Lorri Dudley

Be moved. Be changed. Love because you are loved.

Tag: Worry

fruits and veggies

Be Ready for Good and Plenty

fruits and veggies

The definition of insanity is often quoted as “doing the same thing but expecting a different result” (author unknown). My boys have this thing, where as soon as they sit on a bed or couch, they have to remove the throw pillows, dumping them on the floor. Every night before bed, I pick up these pillows and question my sanity, because I’m expecting, one day, they might actually stay there. I can’t seem to learn my lesson nor teach them how to pick up after themselves.

It’s frustrating feeling like something or someone is thwarting your progress toward a goal. While my pillow example is mild, I fought for years against rejection and harsh criticism of my manuscripts, second-guessing if God truly wanted me to write. The desire was there, but how many slammed doors could I run into without suffering an emotional concussion? God, however, gave me just enough encouragement when I needed it to keep going.

More recently, I’ve watched the stock market tank with a sinking feeling and wondered what that means for all of our hard-earned savings. I’ve seen the frustration of a friend who had to cancel the wedding she spent almost a year planning, and the despair of others friends who’ve been laid off from the job they’d worked so hard to hold.

It’s difficult not to feel like the once Olympic-headed, ice skater, Nancy Kerrigan, bludgeoned in the knee and screaming, “Why? Why?” Instead, we’re asking, why hasn’t God intervened?

Do not be discouraged. God hasn’t fallen off the throne.

Take the example of Isaac, son of Abraham, in the story from Genesis 26. He’d grown wealthy and had an abundant flock of sheep, servants, and wells for water that were the envy of the Philistines. So much so that the Philistine king, Abimelek, out of jealousy, ordered Isaac’s wells to be filled with dirt and exiled Isaac and his family. While Isaac was running away from the despotic ruler, a drought came. He dug a well and struck water, but the other herders in the land saw it and argued the freshwater was theirs. God told Isaac to dig another, but the herders quarreled over that one, too. So, Isaac digs another well (mind you this is not an easy task in the desert during a drought), and thankfully, this time, no one thwarts his efforts.

Stone water well

However, Abimelek strolls into town. I imagine it as an old western standoff, eyes narrowing fingers trigger ready as Isaac confronts the king. Isaac says, “Why have you come? Since you were hostile to me and sent me away.” Abimelek raises his hands in surrender because he’s there to make a peace treaty. He’d been watching, and every time they filled or claimed one of Isaac’s wells, Isaac would build a better one. The despotic ruler saw how God favored Isaac, and he wanted in on it too.

It’s okay to be frustrated and question why, but know God has a bigger plan. He’ll use our hardships as a way to reveal His glory to others whose hearts have hardened. God promises, in Philippians 4:19, that He will supply all of our need according to His glory in Christ Jesus.

Need some more examples?

-Elisha has a widow pour oil from a small jar into gathered empty bottles and the oil doesn’t run out until there’s not a single bottle left to be filled (2 Kings 4:1-7).

-Jesus fed a group of thousand with the fishes and loaves that multiplied (John 6:1-14).

-Simon Peter had been fishing all night and caught nothing. Jesus says to throw the nets out again. This time they caught so many fish that the nets began to break (Luke 5:1-11).

-The officials of Capernaum were collecting a temple tax. Peter felt in his pockets and came up empty. Jesus told Peter to cast out a hook, open the mouth of the first fish he caught, and take out the gold coin. Sure enough, the coin was enough to pay the tax bill (Matthew 17:24-27).

Have faith. We are still blessed. Remember, “God’s favor lasts for a lifetime, weeping may endure for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5).”

God is good, and He is still the God of plenty.

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:31-34

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Architect, designer, and builder meeting over blueprints

The Rebuild Starts Today

Architect, designer, and builder meeting over blueprints

“The rebuild starts today” is the attitude my husband has taken for his businesses. It may be a bit early, but it changes the mindset to start planning for how we’re going to come out of this pandemic. For two weeks, it feels like we’ve been ostriches sticking our heads in the sand. Perhaps it’s time to raise our heads. It’s never too early to strategize about available options and develop a foundation to rebuild, maybe with a new perspective.

Ostrich

How often before March 15th, when asked, “How are you?” did we respond, “busy”?  The world was running, running, running, and then abruptly stopped. In An Echo in the Darkness part of the Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers (one of my favorite series), the mother of the hero has a stroke and can no longer talk. Her life changes overnight. No longer a prominent matriarch of Roman society, God reaches her through this suffering and uses it as an opportunity to redirect her focus to pray for the spiritual salvation of her misguided daughter.

It’s time for us to raise our heads and see the opportunities God is creating for us. Maybe we should acknowledge the new shift in priorities. How are we using the extra family time we didn’t have before the pandemic? Or if living alone and can’t see friends, maybe God is giving us a chance to pray more or read our Bible.

Many of us have been glued to the news channels, following what’s going to happen next, which only tends to be bad news, followed by more bad news. In Philippians 4:8, the Bible tells us to dwell on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. Easter changes the direction of focus from death to new life. The stone was rolled away. The tomb lay empty. Jesus rose from the dead. This is our opportunity to also rise from the monotony of our deadened mindsets. We hold a chance to be renewed with life.

three crosses at sunset

Let me back up a bit to Philippians 4:1. Paul reminds us to stand firm in the Lord. Not relax, sit, or lie, but to stand firm. In Philippians 4:2, he begs for unity—to be of the same mind in the Lord—not turning on each other, bickering, or nitpicking, but let your gentleness be evident to all (Philippians 4:5).

