Posts

Peace in the Midst of Change

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Double Delight rose – May 23, 2017

Besides death and taxes, to many it seems the only other sure thing in life is change. It is inevitable. Seasons change. Hairstyles and clothing styles change. We change jobs, begin and end relationships, let go of or lose possessions. Our bodies and habits change as we get older…the list goes on.

However, as a follower of Christ, I find deep reassurance in knowing that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8), and that the God of the universe is the infinite, perfect and unchanging source of love, hope, peace and joy.

For me, there is great comfort in knowing that I don’t serve a fickle God who says one thing one moment, then amends it the next. If God changed, that would imply that He could somehow improve or be worse. In that case, He would hardly be worthy of following. No, He is complete and perfect in all His ways, and always will be. He, His Word and His promises stand forever. Incredible peace is found when a soul accepts deep down that God is Who He says He is, and they can trust Him to follow through on what He says He will do. If the Lord seems to change at times, it is merely one of the side-effects of living in a fallen world and the limited human perspective from which we view our circumstances.

Here’s a poem I wrote about the changing of the seasons, and how having the Lord as a constant companion through each transition inspires me to stay devoted to Him, in turn, through whatever changes come in life:

“God Of All Seasons”

Through all seasons, He’s the reason
we can more than cope;
So rejoice and sing, for our King
has given us ultimate hope!
In ice and snow, the love we know
will never lose its power;
God sustains through sun and rain
to strengthen us each hour.
Warmth in winter, a cooling spring
to allay the summer heat;
He’s everything for those who trust Him
to make their joy complete.
From first to last, the future and past
are under His control;
His love and grace fill every place
to mend each troubled soul.
Fall leaves change, we think it strange
to see night drop so soon;
Yet God’s the same in love and name
in December as well as June.
God of all the seasons,
forever, Lord, help me be
ever faithful through all weather
as You shine Your love through me.

10-16-99
©Ladeena Bell

Son Shine
As summer begins, I’m much more apt to head outside, either on foot or on my bicycle. There are more opportunities to interact with people who don’t know the faithful God I serve. My prayer is that as we all get out and enjoy the sun, we always remember to shine the love of the Son to all we meet. The world is in an ever-increasing state of flux, seemingly spinning more and more out of control every day. All the more reason to share Who keeps our lives centered and even joyful in the midst of the chaos.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

Extra Credit
Numbers 23:19; Malachi 3:6a

Blessings to you, this day and always!

©Ladeena Bell  All Rights Reserved (blog content and photos)

You Can Be Healed!

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We all need healing at many points in our lives. For some it is physical, for others it is emotional, mental or spiritual. When we cry out to God to alleviate the hurt, pain and struggles, we must come with faith and expectant hope that He is listening and will answer us (James 1:6). We also need to confess any sins and forgive others (and ourselves!) before we can ask for healing (Mark 11:24-25).

Sometimes we are miraculously healed the moment we place our request at the Lord’s feet, but because He knows us fully and responds to the deepest cries of our hearts, restoration may not be in the manner we expect. Other times we must participate daily in the healing process. A prayer of surrender may merely be the first step toward a long journey of slow but steady healing as He walks us through the necessary changes, often bringing caring people into our lives to help keep us accountable.

Prayer and Poem
Last night at Simonka House, we held a special healing service for the homeless women. Knowing that I’d likely be called upon to pray with them (I’m uncomfortable praying out loud with others, but working on it), I had prayed beforehand that He would “get me out of the way” and use this imperfect vessel as He saw fit. The Lord answered my prayer, in part, by giving me a new poem, which I shared. Here’s what I wrote:

“Current Of Grace”

God’s calling from the other side,
across the river of belief,
where healing waters flow swift and wide,
washing away the hurt and grief.
Not to worry if you can’t swim
– just let your fears go under;
Safest place is to be with Him,
immersed in hope and wonder.
Surrender to the current of grace;
Only His love can make you whole.
Arms open – lift up your face
and let the flood restore your soul.
Until finally you float ashore
and joyfully meet His gaze.
Complete in Christ, you’ll want no more
than to overflow with praise!
So take the first step to healing
God will meet you where you are;
The joy the enemy’s been stealing
will come to you, near or far.
Take the plunge, no hesitation!
Be renewed by the deep river
that flows without reservation
from the Great Physician and Life Giver.

