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Seeking Sonshine

"Not all who wander are lost" – J.R.R. Tolkien

Month

November 2015

Inconvenient Insecurities

Warning. Raw Truth Check Ahead.

There are some insecurities that I have struggled with for a long time. I think that maybe I have healed a little bit and am better, then something is said or I am put in a situation where they come creeping back and start to haunt me again. Today was one of those days. I realize how little I can do in the flesh and how amazingly loud my flesh can talk. And how fast my heart believes it. It is scary. 

“You’ll never have it altogether like she does. She doesn’t have a weight problem like you do. She is gorgeous. Look at how big their house is. They have an amazing career. Not starting over like you. Look at their children’s clothes! No wrinkles, perfect bows, and those cookies are definitely Pinterest worthy.”

  
I love this quote by Steven Furtick and I think it is true. But there are also insecurities that can develop because of other people’s words. When someone has said things about you that are hurtful, it is really hard to forget. It feels like your soul is a target and these words are darts that pierce much deeper than the surface. They penetrate into your core if you let them. Unfortunately, I did. Words hurt and when someone never asks you for forgiveness, it hurts even worse. Now it is a process. Now is where I should have turned to Jesus years ago when it happened, but didn’t for whatever reason. So, I stop. I try not let the familiar pangs of offense and bitterness run over me like a flood. It is hard, people. But Jesus told us it would be, right? Where was that… 2 Corinthians 4:8-9. (I googled it, but you know that by now!😄)

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 International  Children’s Bible (ICB)

8 We have troubles all around us, but we are not defeated. We do not know what to do, but we do not give up. 9 We are persecuted, but God does not leave us. We are hurt sometimes, but we are not destroyed.

I LOVE this. And I don’t care if it is the kids’ version because I will be honest and say I need it right now. I am not very spiritually mature in this area. We have troubles, but we are not defeated. No clue what to do, but we do not give up. We feel alone and are frustrated, but God does not leave us. We have darts thrown at our targets sometimes, but it does not destroy us. 

How?

The other verse that came up when I googled. John 16:33.

John 16:33 The Message (MSG)

31-33 Jesus answered them, “Do you finally believe? In fact, you’re about to make a run for it—saving your own skins and abandoning me. But I’m not abandoned. The Father is with me. I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”

What does that mean?  We have victory. Victory over our past and this includes past hurts that cause present insecurities. Jesus was nailed to the cross so His love could pour out over us. That covers any and all holes the enemy could try to pierce us with. 

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=C6jXqdtZi10

Photo Credits:

http://my-quotes.net/the-reason-we-struggle-with-insecurity/

Grumbling Gratitude

My kids should be the most grateful kids on the planet, in my humble opinion. 😄They have more toys than they can play with, yet they still want more. They will literally walk over toys while talking about a new toy they do not yet have (that I am not yet tripping over). I used to get really upset with them. I thought they were turning into entitled snobs and googled Amish camps so they could learn to work with their hands (and also make beautiful furniture). I thought it was a them problem that their Mama needed to FIX! No. It was a me problem. They don’t have jobs. I do. They didn’t buy those toys. I did. They don’t have a problem with working. I do. I felt so guilty being away from them that I spent countless dollars of that money on them and things I thought they would like so they knew I loved them. Pretty pathetic right? Well, yea. I am far from perfect. And I really do not have this parenting thing figured out at all. But I know that I cannot expect my kids to learn something if I am not willing to undergo the sacrifice it requires to teach it to them.

 

I choose to believe that we all and our parents do or have done the best we could with the knowledge we had or have the best we know or knew how at the time. Maybe it didn’t feel like enough. Maybe it was plenty. Maybe more than enough. Or maybe it felt like nothing. But maybe it was all they had. Maybe you didn’t know all the circumstances because they were trying to protect you. Maybe not. But it is never too late to be grateful. It’s never too late to say I’m sorry or thank you. No matter what the status of your child, parent, grandparent, or whoever it may be. Write a heartfelt letter to that person. Ask Jesus to bring forgiveness or words to let your heart write it for you. The purpose of this exercise is not in the actual giving of the letter to the person, although you definitely can. It is to release healing into your own heart and I can tell you from personal experience, it feels pretty good!

