strength

dealing with discouragement

We all have things & times that are discouraging – a job that falls through, a relationship that goes sour, a poor grade at school, etc.  I don’t think that anyone is immune from having some discouraging moments in life.  But the key is what we do with those times & situations.  Here are some things that have been helpful to me with the discouragement topic:

  • just because I failed at something, that doesn’t make me a failure
  • keeping my eyes on God & His promises are more helpful than fixating on the discouragement (we can’t ignore problems, but we can’t let them own us either)
  • keep going – if I’m not careful, discouragement can get pretty heavy & bog me down, so I tell myself to take one step at a time, even if they’re baby steps
  • working out – physical exercise is a great way to burn off some discouragement
  • laugh – sometimes it helps me to be goofy, it lightens me up which is helpful because I tend to be pretty serious in my normal living
  • listen deeply – I find that God’s voice can really help speak light & truth to the discouragement that can try to reside in my thoughts

May you be strongly encouraged today that you are deeply loved & highly treasured!

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Posted by sarahbowling in Holy Spirit, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, 0 comments

aid for charades

Charades is a fun game to act out lots of different things.  If you’ve played this game in a group, you know that you’re supposed to act something out & help your team guess your word(s) based on your acting.  This game can be lots of fun, but unfortunately, I think we play this game in our life, from time to time.  Here are a few examples:

  • Sometimes I think we pretend to be humble, when the reality is that we’re merely insecure.
  • Sometimes I think we pretend to be confident when the reality is that we’re arrogant
  • Sometimes I think we pretend to be peaceful when the reality is that we’re apathetic
  • Sometimes I think we pretend to be strong when the reality is that we’re scared
There are lots of other ways we live the charade game & ultimately, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to be humble, confident, peaceful, strong, etc.  But my sense is that we can’t really have these things well integrated into our lives as a normal reality without God’s help.  Just some food for thought 🙂
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Posted by Sarah in enemies to intimacy, Holy Spirit, living, prayer, spiritual, 0 comments

be strong!

When I think about the word “strong“, I automatically think about muscles, weight lifting, eating protein, endurance, some pain & my gym.  It’s interesting that I don’t immediately associate strength with teamwork, honesty, growing, change or time.  But when I think about it, these words are also essential ingredients for the word “strong”.

On a somewhat deeper level, I think it’s critical to consider where strength comes from.  Where does endurance, discipline, cooperation, patience & the like come from?  For me, the short & ultimate answer is God.

  • Without God in my life, my endurance is like exercising with Halloween candy for fuel.
  • Without God in my life, the strength of my will power is like trying to swim a lap in a 50m pool without taking a breath – the effort burns my lungs & obscures my thinking
  • Without God in my life, cooperation & teamwork becomes disguised dysfunction (abusive, neglectful, manipulative & selfish acedia)
When I look to God for His strength in my life, the contrast of His strength versus my strength, helps me appreciate how truly weak I am without Him.  Be strong!! 🙂
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Posted by Sarah in Holy Spirit, living, prayer, spiritual, 0 comments

Heartache Doesn’t Have to be Heartbreak

I met a woman here in Angola today that has experienced unbelievable heartache & yet she is still full of love. Meet Celestina. Celestina has had 10 babies & all but 1 died before they reached their 4th birthday. The sole survivor is her daughter, Manushe, who has 2 babies – grandchildren for Celestina. Despite such tremendous heartache with her children, as well as a failed marriage, Celestina remains beautiful in her heart & brimming over w love. I asked her what advice she would give to come through hardship without heartbreak. She said that a person must be strong.
In my mind, it seems that there’s a difference between being strong & being brittle. Strength without love can easily become brittle, but maybe love is what gives strength its fuel & resilience. Genuine love is such an essential necessity to live as a strong person.

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Posted by sarahbowling in Angola, family, Holy Spirit, living, missions, prayer, saving moses, 1 comment

its fun to encourage

 I was having coffee w a friend the other day & this lady walked into the coffee shop w some very loud shoes – her shoes were the 1st thing to catch anyone’s attention.  Right away my friend commended to this lady on her super cool shoes, encouraging her that she looked cool wearing those shoes.  I was really proud of my friend for being so encouraging & made a mental note to myself that I want to be that way, even if something isn’t my personal style or preference.