6-9-17
©Ladeena Bell

God Showed Up
Joining the team in the front of the chapel room was not easy for me, but while anointing and praying one-on-one with the women, the Spirit moved powerfully! It was especially meaningful when a couple of the women asked for deliverance from depression and anxiety. Having experience with that myself, I related on a deeper level and prayed with more passion and authority in public than I ever had before! One more way God uses the negatives in our lives for good! (Romans 8:28)

My Journey
Looking back over these past two years, I’ve experienced almost overnight spiritual healing, and others have noticed the amazing personal transformation in my life. Emotional healing takes longer, but the Lord has been faithful and will continue walking with me every day as I lean fully into Him.

Victory!
Another area of steady healing for me has been financial. In fact this week, after languishing under a dismal cloud of debt for most of my adult life, I can now say that I am debt free! I praise the Lord every day for the wisdom, faith and resourceful strength to endure those hard times and emerge victorious!

In Closing
God loves you so much, and longs to be gracious to you (Isaiah 30:18). Whatever you may need healing for, take the plunge into His Living Water! Don’t simply stick a toe in the current of grace, or you won’t experience all that God has for you! Surrender fully to His love today and your fears and hurt will be swept away! (Ha! That rhymes!)

Faith Notes
This song by one of my favorite artists fits well with today’s theme:
Jordan Feliz – “The River” (Note: Link will open in new window.)

“Now this I know: The Lord gives victory to His anointed. He answers him from His heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of His right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” Psalm 20:6-7

Blessings to you, this day and always!
©Ladeena Bell
All Rights Reserved (blog content and photos)

Captain Of My Soul

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On this Memorial Day weekend, I am especially thankful for the freedom to share my faith because of the brave military men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Regretfully, I am lacking in material regarding our various armed forces and the incredible sacrifices they have made and continue to make around the world. Most of my writings are about spiritual battlefields and the unseen warfare for our souls and minds. I’m much more familiar with that kind of battle!

My late father served several tours as a Navy Seal in Vietnam. In honor of him and of the many others who perished while serving in the military or after returning home, here is a poem about Jesus, Who gave His life so we could be free! By following His lead we find peace and safe passage through the treacherous waters of life!

“Captain of My Soul”

In Him are streams of water
without Him, a desert land;
With His love a bounty,
without it, selfish hands.
Within me, Christ dwells
as the Captain of my soul.
Floods of grace abounding
as He the wheel controls.
His compass ever guides me
along shores of light and peace;
Blown ever onward, I will sail
’til my earthly ropes release.
Oh, Captain, my Captain,
my soul finds rest in You
Setting sail without fear upon
this journey grand and new.
Each day I wake and greet the sky
the Son lights it so bright!
And even the stars still guide my way
as I navigate at night!
Thank You, O Lord, for salvation’s gold
I love You forever, Captain of my soul.

8-2-98
©Ladeena Bell

Out of curiosity, I looked up the ranking order of the United States Navy. I realize now that the highest rank on the seas is really an Admiral (Fleet Admiral, to be exact), so Jesus is really my Admiral, not simply Captain. Also, though I had “O Captain! My Captain!” by Walt Whitman in mind when I wrote this poem, Jesus is very much alive – only “fallen cold and dead” a short time before rising victoriously from the grave on the third day!

As you remember loved ones and strangers who have lived and passed on after vowing to serve our country, give thanks for the freedoms they helped secure and maintain. But also give thanks for Christ’s sacrifice on the cross so we could be free from the punishment for our sins. Through His death and resurrection we have salvation, victory over the enemy, hope, and peace even in the midst of war.

“If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139:9-10

Extra Credit

Ephesians 6:10-18

Blessings to you, this day and always!

©Ladeena Bell
All Rights Reserved (blog content and photos)

Go With God!

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Magnolia – April 10, 2017

 

In my last post, I spoke of how the Lord paved the way for me to follow Him, and how grateful I am for His providential care in my life. Of course, as with everyone, the choice was mine to make, but I am living proof of what the power of God can do when we decide to follow Christ. I haven’t regretted it.

For long-time believers such as myself, it’s easy to forget what it was like before we accepted the gift of salvation, but I was quickly reminded by participating in a group exercise several weeks ago that got me thinking about the “big picture” of my faith. On each side of 3×5 cards, we were asked to write down what life looks like with God, and without God, and how things could have been much worse had He not been pursuing us.

