Sick

Yesterday, I felt a slow tiredness come over me and towards the end of the day, congestion took over and I could hardly breathe. I slept fitfully last night and woke up feeling even worse. In my area, allergies are just always there. Someone year round is getting affected by one form of pollen or another.

One of the affects of feeling sick is that I don’t want to go to work. I’d much rather sleep all day and see how I feel tomorrow. However, that is not an option. I have to go to work. So I will go, but I will not be 100% myself. I’m running on a lesser percentage. This will affect the amount of work I am capable of doing today, it will change how I interact with people, and I will plainly just not feel very good. My body will be telling me to lay down somewhere while my mind prompts me to get through my to-do list for the day.

And that, friends, is not only the affect of a physical illness. If you’re walking through a valley of depression, insecurity, shame, anxiety, etc., trust me when I say that you are not being 100% yourself. How can you be? When we get distracted or overwhelmed by the negativity within us, it’s near impossible to see the clarity of truth and receive joy in the reality we live in.

Most of my blogs focus in on a symptom, topic, or story involving codependency. But today, I want to place a word of challenge and encouragement out there: don’t be afraid to get to work on your stuff.

It’s easy to lack awareness to our misery because it’s our normal. It’s also easy to downplay feelings or situations that happen in life that cause us to feel a certain way. Don’t do that for yourself. Go deep and process the past so that it doesn’t have a hold on your present and on your future. If you have the means, I’d encourage everyone to see a counselor (two or three sessions, even). The reason for doing so is that it allows a third party to take a look at your life and point out to you things you may be incapable of seeing about yourself.

When we can define our own patterns and give our symptoms a name, that is a first and important step to living a life of freedom in Jesus Christ. And please note, if you believe in Jesus, you are already free. Most of us just end up living like we’re imprisoned.

Don’t be afraid to reflect and process the painfulness of your past. God is gentle and He will give you only what you’re ready to walk through. And He won’t make you sit in the pain for any longer than necessary. God is trustworthy so give to Him all your pain and let Him replace it with His joy, peace, and security.

Have a great Monday!

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Brains and Brawn

I’m hosting a workshop for a conference this weekend and the topic is spiritual warfare. Preparation for this has been quite interesting for me because I have struggled with the fear of eternity for a long time. So focusing on the spiritual, embracing my fear, and processing it with God has been scary and, better yet, rewarding.

I spent a month of preparation studying the being of Satan – his origin, his present, and his future. Ezekiel 28 is a historical timeline of Satan that God has given us so that we can know who we are up against in spiritual warfare. In verse 12 of Ezekiel 28, the prophecy tells us of Satan:

“You were the signet of perfection,
full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.”

God created Satan with the whole package: brains and beauty! I can only imagine how wonderful life could be having that combination. One could take on the world! And that’s exactly what Satan used it for.

You’ll find also, in Ezekiel 28, that God had made Satan the head cherub. That doesn’t mean he was the chubbiest, most naked, glowing baby in heaven. Satan’s original name was Lucifer – bringer of dawn! morning star! – he was perfect in wisdom and beauty, plus he was the head defender of the throne of God. Cherubs were defenders, of course, they probably still are.

God gave Lucifer what he needed to perfectly accomplish what God had designed him for. And that’s what Lucifer did – for how long, we don’t know. He worked faithfully for God until he allowed a deception to sneak into his head, Why defend God when you could be God? It was through this mysterious origin of evil, this seed of deception that was formed inside of Lucifer, himself, that caused him to rebel against God.

We have deceptions hindering us from our work for God, as well. Satan has built a global culture of deception that we are all born into. Satan, the world, and our own broken selves are working against us as we seek the truth of God.

God has created each one of us for a unique purpose on this earth. He has given us what we need to accomplish the tasks He has placed us here for. However, unlike Lucifer who lived in perfection and had everything going for him to succeed, we live in a broken world that throws every lie and fear our way to deter us from doing what we were born to do.

Don’t let your fears hinder you from doing the work of God and living out your calling. When fears come up in your life, work through them with God. Don’t run away. Behind that fear just might be your next step towards discovering what God has called you to. And it doesn’t have to be this big thing like, I finally know what my dream career is! No, it can be something like: Instead of fearing a social event, I went and prayed that God would show me who had a need. I was able to have a conversation with someone that really needed it. 

We get to glorify God by serving Him in our daily lives. We get to live for Him every day and experience the adventure of a life with Him. You never know where God is going to take you next or what He’s going to teach you, but it’s going to be great!

Satan’s brains and brawn got to his head and condemned him. By God’s grace we need neither. All we need is the perfection of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Enjoy today!

Perfectly Imperfect – Time Change

Morning! Unless you’re in the greater area of Arizona, you are struggling with the rest of us to adjust to the time change. Now, don’t get me wrong when I use the word “struggle.” I am in love with this new hour. When I get home from work, IT’S STILL DAYLIGHT! I can take my dog for a walk and feel like we’re not walking at midnight when it’s only 7:30pm. I love the longer day. I wish it would stay this way forever… America? Please? Can this be it?

