Friday, April 29, 2016

Getting Rid of Stinkin' Thinkin'

Have you ever tracked what you think about all day?  Have you ever let one thought, lead to another, to another and before you know it you’re in a bad mood?  

I use to think…. this is just the way I amthis is just the way I think I can’t help it, I’m emotional.  I have the right to think this way about this situation or this person.

I started reading The Battlefield of the Mind and listening to Joyce Myers podcasts.  I realized that I was wrong, God has always given me A CHOICE, even in my thoughts.  I get to choose what goes in my mind, which results in what comes out my heart and mouth.  The battle is not in circumstances.  We all have circumstances; marriage issues, kid issues, money issues, people issues, work issues.  The battlefield starts in the mind.  You want to transform your actions, then allow God to transform your thoughts.  

Romans 12:2 says:
"Do not copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you THINK.  Then you will know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. 

Did you catch that?  We don't have to change our circumstances or the people around us, we need to allow God to change our thinking, our stinkin' thinkin'.  I had a real honest conversation with God asking him where my stinkin' thinkin' is.  These thoughts do not go away, each thought is a battle in its own BUT I know I have the weapon to overcome.  I can have victory over them.  


MY STINKIN' THIKIN'

      1. Fears and Insecurities
I have a few fears and insecurities but the one I let control me is the fear of infidelity.  I use to struggle with the fear that Randy will cheat on me for no reason and I would act really irrational at times.  When he leaves for travel I would let my mind wander and before you know it, in my thoughts he was with another woman.  I know this comes from an insecurity because I’ve seen lots of infidelity in my family, but God was saying no more.  My empty crazy fear was not fair to him and not fair to us.  No more letting my mind wander, spending the week paranoid while he was gone. 


WEAPON:  SELF CONTROL [Galatians 5:22-23, 2Peter 1:5-9]
My go to power prayer is 2 Timothy 1:7
"For God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and self control."

It took power and self control to stop the thought in it's tracks and keep it from growing.  Self control isn't just stopping it but it is also replacing it with something else.  I stopped it with affirmations as to why my soap opera scenario is irrational.  I stopped the thought and called him and just talking for a moment would be affirmation enough. 

       2. Difficult People
This is an area God has been poking.  There are about four people in my life that bring out the worst in me.  They are not bad people, they just induce stress for me.  The things they do and say can spark my ugliness.  The ugliness spreads and turns to gossip.  Pushing them down with my words to lift myself up.  I have to say this stinkin' thinkin' is my biggest challenge, the thoughts that make me want to think bad about another person.

WEAPON: THE GOOD TRUTH
This is the weapon God has given me and it works even with my “enemies”.  I say the good truth because these people that I say are difficult, have goodness.  So when I feel that stirring of frustration I start listing their good traits, not their offenses against me or my annoyances.  I list the reasons why I must be difficult for them to deal with.  I don't want anyone to ever have the power to spark that ugliness inside.
  
       3. ME ME ME
       I admit to you that I fall into the it's all about me thoughts.  How I am not being considered, not being loved, what about my feelings, what about everything I have done?  Me. Me. Me. Me. Me.  I actually have a story to share about how God showed me my stinkin' thinkin' in this area so this will be continued.


Battlefield of the Mind showed me that my biggest battle is with ME, with my thoughts.  It’s a battle that I don’t have to be defeated in if I pay attention to the attacks and partner with God to fight.  I can control my thoughts even when my emotions want to take them down the road of despair.   I can control my thoughts when the situation justifies my desire to throw a pity party.  I have power over my fears.  I can control my thoughts about others and decide how they affect me.  

When I trade in my thoughts and allow God to change them to His, transformation happens.  Fear becomes confidence.  Hate turns into love. Bitterness turns into forgiveness.  Anger into patience.  The offended hurt me starts to see the hurt in someone else.  It's empowering to know that God has given me the ability to control my thoughts and emotions, I don't have to buy into the lie that this is just how I am and I have a right to stay this way.  

REFLECTION
1. What are is your stinkin’ thinkin’?  Do your thoughts control you or are you in control of your thoughts? 
2. What will you choose to fill your mind with in place of these thoughts?
3. Is there anyone in your life that causes stinkin’ thinkin’? 
4.  Have you spent more time thinking about how they should change instead of giving these people to God and asking Him how he can change you? 


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My Bouquet

I love what Corrie Ten Boom says:
Whenever someone made a remark or compliment about her/her life she received it as a flower.  At the end of the day she lifted up the bouquet of flowers and said “Here you are, Lord, it is all Yours."

