The Pity Party was a Bust–part 1

I’ve been attempting to write about something for six months, but have not been able to until now. My first attempt came around Father’s Day, and then took another stab at it at Christmas, and only now do I feel like I might possibly have something meaningful or profitable to say. How many of us know it’s sometimes “therapeutic” for us write or talk, but… depending on what we have to say, it’s not always profitable for others to read or hear?! Sometimes it’s just better if we keep some of those things between us and God. I’ve done some of that in dealing with the grief and loss of my dad the last 3 ½ years. This Thursday would have marked my dad’s 54th birthday. Little did I know that my life would drastically change the summer of 2006 when he committed suicide. It has been a process to get through painful reminder days like, the day he died, Father’s Day, Christmas, Veterans Day, and his birthday. There are many opportunities during a 12-month period to face the loss and deal with the emotions and the grief. He is in my thoughts and close to my heart on most days, but when the big “reminder” days are approaching, I seem to always get an achy, cringy flutter in my stomach. It still remains a lonely feeling knowing he’s gone. Even the good memories are painful sometimes. Some people are able to rejoice that their loved one is with Jesus and gone to Heaven, but it hasn’t been that easy for me with my dad. I have never known pain like this in all my life. It is much easier than it was the first year, and healing is definitely taking place, but in all honesty, I am still so sad when I think about how he died and how unhappy he was. I often think about how I would even get through life—especially tragedies or other difficult circumstances—without a personal relationship with the Lord and the support of family & friends. It’s beyond my comprehension how I even survived so many years without God in my life. And family and friends, well… We all have family and friends that are negative, naysayers, and do nothing to help us out of the doldrums, but the ‘friends and family’ whose support we need are the ones who see you spiraling downward and don’t play along with your feelings and baby you, but instead will slap you across the face and tell you to wake up (so-to-speak)! I’m referring to the kind of friends and family that will speak into your life in a way that you get your eyes focused on eternal things, rather than the temporary hurt and pain you’re feeling. Eternal things never change, but circumstances and feelings are probably the most temporary things in the universe! I’m not suggesting temporary things don’t matter, but God and His Word are our firm foundation… and that’s where we find our hope in a world that is constantly shifting and changing. Thus, making it very important what we focus our time, energy, and our thoughts on. Whether I like it or not, life DOES go on without my dad. I have children and a husband who are counting on me—and need me every day. I homeschool my teenage kids, work at my church, serve in church, and try to have some recreational time in the process. Just like anyone else, I also need to get dinner on the table, clothes from the hamper to the laundry room and into our closets, etc. Sometimes I labor just to get in the shower. All that to say that I’m not exempt from having to deal with these feelings of grief and loss. In fact, I get frustrated with myself sometimes because I feel like this whole process of healing is taking way too long. I mean, HELLO, it’s been 3 ½ years for crying out loud, and I still cry, still miss him, and it’s still painful. But if I’m so immersed in my own anger and pain, what good am I to anyone else? Seriously, if I can’t snap out of it, life will go on without ME too—whether I’m alive and breathing or not! That’s a statement worth re-reading for some people. The world doesn’t stop because of anything that any of us deal with. Maybe you have a difficult situation you’re dealing with in your life that has been keeping you from living your life to the fullest. Maybe you’ve been spiraling downward into oppression or depression and don’t know how to break free...

