Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Swept Away by Emotions


by Terri Webster

I can't always trust my emotions.

I have positive emotions and negative ones. Sometimes my emotions plunge me into a pool of tears, only to yank me out into a dry place where I feel nothing. They change as quickly as circumstances can change. 

Emotion is a natural, instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others (Google online dictionary).

The other morning distant thunder roused me from sleep. My husband had left at pre-dawn for a white-water rafting trip, and I’d fallen back asleep.

The thunder was oddly constant, without the usual breaks and pauses.

I thought Doc, our 85-pound dog, will be freaking out and “pawing” the window to come in. I threw off the covers, slid into my flip flops and brushed my teeth, all while constant, rolling thunder grew louder.

When I opened the front door and walked out on the porch, ominous clouds swirled above, illuminated with lightning. I was awed enough to quickly snap a picture with my phone. Then a burst of wind and a clap of thunder caused Doc and me to hurry inside and close the door.

Heavy rain poured down in straight sheets, then was blown sideways. The wind howled around the house, while thunder constantly rolled. The electricity flashed off and on in unison with lightning.

Finally, after two hours, the rain let up and wind quit blowing. The lightning and thunder lingered, until finally it all stopped. 

And just like that, it was calm and serene. The clouds were pushed aside by a calm breeze, revealing blue sky.

Isn’t this how our emotions are at times? They sweep over us with barely a warning, then abruptly change with our circumstances.

In the past I've allowed my feelings and emotions to be a determining factor in decision making.

Not smart!

The tiniest thing can flip on my emotional switch. If I'm not careful, before I know it, I’m swept out of control down a river of emotions.

Why does your heart carry you away allowing you to 
be controlled by emotion? And why do your eyes flash 
in anger or contempt? Job 15:12

Why do we gauge the truth with our emotions and feelings?  

Why did God create us with such a powerful character trait?

Why can’t I trust something that’s largely a part of who I am?

To answer these questions, the only reliable and unchanging source is God’s word; alive, active, and powerful.

It’s only when I move the situation under the light of God’s word that I find the real truth. Then I feel silly for feeling the way I did and allowing my emotions to carry me away.

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

When I find myself in a negative emotional whirlwind, I realize I can’t solely rely on them to reveal truth. 

Here are three reminders I use to avoid being swept away by changing emotions and feelings, that I hope will encourage and help you too.
  • Realize we’re made in God’s image. All throughout scripture we see that God has emotions and feels deeply. He was so moved with compassion that He gave His very son, so we could have an eternal, intimate relationship with Him, through Jesus’ atoning blood. All emotions aren't bad, but it's always safe to shine His truths on them.
  • Negative emotions are based on past hurts and mistakes. Where God has already brought emotional healing and forgiveness, the devil’s scheme is to stir up our past to derail us and get us off course.
  • Remember, it’s not all about you and me. If someone doesn’t respond the way we expect or want, stop and think that they have circumstances you’re unaware of. When we take ourselves out of the center and put Christ there, our perspective changes quickly. 
  • Lastly, sometimes it's just plain 'ol hormones and exhaustion that plays a part in changing emotions and feelings. Make sure you consistently nourish your body and soul so these times won't be as severe. 
Finally, may you always enjoy God's peace in any storm as promised here in Philippians 4:6-7:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 
Staying the course,
Terri

Monday, May 28, 2018

Is All Abuse Unacceptable?

by Terri Webster

I recently read an article by Jenny Rapson, author at For Every Mom (foreverymom.com), titled, Beth Moore to Christian Leaders: Wives Do NOT Submit to Abuse. EVER.

I encourage you to read the article. Then I invite you to come back here and share your thoughts and concerns in the comments area below.


I appreciate her (Jenny) boldness on the subject of husbands physically abusing their wives. She quotes a leader of the Southern Baptist Convention, who believes wives should stay in their marriage, except in extreme, dangerous conditions. Leaving the marriage would be wrong; it would depend on the level of abuse.

At what level is any type of abuse unacceptable? At what level are the conditions considered dangerous?

While the article addressed physical abuse, which at any level is wrong, I want to also address verbal and emotional abuse. There are no visible signs. No cuts, black eyes, broken bones or bruises. Yet, it can be equally damaging. And at some point, as in my case, eventually dangerous.

