Seeing Past Our Circumstances

frustrations

“You can’t reason with anxiety, negotiate with doubt, or compromise with fear. They’re like fire, consuming everything in your mind until they leave it darkened and scarred.

When a negative thought begins to burn, you have to overwhelm it with what God is saying about your identity and your circumstances. Jesus said when we receive Him into our lives; we have a constant stream of living water in us. Pursuing what you’ve read in His word, and heard from Him in your heart, releases that river of righteousness, peace, and joy, displacing the negativity in you, and bringing blessing to everyone around you.”

~Rob Coscia

This is in line with some of my meditations and conversations of late. The issue of only seeing the bad things happening to us and being overwhelmed by them when that is exactly what the enemy’s plan is – to distract us and overwhelm us by causing us to only see what he is doing is counter-intuitive to our walk in the Kingdom. And it’s frustrating if you live there!

“Frustration is frustrating” – Paul Wilcox ( Sounds silly but is true none the less)

I don’t know about you but I’m tired of talking about what the enemy is doing or has done! I’m tired of all the frustration when I do!

I am not a victim as the enemy would have me believe, I am victorious. . .

And if I’m not feeling exactly victorious at any given time, I need to re-direct my focus to all the beautiful things God has and is blessing me with – for there are many! My thoughts need to think of those things that are lovely, pleasant and beautiful. I have to get to a place where my eyes are no longer on me. Do I trust God or do I fear (trust) the enemy more? It’s one or the other, it can’t be both.

Because I refuse to worship the enemy, aka only gaze upon him, it doesn’t mean I don’t acknowledge that he’s trying to wreak havoc in my life. No, it means I don’t let it stop me from doing the things I want to do, the things I’m called to do and am passionate about.

That is NOT going to happen.

As long as I am able to realize what the enemy is trying to accomplish with his tactics (being wise as a snake and as gentle as a dove), I am able to walk in victorious blessings. It really is up to me. In all things rejoice, is all circumstances bless the Lord. This is true because, “you can’t reason with anxiety, negotiate with doubt, or compromise with fear.” Rob is right about that. “When a negative thought begins to burn, you have to overwhelm it with what God is saying about your identity and your circumstances.”

When we take our eyes off of ourselves we then are free to help others, we then can see a place where we can be an instrument of change in someone else’s life. We then will even begin to see hope arise in our own situations – all because God is working on our “problems” while we help others with theirs.

Photo found here – https://stocksnap.io/photo/M558J8TZDJ

 

Advertisements

Is fear causing us to be problem focused instead of God focused?

Focus

I was sitting here thinking about some things in my life and I had this thought – does God wonder if we will ever quit looking at our problems and start looking at Him? I also wonder if we don’t sometimes make idols of our problems and difficulties. They are so often at the very center of everything we do and that makes me wonder sometimes about God’s thought on it.

If I spend most of my time worrying about problems and focusing on what might go wrong if this happens, or that happens, I would never accomplish anything. I just might have placed all my trust in the wrong kingdom. That’s fear, my friend. Fear wants us to have so much trust that bad things are going to happen that we completely forget who we are. We forget that our trust is in God – and that’s not good at all.

Fear is the number one thing we are warned against in the Bible and I think for a very good reason. Could it be that fear is so prevalent and such a great adversary that we need to constantly be reminded that it’s a lie? And not only that it’s a lie, but that it’s something we need to guard against? Fear not, indeed!

I am also reminded of the scripture that perfect love casts out all fear. How does that work in a practical sense? (I’m all about the practical)

As far as perfect love pertains to problem focus, I think the answer lies in the ability to turn my focus back to God. I need to remember the things He’s promised me, i.e. what are the prophetic words over my life? Once I remind myself of all those things, I can remember His goodness and realize that my trust has been on the wrong things and turn back to Him. Trusting in God is the way to peace and the way to freedom.

If I told my husband I trusted him and yet every time he said or did something, it made me fearful and anxious, I wouldn’t be showing very much trust. No, that’s not me trusting him at all. Instead, that’s me trusting in the bad things more than all the good things that he could do. We need to realize this fear is from the enemy and whenever we engage it, we empower it. Fear that is empowered will stop you and any good you want to do in its tracks.

