Strength For Today

A journey of keeping my heart, mind, and body in TODAY

Psalm 91: Day 3

S: Surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. Psalm 91:3

O:  As I read this text, I love how the words HE WILL pop right off the page!  Two very simple words.  Just a pronoun and a verb.  He will.  He will. He WILL!!!  God’s amazing faithfulness is what stands out to me in these two words.  When I read “He will…” throughout the pages of His Word, I am drawn to the fact that He is a God of 100% faithfulness.  Not 99%.  Not even 99.9999%.  ONE HUNDRED PERCENT faithful!  So, if God is the only perfect Faithful One, then I can hold Him to His Word every single time.  I can count on Him every single time.  I can have FAITH in Him.  Every single time.

So, what am I having faith in, according to Psalm 91:3?  I am having faith that God Himself will SAVE ME!!  I am having faith that, no matter what, I can count on Him to save me.  Is that going to look the way I THINK it should look, every time?  Chances are NO.  My human concept of “save” and God’s Truth of “Save” are sometimes very different.

For example, how many times do we hear questions like these?  “If God is so good, then why did He let _____________ happen?”   or  “If God is such a good God, then why do bad things keep happening?”  or  “If God is so real, and He loves us, then why are children being abused and killed?  Why are their rapists and murderers?  Why does He let people kill people because they believe in Him? Why doesn’t He stop that?”  

I mean, if I read Psalm 91:3 literally, I read that HE WILL SAVE ME FROM THE FOWLER’s SNARE (the trap of evildoers) and FROM DEADLY PESTILENCE (deadly disease).  And if God is who He says He is, then those questions could be valid…  WHY IS THERE STILL ALL THIS BROKENNESS in the world if God is so FAITHFUL to KEEP HIS PROMISE?  WHY IS THERE DISEASE and WHY ARE INNOCENT PEOPLE BEING KILLED (sometimes even for HIS sake) every single day?  WHY???

Well, I am just a simple woman – NOT a theologian, priest, pastor, or minister – but if I look closely enough at God’s Word, and I read beyond this isolated verse, I can see that God never promised to save me from the fowler’s snare or the deadly pestilence by removing the problem.  He never promises that there wouldn’t be snares or pestilence – but rather that there would be these things. In fact, have you considered this?  

If the brokenness didn’t exist, then why would the saving even be necessary?

Never once in His Word does God promise us that life will be easy or without pain and suffering.  His Promise is that He will be with us THROUGH these things.  His promise is that, if we make Him our DWELLING, our SHELTER, our REFUGE, and our FORTRESS, then He will be our Savior!  He will save us from ALL of the brokenness, from EVERY snare, from EVERY disease…He will save us.  And this saving isn’t the same as our human concept of saving.

He doesn’t always save us from the circumstance.  He saves us in the circumstance.  Sometimes He even saves us through the circumstance. God’s saving Grace is far bigger than the human mind can possibly understand.  But if God is who He says He is, then He will do what He says He will do.  In His way and in His time.

A:  I will trust that God IS who He says He is, and that He WILL do what He says He will do!

P: God, you are so beautiful!  You are sovereign!  You are all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving!  You are GOD!!!  Lord, there are so many broken people in this world.  There are so many people who are hurting, so many lives that are falling apart. Lord, I pray for each one of these people now.  I don’t know them, Father, but You do.  You know what they need and You know what they don’t.  You know what Your plan is for their life, and You have and will continue to work out the plan that You have prepared.  Lord, I just pray that they would have hearts that are open to You, and that they would seek You out.  I pray that all those who are in need of healing, would turn to You – and find it.  In Jesus I pray!  Amen

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Psalm 91: Day 2

S- I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.”

O- Again, this verse so beautifully states my part.  In verse 1, I am reminded that my part is to dwell in the shelter of the Lord, and in verse 2 my part is to proclaim my decision to trust in my God!  This is not passive by any means.  Verse 2 is written in a very active voice.  My part here is to say, to speak, to share my faith in my God.  The use of the word “He” in this verse along with the phrase “I will say of the Lord” expresses very clearly that I am not saying these words to the Lord, but rather to someone else.

