In the last week, I've been revisiting my prayer journal and have made the "Answers" column the "Answers and Amendments" column. Just in a week's time, I've seen how the answers to my prayers come sooner than I expect but come in bits and pieces, in stages. It's a process. A couple of my requests/ situations were answered quite directly. For instance, my knee has been hurting A LOT and that was on my list. Yesterday I visited the doctor and I now have a few weeks of physical therapy lined up. Easy-peasy. I expect good things from this and am hoping to cross this one off as old news soon. Another was my thyroid issue to be resolved and healed once and for all. I have an endocrinologist appointment set for later this month. It's a step in the right direction, so I remain hopeful that this process is a means to a most anticipated end of this sickness. And I am peaceful about these things.
There are a few things, though, that aren't so hopeful looking when you look at the amount of earthly movement, the answers. But I am thinking and remembering that God is always at work.
The verse in Psalm 139 that talks about the "secret place" and "before a word is uttered, He knows"
"You saw my unformed body", a "high and overwhelming knowledge"..
There are things going on behind the scenes and he is fully aware, in fact, he's the designer of it all.
So I'm not worried...well, I am a little. See below*.
I've noticed a lot of the little things this past week. Coincidental, they would seem, if I wasn't trying to notice his movement so much. These little things seem big to me right now. They seem divine and they are encouraging to keep at this 30 day prayer commitment thing going.
I've amended a lot of my requests. Not changing them entirely but seeing them, probably, the way God would have me to see, tweaking what I am asking for and expecting. To have a different perspective, to be expecting ANY answer and be fine with it. To be in His will, I think that's the goal.
We will see how this turns out.
Already, I am positive. * I won't lie, I still am wondering "what if things in (whatever request) don't change??". And it worries me.
But he searches me and knows me. He understands my heart; He intercedes on my behalf when I can't and don't know how or what to pray for. So it WILL work out and I WILL get an answer.
If you have a moment, read this article I found in Relevant.
It was a good reminder about the way prayer was designed to go.
He doesn't just answer 'yes' and 'no'.
Specific prayers get specific answers. Much like a detailed conversation usually gets you well acquainted with the person you are speaking with, open ended questions get real answers.
When I ask God how he would have me to react to a certain situation, he doesn't answer yes or no. That would be silly. So, I am adjusting how I speak with him. And I'm seeing change..
"...To build muscles, people lift weights. To grow trust, Christians pray. Nothing else builds trust quite like facing all of your ongoing problems and unsolved struggles by getting down on your knees and not trying to fix them the way you would your gutters or broken refrigerators. In this way, prayer is trust in the form of silence and contemplation and honesty." read on
Sometimes one liners that I try to shoot up super quick to hopefully get an equally as quick response.
Sometimes I find myself having my quiet time in lieu of a dinnertime prayer. Our food is cold by the time I get done which tells me, I need to be spending more time alone with God, just talking. I had a simple thought just a minute ago: If I talked to God as much as I communicated with friends on my phone or on social media, what a difference I would inevitably notice in our relationship.
If I listened as much as I talked..So here I go. I intend to talk and to listen. To have a month long conversation with God. It's simple but I am guessing that I will find it harder to be consistent than it seems..
I am going to keep a prayer journal for 30 days.
Not the kind where I write out long 4 page prayers to God.
I've tried that.
I get distracted that my hand hurts when writing that much and that defeats the purpose.
I'd rather chat it up or pour my heart out aloud in my car than write for an hour.
I do like what the journaling brings to the practice of prayer though, you see change.
And for a long time, I've been struggling, REALLY struggling with prayer. Everything about it.
And I want to see change.
I don't know what kind of change I need but I know that the way I understand prayer, is not really consistent with what the Bible probably says.
I am simply just writing these down everyday and leaving them in God's care and keeping.
I will not be spending anxiety on these things.
I will not be analyzing anything over and over.
I am leaving them at His feet.
In this month, I am asking God to change my heart, to readjust my eyes so that I see change.
