Read My Thoughts is a collection of feelings, thoughts, and insights that I have experienced from day to day. They are made up of ordinary things in life. For the most part they are thoughts and/or insights that come when I'm least expecting them. They often shape my opinions and attitudes in a significant way. Therefore, I write them down so I will not forget them. A few of them have inspired actual life changes.
It is like thinking on paper. If anyone wished to get inside my head to see what makes me “tick” the easiest way would probably be to “Read My Thoughts.” Many times when I'd read an article to someone or a group they would say, “You really need to do something with your writing.” This book is a response to that encouragement.
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About the Author
Dottie Wolfe lives in Jersey Shore, Pa. with her husband of 56 years. She has 2 children, 7 grandchildren and one great grandchild. She loves teapots, flowers, and chocolate and is busy with family, friends and fellowship. She has worn many “hats” in her lifetime, but taking care of her home and keeping up with daily activities of her choosing is enough these days. She finds joy and contentment in her “quiet time”, reading, coloring, and in her relationship with Jesus.
Read an Excerpt
A God of Few Words
We just put to bed another presidential election. It was a hard-fought campaign on both sides, and if I was not careful, I could have gotten very anxious at times. Because I am a Christian with conservative values, the outcome of the election was important to me.
One day when I was feeling particularly anxious, the Lord spoke to me in my spirit and said, "This is not a 'nail-biter' for me." I found a lot of peace from just hearing those few words. I realized that God would be neither surprised nor disappointed when it was all said and done. He had everything under control and it was (and always is) in His power to ensure that the candidate of His choice would be declared the winner. Therefore, I need not feel apprehensive about who would be our president.
I was reminded how God could say just a few words to make His point. When God wants me to understand something, it seems that just a few words are sufficient for me to get the whole picture and understand what He wants me to know. I recall an occasion when He was convicting me about my stubbornness. Being stubborn seems to be thought of as an "entitlement" in our family since we are of Swedish descent. At least that's what we always blamed for it. So one day, when God was speaking to me, I answered with, "But, God, I'm a Swede." He answered, "So?" Talk about a few words. I got it. An excuse wasn't going to cut it. I needed to agree with God, ask His forgiveness, and ask for His help to change. Whatever made me think (even for one second) that I could explain something to God and have Him see it from my point of view? When I do something that my husband doesn't understand (like have him take me to someone's house I can't find), he just shakes his head at me. I think God must have shaken His head at me that day, and hopefully He smiled.
God is always right. Whether we agree with Him or not, He always gets the last word. It doesn't do any good to argue with Him because He knows me better than I know myself. I came to find out, He wasn't at all impressed that my heritage would give me the "right" to be stubborn.
I'm always impressed with people who can say what they mean without a barrage of unnecessary facts. I have a friend who sometimes gives me so many details that I almost forget what the conversation is about. I find myself thinking, Okay, okay, get to the point. God is not like that; He never uses words just to talk. He doesn't need many words to make His point clear. He even uses the method that most impresses me: SURPRISE! HE knows me that well, you see.
Now that I've used all these words to get my "point" across, I hope you won't forget what I started out to say.
Jesus said, "The words I have spoken to you — they are full of the Spirit and life".
(John 6:63)CHAPTER 2
A Kneeling Heart
A heart on its knees? Absurd, you say. A heart has no knees and therefore it cannot kneel. That is true of our physical heart. However, I want to refer to "heart" as we use that word to describe one's innermost being. The "heart" that loves or aches or breaks. This heart can kneel.
Some people pray on their knees and I love this picture in my mind's eye. Jesus knelt in the garden before his crucifixion. But it is not possible for everyone to pray on their knees. Getting on our knees is a physical act that is impossible for some. While getting on our knees can be an act of submission, it is also possible to kneel without being truly submitted to God. Much more important than our physical posture when we pray is the fact that our heart kneels. It is possible to get on our knees to pray without any contriteness or submission toward God. It can be a formality of prayer without being anything more than an empty gesture. True prayer comes from a kneeling heart.
One definition of heart is "the whole personality, including intellectual as well as emotional functions or traits." Tied up with our intellect and emotions is our will. The will is the vital aspect of the "kneeling heart." When our heart kneels, our will is given over to God. It is much easier to serve God with our intellect or emotions than it is to serve Him with our will. It is hard for us to give up our own desires and ideas. No one likes to deny self. We can know God intellectually and even talk to Him with much knowledge of His word or we can get emotionally involved with service, but we are only going partway when we hang on to our will.
Matthew 15:8 and Isaiah 29:13 speak of people who honor God with their lips but their hearts are far from Him.
The kneeling heart is a SUBMISSIVE heart. It is a heart that denies self. It gives up its rights and comforts, and walks by faith wherever the Lord may lead. It will cost you something. It may cost you everything, even your life. When Jesus prayed in the garden, "Father, take this cup from me, nevertheless, not my will but thine be done" it cost Him everything. NEVERTHELESS is the key word here. Jesus was being totally submissive; His heart was kneeling.
