Life in Abundance

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Waves of Anger

by Stephanie Yamniuk

The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. Psalm 145:8, New International Version.

Soon after we were married, my husband and I attended a seminar.* We were beginning our new life and looking for ways to build a peaceful life together. Ten years later, I still remember a technique we learned to get rid of negative thoughts.

When you feel angry or hurt, it’s easy to begin a negative script in your head. It goes something like, “I can’t believe he just said that. How rude! If only I could tell him what a jerk he is, I would. In fact, I remember when . . . .” This negative self-talk is just as destructive as discouraging words and hurtful actions. What we tell ourselves in our hearts and minds soon becomes reality. To break this negative cycle, you must fill your mind with something positive. One technique is to think of a song you like and singing it in your mind when negative self-talk starts taking over your thoughts.

When I am feeling angry or frustrated, I often cry out in prayer and sing the song, ‘Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus. The chorus goes like this:

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er! Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

With children just 12 months apart, I used to often feel overwhelmed trying to balance the life of a wife, a mother and a workingwoman. Some mornings were worse than others–-getting two sleepy children out of bed; feeding them breakfast when they weren’t hungry (the daycare wouldn’t feed them); and then trying to leave the house on time. And all this without bursting into tears.

But then, God gave me this song to sing and soon my children knew it too.

Thank you Lord, for your patience and compassion. * All Power Seminar by Leo Schreven

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Rodents in Life

by Cynthia Ward

There is nothing that can bring a man to his knees faster than a small rodent. I am watching two men looking out the window, waiting for a gopher to poke his head above ground. Now this does not mean they will be able to do anything to the gopher. It just means they will now be able to lay blame for the damage to the landscape on this evil rodent.

In the last two weeks, three different vehicles have been damaged, to the tune of $1200, by squirrels chewing on the engine wires of the cars. Now it’s gophers destroying the lawn.

In moments like this, it is hard to comprehend God’s plan when He created the rodent. But first, I should make it very clear—I am not, in any way, someone who has devoted her life to the study of rodents; nor am I someone who participates in lawn care. So my life is hardly disrupted by rodents. I actually enjoy watching squirrels scamper around. I even believe that, in the grand scheme of things, rodents are mini rototillers that replant our forests. Of course, I keep that information from men who seek revenge upon rodents.

Everything has been changed by sin. It is difficult to see the need for something when sin blurs our vision. Who sees the rainbow when the floodwaters are everywhere? Why notice the tiny new oak tree when all around us is the fire-ravaged timber?

Today, ask God to open your eyes to the blessings that you sometimes quickly overlook or misjudge because of the overwhelming burdens that come with it.

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Angel in Boots

by Doina Cismas Jeffrey

I was driving home after an evening shift at work. It was shortly after midnight and snowing as I got into my car. The roads were a little slick and there was just enough snow on the road to cause a slushy snow splash every now and then on my windshield. This made it difficult to see, even with the wipers on.

A semi-truck right in front of me moved slowly, throwing huge amounts of slush on my windshield. I decided to pass the truck, knowing my little Honda Civic had good tires and was stable on the road. As I passed and pulled in front of the truck, I felt the car spin. Right then, I knew it was the end. ”God, this is it,” I prayed.

What followed was remarkable. After I uttered the words “God, this is it,” there was no fear, no struggle trying to control the car, no semi-truck, not even the lights on the edge of the freeway. It seemed as though I just woke up and found myself in the center grassy median with my front tires buried in the ground all the way up to the bumper. And I was alive without a scratch or ache.

My first words were “Thank you, God.” Realizing there were very few cars on the road so late at night in such bad road conditions, I prayed again, “God, please send someone to help me.” Within seconds, a large white dual-wheel pickup pulled up behind me, onto the median. A large man with a white cowboy hat got out of the pickup, walked up to my window and asked if he could help me. His face and voice were kind. Could God have answered me so quickly?

The man had the chains needed to pull my car out. And when he was done, he would not accept any payment. All he asked was that I help someone else in need.

