A Piece of Mind vs A Peace of Mind

In a world where everyone wants to give you a piece of their mind, I know One who wants to give you peace of mind.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Matthew 11:28,29

Ever been so stressed that you toss and turn at night? Even in sleep, you can’t rest and your body outwardly expresses in unsatisfied movement the turmoil that you feel in your soul. Your soul consists of your mind (thoughts), your will and your emotions. When your soul isn’t restful, neither can your body rest. We have all been there, when you wake up tired in the morning because your body didn’t sleep peacefully but struggled to get rest during the night.

Personally, I’ve never lived in a time that is more unrestful than now. We are constantly told to be vigilant against something we cannot see and we are bombarded with images intended to place pressure on the world population.To add further stress, we are made to feel personally responsible for all that is wrong in the world.

Sound familiar? So when we cannot rest at work, rest at school, rest in our daily routine (which is constantly changing) or rest at home, where do we go for true rest? Many would turn to their regular means of coping with the circumstance around them. Let’s think about this for a moment. If your habitual way of finding rest is to eat (comfort food), or to drink (alcohol), or to escape through drugs (whether illicit or pharmaceutical), these things are harmful for you when done habitually and will cause you greater stress and anxiety. Even exercise, reading, playing a game, or working a puzzle, will only be a temporary reprieve because while you are ‘actively’ engaging in these things, you are not at rest.

I’ll ask you again, where do we go for true rest?

Do you know that the Bible deals with this exact question? God knew that the fall of mankind and subsequent separation from Him would rob us of peace because perfect peace is only found in Him. The book of Proverbs (3:5,6) in the Bible gives us instructions for how to have peace.

It says, “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart (all that you are). Don’t lean on your own understanding (of what is happening) but in every thing, look to and acknowledge Him (God, you know what I don’t know) and He will direct your path (show you what to do).” (Emphasis is mine.)

When we follow this instruction, it immediately gets our focus off of what is negative and our thoughts, will and emotions lift because we don’t have to sort through the plethora of information being thrown at us. Instead, we look to the One who KNOWS what is happening and we lean on Him, not on our own ability, strength or understanding.

Then what? Understanding this principle helps us get in a place of peace but we cannot maintain it for long by ourselves. Let’s look at another passage from the Bible. Philippians 4:6,7 gives us the second half of this spiritual principle of trusting God and finding perfect peace in Him. It tells us,  “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

Why Jesus Christ? Because it is through Him that we are reconciled and put back into relationship with God rather than being separated from Him. The confidence in the perfect peace we receive from God is that Jesus has overcome and through Him, we can, too. When your assurance is in Him, nothing the world can throw at you will get you out of that peace. It will guard your heart and mind from the harsh brokenness of the world, so that you can rest.

We maintain this rest by maintaining our connection to Jesus Christ. How? Through prayer. When we pray, we are simply talking to God. There is no formula or rules that apply. You talk to others about your concerns all the time. You even talk to yourself about what concerns you. Yet people think it is crazy to talk to God even though He invites us in His Word to come to Him with our worries and cares. The Amplified Bible puts it this way in 1 Peter 5:7; “casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully].” Wow! Do you hear this language? It’s personal. He cares for YOU.

My friend, there is nothing like the confidence and assurance you get in having a relationship with God. You may not know Him, but He knows you. You may not love Him, but He loves you. Talk to Him and you will find He is with you. You don’t have to be consumed with anxiety. If you allow Him, He will keep you in perfect peace as you set your attention on Him. (Isaiah 26:3) This has proved out in my own life.

Until next time, thank you for taking the time to read my blog and I pray these thoughts encourage and inspire you.

Rachel

Love Letters

I have loved you with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.

Jeremiah 31:3

Remember getting a letter in the mail? While there’s nothing wrong with text messaging and emails, they just don’t have the affect of a hand written letter. Do you remember, perhaps as a child, the excitement of receiving a letter? Maybe from a relative or a pen pal? Even more so, who remembers being a teenager and getting a love letter from someone interested in you? Or the butterflies in your stomach and giggles while reading it over and over with your best friend? Those memories bring a smile to my face and warmth to my heart.

Of course, as you grow up and mature, love letters become more meaningful, with a depth of love that causes your heart to race and emotions to soar. There is something exhilerating in the expression of love from someone who knows you fully and longs to be with you. It is a powerful thing to be known and loved, to be understood and cherished even when you don’t feel lovable. Especially when you receive that letter right when you need it the most. These amazing moments let you know that everything will be okay, because someone understands how you are feeling and is with you, whatever you encounter in life. It assures us that we are not alone.

