I’m Learning to Be a Noticer

I’ve been processing a lot of stuff these last couple of weeks.  Anyone in or around the Springfield MO area had to process the news of Hailey Owens and the impact this senseless death of this beautiful 10-year-old girl had on all of us.  By all accounts her death has made am impact not just locally but globally.  The Tuesday night of her disappearance I, like so many others, heard the news and got the Amber Alert and I went to bed praying for her safe return.  When I got up the next morning, Wednesday,  I prayed that the news I would see would be of a joyful reunion with her family.  Alas, it was not to be.

The emotions so many of us experienced have run the gamut from disbelief to shock to grief to anger to fear and anything and everything in between.  We are still healing.  It’s a process.

Where am I going with this and why did I choose to start a post with such sadness?  Well, in the days or maybe weeks prior to this I was thinking of a different event.  My Dad, who I loved dearly, was no longer here on this earth.  He had passed away and come this February 19th of this year it would be 10 years since he had gone to be with Jesus. I was missing him a lot and had been thinking about him and the anniversary milestone coming up and just trying to process that fact it had already been 10 years.

Well, that day, this February 19th ,turned out to also be the day we all found out that Hailey would not be returning to her family and had also gone to be with Jesus.  So, I had a bunch of other emotions to deal with that day other than the anniversary of Dad’s passing.

I’m still growing and learning who I am and who God designed me to be.  I’ve learned that I don’t want to miss any opportunities or blessings He may have for me.  My emotions tend to trip me up sometimes and I just don’t notice things that He has put right in front me.  I want to be grateful for what I have or even what I don’t have.  What I desire may not be what is best for me and I want to discern God clearly. So, I have been trying to be more intentional in my thoughts, words, and actions.  You know the old adages of “look before you leap”, “think before you speak” kind of things.  I have prayed that I see God’s hand in everything.

Well, as God likes to do he provides a lot of opportunities to work on these aspects of my growth.  And in many of the readings or studying I had been doing in the few weeks leading up to this 10 year milestone they of course spoke to me on being grateful in my circumstances (no matter if good or bad), choosing my words carefully, and not letting what should be a minor inconvenience turn in to a big mountain.

What finally hit home with me, however, was the numerous times I was encouraged to strive to notice God in everything.  Absolutely everything.  No matter how big or small.  No matter if it’s good or bad.  No matter if it directly impacts me or not.  He’s there.  All the time.  He’s there if we need to praise Him or thank Him, cry out to Him in joy or intense sadness, or even in anguish or anger because we just don’t understand the unfairness of it all.  We can just simply speak the name of Jesus when no other words will come. I’ve known this of course and thought I did a pretty good job of seeing God’s hand in things but I realize now I probably only scratched the surface.

One of my favorite authors Lysa TerKeurst, posted several entries on her blog the week or so prior to these events that really hit me hard.  I know this wasn’t coincidence of course.  Basically what she said was that we need to Be a Noticer.  Be a Noticer of and love your story – whether orderly or chaotic, thank God for the moments.  Be a Noticer with your words – be a noticer of the good in every situation. This part isn’t easy and even in difficult circumstances we can look for how God can teach us through it.  This one I struggle with more than others.  And finally Be a Noticer by developing a heart of thankfulness.  Find something to be thankful for in every situation. This helps me remember God is there and I can focus more on Him instead of the situation which may be difficult.  This will release God’s supernatural peace.

Philippians 4:7 says  “And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.  I sure have needed some peace over the last couple of weeks.  There are times when all I’ve managed to say was “Jesus” because I couldn’t find the right words.

So, I am boldly going forward and declaring I will be a noticer!  I know I will still miss some things but God’s presence will never change so all I need to do is refocus and there He is!  Amazing isn’t it.

"And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:7

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I Give Up!

Haven’t we all used the phrase “I Give Up!” at one time or another?  I know I have and under many different circumstances.  I’ve used it when I can’t find something I put away in that “perfect spot” so I would be sure and know where to find it.  LOL. I’ve also used it when I’m frustrated with a situation or some body when I don’t know what else to do or say.

