Monday, February 6, 2012

Lessons Learned from "Junior" (a foster child that will be a forever part of my heart)

  •  There is a time to talk, a time to be silent...but ALWAYS time to love and be loved.
  • Cartoons are cool!
  • The dirtier you get, the more fun you've had.
  • A genuine smile softens all.
  • Some are easily manipulated and a young child is capable of turning on and off the charm.
  • Be so active that a jacket and coat just weighs you down.
  • There is awe in EVERYTHING!
  • God is here.  God is there. And angels are real.
  • Ninjas really do have smooth moves.
  • Smiles are contagious!
  • Easily accept and give forgiveness.
  • Understanding the terminology of another is of utmost importance.
  • You should never make assumptions!
  • Empathy, sympathy, and comfort are gifts that even the youngest can give despite a tragic background.
  • A little love goes a long way.
  • Breathing is literally a gift!
  • Live expectantly and fearlessly!
  • Laughter in its purest form is incredibly healing and always good.
  • Accept counsel from others but only from but only from those who honor God's will above all.
  • Take God at His Word...Ask. Seek. Knock.
  • Love. Give. Serve. Trust. Let go!
  • God is big! God is wise! God is all-knowing and all-powerful. God is far more capable in caring for and loving than I could hope or imagine to be.
  • Colors are amazing but green is the best! After all, grass is green and it's everywhere :)
  • The unknown can be scary so stick with what and whom you know but allow yourself to recognize new goodness and move forward despite the fear.
  • Greet each day with enthusiasm and anticipation.
  • Enjoy food and never take it for granted.
  • Shoes are over-rated and shoestrings are simply a bother.
  • Being alone at times is needed.  Being with others is also needed.
  • Always help when you are able.  Most will respond with gratefulness. Those who don't have their own reasons.
  • Being outside is always a good thing!
  • Sometimes all one needs is to know that someone cares and wants what is best for you.
  • Why sit still when there is so much to do?  Why walk when you can run? Why just talk when laughter and songs are right there?
  • Life is to be lived, regardless of the hardships.
  • Find what you like and stick with it but don't give up on finding new things to like.
  • Friends are important.
  • Challenging others behavior is okay to ensure understanding.
  • Loving without abandon can never be wrong.
  • Tough and tender are both admirable qualities.
  • Each new day is a gift.  Each moment is to be treasured.
  • Learn what is TRUE then trust it.
  • Talk is over-rated.  Communication is more than mere words.  
  • Thunder is just God clapping His hands to remind you He is here.
  • Rain sprinkles, aka "sparkles" feel like kisses from heaven.
  • Trains are the best way to travel.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Free Indeed!

In looking back, August 7, 2011, God began a journey for me that I didn't see coming, didn't feel prepared for, and the majority of the steps were uncomfortable to say the least.  YET, I am so grateful for HIS goodness, HIS preparation, and HIS relentless pursuit.

For the past few years, I have experienced what has been termed "intrusive memories" and "night-terrrors".  On August 7th, I experienced one of those moments that hopefully will be as hard as these things ever get.  For as long as I can remember, I have always desired a deeper relationship with God but hesitated in such because of always questioning deep within my heart where His so-called presence was during times of my past.  On this evening in August, the 'memories' took my breath away and felt as if it could very easily squeeze the life out of me.  A very uncomfortable, unpleasant, horrific few days.  BUT there was a huge a-ha moment in that process.  I realized that God had to have been there in my past.  This realization sunk in hard and deep because I knew without a doubt that I couldn't survive the recalling of these memories without Him by my side much less having had survived the event in reality without Him.  The awareness of that TRUTH was overpowering, overwhelming, and life-changing.  Such clarity in the darkness amazed me.

The next couple of weeks were relatively calm and assuring and God continued to show me things that left me in a state of awe and amazement.  I realized that for far too long, I had allowed myself to view the feelings/reactions of others to be of more importance than what God's views were on the matter.  I turned to other believers far more frequently than I turned to God.  That realization brought me to knees in repentance.

The last week of September was filled with 'intrusive memories', nightmares, and exhaustion which left my immune system wide-open to the routine illnesses involved with spending your days with 4-5 year old students.  I missed work for close to a week due to the illness.  Afterwards, I had an enjoyable weekend filled with rest and relaxation yet woke on Monday with fever and such and ended up missing a couple of more days of work.  UGH!! The upside to the illness was that even though I didn't feel well, I was able to spend a lot of time in prayer, Bible Study, and simply being still before God. Tiresome ordeal for the 1st half of October but began to feel a physical reprieve near the middle of the month.

I had fallen way behind in paperwork with school and ended up spending some time in my classroom over the weekend.  In trying to catch up, I attacked a long list of emails.  One email was from a 'past friend' that I had, obviously, unsuccessfully attempted to close all communication with. I was beyond frustrated that this person had once again appeared in my 'inbox'.  Part of my heart told me to simply press delete yet part of my heart wanted to respond in such a way that would successfully close this relational door once and for all.  I didn't immediately open the email and asked 2 girl-friends who were aware of this issue to pray for me regarding the choice that lay before me. 

