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As many of you know, last week was perhaps the hardest week of my life. What was supposed to have been a fun birthday week with family and friends, including a much anticipated out of town trip with my daughter, took a FAR different turn than I could have ever dreamed possible when I received a phone call that turned my world upside down. A phone call from an emergency room worker at a hospital who told me that my brother had been in a serious car accident and was not expected to make it and strongly urged me to get there as soon as possible. I hung up the phone in disbelief as tears filled my eyes. How could this have happened? I had just spoken with him the week before and we had such an incredible conversation. How could he not make it?

I raced home and quickly made travel arrangements and threw a few things in a suitcase and frantically headed to the airport.

All the way there, I prayed. I prayed for a miracle for Bobby. I prayed for comfort and strength for the family. And I prayed that God would walk with me into that hospital room because I was so devastated and unsure of how I would handle the pain of seeing him on life support.

From the moment I had received the call, it felt like a bad dream—one that I had desperately hoped from which I awaken. However, the moment I saw him lying there in the hospital bed with all of the machines surrounding him, it was no longer a dream but a horrific reality and one that I knew had an inevitable ending.

The next two days blurred together as Bobby began to slip away and the time came to say goodbye. My heart was broken. How was I supposed to say goodbye to someone whom I had loved and prayed for my entire life?

As I held my brother’s hand and saw his face for the last time, I can only describe it as God’s presence and His peace surrounding me. In the middle of my pain, God reached down and gave me the strength, the courage, and the comfort to carry on—to carry on in planning a funeral and even to carry on in singing at his funeral which was the hardest thing I have ever done. Through it all, God so lovingly reminded me that:

In our most desperate moments, God sees, He cares, and He is with us every step of the way.

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Today marks a week since my brother passed away. There’s so much that I am still processing from the last 9 days. But here’s a few things I’ve been thinking about quite a bit:

  • Life isn’t guaranteed.  None of us are promised tomorrow that is why it is so important to know where we stand with God today. I’m so thankful that I know without a doubt that my brother is in Heaven with Jesus. I know this because he prayed and confessed his sin and asked Jesus into his life to be his Savior. Was his life perfect? No. None of us are perfect. It’s not about being a good person, going to church, or trying to earn our way to Heaven. It is only through having a personal relationship with Jesus that assures us of going to Heaven when we die. And what comfort it brings my heart to know that because Bobby had a personal relationship with Jesus that I will see him again someday!
  • Live with no regrets.  Another thing that I am so grateful for is that as I think about my relationship with my brother, I do not have a single regret. I always tried to be there for him, encourage him, and cheer him on. His very sudden and unexpected death wouldn’t have given me any time to fix things had there been problems or missed opportunities. It just completely reminds my heart to not leave anything unsaid or undone and to savor every moment I have with those around me.
  • Look for the good.  It’s hard to find any good at such a heart wrenching time, but one thing I will always cherish is the fact that 9 people accepted Jesus as their Savior at my brother’s funeral. Those 9 people now know Jesus and have settled where they will spend eternity when they die. What an incredible legacy…one that Bobby would be so proud of.
  • Let go of the pain.  One of the most difficult things over this last week is trying to figure out what to do with the pain. It comes in waves. One moment I am fine and the next moment something reminds me of him and sadness fills my heart. But I’m finding when I think about him being in Heaven where there is no pain, no tears, no sickness, no struggles, and no death I find great comfort and strength and can start letting go of the pain. The truth is my brother had a very hard life full of heartache and struggles and what keeps coming to my heart now is that he is finally free!

On our flight home my daughter looked out the window and took a picture of the clouds. As I looked at these clouds and thought of Bobby, I truly believe God spoke these words into my heart:

He’s free from the sorrow, free from the pain

Free from the hurt, free from the shame

Free from the worry, free from the past

In the arms of Jesus

Free at last.

So, Bobby, you walk those streets of gold. You enjoy every moment in Heaven with Jesus. You celebrate that there’s no more pain from the past because you are FREE AT LAST! I love you always and look forward to the day when I will see you again!

 

14462715_10154082826734296_6934213490550544374_nRobert Dunn III

June 17, 1970- September 22, 2016

  • Linda Porter - My thoughts and continued prayers for you and family. I trust you received my message on your Facebook internal messaging Paula. Let me know if you didn’t. Love, prayers, hugs.ReplyCancel

  • CAROL LEACH - AMWAY - Hi Paula. I’m weeping with you. Sudden shock and dramatic life changes vex us to the very core of who we are. What would we EVER do without JESUS? Praying that you will experience the peace that passes understanding as you fix your mind and heart on Jesus Christ, the Living Word – the One who knew every one of Bobby’s days before there was yet one of them!

    I’m inspired – yet again – by your loving, trusting faith.

    Thank you for sharing your personal pain.

    My spirit reaches out for yours in love – as in the Family of God, spirit calls to spirit.

    Lovingly,
    Carol
    (I once picked you up at the airport for a function – feels like forever ago)ReplyCancel

  • Laurie - My precious, selfless, loving Paula,
    You gave your life to Jesus so long ago, and you’ve allowed Him to use your physical body, your salvation, your time, your talents, your blessings, and now your tears. Bobby knew your love on this earth, and now he gets to know perfect love because of Christ. Can you see him now? “Just think of stepping on shore and finding it heaven, of touching a hand and finding it God’s, of breathing new air and finding it celestial, of waking up in glory and finding it home!” He’s there, in part, because of your beautiful love and witness of Christ. You will hold his hand again, my friend. I love you, and I’m enormously sorry for this present grief and profound sadness.ReplyCancel

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Every day we make choices. We choose whether to get out of bed, what to wear, what we will eat, which activities we will participate in, and how we will respond to others, just to name a few. However, upon closer examination and just under the surface of all of our actions lie the murky waters of what we believe—what we believe about ourselves, about other people, and about the world we live in. These fundamental thoughts hold the power to either unlock the proper mindset needed to keep us moving toward our dreams or to stop us dead in our tracks.

Have you ever thought about how your thoughts impact your dreams? Have you ever considered the domino effect of how your dreams then affect your actions, which in turn determines your future and ultimately defines your destiny?

There is a direct correlation between how we view ourselves and how we live out the dreams God has called us to. Proverbs 23:7 says, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Essentially, you are what you think.

Let’s face it: we live in a very negative world that focuses on what’s wrong, what’s ugly, what hurts, and what can’t be done. But if you take time to observe successful people, you will see that most are positive and enthusiastic. I don’t think you will find them obsessed with negativity and what they can’t accomplish. Quite contrarily, successful people know who they are and are comfortable in their own skin. How much more should we as Christians have confidence in living out our dreams? After all, we have God abiding in us and working through us. What more could we ever need?

Here’s the key to relinquishing our insecurities and embracing a healthy confidence—knowing it’s not about WHO we are and it’s all about WHOSE we are. Knowing who we are in Christ is powerful, for it can break the bonds of insecurity, fear, and even failure, which often hold us captive and keep us from attaining our dreams.

If you look at Proverbs 31, you will see a woman who knew who she was and had the confidence to live it out. You don’t have to read very far to be even a little envious of this industrious lady! Everything she had her hand in turned out to be successful! Her family revered her and called her blessed; her husband praised her; and she was known all throughout the city for her impeccable integrity and her undeniable accomplishments. What I find interesting is that not once do you read about her second guessing herself, questioning her giftedness, or giving up in defeat. Not, it is quite the contrary. This woman never stopped using what God had given her to live out what He had called her to.

All throughout the chapter, this amazing woman selects wool, works with willing hands, brings her food from afar, rises while it is night, provides food for her household, evaluates and buys a field, plants a vineyard with her earnings, draws on her strength, knows that her merchandise is good, extends her hand to the spinning staff, reaches out to the poor and needy, is not afraid for her household, makes bed coverings and clothing in fine linens, sells garments in the city, delivers belts to the merchants, opens her mouth with wisdom and instructions, and watches over the activities of her household. How does one woman accomplish all of this? She accomplishes all of this because she doesn’t waste time standing around wringing her hands on what she does or does not have; instead, she is confident in how God made her, how He gifted her, and how He will use her.

Imagine if we really embraced the fact that we are children of the King. I have a feeling we would think, believe, and live differently. Everything rides on finding our confidence in Him, so it is so important to nail it down in our hearts once and for all and apply it to our thoughts each day.

The reality is at some point we can all struggle with negative thoughts and the lies the enemy sends our way. And I think it is important to remember that just because we have a thought doesn’t mean that it is true or that it has to stay in our minds. We have a choice of what we choose to dwell on and what we choose to discard. Here are some ways to change our unhealthy thoughts:

  • Recognize unhealthy thoughts using Scripture as our standard.

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—think on these things.  ~Philippians 4:8

  • Choose to Replace the lies we believe with the truth.

Since God’s Word is the source of all truth, that is where we must go to replace the unhealthy thoughts that have wallpapered our minds.

  • Choose to Repeat the truth.

None of us became the way we are overnight, so it is going to take time and practice before we can experience real change.

  • Choose to Repeal negative self-talk.

When we tell ourselves that we can’t do something, at that moment, we are probably right because we have already made the decision that we can’t. Instead of telling ourselves we can’t, we can replace that internal dialogue with Philippians 4:13 which says, “I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Here is a resource from iBelieve.com with some common self-defeating thoughts we often tell ourselves and some verses to refute them. I absolutely love this:

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  • Choose to GUARD your mind.

When was the last time you took an inventory of your thoughts and beliefs? This is so important for all of us to do, for even when we are firmly grounded we can let our guard down and before long have our thoughts go awry.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” I Peter 5:8.

Although our enemy doesn’t hunt us down physically as a lion would, I believe he is ruthless and ferocious in how he attacks our minds. Just as he planted the seeds of doubt and uncertainty in Eve’s mind in the Garden of Eden, he still works overtime doing the same to us today. It is his mission to infiltrate our thoughts and cause us to question, doubt, and give up on our dreams. In doing so, we are stuck on the sidelines and kept from all that God has for us.

Now, don’t think for a second I am ending this blog with us fearing lions and flaming darts of Satan. Here’s what we must never lose sight of no matter what the enemy tries to bring our way: We already have the victory in Jesus Christ our Lord!

“Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.” I John 4:4

So, the next time your thoughts threaten to submerge you and keep your dreams at bay, hold your head high and choose to believe who you are in Christ. Here’s what you can hang on to: You are created in God’s image, you are His child, and He loves you fiercely and has a phenomenal plan for your life.

Let this be your mindset and let this be your mantra—God is for you! He is for you when you feel unworthy! He is for you when you struggle to believe! He is for you when you doubt your future! He is for you when you want to give up on your dream! So, let go of negativity and the thoughts that hold you back, and boldly chase the dreams that God has placed in your heart! The future ahead is bright for those who know who they are and who make the choice to be positive and believe!

*Most of Today’s Blog is taken from Dare to Soar, 75-87. Dare to Soar is available at Pauladunnministries.com, Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, and iTunes.

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If I had to pick a favorite song that I have ever had the privilege to record, this song would be at the top of the list. The words are such an incredible reminder to me of the HOPE and the POWER that is found in Jesus…a message that I need every single day, especially today.

After the horrific attacks of terrorism this week, my heart is broken for all of mankind. How we need the message of Easter more than ever to remind us that no matter what is going in our lives or in the world around us, the goodness and the power of the cross will never change and is the only thing that can heal and change lives.

So on this Good Friday morning, I bring my weary heart to Jesus and find that by doing so I can’t help but do the following:

Be Thankful for the Cross.

Rejoice that He’s Alive.

Grab on to the HOPE and the POWER that is found in Jesus.

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The Name of Jesus is the answer to our soul’s distress.

The Hand of Jesus is the touch that fills our emptiness.

Oh, He’s here. Oh, He’s here with us.

So come and lay your burdens down before the throne where hope is found and call upon The Name of Jesus.

Your brokenness and offering of sweet surrender to the King.

There’s Power in The Name of Jesus.

The Name of Jesus is the peace that calms our troubled hearts.

The Love of Jesus is the freedom to come as we are.

Oh, He’s here. Oh, He’s here with us.

So come and lay your burdens down before the throne where hope is found and call upon The Name of Jesus.

Your brokenness and offering of sweet surrender to the King.

There’s Power in The Name of Jesus.

The cross of Jesus bore our weakness covered all our sin.

He is Risen. We’re forgiven. Forever alive in Him.

So come and lay your burdens down before the throne where hope is found and call upon the Name of Jesus.

Your brokenness and offering of sweet surrender to the King.

There’s Power in The Name of Jesus.

Words & Music by Shelly Johnson and Michael Boggs. 2010 McKinney Music, Inc. (BMI) (Admin. by Music Services)/Upsurge Music, LLC (ASCAP) (admin by EMICMGPublishing.com). All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.

The Name of Jesus is available at Pauladunnministries.com or ITunes.

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Have you ever wondered what the future looks like, where you will be in five, ten, or twenty years? If only we had a sneak peek of the motion picture of our lives. How much better we would be at making decisions if we knew where they all led?

Unfortunately, there are no such films, no “Back to the Future” episodes, and no crystal balls. What we do have access to, however, is a God who is the director of our futures. If we place an unabashed faith in Him, we will find He always does as He promises, and in Ephesians 3:20, He promises to do exceedingly and abundantly more than we could ever ask or think.

God wants to push us past the boundaries of ordinary into the realm of extraordinary living. Extraordinary as defined by Webster is “going beyond what is usual, regular, or customary.” I believe it is living beyond the mundane, above mediocrity, and in the center of all that God has called us to to. This can only be accomplished in a life that is built on a foundation of faith.

So what is faith? Simply, faith is complete dependence on God. People with faith have a different outlook on life. They see more than just the circumstances they are facing; they see God working through them. Oswald Chambers defines faith as “the inborn capacity to see God behind everything.” Imagine if we saw God behind everything. Suddenly mountains could be reduced to foothills, storms could be calmed, peace could drown chaos, and hope could restore desperation.

I remember learning an acronym for faith when I was a child in Sunday school— Full Assurance in the Heart. While it was a great way to describe faith, it falls just a little short in defining it. Full Assurance in the Heart about what? I believe it is Full Assurance in the Heart that God is sovereign and in control of our lives and truly has our best interests at the center of His plan for us. Does that mean we will never face a problem and everything will always be rosy? Hardly so! What it does mean is that we will never face our struggles alone and that God is our source for everything and will help us navigate the stormy seas.

It’s important to note that faith does not begin with us; it begins with God. Mark 9:17-24 tells a story of a desperate father who brought his son to Jesus. This son had been possessed by a spirit since childhood that made him unable to speak and caused him to convulse and foam at the mouth. Many times he was cast by the spirit into fire and water as it tried to destroy him. The father had tried everything to no avail. His last hope was Jesus.

As the father begged Jesus to have compassion on them and to help his son, Jesus responded by saying, “Everything is possible to the one who believes.” Immediately, the father of the boy cried out, “I do believe! Help my unbelief.” In that instant, Jesus heard the desperate father’s cry and rebuked the spirit. The spirit came out of the boy shrieking. It made him convulse violently and then dropped him like a rag doll. Many thought the boy was dead, but Jesus took him by the hand and raised him up.

This story holds the following encouraging messages for us:

  • God cares for every detail of our lives.
  • God will intervene when there is no other way.
  • Nothing is impossible to those who believe.
  • But perhaps the greatest salve for my weary soul is found in “I believe. Help my unbelief.” When we don’t have the faith we need, God will provide!

There are times in all of our lives when our faith wavers, when the waves crash over us and we can barely stay afloat, let alone courageously live out our dreams. I’ve had a few of these fragile moments lately in my own life— that is why I love this passage. I think God knew we would need to know that we can ask Him for the faith to believe when we don’t have it within ourselves. Perhaps that is why He even included this story in the Bible to let us know that when we can’t even muster the strength to find the faith that we need, God will come through and give us the faith to believe. So rather than beating ourselves up when our faith is on shaky ground, we simply need to say, “I believe. Help my unbelief.”

Lord Jesus, I’m so thankful that You are not insulted when I come needing my faith strengthened and renewed. Life is hard sometimes, Lord, and it can take a toll on my heart. Thank You for loving me anyway and giving me the faith that I need to believe. Help me to grab on to that faith and never let go, for through it You can MOVE MOUNTAINS and do the MIRACULOUS in my life!

*Most of Today’s Blog is taken from Dare to Soar, 109-112.  Dare to Soar is available at Pauladunnministries.com.

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We all have moments. Moments that we dread. Moments that we fear. Moments that we know are inevitable.

For me, one such moment recently took place but to my surprise the moment I dreaded the most became a beautiful moment where God showed up and surrounded me with His tender love and the strength to carry on.

I’ve known all along that it is only a matter of time before my mom no longer recognizes me. That’s what Alzheimer’s does. And no matter how hard I have tried to prepare myself, deep in my heart I have known that moment would be heartbreaking…and it was.

It had been a good day. I made lunch for my parents, and we had talked and even laughed together. Several times I even saw my mom’s eyes twinkle and heard her familiar laughter which now is such a treasure to me, but the laughter was short-lived. For just as we were saying our goodbyes, she looked up at me with inquisitive eyes and asked if I was the baby she had taken in and raised.

My heart stopped and tears began to fill my eyes. The dreaded moment had finally come, and I had no idea what to say or do. I closed my eyes and did the only thing I knew to do—I cried out and asked God for help. And instantly it was as if God whispered in my heart don’t focus on her not recognizing you—focus on the fact that she remembered taking a baby girl in and loving her as her own. In that moment, God showed me that she might not have recognized me but she still remembered me!

What a precious gift God gave me. In my despair, God gave me His grace that not only comforted my heart but turned a dreaded moment into a beautiful portrait of His love and concern for me.

Incidentally, just the other day, it happened again. We spent the afternoon together and at one point she looked at me and asked, “Now how do we know each other?”

I took a deep breath and knew it was going to be okay. God had already shown me His power and peace the last time, so I knew He would come through again. I grabbed her hand and said with a smile, “Oh, mom we go way back,” and I began telling her the story of when she showed up at my house and took me in when I was just a baby. Before long, we were both smiling, laughing, and thanking God for His incredible work in our lives.

I share this very personal story because it was such a powerful reminder to me that God will take our painful moments and turn them into beautiful gifts that truly point to His incredible love for us. As I think about the future, I know there are going to be many more difficult moments ahead, but I also know—His Grace Will Be Enough. Enough for Today and Enough to Hold and Heal My Heart so that I can confidently say:

My flesh and my heart fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.    Psalm 73:26

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