Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pit stops on the Journey

So since this blog is a “Journey of Healing”, today I had a little revelation as I distance a little more from the pain part of the journey into the growth part, and I just had to share J

I seem to find myself lately not really motivated to do much of anything. Not to say that I am not busy - because I am super super super busy! (Nutcracker rehearsals and performances EVERY NIGHT for the next two weeks). But I am not talking about being busy, I am talking about being productive in the bearing fruit area. My fruit tree has been looking a bit barren, and to be quite honest, I have been happy with my naked tree for the past few weeks or so.

Today while drying my hair (this is where I do most of my deep thinking by the way, why? I don’t know, but it just seems to happen there) I started thinking about why my motivation seems to have flown out the window. I thought back to a conversation I had with my counselor when I was in the hard and fast throws of gut wrenching pain. I told her that if I let go of the baggage I was holding onto, that I was afraid I would lose my motivation. That if I believed I was worthy just because God loved me, and that I had nothing to prove, that I would have not motivation to do anything. She told me that the last thing she was worried about was me losing my motivation, after all it had pushed me to a Med in Counseling and almost to pursuing a PhD in Counseling, that is until all my baggage became crowded around me so tight that I had to face it! But…it happened…just like I thought it would…my motivation kind of went for a little vacation. For the first time I have felt okay with just being me, messiness (literally) and all, just happy with being me. Which, don’t get me wrong, is a GOOD and much needed thing. However, I kind of missed the part of me that was motivated to get out there and do something, to keep my house pretty, and to get off my hiney and to the gym.

So…while drying my hair I felt the spirit move me to a new place. My motivation in the past was to achieve. Yes, I helped others in the process, but my main motivation was to achieve and to feel worthy. But now it needed to change. My motivation needs to change. My motivation needs to be to love and to serve my King, whatever that may look like at the moment. I may no longer want to lead a group at church because I want to appear as if I have it all together, but I do want to lead a group at church because I want to be there to help others know that Christ’s love is unconditional and that He is worthy of our trust. I may not want to go to the gym so that others will say I look good, but I need to go to the gym so that I can take care of the body God has given me in order to better serve others. I may not want to clean my house because it is important to me that my house is cleaner than my neighbors, but I need to keep it clean so that it is a nice place for my family to rest, a safe place to fall.

So…where did my motivation go? My motivation to prove myself and accomplish flew out the window…but God is going to gift me with a new motivation. And I am excited to see what He is going to do with it. I love the journey J

Monday, November 29, 2010

Chit Chat

On any given day we engage in gobs and gobs of chit chat. Be it with children, our spouses, our co-workers, with God, or even ourselves - unless we are sleeping or silently meditating, we are chit chatting with someone or something. Sometimes it is verbal, sometimes it is non-verbal in the form of thoughts or actions - but still chit chatting away. We all know our actions speak louder than words. If we think about, something as seemingly simple and small as daily interactions and conversations, or even short little sentences, can have a huge impact on our lives.

Today I set out with the goal of actually paying attention to the conversations I had. To actually make them meaningful and pay attention to the words I was so flippantly throwing out there. How did it go? Terrible. By the time I had been at work for an hour, I had spent an hour talking to a co-worker, most of which was gossipy type stuff, and none of which was constructive in any way. I didn’t even think about it during the rest of my day, until I sat down to write tonight. I don’t know about you, but today was a major discovery for me that the majority of conversations I have throughout the day are not purposeful and may even be destructive. Ouchy…conviction cuts like a knife sometimes! But I am so glad it does, lest I move through my life making the same mistakes over and over again.

So, with that said, it is my goal this week to be mindful of my conversations. To pay attention to what I say, and not let things slip through my mouth that aren’t purposeful or worse yet, destructive. I want my words to be a tree of life, not mindless chit chatter. Even with the words I speak to myself, I can choose to crush my own spirit or water the tree. I pasted a few verses below to be my reminders…and hope you will find them insightful as well! Blessings and love always! Stephanie

Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Colossians 4:6 “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

James 3:9-12 “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”

Proverbs 15:4 “The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.”

Ecclesiastes 5:2 “Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.”

Chit chat - seemingly trivial as a word, but huge implications.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Right now, Daddy

I like to think that if I was Mary I should be so obedient.

I like to sit and play the what would you do game when it comes to bible characters. I like to put myself in their place and wonder if I would do the same thing. If an angel of the Lord appeared to me and told me that I would be with child, that the Savior would be born unto me, what would I do?

Mary did not have my prior knowledge, like I have. She knew absolutely nothing of the story of Jesus Christ. She had not heard the stories of His birth over and over again, and the stories of His death over and over again, and the truths of His grace over and over again. But I have.

