introspection, reality, The Past

Translucent— Paralyzed (Do You See Me Down Here, Oh Lord?)

Merriam-Webster defines translucent as:

permitting the passage of light:

: transmitting and diffusing light so that objects beyond cannot be seen clearly

Clear, transparent

translucent water

: free from disguise or falseness”

I guess if I had a “theme” for my blog posts, this might be a defining term I’m aiming for.

I’ve been working my way through more NF songs, lately. Today, I have two on my heart.

The first one, I think it’s a deeply important one to address— “Paralyzed”. The second is the chorus from “Oh Lord”. (I think both can be a great mash-up.)

As the “Paralyzed” lyrics flow, they hit sensitive areas in my past that I buried or forgot about.

Oh, my God, thank You— he has described this lack of just everything— that I could never put a name to!!

I still have moments of this numb feeling, in certain social situations, I get struck with this— paralysis— NF has given it a name! I can define it! You have no idea how impactful and healing that is for me. If the “spotlight” focus of attention is on me— I still sometimes freeze up! When I leave social meetings, I sometimes have this weird ache— almost like that feeling when the numbness wears off at the dentist— in my chest. I feel vulnerable,

exposed.

I spent many of my youthful days going through the motions, disconnected from my emotions.

These lyrics transcend just words for me— they overwhelm my spirit with… I don’t really know what. Understanding, maybe? Relief?

I didn’t think anyone could ever understand. No one around me ever seemed to. But then— I was afraid to even ask, to talk about anything.

I just thought I was alone.

And then— I remember someone telling me they struggled with the same kind of eating issues that I did— and they gave it a name— Anorexia. I thought I had a friend I could identify with, that understood me. But— friendship with me wasn’t something she was interested in. In fact— she seemed annoyed that I had those problems too.

I was alone.

My whole life, all I ever wanted was to feel included, wanted, appreciated— valued.

Absorbing the lyrics from the NF song “Paralyzed”— they took me right back to those moments. Only, as I again felt them, I was also standing outside of it all, looking at it from a perspective of having been healed, or delivered, from the damage and circumstances that rendered me

detached.

I remember walking through my middle school hallways, realizing— I couldn’t feel anything.

I was emotionally numb.

I think that was when the self harm started for me.

I spent years hiding the scars on my arms and legs. They have faded, can’t be seen easily anymore, but I know exactly where they are.

When I wrote poems, I marveled over where the words even came from. I didn’t write thoughts I was meditating on, inspiration didn’t come from outer sources, dreams or conversations. I would wake up in the middle of the night, and I just had to write.

“Can You see us down here, Oh Lord?”

I wonder what I look like to God? I know all the encouraging words of Scripture— and I believe them.

I also know God sees what we can’t see or understand.

I think as the lyrics from “Paralyzed” grab my heart, make me catch my breath from overwhelming remembrance, understanding— and emotions I’m no longer detached from, flood all my senses— I see that God is outside of things, but He somehow still feels what we feel, He sees what we see— and so much more.

My world felt impossibly dark and devastating.

But God.

God’s Light has diffused the darkness my soul was held captive in. His Holy Light came into my life, and all that nasty darkness fled— Jesus set this captive free. He healed my heart and my life.

He restores my soul.

Daily.

As much as we often believe our childhood shapes and defines us— it’s not permanent. I believe that.

The damning, torturous grip that once had its hold on me, has been released.

God broke the fingers of that stronghold over my perception, that affected my decisions.

There are some who are in a similar place to where I was.

It can get better. Most often, circumstances aren’t permanent. There is nothing God cannot change, heal, repair, restore or improve.

You are not alone.

Nothing is too difficult for God.

“Intro:]
When did I become so numb?
When did I lose myself?
All the words that leave my tongue
Feel like they came from someone else

I’m paralyzed (Do You see me down here, oh Lord?) (Yeah, I’m just so paralyzed)
Where are my feelings? (Don’t You see me down here, oh Lord?) (Yeah, I’m just so paralyzed)
I no longer feel things (I have no feelings)
I know I should (Can You see me down here, oh Lord?) (Oh. How come I’m not moving? Why aren’t I moving? Ay yeah)
I’m paralyzed
Where is the real me? (Can’t You see me down here, oh Lord??) (Where is the real me?)
I’m lost and it kills me – inside (I’m paralyzed)

[Verse 1:]
When did I become so cold?
When did I become ashamed? (Ooh)
Where’s the person that I know?
They must have left
They must have left
With all my faith

[Verse 2:]
I’m paralyzed (Do You see me down here, oh Lord?)
I’m scared to live but I’m scared to die
And if life is pain then I buried mine a long time ago
But it’s still alive
And it’s taking over me – where am I? (Don’t You see me down here, oh Lord?)
I wanna feel something, I’m numb inside
But I feel nothing, I wonder why
And on the race of life time passes by
Look
I sit back and I watch it, hands in my pockets
Waves come crashing over me but I just watch ’em (Can You see me down here, oh Lord?)
I just watch ’em
I’m under water but I feel like I’m on top of it
I’m at the bottom and I don’t know what the problem is
I’m in a box (Can’t You see me down here, oh Lord?)
But I’m the one who locked me in
Suffocating and I’m running out of oxygen

[Outro]
Do You see us down here? Oh Lord
Can You see us down here? Oh Lord
Oh Lord, oh Lord
Can You see us? Can’t You see us?down here? Oh Lord
Oh Lord, oh Lord
Can You see us? Can’t You see us?”

introspection

Adopted As His, Restored For His Glory, Used For His Purpose— For Our Good

I struggle with something that has been medically defined as “body dysmorphia”, from an eating disorder I developed as a child. As a result— my view of myself and others physically is often pretty off.

Thankfully, God has been deeply at work healing me, in every way possible.

As God has been changing my perspective to match His, I have learned I just can’t rely on what I see, or what “feels” obvious.

