Strength For Today

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

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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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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DAILY PROMPT: Rare Medium

I read this letter this morning, and could not help but share! There is so much TRUTH behind each and every word she writes. Life truly happens One Day at a Time! One MOMENT at a time! As it unfolds before you today, embrace it! Every moment is a precious moment. It is a moment to CHOOSE to be exactly who you are, exactly where you are at. This letter has inspired me to live in my moments today, and I hope her words inspire you as well! Enjoy!

Nola Roots, Texas Heart

Describe a typical day in your life — but do it in a form or in a medium you’ve rarely — if ever – used before. If you’re a photoblogger, write a poem. If you’re a poet, write an open letter. If you’re a travel blogger, write a rant. (These are all examples — choose whatever form you feel like trying out!)

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Expression of love in a letter….enjoy! ❤

From Me,

Let me love you one day at a time, and please love me that very same way. We may never learn all there is to know about love, but every day together will teach us a little more about ourselves and the special kind of happiness we bring to each other. One of the best things you’ve helped me learn is that love starts with being honest, speaking straight from how we really feel. I like how we’ve opened doors…

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Love Journey: Practice Hospitality

Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.   Romans 12:13

I want to start this off with a quick recap of the first few items we have unpacked on this beautiful journey toward becoming a more loving person in relationships….

1.  Love must be sincere.

2.  Cling to the good

3.  Be devoted to one another

4.  Honor each other above yourself

5.  Continuously grow in your relationship with the Lord

6.  Be joyful in Hope

7.  Be patient in affliction

8.  Be constant in prayer

Today’s verse, Romans 12:13, states that part of being loving, and existing in a relationship is to share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

At first glance, I found myself thinking “What does this have to do with being in a relationship”?  So, I can see how practicing hospitality would be a good thing for someone to do.  I can see how it would tie into being a more loving person. However, seeing as I have felt that God has called me to these verses specifically to teach me about what it means to exist as a loving person in the context of relationship….I find myself wondering if this particular verse has anything to do with that, or if I am stretching it way beyond the intended meaning.  Maybe you agree with me in that?  I would ask you to just hold on for one second.

After that initial thought crossed my mind, so did my first marriage.  And following the glimpses God gave me into that relationship, he also gave me glimpses into my current relationship with my fiance.

In the context of sharing with people who are in need and practicing hospitality, as it relates to the health of a relationship.

And I saw something.  I saw how my former husband and I did not choose to engage in sharing with people in need.  I saw how we were selfish with our money, our time, and our possessions.  I saw how we would borrow from other people, and not repay in a timely manner.  I saw how we would lend something out, but never with a generous heart.  I saw how we would feel “bothered” if we were asked to help out a loved one or a friend, or even how we (and yes I am embarrassed to admit this) would sometimes make up excuses not to help out another.

But wait, I saw something else.

I saw how Ash and I have engaged in selflessly helping others so many times in our relationship that I can’t recount every instance in this one post alone.  I saw how a passion that both Ash and I share is in generously giving of ourselves, our resources, our money, and our time to others in need.  I also saw how we have continuously grown in this area over the past 3 years!

So, when I look at this verse again: Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.– in light of the two experiences I have had, I would say that this verse is absolutely true.  Relationships are more loving when BOTH people make a decision to be generous with their time, resources, resources, and love!

REFLECT:

1.  Are you a generous person at heart?

2.  When you give, do you do it with joy?

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Rules I’ve lived by

Yesterday my fiance, Ashley, and I met with our pastor at church for pre-marital counseling.  His name is Marc, and he has some wonderful insights into healthy relational communication.  He has already given Ash and I so many tools to use!  One of our assignments this week was to reflect on the “rules” we each live by.  He was explaining that so many of us live by rules that area self-imposed and harmful to the way we perceive ourselves.  He was also explaining that these rules can have a negative impact on our relationship.  The purpose of this activity is to recognize the rules, understand the lies entangled within them, and ask God to help us change them.   Some of these rules are rules I’ve lived by in the past, and some are rules I still struggle with today.  What you are about to read is a minor open-heart surgery. This is raw self-discovery, coming to the page – literally – as it surfaces in my heart.