The enemy isn’t at war with God; he’s at war with us! He wants our eyes looking at our circumstances and our problems so we won’t be looking at God. He wants us looking at all the terrible things going on around us so we can’t see the beauty of what really is. When our eyes only see bad things or potentially bad things, we will never see a solution. We will never go out and BE the solution.

It’s true that so much is going on in our world lately. But when we have wrong focus, this is all we will see. We will operate out of fear and there won’t be any peace around us. Fear is a self-perpetuating thing; the more you operate in fear, the more it grows. The more it grows, the more anxious we become. It will keep growing until the cycle is broken and that can only be broken by putting our focus back on God.

He is our Hope. He is our Prince of Peace.

Let’s remember Love, perfect love does cast out fear. And as long as fear has a foothold in our lives, love is very difficult to achieve – if not impossible.

I have enough things in my life that seem impossible. They aren’t with God, but in my own strength, they answers might as well be on the moon.

With all these thoughts and ponderings, I’m more determined than ever to keep my eyes like flint on Him. When my eyes begin to wander I have to pull them back. I have to give them something to focus on and look to Jesus who has all the answers.

Rest – A Dwelling Place

Micah tuckered out
I was thinking about rest and how it’s the place of my true identity. It’s the place I was created to live in.
When I strive to be something or to prove something, I tend to get my identity from that. That’s not really a conscious thing, but true, nevertheless. If I am constantly condemning myself as not good enough, not there yet or not deserving of the love that God gives me, I will never have peace. Nor will I have true rest.
While I was washing the breakfast dishes the other day, I was thinking about the verse in Hebrews 4:11 about striving to enter into rest. I was thinking that we often miss this, getting caught up in the aspect of “not striving” because it’s a works mentality. Striving to enter into rest is not the same thing as that. Entering into rest is not about approval – works are.
Striving to enter into rest is one of those things that are absolutely worth the fight. If I can keep distractions and other things at bay, the place of rest will allow me to do and accomplish more than I ever could by striving in my own strength.
When in rest, I have peace but I also have a co-laboring partnership with the force of heaven to help me accomplish things. Of course, I don’t even have to accomplish anything if that is my desire.
My identity is that I am who He says I am and what I do or don’t do has no bearing on that. I am already approved by Him so I might as well quit all the striving and simply be who I am, resting in the realization that this process is not always easy but is ALWAYS worth it.

A Follow-up to,“When I was a boy”…

follow-up-to-being-a-boy

As a disclaimer, my blog wasn’t about gender questions or anything like that…

To be clear, I never really wanted to be a boy – I simply wanted to have the same adventures as the boys I knew. And thankfully, I got to do exactly that; my entire childhood. (Well except on Sunday’s that is. Then I had to clean up, put a dress on and go to Church. Sigh…it was terrible!)

I have always loved being a girl but that also meant being a girl on my terms – which is:

I have never had any desire to be like other girls. Trying to figure out me was enough! I didn’t need to be someone else. I love experimenting with makeup and such but always in a fairly distracted way. I never got the knack of it and it really doesn’t even bother me.

I never get my nails done because I use my hands too much and the nail polish would be ruined almost immediately. Besides, I work with food a lot and nail polish is a no-no.

I don’t like dresses but will wear skirts if I have to. Jackets are my favorite, especially men’s jackets. Why is it that they get all the cool inside pockets? Why?

I’m more at ease being outside hiking in the woods than in the boardroom. Yeah, I can do that stuff but I might just get caught daydreaming! Boring!!!

My life aspirations weren’t to go to the moon or be president. Nope, what I wanted to be when I grew up was to be a mother and a wife. Those were my ambitions and actually, it’s what I do best. And in case you were wondering, I DID play with dolls, I did play house and I baked every chance I got!

I also loved making trails in the woods, building tree houses and arguing with the best of them whether someone was safe or not when they ran home from third base!

My being an adventure-seeker has nothing to do with also being an A-type personality. Clearly, I am not that type.

All my life, I’ve had more male friends than female friends. I preferred to engage in the activities my male friends were doing because I didn’t have much interest in what most of the girls were doing. I was never “boy crazy” like a lot of girls were. They were just friends! LOL

To this day, I have more male friends than I do female. Don’t get me wrong, I love my women friends but I do have less of them.

