Motions

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After reading Chapter 11 of Stressed-Less Living I am again amazed by how each chapter hits me right where God is growing me.  So this weeks chapter is titled, The Reset Button. It is about getting stuck in a rut, just wanting out; at the end of our rope.

I have felt stuck in many ways the last couple of years, but it definitely has intensified this year.  I have felt stuck spiritually, physically, even situationally.  And yes, I wish at times I had a reset button, or a do-over button.  But often I just wish I could run away. Not from everything, but I have spent years with dramatic overhauls happening in life at about the time this feeling occurs.  We have lived in 4 towns in the last 23 years, but have moved to different houses and parts 20+ times.  We have done three major church changes in the last 15 years, since becoming Christians.  We have public schooled, private schooled, homeschooled, and now public schooled our kids again. My husband has gone through 8 very diverse and different job changes.  From Farming to Branch Manager to Janitor.  In the middle of all this we worked towards becoming full-time missionaries and got through the whole process up to the fundraising and leaving.  The funds would not come in.  We worked to the point of almost sweating blood…God simply said no.  I think he knew what he was doing.  We were a mess that we hid well from everyone, but God.

With each change we fit into a different dynamic and with each switch of things we made different friends and did different things.  But each new chapter was on thinner and more fragile paper.  Easily crumpled or torn.

So I sit here now with a life that I don’t think is where God wants us, but where he has allowed us to rest.  Or grow, cause I haven’t felt like I have been resting.  I know I am here because he wants some breakthrough, some resolution, something solid in us again.  But I know I am not there.  And what I really want to do is run to a major life change again.  Something to take the focus off of dealing with the now and the fact that I feel so out of place.  I am going through the motions.  Even as I do this study.  I am still going through the motions.  Feeling like I am waiting for something more.  And maybe this time God has placed this restlessness in my heart because it is time.  The growth that could happen here is done.

But with my history who could blame me for not knowing whether to trust in that or not.

So what will I do?

I will try to implement the six steps outlined in Tracie’s book.

1. Realign Your Life.  I need to start giving the word the time and valuation it deserves.  I need to start considering it my lifeline and go to when I have these questions and start looking for God to give me an answer.  I ask, I pray, but I don’t look in the right places for answers.  Searching my own mind and heart often will lead to very selfish answers.

2. Recognize Your Need.  My need is to be dependant on God.  Not be so self-sufficient.  This is not a new realization, but one that still needs to be addressed fully.  Because I will surrender until life starts falling apart and then I deem myself the cleaner and start picking up the pieces.  I like what Tracie said, “God never meant for us to be self-sufficient.  Dependable, yes.  Responsible, yes.  Confident, yes. Self-sufficient, no.

3. Adjust Your Focus. I need to get my focus off my circumstances and put it on God. I need to put into action my trust in God to work in my life.

4. Be Filled With The Spirit. I have given my life to Christ. Truly asked hm to be my Savior.  And He has given me his Holy Spirit.  I need to stop ignoring, and grieving, the Holy Spirit. I need to give him Dominion over my life.  I see that happening by doing what 1-3 says.

5. Be Faithful In Your Prayer Life.  I pray in faith, but I do not come to him as often, or like I should.  The more stress the more I fail at number 2 and the less I pray faithfully.

6. Believe God is Who He says.  I do.  This one I do.  But without all the other actions falling into line my life does not reflect it.

I know that I need to believe what it says in 2 Peter 3:9. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think.  No, he is being patient for your sake.

Tracie ends the chapter by saying Unbelief puts our circumstances between us and God; faith puts God between us and our circumstances.  If you are serious about resetting your life, then let God be God in your life.

Dear Lord, I truly want this for my life.  I am going to work at doing all these things.  To not have you in a place that is unworthy in my life, but to let you be the God you are in my life.  Help me make these changes.  Help me be who you would have me be and go where you would have me go.  Thank you for not giving up on me.  Thank you for the love you constantly show me and the blessings you shower upon me in your love and patience. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Falling Down: Breaking Point

ImageI wrote this before I read ten, but how fitting. God knew what he was doing.
This has been a tough two weeks. Needless to say my study has fallen behind with me not even having finished chapter 9 yet. But the one thing I got out of it, and the encouragement of other studiers, was to just speak out Jesus as I was going through these rough waters. And somethings that means laying flat on your face and speaking it into the ground. And you don’t always end up there out of humility. Sometimes it is because you trip and fall first. But the humility comes once you hit the floor.