Rule #1:  In order to be accepted, I must perform well.

Rule #2:  To be worth something, I must have validation from others.

Rule #3:  In order for a choice to be right, I must have someone else’s permission to make it.

Rule #4:  I need to keep everyone around me happy.

Rule #5:  All conflict is negative, avoid it at all costs.

Rule #6:  My body size and shape determine my value.

Rule #7:  In order to be beautiful, I must look beautiful – and in order to look beautiful, I must have the approval of people and society.

Rule #8:  I am only what others say I am.

Rule #9:  Depending on someone else will always end in disappointment.

Rule #10:  If I want it done, I have to do it myself.

Rule #11:  If I don’t act now, I am going to miss it. (whatever “it” is in the moment)

Rule #12:  If you are mad at me, I have to find a way to fix it.

Rule #13:  I am only valuable if I am doing something that others see as valuable.

Rule #14:  Other people know me better than I know myself, so I should take advice from others before following my own path.

Rule #15:  Taking risks in relationships leads to pain.

Rule #16:  Being vulnerable always leads to heartbreak.

Rule #17:  If my kids are misbehaving, there is something wrong with me as a parent.

Rule #18:  If you like me, I am ‘OK’.  If you don’t like me, there must be something wrong with me.

Rule #19:  I must do everything I can to make you like me.

Rule #20:  All pretty people are snobs.

Rule #21:  I must stay constantly busy.

Rule #22:  God’s love is tied to my performance.

Rule #23:  My problems define me.  My issues define me.

Rule #24:  If my relationships are good, I am good.  If my relationships are bad, I am bad.

Rule #25:  I am in danger of losing you if you are angry with me.

Rule #28:  I am being rejected if you need ‘space’ or choose to spend some time alone.

Rule #29:  I am whatever you say I am.

Rule #30:  I am a bad mom if I yell at my kids.

I am sure there are many more, but my eyes are getting sleepy — and tomorrow is an early day!  Tonight I will prayerfully request that the Lord helps me see the lies in these “rules”, and that He helps me release them!!

 

 

 

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The idols I’ve worshipped

It dawned on me this morning, that I did not write yesterday.  I have to be honest with you all right now.  My initial reaction was to “monkey” with the date and time and write a quick post this morning so that it didn’t look like I had ALREADY fallen short on my commitment to write at least 1 sentence every day for the next 365 days.

Immediately following that thought, came conviction.  Thank the LORD!  What I realized is this: it is still in me….that desire to “look” good to others.  The truth is, I am sure that none of you even care whether or not I write every day for 365 days.  I am the one who does.  Yet, I am the one who didn’t take the time to write.  It is interesting, the way we can be both ally and foe to our own journeys!

My image used to be an idol that I worshipped.  It took me a while to understand that.  Anything that I place above my relationship with God is considered an “idol”.  Just a short while ago, I would have told you that I had NEVER worshipped any other god except the LORD Himself.  Today, I understand that statement to be false.  My image is just one of many “idols” I have worshipped.

I have worshipped the idol of comfort, the idol of satisfaction, the idol of financial stability, the idol of materialism, the idol of performance, the idol of perfection, the idol of vanity, the idol of time, the idol of acceptance, the idol of validation, the idol of alcohol, the idol of food….  and so many many more.  Are you sitting at your computer right now, reading these words, and wondering if you really agree with me that these things are truly “idols”?  I know I would have been doing that at one point of my life.  And that point wasn’t so long ago.

Over the past 3 and a half years, I have learned so much about the things I always thought I knew, but never fully understood.  God has continued to reveal more and more to me!  I have found that the more I seek to understand, the more He will reveal!  As His Word tells us in Deuteronomy 4:29~  29 But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. This is so amazingly true!  God is 100% faithful!

So, I didn’t write yesterday.  That is the truth.  Again, a truth that most likely doesn’t matter to you one way or the other.  To me, it represents a stumble….but not a fall!  I have learned that when I stumble, The Lord is ever-faithful, there to catch me and put me back on the path.

Thank You God!

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