Good Thoughts – Good Memories ~ in 2020

2020 photo

What Are You Thinking On?

My mother had severe juvenile diabetes (type 1) in a time when the disease was a death sentence and insulin was a very new medical treatment. She grew up in the Ukrainian immigrant community where, at that time, there was tremendous fear of injections. My grandparents bravely decided that she should have insulin and she lived. Not only did she live, she married my father, had two children, and had a life. However, she was an exceedingly negative person all of her life. As a child, I didn’t understand her struggle, and I found her constant negativity painful. Despite my mother’s untreated chronic depression, she was a decent and ethical person who tried really hard to live her life and have a family. I understand that now, as an adult and how I think of her has changed a great deal. I now see her in a much more positive light without denying her faults.

My father was pragmatic, unemotional, bookish, and often withdrawn. But he could be very funny and for me that was some relief from the darkness of talking about every thing that was wrong or was about to go wrong.

I took after my dad in a lot of ways. I found refuge in books, and I’d make a joke out of whatever was upsetting and dysfunctional. That was when I was around other people. In private, I was more like my mom, focused excessively on the painful and the negative.

It wasn’t until my mid-forties that I first heard teaching on renewing of the mind and the importance of focusing on the lovely and the good. And by that time, I had  focused on the unlovely, the broken, and the sad so much, that I hardly had any good memories from my childhood, and even from my adult life. They’d all been overshadowed and buried by my rehashing of all the dark and negative moments.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. ~ Philippians 4:8, New American Standard Bible [NASB]

I married a man whose family was even more dysfunctional than mine…if that is even possible. My own immediate family and my extended family had PhDs in negativity. (See, I am still able to make a joke out of the gruesome.)

Well, one day there was great turmoil in my husband’s family. A lot of yelling in the kitchen and people running in and out of the house. So, I went into the living room and started surfing channels on the TV just to block the chaos out. It was a Sunday and I clicked onto this petite blonde lady standing behind a podium. Gloria Copeland. I thought she was preaching, but she is much more a teacher than a preacher. She was no-nonsense positive. Positive that God is a good God, is a healing God, is a loving God. She was intelligent, logical, and didn’t have big hair. That sealed it for me, and by the end of the program, I put my hands on the TV and got saved.

I am aware of true ‘Christian’ positive-thinking that first manifested itself in the 1950s, and that is good. But what I’m talking about is deeper.  It is a real and abiding belief that the power of the Word as written in the Bible is transformative and healing. It is the belief in the supernatural power of God’s living Word. I have to point out here that God’s Word in the Bible is not magical, not hokus-pokus, nor abracadabra. It is the belief that if the living Word gets deep-down within the heart and soul of the believer, it will start to heal those hidden, broken places.

Note: God’s Word in the Holy Bible has structure, context, and order. The Word of God can’t be ripped out of the Bible and thrown around as a quick affirmation for selfish purposes. Any phrase we wish to speak over our situation has to be understood in terms of what came before and after it in the chapter (and even in other chapters and in other books of the Bible). The Bible is a cohesive whole, pointing to and proclaiming Jesus as the Christ, the Anointed One, the Savior.

That said, if you want to get rid of darkness and negativity in your life…if you want to start making some good memories, a good place to start is the Philippians 4 Scripture noted above. Take it apart and on purpose (even if you have to force yourself) start to focus on what is:

  • True
  • Honorable
  • Right
  • Pure
  • Lovely
  • Of Good Repute
  • Having or Striving for Excellence
  • Worthy of Praise

 

My Bad Dream ~ demonic or just repeating pizza

 

woman-aloneThis morning I awoke half in a crazy dream state.

I was standing alone in some utilitarian building holding a framed photo of my mother, staring at it. Then the scene changed and I was homeless, on the street. Then it changed again and I’d been committed to an antiseptic mental hospital where I was questioned by sympathetic doctors in white coats.

I startled awake and said aloud, “Devil, you will not have my mind. As Jesus is in heaven, so am I in this world.” This, being my version of 1 John 4:17. I was amazed at how quickly I became free of any fear of this dream. Remembering dreams is kinda of new for me. For years I claimed I didn’t dream. However, dreaming and remembering them, or snatches of them, isn’t uncommon lately.

Was this dream demonic, or just bad pizza acting up. Well, I hadn’t had any pizza or any spicy food. My evening had been routine before going to sleep. So, I said to myself, “Self, this definitely is not of God.”

But was that true? I don’t have a photo of my parents hanging in my new home in Florida, and I’ve been here almost two years. It’s been on my heart to have an 8X10 of them in a golden frame. There was a beautiful photo of them at some senior affair. My dad held a glass of wine and my mom a glass of seltzer. They were smiling and radiant, having a good time. My sister-in-law, an amazing woman who I love dearly, does beautiful paintings from photos. She offered to do a painting from it, then somehow lost the photo.

I don’t have any digital photos of my parents, they passed a while back, which belies my claim that I’m still 39…but that would be quite another blog article.

Emil Navor WWII
Sgt Emil Navor WWII Pacific Arena

My cousin sent me a photo he digitized of my dad from WWII and of my mom’s immediate family, also from that era. I have photo albums I’ll have to go through to find one of them I can have enlarged. This is the God part. I should get going, find a photo to enlarge, and give it a place of honor in my home in a golden frame.