Jesus gave us a family and no matter what that looks like or the circumstances surrounding it, He loves you and your family right where they are. Functional, dysfunctional, nonfunctional. It doesn’t matter the state. He came to set us all free to love each other without offense. Without fear. Without dread and anxiety. But we have to be willing to sacrifice and do what it takes to be free. Follow Jesus and let Him heal us.

It is not a fun, easy, or a short process. But nothing worthwhile really ever is. Having a grateful heart is easy for some. It is easy for me at times. Right now, it is not so easy. It should be. I can imagine God looking down on me much like I look down on my children thinking that she is tripping over things she has right now and she wants more? How can she not see what is right in front of her?!

And I do. Children. Husband. Home. Food. Family. Freedom. Jesus. I am not ungrateful. I am just not always good at showing my gratefulness. But when I look at the apostles and the Israelites, or even David; I see myself in their hypocritical times and their self pity filled moments. The enemy is good at making us see the bad in everyone and everything else. He wants us to be offended and blame God for our circumstances. And it works, that’s why he uses it. But. It doesn’t have to.

I love Pastor Craig Groeschel’s quote, “If you’re not dead, you’re not done.”

We’ve only just begun.

Gratitude 2015. God will never abandon us even if we are not in a place that we can acknowledge Him to the fullest. We may not receive all He has for us if we continue to wander, but He will never leave us. He never left the apostles. Or the Israelites or David. No matter what they did to Him, God loved them. And He is the same God for us. We can start by being grateful that our God never leaves us. David wrote beautiful psalms about how wonderful God is and that is great place to start a study of gratefulness. ❤️  I googled “gratitude verses” and Colossians 3:15-17 struck me as the most memorable. You know me, so this is from the International Children’s Bible Version. 😄

15 Let the peace that Christ gives control your thinking. You were all called together in one body to have peace. Always be thankful. 16 Let the teaching of Christ live in you richly. Use all wisdom to teach and strengthen each other. Sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Everything you say and everything you do should all be done for Jesus your Lord. And in all you do, give thanks to God the Father through Jesus.

Photo Credits:

http://godisheart.blogspot.com/2013/08/never-complain-about-things-your.html

http://www.picturequotes.com/craig-groeschel-quotes


When You Doubt

So there is a place that I used to live. It was shrouded in fear and felt very lost. I wasn’t sure of anything anymore. I had the terrifying thought of, “what if everything I ever believed was a lie?” People tend to freak at this point, both at feeling and hearing this. Doubt isn’t something that most people choose as a pleasant emotion that satisfies. I could be wrong, though. 

I felt scared to doubt. And guilt that I doubted. And anger because why should I feel guilty? And so on. I was scared of what I didn’t know. Anxiety became my normal state and I let it be. I forgot there was more. Jesus died for more. But He still would have died for less. That is the truly amazing part of grace. 

  There was this man who walked with Jesus. Some would call him a skeptic. He didn’t let others do his thinking for him. Then, he earned the nickname Doubting Thomas when he wanted a little proof! Can you blame the guy? I mean how many people do you know who have come back from the dead? Just saying! Ummm, except Thomas had seen Jesus do some pretty amazing things. So… You would think he could somehow fathom it rather than someone like you or me, right?? Come on, dude.

The cool thing about Jesus is that He came to Thomas and gave him what he needed to believe. He didn’t chastise him, scold him, belittle him or accuse him of blasphemy. He didn’t have to show Thomas anything, and He still would have been Lord. But He proved He is a personal God who knows us and deeply cares enough about us to meet us where we are because He chose to meet Thomas’ need for belief. Because sometimes, we can’t believe very much. And that’s okay. He has quite the reach…

  
Hang in there. Don’t give up. Research, dig deep, journal, pray, cry, read your Bible and read what other people have to say about what you are feeling. Because you are not alone. There are so many people who would love to reach out and help in ways that they can because we are all somewhere on this journey. And we will all need help at different points along the way. Be open to both giving and receiving help. Your unique experiences may be the light of hope that someone really needs to hear right now. You just never know who’s life you can change just by being there and listening. 

