How to Rise Above the Winter Blahs by Amber O’Brien

Feeling a little blah? The secret to rising out of the winter-blah pit can be found in the fabulous peacock feather.

On one end of a peacock feather is a bare, white stick but the other end displays the delicate, stunning plumage of greens, blues and purples which the male peacock so proudly displays to attract a partner.

So, I have a very important question for you my sweet sister: How do you balance a peacock feather with one hand?

While at a recent business convention, a motivational juggler used peacock feathers as an object lesson and so I brought the beautiful feathers back and added a spiritual twist for the local sweet sister group.

First, we were told to look at the ugly white point and balance the feather in the palm of one of our hands. As the audience tried to balance the tall feather and looked down at the stark, ugly end, the feathers kept falling as did our attitudes.

But………. when we looked upward at the top of the gorgeous peacock feather, then balancing became so much easier and our smiles turned upward as well.

Soon laughter and joy could be heard throughout the room, as we soon learned that we could toss upward the feather from one hand to the other, if we just kept our eyes on the top of the fabulous feather.

The spiritual secret of the Peacock feather is also found in the book of Philippians. Paul is under house arrest after experiencing so many hardships within the church community and outside as well. He tells his brothers and sisters to Rejoice ! and then gives his secret for not being sucked under into despair:

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal toward the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians Ch. 3:13-14

then Paul encourages his readers to focus on whatever is: “true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. ” Phillipians 4:8-9

Who is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable? only the Great I Am – the one and only God who sits on His mighty throne.

So what or Who are you focusing on today?

Perhaps you are frozen and stuck looking back over past mistakes and regrets? Or the let down after the excitement of Christmas and New Year has you a little down? I recently heard from a sweet sister who shared she wasn’t excited about her birthday. Is the passage of time getting you down? Or like me when I was younger, is the rise and fall of monthly female hormones causing you to see only the negative? (My poor dear husband) or perhaps you are living with fear over the choices of a child or the medical failings of a loved one? God hears your heart cries and He does not want you, his precious daughter, living in the pit of fear, or shame or despair.

No matter the reason you are stuck in the weeds, there .is. a. way. out.

Focus on the character of God and the hope and promise we have in the days to come. In Philippians we read that : God will provide us the strength for whatever situation we may face.

1. “I can do All things through Christ who gives me strength”

phil 4:13

and then we are promised that God will provide just what we need:

2. “God will supply All of our needs according to the riches of His Glory in Christ Jesus. “

Phil. 4;19

While you are waiting to see how God will work this all out for good (Romans 8:28) , take out a pen and write out the beauty of God’s character. What adjectives describe God? Every morning I write out a word or more during my adoration time during my date with Jesus. I’ll start you off : God is so: faithful, forgiving, generous, good, powerful, loving, caring, In Control, merciful, kind, Just, Great, etc………..

Now: Write out 10 good things about yourself. Or 10 good things about the person you are frustrated with. (During those hormonal days I would write out 10 good things about me, my husband and my life.) Or how about 10 ways that God has been faithful in the past.

By the time you have reached number 10, I guarantee you will feel light as a feather with a renewed perception.

So back to my original question: How do you balance a peacock feather with one hand? or really, “How can you stay balanced with all the strife going on around you? “

  • Keep your Eyes upward and forward at the beauty and truth that exists only in our Lord and Savior.
  • Then record this beauty and truth with a pen.

Recording God’s love and continued care with a pen will raise you out of the pit of lost perception and soon the winter Blah’s will become full of springtime hope and victory.

What are 10 adjectives that describe God (Jesus)?

Who Will Fill the Hole?

By Amber O’Brien    

I should have used my big girl voice

I should have said, “Will you please fill the hole?” as the family

Packed up their plastic toys and shovels.

For I knew what they did not; for  

A hole left open can lead to heartache.

Years before a woman on a nearby shore stumbled in the dark

And she fell into a neglected hole;

She couldn’t climb out and she soon fell asleep.