This is what I wrote:

Without God
GOOD isn’t enough – Lame
BAD gets worse – Hopeless
UGLY leads to – Death

With God
GOOD feels great! – Joy!
BAD prepares for ugly – Strength!
UGLY can be overcome – Victory!

Here’s what I mean…

Without God
GOOD things in my life, though enjoyable, were ultimately empty. Dissatisfaction leads to a never ending quest for more. Joy is shallow and fleeting, if this life is all there is.
Likewise, the good things I did for others apart from God, while nice, have only a temporary effect with no eternal worth. I can do nothing truly “good” (in the highest sense of the word) on my own.

BAD circumstances are a part of life, whether you are a follower of Christ or not. However, without God, they can easily devolve into even worse predicaments. We can grit our teeth and bravely move forward (like Clint Eastwood in the spaghetti western), but without God we all eventually become run down, discouraged and even despondent. We make fear-based decisions or use the limited wisdom of the world. Either way, sooner or later the wheels fall off, leaving us in worse shape than before.
God often uses bad circumstances to get our attention, but some of us take quite a few hard knocks before we turn to Him. Yet He never stops pursuing us.

UGLY events, such as accidents, unexpected death or other tragedies bring us face to face with our own mortality. Recently an extended family member suddenly passed away, so lately I’ve been thinking a great deal about eternity.
Without God, even the ugly parts of life that don’t “do us in” will break our spirit at the very least, and can indeed prove to be fatal, for relationships, for our mental health and for our physical bodies. Without God and faith in Jesus, I would still be lost in my sin, and my eternal future would look very bleak.

Now for a poetic intermission…

“Without Him”

Without the Lord, I’m nothing
– a face without a smile;
A drone with little emotion,
yet quite easily riled.
Without the Lord in control,
I’m just an empty shell.
No thoughts of the future,
It’s too far off to tell.
But Jesus is the same today
as He was yesterday;
The future’s already known to Him,
and He faithfully shows the way.
My joy restored, I sing out loud
Praising the Lord Most High;
For without Jesus, I go empty,
but with Him, I never run dry.
With Him is perfect love
which casts away my fear;
He comes close to me
when I humbly draw near.
For with Him is life
without Him is sin;
But with Him there’s forgiveness,
and I can begin again!

3-7-94
©Ladeena Bell

Okay, now for the best part…

With God
GOOD feels great! I gratefully acknowledge that all I have is from God; life and priorities are focused on things of eternal worth. Each day as I look to God, spending time with Him in prayer and reading His Word, He transforms me. Spirit renewed, I’m more keenly aware of both the beauty and pain in the world. In response to the needs I see around me, deep satisfaction is found in serving others, as He leads. Relationships bring a thousand times more meaning and fulfillment into my life, because I’m part of a larger family, sharing the same hope, faith and struggles with others.
As I learn and grow ever closer in relationship with God, there is an indescribable peace, deep joy and strong love not found anywhere else but in full surrender to a loving Savior. I know because I’ve experienced it in my own life and witnessed it in the lives of many believers around me.

BAD situations force me to rely on and draw courage from God. Though life isn’t perfect and not every problem is solved instantly, there is an incredible comfort and strength simply knowing that God loves me, He walks with me, and He knows me inside and out. I am known by the God of the universe!
Like most people, I do still occasionally whine about what’s going wrong in my life, but once I shift my focus off of myself and my circumstances and back onto Him, a powerful sense of hope and peace floods in. He reminds me of His promises, and I claim them boldly in prayer, often personalizing them to my situation. Just the other day I prayed, “Lord, I will not be anxious about anything, but I pray with thankfulness as I present my needs to You, knowing Your peace – a peace that passes all human understanding – will calm my heart and mind in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

UGLY trials and disasters are possible to overcome because I’ve learned to trust God through lesser calamities. When under pressure, as I lean fully on the Lord, He gives me wisdom to make good decisions. With every step taken in faith, confidence, contentment and joy builds, carrying me onward. “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalms 43:5)
My faith gives me hope, but also an eternal perspective on my troubles. Specifically, I don’t fear death! For to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). When my earthly life is through, I’ll transition to an eternal life filled with indescribable love and peace, because of what Jesus did for us through His death and resurrection. In trusting and following Him, victory and joy can be ours here on earth and forever in heaven!

