February 02, 2022
"When He (God) becomes your chief joy, all other aspects of life find their proper place." (from the First15 devotional)
I have been thinking about this and what it means for me and for you. What are the "aspects of life that we may desperately want to be in proper place?
I want to lose weight.
I want to go to the gym consistently.
I want to be more organized.
I want to read the Bible more regularly.
I want to cultivate a more fulfilling marriage.
I want to get a handle on my finances.
I want to manage the household better.
I want to finish the project(s) I started.
I want to move up in my line of work.
I want to overcome an addiction or bad habit for good.
I want a better relationship with someone I care about.
I want to worry less and have more peace.
I want to practice better self-care.
I want to find my purpose in life.
I want to __________________________________
Consider that the satisfaction of these things may result as more of a bi-product of prioritizing your life around knowing the Creator and basking in His love and fellowship, rather than being centralized goals in and of themselves. Maybe the gumption and wherewithal to do the things you know to do, and to balance them in a healthy way, results from the mysterious transfer of clarity and strength that comes from walking with God intimately.
When you think about it, what are you trying to muscle your way through in your own power and understanding ? What are you constantly on your own back about?
You may fear that if you let up for one moment, if you shift your focus off of "the thing," that it will only get worse.
What if you tried a different way for, say, six months. An experiment. What if for the whole month of February, you concentrated the most on getting to know your King and Friend better, and opening yourself up to Him like you never have before.
This is my challenge to myself this month. Lay down the whip of condemnation and seek Him with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength!
October 16, 2021
WHAT WERE YOU DOING WHEN HE ATTACKED?
This morning I listened to the First15 podcast from a few days ago, about seeking God in solitude. This song was the featured worship. I wrestled with it at first, thinking "NO! This is not my experience! This is HARD, not effortless." But then as I let the words wash over me, and meditated on them, I reflected on some realities. "When You're this close" is not about God being close or not close, for the Bible is clear on that subject. Rather, it's my perception of His nearness, which has everything to do with what I am or am not doing to spend time with Him.
I am just coming out on the other side of a pretty significant battle. One of the questions I have learned to ask myself when I finally realize that I have been attacked by the adversary is, "What were you doing when he attacked?" That will usually provide the answer to what he is trying to distract me from and get me to stop doing. What I was doing this time is I was hot and heavy in intercessory prayer. I had a designated prayer closet (Tyler's old room) and it was a place of incredible power and peace. I was walking around the lakes near my home, interceding. I was worshipping. I was listening to Karen Wheaton on Wednesdays and the World Prayer Network calls on Sundays. I was on FIRE!!!! The first hit was I lost my prayer closet because my step-son moved into it. Then a cascade of other things started crowding out and/or distracting me from my spiritual life and practices. The "want to" started to wane and guilt and condemnation crept in, until I was I pretty depressed and mad at myself.
But God is faithful, isn't He? In various ways, He has reminded me that this load I am carrying and the peace I'm craving....it IS effortless when I carve out the time daily to seek Him in solitude. There have been so, so many times when I entered my prayer closet with grief so big I thought I might die, or frustration so overwhelming I couldn't imagine being able to move forward, but then after just a little time in His presence I came out refreshed, empowered, and able to get through the next 24 hours triumphantly.
I am thankful for the support network I am a part of, where I am able to have a sounding board, share in a common journey, and hear from God through others. It is in part because of this important facet of being part of the Body of Christ that I am able to stay in the saddle on this very, very messy journey.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:23-25)View More
June 15, 2021
FOR PARENTS of PRODIGAL CHILDREN
You know how you read a passage 100 times and then one day you see it with fresh eyes? OMG, this is what jumped out at me today: We were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many. (1 Cor 8-10) As I have shared in tears with many moms and dads over this plight that has overtaken our children, we often describe it as a death. The death of the child we knew, and an anguish within ourselves that is like a death. Yet here in this passage, Paul speaks of God's deliverance from "death," real or figurative--past, present, and future!!! Furthermore, as we spoke of in last night's share and prayer call, the gift of deliverance, of life, is procured through intercession, in particular CORPORATE intercession. That we come together and intercede for one another and our children is the vehicle through which God operates to His glory in answering our prayers.
