Tag Archive | prayer

Hope is the Lump in Your Throat

You can live in hope or you can live in hopelessness. Or you can merely exist in numbness devoid of hope in any form. This was my chosen method for fifteen long years. Shutting down my emotions eased the agony of an emotionally abusive marriage. Some days I could almost forget it was there. I learned how to hide my scars and secrets. I functioned well. I did the best I could to protect my children. I didn’t know from what at the time. Just that I needed to be more than enough for them.

For me, numbness relieved some of the suffering some of the time. That is what made it a viable survival technique. However, it also reduced my ability to experience positive emotions. You cannot choose which feelings to avoid and which ones to embrace. It is all or nothing.

Unlike the day I chose numbness over hopelessness, I did not make a conscious decision to leave numbness behind in search of a hope filled life. It was my Heavenly Father that set me on that path. But before I could find hope, it was necessary for me to sink into the despair of hopelessness again. You see, God can and will reach down and pull us out of the miry pit, but He can’t do that if we are content to be stuck in the sludge. Often God will set a plan in motion that brings us to our knees in desperation where our only option is to call out to Him.

It is overwhelming and terrifying to have the bandaids pulled off your carefully concealed wounds and watch the bleeding resume all over again. The pain is just as intense the second time around. I wept. I prayed. Or more accurately, I brought the broken and shattered pieces of my heart to God. I did not ask God to mend the fragments. I did not ask God to heal my pain. I simply cried that I didn’t want to hurt anymore. That was it. No requests for love, joy, peace or hope for my future. That was an impossible prayer, a far away dream that I didn’t dare put into words able to betray me. Asking not to hurt anymore was difficult enough.

I recently read a description in Brene Brown’s book “Daring Greatly” of what vulnerability feels like. Someone described it as “A lump in my throat and a knot in my chest.” And I thought, yes, that is also what the beginning of hope feels like. When hope was first offered to me it emerged as a tiny ball in the pit of my stomach, ascended to my chest, my throat, and finally became a pressure behind my eyes that I fought to keep there. Behind my eyes. Where I could deny it and push it away again. Not betraying me by leaking down my cheeks to be seen and felt. My mind fought the possibility of hope, but my body believed and responded before the rest of me was able.

At one time or another you have been advised to listen to your body. Pay attention to its signals. Sleep when you are tired. Eat when you are hungry. Drink when you are thirsty. So, I ask, why not hope when your body is desiring the promise of healing?

Hope is challenging. Hope takes courage. But hope will not disappoint when you place it in the hands of our Abba Father, the One who will wipe every precious tear from your eyes.

Now hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:5

My Facebook Sabbatical Comes to a Close.

As you may, or may not have known, I went on a Sabbatical from FB for awhile. And yes, I was so disappointed I had missed umpteen opportunities to find out which Disney Princess I am or which decade I should have been born in!! (insert sarcasm here!!) lol

In all honesty though, it was not as tough as I thought it was going to be. Yes, the first day was hard, and the second day I had almost uncontrollable urges to log into Facebook but I’ll have you know I stood strong in the face of temptation.

As with the breaking of any habit, the first week was the hardest. Ignoring the notifications that were demanding my attention felt like a sacrilege. I also couldn’t quite shake the feeling that I was missing something, without being able to give voice precisely to what.FB

I also admit that I missed interacting with everyone on FB….interacting with living, breathing people….although you have to wonder if some might be using false identities. Hahahahaaa!

And now that I have come back to FB there are countless requests to play Pet Rescue Saga, Candy Crush Saga, Bejeweled Blitz, and of course,Farmville among countless others. Yes, I had to go through each of those requests and turn them off because I don’t do Facebook games. Period. Sorry friends.

In taking a sabbatical I came to realize that my life is busy and I’m easily distracted and then it’s easy to feel overburdened and overwhelmed.

I had to be honest and admit that often what causes me anxiety is electronic entertainment/media. Whether it be pinterest, linkedin, tumbler, twitter, texting or email….when I feel available all the time it sometimes becomes too much.