The internal damage doesn’t require immediate medical attention. If left untreated though, I believe it manifests later with illnesses, diseases, forms of arthritis, depression, PTSD and suicide.

Like Beth Moore and Jenny Rapson, I’m so pro-marriage, that I “stayed” with my husband while he continued an affair with my best friend. And other women. We eventually separated, but divorce wasn’t on my radar yet.

The abuse escalated after he moved out, so I didn’t have to live with it 24/7. Yet, I did.

We had children together. For 19 years I endured many forms and levels of emotional and verbal abuse. He used threats and bullying to instill fear and silence me into a corner. I just thought I was keeping the peace. I thought, as a Christian woman, that I was doing what I was supposed to do.

I was young. I didn’t know what his words and threats were doing to me as a woman and mother. And I didn’t realize what it was doing to our children. All I could think back then was, if I’d only done this or that or prayed harder. Or did a better job at keeping the peace.

For a year I “stayed”. I prayed and believed God would eventually bring us back together. As I’ve no doubt that He desired to restore and heal our family, God will never intervene where He isn’t welcomed. At the time, my husband saw no wrong done. He let me know that I was the problem and I believed it.

After we divorced, I was counseled by a pastor of a big denominational church that I was bound to my ex till death do us part. Through tears, I looked at him and asked, "Even if he’s with other women?" He answered me with indifference…”Yes.” 

In Beth Moore’s words, “…when we as a church culture demonize divorce as the worst possible outcome-the sin of all sins-we truly have no clue on this ever loving earth what some people are enduring.”

Thank you, Beth Moore!

Years later I discovered that pastor left his wife for another. I wondered how long had she suffered in silence, was backed into a corner, her voice taken away?

I’m not a victim anymore, but a victor, thanks to Jesus Christ and His healing power. However, the repercussions linger and sometimes seep into my 10-year marriage with a wonderful man.

I’m thankful this is being brought to light among Christian leaders, teachers and writers like Beth Moore, Jenny Rapson and Thom Rainer, President of LifeWay Christian Resources.

I will never protect an abuser, or minimize any form of abuse, like I did in my own life.  

There is hope and healing for any who ask God; for the abuser and the abused. Man or woman. A powerful part of healing includes forgiveness.

But forgiving doesn’t mean you submit to physical, emotional and verbal abuse of any kind.

Dear friend, if you are currently or ever have experienced any form of abuse from your husband or boyfriend, there is help. I strongly encourage you to tell someone you trust. Feel free to email me using the form on the right of the page if you prefer.

The Celebrate Recovery program is also a great place to start. This is a program for those with any hurt, hang up, habit or addiction. And it’s free. No judgement. It’s a safe place to tell and heal, with others who have walked similar roads. Celebrate Recovery

The first step is telling. You do have a voice!

Staying the course,

Terri

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Do What you Love: 5 Steps to Finding Your Passion

by Terri Webster

Hi Friends! Welcome. 

Thanks for stopping by. Today I'm sharing what's become a personal pursuit of mine and I believe will resonate with a lot of you.

Research shows that if you discover what it is you truly enjoy doing, and do that, you’re more fulfilled, have better health and less depression. Source: Why Finding Your Passion is Essential

In this post, I’m referring mostly to pursuing a vocation doing what you love while making a living at it. However, as a Christ follower, there’s a vital part to add, which is using your God-given, spiritual gifts and talents.

Combining the two can be exciting and fulfilling as you walk in the works God has prepared for you, (Ephesians 2:10).

What do you daydream about from your office cubicle or while sitting in rush-hour traffic? What are you most passionate about?

For some of you, trying to answer this question, only leaves a question mark sitting on top of your head.

Do you love dogs? Start a dog-sitting/walking business. Do you love to cook/bake? Then start a catering business, own a restaurant or become a chef.

If you’re like me, you’ve felt you haven’t had time to explore those things which tug your heart and draw you like a magnet. Responsibilities and circumstances may have driven you down a path, not necessarily of your choosing.

Divorce, death of a spouse, health problems, or any number of things, will decide for you what path to take. As a single mom, I just needed a job to keep a roof over me and my kids. It felt frivolous to fanaticize about having a job I loved, and to love what I was doing. 

