Hope

Be Careful That You Don’t Fall

It blows my mind how God sends the exact things at the exact moment that we need to hear them, or at least He does that for me.

I was in the shower this morning having a conversation with Him about the status of things and passionately telling Him I just did not understand all of this and what the point is/was in drawing the recent months into what feels like forever. 

As I am having this conversation I heard Him speak to me inside my very soul asking me, “Dig deeper. What’s really underneath all of this?” I both love and hate it when you hear Him tell you something that you literally have uttered out loud to someone else a time or two. You know those times when a friend is feeling all sorts of out of shape and not quite sure what the actual problem is and you put on your best friend/sponsor/counselor/sister voice and make them really get honest with themselves? 

Seriously God? Well, okay then. I thought about that prompting and asked myself that very same question. What is underneath all of this? As it turns out, there’s a wee bit of fear of change, rejection and abandonment wrapped up into a nice little package of not wanting to have to adjust because adjusting is not what I really feel like doing right now. Do you know what I mean? Please tell me I am not alone in this. 

There is a scripture in the Bible that says, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12) and you will never guess what came to mind today. 

The truth is that pretty much nobody is all excited about having to adjust when it isn’t in their game plan. I knew months ago that there was so much good that was going to come out of this reset, slowdown, crisis, or whatever you want to call it. There HAS BEEN GOOD. Truly, there has. 

The problem is, the longer it goes on the more difficult it is to see, and that brings me back to my point about not slipping and falling. Perhaps, that sneaky little bugger that wants to steal, kill and destroy has gotten a bit of a foothold inside your head or heart, too. He is not firmly planted, but when we start looking under what is underneath and recognize the traps he so craftily sets for each of us I see that the gray is getting gray and things are getting pretty slippery. 

When the underlying fears surface and the real truth is told or admitted then the gray cannot get any grayer and the slowdown can still be a good, good God thing that He will turn into so many things for His glory and our good. Let’s face it, none of us really like to admit what we really feel or think from time to time. It’s just not our human nature. We want to hide and that leads to the slippery slope we should go to any lengths to avoid. 

Your turn. Have you found yourself on the slippery slope? What have you not admitted to yourself, to God or someone you trust lately? I challenge you, as I challenge myself today, to not become complacent or afraid to passionately share with Him what you really think or feel. He is a big God and He can handle it. Be careful that you don’t fall.

Hope, Keeping it Real

The Things We Do

I have learned to laugh at myself and the ridiculous things I think and do. I can laugh at myself most of the time, especially when I see the silly patterns and ingrained tendencies within me that can either make me cry or laugh. The response is usually based on the day and how that day kicks off. 

There are funny (READ FUN FACT) things about me that are just silly, weird, awkward or a mix of all of the above. Things that I would be almost afraid to share with my best friends if I did not know that they all possess their own quirks, too. And we love God and other people and accept them for who they are and not as they should be. Right? 

For example: 

  1. When doing anything involving a checklist or project-I have to leave off at an even number. Let’s say I have a list of things to do at work. I won’t stop with 3, 5, or 7 things remaining. I complete them in even numbers. It bothers me to have an uneven number. 
  2. The volume setting on a device also has to be set at an even number. 
  3. When I am walking, I count steps in my head and, you guessed it, I cannot handle an uneven number.

See what I mean? Quirky. And then not so much. Maybe the connection between even numbers could be made to equality and justice and fair. I don’t know. Maybe that’s a stretch. But seeing people treated fairly, equitably and justly matters to me, too. I get a little bent out of shape over various shades of inequality and injustice. Who knows? I will have to wait to see what God has to see about that and that’s another conversation for another day.

My point is, laughing at my tendencies and odd little quirks make life so much sweeter than wrapping myself up in self-pity, self-loathing and general disdain at my whole self and identity. I am labeled as the daughter of the King of Kings and still human. My labels don’t identify me (at least not much anymore on most of the days) and so I can laugh and find humor in the silly things about me that don’t define me, but make me unique.

What labels have you placed on your pretty little head that you need to let go of? What areas of your life can you laugh about? What are the fun facts you want to share with the rest of us? This is a safe place and it’s okay to be who you are. 