What I’ve found out was I never really used it when it came to hearing from God and being obedient.  What I mean is I like to be in control, at least in some way, of almost every situation.  It makes me feel safer and feeds that part of me that was taught to be independent and do things on my own.

As I’ve shared before I’ve found out a lot of things about myself as God has been working on me, both good and not so good.  Regardless of which I’ve had to be real with myself and God and be willing to either embrace the good or admit the not so good.  With the not so good areas I then had to be willing to continue to work with God toward resolving the issue.

What I have discovered, however, is that no matter how much I said Yes to God I never completely gave up my control over the area I was supposed to be working on.  Yes, I have had some major breakthroughs and major revelations in some areas but I think God has probably had to do a lot of pulling and tugging on me to move forward when my need to be in control said “no, it’s not time yet”, or “maybe we need to test this a little more”.

My need to stay in control of part of the process prevented me from having absolute faith that God would take me where I needed to be.  God wants only the best for us and he desires to bless us in all that we do if we walk in faith.  In this world there’s a prevailing theme that you must do everything yourself because no one is going to do it for you; believe in yourself.  While there’s nothing wrong with having an independent spirit God wants us to rely on, trust in, and have faith in Him.

So what does all this mean?  It means that I’ve had to learn to say I Give Up when dealing with a situation, person, or issue and give it all to God.  To admit that He needs to be in control and I must be willing to be open to whatever He leads me to do.  Sometimes he leads me to confront the issue (ouch!),  learn the whys and hows of the situation, and deal with it. Sometimes he leads me to do nothing, at least nothing apparent, for a period of time while he works on me, grows me through it, and I come out on the other side with new revelations about myself and who I am as God’s creation.

This has been one of the hardest things to do, saying I Give Up to God.  Oh, I know I’ve said it before when dealing with something that was definitely beyond me but I was truly only giving it lip service.  I said it but then took everything right back and tried to do it all myself.  I think I’ve finally realized that doing anything under my own power and control just really doesn’t work when I don’t involve God in the process and let Him do the guiding.  Looking back I realize just how frustrated I got when things didn’t work out like I thought they should.  But I realize now that God closed some necessary doors during those times to things that would not have been right for me.  I thank Him for that now even though I certainly didn’t see it at the time.

So, I’m still an independent type person and I like to have some control in a situation.  That hasn’t changed.  What has changed is my thinking.  I am doing my best to put God first with everything I do, striving to be aware of His guiding hand and being open to whatever He wants me to do.

Jeremiah 29:11 – 13 says – “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

God knows my heart and knows I’m not perfect and He loves me anyway!!

God understands

I’m Not Good but I Want to Be Great

Have you ever taken the time to notice how many of our responses to questions we are asked are pretty automatic?  We may be asked “How are You?” and our response is usually one of the following – I’m Fine/Fine/Pretty Good/I’m Good/Good/Doing Well, etc.  You get the idea.  Now, in a lot of social interactions these responses may be perfectly acceptable. I don’t believe someone we don’t know very well really wants to know how bad our day has been, or that a child has been ill, or that the washer overflowed, or the car battery died, or anything else that interrupted our otherwise normal day or week.

What got me to thinking about this was my response to a How are You Doing question the other day by a friend of mine.  When asked the question I automatically responded with “I’m Good”.  Well let me tell you God immediately opened my eyes in regards to that response .  I instantly realized no, I’m not actually good.  As a matter of fact, I’m struggling right now.

I’m struggling to be the Me God wants me to be.  I am running hard after God right now.  I’m praying for direction and for God to open doors.  I’m longing to really use the gifts He’s given me.  I want to know I’m on the right path and I need discernment.  I want to be a blessing to others, show God’s love,  and make a difference.  I come alive when I am interacting with people and bringing encouragement, hope, reassurance, etc.