Early the next morning a sand -cleaning machine

 Pushed the sand over her and

She. Was. Buried. Alive.

The reporter urged the viewers “to please fill in the holes”

After scooping sand and sculpting sandcastles.

But, there are some gaps we cannot fill up

On. Our. Own.

I thought of my own regrets:

As a mother. As a friend.

A sister, daughter, wife

Would my regrets ever end?

So many pits, so many pangs of regret

How many people have fallen into the holes that I’ve continually dug

With clenched fists of selfish pride and fear?

 Or on the other hand,

How many people have hurt me and bore huge holes in my own heart?

 But I worsened my wounds with unforgiveness and

 Allowed the gaping holes to fester from self-pity.

 This huge hole left in the sand in front of me

represented all my failures and  

I sat anxiously in my beach chair pondering what to do.

I didn’t have a shovel,

Or the strength…………… for I now finally comprehended that

All these holes together form a Grand Canyon sized chasm that separates

me from holy heaven.

Who will fill the hole?

Downhearted and distressed,

I grievously sat gazing at the ginormous gulf

Paralyzed with despair.

Who Can fill the hole?

Then a lifeguard

Wearing a blood-red tank top

With a white cross sealed across his chest

Climbed down from his high white stand,

Kneeled in the sand and

With his open bare hands,

He gently and carefully pushed the sand from the rough edges

And Filled. In. The. Hole.

Above all, Love each other deeply, because Love covers a multitude of sins.

I Peter 4:8

The #1 bucket list Item

May you rejoice in the wife (husband) of your youth. Proverbs 5:18

As i was walking down the beach today I overheard an elderly lady chatting with her friends. “Do you know what the number #1 bucket list item is? She paused and excitedly exclaimed,,,,’To fall in Love.” and then she paused, smiled and said “Again”.

Was she a widow? divorced? All I know is that she would put falling in love….Again at the top of her bucket list.

As I continued to walk along the shore, I remembered a simple poem I wrote many years ago (see below) about how God desires for us to fall in Love again and again with our spouse for He came to make all things new. We can’t control our spouse or change him, but we can ask God for help to be the best wife, mistress and best friend to our husband as possible.

How to Fall in Love…………. Again

Oh give my husband a brand new wife
One that will serve him lovingly
G
ive him the helpmate he deserves
And may that “new wife” always be me

Oh give my husband a hot mistress
One that will surprise him lovingly
Give her energy and fresh ideas
And may that “mistress” always be me

Oh give my husband a new best friend
One that will listen lovingly
Give her wisdom to find the good
And may that “best friend” always be me   

Would you like a few practical suggestions on how to spice things up?

A sweet sister confessed over lunch last week that her and her husband were in a bad rut and weren’t communicating ahead of time about their needs.

I told her “How about picking an emoji and sending it so the each other earlier in the day so the night doesn’t go too late and both prepare to get to the room before both our too tired?” Then dear sister when you are in the bathroom preparing for your rendezvous, say a quick prayer “Lord, give me a desire for my husband” Then put on some lipstick, perfume and maybe some high heels to help put you in the mood.

Does your husband work like a microwave in the bedroom? and you are more of a crock-pot? how about communicating using sports analogies. My friends husband loves sports so we thought up a way to relay the message using baseball terms. “Sweetie, you can’t get a home-run with out touching all the bases”.

Consideration and mutual respect needs to go both ways. If one is too tired than make a plan for when a rendezvous will work. “Tonight I’m too tired, but tomorrow morning will work”. If you were the one to postpone then be sure to follow-up and show your husband that you do find him desirable.

Marriage is such a sacred gift and we need to do all we can to nurture and protect it.

Here’s to falling in Love. Again.

Pedaling Out to Sea… No Steering Included.

