My Anxious Thoughts

How do your thoughts affect your words and actions?

At the beginning of 2021, I signed up for a Hebrew course. I believed that I could manage this course and was excited to prove it to myself and to others around me. Although it is hard, most days I can’t wait to sit down with the homework assignments even though I often struggle to remember and understand the lesson.

Recently, however my thoughts have become negative and critical…of myself. “Oh Marnie. Why can’t I remember this stuff?” “I’m probably the only one in the class who can’t remember the vocabulary and grammar.” “Maybe this is too hard and I’m too old to do this.”

My negative thoughts were beginning to affect my actions as I was ready to quit. The others in my class were talking about taking the next level, but I felt that I wasn’t keeping up now, so how could I move on?

At camp this summer, the pastor spoke about these verses:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139: 23, 24

I was confusing my anxious thoughts with reality.

Is it true that I am too old? Is it true that I’m not capable of learning a difficult language? I want to trust my earlier peace, and not let my anxious thoughts sabotage my progress.

Pay attention to your thoughts. Are your thoughts taking you “in the way everlasting”? Don’t let negative thoughts stop you from doing something that might be difficult. Go for that dream of changing your job or learning a new skill.

Whenever a Bible verse is translated to say, “listen” or “hear” God’s voice, it always implies “to obey”. You’ll know it is God speaking if the desire you have to do something gives you a peaceful feeling. There is joy and even excitement when you are walking His way. Challenging? Probably. But maybe an exciting opportunity is on the other side of your anxious thoughts.

Start being grateful that His presence in you is all you need.

“Search me O God and know my heart…”

May you know His peace as you hear and obey today!

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The Sacred Romance

I have just finished rereading a book from my shelf called The Sacred Romance – Drawing Closer to the Heart of God by Brent Curtis and John Eldridge. It has challenged and excited me the way it did when I received it as a gift 20 years ago.

“Some years into our spiritual journey, …. a voice speaks to us in the midst of all we are doing. There is something missing in all of this, it suggests. There is something more.”

“Sometime later, the voice in our heart dares to speak to us again, more insistently this time. Listen to me – there is something missing in all this. You long to be in a love affair, an adventure. You were made for something more. You know it.”

This is not a book to rush through but a life changing meditation. It is also not another self-help book.

The authors describe our lives as small stories defined by the arrows from our past, as well as the crises and persistent troubles – “dragons and nits”, interspersed with infrequent and unexpected blessings. Maybe “they are part of the plot through which God redeems our heart in very personal ways.”

The whole world is groaning and while it is easy to complain and argue about opinions, a bigger story is happening all around us. God is calling to each one of us.

God still teaches me about myself through times spent listening to Him, even after more than 40 years as a believer. God brings to the surface hurts and unforgiving attitudes that I didn’t know I’d buried and sometimes hurts from arrows that I knew were there but didn’t want challenged.

The longing for more continues to draw me in the midst of the dragons and nits of my life.

I want my last years on earth to be “a journey full of intimacy, adventure, and beauty” even if there is some danger on the path!

“If you long for something more, even if you don’t know what that something is, then open this profound book…The Sacred Romance is the story of our lives; it is God’s story. It is His invitation to experience His unfathomable love for us.”

The Sacred Romance – Drawing Closer to the Heart of God by Brent Curtis and John Eldridge; Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1997. www.thomasnelson.com

www.marniespencelayh.com

A Woman of Faith

“.. God created man(kind) in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. ”Genesis 1: 27

That is an amazing thought – that we are created in God’s image. Each of us is special, of great value in His sight.

I have mentioned my mother, Dorothy Dobson, many times in my writing because she has influenced me more than anyone else. When she was in her eighties, she wrote a book called, A Journey Through the Bible, then after she was ninety, she felt it needed editing, so she retyped the whole thing.

A Journey Through the Bible takes the reader from Genesis to Revelation through Mom’s daily “quiet times”. Here is an excerpt:

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease. (Genesis 8: 22)

When I crawl into bed at night and think about how I’ve been doing this over and over again all my life, I’m amazed at how quickly the days pass and soon add up to years. Really, life is very short when I consider all of history. What a shame it is to waste any time in useless attitudes like self-pity or complaining!

Mom had a passion for children which led her into teaching school and raising four kids! She was the first principal at age 69 of the Christian school we started and took many trips after she was 80 to Israel, Europe and Central America as well as several mission trips, to work with teachers in Africa and Kazakhstan.

