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Learning to Love God

Hello Friends!

Thank you so much for taking time to stop by! Today I have a vlog prepared for you in which I discuss learning how to “Love God” more than anything else in your life. I believe it is so vital for each and every one of us to not just say we love God, but to take the time to learn how to actively love Him like the man we know as Jesus loved Him. Matthew 22:37-38 tells us the greatest commandment of all. To love our God with all our heart, soul and mind. This seems like such an easy task…but throughout my walk with God, I’ve come to find that what seems like the simplest of concepts, often turns out to be the most difficult of actions.

So. In order to love God the way Matthew 22:37-38 describes, I believe we have to examine what it means to love. In this vlog I discuss 3 characteristics of love…and one vital chapter in the New Testament we can turn to for help. Whether life is currently great, just okay, or the worst it’s ever been, it’s important to learn to truly love God in order to deepen our relationship with Him. Not just so you can get through the tough times, but also so you can experience the true joy and hope that can be found in a true, genuine, and in-depth relationship with our Father. And before you tell yourself this will be an impossible task; or before you feel guilty about not truly feeling this way about God, listen to these words: It’s a Process. I’m still learning and growing in this way on a daily basis. In fact, just 2 hours ago, I prayed that God would help me love Him more than my own desires for my life. It’s a struggle, right? Yes. It’s a struggle to keep your priorities in line. And something tells me this is going to be a life-long struggle. Why? Because we’ll never be perfect.

But that’s the beauty of it! We never peak. As long as we live, we have the opportunity to learn to love God and grow in our relationship with him. From this point forward you can only get better at fulfilling the greatest commandment of all time.

Love you sweet friends! I hope this vlog can bless you on Mother’s Day. And please know that whatever this day means to you, I am praying your day will be blessed. If you’ve lost your mother, or your relationship with her is less than perfect…or if you’re struggling to become a mother, or you never knew your mother, my prayer for blessings on this day are for you too. God sees, hears, and loves you. And He isn’t letting your feelings go unnoticed today. Prayers your way sister. Love you tons.

Love in Christ,

Helen Elizabeth Wisner Strickland

[Side Note: Please excuse my puffy eyes and stuffy nose! Allergy season in Arkansas is in full force!]

Finding Purpose in God’s Blessings

Hi Friends!!

Finally got this posted! Sorry to be so late posting this one! Even though it’s a bit late, I hope vlog finds you at just the right time this week. I pray my words may help you find strength and peace in whatever situation you may be experiencing!

[The video quality is a little poor because I tried to upload a video from my phone rather than the computer to see if it would be quicker! Needless to say, 2.5 hours later…I won’t be taking that option again!]

Love you dearly friend,

Helen E. W. Strickland

The Importance of Articulating Your Beliefs

Being able to articulate why you believe what you believe is of utmost importance. Not just for your sake, but for the sake of the nonbeliever.

For a long time I was terrified of being confronted about my beliefs. Not just because I didn’t like getting into arguments, but because if/when I couldn’t explain what I believed – and the other person could – then I would get a sickening feeling of doubt in the pit of my stomach. What if they were right, and I was wrong? What if I didn’t really know what I was talking about?

Have you ever felt that way? Oh no, of course you haven’t. But just in case, I’ll keep going.

Over the last few years, I’ve considered a few thoughts concerning my [our] Christian walk, which I believe have helped me through the most difficult experiences of my life. They may not seem that important, especially when faced with losing a spouse, family member, job, or life as you’ve come to know it. But I would argue quite the opposite. I believe reflecting on these thoughts prior to the tragedy of losing my husband, helped me walk through my situation with my relationship with Christ still intact, if not stronger; as well as, helped me be able to thoughtfully discuss my beliefs with others along the way.

Consider this:

If we don’t know why we actually believe what we say we believe, then we honestly have no real foundation to keep our faith the moment it’s tested. Furthermore, why would anyone else come to believe the same as we do if we don’t even know why we believe it ourselves? Continue reading “The Importance of Articulating Your Beliefs”

Vlog 3: An Answer to the Unanswered Questions

Hi Friends!

Well that title made it sound way cooler than it is! But hey, it got you here right! Today’s vlog answers two seemingly simple questions I needed to take some time to think on after my Instagram Live last Monday. As you will soon see, what seemed like two simple “get to know you” questions, ended up turning into 25 minutes of thoughtful discussion! Thank you so much to the people who asked these questions! If you were wanting an non-descriptive, short-but-sweet answer…well…let’s just say, I’ve never been one to leave out a detail. So grab some coffee [because somehow, all us Christians are avid coffee drinkers] and let’s discuss one of my favorite Christian books (other than “Mere Christianity”) and Bible verses for this season of life!

Love you Friends!

Helen Elizabeth Wisner Strickland

[**Later Note: So…I just realized I uploaded the unedited 27 minute version! (Insert crying face emoji) Sorry about that! Enjoy my awkwardly long smile at the end! Ha!]