However, with my love for more daylight in the afternoon, I also “struggle” in the mornings to wake up. This is frustrating to me because finally, FINALLYYYYYY, I have been getting up between 6:00-6:10am. And I mean, it’s on the daily. It’s been wonderful. I exercise, feed the dogs, make my coffee, and have time to settle down to read and write before getting ready for work. It’s phenomenal. It’s what I’ve wanted for years and never ever been able to accomplish. I can’t tell you all just how long I’ve worked, strategized, and prayed to be able to get up at 6am. It’s been since my high school days, so we’re looking at about 15 years of attempts and failures. The last half of 2016 and the first part of 2017 have been life changers for me and waking up. I’ve been living it up in the mornings. The feeling of organization, productivity, and calm before I go to work is absolutely lovely.

Now that the time change came on Sunday, I’ve been lurched back to my old issue: I can’t get up at six! Technically, in my brain, it’s 5am! Who gets up that early? I wish I could, honestly. That wish aside, I’ve been tempted the past couple of days to focus on my failures in the morning and get discouraged. You may be dealing with the same disappointment in yourself this week. A rough morning seems to light the pathway for a rough day. It’s hard to calm down from a frantic drive to work after running around the house like a mad person to get out the door.

This morning, instead of bashing myself for waking up an hour later than intended, I had to remind myself of one truth: I am perfectly imperfect.

And so are you.

God knows we are not perfect. That’s why He sent Jesus to live a perfect life for us. If Jesus were physically here in our world, He would’ve felt the fatigue of daylight savings time, but He would’ve turned off the alarm at 6:00:00 am and got out of bed. Because He’s Jesus! But you and I are not.

Sunday, I woke up at 8:00am. Two hours late. Yikes. Monday, I got up at 7:20am. Not as bad as Sunday, but still a rush to get ready for work and out the door. Today, I got up at 7:02am. Hey, progress. And hopefully tomorrow it will be earlier. I’ve missed working out the past few days and that makes me sad, but I have to allow myself a transition period. And you need to give yourself the same grace.

Be patient with yourself and don’t beat yourself up. I’ll practice too. Together, we can get back to routine! (If you have one… and if you don’t, I highly recommend one.) 😛

If you have any suggestions for waking up on time, I would love to hear them! I’m always looking for a new strategy.

Hope: More Than a Harp and a Cloud

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futilitynot willinglybut because of him who subjected itin hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creationbut we ourselveswho have the firstfruits of the Spiritgroan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sonsthe redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were savedNow hope that is seen is not hopeFor who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not seewe wait for it with patience. Romans 8:18-25

Last week I attended a conference on Eschatology at Dallas Theological Seminary. Eschatology is the culmination of God’s plan for His creation. It’s about God’s final judgment on earth, Jesus’ return, and the new heavens and the new earth. It’s when God comes and makes all things new. It’s the Christian’s hope.

One of the keynote speakers, Dr. Michael Svigel, made note of the sad fact that hope has been cheapened in our world. He said hope is often pictured as an abstract, fluffy light out there. That kind of hope isn’t going to cut it when one is struggling with depression or someone has experienced tragic loss. Believing that one day we’ll all be strumming harps on some cloud up in the sky is not all that encouraging.

But that’s the great thing about the Christian hope. It has grit. It has foundation. We don’t know everything about our future with God, but He’s given us enough to know that what we’re looking to is a total transformation of ourselves and creation. Dr. Svigel described the Christian hope as a forward trajectory. We’re all moving towards something tangible, not clouds and a bright light.

He used Romans 8:18-25 as a reference to the solidity of the Christian hope. Earlier in Romans 8, we find the hope of life that comes with accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior and receiving the Holy Spirit in us as a guarantee of our salvation. So, even though there is true suffering in this world, we have the hope of a new life with Christ. The sufferings we experience here are absolutely nothing in comparison to the reality of our future with Christ in the new heavens and new earth.

Imagine a life of adventure with God who gives such great peace to us here on earth. Jesus who came to earth to live a perfect life for us, die for us, and resurrect so that we can be resurrected. It’s a place where Satan is not. Therefore, it is a place where abuse, anger, addictions, poverty, death; evil is not. We get to spend forever with God! The One who created us and knows us better than anyone else possibly ever could. He designed us to have special talents that no one else has. He gave us a unique personality and fun quirks. What will it be like to live in a world where we can use our personality and abilities to their fullest? What kind of satisfaction will we receive from being perfectly productive? What will it be like to have relationships with people that aren’t stuffed with assumptions, selfishness, and hurt?

Not only will we see our bodies redeemed, but we will see creation renewed. This one brings me such joy. I look forward to a world where there are no longer abused or neglected animals. Where nature looks it’s absolute finest and not every insect in the world is out to kill me. I don’t know what the Garden of Eden was like, but if Adam and Eve could take walks naked in the cool of the day and not even realize that they were naked… that’s some kind of luxurious nature in my book. I could go out in nature with seven layers on and a mosquito would still find a way to get some juice out of me.

I’ll leave you with the promises that Dr. Svigel left us with at the conference.

Our hope is centered on:

The Promise of a Bodily Resurrection (1 Thessalonians 4:13)
The Promise of Future Glory (Colossians 1:27)
The Promise of the Coming Kingdom (Acts 28:20-31)
The Promise of Eternal Life (Romans 8:37-38)
The Promise of Ultimate Righteousness (Galatians 5:5)

Jesus Christ is our hope.