Does Anyone Care? Finding Peace in the Storm

The other day, in the haze between sleeping and being awake. I saw myself standing on the shore of the ocean (one of my favorite places to be). This massive wave was building and rising and coming straight toward me. It was much taller than me, tall enough where I should have ran, but as I stood there, I saw a hand holding the wave and I didn’t flinch at all. In fact, I didn’t feel any fear. And seemingly in a moment, the wave receded back to the ocean as if it never even approached me.

Close your eyes, the wave is right in front of you, you can feel the mist, hear the roar, smell the salt water and just barely taste it upon your lips. Yet this same wave, does not consume you. Oh it comes close and it poses a massive threat to destroy you completely but there’s One more powerful than the wave. -EE Winkler

This is what peace looks like to me. The waves are still going to come right up to your face, but they’re not going to be able to consume you as long as your eyes are fixed on Jesus. I’d like to say that I don’t know emotional pain from personal experience. But before the COVID-19 pandemic I was going through my own personal pandemic of sorts. I was asking the same questions that people are asking now:

When is this going to end?

When can things go back to normal?

Am I really going to lose my home?

Where will I go from here?

I’ve lost everything, now what do I do?

Does anybody care?

I would love to tell you that in a divine moment of prayer with Jesus, that suddenly all of these questions were answered but truth be told, many of them remain unanswered, except for the last one: “Does anybody care?”

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Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

To that question, it’s like all of Heaven screamed:

YES! I care! Can’t you see it? Won’t you choose to receive it?

As humans, we’re trite enough to equate “caring” with getting what we want, when we want it and how we want it. But the way in which God cares extends beyond just provision, it’s that deep down, heart wide open, everything exposed kind of care. It’s the kind of care where he sees all of the ugly mistakes you’ve made and still smiles at you lovingly as if you never made one at all. His care, rooted in his perfect love is available to you right now. No one else is going to be able to fill that void you feel within and satisfy your soul in the midst of this land of question marks.

The beauty is that in him, we can have peace for all of the question marks. We don’t have to have an answer for everything to still follow him and enjoy our lives. That’s what He wants for you and for me — to love him, love others and enjoy our lives. He can safely and securely hold all of our question marks and our prayers don’t fall on deaf ears. He hears. He sees. He’s near. We don’t see him because we don’t want to see him but he’s here, there and everywhere. You don’t have to look for him because he’s found you. And he’s been waiting, pursuing, wooing you closer to his heart. It doesn’t matter the state of your life now or the mess that you’re in, you can come to him right now. He’s is peace. So you can’t pursue peace without pursuing him.

Rest assured, he cares. He sees your pain. He knows you’re tired. He knows that you’re worried. He knows every emotion that you feel that you don’t even want to admit. Come to him. He’s calling through the waves. Will you call upon him today?

Written by: Erica E Winkler

©Copyright Erica  E Winkler 2020 All Rights Reserved

Who Do You Need to Forgive?

One could argue that worst type of captivity is not the captivity that you can see, but rather the captivity that you can’t see. – EE Winkler

Have you ever stopped to consider, what is it that’s holding you captive? Is it yourself? It is another person? Is it a substance? Is it unforgiveness?

So often, we don’t realize that we’re bound up in unforgiveness. We just think that we are the way we are because that’s how we are. But over time, even small offenses will build up and have the capacity to do so much damage in our lives.

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Photo by Maria Shanina on Unsplash

Forgiving is the key to your freedom. 

I think that all of us can look inside and find at least one person that we need to forgive. Truth be told, it might be that you need to forgive yourself. We think that the things that people do to hurt us do not really matter and do not affect us, but actually they really do.

By not forgiving them, you’re actually allowing yourself to stay in a perpetual state of bondage. Eventually unforgiveness turns into bitterness and it will affect your life whether you want it to or not. You will actually not be able to love yourself and love others at your potential capacity if you choose to stay stuck in unforgiveness.

What does it mean to forgive someone?

To forgive means that you CHOOSE, not necessarily feel, to no longer hold the offense of someone else against them. I emphasize CHOOSE, because so often we think we have to wait until we feel like it before we forgive. But this principle is a faulty logic that we do not apply in other areas of our lives.