  
Photo Credits:

 http://www.hymnary.org/text/i_hear_the_savior_say_thy_strength_indee

http://livingmeaningfully.blogspot.com/2013_10_01_archive.html

http://www.michaelnoyes.com/gifts/by-genre/literary-quotes/be-kind-philo-of-alexandria

Shut In Wells

I worked in oil and gas until the industry began to fold inward earlier this year. Sometimes, when a producer decides that a well is no longer economical for whatever reason, they can suspend production or “shut in” the well. The well is capable of production, but it is intentionally shut in to halt production for the present time. There are lots of reasons for this and they are good ones. Market is down. Too much water and not enough oil in this one. Not enough gas to afford keeping it online. All valid reasons. Same result. No production.

  
Much like our hearts. 

Hear me out. One thing that must be managed during the shut in process is the management of pressure. It is vital that the pressure be contained and dealt with. Ignored, and a much bigger problem will arise in a matter of time and circumstances. 

If we harden our hearts with unforgiveness, pride or bitterness that goes unchecked, the pressure will build and have dire consequences if not dealt with correctly. 

Our hearts will become shut in wells. Capable of being used by God, but offline by choice. And usually for a valid reason. But Jesus died so we could have a billion plus barrels a day production worth of love and truth from our hearts to both experience and give away. 

There was once a Samaritan woman who had a shady past. She had some bad emotional soul ties with her exes and horrible relationships. Trust issues didn’t begin to cover it. And everybody knew, so the women whispered and silently judged her. Did they think she didn’t notice when they pulled their teenage sons and husbands away from her? She was used to shame. She wore it like a hairstyle, and had learned to live with the pain. She had made some choices she wasn’t proud of, but there was nothing she could do about it now. Or so she thought. 

  
Jesus came to her and asked her for a drink. She was taken aback. “How is it that you, a Jew, ask me a Samaritan for a drink?” Basically, we are lower than scum. I wear my sin. Why are you here? What do you want with me? Have you come to shame me as well? But He had not come to shame her. Quite the opposite, actually. He came to offer her Living Water and give her eternal life. She gladly accepted it and it changed her life forever. She chose Living Water and not to remain shut in. People were saved because she chose to live. What a beautiful story. 

We are not the sins of our past. We are forgiven. We press on and in to our God seeking Him first and His glory in our lives. We help those who need it. We remain open and flowing with compassion, empathy and generosity and the Holy Spirit’s guidance and discernment in all things. We fall away. Forget. Feel pain. Move back. Find joy. And live our lives. We journey on toward this side of eternity knowing that if God be for us, who wants to be on the other side?? Not it!!!!
Photo Credits:

http://www.corbisimages.com/stock-photo/rights-managed/42-76560643/shutin-well-site-during-a-tour-of

https://tapestrytreasures.wordpress.com/tag/woman-at-the-well/

Hopeful Healing

Have you ever carried something around so long that you had the thought where you did not think you could physically take one more moment? Like your tendons would snap. (I tend to be dramatic or so they tell me) It could be a dramatic emotional event that is significant to you, or a lingering trust issue due to a failed relationship, or even consequences of bad choices you have made in your life. Whatever it is. It’s heavy. It hurts. And we all carry them in different places. 

Sometimes it shows up in our necks. Tight, strained, and painful. Lower backs or middle of the back, or even shoulders can bear the weight of our stress. We fight off pain, daily. We become stress warriors with ibuprofen and yoga as weapons. Temporarily helpful, but not an effective long term strategy. Overall, it is just a weight or a culmination of weights that we weren’t meant to bear. 

  

A yoke is defined as: 

Yoke – used of something that is regarded as oppressive or burdensome.

The yoke of perfectionism is exhausting. Followed around by legalism and self righteousness can be fatal to your soul. These burdens were bought and paid for by the best carrying service in the biz. So why do we still choose to struggle? Because we need to stop and listen.

Lay it down at the feet of Jesus and we walk away different people. Changed from the inside out. The Holy Spirit will do a work in us that cannot be explained. You are a world changer for God. He wants to mold you into the person you were meant to be, experiences and all. Your skills, talents, gifts and passions are uniquely scripted in your book. 

Chase your dreams down. You can’t run fast enough with that stuff weighing you down! Deal with the unforgiveness, dig up those roots and face the pain. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s worth the effort because of the sacrifice Jesus already made. Claim it. Walk in it. Change the world. It needs you in it, especially at a time such as this. 

