Honestly with Sheila Walsh

Honestly with Sheila Walsh

A Thankful Heart

posted by Sheila Walsh

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15

Dear Friends,

If I am in my car sometimes between noon and two o’clock, I listen to a particular talk radio program where people call in for advice and counsel. Some days I cringe when I hear the caller lay out a situation, because the host’s main concern is not to win popularity contests but to speak the truth, however painful that may be to hear. And at times the truth is fairly brutal.

I was driving to school one day to pick Christian up and I tuned in to the show. The woman caller was very upset at her stepmother who had never lived up to the daughter’s expectations of what a mother should be. The caller had never known her own mother, and for thirty years she had allowed herself to be wounded over and over when her new “mom” didn’t measure up.

I felt real sympathy for this woman. There are so many things in life that are just not fair. Life seems random and cruel to many people who are rejected over and over again.

The host didn’t appear to share my sympathy. And I was struck by her simple message that has enormous potential to impact our lives. I’m paraphrasing a little, but she said something like this:

You have a choice. You can spend your life being angry at what you did not get out of life or you can count your blessings for what you have.

I thought about what she said for some time. We all have losses in our lives. But if we choose to feast on them every day, they numb our souls to all the good that God pours out on us every day. I still miss my dad. I would love to have grown up with a father. I would love to have been able to talk to him about men, to tell him when I was afraid, to have him tell me that I was beautiful, but he died when I was a child. Sometimes at school functions I would look at other fathers and wish that I was at my dad’s side. I could have spent the rest of my life regretting that or blaming my poor choices or lack of courage on the fact that I lost my father, but the flip side has much more to offer. I have a wonderful mother, who was there for me in ways that my friends with two parents didn’t always experience.

We can choose to remain in a “stuck” place regretting what is not, or we can become alive and fully awake to what is good and true about our lives.

That evening, as I took our dogs for a long walk, I watched the sunset over our lake as I reflected on the day. I thought again that sometimes we don’t notice what we have in our own backyards because it doesn’t look like we think it should. I’m sure your childhood was not perfect. Maybe your loss or anger involves your dad or your husband or your wife or your stepson or yourself. Sometimes we are so aware of what is not there that we miss what we have. Yet the very act of being grateful for what we do have multiplies our gratitude and opens our eyes so that we see that we have even more than we thought we had at the start.

Can a grateful heart change our actions and our relationships? The woman who called the radio show will never have the mother of her dreams, but I propose that by loving her mother and encouraging her and being the kind of daughter she herself would like to have, the caller might see the step mom blossom. Yet even if that does not happen, it is the right thing to do, to choose to act with a grateful heart. Cultivating gratitude removes us from being victims to being free to love and act as we are called to do.

In his letter to the Colossians, Paul encouraged the church to let the peace of Christ rule in their hearts. I believe that living with a thankful heart is a large part of that process. Waking the soul is more than a one-time conversion. It is a daily turning from what is destructive to what is Christ like.

 

If this sounds too Pollyanna-like for you, let me remind you of several things that are true for those who follow after Christ:

1. God loves you more than you will ever comprehend on this earth.

2. Christ has already paid for your sins. Your bill is paid in full.

3. Your eternal home is secure with him in heaven.

4. There will come a day when every tear will be wiped away and every heart be made new.

5. You are not alone, for Christ is with you every moment of every day.

6. You are a child of the King of Kings. That is your eternal identity.

I know that life can be hard sometimes, and I encourage you to take time to grieve your losses. But do not be defined by them. Use them by the grace and strength of God as stepping-stones to a deeper life, a life of peace, a life lived with a thankful heart.

Dear Lord,
Thank you that you love me.
Thank you that my home is secure with you for eternity.
Thank you that because of you I am never alone.
Thank you.

Amen.

With love,

Sheila

 

Check back on Monday’s and Thursday’s for new posts from Sheila.

Let Go and Let God

posted by Sheila Walsh

Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

What a promise! This is an all-inclusive verse. Do not worry about ANYTHING.

 

Don’t worry about the car payments, the house payments, the economy, your job or your health. Whatever is in your heart and mind, bring it to the Lord in prayer and in petition and do it with thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is such an important part of the process because it speaks to trust and confidence.

When we take our prayer requests to God and then continue to worry, it is as if we are saying, “Thanks so much for stopping to listen to me, but I’m not so sure you can help.” In our soul we sense the dissonance in that line of thinking. We believe that God is able to do what He says He will do. Why then is it so difficult to rest in this promise that Paul brings before the church of Philippi? Don’t be anxious about anything!

