Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Emotional Honesty, Part 2

For those of you that read my previous blog:

It is amazing how God always speaks to us through His word! This was His word for me in response to my pouring out to Him:

"Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come."
~ 1 Timothy 4:8, NLT

Thank you, Father!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Emotional Honesty

Yesterday was the day...the day to practice what I preach.

Last week I was able to encourage a dear friend who is going through a tough season of, we'll call, perserverance strengthening. The word was for her to be honest with herself in what she was actually feeling; not trying to positive talk her way through a moment of doubt, but to acknowledge it, to accept it, to embrace it. I wanted her to know that doubting God and doubting His plan didn't make her a bad christian; that if she was feeling beat down she didn't have to ignore those feelings or pretend that they weren't there. In fact, if she were to acknowledge them and take them to God (by praying, shouting, screaming, crying, etc...) that He would gladly take them from her and then He would be able to strengthen her in that weakness.

Well, like I said, it was time to practice what I preach. With my disabling back spasm, the past week has actually been amazing. I have felt so close to the Lord, closer to my husband, and completely humbled by those helping me with everyday tasks. But then along came Tuesday. I thought that I had been making small improvements, but when I woke up that morning, I was already in pain; I had regressed. I immediately felt defeated and hopeless. Thinking back to my recent advice, I decided that I needed to force myself to take it to God and not ignore my negative thoughts and pretend that they weren't there. So I sat on the bed, looked out the window, and cried.

In between my begging God to heal me and telling Him all the things that I couldn't do, the thoughts that poured out of my mouth were as follows: Why aren't you healing me? Have I not learned my lesson? What are you trying to teach me that I'm not getting? Am I being punished? Why is it that everytime I try to get into a sport or something physical it is taken away from me? I want to succeed and don't want to give up this time. Am I not taking care of my house good enough? Was I not being a good steward of my body? What is it? Why? Please,God, please!

The most overpowering mindset that I had was that I was doing something wrong that God was punishing me for, or some sin He was trying to rid me of. Which is interesting because the night before I had just read in 2 Corinthians how Paul had begged God 3 times to take away the thorn in his side and each time the Lord responded by telling him that His grace was sufficient and His strength is perfected in his weakness. And even before that Paul was explaining how works and following the Law does nothing for salvation. So wouldn't the opposite be true? Of course it is. All of these irrational thoughts are about me...not Him. These thoughts are suggesting that I'm still living under the law and not under His grace.

Regardless of this truth, I wasn't able to get there until I unloaded all of my emotions and irrational thoughts. And who better to unload them on than the One who can actually handle Father in heaven. I have to admit that I didn't feel all better when I was done. In fact, I didn't feel any better, just drained. It wasn't until the next day that I felt my spirits lifted, and not so much that I was on top of the world, but just enough to get my eyes back on the Lord; just enough to have a little hope again; just enough to see His strength being perfected in my weakness.

Friday, May 16, 2008

My Body...A Temple?

So I'm sure we've all read the verse in 1 Corinthians 6 that says,

"19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body."

Right? So why is it so hard to actually follow through with this. I realize that Paul was speaking specifically about sexual sin because that is probably the sin the reaps the worse consequences. But what about everything else that pertains to our bodies in which the consequences might not be immediate or even obvious?

For the past few months this battle has taken a forefront in my mind. Many of you know that I have worked hard to get back in shape after Alyssum's arrival, and I've been very happy at my success. I felt strong, beautiful, and better than I had in a long time. And to be completely honest, I had more motivation now because, being a mom, hearing those words, "Wow, you just had a baby?!" made me feel accomplished. I was pushing myself athletically more than I had since I was 8 years old wanting to be the best gymnast ever! But ever since I hurt my knee it has been one thing after another keeping my efforts squashed down. I could barely walk let alone work out. And for some reason the more I sat doing nothing the more I wanted to eat (boredom). Once I got out of that rut (thanks Kathyemma for the motivation and for sticking with me even though I looked like a complete dork with my knee brace), I got the stomach flu and now my low back is in such a spasm that once again, I can barely walk. WHAT THE HECK?!?! I felt defeated.

But God, in His perfect wisdom, reminded me of this verse. What stuck out to me the most was that my body is not my It is a temple of the Holy Spirit. So why is it easier to be "green" with taking care of the Earth, but such a battle to take care of my own body. Is it like taking care of the gardens outside of the temple, yet as soon as you go inside it is thrashed. I mean should it be this hard to say no to more food than I say no to the wrong food? Of course, I don't mean for good, but everything in moderation, right? So why does that excuse always win I really estimating what is a healthy moderate for myself? Am I really practicing self control when I eat just a little something bad-- everyday? And it's even harder when we think that weight is the only consequence...or at least the only consequence that might motivate us to do something.