March 11, 2021
IT SHOULD TASTE AMAZING Back in the late 80's and early 90's when I was in the process of overcoming an eating disorder, I made a couple of commitments to myself: first, that I am important enough to take the time and effort to prepare delicious meals for myself, even if it's only for me. Second, everything I eat has to meet two criteria: it must be good for me and it must taste amazing! I've been keeping that promise to myself for about thirty years. Those two commitments were transformational. I morphed from fearing food and viewing it as the enemy, to celebrating the gift of eating. I know many of my readers have struggled, and perhaps continue to struggle, with food/eating/body issues, so I just wanted to share this snippet of my testimony to give you hope and maybe some inspiration. I could write a big long article to expound on that, but it's already done for you on my website at https://livrite.com/eating-disorders/ Today, I am going to share some of the quick and easy things I've been eating and enjoying this past week, just as an example. BULLET-PROOF COFFEE: My version, without the added fat. I love my coffee in the morning, and it is an integral part of having "Coffee with Jesus" to start my day. I make it by placing two super tiny pieces of good dark chocolate in the bottom of my favorite 16-oz. coffee mug, adding a fingernail of cayenne pepper, a few drops of liquid vanilla stevia (current favorite brand "plnt") or a pinch of monk fruit, 3 cups organic coffee, Kauai Coffee Coconut Caramel Crunch, or Coconut Coffee, and a splash of plant-based milk, such as unsweetened coconut or vanilla almond milk. Benefits of cayenne: reduce hunger, lower blood pressure, aid digestion, relieve pain, reduce cancer risk, anti-inflammatory, boosts metabolism, and more! BREAKFAST BURRITO: Can be gleefully consumed any meal of the day. I like to grill my filling ingredients on the BBQ, but you can do it stove-top or in a wok (add additional chicken broth, if needed), too. I chop up my favorite veggies: sweet onion, bell peppers, various other peppers including half a habanero (I like everything hot), zucchini, lots of mushrooms, and garlic. I make enough to fill a medium mixing bowl so I can eat this every day for several days and/or share. I tend to have cooked chicken on hand, so I chop up some of that, or shrimp, along with some tomato and cilantro. I then take a medium mixing bowl and add about 2 tsp. of oil and about a T. of chicken broth. To that I add liberal amounts of various seasonings to taste, such as Kroeger Nashville Hot Chicken Style Seasoning, Weber Kickin' Chicken, Weber Roasted Garlic & Herb, Weber Garlic Habanero, Grill Mates Spicy Montreal Steak, Grill Mates Sweet & Smokey, Trader Joes Chile Lime, and Olivelle Habanero Heat. Yes, I use them all! I toss the veggies in the bowl, with meat if it's raw, and put on the BBQ, stirring occasionally. (I have a great long-handled grilling pan for that). While the stir-fry is cooking, I scramble one whole egg with two or three egg whites and set aside. When the veggies are close to being done, I add the garlic, tomato, and cilantro, along with pre-cooked chicken or shrimp if that's what I am using and heat 2-3 more minutes. When this is finished, I put the stir-fry in a bowl, add the scrambled eggs, and toss well. Next, I take a large whole wheat tortilla (I like the Ole' brand), or wheat/corn blend, and sprinkle it with just a tad of three-cheese blend (grated Parmesan, Asiago, and Romano) and nuke for 25 seconds. Then I place a slice of avocado, a dollop of fat-free sour cream, and a good splash of steak sauce on the tortilla, mash it around with a fork, top with burrito filling, wrap and ENJOY! NOTE: With or without the egg, this stir-fried filling by itself makes an excellent meal. SALMON OR POLLOCK BURGER: I like the Trident brand sold in the frozen section at Costco. Super quick and easy to make. While your frozen fish patty is cooking, sauté some sweet Walla Walla or Vedalia onion in water or chicken broth. Toast a whole-grain thin bun (I like Fred Meyer's brand of 100% whole wheat sandwich thins, usually the cheapest around; it saves about half the calories of a regular bun). I top my burger with the onions, pickled jalapenos, sliced tomato, lettuce and a good dose of Southwestern/Sweet & Hot Sauce sold at most grocery stores under the store brand. ASIAN MEAL SALAD: I use baked or grilled chicken, salmon, tuna, or shrimp for this dish. On a small dinner plate or in a large soup bowl, I tear up red leaf and romaine lettuce and sometimes add spinach. I top with my choice of meat, chopped green