Today Is A Good Day

I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD, [and] the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD hath bestowed on us. He brought me up… out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, [and] established my goings.– The Son of God,… loved me, and gave himself for me.– He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
DailyLight Isa 63:7, Ps 40:2, Gal 2:20, Rom 8:32

These scriptures are a perfect reflection of how I feel this morning, sitting reading scriptures and writing a devotional reading in the quiet of this lakeside campground site. I got to spend the afternoon and evening with my husband, daughter and future son-in-law at the lake and campsite. We talked and laughed and rode on the boat and had dinner together. It was the kind of family time I’ve always wanted.

This is the time when it is easy to praise Him and remember how good He is. However, His lovingkindness is there everyday, available through the good and bad times. He is always wanting to show His care for me. His mercies are new every morning. Just sometimes the circumstances here on earth don’t reflect His unchanging goodness toward me.

Today, it feels like God loves me and made a perfect day just for me. But just because I don’t feel this same way on more mundane days doesn’t mean God loves me any less. This day is a gift of God, but is not the norm, and wishing that everyday was like this gift day (or vacation) will only set me up for disappointment.

I guess I let what I see with my eyes and feel with my flesh determine whether or not I think God is blessing me. However, the truth is that what God did for me through the death of Jesus Christ thousands of years ago is still as true as if it happened yesterday. I think back to the day I received salvation and the weight of my sinfulness was rolled off of me and I experienced peace and joy for the first time in my life. If I compare my feelings that day with the way I feel today, it is quite the same. So why don’t I feel like this more often?

If I could feel so good then without any external circumstances feeding me (actually accepting the Lord meant real conflict in my Jewish family), then obviously I should be able to feel this good on any day, because His salvation is true everyday. The penalty for my sins has still been removed from me as far as the east is from the west. I am FREE to experience God’s love and goodness every minute of my life.

I think I have to close my eyes and remember this day when other days are not as pleasant. This way I can remind myself that the same God who made this exquisite day for me is still on the throne and still loving and kind. Regardless of what I am seeing with my eyes and feeling with my flesh, my God can make another exquisite day for me again.

Penny Haynes

Small Things Can Mean So Much

Click here to listen to a short audio about Small Things:  SmallThings (mp3)

Small things in life can bring so much happiness:

  • a baby’s laugh
  • a puppy in your lap
  • a joke from a friend
  • moments of peace and quiet
  • a light breeze on a day that’s not too hot and not too cold

But the small things can get lost when our focus becomes fixed on our problems.  Our problems grow in size because they become all we can see.  And if all we can see is the problem, how can we ever notice the small, enjoyable things?

The biggest challenge is practicing living in the present, in the NOW.  Most of our anxieties (I’d almost say 99%) are based on what has happened in the past, and what MIGHT (but in all actuality, probably won’t) happen in the future.  So we are not actually living in the moment – we are constantly living in another time and place.

I was watching an episode of Dr. Drew’s Celebrity Rehab, and as therapy, the group went to a horse farm. They were to touch the horse, make it pick up its leg, and clean its hoof. The leader of this therapy group told them that touching this horse, and attempting to get it to lift its leg, would cause a trigger, a memory of something from their past.

As the celebrities would be “triggered”, the leader would ask them to describe what they were remembering and how they were feeling.  THEN, he would tell them to take several deep breaths and RETURN TO THE PRESENT, to a realization of where they were now.  Then they were to try again, as an adult, today, in that moment.

We need to learn how to react to triggers, how to take several deep breaths and return to the present and what is truly happening at that moment.  Normally, there is nothing to cause fear or depression at that moment.  It is also at that moment that we can take the opportunity to experience something that will make us happy.

What small things can you find in your life that can turn your focus away from what’s wrong and allow you to enjoy what is right?  What could you do right now make you happy but would not harm you?   It’s the middle of summer today, so I could go outside, feel how stifling hot it is, and then come back in to the air conditioning just to enjoy that wonderfully cooling sensation.

I could call or text a friend, watch a movie, read a book, study the bible, cook something healthy but tasty, play with a pet, listen to music, write in a journal, help someone else with a project. I can control my own experience of happiness. And so can you.

Penny Haynes


The Gentleness of God

As many of you know, I spent time running from God.  I had been so depressed for so long that I figured I had no chance of happiness with God, because He appeared to have no interest in healing me.  My conscious decision was to turn my back on God so I would have SOME chance of experiencing happiness, regardless of what God thought about it.

