Saturday, June 25, 2011

My child...your sins are forgiven...

Proverbs 4:23 “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”

He was paralyzed. At the mercy of those who would come when he called. Unable to serve himself. Unable to take care of his basic physical needs. Shame took on a whole new meaning. Things that a 2 year old could do for themselves, he could not. He was different. Life was different for him. He longed to walk like everyone else. And despite all this, he considered himself blessed, because he had friends who cared about him.

The news was spreading like wildfire through the city, that Jesus was back. But what was he going to do? He knew Jesus could heal, but how on earth was he going to get there. Even if he got there, how could he know that Jesus would heal him? Or that the healing he offered would even work? Nothing else had worked.

But this man’s friends cared deeply for him. They were going to get him to Jesus one way or another, even if they had to lower him from the roof. And that’s exactly what they did. Sometimes it takes a willingness to do whatever it takes in order to lead a friend to healing.

With the help of his friends, the man is lowered right in front of Jesus. I wonder what he felt. Was he afraid? Was he embarrassed? How would he even begin to ask Jesus to heal him? He felt so shameful. Would he have to beg?

Before he could even get a word out, Jesus said to him, “My child, your sins are forgiven”. Mark 2:5

What beautiful words. My child, your sins are forgiven.

But the people around him were rather appalled, thinking to themselves, “What is he saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!” Mark 2:7

And Jesus replies, “Why do you question this in your hearts? Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk’? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Mark 2:8-10

Your sins are forgiven.

The illness of sin is a chronic condition, pervasive, and affecting every member of the human population. It is not an isolated incident, or some type of illness that we can quarantine off. From the day Eve crunched into the first bite of the fleshy apple, the stage was set for drama. Something would have to be done. From this point on, not only would man be destined to suffer physically, but emotionally, and spiritually as well. Paradise lost.

Individuals affected by paralysis of the actual body are few. But paralysis of the soul, an epidemic. Women and men walking around looking as if everything is wonderful, when on the inside their heart is so frozen that it would take a blow dryer straight to the core of the problem to defrost the bitterness.

Jesus knows this. If we were to think that the only thing ailing the man on the mat were his inability to walk, we would be doing him a vast disservice. Because in his heart, he knew he was a sinner. Paralyzed by the bondage of sin ties, just as the rest of us. All too aware that he could never repay Jesus for the healing that was about to pulse through his body, and even more aware that if Jesus saw his heart, he would claim him anything but a man who was worthy of healing.

That is the ultimate question isn’t it? Are any of us worthy of the healing-be it emotional, physical, mental, or spiritual-that Jesus gives? Will there ever come a point in our lives where we can say, okay Jesus, I have done enough things right, now I am worthy of your Holiness to be spread upon my soul.

I don’t know about you, but I am fairly certain that by the time I was a 5 year old, I had done enough things wrong to negate a lifetime of good deed doing. Not that I was a disobedient child, I was really rather easy going. But the point being, we could never earn our salvation. It is impossible. That’s why He died on the cross.

Jesus is the only one who has the power to not only heal our physical bodies, but wipe away the sickness of sin as well. He is the great physician over mind, body, and spirit.

What is it that you doubt about Him?

Are you afraid of healing?

I once read a book title called the courage to heal. The title seemed ridiculous. I wanted to say, “how about those of us who have the courage not to strow our baggage out for everyone to see? Isn’t that courageous?” “How about those of us who have the courage to be strong. How about that?”

I honestly thought it didn’t take a smite of courage to heal. Those who needed healing were weak. It was those of us who kept it all in that were the strong ones. More like the courage to carry the load on your own, that is what it should have been called.

But when the rug was pulled out from under me, I saw the floor of my heart. The reason I held onto my secrets so hard was because I was desperately afraid.

Afraid of giving up control.

As long as my problems were safe inside my head I didn’t have to ask for help from anyone else. I didn’t have to admit that I was “hurt-able”. As far as I was concerned, nothing and no one could hurt me.

There is one gigantic problem that comes along with being impermeable to hurt. You become impermeable to love as well.

Never did I encounter this problem more full frontal then when my children were born. They pulled at the love strings tied snuggly around my heart.