I want to be bold.  And I want to be courageous.  Those two words actually strike a little bit of fear in me because I certainly don’t ever remember being bold or courageous growing up.  Either one would have meant that I took a risk, did something out of the norm, made waves or even a small ripple.  Gasp!

Well, as of right now I am ready to step outside of my little box that I’ve called home for a long time.  It’s been quite handy and very comfortable but sad to say it never allowed any room to find “Me”. I know that I built the box out of the home life I grew up in and in response to the “perfectionism” instilled in me.  I’ve actually dealt with quite a bit of sadness when the realization hit me on just how much I may have missed in not taking a risk to try something new or step outside my comfort zone.

I don’t know what path this journey I’m on will take me or how many curves, lane changes, or speed bumps I may encounter.  I’ve got to be willing to take a chance and step out in faith, completely trusting God to direct my steps.  I know He has all of this under control  As a matter of fact, I like to think that He’s smiling.  Smiling not only because He loves me, because I know He does and I feel it.  Smiling also because He is a proud father and one of his “kids” is striving to walk a path that will bring us closer together.

I want to bring my Father joy.  I want to be filled with joy every day knowing that I am trying to be the best I can be for Him and doing what I am designed to do.  I love the Psalms and I especially love Psalm 139. Below are a few verses that speak volumes to me right now.

Psalm 139:13-14 (NLT) –  You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.  Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!  Your workmanship is marvelous-how well I know it.

Psalm 139:16-18 (NLT) – You saw me before I was born.  Every day of my life was recorded in your book.  Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.  How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.  They cannot be numbered!  I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!  And when I wake up, you are still with me!

How glorious is this!  That my Heavenly Father had every moment of my life laid out before I ever existed.  He knows the struggles I’ve had and the path I’ve walked or strayed from to get to where I am today.  He knows I’m not perfect and that I will stumble and fall at times but He loves me anyway!

I just want to honor Him by using my gifts and talents to the best of my ability, showing His love in whatever way I can.

And yes, I want also to be bold and courageous in the process!

Psalm 139:14

Forgiving Myself & Others

Another issue that I need to work on is forgiveness.  My time of reflecting at the end of 2013 showed me that I don’t do enough of it, especially with myself.

Matthew 6:14 – 15 says, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 18:21 – 22 says, “ Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, Lord, how may times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me?  Up to seven times?  Jesus answered, I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

I’ve discovered several things about the level of forgiveness I’ve given to others. For a long time I’ve given the appropriate lip service by saying “I forgive” but have chosen to hold onto an offense, at least to some degree.  I thought continuing to remember the hurt or disappointment it caused would help me not to put myself in the same situation again.  I know now all that did was create bitterness.  It also gave that person power over me.  I chose to let what someone else did (intentionally or not) and the feelings it created govern my responses and become part of my DNA.  Thinking back, I can see a lot of even little offenses that I let define me in some part.

That is not what I/we are supposed to do.  Psalm 103:11 – 12 says, “For as high a the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”  I need to forgive the other person and refuse to let them or the situation have any power over me or my responses to it.  I need to turn it over to God and choose to let Him take it from me.  Ask for His help in examining the feelings I may have/why  I have them, and chose how to respond (or if I should respond) to the situation.

What I decided to do was simply say two words when a person/situation/event or anything offends me, upsets me, or simply is grating on my last good nerve – “I Forgive”.  This is helping me to focus on God and not the situation or person.  It is helping me then ask God to please take the situation because I refuse to let it have power over me and He needs to help me deal with it if I need to respond.  Or, simply to have peace about what is happening around me and totally trusting God.  I so desire that peace.  It’s what I’ve been missing in forgiving others. The peace knowing that my God is in complete control and will help me walk through whatever situation I’m in.  The peace of not allowing the other person to have any control over me. It only causes harm to me if I refuse to forgive someone; it can burrow deep within me and result in all sorts of issues.  The person who caused the offense goes on their merry way,

The second part of forgiving that I’ve honestly had a harder time with is forgiving myself.  I know that has a lot to do with the perfectionism atmosphere my mom instilled in me.  When I make a mistake, unintentionally hurt someone’s feelings, or when I react first before actually crafting the right response, I then crash hard and beat myself up with the “Why did I say/do that” song.  It’s not pretty.  I get moody and really mad at myself.