Grandma, Grandpa, Family
Helen Novogrodsky Navor,  1st row, 2nd from right

It’s quite interesting how “the dark side” lurks in the subconscious mind, twisting, and adding guilt and fear.

It’s also amazing how easily fear and guilt can be dispelled with the Word of God. Poof, it’s gone.

 

 

 

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FEAR HAS A NAME by Creston Mapes ~ tackling my ‘to read list’

Fear Has A Name

Psychological thriller, FEAR HAS A NAME, pulls together several threads, each with its own angst. There surely is no lack of emotional apprehension in this story, and some unsettling moments

The violent home invasion by a husky man dressed in black forces Pamela Crittendon to flee, with her two young daughters, to a neighbor’s house. Author Creston Mapes delves into the interior of his character’s psyches in a compelling manner. This attack upon their home forces Pamela to fight her tendency toward slipping into fearful agitation (passed down by her fear and anxiety ridden mother).  The author tends to drop things in at the end, and he thereby allows the daughter to discover why her mother is so fear ridden and it brings Pamela closer to her mom.

Reporter Jack Crittendon is writing a series of articles on a missing pastor who left what might be a bogus suicide note. The attack on Jack’s wife and daughters brings back “the old Jack,” the violent side he thought he’d buried. The missing pastor, secondary plotline has its own well developed characters. This sub-story keeps Jack busy on his job at the newspaper, allowing Pamela to deal with scary things on her own, as Jack’s rage increases toward the husky man.  Jack becomes even more unhinged when he’s accused of collecting and distributing child pornography. There were two places that stretched my believably. One was the police investigation of these pornography charges. The police explained too much and just plain talked conversationally way too much to the accused. And two, it was predictable that Pamela would flee to her mother’s house, which puts her on a collision course with danger. These are minor issues in what is a well written psychological study couched in a thriller. This is a good independently published read with a powerful spiritual message.

Overcoming the Fear Factor in a Dangerous World

Barbed Wire
Courtesy of FreeImages by ilco

 

It seems the world is more dangerous than it’s ever been. ISIS is beheading and burning people. Boko Haram has been busy kidnapping school girls. In fact, the Middle East seems as if it’s about to explode. We are warned of the threat of nuclear expansion to ominous and to unstable countries. Then there’s Ebola, not always in the news, but still destroying lives.

 
As far as America’s own national security we keep hearing disturbing things. Internal threats and homegrown terrorists. Protests that turn into riots. Porous borders. Our system of banking on the verge of total collapse.

 

Even in our own city, village, or neighborhood we face drive-by shootings, muggings, and even something as unthinkable as the sex-slave trade going on in the seedy part of town, or the not so seedy part of town.

 

What should we do? Some are stocking up on food, firearms, and ammunition, as well as subscribing to survivalist magazines. Those with the means, install high tech security systems. Others simply isolate themselves behind barred windows and multi-locked doors. They have become afraid. Fear is dominating their lives.

 
What is fear? You might say that it’s an emotion. I’d disagree. Fear itself is not a feeling. It is a spiritual force. And even the most intellectual, scientific, psychological- minded people know that on a visceral level. If you were in an airplane with severe engine trouble and someone in the next seat said, “The fear in here is so thick you can almost touch it,” you’d agree. The same would be true if you happened to be in a bank during an armed robbery. The fear would be palpable.

 
Though fear is a force, it can and does affect our emotions and in many instances can cripple individual lives. Yet many have absolutely no anxiety about the threats of this world. These are believers who have moved past fear and into the Lord’s promise of peace, protection, and blessing

 

Hebrews 13: 5a-6 [NASB] ~ for He Himself has said, I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU; NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU.” So that we confidently say, THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?

 
When I look at this Scripture I see what the Lord has said, but there’s another part. I see that we are supposed to say something. I’m supposed to say: The Lord helps me and I’m not afraid of what man can do on this earth to me. It plainly tells me to say that. Not only to read it, no just think it, but to say it aloud.

 
What we say, shapes our feelings, especially what we say about ourselves. If I ever catch myself saying about some event, perhaps on the news, “That’s so scary.” I immediately say to myself out loud, “Quit that fear talk.”

 
In fact, I talk to the news reports. I even point a finger at the TV and shake it. I really do, and as a recovering news junkie, it makes them less powerful in my life. If there’s a report on the news about anxiety on the increase in the nation as well as an increase in pill popping to cope with it, I say, “Not in my house! Not in my life!” But that wasn’t always so. At one point, a few years ago, I had great anxiety. Things were going hay-wire in my life and I found I could not cope with the destructive actions of some people in my life. But I literally talked myself out of that situation. Words have power, after all. I began saying words of power and faith. Of course the words I choose to say come from the Bible. If God said the words first, there’s more power in them than in something I make up on the spur of the moment.

 
Another very practical thing to combat fear is to realize is that fear is the anticipation of something bad happening. In actual fact, that feared thing rarely comes to pass in the individual’s life. Another practical tactic to combat fear is to laugh a little. Laughter dispels fear. Doctors tell us deep belly-laughs releases marvelous feeling endorphins. So, go to a comedic movie, or play a tape of an old one on your TV. Do something, anything that will make you laugh which will in turn decrease your anxiety and fear. And that’s the key. Don’t be passive and let fear overtake you. Combat it.

Flower, White and Pink Rose
Courtesy of FreeImages by BeverlyLR