Thursday, January 29, 2009

Friday Fill-Ins (my # 4; site's # 109)

  1. I'd really like the weekend to be here right now.

  2. OW! is the word you'd most often hear me say if I stubbed my toe with crap, unfortunately, being in a close 2nd.

  3. Possession is based on perception---just ask one of my Pre-K students :).

  4. (I haven't a clue on what this is referring to---sorry!!) Captain Jack Sparrow.

  5. Marshmallows and fire go together like children and smiles.

  6. This past week has gone on and on.

  7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to catching up on "my" recorded televisions shows, tomorrow my plans include FINALLY seeing my sister & nephew---it's been close to a month and Sunday, I want to hear the details from some friends who just returned from a mission trip to Sierra Leone.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Letter Game

My blogger friend, Liz , recently played 'the letter game'. The game seemed like fun so I thought I'd join in. If you want to play, leave a comment on this post letting me know, and I’ll assign you a letter. You are supposed to write about ten things that you love beginning with your assigned letter. Post it on your blog; when people comment on your list, you give them a letter, and the game continues. Liz assigned me the letter M. So, let the fun begin...

  1. My mom. She is my hero. After 34 years of being a homemaker in a 'far-less-than-ideal marriage', she left my dad with less than $30.00 to her name. At the time, the experience was horrifyingly heartbreaking, but she relied upon the Lord; returned to the work force, received her associates degree and is now living independently, actively serving the Lord and blessing me by moving close to my home.
  2. Milk chocolate. I love anything chocolatey---could eat it anytime, any place. I, once, was able to eat it without repercussions but now my hips take issue with that statement.
  3. Movies. I am not a big television watcher but love movies that make me feel good. Romantic comedies are my favorite. Also love the movie popcorn; no matter what the grocery store brands say, I have yet to find anything better than the real theater popcorn.
  4. Melted Marshmallows. This wintry weather makes me want to roast marshmallows over an open fire and make some S'Mores.
  5. Mountain Tops. My husband and I went to Hawaii on our honeymoon and we climbed Diamond Head twice. Amazingly beautiful.
  6. Montana. I went here on a youth group mission trip and was, once again, amazed by the beauty of God's creation. If only I could learn to enjoy the cold...
  7. Mamaw H. and Mamaw D. I was blessed with 2 wonderful grandmothers. I was so grateful that I had the privilege of having them in my life long enough to see me "all grown up and happily married".
  8. Mission Trips. I have been honored to accompany fellow believers to various places within the United States to assist with children's' camps, Summer Bible Schools, and prayerfully hope to be able to join a group of 12-15 friends this coming March for a trip to Jamaica (associated with Christian Camping International) accompanied with a follow-up trip in July.
  9. Music. I can't read music or play any sort of instrument but I love to listen to music. Contemporary Christian Music is my all-time favorite. Too many favorite artists to list but Susan Ashton, Steven Curtis Chapman, Sara Groves always seem to have songs that deeply touch my heart.
  10. Mexican Food. I am, actually, a Tex-Mex girl. Authentic Mexican food doesn't agree with me but Mercado's (a Tyler restaurant) El Chico's, Jalapeno Tree types of food always sound good to me.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Self Talk, Soul Talk Ch. 4 (personal reflections)

(Posted a lil' bit early this week.)

The words of Jennifer Rothschild in Chapter 4 "Speaking Truth to Your Issues" amazed and blessed me in more ways than I could describe.

I was tickled by Jennifer's wordings about the lady who reached out to touch only the hem of Jesus' garment to receive healing. I had never thought about how that woman of great faith had some serious self-talk going on and how that "...self talk was based on on truth and dependent on the trustworthiness of Christ..." (pg. 50)

The majority of my life has been filled with with faulty assumptions. My "roots" (aka faulty assumptions) were built up of thoughts such as: "It must be my fault...if I hadn't asked/wanted/needed xxxx then this bad thing wouldn't have happened...I'm a bother...I'm a burden...I must smile and always act as if all is well or my world could be destroyed..." These roots have caused issues that have complicated and nearly stole my very life.