I have come to learn that there is something deeply spiritual about honoring the limitations of my existence as a human being—physical being in a world of time and space.  There is a peace that descends upon my life when I accept what is real rather than always pushing beyond my limits and boundless joy that comes from delighting in God and God’s good gifts

leads

There is just something about being gracious and accepting and gentle with myself at least one day a week (Sabbath) or for a period of time that enables me to be gracious and accepting and gentle with others.

I have definitely found there is a freedom that comes from being who I am in Christ and resting in Him that eventually enables me to bring something truer to the world than all of my doing. It is when I allow myself to be human in the presence of my Lord and Creator, that I touch something more real in myself and others than all that I am able to produce or make happen.

pause and rest If I think about the time I spend (daily) watching tv, texting, emailing, Facebook, work, family etc, it’s no wonder too often I limp around spiritually, emotionally and physically unhealthy….I haven’t had time to rest!!

I don’t take the time to be renewed….to even have the mental resources and capacity to choose life. The busyness of our lives affects my decisions and my decisions in turn affects those around me. There is something freeing about understanding our limits…..choosing times of rest and proving to ourselves that we can actually live without social media for a time.

As my Facebook-free month started coming to a close, my resolve did waver a bit. I will admit to checking my Facebook notifications more than once, I even “liked” a couple of status’s!! But I no longer feel as though FB takes up so much of my time-a definite win. From my sabbatical, I also learned that Facebook does have positive aspects for me, maybe more than negative.

 

I realized that I just need to change the way I use it, but other than that, it will continue to be a social media tool for me. I will continue choosing to use Facebook to post constructive, positive, and inspirational things, and hopefully through that, I can influence others to be more loving, more giving, more compassionate.

And the main thing that this sabbatical did for me was to give me the time to write on my blog….it gave me time to read, to pray and seek my Heavenly Father…..and I did hear from Him.

Through writing, listening prayer, and taking time to care for myself, I feel a lightness in my spirit, a peace in my soul and a new freedom in my heart. I took time to get some Myofascial release massage and allowed myself some time to sit and talk with my spiritual counselor….all these things were good for my soul and much needed.rest2 I had gone for a long time not writing, and I missed it….and whether anyone reads it or not, blogging is good for my soul, it helps to keep my thoughts directed upward.

Now that my self-imposed sabbatical is over, I will definitely go back to sharing my life on FB, but I hope to do so in a way that is definitely more mindful.

I will not leave you as orphans…..

Father To The FatherlessI sat in my counselors office, head bent, eyes closed, waiting with a hopeful heart. We had spent some time talking and we were now inviting Jesus into my earliest memory of being and feeling alone.

“In my minds eye I saw myself as a little girl in a room peeking around a corner into another room. I wanted to be seen, yet fear kept me half hidden.

In my vision I saw myself as a little 4 year old girl with blonde curls and wearing a pretty plaid dress. In the other room I saw Jesus standing and smiling at me as I continued to peek around the corner of the wall.  He was inviting me to join him in the room, encouraging me to not be afraid, to come to him. With hesitation I made my way further into the room where Jesus had his hand extended and was asking me to take his hand.

His eyes were gentle and soft, and there was a strength about him that invited me to trust him.  I kept my hands folded in front of my mouth, it was as if even though I took the risk and came out from behind the wall my hands were my safety hiding part of my face.
As I began to relax Jesus commented on how beautiful my dress was and how pretty I looked. His eyes twinkled with joy and he began to twirl me around, dancing with me.  My little purple, green, yellow and pink plaid dress twirled as he spun me around. Before long I found myself giggling, enjoying his laughter and presence and these carefree moments where I could dance and feel free.

After He twirled me a few times He then sat on the floor grinning from ear to ear and encouraged me to sit with him.

Briefly I felt a prickle of fear, but his kind eyes soon removed any fear. And before long I was sitting with him listening to his voice of comfort telling me that He is always with me, He has always been with me. Maybe I haven’t seen him or felt him but He was always there…..and He would never leave me or hurt me. And I need never feel alone again.”Jesus

It was at this point in my vision I began to cry. Here was a man who didn’t ask something from me in return for his kindness. He didn’t earn my trust and then violate me. He didn’t abuse me. He didn’t demand anything. There was no ulterior motive in his invitation other than to love me and offer me his presence.