Today I was able to share my heart with a friend.  I told her about the hurts that I've experience and my less than perfect childhood.  She told me that I've come a long way.  I remembered what Corrie said.  Yes, I have come a long way!    I'm no longer that depressed and broken girl.  All that I have and who I am today is all because of the Lord.  Any goodness that is in me comes from what he has taught me.  I lift up my bouquet to Him.  

As John 15:5 says:
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

I'm continually seeing the truth of this verse.  In high school He gave me a fresh start and since then I never left His vine.  I learn from Him something new each day; how to be the wife, the mom, the friend He wants me to be.    Over the years I've seen the fruit.  I'm not where I need to be, but I thank God that I am not where I use to be! :p

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Sunday, April 24, 2016

My First Passover

My lovely friend Liad invited us last night to her house for Seder dinner.  It was a dream come true to be able to experience the tradition of Passover.  It was a time to learn, a time to experience Exodus 12 when God told Moses and Aaron to remember this day each year, from generation to generation. 

As I reflect on the readings and the representation of each piece I am so thankful to God who from the time of Abraham has always fulfilled His promises.  When God first made His covenant with Abraham he foreshadowed the suffering and slavery his people would face for 400 years in Egypt [Genesis 15:13].  But He promised He would get them out. 

Passover was the fulfillment of God’s promise, He redeemed Moses and the Israelite's from slavery and in ways that they probably never expected.  During this time, the people still suffered.  There were tears represented in the bitter herbs.  God didn’t bring a warrior to fight against the Egyptians.  He used Moses, Aaron, and a wooden staff, not a sword.  The plagues came from God, he showed his power with each one.  With the last plague, the houses were marked with the blood of a lamb.  It was the blood of salvation from death.  When the Holy Spirit came, the doors of the houses that were covered in blood were spared.  

I couldn’t help but think about the Passover dinner that Jesus had with is disciples before he was crucified.  How he drank from the cup of Elijah because he was the coming Messiah.  He was going to take on God’s wrath for all of the world.  During this time, the Jewish people were suffering under the rule of Rome.  They were expecting a warrior to come and fight, redeem them from the physical oppression.  But God came down himself, without a sword.   The miracles and the teaching showed his power and love for his creation.  Redemption in mind, He would conquer sin, He would conquer death.  The night following that Passover, He shed his blood, He was the blood of the lamb.  His blood of salvation from eternal death.

Taking part in Passover was a reminder that God always fulfills his promises.   It may not be in ways that we expect and sometimes we will have to suffer and face trials in the process.  But in the midst we will always see His power and his presence is always with us.   Just as he says in John 17: 33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.” 








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Thursday, April 21, 2016

When Prayers Go Unanswered

FAMILY
If you love your pet you’ll know they are more than just animals, they are family.  Charlie is our firstborn.  When you listen to Randy talk about how he rescued Charlie from the rain and let him sleep on the floor that first night, you’ll hear love in his voice.  He’s traveled with us across the country, to Germany, and has been there for both our kiddos.   He is family.

BROKEN
So the night we noticed him walking a little funny we started to worry.  Within two hours he could barely walk and at midnight Randy was off to the vet.  That night I was a mess.  How could this happen?  How did it happen? Why? I’m not ready to say goodbye.  Like a pleading five year old, I was asking God to heal Charlie’s back.  He is the God of the whole universe, he could do it.  The blind, the sick, the lame.  He had the power to do it at that moment. 

Over the next week of wondering if Charlie would make it through surgery God putting two verses in my heart:
Isaiah 55:8
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts and neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

Romans 8:28
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

PRAYERS
Charlie went through surgery successfully.  Three herniated discs in his back with a 50% chance to ever walk again.  A week later we picked him up.  It was an adjustment.  Charlie is still unable control his pee or bowels.  We manually express his bladder.  There were lots of baths and washing of sheets in the pack and play.  He can’t walk and roams in his adorable wheel chair.  Prayers upon prayers and sometimes it felt like they were falling to the ground.  Lord, please heal Charlie’s leg.  Bring life back into his legs!

My prayers were answered but not the way I had hoped.   God was telling me again, my thoughts are not your thoughts and neither are your ways my ways.  Maybe just maybe God wanted me to learn, wanted me to grow through the process.  Growth I would have missed if he instantly healed Charlie’s legs.


GROWTH
1. TRUST
This struggle deepened my trust.  This song was my personal prayer during the month of loss. 