As he was leaving, I sat in my car attempting to muster up the courage to continue my drive home. When I looked up a few seconds later, the pickup was gone. There was no one in sight even though the road was straight and I could see down the road for miles.

Was that my angel that night? Did God perform a miracle? Had time somehow stopped while my car spun on the road to prevent me from being killed? Maybe. After all, with God all things are possible. This verse now has much more meaning for me: “The angel of the Lord encamps all around those that fear Him and delivers them” (Psalm 34:7).

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My Dream Bug

by Ruth-Ann Thompson

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. I Peter 5:8, King James Version.

It seems that every September I begin a new walking program. The Summer heat has curtsied to the crisp coolness of Fall, and I feel that I can breathe freely as I exercise. This morning was no exception and I was anxious to get started. After a few light stretches, I began. Just as I was picking up my pace, I saw a scary looking half-spider, half-tick, part-crab and part- monster, creepy-crawly-creature-thingy crossing my path.

Imagining that it was growling at me and following me on my walk, I decided to squash it. I skillfully lifted my right leg and paused–ever so careful to aim with precision–then slammed my foot down. Satisfied I had destroyed my target, I lifted my foot only to see millions of baby scary looking half-spider, half-tick, part-crab and part-monster creepy-crawly-creature- thingies scampering in every direction! Ewww! I gasped as I propelled forth with the speed of an Olympic sprinter. I screamed, running faster than the cars on the street nearby. Yuck! Yuck! Yuck! I shivered. I stomped my feet repeatedly into a nearby puddle only to realize that my old walking shoes had a hole in the right toe.

Itching ensued as I swatted at imaginary creatures on my legs, arms, neck and everywhere else. (I’m still scratching as I write this!) Once I settled down—and believe me, it took quite awhile for that to happen—I had to smile. Even though I tried to end the life of that bug-creature-thingy, it would live on through its many babies.

We all have dreams inside of us—“thingies” that we would love to give birth to—and the devil seeks to destroy us at every turn. Let’s determine not to let him squash our dreams.

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God in the Back Pages

by Fylvia Fowler Kline

If the family is too small for a lamb, then share it with a close neighbor. Exodus 12:4, The Message

As it is with most things, it’s the sensational side of God that makes the headlines. Like when He parted the Red Sea, or when He asked little David to fight Goliath, or when He sent down a chariot to whisk Elijah into heaven. It’s not that I don’t like these stories, but sometimes these stories shroud my God in an awesome, holy glow that makes me feel unworthy and hesitant in His presence.

That’s why my favorite stories are the obscure ones, the ones that take just a verse or two to tell, those that make the back page and not the headlines. These brief stories speak to me of a Father God, someone who is sensitive, understanding and extremely reasonable. Such is the story told in the first few verses of Exodus 12–It’s time for the last plague, the death of the firstborn. The only way to escape death is to sacrifice a lamb and smear its blood on the doorpost.

I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a single Hebrew family that was going to risk losing a child. Every family was determined to get a lamb, no matter the cost. One lamb per family was not much to ask on the eve of their freedom.

Here’s the scene: No one is questioning the cost of the goat or the demands of God. They are willing to do whatever it takes. But God makes a concession– God takes into account that one lamb per family may be too expensive for some, that a whole roasted lamb may result in wasted food. So this mighty, awesome God of mine—who is in a time crunch and in the middle of the major project of delivering an entire nation out of slavery—takes the time to pay attention to something comparatively insignificant. And He tells the people to share a lamb if needed.

God makes time for the little things. He’s concerned about my food budget, my dying garden and my bulging waist. I love that my God doesn’t expect me to just suck it up and look forward to the Second Coming. No, He sends His Holy Spirit to help me with mundane human activities too.


Born Again by Grace

by Michelle Caviness

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you. 1 Peter 1: 3-4, New International Version

On August 29 of last year I was reborn! I ran through the grass with my arms outstretched to the sky, praising God, crying, laughing. I finally allowed years of guilt and unworthiness to roll off my back.

