Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tomorrow Is A New Day

Choose a new direction

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

A radio host recently asserted that ninety percent of our thoughts are the same from one day to the next. Do you believe that?

When you stop to consider, the figure makes perfect sense. Don’t we follow the same routine schedule, deal with the same problems, and encounter the same people? Without conscious effort to do otherwise, it’s logical our thoughts would be the same. We ruminate over mistakes and sometimes blunder ahead with no better choices or refuse to make changes that could lead to a better path.

A trend has unfolded since the first of the year. Instead of resolutions, many folks have chosen a word for the year. Abundance. Dependence (on Christ). Forgiveness. Perseverance. Yet, one word I haven’t seen is the one I mentioned a few weeks ago in reference to fear.

Change.

How can a six-letter word be so scary? Why does it take so much effort to think new thoughts, believe new ideas, and embrace a new path?

The failure to do so is what leads to all other failure in life.

So there you have it. My word for 2013 is change. Better late than never, I guess. J

Some changes this year will be bittersweet, like my son graduating high school, while other change I’ll embrace. And yes, some will be scary. But in the meantime, I’ll cling to a verse that reminds me, no matter what changes in my temporal earthly life, there’s one thing I can always count on to stay the same:

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

Can I get an amen?


I will be leaving for The Cove (Billy Graham training center in Asheville, NC) on Friday for a weekend writers’ conference. Please pray for my traveling safety both Friday and when I return on Sunday. Pray that my writing will be edified and my goals strengthened by the presence of the Holy Spirit always in abundance at this beautiful mountaintop complex. My schedule will be chock-full, but I will attempt to blog some photos during the conference.

If you have a prayer request, please share it in the comments below or email me confidential requests. Would you take a moment to lift up those on the prayer list at the top of the blog, along with Sgt. Jesse McCart as he continues rehab?

TC Avey requests prayer for her sister-in-law. It has only been three months since her brother (TC’s father-in-law) died of lung cancer. She was diagnosed a few weeks ago with the same cancer. She is progressing really rapidly. Without a touch for God, she will not make it.

We have a praise report from Courtney’s family on her MRI last week. This is from her Caring Bridge site:

Courtney's MRI showed no changes and the area below the tumor cavity that they have been watching for months, looked the same as last time. Dr. Peters still feels that this may be calcium deposits from prior radiation treatment and not tumor growth. To be sure, she has ordered a PET scan along with the contrast MRI on our next visit in late March. This will determine if it is indeed scar tissue or tumor. Should the PET scan show scar tissue, Dr. Peters plans to address reducing or removing one of Courtney's chemo drugs. She will remain on the Avastin IV indefinitely, but at least she may be able to drop one of the two oral chemo drugs.
Thank you all again for your concern and interest for Courtney. I assure you that we are so thankful and take great comfort in knowing that prayers and well wishes are coming her way, especially on the days we are Duke waiting on results. God bless you all.

The only thing I can add is Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

God bless,
Laura

©Laura Hodges Poole

Photo courtesy of Microsoft.com free clip art

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Trusting in Him


Seeking answers
“It is a safe thing to trust Him to fulfill the desires which He creates.” Amy Carmichael, missionary, (1867-1951)

I’m a firm believer in praying specific prayers. After all, anything worth putting before God shouldn’t be done in a trite way of “God bless so-and-so. Amen.” However, it’s one thing to pray specifically, it’s another to pray with an answer attached.

I’m re-reading Amy Carmichael’s biography “A Chance to Die.” A gift from my mom, I read it the first time almost ten years ago. Beautifully written by missionary Elisabeth Elliot, the biography sheds light on Amy’s early life and the 55 years she spent in India as a missionary without a furlough home. Of Irish descent, Amy learned early in her life about prayer as illustrated in this excerpt: 

“Taught by her mother that God was a hearer and an answerer of prayer, One who could change water into wine, she [Amy] determined to test His powers. Kneeling by her bed that night she asked for the one thing she most passionately longed for: blue eyes. Surely there would be no difficulty for the Lord in this. The little girl went to bed with perfect confidence. She jumped out of bed at dawn, pushed a chair to the chest of drawers, climbed up and looked in the mirror—into the same brown eyes. She never forgot the bewilderment she felt until, somehow, an explanation was given (did the Lord Himself speak to her, or did someone else?): Isn’t NO an answer? So prayer was not magic. Like her earthly father who loved her, her heavenly Father might also say no.” (A Chance to Die) 
This poignant story is heartwarming as we each see our own children (or maybe imagine ourselves as children) praying na├»ve prayers. But let’s be honest. We often do the same thing as adults. We don’t stop at praying the specific prayer. We then give God the answer we want in return.