If they were able to unravel one, I would quickly panic and try to tie it back up. “But mommy”, they would pull again. It would unravel a little more.

The more and more they pulled the more and more began to escape from my heart. I could hold love back from anyone but them. I could be fake to anyone but them. They had no idea what they were doing, but God did, and they saved my life.

The courage to heal. Rather the necessity to heal. I couldn’t love my children until I was able to escape the dark depression that had clouded my heart for years. And part of escaping this meant allowing my baggage to fall at the foot of the cross.

I would have to accept healing. I would have to relinquish control. This was not something I could do on my own. I would have to lend my wound to the great physician, and allow him to touch me in ways that I had only feared before.

He would have to see the hurt. He would have to see the broken. He would even have to see the sin. He would have to know that I was not perfect. He already knew that anyways, but I would have to admit it. That I had guarded myself from Him.

Could I trust him?

Can you trust Him?

I honestly believe that trusting Him is one of the most crutial steps we must take before we can begin a life filled with the joy of the spirit. We can trust Him to forgive our sins, and yet never trust Him for anything else. We can trust Him to heal the surface, and yet refuse to let Him touch anything else.

Jesus clearly restored the paralyzed man’s ability to walk, but that’s not all. That’s one of the coolest things about Jesus. He can take what we ask for in our limited human minds, and make it so much more. Jesus wanted to see Him run, to fly even.

He freed his soul to move spiritually. No longer was his spirit in paralysis bound by the ties of sin. He was forgiven. Complete freedom. From complete paralysis, to total, unequivocal body – soul – and mind freedom with the power of 6 words from Jesus.

“My child, your sins are forgiven”.

6 powerful little words.

Did you know that these words are for you too?

Proverbs 5:20 says this, “My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words. Don’t lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body.”

Healing to their whole body, and penetration to the hardest of hearts. His words do this. Sharper than any double edged sword. Is there anything of His likeness that we have ever seen or heard? Surely not. There are no words on the lips of humans, or Satan’s tongue himself that can do what God’s word can do.

If you feel led, I would love for you to pray this prayer with me…

Sweet Jesus,

You are the lover of our souls. The creator of our very beings. The fiber that binds our flesh together into a soul that breathes life. You are amazing God. We know that there is none like you. There is not another that can heal every single ailment that would bind our hearts, our flesh, our souls, our minds. You father, you are the great physician. I pray in the name of Jesus, that you will forgive me of any sin that continues to bind my heart. Set me free in the name of Jesus. Thank you that you are lover, the keeper of my soul. That you have seen and know every hair on my head, even before I was born. Thank you for loving me exactly the way I am. There is no such thing and fakeness or perfection with you, because you see into my heart of hearts. My soul of souls. Thank you Jesus for making me in your image, so that I can run to you and know you understand, yet also run to you and know that you forgive. Please bind up any part of me that would be afraid to come full frontal to you, because I know that you would never shame me, but only seek to unbind me. Unbind me Lord in the name of Jesus. And leave me unbound in your presence, so that I may experience the great healing that only you can offer.

In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

He is the ultimate healer.

He is different.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Having a rough day...lets go sew some seed...

Sometimes I wonder why some of us SEEM to have it so easy, and some have so much weight that I do not understand how our backs don’t break under it. If it were up to me, I would quickly run over, take this cup of suffering from my sister or brother, and toss it somewhere beyond the eye can see.

But…it is not my own to decide who should carry what, or what should happen to whom. Thank you Lord that you do not consult me on decisions, because I know I would make a mess of everything.

But, I do need to understand that when it comes to your kingdom, that You are sovereign and in control. I need to understand this because when I constantly question the sovereign will of God, I begin to step into His authority, and take that which is not mine to take, because the very thing I might choose to take could be what gives them a life worth living.

And when we get right down to it, isn’t all life worth living...even in the rough times? When it feels life is beyond our greatest control, we become complete in our dependance upon Him. Isn’t that what makes life worth living? Those moments where we can feel ourselves sitting in the palm of the Father, sheltered by the cleft in the rock, able to weather any storm that comes our way, because the Father is with us.