I have traveled a long way from where I used to be. Physically in location, but also in many other ways. My reflex reactions to things, my understanding of what I see visually has been so skewed, I find I rely on other things to help me feel my way through life. I try to read people’s reactions, to gauge their acceptance of me through their words.

As a result, I don’t often see things the way others do and seem to expect me to.

It catches me off guard when others miss the heart of things I share, and get offended or misinterpret me.

I have always looked at myself as though something must be wrong with me.

God has been at work at how I see me. He has refined some things, He has changed how I focus, He has shown me that what I naturally am tempted to focus on doesn’t match up with what He accurately sees at all.

I have sensitivities others don’t seem to. The way many appear to respond or react has said to me that I am the problem.

Lately though, God has revealed to me that sometimes He’s highlighting what’s wrong with others.

He has fixed me not for the world’s acceptance, but for His purposes.

He reveals broken areas for me to be used to pray for them, to demonstrate His grace, His mercy, His kindness— His love.

His ways are, sadly, definitely not my own.

So He has been humbling me. Not to be mean or cruel, but so I will be of use to Him.

So I can join Him where He is at work.

My flesh still wants to resist, to be prideful, to reject what is uncomfortable.

But to reject that is to reject His purpose for what He’s changing in me.

If that makes me look peculiar— even to other Christians— I have to live with that.

He has been weeding out some very ugly things that have taken root and grown strongly in the garden of my understanding and my heart, that have become my focal points.

He has planted seeds that are just beginning to grow the fruit of His Holy Spirit that lives within very imperfect me. His fruit is becoming my offerings of sacrifice as I give up the old me and allow God to direct the new me He is still bringing about.

So many very ugly things are always being plucked out of me to make more room for the fruit God loves.

I have been adopted by Him, changed by Him, groomed for His purposes.

Nothing else matters.

My focal point has to be Jesus. Everything that blocks Jesus from my view has to be adjusted, fixed, or removed.

introspection

Who’s In Your Corner?

Lately I’ve been missing a family type of environment.

Having a group of people to laugh with, cry with, and have things in common with.

Where we have lived for many years is a fluid-like community— people always coming and going, no time to form long-lasting friendships that won’t become distant connections.

Don’t get me wrong— I love where we live. Location isn’t what needs to change for me.

As an introspective person, some of my first thoughts in most situations is to dig around in myself to look for root causes.

This is no different.

So— here I go.

A few years ago, during all the lockdowns and internationally persuaded isolation, I went through one of the most difficult times of my whole life.

I’m not new to difficult situations. My entire life has been wrapped with overly complicated things. Being a military spouse in itself is a level of difficult you can only fully understand after experiencing it.

But— a few years ago, a deeper level of difficult hit me hard, knocked the wind out of me and the foundation out from under me— destroyed important things that kept some sort of hope in me alive.

In that situation, I realized— my corner was empty. I had not one person I could go to, that I could bare my soul to.

Thankfully, I have learned that Jesus is the One I always have in my corner.

(Putting a “pin” in that— that’s the happy, perfect ending to this post.

I’m in the middle of it, though.)

Getting back to my thoughts— I had No person.

Then— one very unexpected family member reached out to me and told me if I ever need to talk, he is there to listen.

That is the first time anyone has ever offered that to me— and meant it. That gave me some of the hope back. I don’t know how I could ever talk with him about these things, but just knowing he was willing to reach out— that just made all the difference for me.

Most often, after I get through hard times, I do find people who I can share with to encourage them in their hard times. Sometimes they even let me encourage them. Sadly, some seem to react negatively. One person even told me I intimidated her because I’ve just been through so much, seen so much, experienced so much…

I can’t help that.

It’s just my life.

Because I’ve just gone through things, fought against them, pushed through so much, (usually alone), I have sincerely striven to be the type of person people can rely on to not have to go through things alone.

More than just about anything, I’ve wanted to be available— to be in the corner when someone who may not have anyone else, needs that.

Because I know what that feels like.

It makes the mountains seem impossible to get past.

But— with someone in our corner, we often move those mountains rather than try to overcome them. They are no longer intimidating.

My husband and I were talking recently about who we felt we could call at 4 am for urgent or emergency needs. What relationships have we formed that could hold up a need to lean on it?

Getting back to my “pin”…

I have learned through trial, error,—even personally devastating circumstances— that Jesus truly is always there.

I have learned that He is my Strength. He is my Fortress. He is my Provider. He is my Shelter in every storm. He is my Counselor.

He is my Savior— in every way, in every situation, in every relationship.

He IS.

He always provides the people who will be the ones for that 4 am call.

He will provide for this need I have for a family type group that I fit in with, that I have things in common with., that will listen and not be intimidated— or offended— when I share my life experiences and what God has done in them and through them.

He will provide a group that is family-like that won’t make fun of and mock the things that mean a great deal to me, to others when they talk about me. Those who won’t shut me out or argue because they don’t agree.

People who enjoy talking with me and listening to me.

People who sincerely value what I have to say.

Because He’s the One Who has made me realize just how much I need that.

An Honest Wife's Perspective, introspection, Reality Check

The Changing Status Of The Love Language

Love Language— the defined, intentional way we both experience and demonstrate the affection, respect, appreciation and value from/for others.

Years ago, I was “diagnosed” with my love language as being gift giving and acts of service, sprinkled with words of affirmation.

At the time, I was a new mother, in a fairly new marriage.

The thought of things defining something like quality of time seemed unnecessary, unneeded. I had a new baby at the time. Raising her as a home-educating, staying-home-with-her-mama meant she had all my time, attention, lots of hugs and kisses, and more than enough of my mental and emotional focus. My husband remembering to bring me something, or taking care of a responsibility that was weighing down on me— that spoke volumes to me of his love, appreciation, affection and value for me.

