ABCs of 2020: Bitterness

So I have been hurt, you have been hurt, everyone has been hurt. I find my most hurtful memories (for the most part) were not done deliberately. Bitterness is grown when that hurt festers. And as I reflected on this topic, I realized my bitterness (or hurt) stems from the difference between what I thought I “received” and what I expected…. So another words- bitterness is all on me and only me. Ouch!

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
Hebrews 12:14-15 (NIV)
Over the last couple of years, I have really worked on dropping unspoken expectations and have worked even harder to realize expectations I was holding unconsciously.
Don’t underestimate the power of bitterness- it will impact your mind, body, and spirit. When I notice my bitterness I have to pray. I have to pray for God’s help to disclose the real who, what, and why. I have to pray for God’s forgiveness of my bitter heart.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Psalm 51:10 (NIV)
I have to pray for grace and healing. I have to realign my focus to joy and love- and I have to do this purposefully.
Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.
Proverbs 14:10 (NIV)
Typically, refocusing on the joy and love, will slowly kill the roots of my bitterness.

Next week: ABCs of 2020: Challenges.

ABCs of 2020: Action

This new series is going to dig a little deeper in the Word about one word. And what a better way to start the year and alphabet but with the word action.

Leaping into 2020 – I started to think about how I wanted this to be different from 2019- the year of courage. I realized the underlying theme- was to take good ideas, good plans, good intentions placed on my heart and put into action. 

I feel God used last year to build my trust. To feel excitement about the thoughts and ideas he placed on my heart. I let fear freeze my ideas. And in the last few months God has really been pointing out my lack of action. I keep hearing “actions speak louder than words.” That was an ouch moment…. Rather moments. 

I am a master at planning- but not so good about action in areas I feel inadequate. I am really good at putting things into action when I understand the big picture. But God doesn’t always reveal the big picture and is looking for you to just take the next turn. 

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)

The Word has so so so much to say about taking action. So let’s dig a little deeper…

Action could be to start something, taking action to stop something, or taking action to rest in something. 

Geez. So many options. 

Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

John 13:17 (NIV)

So as I start 2020 off….  I am tackling all three in small steps.

I am taking action to start the weekly ABCs series and diving deeper into the word- one word at a time.

I am taking action to stop Turing to sugar to comfort and energize. Today will be the first day of 40 for a faith based sugar fast. (Want more info go check it out- Wendy Speake’s 40 Day Sugar Fast)

I am taking action in resting (and praying) in his desire for this blog / community and the speed I take my ideas, so that they remain manageable and in His glory. 

At the end of the day, action is all about obedience to God. Take action even if that means action in being still when he calls you to. How do you take action in His glory?

Next week: ABCs of 2020: Bitterness.

Life Doesn’t Work in Silos

This past weekend I traveled for my sisters wedding. It entails a long drive, through mountains, and past lots…. I mean lots of farms. As we rode, the silos kept grabbing my attention…. and it got me thinking…

I don’t know how you live life- but I am a complete Type A. Details matter, over analyzer, efficiency is the name of the game, teeth grinder, stressed-slightly anxious, can’t sleep over thinker, to-do list maker, with a sense of urgency person. For a long time people (even those closest to me) thought it was because  because I truly care… about E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. As I pondered, I realized, this is not technically an underestimation. I ABSOLUTELY care about the big picture… but the details why?

Let’s look at what a real silo’s purpose is. It is to protect the grain from the elements and increase the storage life of the grain. So why do some of us live life in silos. For me, I often default to this way of living when I am overwhelmed. The structural comfort of living in my silo is comforting. But doing this day in and day out can also be lonely. Silos can easily cause us to mis align priorities. When I had a very demanding job- I completely lived life in silos. I thought my priorities were aligned with scripture. But it limited my collaboration with others and while my to do list would shorten, I lacked the socialization needed to keep my soul happy, to stay creative, and to stay inspired.

God didn’t create us to live this way. He himself is a community – the father, the son, the Holy Spirit. God didn’t leave Adam alone – he created Eve. The scripture continuously interweaves the thought of community. Galatians talks about how we are to carry each others burdens. Proverbs talks about how we are help better each other.

Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

While pondering and passing all these silos, I realized, at fast glance they appear to stand alone but with another look they are connected.

Really living life as a community takes time, takes maturity on all different kinds of levels. It is a process. To truly trust each other, trust God and the people he put in our path, to love each other, to forgive each other, to regard each other more than ourselves.

I struggle with that last one, how about you?

Part 2: Release and Surrender

If you missed part one, I would take a minute to get the background. Click Here.

So now I was rested, at least physically. I would love to say I woke and kneeled down, bowed down in prayer and truly released it to God.

Prior to this storm I was in, I accepted God as my Lord and Savior…. BUT I never really surrendered ANYTHING. No challenges. No storms. No expectations. No stress. No uncertainty. My faith walk was strengthening – but I was avoiding, hiding from my biggest weakness. Control. I continued with my plans, in my way.  I have always been a problem solver, so I just assumed, strike that, believed all of these earthly challenges were presented for me to solve, for me to tread water, and for me to find the path. My natural desire to control all pieces. Surrendering wasn’t part of my vocabulary, it wasn’t in my perceived make-up. I thought I was “gifted” with the talent to problem solve, therefore, I must problem solve E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.