He IS my refuge!  He IS my fortress!  What a mighty God we serve!  These words, REFUGE and FORTRESS create powerful images of protection!  God isn’t just some entity who lives separately from us. Not just some giant man in the sky, sitting on His throne, looking down on the world and passively sitting back – doing nothing.  THAT IS NOT THE CHARACTER OF GOD.  Rather, God is a VERY active God.  He is here with us, right now! He is a dwelling place, He is a shelter, He is a place of rest, He is a refuge, He is a fortress!!!  I mean, just LOOK at those words for a second!  In just two small verses in one little chapter of the Bible, God’s character is illuminated beautifully.  You can’t dwell in something that isn’t right there in your midst.  You can’t seek shelter or rest in something that isn’t right there. You can’t find refuge or a fortress of protection from something that isn’t there all around you!  But the Bible says in black and white that GOD IS ALL OF THESE THINGS.  So, either we serve a VERY active and present God – or the Bible isn’t telling us the truth.  It’s one or the other.

A– Expressing my belief in my God to anyone who will listen – this is how I read this verse.  I choose to make the Lord my dwelling, I choose to seek shelter in Him, I choose to find my rest in Him – and then I choose to share these decisions!  I proclaim my faith in God, and I tell anyone who will listen that He is the One I put my trust in, HE is the One I turn to for protection!!  Only God!

P- Lord!  I love you!  I trust you!  In all things!  Please, Lord, grant me the willingness and the opportunity to boldly proclaim my faith in You!  Please provide me opportunities to share with those who have never heard of You as You reveal Yourself in your Word.  Please provide me opportunities to help others see how truly BEAUTIFUL You are, how much you Love us, and how active You are in our life!  God!  So many people don’t understand that You are a very real, very tangible, very present God!  People think that You don’t care Lord!  Help me share Your Truth with those who need to hear it! Prepare hearts Lord, as only You can!  Make a way Father!  Open hearts, open minds, open doors!  In Jesus I pray! Amen

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Psalm 91 (Day 1)

I love it when God calls me into a deeper understanding of His Word and how it applies to my life!  It has been a while since I’ve delved into a specific section of scripture, and I am excited to embark on a 21-day journey into Psalm 91. God has had me in Psalm 91 for a while now.  About 2 months ago, a good friend prompted me to commit Psalm 91 to memory. Throughout the process of doing that, God revealed some things about His character to me.  The sense that I need to spend some time digging deeper into those revelations has been hanging around for a while.  Last night, I turned on radio, and felt the Spirit speaking directly to me, and I knew that today would be the start of a new journey of getting deeper into God and His Word.  Won’t you join me?

I’m going to use a method of studying scripture that I learned about 3 years ago when I was first trying to read the Bible. The method is called the “SOAP” method.  S- scripture: this is where I will write out the scripture that I am unpacking.  O- observation:  this is where I will talk about what I observe in the verse I am studying.  I might break down specific words here, how they impact the meaning of the verse, or what I think God is revealing through that verse.  A- application: this is where I will discuss how this verse is applicable to my life, or to life in general.  I may discuss ways that this verse is already applied or can be applied in my everyday life.  P- prayer.  I will end every entry in prayer.  This prayer will specifically include the verse that I have been studying in some way.

S- He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  ~Psalm 91:1

O- He who dwells …. when I think of dwelling, I think of staying somewhere – either physically or mentally.  When I am dwelling in a place, I am living there.  When I am dwelling on a concept or idea, I am intently focused on that concept or idea.  When I read the first part of this verse,  He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, I interpret that as “He who LIVES in the shelter of the Most High“.  When I am living somewhere, I am doing more than just popping in from time to time.  I am doing more than visiting.  I am residing there.  I am getting my needs met there.  I am spending significant, quality time there.  My “dwelling place” is my HOME.

The use of the word shelter elicits thoughts about protection.  People seek shelter when they need protection from something or someone.  I think of phrases like “shelter from the storm” or “shelter from the wilderness” or “shelter from danger”.  So, in light of this, I can look at the first part of verse 1 as follows:  He who lives, who makes his home, in the protection of the Most High…

….will REST in the shadow of the Almighty.  Beautiful.  The second half of this verse is God’s promise.  Note the use of the word will.  It doesn’t read “might” or “could” or “should”.  It says WILL.  WILL REST.  What a beautiful image this paints in my mind.  Resting in the shadow of the Almighty.  Think for a moment, if you will, of the comfort of resting in the shadow of a giant oak tree on a warm summer day.  Think of the relaxing, calming, gentle breeze that sweeps sweetly over your skin, the warmth of the air as it touches you.  A picture of true serenity, right?  Imagine what it must feel like to rest in the shadow of the Almighty!  So what does all this mean, and how can I apply it to my life?