Here’s my line of thinking:  our planet needs some encouragement because it seems to me that we are living in a time when there’s a fair amount of negativity.  With this in mind, a great way to counter-act any general negativity is to be encouraging to people & even creatively encouraging.  So here are just a few ideas you might consider & please feel free to leave more suggestions so we can all help each other 🙂

  • consider telling a co-worker that you think they’re an incredible person, without the intent of trying to get something from them ,)
  • wave & smile at your neighbor when you drive by them
  • look at the cashier & ask them if they’re having a nice day, with sincere interest
  • send a kind email to someone & thank them for who they are as a person (consider telling them what characteristic you like the most about them)
  • tell your mate that you think they’re great
  • let a friend, neighbor or co-worker know that you appreciate them with a quick text message
  • drop a note in the mail (snail mail) to let someone know that they are special to you
Those are just a few ideas, but the principle of being encouraging is super powerful, even though it may seem rather small 🙂
What are some more ideas that you would suggest?
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Posted by sarahbowling in family, Holy Spirit, living, spiritual, 2 comments

overwhelmed

 One of my first experiences with swimming in the ocean was when I was about 9 yrs old.  I was really enjoying the sand & the waves but when I tried to go deeper one of the waves up-ended me & jammed me into the sand.  It was a really painful experience because I was slammed down on my head, spitting out sand, sea water with burning eyes & my sinuses were overloaded with sea water.  I was thoroughly discombobulated.

I’ve had a few repeats with this kind of overwhelming experience and sometimes, there can be things in our life that can be like my 1st ocean swimming experience – a physical challenge that is overwhelming, or a financial need that slams us into impossible situation, or a family / relational crisis that leaves us discombobulated.  I want to encourage you today that when we hold onto Jesus, He can help us through anything overwhelming.  Consider how my dad helped me with learning to swim in the ocean without getting hurt:

After my wave slamming, overwhelming, discombobulating & ocean swimming experience, I ran to my parents on the beach & they checked me over to see if I was seriously injured.  They saw that I wasn’t, but my dad noted that I was pretty scared to go back & try the swimming thing again & he didn’t want me to live with this fear.  So he took my hand & we slowly walked back into the ocean with the waves coming one after another & I remember being scared but holding onto my dad, super tight.  He was very calming, encouraging & super sturdy.  When a wave might have been too strong for me, I’d grab onto my dad & I knew that I wouldn’t get dumped again because he was so strong.  He coached me on how to walk into the ocean & to time my progress so that the waves wouldn’t be able to pick me up dump me.  Consequently, because of his help, one of my favorite places to swim now is in the ocean.

I’m not overwhelmed by the ocean because I held onto my dad & he taught me to not be afraid, to be strong & to work on my timing.  The same is true with our heavenly Father.  Perhaps this is what the Psalmist is talking about is Ps 42:7-8, “Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls; all Your breakers & Your waves have rolled over me.  The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; and His song will be with me in the night, a prayer to the God of my life.”

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Posted by Sarah in Holy Spirit, living, prayer, spiritual, 1 comment

faith fuel

 Honestly, I’ve been thinking about this blog for a few days because I’m wanting to encourage you & your faith in God.  I think we all need encouragement to our faith at various times.  For example, today I was running some errands & talking with God about some struggles that I’m wrestling with & I was just expressing some honest discouragement to Him.  You, as well, might be able to find an area in your life that has some discouragement – maybe even more than 1 ,)

Anyways, I felt like God encouraged me that walking with and obeying Him require faith.  In my “better moments”, my faith is solid & I’m confident in God.  But I don’t always have, “better moments.”  So for those “non-better moments”, here are a few verses to consider praying each day for the next month to strengthen your faith & fuel those “better moments”:

  • 2 Chron 16:9 “For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.
  • Matt 19:26  And looking at them Jesus said to them, ” With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
  • 2 Cor 3:5-6 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, 6 who also made us adequate as  servants of a new covenant,
  • 2 Chron 20:12,  For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You.”
  • Rom 8:28,  And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose

Be encouraged my friend – God is working in you, as well as on your behalf 🙂

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Posted by Sarah in Holy Spirit, living, prayer, spiritual, 1 comment

we follow strength but fellowship w suffering

I like what Paul says in Philip 3:10 about knowing Christ, the power of His resurrection, fellowship of His suffering, . . . .

I’ve been thinking about this alot & here’s something to consider:  i can find myself following strong people;  people who have vision, strength of personality & character & those who are strong within themselves.  I’ve been around LOTS of strong people – some politicians, Christian leaders, social leaders, etc & they’re very interesting people.

However, when it comes to connecting on a personal level, i find myself drawn to people who are flawed, who share their struggles & vulnerabilities.  I think this is because i can easily relate to someone else’s frailties & failures in some ways better than a person’s strength.  There’s a distinct fellowship & intimacy that can be experienced in hardship, weakness.  Truth be known, i think most of us find it difficult to share our weaknesses.  Our society applaudes strength, power, victory & not weakness, vulnerability & failure.  Nevertheless, we’re invited to share in the fellowship of the sufferings of Jesus – bringing an intimacy w Him that is both distinct & beautiful.

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Posted by sarahbowling in spiritual, 0 comments