Podcast #121- Finding Peace & Hope in the Storm (5:49)

Life is a great adventure with sunny days and stormy days. How do we connect with God’s Peace and Hope in every situation? That’s my “homework” right now, and here’s what I learned.

My husband has been recovering from a medical condition, and the process will take over a year at least.  While we’re on this path, there are ups and downs.  Some days are rougher than others.  Recently, he just went through some complications that took 2 weeks for him to recover.  I’m grateful that he’s doing quite well now, almost back to 100%.  But when we’re in the middle of this downturn, I was often exhausted, both physically and spiritually.   

Honestly, when you’re dealing with a serious life issue, any amount of self-reliance goes out the window.  We come face to face with our own limitations, and it hits you just how much of life is really out of our control. Faith and hope can feel very elusive during these times.   

So when we face hardships, how do we find our bearings?  How do we connect spiritually? How do we find encouragement?  These are the questions that came up for me, and I’ll share some things I learned this time around.  

Taking things one day at a time 

It’s very easy to feel discouraged in a season like this. Especially if the situation drags into weeks or months with no end in sight.  One night, I was lying on my bed simply exhausted. The Lord reminded me of Matthew chapter 11 where Jesus invited all who are tired and weary to come to him… That He is gentle and humble. As we give our burdens and cares to Him, we will find rest for our souls.  At that time, I was internalizing a lot of worry and concern, but I wasn’t conscious of it. I was kind of in a “survival mode” sort to speak… And when God reminded me of what Jesus said, I started to tell Him about what was troubling me. And one by one, I gave my burdens to Jesus in prayer.   And in return, I accepted and received His burden that is light.  At the end of my prayer, I felt much lighter, and had one of the best night sleep in a while.     

There is so much wisdom in not carrying stress or anything negative into the next day.  I found that taking things one day at a time was what really helped me not get burned out. In the morning, I rested in God’s mercies that are new every morning.  And at night, I gave my cares and negativity that have accumulating all day to Jesus.  As I received His peace, I slept better, felt more hopeful, and was refreshed next morning. 

Giving thanks for every step forward

And another key lesson I learned was to Give thanks for every step forward… no matter big or small. 

Our recovery process really felt like a roller coaster ride with lots of ups and downs. After a while, I felt kind of disappointed in the process because it took longer than I expected.  That was when God reminded me to give thanks through out my day. 

Thanksgiving has shifted me out of negativity and depression before.  And it was also a gamer changer for me this time. I started to thank God for every small signs of healing and restoration even when I felt down. Right away, I sensed a glimmer of hope and faith rise up in my heart. I started to feel hopeful again.   

Because we’re in the middle of this process, it’s easy to get too focused on the current problem, and forget the many things God has already done.  Thanksgiving not only helped me shift my focus onto the positive things God is doing, it also reminded me of how God took care of us in the past, and that He will continue to help us in this process. 

Looking back, I can see how God was leading me every step of the way.  There was always an encouraging word or promise everywhere I turned.  In my prayers, He was trying to help me change my focus… to shift from a grey and negative outlook to His perspective that is full of hope and joy.  And as I found out, hope and joy are powerful things. I felt more positive and hopeful throughout the day even though the circumstances still looked the same to me. Focusing on one day at a time, giving thanks, and learning to have a positive outlook really helped me not to only survive this season, but to come out feeling more encouraged. 

And that’s my podcast for this week. Working on this episode was really helpful for me to look back and remember what I learned.  I hope it’s also encouraging for all of you out there.  

Podcast #120- Receiving prayer and love for yourself (4:21)

God reminded me lately that I also need to drink in the love of God as I pray for others. And this is the perfect season to take a pause and just remember His deep love for us. Happy Easter!

I happened to finish this episode on Easter week.  This is the perfect season to open our hearts to receive the deep love of God. Here’s a quick update on what God showed me this week. Enjoy and have a blessed Easter. 

Recently, I’ve been praying for my parents. I have this crafted prayer written out for them, and I was praying for them pretty regularly.  And today when I was praying for them, God sort of reminded me that I can pray for myself in the same way.  And I thought that’s a pretty good idea.  Because I was praying for God to release peace and joy in my parents lives. And I certain can use a lot of peace and joy in my day too.  