[**Later Later Note: Fun Fact! Upon further research, I found out that there are 31, 373 verses in the Bible! If you decide to double check that number and it isn’t legit, let me know!]

Hope > Fear…Always.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6

Hope is greater than fear…always. Yes, indeed. I know so because the Bible tells me so. But isn’t knowing often very different from feeling? And when knowledge and feeling don’t add up, we tend go with our feelings. Even when that means forgetting “what we know”.

“Sometimes when your trying to sleep; and all your doubts and your faith don’t agree, it’s ’cause…sometimes the hardest thing to believe is the truth.” (Relient K, “Truth”)

The other day I posted on my various social media forums asking followers what they would like this post to be about. Well if you’re one of those followers, thank you SO much for all your comments and wonderful ideas you suggested! I will definitely write about many of the topics mentioned in the upcoming weeks! But if you haven’t already figured it out by the title…today, I’m going to discuss overcoming fear in a way you might not expect – by not overcoming it. Continue reading “Hope > Fear…Always.”

The Positives of Waiting Periods: Vlog #2

Good Evening Friends!

I hope I find you all doing well! Thank you to everyone who tuned into my instagram live last week! Your questions were great, and your comments so encouraging! Today I wanted to briefly discuss a life experience that we must all face throughout the course of our lives…and that is, of course, waiting periods.

Waiting periods are never fun because they can often cause us to question, worry, and sometimes feel very alone. However, I believe with a slight change in our perspective, the waiting periods we face can actually be a positive part of our lives!

In this vlog I discuss the idea that waiting periods are never actually waiting periods…but rather they are moments to rest in God, grow in our faith, and prepare to be used by Him in the future! We see this in the biblical life of David (if you’re not who that is, no worries friend, I got you – he’s the one that killed Goliath, wrote lots of Psalms, messed up with Bathsheba, etc. If you haven’t read his complete story, you should – it’s a great one! Check out 1 & 2 Samuel).

Anyway, I hope you can get something out of my application of the lessons from David’s waiting periods, to our lives! Know that wherever you are [or whatever you’re experiencing], if you’re walking through a waiting period you can have faith that God knows and has a plan for it. And as my Pastor, Nick Floyd, once said, “There’s nothing in your life worth worrying over.” So don’t worry if you’re in the right place, or doing the right thing during your waiting periods. Just use this time to grow in your relationship with God and develop the talents He’s already placed within you!

          “Be Glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble, and always be prayerful.”                  – Romans 12:12

With all my love,

Helen Elizabeth Wisner Strickland

The Sickness Called Loneliness: A Secondary Feeling

Have you ever felt lonely? Ha, that was a loaded question. At some point in our lives, we’ve all felt lonely in one way or another.

At the beginning of this academic school year, I bought a Bible study group discussion set called “Univited” by Lysa Terkeurst. My reasoning for buying this entire set [complete with book, DVD and discussion guide] was due to the newest development in my on-going identity crisis: “What small group does a young widow join after losing a spouse?” If you’re wondering what the answer is, there’s not one…yet. [I may try to work on that in the future.] Anyway, I went through the Bible study for the first time with one of my close friends and her daughter, and per usual with Lysa Terkeurst books, we absolutely loved it! I loved it so much, in fact, I ended up going through it again with my 9th/10th grade cheerleaders (whom I adore), and then again with my family group (basically small groups within our school connecting an individual teacher to small number of students – in my case, an equally amazing group of 11th grade girls).

At the end of our first family group lunch meeting I asked my girls about their thoughts on session 1 of the “Uninvited” DVD, and if any of the main points played a role in their lives. One girl spoke up and began to discuss the points made about loneliness. She disclosed that a major problem consuming her generation was the feeling of being alone often leading to depression. She then went on to say what I’d wager a lot of us think, but may not verbalize. Now, I’m paraphrasing here, but she said something along the lines of: “I know God is around us all the time, and we’re not supposed to feel alone because of that. But sometimes it just feels like He’s not really there, and so it’s sometimes hard to want to spend time with Him because you can’t really have an audible conversation, ya know? And so then it’s even harder to help people overcome these feelings by just saying, ‘well just know that you’re not alone, and God loves you even though you don’t really feel it.'” Well. I have to admit, I was a little less than prepared for that “real talk”, and therefore scored [I’d say] a solid 9.5 on the “I have no idea what I’m talking about” scale. Luckily the lunch bell rang about halfway through my answer, and I was able to quit talking before I revealed I actually don’t know all the answers.

As the girls left the room I couldn’t help but feel a little less than motivational; and while I watched my next class take their seats, I visualized myself unpinning my metaphorical “teacher of the year” badge from my chest and dropping it in the trash. [Yes, I do actually imagine things like this. I blame it on being an only child and being forced to play a childhood of solitary pretend games.] I then began to think back on my last blog post in which I discussed changing our perspectives to see how loneliness and solitude are not the same by definition or connotation; as well as believing God’s promise to work for our good, and thereby justifying a means to an end. But after letting this consume my mind for the rest of the school day, I realized where my missing answer could be found. While the statements listed above are true, they don’t really give direction as to how one begins to both think this way, and also believe it to the point their heart honestly desires it as well. I believe that’s what that sweet 11th grader was really asking, wasn’t it? She wanted to know what it took to make a person’s heart and mind agree to believe they’re not alone. And furthermore, to believe it so much they’re able overcome the heart-griping feelings of loneliness.

