My Little Prayer Box. Losing control and loving it!

I have been making these wonderful little wooden prayer boxes. They are just simple wooden boxes with a couple of decorations on them. But they are made with the intention of holding our whole lives.

I am pretty good at sharing with people that life is so much easier if we “give it to God”. In theory that sounds wonderful, in reality, it is very difficult to hand over our stuff to our God who we know is there but is none the less, unseen. I pray every day and practice what the Bible teaches me. I try diligently to look upward before I look around the world I am living in, and yet, when times get difficult it is easy to turn to “Dottie” power instead of “Godly” power.

Me, being the kind of person I am, thought it might be beneficial to make a prayer box where I could literally write down my requests, my thanks, my petitions, my joys and my sorrows and stick them in the prayer box. Literally handing God control over all that enters the box and signifying the act of handing it over to God, shutting the lid and knowing when that lid shuts, whatever I have written on my card, just passed from my control, to Gods.

To help remind myself why I need to put stuff in my prayer box and shut the lid, I remember these verses. 


1. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

 Do we really need more that this promise? 
2. “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3

 Put that concern in the box, shut the lid and know that it is now in God’s hands. 
3. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

 I guess it is fitting to tell myself to practice what I preach and to know beyond the shadow of a doubt that God has this, I am not alone no matter what I am facing. 
4. “Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” John 14:27

 Accept this peace, really accept it, in fact wear it like the cloak it is, gather it tightly around you and let the meaning of God’s peace sink in.
**

Dottie

………..and so I ride

Renew your mind, avoid the hole

“I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in
I am lost……..I am helpless
It isn’t my fault
It takes forever to find a way out.

I walk down the same street
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I pretend I don’t see it
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place
But, it isn’t my fault
It still takes me a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. It is a habit.
My eyes are open. I know where I am.
It is my own fault. I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

I walk down another street.

Portia Nelson

 

I love this poem. Read the poem carefully. Read it as it was written, five different chapters of your life. It is the story of your life, it is the story of my life.

In life chapter 1 we are wandering, lost, alone and helpless. There is a hole we have fallen into through no particular fault of our own. It may be a death, a job loss, a betrayal, any one of a number of unexpected pitfalls that life throws our way. We fall into the hole and there is nothing we can do about it. Our particular hole represents anger, anxiety, worry, grief, etc. It is the darkest hole you have ever experienced, you see no way out and you are there through no fault of your own. This sucks.

You climb out the same way, on your own, with your own sweat and tears. It takes you forever. You are cussing yourself and hitting yourself with negative, critical and judgmental thoughts right and left. You are thinking to yourself how stupid you are and therefore you are right where you deserve to be.

You quickly learn that doing the climbing on your own is hard work and affords little upward motion. Day after day you toil but you stay in the hole much longer than you anticipated. It occurs to you (barely) that God may be able to help you climb a little faster but the job of climbing out takes precedence over anything else and soon the thought of God evaporates in your sweat.
In life chapter 2 you find yourself on the same street with the same hole. You are fully aware the hole is there yet you walk straight towards it. Before long you drop right back into where you were not so long ago. The hole is still deep, dark and scary, it hasn’t changed a bit it is exactly the way you left it. It is becoming familiar.
You are living the same story you always have, you are expecting different results but because your pattern is the same, the results are the same. You fall in the hole yet again. You are thinking to yourself if the other people in your life would grow up and learn to act right your life would go a whole lot better. So now you draw up a plan to fix those around you. It could be that you even enlist God’s help. If God can’t fix your husband, your family, your boss, your friends, (you know, those people who make you fall into the hole) then who can. When God fixes all those people, you can avoid the hole. It really is as simple as that. You are convinced that someone else pushed you over the edge to the hole.

Life chapter 3 finds you on the same familiar street and the deep, scary hole is still where it has always been. It is almost a weird sort of comfort to see it because you count on it to always be where you left it. Yet once again, even though you know the hole intimately, you know if you take the next step you will tumble downward, you do it anyway.