All of this to say that it is not about what size I am. It's not about whether I still have cellulite or not. Heck, it's not even about me. It's about Him! He has given me a lot of knowledge about how He has created me, therefore, I must be a good steward of it; I must do everything I can to take care of His body so He can use it at it's maximum capacity. My body is for His glory, not mine! What if I choose to be healthy for His sake and not mine? Will that make this battle easier? We shall see!

Monday, May 5, 2008

A mini crocodile and a purple lizard

When I sleep, I dream...a lot! Good dreams, bad dreams, weird dreams. No matter what kind of dream, it is always vivid. Along with these dreams, I also have dreams from the Lord. Usually it is really obvious which dream is from God and which dream is from my own crazy mind. The dream I had a couple of weeks ago wasn't so obvious.

The Dream

I was walking through a neighborhood headed for home. As I was about to cross the street I noticed there was a big puddle in the middle of the street. Splashing in the puddle there was a mini croc chasing its prey. It was running super fast in circles, snapping its jaws nonstop, trying to catch its victim. I didn't really think anything of it (because crocs in suburbia is normal?!) and decided just to walk around the puddle to continue on my way. As soon as I got close enough, the mini croc saw me and decided that I was much bigger and better than its current victim. Thus, it started chasing me, snapping with all of its might. I began to run, doing zig zag formations, jumping, anything to avoid being caught. After doing this for awhile, I turned around to look at this thing that had frightened me so much, only to discover that it had turned into a tiny purple lizard. It was still snapping its jaws at me, but now they were so small that even if it did catch me I probably wouldn't have felt a thing. I was relieved. Then I woke up.

Ok, not so obvious. This totally could have been just another crazy Sarah dream or some life changing message from the Lord. Because it wasn't obvious to me, I wasn't about to try and make something out of a possible nothing. So I went about my week.

Then along came a Saturday. A good day for the first hour or so...

Thoughts began to crowd my mind. Doubts. Uncertainty. Fears. The enemy began taking truths and twisting them just enough to fill me with turmoil. And he knew they would be hard to combat because the thoughts were based on facts. It came on so quickly I didn't even realize what had hit me. By the time I did, it was too late. My strength was sapped. Logic was overtaken by emotion. I was helpless. After I finished getting ready, I came downstairs and started crying, ruining the makeup I had just finished putting on. Matt became my listening ear. "I feel lonely. I feel rejected. How come everyone else seems to have that one or two really close friend/s that they do everything with and I don't? I know I have a lot of friends...and friends I can go to if I really need something, but no one that I'm super tight with. I feel like I'm the only one who doesn't have that. What's wrong with me? This is just like high school. I was everyones friend, but no ones close friend. Am I not good enough to be someones close friend? How come no one desires a friendship like that with me? I feel rejected." I know, it sounds sad and pathetic and totally out there, but emotions were in complete control, along with the enemies lies. My poor husband was trying to understand, but he honestly couldn't understand why I was feeling this way. After comforting me, his man-thinking skills kicked in to high gear. "Do you really need a friend or a friendship like that? You have friends that you can do stuff with and you have friends that you can be vulnerable with. Isn't what your asking for unrealistic?" Logic, logic, logic. I heard him, but I didn't really hear him. C'mon ladies, how many of you really listen to reason when your emotions are running high? I was grateful for his effort, but I didn't feel any better. After stewing with these emotions for awhile it started to turn into bitterness. Knowing that we were going to a BBQ (courtesy of the Moseleys) later that day (which I tried to get out of, but Matt wouldn't let me), I began to go into self-protection mode; I put on my social mask I hadn't worn in a few years thanks to the Lord's healing. But here I was again with this old familiar companion, my wall to keep others from rejecting me and hurting me. It was awkward. Those were 2 of the longest hours, ever. I didn't know how to act; I didn't know who to be. My foundational thought was once again, "Well, I'm obviously not good enough so I'll be who they want me to be." But I couldn't figure out who they wanted me to be or how they wanted me to act. Because I had been free of this foundational thought for a few years now, and had good practice at just being myself, I had lost the ability to mold into what I thought people wanted. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to be rid of this so-called ability, but at the time it just caused more anxiety.