Fast forward 22 years later— something in me has changed.

Don’t get me wrong— bringing me something home (like an unsweet tea), and helping with some responsibilities I now just am not able to easily do for physical reasons, boy do I ever value those!

But I really believe my love language has changed, has adapted to changes in our family and my life.

Now— I value spending quality time with him. Going with him on errands, him sitting down to fix a puzzle with me, or watching a comedy we both laugh at together— that’s what I need. That “speaks” to me how he values me— wanting to do things with me.

Quality of time has become an obstacle-laden minefield with so many forms of technological interruptions and distractions. Always looking at some device, attention diverted by notifications— always something interrupting staring meaningfully into one another’s eyes (record scratching sound)— I mean, talking about his work or my day, or what we need to get at the grocery store…

When we first met then married, we actively sought to spend time together. As we got more used to our relationship dynamics, I busied myself with our children and trying to keep up with the housework. He worked crazy hours which forced us all to learn flexibility with plans and scheduling things. He also played video games (anyone married to a gamer can relate, I have no doubt). He served at our church on the worship team— which took so much of his time away from us. I served also, but just wasn’t able to as much as he did. Over time, the video games waned down while more work and church responsibilities now presently claim much of his time and attention.

I suppose I just got used to having very little time with him, and I tried to adapt to where I felt nurtured in our relationship. I jumped into his hobbies with him so we were doing things together, growing together with interests in common. There were days where we barely spoke or saw each other. Those were my hardest days.

Sharing life with my husband has often been him doing things away from, or without me. I think this might be typical of many marriages.

While my love language for others is finding ways to demonstrate that they are important, in my marriage— I believe quality of time has moved up to the top of what makes me feel loved. He knows this, I think, and he has been adjusting things so we are doing things together.

Learning to speak and interpret a love language takes time, effort and understanding.

I wonder if his love language has changed, as well? My own food for thought.

introspection

What’s My Purpose?

Purpose is an interesting word.

Intentional.

Intention.

Intentionally doing something, on purpose, has consequences. Often, lasting consequences.

I write on my blog, on purpose, with purpose.

What is my intention, intentionally?

Well, for starters, it helps me organize my thoughts. I have found, if I just leave them all jumbled up, they tend to drag my emotions into a big, complicated, tangle of a mess.

I guess, it helps keep all of that in check.

The second reason is to work through stuff. It’s, I guess, a form of “self-help” therapy.

But why do I do it online, where pretty much anyone could stumble upon it or be directed to it, and may actually read it?

My answer to that is— because others are also going through “stuff”. Maybe my processing through my own issues could encourage someone else going through something similar.

I have learned, and I believe sincerely it was God’s Spirit Who has been teaching me this, that whatever I hide in the darkness of my fears, my pride, my heart— will just pop out in some other ways.

Anger.

Reclusion.

Depression.

Anxiety.

Obsession for control.

All symptoms of holding stuff in, not finding a way to address things.

The Devil wreaks havoc wherever things are hidden.

God shines His Light on everything we surrender to Him. The enemy of our soul finds plenty of ways to get footholds into hidden situations, emotions, decisions, thoughts, fears, relationships— every aspect of our lives.

It’s so important to allow God to shine His Light into everything in my life!!

While I blog to accomplish all of these purposes, I also believe this is one of God’s intentional purposes for me.

My struggles are real. I’m learning how to surrender them to God, so they don’t consume me.

Maybe someone else can find encouragement in that. Maybe someone feels alone in their own struggles, and these posts help them know— they are not alone. There are others going through similar things.

It expresses understanding.

Something in my own past I’ve wished I could find.

It’s not for everyone.

In fact, it’s not what many are interested in— at all.

That’s ok. It’s not the quantity, it’s the connection. It’s the chance to share my process in surrendering all to Jesus.

Sometimes, that can be helpful.

And, if not— I still work through my own things in a healthy way, for myself.

With purpose.

introspection

The Price You Paid

As a bargain hunter, I am always looking for the best price, comparing, finding the best discounts, rarely just settling to pay more than I think something is worth.

So, just now as I hear a song phrase about the price Jesus paid, I am once again stunned by His sacrifice.

He did not get a bargain in what He paid for me.

I know my flaws, and I’m certain there are many flaws I’m not even aware of.

The things He seems to place value on in me, I see as having little or no value.

The things I see as having value in me, often have no eternal Kingdom value at all.

God’s Grace is a mystery. It is the only force that is truly life affirming.

Jesus paid with His life. God paid with the death of His only beloved Son.

When it comes right down to it, the only thing that matters is the value God has placed on me.

And as I think about it, it starts becoming clear. He purchased me because of the potential, the reshaping through His Precious blood.

It’s about magnifying Jesus. it’s about what God wants to use my life for.

So— it’s about me, without being about me.

Lately I find myself nearly tripped-up by what I imagine the opinions of others are of me.

This has been a solid brick in my path for many years, but I’m learning how to side-step it, to keep my fixed gaze on Jesus. I can’t redirect opinions, I can only keep walking in the direction God turns me to.

Ultimately, it’s just going to be me standing before God. Opinions will not influence God in how I’ve walked my narrow path, as I stand before Him to give account —whether it be of the closest family member, trusted spiritual leaders, or strangers.

For that reason, I’m shoring up my resolve. No longer will I fall for the tricks and traps of the enemy of my soul, to walk the wrong road, or have the wrong focus.

My son and I watched I Can Only Imagine today. I forget so easily the power of those lyrics…

“Standing in Your Glory, what will my heart feel? Will I dance for You, Jesus? Or in awe of You, be still” “Standing in Your Presence, to my knees will I fall? Will I sing ‘HALLELUJAH’? Will I be able to speak at all?”

I can only imagine.

Will I be able to rejoice with Him in how He has transformed my life, and worship Him with understanding that everything about my life has always been for His purpose—His calling —to meet the needs of others on His behalf?