I felt safe, so safe….no longer alone. And I knew from this time on I could trust Jesus to stay with me.As my counselor prayed for me I would forever be changed as the Holy Spirit brought healing to the heart of the little girl who fought so hard to survive. The little girl who although was abandoned by all who were to love and protect her, was truly never alone, and would never be alone again.

I’m not sure if you know this or even believe it but in large part we are spiritual beings. Our relationship with our Heavenly Father is a spiritual relationship.

Even if you and I are unaware, we have been given spiritual eyes and spiritual ears to see and hear Jesus. He tells us in His word that His sheep know His voice. This is a spiritual hearing.

We are invited to look to Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. This is a spiritual seeing.

jesusIt has been said that much that binds our minds and thoughts, attacks our health and relationships, and harms our hearts, is spiritual.

The real enemy is not flesh and blood.

In our own life and in the lives of those we love, we need to understand there is a spiritual enemy attacking from a spiritual realm.

Not only as children but even as adults we can form beliefs and make decisions based upon facts we see with physical eyes or hear with our physical ears. But friends, there is a truth above the facts. Reality is what God sees, not what we see. God sees the whole picture and He desires to share that with you and I.

In my journey I have discovered that when I desire healing, when I desire to see what God sees, He will illuminate His written Word.
He will speak to my heart with His “still small voice” and illuminate hurts, wounds and lies which He wants to touch. Often in prayer God will show me a foothold that the enemy has gained in my life.

Sometimes He shows me that I need to forgive. Sometimes I need to repent for holding on to hurts or sins. And sometimes I need to come to Him with my ungodly beliefs and ask Him to show me His truth.

As God reveals, He heals!!

healer

 

You Are A Door Prize, Not A Doormat

Dr. Jay Grady in his book, You Are A Door Prize, Not A Doormat: How to Break the Cycle of Verbal Abuse, speaks very candidly about the effects and damage of verbal abuse. He speaks from a place of knowing, of having been there…. and because of his experience he offers the reader encouragement and hope.

I highly recommend this very insightful and direct book in which Dr. Grady exposes the silent killer of verbal abuse. Unfortunately, this silent killer can hide in the church as well.

I applaud Dr. Grady for bringing the atrocity of verbal abuse to the foreground, for shedding light on this silent destroyer.

Having grown up in a home of verbal abuse I know why Dr. Grady refers to verbal abuse as the silent killer. Sometimes it is so subtle that we don’t refer to it as verbal abuse as in the case of intimidation- when someone punches a hole in a wall, or throws things, due to uncontrolled anger all the while blaming someone or something else for their explosion, or when someone uses threats to manipulate, or they tease in a way that is degrading and demeaning and is fun only for the “batterer”, teasing that demoralizes the person it is aimed at.

He defines verbal abuse as words that attack or injure, that cause one to believe a lie, what is false, or that speak falsely of a person. Verbal abuse constitutes physiological violence. It is damaging to the spirit.

Dr. Grady states: “ the underlying premise of  verbal abuse is that of control: a means of holding power over another. Unlike physical abuse, there are no outer signs of injury, like bruises and black eyes. Broken bones may not exist, but there will be damage.”

He also speaks very candidly about child abuse, the damages and the responsibility as parents to bring up our children in love and kindness.

In his ground-breaking book, Dr. Grady lists the different types of verbal abuse and the signs of psychological and emotional difficulties as a result of verbal abuse, and the consequences of verbal abuse.

He also explains the classic cases and profiles of abusers and batterers.

 Another issue he addresses, which I think is very insightful and important, is in regards to soul ties. He defines it as the joining or knitting together of the bonds of a relationship. He offers prayers in which all ungodly soul ties must be renounced and severed in order for the control another person has over us to be broken.

Dr. Grady offers Word therapy, a step by step program that will help you in the healing process, a restoration back to God through the word of God. He offers scriptural techniques for breaking the shackles of verbal abuse and reclaiming control over your life. He presents us with guidelines in order to end the verbal abuse and bring balance to the relationship. 

It is time, as Dr Grady suggests, that we, the church, wake up and begin to confront this destroyer of human dignity and begin to call verbal abuse what it is: SIN

 I strongly believe that through this book victims of verbal abuse, whether past or present, will find help and healing.