Can we really make our passion become our livelihood and be excited about going to work every day?  

No one can answer that question for you, but yourself. I’ve known people who pursued their passion, using their gifts and talents as their life’s work and never regretted it. It might mean less money, but this kind of fulfillment doesn’t have a price tag.

I think sometimes we mistakenly believe that what we truly desire to do with our life will lead us down a selfish path; that God’s path means doing something less enjoyable.

We feel that to pursue a passion God gives us talents and abilities for, must sit on the back burner, while we fulfill daily obligations, which often leave us exhausted, with little time for anything else. I believe the term for this is “The Daily Grind” or better known as the “rat race.”

I wonder if this is what causes depression for so many?

As I’ve spent more time lately thinking and praying about this, I’ve found hope and direction from God’s word that I want to share with you. I’ve come up with five simple steps you can take now, to help get you unstuck and moving forward and closer to doing what you love.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Take baby steps.
  1. Take a skills/personality assessment. These are tests that compile your likes, dislikes, morals, values, among other traits and talents to help you determine the jobs or ministries you’d be best suited for. This is one I took and recommend, but you can search for others: Free Shape Test
  2. After completing an assessment, focus on the areas you’re strongest in. Determine if you need to sharpen any skills through more training, practice and experience.
  3. Connect with others who share the same interests and passions. Example: I want to become a better writer, so I joined Word Weavers, an international online writing critique group with local chapters.
  4. Be patient. While reality is the bills must be paid, you can block off as little as 15 minutes a day to work toward your goal.
  5. Pray and trust God to open doors. He wired you in specific ways. There will never be another you who can do what God has planned for you to do. Check your motives and desires under the light of His word.

Taking these steps are a great start to get out of a rut and moving forward. I'm doing these steps too, and must say, I'm getting excited as I've become unstuck and now ready for God's best.

I invite you to share your thoughts and any advice you might have in the comments area below.

Until next time, follow Him and stay the course,
Terri
Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

From Do, Do, Do, to Be, Be, Be

by Terri Webster

Welcome and Happy New Year to you!

The holidays are behind us. Christmas decorations are down and packed away. Parties and get-togethers we had to cook for have come and gone.

This is where we can now breathe in…breathe out. 
S-l-o-w-l-y.

I laughed at myself this morning, during my quiet time with God. This time last year, I gathered all my colored highlighters, sharpies, magazine cut-outs, tape and white poster board.

I commenced to creating my first ever, vision board. Full of good and wonderful goals. 

I was going to grow my side business exponentially by means of various do, do, do’s.

I was going to become the next pushing-60, poster girl, who combats chronic pain through daily exercise, yoga and strength training.

Then there was the nonprofit ministry I’m responsible for. I had many do, do, do plans for that.

Writing goals.

Women’s ministry goals.

Goals to cultivate all my relationships and learn to love better, since LOVE was my theme word representing my daily time alone with God.

Then there’s of course, my part-time job. And also taking care of my precious granddaughters 2 days a week. (I’m down to one day now).

I stood back and admired my completed 2017, first-ever vision board. I was inspired!

I won’t waste time telling you which goals were reached and those still hanging around waiting for my attention.

By March, life happened, the unexpected, in addition to the everyday expectations I showered on myself. All with good intentions. There’s nothing wrong with setting goals. Vision boards are a great tool.

For me, personally, as I’ve shared before, I struggle with over-commitment and saying yes too much. 

My vision board became burdensome. I’d look at it throughout the year and feel a failure. Again.

What about you? Do you start off each new-year with big plans and goals? Maybe you’re the type of person who thrives when setting big goals.

Or do you struggle with over-planning and over-commitment? Do you develop lists and plans, only to wind up frenzied and disappointed?

Turns out the 20 pounds I need to lose (still a goal), God wasn’t as concerned about it as I was.

While God is extremely concerned with my health and daily pain management struggles, He has a greater concern, a bigger plan. 

God promises us successes, as we commit our work to Him. He wants us to succeed. But His successes and our successes sometimes, if not mostly, are different.

He’s more concerned about what flows in and out of our heart. He’s more interested in what thoughts rattle through our mind, causing distress.