My heart continues to be refined, and I continue to feel that fiery passion to serve portions of His Grace, His Mercy and His kindness, to others.

A big plate of Holy Spirit fruit.

I’ve noticed at times when I rely on my own strength and understanding, I can put rotten fruit on that plate instead.

Becoming more and more aware of that, all I can do is give it all to God, and trust He will work through me and show the world Jesus —in His own ways.

introspection

My “spirit” Animal

Recently I went to a parent’s meeting with our beloved youth group. The leader had us all do this exercise, so we could gain some insight into why people react to moving away or to here, the way we all do. We are involved with the military community, and where we are located, people are always moving to and fro.

Without getting into the list, I’ll tell you- none of them felt like they fit me.

The back of my mind has been working, trying to figure out which animal could possibly be my alter-ego.

I’m pretty used to people moving, by now. It’s just part of this life. I think I build in that partition, so to speak, when I meet people. And some— any partition just melts, we are such kindred spirits! (If you’re reading this, you know who you are!! 💕)

Anyway— getting back to my personal animal, I think I have it narrowed down.

With people moving on, I think I’m mostly a dolphin. Happy for them, happy I met them, happy I can stay in touch through technology.

With hard situations? I am no dolphin!

Kind of a hermit crab, maybe.

I have a safe place to retreat into— my house, prayer, my music, my sitcoms…. Safe to recover from fallout of bad reactions to and from uncomfortable situations.

A snapping claw to defend myself— unfortunately it also sometimes draws blood— usually unintentionally, but on occasion… I’m better than I used to be, I’ll just say that.

This week my inner hermit crab is making full appearances.

Stress has hit me hard. The heaviness weighs down on my heart., as well as my physical health.

I don’t often see things the same as others, and sometimes that seems to invoke strong reactions from others, which then makes me want to defend myself as a reflex action. (God help me if any of them happen to read this. Sigh.)

We all have some animal we identify with.

I think the more I remember to look for that in others, the better I will be at not retreating into hermit crab mode.

Maybe, anyway.

introspection

Over Here, Over There— Far Removed

These trees look like they want to be somewhere else, but their roots are planted too deep for them to leave.

If I could see my heart right now, I think it might somehow resemble this!

My roots are planted deeply, firmly into the ground here.

But my heart— my heart wants to go. It wants to take me back to family.

I got a call today, letting me know my oldest cousin passed away a few hours ago.

I am so far from my family. I won’t be able to attend the funeral.

No one expects me to, I’ve not been able to for any, except my dad’s a few years ago.

There are things, situations and people my heart is trying so hard to pull my body in the physical direction of.

Too many obstacles. Too many things and reasons not to.

Now I have to just not allow guilt to set itself on me.

Sometimes I wish God would transport me like He did to Phillip (Acts 8:39-40). Of course, my reasons are selfish. No matter how well intentioned my heart seems— it’s all just selfish.

On the surface, it may not look like much is going on with me. But deep in the heart of me, a tug of war pulses on, as the events of life ebb and flow.

introspection

Heart of Mary, Mind of Martha

This week I’ve been preparing for a special worship service we have scheduled for tonight.

Sitting here now, attempting to build a difficult puzzle, I’m realizing my thoughts and my heart are kind of all over the place, like my puzzle pieces.

Absolutely not the “attitude of worship” I feel I need to be in for tonight.

Besides changes to the service due a main member being placed into quarantine, there has been extra busy-ness for me this week.

I’m finding it difficult to just rest my mind that is cluttered on so many unimportant things, just on Jesus.

The picture I chose at the beginning shows so much how I’d define me at this moment.

The setting reminds me of being in the high places. It seems so peaceful. Yet instead of soaking it in, I’m striving at something unnecessary, not interacting with the environment around me at all. I’m making things harder, not appreciating God’s Spirit within me.

My mind is working so hard, exhausting the rest of me. It isn’t listening when I tell it to quiet itself— to be still and know…

In my heart, I know I need to set everything aside and just focus my attention onto Jesus— Who He is, how He is, why He’s so necessary to me.

To just worship Him in spirit and in truth.

My mind is scattered in many directions, like the puzzle in front of me now.

In the end, each piece forms a complete picture.

Each of my thoughts, with their jags of emotions, depth of colors and partial images should form the complete picture of Jesus in me— if I reign them in and put them together correctly, as I grab hold of the heart and mind of Christ.

While the chaos of thoughts, concerns and mental “todo’s” get under control, I’ve started to feel that peace. It’s not swirling around me— it just is.

It is always there.

I just get lost in the unimportant things that need to be taken captive unto Christ Jesus.

He is worthy of my purposeful, intentionally focused attention. Everything else is not.

introspection

Be Anxious For Nothing— But How??

I feel stressed.

While this isn’t a new thing, the intensity of this feeling is more than usual.

So, while I know the Bible instructs me to “Be anxious for nothing…” I am struggling right now with that very issue.

Circumstances far beyond my control.

Worry over family and friends.

Plowing a new course for my future career.

Weight loss and emotional healing bringing old buried memories and reactions to the overly-sensitive surface…

Anxiety hasn’t been an obstacle to me in decades. But there it is, staring me down.

Deep breath in, let it out slowwwww…

God is already there, plowing my path for me.

He’s got me.

He’s always got me.

I can do this.

One step at a time.

Breathing through the waves of panic that threaten to soak through my resolve.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NKJ

Instead of giving in to anxiety, frustration or fear, I will pray. I will thank God for everything, because without Him, I couldn’t appreciate the good that comes from painful, hard times.

God has a purpose, God has a plan— for me. He will never fail me, He will never abandon me.

My first prayer is for God to help me surrender all that anxiety and everything tangled up in it, to Him.

All of it.