We CHOOSE to exercise even if we are tired because we understand the health benefits.

We CHOOSE to go to work, even if we don’t feel like it because we are committed.

We CHOOSE to be kind, even if we don’t feel happy because it is the right thing to do.

We CHOOSE to love others even when they are not loving to us because we are called to.

We make choices every single day and forgiveness just has to be one of those choices that we make. IF, and only if, we want to be free and remain free. Freedom always costs something and just because we are free today does not mean that we do not have to work to maintain our freedom for tomorrow.

What happens if the painful feelings come back after we forgive?

Sometimes, after we choose to forgive, the feelings of hurt, sadness and pain start to creep up again. When this happens, we have to remind ourselves that we have chosen to forgive and choose not to stay angry. This is so important because if we entertain these feelings then will find ourselves being bound up all over again. We must release that hurt and choose, even when we don’t feel like it.

So, who do you need to forgive today? 

Won’t you make a choice to forgive them? The freedom that you crave is well within your reach if only you will just choose.

©All Rights Reserved 2019

Look Up

Whatever you’re doing, stop for a moment to look up.

Seriously, look up.

Now, what did you feel? What did you see? What did you think?

Sometimes, we are walking about so consumed by what we see in front of us, whether literally or figuratively, that we become consumed with our challenges and difficulties because we give them way to much negative attention.

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Photo by Oliver Cole on Unsplash

We have to be willing to put things into perspective within the big picture of our entire lives. Even the major problems, fall into perspective when you consider your entire life especially if it is not life threatening; and let’s face it, most of us have problems that are not. Maybe your problem is that something in your life has come to a crashing halt. An unexpected end.

A job?

A relationship?

A home?

You’re looking all around you and all you see is rubble from everything that has fallen apart and come to an end. But in the words of an amazing woman, who I so admire, Kendra Scott, “it’s not over, this could just be the beginning.”

When you’re tempted to keep a horizontal focus, I challenge you to force yourself to physically look up. The action of doing so, just may trigger something in your brain to remind yourself, there is more than what you can see right here, right now.

A horizontal focus tends to leave us so focused on ourselves and our problems that we actually forget that there are people around us with problems too. We forget that even if we don’t have something to give financially, the warmth of a smile or the utterance of encouraging words can lift a person’s soul far more than money ever could.

Look up, my friend.

I triple dog dare you to look up.

Stop focusing on what you don’t have and start being thankful for what you do have. If you’re reading this post right now, you are insanely richer than you know. Just look what you have in your hands. Look at the fact that you’re still breathing. Look at the fact that you have something valuable and special to share with the world, just by being yourself.

Look up, my friend. Look up.

 

Why Settle for Happy?

Happiness is temporary but joy lasts a lifetime. – EE Winkler

We all love to be happy. It feels good. I once had a history professor that stated, “everything we do in life is to make us happy.” It stuck with me. I pondered it in my head and I realized that there was a lot of truth to his statement. But I still wondered, is it entirely true? Are there innately things that we intentionally do for others without seeking our own happiness? Or do we do the things, to make them feel happy, because making them happy, makes us happy? Ha! Do you see what I mean?

There is a peacefulness that is found in joy and not in happiness.

But beyond the idea of happy, I believe that joy is something that can actually be a life’s ambition, a state of mind, a posture. When I think of happiness, I think of this fluffy, fleeing, feeling.

  • I am happy when I eat my favorite food.
  • I am happy when I finish my workout.
  • I am happy when the light turns green.
  • I am happy when I see a butterfly.
  • I am happy when I have a soft serve ice cream cone.

But have you ever considered, that living your life from the ambition of finding happiness, could be settling for so much less than what you were actually made for? What if we’re settling by striving to be happy? What if, joy is actual the greater ambition?

What is true about joy?

Joy can remain in pain.

Pain does not make me happy. I don’t think about pain and smile. But I can still have joy, even when I encounter pain. Why? For I am learning, that pain is just a tool that is used to transform me. And if I choose, it will transform me to make me better and not bitter.

Joy outlasts happiness.