onion, purple cabbage, red, yellow, and/or orange bell pepper, pickled jalapeno, and grated carrot. Then I add cilantro, toasted sliced or slivered almonds, and avocado chunks. I make my own dressing (1/2 c. brown rice vinegar, ¼ c. + 2 T. canola oil, 1 tsp. sesame oil, ½ tsp. black pepper, 1 tsp. sea salt, and ½-1 tsp. rapadura , coconut sugar, or granulated stevia or monk fruit, shaken and chilled). I top with a few croutons, a tiny sprinkle of three-cheese blend (grated Parmesan, Asiago, & Romano) and sometimes a sprinkle of toasted sesame seed. This is especially yummy when the meat is warmed before adding to the salad. Sometimes I add some dried cranberries for fun, but it's hard to find them without added sugar and oil. I might try dehydrating my own in the air-fryer. STUFFED POTATO:I make mine with chopped cooked chicken or shrimp sauteed in chicken broth with minced or mashed garlic. With the meat cooked and set aside, I first cut up some broccoli, cauliflower, and mushrooms and steam it. While veggies are steaming, if I haven't baked a potato, I nuke a small-to-medium red or Yukon Gold potato. I cut open the potato and mash it flattish, top with the steamed veggies, and meat, pour salsa all over it, and top with a tiny sprinkle of grated pepper-jack cheese for flavor. Then I microwave until heated through and the cheese is melting. I top with a dollop of fat-free sour cream and I go to heaven and am quite full and satisfied. FIT FARE VEGGIE SKILLET: When I think of restaurants I have historically not been very fond of, Denny's is definitely on that list. But a while back I discovered this amazing, tasty Veggie Skillet on the menu, and I have been going to Denny's on purpose and re-creating the meal at home ever since! The Veggie Skillet consists of chunked red-skinned potatoes with the skin on, broccoli, peppers, and onions, topped with spinach and scrambled egg white, and served with salsa (I also add ketchup) on a sizzling skillet. It is the bomb! I eat half and save half for the next day. MOON MILK: I discovered this recipe and modified it to my liking when searching for stress reduction and sleep remedies. Sipping Moon Milk at night is now a much looked-forward-to part of my sleep hygiene. I heat one cup of unsweetened coconut or vanilla almond milk. To it I stir in 1 tsp. Ashwagandha root powder (I bought a 1-lb. bag of Organic Spice Resource brand through Amazon—inexpensive and may be a 20-year supply), ½ tsp. cinnamon, ¼ tsp. ginger, pinch of nutmeg, several drops of vanilla stevia, and a super tiny smidgeon, maybe 1/16th of tsp. of coconut oil for mouth feel. Blending with a small hand blender would be ideal, but mix very well by hand at the very least. Smooth, creamy, and comforting. I have read it takes 4-6 weeks to experience the therapeutic benefits, and I am still in that time frame. Benefits of Ashwagandha: boost brain function, lower blood sugar and cortisol, increase energy, increase concentration, reduce anxiety, stress, and depression, improve sleep and help with insomnia ; benefits of cinnamon: loaded with anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatory, reduce risk of heart disease, improve sensitivity to insulin, reduce blood sugar, and protect against cancer; benefits of ginger: help with weight-loss, lower blood sugar, anti-bacterial/viral, lower cholesterol, aid indigestion, help prevent cancer, and protect against Alzheimer's; benefits of nutmeg: pain relief, soothe indigestion, improve cognitive function, aid skin health, detoxification, reduce insomnia, alleviate oral conditions, enhance immune system, prevent leukemia, and improve blood circulation. Committing to a life of healthy eating does not have to be a jail sentence or an endeavor in deprivation. Most of your favorite foods can be "healthified" and made to taste AMAZING! Cooking often from scratch, emphasizing "God Foods" (foods that grow on trees, bushes, stalks, or come out of the ground), and portion control has simplified my eating style and obliterated any need for a "diet" to follow. No need to count or weigh anything. With years of practice, I pretty much know what and how much to eat to maintain, and there just isn't a lot of stress around it. I eat to live and enjoy it as well. You can, too!
January 20, 2021
This morning, the Lord led me to Psalm 37. This is a well-worn chapter of scripture that I have often read, meditated on, and decreed over events in my life. But today God invited me to review it with fresh eyes as I lifted up prayers for our nation.
This Psalm is PACKED with good advice and reassurance for the perilous times we have been in and are facing.
