out indefinitely. You need to vary your activities so that you don’t wear out. Play games if you enjoy them. Go dancing. Spend time visiting friends or family. Take a trip. Watch a little TV. Do whatever you enjoy that is different from your everyday work. Take some time to relax and enjoy something different on a regular basis. It’s essential to avoid burn out.

LAUGH!

Medical science has recently discovered something the Bible declared long ago. Proverbs 17:22 “A merry heart does good like medicine.” Laughter produces all kinds of good things in your body. Laughter increases blood flow, reduces stress, increases T-cells that boost immunity, helps decrease pain, raises good cholesterol, lowers inflammation and produces a whole host of beneficial chemical changes in your body. Is it any wonder that women live longer than men? They laugh more than twice as much as men.

Laughter is good for you, so, give yourself time and reasons to laugh. Whenever I need a good laugh, I google “laughing babies”. There’s nothing like a giggling baby to get you giggling too! Share the jokes you hear. And if all else fails, get together with a friend. Force yourself to laugh. “Ha”, “Hehe”, “Ha-ha, he-he” … keep it up! Pretty soon you will both be rolling on the floor! Joke about your challenges. When you come across a really stressful situation, laugh at it. God is on your side and He will bring you through it. Laughing at it is an act of faith that can help you overcome.

Enjoy your life! It is a gift from God and He wants you to be blessed!