Photo Credits:

My Yoke Is Easy

El Roi… He Sees You

My daughter’s favorite story in her new Bible App Storybook for Kids right now is about Abraham and Sarah.  It’s in her Bible under the picture of beautiful stars, and her favorite character is Sarah.  I was surprised and asked her why.  (I was thinking, prepare yourself for a thoughtful, Biblical answer, Mama!) “Well, she has a purple dress, Mom.”  4 year olds. 🙂

Sarah is an interesting character for many different reasons, but she is a terrific example of how God can bring beauty from ashes.  This woman went through torment. First of all, her husband passed her off as his sister so he wouldn’t be killed by Pharaoh because she was so beautiful. (Thanks, dude.)  She goes along with it, and ends up in Pharaoh’s harem. (http://www.womeninthebible.net/Sarah-bible-text.htm).  You can imagine what she probably went through during this time. Interestingly enough, Sarai was barren.  You have to wonder if this was part of God’s protection to keep her from bearing Pharaoh’s offspring during this horrible time during her life.  Eventually, the truth came out and Pharaoh returned Sarai to Abram because Pharaoh believed she was the cause of his punishment due to adultery.

Sarai mourned her infertility and begged God for a child. This is heartbreaking in modern times, and many women undergo fertility treatments and years of living month to month, checking basal temperatures and taking tests in hopes of having a sweet little one to hold in their arms someday. Fertility clinics weren’t exactly prevalent back in those days, however.   Genesis 16 tells us that Sarai decides to remedy this problem, which was amplified because Abram was the tribe’s leader and she could not bear children. So, Sarai decided to do what we women do all the time in modern times; she took matters into her own hands. She decided to make it happen for herself since it didn’t seem like God was listening to her plight.

Ouch, that hits home to this mama. How many times have I overreacted in fear because I couldn’t see the big picture? (Too many to count) Especially with my children.  Our human minds cannot comprehend and that is not what we want to hear or accept at times.  I have found myself on the bathroom floor begging God to do something or intervene in certain situations and finally He did.  He made me realize I needed Him to change me. And I needed Him to change me every day, multiple times a day until my ways matched His ways and I gave up the need for an explanation and just obeyed. 

godwontgiveup1

I can be stubborn. But God never gives up on us. Never.  He never gave up on Sarai, and she gave her servant, Hagar to her husband to get a child. (Fertility clinics 1.0?) Her plan worked in theory, but destroyed her relationship with Hagar and almost destroyed her relationship with her husband, who just did what she told him to do, right? 😉 Things got so turbulent, that in the end Sarah forced Abraham to make Hagar take her son, Ishmael, and get the heck outta dodge.

Now. This story is about Sarai, right? Sure. But what about Hagar? She became defiant to her mistress after she learns she is pregnant, and Sarai begins to mistreat her so she runs away. Then, she has the first encounter with The God Who Sees Her.

Despite this, Hagar very nearly made it to Egypt. But eventually, exhausted, she stopped at a spring of water in the wilderness of Shur. At this moment, an ‘angel’ spoke to her, telling her to return to Sarah and have her baby among the Hebrews. It would be a special child, a child with a great future. So she retraced her steps and returned to the tribe, and to Sarah.

http://www.womeninthebible.net/1.2.Hagar.htm

Hagar gritted her teeth, and made her way back to Sarai who treated her horribly. She had Ishmael, and for fourteen years, he was Abram’s heir and future leader. To make matters worse for Hagar and better for Sarai, God promises Abraham and Sarah a son, and once Isaac is born, the bitter feud grows worse and manifests a perfect picture of unforgiveness, jealousy and control. God changed Sarai’s name to Sarah, which means Princess. HE GAVE HER THE VERY DESIRE OF HER HEART!!! Yet, she was consumed with hatred for Hagar and her son and it stole her joy.

How many times have I overlooked blessings because the enemy had diverted my gaze to something designed to take my eyes off the Lord?

wpid-img_20140806_125940

Finally, Sarah convinces Abraham to get rid of Hagar and Ishmael and he reluctantly does so.  Hagar is devastated and is sure of both her and her son’s death because they cannot make it across the desert with so little bread and water. But then, God stepped in.  Again. He provided for Hagar and Ishmael. He saw her and He heard her cries. And He has never stopped listening.

