Monday, January 29, 2018

Letting Go of an Idol

I was praying this morning, seeking God's direction for our family.  My husband is trying to determine where God is leading Him in regard to His career and our family in general.  So, I was praying for him and for our family. 

As I was praying I told God that I trust Him, that we want to follow His lead.  And, I heard Him speak something into my spirit that was seemingly totally unrelated to what I was praying about.

He asked me if I would obey Him in something that I have sensed He's been asking of me, but to this point I've ignored or excused away.

And, that thing that I felt, that I have been feeling for awhile is that God is asking me to abstain from alcohol. 

Other times that I've felt that whispered in my spirit I accounted it as being my own mind, my own bend toward legalism or guilt.  And, I dismissed the thought.

But, I've heard it now enough times that I can't keep excusing it away. 

Oh, how I enjoy a glass or two (or three if I'm honest) of red wine - especially while I'm cooking a meal, or with some crusty bread dipped in olive oil.  I enjoy it when I am celebrating.  I enjoy it when I'm bored.  I enjoy it when I'm stressed. 

I don't know if God is asking me to give it up permanently or for a season.  But, what He showed me is that I have become dependent on it.  I turn to it instead of to Him .  I look to it for comfort and for pleasure.   And, as such, I have set it up as an idol in my life.

It's easy for me to agree with Him here and now sitting on my couch at 9:30 in the morning.  I know it won't be easy though later - at the times when I would normally enjoy it. 

That's part of why I'm recording this here.  At first I just wrote it down in my personal journal.  But, I need to have some sort of accountability.  This is part of that accountability.

In fact, even the longer I sit here thinking about it, I can feel myself rising up against the idea.  I've already begun to mourn all the things I love about a glass of wine.  I feel that same other thought rising up...'Is God really asking you to do that?'.  Oh, it would be so much easier to write it off and dismiss it again.  To assure myself that God doesn't mind if I enjoy things that give me pleasure. 

But, those would be excuses.  And, I know it.  I know it has moved beyond a small thing that gives me occasional pleasure and has taken a much bigger role in my life.  I don't think God is saying that drinking alcohol is wrong.  But, I do think he's telling me that I've allowed it to take much more importance in my life than I should.  So, He's asking me to set it aside.  To rediscover how He longs to fill those areas of my life. 

And, so, I will trust Him to help me do what He is asking.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

When the Healing Comes

"The healing is happening even when you can't see it or feel it."

This thought came to me tonight as I was sitting on my deck ruminating a bit after dinner.  I was feeling lonely, overwhelmed, and discouraged.  Things I seem to feel too often for my comfort.

And, it's never something major.  My life by most standards is good.  I have a loving husband, four healthy & smart boys, a home, friends, family.  It is good.

No.  It's the little things.  Little things that add up.  Like not having as much time with my very busy husband as I would like.  And being too tired to have any real quality interactions when he is around.  Like seeing what an incredible mess my boys are capable of making on a minute by minute basis.  And alternating between feeling guilty that I haven't trained them better this far and anger at the lack of appreciation they seem to have for all that I do.  Like comparing my tumble down little house that seems to be slowly morphing into hillbilly land and wondering how other people seem to tackle projects, both big and small, in their homes with immediate urgency.... yet after almost 16 years of marriage and living in this home I've learned that all projects seem to be ignored until they just become part of the normal backdrop.

It's little things combined with middle age hormones that finds me sitting on the floor after I've fallen IN the door from the deck crying silently wondering if anyone noticed the crash or ensuing silence.  They don't.  And, I get mad and sad all at the same time.  All I was trying to do was put the chicken on the grill (check) and carry the container with the marinade back inside the house (fail).  What I managed to do was fall inside, somehow gouge my hand and scrape my arm on the door, throw the container with the marinade (flying hither and yon) and land soundly on my knees (my knees that are already giving me trouble mind you).

And, I ask myself.  What is this?  It almost felt like a push, like a malevelent, on purpose "nyah nyah nyah nyah" from Satan (?).  These kinds of klutzy, ridiculous, trip over my own feet accidents always seem to happen when I'm already down.  When I'm feeling emotionally and physically spent.  And, so, there I was sitting with my bleeding hand convinced that I was utterly alone and pathetic.

Maybe this is menopause.  Maybe this is the onset of dementia or a mental illness.  I don't know.  Are most people this emotional?  If my husband and children are any gauge I don't think they are.  I'm pretty sure I fall on 'highly emotional' end of the range.  And, I've always been an emotional person.  But, it's been in hyper drive the last few years.