Oh! In case you have forgotten, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. 

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14

Hope, Keeping it Real

Flipping the Script

Since this entire year seems to have been flipped upside down and is nothing like any of us would have imagined or dreamed, I may as well just start thinking about what else can be flipped upside down. 

Way back about 47 months ago, the word “intentional” was placed on my heart. Like 2020 was going to be the year full of intentional friendships, time, giving, self-care and adventures. Well, I suppose it has been and still is but it looks on the outside a whole lot different than I thought it would. 

What about you? Did He give you a word? Do you do that? Disclaimer: I don’t sit down and ask God to give me a word that defines my year or any of that stuff, it just sort of happened without my asking for it or doing some sort of special ceremonial ritual. I was thinking about it and since He can hear our thoughts and knows our every need there it was. 

So the lifetime months since the beginning of this pandemic have really flipped the script on a lot of things. From social connection, to social isolation; from external self-care to internal self-care; from outward physical affection to asking for permission to hug your best friend; and the list goes on.

One of the things that has been flipped upside down AGAIN in my own heart and mind is self care. For me, that looked like the textbook examples of napping, time alone to recharge,  journaling, reading, quiet time with God, etc. It still does include all of that.

 But the definition of self care has been changed once again to include more than just those wonderful things and I am beginning to understand how He is at work to get me to surrender to His will. I think that is what is happening anyway. 

One of the things that this expert-level recovering codependent tends to do in their unhealthy coping mechanisms is to go from one extreme to another and also to slide into a place of isolation as a means of protection. Sound familiar? I used to do that all the time and I know where the slippery slope is. 

Do you know your slippery slope? We all do, but this whole idea of social distancing and self care can be turned into Satan’s playground if we are not careful and accountable and connected to the people who will call us out on our crap. Right?  

So, now I have the understanding of the word intentional and how, no matter what is happening in the world outside the door today, that God still has a plan for my life, my year, and my today. 

I am intentionally choosing to flip the script on what self care means. I am choosing to accept the things I can and let go of what I cannot control. I am choosing to seek His guidance for knowing the difference and desperately seeking courage to do the things. 

I am flipping the script in the middle of the year in what has got to be the craziest way yet that God has used to get my attention. Where are you with all of this crazy? Are you choosing to lean in to see what He has for you in this? Do you need to redefine some things? Because it appears that He has us in this storm for a little while longer. 

Hope

Holes Made Whole

I just returned from an extended trip to the home country. I had four glorious weeks at H O M E in Montana.

One would think that in all of that beauty and serenity, that words would have come to me like a firehose but that is not what happened. Since returning to the desert, the words still have not been there. So weird for someone th at is constantly thinking and pondering and wondering and seemingly has a lot to say-sometimes too much to say.

While I was reading Bible scriptures and trying to get back in the groove today, I was thinking about the feeling of home and all that it was and all that it is. I was thinking about where God has me in this moment and season and seriously wondering why I could not feel Him. As if He has gone anywhere.

Maybe I was so focused on praying about my daughter’s return to health from having contracted COVID-19 that there was no room for any other words.

Part of the issue is that I am still recovering and reflecting on all that I was able to see, do and experience while at home with family in the places I love most. The other part, I suddenly realized, is that He is not gone away but my heart and soul are so at peace that I am not sure what to do with myself.

I know that He has filled so many holes in my heart over the years and that He has and will continue to do so. I just realized today that He was doing just that while I was on my little adventure. I was so filled up in His presence and surrounded by His glory that the holes were made whole. Even if for just a little moment in time, I was completely at peace and totally in a place of calm and serenity.

As a recovering codependent that tends to thrive in chaos, find chaos and create chaos when things become too calm (i.e. too close to making room for feelings and vulnerability) I am not looking for chaos but definitely not settled in calmness. So weird how that little itchy spot still tends to itch without me even realizing it. No surprise to Him, I am sure.

John 3:17 says this: “Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.”

No truer words apply for this day. No greater hope for what that scripture means for the one day that He returns or even for tomorrow.