In the midst of this personal conflict, professional conflict occurred which resulted in meeting with administration and all sorts of drama.  Not a pleasant time but a time of clear communication, direct confrontations, and a strength  that only could have come from God.  In the process of dealing with the job conflict, God enabled me to clearly, assertively, and honestly communicate with my professional superiors which in turn, gave me the courage to tackle the relational issue.

When the issues at work had subsided, I realized that I had to once and for all put an end to the "past friendship" that I kept allowing to re-surface even though I knew it was ultimately dangerous, harmful and sinful. I realized that my own sinful desires allowed the opening of this evil but I, also, strongly felt that God was willing to enter it with me and give me the words needed to end this emotional game once and for all.  In past attempts to end this damaging relationship, I always felt a sense of guilt because I felt that I owed this person.  God enabled me to be direct enough in this communication so that nothing could be misconstrued or misunderstood  in any way.  ONLY through the strength of God and those whom he allowed to stand by me, I was FINALLY able to say what needed to be said without feeling any guilt, remorse, or fear.  God clearly used this final chapter to strip away the lie(s) that I owed this man anything.

I remain in complete AWE of the Lord and His mercies because there hasn't been even one moment of regret, concern, sadness, guilt, etc.  Allowing myself to accept God at His Word, I now feel and know that I have absolutely been set free from this evil stronghold that I had allowed this situation to have upon for close to 21 years

My husband was so supportive during this process and God allowed communication in my marriage that restored---actually made new--- the commitment that he and I had made to each other and to God nearly 15 years ago.  God also made it abundantly clear for me to see that only because of Christ’s mercies, I was able to truly recognize that Christ's death did mean far more than I’d ever allowed it to mean.

My relationship with God has always seemed to be made up of a path that went up & down or back & forth.  I have continually and repeatedly excused or rationalized my sinful responses and actions as a sort of step in a gradual process of growth. I now realize that my often self-inflicted return to the pit was lessening the power of what Christ has already done in my life.  I finally realized, with certainty and more clarity than ever before that God wanted more for me and from me than my continual choice to wander back and forth between the Light and the Dark. The assurance sunk in that God wants me to be and to stay in the Light---so much so that He insured the permanence of that Light through Christ’s death and resurrection.  God wasn’t turning the Light on and off to see what I would do. I was repeatedly leaving the Light to see if it would still be on when I returned. God wasn’t orchestrating miserable experiences to test my character. I was choosing and even creating the miseries to test His.

The “I GOT IT” moment was devastatingly horrifying and beautiful at the same time. Horrifying that I am, without doubt, a sinful, hurtful, person. Beautiful in that God has always known that to be true and He, alone, made a way to make me ‘beautiful’ in His eyes.

My relationship with Christ isn’t a process of my growth. My relationship with Christ has been completed. The relationship is done, complete, set, and unchanging because of what Christ did and nothing I do, say, etc. can add to or take away the Light that He, mercifully, provided.

I became deeply aware that I was allowing and/or attempting to make relationship with God transitional rather than allowing Him to make it transforming. The burdens I felt lifted at that very moment of awareness were amazing, overpowering and well, transformational.

Because of accepting that TRUTH, I was finally able to allow God to shut and seal that door in regards to several "things" that I had allowed to control me.  "Set Free" has a new, profound, incredible meaning that makes me grateful for each and every moment God allows---regardless of how it feels at the time because I know that He is with  me and will work all out for the good He has planned.

Almost immediately, Satan made it clear that he was not going to give up so easily after having had me in bondage for so many years---additional drama at work, a couple of more "blasts from the past" occurred that I never imagined, a car accident that could have very easily taken my life, and some necessary boundaries had to be established.  Needless to say there have been some awkward and difficult moments yet God remained faithful and I have never felt at such peace.

Along with dealing with the past, some present relationships took a turn that I never saw coming.  Some personal, some familial, and some professional.  Some of the changes hurt far more than others.

My biggest fear in life has been to be totally open and known by a person and that person not finding me worthy.  In some of the recent relational changes that fear became a reality.  Yet God is still God and His mercies are truly new every morning.  I have realized that fear has no part in my life.  Fear does not come from God.  In being forced to face "my biggest fear",  I have been hurt but not devastated. I have been grief-stricken but not immobilized. I have been shaken but not shattered.  God's Words are TRUTH---He has made me new and more than a conqueror.