But what would I do If I were Mary? If I had no prior knowledge. I am quite certain that I would have said NO WAY! I would have had a million excuses and reason why God had not only chose the wrong girl, but reasons why the plans I had already laid out for my life could not be altered to fit this in. I am quite certain I would have been horrified and said no. I am quite certain that the last thing that would have come out of my mouth would be, “ I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.”

And then the Sprit prompted me asking, “Well what if you did know“? What if you did know that you would bear the savior of the world? What if you did know the story of Christ as you know it now? Then would you say yes? The sad thing is…I am still quite certain I still would possibly say no.

If Jesus were to be born to me right know, as I am what would I do? If God were to give me the forsight to know His story, and what would happen to Him, that He really would save the world, what would I do when the angel of the Lord appeared?

I would wonder how Jesus would get along with my other children. I would wonder if we could afford his upbringing. I would wonder what other people would think. I would wonder why He choose me. I would warn Him that I am quite certain I would fail. What if I died in childbirth leaving my other children without a mom? What would my husband think? What would my parents think? Yes…even in my present state of knowledge I am quite certain that if I were Mary I still would have said no. Even if I knew that what the angel of the Lord was saying was true, that the Son of God would be born unto me, I would still have a million reasons why He should not be. Why he should not come into my life. Why I could not make room in my life for the Savior to be born.

Hmmm…sounds an awfully lot familiar. I still seem to have a million reasons why the Savior cannot be born. I have accepted Him into my heart, and I am born again, but I so often say, “God I don’t have room for you in this.” “This one is me. Let me try this one on my own. , can’t I just do it my way this time. Can’t you just let me sin without feeling guilty or reeping the consequences just this once. Why God? Why do I have to be obedient? Didn’t you choose the wrong girl? God do you have to born in my life right now? Wouldn’t another time work better? I just don’t have time for you right now God.”

I say these things so often. For the first time…for a moment…I can feel the hurt that it must bring to His heart. To have his beautiful daughter say, “not right now Daddy. I am too busy for you right now. Not right now Daddy, I am too busy looking for gifts. Not right now Daddy. I am too busy with Nutcracker. Not right now Daddy. there are a million other things to do. Not right now.” How it must pain Him…and yet he loves me anyways.

Dear Lord, Right now Daddy. Please help me to have a heart that is always willing to have you born into my life anytime anywhere. Right now Daddy. During Christmas Daddy, during Nutcracker rehearsals, and work, and cleaning the house, and cooking, and going to parties, right now Daddy. Be my everything right now Daddy. Mess up my plans right now Daddy. I love you Daddy. Amen.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Straight Path

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

What does it mean to acknowledge something? Being the word nerd that I am, I had to look it up. To acknowledge means to admit something, to accept as fact or truth, to recognize the authority of somebody or something. Acknowledge Him - in all your ways - He will make your paths straight.

I have to ask myself if I acknowledge Him. I consult Him, yes, but do I acknowledge Him? Do I accept what His word says? Do I accept the promptings of the spirit as ultimate authority and truth? Or do I choose to accept my own will as the ultimate authority? I sure try. But many times, I must confess, I lean on my own understanding.

What would it look like to acknowledge Him in all my ways? How would it change my life if I believed the God breathe word in front of me as absolute truth and never ever questioned His authority again? That would look amazing. But…yet I am a sinner. I try, but I fall down. I trust Him for one thing, but not the next. I acknowledge His truths in one area, but hesitate to believe them in the next. I am a work in progress.

However, one thing I can accept as absolute truth is this: when I do acknowledge Him, however painful it may seem, my path is straight. I did not say it is cushy and comfortable and a road filled with daisies and sunshine, but it is straight. There is not a single time that I have followed the promptings of His word or the Spirit and ever ever ever been lead astray. Every single time I do, I find that He knew exactly where He was taking me, even though I questioned the destination.

So why do I continue to hesitate? If I know this to be true; that He absolutely will make my path straight, why do I hesitate? Why do I continue to choose my own way over His, particularly in certain areas of my life? Fear. It all boils down to fear, most of the time. I am afraid of what another person might think or say. I am afraid of hurting someone’s feelings, or not meeting their expectations. I am afraid of disappointing someone I love. I am afraid of what obedience might look like to the unsuspecting onlooker. Might it look strange? Might they think I am odd? Might they wonder what in the world I am thinking? Maybe. They might. But that is not for me to worry about. God is my only compass. He is the one who knows my path, and He will keep me directly on time and on course. What an amazing blessing. I will choose to trust.

Friday, November 19, 2010

What's in a name?

What’s in a name? It is something we go by. Something we answer to. But really, what is in a name?

