Don’t Just Survive, Thrive! (Part 1) Feigned Feminism Friday

What’s the last decision you made completely uninfluenced by others or your circumstances?

Do your circumstances define you and confine you?

If you had total freedom from other’s opinions, your current circumstances and your erroneous beliefs about yourself, what would that look like?

Would you feel freer, act as if you had value? Would you pursue your purpose with vigor instead of fear and trepidation?

What if you walked as if you were truly loved, valued and cherished?

Feigned Feminism Friday

 

Modern feminism tells us women that we can/should have it all. We can have it all and there will be no consequence? That’s just not possible. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Basic science. If we have it ALL, we have to maintain it ALL. As Bud, my stepfather used to say, “Something’s got to give.” It’s like those people who want a pool (it’s great), but don’t want to do the work of vacuuming it, keeping the patio clean, testing the water, etc.. Point is, if you have it, you have to maintain it.

Modern women have it all, but according to Dr. Villar, author of Urban Woman Syndrome, we are paying a hefty price. Women or more likely to suffer stress and anxiety these days than men. The stressors in women’s lives are greater than they were in our mother’s time. Whether you work or stay at home (and work), the pressure is greater to ‘have it all together’ in a world that is falling apart. There’s more pressure to look perfect for our social media driven society. There is more stress on being educated and have the perfect career in a new age where women have the option to pursue academics. If you stay at home and homeschool, there is an unwritten rule that your house should be cleaner and you should be more organized and efficient than the rest of the female population!

Are you feeling pressure just reading this? Is it overwhelming? This overwhelming stress or Urban Woman Syndrome drives us to survival mode where we fight, flight or freeze.

We should have it all together, right? As soon as we get one step in the right direction of “I’ve got it all covered”, then circumstances happen that throw us into the pit.

  • Divorce
  • Depression
  • Job Loss
  • Parenting a child with special needs
  • A Move
  • A Job Change
  • A New Baby
  • Health Issues
  • Death of a Loved One

Suddenly, all the great things in our life look gray. Feel gray. I know. I’m preaching to the Guire here. Been there. Done that.

You are not alone, dear one. It’s going to be okay. Really. Can I share three things that have helped me? Three things I need reminded of often? I learned them from John 5, the story of the man at the pool of Bethesda and from Holley Gerth (via her book You’re Going to be Okay).

First of all, do you want to get well? That’s what Jesus asks the man who had laid by the pool for thirty-eight years.

“Sir, when the water is stirred, I don’t have anyone to put me in the pool. By the time I get there, somebody else is already in it.”

May I tell you something, friend? There is enough pool water for everyone. The water that Jesus offers means you’ll never thirst. There is no lack in Jesus. The lady next to you at church isn’t taking all the healing. There is enough for you too. Say “yes” to wanting to get well. Take a second right now. Just say, “yes, Jesus”.

Next week, join me for number one!

Invite Him In

I headed over the mountains to eldest daughter’s home.

IMAG0491The view never ceases to amaze me. As I drove, God and I had one of our talks. No one else was in the car. No one needed my attention (except the road). I  took a deep breath or two or three and focused on praying. Seems like it takes a great deal of focus these days doesn’t it? There are cell phones, twitter, blogs, instagram, pinterest and humans all vying for our attention. Our lives can turn into a blog- hopping -tweet. When my Bible study turns into quotes I retweeted on twitter, it’s time to turn down the noise. The noise of the internet. The noise of the world. The noise that says I need to keep up,, I say it’s time to slow down and look at the holy around us. It’s there. It’s quiet. In the cleft of the rock, it whispers. It burns in a bush on a mountain top. Will I hike up (or drive) up  in solitude to find it? I thought about bringing a book on cd to pass the time. Then I heard that still small voice, say , ‘no, wait on Me. I have some things to tell you.’ And He did. And there up in the cold mountain passes I heard the voice of the Lord. It wasn’t an audible voice. It was a whisper in the quiet recesses of mind and time. I felt His holiness. His shoes-off-your-feet-holiness. His quiet. His strength. His ‘I AM.’ He is enough. I am not. All my busy mind plans are nothing compared to His plan for my days. Nothing. The human mind cannot fathom His depth. He is wider than finite world we can see. He is deeper than the fathoms beneath the ocean surface. He is worthy of our time. Our praise. Our intentional study of His word. So, why do I often fail? Why does it take the constriction of a car to get me to see the holy? 15699519669_354483e386_o