What was that thrumming noise overhead? I looked upward and realized it was the pulsing, whirling sound of helicopter wings. A Coast Guard helicopter made a big circle as I waved one hand to signal that I was alive and the reason for the sirens ringing out over the island.  However, this chop, chopping was not music to my ears. Awkward visions of having to climb aboard a hanging ladder filled my head and I continued my pleadings with God. 

“Lord, I don’t need a helicopter,” I said out loud. “Just send me a motorboat. I don’t need a helicopter.”

 Shivering in the pre-season Atlantic Ocean, I treaded water, trying to make headway back to the shore. But the handlebars of this brand new elliptical paddle board having sunk below the surface, along with the offshore breeze were just too much for me.

 Numerous rescue vehicles awaited on the shore: an ambulance, police car, and even a fire truck. As the helicopter also continued to hover overhead, a crowd of people gathered on the shore, and I knew they were wondering the same thing I was – How did this middle-aged woman end up so far off shore alone in the early morning clutching a bright yellow board?

Just an hour earlier when we arrived at the seashore, the ocean appeared unusually calm.  My husband was so excited for me to use the new toy he had given me as an early birthday present: a paddleboard with handlebars for steering and bicycle pedals for more control than the typical paddleboard.

Dave pushed the spanking new paddleboard, with me standing proudly on top, out over the waves, and I happily used the pedals to move the Mirage eclipse forward – straight out into the vast sea.

After pedaling straight out to sea for a couple of yards, I squeezed on the right handle and expected the new hybrid paddleboard to follow along to the right. Nothing happened. I had been told before heading out that I would need to pedal fast for the steering to work, so I pumped my legs faster as I squeezed the handle with all my strength. I wouldn’t find out until much later, that the screw we tightened before I set off that day was actually supposed to be loose. Our tightening it prior to my departure was the reason behind this whole ordeal – a tight screw meant no steering.    

My husband kept yelling, “Turn! Turn!” as I moved out further from him, my daughter, and most concerningly – the shore.

“ I am! I am trying to turn! ” I shouted back.

  At this point, I became more and more panicked as my adrenaline increased and my muscles tensed. I thought I must be doing something wrong and not peddling fast enough or squeezing hard enough, so I stayed on the board and pedaled on. I eventually ended up about one fourth of a mile out to sea.

Then somehow, maybe just by leaning my body, I turned enough so that I became parallel with the shore.

I kept pedaling and squeezing the handlebar, trying with all my might to turn more so I could ride back into shore. The current was going out to sea and with a 15 mph offshore wind, it took all my effort to stay on the board as I traveled parallel 10 beach blocks, while my husband and daughter Mary ran alongside me on  the shore.

My heart beat faster and my panic grew as I continued a pattern I’d developed as a new driver. You see, as a teenager, if I became lost while driving, I would drive faster instead of stopping and often made my situation worse.  Similarly, as I pedaled along in the sea that day, instead of just stopping and regrouping and asking God for help, I made the situation worse as my adrenaline and panic caused my legs to pump faster.

I said loud prayers of desperation over and over as I squeezed the handlebar with all my might, “Help!” “Lord Jesus, Help me! Help Me!!”

The board still would not move to the right, and I continued to move parallel to the shore. The lifeguards were not on duty yet, and I did not spot any other small water crafts. “Lord Jesus, please Help me,” I begged again and again.

I started to use my body more in one last desperate attempt to move the paddleboard to the right, and splash!  the waterboard and I capsized. Shocked by the cold water, I quickly put my arms around the overturned board (I didn’t want to lose my new present,) and started to kick to see if I could move myself forward toward shore.  

“Can they see me?” I thought. I prayed not just for myself but that my husband and daughter would have peace and not worry about me. An offshore wind pushed the top warm water out to sea leaving me in the frigid Atlantic and my legs were becoming numb as I tried to kick and move forward. Were they waiting for me to come to shore by myself? Oh, I hope they are getting help. At this point, I was cold and exhausted from traveling a half mile along the shore as my heart palpitations worked overtime.