So.  That brings me to healing.  Because after cleaning up my mess & putting a band-aid on my hand (it was more of a 'ripped a little skin back' than it was a 'gouge'.  But, 'gouge' is how it felt at the time) I finished grilling the chicken and made my salad.  Then I took my plate back out to the deck to eat in the peace and beauty of my backyard that overlooks the neighbor's field...and beyond that the horse pasture.

I needed to take a few minutes to wallow in my self pity.  And, then I began to analyze.  I knew that I was feeling a sense of sadness and discouragement beyond what my current situation warranted.

I looked at my hand with my band-aid.  And, that's when the thought hit me.   "Right now.  Even as I'm sitting here looking at my hand, there is healing happening in there.  This 'gouge' that brought me to tears tonight is already healing.  I could pull back the band-aid and it wouldn't look any different yet.  But, it's happening nonetheless.

I actually looked this up.  The healing process of wounds and I found and article (link here: ) that says this...."When the top layer — the epidermis — is broken by a light scratch, not much occurs. You might see some dead skin cells flake off. But when something cuts into the deeper, next layer — called the dermis — you’ll see blood, and your body triggers a four-stage process of healing itself."
Four stages.  More or less they are this...
1.  Stop the bleeding - a temporary blood clot is formed to stop the loss of blood & prevent bad things from getting in.
2.  Inflammation - your body is fighting any bacteria that made its way in.  Swelling & redness are to be expected.
3.  Tissue growth & rebuilding - Collagen is dropped off to begin growing tissue to replace what is missing.
4.  Close the wound - The dermis and epidermis connect and contract to close the wound.

And, get this.  The skin after the wound has healed is stronger than it was before.  There may be a scar - large or small depending on the depth of the wound.

So, what do I do with that?  What does this have to do with my night of self pity on the deck?

I still haven't connected all the dots.  I'm figuring out what it means for me and my issues with depression and discouragement.  But, I take hope in that healing is happening.  And, healing is possible.  In fact, healing is natural.  Our physical bodies are designed to be restored - perhaps not to their original appearance, but restored nonetheless.

And, I couldn't walk away from this epiphany without thinking of friends who are experiencing significantly deeper and more serious wounds.  Friends dealing with infertility or being alone & desperately desiring a spouse.  Friends dealing with marriages that seem to be falling apart.  Most specifically I think of my friend who lost her beloved husband to cancer and is facing the pain of somehow living life without him.

These are people who know wounds.

And, my take away and word of encouragement is that the natural process of healing is happening even now. You might pull back the wound dressing (of what in some cases is major heart surgery) and it wouldn't look any different yet.  But, it's happening nonetheless.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Pray Now

I shared on my Facebook page today how deeply my heart is affected by the suffering of the people of Aleppo.  I can't get them out of my mind.  And, with that comes a certain sense of helplessness.  How can I, here in my little corner of the U.S. make any difference to the people who are facing horror, death, & destruction on the a daily basis?

I was praying this morning...pouring out my heart....but still feeling somewhat inadequate.  I went on about my morning - getting ready to straighten up the house & go grocery shopping....still feeling there was something more.

And then, this.  I have to believe this is a call to action to us who call ourselves believers........

No more standing around wringing our hands, "What shall I do?  What CAN I do?"  
We are servants of the Most High God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Great I Am.  
Not just any servants - but those who have been adopted as children  into his Kingdom.  
Sons & Daughters - fall to your knees in knowing that your strength & power resides in Him.  And, that in lifting our voices, our hearts, our prayers & petitions the spiritual atmosphere literally changes!
The enemy would have us believe prayer is nothing more than good wishes or a nice sentiment.  Rebuke that lie!  Our prayers are so powerful!  They are our spiritual arsenal that we need to unleash now.
Pray alone.  Pray together.  Pray out loud.  Pray silently.  Pray in your car, in your shower, in your beds.  Pray while baking.  Pray while creating.  Pray while waiting in line.  Pray often.  Pray fervently.  Each prayer is drawing back a bowstring and releasing God's arrows of love & justice swift and sure into a dying and dark world.  Pray unceasingly.  Pray now!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Praying Over Our Children

I have been having a series of dreams lately in which my children are in danger.  Whether it's wild animals, out of control vehicles, or deep waters I keep having these dreams night after night.

