POD #7: Use Your Words

POD #7: Use Your Words

Use your ever-powerful words to speak, weave and write TWO blessings. The first one is a blessing I want you to write and speak over yourself, your life and/or your future. The second is a blessing you’ll write over/about someone else. The someone else might be your dog, your mate, your kidlets or your bestie. It might be our nation or our world.

Extra credit if you can toss in a bonus blessing over someone you don’t particularly like.

Then, write a bit about how it feels to be the bestower of blessings.

To myself:

You know that the power of life and death are in the tongue. Yet too often the words you speak bring death to the current situation and the future that you are longing for. Stop.

Speak truth over your life. Speak His love and acceptance over your life. Speak the Word to combat those things that the enemy has made common messages in the words you speak.

You are a daughter of the Most High God. You are blessed and highly favored. You don’t doubt that fact but you often shrink back from walking in all His favor and blessings. Stop.
Let Him shine through you. You know it is not you. If other’s think that is your motive that is on them, not you. That is not who you are anymore, so let your life shine forth His blessings and favor.

You often resist what He has placed inside of you. You question His voice. Stop.

There are others waiting for what God has placed on your heart. Don’t allow fear to keep you from stepping out of your comfort zone. God has things He wants to say and do through you, but He won’t force you to walk in obedience.

Let Him speak to you. Let Him show you. Let Him be all that He can be in your life. Let Him work through you. Watch and see what He will do when you listen, submit and obey.

To you:

You state that you have never felt like you were accepted. You want acceptance but have never felt it with your family or within the church.

You question if you deserve it. You think you have to earn it, but you know that you can’t. Those are lies from the pit of hell, stop listening to the enemy. God loves you. He sees you as righteous. He sees you as holy.

The truth is none of us deserve the price Christ paid for us. Yet, He died anyway. He knew we might not deserve it, but He still thought we were worth it. Not the collective we, but the we of you and me individually, and every other person uniquely and separately. It has little to do with us, and everything to do with Him. Accept it, You are worth it; God is never wrong.

You still feel like you have to do something. You fall short, then feel even farther away from God. You can’t earn His love and approval. It is there always because God is love. He chose you before you chose Him. There is nothing that you do that surprises Him, nothing that causes Him to approve you less.

I say all this because I want you to accept all that He wants you to have. His grace covers your weaknesses to empower you to live the abundant life He has or you. His mercy offers forgiveness of your darkest sins. His desire is overwhelming blessings for you. He wants peace to overtake you. He wants joy to fill your heart.

I leave you with God’s peace, mercy, grace and blessings. I receive it for myself too.

This post is prompted by Tara-Nicholle Nelson’s 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders

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POD #6: Unlearning

What have you successfully, intentionally unlearned?

And what, if anything, do you want to unlearn now?

I recently unlearned that it is okay to be the first one to reach out in reconciliation. For years, I told myself if someone wants a relationship, they will reach out. I learned this from my mother, who thought that the phone line only ran one way. She would constantly complain about people not coming or calling. However, when it was pointed out she could call or go visit, she didn’t want to be an inconvenience.

I intentionally unlearned this in God’s perfect timing. I wrote the letters, made the calls, and made effort to visit more often than I had anticipated. As a result, I did not just reconcile one relationship, but multiple ones. It has had a ripple effect that is impacting generations. Sometimes not making the effort can lead to a lifetime of regrets. I don’t have to love with that regret.

I have also been unlearning the need to control things. I have always been independent and prefer to be in charge instead of following, especially if it is something that I know about. I am generally okay giving up control only if I am not the expert in the room. wiahLately I have found myself in positions where I feel control is not mine to take, despite knowing. I have found myself deferring to others.

My daughter told me Saturday that it was refreshing for her to see me not take control. It has certainly been a challenge to me personally; at the same time I have peace doing it. I know others beside my daughter have been surprised as I step back when I would naturally step up. I realize I need to stop and think about the implications when I take control and shouldn’t – not only in my life but for others also.