For me, it shouldn’t be any different to forgive myself and let go of this particular offense and any hold it would have over me.  Easier said than done.  I guess I hold myself to a higher standard and think I shouldn’t hurt anyone, say the wrong things, etc.  That’s for other people, right?

What I am learning to do when it happens, and it does, is to rein in those thoughts as quickly as I can.  To ask for God’s forgiveness for how I reacted and for any pain and dishonor I may have caused Him.  To say I’m sorry, if necessary, to anyone I may have hurt.  To give myself permission to be imperfect, knowing I will make mistakes but I can choose how I will react.

He knows me and loves me in spite of my flaws.  He knows my heart and how I so want to be closer to Him and know Him more.  He knows my struggles and what I wrestle with in my heart.

I just need to remember that I am dearly loved by God.  I am still struggling to define “Me” and who He wants me to be.  I need to remember that I have flaws, I will make mistakes, and those mistakes don’t define me.

Thank God for His forgiveness!

~Today repeat, "God loves me and God forgives me."~ Psalm 103:12 New Living Translation (NLT) 12 He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.

Peace for 2014 and Beyond

I gave myself permission to take a break near the end of 2013.  To not post anything for a couple of weeks and to just take time and enjoy the time of year and to just reflect.

I thought a lot about the changes that have occurred in me over the last year physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  My physical changes are readily apparent for people to see.  The changes to my emotions and my spirit are not so easy.  I’ve written some about my emotions and how I am learning to manage them better and not react so quickly to a situation.  It’s still ongoing and I’ll have more to say as I continue to grow in the process.

Spiritually I’m a lot different too.  As I’ve shared this whole lifestyle change/becoming healthy process has brought me a lot closer to Jesus. He’s done a lot of work in me and this and has awakened an intense desire to know Him more and more.  I want to be aware of His presence every moment of the day.  I’m acutely aware of how much He loves me and wants me to be the unique person He created me to be.

So, what came out of all this reflecting?  I don’t typically do any kind of New Year’s resolutions but what I decided was I wanted to have a specific desire or goal on my heart for the New Year; one that I would accomplish by leaning on God and trusting Him.

What came out of my spirit and my heart was one word – Peace.  I want peace in every area of my life.  Now, I’m not naïve enough to think that everything will always be sunshine and rainbows.  Who am I kidding?  Trials, difficulties, frustrations, and just plain day-to-day life “stuff” happens to all of us and a lot of times there isn’t an ounce of peace in any part of it.

What I want when I say peace is to be able to cry out to Jesus for peace, knowing He will give me the ability to weather the situation with peace in my spirit. Will the specific situation go away just because I have a peace about it?  Not necessarily.   But it will allow me to be more of a Godly woman and deal with it the way Jesus tells us to.  There have been way too many times that I’ve worried/fretted/stewed/harbored anger or bitterness or just about any other unhealthy or sinful emotion about a situation or a season I’m in.  I believe all the emotions that I liked to carry around, all the unrest in my soul , all the stress I carried because I thought I had every right to feel that way, were not only unhealthy for me in my body, mind, and spirit but they were also sinful and grievous to God.

So, my goal for this year, 2014, is peace.  To be keenly aware of my emotions and before I “react” step back and asses the situation, even if only for a moment, and invite God to work in me and help me have peace to be able to handle the situation with Godly wisdom.

So, how’s it gone so far?  Let’s just say I will always be a work in progress. But, it’s going pretty good.  I’ve already learned that sometimes when I don’t really know how or why I feel the way I do that I can just call out “Jesus” and this calms my spirit.