And so I started to pray over myself “Michele, I just pray that the Lord will pour out joy and peace into your life today.”  And as soon as I said those words, I just totally choked up. I was so surprised.  That’s not the reaction I expected.  I had no idea how tired I’ve been, and how much I really needed that prayer for myself.  

I think for the last 2 years or so, I’ve been in this mode where I’m so focused on taking care of everybody else around me… that I forgot that I needed to take time out and take care of my own needs too. I’ve been in this task oriented mode. It’s funny because when I prayed over myself, suddenly, I stopped focusing on what I have to do.  I stopped being a “Martha” – if you know what I mean.  I opened up my heart to receive the prayers and all of these pent up frustrations just came pouring out.  

I think for many of us who are care takers by nature, we tend to focus a lot on other people.  So often times, we will ignore our own needs. And I’m grateful that today, God reminded me to just take a pause and pray over me. And that I deserve the kind of attention and care that I usually give to others. And that God also wants to give me His love and peace and joy. And that it’s important for me to stop doing, and just receive His loving kindness. 

And that reminds me of that great verse that we should love others as we love ourselves.  It’s not one or the other.  But that even as we love on other people, we should remember to also love ourselves too… To pour out and receive the love of God for ourselves.  

So I just wanted to share that quick note.  To share with all my listeners. To share with everybody out there today, in this season, please take some time for yourself.  Please do something nice for yourself. And if you’re used to caring for others or praying for others, please say a prayer for yourself, and embrace and enjoy and soak up that loving kindness of God. 

So I just wanted to say that and share it with everyone.  Just something that I learned and received from the Lord today.  And that’s just a quick update from me! 

As I mentioned before, I’ve been feeling a little worn out, so I took a little personal retreat earlier this year.  I am working the next series which hopefully will be coming out soon.  Thank you so much for listening.  Have a wonderful week, and we’ll chat with you next time. 

Podcast #119 – The Power of Our History With God (5:04)

Newer isn’t always better. Our spiritual history may actually help us get the breakthrough we’re looking for.

Welcome to the Sabbath Café Podcast.  You’re listening to episode #119 – the power of our history with God. 
 
I was sorting through some old notebooks the other day, and a note card fell out.  It was a crafted prayer I wrote about 5 years ago for my family.  I had tucked it away, and totally forgot it.   
 
 It was a small card, and filled up front and back with a prayer I wrote about a broken relationship.  At that time, it felt like the situation was never going to change. These relationships have been broken for years. Honestly, I didn’t know if my prayers were going to make any difference at that point.  Still, I remembered that no request is too small or insignificant to God. And sure enough, after praying this crafted prayer for about a year, a breakthrough happened!  God answered my prayers and reunited a family!  It was nothing short of a miracle.   
 
As I read it, I was amazed that most of my requests have been answered.  Changes didn’t happen overnight, but they did happen.  As I remembered how God made possible what I thought was impossible, my faith rose up.  Suddenly, all of the negativity I felt that week vanished. 
 
In our social media world, we’re always looking for the latest news and trends.  We rarely take the time to reflect on our past.  To be honest, I feel that my generation, me included, don’t really understand the value and purpose of history. I think that’s why I didn’t recognize the value and power of my own history with God. Our history with God is made up of all of the interactions and experiences between us and God. Every prayer He answers adds to that history.  When it comes to building up our faith and spiritual maturity, our history with God can be a powerful tool. 
 
History gives us perspective.  It shows us the big picture and reminds us that real change takes time.  It helps us to be patient and wait for God’s timing.  When we can’t see the hand of God at work, our history reminds us that God is indeed still working.  When we feel discouraged in the middle of the storm, it reminds us that our journey is not finished yet.  Every experience we have with God, whether big or small, adds to our faith. And every interaction we have with God brings our faith to the next step.  
 
When I feel anxious and fearful, these negative emotions can be so overwhelming that I feel paralyzed.  My mind jumps to the worst case scenario and I sink into a pit of negativity.  And that’s exactly what happened to me recently.  I felt the challenges I had were so big… so beyond me that I couldn’t muster up any faith to pray.  But when I found that prayer card, and remembered how God answered the prayers that I thought were impossible, my faith rose up.  I remembered that God is bigger than my challenges.  I remembered that despite my limitations, and my lack of faith, God really can do above and beyond what I can ask, think or imagine.  
 