This storm. This moment. This pain. This uncertainty… I didn’t have the brain power or energy to begin to process and problem solve.

I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted. (Psalm 77:1-2)

This Psalm captures where I was. I kept picturing Jesus in the boat sleeping through the storm. I understood where the bewilderment of the followers came from. In my brain, I knew I wasn’t walking alone. My heart wasn’t so sure.

One afternoon, just me and my youngest. Struggling was an understatement. I was finding difficulty in just making a bowl of cereal for him. I remember, feeling so defeated. Feeling so unsure. Feeling so angry for giving the enemy power over my now questioning faith. Feeling so low, I just wanted to lay down and hide. Watch life from a distance.  As I stood in the kitchen, I felt like a was living a movie scene. A scene where they are in close to the damsel in distress, around the boarders of the screen, are all these mini scenes of things happening around them. They are physically there- but it is all just going on around the close up. I remember dropping to my knees so hard and the physical pain shot up and awoke some the numbness. I cried, a cry I can’t describe. I called out – I literally yelled “Lord I need you, I know in my brain you are with me. But I need something anything to know you hear my cries. You hear my heart. That you are guiding me. I just can’t do this. I don’t know how to do this. Something anything. I know I shouldn’t be asking this, well demanding this. But I need something or I am not sure I will be able to literally pick myself up off this floor.” Without even having the words fully out and ready to keep pleading I was interrupted by a text. I wanted to throw my phone out the window. I was angry for being interrupted. I was angry for the enemy getting another “point” in this game we were playing. I picked up and turned over the phone. A past co-worker had texted. “Hoping you are doing well. You were on my mind this morning during my quiet time and I wanted to check in” I still cry at the thought of this moment. Now, I had a close prayer group and a couple family members that knew what was going on. They checked in regularly. This person He used, this timing, was ALL GOD. He used her-  because those who knew, if used, could have slapped me upside the head and I still would have missed the message. I sobbed. I was laying prostrate. I was praising Him for his timing. His love shown by granting a demand, giving in to little ole me. I finally picked myself up. Made that bowl of cereal. I would love to say the true surrender to God, happened in this moment. I can be a bit slow. My faith was secure again. BUT only secure in believing I am a problem solver and I must be missing something that I needed to do.

A few weeks later, I was finding a way to re-do life daily. I wasn’t living much past day to day. One weekend, my husband, canceled on going golfing. This was HUGE. He lived and breathed golf for most of his life. My already broken heart, broke into smaller pieces. He shared his desire to run from everyone and everything. His desire to get out of our way. He desired to stop impacting our lives. His belief we were all better off without him. He believed I could handle both our son and step son alone. I don’t even know where or what words came to me, but after hours of talking, he agreed to go to the doctor. I knew this bout of depression was so so much more than in the past. I was angry again, why was our marriage being attacked. We had survived so much at this point. I still refused to surrender.

Now a few months from the start, we had made some progress at the doctors. On the surface. But he still wanted to run. He wanted to run from earth. He had lost his way on his faith walk. He didn’t feel he deserved that road. He was struggling to make it through work. He wasn’t great at responding to phone calls or texts. This eye of the storm, seemed calmer, but it was darker. It was filled with his lack of desire to keep going. It was filled with my running home to check on him before picking my youngest up. I was determined if I couldn’t fix this, I would at least control how I may find him and who was with me. One afternoon, I came to check on him after unanswered texts and calls. He wasn’t home, just busy at work. I fell again hard to my knees. I held my hands up, I cried, I pleaded with the Lord to help me to FULLY release and surrender this storm. I asked for wisdom on how to firmly focus on Him and not the storm. I asked Him to help slow my brain and to find peace in this crazy storm until HE choose to calm it. I asked for help to put back on His armor and block these mind games the enemy was playing. I confessed that I now realized that the waves crashing in on me wasn’t that He didn’t care, that He didn’t hear, but He was waiting for me to truly trust Him in my heart. I confessed all my perceived weaknesses. I asked for wisdom to reveal weakness I needed to address.

I can’t report that the storm ended immediately. We were still in for a long road. But a weird peace came while treading through the rough waters. The fog lifted and I began living with eyes on the clear blue sky.

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. – Colossians 1:17

… To be continued in Part 3: Restoration and Grace. 

 

September 2019 Journal Challenge

I am so so so excited about this challenge. This journaling challenge is focusing on prayer. How we feel about it. Writing prayers that can be used when stuck in a moment. Creating a prayer goal and continuing with listing 3-5 gratitude items daily.

Get a journal – a pretty one. an old one. It doesn’t matter. I hope you will join me in the September Journal Challenge. Take 5 minutes of your day to journal and reflect on how the creator made you – perfectly flawed.  What you need….