I stopped running almost a year ago.  When I returned to Him, I was cautious, cynical, and not very optimistic about what my life would be like.  I was closed up, suspicious of all Christians, and battling the shame of what I had done.

Mostly, I spent my time looking over my shoulder, waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I KNEW there was no way that a “mature” Christian who had done her best to walk away from God could possibly escape without some type of punishment from God.  So I was always jumpy, waiting for that “chastisement” to happen.

Things stayed pretty quiet.  I tried to get somewhat involved at church, but that’s kind of hard when you don’t trust people or want to have anything to do with them.  I just kept my head low in hopes of staying under the radar, so maybe God would forget I was even there.

Then, in September 2010, I was radically freed from an 8 year depression. The haze lifted, my suspicion and cynicism were gone, and my shame disappeared.  I began to laugh again, interact with people, take responsibility for things at church.  I started living again.

My church has a 21 day fast every January.  I’m a firm believer in the power of their fasting – it was how my husband prayed me back into fellowship with God and with him.  I just rarely fast – the last time I did it was 1998, I believe, for about 2 weeks.  This made me a little nervous.  Why?  Because everyone was excited about God revealing things to them during the fast.

Screeeeeeeech! (That was the sound of my spiritual wheels coming to an abrupt halt.)  Um, I’m trying to avoid any deep interaction with God.  I am trying to still stay under the radar.  If I get close to God, He is going to finally “get me back” for what I did.  I know I deserve the retribution; I simply don’t want to experience it.

And this is how I first approached this fast.  If I do this, God will start dealing with me about things I don’t want to deal with.  My past, my problems, my strongholds.  Yes, I would like to be free, but I expect that with problems of my magnitude, this was going to REALLY, really hurt.

But I thought about it a little more, and realized that, although the depression was gone, I still do not have complete peace.  There are strongholds and fears in my life that keep me up at night.  They force me to make emotional decisions instead of mental or spiritual decisions. They lay me open to satanic attack.  I decided that maybe I do want to have these things removed, and MAYBE, just maybe, it was worth dealing with whatever else God had in mind for me.

So I asked God what He wanted me to fast, and he made it clear to me.  Although everyone else is simply doing the Daniel Fast, He asked me to do something a bit more strict. You see, the Daniel Fast would be nothing for me.  I don’t have to ever have meat or leavened bread or added sugar.  I can create lots of really yummy dishes from that list of accepted ingredients.  And THAT is my problem.

He revealed to me that, for a lack of a better term, I was a pleasure addict.  And since I don’t have an addiction to drugs, alcohol or sex, I was feeding that addiction with pleasurable food.  He also made it clear that I was actually refusing to give up that addiction OUT OF REBELLION AGAINST HIM.

Now THAT knocked me for a loop! Although He said it very gently and without a hint of condemnation, I was blown away by that.  What do you mean I eat out of rebellion against You?  His answer: You have it in your head that I have not, do not, and will not meet your needs, and so every time you overeat or eat things you know you shouldn’t, you are saying (excuse my terminology here…), “Screw you, God.  You’re not doing anything to make me happy, so I’m going to have to make myself happy!”

Wow. I was stunned. That had never crossed my mind. And it saddened me. Because I realized that it was TRUE.   I had NEVER thought my eating was disobedience to God or rebellion.  But mine is.

He said that all of my other strongholds were based on this underlying problem.  I have resented God regarding the lack of happiness and pleasure in my life.  If I am not physically pursuing pleasure, I am constantly distracted by the thoughts about it.   And my thought-life, I am positive, is far from pleasing to God.

He also confirmed another thing I thought – 21 days will NOT be enough to exorcise the demons I have been entertaining. He’s calling me to a 40 day fast of nothing but raw vegetables, fruits, grains and organic plain yogurt. I can eat as much as I want – but He knows that won’t be a problem, because I get NO PLEASURE out of any of those foods.

I say all of this to share the most surprising thing of all.  God has not shown one iota of anger at me.  He has not been vindictive, or harsh.  Everything is said in love and with the greatest gentleness.  He wants me to be healed, and be truly happy, and He knows I can never reach that by myself.  He is willing to heal me, but it will require my obedience in order to receive it.

So if you are waiting for the other shoe to drop because of previous or present actions, I offer you hope.  God doesn’t hate you.  He doesn’t want to hurt you.  He wants to be back in a loving relationship with you.  And He wants to love on you.  Let Him.

Penny Haynes