I read. I study. I do. But, many times I have my to do list written before I ask what He wants me to do. I am not acknowledging Him in all my ways. I am acknowledging me and hoping He directs my paths. What about you? Do you need a road trip to pray? Oh, I pray. I have lists every day. I pray for my children. My friends. Those suffering. But, God is not a grocery list God. He is so much more. He longs for so much more. He longs to be gracious to us. He longs to tell us things we do not know. We do not need a teacher, He is there waiting to teach us the heighth, the depth and the width of His love. And all we have to do is show up. Just show up. Just set the time aside. The minutes. The half hours. The days. The time away from the distractions and full of His presence. God the father, the glory-one, the creator of things finite and infinite will not push His way in the front door. He waits to be invited. Let’s invite Him in.

“But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the troubles manfully]; for my Strength and Power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your weakness]. -2 Corinthians 12:9

So, if you like me have a mind racing weakness or a technology disorder, take courage. He is Strength in your weakness. He can meet you in mountains or your living room. He will meet you wherever you are willing -when you invite Him in.

Joining these lovely ladies: Holley Gerth and Kristin Hill Taylor.

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Suffering for Healing

A few years ago, I started some new medications which “will initially give you Flu-like symptoms and make you feel worse.” Thanks, Dr. P…

“Do not get discouraged!” he said, reminding me that I would begin to improve after the initial symptoms.

Suffer- To feel or bear what is painful, disagreeable or distressing, either to the body or mind; to undergo. We suffer pain of body; we suffer grief of mind. The criminal suffers punishment; the sinner suffers the pangs of conscience in this life, and is condemned to suffer the wrath of an offended God. We often suffer wrong; we suffer abuse; we suffer injustice.-webstersdictionary1828.com/

No one likes the word suffering, it means pain, discomfort, sickness. Yet, we have suffering as long we live on the broken, sin-infested earth.
Abandonment afflicts children.
Illness attacks.
Poverty deprives.
Lack leaves hungry bellies and empty bank accounts.

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What is the purpose of suffering?

I have pondered this question much over the years as I have suffered illness and the past fifteen years as I have watched my children, handicapped from wounds of the their traumatic past.

Does suffering has a purpose? That is a tough question to answer. I think the answer is suffering can be used for a purpose. Suffering draws us to God the Father. Without pain and suffering in our lives, we tend to go about our merry way. We don’t see our need for an Omnipotent God. Just as my suffering illness led me to a doctor who had the power to help, me, our personal suffering leads us to the all powerful one.

“The human spirit will not even begin to try to surrender self-will as long as all seems to be well with it. Now error and sin both have this property, that the deeper they are the less their victim suspects their existence; they are masked evil. Pain is unmasked, unmistakable evil; every man knows that something is wrong when he is being hurt.”
C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

We know something is wrong when we are being hurt in body, soul or spirit. That is why God gave us the gift of pain. Pain tells us something is wrong. But, there is more to it than that. First, let me backtrack and say God did not desire that any of us suffer. He intended for us to stay in the Garden of Eden and live happily ever after. When Adam and Eve sinned, that opened the door for the curse and now we live in a fallen world. This present darkness. But, the kingdom of heaven is here and God works all things out for good for those who love the Lord and those who are called according to His purpose.

So, how does God use suffering?

 Today I had a small lesson in suffering. Just a  teeny sip of hardship. I had a craft day planned with daughter, Amerey. Everyone in the family had gone their separate ways. I stayed to finish putting beef and sweet potato stew together in the crock pot. Afterwards, I gathered my things, paints, boards, lunch, etc.. and headed out the door. I loaded up my car and got in. No keys. No keys in purse. I headed back in. Not on the key rack. Not on my dresser. I searched for the next forty-five minutes. I texted the teen who had driven the car the night before (she was skiing) and through a series of texts, she finally came up with some idea of where they could be. Through it all, I prayed. Lord, let your will be done. Let me okay if I can’t go. Help me to do your will no matter what (not always my reaction, so don’t reach out and pat me on the back just yet). Finally found them in her coat pocket which was in her hamper in her room. Hmmm! I know. That was just a minuscule bit of suffering. It was a test. I had the opportunity to be offended. Hot. Mad. It also gave me the opportunity to grow. I could just see Jesus chuckling at me. He knew where they were all the time. The test was maintain peace or fail and blow up. Lots of times I fail. I think I have taken the same test over and over.