Most of my friends have been guys. I have not chosen jobs/work that is traditional “women’s” jobs. I’ve worked in shipping and receiving and have loved it. I once even worked construction, starting out as a laborer and then advanced to a pipefitter. And you know what? I got called out by many of the men that worked there because I did happen to wear nail polish in those days! They said I couldn’t do that. ..I guess I proved them wrong! I even had makeup on, lol.
I am not a fan of shopping, especially in a mall or with a group. I want to walk into a store, get what I came in for and leave as fast as I can!

I still love to get my hands dirty while gardening or even cooking. Either is fine, I always make a mess on my clothes or my apron. And that’s fine too.

Bottom line: I’m still very much an adventurer, very much a woman and very much Paul’s favorite tomboy. And Jesus thinks I’m awesome.

When I Was a Boy

tomboy

I remember standing on the barstool talking to my mom. She was working in the kitchen making us some lunch. I still have a picture of the room in my head. The room was bright, the floor was tile, and the kitchen and family room were open together in one space. There were patio doors that led to the back yard. Our friend Christopher lived next door and he was our constant companion.

I recall one time me, Christopher and my sister, Kelli were playing in the front yard. I believe we must have been about 4 or 5 years old since none of us were in school yet. Our tricycles there with us in case we need to go somewhere.

All three of us were shirtless – it was summer and we were in Florida. That means it was really hot outside. We often went without our shirts and never; I don’t think we ever gave it a thought. Mom never asked us to put one on.

That day, Mr. Johnson, our neighbor stopped his car at the end or our driveway and yelled out the window at us. He yelled, “Put your shirt! You are girls, not boys!” to Kelli and me.

That was the first time I had ever heard of girls needing to wear shirts!

Why?

I was totally confused – our chests didn’t look any different from Christopher’s!

Why did we have to put a shirt on and get all hot and sweaty but he didn’t?

Another memory I have is when were at Christopher’s house and went looking for some candy – to sneak. (There was no other way we were going to get any)

To this day I remember that candy; it was ice blue and almost transparent. We each took one out of his mother’s cabinet, looking around to make sure no one saw us. I was scared to death, but not so scared that I didn’t take the candy. I was so scared in fact that when I put the candy in my mouth and Christopher’s mother walked in the door, I choked on the candy. She immediately knew I was choking (not knowing what I was choking on), and kept trying to dislodge it by trying to get me to throw it up. It was terrible! I was caught, and my punishment was that I was going to die.

I didn’t die and she never even said one word about that piece of candy… as it finally went flying out of my mouth. She was only concerned for me. It’s crazy how loud the voice of guilt and shame are.

Another afternoon my constant companions were absent. It was hot outside and I was getting hungry so I went inside to see what Mom up to. She was in the kitchen making bologna sandwiches for lunch so I climbed up on the barstool so I could watch what she was doing.

I asked, “Do you remember when I was a boy?”

“Not really” she replied.

“Of course you remember! I was your favorite little boy! How can you not remember? I played outside all the time. I climbed trees and didn’t have to brush my hair or wear shirts or shoes…It was wonderful!”

She just raised her eyebrow and continued to make sandwiches.

I was remembering what being a boy was like with such longing in my heart. Why couldn’t it be like that still? Why did I have to be a girl? Girls never had as much fun as boys did.

Mom continued on with lunch, listening to me but not taking too much stock in my words. She suggested that I may have been asleep and dreaming when I thought I had been a boy, but that wasn’t possible; of course I used to be a boy, I had all these great memories. I continued to imagine or remember what it was like. I was a brave boy. I was bold and courageous too, afraid of nothing.

Maybe it had been just a dream but that day, when I was talking to my mom about it, it was a memory of something real and not just something I made up! It was a mystery to me.

I was a girl and always had been.

My youngest brother, Adam was born while we lived in that house. Mom and dad brought him home from the hospital on Christmas morning. What a great present he was – all bundled up in a huge baby-sized Christmas stocking.  I think dad even placed him under the tree so we could all see him. Back in those days, kids weren’t allowed to come to the hospital so this was our first time seeing our baby brother.

The day came when we had to move. Dad wasn’t in the Navy anymore but he still did photography. We were moving to Sebring so my dad could be the photographer for the local newspaper. I remember crying when we found out that we had to move away. Kelli and I argued constantly about who was Christopher’s best friend. We argued for a week! I remember seeing him sitting on his little bike in our driveway, shirtless and filthy as usual while we drove away to new adventures, craning our necks to watch him as long as we could. Finally. we turned the corner and never saw him again.

