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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The Prayer Shawl

It wraps around me and I feel warmth.  There isn’t anything magical about it.  It feels like love.  The hands that made it for me probably got tired once in a while and took breaks to regain strength.  Making it was a labor of love, sweetness and thoughtfulness.

The three different shades of blue are calming.  The creator asked me my favorite colors during a conversation which didn’t reveal the reason for the question.  So, when I saw three shades of blue as I unwrapped the prayer shawl, I melted.  I knew she cared enough to make something so special in the colors that I enjoy looking at.

When I pray without having the prayer shawl over my shoulders, God hears me just as clearly.  When it is covering me, I know God is listening while I feel comfort and love.  Either way, He is with me.  I don’t need to be in a special place to be heard.  He simply said, “Call to Me, and I will answer you. I will tell you of great things, things beyond what you can imagine, things you could never have known.”  (Jeremiah 33:3 Voice)

I have prayed while lying in bed, driving my car, taking a shower, sitting at my desk, in my backyard, at a hospital, in a church building, at a meeting, at breakfast time, on an airplane, and even during a church service.  God didn’t say to only talk with him at certain times or in specific places.  I can pray anytime, anywhere with my eyes closed or wide open. 

Pray.  Pray during great times or in the middle of a struggle.  Listen.  Be still and hear what your heart and mind are reflecting.  Do.  Do pray often.  He is everywhere and anywhere. 

I can’t knit or crochet so I wear my prayer shawl knowing that my sweet, thoughtful friend made one just for me.  God gave me that friend to encourage me to feel gratitude.  Gratitude to Melba for making it for me and gratitude to God for His blessings.

Where and when have you prayed today?

Sherree Fischer
loveSTRONG ministries

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24/7 & Little Lies

Sometimes there is a loop playing our heads.  You know, the same thoughts over and over.  And over and over, again and again.  We hear something that sticks and it won’t go away.  That loop is full of little lies that get bigger and louder.

A little lie is something that has been whispered into our minds to make us feel inferior.  Then, as we hear it repeatedly, we end up letting it manifest and we begin to believe them.  Those whispers are sent to us by a being who wants to try to blackmail us into thinking he has something on us.  Something we will not be able to shake off.

The whisper can come from a song, or a TV show, or even someone who unknowingly says a few words that brings on a memory.  It’s all a trick to get us to crumble under the little lie. 

You see, the devil likes to try to control us by whispering those little lies 24 hours a day 7 days a week if he can.  Anything he can do to trip us up will make him happy.  But, he cannot control us.  He does not have that power unless we weaken and buckle under his stupid little lies.  It is up to us to stand up to him and tell him to step back and get out of our way.

Jesus was once told little lies by the devil.  The devil thought he was cunning and could make Jesus think that His Father was not watching out for Him.  The lies were to be attractive to Jesus – food and power.  At least that is what the devil thought.  What happened?  Jesus didn’t waiver but rather stood up to the father of lies and told him to get lost.  His words were, “Be gone!”

That is the example we have to know how to stand up to the constant barrage of little lies that we experience.  Can we learn from those lies?  Yes we can.  We can learn that if we’ve asked God to forgive us for something in our past, He has.  We can get stronger each time we turn off the loop playing in our minds. 

Read Matthew 4:1-11 and mark it in your Bible so that the next time the whisper has triggered the loop to play in your head, you can run right back to it and know that Jesus is telling you how to erase the little lies.

Sherree Fischer
loveSTRONG ministries

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#trusttraining

It is apparent that I need more trust. Not trust with my family or friends, but trust that God is working with me as I lead two ministries that He has entrusted to me.

Fundraising is something I thoroughly enjoy. I like the hunt and gather aspect of meeting goals, connecting people, and seeing results. Asking an individual or a business owner for a gift is not scary to me. I look at it as an opportunity for giving awareness and the end result is Kingdom building.

Getting a “no” answer usually doesn’t bother me. It gives me a chance to reevaluate. So, recently when some of my fundraising efforts didn’t meet my expectations, I kept thinking of the word 'trust' over and over in my head.

According to my plan, my goals weren't met. Did you see what I wrote? MY goals weren't met according to MY plan. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

I had prayed and asked. But it didn’t happen. So what do I do now?

Now I thank God.

Giving Him thanks for the “no” answers will allow me to delight in His plan. I am not a puppet on a string. My mind and personality were given to me specifically and I want to be a woman who desires to give glory to the One who gives me opportunities and confidence.

Thanking God means I step down from my platform to listen and learn.

The dictionary says the definition of trust is: "reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence." If we put trust in our Creator in every situation--His reliability, His strength, His ability and surety can only make us better.

So #trusttraining is my adopted hashtag. It is on my desk to see daily.

And with most training, it will stretch me to trust...and prepare me for the win.

Sherree Fischer
Leadership Team

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Line of Sight

We have an adopted granddaughter who joined our family five years ago. Her skin color is not the same as ours but her heart is. She came from a country we’ve never visited but the same God who created her lives in us.

She has older brothers who are twins. They do not look alike and don’t have the same personalities yet their hearts are the same as hers. The three of them are siblings and it is a natural, organic relationship that thrives on teasing, laughing, and discovery.

Look around you right now. So many different faces, accents, skin coloring, sizes, and personalities. Do you think it is random that we live in a world so full of variety?

Everyday, we interact with dozens of people busy living their own lives. Lives that may be completely different than ours, but all with the same heart and same God. Everyday, we have opportunities to really see these people God has placed before us, understand their wants and needs, and respond in some way.

Many years ago a pastor friend of mine said we should keep our eyes open for opportunities. He called it keeping a watch on our line-of-sight. That was the start of my challenge to remember all lives matter, not just mine.

Everyone has the same heart. The one God gave them.

It is by our own choice how we react and respond. You can choose to do nothing, to remain oblivious to the state of those with whom we come in contact. Or, you can be a first responder by giving a smile or a bit of assistance.

I am not a pie-in-the-sky type of person thinking all is well in my world. Each time I step out of my comfort zone, I gain more confidence and a knowledge that I have just met someone with the same heart as mine. And each time I don’t, I feel like I’ve missed an opportunity. Everyone else is completely different than you and me, and yet we are all the same. We should remember we can be a helper just by paying attention and reacting with our hearts.

My hope is that my grandchildren see the importance of sharing and loving others, even if they don’t look like us.

Someone in your line-of-sight needs you today. Someone who has the same heart as you.
“Pay all your debts except the debt of love for others—never finish paying that! For if you love them, you will be obeying all of God’s laws, fulfilling all his requirements.” Romans 13:8 (Living Bible)

Sherree Fischer
Leadership Team

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