The feeling of being happy, typically does not last very long. I find that no matter what people get or do that makes them happy, if you look at their face in a few hours, you’ll probably find them with a scowl on their face as they scroll down the screen on their phone. Is that what we’re really chasing? That fickle, fading, fluffy, feeling? Alternatively, joy is a state of mind. If we allow it, it can permeate everything we think about thus directly impacting everything we do. There is a peacefulness that is found in joy and not in happiness.

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Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

Joy demands the marathon, happiness commands the sprint. Most people do not have joy because it’s difficult and it takes time to build. It requires a humility that most of us don’t want to submit to. Joy beckons to take one step at a time and not giving up, while happiness wants to measure life in sprints. Happiness yells, “if I don’t get what I want then I’m done!” Joy whispers, “I know there is more than my eyes can see. I will take one step at a time and keep going.”

We don’t have to settle for “happy seasons of life.” Instead we can embrace a joyous life.

What will you choose?

 

 

 

 

©All Rights Reserved

How to Find Peace in the Midst of Pain & Suffering

Looking for peace?

You may not be in pain today, but inevitably, at some point(s) in time in your life, you will experience pain and suffering. And at times it might feel so intense, that you wonder, how it is possible to endure. But the good news, is that none of us have to walk through pain and suffering alone. There is a companion who is closer than a brother, closer than a friend, closer than a husband, closer than anyone and while you are suffering, He’s standing outside the door of your heart, knocking….knocking….knocking….to see if you will let Him in.

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Photo by Eric Muhr on Unsplash

Religion has done an awful job at making God seem far off or making Him seem cold and distant. But the nearness of God is closer than your actual breath. The love of God was displayed when He traded the throne of Heaven to be wrapped in swaddling clothes in a cold, dark, stable in Bethlehem. No earthly king has ever been recorded to trade his throne of riches for a life of poverty because it is only the love of the Almighty God, that would cause such an action in order to make a way for His creation to return to Him.

For some, the Gospel of Jesus has become common place. They’re no longer moved by it. They’re no longer in awe of it. Their hearts have become complacent or hardened from believing. Truthfully, it is indeed a love that cannot be found upon this earth. For not even the person who loves you the most would endure what Jesus endured for you, nor would they be capable of doing so.

God in the flesh, beaten until nearly dead, unrecognizable for all of the beatings and lashings that He endured, then hung on a cross, naked for six hours, pulling himself up by His nailed feet just to keep breathing for every minute of those six hours. All the while, people walked by, mocking Him as He suffered on the cross for you and for me. The soldiers who stood nearby, divided His garments among themselves like a game.

We have never seen anyone crucified in real life. But it was gruesome and horrific. What motivated Jesus, to endure the cross and all the shame? You. Me. Every human being that has ever or will ever exist. His motivation was pure, complete and total love. He knew that there was no way that we could ever “earn” our way to Him or “work” our way to Him. There’s no laws or pillars that will ever amount to “earning” your way to God. No human being can do enough good that would make him or her acceptable in the sight of God. It is only through the cross of Jesus. It is only in accepting and believing, confessing and receiving Jesus as Lord, Savior and God.

He hung naked on a cross with His arms wide open and when He breathed His last breath, it wasn’t the end. He rose from the grave and He is alive. Only God Himself could do such a wonderful, love stained thing. Jesus is God. One part of the Trinity –Father, Spirit, Son.

If you think that whatever you have done has somehow made God not love you or accept you, I’ve got good news for you. God loves you and accepts you right now, just as you are. You might be full of selfish pride, or full of heartbroken pain, regardless, God loves you. No person is better than the other. God loves us all and accepts us all. Jesus paid the price for our sin. If you’ve lived longer than a day on planet earth, then you probably have figured out by now that you have sinned. And so have I. And so has every person. It’s why we need a Savior. It’s why Jesus came to this earth.

When pain and suffering come into our lives (and they will, in various degrees and various ways), we can either walk through it on our own and try and “cope” someway or somehow, OR we can reach out and call upon the name of Jesus. How true to His Word He is. When you call upon His name, He will not turn you away. He’s been waiting for you to turn to Him. Regardless if you’ve never called upon His name or if it’s been a long time since you have, or if you’ve never known the PERSONAL love of Jesus, He’s waiting for you. His love is up close and personal. It’s real and tangible. It is a love like no other. The only love that can carry us through valleys of pain, suffering and darkness.