You know you did it and you know you are totally responsible but because of your past experience with your hole, you climb out immediately. Having fallen into this same hole so many times you are awakening to the source of the problem. Maybe it’s time to find a different route, after all it is your fault you are there. Repeating the same mistakes over and over will have the same results over and over. Having come to this conclusion you can begin to change. God is reminding you that He is there to help you with your “hole” problem. There is a nagging in the back of your mind that if you seek Him before you begin your trip down the street with the hole, maybe He will come up with a different answer to the same problem that has always plagued you? As you are jumping (literally) out of the hole this time, you are coming up with a goal to include Him in your “hole” plan. You come to the realization that every trip into the hole has increased your need to ask for God’s help. Yes it was in slow increments because you have always been a slow learner. However, every time you asked Him, He helped you. When you asked Him for little He helped a little. What would happen if you asked Him for a complete solution to this nagging “hole” problem? After emerging from the brief stint in the hole, you head home to open that Bible that is……….somewhere in your house.

Life chapter 4 Is walking down the same street, coming upon the same hole but avoiding the hole. It is a whole new exhilarating experience. You saw it coming, knew what to anticipate from past experiences and you simply walked around it. A talk with God has given you a change of course which gives you a whole new set of possibilities. There really is something to this God thing. He is here to help you dig out of the hole, you are now beginning to have experience of that. But the amazing thing you are learning, is He is here to help you not only climb out of the hole, but to conquer the hole. God has shown you alternate routes and He has given you the gift of the knowledge that you are free to take them.
Life chapter 5 is your new day. It is the day you finally change streets. Life chapter 5 is the marvelous renewing of your mind. It is the time you realize that there will be holes in the street but you now have the courage to walk a different path, around the hole. You know you can because you trust He will do as He promised and give you exactly what you need to take the detour.
Renewing of the mind is happening. When you mind is changed by God, your life changes and the hole no longer consumers you. So when someone asks you to help them climb out of their hole, say, here, let me show you what worked for me!

Dottie
…………and so I rideimage

Unconditional love, even when I am unlovable

God loves us not in spite of who we are but because of who we are!
God loves us in spite of what we do.
We hear that and have trouble believing it. We know we are not lovable all the time and we know that our hearts are in deplorable condition. We feel we do not deserve His love even for a little while.
Our narrow earthly vision has trouble coming to grips with the fact that God doesn’t just love us once in awhile and only when we are good. He loves us every single minute of every single day. How do you visualize a love like the one God offers us? What does infinite, unconditional, enduring, sacrificial, and perfect love look like?
We are used to a love that is attached to some sort of condition. Sadly, we both give love and receive love conditionally. It is human nature. It is your nature, it is my nature.
It is easy to believe that we are not good enough to be on the receiving end of such a love. We are used to thinking of ourselves as not worthy, we feel we have blown any chance we have for a love like that.
That is not however, how God works.
God loves us freely- Hosea 14:4. Imagine that for a moment. Don’t skim over the real meaning of a love that is given freely.
God has desires, plans and intentions for us specifically that are for our good benefit. Jeremiah 29:11. I don’t know about you but just knowing that the Creator of the Universe has desires, plans and intentions specifically for me gives me goosebumps.
Psalm 139- Read it and bask in the comfort and knowledge that you have a keeper who has thought of everything. Your keeper will stop at nothing to show you He loves you and is there for you.
God knows when we are feeling whatever we are feeling. If we are in pain, He feels it also. He longs for us to come to Him with our inner most thoughts.
There is no where we could go and no one who gives us the deal God does. He loves us completely for the unique and specific people we are. He loves us with a love that is whole, deep and completely honest in spite of and completely apart from anything we have done or accomplished.
Keep seeking God until you see Him for who He really is. Although God does love you, He is so much more than that. God is love. Love is His nature and His very essence. Who else do you know that lavishes that kind of love on undeserving people?
Seek Him, Find Him, Keep Him. You will not be sorry.
Dottie

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Try it a different way- do a little research

I am embarrassed to admit this but I have been trying something different when problems arise. Something I should have been doing all along.
Although we all try to display an “I got it together”image to the world, most if not all of us are plagued by self doubt, insecurities and a feeling of unworthiness. I know I am.

What if I told you that you have someone in your life that has searched you and knows you, end to end. He knows you so well in fact that He knows when you sit and when you rise. He can and does discern your thoughts from afar. He searches your path before you take it and He is acquainted with ALL your ways. Even the ones you take special care to hide from the world.

When you speak, He knows what you will say. He is your personal safe room. Where you go,, He precedes you but what’s more, He takes your hand in His. With Him even the darkness is bright.
To have someone on your side that was responsible for forming you while you were still in your Mother’s womb, that is priceless.. To know that you are fearfully and wonderfully made because of the one who made you Is invaluable in ways you cannot even begin to understand!