In 4:4, Paul tells us to “Rejoice in the Lord always.” But then he makes it a point to repeat himself to drive it home, “I will say it again, rejoice.” At Easter, we have so much for which to be joyful. The world may shake with fright, but we know Jesus has risen from the dead, and the grave no longer has a hold over us.

We have hope because we have a good God. We don’t need to fear because we have a great God.

In Philippians 4:6, it says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” We don’t need to worry. Because God commands it, we can toss anxiety away like that moldy leftover smelling up the fridge. Instead, through prayer and praise, we can tell God what has been on our minds, and in Philippians 4:7 God promises that His peace, “which transcends all understanding,” will guard our hearts and minds.

So, rise and rejoice, Easter is here!

Happy Easter and flowers

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Black and white drawing of the boogieman

God is Bigger than the Boogieman

Black and white drawing of the Boogieman

If you were a Veggie Tales watcher, I’ve just gotten this song stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

Two of my kids have had issues with nightmares when they were little. They’d scream, “Mommy!” or come running into my room and wake me up. There was no rhyme or reason to their nightmares. They hadn’t watched a scary movie or read a mystery book before bed, but they’d be scared to the point of visibly shaking. While I didn’t love my children having nightmares or waking up in the middle of the night, it allowed me an opportunity to sit down and tell them about how God’s love for them shines brighter in darkness, and He’s more powerful than any boogieman.

In The Merchant’s Yield, the hero, Nathan, struggles with his view of God. Nathan had a curse spoken over him when he was a young man, and it continues to plague him as he gets older. He wages an inner faith battle to determine what/who he believes is stronger, a curse, or God.

Girl in woods with oversized wild beast

It might be easy to say God is bigger than a silly curse, but we must take a deeper look at ourselves. Do we believe God is bigger than a doctor’s diagnosis? How about poor test scores that make you seem unqualified? Is God bigger than harsh words spoken by someone you admired, a friend, or a spouse? Is God bigger than your worries, fears, the Coronavirus?

In Matthew 9:14-29, A father brought his son to receive healing from Jesus. His son had seizures, lost his speech, and at times the episodes threw him into fire or water. I can imagine his father had already taken him to every possible doctor and had tried every available medicine. The boy’s father heard about this carpenter, Jesus, who could heal, and so he held onto the hope that this might be a chance to save his son. The father tells Jesus, “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

Jesus, being God, would have known all the past letdowns the father had already faced. He would have seen the war between desperation and doubts in the man’s heart, and Jesus called him out on it. I can imagine Jesus eyeing the man with a kind smile, maybe even arching a brow, and repeating, “If you can?” Jesus could have paused to let His next words sink in, “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

The boy’s father immediately repents and says, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

When doubts creep in, which they will, and we allow our fears and worries to grow big in our own minds, sometimes we need to cry out like the boy’s father, fall on our knees and exclaim, “Lord, help me overcome my unbelief.”

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Girl hiding under comforter

When the World Wants You to Worry

Two mass shootings thirteen hours apart – this past weekend’s news headlines instills fear into the hearts of all of us.

Woman under comforter: Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom from Pexels

Circumstances like El Paso and Dayton have become all too frequent. My heart breaks for those killed and injured community, and my prayers go out for their families and communities. Worrying about what is happening to this world and where things are headed makes me want to squeeze my eyes shut, crawl back under the covers, and stay there. However, I peel back the covers, and not only face each day but do so with joy and hope.

In May, my phone rang as I pulled up in front of my son’s elementary school. It was a robocall from the town. My car automatically puts my calls on speaker as a driving precaution. My son and his cousin listened in the back seat to the broadcast announcement that a possible threat had been made upon the Ashland High School and there would be a heavy police presence at all the town schools. The drop off teacher peered at me through the window and cars lined up behind me. I had only a moment to decide whether to throw the car back in drive and peel away or open the car door and let my baby out when I could tell he had fear in his eyes and a million questions for me.

I held up a one-moment finger to the drop-off teacher and prayed Isaiah 54:17over my son and nephew that no weapon turned against them would succeed. I put on my brave face and opened the car door. I told them I loved them like I do every day but added, “God has got this, and He’s got you.”

Baby birds in nest

It’s hard to relinquish those that you love. I have to remind myself, that even though these precious boys are for a time in my care, they are God’s children. His love for them is greater than my own. Even if I want to protect them from every hurtful and hateful thing out there, it is God’s will, not mine. He has big plans for them, and it doesn’t entail keeping them locked away for safekeeping. As hard as it is, I have to let go and let God, and not only that, the Bible says I have to do it without worry.

Don’t worry; be praying. – Philippians 4:6 says it straight out, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” In order to allow my boys to become young men, I’ve had to stay put and let them venture from the nest, but not without prayer cover. My role has changed from Mommy guardian angel when they were little to a prayer warrior.

Don’t be a joint worrier. I will sometimes pray as if expressing my concerns is going to evoke God to worry also, enough to take action and save the day. Praying like this isn’t honoring God. It’s trying to control God.  1 Peter 5:7states, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Cast means to throw. Not throw like a game of catch where you wait for it to be thrown back. It means to relinquish it, surrender it to God completely.

Let tomorrow worry about itself. Don’t exhaust yourself worrying over what the world is becoming, if layoffs are coming, or about your son or daughter leaving to get their driver’s license, for college, or the military. Worrying about tomorrow today only causes you to worry twice and leaves you exhausted. Matthew 6:34 says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Worry is good for one thing only: to help us recognize an area of our life that we need to surrender.

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