I want to see change in myself, first and foremost, and also in some circumstances in my life and in the lives of others. I am certain more happens in my life than I am really aware of. I think that if I was even a bit more intentional about noticing God moving and working in my life, I'd be very much strengthened in my faith, in my belief of the power of prayer and would be refreshed all together.
I just re-read what I've written on this post so far. It's such a simple thing, this prayer journal. I'm almost sort of embarrassed to be on this seemingly elementary step in my faith but oh well! I'm ready to grow.
With this sweet journal that I was gifted with and decorated at my last MOPS meeting, I begin today.
My purpose to the right reads:
"I'm committing to keep a prayer journal for 1 month to see how God actually does move in my life and in the lives of others. I'm not very mindful of this now. I hope to behold some awesome moves of God during this time. I want to have a better prayer life and have increased faith and a better, more balanced idea of what true prayer really is."
And below that, three columns "Date", "Request", "Answer"
I put the answer column because I am aware that the answers to my prayers aren't always what my initial request wanted. So I am on the lookout here for God's answers,
not necessarily the answer I think I need or want.
on the front is my little family as a reminder to pray for them consistently. To be seeking God on their behalves and praying God's word over their lives.
Then, Romans 12:2 as a reminder:
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.
I'll keep you posted on any revelations I may get.
I've already written down some pretty "impossible" looking situations.
But I keep remembering that with Him, all things are possible.
At the beginning of the year I posted a blog called I Perceive It. It's based off of the scripture Isaiah 43:18-19. Back in November and December of last year this passage came to my attention. It came to my attention at a time where I was experiencing great loss, I was physically feeling worse than I ever had, I was wrestling with things in my marriage, friendships, life patterns etc. It came at a time when I was thinking of the past a lot. A LOT. And, overall, just doing too much thinking. I was just doing lots of reminiscing. That can be good and can be bad. And I did find myself in the thought space more often than I would like to admit, of "why did this happen? Is there a reason? Why, why why?"
So just in time, with only the promptness that the Holy Spirit has, the phrases "Forget the former things. Do not dwell on the past" got my attention and got it good.
Thus the lengthy blog back in January.
I thought it was just going to be my 2012 anthem.
It sounds so new year-ish, doesn't it?
Forget the former things(2011 was a weird year for us in 5,000 ways)
Do not dwell on the past(Sweet! let's move on, we are ready, Lord!)
See! I am doing a new thing...(Yee haw! That has to mean, no more loss, no more unfortunate situations, right!?)
Now it springs up!(Oh! Spring! It's right around the corner. And God is ready to work NOW. Ready, set, go!)
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland (This is what I blogged mostly about in January . I discerned His work correctly then, but I didn't see the much bigger scope of what that entailed)
These verses still look great on my chalkboard and I still read it several times a day. It hasn't gotten old. It's a "new thing" to me everyday. I don't think it will be erased anytime soon.
Today it schooled me yet again. Funny how you read something 100 times and the 101st time you palm-slap your forehead and are instantly enlightened.
That's the Word. Living and very active!
Today it was the " Forget the former things" that got me.
Sometimes I like to remember. Actually I like to remember a lot. And I am exceptional at it. My first memory is of when I was 1. It's very vivid. I remember details, colors, smells, dimensions, words... I remember well. It's rare that I use the excuse "I forgot" because rarely do I forget. More so now that I have a baby but it's still not common.
I like to remember.
I mean, who doesn't?
Remembering and memories are what get me through.
Good times, certain smells, rituals and habits. Remembering helps me live. To savour. To enjoy.
Remembering can also destroy.
The injustices done to me or others.
The times when I ate crow. ( I think that's a funny idom)
The times when I share(d) too much.
The times when I look(ed) dumb.
Days when I feed into my insecurities.
Times when I shoo vulnerability away like it's the devil.
The words spoken to me that were unkind, judgmental.
The negative traits in someone, not the good.
I like to remember the old things.
The "things of the flesh". These memories are something I can hold onto and feel justified with. They can be just as comforting as a familiar smell or song but the aftermath of remembering is not life. It's so ugly written down. But true.
It's also a nasty tell of my insecurity.