The words are coming, He continues to fill the holes and make me whole, and I am full of gratitude and hope even when I don’t understand.

So how are the holes in your heart? Are you feeling them or are you filling them? What are you filling them with?

Hope, Keeping it Real

Traditionally Non-Traditional

Someone once said to me that I didn’t have any specific traditions for holidays.  At first, I was hurt by that statement and I really wanted to strike back with, “I DO have traditions, I just don’t have YOUR traditions.” But, I held my tongue captive, and after a while started to think about what she said.

 It still hurt a little, but I have been working hard at not allowing other people’s opinions and behavior to control my own for some time now. I have also learned how to see every bummer first as a blessing…giving power to negative self-talk gives your power to the enemy and frankly, he just doesn’t have the final say in my life.  

See, I enjoy being non-traditional with my traditions especially when I plan it that way. Once it was a coping mechanism, and now it is a normal way of life for me and I give myself permission and space to be okay with that choice. Before a lot of healing and recovery, traditions were attached to dysfunction and wounds of the past. In the middle of that healing process my damaged beliefs said being non-traditional meant not pleasing other people and not pleasing other people equaled failure.  Today, being non-traditional is my choice to celebrate growth and is a healthy decision for me. 

I believe that the unhealthy traditions I had before meeting Jesus have been made into new and beautiful creations. Maybe you can relate. I once held to the tradition of comparing my life and reality to the highlight reel of someone else’s life. I had the tradition of feeling anxious that my holidays would not look like I expected them to, and I had the tradition of making myself believe that that was a bad thing. There was the stronghold tradition of believing that if it was true that it was bad, then that meant I was a bad person. That’s a lot of false belief grounded in trauma.

 One thing I have come to understand in growing up in grace with Jesus is that he was non-traditional before non-traditional was cool. 

As I grew up in His grace, I began to enjoy being against the grain and so much more grateful for choosing to create memories and traditions that were my own and found so much more freedom and life in these moments than I did early on.

I am not against traditional things. I am not against joining you in celebrating your traditions. I celebrate others and their normal whether it is my preference or not within reason. The beauty of freedom in Jesus is that I am no longer a slave to people-pleasing, lack of healthy boundaries or fear of rejection. I struggle, but I am not chained to any of it. 

I have learned from Him who I am in Him and I have discovered the real me along the way. To love and honor myself, choosing to be far more relaxed, calm and loving towards myself and others. I have learned to do what’s right and healthiest for me.

We can choose to incorporate traditions or start new ones. We can choose a place of serenity in that compromise, but not break a promise to ourselves by not honoring our own preferences in the middle of that. We can choose to experience relationships and keep low expectations in the process. 

I do have traditions, they just aren’t yours. I am grateful that my being non-traditional resembles Jesus who teaches relationships over rules. I am grateful that He cares more about my desire to create room at the table more than what is served at the table. 

Let’s talk about it: Have you chosen to bend to the words and thoughts of someone other than God? What’s the first step in changing that today? Comment below. Let’s chat!

Hope

Get up and Grow

Somebody besides me needs to know this today: He loves you. He really, really loves you.
 One of my very first life-verses years ago was this one in Romans that says “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rules, nor things present or things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

I have experienced a lot of skinned knees in my lifetime so far. I am sure that there will be other times as well. What I know to be true is that on skinned knees I can still kneel at the foot of the cross.

Ever had one of those moments or days where you keep hearing cute little sayings, quotations, motivational thoughts and even scripture where you just go “yeah, yeah, yeah” and sort of blow it off? Me too. 

What about the days where you HEAR them and you go, “YES! YES! YES” and brace yourself for impact? It’s these moments that bring me to my knees and also invite me to get up and grow. 

 There was a time when my mistakes or choices defined me; where I took on the brunt of the pain and responsibility for other people’s mistakes or choices as well. Then Jesus, and recovery and intentional choosing to not get caught up in the shit show of lies bouncing around in my head happened.