I shudder to think how my life would be without God. Exhausted, hopeless and empty, to say the least. But thanks be to God for His infinite grace and love, for by it I have been redeemed and continually transformed from the inside out!

Go With God!
My prayer is that you are also “with God”, and trusting Him no matter what life throws at you, whether good, bad or ugly. Jesus didn’t promise that life with Him would be easy, in fact He said in this world we will have problems, but He has overcome the world, and so shall we!

When life is good, bad or ugly, we can have joy, strength and victory with God, through Jesus!

Note: This post is much longer than I’d intended, but it’s what I felt led to share. I never know what God will lead me to write, but it’s always a fun and rewarding adventure! Thanks for coming along with me on it!

Blessings to you, this day and always!

©Ladeena Bell
All Rights Reserved (blog content and photos)

Forget Her Not!

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Forget-Me-Not  –  April 18, 2017

On this Mother’s Day weekend, I’m thanking the Lord for my mom, but also for my grandmother, because when I was the tender age of five or six she asked me if I’d like to go to church with her. In the years that followed, though not raised in a particularly Christian home, I was taught and embraced the ways of the Lord from an early age, in a small Baptist church family.

Here’s a poem I wrote about seeing God working to bring me to Himself, even before I fully understood His plan or answered His loving call and finally gave my life to Him when I was 13:

“God’s Been There All Along”

God was there before I knew Him,
and surrendered all to His plan;
Preparing the very bedrock
of faith on which now I stand.
God knew I would be receptive
to my grandmother’s invitation,
so attending church as a child
provided the basic foundation.
The beliefs I’d never question now
were built on clear Biblical truth
I’ve learned from countless sermons
and Sunday school in my youth.
So it’s not so strange to be strong
– so unwavering in my conviction;
For God’s been there all along,
gently guiding my life’s direction.
From a young age He prepared me
for all the struggles I would face,
so when many would fall away,
I trusted firmly in His grace.
I thank the Lord for such faith –
Without it, God knows where I’d be.
I’m so grateful for His amazing love
and His incredible work in me!

4-16-17
© Ladeena Bell

Looking back, I don’t recall specific conversations, but I know I was loved by my family. I’m also realizing more and more lately that who I am and many of my core strengths and gifts have come from them.

In particular, I come from a long line of nature-loving amateur photographers. Third generation, you might say. My grandmother snapped copious shots of flowers, squirrels and scenery, especially in the summertime when she and my grandfather visited state parks in their camper trailer. My mother is also quite the shutterbug, and has created quite the collection of scrapbooks filled with images chronicling her explorations all over western Oregon, with a special focus on waterfalls, flowers and fungi. So it comes as no surprise that I too have an intrinsic love of nature and a deep urge to capture its beauty.

My mom and I have gone hiking together several times, and it always seems to take us half again as long to traverse a trail, as we both frequently venture off of it, pausing to get that perfect angle. I have the advantage of digital technology, but she still uses 35 mm film cameras, so every shot means more to her, as she is constrained to 24 takes in a roll. While she often moves branches and leaves to “set up the shot”, I usually prefer to make do with what’s there, finding great beauty in imperfections. Overall, it’s a joy to spend time with her, breathing the fresh air and sharing laughter while reveling in the wonders of God’s creation.

I credit my love of nature, photography and sense of humor to my mother and grandmother. I hope that you can point to either a mother or a mother figure in your life that helped shape you into the person you’ve become. Thank the Lord for them, because ultimately He’s the one who placed them into your life for His loving purposes.

My grandparents have been gone for a while, but their legacy lives on through me. I cherish the time I have with my mom, and I’m so thankful she’s always been my first best friend. (In fact, she came up with the title of this post!) I praise God for family, and for providing the opportunity for me to learn His ways and place my trust in Him.

Happy Mother’s day!

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30

Blessings to you, this day and always!
©Ladeena Bell
All Rights Reserved (blog content and photo)

Patience or Indifference?

20170406_125109Periwinkle – April 6, 2017

This evening, before eating dinner, it was a challenge for me to focus and pray. For some reason I’ve been in a bit of a funk. (I partially blame the dismal, drizzly weather, though it does make for some gorgeous raindrop-accented photos.) Not depressed, just not sensing God’s presence quite as much as I had been.

