Tag Archives: discouraged

Dirty Ice Cream

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Smith Wigglesworth said, “You must have a brokenness to get into the depths of God.” Psalm 34:18 lets us know that the “Lord is near to those who have a broken heart.” I haven’t met many Christians who haven’t been through some “stuff.” That word “stuff” covers a lot of ground. Loss, hurt, disappointments, tragedy, physical, emotional, and spiritual pain, just scratches the surface it seems. People are amazingly resilient, but without God, I can honestly say I don’t know how anyone would make it through a fraction of it. Without truly knowing that God is in control and that He’s not shakin’ in His proverbial boots, many of my own days would have sucked even more. (How’s that for waxing poetic?) I’m just trying to be honest here.  

This life is hard and to say it stinks sometimes just doesn’t cover it. And I can’t do “churchy” when real people have real problems. “I’ll be praying” doesn’t cut it when brokenness threatens to take over. Don’t misunderstand me, prayer works, and if more believers were doing more of it, we’d be changing more situations. God will answer your prayer. I believe that. The brokenness that unbelievers feel must be the most gut-wrenching, detrimental emotion because I know my own brokenness is that way sometimes with God on my side. Jesus loves me, and He loves me so much He allows me to grow. That means life isn’t ice cream and rainbows and puppies. That ice cream may fall in the dirt, the colors fade into dreary gray, and that puppy pees everywhere. That’s real life. And for real life, we need to turn to the One Who created it. He’s not responsible for cleaning up our messes, but for some reason He helps us out of so many of them. We’re here for a reason and we can’t lose focus. Losing focus is the easiest, wide path. Truly learning Who God is and how far His love reaches for us individually should be on our To-Do list for the days/weeks/months/years ahead.  

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Tasks Worth Doing

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Anyone else get tired of those stupid to-do lists? Mine were everywhere. I’d have scraps of paper, notebooks upon notebooks, grocery lists, superstore lists, get-done-today- lists, didn’t-get-done- yesterday-lists, weekly lists…I had lists of lists! It almost got to a point where I needed to make lists of my lists to keep track of them all. *Note: I did not do that. I was not only stressed because I had so much to do, but also because I couldn’t figure out what to do first, then I couldn’t figure out where that stupid list went! I literally spent the time I could have been doing the task, looking for the list. Why? Because I love to cross things off. Just saying it brings a smile to my scary morning face. There is something about it: a visual reminder of just how productive you are. Your task is complete! TA-DA! Until…
I realized I was never finished with my tasks. My list was ever-changing and continuous. Once I got 5 things done, I’d add more. Then more, until I was so discouraged I couldn’t see straight. Where oh where was my stopping point? Where was the ribbon at the finish line if there was no finish line?? Wait, am I even running the right race?
So, I changed it up. I read this verse, Acts 20:24 (NIV) says:
“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace”that simply lets us know:
1. It’s not about me. (Much to Hollywood’s dismay.)
2. We just have to finish the race.
3. We just have to testify to how good our God is.
I give God the very first moments of my day. (Ok, maybe it’s shared just a little with Folgers) and remind myself of all that He’s done and the only thing I absolutely have to do today are things that show how amazing our Creator is. In everything we do, we can testify to God’s grace…whether it’s washing those dishes (yes, the ones with the gunk still on ‘em from 3 nights ago) or going to work. Don’t let the enemy of your soul stress you out. Life is good! Life is simple! You don’t have to do more. You can literally do less and let God do the changing of the lives!

It’s not about how much we get done or even the tasks themselves, although my kids’ room is a beast of its own, but more about why and for Whom we do them. Our attitude toward the tasks is important because we do more than simply check them off, we do everything for the One Who made us. It’s all about Him, not us. So quit chasing that to-do list around the house and breathe…you are doing enough. You are enough. Testify to God’s grace through what you do, no matter what it may be, and you’re running the right race.

Recognize

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While reading in Jonah, the book I’ve been stuck in for awhile now (better than a big fish, right? Yuk yuk) it hit me that Jonah didn’t know that he was getting out of that fish.He had no idea what the outcome would be. We know the end of the story and have for years, except for maybe the actual “vomit” part…they left that out when I was a kid. We realize he got out and finally did what God asked him to do. But while in the whale (and please don’t argue with me about what kind of fish it was…I’m not concerned about that.) Jonah had some time to think. God gifted him with that time by providing the huge creature. Does anyone else find that amazing and hilarious? My NIV study Bible literally says that He “provided a great fish to swallow Jonah” (Jonah 1:17) God does provide, I’m just wondering if Jonah had to laugh at the irony while covered in muck.

