Guarding My Thoughts–Frogs, Marbles, and Jewels

I’m a visual learner. Whenever I’m asked to speak or teach, I bring a giant bag of props. One of them is my Thought Box. I know this sounds goofy, but hang with me for a minute.

For most of my life, I chased almost every negative notion and fear that popped into my mind.

Unhealthy thinking. 

Guess what? There’s another way to live! Here’s what I’m talking about. 

My Thought Box represents my mind. 

It contains three things–

Shiny marbles, pretty jewels, and plastic frogs. 

I keep it on my desk. 

With God’s help, I choose which thoughts to dwell on and which ones to toss. I don’t like frogs, so they symbolize destructive thinking. Condemning froggy-thoughts are lies. And they leap from one bad thought to the next.

To the next.

To the next. 

I don’t have to listen to them anymore. 

Froggy-thoughts:

1. You’ll never measure up. 🙁

2. You’re not smart enough. 🙁

3. Depression took you under. How embarrassing! You should be so ashamed of yourself! (This could be ANYTHING you struggle with or ANYTHING in your past–not just depression.)

4. Uh-oh!!! You were supposed to follow Plan A, but you chose Plan B. You blew it! It’s too late to change! 🙁

5. You’ll never get it right! You’ll never be free. 🙁

6. God’s probably forgotten about you. 🙁

Okay, here’s the amazing part~~

God-shaped thoughts are like precious jewels and rock-solid marbles.

We can trust them.

They’re true. 

1. God is for me. He loves me. 

2. I don’t ever have to be afraid. 

3. God says I’m precious in His sight. 

4. God forgives me. 

5. I’ve been set free! 

6. I don’t have to be perfect! Jesus did that for me. Click to Tweet. 

Guard your thoughts. They have the power to build us up or tear us down.

What froggy-thoughts (lies!) pester you? 

What jewel-thoughts (truths) encourage you? 

“For you are God’s masterpiece. He has created you anew in Christ Jesus, so you can do the good things He planned for you long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 

“Don’t be afraid or discouraged for the Lord your God is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” 1 Chronicles 28:20 

“…We are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Message from Callie the Caladium

Sometimes I’m drawn to the most insignificant things. I’ll see something and feel a quickening in my spirit. It happened a few weeks ago–all because of a Caladium–a pink and green plant I bought this spring.

First time I’d ever had a Caladium. I named her Callie.

In August, Callie’s leaves started drooping.

That’s when the PAY ATTENTION feeling came. 

Maybe  because Callie reminded me of things I’d been praying about for a long time and nothing had changed.

A situation with one of my children.

Something about writing.

A few family members. 

Based on how long I’ve been praying, I should probably give up.

But I didn’t want to give up on Callie. 

I googled how to grow Caladiums. I watered and fertilized her. Brought her inside during the heat of the day.

Nothing helped. 

In September, I noticed a gorgeous Caladium outside a store in a giant clay pot so I gave Callie a bigger home.

Which didn’t help.

I called my brother Jeremy, who knows about plants.

“Caladiums are like Elephant ears,” he said.

I walked out to the porch. “Our Elephant Ears are doing fine.”

“They’re hardier than Caladiums.”

“What if I plant it?”

“It’s too late. You should’ve done it earlier in the season.”

“Is it hopeless?”

“You can try cutting off the dead leaves. Probably won’t help.”

Performing surgery on Callie, I spotted one tender sprout near the black soil.

Only one.

She was small, but she was alive and well. 

I did what Jeremy said–I cut off everything that was dead.

And focused on all that was living. 

Guess what?

Yesterday, after a heavy rain, Callie stood a little taller and raised her face toward the sun.

That’s when the message came.

 “… if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart]. Phil 4:8 AMP 

If you’ve been praying about something for a long, long time, I understand. And I care. Don’t give up. 

Thoughts?

Love,

Julie

 

Finding Faith in a Tiny Bathroom

The other day I was cleaning our teeny-tiny master bathroom and praying about a relationship problem. Doubt took over and my faith shrank.

Spiritually and physically, I felt claustrophobic.

My prayer changed to worry.

Lord, I don’t see how You can possibly work in this situation. It’s like our tiny bathroom. There are no options. 

There’s only enough room for a single sink, my claw-foot bathtub, and my grandmother’s antique table.

The dark-stained log walls make the bathroom feel even smaller.

More closed in.

Especially on rainy days.

And it was raining.

No extra space.

No room for God to work. 

