Hump Day Hiatus #13 – By Our Side

Welcome to another Hump Day Hiatus!

Take a little break today and join us for a few minutes of meditation with a quick When We Listen thought, a cool song, and scripture.

Get comfy. Read. Listen. Pray. Listen again! Enjoy!

Read…..

HDH13

Listen….Need to Breathe’s Wasteland

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Pray…..

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? ~Romans 8:31~

Living a “Blessed” Life

A Blessed Life

 

Happy Birthday Dad!

 

As I’m writing this post I’m also chuckling in my head. The fact that today would have been my Dad’s 81st birthday and how he often scoffed at people when they talked about how “blessed” they were, just makes me wonder if he can now see what being “blessed” truly means.

 

You may or may not know my Dad had Prostate cancer, had been treated for almost a year, and the cancer was GONE. Unfortunately, the treatment itself, and the plethora of health problems my Dad had, finally took him to be with the Lord back in January of this year. I’ve finally come to the conclusion the doctors did what they thought was best for him, at the time, and with what they knew. No one could have predicted the outcome from the choices they made.

 

His quality of life was going away quickly, yet his mind and wit were still sharp as a tac. We always question why God takes people when they are in those stages, thinking if they could just hang on a little longer, life would be okay. The fact was, his life would probably have not gotten any better, nor would he have been okay. God’s timing is usually never understood, but it’s always perfect.

 

 You Are So Blessed!

 

Just like we don’t understand why God takes people when they are still in their right minds, or when they’re young, or when they are just in the wrong place at the wrong time, my Dad never seemed to understand why people said he was blessed or why people could be thankful for what they did have, even in the most dire of circumstances, and felt blessed because of it.

 

We had planned to have my Dad’s ashes buried this weekend, but Mom decided she wasn’t ready to have him leave just yet. I had asked to speak at his funeral, if we had one, and Mom had agreed to let me. During the week after his death, we were able to find humor in some of his antics and some of the things that we knew drove him crazy. One of those was the word “blessed”. I joked that my talk about him at the funeral would be titled, “The Blessed Life of Julian Campbell”. He couldn’t say anything about it now, so why not? 😉 Just kidding Dad! You really did have a blessed life and here is why I think so.

 

 You Have A Blessed Life If…..

 

2-You Have Pretty Much Anything You Could Want or Need

 

Having enough money to have everything we want or need is what most people think of when they think of a life being “blessed”. When we’ve worked hard, made a good living, and been smart with our money, we are usually blessed with things. Having stuff is great if we do not let the “stuff” define who we are.

 

My Dad never let his stuff define him. Yes, he had stuff, but the “stuff” did not define who he was. He owned several vehicles over the years, a couple of boats, airplanes, motorcycles, houses, and a house full of pretty things (that was thanks to Mom!), yet those things did not define who he was. Maybe the fact that the things were all paid for or sold off once they were no longer of any use to him made him unique, but he did not boast or let money dictate who he became.

 

We always called him “Scrooge” because he was SO tight with his money, but thank goodness he was! Mom can comfortably live out the rest of her days because of his Scrooge-ness. Nonetheless, he did not have to worry about food on the table or a roof over his head. He was blessed to have all of those things.

 

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 4:19~

 

 

2-You Are Surrounded by People You Love and People Who Love You

 

When we’re surrounded by people we love and enjoy their company, we’re just happier people. We usually don’t choose to surround ourselves with people we dislike, although sometimes we don’t have a choice.

 

It’s also nice to be around people who love us. People who know all of our dirty laundry, all of our bumps and bruises, and love us anyway; those are people we need around us. Those are the people we can call on any time of the day or night. The people who will tell us we’re not living right and we will listen to them.

 

Dad had a lot of friends. And a lot of, well,.…..not friends. I’m not sure you would call those other people “enemies”, but people who didn’t know how to take his off-the-cuff remarkers or who didn’t agree with what he had to say. He said what he thought and really didn’t mind if people didn’t agree with him. This sort of salty personality usually doesn’t draw people close to you.

