Love as yourself

I feel like I’m on fire. I can’t think of another way to say it. I feel it deeply, the electricity and pull to know and experience as much of God as He will allow. I know that seasons often come and go but right now it’s one of passion and anticipation and Holy Spirit FIRE! I want to fan it and I want it to get more intense and to celebrate this season He has me in.

‘John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.’ Luke 3:16

It feels like my every cell longs for more of Him. The other day a dear friend of mine was over and we were pondering God and His goodness. I was thinking about how being in His Presence, meditating on His Love for us, and His Word has always produced such peace and security in my identity as His daughter. It just seems to happen, when you are with Him you see Truth, you feel it, it changes you.

‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.’ -Romans 12:2

We were discussing the great commission and how God uses us to proclaim the good news. I heard a nagging voice inside my gut. The voice said something along the lines of, “you must not be right because you long for God so much more then you long to see people redeemed or healed.”It continued, “when you do want those things it’s all about wanting to experience and see God’s heart for His people. You must be wrong in this, selfish.”

I immediately knew it was the enemy, it sounds just like him but I wondered if a lie or distortion was present somewhere that fostered this attack being spoken so loudly. I asked God, He reminded me of this verse.

 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ Matthew 22:37

All….the whole of one’s energy or interest, or whole quantity. If Jesus is commanding me to love God with all of my being (which I pray somehow He will show me how to do this) then why do I feel like love needs to be divided between the two? Why is that my automatic?Then the next part of the verse came to mind.

‘And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ -Matthew 22:39

I have always thought this was about loving others compared to the quantity of or instead of loving myself. The thought hit me, when I pursue and experience spending time with God and loving God the effect is that it firmly plants me in my identity. What if Jesus meant that as we give our all to God, He transforms us into our true selves, which in turn is where we are to love others from. Just being “yourself”…His image, filled with Holy Spirit, peaceful, joyful, secure is what He is calling us to do. The works part of love would flow naturally from that place. What if we were operating in freedom to be who God created us to be? What would our loving others look like, or feel like? We are all uniquely made in His image, could you imagine how beautiful it would be?

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Learning to Reside

Often I realize I am trapped in a cycle of being good enough. Smart enough, talented enough, pretty enough, funny enough. I work hard enough and get straight A’s and excel in my classes. After meeting my goal I look around and feel empty and alone. I practice, or I primp. I work on how to get a laugh. Success is often followed by a momentary high. A sweet little pat on the back falls immeasurably short when what I am longing for is a sweet embrace.

I feel alone more than not and spend time with any measuring stick I can find, questioning if this is normal? Am I set apart in this? I search the crowd for familiar and hurting faces. But have not figured out a socially acceptable way to ask someone if they are engulfed by this darkness. At least with not shattering the picture of lovliness I hold before me, blocking me from rejection but in no way being effective.

I see God wooing me, I know He loves me. Sometimes it feels so faint, He feels so far away. Gestures that I have swooned over in the past feel like barely a shadow of what they once were. I have faith (as small as a mustard seed) that there is hope, there will be glory given, and He loves me.

As I prayed this morning, laying on the alter the pain I feel. I am questioning the lack of love and loneliness that seems to overtake at times. He said, so gently…..you can not arrive somewhere you already reside.

I reside in the love of Father, I reside in His perfect Love. I have been waiting to arrive but I need to know I already reside. I am sealed and filled with the Holy Spirit, by the blood of Jesus I am reconciled with the love of my life, the Creator of the Universe. I need faith now which can be such a challenge. Believing the unseen instead of the very real brokenness that lies before me. Someday I will not need faith I will be face to face. I long for this day and in the meantime….,I stand on the Truth, I stand on the Rock, I know this is part of my story but just part. I have eternal glory ahead of me and that is such good news.

Lord, give me more and more faith to know deeply thay I reside in your complete and perfect Love. Help me put a stop to the cycle and longing for arrival and help me concentrate on loving others well. I trust you.