How can my God keep wanting to pursue me when I am such a failing example of becoming Christ-like? This thought kept haunting me. Because one day He will just get tired and stop. There are plenty of fish in the sea, errr… I mean people in the world.

The hardest part when you’re just sick and tired is to try and take those thoughts captive and refocus. On a day that was exactly that I cried out for help. I prayed, I posted a plea to be prayed for, and I waited. I was just too tired to try and choose what to do next. One of my fellow studiers wrote to me and said, “Just keep saying Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.”

Now for those who are new Christians, not Christians, or don’t study the bible much that may not make sense. And yes, there is even controversy among Christians as to the full understanding of the power in the name of Jesus, but this is what I believe.

The bible says in Mark 16:

What Jesus’ Followers Must Do

14 Afterwards, Jesus appeared to his eleven disciples as they were eating. He scolded them because they were too stubborn to believe the ones who had seen him after he had been raised to life. 15 Then he told them:

Go and preach the good news to everyone in the world. 16 Anyone who believes me and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe me will be condemned.17 Everyone who believes me will be able to do wonderful things. By using my name they will force out demons, and they will speak new languages. 18 They will handle snakes and will drink poison and not be hurt. They will also heal sick people by placing their hands on them.

And there is a song that says:

In the name of Jesus, in the name of Jesus,
We have the victory. Hallelujah!
In the name of Jesus, in the name of Jesus,
Satan will have to flee.

When we stand in the name of Jesus,
Tell me who can stand against us.
In the mighty name of Jesus,
We have the victory.
Who can tell what God can do.
Who can tell his love for you.
When we stand in the name of Jesus,
We have the victory.

In the name of Jesus,
In the name of Jesus
We have the victory,
In the name of Jesus,
In the name of Jesus
Demons will have to flee,
When we stand on the name of Jesus
Tell me who can stand before,
In the mighty name of Jesus,
We have the victory.

These things ran through my mind when I read her words. I know I am in a spiritual battle. My battle seems to always be in my humanity, but God says our battle is also going on in the spiritual word. So I did. I spent several days in bed, many just making it through the day, but I kept saying Jesus. I kept trusting in him. That is what that really means. Having faith that even as I walk through the valley that he is with me. And this morning, I feel like I am finally stronger and at a place where I can resume some normality in life. So I am going to try and catch up on the study, but not so fast that I will lose the lesson. So I may not make it back to the blog hop pace, or I may be able to. That is to be seen. But my faith is unshakable even if I can only call on Jesus. That is how it started for me in this walk with Him and it may be how it ends. But for now we will see what still fills up the life between.

Dear Jesus,

Thank you for this life Lord and help me to live it with your name always on my tongue. Help me to remember to use what you have given me in your word to get past this breaking point, and each breaking point, with the tools and weapons you have graciously given.  I love you Lord.

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Addicted.

Chapter 8.

Well, first I will say it has been an unbelievably difficult week.  If I thought it was tough last week, I was mistaken.  Last week was easy.  But isn’t that how it goes?  Comparisons are always fuel for the enemy to work with, I think.  I have been doing a lot of comparison reflections this last week.  Spent part of it with a fever and I think some of it was delusionally motivated, but I got some good stuff out of it.  Then I finally was well enough this morning to read my chapter and got another confirmation that I am going in the right direction, and that I went in the wrong direction.

I left you last week with the impending trip to the family gathering.  I saw my Goliath as being able to be a light for Christ in their lives.  But what I forget is that I have been doing that for years.  I expected to use the same tools yet get different results.  The true problem was that I went telling myself that that was supposed to be my focus.  I wore myself out trying to get ready, having recently recovered from being sick.  I went there in a motorhome that had mold issues (with my Reactive Airway) and from the beginning I found this sense of dread in my chest.  A sense that something was wrong.  I think what was wrong was that I was so focused on what I wanted that I chose to repeatedly ignore that voice inside of me that said, “Turn back, this is not the way.”