We have to suffer to heal:

painful treatments,

denying the flesh,

facing the past,

plowing new ground to sow better seeds,

letting go of hurt to reach for healing.

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Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations.

Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.

But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing. James 1: 2-4

Our response to suffering is more important than escaping it. This is a hard, good word. ‘Consider it wholly joyfully’? In most instances, we want to escape pain not be joyful about it.

Give thanks in all circumstances…. I Thessalonians 5:18

All things work together for good…. Romans 8:28

Suffering also gives us the gift of empathy. How can we comfort others if we haven’t suffered anything ourselves? We who have grieved can comfort those who are grieving. Those of us who have lost a parent can feel the pain when others lose one. We who adopt hurt children can minister to them if we have been hurt ourselves. Suffering drives us to the one who endured the cross. Who took our infirmities,our weaknesses, our sin and bore it. He wanted to carry it for us. He doesn’t want us to carry it alone. And we shouldn’t let others carry their burdens alone. We can help them bear it (as long as we steer clear of codependency- that’s another post).


Who comforts (consoles and encourages) us in every trouble (calamity and affliction), so that we may also be able to comfort (console and encourage) those who are in any kind of trouble or distress, with the comfort (consolation and encouragement) with which we ourselves are comforted (consoled and encouraged) by God.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Sometimes we suffer so we can heal. Other times we suffer so others can heal. Yet, while on the earth, we will suffer. Isn’t it better to share our sufferings so that others may gain healing?

And if we are [His] children, then we are [His] heirs also: heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ [sharing His inheritance with Him]; only we must share His sufferingif we are to share His glory. -Romans 8:17

J

Encouragement is Free

I bumped into a lady at the grocery store the other day. Literally. You see I have a system. I put the heavier items on the conveyer belt first so they end up at the bottom of the cart. All the cans must be together. All the produce rides the belt together. You get the picture. And I was just so into it that I bumped the lady in front of me while swinging merchandise like a mad woman. I put my hand on her shoulder for a moment and said, “I’m so sorry.” She turned and looked at me with a sad grin. You know the kind. The grin that says, “I’m lonely’. Instantly I thought, that may be the only loving touch she receives today. From a stranger at a grocery store. I looked at her items. Some coffee and creamer and a few other items.  Different than my overflowing cart. I thought about her all day.  I paid a lot for the cart full of groceries and almost as much at the next store. It made me think.

Encouragement is free. 

I often think of encouraging my children and my close friends. I think we ladies make a point of it. “Yes, sweetie, that is a great Lego creation. Tell me about it. You are so creative.” or “I love your new hair-do”, We do coffee dates with friends and encourage one another, but what about those outside our circle? Do we notice them? I will admit, God has been working on this with me for years. When running errands, I get in Storm Trooper mode. I march. I accomplish the mission and I get back to home base. Not anymore. I can’t. That sad smile.

It happened again. At THESIS, my homeschool co-op. I had prayed on the way there that the Lord would help me see moments. Settle down in them with the Moms at the tea I host weekly. I enjoy the teas (where I drink coffee), I do.

Confession: Sometimes I get caught up in making sure I read the lesson and saying the right things instead of listening and encouraging.

I’m getting better. I am, only by the grace of God. And honestly, I sooooo enjoyed the tea last week. I think the Lord shut my mouth and it was a good thing. Sometimes encouragement comes when we are silent and we let others pour their hearts out. It’s what they need. A release. So they can be refilled with good things like smiles. Hugs. A fresh perspective. Sometimes we don’t know what we think until we say it out loud. When we verbalize a situation and hear the ‘me too’! Emily Dickinson puts it best…

I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us -don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know.

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Encouragement is born of camaraderie.-click to tweet Isn’t it encouraging to know you are not alone?

We can encourage one another daily for free. It only takes a few moments.