A beautiful thought is that Our Creator saw us before we were formed, He has a book in which every last detail of “You” were written. Think for just a moment on the significance of this.

The good news is you have all this and so much more.

Psalm 139:1-6 and 13-17 gives us the truth of who we are and who is responsible.

God is the reason we are and He is the reason we are what we are. He loves us because of who we are, not in spite of who we are. God is the only unconditional love you will find on this earth. He is the reason that we need to look for ourselves in Him and not in man. Nothing and I mean nothing can take our royal status away. Something enormous is within each of us. Don’t look inside yourself to get permission to look up, try looking up to Him before you look inside. You will have a better idea of what you are seeing that way.

Live up to your inheritance. You will never look back.

Dottie
…………..and so I ride.

Let’s play a little game.
I have a puzzle for you. If you are playing a game and you move ahead 4 spaces, then next turn you have to go back 3 spaces, next turn you move ahead 6 spaces and your final turn you have to move back 4 spaces. Are you still ahead of where you started?

It appears that yes indeed you are still 3 spaces ahead of where you started. You are advancing, you are on the way to someplace different than where you started. Right?

Now, let’s look at life.

We start something, a diet, a project, a new job, a debt reduction plan, our Christian walk, it could be one of a million different things. Then when we get half way through it we get discouraged and frustrated because what we think progress is not happening fast enough.

Just because you are not seeing progress does not mean it is not being made. If we would take a moment to think about it, and be honest with ourselves, we are clearly ahead of where we started at.
We are an impatient lot aren’t we? A little arrogant too. The prevailing attitude is that if it can’t be done in MY time, I am not going to do it at all. Why do we tend to think that slow progress is no progress? A little or a lot, progress in progress.

A lot of the time, a little more effort and consistent effort and our goals will be met. However, discouragement grabs us and we throw what progress we have made away instead of plodding along and slowly moving forward. We don’t see that six steps forward and three steps backwards is still ending up ahead of where we started. I am willing to bet that in those backwards steps we learned some valuable lessons.

I think that our Christian walk is often like that. We have to slowly and sometimes painfully make our way to the Kingdom. It can take years, decades or a lifetime filled with ups and downs. A winding path can be enough to cause us to take our eyes off the prize. If we are no longer focusing on our destination you can bet we are focusing on the wrong things.
It is frustrating and hard. We have to remember that forward progress is forward progress. It is a good finish that we are after, the journey is not always going to be easy or pretty.

It is tempting to give up on living the Christian life because we are impatient and don’t see any progress, or not enough progress. Let Hebrews 12:1 be our motto, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
Our Christian walk is intentionally meant to be an endurance event. It is an event that shapes us and makes us into what God means us to be.

Sure our Christian walk with have lots of meaningful and uplifting spiritual moments, but it will not be comprised entirely of good things. Neither will the times be all bad. Mostly it is about the everyday things, it is about each little step that we consistently take in faith no matter the circumstances.

Dottie
…………….and so I ride

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Getting Real

Things are going to get real for me today. I am going to venture off the path I usually take in my writing and cautiously step out of my self imposed box. It is scary for me. Laying a soul open is never easy but often necessary. Getting to the bare truth of a situation means venturing uncomfortable places and even places that are muddy. To get to the absolute bare truth one must shine the light of brutal honesty. Leaving oneself vulnerable can be brutal but beneficial. It is only then that we can start to live with honesty and start the journey that God has long ago assigned to us.

To coin an old and often used phrase, today, I will start the first truly honest day of the rest of my life.

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Weight has been an issue for me my whole life. I was not overweight in grade school or in high school but I can remember many diets. I was trying to get weight off that was only in my imagination. My Mom (who was overweight) even took me to Weight Watchers with her when I was in grade school. They refused to let me join because in their words, I was not overweight. That did not deter my Mom or myself, it was still diet after diet to get to a weight that was acceptable. I suppose this was my Mom’s way to make sure I always stayed at a “normal” weight and would never have to deal with the weight issues she did. It backfired, big time. Diets, binges, diets, binges and over the years my weight went nowhere except up. Oh there were times that I lost weight and felt wonderful. However, there was never a time that the weight did not return and along with the original pounds came a few extra.
Fast forward to my late forties and I finally found the solution. Barbaric surgery, in my case, Lap Band. Starting at a high weight of 236 I lost about a hundred pounds. I looked great, felt great and basked in the attention. Then life did what it always does. Times got hard, really hard and I went scampering back to the only thing that I could ever count on for comfort, food. Eight years post surgery I find myself having regained 50 of my 100 pounds.