I try to tell myself that I am better at listening to that voice, but only when I want to.  I truly am addicted to trying to get it all right and so focused on not missing timing or opportunities that often my own desire will override God’s leading.  I really got to spend very little time with my family because I was sick almost from the get go and got really bad before we returned home.  It was really a miserable trip, with a few minor moments with my family.  I did not shine, I dragged.  I was sick and it was hard to breath so no enjoying the campfire, or visiting with my mom too much because once I knew I was definitely sick I didn’t dare expose her, and several other aging relatives. There were many unexplainable breakdowns in the different motorhomes and many people had a strange tiredness overtake them.  It felt all wrong.  But it was all wrong.  I told God what I wanted out of this trip, but I never asked him if I should go.  The answer was no.

I never thought of my running ahead of God as being an adrenaline issue.  But after reading chapter 8 I can totally see it.  I get a thought or direction in my mind and the adrenaline kicks in and it blinds me to seeking God in the correct way.  It robs me of peace, because even though I ask for it I don’t seek God for the map first, then I have to find peace far from his intended plan…it just doesn’t turn out good.

So my next step is to stay keenly aware of this new revelation and make sure it is not a usable tool for the enemy to snag me on.  Or for me to snag myself on, for that matter.  I know that I have adrenal problems.  I was on supplements for it last year.  My anxiety issues burned them out and I know that life is not going to be pleasant, or long, if I do not get on the right page of this story.

I know God has written a plan for me.  And sometimes it is No, not Go.  And good intentions do not mean God has his approval sticker on it.

I am learning Lord.  I am learning. Thank you for not giving up on me.  For brushing me off and picking me up.  Lord I surrender my stress and my addiction to adrenaline to you.  May you use me in your time, in your way, and for your Good!

In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Not my Goliath

ImageWell, this will be short.  But for the Stressed-Less Living Blog Hop the title I pick is above.  Because right now I face many Goliaths in my life.  Many of them I have mentioned in previous posts.

Today I get to go to the Rheumatologist and I got my referral so the insurance will pay.  Hurray! One Goliath down.  But we are going on a camping trip with my extended family, who are not Christians, and my mom has COPD with other complications.  This could be her last trip and that is constantly on my mind.  Being a reflection of Christ in the lives of those you love, who don’t believe, can be a huge Goliath.  So I am asking for prayer for this, on top of all the other Goliaths.  Let me be able to run to face my Goliaths with the full confidence that the Lord is guiding me.  I have had moments to reflect on that I did it before.  When my faith was new and fresh and I trusted like a child.  I ask God to renew that faith and sensitivity to His leading.

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Lay Down My Pride

Ok, so this chapter, chapter 6, of Stressed-Less Living was a doozy.  It is not that I haven’t heard it before, but I have been listening to a louder and more obnoxious voice lately. I fully believe in the reality and existence of the enemy of God.  I have had my share of very real and obvious battles with him and his trappings.  But I think that I still have areas that are, were, easy targets for the enemy to trip me on.  As I read Tracie Miles tell of coming home from that retreat it easily could have been me writing that.  The greater the breakthrough for me spiritually the worse the attack.  Retreats are the worst.  Usually it is when I am a part of the leadership I come home to the same situation as Tracie, but I was never mature enough to get it.  

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I always found fault in my husband, kids, etc.  I have high expectations of my husband.  I use to think it was a compliment. Or at least that it should be taken by him that way.  After all I believed he has the ability to do just as much as I do and just as well.  But truthfully I think on it now and I see my own pride and wanting my own way.  My husband is a sweet guy with a serious want to make me happy and not let me down.  Which makes it even worse when he does something that he thinks will.  He is a normal male with a sin nature like all the rest.  But if he does something that could be construed as wrong or bad then he will bury it.  But it always gets back to me.  I use to think that it was God showing me so that I could help him “work” on my husband.  But now I am leaning more towards the enemy using it to drive a wedge in our marriage.  It always comes about at a time when our marriage has reached a blissful place of seemingly restored.  Then pow! Then I blame my husband for ruining everything.  This last time was the worst.  But leaning on God and going through this study has shown me a few things about myself that makes this less true and more a victim mentality and a deserving more thought cycle that I can see Satan delighting in planting inside of me.