A name is something we may use to protect ourselves. A label we can attach in times of uncertainty so that others will know what to expect. When others hear our name they immediately reach into their mental filing cabinet, pull out our file, and whalla, they have their own version of us pulled up and ready to go. But what is in this name, this file? Is it who we really are? Are we really nothing more than merely some drummed up perception of what we think of ourselves or what others think of us? Or are we more?

I believe that we are more.

If we merely added up to the sum of our name, we would be nothing than numbers in a line. Robots, all going about the same business day in and day out. Just people, passing through, and when our time was done, it would be done. But, I believe we are more.

Despite myself and what others would think or say about me, there is a name that He has given me that is much greater. It is that of a daughter of the most high God. It is in this name that I find my true identity. It is in this name that I can breathe amidst the trials of this earth. It is in this name that I can rest and find peace. This is my name. This is who I am, because of Jesus. Jesus, HaShem, The Name.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Silly girl...just trust me...and bring praise

I haven’t blogged in a couple of days, because I have just been overwrought with some family drama. And when I say overwrought, I mean completely overwhelmed, unable to breathe. I am not going to go into the details, let’s just say I had fears that my worst nightmares were coming to pass. They may or may not have, I really don’t know at this point. But, as with any situation involving family, it gets all convoluted and emotions flying everywhere at 90 miles an hour. What I would normally do as a professional came into collision with what I feel I need to do to protect my family, and I wasn't even sure exactly what protecting my family looked like at this point. When professional and personal judgment collide, it is like trying to pick between two equally legitimate paths. Then you add trying to decipher God’s will in the mix, and the roads become one big mesh of unavigateable highway.

Notice, I said “trying to decipher God’s will”. Not that I think it’s wrong to do this, we must seek Gods will. However, I have a tendency to wait about 30 seconds to decipher His will, and then I decide that He is not going to answer, so I had better just figure it out myself. In case you haven’t noticed, I have a REALLY hard time with patience. I have a REALLY hard time with trust, still, although He is working on me. And I am extremely HEADSTRONG, so I jump to the “I will just figure it myself” mantra. All of this I do instead of the one thing I should do, sit in peace and rest and wait on God to provide His perfect answer. Instead I run around like a chicken with my head cut off, screaming the sky is falling, until He answers. And I am so grateful that despite my ridiculous displays, He still answers. That is grace that is unconditional, that is love.

Today, God provided me with a friend who directed me on a path that finally let me breathe. The God path. The path He made that does not require me to choose between my professional and personal judgment. The path He made when there seemed to be no way out, the perfect path, the God path. And He was there all along, all I had to do was wait. His timing is always perfect, He always hears us, and I know that if I would just trust Him, I could save myself a lot of pain and worry.

Instead...I will bring praise.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Be healed

I have this scripture that I just can’t get out of my mind. It is Mark 1:40 - 42 out of the NLT.

“A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said. Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed.

What particularly struck my attention was the little star by the word compassion, stating that some texts state “moved with anger”.

I sat there dumbfounded over why this situation would move Christ to anger. After all if He is angry, I knew it must be some type of righteous anger. I closed my eyes and hashed this out: compassion, anger, compassion, anger. Whenever I thought of the word compassion, I couldn’t help but have the visual in my mind of the child we sponsor through Compassion International. So with that image in my head, I immediately thought of how angry it makes me at times that we have children in this world that don’t have food and water. Hmmmmm, compassion could lead to anger then. So maybe it is that, Christ so hurt for this poor man plagued by leprosy that He was not only filled with compassion but an anger that His child was hurting. Not just some child, but His child, the child He loves.

Then as I was driving home tonight listening to Sheila Walsh’s “Amazing things happen when a woman trusts God” on CD, I listened to her tell the story of Jesus weeping at the grave of Lazarus. She applied a similar thought to these verses, in that Jesus was hurting for the pain of those He loved.

Wow. I truly have a new respect for what Christ does in the healing process. I have always thought that the hardest part of healing is the waiting. It seems as if it takes forever at times, that God is simply ignoring your requests. It can seem as if we are in so much pain that if we have to bear another minute we will not survive, but somehow we hang in there. I always sat there wondering if God is just sitting back in His big heavenly beach chair hanging out while I am crushing under the weight of pain, after all if He heard me, surely He would act.

However, these passages gave me new assurance that He not only hears my cries, but is pained and perhaps even weeping and angry over the pain. He does not ignore one little bit of our hurt, but stands right there in the midst of it with us, collecting each and every tear we shed. And when the time comes, we know He is willing, and we will be healed. Maybe not in the way we expected or imagined, but we will be healed.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

prayers for the survivors

I am at a training for dialectical behavioral therapy. A therapy commonly used for borderline personality disorder. A disorder that has a high incidence of clients with sexual abuse or assault in their past. And tonight I watched private practice which was very graphic tonight about a sexual assault, or the word that I hate to say , rape.