I think our need for control interferes with our trust in God. Joy and control do not make good roommates. I struggle with this daily. I’ve always found it hard to delegate. I figure if I do something myself then I know it will be done and done the way I think it should be. This spills over into my relationship with Christ. Doing makes me feel as if progress is being made. But that’s not necessarily so.

I have faced a number of situations that lacked closure. I see clearly that I have two choices. I can bring these to God and then spend the rest of the day trying to figure out how I can “make things happen”. Or I can bring my requests before God’s throne of grace with a prayer of thanksgiving and confidence in Him and wait in the Lord. The real difference is what happens in me after my initial prayer. If I make the first choice, I continue to worry and fret over the outcome. If I take the second route, the way by which Paul exhorts us to live, I come to an awesome promise. “The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

What a gift. The Word of God could not be clearer here. If we will relinquish control of our lives and place our trust in God with absolute confidence, the peace of God, which is beyond human understanding, will cover us, protecting our hearts and minds.

 

This is “true joy”! Joy that G.K. Chesterton called “the giant secret of the Christian.”

 

Let go and trust Him today!

 

Sheila

 

Check back on Monday’s and Thursday’s for new posts from Sheila.

Place Your Hope in God!

posted by Sheila Walsh

“Do not look forward to the changes and chances of this life in fear; rather look to them with full hope that, as they arise, God, whose you are, will deliver you out of them. He is your Keeper. He has kept you hitherto. Hold fast to his dear hand, and he will lead you safely through all things; and, when you cannot stand, he will bear you in his arms.”
Saint Frances of Sales

Dear Friends,

I have been thinking a lot about hope recently. Hope for a believer is a very different experience than for someone who does not acknowledge the Lordship of Christ and hope is only as strong as the person or object it is directed towards. It has no value of its own. I can say that “I hope this diet is more effective than the last fifty-three I tried” but as the problem is me and not the diet, it’s not looking good! When we place our hope in God our Father, however, we are placing our hope in someone who has never and will never fail us.

This doesn’t mean, as you well know, that life will always be easy. In his letter to the Church in Rome, Paul talked about the role of the hard stuff of life in fine-tuning our hope.

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
Romans 5:1-5 (NKJV)

So what do we hold onto when life is difficult and no help seems to be at hand? What do we do when we pray very specifically for something and see no answer? In these moments we hold on to what we cannot see which, by faith, we know is more real than what we can see with our human eyes.

We hold onto the truth that God loves us and is watching over us.
We hold onto the promise that God will make everything work together for good to those who are the called, according to his purposes.
We come to our Father daily for the grace that He has made available for that day.
We lift our eyes and our hearts and by faith we worship. We remember that no matter how difficult this journey might get at times, because of Jesus-THIS ENDS WELL FOR US!

I pray that God will fill your heart with hope today.

You are loved,
Sheila

 

Check back on Monday’s and Thursday’s for new posts from Sheila.

Welcome!

posted by Sheila Walsh

A friend asked me a couple of years ago if I blogged and I looked at her with the blank stare of the uninitiated. There are words that have today become the cornerstones of our pop culture that had no meaning at all five or ten years ago. Most of them have to do with methods of connecting or communicating and that fact in itself speaks volumes. The world that we live in is a vastly different place than the world our parents grew up in.

 

I have just returned from a trip to Scotland to celebrate my Mom’s eightieth birthday. She lives in the same small town where she was born. She is a member of the same small church where her mother, her grandmother and her great grandmother were members. She is connected in many deep and meaningful ways to her community and culture. She can tell me the name of almost every child she went to school with and what career and family choices they made. The tapestry of her life is rich and vibrant.

 

Many of my generation tell a different story. We went away to college and then relocated across the country or world depending on career or calling. We have a lot of ‘stuff’ that previous generations would not have known to dream of but beneath it all we still long for connection, to know that we are not alone in this journey.

 

If I had to define my life’s passion in one sentence it would be this-To live every moment in the love of God and be a channel of his love to others.

 

So that’s what my blog will be about-moments of seeing God in unexpected places, moments of unexpected grace amidst the questions and challenges of life. I don’t know where you are in your journey as you read this but if you will allow me to lay the first piece of the jigsaw puzzle of faith on the table it would be this simple truth, God loves you, right now, as you are, he loves you…to be continued!

 

Sheila

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