Thanks to Jesus and Beth Moore, that's getting worked right out of my heart in a serious way! I thank them both. See here. The more I allow memories and thoughts into my heart that are not affirming of who I am in Christ, that are not encouraging of my mission as a Christian, that do not spur me onto love and good deeds, the more I die. When I remember and DWELL, I get myself into trouble. I'm not saying to forget all things and discount the bad. Nope. That's what got me here, it's what made me who I am. Hopefully, I learned some lessons too. But the dwelling and the holding on to the negative is not at all ok. The more I dwell, the more the "new thing" that God wants to continue in my heart gets overlooked, trampled, ignored and rejected.
Things ought not to be so:
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here!
There they are again, those ways and streams..
I also have a hard time not remembering. I guess you could call it forgetting. Yes, as much of a fan as I am of positive thinking and life-giving thoughts and words, it's hard for me to forget the former things..to make way for new things, new thoughts. Renewing my mind is vital. Lately, I am reminded of this on an hourly basis.
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.
I was reading Beth Moore's blog recently, In the Wake of Drought and was further motivated about this. Something she wrote goes a long with what I've been thinking. It was affirmation to me that God continues to work in my heart and mind.:
" The cutting away of the dead is to make room for the living. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine dresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away.” That thing we keep beating our bloody fists on is not bearing fruit. It’s taking up space where something else needs planting. Something that needs nurturing. Something that needs exposing to the sun. It’s in the way."
So these thoughts and memories that are not of God, that are of the past, that may bring up some negative feeling in me, they need to be cut away and STAT!
I will not forget what has brought me to this point in my life and walk with my God but I will not dwell on the injustices, my failures or those of others, the unanswered questions or the unfortunate situations. I will dwell on the "new thing" He is doing. And I will live, really live.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
I had someone say they were encouraged by my blog this past weekend. She made a special point to bring it up randomly and that was a blessing to me. Even with the grammatical errors and weird punctuation ( I love commas),,, she was encouraged. (I will try to be better about editing) See, I have problems with vulnerability, at least the face to face kind. Well, not problems really, I'm just scared of it mostly. Scared of the possible rejection or blank stare I might get in return. So my slight apprehension I had/ have about being real in a blog and not just fun and light-hearted) (see here) was not needed at all! My enemy likes to OFTEN whisper things like, "you said too much. Ew! Don't write about that. How weird! Stop over-spiritualizing your life and just be carefree. You don't need to write. You've said too much! You've let too many people in. Don't let anyone know your heart. Quit being so emotional and such a feeler. It's a turn-off" He comes to seek and destroy. To destroy the parts of me that are authentic. The parts that mean something. The parts that need healing.
The parts that minister.. I perceive it! So the next step is to move on.
God is doing something new in this area of my life. Making ways and streams. One of them is this:
I am going through the study So Long Insecurity, you've been a bad friend to us by Beth Moore.
I could go on and on about her but I will just say this. I'm pretty sure she's much like myself or vice versa. And I dont' say that like I am a book-writing prestigious Bible study leader. I mean it like she thinks and feels much of what I think and feel. So often, when I'm reading her stuff, I identify completely with what she's saying and how she says it. It cuts through my exterior and gets to my guts. The parts that need the good stuff. And I really appreciate that! Cheers to Beth for being herself!
I might be blogging about snippets and phrases, concepts and epiphanies that come to me throughout the remainder of this book and study. It's going to rock my world. I can tell. I could just copy the whole chapter here, that's how much the commentary Beth gives ministers to me but I won't. That's silly. Just buy the book and read it! Better yet, find a group of lovely ladies, such as I attend, and experience this book with them. The Truth in it is something to experience with others.
Some things that have ministered to me on a very personal level follow. And though, even now, I hear a loud "no one cares about this post, Missy. It's irrelevant" being shouted in my ear, I will write on. Take that, enemy o' mine!
Here we go:
"We think insecurity only looks one way- mousy, maybe even inept-and that's not exactly who we see in the mirror. At least not once the mascara's on. And it certainly is not the woman we present to the public. Insecurity's best cover is perfectionism. That's where it becomes an art form." a.