Sexual crimes are horrific. I can't tell you how many women I hear who say things like it left them hollow, tearing out their soul. I hate it. I am hurting for them tonight. I have my own assault experiences, but as time passes I hurt less for myself and more for others. I guess that's a normal progression after some degree of acceptance.

Let's just send up some prayers for the next couple of days for the victims. The silent ones. The healing ones. The ones in gut wrenching emotional pain. The ones who self medicate to numb. The ones who cut. The ones who contemplate suicide. The ones who are working to help others but still falling back into their own pain at times. The list could go on...but I think you get the idea. And if that one is you...and you would like specific prayer please feel free to comment or email. I would be honored to pray for you. God bless, and He loves you so much. Its true.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

humble pie

Okay already. I've had enough of the humble pie. Not only was I convicted today about being prideful...see post below...if you will note in the post below I linked the amazing Sam at fields of gold to the wrong blog address. Yea. Yea. Yea I sure did. And if I wasn't only equiped with my blackberry at the moment I would fix it, and will when I get home. Ummmm...what's that you said? Pride comes before a fall? Ha! Yes it sure does. Signing off as his humbled servant Stephanie.

God is a God of second chances

Do you ever have one of those nights where it feels as if angels and demons are wrestling right above you? Had one of those nights last night. And honestly, this morning I hesitated with whether or not I wanted to share about the massive amount of conviction that kept me up last night, or rather just sweep it under the rug and pretend it never happened. I kind of was opting for never happened until I remembered it was link up day to Jen at Finding Heaven, and after reading her post, yes, okay God, I will share.

You see, it is easy for me to share my struggles when it comes to things such as depression or healing from past hurts and pains. Somehow these struggles have taken on a "holy" vibe to me. However, I still have a hard time sharing the "real" sin struggles. The struggles with things like pride.

Last night Sam at Fields of Gold linked to my blog. I was so excited, because I felt so honored to be linked to by such an awesome writer. However, I woke up last night realizing that in the excitement that she liked my post, I NEVER EVER EVER EVER even thought much about the pain behind her words. I thought about my own pain behind my words, but never hers. So there I was at 2 am, with God telling me, you need to appoligize to her. Your head got swelled up so big with the yourself, that you never even followed the passion of what you set out to do. Reach out to women and pray for women who struggle just like you do.

I didn't start blogging to get more followers or more likes, yet on days it seems as if that is what I am after. I didn't start blogging to make myself look good. I started blogging so that maybe someone else could derive some benefit from the journey of my own pain and struggles. I started blogging so that women who feel alone, might know that they are not so alone. I started blogging because it was what I felt God wanted me to do. Where did I make the wrong turn? I'm not really sure. But it's time to whip a u-turn and head back up the road to where I started from. So glad our God is a God of second chances.

Today I am linking up with Jen at Finding Heaven as a part of a new sitsterhood that is not about "THE QUALITY OF OUR WORDS BUT ABOUT LIVING THOSE WORDS". Praying for all of us sisters that whatever our struggles, we will see God's hand working as never before.

Monday, November 1, 2010

the other side...

Lamentations 3: 55-57 But I called on your name, Lord, from deep within the pit. You heard me when I cried, “Listen to my pleading! Hear my cry for help!” Yes, you came when I called; you told me, “Do not fear.” 

Some of the wisest, most soothing words ever spoken into my life were these, “you don’t know what’s on the other side”. Very simplistic words, but carrying the weight of such truth. If it wasn’t for these words coupled with divine intervention, I would have made one of the biggest mistakes of my life. The truth is, we so often don’t know what is on the other side. God brings us to places where we can only see the next step, if even that. At times we may only have enough light to see where we are right now. As excruciating as it may be, He may call us to wait and trust that He is sovereign. It may seem like the calls we make from the pit go unheard. We may be screaming, where are you God in the midst of this? My marriage is falling apart! I can’t take the pain anymore! Why won’t you take these memories and pain away? Why won’t you heal me? Where are you God? But, He is there when we call. He knows exactly where to find us. And He whispers, do not fear.

We cannot see what is on the other side, but He calls us not to fear. He calls us to rest our heads upon His chest, and upon the truth of the word, and trust Him. We cannot see on the other side, but we do know that what His word says is true. We do know that God works together for the good in all things. The holidays can be rough, especially if we are in the midst of a trial at a time when we are expected to be happy and joyous. It may seem as if no one sees our pain, however it does not stop just for the holidays. It does not go away so that we can celebrate with family, and then return at a better time. It stays, even uninvited, it stays. But rest your heart in His hands, knowing that He sees your pain, and as bad as you want Him to take it away, He asks you not to shrink away from Him, but to cling to Him fearlessly. He sees your pain. He knows your pit. Take comfort in the silence, resting, knowing that soon you will reach the other side.