 

That being said, he had a lot of true friends. That fact was evident the day of his visitation. People came for two solid hours to pay their respects and to share stories of how he had helped them, sometimes financially, sometimes with just his words, but had made a positive impact on their lives.

 

He believed in family and he believed in friends that would be there through thick and thin. He burned a few bridges, with family and with friends, but he always treated everyone he met with respect, and he expected it in return. He surrounded himself with people he loved and people who loved him wanted to be around him. He was blessed to have the love of family and friends.

 

Blessed Life

 

3-You Know Jesus Christ as Your Lord and Savior

 

People who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and have a personal relationship with Him just seem a little happier, don’t you think?

 

I love the Bible’s example of this when Potiphar, the Egyptian master, noticed that Joseph (Remember the guy sold into slavery by his brothers? Yeah, that Joseph!) succeeded in everything he did. Potiphar “realized that the Lord was WITH Joseph” (Genesis 39:2-5 – My emphasis added). Because Joseph freely received and enjoyed God’s blessing, he could, in turn, bless others.

 

Dad questioned God A LOT (his other name was “Heavenly Sandpaper”), but he did realize God had given him the talent to work with numbers, understand complicated machinery, and negotiate business deals, so he often helped others with some of the same matters. Because of his financial success, he often helped out my sister and me when we were in need and other people and organizations without any fanfare whatsoever. He knew God had given him gifts He had not given others. He was blessed by God so he was able to bless others.

 

 

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ~Acts 20:35~

 

4-You Walk Out Your Purpose Every Day

 

Many of us never really figure out what our purpose is, and then others seem to know it from Day 1! And then for some of us, we have to figure out what our purpose is NOT, so we can finally figure out what it IS. Once we know what that purpose is, we no longer see our days as “work”, but rather as opportunities to do something for a reason, a purpose, every day.

 

Dad always said he still wasn’t sure what he wanted to do when he grew up. I always thought this was funny, because if he ever put together a resume’ of the jobs he had held over his lifetime, it would have been a menagerie of occupations. He had been everything from an electrical contractor to a pig farmer and everything in between! He seemed to want to try his hand at anything and everything. Some things he was rather talented; other things, not so much. Whatever he was doing, he was doing it with purpose and intentionality. He never did anything half-hearted and he always finished what he started. He taught my sister and I an incredible work ethic. No matter what the job, he did it with purpose. He was blessed to walk out his purpose every day of his life.

 

Many plans are in a man’s mind, but it is the Lord’s purpose for him that will stand. ~Proverbs 19:21~

 

In the end, Dad wasn’t sure why he had to physically suffer the way he had over the past year. And to tell you the truth, none of us do either. I know he probably has his answer now, but we will have to wait.

 

Just looking back over my Dad’s life, on this his 81st birthday, has put into perspective the blessings I hope he now realizes he had while here on earth. He suffered through a lot of physical pain over his lifetime, he lived through a lot of stressful times with failed business ventures or investments, and he dealt with a lot of heartbreak from our stumbles and mistakes, but through it all he managed to bounce back and would always say, “Tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow will be a better day.”

 

I use to hate when he would say that, but I now realize the life lesson he was trying to teach me. We are not promised an easy pass through this life. There will be a lot of pain and heartache and we have to persevere through it all in order to receive our reward on the other side. HOW we get through it determines how better our tomorrows will be.

 

Happy birthday and thank you Dad for teaching us what it truly means to be blessed.

 

Blessed Life 2

 

Hump Day Hiatus #12 – Limitless

Welcome to another Hump Day Hiatus!

Take a little break today and join us for a few minutes of meditation with a quick When We Listen thought, a cool song, and scripture.

Get comfy. Read. Listen. Pray. Listen again! Enjoy!

Read…..

HDH12

 

Listen……Colton Dixon’s Limitless

 

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Pray…..

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” ~Matthew 19:26~

Hump Day Hiatus #11 – His Presence

Welcome to another Hump Day Hiatus!

Take a little break today and join us for a few minutes of meditation with a quick When We Listen thought, a cool song, and scripture.

Get comfy. Read. Listen. Pray. Listen again! Enjoy!

Read…..