The kneeling heart is a COMPLIANT heart. Submission is the act of yielding our will to His; compliance is doing His will. It requires action that is in accordance with God's will. That doesn't mean just in those "spiritual" areas, such as where the Lord asks you to minister, but also in our everyday life. In all things it is important that we comply with His will. It could be as simple as making dinner for a friend, doing someone's laundry, a wife doing errands for her husband, or a husband doing dishes for his wife. If God asks you to serve in this manner, it is important that the heart kneels and responds in obedience to God. There are also times when God puts His finger on things in our lives that are unpleasing to Him. Things like anger, bitterness, gossiping, etc. How swiftly joy and peace fill our life when we are compliant with God.
The kneeling heart is a BROKEN heart. Psalm 57:17 says, "A broken and contrite heart you, God, you will not despise." The Living Bible puts it this way: "God will not ignore a heart that is broken and penitent." A broken heart needs healing and comfort. My heart is broken before God when I see my sin and unworthiness, and realize how I desperately need Him. It is a state of being "needy" or of needing Him to make it whole again. Webster says, "A broken heart is crushed by grief or despair." A broken heart will recognize it's sinful, depraved state and then come to God in total humility to receive from Him the forgiveness, healing, and restoration that it so badly needs. Until our sin breaks our hearts we will not see our need for a Savior.
"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds".
The kneeling heart is a THANKFUL heart. "Give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thess. 5:18). God isn't asking us to be thankful for all things, but rather in all things. We may not be thankful for our present circumstances, but we can be thankful that He is aware of our circumstances and walks through them with us. Our Heavenly Father knows our problems, cares when we hurt, sees our tears, and cares for us with an everlasting love that we cannot comprehend. He strengthens us, comforts us, and encourages our hearts so we can keep walking through life with a sense of His presence.
It's easy to forget to be thankful when things are going well. We can get so caught up in our blessed times that we fail to see them as such. We have so much to be thankful for every day. Our blessings are too many to count. Speaking for myself, I find it easier to remember God when I'm struggling than to be thinking of Him in times of good and plenty. He desires only the best for His children and is always working behind the scenes on our behalf. Just knowing that He is always there when we need Him should be enough to make us thankful.
The kneeling heart is a HAPPY heart. There is no such thing as an unhappy heart when it is kneeling. When you know that you are pleasing God, it is the most satisfying feeling you can experience. A kneeling heart brings peace and joy. It is knowing what God wants and being happy to do it. It doesn't happen overnight; it is a process. However, a heart on its knees is a tool in God's hands.
The kneeling heart turns "I can't" into "I can if you help me."
It turns "I won't" into "I will if you help me."
It turns "I'm too tired" into "You are my strength."
It changes "I'm afraid" into "You will never leave me or forsake me."
It changes "I don't know how" into "I will try, help me."
It turns "I don't want to" into "Not my will, but Yours."
Instead of thinking, It is too dangerous, it believes, "You are my deliverer." The kneeling heart turns "doubt" into "faith."
"I assure you, even if you have faith as small as a mustard seed you could say to this mountain, move from here to there and it would move. Nothing would be impossible".
(Matthew 17:20, NLT)CHAPTER 3
A Mother Like Mine
You should have had a mother like mine. We usually hear that said when someone wants to tell you how their mother failed or disappointed them in some way. I want to put a different slant on it.
You really should have had a mother like mine. She was warm, generous, nurturing, and very flexible. She had ten children (two lost as adults), thirty grandchildren, and many great grandchildren. She was very important and special to every one of us. I can't think of a time when any of us was ever at odds with her. Yes, sometimes we did something that didn't please her, but she never made us feel rejected.
My mother never had extra material things and seldom everything that she needed. Not until she was elderly did she get to that place. My father died when she was fifty-seven. She lived alone and took care of herself until the last few years of her life, when she died at the age of eighty-one. But even though things were hard for her financially, she always had enough to share. I often think that God must have stretched what she had as He did the loaves and fishes when He fed 5,000 people with a little boy's lunch that consisted of five loaves of bread and two fishes (Matthew 14:17–21). She was a sacrificial giver. When I look back, I'm amazed at the sacrifices she made so we could have as much of what we needed as possible.
Our home was always open to our playmates, relatives, friends, and strangers. We never asked if so and so could come over to play; they just came. In the summer we never knew how many people were coming to our house on a Sunday afternoon. Shed fire up the stove (yes, even when it was hot outside) and cook and bake for anyone who showed up. I remember coming over a mountain one night and finding a family whose car had broken down. We piled them into our already crowded car and took them home to spend the night. Oh, to live in such a trusting time again! The next day my father fixed their car as Mom fed everybody breakfast and visited with our "company" He was as generous as she was. When we got to be teenagers, they never knew for sure how many would be getting up for breakfast.