When I was a boy…

When I write about this memory now, I can’t help but think of Peter Pan and the lost boys. I felt like one of those boys. That was the flavor of who I was. Not rebellious but adventuresome and being all about the business of playing and fighting. It was with great, longing that I talked to my mom about it. I was on some level hoping that she could confirm that this was who I was; an adventurous, bold courageous boy who was much loved!

 

Entering the Kingdom of God ~ from the perspective of the unsaved spouse

leaves

I’ve been walking with the Lord 10 years now.  Who knew He could be so good to me!?

Paul got saved first and I’ve got to tell you, I was not happy about it. No, if fact I was pretty ticked off. I wanted to know who came and stole my husband away. What happened to my “cool” husband? He started acting really weird and quoting the Bible to Chelsea and me and frankly, it only made us both mad. Just who did he think he was anyway? He couldn’t judge us like that! HE was trying to share his new reality but it felt like condemnation to both of us. We didn’t appreciate the change in him at all.

Did this happen to you; did you get saved before your spouse or them before you? It does not make for a happy marriage I’ll tell you that much. When Paul got saved, we were living on the grounds of an Episcopal church in a one-room cottage, as caretakers and grounds keepers. Much of our responsibility entailed installing many gardens and all things landscape.

We were also members of the church and attended every time the doors were open. Due to this; I felt we were more holy than the Pope! I mean, how much more spiritual or holy can you get right?  I would later learn that church attendance had nothing to do with how spiritual or holy you were, much later.

I was also very much into the social aspect of the church because it gave me an opportunity to cook and entertain, which is my passion. This led to me befriending the new caterer who began using the church’s commercial kitchen. I thought I had died and gone to heaven! I had found my tribe.

You see, I always joked around about writing a book entitled, A Day in the Life of a “Wannabe” Caterer; only eat the ugly ones. I lived for cooking and entertaining. As my friendship grew with this caterer, I began to help out and was able to share with her the many things I knew that would be useful in her business. I began helping with the flower arrangements, menu ideas, recipes and even working for free. Of course, I also worked full time during the week in our family business too. Every weekend, I would be up at the church lending a hand and have the time of my life.

I did get paid for my work after a few months, though. We become great friends, doing everything together for many years. We took care of each other’s children, we did charity events together, and we partied and cooked together, vacationed together; we celebrated life the best way we knew how.

And then Paul got saved. . .

That changed everything. He was seriously making me not want to be around him very much. He stopped hanging out with our friends and began going to meetings every chance he got.  We were still members of the Episcopal Church but when not attending a meeting there, he would run off to meetings where he could be around other people like him who were experiencing God. When he’d return from these meetings, he wanted to share and talk about what he’d experienced, but I would have none of it; I didn’t want to feel condemned by his words.

He really was only sharing the awesomeness of God, but I only felt condemnation. I began to find opportunities to be gone when he was home which often meant I was at my friend’s house, 35 miles away.

Our marriage began to suffer and I began to not even care. I felt hopeless. We had always been able to converse for hours and hours and now all of a sudden, we had nothing to say to each other. All he ever wanted to talk about was God and I didn’t want to hear it. What I didn’t know was at the same time that I feeling hopeless and experiencing these things, Paul was also. But, he wasn’t content to let things just drift apart, no! He began talking to God about how He would have to send him a new wife because he (Paul) was so holy and pure now that he simply couldn’t have a wife who smoked and drank and cussed like a sailor. No, he needed a holy wife. (Dang!)

I was already feeling somewhat rejected and not good enough anymore so I’m glad I didn’t know he wanted a new wife! Yes, even though I was mad at him and didn’t understand what was happening to us, I would have been devastated to know what he was feeling at the time. I only learned about this years later.

God told Paul He wasn’t going to get him a new wife but instead, Paul would have to fall back in love with me. Paul needed to start making a place for me in his “new” life. This struggle continued for a couple more years.  In the mean time, we left the Episcopal Church because they began ordaining gay Bishops and although we both had personal friends who were gay; neither felt it represented God at all. When we left the church, we also had to leave the cottage we’d been living in for years and that was sad. The good news was, we were getting our own place and that was a dream come true, finally.