Amen

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Heart Sickness

It feels as though I have been in a wrestling match for weeks against an invisible opposition. No matter which way I turn the other is faster and seems to know my next move before I do. I often take breaks, feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. During these breaks I go to my corner of the mat and pray and beg God to tell me how to win, or I reason with Him and argue that I should not have to be in this match at all. I have tried to pretend I am not in the match at all. Like when your mom tells you to ignore the bully’s and they will go away. I go back feeling a strong ability to ignore but it doesn’t work. Sometimes I fall to my knees and ask for understanding, other times I am angry and yell a bit at my Savior, accusing Him of not helping me. Yesterday, after an extra long time in the ring, I left feeling particularly bloodied and bruised. I turned desperately to other things to feel better. I ate a lot, I cried in bed, and numbed myself.

I keep thinking of hope. It seems the thing that hurts the most in this battle is that I hope to see the victory. During my timeouts I fill myself with faith that victory is coming that this will be the time. I want to defeat my opposer and finally be done with this match.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when desire is fulfilled it is the tree of life.” -Proverbs 13:12

My heart feels sick and during these breaks I start to feel better. I think, it wont be so bad this time. I can do another round and it won’t feel so bad if victory is not in the cards. But that is not how it is working, every time its harder, every time I feel sicker afterwards. So what do I do? What is going wrong? Is this just life or is there someway I am out of alignment and can “think” in a way where it won’t be so difficult?

My battle is a good one, the outcome I am wanting is a very good one. Possibly even necessary. It isn’t abnormal or even that weird, most people I know have this victory and probably don’t think twice about it. It is a loving thing for my family, so I can not say that it is wrong for me to want this. (Plus I have tried that technique too and it doesn’t work). So, I question if I have misplaced longing. My hope is in Jesus.

“We put our hope in the Lord, He is our help and shield. In him our hearts rejoice for we trust in his holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone. -Psalm 30:20-22

I have been reminding myself of this verse. I have also been asking this: if I want something good and normal for my life, how do I not invest hope in it? Is that even possible? The definition of hope is: a feeling of expectation or desire for something to happen, which seems a pretty impossible task to never have. But hope is also defined as this: a feeling of trust. This seems to be where things could go wrong.

Am I putting trust in something other than God? Desire for good things is great but am I trusting in this thing? The thing about this world is it will not last, nothing will survive, our bodies will die, the cities will crumble, everything is on its way out.

 “Therefore we do not become discouraged [spiritless, disappointed, or afraid]. Though our outer self is [progressively] wasting away, yet our inner self is being [progressively] renewed day by day. For our momentary, light distress [this passing trouble] is producing for us an eternal weight of glory [a fullness] beyond all measure [surpassing all comparisons, a transcendent splendor and an endless blessedness]!  So we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are unseen; for the things which are visible are temporal [just brief and fleeting], but the things which are invisible are everlasting and imperishable.” -2 Corinthians 4:16-18

We live in a world that is in the process of perishing and hope can only truly lie in God, who offers eternal life. With this perspective I can let go of shame that my desires are bad but also realign myself with the truth that hope can only be in Gods promise of an eternal, spiritual life with Him. I need to repent, pray God reveals all the hope I have in earthly things and help heal the heart sickness that has been invading. I already feel better, there is always relief in the goodness He has to offer. I am so grateful for His correction and even for the terrible and passionate “feelings” that leave me desperate for Him.

I do not know what my role will be in this particular wrestling match. Do I keep fighting but with a new sense of what victory is? Do I sit on the sidelines with the one I love and see how it plays out? Or do I walk away and decide there are other things that would be wiser to do with my time? I do not know but I start the day with full confidence my Creator does and He delights in revealing such things to me.

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When Loneliness Threatens..