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They Say I’m a Dreamer

Yesterday, I was going about my morning and getting ready for work, but I stopped midway to read my Bible and find a verse to chew on for the day. I made a decision to just stop, park it, and find something that the Lord could speak to me about throughout my day. So I came upon 1 Cor. 2:3-5 in the Message translation which says, I was unsure of how to go about this, and felt totally inadequate—I was scared to death, if you want the truth of it—and so nothing I said could have impressed you or anyone else. But the Message came through anyway. God’s Spirit and God’s power did it, which made it clear that your life of faith is a response to God’s power, not to some fancy mental or emotional footwork by me or anyone else. Initially, it seemed odd that I would choose that verse because I haven’t, um… sat down and shared my faith with someone lately… or led anyone to the Lord… or spoken publicly… or anything notable in recent days. I couldn’t think of a personal example of how this verse fits into what my life experience has been lately. But I couldn’t let go of it, so there it was… that was my verse for the day. As I kept thinking about it while doing my hair and makeup, the Lord began to show me some things. He wasn’t showing me anything about how it relates to YESTERDAY—or anything in my PAST, but he was showing me NEW things about my FUTURE. I don’t know that I’ve ever had an experience like this. It was so real… and I teeter on the word tangible. I wished it would never end. He does speak to me and I do know His voice, but it seems like it’s everyone else who has an “encounter with God”… but anyway, there I was. That in itself was melting me. The Lord began impressing upon my heart some of the things He has in store for me. I was wondering if I was daydreaming because I thought SURELY that He couldn’t mean ME. I’m the first person to admit that (as the verse above says) I feel “totally inadequate” at times and the things I was pondering in my heart kind of “scared me to death”. Maybe you’ve had the same thoughts in your own life. He showed me something specific in my present-day life that (in my head) would be like catapulting me forward. Whether or not that particular thing comes to pass or if it’s something else, I believe He used that one thing as an example because I can relate to “that”. I can now believe for “that” because He showed me how much He wants me to position myself… and to SEE myself… as worthy to receive His blessings. He wants me to see myself through HIS eyes. As I was telling my husband about all of this, I know I came across as a sheepish little school girl. After all, who am I to think that I could aspire to this “one” thing? I was kind of embarrassed at first to tell anyone, but since I got a glimpse of what He’s calling me to do, and I saw myself doing it, I also had a new faith to believe… and a heightened confidence in His love and power I didn’t have before. I have insecurities like anyone else, and sometimes I struggle with not doing things well enough… or even thinking that I’m not good enough. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, and God and I both know every one of them! But yet, He STILL wants to use me to make my part of the world a better place, to influence others, and draw people to Him?! I don’t think I’ll ever NOT marvel at that!!! He doesn’t expect me to be perfect, but in order to fulfill the plan He has for me, I need to be willing to take a step of faith and get uncomfortable. It’s His power and His Spirit that get things accomplished anyway, so why would I think He wouldn’t be there leading me in it?! Since I’m no different than anyone else, my prayer for all of you is that you see yourself doing greater things for the kingdom of God than you ever dreamed possible. He’s already given us the gifts and the tools to be successful in every endeavor, and sometimes WE (…and our fears) are the only thing holding ourselves back. Dream on, but don’t stop there. Begin to walk it...

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I’m Putting Fear in its Place!

Have you ever had a fear so strongly that you would do just about anything to avoid having to face it? And after a certain point, you may even resign yourself to being this way FOREVER! It just seems so much easier to accept it, live with it, alter your lifestyle because of it, and all sorts of nonsense like that. Sometimes we even defend and protect our fears. Do you ever say things like, “This is just me,” “This is how I am,” OR even blame it on GOD and say, “This is how God made me, so just deal with it!” God never instills fear in us. That should be our first clue there’s been an interloper! As children of the living God, we’ve been given the power to look our fear in the face and make it personal with the devil and command him to flee. He’s the sole author of fear. He’ll use your past experiences to rob you of your courage and remind you of when you did something and people laughed at you. If these things don’t get dealt with, they can hold us back for our entire LIFE! The more I thought about this, the more I realize that I’ve been paralyzed by fear in a certain area of my own life without even recognizing it was happening. I have been dealing with chronic neck pain for the past 3-4 years… even as I confess healing scriptures, walk in the truth of the gospel, declare the Word of God and His promises over my body—knowing that Jesus took all that so I don’t have to, and all those things I know to do as a born-again, Spirit-filled Christian… but the neck pain has been unrelenting. Does that mean God’s Word is a lie? Absolutely not! It has caused me to look at myself and ask if there’s been something I’VE done to hinder its power in my life. People have told me SO many times I should go to a chiropractor or massage therapist and have them work those knots or whatever they have to do to take care of it. I continued to believe God that He would heal me supernaturally. I’ve never asked why it’s taking so long, but trust Him enough to know my healing WILL manifest. Secretly, I wished I could go have someone work out the knots, but I just never could get past the fear of all of the unknowns, plus a STRANGER touching my body… Ewww! I know it sounds crazy to some people, and I know many that think massages are like heaven on earth. Sometimes we don’t know where in our past our fears originate, but to me, the thought of having my fingernails plucked out one-by-one sounded equally as enjoyable. It has been a very real fear for me. I realized how crafty that was of the enemy! Instilling a fear in me SO strongly that I’ve been content to keep the neck pain for all these years, all the while continuing to coddle the fear! There could have been a simple solution years ago, but fear held me back and hindered my faith. That’s just where the enemy wants us. He’s been stealing my health, and killing and destroying my ability to do some things the Lord has called me to do in the process. Well, I DO see it now, and I’ve had enough! Part of the reason it’s important I write this down and tell people is so I don’t lose my courage and skip out on the appointment I made for this Friday to get myself taken care of and work out the kinks, deep tissue-style. J I am SO giving the devil a black eye! I’m going to this appointment with my expectors up, and I’m thanking God in advance for working through that woman’s hands and healing my body from head to toe. I am victorious because I pay no mind to the enemy, but yield my life to the Lord, His will, and allow the Holy Spirit to guide me. I am an overcomer because Jesus is my everything! He goes with me and He doesn’t lie! Deut. 31.6 ~ Be strong, courageous, and firm; fear NOT nor be in terror before them, for it is the Lord your God Who goes with you; He will not fail you or forsake...