And then I heard music to my ears. Sirens. The loud emergency sirens echoed my cries for help and could be heard not just by me, but by everyone living on the Seven Mile Island calling out to all the rescue volunteers. I was hoping perhaps a motorboat would come to rescue me. I felt embarrassed that everyone on the island now knew there was trouble and that someone would have to come to help me.   I waited and held on tight to my floating toy and hoped that they would hurry. 

And that is when I heard the helicopter wings overhead. And I told the God of the Universe how He should rescue me.

“Lord, I don’t need a helicopter” I said out loud. “Just send me a motorboat. I don’t need a helicopter.”

And then I heard a calm and authoritative voice in my mind say,

“I know what you need.” 

My panic became peace and my breathing slowed as I waited to see what would happen next. I knew that I was going to be all right and I now just waited with trust to see how God planned to do it. I must have waited at least ten minutes as I clutched the board and faced the shore trying to spot my husband and daughter among the crowd of rescue vehicles and spectators who lined the water’s edge. 

And then two lifeguards came to my rescue aboard a jet ski.

The sun shone behind their flowing hair and bounced off their kind, handsome faces and strong shoulders. My relief and gratitude were immense. I keep telling them, “Thank you so much,” as I gazed into their beautiful glowing faces.

The jet ski had a board on the back with handle bars and they helped me to lie down stomach first as I held on to the handles. By this time I was exhausted and shivering and I’m sure the lifeguards could see my weariness.

“Lie down here,” one told me, “and I will lie on top of you.”  

The lifeguards strong warm body lay on top of me and I felt God’s strength, help, and love through this unexpected gift of protection and deliverance.     

We flew across the ocean waves on the back of the wave runner into shore and I giggled as my body would slip under his and the thought of how I was being rescued made me laugh with delight.

“Yes, this was much better than a motor boat.” I thought with a smile.

As we approached the crowd of people lining the shore, I continued to giggle at the thought of being sandwiched between a jet ski and a lifeguard. A warm blanket was placed over my shoulders. The lifeguards lifted my board, and they (and the crowd), were especially surprised to see the handlebars underneath.

I believe I felt the reality of God’s feathers of protection as I lay under the lifeguard’s strong body and I rode in giggling with joy.  I am thankful that God knows just what we need – and sometimes that means two strong, beautiful angels who know how to drive a jet ski. 

He will cover you with His feathers. He will shelter you with His wings. His fatithful promises are your armor and protection. Psalm 91:4

Man….does Jesus love us women. #2 Woman caught in Adultery

IMG_8191MA31590921-0002#2    The Women who met Mercy (The Women caught in adultery)

Hi Sweet Sister….so glad you could join our discussion as we study another dramatic interaction of Jesus and a woman.

Exposed. She stood alone after being ripped from a bed of passion and placed in front of a crowd of judgmental religious leaders.  She was a pawn used to bring down the meek prophet Jesus.   Imagine yourself in her place as she stands confused, embarrassed, humiliated and scared to death.  Her heart must have raced as her adrenaline rose causing her to seek to “fight or flight”.   However,  she was as trapped as the man Jesus who was writing in the sand.

This unnamed woman did not seek Jesus out as did contemplative Mary (Woman #1) who sat at Jesus’ feet.  She was caught committing Adultery and thrown into a group of religious leaders who were jealous of Jesus and trying to put him into a “no win” position.  Let us study another way that:

Man…………………………..does Jesus love His women. 

Let’s start at the beginning in the Gospel of John chapter 8: 1-11.

  1. Where did Jesus go the night before this dramatic interaction? What do you think Jesus was doing there?

He left his disciples to be alone. Perhaps he was praying for wisdom as to the next days’ events? Spending time with His Father God as Mary modeled for us in Chapter 1?

2. Where is the “Man” caught in Adultery? Does the law require the man to be stoned as well?

Read Deuteronomy 22:22-24. Since these leaders and Elders asked for Stoning it appears this woman was a betrothed virgin.  So the man should have also been stoned.  It is a mystery as to where he was during this confrontation. He certainly was not defending her.