Jennifer mentioned on page 47: "We find ourselves with one defining circumstance in our lives that becomes the headwaters from which many other issues originate and flow." I'm not yet sure I've discovered that 'one defining circumstance' but am growing in supernatural ways while in the process of sorting through life's experiences and circumstances.

The importance of developing wise soul-talk took on a deeper meaning as I read through this chapter. I had one of those huge "A-HA moments" when reading the words on page 49: "Soul talk can never be a substitute for faith...When soul talk is independent of of our relationship with God, we are destined to be frustrated by our own human limitations."

This journey of healing began in the office of a secular licenced professional counselor. She was kind, comforting, and helped me to some degree. I did learn specific steps and tools while working with her yet no amount of "self-help-books" or "positive affirmations" were releasing the death-grip that I felt was on my very soul.

It wasn't until a friend of mine encouraged me to talk with a "spiritually-minded-counselor" that the dark despair that was enveloping my life began to dissipate. I had grown up in religion since infancy yet had never truly "met" Jesus. June 2, 2007 changed my life/my heart in more ways than I ever would've imagined possible.

I grew up in a religion that did not teach much on the Holy Spirit so the "Four Roles of the Spirit" that were discussed in this book were especially insightful and helpful. I still find myself struggling with the words on page 55: "Does this match up with the truth of the Bible?" I am frequently wondering how one can be sure of what is "true", especially in terms of doctrinal issues. The fact that 2 wise, good-hearted, educated, God-loving and God-fearing people can read the same words in the Bible yet come up with 2 totally different interpretations still confuses me. Hmmmm...maybe those thoughts are for another study :).

End of Chapter Questions:
1. What kind of issues crowd your thought closet? Issues of self-doubt, shame, and the paralyzing fear of being a burden on/to others though these thoughts ARE being replaced with the truths I am finding in God's Word.
2. Are you relying on your self-control or the Spirit's control in your life? I am learning how to relinquish my control to the Spirit but the Holy Spirit is a fairly new concept that I am trying to wrap my mind around so unfortunately, that relinquishment hasn't come as easily or quickly as I had hoped.
3. Which of the four roles of the Spirit do you need most in your life? Most definitely, the Counsel of the Spirit. The idea/TRUTH of having one who is safe...wise...objective...(and) absolutely committed to (my) ultimate good" (pg. 53) is a relationship that I have always longed for yet never felt that it was available or at least, attainable. The Truth that this is available fills my heart with joy and hope.

Sunday Stuggles

Today has been difficult. I am having a hard time 'turning off' my mind. Those incessant 'voices' telling me that I'll never be good enough, that this pain will never end, that nothing I do really matters, I'll never measure up, I've failed, etc. I know that the Devil is wanting to hold me back from these new freedoms I'm experiencing and I will not, THROUGH THE LORD, lose this battle.

I KNOW my goodness comes from Christ, alone. I KNOW I have nothing to prove. I KNOW that this pain will end. I KNOW that Christ has already worn the battle and I KNOW that all else is temporary. I KNOW that God loves me as I am. I KNOW His love covers all of my regrets, my mistakes, my fears.

I pray that God will remove any thoughts that are in not in accordance with His Word and His Will and replace them with His truths, His mercies, and His peace. I also pray for the ability to mentally and physically rest for the next few hours so that I may give my best to my sweet students tomorrow; they deserve no less.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I Remember When...

I moved out of my parent's home the day after my high school graduation. I felt ready for the world but was very naive about what the real world was like even though I remained thrilled to leave the world I had known behind. I moved to Arkansas to work at a Christian Camp during the summer while waiting for the fall semester to begin at the college I was attending. Strangely enough, I wasn't scared to "be on my own", though I was heartbroken at leaving my 5 year old sister and my mom 'behind'. My 1st day of college was my baby sister's 1st day of kindergarten. I also wasn't scared b/c a dear friend of mine, who will probably never realize what an amazing influence he had on my life, took a 'Sabbatical' from his career-job and worked at the camp with me. He had worked there before and I so appreciated having a familiar face, a true friend and someone watching over me. My parents and I handled the moving away just fine; my sister and I cried and cried. It was a bold move but I had tons of outside-the-home emotional and financial support. I ended up working at that camp for the next 5 summers while also helping out with retreats during the school year. Memorable experiences, Godly influences, and valued friends are what stand out the most when I remember that time.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Fill-Ins (my # 3; site's # 108)

1. Oh, I am so grateful for the warm weather! It almost reached 80 degrees today. My afternoon class received an extra long recess time, thanks to the beautiful blue sky and warm temps.