We all have moments in life when we feel like no one understands or cares how we feel, but then something happens. You see or hear something that relates just to you and what you are going through and it tells you that God is with you, watching over you, and listening to you. I call these love letters from God. Things that could seem random at first but if you look closer, listen harder, you will find the fingerprints of God. A message from His heart to yours, telling you not to give up.

I love experiencing these love letter moments but I also enjoy being a part of them in someone else’s life. Recently, I had the privilege of having a way to bless someone with something they needed. The love letter from God wasn’t just about meeting the need of the woman, but was His way of showing that He knew she was feeling unloved, undervalued and alone. Me contacting her out of the blue, without knowing the circumstances she was dealing with, was a love letter from God with the message that He has never left her, that He sees her pain, her frustation, and her desperation. Not only did He supply a natural blessing but touched her heart, reminding her of His love and how He cares for her.

My friend, let me encourage you that in whatever you are dealing with in life, you are not alone. God is with you. He wants to show you in real, tangible ways just how much He loves you. The above scripture from the book of Jeremiah is a love letter from God. He loves you with an everlasting, unfailing love and is drawing you to Himself. If you haven’t responded to Him yet, you can. I urge you to speak to Him, invite Him into your life and then listen and watch as He reveals His amazing love for you.

Until next time,

Rachel

Still Standing

Photo credit: 206374699 © Mikhail KaminskiyDreamstime.com

“When the rains fell, and the flood came, with fierce winds beating against the house, it stood firm because of its strong foundation.”

Matthew 7:25

In uncertain times, we turn to the things which are foundational in our life to give us stability and hope. In times when unexpected and sudden changes happen to our world, we often find the things we daily cling to and surround ourselves with stripped away. When this happens, we either fall away also or hold fast to that which is deeper, stronger and more sure than we are ourselves.

2020 was a year that shook the world’s population in many ways. Not just the threat of the pandemic but the threat of losing our civil liberties as well. For some of the world, this was already a way of life. However, in most developed countries this was new. For many, it felt like our world and everything we knew was being shaken and tossed around, even torn away. We fought to maintain a sense of freedom and well-being. Every time we thought we had an ‘understanding’ about a situation, the situation changed again. 

These constant changes and disruptions to our lives began to cause us to look deeper, to determine what is truly important and identify what we cannot live without. The answers to that are as diverse as humanity is.  Many looked to their loved ones and held them close, others quickly worked to secure their financial well-being, while sadly others hoarded everything they could get their hands on in fear of not having enough. 

For us personally, our world changed dramatically. It felt like it came to a screeching stop since the bulk of what we do is travel (domestically and abroad), and be with people in large groups (indoors and outdoors). Suddenly what was ‘normal’ to us was stripped away and everything was different, forcing us to do life and ministry in a new way. These are the moments we cling to our foundation, to what is sure and unchanging. In the midst of the shaking and tossing, we stood firm in our belief that God loves us (1 John 4:19). God was with us (Psalm 145:18,19). He would not leave us or forsake us (Deut 31:6). He would protect us (Psalm 91:4). And He will provide for us (Phil 4:19). He was and is faithful to us and our children in all these ways. 

When you have a foundation of knowing the One who formed the worlds, who pulled you from the miry clay (Psalm 40:2) and set you upon a rock (Matthew 16:18), you will be safe in a world that is not. You will be secure in a world that is experiencing upheaval. You will have faith in a world ruled by fear. 

My friend, as we enter this new year, the storm may not be over. The changes and unexpected challenges are likely to continue. I pray that you will have a strong foundation in the One Who loves you most. He gave all when His Son came, died, and rose again so that you can know Him for yourself, without the separation of sin. He wants to show Himself strong in your life and hold you through the storm. I pray you will allow Him to be your foundation.

Love and blessing to you friend!

Rachel

They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.

Jeremiah 17:8

The Unwanted Visitor

“In Your light fear is banished from the darkest night.”

Rachel Macri

I don’t like spiders, yet I live in Australia, a country that has over 2,000 species of spiders and is home to the most dangerous spiders in the world. Living in a country such as this, I am aware of the potential danger and yet I don’t walk around constantly looking for spiders… which is why I have run into spider webs countless times! Yuck! When you’re a thick-hair girl it is a nightmare that comes with the inevitable question – “Where’s the spider?”

I have often had to shoo unwanted little creatures from the shower in order to use it. While I’m a ‘sharing is caring’ kind of person, I don’t like to share my shower with creepy crawlies. Recently, I was innocently going about my business preparing to take a shower, having removed my clothes in my closet and was walking to the ensuite when I was stopped in my tracks by an unwanted visitor in my bedroom!