Are you also facing a difficult situation lately?  Do you feel like you’re dealing with a giant in your life?  Maybe it’s time for you to take a break and remember how God has showed up for you in the past.   Push the pause button on your worries, and think about your own history with God.   If you keep a journal, this is the perfect time to take it out and read a few pages.  Not only will you remember God’s faithfulness to you, you’ll also be encouraged by how far you’ve come and how much you’ve grown in your own journey.  And you may even see that your current challenge is not as big as you thought.  God can and He will help you walk through it, just like He did before.  And you will come out of the storm amazed and transformed. 
 
And that’s our podcast for this week.  I’d like to wish everyone a very happy holiday season.  Thank you so much for listening.  Merry Christmas and we’ll see you in the new year! 

Podcast #118 – Just an ordinary day… (4:25)

In the social media world, we all like to share our best sides. But when God shows up, even mistakes or missed opportunities are turned into blessings. Here’s one of mine.

Hi everyone, this is Michele, and welcome to Sabbath Café. 

Most of the time, we like to share our “success stories”… Like when God answers our prayers or when life goes smoothly, and we live happily ever after!  Those times are great, but honestly, most of the time, life doesn’t work out that way.   Everyday life is messy.   Most of the time, it’s not so clear cut.  It’s not really black and white.  There are many shades of gray.  Often I don’t know if I’m hearing God or if it’s just my own thoughts.  But you know, that’s all just part of life. As I found out this week… even when I don’t get things quite right, God will still make it a beautiful experience. 

So this is what happened… 

One afternoon, I was out running errands. I was driving along, and just had this thought… maybe I should take a left turn instead of a right turn as I normally do.  And I just thought… taking a left turn would be… kind of out of my way.  I was in a hurry. And I was thinking, “Why?  That doesn’t make sense…  Maybe it’s just my own thoughts… My adventurous side chiming in…” Some time that happens.   And so I decided to ignore that, and kept driving along.  

Sure enough, not a minute later, I came to a dead stop in this bumper to bumper traffic on a local street.  Now it wasn’t really traffic hour…. so it was kind of weird why suddenly we’re kind of stuck.  And I can feel people getting annoyed.  I can feel the cars behind me getting impatient. Thankfully, I didn’t need to get somewhere at a certain time.  So I just settled down, and follow the traffic. And about a couple of blocks down, I saw the problem. The traffic light went out at an upcoming intersection.  Because it was out, every car had to stop – all 4 ways. And that’s what started the backup. 

And that’s when I realized “Wow, if I had made a left turn back then… I would have just completely avoided this.”  I even made a mental note to myself… that on my way back to take the other route… the longer route… so I can just bypass this whole mess. 

Now what’s interesting is… if I had taken that left turn earlier, I would have avoided all this. And I’d never know that this route had problems. I would’ve drove to my destination with no issues, and thought to myself… “That was kind of weird… Was that just my own idea?  What was that all about?”  Because everything would have gone pretty smoothly.  

It made me wonder… how often something like this have happened –where God was helping me out, and I had absolutely no idea. 

I tend to look for “signs” to see if God is involved in my life…. And when I have a normal day where nothing special happens, I used to feel like God was aloof and not interested.  But this whole experience showed me that God really is speaking… has been speaking… and is reaching out to me… even when I’m running errands, but I’m the one who didn’t see it. 

And I think God is also teaching me about how He interacts with me in real life.  It’s not a big deal to Him if I make a mistake.  Everything really can be a learning opportunity, and His grace is big enough to turn my every mistake into a blessing. 

So no matter what kind of week you’ve had, I hope you’ll also ask God to show you if He has any insights for you. He may turn your very ordinary day also into something extraordinary. 

And that’s our podcast for this week.  Thank you so much for listening.  Have a wonderful week, and we’ll chat next time. 

Podcast #117 Quick Update!

Hi everyone! Thanks for being patient. Life threw us a curve ball this last 6 months, so I’ve not been able to post here. Thankfully, things are settling down a bit, and I’ll be posting more podcasts and blogs here shortly. Here’s a mini-podcast to share a quick update with everyone.