A- Well, my understanding is this:  If I choose to spend significant, quality time with God each day, if I choose to go to Him to get my needs met, if I seek protection from the world’s problems in Him… if I choose to do this on a continuous basis – I am making God (the Most High) my dwelling and my shelter.  If I am staying in His protective presence through each and every circumstance that enters my life – then I am dwelling in the shelter of the Most High.  Additionally, IF I am dwelling in the shelter of the Most HighTHEN I will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

By no coincidence, for God is SOVEREIGN, I just witnessed this verse in action.  My friend Chuck is dying.  Literally, he lays on his deathbed right this second.   I was able to visit him today, an opportunity to say goodbye.  What a sweet moment.  As he lay there on the bed, he looked so peaceful.  So serene.  So, at rest.  People were with him, his loved ones and friends, telling and showing him how very loved he has been on this earth.  Chuck is so clearly resting in the shadow of the Almighty!  For who is The Almighty?  God~ and what is God?  LOVE!  And what is Chuck so clearly resting in? Absolute LOVE.  The shadow of the Almighty God, the Most High, the Father.

P- God, loving Almighty Wonderful God!  Thank You for the opportunity to make YOU my dwelling!  Thank You that You love me so much, that You, the CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE, would welcome me into intimacy with You.  Thank You that I can come before You, knowing that I am eternally loved, eternally adored, eternally accepted.  Thank You for the promise that if I choose to make You my dwelling, I will be able to rest in Your shadow of Unconditional Love.  Lord, I know that the only way to do this is to rely on Your strength!  I choose You today Father!  In Jesus I pray!  Amen







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Have you ever been lost?  The kind of lost where you are looking all around you, and you recognize nothing?  The kind of lost where you have no idea which way is the right way to go?  The kind of lost that twists up all your insides and makes your heart pound with the intensity of a bass drum?

Have you ever experienced the panic that rises up when you realize that you are that kind of lost?

It’s kind of hard to get that lost these days, what with GPS and Smart Phones which seem like they can do anything you ask them to do.  I actually just recently stumbled on the fact that my iphone 4S (yes, I know, it’s antiquated already) can find a location for me, and all I have to do is push a button and ask “Siri” to get me there.  She even does all the talking!  I barely have to lift a finger, and wa-la! I’ve “arrived at my destination”.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had that kind of direction when it came to our spiritual journey?  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could just push a button and ask God which direction to go?  Or ask Him how much longer until we reach our destination?  Or, just plain ask Him where we ARE?  Wouldn’t it be nice if when we asked Him those things, His response would be as concrete as Siri’s?  “Dawn, you are 2 years and 3 days from your destination.  However, if you make this choice you are about to make, that will set you back another 5 years.”  Wouldn’t that be just amazing?

Would it?

I mean, think about it for a minute.  Would you really want to know?  Some days, I would answer that question with a resounding YES!!  Please!  And some days, I would answer that same question with an absolute NO.  What is the difference?  I think, at least for me, there are days when I am so wrapped up in my own head – days when I wander so far from the path that God has so lovingly laid before me – that I just can’t seem to see.  And quite frankly, I panic.

I get that kind of lost.  I can’t see Him.  I can’t see the next step to take.  When this happens, this desperation for direction takes over me, and I start looking to MYSELF to figure it out.  It’s like I start running in circles in my mind, and I get nowhere.  On those days, I yearn for the spiritual “easy button”, or “mapquest”.  I have enough experience to know that God tends not to meet my panic with instant gratification, however.  He doesn’t provide that clear, concise “voice prompt” the way I would prefer.  Instead, He lovingly and patiently deals with me in a much softer way.

God directs me, this I know to be fact.  How do I know this?  Because I believe the Bible is fact.  And Proverbs 16:9 tells me that “a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps”.  So, I know that God will always guide me along the way, if I let Him.  The times I become lost, those are the times that I am grabbing the wheel again.  Those are the times I am trying to find MY way instead of HIS.  Those are the times I am TRYING too hard to make things work out.  Do you know what I mean?  The paradox of working so hard to make things come together, and all they seem to do is fall apart.  This is where I get LOST.