When I ended up in a grieving, frenzied state by May, His plan and words to me were to stop and be still.

Be. Still.

So I did.

He accomplished more in me last year than I could ever have expected or planned. Not through me, or because of me, but in me. It has nothing to do with what I do.

But has everything to do with being with Him. Not do, do, do, but just be.



The process continues.

We women are prone to society’s pressure that the busier we are, the more productive we are. We’re led to believe that to be respected by our peers, requires full, hectic schedules. We feel guilty if we aren't busy.

I’m here to tell you, that is a lie.

Whether you have small children at home, are married or single, or like me, an emptynester, we somehow manage to fill up our plates with busy stuff.

I used to think there wasn’t anything I could give up. God is showing me that I’ve only just begun to clean off my plate.

Maybe it’s my age and I’m feeling it a little. 

If you’re much younger than me, take it from an older person. Trimming your busy schedules, deleting items from your do lists, and making more time for Jesus, will prove the most productive thing you’ve ever done.

Imagine this: The Great Creator of your heart’s desires, the One who called you first, unto Him, He who relentlessly pursues you 24/7, the Originator of your very existence, waits for you.

“Just stop a minute,” He says. “Come unto Me; learn from Me,” He says.

Instead of rushing past Him, to the next thing to do, be with Him. It won't be a waste of time. 

This is how we stay the course.

May you have joy and rest in knowing Him deeper still, this year!

Be-ing,

Terri

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Quiet Entrance

by Terri Webster

What king has ever left the comforts of his throne for the good of humankind?

What god has ever so fully and richly satisfied that which we can’t, than what the One True Almighty God has?

There’s no denying we humans are incapable of being good enough to satisfy our deepest need for life on earth and then life eternally.

No one is. Ever.

The moment when Jesus stood up, removed His royal splendor, then stepped into our world, everything changed. He became God's gift to us to satisfy our deepest need for salvation.

The heavenly realms loudly proclaimed gloriously, while hell quaked and shook, as He quietly stepped down. 

Planted in a virgin’s womb.

Growing for months. Then passing through the birth canal, His own hands created.

Entering our world just like you and me.

Surrounded only by a handful of people, in a smelly barn with animals.

Even I was born in a nicer facility than my Savior.

No one had room for Him. This wasn’t how the expected, fore-told Messiah, King of all kings was expected to make His entrance.

While spiritual and political leaders expected a different entry; loud, commanding, powerful, and in full view for all to see…

…they missed Him.

In the loud, busy, in-full-view celebratory events we enjoy as we celebrate Christmas, let’s not miss Him.

Him, our long-awaited Messiah, God’s gift to mankind. Jesus Christ is the ultimate gift; free for anyone who will accept, open and make yours for life, now, and forevermore.

To all, from my heart and finger tips, to yours, may you receive and enjoy the greatest Gift ever given, while celebrating Him with your friends and family.

Have a bright and merry Christmas, 
Terri

 (photos courtesy of www.pixabay.com)

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Depending on God

by Terri Webster

When I was a single mom, depending on God became tangible.
Meaning, I depended on Him for the basics of necessities; food, shelter, water.

My dependence grew exponentially, as I also relied on Him for justice, healing of my broken heart and sanity for each day.

Those were tough years, putting it mildly.  

Today, while I know all my provision flows from and through Him, I no longer am in the posture of daily exercising that faith muscle. I take care, though, not to let it become flabby because I hope to never need to work it out like I did in my younger days.

However, if not for those years, I’m convinced there is no other way for me to know the intimate, compassionate, care and unfailing love of the Father’s heart, the way I came to know Father God’s.

Experiencing all I did during those years, also led me to the heart of Jesus in a fresh way, as I said yes to His proposal to be my Husband.

I was already saved, born again, but those dark days caused me to know Him in ways I wouldn’t know Him otherwise.

I stumbled and fumbled through. Made my share of mistakes. Struggled with doubt, unbelief, fits of rage and distancing myself from God.

Thankfully, He never budged. His love never changed in my ever-changing world.

Are you walking through dark times today, through a whirlwind of changes?

Dealing with a broken heart, injustice, loss, sorrow?

I write to you from the other side of a life forever changed by pain and hardship with nothing but encouragement and hope to offer you.