We are to:
Trust in the Lord
Dwell in the land
Feed on His faithfulness
Delight in the Lord
Commit our way to Him
Rest in the Lord
Refuse to fret
Cease from anger
Depart from evil
Wait on the Lord
That's it. That's what we're supposed to be doing while God unfolds His plan for this nation and the world in the time we have left. I don't believe this is a call to passivity, for "doing good" and "committing your way" can and should include putting hands and feet to your persuasion. Christians ought to be engaged.
A few quotes to bring comfort and peace:
For evildoers shall be cut off; but those who WAIT on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.
The wicked plots against the just, and gnashes at him with his teeth. The Lord laughs at him, for He sees that his day is coming.
The Lord knows the days of the upright, and their inheritance shall be forever. They shall NOT BE ASHAMED in the evil time, and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied. But the wicked shall perish; and the enemies of the Lord, like the splendor of the meadows, shall vanish, into smoke they shall vanish away.
Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell forevermore. For the Lord loves JUSTICE, and does not foresake His saints.
The wicked watches the righteous, and seeks to slay him. The Lord will not leave him in his hand, nor condemn him when he is judged.
I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a native green tree. Yet he passed away, and behold, he was no more. Indeed I sought him, but he could not be found.
But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in the time of trouble. And the Lord shall help them; he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, BECAUSE THEY TRUST IN HIM.
We are told to trust and to wait, because everything is in God's timing. Don't be moved by what you see and hear, but keep your eyes fixed on God. There is certainly more going on behind the scenes than we can even know. The enemy works by sleight of hand and hopes to deceive even believers that we would become discouraged and cast away our confidence. Don't be charmed!!
Remember, trust is worship and rest is warfare!
And no matter what does or doesn't happen, we know God wins and His children with Him.
March 27, 2020
How Long Do You Want To Chew That Corn?
When my younger sister and I were little girls, there was a policy laid down by our parents that we had to eat at least one bite of the vegetable that was served at dinner time. Now there were a few vegetables that we could get down without too much trouble, but some were more problematic. My sister despised corn in particular, and it happened that she often would still be at the table, a half hour after everyone else had finished their meal, still chewing that bite of corn.
I often wondered over the years, why would my sister chew that bite of corn for so long? Why would she choose to keep on tasting that yucky taste, when she could just swallow it and get it over with so much more quickly? Perhaps she was more afraid of gagging than suﬀering the taste a little longer...
I was listening to a particular Karen Wheaton video this morning for about the fourth time, and this time the Lord brought to my mind my sister chewing the corn. In the video, Karen talks about trials, that some trials are a testing of our faith, and that they each have a date on them. However, our response to the trial, may impact how soon that date is. I got to thinking about the trial I am currently still in and the trials that some of you are facing.
I am the mother of three prodigal children, complete with estrangement from two of them--that's my current ongoing trial. Exceedingly painful! Maybe you are going through something similar, or wrestling with the eﬀects of a painful childhood, a troubled marriage, financial stress, mental health issues, sickness in your body, the death of a loved one, a shattered dream, a betrayal, or something else. How are you responding to your trial?
Some people respond to a trial by running or numbing....coping with alcohol, drugs, sex, relationships,
pornography, gambling, gaming, shopping, sleeping, etc. to momentarily distract and mask unpleasant feelings.
Other people respond to a trial by conceding (at first resisting, but then embracing) because the pressure to accept the trial as fate or even God's will is deemed too intense and the journey of faith too diﬃcult to traverse.
Still others respond to a trial by freezing, unable or unwilling to make a definitive choice about what to think, believe, or do, which amounts to doing nothing and is a choice in and of itself. They perpetually waﬄe between fighting the good fight of faith and caving, and continually gasp for air in the sea of doubt. This is perhaps the
most turmoiled, beat up group of all.
And all of them, in an attempt to spare themselves from gagging, are electing to keep chewing the corn. The date on the trial is being pushed further away.
There is a a better way. There is a way to swallow the corn and usher in the power of God to deliver what has been promised to you.
When Karen Wheaton was facing the trial of her life, God told her this: "Trust is worship and rest is warfare."
When we trust God in the trial and believe that He is faithful to His Word, that is the highest compliment, the highest form of worship we can oﬀer Him. As Karen points out, our prayers made in faith are the "conduit" through which God brings the answers and manifests His promises.