2. Excited and fearful about changes, big and little.

3. During television watching, I usually have to be doing something else, like reading, on the computer, coloring, etc...

4. No break from teaching until MARCH; are you kidding me??? Obviously, I’ve grown spoiled to at least one day a month without students.

5. Right now I'd like to be in Sierra Leone (Africa) with 4 of my friends who are currently on a missions-scouting trip to see what needs we may, through God, meet there.

6. My CD player/radio is my favorite gadget. I love listening to Contemporary Christian music (KLOVE: syndicated; KVNE and KLGY: Tyler stations and KLTY: DFW station).

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to simply being still and quiet; I remember the days when Friday nights were all about fun and fluff but now they have become all about rest and relaxation, tomorrow my plans include hopefully seeing my sister and my 2 year old nephew that MAY be coming in for a visit and Sunday, I want to attend a congregation where I feel comfortable with what is being taught and comfortable enough to ‘just be me’!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Self Talk, Soul Talk Ch. 3 (personal reflections)

I enjoyed this chapter titled CHOOSING WISE WORDS. I could totally relate to Jennifer's words on page 34: "We live by our assumptions, our beliefs about the way things are. We often aren't even aware of such ideas until we exercise a little self-examination. Our thoughts and our actions flow from our assumptions."

Just recently, I had one of those "a-ha" moments that explained a lot about why I did, said, and reacted the way I had at times. It was an internal motivation that I hadn't even been aware until 'the light shined upon the truth'. The awareness didn't provide me with excuses or an easy way out but it did help me realize the reasonableness of things that I once couldn't even begin to wrap my mind around.

I loved the imagery that Jennifer used when she stated on page 35 & 36: "...our assumptions are the root, and our thoughts are the fruit...changing the fruit is impossible without changing the root."

Those words really struck a nerve because I am beginning to realize that no amount of stubbornness, will-power, and self-motivated improvement will 'change the fruit'. I think I am FINALLY understanding that the only way the 'fruit' can be changed is when I get honest with God and with myself while trusting that HE can grant me freedom from the tangled roots that are attempting to choke the life out of me.

I was tickled to read Jennifer's words on page 37 about having "...three surefire ways to gain the wisdom you need to recognize truth, right assumptions, and healthy fruit. "

Those words made this ultra-obedient girl think "Yay---give me the steps, show me the specifics, and I'll get it done and get it done well." I have to repent of that performance-based, self-reliance attitude. It has rarely, if ever, served me well.

I've been meditating on the thought that following the path to wisdom does have to be a disciplined choice. It's not an overnight fix and I imagine the growth is gradual and realize that I may not even be aware of what God is working within me. That fills me with hope but also a bit of fear. I'll CHOOSE to hang on to the hope.

I enjoyed Patsy Clairmont's words of wisdom about conquering negative thoughts:
  1. REFUSING: I can honestly identify the self-talk & weigh it against the evidence of truth.

  2. REPLACING: My school principal had each of the teachers decorate a cutesy bucket last year that was to hold all of the 'positives' that came our way; whether it be through jotting down a memory, a note from a friend, small tokens of appreciation, etc. so that if and when we began to feel depleted, we could go to that bucket and fill up with some cheer. I have grown to love that bucket that is outwardly adorned with Scripture that fills me with hope, joy, and confidence.

When Jennifer listed the characteristics of "The Wealth of Wisdom", the following phrases provided water for my thirsty soul:

  • Wisdom will refresh you...(Proverbs 18:9)

  • Wisdom will bring healing...(Proverbs 12:18)

  • Using wise words will protect you (Proverbs 14:3)

  • Wisdom makes you strong (Proverbs 24:5)

Thank You, Lord, for providing such blessings through the simple gesture of asking You.