She stands abandoned, betrayed and alone.  But is she alone? Are we ever alone as daughters of the King? Have you ever felt accused by others? Attacked and misunderstood?  Write down what happened and how you felt.

  1. What women in the New Testament (she is related to Jesus) could have been stoned?

Yes…his own mother….Mary could have been stoned…should have been stoned (according to the law)  if Joseph choose to expose her in the same way.

Since the woman (Mary) was pregnant the child would have died as well.

How would this world be different if Jesus had died in Mary’s womb?  How would you and your world be different?

Meditate on this awhile.

God intervened with Angels (messengers from God) to save Mary and the son of God.

Who would intervene for this women….?   

  1. What was Jesus writing in the sand?

A. Names ? Read  Jeremiah 17:13  Some scholars believe that he was writing names in the sand….

A medieval tradition was the latin, “ Terra Terra Accusta” which means the earth accuses earth.“Those that turn from the Lord will be written in the dust, because they have forsaken the Lord, the spring of Living water.”

What is the opposite of being written in the dust?

Exodus 32:32 Moses begs the Lord the Lord to forgive the Isrealites or blot his name from the Book of Life.  The Lord Replied to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book.  In Psalms this is referred to the Book of Life. In Psalm 69: 28 David sings about his enemies and asks, “ May they be blotted out of the book of Life and not be listed with the righteous.”

B. The 10 commandments?

Some scholars believe he may have been writing out the sins of the elders or perhaps the 10 commandments.  Exodus 31: 18  “When the Lord finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God.”

Perhaps Jesus wrote with his finger the commandment,  Thou Shalt not Kill. Weren’t they all guilty of this command?

In the book of Luke verse 20 Jesus states “But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.”

What a powerful symbol for the religious leaders to see him writing in the sand. Quietly, the leaders are reminded that the 10 commandments were written by the finger of God. Now, Jesus is writing out commands.

Could he be writing out the two commandments that all the law and prophets hang on? Matthew 22:37

Love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  Love your neighbor as your self

Were they being loving toward this woman? toward Jesus?

Do you think they realized that the Kingdom of God was upon them?

If Jesus is God made flesh, than is not Jesus the finger of God?

C. Comfort for the frightened woman?

One of the sweet sisters thought perhaps that Jesus was writing out something to comfort the woman.  This certainly would align with the kindness and love shown the woman after they all leave.

Perhaps he wrote words similar to those found in Isiah 41:10

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, yes, I will uphold you with my Righteous right hand”.

To counteract the words of her accusers:…..”adultery” “sinner” “harlot” “condemned” etc.

5.  What  do you think Jesus might have written?  _______, __________,________________.

Jesus states, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

Why do you think they all walked away?  Why the elders first?

Who is the only one who is without sin? The only one who can forgive sins?

________________________________________

So this passage does not tell us what the woman physically did immediately after her accusers left…….

6. What do you think she must have done if Jesus forgave her and said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, from now on do not sin any more.”?

Sweet sister….I imagine her falling to her knees in relief and gratitude.  Kissing the feet of Jesus and thanking Him for defending her. I believe she repented and decided to turn to Jesus and turn away from sin.

Read Psalm 51….such a beautiful and powerful song of Repentance.

Read slowly over verses 18-19

“For you do not desire sacrifice; a burnt offering you would not accept. My sacrifice is a broken spirit; God, do not spurn a broken, humbled heart.”

Do you need to turn from a sinful choice and turn toward Jesus? Are you “all in” or are you still sitting on the fence? What do you need to leave behind that is preventing you from following even closer to Jesus and his holiness?   Will your name be written in the dust as one who turns away from the Lord or will your name be written in the book of Life as one who turns toward the Lord.

He waits patiently for you and I to offer our broken, humbled hearts at his feet.

 

Man………………………….does Jesus love us women.