That kind of faith brings a peace, or a rest to our souls, because we know that we know that we know that He has heard us, He is working (even if we can't see or feel it), and He will keep His Word. Then, even while the storm is still raging, we can live our lives joyfully and productively in the waiting. Brothers and sisters, that is when the battle becomes His and not yours!
Thus says the Lord to you: 'Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God's. (2 Chron. 20:15)
Is this an easy walk? No! We need to spend time with God and we need the love and support of each other. God has communicated with me as I've studied His Word and sent many messengers through the body of Christ (sermons, prophecies, conversations with individuals, things in books and articles, videos, and seemingly random other avenues) to strengthen and encourage me as I continue to stand on the promises of God for the miracle I am believing for.
God cannot speak to you to guide and encourage you if you are not seeking Him, listening for Him, and putting yourself in a position to receive. You position yourself to receive by participating in the spiritiual disciplines of studying His Word, worship, prayer, and fellowshipping with other believers through a local church and other ministries.
If you've been chewing corn, make this day the turning point. Commit yourself to earnestly contend for the faith, (Jude 1:3) and run your race with endurance, so that after you have done the will of God you may receive what has been promised you (Heb. 10:36 & 12:1).
When I am down, and, oh, my soul, so weary
When troubles come, and my heart burdened be
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence
Until you come and sit awhile with me
You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas
I am strong when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up to more than I can be. --Josh Grobin
December 31, 2019
Yesterday, I needed to hear from God.
As I was praying and doing housework, a familiar but not-recently- thought-of verse popped into my head: 'Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord of hosts. (Zechariah 4:6)
I was prompted to go look it up in my Bible to read the surrounding text.
Sunday, I don't know if it was in church or something I read, but I had been pondering since the notion that overcoming is fostered when the emphasis is on drawing closer to Christ rather than on resisting temptation or trying so hard to be perfect. When our relationship with Him becomes the priority, whatever we are struggling with begins to lose its power. Zechariah 4:6 seemed to strongly speak to this and the whole issue of trials in life, whether personal weaknesses or awful situations.
Here is the larger passage:
So he (the angel) answered and said to me:
"This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord of hosts.
'Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone
With shouts of "Grace, grace to it!" ' "
I felt impressed that God was saying we can appropriate those verses to our current challenges.
"This is the word of the Lord to Gretchen: 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord of hosts.
"Who are you, O great mountain of __________? Before Gretchen you shall become a plain (level ground,
The power of such a statement is readily apparent. This is the word of the Lord to us, if we will walk closely with Him = and wholeheartedly believe that to us the promises of God are yes and amen (2 Cor. 1:20) and that He will always lead us in triumph (2 Cor. 2:14). Our mountains will be leveled by His Spirit because of our trust, our confession, and His great grace toward us.
What mountan are you facing? Sickness? Financial strain? Addiction? Sexual brokenness? A prodigal child? Mental health problems? A shattered relationship? Bad habits? Try speaking to your mountain this way: "Before me you shall become level ground!"
If you believe it, there will be levity in your heart and a spring in your step.
Happy New Year, my friends!
December 23, 2019
Have a minor or adult kid you're worried about? This article will encourage you.
November 14, 2019
But with God...
November 11, 2019
A client shared this with me. Those of you who have sat with me may have heard me talk about this very thing. 1 Corinthians 10:13 does not teach that as believers we won't face unbearable circumstances! There is a big diﬀerence between temptation (to sin), which is what the verse is referring to, and catastrophic circumstances. The Bible teaches we will encounter water and not drown and fire and not be burned. In other words, in one way or another, He will see us through it if we cling to Him in confident trust.
"God won't give you more than you can handle..."
Odd, I can't seem to find that verse.
I'm guessing Job would take exception to that cliche.
Why would God allow him to experience hurt more than he could handle? Read on.
"...so that we might not rely on ourselves but on God." II Corinthians 1:9
Truth? Cancer is more than you can handle.
So is infidelity.
So is caregiving.
So is rejection.
So is death
and prodigal children
and 101 other life struggles.
God doesn't expect YOU to handle it.
He expects you to hand it over to HIM.
He doesn't want you relying on your strength, but on His.
If we keep walking around thinking
"God won't give me more than I can handle,"
we're setting ourselves up for
Good news? He beckons for your burdens,
"Cast your cares upon Me..." I Peter 5:7
You will never know relief until you do.
For this hard place, I have Jesus!