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Then, for most of my life, an element of pain is added to the situation through illness or injury that inflame the feelings even more.  Satan knows that pain is my Achilles’ heel.  “Make life messy and add pain” is written on the prescription Satan prescribes for messing with my life.

With these new realizations and the tools that Tracie has shared I am determined to watch for those pokes to my weak areas.  I am going to give this up to God and I am asking him to help me now that I am aware that this is what is going on.  I know that there is even bigger battles ahead as I learn to conquer the stress and lay down the parts that need to be surrendered.  I ask that you pray with me for wisdom, strength, humility, grace, and forgiveness.  Thanks and Blessings!

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Taking It Back

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I guess this week of the  “Stressed-Less Living” online bible study has been the most difficult for me, but not because the reading or study was hard, but because life was hard this week.  It was a difficult week where just living took everything I had.  I have lived my life with several auto-immune mysterious illnesses.  I sometimes believe that my body knows I am my own worst enemy and is trying to eradicate it.  But this week was nostalgic of years ago.  Ten years ago I started developing symptoms that led to the conclusion of MS.  My neurologist even diagnosed me twice, only to rescind after another MRI showed that another “lesion” that had appeared on my brain had, in turn, disappeared again.  Still for 6 years I lived with this confusing battle. I have some remnant symptoms, but for the most part they just as mysteriously stopped.  Even my diabetes was under control by diet.  I claimed healing by God, at the time, but I often wonder if I just started being obedient and God took it away because I was producing fruit.  Though, not the best fruit, nor the best bearer, it was with a sincere and honest heart and a true longing to serve God alone.  I started being involved in missions.

Anyway, fast forward to now.  I have been working on all the things that I have learned and gleaned from this study so far.  So many areas of my life, and walk, are seeing improvement because I am seeking the Lord and following what he has said to me.  So my marriage, and the other issues I have shared with you, have begun to show it.  

My health has not.  I shared with you about the Reactive Airway problem.  But at about the same time, I had just gotten over a nasty bug, I noticed that the arthritis in my hands and feet was worsening.  At first I thought it was aches and pains from the virus, but even when I got well from that I was left with the asthma-like symptoms and the ever stiffening joints in my fingers, knuckles, toes, etc.  I have been to the dr. several times and each time they try something different to no avail. It is presenting itself as Rheumatoid Arthritis.  But even with that being the case I have had to fight to try to get to the appropriate dr.  Apparently the low-income insurance I have doesn’t cover the diagnostic process for this and yet they do not want to allow me to go even as a self pay.  It is a confusing and frustrating process.  But the worst of it is that the last week has been so painful that it has been mind bending.  I have prayed so much for God to get me through moments, because praying for days is like one prayer for eternity when you’re in this kind of pain.  My joints in my fingers are especially painful and stiff.  I am getting these hot stinging bumps on the joints and bends of my fingers and my middle finger on the left is angling left.  These are the hands that I used all week to do daycare.  With little ones who need to be lifted, changed, helped, etc.  My husband has taken time out of work to come and help me with the daycare and that has been a God sent.  But that cannot be the pattern of the present and future.  It just won’t work long-term.  The newest medicine the dr tried on me left me with a severe reaction that made me really sick.  So that was on top of what I was already experiencing this week.

 Yet, the enemy will not win.  I will not turn from God.  I will not give up.  So as slow as it was to get this up.  As slow as it was to finish reading and doing the study.  I kept hearing to persevere.  What I got out of the study was Tracie sharing that God knows we are not going to be able to live up to being perfect, free from our worries, stresses, and battles.  And probably our greatest battle at times is just remembering to persevere in coming to him with it.  The good, the bad, and the UGLY.  One of my walls that I put up is being physically comforted.  First, it hurts to hold hands or be hugged tightly, but second, I find that it makes me uneasy and angry and I don’t know why.  So in taking back what is mine in Christ I guess I need to figure that out and seek God in it being revealed.  It use to be a source of great comfort to me.  And I think that I need to take that back.  As to the next step in healing my marriage and my physical healing.  These are the verses that God is strengthening me with this day.  Blessings to you all!

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, Stephanie” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Proverbs 1:33 “ but when Stephanie listens to me she will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”

Isaiah 30:21 “I will be the voice behind you, Stephanie, guiding you in the way you should go.