I know, right? Those are some pretty heavy questions for just one blog post…You took the words right out of my mouth. Don’t worry. I’m not going to attempt to answer these questions in full detail. I mean really, there have been millions of sermons preached on just a fraction of the topics arising from this conversation. Instead, I’ll do my best to present maybe a stepping stone along this confusing path called life. Continue reading “The Sickness Called Loneliness: A Secondary Feeling”

From Newly Wed to Widow: The Search for Craig (Part II)

“Let it all out. Get it all out. Rip it out, Remove it. Don’t be alarmed, when the wound begins to bleed.

‘Cause we’re so scared to find out, what this life’s all about. So scared we’re going to lose it. Not knowing all along, that’s exactly what we need…”

As I walked down the cracked and crooked sidewalk, dodging low-hanging branches along the way, I couldn’t help but visualize myself in the Tim Burton version of “Alice in Wonderland.”  The path looked like it was once kept up with, but over time the ground beneath it must’ve begun to shift causing the concrete to split and shoot up in uneven ridges. The tree limbs around me were black with dark thorns, reminding me of the trees in an old children’s book [You might know it. It repetitively states, “in a dark dark forest, there was a dark, dark house..”, and so on. It was kind of creepy now that I think about it?] As I continued on, I started to see this cracked and decaying sidewalk as a metaphor for our lives on earth. During this winter season, the trees looked so cold, lonely and depressing. It was hard to imagine that this pathway could ever look beautiful again. Even the ground seem to gain metaphoric qualities as I constantly stumbled along the uneven pavement. A few times when the thorny branches caught hold of me, a part of me felt like giving up my efforts because the open platform ahead was just too impossible to reach. Several times I thought about turning back, but this walk seemed so parallel to what I was currently experiencing.  Continuing on felt like I was telling the lake around me that I wasn’t giving up.

When I finally did reach that landing at the end, I knew my excursion did not happen by chance.  It was there that I had the conversation with God I described in my former Part I. As I mentioned before, the revelations He placed within me that day changed my perspective forever. Continue reading “From Newly Wed to Widow: The Search for Craig (Part II)”

From Newly Wed to Widow: The Search for Craig (Part I)

“I believe in night. I believe in day. I believe there’s a light coming back around again. I believe Your right ’cause I believe there’s a way. And I believe I might have some catching up to do. The voices are growing strong. The rumbling of thunder a rolling drum. Let Your Kingdom Come.

I believe in God. I believe in God…I believe that I, I believe enough. So help me God. I believe in love and I believe in us. And I believe the Sky, is made for me to touch…”

Looking out at the snow and ice on the interstate, I tried to ignore the thoughts and emotions battling in my brain. I didn’t want to jinx what might happen by letting my gut feel one way or another. While the optimist within me said, “Don’t worry! We’ll find Craig aggravated that his dad, step-mom and wife came all the way out to Oklahoma to find him when he simply forgotten to call!”; my common sense rolled it’s eyes and said, “Give it a rest. He would’ve found a way to call by now.” Not wanting to give in to either Positive Patty or Negative Nancy, I continued to lean on the cold window and stare at the winter storm-covered pastures…and occasional car in the ditch. Lovely. Continue reading “From Newly Wed to Widow: The Search for Craig (Part I)”

Get to know Helen – Video Blog

Hello Again!

First and foremost, THANK YOU everyone who viewed my site, read my post and/or followed my blog over the last week! It was an incredible encouragement for me as I move forward with this new chapter in my life. I was absolutely thrilled to see all the different countries that were represented in the visitors/views statistics shown by wordpress.com for my first post. Wow. All I can say is thank you. I pray I can be a continuous source of encouragement for you now, and in the future.

So, I tried to get real “techie” for you all today and create a video blog! I may have underestimated that undertaking, and bit off more than I could chew. But as the saying goes, “What doesn’t make you throw your computer across the room, makes you stronger.” Right? Yes, I think that’s how it goes.

All joking aside, this really was a fun learning project for me that I’m so excited to get to share with you tonight! The vlog is about 34 minutes long and includes a brief overview of my life and testimony, as well as a little piece of encouragement for the week ahead. I hope this post will allow you and I to connect on a more personal level than writing alone! Enjoy!

Love in Christ,

Helen E. W. Strickland

Get to know Helen – Video Blog from Helen Strickland on Vimeo.

{Included Music (Listed in Playlist Order): Sarah Reeves – “Good Good Father (Acoustic Piano Version)”; Relient K – “Empty House”, “Let It All Out”; Hillsong UNITED – “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)”; Relient K – “Heartache”, “God”, “When I Go Down”; NEEDTOBREATHE – “Washed by the Water”}