What to do when life gets you down.

When life gets you down, you know what you gotta do?
Just keep swimming.-Dory
from the movie Finding Nemo

The other day I got up and went about my morning routine.
Coffee. Turn computer on. Check email. Reheat coffee. Check Facebook.

Should have only taken me about 20 minutes to get caught up on things and then move on with the day.
Two hours later I was still sitting there jumping from one site to another, mindlessly surfing the internet with cold coffee.

Something was wrong.

I have plenty of things to do. Just keeping up with laundry and cleaning is enough to busy me for an entire day. Then there’s lesson plans, devotion writing, and books I want to read.

I went for a walk, because exercise is supposed to give you all these good feelings. It didn’t work, I came back more exhausted then I was before I left.

I just didn’t feel like doing anything.
I was anxious, edgy, irritable, tired and weepy.

After lunch I went back to bed, yes I said to bed. I mindlessly clicked through the enormous amount of channels we have, only to find there wasn’t anything on worth watching. So then I slept.

Something was definitely wrong.

I was in some sort of funk. Call it hormonal, or environmental or whatever. I wasn’t interested in doing anything, going anywhere or seeing anyone.

I let myself wallow for most of the day. I knew eventually I would need to do something to snap out of it.
I couldn’t let this continue.

Desperate for relief I prayed. And prayed and prayed and prayed.

Although I wouldn’t say I heard God speak relief into my heart, what I did hear was today’s quote.

“When life gets you down, you know what you gotta do? Just keep swimming.”

 I was so discouraged by this set back. I had been making great progress in writing. I created a dedicated blog just for these movie devotions. I was asked by my church to write for the church wide devotional and that was going well. I was exercising, eating healthy. Things were good with the hubby. Home, finances, kids all good.
I was miserable.

Could I really just push through whatever this thing was that was bringing me down? Simply just change my attitude? Shouldn’t I just go to the doctor?

Then it hit me. I wasted a whole day feeling bad and doing nothing.

Isn’t that exactly what the evil one wants to do to us? Have us waste time wallowing in our own issues instead of pursuing Godly things? My focus had become on myself and not on the things really important.

I had a choice to make. Be like Marlin and stay on the rock, afraid to move forward. Not willing to do what is necessary to stay on course. Or, I can let Dory take me by the fin and lead me forward.

Just keep swimming.

Luke 13:22 Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he went, always pressing on toward Jerusalem.

Even knowing what awaited Him in Jerusalem, Jesus kept going.

Just keep swimming.

Philippians 3:11-13 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead Christ Jesus first possessed me.

We may not always move perfectly, but that shouldn’t hinder us from moving.

Just keep swimming.

Hebrews 12:3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up

We may suffer at times, but our struggles and suffering are nothing compared to what Jesus endured on the cross.

I made the choice to “keep swimming”. For me, that meant pushing through what I was feeling and continuing to do what I knew I should. I had to get up out of that bed and do something, anything productive. I couldn’t let myself get sidetracked.

I’ll admit it wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. No amount of channel and internet surfing will give me the same satisfaction as staying in God’s will with my life.

What does it look like for you to "keep swimming". Do you need to change your attitude? Are you slacking and need to work harder? Is it beyond your control? Maybe you need to make that appointment with your doctor after all.

Whatever you are facing, let God take you by the hand and lead you forward today.

Here’s the video clip from the movie. My prayer is it will uplift your spirit and get you swimming.


Light and Dark

Sirius Black (Gary Oldman): We've all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That's who we really are.---Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

In this scene from the movie Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry talks about his internal struggle between good and evil. His godfather Sirius Black is showing him his own family tree with the blacked out faces of those that his parents felt disgraced the family. Harry knows it is a real possibility with all he has been through, there may be more evil than good in him. This quote is Sirius's response to Harry's concerns.

Here is the video clip from the movie. And I apologize if there is an advertisement, it seems you can't upload a youtube video anymore without getting ads.

Good and evil exist in the world. And unfortunately they exist within us as well. Every one of us has the same internal struggle as Harry.
Do you ever feel it? The struggle between good and evil?
Each one constantly vying for control of your life?

I don’t know about you, but I’m with Harry, it frightens me to think that there is so much bad within in, that I might not be able to fight it off. What if I’m destined to just be evil?

If I were still living apart from God, then that would be a real possibility.

Thankfully, I am not.

Once we allow Him into our heart, mind, and lives, our chances of fighting against the evil we are prone to do are better. With the sacrifice of Christ on our side, we are not powerless. His death opened the way for us to rise above the evil and do what’s right, if we so choose.

Galatians 5:17 (NLT) The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions

Because we still have both within us, we must always choose.

Every day, like Harry, we will still have feelings of anger. Sometimes we fail and doubt there is any good at all. It doesn't mean we are ultimately only bad people, or destined to be evil.