(c) The Foundling Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
(c) The Foundling Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

When you are in the desert, God sees you.  He sees you when you are crying because your heart is hurting from a loss that is out of your control. He sees you when your child is struggling and going further and further away. He sees you when you are late for work again because you are working two jobs and trying to care for your children. He sees you when you are trying to make your bills work and are scared to death. He sees you when you are trying to parent the best you can and feel like you are failing. He sees you when you are trying to work through the hurt in your heart but keep taking one step forward and two steps back. He sees you.  You are not alone.

fd428493db4a49d6df4aadbcec129c32

Keep going, even when it is impossible. When the desert becomes a wasteland, cry out. Even if all you can say is “Jesus.” Just say it. There is not place you can ever be where God cannot hear you. Never be afraid to reach out. We are all in this together and we have a God who is alive and sees us where we are. He will never leave you.  He may not answer you in the way you think He should. Be prepared for this.  Sarah and Hagar probably didn’t get the answers they thought they would get, but God never left them and He answered their prayers and heard their cries. If you are ready, make a list of all the promises God has answered for you. And if you can’t think of any, google “promises in the Bible,” and start looking at all the beautiful promises that are there for you. You are loved and valued and heard. May these words wash over you today and bless you, friend. 🙂

Photo Credits:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/paintings/hagar-and-ishmael-191923

Song of the Lamb

I was on a road trip recently and happened to stumble across a Third Day concert airing on SiriusXM The Message channel. It was late at night, and it was just myself in the car, which is a rarity these days! Not that I am complaining! 😀❤️😇 There came a point in the concert where Mac Powell, the lead singer of Third Day introduced a young singer by the name of Harvest Bashta. I had never heard of her, but she began to tell a story that stung me as I listened. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since and the song is incredibly chilling. Here is a summary of that story in print and the video link beneath it. Please watch, it is beyond incredible.

“The Moravian Slaves, a popular story about Christian Missions concerning Johann Leonhard Dober and David Nitschmann, describes how these two young Moravian Brethren from Herrnhut, Germany were called in 1732 to minister to the African slaves on the Caribbean islands of St. Thomas and St. Croix. Allegedly, when they were told that they would not be allowed to do such a thing, Dober and Nitschmann sold themselves to a slave owner and boarded a ship bound for the West Indies. As the ship pulled away from the docks, it is said that they called out to their loved ones on shore, “May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering!” [1][2]”

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_HLHjtbx4c

So… Pretty amazing, isn’t it? Can you imagine singing it yourself with the saints one day? The lyrics she sings are actually based on scripture in Revelations 15.

Revelation 15:3-4 Amplified Bible (AMP)

3 And they [a]sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,

“Great and wonderful and awe-inspiring are Your works [in judgment],

O Lord God, the Almighty [the Omnipotent, the Ruler of all];

Righteous and true are Your ways,

O King of the [b]nations!4 

“Who will not fear [reverently] and glorify Your name, O Lord [giving You honor and praise in worship]?

For You alone are holy;

For all the nations shall come and worship before You,

For Your righteous acts [Your just decrees and judgments] have been revealed and displayed.”

Footnotes:

Revelation 15:3 At the end, the old covenant that came through Moses is seen to be in complete unity with the new covenant in Jesus Christ.

It is a song about redemption by and through Jesus. (And I need some redemption!) Moses led the people out of Egypt but he himself wasn’t allowed into the Promised Land. Isn’t it interesting that it is still referenced as the song of Moses in the book of Revelation, even though he did not get to fulfill his ultimate goal while still on Earth? God is all about second chances and grace business. He created it.

  
 
Moses wasn’t allowed to lead the people in to the Promised Land because of a mistake he made in Numbers 20. http://www.gotquestions.org/Moses-promised-land.html Moses didn’t trust God enough. And he had been with Him before on Mt. Sinai and not to mention a burning bush. I continuously struggle with trusting God consistently, and it is why I can identify with the Israelites. I can take a problem that I know I should surrender to God, and mull on it for 40 years rather than 11 days, figuratively speaking. What-ifs can become my specialty. I can worry about every possible scenario. I know it doesn’t help or do a thing about it. But I still do it. We can criticize those Israelites all we want, but we have no room to say a word. 

So.

