Saturday, September 10, 2016

Finding Joy When We Feel Stuck

Have you ever been in a season of life when you just feel stuck?  The rent goes up but your paycheck doesn't. The progress you've made paying down debt or saving for a rainy day is suddenly reversed because of repairs to the clunker you drive in order to avoid a car note. You may have a job you love but you wonder if that is all there is or if there is something more you should be doing with your life. Everything in you wants to hop in the car and drive until your problems are far behind you and you can breathe. Trouble is, you eventually have to go back home and face them all over again.

So how do we find joy when we feel stuck? How do we find the strength to stay in our circumstances when all we want to do is run away from them?

Sometimes we do whatever feels good at the moment -- drink or medicate ourselves to numb the pain, engage in a little retail therapy, or book a vacation we may desperately need but cannot afford. I've done all those things and can tell you that they do not work. The buzz eventually wears off and leaves you with a hangover. The bill comes for that new outfit or that dream vacation, resulting in regret and futility as you pay for that quick fix over many months, or even years.

So, what's the good news? How DO we cope with the "stuck" seasons of life and maintain our joy in the midst of them?

First of all, you acknowledge your hurt and have a good cry. Life is hard and sometimes you need to boo hoo a little to relieve the pressure. That's ok. God totally understands, but he doesn't want you to linger in self-pity. Pour out your heart to him and let him dry your tears. He craves honesty from you. You don't have to be brave. He wants you to come to him. Being a rock is not your job. It is his. Let him be your refuge and strong tower.

Second, start counting your blessings. Thank him that your troubles are not as bad as someone else's. You don't have to think hard to know there are others in far worse shape than you are. Thank him for your salvation and his sufficiency (2 Corinthians 12:9). He's got this! That, in itself, is the biggest blessing of all.

Thank him for his provision for your daily needs and stop stressing over the future. He promises that he will supply all your needs according to his riches (Philippians 4:19) and that he will take care of you one day at a time (Matthew 6:25-34).

Still feel like you can't breathe after all this? Then walk outside and look around you at all the beauty he has created. Thank him for eyes to see and ears to hear all that surrounds you. Take a walk and thank him for legs that can move you as you exercise to relieve the tension you feel.

Problems are a part of life. God never said it would be easy. Rather, he said we are to "count it all joy" (James 1:2-18).

This life is not all there is. You may feel stuck today but you will not be forever. And you are never stuck alone. The God who loves you is right beside you.

"Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace" (Helen Howarth Lemmel).

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Hello, Old Friend

It's been awhile since I've blogged on this site. So much has happened the past few months that I have hardly had time to process it all and to derive any profound spiritual truth that you don't already know. The seasons of life that have been the hardest for me have yielded the devotionals I have posted on this blog the past several years. Right now I am happy to report that I am in a season of life that is peaceful for the most part. I have my challenges, certainly, but things are pretty much on an even keel.

Do I still need God?  Yes, absolutely every day. I can't imagine waking up and starting each day without knowing that he will be with me every step of the way.  In this present season of joy I am storing up treasures in heaven against that day when adversity will strike again and I will desperately cry out to him for mercy. I still spend time in his Word daily and talk with him as I walk each morning. It is the best part of my day!

Some have asked when I plan to publish my next devotional book but I'm not sure there will be another one. Every time I write a devotional it seems a repeat of something I have said before. Sure, God can still use the devotional thoughts I share, even when I repeat myself, but my next book -- if there even is a next book -- will be something different altogether. If you are seeking a devotional on a special topic, click the search window on this blog and you may find something of benefit.

God is moving me in a different direction these days. My heart, now more than ever, is inclined to serve him, but as an advocate for animals and more compassionate and environmentally-conscious living. A lot of Christians wonder how veganism can be compatible with my Christian faith, especially since the Bible is full of passages concerning the provision of animals for food and clothing. I'll not address that here, but I invite you to visit my vegan blog for more on my vegan journey and the work Joy and I are doing to improve the quality of life for animals and to promote a plant-strong lifestyle that will benefit our health and help our environment.

I will continue posting here as God leads and inspires, so I hope you will check back from time to time to set what is new.  Until then, know that each and every day God loves you and I am praying for you.

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Coincidence or Providence?

"The God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd. . . even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight.” (Hebrews 13:20-21, NASB)
Have you ever had a passion to do something but you weren't quite sure how to go about it? Perhaps you sought advice from a friend or did research on the internet to find information and opportunities to get involved. Or maybe you prayed for God to show you an open door and guide your steps as you embarked on a new journey.

Recently I found myself in the freezer section of Kroger talking to a stranger about my life as a new vegan, all because I decided to wear a particular t-shirt that day. The t-shirt started a conversation, which led to the opportunity to meet a group of fellow vegans and animal advocates and participate in a peaceful protest which I would not have known about otherwise. A happy coincidence?  Not at all, but rather God's answer to my prayers for his guidance and an open door.

In response to that peaceful protest and its impact on me I wrote a letter to a pig named Ziggy. As silly as that seemed at the time, my decision to tell of my experience in that way was no mere coincidence. The letter generated a lot of interest and gave us -- Ziggy and me -- the opportunity to share some very important information that can do a world of good for animals and humans alike. The letter was God-inspired and opened the way for more opportunities to do what God has laid on my heart -- working to promote plant-based nutrition and end animal abuse and slaughter.