1. What are the fruits in your life you wish you get rid of? pride, self-sufficiency, holding myself to higher standards than I would ever impose on anyone else; Issues of insecurity/inferiority when I feel I'll never measure up and I'm burdening others when personal needs/wants occur.

2. What are the roots from which those fruits grow? Growing up in an "abusive" household where compliance and self-control were required; being raised in an extremely legalistic religion.

3. What practical things can you do to attack this root so the fruit will die? Properly identifying the assumptions and lies; seek Scripture for truth and guidance; ask God for the wisdom to "sort out the complicated"; allow others "in" and learn how to better trust.

4. What's your "fear factor"---do you fear God, reverence Him?... I once "served and worshiped" God because of the fear of negative consequences if I didn't. I now, whole-heartedly, want to worship and serve Him out of an ever-deepening awareness, appreciation, and awe of who He is and what He has done for me because of HIS love---not my tasks.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tough Days but a Tougher God

This past week has been difficult. I have been assured that what I am feeling is "normal" but it is so out of character for me that it leaves me feeling a bit overwhelmed. Losing 2 loved ones within a 3 week time period has, apparently, placed me on the roller-coaster cycle of grief.

I am feeling confused because I have had much loss in my life, in a variety of circumstances, yet have never experienced this depth of emotion. Again, I've been assured that if my reactions/emotions are 'out of the ordinary from my past reactions', then I can rest secure in knowing that it is better than the way I've handled grief in the past. I guess I simply wasn't expecting the means of handling things in a "healthier way" still causing so much pain. This too shall pass...

For those of you pray-ers out there, please remember my dad in your prayers. He and I no longer share a relationship, but he is in my heart and mind daily. I recently found out that he has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. At this point in time, it remains best that I keep my distance, which some of you may understand, adds to the self-imposed feelings of guilt and personal failure. I know that those thoughts are not from God and am battling them moment-by-moment in prayer, Scripture, and dearly loved friends.

A new week has begun and I am praying for wisdom, clarity, and strength.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Self Talk, Soul Talk Ch. 2 (personal reflections)

Well, I am running several days behind though I had the chapter & info. completed, I just couldn't seem to make it to the posting stage. Chapter 2, RENEWING YOUR THOUGHT CLOSET, struck a lot of nerves. I felt convictions from God at every angle. Jennifer Rothchild's thoughts concerning this matter was an amazing confirmation of 2 previous conversations with dear friends. What struck me the most was the idea, the truth, that if the words that I speak to others and to myself are not in agreement with the words of God, then they cannot be true or acceptable.

Refusing to let untruths enter my thought closet is a deed that is much easier for me to say than do. I needed to hear the reinforcement of the fact that I do have a choice on what to think on and about. Through God, I am capable of "holding every thought captive" and refusing it entry into my 'thought closet'.

I so appreciated Jennifer's sharing on how Jesus' words were noted as being gracious, powerful, authoritative and true. Noting the difference between correction and condemnation is something I REALLY needed to hear. I am so quick at feeling reprimanded and punished when the intent is meant to be correcting and convicting.

Realizing, as Jennifer noted on page 28 how our words, even those we say to ourselves, have the power of life and death. Oh, how I want my words to ALL to be gracious, kind and beneficial to all that hear what I say but I must admit that this is in the early stages of a work in progress.

I found such comfort when Jennifer noted on page 29: "You can't remove those hurtful thoughts, words, and memories, but by the power of God (italics mine), you can drain them of their potential control over you. Only One is truly capable of forgetting, and that is God Himself."

End of the Chapter Questions:

1. What sits on the shelves and hangs out in the furthest corners (of your thought closet)...?
Unfortunately, the voices and labels from the past are still bringing about shame and despair but THANKFULLY, God is leading me through the process of replacing the lies of Satan with His loving words.