There is a difference between making a mistake, and choosing to do evil.

Sirius assures Harry that he is not destined to be bad. Eventually, with the help of those around him, Harry will choose to fight those evil urges and the good inside him will prevail.

And who he is meant to be will emerge.

With the power of Christ in us, we can so the same.

It is all in the choice.

Good or evil.
Right or wrong.
God or the world.

Whichever we choose, shows us who we really are.


Got Control?

“Control is an illusion, you infantile egomaniac. Nobody knows what's gonna happen next: not on a freeway, not in an airplane, not inside our own bodies and certainly not on a racetrack with 40 other infantile egomaniacs.” -from the movie Days of Thunder

Today, I got up, went for a walk, had breakfast, made coffee, and wrote this post. By this evening……..who knows? Will I have dinner with my family? Will there be a tornado? Will my husband still have a job at the end of the day?

Most days I think I know the answers to those questions.

I really don’t.

Truth is, we have no idea what each day will bring.
Dr. Chase, aka Nicole Kidman is right.
Control is an illusion.

I think Nicole Kidman’s character easily accepts this because she is a doctor. Her world is filled with routine surgeries turning tragic in an instant, or the donor found too late, and accident damage too severe.

Normal people like you, me and Tom Cruise/Cole Trickle?
We live with the illusion of control.
We think because we get out of bed every day and make our own coffee, drive our own cars, we have some sort of control over our lives.

Sure we know accidents, sickness and tragedy happen. Just turn on the news.

But control of our lives? How many times have you said “I’ve got this.” Or “Don’t worry, I got it all under control.” Ever wonder what God does when he hears those words? People think he takes that very moment to make something happen that we weren’t expecting just to prove us wrong. It doesn’t work that way.
Oh, I believe He gets a good chuckle when we say “I’ve got this,” but He doesn’t take that moment to get revenge on us for it.

God isn’t sitting up there watching on his big screen and laughing at all the silly things we are doing, only to wave his hand and either make things turn our good or bad. He has had a plan for our life all along and no matter what we do nothing is going to stop or change it.

We are the ones waving our free will around making choices that will ultimately affect which direction we are currently going. Sometimes those choices will take us along another route for a while and it just takes longer to get where we are going.

The longer it takes for us to get where we belong, the more hardship, stress and frustration we will feel.

Psalm 103:19 (NASB) The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all.

Everything in this world is His, and He controls it all.
None of us know what will happen next any given day. He alone has that knowledge.

Why not just relinquish any thoughts of being in real control of your life?

Just accept that He knows what’s best and just follow along for the ride.

Ahhh, but that’s problem isn’t it?
We don’t want to be led along in the passenger seat.
We want to drive the car.
We want to feel the wheel in our hands, press the gas, see the dust in the rearview.
With someone else driving, we can’t be sure where we are going, where we will end up, or what kind of shape we will be in when we get there.

Cole Trickle lost control of his car and almost died. He's not even sure he can get back in a race car again.
That's the reality of a car accident.

What happens if we let go of the wheel of our lives and give it over to God? God, who we can't see, we can't tell what to do, and who doesn't tell us where we are going or what's going to happen?

Frightening is it?

With God in the driver’s seat we don't have to worry or fear. We can be assured that no matter where we end up, it is always right where we should be. His plan for our lives is far better than the illusion we have created of what we think we should be doing. He always has our best interest at heart.

So leave the illusion, move over and let Him have the wheel.
Because he is really the only one who knows where we are going.
Only he knows what is going to happen next.


The Patriot

Since today, we celebrate our country’s independence. I thought it only fitting to bring you a quote dealing with freedom, and its cost.

Not only is this movie a great movie depicting our fight for independence, but this quote from the opening lines of the movie is one of my favorite quotes. It still amazes me how many mainstream movies have quotes like this in them that can so easily point us to God.

“I have long feared that my sins would return to visit me, and the cost is more than I can bear.” —from the movie The Patriot

Benjamin Martin, played by Mel Gibson, just wants to live a quiet life. He is a former military man who fought in the French Indian War. He is raising his seven children alone since his wife’s passing.

The newly formed country is on the verge of the Revolutionary War. All around him men are taking up arms and fighting for our country’s freedom from British rule. Benjamin is not interested in going to war, his uniform is stored away in a trunk and he has no desire to put it on again.

The memories of his role in the French Indian War still haunt him. The things he did then brought out a side of himself he isn’t proud of, and the guilt is eating away at him. He fears the consequences that lie ahead form him.

And so he hides on his plantation with his children in a sort of self-imposed exile. Hoping that he can protect himself and his family from whatever punishment might be coming his way.

Are there things in your past that you are ashamed of?

Do you feel like you are just waiting for God to “bring down the hammer” on you?

Have you tried to run and hide from God?