I don’t know about you, but that is what makes it worth it all to me. I don’t know your cup of suffering, or maybe I do. I don’t know the hand that has been dealt to you, and what God is doing with that hand in your life right now.

But I do know this.

That we will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13). That those who go out with sorrow, carrying seeds to sew, will return carrying sheaves of joy with them (Psalm 126:5-6).

Not just a little smidge of joy, but an entire whopping sheave harvest of joy.

How can this be, you ask. Sheaves of joy from sorrow? It doesn’t make any sense? I agree with you, a lot of things don't make sense.

But sewing requires action, make sense or not. In our sorrow, that is in our tears ,we must choose to sew the seed, the seed being His Word. We must take His Word from the pages to the pavement, acting on every biblical truth we can get our hands on. Because when we sew the word of God, we are promised that it will not return void (Isaiah 55:11).

We are promised sheaves of joy, but for a seed to germinate, it must first be sewn. How will you sew the Word of God today? What scripture has He given you in the midst of your tears and sorrows, and will you trust him for it today? Will you believe it today? Will you ask Him for a way to put it into action today?

Then prepare you rooms for the harvest to be brought in, because it will not return void.

Let’s get to sewing sisters, because the seed of His Word, His divine and powerful Word, is just itching to be sewn in your life right now, right this very minute.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

What's your story?

Hey girls! Just a quick video post to get us pumped up for week 3!

Blessings girls!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Have you been bitten by a dog?

Have you ever been bitten by a dog? I have. And if you have ever been bitten by a dog, you know that despite the fact that hundreds of dogs haven’t bitten you, you will still remember the 1 dog that did bite you. Even if you get over this fear and become a dog lover, you will most likely always keep in the back of your head that incident where the dog bit you.

I kind of liken my circumstances to this. 100’s of people have told me how worthy I am. That I am beautiful. That I am smart. That I am perfect just the way God made me. I have read verse upon verse in the Bible that tell me that God loves me despite my flaws. And yet, I remember the dog bite. I remember the one person, or handful of people, that told me the exact opposite.

We tend to walk around in a state of looking to verify what we already believe. So, if I see a kid get bit by a dog, I might say, “see I told you dog’s bite”.

In the same way we walk around looking to verify our feelings of unworthiness. We might have 5 good things happen to us in one day, but what do we remember? The one time we failed, the one bad thing. What do we dwell on? the one time it went wrong.

I think this speaks a lot into why we have such a hard time believing the truths of the Bible. Because they are not natural to us. They don’t make sense to us. His love is so unbelievably off the charts that we compare it to the others that have known and or “loved” us in our lives, and think that the kind of love Christ speaks of towards us, is impossible. It doesn’t fit into the premade mold we have in our minds.

I know it is hard to believe these things. It would be so nice if just naturally we believed in supernatural love. But sometimes, it’s not natural.

We live in a world where there is good and there is evil. And I can assure you Satan does not want you to grab hold of the truth of God’s word. So, he will put everything he can in your path to confirm the exact opposite: that God doesn’t love you, that He can’t heal you, or doesn’t want to heal you.

One thing I have found helpful is to literally cry out “help me overcome my unbelief”, just as a boy’s father cried to Jesus in Mark 9:24. The other thing is just to repeat the truths of the Bible, of God’s word, and love…over…and over…and over…and over…and over again!!!! Just like you repeat the negative thoughts like a tape in your brain, you have to replace that tape with a new recording, which takes time, BUT IT CAN BE DONE!!!

Praying that God gives you the strength to keep up the fight for freedom girls, freedom always seems to come with a fight, yes? But in the end…as I have said is SOOOOOOOOOOOO worth it!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Shedding light upon the dingy white...

We are re-doing a lot of things in our house right now. We just put down new laminate floors and in the process we had to take all the doors of the hinges. Well, while they were off, we figured it was as good of time as any to repaint our white doors. After all, with kids, especially artistic ones, sometimes your doors just need a little repainting!

As I stood there painting today, with my new can of fresh crisp white paint, I was amazed at how “unwhite” my doors had become. Look at the difference in this picture. These doors had always looked white to me, that is until I began to put a fresh coat on them…that sure brings perspective!