I may not be able to access God the way I can access “Siri” on my iphone 4S, but I can connect with Him at any time and point in my day.  It’s called prayer.  God may not respond as succinctly or immediately as Siri does, but He will always respond, and He will always show me the way.  God is 100% faithful.  He guides me back to His Word, the ultimate GPS.  It is there, in the quiet moments of reflection in His Word, that I just might hear the whisper, “This is the way, walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21).

And then, I will no longer be lost.

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Precious Moments

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.  They cannot be numbered!  I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!  ~Psalm 139:17-18

I am feeling edgy this morning.  Edgy, irritated, frustrated, impatient, guilty, and just all around blah. I really have grown to dislike mornings like this.  The way I feel, my emotions, are just ugly. A morning spent wearing these emotions can wind up catapulting the rest of my day into a cycle of one bad experience after another.  I know…I’ve experienced it many times.  If I’m not careful, my emotions can become my idol.  My god.  A power that I bow down to, that I submit to, that I give control to.  If I’m not careful.

It’s on days like this that I have to be extremely intentional.  Intentional with my words.  Intentional with my actions. Intentional, even, with my thoughts.  In order to do that, I also have to remain aware.  It is almost like I have to be on constant “alert”, waiting for the next thought that enters my mind, and deciding whether to allow it to stay, or remove it immediately.  It can get exhausting, for sure, but it is much better than the alternative.

The alternative to me being aware and intentional of my thoughts, words, and actions is me losing my “cool”.  It looks like me slamming cabinet doors and stomping through the kitchen with that extra “loud” footstep….It sounds like me taking on a “tone” with my daughter when she shares how she is feeling with me, and I didn’t care for her words….It feels like me taking everything happening around me like a personal attack ON me.  This is kind of the way my morning began today. I wasn’t paying attention to my emotional state.  Suddenly I found myself slamming cabinet doors, walking around with the extra “stomp” in my step, hearing the edginess in my voice as my daughter awoke in her typical groggy, yet slightly-over-emotional-11-year-old-way.  I witnessed my own body acting in a way that felt awful to me, and probably looked and sounded awful to my children as well.

So, right here I sit. With a choice.  I can feel guilty the rest of the day about the way I behaved this morning, looking only at the negatives.  Or I can choose a different path.  I can choose the path of looking to the Cross instead of at my guilt.  I can take the path of focusing on Jesus rather than my own pain.  I can follow the footsteps of Christ instead of my own desire to sink into self-pity.  I can open an email, read the words on the screen, be reminded how God’s thoughts are on me  CONSTANTLY, and know – KNOW at the center of my being – that I am NOT alone, and that I do NOT have to carry this pain with me all day.  I have the strength to overcome, because I have the Strength of the Lord.  Period.  Nothing else is needed.  He IS sufficient, in all things, at all times.

I think I know which path to take.

So, how can I be INTENTIONAL on a day like this?  First of all, my emotions absolutely can NOT be my guide.  They can NOT be my focus point either.  So, that’s step one.  Take the power away from my emotions.  Refuse to be driven by the way I feel.

There is a Truth I have discovered on my recovery journey that will apply today.  When I remove one thing from my mind, I must replace it with another.  So, if I am going to choose to remove the power from my emotions – I have to place it somewhere.  Where is that?  In God.  The power belongs to Him.  He is the One who should guide me today. He should be my focus point as well.  Which is pretty easy, most days.  Most days I am able to go to God with ease. Just thinking, by default, many times will lead me right to the Throne.  Not right now.  Right now it feels difficult to even pray. Negative emotions do a great job at clouding up the pathway to peace, in essence, to connection with God. So, I need something to focus on that will take me away from my emotional state, so the clouds can clear.  There is one thing that always works…. it is the sunshine that has yet to fail me.  This light that chases the clouds away is called GRATITUDE.  Being thankful is the very best way I have found to remove myself from my own pain and misery.  Step two, practice gratitude.

Get out of my head, and into someone else’s world.  That is step three.  I need to remove myself from isolation, and give myself in service to another human being.  God created us to serve Him by serving each other.  So, the third thing I will do the minute I stop typing this is to go find another person for whom I can be of service.

And perhaps, when all is said and done – I won’t be carrying around these negative emotions any longer.  To be honest, I’m already feeling better, just by getting it out.  Sometimes I wish I could be writing for the benefit of another person – but I know that God has me where He wants me now, which is writing for the sake of my own learning and growing.  And that’s good enough for me 🙂  Hey, if one or two others can relate – why that is a bonus, and a bonus is a beautiful thing.