Podcast #116 Finding Friendship (Finding Freedom part 3) (4:50) (File updated)

Here’s the conclusion of Finding Freedom series… As it turned out, I also found a great Friend in the process.

Part 1: Ep 114: Finding Freedom
Part 2: Ep 115: Freedom to Explore

Here’s the podcast transcript:

What I learned is that God wants to talk with me.  He loves the world, but He wants to connect with me, personally… And He wants me to get to know Him too.  

Because at the end of the day, the real purpose in developing this connection with God is learning how to do life with God.  It’s like having God as your… travel buddy.  It’s learning to relate to God and developing a friendship with God rather than just being a coworker with God… like I think a lot of us grew up with.    

I realized that in order for me to go deeper, I have to transition my relationship with God into a friendship.  Into understanding how that works because Jesus says “I no longer call you servants, I call you friends.”  So in your walk with God, there will probably come a point where it will transition.   There will come a point where Jesus will want to take you to that next level.  To relate also with you as friends. And that’s a whole different world, right there.  And so that’s what I love about my time with God.  It’s learning that there’s a freedom… an inner freedom.  An internal freedom that does not depend on your circumstances. That does not depend on whether I get to go to church or not because now the focus has shifted.  It’s shifted from what I do outside to learning how to be friends with Jesus.  

Honestly, the time we spend at church and with our Christian community is only a fraction of our lives.  If we only know how to relate to God when we’re focused on church life, then we’re missing out on the chance to experience God in all the other area of our lives… 

It’s learning to experience God in the day to day things.  It’s learning to see how God helps us to find solutions in the problems we face at work.  And how God shares His perspectives about the latest news headlines.  Even how He comforts and encourages us when we go through illness and difficulties.  

I think most of all, that’s what I love most about bringing God into my personal life. In a sense, God stepped off the pages of the Bible, and became real.  Even though I still can’t see Him or touch Him, but He’s become a closer friend than a real person can be for me.  He’s someone I can depend on, and someone I can confide in.  And someone who knows me so intimately, and yet is always on my side. 

And that’s why even though many of us are unable to gather with our church community during this season, I actually didn’t see that as a challenge. In fact, it has been a wonderful opportunity for me to press even deeper into the things of God.   

Now when I do get together with my friends, when I do get together in my community, that’s great.  But my growth, and my relationship with God… and the depth, and my maturity with God… does not depend on any of this external things anymore. And actually, it’s quite fun… me being able to just explore and go as fast as I can, and explore anything I’m curious about… so that’s been very exciting too.  I don’t really have to worry about what people think I should or shouldn’t do anymore.  That really doesn’t matter.  

I have the freedom to ask God any question that comes to mind.  And God is not going to be offended or shocked… because He already knows anyways. It’s a relief to know that He accepts me as I am… always. 

So no matter where you’re at in your life, it’s the perfect place and time to talk with God. He is always ready to meet you and I with a hug and some fun insights about your situation if you’re interested. 

I’m excited just thinking about the adventure God has in store for you. 

And that’s all we have for this week’s podcast.  Again, thank you so much for listening, and have a wonderful week.  See you next time. 

Mini-podcast: Any advice for yourself during quarantine? (Covid Reflections #3)

In this last part of our Covid Reflections minicasts, let’s think about what we’ve learned and see what wisdom or advice you’d like to share with yourself during quarantine.

This finishes up the Covid Reflection series. I will be starting a new series in the next episode. Stay tuned!

Podcast #107 Connecting with God in times of crisis

Like the rest of the world, we’ve been sheltering in place for over a week now. I felt tossed about in the storm, and overrun with fear. Where do I go from here?

Podcast #106 My Experience in Replacing Anxiety with Peace

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I started a simple 10 day program last year on learning to rest in God. A year later, I’m still working through the lessons. 😀 Decided to share some of my experiences here in podcast 6.  And you can download the free scripture worksheet here: Peace meditation worksheet.

 

Podcast #105 How my anxiety affected my perspectives

Pod-logo-aqua-square-3000x3000-medium-qtyThe title sounds really serious… but this podcast is really just about my latest silly, *facepalm* / “Homer Simpson” moment… I promise, it’ll make you feel much better about your day. 😉