Swish swish swish, as I stood there listening to the peaceful swish of the brush, feeling rather happy that all I have to do today is paint and enjoy my kiddos, God spoke to my heart.

I suddenly felt myself back in the times of Moses, the Passover, painting the doorframes with blood so that the spirit of death might “pass-over” my home and spare my first born son. And then to the sacrifice of the ultimate sacrificial lamb, Jesus, born to die to take away my sin, so that death and punishment for my sins will pass over me, sparing me from an eternity spent separated from God.

I stared at the spot that had not been painted on my door, the spot that I once thought was white, but now looked dingy surrounded by the pure brightness of the glossy new white finish that consumed the rest of the door. I stared at it, because that spot was me. Dingy, dirty, broken, consumed with that unloveable feeling, and longing for healing. Oh, I had been saved mind you when I was at middle school church camp. My sins have been covered by the blood of the lamb for eternity. But what I had once seen as white, now all the sudden appeared a little dingy in the light of his grace.

There were spots that I had refused to let him touch. Dingy white spots, that had been covered, but not yet realized the fullness of the new coat of paint. I had put a barrier over those spots, refusing to acknowledge that He could heal them, and even refusing to allow him access.

Dearest friend, I know that there are spots which we would rather cover up, because they just seem too dingy against the white perfectedness that is Christ. But He didn’t come to save the perfect people, because, oh yea, there ARE NONE!!!! He came to save the lost and broken. Don’t hide your heart from Him any longer, just like he protected the firstborn way back in Moses day…and was faithful to set the captives free. He remains faithful…let his blood wash over you sister…let Him clothe you in that white princess dress…and set this captive heart free!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

beautiful things...

Hey girls! If you all are hopping over from Melissa Taylor’s page…let me give you a big southern girl welcome!!!!

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog…it’s a work in progress, a lot like me!

I started this page about a year and a half ago, and it’s original name was “Journey of Healing”. It began out of me seriously needing some support from some sisters in Christ who were going through the same things that I was. At the time I began writing I was still somewhat buried in the throes of depression and still grieving strongly over the loss of my perfectionistic image.

You see, admitting that I was a victim of date rape was hard for me. I had worked for 10 plus years to mask the fact that I had been violated, because I believed like so many survivors do, that it was my fault.

In that 10 years a lost much of who I was, as I just kind of walked around morphing into whatever the next person wanted me to be. Not letting anyone in to see my true self, that was TOO dangerous.

But eventually, the Stephanie that lived underneath the perfection got lonely. She started to cry out in the form of panic attacks, and explosive anger and control, depression, overachieving, and lying to cover anything up that might not have lived up to my expectations of myself.

Something had to give. And give it did. I was like a whale who’s gigantic blow-hole finally exploded and the gush of water that came out shocked me and others around me…I won’t lie…it was scary.

But…sitting here now…I know why…and it was more than worth it.

I know that so many of you think that you are not able to heal…that God is not capable of healing you. LIES! I tell you! LIES! Is healing an emotional process…YES!!!! Will they feel a little overwhelming at times…YES!!! Do you need someone like a counselor to walk the journey with you…YES!!! Is it possible…YES!!! Is it for you…YES!!!

I wanted to share this song with you…because I believe that out of the ashes…out of all of our pain…He makes beautiful things…beautiful beautiful things. You are beautiful dearest sister…believe it or not…you are beautiful!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Are you willing? Then chase, pursue, love, and give relentlessly, and be healed…

Mark 1: 40-42 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.

Have you ever wanted something for someone so bad that it made you angry?

I desperately wanted my husband to get a job that he had applied for. He deserved it, he wanted it, in my mind he was the best person for the job. But…because of something completely ridiculous, he didn’t get it. It flew all over me! Anger…feeling like this is so unfair…and yet compassionate for Him…I hated to see him feel rejected. If I could have done anything to take his pain away and give him that job, I would have. But all I could say to him was, “I guess it just wasn’t meant to be honey”. And love him, and be there for him.