Loneliness reminds me of an old movie I watched as a kid again and again called The Never ending Story. There is a force called the Nothingness that threatens their world. It was so scary as a child to think about this blackness engulfing the characters. This morning, as I was waking up I felt like the nothingness was creeping up on me, and as the horse in the movie, sinking into a muddy pit named the Swamp of Sadness, I felt like I had a choice. Let sadness engulf or turn to the only one who can save, Jesus. The temptation to focus on the sadness, and the very real circumstances I face was high. Not to feel sorry for myself, but to try desperately to figure out if I can do anything to fix it. If I was just a better friend, daughter, or wife maybe, somehow I could fix all my relationships and the loneliness would flee. When I attempt this past pattern called Codependency it doesn’t take long to realize that it offers only lies. Then opens the door and invites in more panic, leading to hopelessness.

The cycle is not easy to break, impossible on my own but as I turn to the Word, He speaks such love over me.

‘Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.” -Jeremiah 18;6

His hands are so loving, and so gentle. He reminds me He has and will never let me go. Then He goes on…..

‘You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.  Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, The Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.’ -Isaiah 26:3+4

The nothingness still threatens my world but being in love with the One who saved me transports me out of the danger. Into a world I don’t fully understand, a world where I stand on the eternal Rock and am completely secure, wholly loved, and will live eternally with my Beautiful Creator.

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Press in

Funny how emotions can sneak up on me, or rather, how good I am at ignoring their firm tug at my heart. I am waiting in my car at school, a half an hour early (because I have a compulsive arriving way to early problem) pondering my life. I am so overwhelmed with missing things. I miss my mom and dad. I miss my husband. I miss Alaska. I miss my kids being little and adorable. I miss my forever friends. I miss being a stay at home mom. 

I am tempted to turn this into bitterness towards the new things in my life such as school or new people in my life. My brain likes to fill the holes in my heart. Cement is a fast drying and a quick fix but I dont think the holes are meant to be filled. When I refuse the hardening of my heart that would offer to help avoid these feeling I am left with grief and sorrow. Its in these empty places God can heal and minister to me. In a perfect world I would be able to hug my mom or laugh with my dad. I would be able to go on a hike or a boat ride down the Clearwater. I would be able to have coffee with my oldest and dearest friend while we watch our babies play. 

Its sad and very painful but f I avoid those feelings and allow my heart to harden I miss out on the beauty Jesus has in the sorrow. I miss out on drawing nearer to Him and trusting He has a plan. As well as remembering the suffering and great sorrow He took on Himself to save me. So today I choose to not avoid but to press in. 

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. -Philippines 3:14

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The path 

“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” -C. S. Lewis

As we come up on the anniversary of our move from Alaska to Indiana I have decided to take the time to reflect on the changes that have happened. Part of my brain does not want to do this. Claiming I do not have the time. The truth is its not easy to face but I’m trusting God is here with me.

I have no doubt that this move was in God’s plan for us. Its amusing to me that often I invision His plan for my life as a beautiful, sunny nature hike through butterflies, birds and flowers. Skipping along with a song on my lips, happiness abounds, hard situations and circumstances are long gone. The reality is a bit different, although there are times in this walk it feels very much like I described often it feels like I’m walking through a dark forest, praying that I am still on the path and trusting that if the wolf I hear approaching gets too close God will swoop in and save me. 

I believe that when God saved me I was so unaware of how emotionally and relationally unhealthy I was. I lived in utter darkness. God used the terrible circumstances to call me to Himself. He showed me the path and as we walk together, out of the darkness, He has been healing my heart. We get to what seems like a tumultuous part, so scary everything tells me to run away and He stands firm. He holds me close and points out the lies and the damage. He offers forgiveness and wholeness. He never forces me to walk, He always invites and there has been times where I refuse to go on, so we gently circle around again until I’m ready. 

These last two years have felt dark and scary more often then not. I have had to confront some relational unwellness with very difficult decisions. Shane and I are separated, with the hopes and prayers of restoration. We have a lot of work to do to have the marriage God intended. I am believing He will get us there. I can not speak for Shane but I can say my work has a lot to do with self worth. I was so fearful of being abandoned I would enter into relationships not face to face with my true self being offered. I would enter under the person, offering whatever I felt they needed, hoping to become such a needed part of their lives that they would never leave me. Which worked well and feels great at first. The other person feels loved and taken care of. I, in turn, feel needed and safe. Then after awhile, when the truth starts to emerge that I can not fix or actually meet that deep need in them, the safety begins to feel more like a weight I can not begin to bear. Heavier and heavier, until I begin to suffocate. 