These "coincidences" are answers to my prayers, and opportunities that I believe have been divinely appointed.  As I continue to study God's Word and talk with him each day, giving him permission to have his way in my life, I never cease to be amazed at the wonderful ways he orchestrates events and opportunities to do what he has called and equipped me to do.  To God be the glory!

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Remind Me, Lord

Remind me, Lord, of how it is you came to love me so.
When heartaches come, remind me, Lord, that they will also go.
I need not fear when you are near; remind me, Lord, that I
Can do all things through your great strength -- your strength alone, not mine.
When things are hard, remind me, Lord, you never promised me
A life of ease. Instead Your Word says,in effect, "There will be days like these."
My joy seems often to take wing and fly to lands afar,
Then I'm reminded quietly that joy is where You are.
Remind me how I see myself is often different than
The way you see me, as Your child, through eyes of God, not man.
When I am prone to criticize myself for feeling blue
Please lift my chin and whisper that these lies are not from you.
Remind me, Lord, that there is so much more to life than me.
Help me to change my point of view 'til You are all I see.
Remind me of the blessings, Lord, that at my feet are laid --
Oh may I bring into Your courts my sacrifice of praise!
Remind me, Lord, of how it is you came to love me so.
Repair my broken places, Lord, and fill me with your joy!

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

This Side of Heaven

There are things we may never know this side of heaven, such as the impact of our words, thoughts and deeds on others.  We may never know the lives we touched simply by following our purpose. We may never see the success of someone else who watched us fail.  We may never know.

We may write books for the masses and sell only a few.  We may stand for a cause and wonder if our choice to stand will even matter.

We may pray for those who are lost, broken, or discouraged and wonder if they will ever find their way or see the light at the end of the tunnel. Will the hungry ever be filled and the poor ever be made rich?  We may never know.

Is not knowing a reason to quit? A prayer unanswered, a reason to stop praying?

What is the passion that drives you?  Is it enough to continue living for that cause, knowing that you may never see results this side of heaven? Sometimes I wonder. Sometimes I grow weary and am tempted to quit reaching out because the effort seems futile.

At the end of the day the only thing that matters is being true to ourselves and to the calling God has placed on our lives, because when we reach heaven's gate we will know. We will see the lives that were changed and we will know that our passion mattered to the One who instilled it in us. We will know because He will say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord."

Press on, beloved soldier. Your battle is not in vain. Your scars are not invisible. Your failures are not your defeat. He who has called you is faithful. He sees your heart. He will reward you for your effort.

Live each day for God alone and you will know that what you did for Him mattered -- this side of heaven.

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Privilege of Suffering

Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18, NIV)

Most of us understand what suffering is.  We live in a fallen world where the evil hearts of men cause undue suffering for innocent people.  We lose loved ones.  Our resources dry up long before our needs are satisfied.  Our health declines.  We suffer.

But have we considered that sometimes it is a privilege to suffer?  Sometimes God allows suffering in order to refine us, to draw us closer to him, and to serve as a testimony of his grace to those who desperately need it.

When I look back on the most painful seasons of my life it is there that I see God's hand most clearly.  The broken relationships I have suffered have caused me to truly understand just how faithful he is.  The financial hardships I have suffered along the way have been opportunities for him to provide in miraculous ways.  Change -- as difficult as it often is -- has become an adventure and the chance to discover God's will and ways are higher than mine.

If your present season is one of hardship or suffering, I pray God will reveal himself to you in a profound way.  I pray that you will have faith to praise him even though your circumstances are difficult.  I pray that he will make a way for you, calm the rough seas of adversity, and use your experience to help someone else through theirs (2 Corinthians 1:4).

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Stewardship: It's Not JUST About Money!

Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.  Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.  Watch your life and doctrine closely.  Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers (1 Timothy 4:14-16, NIV).

Many of us grew up in church, where we were taught to be good stewards and to tithe our financial resources.  But stewardship is not just about money.

According to Merriam-Webster, stewardship is defined as "the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially : the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care."  That would include not only such tangible things as our homes and automobiles, but also our time, talents, and our own health.  The desire to become better stewards in every aspect of our lives is one of many reasons my daughter Joy and I decided to become vegans and launch a website to encourage and educate others who might consider adopting a healthier and more humane way of living.

As Christians, we give financially because we care for others and desire to make a tangible difference in the lives of those in need.  As vegans who love our family and friends, the earth, and the animals who occupy it with us, Joy and I are committed to sharing the knowledge we are learning on this journey so that others can reap the health benefits and understand that there are things we can all do to be better stewards of the earth God has created for us to enjoy.

God calls us each to make a difference by the way we live, and I believe he gives us each passions, gifts, and abilities so that we can. What is your passion, and what are you doing with it?  If you don't know your purpose or calling, ask God to show you.  The clock is ticking for all of us, but if we live each day with passion, purpose, and grace we can have a significant impact on those who may not know Christ.

May God bless you as you become a better steward of ALL that he has given you!

Copyright © 2016 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved.