Space Priority

Create your own space.
Make boundaries.
Take time for you.

These are statements we have heard often.  And, while we probably agree with the concepts, we just don’t dedicate space to our daily routine.

How many times have you been in a quiet space and thought to yourself, “Ahhh, this is so nice.”

Then, your mind starts thinking about what’s for dinner, the grocery list, the bathrooms that need to be cleaned, those pesky weeds that should be pulled.  For a few moments, you were in the “Ahhhhh” place, weren’t you?

What if you allowed yourself to just sit?

What if you convinced yourself to make that quiet space time to recharge?

That space priority is exactly what will get you through the day. Some like the early mornings before the day begins to be in that space priority.  Others carve out a time in the afternoon to recharge.  Whenever it is, morning, the middle of the afternoon or evening, it centers you as you just sit and let God calm you.  Whatever time it is for you, make it happen.  And often.

Last fall I was challenged to set aside time each Sunday at a specific hour to sit, pray and listen. That’s all – just sit, pray and listen. Amazing things happened within those weeks.  Not only did I get centered on my personal priorities, I heard God tell me something I had never heard before.  It wasn’t an audible voice but a clear thought that occurred over and over. Enough so that I understood how important it was for me.  It gave me excitement and bold courage.

If I hadn’t sat down, turned off the schedule in my head and shut my mouth, I would have missed it.

Life rushes by and we can miss the moments God prepared for us because we are not focused.

Close the door. Breathe deep.  And start your quiet space time with these words:

God, my shepherd!
I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.

Psalm 23:1-3 (The Message)

Sherree Fischer
loveSTRONG Ministries

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Enough Said

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere.

So no matter what I say, what I believe or what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Enough said.

1 Corinthians 13:3-7 (The Message)

Sherree Fischer
loveSTRONG Ministries

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Bitter Beauty

Did you wake up with dirt on your face today?  Not because you didn’t wash it last night (because we all know we are to wash and moisturize every night!), but because of something that happened yesterday?

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

Dirt sometimes gets smeared all over our faces.  The dirt of words – when someone says something to us we don’t think we deserve to hear.  The dirt of disappointment – when a situation happens that breaks our heart.  The dirt of fear – when we're afraid of what the day will bring.  No, it’s not actual dirt, but we can’t seem to get rid of the way it sits on us and we want to shake it off.

You know your weaknesses but sometimes harsh things can smack you in the face and you don’t handle it well.  

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

You know your strengths and sometimes they don’t seem to help you in times of struggle. 

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 

Pray.  And then pray again.  Ask God to fill you with His grace and His love so you have His power to get past the dirt.  

Talk to Him about the details and ask God to help.  He’s not a magic genie with a wand to grant your wishes but God created you with your specific personality and limitations so He knows exactly what you need to clean off the dirt.  

It may sound too simple but I know from experience it is not.  Prayers like that are hard and messy but thankfully God is more powerful than any situation we are in.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9

Pray it.  Trust it.  Let God give you grace and love.

Sherree Fischer
loveSTRONG Ministries

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Lifestyle Goals

Have you ever seen the show Mansions & Millionaires?  Remember the show Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous?  They both visually show extremely wealthy people’s properties in the most beautiful places.  I guess shows called Middle Class and Happy or Lifestyles of the Wish-I-Had-That and Wannabes don’t have an audience even though most of us fit into those categories.

Here is something to consider; changing your lifestyle to worship and celebration can move you in a positive direction.

Psalm 100 sums it up nicely:

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lordwith gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lordis God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lordis good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

It takes practice to worship and celebrate every day.  Start today.  The day started because God allowed the sun to rise and you opened your eyes.  Thank Him for the promise that Jesus is right in front of you.

Remember that the Bible is true and He wrote the words for you as a guide.  The Psalm above tells us to Shout, Worship, Sing, Know, Enter and Give Thanks.  Those are all actions you can do in your own way at any time.

Your past may be nasty or you are involved in something wrong right now.

You are trying your best and can’t seem to get ahead.

Things are going smoothly but there is an emptiness.

You can start a Psalm 100 lifestyle to turn that corner.

Sherree Fischer
loveSTRONG ministries

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Clutter Down

 

I like opening a closet door to see everything in its place.  When towels and washcloths are arranged just so and neatly stacked, I’m happy.  It is nice when sheets and pillow cases are folded the same and look uniform.  The closet with décor items and games looks so orderly when I open it to change seasonal decorations.

But we all know it does not always stay that way.  In a hurry, things get put away and I think I’ll go back and fix it later.  That time lasts longer and longer and the decorations and games closet looks like a small bomb went off when I open the door. 