A few days later my husband and I watched the DIY Network show, Fixer Upper, and talked about how some day, maybe we’d remodel our bathroom. Just daydreaming, really.

The next Saturday, he found twin mirrors in Kirkland’s.

Barn wood. Rustic. Our style.

“These would make our bathroom seem a lot bigger.”

I didn’t believe him. How could mirrors make a difference?

But they were on sale. Only $24 each. “Guess it wouldn’t hurt to try.”

“Pick out a shelf. That’ll give you more room.”

When we got home, he hung everything. “Well, what do you think?”

Peeking inside the doorway, I couldn’t believe it.

It was as if Chip and Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper had totally transformed it(Here’s a great article about them in Country Living magazine.)

I entered our brand new bathroom and stretched my arms out wide and marveled like Alice in Wonderland.  

For less than a hundred dollars, we’d enlarged our tiny bathroom!

But God wanted more.

He wanted to enlarge my faith.

Doesn’t He always? 🙂

While I decorated my new shelf, He worked on my heart. 

“Lord,  when the bathroom miraculously grew, so did my faith. Nothing–absolutely NOTHING is impossible with You.(from Luke 1:37)

Is there a tiny, cramped area in your life–a certain situation that seems impossible? 

Tell me. I’d love to pray.

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spiderwebs and Sticky Thoughts

One Saturday last fall, my husband Rick and I took a walk through the woods behind our house. The leaves were just beginning to change, and the sky, unbelievably blue. As soon as we got into the woods, Rick found a big stick. He waved it around in front of us like a sword, as though fighting an imaginary enemy.

“What are you doing?” 

“Knocking down spiderwebs.”

“I don’t see any.”

He smiled.

“Oh.”

This past Saturday, Clyde, our Lab, and I walked through the same woods.

I remembered that day last fall.

The stick.

The spiderweb discussion.

The imaginary enemy. 

Are there really spiderwebs back here? 

Just in case, I grabbed a stick and twirled it in front of me.

Pretty soon, I decided I really didn’t need the stick.

It was a lot of work.

And I looked silly.

Rick was probably teasing me. If I see any spiderwebs, I’ll knock them down. 

I dropped my stick and kept walking.

It wasn’t long before I felt a sticky spiderweb all over my face–yuck!–and a black spider in my hair.

I never saw it coming.

I walked smack-dab in the middle of it.

Finding another stick, I had an aha moment.

All spiderwebs begin the same way–

With a barely visible thread.

Then the spider spins her web and sets the trap.

Soon her unsuspecting prey is gobbled up.

The same way one tiny thought can spin a web of destruction in my life.

Fear.

Envy.

Lust.

Doubt.

Bitterness. 

Wrong-thinking has taken me down too many times.

Waving my stick is like guarding my mind. 

“Carefully guard your thoughts because they are the source of true life.” Proverbs 4:23 CEV

Do you carry a big stick and guard your thoughts too?

Love,

Julie

Stupid Days … Stupid Ways

You’re either going to understand this post, or you’re going to think I’m nuts.

Do you ever have days when your mind wanders–when you’re so preoccupied, you lose track of time and space and do a bunch of stupid stuff?

Please say yes.

That happened to me last week.

Tuesday morning, I made my husband’s lunch for work. He texted me with this picture. “Should there be something else here?”

That afternoon, I ran errands and forgot I’d left the water dripping on the ferns. I came home to a flooded front porch. Here’s the rug after it dried. Well, almost.

Later, I went to pick up clothes from the dry cleaners. I walked into the shop and everything looked different.

It was as though I’d entered The Twilight Zone.

I didn’t know where I was. Didn’t recognize the place.

I glanced to the left.

Okay, this is creepy.

A week earlier, I’d stood behind a black curtain in that very corner to put on a pair of pants.

I left them here to be hemmed.

Now there was no curtain.

Nothing looks familiar, but I can’t be crazy because I have a little green ticket to pick up my pants.

Standing in line it hit me.

I’d tried a new dry cleaners. And this wasn’t it.

I excused myself an ran out the door.

Three stupid things today, God. What’s going on?

It seemed His gentle Spirit said:

Slow down.

Focus.

You can lose your way spiritually too.

Sometimes Your mind leaves the Light of My Presence and takes off into dark places.

For you, those places are Fear and Doubt.

Stay close to me, child.

Guard your thoughts.

Maybe it wasn’t such a stupid day after all.

Can you relate?

Love,

Julie