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Four years ago today, I woke up and took the first step toward one of the most significant journeys of my life – the journey toward recovery.  Four years ago today, September 1, 2010 – I decided to stop digging my own dark pit of misery and begin the climb upward and outward.  Four years ago today, I become willing to understand and accept the disease of alcoholism and the fact that it had its ugly grips on me.  Four years ago today, I had NO idea what God had in store for my life, because I didn’t know God.

Four years.  Approximately 1,460 days ago.  When I look back at where I was on that day compared to where I stand today…right now… I am absolutely in AWE of my Creator.

Let me say that again.  I am in AWE of my CREATOR.

I reiterate that Truth because there are a lot of people who want to pat me on the back for 4 years of sobriety.  There are many well-intentioned people who want to tell me that I am a strong woman for all I have endured.  And while I will agree with them that today, I posses a strength that I never have before, I will absolutely NOT accept the credit.  The strength that I have today, comes from a source so much more powerful than I could ever dream to be.

Some might say, “Now Dawn, give yourself some credit.  You did the work.  God didn’t get you sober – you did.”  And I would disagree.  Every single time.  And here’s why.  Let me tell you a little story.

On June 15, 2010, Dawn made a decision to stop drinking.  Dawn put down the bottle to appease all those around her who were worried about her.  Dawn complied with some suggestions, and changed the ACTION of picking up a drink. Dawn felt pretty amazed that she had the sheer willpower to stop drinking.  Dawn felt on top of the world and patted her own back nearly every day for such an amazing accomplishment as putting down alcohol.  Dawn began to feel she deserved praise and attention for her accomplishment.  Dawn began to try to save the rest of the alcoholics around her because she had this sobriety thing figured out!  63 days into this “sobriety”, Dawn drank again.  Why?  Because she was relying on herselfher own strength.  And her strength ran out.

Yep, that is my story.  My initial sobriety date was June 15, 2010.  For 63 days, I didn’t pick up a drink.  That is the only thing I changed.  I didn’t change my attitudes or my behaviors underneath the “drink”.  I didn’t lean on God’s strength, because I had enough strength of my own – or so I thought.  I felt invincible after I stopped drinking for like a minute.  After all, this was an accomplishment of a life time – an alcoholic who stopped drinking, all on her own!

And this was to my demise!  It wasn’t about putting down the drink.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that my recovery has very little to do with me.  I would be so bold as to claim that the ONLY reason I am sober today, the ONLY reason that I am standing on THIS side of 4 years of recovery, is because God said so.

I believe I was CALLED into recovery.  I don’t believe it was by my own choice that I put down the bottle.  And I definitely don’t believe it was on my own power that I was able to stay sober, either.  I believe that God chose me to recover, at this time and in this place, because He has a purpose far greater.  I believe that my recovery is just a small part of HIS much BIGGER plan.  Why do I feel this way?  Because, it is written in His Word.  God SAVED me.  Why?? Because He loves me.

He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
    he drew me out of deep waters.
17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
    from my foes, who were too strong for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
    but the Lord was my support.
19 He brought me out into a spacious place;
    he rescued me because he delighted in me.

The problem some people may have with this thinking, might be something similar to the issue I had at the beginning.  He loves us ALL, so why are there people out there who are still suffering?  Why doesn’t He “reach down from on high” and draw everyone out of their “deep waters”?  I wish I had an answer for that.  All I can say is that I know His ways are higher than mine, and He has a plan for each one of our lives.  I know that He is God, and I am not.  I know that He decides where, He decides how, He decides WHEN it is time for our suffering to end.  I know that He strengthens us in the midst of trial.  I know that suffering builds perseverance to keep fighting the good fight.  These are things I have learned, and I am always seeking to learn more.  God is God.  I can’t speak to WHY He does anything, other than out of His GREAT love.  I know that I, for one, had to go through every single moment of self-inflicted pain and misery before I welcomed the love of the Creator into my heart and my life.  So, perhaps it isn’t always God who is “holding back” on the saving…. perhaps it is WE who hold back on the asking.

At any rate, I am eternally grateful for the new life I lead today.  Eternally grateful that it was my time to heal, to be called into recovery.  So grateful I heard the call, and responded.  So incredibly grateful that I recognize that my sobriety – like every facet of my life today – is in God’s hands.  All I have to do is keep putting one foot in front of the other, and follow HIM.

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