As a small child, Amy only knew that her Irish siblings and many around her had blue eyes, and she did not. It seemed a travesty to her. She couldn’t have known she’d spend most of her life in India, amongst brown-eyed people, and how imperative it was she blend in. She often dyed her skin with coffee and covered her head to move about in unsavory places to do God’s work. Her missionary worked turned into rescuing children from temple prostitution and establishing a safe haven for them, the Dohnavur Fellowship. At the time of her death, Amy had rescued over a thousand children.

Like Amy, we often pray too specifically such that an answer is wrapped up in our petitions.

“Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” Romans 11:34

With our own limited view of the world and with no knowledge of the future, we are often hesitant to step out on faith and say, “God, no matter what the answer might be, I accept it.”

Scary, huh?

Not really, when you consider that God knows our future, wants the best for us, and has designed us for a specific purpose. We only have to trust Him to get it right.


If you have a prayer request you’d like to share, please do so in the comments section or email me confidential requests. Here are the new requests for this week:

·        Today, Courtney is en route to Duke for her two-month follow-up brain MRI. She has had three  clear reports since last summer. Please keep her in your prayers as she battles brain cancer and anxiety. For those of you who do not know her story, please click on the prayer list at the top of the blog for more info.
·       Linda and Stephen’s marriage is at a crossroads right now. Please pray that they’ll seek God’s guidance in their decisions.
·        Matthew is having mental health issues and is living an unhealthy lifestyle. Pray that God will give his family wisdom and strength as they seek answers, and that Matthew will get help for his problems.

Shalom,
Laura

© Laura Hodges Poole

Photo courtesy of Microsoft.com free clip art

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Your Work or God's Work?

“The way to success and a broad, beautiful outlook on life more often than not leads over obstacles and up a stiff climb before we reach the hilltop.” Laura Ingalls Wilder
Have you ever started the week on Monday and by Tuesday realized you’re already behind? This sums up my life more often than not lately. The more I cross off my to-do list, the more the list multiplies—almost like rabbits—before my eyes. I ask myself: Where does all this stuff come from? Well, me, of course. J But, like Laura Ingalls Wilder observed, life often leads over obstacles and up a stiff climb before we reach the hilltop. 
Do you ever feel this way? If so, how do you strive to find joy and rely on God’s strength at the same time? Is it through trial and error—or placing your faith in God’s plans, no matter what?
Laura Ingalls Wilder is one of my favorite authors. She left a treasure trove of writings, not only her Little House books but decades of journals and newspaper columns. One of my favorites is her recollection of how she came to understand the difference between her work and God’s work. 
Laura was 15 years old when she became a school teacher to help support her family. At 18, she married Almanzo Wilder and became a farmer’s wife. Three years later, Almanzo suffered a stroke after having diphtheria and never fully regained his strength or health. Laura became his hands and feet, helping him to harness horses and do farm work, much like she had been sister Mary’s eyes after she became blind when they were children.
A few months after Almanzo’s stroke, Laura gave birth to a second child, a son, who died two weeks later. A month later, a fire destroyed their home. At age 22, Laura packed up the family to spend a year with Almanzo’s parents in Minnesota, then two years in Florida to help rehab his legs outside of a frigid northern climate.
After returning to their South Dakota home, Laura did the unthinkable for a married woman in the 1890s. She took a job outside of the home—working as a seamstress for ten hours a day, six days a week, at a dollar a day to earn money to move again. With $100 in savings, at age 27, she and Almanzo with daughter Rose left the Dakotas for good and moved to the Missouri Ozarks where they spent the rest of their lives. 
Did she have moments of despair? No doubt. But did she let the hardships consume her or shake her faith? This is from her writings:
“There were dry years in the Dakotas when we were beginning our life together. How heartbreaking it was to watch the grain we had sown with such high hopes wither and turn yellow in the hot winds! And it was backbreaking as well as heartbreaking to carry water from the well to my garden and see it dry up despite all my efforts. I said at that time that thereafter I would sow the seed, but the Lord would give the increase, if there was any, for I could not do my work and that of Providence also by sending the rain on the gardens of the just and the unjust.” (Words from a Fearless Heart)
Are you struggling to discern the difference between your role and that of God’s in your life and work? Take heart from this prayer the Apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesians, and ultimately for all believers:
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:14-21
Please take a moment to lift up in prayer those on the prayer list and Sgt. Jesse McCart as he continues rehab. If you have a need, please share in the comments section or email me confidential requests. 
God bless,
Laura
©Laura Hodges Poole
Photo courtesy of Microsoft.com free clip art