There is no sense holding on to that. It does not contribute anything beneficial to my life or my emotions.

Time to step away from the anxiety, and let God’s peace flood my mind, my heart, my body and my spirit.

🎵 “All to Jesus, I surrender all to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust him,
in his presence daily live.
I surrender all, I surrender all,
all to thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.“🎵

introspection, Reality Check

The Hoarding Church

How many Bibles do you own?

How many Bible apps do you have?

How much Scripture do we have on the walls of our homes, on the wallpapers of our devices, or set aside on our note apps?

How much Scripture do we have written on the tablet of our heart?

God’s Gospel of Salvation, Grace, Mercy and Forgiveness has been collecting around our homes and churches for generations— sometimes even covered in dust, cobwebs, or buried under stuff.

There are so many focal points we have picked and chosen from Scripture— and from the store.

It all becomes blurry clutter.

Meanwhile— there is Jesus— forgotten as we look into our giant mirror of how spiritual we are. Binding this, loosing that, tattling to God about faults we’ve assessed in other ministries and people— misjudging, condemning, looking down on others while we pat ourselves on the back for how good, “spiritual” we obviously are, elevating ourselves in our own eyes.

“At least I’m not falling into that sin…“ “Thank God I’ve never done that, or I don’t do it anymore…”

Clanging gongs of obnoxious noise.

Maybe we need to become minimalists with our Christian possessions.

We have so much “merch” (😣cringe😖) for God.

Every bit of it is going to burn away.

Every possession we hold dear to our heart is going to turn to dust.

Every opinion we hold in our high (or low) world-treasured “self-esteem” is going to be dissolved.

Maybe God is disciplining Believers right now so we will get back to simple and humble.

Jesus left everything to provide the only way for an ungrateful creation, trapped in a deadly game of sin.

There is one letter difference between sin and Son.

We need God’s Son, who crushed sin because it had us trapped.

Now— we can be trapped by too much “good”, I think.

How can we find a direction when we are surrounded by so many good things?

How can we focus on accurately, adequately using the tools God has provided through His Spirit, when we are sifting through all of our manmade “Roman’s Road” and doctrinal tools?

How can we clearly hear God’s Spirit speak to our spirit when we have so many commentators, opinions, translations and versions to sort through?

We rely on our t-shirts to let people know our opinions, our beliefs— show that we are Christians.

The bumper sticker on our speeding van, as we rush to the next event.

We’ve resigned ourselves often to ask for prayers of healing and protection— but how much of that is because we are about the Lord’s work, and how much is us simply pushing through our daily life of chores and schedules?

Where is Jesus in all of the Church business and doings?

Do you see/hear/feel Him, in any of it? A little? A lot? An overwhelming amount?

Honestly?

Have you heard of Smith Wigglesworth? I am struck by the difference in how he was just reading a newspaper on a bus, and God’s Spirit began working deeply in every person there, and how we now wear a hat that asks something like “Got Jesus”?

He had Jesus, and everyone around him was affected by Jesus in Him.

Every finger and both thumbs stick into my ribs— I am so guilty.

How much Christian clutter is holding our heart captive, squeezing out Jesus?

What do we really value?

If what we value will burn away, dissolve, or involves I, me, or them— I think maybe it’s time for a deep, strong purge.

It sure is for me, anyway.

God's Heart, introspection

Simple Gospel VS Layered Expectations

God made Salvation as easy as possible for us. Mankind adds twists, turns and an abundance of complicated expectations.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one, and only, Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NIV

Then mankind adds their own “twist”— you’re Saved if you demonstrate the gift of speaking in tongues. You have to prophesy. You need to speak things that are not into being as if they were. You must demonstrate unspeakable joy as though it’s continuous happiness… and on, and on, and on…

I personally believe there are people who are as clanging gongs to God, that believe they are pleasing Him.

Maturity is important in our relationship with God. I do believe we grow in maturity as we get into the meat of Scripture.

I also believe we tend to move away from the Gospel’s simplicity as we “grow up” in Christ.

Here’s the simplicity— am I included in whoever believes?

What should the evidence of that be?

Galatians 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. NIV

I wonder if ministries today are how God wants them to function. It seems as though very few get right to the heart of the simplicity of God’s Gospel message.

1Peter 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

Romans 10:9 “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Romans 8:11 “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”

Acts 17:31 “Because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

That seems pretty simple to me.

I am reminded of Mary, who sat at Jesus’ feet and hung on every word He spoke.

Simple.

And yet, Martha complicated it. She tried to pull Mary away from giving her full attention and focus to Jesus. I think, even though Martha’s service was what she believed was necessary and needed— she missed the mark that day. She stepped into a performance role, whereas Mary stepped into a relationship role.

I see these two roles as often being almost in a type of war with one another.

The road is narrow for the simplicity of God’s Gospel. We seem to lose our footing the more we focus on what everyone shouts at us along the way. “You need to do this, be this way, demonstrate that, bind and loose these things…”

I simply need to believe in my heart and confess with my mouth.

Sometimes it’s wise to just drop everything we “know”, and go back to sitting at His feet, absorbing every word He has spoken.

introspection, Reality Check, Walking With God

Puppet Strings— Opinions Of Others

We all have some point where we worry about the opinion of someone else— to some degree.

The affects of that worry can be debilitating! How do we react to negative comments from those we value the opinion of?

Because of our documented-through-the-ages reactions to opinions— the enemy of our soul uses this to create stumbling blocks in our intended path. When I intentionally go in a specific direction, especially if it’s to bring honor to God, there is sometimes a stumbling block that causes me to trip, lose my balance, stub my toe, stumble, and sometimes, to fall.

Often we are so caught up in appearances, as well as our reactions of embarrassment, shock, and/or anger, we miss that this is a device and tactic employed by God’s enemy, the same enemy of humanity. We all know who that is. The serpent, and all the names attached throughout history to identify this evil entity.