Since I was a little girl, I have carried a lot of guilt, most of it unsubstantiated. Even when good things happened, for some reason I could never entirely enjoy them. My life was filled with many tribulations, which resulted in me taking care of everyone else while feeling sorry for myself. Being the unwanted child of a teen mother compounded the feelings of unworthiness and distrust in me.

I couldn’t trust anyone, not even God. I was determined to do everything myself and do it all perfectly. Obviously, this was neither possible nor realistic. So, I experienced failure, guilt and shame. And all of my relationships solidified these feelings.

Then, during a conversation with a therapist, a light bulb went on that put me on a new path of self-examination. At that time, I was in a healthy and loving relationship. Yet there was something in me that made me feel guilty and uneasy about the relationship. It was as if I was going out of my way to find something wrong with the good thing that I had. I had been brainwashed by circumstances and was now questioning everything. I found myself even questioning God’s love for me, feeling I could never measure up.

Then, my therapist gave me a simple word picture that unlocked my heart. He asked me if I found joy when I threw my child a birthday party. He asked me if the joy on my child’s face gave me joy. Of course! How could I not find joy in giving my child something special? Next, he asked me how I’d feel if my child were to walk away as I was trying to give him a gift. He explained that that was what I was doing to God.

Suddenly, I understood God more clearly. So, on August 29, I accepted God’s gifts. I decided to do more—I was going to open God’s gifts to explore and enjoy them. I am going to make up for lost time. I felt as though a blindfold was ripped away from my eyes. I now clearly see God’s love and it overwhelms me. I stand under His fountain of love, and let my tears wash over me while He heals years of hurt.

Thank you Lord for my new birthday. I love the gifts and will thank you with every breath of my life.

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Child of God

by Kathy Beagles

I like to read Luke 18:9-17 as one passage. When I read it this way, I find insights about my spiritual walk.

Character One is a Pharisee who pretty much has the spiritual disciplines down. He is glad that he has arrived at this place in his life. I know the feeling. When I am exercising, eating right, having my daily devotions, I am pretty happy about it too. But this confidence is short-lived when I am trusting only in myself. When spiritual pride inevitably comes creeping in, I have to look in the mirror and sternly say, “Get over yourself.”

Character Two, the tax collector, knows that his life is messed up. He is not doing the things he wants to. And he continues doing stuff he doesn’t want to (see Romans 7:21-25). But, he admits it. He is open to the fact that he is broken, that he needs a power greater than himself to restore him to sanity. And, he goes down to his house justified. I’ve been there too. When I get discouraged and feel like I will never get it together, I have to look in the mirror and say gracefully, “Keep putting on the robe. Keep yourself covered in the righteousness of Jesus.”

But, I truly want to live a life devoid of either pride or angst. Instead, I want to be like the little children Jesus blessed (Luke 18:15-17). Attachment theory helps me understand how to be like a child in my relationship with God.

Attachment is a lasting psychological bond between human beings. A child that is securely attached to his caregiver believes that the caregiver is always near (John 15:9), always accessible (Hebrews 13:5) and always attentive (John 14:14). For me, receiving the Kingdom of God as a little child means staying securely attached to Jesus and letting Him live His life through me—moment by moment. Only that way can I actually receive the Kingdom of God as a little child.

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Celery Salt Granola

by May-Ellen Colon

 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. Proverbs 25:11, King James Version.

While we were missionaries in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, Ismael worked for us as a “houseboy.” Even though he was close to 60 years old, he was a houseboy! I was grateful for Ismael’s help with the housework in a hot and humid climate. The added bonus was his cooking skills—he made gluten, potato casserole, crackers, granola, and anything else I taught him.

When I taught him to make granola, I showed him the jar of cinnamon to use to flavor the granola. As with the other food he prepared for our family, he got good at making our granola.