What’s your island? What is God calling you to do that seems impossible, unfathomable or uncomfortable? He wants your trust. Whether or not we realize it at this moment in time, He’s earned it. But even if it takes us 40 years to understand, that’s okay. He will wait. He is kind of awesome at the patience and love business. After all, He created those, too. 

❤️
Photo Credits:

Serve

Veteran’s Day is coming up and it is a day in America that we show appreciation for those who willingly chose to make their vocation to serve our nation through her armed forces. It’s a powerful word, serve.

Merriam-Webster’s definition 1a is “to be a servant.” I am a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution with my mom because she introduced me to the organization. What caught my attention was that this organization was celebrating 125 years of service to others this year. I knew that was something I wanted to be a part of, because serving is in my dna. 😄😇❤️

What is even more amazing than 125 years is 2,000+ years ago, the Son of God came to serve. I have a 9 & a 4 year old, so we read Children’s Bibles a lot at our house. And you know something? I like them. They make it easy to understand. Sometimes we adults like our words and can miss the point. I like Matthew 20:25-38 from The International Children’s Bible Version:

25 Jesus called all the followers together. He said, “You know that the rulers of the non-Jewish people love to show their power over the people. And their important leaders love to use all their authority. 26 But it should not be that way among you. If one of you wants to become great, then he must serve the rest of you like a servant. 27 If one of you wants to become first, then he must serve the rest of you like a slave. 28 So it is with the Son of Man. The Son of Man did not come for other people to serve him. He came to serve others. The Son of Man came to give his life to save many people.”

Sometimes, the best way to stop focusing on ourselves and our own problems is to help someone else with their burdens. Encourage someone by complimenting their outfit if you like it. Smile and thank someone if they hold the door for you and look them in the eye. Strike up the conversation you’ve been waiting to have. Text that old friend you have been meaning to for months. Reach out and visit a family member that you have not seen in years. Visit a Veteran’s Day parade and thank someone for their time and their service. But when you do all or any of these things, make sure you remember to listen. 

  
There’s a story behind every face, if we’ll take time to listen. Sometimes you are meant to be there for a divine appointment that only you can fill. You may be just the person God uses to speak words of life and encouragement that someone has been longing to hear. You just never know. So get uncomfortable and speak up and out. You never know who you might miss if you don’t. 

Serving where God calls you personally will bring you such great joy, you will truly know the meaning of a cup running over. For some it is strictly at their church and home, for others it may be a mission field! It is uniquely designed for who we are and what we are meant to do. There are so many callings that God has for us and it is exciting to be able to discover them all! Whether it is wife, mother, dad, missionary, uncle, sister, C.E.O., teacher, accountant, student, minister, volunteer, mentor, Bill Gates, or Oprah Winfrey; you have the choice to become who you were created to be. And that is pretty cool.

I am a huge advocate of finding a passion or cause and donating time to it. Your local churches and schools are always looking for people to help out with anything from making copies to much more and there are so many youth out there that could use positive role models in their lives!! If you are interested in browsing volunteer opportunities, I have listed some links below that are great for matching skills and time, especially for mentoring. Which is a whole other article. 😄 

http://www.volunteermatch.org/
https://www.teenlife.com/blogs/50-community-service-ideas-teen-volunteers
http://www.volunteer.va.gov/
http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/

Thank you to all the Veterans, past and present for your courage and your service. 

  
Photo Credits:

Fake Forgiveness

I love my kids dearly and I am pretty certain they love each other. But sometimes, like their parents, they decide that the other one is not doing something they are supposed to be doing, or vice versa. So, they decide to tell each other and us. Now, they will get a different response depending on whom they have chosen or seen first. Me: “Let’s work this out, guys. Do we tattle? No. No, because we want friends.” (I did not grow up with siblings and having a harmonious household isn’t on my laughable never gonna happen lists yet) Husband: “Don’t care. Figure it out. They will figure it out.”(Grew up eldest of three siblings) We have this immense and often intense feeling for fairness and equality sometimes. And even though we know with our heads that it isn’t always possible to have perfect fairness; why is it our hearts don’t always get the message?