What we don’t often understand is, we can be set free from the manipulation. We can cut the puppet strings. We don’t have to live in the tangled web of fear of opinions of others.

When something happens that causes fear to rise up— say this with me— “So What?” “Who Cares?” “Why Should I Let This Stop Me?” “God, Show Me The Truth.”

This is how we stand back up, brush the dust off of ourselves— those tiny, weightless particles of the opinions of others, with the chameleon affect of feeling heavy—brush that dust off, and start walking again. With purpose. With intention. Letting the fiery darts meant to burn us up and out, bounce off instead.

Because the only opinion that actually matters is God’s. In fact— His opinion is just that— fact. Truth. With no distortions. Since He fearfully and wonderfully formed us within our mothers, in secret, then we are His garden of fearfully, wonderfully made blooms.

This is why the enemy of our souls, the enemy of God, tries desperately to plant seeds of doubt, skepticism, fear, concern, worry, hatred— everything contrary to the fruit and nature of our loving Gardener, into the soil of our paths and the garden of our life. Because God tends to us and we bloom into beauty and life only He can create— empowered with His Spirit, nurtured and cleansed by the very, Holy blood of His one and only Son— Jesus. Our enemy wants to crowd that out, to infest us with doubts, skepticism and fear.

We are all His creation, made carefully, delicately, lovingly— by His hand, nurtured and protected by His hand, watered by His Spirit, cleansed by the blood of Jesus that sin can never corrupt. Ever. It is forever, eternally, so powerfully clean of sin— it actually washes sin away into nonexistence because of forgiveness and grace.

So— we can walk— puppet string free— from everything contrary to God’s Word. His Word is alive, His Word lives within us and has always dwelt amongst us. Always.

Isaiah 40:30-31 Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. NASB

This blog post was inspired by https://cheriewhite.blog/2020/10/16/a-letter-to-my-teenage-self-2/ parts 1,2 and 3.

introspection

Tough As Sand

In the past, I thought of myself as a kind of diamond in the rough. But here lately, I realize I’m more a lump of soft coal that wishes it could be a diamond. Coal that is under the heaviest of pressure can, in part, become a diamond. In the past I’ve compared my life’s hardships as what coal experiences as it then becomes one of the very hardest substances known to mankind. Hard circumstances formed a hardened heart within me and a toughened, hardened exterior. I thought that was what I needed to protect myself, to make sure I could withstand more pressure from circumstances outside of my control.

Today I realized what I believed about myself may not even be the case— if it ever really was. God softened my hardened heart after I met my husband. He chipped away at that outer layer of toughness, like an emotional callous, and He took down the walls I had built up, brick by brick.

Nothing I do will protect me like God does. Walls trap the yuck inside, and keep the positive new things out. Before God fixed my old hardened heart, it could have easily been one of the rocks that praises God when people fail to.

It was that hard.

Today, I talked with someone about something I haven’t really thought deeply about in years! I’m not sure what I expected, but I left that conversation feeling as though all that hardness I still managed to cling to is crumbling away into dust. A trauma I experienced as a child re-emerged into my memories, and God has been so deeply at work within me, my reactions are different. My walls are gone. My heart feels soft, crushable and exposed.

I had myself so figured out before, I had every one of my reactions to my history carefully planned out. And now— I let go of my control. I feel like I’m just going to completely crumble as I now deal with old trauma mixed in with something new that was unexpected.

Maybe my life is a series of diamonds made from my spirit being crushed, over and over again. Maybe it’s all still just a lump of coal that has been broken into so many pieces, it more resembles charcoal powder. Maybe it’s a piece of coal used to keep the fire of difficult circumstances stoked at it’s hottest. Maybe it’s more like the ashes and residue left over.

I don’t know.

What I do know is— I am not the same person I started on this journey as. I thought situations had helped shape me. Turns out, maybe God has handled me differently than I believed He had, and maybe my opinions kept me blind to that. No trauma I have or ever will experience could possibly match what Jesus endured on the way to, and on, the cross. He was wounded for our (my) transgressions.

My walls and self protection have to crumble in order to allow His healing process to be thorough in me.

By His wounds I am healed.

Isaiah 53:5 “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

introspection, reality

Forgive Them? Why??

This is a recurring theme in my life, it seems. And not just little things— really big, hard issues. When things start to finally relax, suddenly it becomes necessary to exercise my forgiveness muscles again. I have lifted some of the heaviest issues with these muscles. I don’t see a need to flex them for vanity purposes— these are the necessary muscles for living a life that keeps me close to Jesus. They are the strength that is unseen, coming from an unseen force— Jesus, Who is my Mediator, my Intercessor— my reason for living. He keeps me continually moving forward.

I’ve been dealt some difficult cards throughout my life so far, most seem to fall under the category of betrayal. I don’t know if I can even categorize them all. The one thing they have in common, besides intense pain, is an attack on trust.

When the burden of offense against me is so heavy— a crushing weight, God reminds me that forgiveness lifts that burden off of me and puts it at the foot of the cross.

We can’t take anything with us when it’s our time to move on from earth— that includes the offenses and hurts from others. When we surrender them to Jesus, Who bore the crushing weight of every offense, past, present and future— we walk in the truest form of Grace and Mercy.

When we come face to face with the knowledge that Jesus said, while being crushed by all of the sins of this world— “Father, forgive them because they don’t understand”, we then have the tiniest of glimpses into what Jesus endured on that cross, in our place. He willingly surrendered to every betrayal we’ll ever experience.

That is why we forgive. Again. And again. And again…

“Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven…” Matt 18:21-22

introspection

Inside the Broken

I’ve had this post bouncing around inside my head all day, wanting to just get out.