I’m in a season right now where I need a lot of patience.  I am waiting on God’s timing and I really want to “help” things along.  I know that’s not how God works and I’m thankful that for the closed doors that have happened when I have tried to make things happen in my timing. A good friend of mine whose wisdom and insight I treasure has indicated to me that I am in this season for a specific reason and I know she’s right.  God will reveal that as well.  She also sent me something through Facebook that said to listen for God’s whisper.  I like that.  I think that may be how I think of peace a lot more. It’s God’s whisper to me/us and it is there just for the asking and the listening.

The peace that passes all understanding. The God of Peace.

Philippians 4:7 NIV  "the #peace of #God"

Hunger and Fasting . . it’s more than just food

Whenever I heard the word fast the first thing that always came to mind was food.   Fasting always involved refraining from eating either a certain type of food or not eating food at all for a specific period of time.  Fasting was done for a specific time frame or at certain times of the year.   Did I ever seriously think I could or would fast from food?  Probably not.

I’ve learned, however, that we can fast from just about anything whether it is TV, food, internet, or even a hobby.   I’ve known people who have fasted from TV for the Lenten season or who have an “electronics free” day or evening to focus on spending more family time.

We live in a world where there is so much vying for our time and attention.  Now there isn’t anything inherently wrong with being involved in sports, having a hobby, watching TV, surfing the internet, reading, cooking, etc.  What causes the problem is when our attention and time is so caught up in something that it draws our focus away from God and what He may be trying to show us or reveal to us.  The enemy uses anything within reach to capture our attention and then wants to see us get wrapped up in it enough that it takes us off target with our walk with God.

Over a year ago when I started my healthy new me journey I made the decision to completely change the way I was eating and carefully watch what I chose to put in my body.  I’ve shared through prior posts the health changes that I have experienced.

It occurred to me not too long ago that what I actually have gone through over the course of the year was a fast of sorts.  I initially removed food from my diet that was obviously unhealthy and through research and listening to my body’s response to the changes I continue to refine my food choices.  I no longer desire the food choices I used to make.  My body looks forward to the much healthier food choices I now make.

But the most awesome thing about this fast from unhealthy food is that it has resulted in a fresh and increased hunger for more of God!  I so desire to know Him more intimately; to walk where He is leading me; to say Yes to his promptings; to trust Him completely.  I am so hungry for His Word and for what I can learn from it.  I am reading and learning about my spiritual growth and have seen things happen within me that I never knew were possible.  I have discovered so much about myself, both good and not so good, and have learned so much.

I’ve also found that many things of the world don’t hold the same interest they used too because I had let them have too much control in my life.  Things such as food and yes, even television.

There’s a line in a song that says “Break my heart for what breaks yours”.   More than ever before I am more aware of the suffering that goes on in our world, or even in our own backyard.  Honestly my heart hurts.

I have a new hunger now.  A hunger to do something; to make a difference.  To be God’s hands and feet extended and serve others like I’ve never felt before.  I want to do as much as I can as fast as I can and do it all for God’s glory.  I am searching for where He wants me and am praying for eyes to be open wide to the opportunities He is leading me to.   I am prepared to take whatever steps He needs me to take and learn what I need to learn in the process.

I don’t feel that I am doing all I can presently to serve Him.  I want to do more.  So much more.

I wasn’t expecting any of these internal changes to happen when my world turned upside down over a year ago.  All I hoped for was to see my health improve and hopefully lose some weight and become more fit in the process.

Boy has this been a journey and exceeded all my expectations!  Not only do I have a healthier body but also a healthier spirit and a renewed hunger for God.

The journey continues in all respects and I am looking forward to what God is going to do next.

Lord we hunger & thirst for your righteousness. The more I spend time with you, praying & reading your word, following you - the more I want to know you more! Only He can fill the void in our hearts...

A Critical Spirit

I’ve found several definitions for the word “critical”.