It is so hard for us to see someone that we love and care about hurt, knowing that oftentimes all we can offer them is our love, presence, and prayers, and ride out the storm with them.

I find the verses above from Mark so interesting. What fascinates me the most is that in my NLT bible there is a star by the word compassion, which relates you to the note that reads “some texts say moved with anger”.

Moved with compassionate anger, Jesus reach out and touched him.
Instantly the man was healed.

I believe He feels the same compassionate anger for you. Anger because you are His child, and it upsets Him to see you hurting. And compassion because He loves you so deeply and dearly.

I know at times it seems as if healing will never come, and that He doesn’t hear our cries. But this is not true…lie...POP!

He is faithful. His loves endures forever dear sister, and He sees you right where you are at. Not only does he see you, but he hurts for you, he is angered over your pain, and he longs to heal you. He will heal you.

I know you may be tired, and feel like giving up. But, ohhhhhh nooooo you don’t! Relentlessly pursue Him dear sister! Chase after all that healing with all your heart, soul, and mind and do not stop until your “leprosy” disappears!!!!

Are you willing? Then chase, pursue, love, and give relentlessly, and be healed…

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Thought stopping strategies

I am no stranger to panic. In fact the very reason that I sought counseling for myself in the first place was because I was having uncontrollable panic attacks. I just wanted to share with you a few things that helped me stop a panic attack, or even stop the downward thought spiral. These techniques are very simple and most of them can be used anytime, and anywhere.

1. Mindful noticing – it is as simple and as complicated at that. Oftentimes we get stuck in our minds either increasing the panic, or causing the downward though spiral to continue to descend. The reason mindful noticing works is because it throws a kink in the cycle. There are several ways to use this technique:

a. Whatever is surrounding you, notice it. Describe it, fully. Name it out
loud if you are alone. For example: I am sitting in my office, I am sitting in a burgundy chair, and the chair feels hard against my back. The keys on the keyboard feel slick. They are black. I have a silver bracelet dangling from my arm. I will count the crosses on this bracelet, there are 9. The metal feels cold. Etc, etc, etc. Keep doing this until you begin to calm.

b. Pick up a piece of fruit. Describe it fully and completely. As you eat it, notice the textures, chew slowly, notice the taste, etc, until you begin to calm.

c. Close your eyes and breathe slow and deep, notice every sensation you feel. Do not judge it, simply notice it. From the tips of your toes to the top of your head. Notice how the surface you are laying or sitting on feels, continue to do this until you begin to calm.

2. The rubber band technique – I love this one! Sounds crazy but works! Place a rubber band around your wrist. Where it everywhere you go. When you catch yourself thinking a negative thought, pop yourself on the wrist with your rubber band and in your mind or out loud say “stop”. This technique is a behavioral and aversive technique. The idea is that eventually you will stop thinking these thoughts to avoid the pop! Also the sensation of the pop on your skin is usually enough to jolt you out of the negative thought cycle. Sounds crazy I know, but it TOTALLY works!

3. Verbal thought stopping and scripture. When you start the negative thought cycle, say as loudly as possible “STOP”! Refocus your thoughts, and refute the negative thoughts and lies with scriptural truth. I know the scriptural truth may not be something you “believe” at first, but over time you will come to believe it. You have spent years in these negative thought patterns, repeating them to yourself over and over again. It may also take several times of repeating scripture to yourself over and over again for you to begin to believe it. But, eventually, with practice you will replace those lies with truth! And the truth will set you free dear sister!

Lastly, I want to encourage you to seek individual counseling if you feel that is where the Lord is leading you. I avoided talking about my pain for years, and it wasn’t easy when I finally started talking about it in therapy. But it was so worth it.

Individual counseling from a Christian counselor was invaluable to me, she led me closer to the Lord, and with her guidance and His changed my life. I also continue to take an anti-anxiety medication. Which I was totally against at first, but it has made all the difference in the world. When you have been hurt or abused and spend years in certain thought patterns the chemicals of your brain get imbalanced. Medication can help to correct that imbalance. If you had high blood pressure you would take medication for that right? Same story with anxiety or depression, sometimes medication is needed, and there is nothing wrong with that!