My mother took us to church, to Bible school in the summer, and always shared her faith with us.
We grew up with Scripture that validated their beliefs. We learned at a young age that God loves us, cared about what happens to us, and had a purpose for each one of us being here.
When she passed on, she left behind many sad and broken hearts, but we all knew where she would be spending eternity. We rejoiced that her body was new, she was with those she loved, and we were comforted by the fact that we will see her again someday. When we do, it won't surprise me if she and Dad are looking for someone to help or holding the babies (mine included) that preceded them in death.
Yes, you really should have had a mother like mine. She was a good example of the proverbial woman who is talked about in Proverbs 31:10–31.CHAPTER 4
A Mouse in the House
I recently kept my granddaughter for a week. She is barely two years old but is usually very articulate. While she was here the last time, we discovered that we had a mouse. I guess it was looking for a warm place to spend the winter. She was very afraid of it and if she saw it, she would say, "I saw the 'butterfly' and I cared (scared)." Toward the end of the week, it had changed to a "bee." Because she was so afraid, she wouldn't venture from one room to another alone. She had to take someone's hand and then she was still cautious.
While I was reflecting on it one day, I thought how much like that I am sometimes. I was thinking about it in a spiritual context. I think we all have a "mouse" that threatens us and makes us timid. As I face the uncertainties of life and my fears are about to keep me from something that I need to try or do, I, too, reach out for a hand. I reach for the hand of God to help me conquer my fear and hesitation. There are some places I just don't want to go unless I know that He is holding my hand, because I'm "cared" (scared). I need to feel the comfort of His presence and protection. Sometimes it may look like "just a little mouse" to someone else, but to me, it may look like an elephant. How reassuring it is to feel His hand holding mine.
We all have scary times, but we can be comforted in knowing that God reaches out to take our hand. He promises to never leave us alone. He tells us that when we walk through the troubled waters of life, they will not drown us; when we pass through the fiery trails, we will not be burned. He goes before us and makes a way. And He makes good on His promises. Remember how the Israelites passed through the Red Sea without being swallowed by the water. And remember how Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were cast into the fiery furnace and came out without as much as the smell of smoke on them? Nothing is too hard for God, and He will never let go of our hand.
The mouse is long gone and the hole he made has been repaired, but Rachyl is still hesitant about entering that room alone. I, too, have been in situations that make me hesitant to be in a particular position again. Sometimes I feel rejected, unheard, ignored, or fearful. That makes me want to withdraw and stay in a place of safety and comfort. But often what I think or feel is not the way it really is. In reality, my insecurity has gotten the upper hand, and in fact, I have interpreted someone's response incorrectly. Then I need to find enough courage to try again. "I will trust and not be afraid."
Once we caught the mouse, I showed it to my granddaughter and let her see me throw it away. But even then, she wasn't totally sure that it wasn't coming back. But as time went by, she learned to trust again. This little episode with the mouse reminded me that my peace and security come from God and that He will hold my hand anytime that I am "cared" (scared). I have found that learning to trust God in the small things helps prepare me for the times when mountains appear on my horizons, and I have found that God's hand is always reaching out to take mine and make me feel secure.CHAPTER 5
A Perfect Ten
As I have an opportunity, I have been watching the Olympics and I've been giving a lot of thought to the judges and the scores. Some of the gymnasts do so well that I find myself wondering why there can't be more than one gold medal. I guess it is possible, but it rarely happens. Every move is scrutinized and graded.
In meditation this morning, I realized that God sees my performances every day. He is aware of my mistakes and wrongdoings. Things like a "slip of the tongue," a wrong attitude, a twinge of bitterness, or an unforgiven wrong. Even though he points out when my performance needs to improve, He does it with such kindness that I know it is because He desires to make me more like Him. It is his love for me that spurs me on to do better and learn how to negotiate the more difficult areas in this arena called daily life. He doesn't demand perfection, but He encourages improvement in my walk with Him.
There are few 10.00s in gymnastics and there are certainly no 10.00s in my spiritual performance. Most of the time my score isn't very good. In fact, sometimes I am amazed that God still allows me on His team.
God is not just a judge and He doesn't just keep me on His team; He sends coaches to help me. His word is the rule book, the Holy Spirit is my teacher, and Jesus goes to Him and intercedes for me, and God says, "Yes, give her another chance." The training process continues, and I keep trying to get it right.
I noticed that when one of the gymnasts made a mistake, they knew it immediately. They didn't have to wait for the scorecards. Likewise, when they scored a 10.00 they could feel it. It is the same with me. I know the "joy of winning" and the "agony of defeat" as I walk with the Lord. I know when my actions please Him and when they don't.
I noticed, too, that whether or not the crowd agreed with the judges, their decisions were final. We can be popular and successful, and win much applause in the eyes of the world, but how do we measure up in the eyes of the most important Judge? What does His scorecard say?(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Read My Thoughts"
Copyright © 2018 Dottie Levin Wolfe.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
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