This quote rings true with many people today.
God has given us all innate knowledge of right and wrong. Every one of us knows when we have sinned. Often we, like Benjamin try to avoid dealing with the consequences of our sin, for fear we would be unable to handle it.

We are right.

The Bible says, Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death

The punishment for going against God, is death. Because sin is so ugly in God’s eyes he decreed long ago that the only way to repay a sinful act, is for blood to be shed. In the old testament the Israelites were told to sacrifice animals for sinful behavior.

But later, God decided on another way.

The rest of this verse states, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord

Jesus paid our wage. He willingly paid the wage of death for us on the cross and now we are free to live without fear of condemnation. If we are willing to accept this sacrifice as having been for us, we won’t have to live in fear of God’s punishment for what we’ve done.

When our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence, they were signing their own death warrant. They knew by choosing to take their muskets in their hands and fight the British meant they would either be successful, or die trying. Once the ink was dry, failure was not an option. Failure would mean severe punishment from the British for their rebellion.

We were outmatched in almost every way. The odds were definitely stacked against them.

Their actions, would mean death for some, most or even all.

Although the cost is high, they knew freedom was and is still possible.

They made a choice to do it anyway.

Every year we celebrate the cost of freedom for our country. We celebrate the sacrifice that was made so we can say and do what we wish. Living in a free country is wonderful. We can go where we want, we can say what we want, we can choose our government, we can have the day off on July 4th and grill.

All because someone else fought, bled and died on our behalf.

However the freedom of our country, while a very good thing, it only lasts as long as we are alive.

What about after that? We so easily accept what they did, for us and for future generations.

And yet, like Benjamin Martin we are hiding from the one thing that will give us freedom for eternity.

Are we willing to accept the sacrifice of Jesus for our eternal freedom?

Or will we continue live in our worldly freedom fearing the cost of eternal freedom is more than you can bear?

It’s a free country, so it's
your choice.


As God is my Yoda

Luke: “Alright I’ll give it a try”
Yoda: “No. Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try.”—from the movie The Empire Strikes Back

Luke Skywalker and I have a lot in common.

In a matter of two movies his aunt and uncle, the only parents he has ever known have been murdered.
His mentor Obi Wan has been murdered by his father who is Darth Vader the ruthless leader of the Empire.
He is studying to be a Jedi with this little ornery creature Yoda, who seems to know everything but talks in riddles.
Oh and the fate of the galaxy is in his hands.

Ok, well maybe we are not that much alike.

But writing is a lot like studying to be a Jedi master.
It is difficult and frightening and sometimes I feel like I’m blindfolded feeling my way around a cave, with Darth Vader looming in the distance, all the while hearing this weird little voice tell me things in a round about way that I may or may not understand. (also a good scene, but for another post.)

Most times when I open the laptop and stare at the blank page, I have often given the same halfhearted statement as Luke, “Alright, I’ll give it a try”.

And God answers exactly the same way Yoda does. “No. Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.”

Do I believe the idea of writing came from God? Yes I do.

Do I know in my heart that He is the only one who can take my written words out into the world for others to read? Yes, yes I do.

But do I sometimes think He is a crazy Jedi master who expects me to lift an X-Wing fighter out of slimy swamp when I have no idea how to do that?


Now before you get all uppity and angry because I’m comparing God to Yoda, think about it for a minute.

Yoda is a Jedi Master.
He knows all there is to know regarding the Force and it’s his job to train Luke.
Yoda gives instruction to Luke on how to keep his emotions in check so he can stay true and not go over to the dark side.
Yoda tests Luke repeatedly to see how he handles himself in battle.
He teaches Luke to draw strength from the Force to do the impossible.

But Yoda is only the instructor.
Luke is the one who has been chosen for the job of fighting Darth Vader.

1 Chronicles 28:10 So take this seriously. The Lord has chosen you to build a Temple as his sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work.”

God cannot write these words for me.
God cannot live the experiences I have lived and tell others about it.
He cannot spread the news of what Jesus has done for me.

And He cannot do whatever it is He has put on your heart to do either.
No matter what you are up against today, God is your Yoda too.
He will give you all the wisdom, instruction, skills, power and strength needed.

Ultimately the final act of actually doing something with all of what He supplies us with, is up to us.

And there is no try, just do. Saying “I’ll try” is an excuse for a halfhearted attempt.
It’s us pacifying God.

News flash…..God doesn’t need a pacifier.

What He needs to someone willing to step up and do the work.
What He needs is someone teachable, willing to learn from mistakes and accept instruction.
Someone courageous who can go the distance (three movies if necessary), because it sometimes takes a long time for His plan to completely unfold in our lives.
He needs someone willing to fight, for good to reign over evil.

What he needs is a Jedi.

Are you up for being a Jedi? Or are you making a half hearted attempt? I'd love to hear your thoughts today.