So when we got home from the BBQ, I was filled with so much anxiety, bitterness, and rejection that I headed straight for the gym to work it out. They were closed. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! I came home even more frustrated. I felt like something was on me and I just wanted it gone. Matt says, "Just pray and rebuke it." Duh, right? I was so beaten down that I didn't even want to pray. I asked him to. I fought to even close my eyes, but then I did.

As he was praying the Lord reminded me of my dream. He began to interpret it. Me going home meant that I am on my way to becoming the complete person He made me to be; to be completely whole in Him. Of course, I won't be there until I die, but I'm on my journey nonetheless. The mini crocodile chasing it's prey is something that has been attacking our church body. For whatever reason he thought I would be a more satisfying catch and started after me. At this point, the Lord began speaking to Matt about forgiveness, grace, and mercy; that we should always show these to our friends and to our enemies. That no matter if what we are perceiving really is true or not, if we show these things the enemy cannot get a foothold, in our minds and in our relationships. The Lord showed me that my maneuvers to get away from the crocodile was what made it shrink into a tiny purple lizard with no power in its bite. These maneuvers were forgiveness, grace, and mercy. The Lord spoke to us both simultaneously, that this wasn't something to be rebuked, but our actions give it nothing to hold onto and therefore shrinks into nothing and leaves.

Wow, so whether what I'm perceiving about everyone else's friendships are true or not, and whether people really are rejecting me or not, I still must show forgiveness, grace, and mercy (even if there is nothing to forgive because it's about my heart, not theirs). It wasn't instant emotional relief, but I was back to myself (the more-like-Christ version of myself) in no time. Except this time I was truly free from my past. I was feeling strong and empowered. I couldn't believe that God had used me to rid our body of something like this (and I just mean this specific little creature; I know these thoughts and attacks will always come at us).

I couldn't wait to start sharing this with others. So I did. The response was surprising (which I'm not sure why!) . First of all, people's perception of me was radically different from my own. Secondly, I couldn't believe how many others were struggling with the same thing. The enemy was trying to keep us from each other; to keep us isolated; to keep us feeling alone, unwanted and unloved. He was telling us that we are the only ones, because...look...everyone else has their close one needs you. I'm done! I will listen to this lie no more. I am loved. I am wanted. No one is rejecting me. I am good enough. I do have something to offer. And when the real issues arise, let's be honest with each other; let's talk about it openly where God's light will shine on the situation. If we keep it in the dark then the enemy will come in and hide and we won't see it until it's blown out of proportion. We all have a place here. We are all wanted. We are all needed. We are all loved!

So that's latest life changing, God experience. Please know that I didn't write this because I need affirmation. I'm confident. God has given me that. I just hope that this experience of mine will encourage you in whatever way needed. We are a family. I know this in my head, but I'm ready to start feeling it in my heart!

After this experience, I was reading in Romans and BAM...there it was...scripture to back it up. I'll put it down below if you want to read it.

P.S. I apologize to all of you that were at the BBQ that day. If I seemed weird, awkward, closed off, or cold, now you know had nothing to do with you!

Romans 12

1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
3 Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. 4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.
6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. 7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!
17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.
19 Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say,
“I will take revenge;
I will pay them back,” says the Lord.
20 Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.”
21 Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.

Friday, May 2, 2008

I'm Here

Peer pressure? Nah! It's more like encouragement. That's why I've decided to become a blogger. I love to write. And now that my mind is no longer plagued with pregnancy horomones and living in survival mode with a newborn, my mind has come alive again. I've been out of school for 1 1/2 years and won't go back for a little while, so that outlet is no more. So friends have been encouraging me to start a blog.

If you read the 'about me' section then you have an idea of what my blog will be. I have so many dreams (sleep dreams) and interpretations, thoughts, questions, God lessons that I want to share with everyone or even shout from the rooftops, that I just can't hold it all in anymore. And when one friend is encouraged by my life I wonder who else could be encouraged by it. And when I hear over and over that so many people are struggling with the same things that I'm struggling with, I want to bring us all together so we all know we're not alone (like the enemy likes us to believe). I want lies from the enemy and lies from our flesh to be brought into the light and expelled from our minds and our hearts. I'm tired of us all feeling alone. Well I say NO MORE! I'm willing to be vulnerable. I would much rather be judged or criticized on parts of me that are actually true then judgements that are not based on the truth. Call me crazy, but I'm just sick and tired of dealing with lies. Let's be honest, truthful, open and keep things in the light!

I look forward to all of the deep conversations we will have. I also look forward to becoming more like Christ in the process!

P.S. I do already know what my first real post will's coming soon.