As a kid, I remember waking up in the middle of the night with a sudden inspiration for writing. It was usually a poem. I recall just looking at the words I had written down, marveling at the picture they painted–amazed that they had come out of me! I wasn’t a clever person. I wasn’t anything special. I was just a kid, a pre-teen, with no special writing training.

I was inspired. I believe, by God. He gave me what to write. No way I could come up with all those phrases and word pictures all by myself.

So, as a child, I was inspired.

I also suffered from PTSD. As a child.

Everyone has hardships in their life. Everyone has obstacles to overcome, people who don’t believe in them– situations beyond their control to push through.

Not everyone has the same things, situations– people– to push through.

For instance– not everyone has survived a cougar planting its teeth in their skull. I have survived this. I’ve lived to tell that story.

That’s a story I can freely share, an injury I can point to that people show interest in hearing about.

Those scars can be seen by anyone, even felt by someone who cannot see. Those scars filled in what was broken, they made it stronger, tougher. But, even though I’ve been healed, which is what produced my scars– the scars still ache sometimes, reminding me that where they provide more protection than the skin surrounding them, there is still weakness within them.

What’s broken is not the same as it was before, after it’s fixed or repaired.

That got me to thinking about the word “whole”. How it has the appearance of being complete. But– inside of the word “whole”, is hole. The word itself defies its own definition.

On the outside, we appear whole. In reality, we might be broken.

My hair hides my cougar bite scars.

I recently heard someone speak on healing, and he shared what I’ve known personally for quite some time. Our physical issues can be the fruit of having been wounded in our spirit, but never getting full healing.

Outside, we give the appearance of being whole. Inside– there is a hole that needs God’s healing touch.

Outside defies the reality of what’s inside. Because it’s not seen with eyes, or felt with physical touch.

Except– it is.

It’s often what is rejected, abhorred, resisted, and can cause hard-heartedness.

It can be defined as quirky, character flaws, or just out right unacceptable. It exposes the lack of compassion of a dying world.

I’ve sometimes wondered what we look like to God, Who sees all, knows all, and is everywhere all the time.

He sees what the appearance of wholeness attempts to hide or disguise.

He sees the brokenness.

Like the doctor who examined my wounds and wrapped my head to stop the bleeding and protect my wounds from infection. God has done this for my spirit.

But, that doesn’t mean there is no sensitivity to what caused the brokenness.

I don’t go out of my way to seek out mountain lions to embrace, to face my apprehension of cougars.

I don’t go out of my way to seek people who are abusive, who break the spirits of others, to form relationships with. And trust me– there are far too many of those types out there!

I have, for years, openly sought out the people who would not do that. In my doing so, I’ve found very few that make the time or effort to look past my quirks, personality deficiencies and obvious flaws. I don’t form friendships easily– never have, I’m guessing never will.

I have scars on the outside of my head, and scars on the inside of my head.

Sometimes they both ache.

introspection, Purpose of Church

Worshiping in Spirit, in Truth

I’m not a performer.

While I got over “stage-fright” years ago, I don’t like the spotlight. If I could plug in my violin and play from the next room, unseen by anyone, that would be my ideal situation.

Since my husband and I married, Worship has kind of been our “thing”. We’ve been involved with several ministries and churches the past 2 decades. While every experience is different, the focus has most often been the same– God.

At this point in my life, I believe I’m settling into who I am in Christ more. I don’t have to prove myself, I’m a seasoned Christian, with a solid understanding of Scripture, unwavering in my belief and understanding of Who I serve.

But, as settling has occurred, my understanding of certain concepts is changing.

Like the concepts of worship.

The Bible says we worship in spirit and in truth.

My church family says we worship with music.

Do these two ideas contradict one another?

As my husband points out in his latest blog What Worship is Not, there really is not as much emphasis in Scripture about music worship as we sometimes make it seem. There is not an office for Worship Leader.

Do we focus too much on our own definition and understanding of worship?

I know it’s easy to go on the defensive and stop listening when something we believe in strongly is challenged. I’m not set out to challenge, I’m just re-thinking things a bit.

Where in our current recogized system of worship does in spirit and in truth fit in? Sure, we can claim we do these naturally as we focus on God with our spirit, and sing verses written about Biblical truth, and that makes it all fit in a neat, nice little package that is easy on the ears and heart.

But.

Is it all really for God?

Does God need the sound system? Does He need the lights? The projection screens? What about the music and perfect-sounding voices– does God need that?

Is that what worship is to God?

What if we just didn’t have the worship part of the service one Sunday, and just dove straight into the preaching? Would that affect God at all?

If we are honest, our system of worship is really for ourselves. We like the concert-type atmosphere, with our favorite coffee off to the side when we finish. We believe we are ushering His Presence into ours– isn’t it really us just becoming aware of His Presence that is everywhere all the time, and living within those of us who have received Jesus as our Lord and Savior, sealing us with the Holy Spirit?

Individually some do bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord. But, do we corporately? Do we even know what that really means?

How do we worship in spirit? Does it have to involve music?

How do we worship in truth? Do we have to sing to do so?

When I think about Julie Andrews having her voice taken from her, I can’t help but wonder– what would happen if our music abilities or apparatuses were taken from us? Would we stop “worshiping” altogether?

introspection

Caught In The Middle

I just caught a live sermon from Elevation Worship about transitioning. As I listened, it hit me– that’s what I’m going through!

I’m in such a weird place right now.

I don’t mean physically, or emotionally. Not really mentally– just in life in general.

I’m not young anymore, but not old. In my heart I feel maybe 15-20 years younger, but in my body I feel way older than I am. Maybe that’s part of that thing I was diagnosed of years ago.

Maybe not.

I’ve got two grown kids, and two at home. I’ve been a spouse and home educating mom for so many years now– much of that kind of isolated.

I think I’ve grown up now. Transitioning into a different mindset, a newly focused one– who did I grow up to become?

I’ve been defined by what I do for far too long now. I’m not satisfied with definitions and labels deciding who I am for me.