  1. expressing adverse or disapproving comments or judgments
  2. inclined to find fault or to judge with severity, often too readily
  3. tending to point out errors

I’ve always disliked being around people who seem to be negative most of the time.  Hearing how bad things are or seem to be, how they don’t like what someone did or said, how things aren’t likely to change.  It makes the atmosphere heavy and a dark cloud seems to hang over them.  You get the idea.

Honestly I never thought of myself as being overly critical or negative.  Sure, I expressed displeasure about situations/people but considered those responses as normal for me and how I felt.

As I’ve learned more about who I am as a Christ follower I’ve found myself more and more in love with Jesus.  I want to please Him in all aspects of my life and find favor.  God has been walking with me through the process of dealing with issues He brings to mind; once I truly work through them some of them are gone for good while others I will need to continue to deal with until I get to heaven.

Some time back I was asked the question of why I always seemed so negative, why I always seemed so critical.  This question was posed to me by someone who I dearly love and whose opinion I value.  However, my response was to basically dismiss it in general, especially the “always” part.  I certainly didn’t think that was true.

I will admit I did realize to some degree that I was quick to find fault and that I tended to look more on the negative side in some situations.  So, I really have been working through how I handle my immediate responses to emotional situations.  I know I am improving.  Definitely not perfect, and probably won’t ever be.  I am getting better at not “flying off the handle”; learning to think before I speak and choose words that are not negative or hurtful but ones that may build up another person, bring some insight, or defuse the situation.  I am truly striving to bring glory to God and keep him in the forefront in my reactions.

I’ve thought for a while I’ve been doing pretty well with this.  The times I have gotten too emotional or negative I’ve really tried to look back at why I responded the way I did; what may have been the trigger; what can I learn from it, etc.  The typical learning curve.

So, what happened?  Well, basically God had me look a little deeper into myself.  What He opened my eyes to was the fact that I harbored a critical spirit.  It’s been there all along but has been buried really, really deep. It’s taken quite some time to peel off some of the outer layers to get to this point.

Me, a critical spirit!  When that realization sunk in let me tell you it sent me reeling.  I felt scared, shocked, repulsed, angry, and probably several other emotions at the moment.  Honestly it left me feeling very unsettled.

Matthew 7:7 says “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

James Chapter 3 speaks about the taming our tongue.  Verses 5 – 6 says “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.  Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.  It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”  Verses 9 and 10 – “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.  Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.”

Wow!  These scriptures and others hit home like never before.  I’ve been trying to figure out how this happened and why.  Again, I know a lot of it goes back to my home atmosphere growing up.  I remember Mom always being at least somewhat negative most of the time.  Sure, she smiled and laughed but honestly looking back now it seems like it was actually forced at times.  She always seemed to have a frown about something.  She did find a lot of fault with other people and how things were done or how she thought they should be done.  I know her OCD played into it too.

I guess that’s all I knew growing up so it’s no wonder it became a part of me.  I’m not trying to make excuses.  I didn’t know there was any different way to be because it was my “norm”.  It became deeply rooted within me and has affected a lot of other areas of my life.

I am grieved at how many times I may have come across negative, spoken harshly or rashly to someone or about someone, or just been plain rude.  It makes my heart hurt and I am truly sorry.

I can’t go back but I can go forward with my eyes wide open to this deeply rooted issue.  With God’s supernatural help I can lean on Him and work through this.  I will overcome it and it will no longer have any roots within me.

~ james 3:5 -- This is so true and I've learned that some people are still playground bullies even when they are adults. Avoid these folks at all costs. Words matter!

Asking for Help

I was raised to think for myself. To be independent.  To act confident.  To be in control.  To be perfect and not make mistakes, or at least not admit that I made a mistake. To keep up appearances.

Those last two sentences really hurt as I read them now.  They hurt because I realize that I likely missed out on knowing some great people or organizations because I never let anyone know the real me.  What am I thinking, I haven’t even known who the real me was until the last few yeas!