I had not only taken my clothes off but my glasses as well (hello! tri-focals!) so this visitor was blurry but I KNEW what it was. Just looking at it caused every hair to stand up all over. I slowly crept around it, cringing as I went, desperately looking for something to ‘take care of it’. I found a good ‘ol Aussie thong (that’s a flip flop for you Americans, not the underwear) and crept back the other way in order to sneak up on it. We have spiders that JUMP in Australia! (Feel free to pause and shudder at the thought!) Pleased with myself for being so stealthy and not alerting it to my presence, I got as close as I dared and WHACK! I smashed my little black hair clip!

There I was in my birthday suit going to battle to protect myself from an inanimate object. I realized how ridiculous I looked and laughed until I cried (or maybe I cried in relief because it wasn’t a spider). As I went ahead and took a nice hot shower to still my nerves, I began to think about how past experiences with spiders determined my fear, anxiety and response in that moment. I began to think about how I had set aside the ‘help’ I depend on. Without my glasses I could not clearly interpret what I was seeing. The result was both foolish and embarrassing.

I think we all do this at times in our life. We allow past experiences to dictate our reaction to a present circumstance and we can end up looking pretty silly for allowing fear to control us. Fear can be tormenting and cause us to do things we wouldn’t normally do if we were being rational. (Fighting over toilet paper?) Fear drives rational thinking out of the window! Fear is not only based on past experiences but it pushes us a step further because it plays on what MIGHT happen. The ‘unknown’ factor. As I think back to the incident with the non-spider, I had to ask myself: “Why so extreme Rachel?” Sure, I’ve been bitten by a spider but have never gotten sick, been hospitalized or died from a spider bite. Thankfully! so the big question is: “What’s so scary then?” Uh…hmmm, I don’t know. Exactly! The unknown. The big ‘WHAT IF’.

Xenophobia is the irrational sense of fear that we experience about a person, group of persons, or a situation that is strange or foreign to us and we perceive as being dangerous. Or, the fear of ‘what if’. This type of fear dominates your imagination and plays on other fears (like arachniphobia – the fear of spiders). I believe the majority of the world’s popuation is battling this type of fear at this present time. There is so much ‘unkown’ that we are facing right now and people are reacting, and over-reacting, in fear of ‘what if’. The truth is that in every situation, we choose whether to give in to fear or not.

Do you know there are 365 scriptures that tell us to “fear not”, “do not fear”, or “don’t be afraid”? That’s one encouraging scripture dealing with fear for every day of the year. In 2 Timothy 1:7 it says that; “God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind.” Or the Amplified Bible says it more clearly this way; “God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgement and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].” Wow! This is good news. Simply put, we don’t have to be ruled by fear.

A sound mind determines that while I don’t know everything about a situation, I know that I can adhere to sound advice from those who have more information than I do. I can do things to protect myself and others. I can pray and give the burden of worry regarding the situation to God. I can read the promises of God in His Word and trust that they are true because He has proven them to me. I can hold onto peace and refuse to allow my imagination to run wild with improbable scenarios. This applies to all circumstances.

My friend, don’t allow fear to be the unwanted visitor in your home and make a fool of you. I hope that as you have read this it has both made you laugh and encouraged you. You don’t have to be afraid. If you struggle with fear and anxiety please contact me, I would like to help you overcome it. Here are two scriptures which I believe will help you and is something I have learned to dwell on every day.

Psalm 55:22 TPT

“So here’s what I’ve learned through it all: leave all your cares and anxieties at the feet of the Lord, and measureless grace will strengthen you.”

1 Peter 5:7 TPT

“Pour out all your worries and stress upon Him and leave them there for He always tenderly cares for you.”

Until next time,

Rachel

A sense of Home

“Home is that place that, when you go there, they have to take you in.”

Robert Frost

I don’t know if I completly agree with Mr Frost in the above quote. I would think it is not so much about having to take you in as them wanting to. I believe that humans naturally crave a sense of belonging, whether to a location, such as where they grew up, or to a person. It is that sense of belonging that we view as ‘home’. Psychologist Frank McAndrew Ph.D defined ‘home’ as “the place where you feel oriented in space and time; it is a predictable and secure place”. It is interesting to me that a person can feel “at home” in a place not connected to any prior experience. Maybe you have heard someone describe meeting a stranger and instantly feeling like they “had come home”. A sense of ‘home’ is not about a location but a feeling that you belong and are welcome there. 