The healing that is happening is so good at the same time as very painful. Jesus has placed me in a community that is along my side cheering me along when I need it. They always seem to be there to offer a helping hand or a good, long laugh when the time is right. I am about to start school, which has been a huge worth issue for me in the past. God is allowing me and guiding me into reclaiming my life. The life He created and the life He died for. A life that I would once so easily cast into the darkness for an illusion of what I thought love was. A life that I am now learning to operate in His true love as well as the identity He died to give me. I trust Him, He knows what He is doing in my life as well as the life of my family.

    “After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.” -Isaiah 53:11 

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Needing perfect love 

I have a fear of flying. It’s not something that I developed over years. I can’t say I used to enjoy it but it didn’t scare me. Until the last time I flew, it was years ago and many circumstances fell into place that had me panicked and opperating from a place of trauma. When I got home I was so relieved but also developed a peculiar fascination with watching crash investigation shows and listening to stories of airplane crashes. Weirder yet, they comforted me, it would help me relax and was also fascinating to me. My theory is my brain had convinced itself during that last flight that I was experiencing an actual event and when nothing came of it it left me a bit jumbled and open. So hearing how crashes played out somehow closed that open trauma. (I’m not a professional although I should have some sort of honorary degree with all the counseling and processing I’ve done.) 

I did not know how I would react to flying today. I felt a very strong peace-like feeling the days leading up but sometimes I think I resemble an opossum and when my most scared my brain shuts off and plays dead. As I got to the airport I started to feel more nervous, my stomach started to hurt and I felt light headed and although attempting greatly to ignore the fear it wasn’t working. I got on the plane and started to pray and tell God how silly I felt. I know about planes. My Dad is a pilot. I know the risks. I also know above all that God is in control. So shame started to worm its way in along with the fear. 

I noticed no one had sat down next to me, which was a relief for a second until I was corrected. In a split second I knew Jesus was sitting there. I could feel Him, I just knew. He talked to me about how much He loved me and how He has so many plans for me. To teach me things and delight in things with me. He said I had nothing to worry about that it would be smooth. (Which by the way it was the smoothest take off I’ve ever  experienced.) We talked the whole ascent and I cried. Not out of fear but because I was so overwhelmed by His peace and His beauty. Being with Him, the source of joy, is really indescribable. Also I was so grateful with how He treated me. I had felt so stupid, I should not be having this type of fear. I felt ridiculous and ashamed. Not for a second did I get that He wasn’t concerned about any of that. He just loves me. He knew what I would need and He showed up to just comfort me. 

By the time we reached the clouds I didn’t feel fear, I felt awe. I looked at the clouds and was amazed by how much they looked like mountains, caves and caverns. A beautiful landscape in the sky. 

Yet they moved, and formed into new shapes within minutes. It was so beautiful. I thought about how God controlled it all. So much beauty even in places we will never see. Then I saw the shadow of our plane darting across the clouds and was, once again, overwhelmed by what I saw. A perfect circle with colors like a rainbow that encapsulated the shadow. I had never seen anything like it before and didn’t know if it was common or not. I did know it was another sign God loves me and I am completely secure. 

As soon as we landed I looked it up and it’s called a glory. (Seriously, a glory!) A glory is an optical phenomenon that represents a saints halo. Glories arise due to wave interference of light internally refracted within small droplets of water. The scientific explanation is under much debate and there area few more theories of why they occur. I know why it occurred today. 

 “Listen to this, Job; stop and consider God’s wonders. Do you know how God controls the clouds and makes his lightning flash? Do you know how the clouds hang poised, those wonders of him who has perfect knowledge? -Job 37:14-16

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