For one thing, all this waiting is taking its toll on me. One minute I’m full of faith and hope for reconciliation, and then in the next, I’m tired and ready to throw in the towel. When I last inquired of the Lord about continuing to wait, I sensed that I should indeed stay the course. It was a simple answer, and there’s a reassuring peace in knowing, but it is brutal just the same.

So tonight I thanked the Lord for my job and what I’d accomplished today, and for the meal. Then, out of my mild malaise, I asked Him to show me if there’s something I need to be doing differently, because I don’t want anything holding me back from His will in my life. Sensing that I should let my dinner cool just a few moments more, I opened my devotional book, “My Utmost For His Highest”, and read today’s entry.

God answered using the words of Oswald Chambers, who pointed out that there’s a difference between patience and indifference, and the key is to keep focused on the Lord as our source of inspiration and strength. That there will be seasons when we don’t hear anything (or very little) from the Lord, and we must endure like Jesus did when He was tempted in the wilderness. Thankfully I’m not in a “dry season”, but it does happen.

While waiting, there have been times that I’ve slipped from patience to indifference. Waiting is painful, and I’d rather not think about it! Yet I have all the fortitude I need, and more, in Jesus. Furthermore, there’s actually great value in struggling, for when all is well and I cease striving, it’s all too easy to become complacent in my faith. In fact, faith seems less necessary when life is good. Yes, we should be content with what we have, but there should also be a “holy discontent” that keeps nudging us from the good we enjoy and do, toward the even greater things He has waiting for us in the wings!

Here’s a prose poem about striving for God’s best:

“Greater Blooms”

Dancing in dandelions
Oblivious to roses of promise
Content with what we have.
Yet in the fields, God is calling
to reject the blithe comforts
– to long for greater blooms.
We cannot see for all the ochre
Happily we exist in present blessings.
Beyond the field is danger
Extending our hearts to break
or soar, enfolded in love’s wings
to land amidst magenta petals
yet now out of imagination’s eyes.
But God sees all and waits
to bless us once we’re ready
to take the risk to dream.

©Ladeena Bell
12-17-98

I don’t know how things will play out, but God does, and therefore I will continue to wait. Not with indifference, but with a joyful expectation that grows as I humbly keep my eyes focused on Him! (Hebrews 12:1-2)

In Closing…
If life is going well for you, thank the Lord but don’t stop striving.

If you’re waiting on God for something, I pray you can wait with joy for His will to work out in His perfect timing.

Whatever you may be going through now, count your blessings you already have, and stay focused on Christ, because your answer is right around the corner!

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

Blessings to you, this day and always!

©Ladeena Bell  All Rights Reserved (blog content and photo)

A Healthy Balance

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Marsh Marigold (closeup) – March 12, 2017

I have LOT on my mind these days, and May is looking to be a particularly jam-packed month for me. It seems the busier I get, the more can distract and pull me away from God. That even goes for Christian service as well as everyday activities.

Besides my responsibilities, there is much going on in the world to read, think and pray about. Yet, for me it’s gotten out of hand: recently I’ve been spending precious minutes reading practically every article under the sun, plus taking a few too many online surveys and playing games on my phone. With such sensory overload, it obviously creates a struggle to stay focused on Christ. There has become an imbalance – it’s a fine line between staying informed and relaxing, and just wasting time.

Here’s an older poem about time suckers:

“Distractions”

Wanting less to want more,
except more of my Savior.
Feeling regretful
of my consuming behavior.
The details of daily life
take an enormous toll;
Although I know full well
that God is in control.
This world distracts
entertaining time away
which can’t be relived
to take a minute to pray.
A simple, “I am here, Lord”
With open mind and heart
is enough to break the chains
and make a brand-new start.
As I give Him my moments,
He’ll steer me from wrong.
God is in the details,
and to Him I belong.

©Ladeena Bell
9/15/03

Self-Control
Learning to put my phone down is an issue that comes down to discipline. Even as technology changes, our need for self-control doesn’t diminish. As one of the fruits of the Spirit, it is one of several indicators of how well we’re walking with Christ. The more intentional we are about being obedient to God and the more time spent in His Word, the more He transforms us and the fruits bear out in our life! We must be consistently surrendering and growing in knowledge of Him!