One morning, we served ourselves some of Ismael’s freshly made granola into bowls and poured over it some cold milk. Our children were the first to begin eating. Before they could swallow their first spoonful, they made a face. “Mom,” they blurted out, “This granola tastes funny!” Gaspar and I tasted ours and agreed. The granola did taste strange.

I went to my cupboard to investigate. Next to the cinnamon jar was a jar of celery salt. Ismael had obviously taken the wrong jar! Since he was illiterate

and the jars looked the same, he couldn’t tell the difference between the two.

This now-funny experience reminds me of the wise king’s counsel about how good it is to speak appropriate words. “A man finds joy in giving an apt reply—and how good is a timely word!” (Proverbs 15:23, NIV). “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11, NIV).

Sometimes I catch myself saying “celery salt” words when I should be using “cinnamon” words. This is why I am glad for the divine help available to me to take the better course, to choose the better words.

Lord, May my words and actions be just the right seasoning in the environment where I am. Help me to make my world “taste” better today. And “may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14, NIV).

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Let the Storms Pass

by Ruth-Ann Thompson

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. John 6:51, New International Version.

We were on our way to Missouri to visit my son, Brandon. It was a beautiful day—the sky was the clearest blue, the air was calm, the road was smooth. About three hours into the trip, the weather changed suddenly—the sky was now dark and the wind was so strong, it shook the car from side to side. I was finding it very difficult to stay in my lane.

After trying very hard to keep driving and stay on the road, I realized the weather was just too much competition for us. We had to pull over and take cover from the weather. It was only then that we learned of a severe tornado warning in the area!

To think that we took for granted the clear skies and sunshine of the morning! We didn’t stop to search for weather updates or look for warning signs. Had we kept driving, the consequences could have been deadly.

While the bad weather took its course, we made the best of our respite—had a meal, rested and filled up on gas (even though it was overpriced). Surprisingly, once the storm passed us by, there were hardly any signs of it having been there. We didn’t even have to re-route our trip. We went happily on our way. In a few hours, we were enjoying our visit with Brandon.

Sometimes in life, storms arise. Just when we think everything is going well, they come with no warning. And when we least expect it, our life’s course can be re-routed. That’s when we have to stop and rest awhile to refresh ourselves with the Living Water and feast on the Word of God. Sometimes we have to pause and wait in God’s will until the storm passes us by.


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Parked in a Bathtub

by Cynthia Ward

Last week I found myself on my hands and knees at the bottom of my bathtub thanking God.

Let’s just say I graduated from large sizes a long time ago and have been wrapped up in XXL most of my adult life. So falling is something that is dangerous both for me and for those around me. So it wasn’t a good start to my day when a bar of soap gone crazy and the lack of support from the shower curtain sent me to the bottom of the tub. I landed hard on my hands and knees. I held that pose for at least a minute before the pain kicked in. Even with the pain spreading up my limbs, I thanked God I landed the way I did and not on my backside, unable to get off the floor by myself. Visions of paramedics peeling me off the floor, all wet and slippery, and dragging me off to the emergency room were very real.

I slowly, and painfully, hoisted myself to a standing position, checked to make sure nothing was broken, and tried to slow down the rapid beating of my heart. I paused for a few minutes, waiting to see if the others in my home had heard—or felt—the fall and

might come to check out the damages. But all was quiet.

For the rest of the day, every time I stood, walked or sat, I was painfully reminded of my morning adventure. I repeated the story many times throughout the day and, after the first couple of times, was able to join in the laughter at my expense.

When I arrived home at the end of the day, I told my mother of my morning mishap. She responded, “I thought I heard something.” When I asked my sister, her response was much the same, but she added, “I figured if you needed help, you would have called out to us.”

How many times have you been down on your hands and knees, still resisting the urge to call out for help because you were too embarrassed to have people see how stupid you are? In Revelation 3:20 Jesus tells us, “Behold I stand at the door and knock.” He is right there, just waiting for us to call out to Him. He already knows what I’ve done, and yet He still waits for me to call out to Him.