I plan a time to fix it back to being orderly.  And then I am happy again.

My life accumulates clutter sometimes too.  Too many irons in the fire and not enough time to keep it straight.  If I stop and put the clutter into priorities, make changes and remain dedicated to those priorities then all runs more smoothly.  I no longer feel anxious and I accomplish tasks with a clear head.

What does it mean to "clutter down?" It means carving out time to evaluate what is most important.  Deciding what (or who) needs to go.  Taking a hard look at yourself and making choices based on prayer. 

God is not in the business of being a magic genie who only brings what you desire.  God is in the business of love.  If you are finding yourself lacking in love within your world, then something needs to be moved or changed.  And that something is probably you.  Clutter shows up when you are not focused.

Before you blame this person or that action for your lack of love, pray and ask God to make it clear where you are weak.  He has made you and He knows every single part of you and is the only one qualified to bring the answers to you.  You will not get an email.  Or a text message.  You will have a sense of direction if you are sincere about listening to Him and wanting a change.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV version)

Memorize that verse and repeat it out loud when you feel the clutter piling on.  Trust God to show what stays and what needs to change in your world.  Knowing that everything is based upon love, you will find comfort that God is moving and changing for your benefit.

And the clutter will disappear.

Sherree Fischer
loveSTRONG ministries

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Wish, Hope, Dream

A meaning of “Wish”:
to want; desire; long for
For example:  I wish chocolate peanut butter gelato didn’t have so many carbs in it.

A meaning of “Hope”:
the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best 
For example:  I hope my mom’s ovarian cancer stays in remission.

A meaning of “Dream”:
to think or conceive of something in a very remote way 
For example:  I dream about living in Tuscany, Italy.

Do we spend our lives wishing, hoping and dreaming and miss what is right in front of us?  Yes, some wishes, hopes and dreams are important to identify so we can have goals to strive for.  Sometimes, though, we need to stop the daydreaming and do something.

David was a small guy who was overlooked because of his age and stature.  He wasn’t exactly the kind of boy who could slay a very large man.  Yet, he picked up simple ammunition and took down a huge threat.  No one believed he was even remotely skilled or big enough to take on a full-grown man who had a vast amount of fighting experience.  Even David’s older brothers mocked him and told him to get lost.    (Read I Samuel 17)

You see, David came with more than rocks and a sling.  He came with the desire to show up and be an example of God’s power.  His routine was to be the younger brother of 4, take care of sheep and deliver food to the soldiers at the battlefront.  He was young and certainly his body wasn’t exactly big enough to be a fighter.  

However, his experience with taking care of a herd gave him practice in protecting the sheep from large animals with his own hands, sling, rocks and his staff.  

You have experiences you draw from to make yourself prepared every day.  You may also have dreams of becoming someone important and possibly wishes and hopes to make something better.  Use those experiences but don’t just look for big and loud ways to do things.  The smallest thing can start a giant ripple effect.

Wish for opportunities to show God’s love to someone you see every day.

Hope that God is seen in your actions and heard in your words.

Dream about how someday you will hear the words “Good and faithful servant” when you take your last breath.

“Go and the Lord be with you.”

Sherree Fischer
loveSTRONG ministries

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The Power of the Vacuum Cleaner

Legos, paper clips and popcorn are overpowered by the vacuum cleaner every time!  When I am using that power, I can make the carpet look like it is brand new with those sculpted lines across it.  Hubert Cecil Booth invented the motorized vacuum cleaner and I would vote for him as a wizard who makes me feel accomplished and clean.

Using the vacuum cleaner allows me to flex my muscles.  Not just because I am pushing a motor-powered cleaner-upper, but also because my arm and leg muscles are tense with power to push it backwards and forwards.  I really am powerful (in my own make-believe way).

The reward is gratifying when the tracks are made in the carpet and I know my work is done.

This is kind of like my life.  I make the mess.  God cleans up the mess.  I am all cleaned up.  I feel better.

When I decided to be a Christ-follower, He took the old me and cleaned me up.  The Bible told me that I was made brand new again.  The reason is because a sacrifice was made on my behalf and that was all that was needed to give me the power to be clean.

Those places where a stain existed is gone.  A new spot may occur but I have the power to ask Jesus to clean me up and show me where I went wrong.  And He does, every time.  Learning to walk around a possible situation to stay on track is the way of life for every believer.

When we realize the power is not us but rather is in us, that’s when our muscles flex and we can run right past the temptation situation. 