I don’t know what you may need to set aside more often. Like me, perhaps your cell phone has become like a cell, and you’re imprisoned by the constant need to check it. Or perhaps it’s the TV or other activity that hogs too much time or isn’t productive. Whatever the habit, pray about it and the Spirit will help you regain a healthy balance.

A few ideas: Set specific time frames for the activity, and stick to them. Occupy your hands and mind with something else more worthwhile. Grab your Bible instead of your phone (unless it’s a Bible app)!

It reminds me of a favorite hymn: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22

Extra Credit
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Blessings to you, this day and always!

©Ladeena Bell
All Rights Reserved (blog content and photo)

Bring Your A Game!

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English Daisy – April 18, 2017

It’s easy to be thankful when things are going well, but a thankful change of attitude is even more necessary in the midst of frustration and struggles. I call it bringing my A game (Always be thankful). Here’s one of my older poems that addresses this need:

“Perfect Praise”

Trusting God is wonderful,
and supplies one with much peace,
for when we look up and praise Him
our inner fears and turmoils cease.
In praise, God has created
the quickest way to liberation:
Humbly trusting, filled with hope,
giving God all our adoration.
Thanking Him comes more easily
through the happiest of our days;
But true communion and joy is found
when we fill every moment with praise.
Though things aren’t always easy,
it will get better along the way,
As we thank God for what He’s done,
resting in His mercies when we pray.
Faith is seeing things unseen,
trusting through all situations.
Praise God in advance for what He will do,
and He’ll surpass all expectations!

©Ladeena Bell
11-20-97

Work Stress
Recently I was given a special project at work. I had been expecting it, but what I didn’t see coming was the flood of applications that had preceded the project, swiftly overtaking my inbox. Okay, no big deal. After successfully thinning out my regular work a bit, after lunch I turned my attention fully onto the project. That’s when things became super hectic: Cue the phone calls, an important email, and several frustrating design issues. With each interruption my irritation grew; soon I was completely tense and uncharacteristically cranky.

Off My A Game
Even after my workday was done, the tension lingered. During the ten minute walk to my car, the Lord gently whispered to me as I noted the warm afternoon sun and abundant blooms. Yup, the enemy had gotten me off my A game. The Lord pulled me out of my peevish rut as I prayed, asking forgiveness for my unchecked attitude, thanking Him that I have work that keeps me busy, even of it stresses me out at times. Later I sat quietly in the car to decompress for a few minutes before finally driving home.

Pain To Praise
Just like God can turn good from bad situations (Romans 8:28), we always have to be on guard against the enemy of our souls, who delights in using everything, good or bad, to pull us away from God’s grace any way he can (1 Peter 5:8). When life is a pain in the neck, that discomfort should send us running straight to the Lord, because although not everything in life is a joy, there is strength, comfort and contentment when we trust in and look to Him instead of focusing on our struggles.

Praising God for His goodness, His providence, and of course all the blessings I enjoy lifts me out of any doldrums, worry, and, yes, the occasional frustration. It resets my mind, calms my spirit and keeps me moving!

Whatever may be a source of frustration for you today, if you’re struggling with or stressed out about something in your life, stop and pray. God will renew your mind with His peace as soon as you surrender it to Him. Trust Him with it, thank Him for what He’s already done and for what He will do. Better times are just around the corner, but we must be in the right frame of mind, ready to receive it! So bring your A game!

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
(That’s right! It’s a command! God knows it’s what’s best for us!)

Blessings to you, this day and always!
©Ladeena Bell
All Rights Reserved (blog content and photo)

An Easter Poem

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I’ve struggled a lot with what to say in this post. Last weekend I was plagued with a series of migraines and tension headaches that pretty much had me feeling useless. Knowing that Easter was coming, and I’d missed a week (in my mind anyway), there was a great deal of internal pressure to write a truly moving and meaningful post for this important holiday. After worshiping with a few songs, I felt ready to compose something special.

Here’s what God helped me write:

“Easter Poem”

Hallelujah! What a Savior!
“It is finished!” Jesus cried,
All our shameful, bad behavior
on the cross was crucified.
Then, that glorious third day
Jesus mightily overcame
Death and the grave itself,
fully despising its shame.