I could allow these dreams to fill me with fear.  But I have banished fear from my life & I won't give it a foothold again.  Instead, I will take these dreams as a sign that now, more than ever, I need to pray for my children.

Actually I believe that all parents are being called to action in praying over their children.  The enemy wants nothing more than to prevent us from raising this generation to honor God.  And, so we need to all the more firmly stand our ground & cover our children in fervent prayer.

Here are two verses I was reading this morning.  They were Paul's prayers for the Colossians and the Philippians.  But, I am claiming them today as prayers for my children.

Colossians 1: 9-11
" For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.  And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so you may have great endurance and patience."

Philippians 1:9
"And this is my prayer; that you love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ - to the glory and praise of God."

In addition we can be reassured of God's faithfulness in protecting & strengthening our children......

2 Thessalonians 3:3
"But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one."
Deuteronomy 31:6
"Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you."

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Healthy Me

Well, I'm thankful to say that my knee is feeling so much better.  I guess I can chalk up last week's pain to having strained it.  I was so worried that I had torn something.  But, now I'm really appreciating how important healthy knees are!

In fact, I'm appreciating how important healthy bodies are.  I mentioned in my previous post that I had a complete blood workup done after my last physical.  I also recently had my mammogram.  And, the good news is that all those results came back great.  I am healthy overall.  But, what I've also realized is that if I want to STAY healthy...and if I truly want to THRIVE...then I need to take better care of myself.

What a gift our health is.  And frankly I have been treating that gift very poorly & taking it for granted.  I know that this is a result of many, many deeply ingrained bad habits.  And, changing these habits & patterns is going to mean changing my mindset.

Of course, I've made that realization before and have tried before and have found myself back in this same spot again of NEEDING to make changes.  But, so help me.  I will keep trying and keep working at this.  I will not give up.

I was recently reading  Eating for Life by Joel Fuhrman.  In it he talked about how our neural pathways are essentially formed by repeating the same behavior over & over.  They become the 'easy route' in our brain.  Feeling depressed or bored?  Well, if the repeated behavior has been to eat something unhealthy for a quick boost, then that becomes our brain's go-to each time we feel that way.

We CAN create new paths.  But, they take time.  As I was reading that section, the visual image I got is of when my boys go sledding in deep snow.  The first pass or two, they don't get very far as they are plowing through that snow & trying to create that path.  But, as they keep going again & again their path goes farther & easier until they are flying down that path.

And that's where the different mindset comes in.  I have always wanted the path to be clear & easy from the start.  I wanted to fly down the hill & didn't want the hard work of pushing away the snow in the way.  When I hit those barriers it's been so much easier to pick up my sled & go back to those easier bad habit pathways.  So, basically I need to keep pushing through even when it feels like to much work.

Anyway, I'm hoping to start that new path and not give up.  I already feel better because I've been getting a lot more sleep this last week.  It started out that I was going to bed earlier because my knee hurt & I was exhausted from hobbling around on it & I knew I needed to rest it.  But, now, 8:30 or 9 rolls around & I feel like going to bed.  And, I'm waking up earlier.  But, I'm also waking up rested.  I haven't felt rested in a very long time.

The other good part about going to bed earlier is that it eliminates the chance for night-time snacking.  Night time snacking has been one of my biggest downfalls.  I think not eating before bed probably also contributes to a better sleep.

I'm still weighing what changes I want to take in regard to my diet.  I've done a vegan fast before & it's really good for feeling better & losing weight.  I also don't find it sustainable over a long period of time.  I definitely want to cut back on empty carbs, sugars, and animal products & beef up on fruits & veggies.  I also need to start incorporating exercise.

For now, step by step, inch by inch I'm going to create my new pathway.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving and More.

Happy Thanksgiving.  I have sorely neglected my blog.  But, I need an outlet for writing down my thoughts again.  And, so I'm coming back to my old friend to do just that.

First of all, I hope you all have a very blessed Thanksgiving.  I'm enjoying a quiet moment right now.  My children have disappeared down the hill to Grandma & Grandpa's house to 'help' get things ready for dinner.  I'm sitting on the couch resting my knee because I somehow hurt myself yesterday & I'm hobbling around in pain.  I need to get started on the food that I'm making soon.  But, right now I'm just having a moment or two to myself.

I am definitely feeling blessed.  I've been so aware of how fortunate I am to have my family, our health, our home & security.  I'm keenly aware of how blessed we are to be living in relative peace & lack of turmoil and in a country where we have our freedom.