I’m caught in the middle of a transition.

And, sometimes that makes me a bit weepy. Sometimes I feel impatient for it to just be finished so I can step into the newness of being transformed into a better, wiser person.

Being caught in the middle feels chaotic, tumultuous– even ugly.

Looking through pictures to post here about transitioning, I found some interesting ones that helped me change my own perspective on being caught in the middle of a transition.

Like this dandelion caught in the middle of transitioning from a wildflower to seeds carried off by the wind.

Or the transition of day into night, with the sun captured, creating a breathtaking view– caught in the middle of the daily transition.

There is always a lot going on in the middle of a transition, but even if it feels awful, when we surrender our control– or lack of control– to God, He makes it a beautiful thing, with a beautiful change.

So, while I’m in this place that feels weird and lonely, often designated as the listener with nothing of value to say– God sees beauty in the process, and hopefully in me.

introspection, Uncategorized

Transformed By Transcendence

I used to hold the collateral damage in

Stuff it way down deep

Keep it out of sight

Like it was nothing but a junk heap.

I used to care about

What people thought

But then I woke up

I’m different– so what?

I’ve lived an intense life

There are depths I know

Created through strife

I’ve been embarassed to show.

When I began to embrace

The pain and emotions

The trials and the breaks

The personal notions–

I realized others were in need!

I could share what God’s done!

How He’s made that difference

I’m thankful He’s the Healing One.

You see, rejection and I

We go way back– years!

We’ve been intertwined

Tied with dread and fears.

I used to surrender

Just accept the defeat

Now my spirit is strengthened

I forced it to retreat.

Oh, it still pops up

Tries to drag me back down to submission

But I know it’s a lie

I know it’s a fake prison.

I walked away

And found my acceptance

I have risen above, no longer blind

Transformed by transcendence.

I’ve embraced my purpose

I accept it’s about more than just me

Others need my experience

To identify with their need.

My pain, my wounds

My steep pile of stuff

Belongs to other

Diamonds in the rough.

I don’t matter to many

It’s ok, I accept it

Those lives most affected

Are puzzles my life fits with.

My views are intense

I embrace pain till it runs it’s course

Ignoring it seals it in

Confronting it gets to the source.

I thought I had to apologize

For being more sensitive than most

Yet, I owe no person anything

Except to the encroached.

My life has been open

My story a book for the broken

No more apologies

My understanding is now awoken.

introspection, Walking With God

Tapestry

One strand

One life

Interwoven

With other lives

Intersecting with strangers

New strands

Intervening

Interceding

To the eye it looks random

Like a bunch of tangled, messy strings

Being brought to order

Composing a theme

One step at a time

One stitch purposely sewn

A picture emerges

The goal’s being shown

As it progresses

The outcome’s unknown

Images are messy

Haphazard, disjointed– monotone

The longer the strand is

Woven in and out

The motivation’s

Revealed throughout

At times it looks abstract

Like Van Goph tried…

But if I look closely

If I squint my eyes…

Is it Jesus in the center?

Or me that I see?

I hope to weave Jesus

Into people I meet

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19 (NIV)

introspection

Wound’s Protector— The Scar

I’ve mentioned a few times that I have scars on my scalp from a “friendly” domesticated adolescent cougar “playing” with my head as his chew toy. I’m thinking about that today because they hurt. Kinda bad.

So that got me to thinking– if my physical scars hurt so badly at times, what about those deep emotional scars? Sure I’ve gone through all those rituals of forgiveness, repentance for my part in some things, and trust in God for healing. And He has healed me– so much! (I’ve even felt Him heal my esophagus as I praised Him through singing– what an amazing, warm, wonderful feeling that was!) I wouldn’t be married again if God had not done major surgery on my mind and my heart. We just celebrated 20 awe-inspiring years!

Those of us operating in the American mindset think we have everything all figured out. We put things in neatly labeled boxes, organized by category, decorated prettily with descriptions, definitions and diagnosis.

But what if we’re wrong?

What if we take a box out of the organized line-up, sort through it and realize it really isn’t the way we believed it to be?

What if emotional pain is not always as explained? What if it’s the manifestation of pain from emotional scarring?

The tough thing about emotional scars is no one can see them. Only the person who lived the experience can feel and remember.

Incidentally– that’s exactly the experience of Christianity. Only the person who has experienced Divine interactions can feel them and experience their reality. That does not invalidate that person or experience, just like it does not invalidate one who has emotional scars. The experiences did happen, they did have an impact on the person they happened to. Jesus did Save the Christian, His actions and the Holy Spirit interactions continuously impact the Believer, though it’s deeply personal.

Do emotions exist? Do memories represent past experiences? Does pain from emotional wounds and scars ever manifest in our reactions, responses, emotions and beliefs?

I think maybe the “professionals” are really just guessing– and maybe they have guessed wrong in some things.

Maybe we look at mental health the wrong way. I don’t think PHD’s have all the answers because I don’t think they have been asking the right questions– many times they are just masking the symptoms, not getting to the core and root of what they diagnose– not looking for a healing solution.

Only God has all the answers, only God knows all things, sees all things and understands the “why” of all things. He has promised in His Word that we can call all to Him and He will answer us– He’ll show us great things we don’t know. Do we believe that?

I think I do. Sometimes. When we step away from the bindings of what has been explained to us with human understanding, and seek Divine understanding, God will show us, Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit to teach us, to comfort us, to empower us.

How much of that have we stepped out in faith to embrace?

We cling to our diagnosis, definitions and descriptions as though those have life for us. The One Who holds all knowledge is life. My desire is to cling to Him.

I fall short.

Do my emotional scars manifest sadness through their pain? Anger? A desire to be comforted? A lack of trust in others?

I honestly think maybe they do. Maybe that’s part of their intended function as God has designed them to protect where we once were wounded.