HDH11

Listen to Francesca Battistelli’s Holy Spirit 

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Pray…..

And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” ~Exodus 33:14~

When the Lights (finally) Come On!

Lights Come On

The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble. ~Proverbs 4:18-19~

 

Scared of the Dark

 

Have you ever noticed how loud things sound in the dark? Or how your mind can go to crazy places when you’re in the dark?

 

I’ve always been a little afraid of the dark. I can still vividly remember waking up in the middle of the night thinking someone was peeking around my bedroom door just starring at me. A rational mind would have tried to turn on a light pretty quickly or at least yelled for Mom and Dad.

 

No, I sat there petrified. Didn’t move. Scared to death!

 

I cannot remember HOW I finally figured it out, maybe my eyes finally adjusted, but Mom had left her vacuum cleaner in the hall with a rag draped over the handle. My “stranger” in the dark was actually a vacuum!

 

Needless to say, I was relieved and had a good laugh at myself.

 

But what this, and a ton of other things that happened this week, reminded me of how when we’re “in the dark” we cannot see or think clearly.

 

Marshall Minute

 

Several times in the past week I’ve either heard or seen something having to do with light and dark. I heard the opening scripture for this post on a Montgomery Christian radio show and their segment called the Marshall Minute. Brother Marshall shares a funny, yet insightful story with the listeners and always ties it back to a Biblical principle. His story that day was about a young girl disgruntled about where she was working and she wanted to quit. An older, wiser man asked her a rather odd question, “where do people usually put lights?”

 

At first, she didn’t understand why he was asking her such a random question. She shrugged it off and tried to redirect the conversation back to her dilemma.

 

He again asked her, “Where do people usually put a light?”

 

She begrudgingly said, “In dark places!”

 

Ding! Ding! Ding!

 

She got it correct! His point was, she could quit, or she could be the light in that dark place.

 

Upper Room Devotional

 

Another “lightbulb moment” for me came while reading an entry in my Upper Room devotional. (If you’ve never read them, they’re a great, quick read with a powerful message. Here’s a link. I keep mine in my car, so I can have some devo time at a red light. Helps the day go smoother!)

 

The gentleman writing that day’s devo talked about because we know the entire Easter story, we can rejoice knowing a day of celebration and resurrection is coming. Jesus’ disciples did not have that. They experienced a time of darkness before they were able to see the light.

 

Our Places of Darkness

 

Many of us have experienced darkness.

 

It may be with the loss of a love one. It might be the ending of something we dearly love. It could be sickness, of ourselves or someone close to us. It may be just a feeling of not feeling useful, beautiful, loved, etc.

 

The list is endless and that’s just what the enemy is banking on!

 

If he can get us in a dark place, and keep us there, then he thinks he’s won.

 

I know from my own times of darkness, sometimes it can be a loooong time (my bouts of depression have been severe for a year or long, and are still an ongoing battle) and then sometimes it’s rather short (like not getting a job I wanted or being disappointed in someone). But however long the time, it’s essential to GO THROUGH the darkness so we can APPRECIATE THE LIGHT!

 

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. ~James 1:2~

 

Getting the Lights Back On

 

I titled this post When the Lights (finally) Come On! because it often feels like we will never see light again when we’re in our darkest days. So, how do we flip the switch to see the light again? Well, since my hubby and I are in the beginning stages of remodeling a house, I thought I would use an electrical analogy to demonstrate (Although it will be a very rudimentary one due to my lack of electricity knowledge!).

 

Think back to a time when you were “in the dark” or maybe you’re there now. Not a good place, is it?

 

For this analogy, we’re going to assume we have blown a breaker in our house. This means somewhere in the house, electricity has been stopped, a light has gone out, and so we’re sitting in the dark. There is a control panel somewhere in our house where all the electrical wires and breaker switches are located. This is command central for controlling electricity in our homes.

 

1-Pray First

Although this may not “flip the switch” right away, it is certainly the place to start. When we know we’re in a dark place, prayer is sometimes the first thing we go to, and sometimes it’s the last.