Truth: everyone has areas that they mascara. Even if they aren't make-up wearers! Everyone has a major insecurity. And if they say they don't well, that's the art form of the whole deal. Covering it up. I didn't like this portion because it points out that others have imperfections or self-doubt issues. I loved it because it made me realize that other women as different as they may look or as different as their way of living may be, are NOT that much different from me. That is worth it's weight in cheesecake to me. It breaks down one of my major walls that hinders authentic friendship, vulnerability and healing. I am over my own personal insecurities enough (finally) to keep the mascara off (figuratively, of course ;) and throw the facade of perfection out the window while driving at high speeds in the opposite direction. I'm ready for change. Knowing I am not alone is so helpful.
And I'd like to focus my artistic endeavors elsewhere.
This one sounds harsh but it's truth.
She speaks of the self-conscious person here:
"..She is ordinarily more aware of herself that she tends to be of any other person in the room. Whether she feels inferior or superior, she takes a frequent inventory of her place in the space. She may like or hate it but she's rarely oblivious to it. Never think for a moment that pride and self-centeredness have no role in insecurity. Since she keeps confusing her insecurity with humility, however, she never recognizes
the self-centeredness so she can turn from it." b.
Ding! One of the huge things that hinders me from transformation in Jesus Christ is that little itaclized phrase. Never did I think this was the situation for me. I knew I was an extremely situationally aware person, it is in my nature. But that was a palm-slap on the forehead (the I should have had a V-8 kind).
Consider this my Come- to- Jesus moment in that area.
I recognize it and I am turning from it. Hopefully not to come back to it.
This really struck a nerve (made me nervous) with me because
I am passionate about my friendships:
"In your pursuit of God-vested security, the only relationships in your life that will suffer rather than improve are the significantly unhealthy ones..Those that are the unhealthier might not even survive at all-and maybe they shouldn't." c.
I'll leave it there. But that could possibly be a hard thing for me. The change in my life is more important though.
She goes on to talk about women who are consumed with keeping up an appearance physically or emotionally and how it is exhausting both to do and to watch. She asks the question, will it be OK when and if I can't keep up my "stuff" whatever that is? Not with the people we are trying to project towards, but is it ok with ourselves? It gives an extreme ammount of power to others when we think that way, when only our Maker should possess over us. Our security should be in Him, alone.
So some relationships may suffer some may evaporate . Is this ok with me? It's going to have to be! God is calling me to something higher than people pleasing, once again.
I'm almost done here.. I keep going through my underlined and noted parts and am really restraining myself from copying the entire book onto this post!
"Most..have ..a false-positive: one thing that was think woud make us more secure in all things...Think of a person you believe to be secure and determine what earthly thing he or she has that you don't feel like you possess, at least in matching measure. That's liable to be your false positive." d.
I loved this simple concept. It helps me put a finger (or 4 or 5) on the area(s) in which I do this. I am good at identifying other's false positives and am often ignorant of my own.
Forgive this next part. It's a bit very poopy. The un-Beth part of me :) For my friends who are potty training toddlers, you will appreciate this..I think. So after reading my chapters, I found myself a bit very convicted in multiple areas of my life. Areas I thought I had beat. And I shut my book feeling beat up. Then, thank you, Lord, the truth-speaking Spirit inside of me won this battle out and spoke to me loud and clear, " you have to know where the smell is coming from before you can really clean up the crap" I was just as surprised as you that the Holy Spirit uses the word "crap", trust me. But how true!! I can keep spraying air freshener and walk away saying, "what smell!? I took care of the poop" over and over but the nastiness is going to creep back through the other areas of my life. Until I say, "yep there's poop in my potty" and flush it, the problem and the gross will remain, no matter how expensive the air freshener or how big the match. I've been guilty of seeing my sin, rationalizing, justifying, having a conversation with a friend who validates me in the area and just letting the crap (sorry, that's what it is) sit in the pot. GROSS! That's how nasty my sin is. And I am appalled. I have to be disgusted by it to truly be rid of it. No more putting mascara on my sin and prettiying it up. No More! I don't know of a single one of us truly feminine creatures would ever save our poop and carry
it around with us in a rose scented bag.