My relationship with food was what gave me a weight problem. The surgeon had fixed my stomach. He did not fix my head. Actually, the surgeon did his job. My band worked well and did its job. It was my self image,emotions and erroneous thinking that failed me. I was looking to a diet and a surgeon for something that was life-changing. I was looking in the wrong place.

I have always hated myself for being heavy and have never forgiven myself for my sinful relationship with food. However, nothing is as bad as regaining weight after bariatric surgery. That holds a special kind of shame.

I have been trying to figure out why I am getting no-where in my efforts to lose the extra weight. I can not keep motivation, food literally speaks to me, it just doesn’t seem worth the effort and it seems easier to live life as a plus size woman. Except and this is a big except, I feel tired, my muscles hurt, my knees and feet kill me, I waddle like a duck and feel like I need a crane as am unfolding myself from a sitting position. Getting out of a low vehicle probably looks comical but is anything but. I am on a fast road to diabetes and many other diseases related to obesity. However, the biggest thing is that I know that God wants me to come to Him for all the things I think I receive from food. I know this with a certainty that comes from deep inside me and that I can actually feel burning. My relationship with food is a sin I need to repent of.

I have felt like a failure my whole life and I have a deep seated hatred for the weakness inside me that makes me seek food for comfort. I have never forgiven myself for being weak, self destructive and selfish.I have never forgiven myself for finding a remedy to obesity then blowing that opportunity and regaining weight.

There is only one solution to this problem and it starts today.

It starts with this verse.
Isaiah 43: 25 “I, even I, am he who blots out
your transgressions, for my own sake,
and remembers your sins no more.

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Can you feel the hope and cleansing whiteness in that verse?

I CHOOSE to hate myself and live in self-condemnation. God does exactly the opposite. My unforgiveness only hinders my efforts to become healthy. How can I be healthy when the cancer of unforgiveness festers in my soul and poisons everything around me?

Today is a new day and I am a new being in Christ. I will CHOOSE to wear that robe proudly. God CHOOSES to forgive me, forget my sin and the gloriously wipes the slate clean. This is a very important piece of the puzzle. I need to choose to forgive myself for the weight gain and then forget it and move on………. from this day forward.

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I am no longer who I once was. I will walk forth as the wonderful women of God I am. I am clean and pure and will start living that way from today. I truly believe that only when we have forgiven and forgotten our past transgressions can we give ourselves the best chance for success in our walk to health and in our role as children of a FORGIVING God.
I will take my cues on behavior from Him.
From this day forward my relationship with food will be replaced with a hunger for God. How I fill my soul is up to me. I will make wise choices.

Dottie
……………and so I ride

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You cannot fill your emptiness with more emptiness.

We become aware of the emptiness at different times in different ways. You learn to live with it and eventually it becomes a part of you. It can become familiar like your favorite house robe.  However, no matter how you try to convince yourself otherwise, there is nothing comforting or inviting about emptiness.

The numbing nature of emptiness is compounded when we try to fill the void with more meaningless emptiness. Alcohol, drugs, shopping, food, friends, possessions, try as we might; nothing fills the void for long.

You end up so completely aware of the void it becomes a physical ache that feeds upon itself. It will tear you apart and sow a vagueness that you simply disappear into.

It does not matter how many people are around you and how connected you are to your surroundings and life, because you feel abandoned and distant. It feels as if there is a total and complete absence of “you”.

God has put a longing in our heart that can, if we let it, lead us to Him. He offers the things that we search for every day and never seem to find. His love, acceptance and approval can fill that void so full that there is no need to keep on searching in vain. Until we accept the treasures He offers, we will never succeed in filling that void.

“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water. Jeremiah 2:13

“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1

Brothers and sisters let God repair your broken and leaking cistern and fill it with water from the well that will never run dry. Your thirst is a deep longing for something meaningful to fill the emptiness.

Fill your empty place with God, He is the only source able to once and for all fill that void. He will satisfy so deeply and completely that you will never thirst again.

 

Dottie

………………and so I ride