Each new day brings about different joys and challenges and I am so thankful for each and every momentGod is good and that will always be the same.  I absolutely love living within His presence, turning away from any and all fear, and eagerly anticipating what His plans for me hold.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Lies Women Believe: Book Intro. and Chapter 1

Book Notes
  • When we turn to Scripture, we are reminded that God does not intend for us to live in bondage.
  • It is possbile to walk through the realities of life (rejections, wounds, even death) in freedom and pure joy!
  • The root of most of our struggles is that we have been lied to. We have been deceived.
  • Only a radical adjustment of our way of thiunking will get to the toot of our diseased hearts and make us whole.
Satan’s objective has always been to drive a wedge between God and His creatures.

• Some of Satan’s tools are a clever combination of outright lies, half-truths, and falsehoods.

o Eve as an example

 Caused her to question the goodness, love, and motives of God.

 Lied to her about the consequences of choosing to disobey God

 Flatly contradicted what God had already said.

 Seduced Eve by offering all kinds of benefits.

 Led her to make decisions based on what she could see and on what her emotions and her reason told her to be right, even when it was contrary to what God had already said.

• Anytime we receive input that is not consistent with the Word of God, we can be sure Satan is trying to deceive and destroy us.

• We, as Christians, must open our eyes and begin to evaluate what is going on around them---to wake up to the deceptions.

• People don’t fall into bondage overnight. It is a process. Reminds me of Casting Crown’s song: “Slow Fade”

1. Listening to things that are not true is the 1st step toward ultimate bondage and death.

a. We must carefully monitor what we allow into our minds and hearts.

2. Next step to bondage is dwelling on the lie. Allow yourself to contemplate, to consider, and to engage the Enemy in conversation.

3. After dwelling, we believe despite the contradictions to God’s Word which in time leads to…

4. Acting on the lie. Believing things that aren’t true produces sinful behavior.


Moving From Bondage to Freedom:

1. Identify the area(s) of bondage or sinful behavior. Ask God to show you.

2. Once you identify, don’t just try to eliminate them. The only way to permanently get rid of the poisonous fruit is to pull the bush out from the roots.

3. Identify the lie(s) at the root of that bondage or behavior.

4. Replace the lie(s) with the corresponding Truth.


Study Guide (personal excerpts )
Jesus said this purpose is to give life in all its fullness.
  • For the longest time, I have lived in the state of survival and simply existing---being in bondage to fear of people, fear of loss, and having a false view of who God is. 
John 8:31-36
  • Freedom: relying on Him above all things and all people.  My identity to be based on Christ and Christ alone.
Through this study, I want to recognize the lies more easily and quickly replace them with God's Truth.
Is there any area of your life where you have given up hope that you can ever be free?
  • There was an inexplicable emotional tie to one I knew was wrong.  I kept falling for the lie that I owed this person something because of all the good that had supposedly come from this relationship at one time.  Over 20 years of angst, confusion, guilt, etc. and the Lord helped me to become free from this by allowing things to be said and done that left absolutely no room for mixed messages or confusion.  Truly amazing to finally be free of this harmful, dangerous relationship.
  • At times, it seems the past will never let go.  Memories and such catch me off guard at the most inopportune moments.  Have begun to realize that the actual events didn't destroy me because of God's provision and care thus the mere memories of such cannot destroy me either.  God has me covered.
How can you discern the difference between Truth and deception? How can you keep from being deceived by Satan's lies?
  • KNOW God's Word; Surround self with Godly people; Clothed in prayer

Daily Gratitude # 10

I keep a sidebar for my "Daily Gratitude". I enjoy having these moments of appreciation. I couldn't, possibly, list all that I am grateful for each day but having the simple reminder to keep an "attitude of gratitude" is proving to be worthwhile. I keep the sidebar posts going but 'cut and paste' that list when it gets lengthy. 
  • February 6: Hot Cocoa with Caramel from McDonalds at 6:30 a.m. and below 40 degrees. YUM!
  • February 5: for the funny antics of my dog, Bailey who truly does bring joy to every day.
  • February 4: friends and family who pray, advise, and encourage when uncertainites of life creep in
  • February 3: Today is Friday!! :)
  • February 2: life-long friendships with Becky Agee that bless me in more ways than I could ever express.
  • February 1: access to capable, helpful doctors. Thank you, Dr. Bassett with Arrosti!
  • January 31: Good books that encourage and inspire
  • January 30: children who find such delight in the simplest of things. Happy 100th Day of School!
  • January 29: a day of quiet, rest, and peace
  • January 28: my "baby sister" whose strength, perseverance, and patience continually astounds me
  • January 27: Having the opportunity to spend the evening with my amazing mom
  • January 26: Christian music that lifts my spirit and helps me focus on God
  • January 25: Supportive classroom parents in regards to the care and discipline of their children
  • January 24: A kind-hearted, gentle husband who comforts, advises, supports and prays for me regularly.
  • January 23: A group of fun-loving co-workers who bring a smile to my heart even on the craziest of days
  • January 22: A enjoyable, relaxing weekend safe at home with my husband