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Fear of Change

Are you afraid? 
“One reason we are so harried and hurried is that we make yesterday and tomorrow our business, when all that legitimately concerns us is today. If we really have too much to do, there are some items on the agenda which God did not put there. Let us submit the list to Him and ask Him to indicate which items we must delete. There is always time to do the will of God. If we are too busy to do that, we are too busy.” ― Elisabeth Elliot, missionary and writer
Overwhelmed…too many commitments…can’t say no…worry…sleepless nights…Do any of these describe you? They describe many Americans in today’s society. 
Yet, the irony is surveys have shown, despite the overwhelming circumstances many deal with, most people wouldn’t trade their own trials for someone else’s. 
Something to ponder.
This week my life finally settled back into routine after the Christmas holiday. With my son back in school, my daughter in North Carolina, and my husband at work, the house is quiet. I can hear the birds singing through the sunroom windows and the jingle of my Australian Shepherd’s dogtags as she tosses a ball around in the back yard on this crisp, sunny morning. 
With my Bible in hand, I settled into a comfy chair to pray over my goals for 2013. I’ve learned without God’s blessing, my goals are seldom achievable through my own strength. Mostly, this is because my goals involve Him and the ministry He has given me. 
I’ve said before I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I ask God to show me a character trait or habit that, if improved upon, would help me achieve my goals. Last year it was better time management. I won’t say I mastered it, but I definitely improved, and it did make my work flow better. 
As I’ve prayed this week, one thing became apparent—most of what I want (or feel led) to do is impeded by fear. Maybe you have this problem, also. Fear of failure, fear of danger, fear of the unknown…and the list goes on and on. 
And maybe this sheds some light on what we were pondering above. Despite our circumstances, we won’t trade for someone else’s hardships, but apparently we’re often unwilling to take the necessary steps to change our own. We’ll continue in our own harried, overcommitted way.
Why?
Could it be fear in both scenarios?
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)
Through God’s grace and with His strength, we can overcome and be empowered to conquer anything to bring positive changes to our life and work.
If you have a prayer need or something you’re struggling with, I’d love to hear from you today. Share in the comments below or email me confidentially. Take a moment to pray for others on the list above. 
New prayer requests this week:
  • Sarah asks for prayer for her niece Lori who has recently been diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer.
  • Jeremy, Elizabeth, and Ashley. These three young adults have turned their back on Christ and have chosen a self-destructive, sinful path instead. Pray for them to realize their sin and turn back to the hope only found in Christ.
I hope you are as blessed by this song as I was when I first heard it a couple of months ago.  

God bless,
Laura
© Laura Hodges Poole
Photo courtesy of Microsoft.com free clip art

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Looking Forward

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day.”~Edith Lovejoy Pierce
Happy New Year!
A new year holds promise of goals being met, relationships mended, and more prosperous times than the preceding year. Let’s face it. 2012 was difficult on many fronts: unemployment, violence, illness, budget woes, and death. 
Does God have anything to say to encourage us as we close the book on 2012 and look forward to 2013? 
In the Bible, Joshua found himself transitioning from follower to leader after Moses’ death. The Bible doesn’t share Joshua’s feelings, but certainly he must have felt both excitement and apprehension. After all, it wasn’t just any leader’s shoes he was filling—it was Moses. 
God gave Joshua these words of encouragement along with a promise for his future. Even though Joshua had much to look forward to, he also needed tools to deal with trials along the path. 
“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them…Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Joshua 1:6-8
I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, though I do set goals. Regardless of what these are, I know the underlying foundation for success will be to put God first, strive to keep His Word in my life, and mediate with Him. 
What exciting goals have you set for 2013? I’d love to hear about them. 
If you’re struggling to find motivation or joy, I hope you’ll be inspired by this message of song from Casting Crowns. Please email me or leave a comment if you’d like prayer. J 

Please remember to check the prayer list and lift these folks up in prayer. Many with cancer will be facing repeat scans and checkups in the near future. News came out of Iran that Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was rearrested on Christmas Day to finish serving his original sentence for evangelizing. As I hear more news, I’ll share. Please keep this godly man and his family in your prayers. 
Shalom,
Laura
© Laura Hodges Poole
Photo courtesy of Microsoft.com free clip art