I have a tendency to overcompensate for just about everything, if I am honest. That used to be a coping mechanism used to avoid rejection, to avoid feeling anything and to avoid vulnerability. So when the opportunity comes up, I still once in a while find myself holding myself super-super-accountable to the point of self-sabotage. And then, I hear myself and the words of encouragement I share with other people about saying things like, “When are you going to give yourself some grace in this?” or “When are you going to forgive yourself for this?” and I am reminded.

Failure is not final. Falling down is not a sentence. Grace wins if we allow it. It’s not wise to sweep things under the rug, but once it is out from under the rug there’s no reason to keep beating the dust out of the rug. 

I consider myself to be mostly self-aware and also humble enough to know the difference when God puts me in a place to remember that on skinned knees I can kneel at the foot of the cross and still choose to get up and grow. 

At first light this morning, God continued to pursue me relentlessly to a point of wanting to scream at Him to stop loving me. That’s absurd, but it is what I was thinking. Him lavishing you and I with love is all He wants to do. 

So, wherever you are today, let me remind you of one other thing that I have to remind myself way more often than I thought I would ever need to: Repairing the damage starts in our own heads and hearts. Making amends will help. Self-loathing will not. 

Get up and grow, people. He loves you. He really, really loves you. 

Hope

Authentic Friendships Part 3-A Game Plan

It is crazy to me, that most of us don’t really understand deep, authentic friendships until much later in life. We think we are grown up, and have it all figured out, and then we find out we don’t. Am I right? 

To kind of put a wrap on this three-part series, I wanted to share some ideas on how to choose to trust by choosing to trust. We have to move our feet. There has to be a game plan or an action plan. We cannot just talk about it, pray for it and dream about it. When God gives us the opportunities, we have to take that next step. 

It’s pretty commonly known that women are wired with deep emotional capabilities. That’s how we were created anyway. God made us that way and then something caused us to hide. Whether it was Adam and Eve, or more on top of that down the road through experiences and circumstances we all tend to hide a little bit even in our truest, most safe friendships. 

It is also pretty commonly known that we struggle with insecurity based on comparison and snapshots of someone else’s “great life” that we don’t seem to have, or maybe it is insecurity based on wounds from another person who hurt us in some way

No matter how the hurt originally happened we can choose to change, heal, grow, and kick Satan in the teeth. 

Shannon Swenson

This is a list of the 5 practices to experience change, when it comes to learning to trust God and others with our whole, glorious, messy selves. 

  1. Choose. Choose to change! Drown out the voices in our heads that tell us we cannot or go against the truth of what God has to say and take every thought captive. 

 “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.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

  1. Connect. Choose to connect. Start serving somewhere, sign up for a Bible study with women, create a Bible study group for women, or meet for coffee.
  2. Confess. Choose to confess. Open up about how weird it feels and share maybe just a little bit from the deepest, most vulnerable part of your soul with a friend that you want to know better or maybe choose to go to a Celebrate Recovery meeting and get into an open share. If you are feeling really, bold (i.e. vulnerable) then go ahead and confess some of that sin and shame you are carrying around. Go ahead and talk about why you absolutely love to spend time with your closest people, but really need to have time to yourself, too. Go ahead and share with someone that you may not say yes, but it sure is nice to be included or invited anyway. It is perfectly okay, as a grown adult-ish woman to say things that help the little girl inside of you be brave!

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for each other that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16

  1. Commit. Choose to commit. Choose to keep repeating these steps towards change. Keep choosing to commit to yourself that you are going to walk into a community as part of God’s will and plan for your life and that you are going to stop slamming the door on those opportunities. 
  2. Change. Commit to change. While you are at it, go ahead and commit to the fact that God rarely makes it a straight path in learning to trust Him and others. It’s a dance that probably looks a lot like the cha-cha. It is not uncommon for it to be one step forward, and three steps back but commit to the change and commit to being changed from the inside out. 

Maybe it is old news to some of you reading this, but maybe we all need a reminder or a check-up once in a while. Okay, we do. We just do. Okay? Maybe this is something you really want to start praying about and you are ready to jump without that parachute we talked about in part 1 of this series and you are willing to trust the One who will catch us every time we fall.