So, while precious, delicate Beth Moore didn't say it as such, this is how I related. And I am ready to flush my potty :) I am fearfully and wonderuflly made to do the good works he has prepared for me to do! Time's a wastin'!
This verse comes to mind (more than usual lately!)
For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.
Thank you, Lord for knowing how weak I am in this area and loving me the same.
I am your handiwork, your masterpiece, but my nature is weak and you know my propensity to go back to the gross parts of my life that prevent you from working in me to glorify You. For me to sit in my stench is not at all pretty, it's not becoming. A false humility does not honor you. So I thank you that with you, invading my space, you will once and for all flush all that is not of you out of me. I invite you to do so now! I will begin to see myself as you created me. And the aroma of a life that is genuine and is true will reflect a beauty that even the most gifted of artists or designers couldn't fathom of replicating. I am ready to be strong in my identity. I am ready to glorify you only.
I know that there will be days where the struggle is harder, where the fight will be draining.
I am anticipating less of those, and more of the free and transparent days where God, in me!, is glorified and I begin to realize what true security in Him is all about.
I relate with Bob from What about Bob a lot!
"Baby steps to the elevator, baby steps to the bus.."
I always think hard about my blogs Once they are written I let them sit for a while..maybe a few hours, maybe a few days or weeks. I never want to offend and usually I think that no one reads them. But then recently I looked at my blog traffic stats and somebody is reading. Unless I have an obsessive 3 followers that check it 40 times a day, I've got traffic! So, I do well to think and pray before posting. This post was more for me, though. I write often to get things out and if it helps someone relate or encourages, then yay! So if anyone reads this, I hope it helps. It helped me writing what God is showing me. I have proof before my eyes that I am not stagnant, as much as I feel that I might be. Be encouraged.
I have a theme for this new year. It starts and ends with a profound pair of verses in the Old Testament. While blogs have been written about this (there are many, I've checked and researched more on the concept I am about to write about...) I think that to each person the context in which these verses will be applied will vary and be appropriate in different seasons. This is what it means to me.
Let me get to it and stop my preluding.
My 2012 theme a.k.a. Isaiah 43 :18-19
“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
Simple enough motivating words for a new year. Out with the bad, and in with the new. God is doing good things and that is that.
Yes, to a logical person, perhaps. I am anything but logical. I don't even know what that word means. Ha! OK, I exaggerate but still. I feel. It is my logic. I think, yes a lot actually, but feeling and intuition a.k.a." spirit-speak" is more my language and my guide. I feel deeply and instead of poo-pooing it away as I used to, I now embrace it and let the Holy Spirit use that part of my fearfully, wonderfully made heart to compass me about. I am not saying my emotions are my guide. Those guys are not to be trusted. Especially post-baby. Yikes!
At first when I read this other person's blog on Isaiah 43, I said "ah-ha! Yes! 2011- It's over. It's done! This next year will be better ( will it??). I will look for those ways and streams" Easy, awesome and that is that.
"But wait!", says my heart, "it's not that simple!"
Just once I would like for my heart to leave well enough alone but, like I mentioned, I will not scorn this part of myself any longer. After my initial "really!? c'mon! I don't want to over think this. It looks pretty and inspiring on my chalk board. Good enough, God!" I began to see deeper into this passage. My heart is feeling. Dangerous! And He is revealing what ways and streams are all about. Lately, I do believe, we've got the deserts and wastelands part down.
I won't do a long exegesis here but let me explain:
Our 2011 is, as I mentioned to a friend, "the worst year of my life and the best year of my life. I want to forget most of it and remember all of it." I'm complicated like that.It kind of was a wasteland of sorts. A lovely Oasis named Dahlia amidst it helped us get through. God's timing? Perfect!
Look at other blog posts to be filled in. In short, strokes, cancer, long, painful, suffering, lingering deaths of loved ones and a miracle baby all in one year left us bewildered, questioning, thankful, worn out, sad and elated, empty and overwhelmed all at once. Those are pretty intense emotions. All at once, both our eyes and souls were crying.