Check out Dr. Grady’s website: http://www.askdrjaynow.org/

Living Your Wounds Through…..

“You have been wounded in many ways. The more you open yourself to being healed, the more you will discover how deep your wounds are….The great challenge is living your wounds through instead of thinking them through. It is better to cry than to worry, better to feel your wounds deeply than to understand them, better to let them enter into your silence than to talk about them. The choice you face constantly is whether you are taking your wounds to your head or to your heart. In your head you can analyze them, find their causes and consequences, and coin your words to speak and write about them. But no final healing is likely to come from that source. You need to let your wounds go down to your heart. Then you can live through them and discover that they will not destroy you. Your heart is greater than your wounds.”

Henry Nouwen

 I’ve always liked Henry Nouwens writings and this one really speaks to me. I find this to be a daunting quote, yet one that holds so much truth. There is no way I could unpack it all but some things did jump out at me.

 Living our wounds through~this is something most of us would rather choose not to do….it is much easier (or so we believe) to constantly think them through …even be tempted to analyze them to death..

 Maybe you are like me and always want to find the root of what’s causing our pain. Asking ourselves questions such as: why do I act or think particular ways? Is there something that I haven’t dealt with, worked through or maybe there is a repressed memory?  Is it my relationship with my parents? On and on the thought process goes.

 While it is good to look at these areas, all too often all we do is think about them….

Maybe it’s all about trust…..trusting God. Although in our heads we know we can trust God, our hearts don’t always agree……Do we agree with Henri Nouwens words; your heart is greater than your wound?

 To live our wounds through~This is difficult, especially for those of us who avoid pain at all costs…. when pain doesn’t go away fast enough we criticize ourselves for not getting over it, for not being strong enough, or even for being vulnerable or for feeling helpless in the first place.
 Sometimes our wounds don’t heal because the mind gets too involved and continually says things like “I should do this and I’ll feel better,” or “Maybe if I did this it would repair the hurt,” or “I am hurting because of what another person did, and once they fix it, I will feel better.”

If all we do is continually think about them it actually hinders the healing process.
I believe we are all in need of healing.  We all have wounds: wounds from our past, wounds from relationships, and self-inflicted wounds caused by bad choices.

But healing is a process….. And it can be scary too.  And all too often we are afraid to speak about our pain or even acknowledge our need of healing. It sounds so simple doesn’t it….to not focus on trying to identify the cause of our pain; but to simply show Jesus our wounds and speak to Him about the pain. 

We do not need to be afraid. The very fact that we are aware of our wounds show us that we have ample strength to face them….God will give us the strength and the courage we need to face them, to live through them.

In Scripture we find that Jesus showed His wounds to the Apostles, and He invites us to show Him our wounds.  When we speak to Jesus about our pain and our wounds it is the first step to permitting Him to heal us.

As you pray, see Jesus inviting you to place your pain in His wounds.  As you pray in the Spirit reach out and touch His hands; touch His side; touch His Heart. 

And then dear friends spend as much time as you need, in His presence, RECEIVING His love. 

By His wounds we are healed…. He was wounded so that we could find healing…..His wounds are wounds of love for our healing; our wounds are receptacles to receive His healing love… the invitation to touch Jesus’ wounds, results in our healing.

Some Lies That Will Kill Your Prayer Life

Lie #1:  Prayer is Hard.  God is so busy and so holy and so far away that I have to work really hard and try really hard to get His attention.

The Truth:  God is near me (Acts 17:27) and He is attentive to my prayers (I Peter 3:12).  I really believe that from God’s point of view prayer is supposed to be easy, natural, and pleasurable for both of us.

Lie #2:  God’s will is always done.  I should just pray for strength to accept it.

The Truth:  Not everything that happens is the will of God!  God is not evil and cannot be tempted by evil (James 1:13) and yet evil is everywhere we turn.  One of my favorite bits of advice is ‘Think Noble Things of God’.  I believe God is Just, Good, Holy, Loving and Generous, and I don’t chalk up the evil I see around me to God’s will.

Lie #3:  God doesn’t work the way He used to.

The Truth:  God works powerfully today, and He intends for us to work powerfully with Him through prayer in bringing about His will on the earth.

 

What do you think?  What are some lies you have believed about prayer?