In all of his pondering, he had to disregard what his senses told him. He had to focus on the why, not the scary sights,eery sounds,and nasty smell. (I won’t go into the other senses but to say”taste” EW!) He had to control his thoughts and cry out to the One Who created that fish for help. So, quite a few hours/days, he spent crying, praying, and giving thanks. I would think that would lead to some pretty enlightening epiphanies.It wasn’t that he didn’t recognize where he was, Jonah knew good and well that he was literally in the pit of this big guy’s stomach, but he also began to recognize Who had the power and Who had possession.He eventually grasped the fact that God had ownership of the seas and the sailors that had hurled him into the vicious waves. This God knew Jonah. He knew him better than he could ever possibly know himself. All he could do in this moment of recognition was to confess and ask forgiveness. He had to shake his head and wonder what took him so long to understand. He finally comprehended that God would go to any lengths necessary to not only show His love for one of His kids, but for all of them.

As an added bonus to God’s plan, because once Jonah got that he was lost, he recognized that others were lost exactly like he was. Salvation comes from the Lord and all it took was a few days and nights in the stomach of a sea creature for him to see that very, very clearly. My absolute favorite line in this book is “What I have vowed I will make good.” Jonah was speaking of the promises he made to God during his special one-on-one time that the Creator made possible. (Hehe) How many times have we promised things to God and not made good? God recalls and makes good on His promises each and every day, no matter our scenery or situation.He has made so many vows to us when we certainly don’t deserve them. My goal today is to just be, where I am, whether I like that place or not, and give thanks to the God Who deserves each and every one.

Does God Say “Duh”?

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So today I look up at God saying, I’m not strong enough. The pep talk I thought I might hear/feel (I don’t remember a time of auditorily hearing God) did not come. I believe He looked at me like I look at my kids when they need a fourth band aid for an invisible injury. Instead of “You can do this!! I’ve got your back! Goooooooo team!”
He says “I know.”
Not what I was expecting to say the least. And as I sit here typing, I feel so helpless and inadequate. I want to be filled with faith so badly and yet…I feel so bad.
I truly think I’ve been running from what God wants me to catch this trip around. Hence the Jonah study. Talk about a slap to the forehead moment. I’ve dealt with and lived through this chronic illness for lack of a better term (after 8 years, the doctors are still perplexed. Even House. I contacted him. Or maybe that was a dream…)
I use the word chronic because it is ongoing and yet there are breaks from it. Oh the good days/hours. However, I have done things through the bad days. I work, I pray, I travelled to Honduras and taught beautiful children some dance moves (not impressive moves at all, but the smiles were), I competed in a Bodybuilding/Physique competition, I raise children (the ones the doc told us to hold off on), and I cherish time.
In a way, I wouldn’t trade this journey for any other as it’s taught me to cherish. So when I look at God, stating obvious things like, “I’m not strong enough,” I hafta wonder if He sits there, in all His amazing, majestic glory and says: “Duh.”

Pray, Read, Pray…Repeat

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Within this health-filled journey of  mine (you know the one to become not the healthiest person on the planet, but more so the one who gets up and doesn’t have to take a nap after a shower?) I got to thinking how we pray and wait. We pray and wait. We pray and wait. That may have even been more praying that what some of us do. Eek!

I have been on this journey for 8 years. 3 years longer than the 5 year-mark  I thought I couldn’t handle at the time. They, “they” being various doctors, told me I might recover in 5 years, as that had happened to other people, somewhere, sometime before. I remember thinking, 5 YEARS? How could anyone make it 5 years with these symptoms?? I’m here today to let you know, you can do it. Hurrah, hurrah. I truly wasn’t trying to be a cheerleader (although I am very encouraging to others…I took a test once that let me know hospitality and exhortation were my top 2 gifts! I had no idea what the 2nd was, but now that I know, I consistently remind others that I am an “exhorter!”)

Without this journey, I would have no idea how to take care of myself. I’m still learning to do this, but the whole “His temple” thang wasn’t exactly a concept I paid attention to when I was downing 12 packs of beer and pack after pack of nicotine sticks. So, as I was making a pot of nutrient-rich soup (my husband will take one look at it and blankly state: “That’s all you.”) this morning, I thought about how we eliminate the toxins, but then fail to build ourselves back up. God freed me from the addictions to chemical-laden junk, but I wasn’t aware of how depleted my body was of what it truly needed to function. He took away my craving for the bad, but I’m the one who has to take responsibility for the damage done. (Did anyone else cringe at the “r-word”? I know I did.) Plain and simple, there are consequences for our actions. I’m thankful that He allows me to be me, learning at my own pace, and quite frankly, puts up with my frustrations along the way.

I am very flawed, but I don’t dwell on it. He reminds me that I am pure, holy, loved, blameless, and then loved some more. He says in His Word that if we ask for wisdom, we get it. I’ve found that I have trouble trusting those “words of wisdom” I receive. He says we know His voice, right? I’ve talked to so many who don’t know if it’s His voice or not. I always tell them where I started: I would think it was God. Then weight the options. Do I want to do this? No. (Usually God takes us out of our comfy zone.) Would the enemy of my precious soul want me to do this? No. Does it go along with Scripture? Yes.