Up until this year, I’ve never really gone through a tragedy that forced me to ask God why… until Charlie, until my cousin.  There are still many unanswered questions.  I could probably think myself crazy living in the past wondering how I could have done things differently.  But God is saying trust. 

Do I trust that He is good, that he cares for me and knows what is best?  Do I trust when says He make all things good as he has told me time and time again in Romans 8:28?  Do I trust him to bring me the peace and strength to get through? 

I do and in that trust I find peace.

GROWTH
I always say it but growth hurts.  It’s painful.  But growth produces maturity.  During this time I learned a little more patience.  I lived out Philippians 2:14 and learned how to do what I use to complain about without grumbling.  It took self-control.  I learned to not look back or think how things could be different if…  There is no if it’s only now.  Now this is our reality and I have the choice to find the joy in it.

I know there were a lot of you praying for me during this time and I can tell you, I felt those prayers.   In the struggle I really did have peace.  Back in January when I was going through nothing the doctor told me my shortness of breath and headaches were from anxiety.   Here I was in this storm, yes with tears and sadness but no anxiety and no panic attacks. 

LOVE
This time produced love and brought Randy and I closer together.  One day he stood behind the couch watching me help Charlie go pee and simply said “Thank you for taking care of him.”   The words were full gratitude, and I saw him look at me with a love that I’ve never seen before.  He watched me wake up early day after day cleaning up poop and caring for Charlie and I knew that he appreciated that I was caring for something that was precious to him. 

In him I saw devotion.  To stay up all night to drive Charlie to get surgery.  He was strong for us.  He is my physical emotional rock when I’m falling into bits.  That man is amazing. 

JOY
I learned during this time that God does answer prayers but sometimes it’s not in the way we expect.  I have a new understanding for James 1:24

"Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything."

In the midst of the struggle I can tell you I was not thinking this is pure joy but I understand now that everything is over what James meant.  God allowed the testing of my faith to mature me to teach me and to draw me closer to him.   I don’t know if Charlie will ever walk again but now it doesn’t really matter to me because he is family and I will take care of him until he decides he’s ready to go. 



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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Dealing with Grief

Grief is like an unwelcome visitor that comes unannounced.  I never know what triggers him to show up.  I never know how to handle the pain he carries.  In an odd mix of emotions I sometimes even feel guilty to send him off.  He comes and changes life forever and here I am left to deal with his visits. 

The passing of my cousin was difficult and is painful.  The last call I would have ever expected to get on Good Friday was from my sister telling me Rogy was killed in an accident.  Grief came.  I knew then that Good Friday would never be the same.  It will forever be marked with his memory. 

The next few days were a mix of sadness and joy.  Rogy and I along with our cousins grew up together.  Summers were like one huge sleepover, mats on the floors, pajamas all day, and lots of Super Mario.  We'd ride our bikes in the dessert doing jumps and finding frogs in little creeks.  They use to always get warts but I proudly never got one.  Roaming around China town buying who knows what and ending the day in the back of the SUV looking at stars. 

I remember my uncle offering us five dollars per dance off.  We would dance our little hearts out until sweat was dripping from our fore heads.  Holidays.  Christmas Eve's were the best.  Together dancing and playing games.  Sleeping and anxiously waiting for presents.  But my favorite memory of him was reading him Toad and Frog.  There we were in  the bed and his little head on my shoulder.  I read him the whole book and he unexpectedly fell asleep.  I laid there a long time just looking at him so peaceful.  So precious.  He was just laying there. 

 I couldn't help that memory from surfacing at the funeral.  Seeing him there, but now a man.  Laying there so peaceful.  So precious.  Except now this was the last time I would get to see him.  This was our last goodbye

People say he is in a better place but it's a consolation to the pain that is rooted in the fact that he isn't here with us anymore.  The world will be void of his smile and gentleness.  We won't get to hear his clap of thunder.  His hugs.  Rogy was our peace maker even from when we were kids.  He just wanted everyone to get along and have a good time. 

I'll forever regret not staying in touch as I left from high school to start my life.  We weren't close as adults but he would always show up with his beautiful girlfriend whenever I was back in Cali .  So generous.  Always a gift in tote for my daughter's first birthday and for my bridal shower for my son.  He was always there when it came to family.

 Even in death you've left me with lessons I'll hold dear to my heart.  To always be generous.  Be a peacemaker.  I'll think of you Rogy when I take life for granted, complaining about the petty things.  I'll think of you when I'm not valuing family and friends because you have shown me life is fragile.  I'll think of you every holiday.  I'll try hard not to be sad and to cherish the times we got to share together.  But know that you will forever be missed. 

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