We live in a fallen world and no person will escape the troubles of this life regardless of their status, wealth or name. There is only one name that is above it all and that is the name of Jesus. He wants to walk with you through the pain you’re facing right now. He wants to comfort you and give you His peace and joy. He wants you to know how deeply you are loved and accepted and cherished. You don’t have to push Him away. He wants you. You don’t have to wait until you go to a church building, He is wherever you are right now. You can meet Him, right where you are. You can tell Him your story and your pain and not live in shame anymore.

His presence, the presence of Jesus, is the blessing of pain and suffering. His nearness in a way that is unexplainable. His comfort through weeping that seems to never cease. His mercy to provide blessings in the midst of brokenness. His peace to calm and quiet our fretful minds to sleep at night. His love to cover over all our sin and embrace us in His arms. Oh beloved, take your heart and entrust it in Jesus. He will never break it. He will never leave you. He will never forsake you. He has a plan and a purpose for your life. He has many good things in store for you. He wants to walk with you through this. His love can give you a good attitude, full of His joy even in the midst of suffering. Really knowing Him, makes you really love Him. I know I don’t deserve the love of Jesus and yet He loves me anyway. And you know what, He loves you too. Just as you are, disheveled, broken, smelly, fearful, however you are, He loves you.

Jesus wants you, do you want Him?

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

“that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

Poetry is…

Poetry is…

by EE Winkler

poetry is rhythmic healing for my soul’s delight

with words I reconstruct my day and build dreams in the night

in a matter of moments I can be anywhere I want to be

with a few lines or verses I write a new story

poetry is rhythmic healing for my soul’s delight

since my childhood it has not betrayed through joy or through plight

it has been there to right my triumphs and comfort my despair

it never leaves me wondering if it really cares

poetry is rhythmic healing for my soul’s delight

fueled both by sorrow and joy do they simultaneously ignite

a sputtering of endless words that somehow coexist

to help my brain take my thoughts and make sense of all of it

poetry is rhythmic healing for my soul’s delight

no matter where I am it has been by my side

with a longing to convey the emotions that bang on the door of my heart

it is poetry that has remained the train for my feelings to embark

©All Rights Reserved

Photo by Michael Mongin on Unsplash

Reframing Your Goals to Optimize Goal Setting

Don’t let your goals get you down, let them left you up! 

If you’re anything like me, you’ve experienced discouragement from goals that you have set but struggled to achieve. It is not always easy, especially when if there are many goals that you want to achieve. But, through reframing your goals, it can set you up for a more successful journey. A journey that considers that starting point, the finish line and the space in between that I like to refer to as the “journey.”

Check out my video below where I give a more detailed explanation about how to Reframe Your Goals Today:

 

I would consider the “journey” to be the hardest part but also the best part of any goal. It is where all the action actually happens. If you don’t believe me, take a moment to consider your favorite book, movie or play. Why do you love it? Is it just because the character succeeded or was it because they overcame so much adversity along the way?

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Photo by Anthony Garand on Unsplash

Or is it because they were the underdog and no one expected them to succeed. Or was it because so many external forces effected their life in a negative way and still they found a way to overcome? Whatever the reason, I think we love these types of stories because we can see ourselves in the story. We relate to the character’s struggles and we too want to accomplish something great.

 

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Photo by meriç tuna on Unsplash

Below, you can find a little, simple poem I wrote about “reframing.”

Reframing

by EE Winkler

She said, “my life will never be the same.

Ever since I viewed it through a different frame

I took a different approach than the way I always did

and now more and more is changing and I really like it

There seems to be a freedom that I had yet to find before

and suddenly closed opportunities are becoming open doors

far beyond what I expected things to be

a simple reframing has set me free.

what I thought could never be has come to be

and now I see the world through a lens of possibility

simply because I help up a little frame

and placed it around my goals today.

©All Rights Reserved