Mom is 102 years old. She is still the positive, encouraging, cheerful woman many people have loved. She sleeps a lot and doesn’t add to conversations now, although I don’t think she misses much when her family are talking around her! She still says, “Bless you” instead of “Goodbye”!

This weekend we celebrate mothers. The very fact that you are alive means that your mom (or stepmom or adoptive mom or grandma) cared enough to feed you, challenge you, encourage you, even disagree with you and punish you!

I wish all women a Happy Mothers’ Day whether you have birthed children or not. You care for and encourage others and you were created by our loving God…in His image.

To order A Journey Through the Bible, reply to this email with your address. We will send a donation to the mission organization, Classrooms for Africa, from the sale of every book.

Cost: $20 for the book (plus shipping)

Walk Humbly

My husband, the gardener, loved his spring flowers and so do I!

I sometimes ask God what He wants me to do in a particular situation. You know, “Should I spend money to go to this event?” or “Should I take that job?”

It’s wonderful when I feel that He has given me a clear answer but often we must decide within broad parameters. Here is one verse that gives us a few boundaries for our choices.

“What does the Lord require of you…but to act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6: 8 (New International Version)

In my Hebrew class I learned that the Biblical word for “just” can sometimes be translated as “righteous”.  Living with integrity in a virtuous, fair, and upright way in all situations sounds daunting but this is what the Lord requires of us.

I picture a person who stands tall spiritually, by doing the right thing at work; not billing more hours than is right and treating others fairly. This person is recognized as someone who is trustworthy and making a positive difference in the world.

You become just by choosing to do the right thing.

Mother Theresa loved mercy and spent her life caring for the poor, sick, and dying but you don’t have to go to India and be a missionary (unless God is calling you to do that!).

Love mercy where you are. Reach out in kindness and compassion to the people around you. That includes family, friends, neighbours, and everyone you meet as you go about your business.

  • Give generously of your time and money for the good of others.
  • Forgive the people who have wronged you.
  • Act with compassion, not impatience, when you don’t agree with someone.

I love the Amplified Bible interpretation of “walk humbly”, “setting aside any overblown sense of importance or self-righteousness”!

This “overblown sense of our own importance” shows up in the way we expect others to meet our needs or act in a certain way. Close relationships are the hardest place to get this right.

The only way to truly follow God is to let go of our own concerns each day. Listening and obeying the Word of the Lord requires a humility that doesn’t come naturally.

The choice is always yours. You can choose to be the boss of your own life and manage all the problems that arise OR walk humbly with your God in simple, child-like faith and the other requirements of the Lord will follow.

Start walking humbly with your God then you will find that it’s natural to act justly and love mercy!

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#flourish #flourishinaworldfullofpeople #encouragement #walkhumbly #actjustly #lovemercy #motivation

Authenticity

I’m reading a book by Brené Brown that has me thinking about how to live a “wholehearted life”. She says: “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” *

There is much pressure in our society to do, be and have what others seem to do, be or have.

The message is clear that if you don’t own your home, have a respectable job, a perfect relationship, or a big bank balance, that you aren’t quite good enough. People don’t have to tell you that, you feel it inside.

Worse than that, is the pressure to look a certain way.

If your hair is grey you need to dye it. If you’re the “wrong” shape, you focus on how you should eat differently or exercise more and feel guilty if you don’t. No wonder there is so much on social media about needing that extra cup of coffee or glass of wine!

Some of the lies that plague me are that I should have earned a master’s degree, I’m too old to reach some of my goals and that I might not have enough money to enjoy old age. (When does old age start, anyway?)

I often don’t live up to my own expectations. That’s when I need a friend to counter the lies I am telling myself, with the truth of God’s word.

Ephesians 2: 10 says: For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Read that verse again – slowly!

We are created by God for His purposes. This sets us free from self-doubt, blame, and expectations. We have important Kingdom things to do!

What lies from the enemy of our souls are you believing? Take time to sit in God’s presence and listen. Ask Him to tell you the truth about who you are in His eyes. You can ask Him how He sees you and what name He calls you. You might be surprised at what He tells you.

Authenticity is a daily practice.

No one gets it right all the time so encouraging each other to hear God’s heart is part of our work.

Right now, I encourage you to get my book, Flourish in a World Full of People, and do (or redo) a few of the exercises. If you are like me, you read the book and planned to do the work later.

Pick one chapter to read and start practicing today. Gratitude, forgiveness, saying “No”, getting a new perspective…

Click here if you don’t already have a copy and order Brené’s book at the same time!

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*The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown