I’m Tired of Being an Over-Achiever ~ And God’s More than Okay with That

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All of my life I have been an over-achiever. It was ingrained into the core of who I am to give it your very best ~ always.

The problem is that I took that to mean that I had to give EVERYTHING my very best and do so every minute of every day. That makes a person tired…very, very tired.

Who does that???? I’ll tell you: A crazy person does that. I never said I wasn’t crazy.

  • Who does that and sustains some kind of normalcy in life?
  • Who does that and maintains a strong sense of health and well-being?
  • Who does that and simultaneously is cautious about their motives so as not to strive for perfection, seek after man’s approval, or develop a NEED to be the best at everything all the stinking time?
  • Who does that and is seeking after God’s glory more than their own need to achieve?

Not this girl. I didn’t pull it off, friends. I mostly achieved my goals, and exceeded them in most instances, but the rest of the stuff went out the window. The important stuff.

And I’m paying for it now.

I have been working closely with the Lord in regard to this – for several years now. And just when I think I have let go of the need to achieve, I realize that without question, I am still hanging on.

  • I still want to be the best at what I do work-wise.
  • I still want to be the opposite of where I’m currently at fitness-wise – so bad I can taste it.
  • I still expect myself to give it my best – the difference now is that my best stinks a lot of the time because of how much I have burned myself out.

I’ve also found that I added in an extra pressure-of-sorts and I didn’t even realize I had been doing it until today: On TOP of trying to learn to surrender my over-achiever nature to the Lord, I started to develop an over-achiever mentality in that very endeavor.

I wanted to over-achieve when it came to surrender. (Told ya….C-R-A-Z-Y)

Let me explain it better: Constantly failing at the surrender piece of things was causing me angst and pressure internally because I felt I was letting God down. I felt I wasn’t “doing well enough” at the surrender thingie. I wasn’t “achieving” my goal of not trying to be so much of an over achiever any more.

Geeesh.

If that’s not an indicator that I have a problem, dear friends…well, I don’t know what is.

Here’s the deal: The flesh is strong. So is the mind and the heart.

I fail every day. I fail at trying not to fail. I fail at trying to be okay with failure. I fail at failing.

But I have already won because Christ gets me!!!

Jesus understands my little problems, my sinful nature, my “issues” – every last one of them.

And He loves me anyway. #beyondgrateful

So, instead of beating myself up for failing to relinquish control, failing to let go of being an over achiever, failing to “whatever”…today, I will just revel in the fact that my God understands me and wants the best for me.

And through the things that I am limited by right now, He will show His glory and might.

Through all that I cannot do, or fail to do right, or do too well (and self starts creeping in) and pick back up when I should be handing it over to Jesus, through ALL of THAT….God is in control.

And I believe that.

I have the fullest of faith in Him.

I know He has His plans and nothing I do or don’t do will stop Him.

He just wants for me to hand it over.

So this girl will continue to practice the beautiful art of waking up each day, and doing what I can, as I am moved by the Lord.

  • If He moves me to try to get on a treadmill, I will do it, but lose the expectations of meeting some type of goal for now.
  • If He moves me to let go of needing to exceed my results at work last month, and just be okay with doing a good job, I will do it.
  • If He moves me to sit still and listen, I will do so.

But this crazy girl does need your prayers. #thanksinadvance

Do you find yourself realizing that you need to relinquish control over something, yet persevere at the same time, and you simply don’t know how? Do you find that God asks for you to surrender the need to achieve all the time, but you aren’t sure when to sit still and when to give something your all? You are not alone,dear friend. It’s about Him and not about us, and sometimes all we can do is ask Him to magnify that one thing in our lives…the knowledge that it is all about Him and the trust that He will help us gain clarity as we seek more of Him and less of us.

You are not alone.

  • Let’s make our focus rest on Jesus, and not spend so much of our time trying to find our own perfect balance in how we should or should not be.
  • Let’s focus in on Him each day and ask Him to guide our steps and our lives instead of making so many plans.
  • Let’s give up being over achievers together and then watch God’s glory shine through it all!!! #BrighterbecauseofJesus

He has been waiting for it, after all. And He’s ready to embrace us in full if only we run to Him.

Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:39

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Three Positive Things to Say to Those Who are Suffering ~ Power Punch!

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A long time ago, someone shared with me that one of the most loving things we can do for others is to tell them what we need. It gives others the same opportunity to show grace and love and care that we ourselves have when they do the same for us. If we withhold, we rob others of that gift. And being able to give grace and help others in time of need is truly just that; a Gift.

So that’s what my last few essays have been about here on my little blog.

But make no mistake: I am not only talking about things that I have concluded that I need for myself. I truly believe this applies to so many people out there in the world ~ not just those who might struggle with an invisible illness, like my Fibromyalgia. There may be some deep and dark grief that is lodged firmly inside of their heart, or things that are causing internal stress that is wreaking havoc in their life. Most every person is fighting a battle of some kind that may be invisible to the naked eye.

By the way: I hate the “outta sight, outta mind” deal, if you haven’t noticed. I truly feel it glorifies God to celebrate all that we are grateful for, but also refuse to sweep under the rug that which is uncomfortable or ugly simply for convenience, selfishness, or whatever reason it is that is driving us to….sweep and hide stuff. And I do it all too often myself. Ick!

Jesus didn’t do only the fun stuff when it came to relationships when He walked this earth, friends. Why should we?

Others may have a “list” that is different than mine, but in most cases, I have found that it boils down to three main things ~ belief, compassion, and care.

In the last essay I shared 10 things that we might NOT want to say to someone struggling with an invisible illness or fighting a battle we cannot see, but that is very, very real. Today, as promised, I will share what I personally feel IS good to say in these situations.

Why only three things when it comes to the positive aspect of this?

Because to me, these three things hold more power all by themselves than even 100 of the things that we shouldn’t say do.  They are a Power Punch Trio of beauties that always make me walk away feeling cared for, and wanting to share all of myself with the person who has said these things to me and said them with a sincere heart. When it’s sincere, their follow-up actions always prove their words to be overall true.

As you read what I have shared here, please remember that as always, it’s about the intentions of the heart and know that these are simply the things that almost always scream to me “I love you and I care.” It is a personal feeling, a by-no-means-exhaustive list, and just what I have seen it boil down to as I have struggled these last few years with invisible ailments (physical, emotional, and spiritual). As I said, it can take on many forms and words can be tweaked here and there ~ but for me, it always has come down to these three things that make me actually feel I can share my burden with someone else. For REAL.

So here it goes….

“What you are dealing with is REAL.” In other words, “I totally believe you.” I can tell you without question, that especially when it comes to Fibromyalgia, we are treated as though it is not quite all the way “real”. But this holds true to many of the other invisible things that folks around us deal with as well. If we can’t see it, measure it, label it, or somehow control it, we seem to throw our hands up and either avoid it, or chalk it up to some other junk. We have to put meaning behind these words too – the person struggling with something like this needs to be convinced again and again that we believe them. Why? Because they are being bombarded with messages that are quite the opposite on a daily basis. They need to know that you believe them just as much as the friend of yours who just received a cancer or RA diagnosis. Invisible Illness, Grief, Pain or Stress from something that happened a while ago, but has rocked this person’s world and still is TODAY, all of this stuff is just as real as the stuff we can slap a label on ~ we have to dig to bring that which is not seen to the surface. Helping to encourage someone that you believe them is often the first step in allowing the ugly thorns that attack them relentlessly to come to the surface so they don’t have to bear the pain alone.

“It’s truly okay to feel bad about it sometimes.” Guilt for being sick all the time is not only self-imposed. In my case, I do take the guilt up on my own a lot of the time, but I must tell you that the medical community, the world at large, is not helping matters for those who struggle with chronic and invisible illness. We see the way that others are treated who have a clean-cut (albeit ugly) diagnosis, versus those of us who have one that is about a condition the medical field doesn’t even understand yet. We see it and cannot help but wonder why we aren’t given permission to feel bad about our pain, our brain fog, our limitations, while others who struggle with something that is more tangible for others to grasp can. We have to ultimately be able to give ourselves permission to feel bad about what we are going through most of the time. But it certainly helps when those closest to us do so as well. This holds true for stress and grief that people are walking around holding inside and dealing with all by their lonesome selves. If they only had permission to talk about it and even know that it’s okay to feel bad about it sometimes, maybe they could actually get on the road to healing and even helping others.

“I want to understand as best I can.” We stink as a society about being willing to deal with the ugly stuff in life. We want all the flowers and bows and pretty little wrappings to make things easier for us to swallow. Basically, we just want to have the party and not do any of the work to make it happen. I don’t know what world we think we are living in, but this fairy tale land we have made up for ourselves is a lie. If we truly want relationships that are lasting and real, we have to be willing to get down in there with people ~ share in the beauty AND the ugly, wade through the things we can easily understand and the things that puzzle us to no end. It’s about wanting to and trying to and being there even when we don’t. But so often, we fail to even express to others that we’d like to understand better what they are going through. Just allowing them to talk helps. But asking questions does too – it shows interest, desire, and an actual care and concern that goes beyond a stance of “I’m here for the ride” and moves right into, “I am sitting right next to you and not going ANYWHERE. Talk to me, brother!”

So those are my three things, dear friends. My three things that I think we can say to others who are struggling with stuff and may feel alone in that battle. My three things that I feel hold more power and punch than all the many little negative things we can try to avoid saying.

Our role is to find ways to encourage others and help them know they don’t have to allow the battle, illness, grief, stress to remain hidden. It can be brought to the surface, and dealt with, even if it takes a lifetime ~ together. We don’t have to bear it all alone and we most certainly don’t have to do that and hide all that is ugly from the rest of the world.

When we do, we truly aren’t doing others in our lives any favors.

MOST important is to remember that only God can truly heal us. Only God can truly understand us, friends. But He has placed us in one another’s lives to be encouragers to one another, to be iron that sharpens iron, to help one another bear the burdens (especially the ugly and invisible ones). There are times that we  have to face parts of things alone (just us with God), but if we make it a habit of bearing all of our burdens by ourselves, self starts to creep in and surrender becomes elusive.

Let us look for the invisible hurts and pains that our very own neighbor is contending with today. Let us search for the beauty and the ugly in the lives of those with whom we interact. And let us encourage each other that we are here for ALL OF IT….the long haul, the sickness and in health thing, the for better or for worse deal.

Because only taking the good parts and discarding all the rest makes for a petty little party. I want the real relationships, don’t you? I’ll take the Power Punch of true friendship and love over the petty party any day.

And that, is what makes me go to sleep at night feeling a lot lighter than when I woke up earlier that morning.

It wasn’t the cake, or the flowers, or the circus animals that did it. It wasn’t all the fun and frilly ribbons and presents ~ or the snacks or the treats or the music and dancing on the tables. No….not at all.

It was the Power Punch. 

And it didn’t even have to be spiked.

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

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10 Things Not To Say to Someone With an Invisible Illness

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I will be sharing a post soon on the upside of this kind of stuff soon…the positive spin, the “how to help” and happy-go-lucky kind of stuff. Yes…something more along the lines of what we can say that helps those who struggle with invisible illnesses.

But so very often, I think what helps us get into the mindset of what we can do that is positive, is to start with what not to do. Sad, but true.

We all make mistakes…I know I do. We learn from experience. So often, we learn best when we, ourselves, see things from a first hand perspective. This is where I come in on this topic.

We all struggle to know what the right thing is and what to stay away from when we are living with someone who struggles with something we cannot even see with the naked eye, let alone…fully understand. This holds true for grief, internal battles we cannot see (that we all go through) and as I am discussing today, the invisible illnesses people suffer with, like my own Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue.

Now that I have been living with an illness that is not outwardly visible in many ways, (but oh-so-very-REAL), I have seen first hand an entirely different layer of what so many in our world deal with ~ and they often feel alone.

Here are a few things I have learned that folks like myself don’t want to hear when struggling with an illness or battle that is unseen. These things do not help in most cases.

As with anything, you have to take it all within the context of the conversation – of course. But in most cases, I can say that when I hear such things as the list below, it not only doesn’t help me, but I walk away with more than just the battle I am already fighting due to my illness to contend with.

And I must say ~ This battle is enough.

“Well, at least you don’t have ___________” (insert something “real” here). This happens all the time, friends. We already know that we need to focus on what we are grateful for in the midst of the battle (WAR) we are fighting. We already know that we are more fortunate than many others and we still have much to be thankful for. We already know that this probably won’t kill us. But none of that makes it any less real to contend with. WE can say this, but when others say it TO us, it makes us feel small, diminished, and “less than.” The world has decided what it calls a “serious” illness and chalks the rest up to mere annoyances. The world screams this to the person living with the chronic and invisible illness. We don’t need our near and dear ones to do it too.

“Maybe you just need to exercise, eat differently, drink more juice, take better care of yourself, etc. Although this may hold true for many who have a chronic illness, doesn’t it also ring true for the majority of the people in the world? I can speak for myself that this girl was IN SHAPE prior to being struck down with Fibromyalgia! I was not lazy by any means when it came to exercise or even the way that I ate and took care of my physical health. And it still happened. This is a very sensitive area. Most folks who struggle with a chronic illness, especially one that not even the doctors fully understand are on a roller coaster constantly. They are trying every vitamin, every eating plan, every form of exercise, rest, sleeping techniques and helps known to man and under the sun. To imply that they could do better when they are struggling to fight their illness AND implement a multitude of coping skills, just adds to the defeat and exhaustion they probably already feel.

“You might want to go see a counselor.” First of all, your friend has probably already been down this road. Think back for a moment. Look at things like autism, ADHD, Bipolar Disorder. A couple of decades ago, these were invisible and non-measurable “illnesses” as well. The world didn’t accept that there was a physiological link in the mix. The world wasn’t even sure these things were real and not all in their heads. But now – today, we accept these things as very, very real. Fibromyalgia (my thing), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Adrenal Fatigue, and other illnesses like these are still being viewed that way. The world  hasn’t caught up to us yet. And we know this. Most of us understand this and employ grace towards the rest of the world who doesn’t get it yet. We know that the world hasn’t figured out whether or not to believe it’s a real thing. But we want you to trust us that It is not all in our heads. A counselor may help, but exercise caution if you are going to suggest this to a loved one – the context needs to fit, as always.

“This too, shall pass.” I’m sorry, but give me a break. Most of us are struggling to surrender and accept, friends. The line between accepting our illness and full-blown resignation is very thin. To hear that it may magically disappear one day does few of us any good. What we need is to believe we can live with it better, not wish for or hope for some magic wand to be waved and take it all away. Sorry, but I am a realist. I am also a Christian and believe that God can heal us. That is part of my reality as a follower after Christ. But I look at the reality of many who suffered in the Bible and not a whole lot of it was “removed” from them while they walked this earth. Yes… most of us just want to learn how to cope as best we can if for some (crazy) reason, this never does pass. Do we promise a cancer patient that it will pass and go away some day? I hope not. The way we BEAT THIS THING is not to live every moment hoping that it will disappear, but find ways to live for Christ in the midst of it.

“Do you take vitamins and supplements?” Yes…let me go grab my suitcase and show you. Want some? I have plenty and am willing to share.” ‘Nuff said.

“You “should” _____________” If you suffer from a chronic, and invisible illness and have been around the block a time or two, please take this one off your list. You can say this all you want. But if not, then there is no place for “shoulds” in our vocabulary when we are talking with someone about their illness battles. Again, it implies they have not done enough. It implies that we assume they haven’t already been there, done that. And they probably have. I’ll be the first to say that there may be some things I haven’t tried in order to cope with this thing, but chances are, I have tried most things on the “should” list. Multiple times.

“Well, you seemed fine yesterday ~ what happened?” These things, dear friends – these crazy problems that come with these invisible illnesses or battles that we fight – well, they have a mind of their own sometimes. I can say without question, that I, for one, have serious control issues. I am one motivated individual when it comes to employing every coping (control) skill in my magic Mary Poppins-like bag when it comes to avoiding pain and suffering. And if I could wake up today and use all of my tricks and tools so I feel as good as I did yesterday, I would do it. No contest. (yesterday…all my troubles seem so far away…sing it with me!)

“So much is about attitude. Mind over matter, baby.” Yes. And my attitude just got flushed down the toilet right after you said that to me. Hee Hee.

“You just need to give it over to God.”  For the Christian suffering with one of these monster illnesses, this is one of the worst thing another Christian can say to us as a blanket statement. Again, if shared in the right heart and within the right context, it is more than okay, but so often, we hear this just the way I have written it above. Saying it this way and without framing it appropriately implies that we aren’t…that we haven’t been on our knees beseeching the Lord to teach us and refine us through this thing. It insinuates that we are suffering because we have failed to let God be God in some way. It may be true that we need to surrender and learn from God through our suffering ~ isn’t it true for us all? But to imply that in some way we are sick because of our lack of surrender is just…well, kind of sick in its own way, don’t ya think?

“You just have to persevere.” Yup. Gotta run the race and run it well. Also, need to surrender at the same time. I have to tell, you friends. Sometimes, we want to give up. Some days we need to give up. We probably won’t stay there. But we need a break today. Don’t you have days like that even without being assailed by an invisible illness? Part of the way that we run our race when we are dealing with the invisible realities (battles) in life is to step out to the sidelines and stop for a minute. Pep talks like this don’t help us. Hopping on Jesus’ back instead is what we really need to do sometimes.

So…there we go. Let me conclude by saying that all of the above apply to me. I am not only the receiver of such comments but the giver of them as well. I am not the only person suffering with something hard and invisible today. This list applies to me with my invisible illness as to things I don’t really appreciate hearing. It also applies to me when it comes to things I should keep in mind when I am talking with someone else who is suffering in some way. We can learn from one another how to better build one another up, encourage, specifically pray, and just truly be there.

In the next post, I will share, from my own perspective, what we CAN do that helps those who struggle with these invisible battles.

Because isn’t that what it’s all about? One of the most loving things we can do for one another is to share with them how to help.

Maybe they, in turn, will do the same for us some day.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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The Itch I Cannot Scratch

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Those dudes in the scriptures? They were T-O-U-G-H peeps, my friends. The stuff they went through – endured – it’s truly beyond me.

Johah, Moses, Abraham, Job, David, the disciples and sooo many more! These dudes went through the ringer, man. I can’t even fathom it.

I get it: Some of them, at first, went through stuff without relying upon the Lord for help. But when they did turn to Him ~ when they did rely upon HIM, His power, His strength, they triumphed. Yes, even while suffering God can show us that because of Him, we have overcome.

That’s how our Savior does things. He pulls us up out of the broken pits of despair and suffering and works His wonders in and through those trials for the world to see. Glory be to God!

He doesn’t necessarily remove suffering, although we, small children that we are, like to think that a nice parent would do so.

Sometimes you have to allow your children to go through some stuff so they truly become stronger and learn and build character. All that good stuff, you know?

I laugh at myself of late, because I feel like I relate to Job. I laugh out loud because when it even goes through my little mind that I can relate to this dude and what he went through, it becomes crystal clear how small and weak I really am….ha ha. Why? Because what I am enduring right now is only a microscopic fraction of what Job actually went through in his time.

And if compared to the suffering that Christ endured? My trials cannot even be seen under a microscope!

Yes, I laugh.

And I cry.

I laugh and I cry because right now, along with the “normal” pain I carry with me all the time from the Fibro Monster, I am infected. Out of the blue (that’s what Fibro and CFS does – surprise!) my immune system started to shut down. Literally over night, my skin became inflamed and infected. It is now in my eyes (pinkeye), my face is covered in scabs (candida yeast) and I have fever blisters on my lips.

I cannot hug my kids or my husband. I can’t even kiss my puppy. I am itching all over and want to scratch my face off, but I can’t touch it. There is no escape. And it sucks rocks.

But…it’s really going to be okay. I’ve been here before. And I, unlike Job, have a doctor I can finally cave in and go to see today.

But when I think of Job, I often think only of how well he held up under adversity far greater than mine. I tend to walk in condemnation during such times because of that. I compare myself and my small faith as compared to men like these, and I come up quite short.

And then I realize later what I have done because God whispers to my heart – go and check a little deeper into the story, my daughter. Job was not so perfect in how he handled things either. He was human, like you. You can learn from him, yes. But also learn that he wasn’t pretending this was all fun and games and that’s not what I am trying to grow in you right now either.

I realize that Job, like me, at first accepted his plight with great dignity and minimal complaining…

The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD (Job 1:21).

So very often, when I am under duress, I stop right there in Job’s story. And then I walk away thinking I am an ungrateful child. But when I check a little further and go a little deeper, I see that eventually, Job had his human moments too. He, much like David in the Psalms, cries out. He doesn’t pretend he is loving this situation at all. He even goes so far as to curse his life.

Yes, long before spilling their hearts out to the Lord, these men, like little old me, also went through phases of resentment, bitterness, self-pity, and even anger for all the calamities they were facing.

None of us is perfect when we have an itch we cannot scratch…

Why is light given to him who suffers? Why is life given to those who feel sad in their soul?  They wait for death, but there is none. They dig for it more than for hidden riches. They are filled with much joy and are glad, when they find the grave. Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden, and around whom God has built a wall?  For I cry inside myself in front of my food. My cries pour out like water.  What I was afraid of has come upon me. What filled me with fear has happened.  I am not at rest, and I am not quiet. I have no rest, but only trouble.” Job 3:20-26

There’s no pretending on Job’s part that this is a walk in the park, friends. The key is that he sees his infection, but doesn’t place blame on the Lord for it. He cries out to Him instead. He is honest in his anguish. And when we honestly share our burdens with the Lord, it is then that He can truly take them for us.

In His timing, of course.

So yes, this is why I laugh at myself, friends. This is also why I cry sometimes. Because I am like Job even though my infection doesn’t come close to comparing to all that he endured. And unlike Job, I allow the enemy to make me berate myself before I realize what is even happening.

But the good news is that like Job, I do not blame God for my suffering. Thanks be to God that He speaks to us and ministers to our hearts through His Word. Thanks be to the Lord that He can “work all things together for our good.”!

We go through these little processes when we are “suffering” don’t we? It is part of what the Lord uses to mold us and shape us and build our character. It is part of surrender. It is part of dying to self. We struggle to scratch and scratch and scratch. We struggle to satisfy and obtain our own peace and relief. We struggle to the point we can even sometimes forget for a moment and lash out and fight against the One who knows us and loves us the most.

Until we finally give up.

Through all the struggle Job endured, the struggle to understand what was going on was the very itch he couldn’t seem to scratch. Searching for the answers and looking TO GOD is what finally brought him relief of sorts. Trying to understand more about God versus his present situation was part of what strengthened his already-strong faith and character.

Job may have become angry with his situation for a while, but he never really cursed God. He did, indeed curse his situation and cry out a lot about it though. He stopped short of accusing God for the suffering that was inflicted upon him, even though he was angry and upset about his plight.

I think this is the kind of thing that God wants from us. He wants us to cry out honestly about our plight – to HIM. He doesn’t want us to pretend it’s all okay and show how tough we are.

Even through the suffering, Job did not blame the Lord…he even admits he came to know him and build his relationship with him in a new way…

My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you. Job 42:5

I am infected. I am not tough about it. But far greater than the infection I carry around upon my face right now, I am filled with the love of Jesus. And He saves me!

  • He scratches my itchy heart when it needs it.
  • He brings relief to my soul when I cannot get any from my physical and emotional ailments.
  • He has my heart in the palm of His mighty hand.
  • He brings me a greater peace than any itch-scratcher-reliever-thing ever could.

And it is all for HIS glory anyway. 

And oh, yah….

It’s not even about me.

“See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this” (Isaiah 48:10).

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The Alien and the Candy Store

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Are ya ready for the understatement of the millennium? I don’t do conflict well.

Unfortunately, in that arena, the fact that I am a highly empathic person does not help me out much. You might think that it would, but yah – not so much. And it really doesn’t help that I have a health issue in which stress takes a HUGE toll. At least, not when conflicts get just plain ugly.

“Productive conflict” as I like to call it, well….. I’m pretty good with that stuff. It’s great when people are sitting down and calmly discussing their feelings, angst, hurts, desire to understand one another. It’s not-so-great when the teeth are showing and “understanding” one another is not in the center of the equation on everyone’s part.

Desire to strive for understanding one another and harmony ~ yah, that’s my thing.

Sometimes it’s my own sharp little teeth that are grinding and showing and making the conflict become “unproductive”. I can be like an alien trapped inside of a candy store, make no mistake about it!

Other times, I am the one seeing what’s really going on around us and feel quite helpless and alone ~ and that’s when the conflict starts to really take a toll on me. I then risk turning into that alien with fangs because fight or flight starts to take over. The monster in Annie comes out to play, and that’s a bad thing, my friends.

Does that happen with you?

I wrote a little while back about not being easily offended and what the Lord has to say about that. As Christians, we must know who we are IN CHRIST and try not to allow those little darts and arrows (that are constantly coming our way) to penetrate our hearts.

But we still get hurt sometimes. (And I am the Queen of that junk. Hence, why I wrote about it – it’s something I have to work on with the Lord because I STINK at it!)

So people like me? We forget to remember and get hurt and in turn, we hurt others right back.

We all do.

Most of the time it’s because of our sin nature – I say that matter of fact because well, it IS. It’s a matter of fact.

And sometimes it’s because we don’t have our full armor on. The Lord cautions us about that. He even lays out for us, piece by piece, what we need to wear today – EVERY day.

But we get cocky – sometimes we just feel like running light and free. When I do that, I almost ALWAYS get into trouble.

The armor is not meant to be an option. Sad, but true.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:10-12

The schemes of the devil ~ let’s just say that it ain’t no joke, friends. I think sometimes that as Christians, we know that he is there, operating and up to no good, but we often overlook just how pervasive his trickery, planning and divisive little tactics really are.

I sense these forces all around us. Do you? Sometimes people think that I read into things too much or whatever you want to call it. Sometimes they may be right. But most of the time, I know what I know to be true. And when you sense something like this around you or others you love, it is unmistakable that ~ IT. IS. REAL.

By the way: The Lord says it’s real too – it’s all throughout the Word.

Check for yourself.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

So those of us who sense these things and do so more regularly or easily than others; well, we aren’t “crazy.” We are actually obeying the Lord to be ever-so-watchful of such things.

But we also have to be careful.

We have to be careful to put that full armor on and remember Who is MORE powerful, Who is MORE present, Who is KING.

Why? Because so often, fear can overtake us. And then we go into full combat gear mode. We try to add to the Lord’s armor something of our own. Some secret weapon that we think might enhance it and make it work even better.

NOT the case, friends. Not the case!

For me in particular, this happens when I allow what I sense or see around me that is “not good” to be magnified and begin to overwhelm me. Sometimes, I feel this need to have the whole “strength in numbers” thing going on. Not as a ganging up on others type of thing, but this NEED to understand what’s really happening – together.

Finding someone else to be there with me in the moment, to name it, talk about it for what it really is (what we are sensing and seeing creeping in) seems like a smart and intelligent  way to fight against it.

You know? To know we have a common enemy and fight IT together, instead of fighting one another?

We’re on to you, evil.

Yah….like that!

But that almost never happens in the moment. And that’s another one of the horrible one’s little schemes. (I can’t stand that devil, by the way)

The truth is, that only God can help us to combat that fear. Only God can help us in times of unproductive conflict. Only God can comfort us that He believes us when we sense the REAL evil around us and feel threatened and even cave into allowing it to permeate our own hearts and try to take over.

Only God.

So we have to KNOW Him. We have to spend time with the Lord in daily prayer, in His Word. We have to seek Him constantly – especially in times of turmoil.

Because it’s too easy to get swept up in emotions, hurts, offenses, and let the REALLY dangerous stuff take over – bitterness, anger, fear, self-pity, hatred, division, apathy – the list goes on.

And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 2 Corinthians 11:14

The armor will do us no good if our hearts are filled with ugly. It will only trap that darkness inside and make us feel stronger and thicker skinned.

Our hearts need to be soft and open to the One True God.

There is a time and a place for vulnerability in love with one another. And yes ~there is a time and a place to proceed with caution. But ALL the time, we must rely upon the LORD for our strength ~ for His wisdom to know what to do ~ and for His peace.

Evil will try to harm us and make us think it is going to get us. Most of the time, it will start right inside of our own hearts and work from the inside out. And yes, sometimes, we are under assault from the outside and it’s banging up our armor pretty darned good.

But if we are truly followers of Christ, we will wise up to what’s going on because the Holy Spirit will make it clear.

And then we’ll remember…………

The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. Psalm 121:7

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14

We are not alone. It’s just a matter of who we choose to keep company with ~ Jesus, or the aliens.

Let’s seek HIM ~ shall we?

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Free the Monkeys!

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I’m a silly little monkey sometimes. How about you?

I have been thinking so much lately about my chronic condition – Fibromyalgia. I have been thinking about the fact that although on the surface, it may seem like suffering, I really haven’t quite been looking at it that way.

Instead, I have been struggling, friends.

Let me explain further by sharing this with you:

Suffering ~ The state of undergoing pain, hardship or distress. Anguish, adversity, torment, martyrdom. Opposite: Pleasure, or happiness.

Struggling ~ Making forceful or violent efforts to get free of restraint or constriction. Having difficulty coping with or handling. Fight, grapple, wrestle, brawl, spar. Opposite: Surrender, giving in, peace

Suffering seems in our culture to have a nicer ring to it, no? Well, not in the sense that anyone wants to suffer, but the person “undergoing” the suffering is, well ~ thought well-of, I would say.

Struggling is more of an action – it’s seen as something not happening to a person, but a thing that person is actively doing. Often struggling is seen as somehow sad, or less than. Other times, people place admiration upon the person who “fights for their rights.”

I don’t care what the world really thinks in the big picture of it all, friends. But I will say that sometimes I do get caught up, in the midst of my “condition” (no one really wants to call it an illness yet) in wondering why people treat folks with invisible illnesses as though maybe, just maybe, it’s all in their  head.

I can tell you – without question – this stuff is not all in my head. I’m not even convinced that this label of “Fibromyalgia” is quite all the way accurate. There may be something bigger going on than what meets the eye. I can say most definitively that the spiritual struggle is by far been more pervasive than even the widespread pain can be.

So back to the struggling and suffering stuff. Friends, I may suffer sometimes in the clinical and dictionary definition way with regard to this problem I have. But I must tell you, I don’t feel like it’s true suffering at all.

There are people in the world that can attest to what true suffering really is. I am not one of them.

This version of “suffering” that I am experiencing doesn’t take away my happiness. It doesn’t completely steal my peace (most days). It tries to ~ I’ll give you that. Sometimes I have to fight, and by fight I mean surrender a lot of stuff to the Lord. My human weaknesses, my sin, my selfishness, my desire to have it all, is really the way that I suffer as I walk this earth. It is far more crippling of a condition than this chronic pain syndrome is.

So in reality, it is me that “tries to” steal my own peace. It is me who I have to fight against every single day. It is me and the elevation of self that tries to put up a fight.

I am not a martyr.

I am not deserving of recognition for how I handle my pain.

I have a lot of things that afflict me that are far greater than Fibromyalgia.

But I am saved by Jesus Christ ~ and that makes me special.

That and that alone.

Him and Him alone.

Friends, the struggling aspect of things is what assails me more, by far. I am a little control freak who has “struggled” her whole life to achieve balance and peace.

It ain’t gonna happen.

I find myself struggling and getting all jumbled up some days about the stuff that I simply cannot control – and when that happens, I’m pretty much wasting my time. I find I end up having to surrender it all anyway at the end of the day. The only thing about that that holds any value whatsoever, is that it teaches me even more about surrendering it all to Christ.

Other times, struggle can be good. We have to struggle and fight to not get sucked down into the mire ~ into the “I gotta fight for my right to party” mentality. We have to fight and grapple and grasp for the outstretched hand of Jesus sometimes. This is a good kind of struggle. And thankfully, my stubborn self helps me out a little with this kind of thing.

But ultimately, I can offer nothing in the fight against worldly thought processes and mentalities. I have nothing to bring to the table that will help me fight against those things which are seen or unseen that threaten to attack. Nothing of Annie will help here, friends.

But I have Jesus.

My Lord and Savior saves me from more than I know – all the time.

My Lord and Savior can give meaning to even seemingly “bad” things like suffering and struggling.

My Lord and Savior takes all that is bad and creates good and brings about His will.

Nothing will stop Him.

And there is great peace to be had in the full-on knowledge of that fact.

Are you suffering today, dear friend? Are you struggling to fight for your rights or grappling for the Lord’s peace because something, some outside force is trying to take you further down into the pit of despair. Fear not. The Lord God is with you, friend! Bring it all to Him, won’t you? Leave it at his feet. Simply accept that today this is how it is, but know WITHOUT QUESTION that He can change it all at any moment.

And even through the ugly – the very, very ugly – He will shine His beautiful face upon you.

In that, we can rejoice!

In that, we are made free!

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5\

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Yet Still Today

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A couple of months ago I hit a new low in regard to my health. It reached a place where I could not continue on the way things were and I had to go out on leave from work for about six or seven weeks. So these last weeks have been spent in rest and recuperation, nesting around my home, and moving through the days one at a time.

Blessings have come, yet my health is still a thorn in my side, friends. Yes, I am better in some ways, but the monster is always there ~ simply looming and waiting, teeth exposed and jaws flapping, eyes squinting and piercing and ugly mouth salivating ~ just always right there and waiting to chomp.

But Jesus is here too, and although the monster tries to give me a run for my money, it is simply no match for my Savior.

I am His.

Yet still today…………

  • Today I return to work, to a new and better work situation which is a blessing (a miracle, actually) yet I find myself in a strange place.
  • Today I am finding myself anxious when I know that I shouldn’t be.
  • Today I am wishing I could continue on the way I have been these past six weeks or so.
  • Today I am finding myself feeling discontent even before anything has changed or happened.
  • Today I am fearful and feeling guilty because that must mean I am not trusting in Him.
  • Today I am looking at what might be yanked away from me instead of seeing the blessing that the Lord has provided to make dealing with the ugly a little bit less ~ ugly.
  • Today I am already feeling guilty that I have all of these feelings.

What will this new season in life regarding my new work situation really mean for me and my family? Will I be able to do a good job without compromising my health? Can I let go of the expectations I have always had of myself to perform to the utmost of my ability and just simply do a GOOD job? Is that enough?

What if it doesn’t work out? What then?

I am His.

In so many ways I am a glass half full girl, while in others I am quite the opposite. I wish I could just pick one and be it, but that’s not the way it works for me. When I am the half empty kinda gal, I know I am simply trying to be honest and practical and realistic, yet I feel guilty for being less than positive about things. When I’m in half full mode, I feel great about looking at things as positively as possible, yet worry I am placing too much faith and hope in whether things turn out good or not.

It’s not about that and I know it.

It’s about trusting in Him no matter what things come, how things work out or don’t work out, and knowing without question that no matter what, He never changes.

Neither does this:

I am His.

So today I do not find myself looking at the glass one way or another. I find myself looking past the glass and unto Jesus, friends. I am reaching for His hand and trusting Him to pave the way for me. I am believing that He already has this covered and will reveal to me all that He has for us. I am hoping in Him and that He will help me to keep what truly matters at the top of my priority list.

That’s the part that is far more than half full. My cup runneth over.

Because…….

I am His.

Do you know that you are His no matter what happens to you? In the face of the unknown or difficulty or trials, do you know that Jesus never changes and is always by your side? Can you bring yourself to His feet and turn that thing over to Him even before you have your emotions straightened out? That’s the way it’s supposed to be anyway, friends ~ we can come to Him just as we are. It’s always been that way and remains that way ~

Yet still today.

LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. Psalm 23:5

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This Is War

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There was a conflict in my home last night ~ a family conflict. It came on suddenly, and it grew, and grew and grew until it had a life of its own.

Words flew, confusion ensued, and emotions ran the show. I can tell you right now ~ it was not a show that I haven’t seen before, but I never signed up for a repeat performance.

You see, the enemy entered my house at some point and I didn’t see him coming. I don’t think any of us did.

I think it’s because he snuck into our hearts first. He came in through the back door.

This is what I was writing about the other day: This!

  • This is the ugly I want for God to show me when it’s coming.
  • This is the ugly I want to be on guard for, so I can avoid being caught unaware.
  • This is the ugly that the world tells us is unavoidable, so we get weary of looking for it and heading it off at the pass.

This is the ugly that is not beautiful in its own twisted way.

What is really sad is that we all have a full set of the best armor ~ It’s God’s armor. The sad part is that I can’t even say we weren’t armed…we just armed ourselves with the fake and cruddy stuff. We grabbed the armor of self ~ the glittery and really convenient kind. We grabbed what seemed like it was closest.

News Alert: It didn’t work. Fake stuff never does.

So today…today remorse is trying to win. Today condemnation is trying to win. Today the conflict and the life of its own that spun a web of fire and tried to burn things down has subsided, but the embers are still there ~ threatening to catch on fire again.

Today seems…..dark.

Today it is time for God’s water. It is time for God’s light in the midst of the darkness. Today it is time for God’s mercy and compassion and love. Today it is time to dump out the vestiges of remorse, bitterness, condemnation.

It’s going to hurt.

I am anxious today. I am anxious because everyone has to go their separate ways to do life and their individual responsibilities and we are all separated. I am anxious because there is talking and understanding to be done and we are unable to come together to do it.

I am holding on to the anxiety and struggling to turn it over to God.

But I am believing today, friends. I am believing that God can draw us together in spite of the physical separation.

I am believing.

I am believing that He knows each of our hearts and our desire to make things right.

I am believing.

I am believing that He can heal us and He doesn’t even need our help to do it.

I believe.

I believe He will use the space of separation to draw us together.

This morning, as I took two of my children to school, my son said “I realize I have anger issues and probably always will need God to help me with that.” All I could think was ~ “don’t we all?”

Anger is an ugly monster. So is selfishness.

And so is condemnation.

When we fail to stop in those moments to put on our armor, we give all of our energy to the match of ugly and evil that is trying to grow into an out-of-control bonfire.

I didn’t use my armor. Few of us involved in the ugly conflict did. We all have “anger issues.”

Today I am going to sharpen it and put it back on.

And I’m not going to forget to remember who my enemy really is.

This is war. And I know who is going to win.I need to stop forgetting to remember that. I need to remember that we are on the winning side.

No one ever said that war would be pretty. But there IS beauty in that kind of ugly.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Glitter-Mud and Secrets

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Yesterday I shared how my heart is learning much about the asking we must do as we are truly seeking Jesus about a difficulty or a trial that we are burdened with in our lives. His will in our lives ~ wisdom and direction ~ patience and perseverance ~ many, many things require that we humble ourselves enough to ask of Him and then listen for His answers as to what the next step should be.

Even if it means we might be crawling, if we are seeking Him, dignity can be embraced upon our knees.

Dignity in Christ.

We ask everything according to His will, but we also ask that He grow our faith in the process of the waiting. We ask that He help us to remember when we fail to cry out to Him or don’t even bother to do any asking. We ask that He slice and dice our own will and make His clear and give us the power to obey Him.

But as I said yesterday, it’s not only about the asking. There’s so much for us to learn about the listening too, friends.

The listening and the obeying.

I also mentioned a bit about what happens along the way when we find ourselves asking, seeking, listening, and waiting upon the Lord regarding decisions we know we must make.

What are we to do in the midst of the waiting?

We embrace the beautiful parts intermingled with the ugly ones.

We seek to find things ~ be intentional about looking for grace, receiving it, and doling it out as well.

We look for the glitter that is sprinkled throughout the mud that we feel we are trudging through, friends.

Because it’s there.

Today my pain level was not much better than it was before. But my glitter-seeking antennae were up and running before my feet hit the ground. They were working better today ~ far more receptive ~ far more tuned in than they were yesterday or the day before.

They were ready to look for it, recognize it, and snap it up and hold it tightly.

I had to do things that were hard for me in the midst of the already hard stuff.

But I found the glitter. In Him, and in the grace poured out by others.

I stand in awe at the beautiful relationships and hearts that I saw around me yesterday and today. They have been there before ~ this is most certainly not the first time these people that I call friends have showered me in such lavish grace and care. But today and yesterday ~ well, I was hit with an avalanche of glittery grace that brightened up the quicksand my pain has been making me feel trapped inside of for a couple of months now.

It didn’t take away all of the mud, but it glitterize’d it for sure, my friends.

And it was less heavy.

And I know that God sent them to me, these friends. I know these are grace gifts that He orchestrated to come my way.

What are we to do along the way?

I thought of Jesus and the agonizing trek he had to make that led to His crucifixion ~ the day that His battered physical body could no longer carry His cross completely alone during part of the journey.

He allowed someone to help Him carry that burden for a while, friends.

He received the grace and the help.

And as dark as things looked, I believe it to be a beautiful example of humility, love and grace when the Savior of the world allowed a man to help him to carry the cross that He would be crucified on later that day.

Only Jesus could bear the burden of all our sin on that cross and save us. He chose to go willingly. He also chose not to walk alone.

We are to bear one another’s burdens. We are to give our grace and love freely, but called to receive it as well. It’s part of humility, dear friends. It’s part of listening. It’s part of obedience to embrace the glittery grace that others offer to us in the midst of our pain or difficulty.

It’s a gift for the receiver as well as the giver of the glittery grace.

It puts the mud to shame, even if it won’t completely relent.

It redecorates the space that we are in so that more glitter can breed and spread and eventually light overtakes the dark.

It invites others to share in our most vulnerable and intimate spaces and make them a part of it all.

This is relationship.

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We can give some of our own out too, you know. Even when we are on our knees and still partly submerged in the quicksand, we can reach into our glittery pockets. Even if we have to throw it up in the air behind us and hope our aim is halfway decent.

Part of the way that we can be givers of grace comes from being the ones at times who are receiving of it.

If you are stuck in the mud and all is ugly and sticky and dark and heavy, would you look for the glitter that’s around you too, dear friend? If you cannot see it, cry out to the Lord and ask others for help. Are you willing to submit your pleas for help? Are you ready to receive it as a child would?

We need to allow others the gift of being there for us, just as we wish to be there for them in times of need. Instead of seeing ourselves as helpless animals stuck in the mud, let’s look upon it the way we would if the roles were reversed! Would we want to help a friend in need if they were stuck? Would we want to do everything we could to help them along the way? And if so, would we want for them to receive it graciously?

It’s part of what we must do along the way ~ open ourselves up to be the receivers of mercy and grace.

No one should set themselves apart from giving or receiving such grace.

No true giver of grace is someone who refuses to receive it when it’s their turn.

Jesus didn’t.

I am grateful for the glitter in the mud today. I am grateful the Lord gave me the eyes and the heart to see it and celebrate it. I am grateful for the grace givers and the ones who have received some of what the Lord provided to me to dole out to them at one time.

I am grateful. I am a muddy, glittery, mixed-up, probably frustrating, but ever-so grateful gal.

And as I get ready to rest for the night, I find myself being grateful for just one more tiny little thing.

That although I might be muddy ~ there’s glitter stuck all over me.

Maybe someday I will be able to testify that I have become better at living out the entirety of this little secret:

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. Philippians 4: 12-14

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Compartmentalizing and Coveting: It Doesn’t Work That Way

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I long ~ I look back ~ and I find myself cherry picking the good stuff in my memory banks as to how I used to be. The vitality. The health. The energy and the abundant good moods.

I find myself in want this morning ~ I find myself coveting the good parts of things I used to have.

I remember: I remember the good stuff and how great it was.

And I selectively forget: I forget about the bad stuff that was glued right by the side of the good for a very long time.

It was a whole package. I can’t forget that I am compartmentalizing in a crazy way when I do this. I thank Jesus for intervening in my twisted mind this morning.

Because, you see ~ that’s when my heart and mind begins to slip ~ it begins to forget that life doesn’t work that way. That we get the whole of the picture, not just the bits and pieces. That there was bad that I never want to go back to, along with the good stuff that I am missing right now.

Back in the day, I was high energy, of good health, and never skipped a beat mentally. I had a fast and efficient brain, a vibrant and explosive body full of endless energy, and was a high achiever and a striver (and obtainer) in most all that I put myself into at any given point. I was in a good mood a lot. My body did not hurt. I was moving like lightning and it felt good.

I miss those things today. Today I am not there. Today, I am literally sick, and have been for over a week now. I can hardly swallow. My whole body aches. I have almost NO energy. And I am getting ready to go off to work and barely move through the motions of the day.

Today, I am not only ill, but today, I have seen clearly that I have taken several LEAPS back in regard to my overall health and the progress I was making with regard to this Fibro Monster.

Backwards. It stinks.

It breeds fear. Anxiety threatens. “Lord, I don’t want to go back to that place.”

So I went to the over-compartmentalized place. Again. So I went into the coveteous heart and mind place. Again.

I told you I play with the matches in my brain. Remember?

And now ~ this morning, I realize I am doing the same thing in reverse here. I am picking out the bad stuff that I don’t want to repeat, but failing to set my eyes upon the good stuff I have learned through that ugly of the Fibro sickness.

Annie. Are you listening? It doesn’t work that way!

God doesn’t work that way.

So I submit.

I submit to the sickness and illness of today and what God is going to do with that.

I submit.

I submit to the fact that in the old days, I may have been healthy-seeming of body and of mind, but I was not ~ not spiritually at ALL, and that is what matters.

I submit.

I submit to the LORD and what HE is doing through this illness, rather than TO the illness itself.

I submit.

Reluctantly, I must admit, but I will submit.

I’m reluctant because the flesh is strong, friends. Do you find that hard too? I drag my feet because I keep on thinking that if I fight, fight, fight, I may be able to beat this. But that is not true. I can’t beat this thing.

I submit.

I’m a kicking, screaming, tantrum-throwing child, but I am His child.

HIS child! And I submit.

Do you have something you are over-compartmentalizing and coveting and cherry-picking over that you find yourself pining away about today? Something you have never had, but think that you want, or something that you had before? Zoom out for a minute with Jesus, friend. Look at the whole picture of where you are now, not just at the lack of things if you are struggling with health, heartache, or some type of suffering today.

Zoom out, and submit to His will.

Remember the whole of the past.  Love the parts that were good, but look forward with me to the future and the hope we have in Jesus.

He will do great and wonderful things through us even when our flesh doesn’t seem to feel the rewards of that just yet.

He is our Mighty Savior ~ our Great Physician! He is about His Father’s business and that includes inside of each and every one of our lives.

Through the good stuff and through the suffering.

Through the parts that don’t feel great, and the parts that make us jump with joy.

I submit.

I surrender.

I am grateful.

I am His.

He will figure out what to do with ALL the bits and pieces.

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. Galatians 3:26

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7

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He’s Freeing Up Space

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Do you pray that the Lord would help you to be able to place Him first in your life? Do you find yourself crying out to Him ~ “Lord, help me do what I am supposed to do without sacrificing my relationship with You.”

God first. Yes…God first.

How do we move through the day and take care of all our responsibilities without sacrificing our focus on that gift of a relationship? How do we go from place to place and task to task without taking our eyes off Him?

I find this more and more difficult with each passing day, friends. And I am more committed to God first than I have ever been before. Some of that may simply be spiritual warfare ~ the enemy is not too hip on me placing the Lord in the Number One spot in my life. I’m aware of that and I pray accordingly.

But that’s not all of it.

For about two years now, I can’t get away from this nagging inside. It’s something I find difficult to articulate, but I assure you it’s very real. I am only recently truly starting to believe it is God’s voice and not my own. It’s about whether or not I should continue to work outside of the home. I keep thinking it’s because I am meant to eventually do something else, take care of my health, my family, and my home. But I think the overarching reason is that He wants to free up space.

I  had to test it out, you see. I had to be sure it wasn’t just me talking.

All logic in regard to this situation flies right out the window when I look it bold in the face. God has actually used my decline in health, I believe, to tell me it’s really Him talking. He is knocking, and has been for a while. It is beginning to sound like pounding.

I even stepped out and quit my awesome job over a year ago. I went where I felt He was leading me. Each place I went was “not right.” Then, I came back full circle and was led by Him right back to my old job, but with a better schedule ~ working days instead of nights. What a blessing!

But I am getting sick again. I don’t blame that on my job, rather, my working outside the home is making the health issues worse than they would be if I could stay home for a while. Is the Lord trying to make a good out of the “bad” of my health issues? Is He trying to use this to get me to do what He possibly wanted me to do all along: Quit and DO NOT go out and get another job right away. Quit working outside the home and (ready for it?) Wait.

Wait.

I am torn – I literally feel the sickness from the tearing in the pit of my stomach. I don’t know what  God has in store, but something’s about to change radically in my life. I can feel it.

I know that God is paving the way for what is going to be happening. I can see signs of things being set up and laid out perfectly for me, although the unknown of just how extreme it will be is still there. I have to keep myself in check by laying the fear that tries to take root inside of me right in His lap on a moment-by-moment and daily basis. That’s probably where the sick pit comes from – sometimes I am busy at work or somewhere else and can’t seem to fully turn it over to Him until I catch a break.

There’s a change happening for me at my work soon that may mean I can cut my hours down even further. This may be all that is needed, and what He has had me waiting upon, but it may not cut it. It may be that I have to completely stop working. Part of me just wants to cut to the chase and  hang it all up right now.

Wait.

If I were to go where the peace seems to be in regard to this situation, maybe it would be better to do so. Just stop. Stop working outside the home and trust Him that He will lead me to what I should do at home. Whether that means finding a part time job I can do from here or not work at all, I don’t know.

I just feel I am toying with this whole thing and have been for some time. Do you ever feel that way? Like you don’t trust that inner voice because you need time to sort – test – make sure it’s not your own voice or some temptation that’s pulling at you? That you need time to put it to prayer and make sure that before you act, you are within His will, not your own?

I share only the very top layer of this with you today, as I don’t want to go off on multiple tangents. But know that this is deeply layered ~ so many things (too many to count) are screaming that I need to do something differently regarding this whole thing.

I have been trying. I have been praying. I have been flexible and willing to try things out. But the nagging is still there.

Wait.

Is it this?

No…that’s not it – you haven’t gone all the way with this, Anne. I want you to COMPLETELY stop. I want you to COMPLETELY trust me. I want you to COMPLETELY understand and have faith and believe and give it ALL UP and trust that I have a reason. I have a plan. You won’t know what it is until you give it all up. You will have to Wait even then before it is revealed to you. But you must step first.

Or is it this?

Have faith and hang in there. You can do this – not in your own strength, but in Mine. I have gifted you with this wonderful job and if you persevere, I have plans for you. Plans that will balance out your need to focus on your health and your family and your home and finances. You need to trust me. You need to  hang in there. I  have a plan. Just wait for it.

Friends, I don’t know which one it is. But I do know this ~ God has a plan. I also know this: I hate waiting. I’m an action kinda girl. I’m also an impatient kinda girl. I just want to do what is right in the eyes of the Lord. Yet I don’t want to let my family down. Such a dumb thing to get so worked up about too! (See how the enemy gets to me?)

But I would covet your prayers. I wish to be obedient, but to the right voice….HIS.

If you are struggling today with something similar, do you know that He does have a plan? Do you trust that He will make it clear which way you need to go, even if the logistics of the decision you must make aren’t laid out “clearly” by human standards, defy logic, are risky, and contain much of what seems to be unknown?

Do you struggle with risk or movement, or do you struggle with being impulsive and impatient?

Are you pressing in and asking Him to make you willing? Do you trust in Him that He will make His will known to you? Do you believe He will be there in the waiting, whichever form it takes?

He will, you know. In the middle of the twisting and the angst, He offers peace to carry us through. He is our foundation. He will knock and even pound to break through the crazy that tries to block our hearing, our sight. He will be with us in the empty spaces of the waiting and fill them up.

He will free up that space ~ the one that is deep, deep down underneath all the layers. He will free it up and we have only to listen. Listen intently until we hear.

And once we do hear? We must move.

He’ll help us know where to walk.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3: 5-6

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Cutting Through the Gray ~ It’s Worth It!

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Sometimes everything seems just….gray. We feel trapped. Isolated. Lonely. Left out.

We feel hemmed in. Angry. Bitter. Hated.

We look out to the other side – thinking what’s better must be way over there.

Away from us.

Do you see the magic of the grace of Jesus around you today? Right where you are ~ do you see it? Or do you see the gray?

Do you know that even if things look ugly, murky, dark or cold, that He can change your view? Do you know that you are not alone?

He is here ~ right here with you. Fences don’t mean anything to Him. Neither does gray.

His light, His grace, His love, His mercy, His compassion, His power, His strength, His comfort, His peace, His might, His holiness ~ ALL of who He is cuts right through that ugly gray, that lonely place, that dark.

It changes everything, friends. He changes everything.

Bask in Him today, wherever you may be. Let Him cut through the gray and the fences and open up for you, the freedom you have in being His child.

You are His. No matter where you are, He is there.

He gets in the nooks and crannies. He cuts down the fences. He infiltrates gray with light and love.

Sometimes it hurts. But that hurt is so worth it all. Hurt is temporary. Salvation and living a life centered on Jesus is eternal.

He is so worth it.

girls-529013_640Romans 8: 35-39 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?  (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.” No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

This Fear ~ The Truth and the Lies

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Lies. The lies are intricate. They seep deep down and dig in ~ then they sprout and spread.

But truth: The truth is eternal.

It can be drowned out, but it doesn’t have to be.

Others will tell you that if you had the right attitude or outlook, that you could move yourself right on past this. Then you go home and you are alone. Their words ring back inside your head over and over again. Your mind is working overtime. It’s spinning around this anxiety – this fear.

Lie #1Be strong – think of yourself first and foremost. Cut all negativity out of your life. You have the power to do it. YOU are what matters. YOU have the strength. YOU have the resilience. YOU are all that is important – and your happiness.

Then the other voices will come – the ones in your head that like to come out to play during such times as these. They sing the songs of deceit. They try to make you feel they are your only friends in the world. They momentarily take your mind off the worry – this fear.

Lie #2: Don’t do that – talk to us, instead. Stay by yourself. Isolate yourself from all that junk and all those people that are adding to your anxiety. They don’t really care anyway. YOU can handle this. YOU can be alone. YOU are strong enough and YOU don’t need them anyway.

The songs turn into an intentionally weaved symphony of hatred, bitterness, resentment. Depression ensues. Heart is surrounded, mind overtaken. Clarity disappears. But the still voice is there – the One that has never left, but is asking if you are going to listen. It has the answers. It offers the peace. It can rescue you from it ~ this fear.

Truth: Why don’t you listen for a moment? Are you going to be still long enough to do so? You can call me and my voice will grow louder. I am here for you and waiting. It will become easier to you to hear if you start to listen. I am the One you need to spend time with. I am the One with the truth. The truth about it all ~ this fear.

The clenching is strong; all the physical signs are there. You have tried to will your mind to stop worrying – stop being anxious. You have listened to the condemnation from the liars. You have let the guilt grow inside about how wimpy you are. You have even tried to remember what all the others told you that God’s Word says about turning over your anxiety, your sadness. You wonder why ~ why can’t you do what you know you should do. Why do you let it rule you ~ this fear?

Truth: I have told you before and I am telling you now. It is not about being able to avoid these things. It is not about being able to cast away all others in your life that might hurt you or cause you to feel unhappy. It is not about being strong enough to remove the fear, the pain, the dark on your own. It is about walking with Me and listening to Me even in the midst of all that. You are not alone – even in this place – this place that is filled with this fear.

My favorite place in the Bible is the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus did not “get out” of the anxiety that He was dealing with during this time before the cross (even though He could have). He did not pull Himself up by His bootstraps and make sure to avoid the coming suffering, continued persecution, and horrendous torture He was about to face.

He focused instead on communion with His Father. The anxiety became secondary, although it was still present ~ very present.

The Savior of the WORLD did not try to rely upon Himself to get through it – the fear.

He pressed in and relied upon the Father. The voice of the Father. The fellowship with the Father. The submission of His will to the Father.

This fear ~ this fear is no greater than anything Jesus Christ Himself experienced. He is the One who truly understands. He shows us that we don’t isolate completely during such times. He shows us that we are to ask those who love us (the disciples in the garden) to pray for us. He tells us that we are then to go straight back to our knees and cry out to the Father. All else will fade to black.

The peace of the Father.The joy of the Father. The comfort of the Father.

We can’t avoid it ~ this fear. We can embrace it. But not alone. Never alone.

We can sweat and cry and pound and scream in the privacy offered as we meet with the Father and come into His presence. We don’t have to be tough. We don’t have to be strong. We don’t have the ability to overcome it on our own anyway (we can fake it, but that’s about as good as it gets).

Jesus suffered. Jesus felt anxiety, worry, and fear. But He cast them away.

He sweat blood to do it. He sweat it out with the Father.

The fear was there. But then the peace was there too. Then came the strength. The strength that only comes from God.

This fear. This fear you are enveloped in today, friend. Admit that it’s there. Stop berating yourself for its presence. Instead, come to your knees and cry out to the Father. Ask Him to strengthen you. He may even remove it. But even if it is not made to disappear, He will equip you. He will destroy the lies and make the truth minister to you, grow stronger, and help you to walk in peace even in the midst of it ~

Even in the midst of this fear.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

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Fainting and then Flying ~ When the Helper Comes

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And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever. John 14:16

It was last Wednesday night. It wasn’t the first time this has happened to me, but it still takes me by surprise when it does. It’s happened three other times in my life, but never to the point that I actually fainted – lost consciousness. I went down.

Yes, I went down, friends. ALL the way down. And in that down, I was truly lifted up. I was kept, comforted, and helped.

But, being a human, made of flesh, I was terrified at first. As it was happening, I felt panicked. I felt and thought to myself “am I going to die this time ~ is this it? Is this the end of the road?”

And then the Helper came.

I was watching a tutorial about skin care, as I am about to start helping one of my children to clear up their acne and I have much to learn about proper facial and hygiene techniques. I admit, I was getting a little bit grossed out by what I was seeing on the video. I took my night time pills and vitamins. Usually, I then have about 20 minutes before the melatonin-type substance my doctor give me kicks in and I can go to sleep.

Suddenly, I felt overwhelming waves of nausea. My extremeties went numb, my head started spinning, and my breathing became extremely shallow. I stood up. “Must get to the bathroom down the hall and get to my phone.” Everyone else had already gone to bed.

I tend not to be ready for bed until about 11 pm. The rest of my family turns in a bit earlier than that. So I was alone. Or so I thought.

Suddenly, as I am moving toward the hall, everything zeroes in and goes black. I wake up because I hear “CRUNCH”. I am on the floor in the dark hallway. No phone. No nothing.

I don’t know if the crunch was my chin or the ice that had fallen out of my water bottle I was carrying and now was laying on top of. But the Helper came. The Helper woke me up and then He stayed with me the whole time!

It’s beautiful and awesome the way the Helper works things out for us. He knew that I would respond to coaching. At first, I thought “I coached myself through this.” Then, I realized that it wasn’t me at all.

You just fainted….you are okay. Just lay here. Do not move yet. It’s okay. You will be able to call for help soon if you need to. But right now we just need to stay right here.”

Fear. Panic. But a very strong logical presence and voice of reason telling me to LISTEN.

I stayed put. I stayed face down on the ice cubes. Funny how they had all fallen to be right beneath me. They soothed me. I didn’t care about my compulsive need to have everything neat. It did try to capture me for a moment, but then the voice told me that I should leave them there, not worry about them, and let them help me. The ice did help me. The Helper told me that it would.

“You need to start taking deep breaths. Your body has not got enough oxygen flowing through it. There…see? The tingling and numbness is gone now. Stay on the ice. Keep breathing deep, but don’t move yet. You can crawl to the kitchen and get your phone in a minute. You aren’t going to die. I am not leaving.”

Then, suddenly, another voice interrupts. “WHY aren’t you praying? Why are you so concerned with the physiological aspect of this only? This is really sad that you aren’t praying. It’s the first thing you should have done.” Condemnation in the midst of even this. The enemy was zeroing in for the attack.  But he did not win.

I realized this morning that the interrupting voice was a deceiving one. I had tried to make myself start praying at the time, only to be brought right back to the calming, coaching, voice of wisdom. I couldn’t focus on prayer and I felt condemned and sad about that. That voice that interrupted was ME. It was the enemy trying to distract me from the Spirit of the Lord who was there to help me. The Helper had this under control!

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Romans 8:26

So yesterday (Thursday), I thought I had coached myself through this ordeal. I thought it was sad that I didn’t pray first, coach later. I thought the voice telling me I should have been praying was the Holy Spirit and the coaching voice was Annie.

I had it backwards. I know – I just KNOW, that the devil was trying to deceive me. I was already being prayed over. I was already right in the palm of the Lord’s hands.

God helps us in ways that go far beyond our understanding. He is Big enough to help us through the situation and the prayer is there for us already if we are under duress.

Yesterday I thought “This is why no one should be alone when it comes time to die – so they don’t forget what is most important – to pray.” But I was wrong. I was dead wrong to be thinking that! God showed this to me clearly when I did my devotions and prayer time with him last night.

The Helper WILL come. He’s already there. Even and especially if we are alone, friends. The Helper is with us.

I was able to get to my daughter for assistance in due time. I found out that I just had probably had a small anxiety attack which probably caused a rapid drop in blood pressure or blood sugar. Don’t worry for me, friends – I feel fine! It’s physiological. It’s about these crazy changes my body and hormones are causing within me. My doctors are aware of this and helping me through this transition.

But most of all, the Helper is with me.

I don’t want to die alone when the time comes. But I know that no matter what, I won’t. I am His child. I am filled with the Spirit of the Lord. He lives inside of me until the very last breath. He will remain with me even after that. This is what I have learned through various experiences in my life ~ especially the really scary ones.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. John 14:16-17

It really is true. God’s promise is TRUE. We should rejoice! We will never be alone, friends. We are kept. We are treasured. We are never to be abandoned.

So today, will you help me to kill fear? Will you help me to kill loneliness and isolation and panic and worry? Will you ask for the Helper to meet you and gird you with Truth, Wisdom, Love, Comfort, Peace and Joy? Will you?

Our hope is in Him, and Him alone. He strengthens us even in the midst of our utter weakness. Yes, even if we are laying on the floor and paralyzed, we are walking strong because of Him. And one day ~ one day, we may not get up off that floor again ~ it is inevitable. But it’s not the end of the road if we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior! For us, we will be soaring in that moment and for all eternity, friends. Soaring,  I say!

We may faint physically, but sometimes ~ just sometimes ~ those are the times when we are the strongest. Those are the times where we know and feel the presence of the Spirit of the Lord without question. This renews us, friends. This revitalizes us. This makes us stronger in Him. We have only to wait upon the Lord and He will provide us with His strength.

That’s a promise!

Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and all the men shall utterly fall; but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:30-31

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Wringing It Out Hurts

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And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10

Have you ever found yourself hating how much it hurts to wring something out that doesn’t belong inside of you? I’m talking about all the stuff that comes at us and then “fills” us in ways that make us feel polluted, tainted, and just plain…changed.

Yes, it’s the stuff that comes from the outside in, but tries to fake us out ~ trick us into believing it is what we are really made of. It takes up residence inside of us and makes us feel it is who we really are inside. It wants to become us. It declares dictatorship and “convert or die.” It’s gotten in – on the inside – and it seems to be taking over. It makes itself comfortable, and creates a panic of sorts about the prospect of the wringing it would take to eradicate it completely.

But this is all a lie.

I’ve experienced this in many ways and on many levels, friends. I’m sure you have too. Every time it happens, I find myself buying in somewhat to the false truth it portends. I find myself thinking “this is what makes me up as a person” or “this is just who I am, I guess” even though I know that it is false. I find myself fearing the wringing process that will be necessary if I wish to continue to fight – to live in truth and love, and all of the discomfort that entails.

  • Sickness or poor health ravaging our bodies – taking over and wreaking havoc from what seems to be the inside out.
  • Sin – bitterness, lack of love, self-reliance, idols – filling up the crevices of our hearts and minds and threatening to spread and take over. Sneaking in – stealing – enveloping and overtaking.
  • The Busy ~ the movement through this life, all the errands, responsibilities, things to check off our list (even when done so under the guise of good intentions and motivations). The busy which threatens to make up the whole, or the majority of our existence.  Severing time to soak up grace, love, time spent with Jesus and others – our loved ones – our dears – becoming us instead of being an outpouring of what God has laid in front of us this day and this day alone.
  • Weariness- the constant uphill battle it seems to be in order to just “make it” through the hardship parts this life involves.

Getting inside. Taking up space. Making its best effort to define us, to own us. From the inside out. And it breeds when  left alone. It breeds.

There’s no room for that, friends. There’s no room to allow darkness to take up residence and take over. This is because Jesus lives there.  Jesus lives inside. Jesus fills us with His light, His love, His truth, His compassion, grace, and mercy. He is the inside. And sometimes, He must wring out the darkness and the ugly and the evil.

Yes, wringing hurts, but it’s necessary at times. Even with the divine molding and twisting that our Savior lovingly performs in our lives (when we move out of the way and brace ourselves for the pain that is good for us), some residue of dark can still remain – especially if it’s due to sickness. But the more wringing we allow Him to do, the more we are reminded that He is what defines us. He is cleaning the crevices for us on a daily basis if we come to Him and ask Him to do His work inside.

He defines us on the inside, even when what’s coming from the outside threatens us. He reigns, friends. He reigns!

Moving the ugly to the outside – daily – well, it hurts. But it’s necessary as long as we walk in these fleshly bodies.  It’s necessary as long as the enemy tries to sabotage us.  It’s necessary if we wish to grow, be pruned, yield fruit. The cup of ugly and pain may not be removed from us, but there is triumph there, nonetheless, if we live and walk in the light of Christ Jesus. HE IS OUR KING!

Wringing: It’s a necessary grace that’s painful to receive, but rewarding beyond what we could ever imagine.

I want to be a beautiful vine filled with lush and lovely fruit that screams Jesus! I’m all-too-aware that doesn’t come easy, friends. The worms try to come inside. The toxins try to pollute. But I always have to remind myself: They are coming from the outside in. And they will meet a formidable enemy upon entry. The light and endless and glorious power of the Lord Jesus Christ!

  • He says: “She is mine.”
  • He says: “You don’t belong here and you will not be keeping her.”
  • He says: “She knows the truth, and I am that truth – not you.”
  • He declares: “Your “power” is temporary, and just an illusion – I will make certain she knows this without question.”

And when the worms and the poison threaten to take up residence permanently, our Jesus will wring us out in His own divine and all-knowing way. One day He will decide it’s the time that we go home to live with Him forever – outside of this cocoon that has become polluted. It will be the day that the wringing has become enough. It will be the day that HE decides it is time  for us to break out…truly break out of the cocoon that we have struggled to protect and wring out – struggled to make last for so very long.

That day ~ it will be the day that our Savior deems to be the day of all days for us ~ the day in which it is finally time to fly. It is the day that this vessel has been deemed to no longer be fit for a King.