What it boils down to in a lot of instances was I was afraid to ask for help. To let anyone see I might be struggling with something or heaven forbid have a personal issue. It just wasn’t allowed when I was growing up.  I remember having questions on a variety of topics but never asked them.  Mom set the rules and expectations and that was that.  Real discussions were rare within the house let alone outside the four walls.  Real sharing of personal struggles just wasn’t done, especially not with someone on the “outside”.

It’s been a process to learn that it’s okay to ask for help with anything.  That I sometimes can’t do it on my own.  That I need and should involve someone else at times.  When I first started my journey to find “me” and realized that a lot of my issues started with how I was raised and with Mom specifically I honestly had no clue how or where to start.  My husband suggested I see a Christian counselor.   I will admit I was somewhat horrified at the thought initially because that was something way outside my comfort zone and something I’m sure Mom would not “approve” of.

He convinced me to give it a try.  I did and it was a really good experience.  My counselor listened to me try to express what I felt and how I felt and lament that I didn’t know what to do. She gave me some really good insight and some baby steps to start with. She also suggested books by specific authors to start me on my journey with my Mom issues and to find the real “me” and who God made me to be.

I know that was my starting point at realizing that it was okay to ask for help. It was okay to be “real” with someone I trusted and share my heart.  I would not be thought of as “less than perfect” or judged because I was struggling with something.  I might even cry a little (or a lot) and that’s okay too.

It’s important to truly trust who you share your heart with.  To trust that they won’t judge you but that also that they can give you honest feedback if feedback is needed or asked for.  Also, that you can cry while sharing. That last part is important for me because God made me a person of the heart.

I take things to heart easily and I cry easily, even over silly stuff.  I will admit I used to get punished for being too emotional or crying when I was growing up so I used to stuff my emotions.  I’m learning to manage my tangled emotions a lot better but I’m not sure I will ever change the heartfelt crying that sometimes happens when I share my heart with someone.  I know God understands my “heart cries” and my tears and knows when they are the result of something that He has brought to my mind or my heart. Especially tears for things that break His heart as well.

So, it’s really okay to ask for help. I’ve got some people in my life now that I know I can share my heart with, and even cry if warranted.  I also want to be the kind of person that someone would feel comfortable sharing their heart with too.  I want to be open and transparent.

I’m asking God to make my heart open to what I need help with and what He needs me to help with in this world. I want to fuel what I believe is a God-given passion in my heart to help the wounded people of this world, especially women. I’m asking for His guidance and help in the process and for his promptings if this is where I should be.

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord

People Pleasing is Way Too Hard!

I like to see people happy.  I would assume that most people do too. However, what I have discovered in this journey is that when you consistently put this first and foremost before your own needs/wants/desires, etc. it can get very unhealthy.

I’m sure a lot of my need to please people grew out of the “had to be perfect” atmosphere growing up.  The weight of always doing everything right, not wanting to make a mistake, not wanting to make waves or call attention to myself/mom/family was always there.    I remember trying to be as inconspicuous as possible in social situations, feeling like I could only speak when it was appropriate.  When I did say anything I remember always being on my guard about exactly what I said to make sure it sounded “right”.

So, with all the emphasis on outward appearances it’s no wonder I never considered any of my own needs.  There was never anything mentioned that I can recall about learning anything about who I was as a person, or who God meant for me to be.  I was told that I could do anything or be anything I wanted to be, but of course it was definitely implied it had to be appropriate (according to Mom’s view of appropriate as I now know).

Discovering who I really am inside has been so freeing in so many ways.  God made me as a loving, caring person who genuinely loves people and wants to connect with them.  However, connecting with them and living to please them are two entirely different things.  I want to connect with people as the real me and I have discovered so much about who that real me is.

I feel like I’ve lived a lie for so long, putting on false facades, wanting to say or do the right things to ensure others thought I was doing everything right.  Not being genuine not only did me a disservice but others as well by not being my true self.  The sad part is, I haven’t discovered until recently who my true self is.