But instead warn (admonish, urge, and encourage) one another every day, as long as it is called Today, that none of you may be hardened [into settled rebellion] by the deceitfulness of sin [by the fraudulence, the stratagem, the trickery which the delusive glamor of his sin may play on him].-Hebrews 3:13

If we don’t encourage one another, we can be hardened. We settle into rebellion. We are deceived into sinning. I have been there. I build up bitterness when I think I am the only one going through struggles or difficulty. I need encouragement just as much as the next gal and so do you. The best part is, it is free. It’s a word. A silence. A smile. A pat on the back. A ‘me too’!

 

 

Notice the Good

Notice the Good.

I was taking down all the Christmas decorations the other day (don’t judge) and I decided to move the game table. It a solid table, round on the top and a pedestal base. I decided to scoot (this an official semi-professional term for us rearranging gals, you know who you are) the table across the floor by myself. The round top separated from the base and fell sideways. I held it while I yelled for youngest son and all the while thought, everything is going to slide off the table and break (yes, I left the stuff on the table!) and my back is going to snap in two and quickly righted my thoughts, it’s okay, if everything falls on the floor and breaks, it’s not the end of the world and I am strong, I can do this….

Then..a miracle occurred. Son Rafal appeared in seconds and righted the table.

Some of have brains stuck in the negative. Call it a negative bent. Call it early childhood trauma. Call it whatever label you wish, but it is yesterday’s suppositions effect today’s decisions unless you take the time to change them.

When my husband and I adopted four children from hard places, It was evident immediately that everything was stated in negative terms.” No” was a prominent word in their vocabulary. I need to help them see the world through a more positive lens. Unfortunately that meant changing my vision prescription first. And living in a minute by minute struggle with learning delays, developmental delays, I had to pull my self out of the pit of the present circumstances. Or look above them, around them, more closely at them to see the good. If a child crumpled four math papers out of frustration, What was the good thing? He did number five?

Gazing out the window at sunsets and sitting by the fireside with a hot cup of tea while I read aloud was a circumstance I created. Planning good things doesn’t mean there will be no opposition. There will probably be opposition, but that doesn’t negate  the good unless I let it. And sometimes I do.

“He is hogging the blanket”

“I wanted to sit there.”

“This part is boring”

“Why can’t I have three cookies?”

Those sorts of things will be said.I cannot ignore them, but I can rise above them. Notice the good. The good is the seed planted. The time spent together. No the moment isn’t perfect now, but the memory will be.

Three things I need to remember to change my perspective: I need to change the lens I view my life through….

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1. God is good.

 And He said to him, Why do you ask Me about the perfectly and essentially good? There is only One Who is good [perfectly and essentially]—God. If you would enter into the Life, you must continually keep the commandments.-Matthew 19:17 

If nothing else seems good at the moment- the kids are fighting, the house is a mess, the bills are due and the bank account is overdrawn, remember God is good. He is the one who is perfectly and essentially good. Focus on Him. Focus on His goodness. Confess His goodness because the attributes that we magnify in Him, praise in Him, we will seen in our lives.

“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.”
C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

So let us not be the lunatic in the cell scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the pages of our lives. Let us instead be the ones who glorify God by noticing and speaking His goodness lest the rocks rise up and praise Him. He is good. He gave me the children I have as a good gift whether they are behaving badly or not. He gave me the Gods-sized dream to adopt and then He brought it to pass. It was His good work.

2. He gives good things

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Every good gift and every perfect (free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives] light, in [the shining of] Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse].-James 1:17

My children are a good and perfect gift. My life is a good and perfect gift. Being part of the family of God is a good and perfect gift. Having an eternal home with benefits that start here on earth is a good and perfect gift. The creation that tells me of the goodness of God is a good and perfect gift.

 And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good (suitable, pleasant) and He approved it completely. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day. Genesis 1:31

Everything that He had made was very good. He approved of it completely. He approves of you completely. He approves of your children completely. It is good.

3. He works all things together for good.

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We are assured and know that [[a]God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.- Romans 8:28

He works. We labor. He is our partner in this labor. Noticing the good takes work. Nothing that is worth achieving is easy. The best work I have ever done is raising children. The hardest work I have ever done is raising children.

Work is not man’s punishment. It is his reward and his strength and his pleasure.

Linking up with these lovely ladies today: Holley Gerth and Kristin Hill Taylor! Join us!

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