I've also been saddened by things going on in the world around me.  Close to me there are friends whose loved ones are fighting for their lives against cancer.  There are friends & family who are struggling in their marriages or other relationships.  There's a family member who desperately wants children of her own someday, but for the sake of her health, may have to make the decision to have a hysterectomy.

And, when I look at the world around me there are wars & rumors of wars, as well as so much conflict & tension within our own country.  And this past election seemed to bring out the worst in everyone.  There are tragedies that we hear about on the news.  This week is was a school bus crash that killed 5 precious children and seriously injured many more.

It's all so heavy sometimes.  I feel things deeply.  And, it's just a lot.  I feel so helpless in the face of so much sadness & suffering.  I don't know what difference I can make.

I know that it starts at ground level.  It starts with how I interact with people each day - my husband & children, friends, even strangers at the grocery store.  And yet, even there I fail often.

It's hard to feel a lack of control over circumstances.

So where am I headed with all this?  Well, I guess I've been feeling challenged to take control of & be a good steward of the things that I am able to.  I've been challenged to exercise self-control.  So, for me this would boil down to two major areas - My home and my health.

Those might not seem like big things in the scope of all that I listed above.  But, these are two areas that if they are disjointed or chaotic it seems to spill over into the rest of life & the attitudes and feelings that I have regarding many things.

My home:  We are messies.  With four boys & a husband who are all outdoorsy, hands-on kinds of guys...who value function over reflects in the very lived in state of our home.  But, I also struggle to keep up with things that need done in our home.  I dislike cleaning & it can all seem very overwhelming.  So, I just watch the mess grow & grow until I can't stand it & try to do a whirlwind of straightening up.

It's not a good cycle.  And, it's one that we can change.  I need to better involve my children in the upkeep of our home.  And, I need to dig in to the tasks that need done & tackle them one by one.

My health:  I had a physical recently.  I wanted to talk to the doctor about pain in my knee as well as my weight gain & exhaustion.  She ordered some bloodwork and an xray of my knee to check for arthritis.  The good news is that all of my blood work came back very good.  So, I am healthy & there aren't any contributing factors to my weight gain.  The xray showed some bone spurs but nothing overly concerning.

So what does that mean?   Pretty much what I already knew.  I need to take better care of myself.  I have nothing to blame my weight gain on other than my poor eating habits & lack of exercise.  But, here's the other thing...if I continue on this path I can't continue to count on having good health.  So, it's time to get myself back on track...for real.

Taking control of my home & my health.  That's my goal.  And, I will be using my blog again to help document my progress.  Here we go!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Do You Know?

Do you know that Jesus loves you?

Not just as an oft-repeated religious saying.  Not just as some pleasant, generic phrase with no power.

He loves you!  Profoundly.  Deeply.

In a soul altering way.

His eye is upon you.  He sees you.  He knows you.

He wants you to experience his presence & truly know Him.

All pretenses, all striving is shattered.

Yet we put His name on bumper stickers.  We water down what is the greatest Truth of all time.  That Jesus loves you.

He longs for you to draw near to Him.  He offers life.  Abundant, full, overflowing life!

He offers water that will quench your thirst.

The fire of longing that drives you to seek comfort in things and in people....that longing can only be fulfilled in Jesus.

He loves you.  He knows you.  You are His.  He knew you before time began.

And He will not stop pursuing you.

Nothing you do, nothing you say, nothing can take away His love for you.

To some He was just a good teacher.  To some - a myth.  'What does this Jesus offer that we can't find elsewhere?'

The Truth is - He offers EVERYTHING.  He offers Himself.  It is done.  No other 'god' has sacrificed himself for the love of humanity.... to remove the separation between us & have relationship with us.

There is no writing Him off as a nice guy.  There is no shelving Him with the story books.

Lives are changed.  Hearts are released at a glance.  Bodies healed with a touch.  Only One has this Power.

There is Power in the name of Jesus.

Demons shudder at the thought of His name.  (James 2:19)

The same One that spoke life into the vast nothingness before time is the One who yearns to be near you.

His breath is in each of us - whether we recognize it or not.  (Job 33:4)

He has set eternity in our hearts.  (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

He knows you.  Every ache.  Every dream.  Every part of yourself that you can't even express.  He knows.

And He loves you.

Do you know that Jesus loves you?

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