A verse I cling to often Psalm 61:2, From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety..
SO I did. So He did. "No more pain! Please no more suffering! Our families serve you, we fear you. What more can we do!?Can 2012 be our safe year, Lord? We understand we don't deserve it but we really would love to experience your mercy in our families. Keep us safe! Safe from hurt and disaster. We don't think we can do this much longer" And then, these verses, the ones up there in Isaiah are reminding me of what "safe" is: Ways and Streams.
Safe isn't painlessness it's hurt with God restoring and redeeming. Safe isn't a year of jubilee, it's a year of famine with miraculous provision. Safe isn't prosperity and plenty, it's a year with new mercies, as you need them day by day. Safe isn't my life. Safe is His life laid down so I will experience new life beyond this place that hurts one day. Safe isn't happiness. It's joy. Safe isn't easy. It's a hard life with God and others helping.
I won't be forgetting the hurt of 2011 but I will be forgetting my old way of thinking of God's provision and the way I think he should be working in my life and in the lives of those I hold so dear. I am done trying to be safe. It's too hard.
He asks me to SEE. "See I am doing a new thing.." But my God knows me well, "Do you not perceive it?" "Uh, no. I don't. I mean, I didn't but now, I think I will." If I was making a translation of the Bible I would imagine that that portion would read like this: "Open your eyes, Missy! I am doing what is best for you! Something new just for you. Why can't you see that?"
Often I do not perceive it. Of all the things I perceive (I'm a professionally-diagnosed over-perceiver) I don't often perceive His work. It's what really matters. It's the safe stuff, His work. And I miss it almost always. What do I perceive of that!? Ha!
I'm not being down on myself. I am not being melancholy. (Although, one could say instead of Surrender Story this blog could be called The Melancholy Muse!) I am just being real. And maybe even somewhat logical. Hmm. How 'bout that? Anyway
I miss his work,
It eludes me.
Or better and more clearly : I choose not to see it.
How could I when my focus is on the wrong things. I thought they were the right things.
Until I got a personal revelation from the Holy Spirit on this, I was clueless. I was completely in danger.
And I thought I was being safe.
No wonder I've been overwhelmed!
This is the wonder and glory of God, that he constantly helps the eyes of my heart to refocus even when I had no clue that I was myopic. How am I this privileged that He, Master of all the Universe, chooses to realign my heart, my mind, and give me hope? He makes ways and streams. Not just figuratively but also, quite literally. He leads me to safety. This time it was by way of much suffering, pain and sadness. But it was Him all along leading me out of the wastelands and deserts. He led me to safer friendships, is leading me to a better place in my marriage, he's restoring relationships, readjusting heart desires, he's empowering me to "perceive it". Suffering and Sadness seem to be necessary stops on the journey of a Christ-follower. I am not a believer in the gospel that says love God, and nothing can touch you. Say this verse, and that verse and magically you will be untouchable. Not true. But I do believe that those hard, hard places are just mere layovers, not destinations. My, I'm using LOTS of figurative language today!
Truth: He's true to his word. And as well as I might think I know his Word, I often miss it. Then, I read seemingly simple verses and he again, speaks to my heart in the way my heart best receives and starts making ways and streams in my own life, even when I didn't know I needed either. He makes a way by using grace and mercy. They are my way. They are my stream.
I Perceive it!
So what does this mean for anyone else? I don't know.
I know that if a relationship is failing, there are ways and streams that can be made. If you are overwhelmed by poor health, mental or spiritual torment, sadness or grief that it doesn't magically go away but a new thing is about to spring up, so you better perceive it.
Being stuck isn't an option. Cry out!
Cry out until you are hoarse. Don't be OK with your version of safe.
Cry out from your desert and be led out of the wasteland.
Breaking free from bondage is rough.
Breaking free from hurt hurts.
Choosing to let go of injustice is hard. Choosing to let go and not know a reason is not easy.
But by doing so, He does a new thing. It springs up. Right now!