There’s a line in the Kelly Clarkson song “Catch My Breath” that says “Turning my cheek for the sake of the show”.  When I first heard the song I remember I keyed in on that line.  Afterward it would periodically come to mind but I never clued in as to why.  It took my dense mind a little while, plus some gentle prodding from God, before I had the “aha” moment.

I realized for years I had been turning away from “me” and doing everything for the sake of “someone” or the situation I was in.  I was striving to please everyone, especially Mom I guess, and never genuinely expressed my own thoughts/opinions/feelings, etc. into the situation.  How sad for me.

I’ve learned so much by being my new to me true self.  I need and desire to be obedient to God and what He wants for me.  Sometimes I feel like I’m running a race and trying to catch up for all the time I spent trying to please everyone and live up to other people’s expectations.

I am not responsible for other people’s opinions and yes, not everyone will like me or my ideas.  Wow!  What a concept.  It actually took me a little while to totally grasp it but once I did I felt such a weight lift off of my shoulders.   To be honest it took me more than a little while.  The need to be perfect mindset that had been ingrained in me was very hard to get rid of.  I was so afraid inside.

Who I am is not determined by what I do, but what I am inside.  God loves me unconditionally and has not given me a spirit of fear!  Romans 12:2 says, “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.”

God loves me for me; the unique person he created me to be.  My worth is not found in conforming to anyone else’s image of me and who they want or think I should be.

I still love people and want to see them happy and enjoying life.  However, obeying and pleasing God is my primary focus; not pleasing others.  I never imagined what a difference this would make in my life.  Another step taken forward on my journey.

And so, the new-found me continues to evolve and grow.

Romans 8:37

Affirmation – I Am Loved

The word “affirm” is a verb.  Definitions include – state as a fact; assert strongly and publicly; declare one’s support for; uphold or defend; accept or confirm the validity of; offer emotional support or encouragement.

As people we all desire to be affirmed.  To be told we’ve done a good job, we’re appreciated, or even that we look nice.  It makes us feel loved.  However, there is a problem with deriving our ultimate love from what others think of us.  Why, because humans are fickle.  Their emotions and feelings can change as rapidly as the tide.  One minute we are in their good graces and everything seems rosy; the next minute we may feel their wrath or at least displeasure and aren’t even sure what we may have done to warrant the change.

I want to mention this because the way I was raised I was taught to please people all the time.  To not make waves and have the outward appearance that everything was fine.  This has been and still is sometimes one of the hardest bad habits to let go of.  That’s not to say that I don’t care what people think because, let’s face it, we all wonder at times what people think of us.  What I did for so many years was base my worth on how I performed, how perfect I was, how many mistakes I didn’t make, and what people thought of me.

My worth as I’ve come to realize with so much gratefulness and awe is found totally in Jesus.  He loves me unconditionally.  Nothing I can do can ever change that.  I’ve had to repeat that over and over to myself.  Nothing, not one mistake, not one bad decision, not one word said in haste or unkindness.  Absolutely nothing.

Does it make God sad when I do some of those things that are outside His will or if they don’t line up with His Word?  Of course it does.  And I feel convicted by the Holy Spirit when I do sin (and that’s what anything is that is outside His will).  I can then ask for forgiveness.  Notice I said convicted, not condemned.  Conviction is from God, condemnation is from the enemy.  I spent a lot of years condemning myself for mistakes (actual or perceived) because I wasn’t living up to the expectation of being perfect.

I admit I still struggle with those condemning thoughts from time to time but I thank God I am getting better at recognizing them.  Romans 8:1 says “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”.  Amen!

What does the word affirm really mean for me now?  That I am loved by an awesome God.  Nothing I can do can change that.  No matter what any person or the world may think of me, God loves me.  Nothing can separate me from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39).  I had read these verses many times but had never truly understood how powerful they are.  John 10:10 says “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance”.  I don’t know about you, but I want that abundant life.

I am so in love with Jesus.  Psalm 37:4 says “Delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart”.  I love that word delight.  Yes, I delight in the Lord.

I am affirmed.  I am loved.

psalm 37:4