First, there’s no way you can muster up enough strength, self-will or spiritual ability to endure. Maybe for a day or two. But that isn’t lasting endurance. That may sound like bad news to you.

I have far better news!

Dear friend, you were never meant to dig deep within yourself to find all of that, as the world will tell you. Eventually you’ll come to the bottom of yourself. Then what?

Your shoulders weren’t designed to carry the weight of others AND your own burdens.

In a world completely void of stability, God’s unfailing love is unchanging. The shifting ground under your feet and unpredictable circumstances you’re in, are no match for His power to settle and sturdy you, as He walks alongside you.

How does this become your reality?

In His Word, the Bible; that book the world tells you is not worth your time, you can take hold of and apply His truths to the depths of your need, permeating, going where only He can go.

There was a time when I wasn’t sure I would ever say this, but joyfully, the time has come. God’s Word, the Bible, full of His rich promises and truth, has been tried and proven, over and over again in my life. His promises can be trusted. (Psalm 12:6)

I’ll share just a few with you today (there are too many for one little blog post).
  • Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30
Placing our burdens on Jesus, results in rest, even while in the storm.
  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
The darker the path, the brighter His truth shines.
  • But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
Waiting isn’t easy, but the promised rewards are priceless.
  • Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3
Today, whatever state you’re in, dark, light, good, bad, come to Him, just as you are. Pick up Your Bible, and allow Him to tell you deeper things you otherwise wouldn’t know.  

Dependently staying the course,

Terri

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Time Alone with God

by Terri Webster

How is your year going? Are you ready to see 2017 fade away and start 2018 with a clean slate?

For some of you it’s been a tough year. Some hard stuff mixed in with the good.

This is the time when I begin asking the Lord what my word/theme will be for next year to represent my quiet time with Him. 2018 will begin year three of intentionally setting aside time alone with Him every day.

It’s not because I’m so godly and mature, but because I was hungry and desperate.

Are you hungry? Feeling empty; like there must be more to this life; more to this Christian life?

A year ago I shared with you about this new venture with the Lord, which began two years ago. In my blog post titled, Color Your Year, posted December 19, 2016, I explain in more detail.

Before reading further you can catch up by reading Color Your Year here, then pop back over for today’s post.

Color Your Year

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Quiet time, devotion and Bible reading. We call it different things, but it’s that daily block of time set aside for time alone with Jesus.

This is something I’ve discovered I’m desperate for. I must have it.

Like water is necessary for my body, so is my time alone with Jesus, His word, prayer and writing in my journal.

The past two years have been life-changing. My life’s circumstances haven’t changed, but I have. The change isn’t complete, but will take the rest of my life.

It’s a process.

Throughout the years of my life with Jesus, I’ve always known I needed to spend time with Him. At times my efforts were minimal. I thought as long as I opened my Bible, sat in His presence, read a devotion of the day, then prayed a little that this was enough to grow and change me; enough to know Him.

It wasn’t until the end of 2015, that I became aware of my great need. I couldn’t continue doing the same thing and expect change.

January 1, 2016 was a new day of a new month of a new year. I was focused and ready to make my time with the Lord top priority and yielded to Him in a fresh way.

Ten minutes a day turned into 30, when before I knew it, my “dates” with Jesus became the fastest hour or more gone by of every day!

The room above our garage has become my HAPPY place, even with the hard, disciplining, pruning and burning off the dross by His refining fire. 

I’m nowhere near where I need to be, but learning to simply BE with Him, and let Him do His work in me is priceless. It’s not my work, but HIS.

What relief it is!

How is your daily quiet time with God? If you don’t have a regular time set apart for time alone with Him, I encourage you to begin plans to make this a priority in your day. This is where you’ll find direction, healing and peace that the world will never provide. This is where the change you’re longing for takes place.

The Lover of your soul waits for you. He will never NOT show up.

I encourage you today, to step outside of the noise and busyness for a moment to ask Him for a word/or theme to represent your time with Him for 2018. When He shows you, (and He will), set up your personal space that’s just for you and Jesus. Let Him surprise you!

I invite you to share your thoughts too and how you spend your time alone with Him. Also, feel free to email me by using the form on the right side of this page to ask questions or request prayer.

Staying the course from surprise to surprise,

Terri