You’ve stumbled around your house and finally located the electrical panel, so you flip the breaker you believe to be the one where your light has gone off. Nothing happens. Okay, time to check a wire or two. First turn off ALL electricity to your house! (That means flip the “main”, big breaker.)

2-Seek Counsel of Other Believers

Keeping ourselves isolated in dark places can heighten our awareness of some unnecessary things, while subduing others. We can be keenly aware of how dark we feel, yet clueless as to how it’s affecting us and those around us. Sometimes just talking to another believer, maybe someone who’s been where we are, can help tremendously. Or, maybe we’re not ready to air all the details of our darkness just yet. Asking someone to pray with us or for us is another way to surround ourselves with Godly counsel.

So, you’ve flipped your breaker and nothing happened. It may be time to call in an electrician (i.e. Godly counsel or seek a professional counselor) or if you’re brave enough to check the wiring yourself, you might open an electrical outlet and see what’s happening. This is easy enough to find. There are outlets surrounding you in every room (i.e. There is always a friend or counselor available to talk…you just have to ask). Find the ONE that has caused everything to go dark.

3-Thank God for Our Circumstances

What? Thank Him? Why would we want to do that?

Well, fact is, we usually don’t WANT TO, but we NEED TO. Thanking Him while we are in the dark means we’re trusting Him to see us through and He’s probably teaching us something along the way.

Give thanks in ALL circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. ~1 Thessalonians 5:18~

You’ve found the outlet, taken the cover off, and realize an old wire some how became unconnected to the box (I know, this is a REALLY simplified version of a wiring problem! Just hang on!). You test the wire with a voltage tester to make sure it’s not “hot” (i.e. no electricity is running through it) and with a twist or two of the wire, you’re reconnected. You’re thankful that there were no major wiring issues, you learned a bit about how to check for issues with your electricity, so you head back to the electrical panel.

 

4-Pray Again and Do Something for Someone Else Until the Lights Come On

 

Praying continually will sometimes lead to a breakthrough. Praying once usually doesn’t bring clarity or an answer, but through persistent prayer, God will show us something new and different. It may be in a passage of scripture that we’ve read a thousand times. We will hear something insightful in a song we’ve heard a million times. Someone will say something to us that is THE answer to our problem. A light has come on!

Pray continually. ~1 Thessalonians 5:17~

 

Our persistence in prayer (pursuing Him) will evidently lead to the lights coming on. We often wonder why we didn’t see it before. We couldn’t. We were in the dark!

Doing things for others is another great way to see things from God’s perspective. Once we get out of our dark place and can be a light for others, our darkness seems a little lighter. We see others in darker places than our own and realize we CAN be thankful for something.

 

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. ~Hebrews 13:16~

 

You’re back at the electrical box and you flip the main breaker, hopefully restoring power to the house. Maybe not. So, you have to flip a few single breakers to kick start certain outlets, including the one where you were in the dark. You find the light switch and voila, the lights are back on! You can see more clearly than before!

 

Lightbulb Moment

 

I am no electrician (Obviously, right?), but I do understand that sometimes systems fail, things wear out, and sometimes they just break. Our lives are like that too. People will fail us. We will fail ourselves and others. We grow weary and just get tired of trying to make things better. And many times we are broken beyond, what we think is possible, to repair.

 

Ironically, my pastor, Chris Hodges, said it in a very simplified, but spot-on way this morning, “Brokenness precedes breakthrough”.

 

The good news is God never thinks of us in that way….NEVER! He always sees us as redeemable. He may let us stay in the dark for a little while, but He will eventually pull us out into the light, IF we are listening and paying attention.

 

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. ~James 1:2-4~

 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we have GET to go through stuff in order to be a light to others and to appreciate the light when we see it.

 

It’s never as easy as a 1-2-3 plan. We have to do our part in pursuing God every day and trusting that His plan is WAY better than ours. We may have to stumble around in the dark for awhile, but that stumbling is building us into stronger, more vibrant lights for this world.

 

Lightbulb 

So, how do you deal with being in the dark? I would love to hear your stories of struggle and how God opened your eyes to again see the light. Please share in the comments below.