As a parent, it was paramount to me to create a sense of ‘home’ for my children. I wanted them to know that they are unconditionally loved and secure despite our moving locations several times during their childhood, once being from one country to another. Initially, as a young mother, I stressed about it and thought my attempts inadequate because I was focusing on the physical home. As I matured as a mother, I realized that all the decor and toys (and later, electronics) that you give a child does not give them a sense of belonging, of being safe and cared for; a sense of self. I learned that it was my love, personal care, and affirmation of them that could give them that sense of well-being and security. 

I didn’t learn that from any parenting tips in magazines or online. I learned it by examining my own sense of ‘home’. What made me feel unconditionally loved, cared for, safe, valued, and most importantly, free to be me? I found all of that in my relationship with God. Knowing Him through His Word, I learned how much He loves me, sees me, knows me, and cares about what concerns me. He shows it in so many tangible ways that there is no doubt in me of His existence and His unending love for me. When I feel unsure of myself or that I’ve failed, He doesn’t berate me but actually draws me closer to Him than when I’m doing good. He is my comfort and peace. He is my fortress, my place of safety and rest. He’s my ‘home’. Because of this, I can live anywhere in the world and still feel I’m ‘home’ because He is always with me.

As a parent, I have tried to live that example for my children. I want them to know that it’s not any location or physical dwelling place but in my arms that they will always find ‘home’. I knew that if they understand that example in me and their father, they would recognise it in God. Our oldest daughter lives an exciting life, traveling the globe and telling people about Jesus, as well as doing humanitarian work to improve living conditions for others. We were used to not seeing her for several weeks at a time while she was training and travelling. Then last year she moved from Australia to the USA and we all began to understand how the huge distance would impact us. Twice, we have been blessed to see her and spend time together. The best parts of those visits were the prolonged hugs and deep conversations. It is the reality of a loving, authentic relationship that gives us a sense of ‘home’. That’s the relationship God wants to have with us.

I realize that I am not God. (Thank God!) So I cannot be God to my children, or anyone else. I can, however, point the way to Him. I have taught and encouraged my children to know Him as I do. I can confidently say that they do. I see it. I hear it on their lips when they speak of Him and to Him; as they pray. This gives me such a deep assurance that whatever they encounter in life, it will be well with them. They know the One who will never leave or forsake them. 

Friend, I hope you know a sense of home. If you don’t have a relationship with God and you would like to, you can. Please contact me, I’d love to talk with you further about it. Wherever you find ‘home’, I hope you know how valued, how loved, and how precious you truly are. In the comments, please share where your sense of ‘home’ is. There’s no wrong answer and I’d love to hear from you! 

Thank you for spending time with me today. Let’s visit again soon! 

Rachel

P.S. If you are interested, I hope the following scriptures will encourage you!

Jeremiah 31:3

I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.

Psalm 91:2

He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.

Psalm 62:5-8

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.
My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. Trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.

The Journey Begins

Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Welcome to my house…

Welcome to my blog! I truly hope you find wisdom, laughter, strength and love as I share the endless things in my heart with you. Have you ever had someone come to your mind suddenly and you find yourself wanting to send them a message to encourage them or let them know how you value them? That is my sincere desire for this blog space: that those who find it feel a sense of ‘home’, knowing that they are loved and wanted here.

I welcome you here just as you would be welcome in my home, so kick your shoes off and let’s chat about good things that stir the soul and inspire us to be better people and a positive influence in our world. The beautiful thing about getting older year by year is that we gain so much wisdom and insight into life and we all have so much we’ve learned that we need to share with others. Here’s a little about my life to help you know me a little better.

I’ve lived for 47 years on this beautiful earth in 2 countries, in 7 cities, married to the same man for 27 years, have 3 incredible children, 2 grown up and 1 still in high school. I have 20 years of ministry experience in 4 countries, another 10 if you count every area I worked in growing up as a pastor’s kid. (All the PK’s shout ‘Amen!’)

I love God and know Him as my Father and His Word is my greatest treasure. I love Jesus and simply wouldn’t be me without Him. I love the Holy Spirit and am in awe of how He teaches and guides me. And last but never least, I love you! “What? How can you love a total stranger?” I’m glad you asked! I love you because you are created by God and a part of His grand design for all things. He brought you to this space to be loved, encouraged, strengthened and inspired. I’m so glad you’re here! You don’t have to be perfect, look perfect, have it all together and don’t have to hold it all together. You are amongst friends and this is a place to be real, to be human, to be you. We have lots to talk about!

Come back soon!

Rachel