Oh what a day! But until then, the wringing – the glorious and pain-filled wringing – it must continue.

There is a beauty I can’t even put into words to be found in the grace that Jesus bestows upon us as He wrings out the ugly trying to come inside and define us. There is a mercy that is severe and seemingly twisted, yet a gift to be treasured all at the same time. He knows our plight – He knows our suffering. And He will make all things work together (truly, He will) for our GOOD.

Thanks be to HIM. The hurt is well worth it.

In this I trust. Completely.

Romans 12:2   Allow God to transform you. He will mold you and renew your mind as He changes your way of thinking. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Then you will always be able to decide what God’s will for you which is good, pleasing, and perfect.

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I Want to Shut My Eyes

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This last couple of weeks I have been struggling – deep, deep heart struggle. I can’t stand what I am seeing in the world, my friends. It wrecks my heart to the core. The cynics say many things that make my heart hurt even worse.

**Suffering has gone on in the world for millenia – why does this bother you so much more than other stuff?
**It’s none of our business – we need to stop meddling.
**What about our people here in our own country? Things are just as bad here and we don’t seem so sad about that.

I get it…what the cynics say. I understand the thought process. And that crushes my heart, because it is so very deceitful. They are being deceived with such thinking – I know, I have been there. I still find myself there at times.

See, it’s not either/or when it comes to this kind of stuff, friends ~ Our conviction about the sin and suffering we see in the world is not limited to either/or.

It’s ALL OF IT.

It’s the increase of it. It’s the callousness of it. It’s the intensity and frequency of it. It’s the in-your-face aspect of it. It’s the almost celebratory “look at what I can get away with” of it all – and most of all – it’s the shutting of our eyes to protect ourselves part of it that gets my stomach turning and twisted in knots. It’s not the horrible photos. It’s not that at all. It’s the facing – the IN YOUR FACE facing up to the truth and reality and the way that we coldly stand back and do nothing (not even really pray that much) of it that makes me feel sick. Yet we get our panties in a bunch if the Starbucks guy looks at us sideways (must be because I’m gay, a Christian, a democrat, or whatever) junk that we focus upon instead!

Yes, it’s always been present – evil and twisted sin. Yes, it’s part of the human sin nature – cruelty, lies, murder, terror, and apathy. But I see it increasing. And no – it’s not only due to the fact that we have practically real-time news flashes at our fingertips. It’s an overall change in the way sin is see in our world coupled with the increase in intensity that is present.

I feel it in my soul. I know it is real…this change. Satan knows the end is near and he’s ramping up his games.

Matthew 24:12 ~ Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.

We are cold – indifferent – consumed with something as stupid as the fact that our neighbor looked at us funny and we think that spells discrimination. Simultaneously, we turn a blind eye to the really wicked stuff that’s going on around us all in the name of “mind your own business.” It’s crap. All of that justification we provide for ourselves so we don’t have to act…care….be deeply disturbed.

We don’t want to burst the bubble or anything like that, do we?

I’m sick about it. That bubble is such a liar. It makes us feel warm and protected. But nothing real gets inside. So it’s all false – all deceit. All an illusion. It’s a scheme of the devil, there’s no other way to explain it!

It is inside of these bubbles that our love will grow cold. But we won’t even know it’s happening, because we feel so warm and pretty. And lest you think I am spewing judgement out upon the world without looking hard at my little self, you are mistaken.

How did I title this blog post? It’s the opposite of the title of the entire blog. I titled my entire blog site Eyes Wide Open for a reason – a personal reason, friends. It’s because I like the bubble vision too much. I like it very much to close my eyes (and my heart) to the reality of what is going on, whether it’s something horrific in the world or something even worse inside of my own heart. So I put myself on the hook by naming it that way. I am on the hook with Jesus to let Him search my heart and open my eyes (heart) to the truth….even when it’s very, very ugly.

See…he does great things when we are willing to take a look at the ugly along with Him. If we are willing to see it, let it twist our stomachs up for a moment, let it pierce our hearts and prod us and twist us until we wonder if we will ever “feel” comfort again, we get to then turn it over to Him and experience true comfort and peace. That is not the stuff of feelings at all, a lot of the time – rather it is this God thing that surpasses mere feelings. It is better.

But the flesh still battles hard. It battles for the feelings part of it all – it wants comfort. It likes the bubble.

I want to shut my eyes to what I see growing increasingly wicked by the day in our world because it reminds me of just how dark our human hearts can be if we turn away from the Lord. I want to shut my eyes and not be reminded of the horrible things that man can do to one another when he seeks his own way instead of following afer Jesus. I want to shut my eyes when I can’t do anything much to help others that are suffering unimaginable things at the hands of the evil one. I want to crawl in my bubble and shut my eyes. Seal them. Hibernate in my own little happy world.

And this last couple of weeks, I find myself unable to do that. And that is GOOD. It’s a bad feeling kind of good to have my eyes wide open lately.

Matthew 24: 6-8 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all[a] these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences,[b] and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.

Do not be troubled? I don’t know what the original greek or hebrew word for that translates to, but I don’t think it means what it would to us today at first glance, because later Jesus says “these are the beginning of sorrows.”

I think Jesus means that we can have confidence in the FACE OF THESE SORROWS that He IS going to come back and all of this evil will be put to an end. It will be done, over, finished forever. He has already paid the price for us on the cross. That part is already finished if we have accepted Him as Lord and Savior. But we will get to go home and live with Him one day in a place where there is no evil. We will be in a place where feelings meet truth and it is a whole new way of living. The real life begins in this place.

Revelation 21:4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

In the meantime, morbid as many may think that I am, I am not going to shut my eyes. I am going to look in the face of the evil that is happening and remember Jesus’ words to us. “This is the beginning of sorrows.”

Only He can heal.

While we stare in the face of love growing cold, do we stand strong and firm and rooted in the love of Jesus anyway? What is it today that may be stopping you from loving others as He first loved us? Are you afraid to come out of the bubble for fear of being troubled? Are you turning to Him in the midst of the sorrows and allowing His peace, His comfort, His joy to weigh heavier than the light and airy feel-good stuff the bubble provides? Do you want to shut your eyes to something today that you know you are supposed to see, even if it’s ugly, life changing, and scary? You are not alone, friend. You are NOT alone.

He tells us to watch many times – there’s a reason for that, my friends. Please watch. Look and watch for Jesus in all that you do. It may seem sometimes like all you see is evil in the world as you open your eyes and peer outside the bubble. But do not be deceived. God is at work. Do not be deceived into being lulled to sleep. Watch for Him, friends. Find Him where you are and watch for His return. I highly urge you to immerse yourself in Jesus’ own words about watching for His return. To me, if Christ Himself emphasizes something over and over again, it warrants considering it and pondering it and immersing ourselves in it deeply. You can find what Jesus says about this in many places, but Matthew 24 is a great place to start.

Study it…ponder it. Look with a discerning eye as to what Jesus is saying. Don’t be the virgin with the lamp that ran out of oil. Don’t be the servant who partied at home while waiting for His master to return. Be ready. He is coming.

And I must say, if I make some people angry or uncomfortable with this brazen blog post today, please know I speak only out of love. It can’t be all hearts and flowers when it comes to getting our attention fixed upon Christ in the midst of a very distracting and very cold world. It just can’t. This is my attempt at helping us to remain vigilant and STAY AWAKE. I feel Jesus urging me to become even more bold for Him. So, if I made you uncomfortable today, I think that’s a good thing. Please send me a note in the comments below if you feel you need to talk more with me. I will get your contact information and we can chat.

Our pastor reminded us last night of something very significant: The Bible ends with an exclamation point. Embedded within that – all wrapped up in the end of God’s word – is this:

He is coming back soon and we are to look forward to it.

To do that, we must watch.

Revelation 22:20
He who testifies to these things says, “surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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30 Days of Godly Wisdom ~ Keeping Home in Mind

For this world is not our home; we are looking forward to our city in heaven, which is yet to come.heaven

    For this world is not our home; we are looking forward to our city in heaven, which is yet to come. Hebrews 13:14

The Pull of Me

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves. Philippians 2:3

Sometimes I struggle listening to others when I think too much about my own concerns.
Sometimes I find myself replying to someone and relating what they just said to ME.

Sometimes I pray more for myself than for others. I take the good seat, take care of my own needs first, or pass someone else by because I am more concerned with my own agenda.

The pull is strong – to think of me.

It is a part of living on this earth – gravity.

I cannot wait to fly. But in the meantime, I am going to practice, practice, practice.

Practice pushing me away and drawing HIM closer. Practice changing what is in the Center.

Oh, Jesus. How do I avoid self-deprecation in the process of trying to think of myself less? How do I think less of myself when this is the mind, the body, the flesh that I live in? How do I turn it all over to You and think of YOU, YOU, YOU (not me), yet still put one foot in front of the other. Please show me. Show me every day. Every minute. Every second. Oh Jesus, as much as it hurts, cut the ties of me that pull at me.

Set me free from Me.

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Fear Not

What do you fear as you walk through this day?

Is it what someone might think of you as you have to turn down an invite, an offer for coffee, or a need you are unable to meet at this moment?

How about the health issues you or a loved one are facing – all the unknown, the stress, the hurt or the pain involved?

Are you afraid to be alone or feeling misunderstood and not certain if you will ever feel connected or vibrant again?

Or are you simply just scared ~ afraid of a challenge ahead that seems daunting, too complicated, or just plain stressful in an already filled and overwhelming schedule?

You can do this. Together, with Him. It may not be easy, but He’s got you.

He wants to help you to overcome – all of it.

He wants to help you to fly.

And if it’s scary? He’s right there to catch you.

You are in good and mighty hands.

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