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Jesus Was A Super Model (not supermodel :))

I am currently reading With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray, written in 1887. It’s a nifty little book that contains thirty-one lessons on everything Jesus teaches about prayer, with Luke’s prayer of ‘Lord, teach us to pray’ at its basis. Something Andrew Murray wrote has remained with me for weeks. He said, “Jesus never taught His disciples to preach, but only to pray.” That was an interesting comment to me. I had never thought about that before and wondered why that was significant. Over the years, I have been guilty of buying a book for EVERY issue that crops up on my life. My husband will attest to that. 🙂 Need to get healthy, eat better, lose weight, or begin an exercise routine? Buy a book! Need to get organized, declutter, or manage time more effectively? Buy a book! Want to be a better leader, come to terms with your past, be a happier person, or have the kind of marriage you’ve only dreamt about? You got it, buy a book! Need to learn more about disciplining or raising children, homeschooling, incorporating family devotions into your life, or sharing the love of Jesus more effectively? Well, there have been a jillion books written about all these things, and I think I have all of them! What’s the problem with buying books you might ask? Generally, nothing, BUT… if you’re looking to the book as your sole instruction and source of victory in any given area, or if the book replaces the time you may spend getting wisdom directly from God on how to deal with the issues of life, then that becomes a huge problem! Admittedly, this has been a problem for me in the past. I am a checklist-type personality, so when someone has a tried-and-true method of how to do something, I’ve always thought how awesome(!) that I don’t have to reinvent the wheel, so I buy a book about it. I have learned that all these external things (i.e. books or advice from friends and family) can be very practical and can come in handy, but if I want to be changed from the inside out, I need to first tap into the only source of wisdom that is unique to ME and MY situation. God is the ONLY one that knows everyone involved in every situation that concerns me, and yet He remains objective. He waits for me there—to show me specifically how to handle it, and all I need to do is ask. We have direct access to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! We would probably all agree that Jesus is our earthly example of how to relate to God. He spent time with Him, and removed Himself from all distractions to spend time with Him. How do we ever expect Him to speak to us if we aren’t purposeful to hear what He has to say—away from the computer, the TV, the cell phone, and Ipod? Jesus made it His first priority to be alone with God, and modeled that for His disciples. For what purpose? Prayer was the foundation of their training for serving the Lord and others in ministry. Of course Jesus didn’t have to teach them how to preach! As they prayed, God the Father taught them everything they needed to know! Not all of us are called to be pastors, but we ALL have a story and a message that He wants us to share with the world. As we pray, He teaches us what to do and how to share His love with the people around us. It’s in that place where we give Him the latitude to strengthen our faith and encourage us, to build up our inner man to go out and make it through another day—joyfully and full of peace. Setting that time aside gives Him an opportunity to fill us with HIS love and revelation. As I resist the temptation to offer you a book from my library for your problems :), I’ll close with this… As God and His Word are the only eternal solution, my prayer today is that He continues to grow in each of us the desire to want to RUSH to meet Him in that place. I am grateful He always has the perfect answer at the perfect time! Matthew 6:6 (Message translation) Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin...

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