Have you ever had a person, event, series of events, or even a time in your life that is hard for you to think about without evoking a negative emotional response? I have had all of the above. And add a dose of bitterness, a dash of resentment and put it on repeat, sister. And the longer it played, the more I agreed with it. That may be the scariest part of all.
Now, I know better. But, to be honest, there are days I don’t feel like adulting. That’s right. No acting like an adult today…so no bill paying, no work, and no crap from nobody. Someone does me wrong? Oh no they didn’t. Have you seen Tombstone? Then you know what’s comin’ with me. That is my interpretation of my four year old’s attitude some days. And we all have those days, emotionally. (Hopefully not just at our house) But I can be just as extreme in my own irrational ways of thinking if I am not taking thoughts captive.

Sometimes I have a false sense of entitlement that I start to believe once I perceive someone has offended me. This false belief will seep into every part of my thinking about this particular person and sour everything about the situation with negativity. It then becomes a breeding ground for anger and hatred to grow and feed. It is absolutely scary how far our minds can go when we are mad and we believe we have cause. Protection of a loved one. Revenge. Defense. Whatever our reason, we will fight beyond what we ever thought we were capable of…and for what?

What is it we really want? What is it we are truly seeking? Is there ever anything anyone can do to fix a situation where something or someone is lost? Nothing will bring them back this side of heaven. Nothing will make a rumor unheard. A picture unseen. An act of betrayal unhappen. So what is it that we hold onto so tightly that we will willingly walk away from freedom, chain ourselves up, and remain in bondage???

  
I stayed here for a very long time. I thought I had forgiven, and even thought that I had meant it for awhile. Finally, I asked God to help me because I didn’t understand how deep I had let my roots of bitterness and unforgiveness get. This was not a light shovel job. Now I had a full blown root removal problem.  I had chosen to come back here and be chained up some more by replaying events and working myself up over nothing too many times. 

What I had was fake forgiveness. What I needed was hard core forgiveness. And I needed to forgive hard core. The Jesus Way. And I really didn’t know how. The day I finally admitted that to God had to be a miracle because He had been waiting a long time for that one…. My heart was finally workable from that point. At least I was getting the point and trying. Feelings will follow. That was and still is a hard concept for me to grasp but I am walking in it by choice. Forgiveness is a choice. But it’s not just one choice, it’s  an infinite number of choices. 

It is a deliberate choice not to rehash wrong choices made by this person in the past, even if they asked and I didn’t bring it up. It is a choice to stop thinking about things that are affecting me negatively and stealing my joy, even for that very second! No more! I need Jesus in every second or I will willingly give ones away to the enemy and he wants to destroy me. Jesus took punishment and died for me, so shouldn’t I at least hear Him out more? 

This reminded me of someone who was in prison and in bondage a LOT. Paul was a remarkable example of what God can do in a “wicked” person’s life. Was Paul perfect? No. He persecuted Christians. You know that had to be something that the enemy probably loved to use to taunt him with. Our pasts can become easy targets for our enemy to strike. Paul talked about a thorn in his side that he begged God to remove, but God did not remove it. Rather, He instructed Paul that His grace was sufficient for him, and His power is perfected in his weakness. Some people think this was an illness or something, but in my head it was a person that Satan was using as a tool to get to Paul and tried to make him ineffective. I have no proof of this, nor am I am Bible scholar. But when I hear it this way, it gives me hope and shows me how I am supposed to handle things like this when they happen. Paul wrote this in 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10 in The Message:

7-10 “Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,

My grace is enough; it’s all you need.

My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.”

Just let Christ take over. That means our hearts and our minds and just being open to hearing from Him. Asking Him to take away our unforgiveness and all the host of strongholds and roots of bitterness and resentment that may have taken hold. Then, as Philippians 4:8 Living Bible (TLB) Translation puts it well:

“And now, brothers, as I close this letter, let me say this one more thing: Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about.”

It’s time to play The Glad Game from the dear old classic that my Mom used to make me watch when I needed an attitude adjustment, Pollyanna!

  
 

We have free will and freedom of choice. We can choose to be captives or we can choose to be free. What our decisions are today will determine our direction. We can choose our course. I’m choosing to be like my friend Queen Elsa and letting it go. ❄️

**These worksheets are very good at getting down to the hard core of forgiveness if this is something you struggle with. I found them online and used them for free, but great resource! http://experienceheritage.org/wp-content/uploads/forgiveness-prayer-exercise.pdf

Photo Credits:

Norwegians imprisoned in their homes

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