That last one kinda stumped me for quite some time. I’d ask myself these questions, and then shrug my shoulders on the Scripture one, as if there was no way to know. There is a way to find out. The only answer to this is to dig into the Scriptures. Open up your Bible. Pray. Meaning, ask God for help in understanding (*because if you’re anything like me, I could read 1/2 a book and not know what 3/4 of it said some days.) Then read. Read anywhere you want or do a specific Bible study. God will lead you in this as well. Then pray again. In doing so, we get to know the One Who created each of us. Who better to talk with about our issues? Lord knows I gots some issues. God says we’ll know His voice, but only if we practice listening for it and to it. There is nothing more comforting than knowing full well that we know full well. But it takes practice.

 

Meh vs. Un-Meh

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I’m over it. I’m over listening to everyone else. How they think God wants them to do this. Or that. But certainly not that. Why, oh why, would he ever want me to do that?? Ugh. Get over yourselves. No really. Get over it. I am and I did. This is a journey I had to get real on. And by getting real, I mean more than posting pics of my latest haircut or color, or (Gasp!) Me without makeup. I mean turning the tv and the phone off. Really. All the way off. I started a journey to find God that day, fully convinced I would, yet somewhat “meh” about it. I needed to get “un-meh” about God again, so here’s what I did. I am beginning a personalized Meditation (notice the “t” is not a “c”) Challenge. For 30 days, I will meditate.
Now, if you’re about to quit reading  already:
1. Go ahead. I gotta tell ya, I really couldn’t care less at this point. I told you I was over it and that’s what I mean.
2. Meditation is Biblical. Look it up.
3. I don’t have a number 3.
I’ve tried to meditate before but mainly just made a grocery list in my head and got distracted by the ticking of the clock. This time I am more determined. I feel like life is lacking something. The spiritual war going on in my head and body is as real as fat-free ice cream. It’s there. We don’t want it to be, but it’s there.
The challenge consists of 30 days of repeating your mantra/Scripture/God-thought 30 times. 30 days, 30 times per day. Now, the Bible states that we’re supposed to renew our minds and this seemed like a good way to do it. I also liked that if you missed a day…guess what. You start over. None o’ that namby-pamby “it’s-ok, just-try-again-tomorrow”crap for me. I love a good challenge. At least I used to. I’m indifferent at this point. Possibly leaning toward disgusted as well. I’m at a place where I’m either going to head to Honduras to hug small children or set something on fire here. (Don’t worry, I set things on fire all the time. And all of the things belong to me.)
I’m somewhat disgusted that other human beings feel they have something to teach me. I’m not saying I know it all, but I AM saying I feel a lot smarter than some. And people trying to tell me what God thinks is especially sticking me like an itchy t-shirt tag. So, tom it begins.

Hide and Seek

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Life gets rough sometimes. I’m sure that’s not a newsflash to most. Whether you have money or none, material things by the truckload or little, are full of health or on your deathbed, this life is not easy. It’s when the road we’re traveling gets extra bumpy that we can get to choose. We can choose to lose it or we choose to follow the advice we would give our best friend in crisis or a toddler when they fall: Get up. GET up! When we fall down, we get back up. Shake it off. (I apologize for any of you who know the song and now have it stuck in your head for the next 72 hours.) What has happened to you does not define you. What you do is not who you are. What you’ve been through is different than what you’re going through. And you’re doing JUST that: you’re going through it. This situation is not where you stop. This isn’t where your plane lands. It’s plowing right through. It  may not be smooth-sailing, but you’re still sailing through. Now, 10 points for anyone who noticed I just referenced life to three different vehicles: a plane, a tractor, and a boat.)

When life gets rocky, we go to the Rock. We look to the One Who created us to recharge us and give us that peace that we simply can’t get anywhere else. Our hope, yes, we are still called to have hope in light of situations around us, is in Him. I personally don’t believe that means we have to wear a plastered grin on our weary face 24-7. The words we speak are meant to bring others up and show everyone that He is Who He has always been, not a mean, unjust Creator, but a loving and compassionate one that is tired of watching us try to do everything on our own. He is our tower, our strength, our shelter and so much more.

This world is not our home, but it is where we live right now. God’s yoke is easy and His burden light. Why do we feel so weighed down if this is the case? Because we’re trying to take on the world and change it to suit our liking. We want to mold and reform people into the way we want them to look. All spit-shined and polished so we can stand proud and say, “Look what I, er, I mean, God did!” Eek. Can we let God work in His own timing and in the way He wants to so badly? Can we “judge not, lest (we) be judged”? It’s not about us, it’s all about Him and His glory. If we’re struggling to find that place we can run and not grow weary, maybe it’s because that hiding place we seek is behind us. Perhaps we don’t have to look up, we need to look behind us and see God, our Father, calling us back to Him. Have you left the Rock that you used to run to? It’s really easy to find your way back. The path isn’t hidden at all. It’s the one in plain sight that you’ve traveled before. We know what to do. Turn back to His face, grab ahold of His hand, and let Him lead you into rest and peace. That peace is unexplainable and we’re called to show the world that peace in the face of terror, ugliness, hateful acts, and crime.