Paul had begun praying in the local healing rooms a year or so before and was now in leadership. He still kept running off to other meetings and conferences while I kept on catering, but now I was working with my brother. We were almost living separate lives, but God was still working on this thing!

This is just an excerpt of the journey but needless to say, Paul did make a place for me. He prayed for me all the time, without me actually knowing about it except things began to feel different. He no longer fought with me or tried to correct anything I was doing. He literally just loved me where I was. And also, by falling back in love with me again, he made a way for me to enter into the kingdom. My offenses began to fall away. God started whispering to me there in that place and I even began to love my husband again.

Prayer works as we know but it also takes honor and respect. When I began to receive that (and I absolutely did not deserve it!), my heart changed. I felt a tangible place being made for me to come alongside my husband. I had no clue what it was, or what it meant. What I did know was that it felt good and it felt safe.

********

I pray my story might encourage you to pray for your spouse and simply love them right where they are. We can change nothing on our own, but my Jesus certainly can. Persistent prayer along with respect and honor is a game changer and I know we all need change to happen.

********

Note: This post is about a journey, not theological understanding. Many things I believed at one time are not what I believe now. I call it a progressive revelation. That is to say, if something I have shared in this post offends you, stop it; this is not where we land. This is where we have journeyed through. We’ve all come through many things . . . GG

Miracles happen all the time and today, I experienced one.

Potted flowers

I was carrying out some plants to the front porch to their summer home earlier today and then decided to take them to the bottom of the steps since it was raining and a good soaking would do them good. I had carried three down the steps and was carrying the forth one when my left foot slipped on the slippery step and slid down four of them. Sadly, my right foot stayed behind me and when I fell, it was to slide down 4 concrete steps with my right leg bent behind me and my shin taking the brunt of the impact. (I’m so thankful I had put jeans on instead of the shorts I started to. It would have really been a bloody mess.)

It happened so fast; one minute I was carrying the potted plant and the next it was shattered on the steps and me, I was sprawled halfway down, stuck even. It took a moment for me to get my leg untwisted so I could get up and access the damage.  The flower pot didn’t make it sadly but I had no broken bones at least. What I did have was a nasty abrasion on my shin and shooting pain down my leg that began at the hip socket on the outside of my right thigh.  Ouch! Poor Paul, he was not feeling well himself so was resting in the room just above the steps. He was awakened by the crashing sound of the flower pot and had no clue what it was. When he looked out the window, it was to see me trying to pull myself back up from my sprawl.

I came in the house to changed clothes so I could assess the damage.  I saw that my shin was totally purple where the abrasion was and my joints:  knee, hip, and ankle were shooting pain. I had a nine inch abrasion on my shin, a small one by my knee and a bruise on my big toe and foot. (so much for the flip flops). After taking inventory, I had the thought I wouldn’t be able to work later this week because I was expecting my leg to just get more stiff and sore as time passed since it hurt so much and looked terrible.

Paul prayed, and apparently so did many others and to be honest, I just wanted to go lie down! I was in the middle of baking cookies and when that last batch came out, I limped into my office to get my bottle of water and my tablet so I could then go rest. As I was walking to my office I felt a shift in the spirit, then in my leg. The joint and muscle pain ceased by at least 50 percent and much of the purple bruising had disappeared. That was so cool. But I was still determined to go and rest a while: I took an ibuprofen and went to lie down for about 30 minutes.

When I got up, the abrasion was diminished even more! The pain in my hip and leg was completely gone and I wasn’t walking with a limp. The pain had been so severe than I couldn’t walk without a limping.  Now there wasn’t any swelling, tingling or shooting pain whatsoever!

I have since gone out and ran some errands and still all is well. If anything, the abrasion is getting even better. It’s amazing!

Paul told Jesus, Thank you! And Jesus told him, “It’s what I do.”

And I say: Thank you Jesus!

And thank you everyone else for praying. He’s a miracle working God! I am healed when I thought I was going to be stiff and sore for days! He is so good.

The first picture is kind of dark. I couldn’t lift my leg very well so I had to make do with the lighting.  Notice all the bruising  and purple areas.

20150414_103904

The second picture is lighter in exposure but you can see the huge difference……20150414_154852