Friday, May 27, 2016

You Are What You Think

The brain is an amazing organ.  I have always been fascinated with neurology and as a music therapist I often took the chance to go to seminars on the latest research on the brain and learning or on how music affects the brain.  It never ceases to amaze me how I would sit in a seminar 20 years ago and be told, "we use to believe....but now we know...." in regards to the brain and those same statements are still being made today.  It is such a complex organ.

A few days ago, I read this article by Fast Company that explained how our brain prunes less important information while we sleep and keeps the more important information streamlined and organized so when we wake up we can use it more efficiently.  It amazes me that our brain is designed to do that every time we sleep!  In fact, even a 10 minute nap will help streamline the information in our brain.  The article explained the importance of sleep in this process, but it finished with the fact that we can help our brain determine what is the important information to keep and what is the garbage to throw away.  This is done by what we choose to think about.  We tell our brain what to keep by what we spend time thinking about.  So, if you are spending a good portion of your day thinking about how upsetting it was to have that pile of work on your desk, guess what your brain is going to keep?

I guess this is why there are several verses in the Bible that remind us to think on good things.  In fact, sometimes the word "meditate" is even used.  As I have researched different ways to ease my chronic migraines, meditation has been a consistent topic that pops up in my research.  Obviously, what I choose to meditate on is vitally important!  Let's look at what the Bible has to say.

Psalm 119:15 (NIV) "I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways."

Philippians 4:8 (NLT) "And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."

What is something to meditate on to keep hardwired in your thoughts at all times?  Try Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV) "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast."

God has designed our brains beautifully so that we can change them to think more like Him.  Have you made the choice to think on godly things?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Broken Mailboxes

"Mom, someone drove into our mailbox."

That news would have already been annoying in and of itself when my oldest son came home from taking my daughter to an oboe lesson yesterday, but the fact that my husband and other son had just replaced it a few weeks ago brought a crazy irony to that statement.  Crazy enough to make me laugh not roll my eyes or shout or get angry.  This is because we lived through the winter with the old mailbox just barely hanging on for dear life.  I mean, that thing was seriously rusted out on the backside with holes.  When it snowed, we would open the door to the mailbox and the mail would have snow on it.  But that was only if the door to the mailbox would decide to stay shut that particular day.  It often would just fall open on its own.  When the weather finally warmed up enough to replace it, the door to the mailbox fell completely off!  This poor mailbox was in such bad shape that when my husband and son finally replaced it with a snazzy, large, waterproof, rubbermaid mailbox, the lettercarrier left us this note:
We were feeling pretty good about our new mailbox.  We put nice big numbers on it for our address and reflective tape since we live on a county road.  But, here we are a few weeks into our new mailbox with the reflective numbers and tape and that really didn't matter because a car backed into it in the middle of the day and ripped off its door.  I'm telling you, the irony truly is amazing!

Life really is full of irony isn't it?  If we can't learn to laugh at it, we would be terribly bitter people.  I say this as my husband is at this very moment getting ready to go and buy another new mailbox.  (My kids asked me if our insurance would cover the expense and I didn't feel like giving them a lesson on deductibles and what is worth claiming.)  But seriously, life has its ups and downs.  I had a few really good weeks with my migraines and now I've had a few bad weeks.  My kids have learned in school that you can have a good semester and a really difficult semester.  We can have great times and setbacks.  That is life.

But, no matter what is going on in life, there is something that we can always rely on - God's love and faithfulness.  Psalm 36:5 (NLT) says:

"Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds."

God is always faithful and He loves us.  He loves us so much that He sent us His love through Jesus.  John 1:17 (NLT) says:

"For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ."

And this love was expressed through Jesus' death on the cross for our sins and His victory over death in Jesus' resurrection.  Jesus had no sin, He didn't need to die for us, but His unfailing love and faithfulness for us did it for us.  That is a hope we can always cling to no matter what life throws at us.  Because we have this promise in John 3:16 (NLT):

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life."

Never forget that great hope we have!  God is with you and He loves you so much.