2. What are the top 5 thoughts you have about yourself? How do they influence you behavior and feelings? Hmmm...the top 5: (1.) I am a burden. (2.) I am at fault. (3.)
I should've known better/done better. (4.) I'm stupid. (5.) I haven't earned...

3. Are the contents of your thought closet based on truth or lies? I am beginning to see that they are lies but it is a slow process.

4. Are you a name caller? Is so, find a new name to use when you are tempted...In other words, refrain from the old words and rephrase with new words. One of my dear friends Sherry gave me a plaque with many positive attributes of one who is in Christ. It sits framed in my 'study area' reminding me that "You are...
  • a child of God (John 1:12)

  • the light of the world (Matthew 5:14)

  • made alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:5)

  • a member of chosen race, a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2: 9, 10)

  • an enemy of the devil (1 Peter 5:6)

  • chosen of God, holy and dearly loved (Colossians 3:12)

  • a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)

  • chosen and appointed by Christ to bear His fruit (John 15:16)

  • a son of God, one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26-28)

  • a joint heir with Christ, sharing His inheritance (Romans 3:17)

  • the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:15)

  • God's workmanship (Ephesians 2:10)

  • righteous and holy (Ephesians 4: 24)

  • a saint (Ephesians 1:1)

  • a temple (1 Corinthians 3:16)

  • an alien to this world (1 Peter 2:11)

  • a slave to righteousness (Romans 6:18)

  • a holy partaker in a heavenly calling (Hebrews 3:1)

  • a member of His house (Ephesians 2:14)

  • seated with Christ in heaven (Ephesians 2:6)

  • one of God's living stones, being built up in Christ as a spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5)

  • part of the true vine (John 15:1)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Fill-Ins (my # 2; site's # 107)

1. Enough with the cold. I am such a warm weather type of gal!!

2. Conflict causes me to be conflicted but I am learning that not all conflict is negative.

3. I've been craving time alone; a personal retreat with very little responsibilities.

4. My 2-year-old Schnauzer-mix-dog, Bailey, makes me laugh. He is the sweetest thing.

5. I wish I could go to my little sister’s new house next week. Living 6 hours away has not been easy after being used to having her and her family being 15 minutes down the road.

6. The impact that my life-long friend, David, has had on my life has been on my mind lately. David passed away over the Christmas holiday break. I am amazed at how Dave & his family allowed God to use them to bless my life in such immeasurable Spirit-filled ways.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to relaxing at home with my husband, tomorrow my plans include routine errands & tasks and spending time with my mom and Sunday, I want to “officially commit” to the Spring Break Jamaican Mission Trip with my home congregation.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Self Talk, Soul Talk Ch. 2

Due to one of those crazee but good weeks, I won't be posting until Saturday. Thought I could get it done tonite enjoying what posts I've been able to read thus far. I have been really blessed by this book.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Friday Fill-Ins (a bit late)

1. It's January; I am thankful for new beginnings..
2. Chocolate is what I crave most right now and most any time.
3. Cork and wine go together like prayer and power.
4. A southern-style casserole is so nourishing.
5. Let us dare to take God at His Word and never allow Satan to take us off track.
6. I SO need to straighten up and clean my home.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to simply being still, tomorrow my plans include household tasks and touchin' base with friends and Sunday, I want to gather more information about the summer mission trip to Jamaica to assist with Christian Camping International!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Self Talk, Soul Talk Chapter 1 (personal reflections)

I have never done an on-line Bible Study before but am eagerly participating in the one that begins today. I can hardly wait to see what God reveals to me through the book, Self Talk, Soul Talk that is written by Jennifer Rothschild. I am also eager to hear from the hearts of other women who are striving to daily walk with God.

From my understanding, a new chapter will be discussed each week. For more information, visit the gracious hostess of this study at Lelia's blog. There are also shortcut links on my sidebar.