So, today, flex your muscles.  Open your Bible and read John 3:16-21 and you will see the explanation.  In just a few minutes you will understand the concept of living stain-proof.  And the next time you run your vacuum, I hope you remember God can make you clean again.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16

 

 

 

 

 

Sherree Fischer
loveSTRONG ministries

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Too Far Gone

He grew up with a Christian family that attended church twice on Sunday and every Wednesday night.  A nice boy.  In high school he played football.  His size and personality gave him opportunities.  And with those attributes he made choices that lead to drinking and drugs and questionable activities.  There was trouble inside of him he chose not to share.  The habits grew stronger and stronger.  

On the way down a decision was made to send him to rehab.  His sister was very sad to hear the news and began to pray for him.  Even after rehab it was several years before he realized the spiral of life had taken him to the lowest of places.

Marriage, children, arrests, and divorces happened.  Along the way he finally realized that the God he heard about as a child loved him still and was the only way out.  His sister had one of those tough-love conversations with him and she continued to pray.  Two months later he had made the best decision he could--to give up and accept the love.

That man was thirsty and hungry so he found scripture in the Bible that filled him.  It gave him hope and confidence but he still carried that dark spot inside.  He didn't blame people for his actions and he took responsibility.  Even when the ugly habits would tempt him to bury the hurt with a bottle, he would try again.  And, again, God let him know how much he was loved.

Family, friends, spouses, alcohol, and drugs can’t fill the hole.  Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Father is the only resource to plug the emptiness, anger and vulnerability.   “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise” (Proverbs 13:20a, ESV).  He chose people to walk alongside that would hold him accountable and encourage him.  

Now that guy does the same for kids who, the world would say, have no chance of becoming anything but trouble.  Maybe he sees himself in them.  Maybe he knows that if he had ignored God he would be no better than those kids' parents are.  Giving the kids from the crime infested area his gentle guidance and reflecting love and care is what fuels him.  He doesn’t shower them with gifts they would never be able to have – he showers them with Godly guidance sprinkled with street wisdom.

His family didn’t save him.

His pastor didn’t save him.

His friends didn’t save him.

What happened in the past is just that – the past.  The present is here and the future is in God’s hands. Having trust that Jesus is with us every step is the only way we can get away from the ugly past.  

Our earthly family and friends come and go but God sticks with us.  Our choices may be disastrous but God never thinks we are too far gone.  

Let the wicked change their ways
    and banish the very thought of doing wrong.
Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them.
    Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.  (Isaiah 55:7 NLT)

 

 

 

 

 

Sherree Fischer
loveSTRONG ministries

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In Spite Of

In spite of my attitude – God sits with me.

In spite of my choices – God loves me.

In spite of my impatience – God takes His time with me.

In spite of my sadness – God holds me.

In spite of my upside-down dreams – God guides me.

In spite of my past – God loves me unconditionally.

In spite of what someone said to me today – God remains the same.

In spite of how I forget to pray – God doesn’t walk away.

In spite of what I look like – God loves what He created.

In spite of me doing what I want – God walks in front of me.

In spite of my language – God knows how I’m feeling.

In spite of questions – God gives answers in His time.

In spite of my giving up – God never does.

“None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.”   Romans 8:37-39 The Message

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.  O Lord of hosts, blessed in the man who trusts in You!”   Psalm 84:11-12 NKJV

Sherree Fischer
loveSTRONG ministries

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Competition Rules

When did being busy become a competition?  Reading social media, I have noticed that once someone states how busy they are doing this or that, the competing remarks begin.  I have also heard (and been a part of) conversations when one person starts saying how busy they are then another immediately compares and says how busy she is too. 

It becomes a negative narrative of who is the busiest and why.

Why are we competing with each other?

In the devotional book Jesus Calling, I read:

“Be careful not to complain about anything, even the weather, since I am the Author of your circumstances.” 

“To find joy in this day, you must live within its boundaries.”

“There is abundant Life in My Presence today.”  (April 11 entry)

Bragging about all we are doing is putting the spotlight on ourselves.  If we have covered our schedules with too many activities that make us unhappy, then it is time for an overhaul of priorities. Instead of complaining of how busy we are and comparing our tasks with another, we really need to take the time to ask God what the priorities are and be grateful for the opportunities we have been given.  Gratitude puts the spotlight on the One who guides us through our days.

Psalms 118:24 says, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Stop trying to make your activities a competition with others.

We can become better listeners if we stop competing.  When you are talking with someone who says they are so busy, don’t start talking about your schedule.  Instead, hear them out. You may hear something you can do for them – like pray for their situation or assist in some way. 

We would be a lot less busy and a lot more effective.

Sherree Fischer
loveSTRONG ministries

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