This post is linked with Faith Filled Friday.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Background

This week, there have been a lot of things going on at work in the background irritating my already prone to pain head.  Fumes...lots of fumes!  Paint fumes, cleaning fumes, copy machine fumes, work-on-the-roof fumes.  Just one of those fumes alone was enough to set my head into distress but they were all going on at once.  And there was more!  Noise...banging from the men fixing the roof above.  Thankfully, the banging wasn't directly over my head but it was loud enough.  I already struggle with chronic migraines without these issues being a normal part of my life and this week going in to work felt like walking into a migraine incubator.

All of it got me thinking today about the fact that none of those things had anything to do with me directly, yet they created a chain-reaction of pain in me.  They were all in the background.  In fact, one of the things I did to cope was to listen to some of my favorite classical music in the background.  Background programs can slow down our computers.  A great background can make a picture look amazing.  In music, the background themes are what complete the composition and fill the sound.  The background seems insignificant, but it has an immense effect.

We have an enemy that would really like to diminish the work we are doing and one way to chip away at our work is to make us feel ineffective.  What better way to make us feel ineffective than to make us feel like a useless part of the background?  I know that struggle well!  I have most certainly been there and I have even entertained some of those thoughts this week.  How about you?  He has a sneaky way of getting those discouraging thoughts in.  Feeling insignificant or unimportant maybe?

I can guarantee that is not the truth that God has for you!  That is not what God has spoken over you.  Here is a reminder of how we all fit together according to 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 (NLT):

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all.  There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord.  God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.
 We can look at the work people do around us and think it is greater than what we are doing, but God doesn't look at it that way.  He just looks at it as different.  Different work done by different workers empowered by the same Spirit while serving the same God.  Really, when we think about it according to these verses it is God doing the work in us anyway.  It isn't us, it is Him.

I guess no matter how you look at it, we are all working in the background...God is the only one truly in the forefront.

This post is linked with Faith Filled Friday.

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Healing Others See

Yesterday at work, I was completing a lot of tasks that had me looking down at my hands.  This had me grumbling because all I could see on my hands was the chipped nail polish on my finger nails.  I rarely ever paint my finger nails (maybe once every five or six years) because I hate chipped nail polish that much!  We ran out of nail polish remover and I had been suffering mild migraines for two evenings in a row and lacked the energy to go out to get more remover.  So, there I was looking down annoyed at my severely chipped nails, reminding me of my inconvenienced evenings and the fact that EVERYONE ELSE COULD SEE THEM!!!!  Really?  Instead of letting those nails remind me that I had gotten them painted because my husband and I were celebrating our 23rd anniversary last weekend and we had such a beautiful time together, I was worried about what others could see.

Why do I do that?  Why do I need to be concerned with what people see in me?  God has shown me time and time again that when people can see the work He is doing in me His glory is revealed.  So what holds me back from letting it all show?  Shame?  I know that shame is not from God, so the only source of that root is from either myself or the enemy.  Why would the enemy want to keep me from showing all of myself to people?

One of the things I have learned about dealing with chronic pain is the constant battle of the mind.  I have always been a very optimistic person; however, once chronic pain smacked me in the head I found myself battling a daily attitude battle.  I think this is because I get so physically tired from battling pain that I've often lost the energy it takes to tolerate some of the negative things that happen.  Just because I don't have it in me doesn't mean that God doesn't!  Putting myself in the Word daily helps that attitude.  But admitting that struggle to people also brings healing to that attitude as well.

Proverbs 3:7-8 NLT says, "Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones."

Instead of being focused on myself and what I can and cannot do and focus on God and His amazing holiness I will want to turn away from my sin.  I will want to turn away from my bad attitude.  Then I will find healing!  Here is another verse that gives us a promise linking the need for forgiveness and healing:

James 5:16 NLT says, "Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results."

So, we do need to be concerned with what people see in us, but in a different sense.  We need to be honest with a few close friends who will pray with us.  We need to share our struggles and our sins so we can be free of those burdens.  When we do that, God's glory is revealed to others so they can witness the healing of our burdens.  I do believe that this is also talking of physical healing, but there is a spiritual healing that takes place that is far greater than any physical healing.  And this spiritual healing speaks volumes to those that get to witness it because they see the change in you.

So, we need to turn away from ourselves and turn to God.  We do that by confessing our sins and focusing on God.

This post is linked with Tea and Word Tuesday and Thought Provoking Thursday.