“Christ is risen!” “He’s risen indeed!”
We shout out on Easter Day;
He showed the way to be freed
when He rolled the stone away.
Because the Father sacrificed
His only Son from heaven above,
there’s healing and peace beyond belief,
forgiveness and unending love!

Such a wondrous feeling to be saved
through faith, by His amazing grace.
Mercies new each day, I start again,
with a joyful smile upon my face!
Can’t help but share my hope with others
as I’m loving and serving them, too.
Giving my life because Christ gave His
is really the least that I could do!

4-15-17
©Ladeena Bell

Pressure
I must confess that this poem reads much differently than what I began with.

So what happened? Taking pen to paper, all I got down was six long lines before getting stuck. After several furtive attempts to continue, I eventually stepped away. Feeling like a failure for a few moments, I stopped myself and asked the Lord if perhaps I was pushing too hard. Was an Easter post His idea or mine? Ultimately, I surmised that the pressure I put on myself to write seemed to turn this joyful ministry into somewhat of a chore. To be honest, I do have the tendency to downgrade even enjoyable activities as mere items on a mental to-do list to be accomplished. I’d gotten in the habit of posting every week, but in reality, it should be God’s timing. It still seemed like the right thing to do this time, so after a short break and more prayer, I finally scooped up my laptop and sat somewhere more comfortable to write the post and finish the poem.

Joyful Ministry
Whatever you’re planning to do this Easter and beyond, keep in mind what Christ did for you, and share with others as you feel led. As I was reminded again recently: as a believer, everything you do is ministry. At work, at home, at school, at the store, not just at church. Every day is a new beginning, a chance to grow and a chance to love and serve others. Just don’t let it become a chore, like I sometimes do. Jesus died for us so when we surrender our lives to Him we would each live out our special purpose. So if you’re not sure what that is, pray and ask Him to show you. It helps to make a list of of what you’re good at (skills and gifts) and what you’ve learned (in school and in life), and you might see a pattern. Once you’ve discovered what your purpose is, get out there and do it… joyfully!

“Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:17

Blessings to you, this day and always!
©Ladeena Bell All Rights Reserved (blog content and photo)

Reflections of Growth

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Camera at the ready, I meandered through a nearby park the other day and caught this unique shot of a tree.

My immediate thought, besides how cool it was that its reflection fit so neatly into the sizable puddle covering the pathway below, was the phrase “reflections of growth”.  I thought to myself that it’s good to pause every once in a while to take stock of the positive changes, growth and blessings in our lives.

A long time ago, in a moment of repose beneath a similar tree, I contemplated how complex and messy life is, yet joyfully remembered in Whom my life is rooted:

“The Growing Place”

Tangled, messy
Crazy mass of limbs and branches
Reaching out
in all directions.
Yet all is in order.
Connected to a central support.
Origin of creation.
The growing place
Stronger, knowing
even in perfect chaos
God holds my life together.

5-9-02
© Ladeena Bell

Patterns of Blessings
Whenever we’re tempted to be discouraged about the future, the best thing to do is look at the patterns of blessings in the past. Not only to reflect on how far we’ve come and how much we’ve grown, but more importantly how God has shown Himself faithful time and time again. It’s so encouraging and easier for me to look forward with hope when I recall the various yet specific ways the Lord has blessed, nudged and otherwise spoken powerfully into my life as I sought His will above my own. Those patterns also give clues to how God may direct me through situations to come.

You can likely recall answers to prayers, uncommon strength in hard times and other pivotal moments in your own life when God was there for you, both in mighty ways and in gentle whispers. Yet it’s not always easy to recognize His presence, especially in the “perfect chaos” of our lives. That’s why it’s important to pause and count all those blessings, especially the hidden ones we miss while in the tangled branches, thickets and thorny times of life. As each gift is uncovered, a contagious joy and hope grows anew as we remember God’s faithfulness.

When we remain rooted in God and His love as our central support, staying grounded in His Word with grateful hearts, we will keep right on growing in grace by His power. In fact, we will never stop learning and improving until the day He calls us home.

Final Reflections
Reflect on what God has done in and through you.
Reflect on His faithfulness and love.
Reflect that joy and love into the world.

Make the most of every puddle!

“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. Ephesians 3:16-19

Blessings to you, this day and always!

©Ladeena Bell All Rights Reserved (blog content and photo)