Chapter 1: Not So Well With My Soul
This chapter resonated within my heart in more ways than I could’ve imagined. Jennifer refers to the words that we say to ourselves as ‘soul talk’ and the importance of how our words need to agree with God’s words; even in those silent talks we have within our own minds.
On page 12, she referred to her own negative soul-talk as “…a raging river, tossing me mercilessly until I thought I might drown in my own self-condemnation.”
  • Oh, how I can relate to those words. These past couple of years, my soul has been haunted by memories of the past which have included all sorts of regrets, "why-questions", and fears of what the future may hold. By God's grace, through His Word and fellow believers, I have come along way in regards to 'healing'.
  • Unfortunately, over the recent holiday season, I was caught way off guard by the voices that I thought had been silenced and I allowed my thoughts and emotions to take me to a level of near tragic despair that I never would've thought possible.

I SO UNDERSTOOD the words that Jennifer wrote on page 13: "All those years of faulty thinking and equally faulty self talking had begun to manifest in bouts of frustration, sometimes pushing me to the ragged edge of despair." My prayer is to never, again, take my eyes off Jesus long enough to ever reach that depth of desperation again.

I appreciated the comments made on how our powerful words can be and how our talk shapes the lives we lead. More slowly than I'd prefer, I am learning what to say to myself and to base these words on the truths that God has made available.

2nd Corinthians 10:5 states "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

  • I hate there are times I can't seem to rid my mind of the thoughts not obedient to Christ. It seems that there are times, when I unknowingly, have allowed myself to succumb to the thoughts of insecurities, lies, and failings. But I can't excuse myself as unaccountable when those moments occur. I suppose it is simply a matter of discipline and faith to make myself "take every thought captive".

Other Scriptures of guidance and comfort were:

  • Romans 12: 2 (NIV) "be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is..."
  • Proverbs 23:7 (NASB) For as he thinks within himself, so he is...

End--of-the-Chapter Questions:
1. What does the soundtrack of your self talk most often sound like...? My thoughts are too often filled with self-condemnation, harsh judgments, fears, doubts, anger, and guilt. Thankfully, I am in the process of transforming these thoughts.

2. How do your feel about the contents of your thought closet? Are the contents... My "closet" is in desperate need of a wardrobe change! My habitual thought patterns often lead to nothing but sadness, despair and hopelessness.

3. Are you willing to try some soul talk from the Bible? YES!! I am so excited about learning how to better CHOOSE and CONTROL my thought processes. I am eager for the guidance into what Gods says to be true and am thankful to not be going on this journey, or any other journey, alone.

Song: "By Your Side" by 10th Avenue North

“By Your Side” sung by Tenth Avenue North
Why are you striving these days?
Why are you trying to earn grace?
Why are you crying?
Let me lift up your face, just don't turn away.
Why are you looking for love?
Why are you still searching as if I'm not enough?
To where will you go, child?
Tell me where will you run; to where will you run?
And I'll be by your side, wherever you fall.
In the dead of night, whenever you call.
And please don't fight these hands that are holding you.
My hands are holding you.
Look at these hands and my side.
They swallowed the grave on that night; when I drank the world's sin, so I could carry you in and give you life.
I want to give you life.
Cause I, I love you.
I want you to know that I, I love you.
I'll never let you go.

"Falling Forward" Devotional

"Falling Forward"

Sandi Patty
Excerpted from A Grand New Day: A Full Year of Daily Inspiration and Encouragement © 2008 Women of Faith, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Lord upholds all who are falling.Psalm 145:14 NRSV

When I was a little girl, my father was just about the best daddy any daughter could have. (Still is.) He gave me a great picture of the heart of God by always coming the moment I called (or at least that's how I remember it). Therefore, I had a deep trust that my daddy always had my best interest at heart. One day, however, he tested this trust. I was up on a low roof and my dad was on the ground when he asked me to jump into his arms. I stood with my toes at the edge of the roof and could feel myself swaying. I was terrified. Then Daddy said, "Sandi, you're gonna fall either way. If you fall backwards, I can't help you. But if you fall forward, I'm going to be able to catch you."

That is exactly the picture I want you to hold in your mind if you are struggling in any area of your life. If you are wounded by circumstance or the betrayal of others, if you are in despair about your marriage or your children or your future, if you are being swayed by temptation, you probably feel like you are falling. Go ahead and fall, but fall into the arms of the one who can save you.