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Transformed/ Big Dream, Wee Step

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So here we are on week 4 of the Stressed-Less Living online bible study and I again have hit a dilemma  if that is what it can be called, so first off…

I’m sorry.  This week I had to go with a mash of two of the suggested topics.  Though I didn’t know it until I started writing, but it is just the way it is.

I am loving this poster!  Found it online, but it speaks what God keeps gripping my heart with.

I have spent the last year with the biggest struggle of my life.  I honestly thought I would be divorced by this time.  My husband lost my trust almost a year ago and I was left with my world rocked after 23 years of marriage.

I just found that after all those years we should have been beyond that, and quite honestly, I could not forgive or get over this.  Many choices I made this last year have been to try and prepare for separating, rather than repairing my marriage.  We started counseling with our pastor, who is really great, but I am always in the same place.  By Christmas I had lost all feeling and had become so bitter.  (I am admitting this, while not completely being over it).  Now, our pastor, recognizes this and has been really good about giving us, and me, Godly direction and addressing what is going on with me.  He is also hardball hitting my husband with what he needs to be doing.  The problem is that I stopped being transformed by God and started letting the world speak to me.  And my own human sin nature.  I only really revealed a portion of just how seriously over I was.  In my heart I was already separated or divorced.  But I wasn’t and I was making my husband pay every day for the fact that I was where I was and feeling the way I did.

Now some of you would think that, well, he deserved it.  Or I deserved better.  But that is still thinking with the mind of the world.  God has been pointing out a few logs in my own eye.  And by God’s righteous standard mine are no better than his.  I realized that I had to get a grip on what God wanted or I was going to end this with/for all the wrong reasons. My husband has been working hard to change and learn how to be a good Christian husband.  But I have not been acting like a good Christian anything.

And to top it off, in the process of trying to get out, I left all things ministry related, feeling overwhelmed and unworthy, and knowing my heart was not in the right place to be there, yet feeling like I was helpless to have any real control over the situation.

Some of the problem had been building over years of small issues, but most of it is that he is more committed to our marriage, even with his honesty fault, than I am.  I entered this marriage telling him, “Never do this to me or I’m leaving…”

Now I brought into this marriage an already tarnished and broken heart.  I had been in an abusive relationship, got pregnant, then lost my baby boy to SIDS.  I met my husband two weeks after my son died.  Yeah, wait…then we were married 7 months after that and then 7 months after that welcomed my second son, his first.  That was 23 years ago.  No one could have told me that I was asking for a lot of marital trouble with that kind of start.  But most of our marriage was rocky.  We did not become Christians until about 16 years ago.

For the record, he is a sweet man who other women wish they had.  He is a good provider and works hard.  He is easy on the eyes…you get the picture.  He has a very forgiving nature and has put up with a lot from me through the years.  Yet, there has always been, hanging over our marriage, the barrier I put up; have up.

So this is why I started this study.  It was supposed to be like a last-ditch effort.  A “See I tried” kind of thing.  To basically say that God is for this being over and me to have less stress in my life by not being in this marriage.  But what I have found has been that God is speaking to me through the pages Tracie has written, the blog hop, and the guidance of Melissa and our bible study leaders.  God is  not ready to give up on my marriage or on me.  My heart is softening.  God is transforming my hardened heart.

Transformed. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2 NIV

And it is painful.  And I have this big dream that maybe my marriage can be healed, but I have only taken a wee step in obedience by hoping again.  So, if you think of me in your day please pray for me, asking God to renew my mind and keep my eyes and heart open to His leading, and my marriage, and my kids, and everyone that has been affected by this.  Thank you.

Dear Lord, please forgive me for not loving enough, for the conditions I place on my love, and the ungodly way I have been allowing my thoughts to go.  Let your truths and word sink into my soul and touch my heart anew.  Help me to make close friends who are positive and good Christian friends.  Help me to open my heart to that too. I have kept from getting close to other Christian women because of old hurts and not wanting to get close to others.  Lord, you are a great God, and I know you love me in ways I just can’t comprehend.  I want to feel it like I am suppose to and to be able to give it like I should.  Thank you that I can come to you and be honest and that you don’t reject me the way I have rejected others.  Forgive me for that.  I do not want to turn away from you or what you have for my life.  I love you. Amen.

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