What would I like to unlearn next? How to not be so critical or negative when speaking of others. Lately I find myself asking “Why did you say that?” “Was it really necessary?” It shouldn’t matter that it is truthful, if it isn’t nice and necessary, it doesn’t need to come out of my mouth. And my opinion or perspective does not make something gospel.

Right now I find myself asking those questions after the conversation is over or the words are out of my mouth. I need to get to the point that they come before the words leave my mouth. I don’t need to participate in gossip, and I certainly don’t need to start it. My opinions about others or about circumstances do not have to be shared verbally. So I need to let the unlearning begin.

This post is prompted by Tara-Nicholle Nelson’s 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders

 

 

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POD #8: Untether it!

Are there subjects about which the people who know you would say you are psychologically sensitive? Things people avoid bringing up around you? Are there even smells, words, sounds or objects that bring up very painful memories for you?

How intense is the pain? What do you do to avoid triggering it? Sometimes we create everything about our lifestyles, including careers and routines and habits and such, all to avoid being “annoyed”, “irritated” or triggered. This can be the same as designing our lives by accident, by running from challenging emotions and situations instead of running toward love, expansion and the things that would, to paraphrase Liz Gilbert, spark a revolution in our hearts.

What would it feel like if you could be free of it? What would it take for you to be willing to allow it to come up and burn itself out?

I find myself more and more pressing in to those things I used to avoid. I want to be freed from the pain of the past and I know the only way past it is to go through it.

A lot of times, I don’t realize how painful something is to me until God reveals it to me. There are few people who will push past my resistance to make me face the reality of what I am avoiding. Even when I give others permission, they tend to back away from calling it to my attention.

Over the past few years, I have been untethered from a few things that had me bound. God revealed to me that I might have faith in Him, but I didn’t trust Him. That was hard for me to hear, but in order to move past it, I had to admit that it was true and then go forward on learning to place my trust in Him. It was an amazing journey.

He also showed me how I put more stock in what others said about me than what He said about me. He revealed several instances of things that were spoken over me that I was allowing to stop me from stepping out in obedience to Him.

He revealed to me how I had walked in pride and insecurities. It was hard for me to see how the two could go together. As He opened my eyes to how I perceived things, I could begin to let go of the false perceptions.

Closely tied to insecurities, is the newest thing that He is untethering me from. It is the spirit of rejection.

I realize that much of my life I avoided rejection by pushing others away. I found myself developing an “I don’t care what you think attitude.” and believing that I meant it. I built walls that i thought were protection around myself, closing myself off and creating more of a feeling that I didn’t belong.

I find myself being more sensitive to rejection than I ever have been before. I am sure it is more about being aware of the feeling of rejection than actually experiencing it. I am frequently reassuring myself of others perceived actions that make me feel rejected. I find myself voicing it more to others looking for that validation when I feel the pain of perceived rejection.

It’s a process. I know that God is walking me through. He has been tearing down the walls, ever so slowly for the past few years to prepare me for the untethering of my soul from rejection. He has been tearing down the lies that started from childhood to help me see that I belong in Him. He has given me truths to combat the lies that the enemy tells me in the moment.

I am not free yet, but the burden is getting lighter. The truth is coming faster. I am more open to sharing how I feel and then releasing it completely. I am not bound by the chains of the past, just trying not to let new chains form.

This post is prompted by Tara-Nicholle Nelson’s 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders

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POD #5: A bias toward pronoia

Confirmation bias is a cognitive shortcut we all take, all of us humans, wherein we interpret the evidence and facts of our world to confirm our pre-existing hypotheses.  In other words, we find evidence to confirm what we already believe.

In other words, if you believe the world is out to get you, or the world is damaged or bad, or evil wins, you will find evidence of that.

But—and this is very good news—if you believe the world is out to shower you with blessings, that the components of the universe are collaborating to help you out, you will find evidence to support your pronoia.

Write about this: Can you marshal evidence of pronoia at work in your own life? Now or ever?

What has that looked like in the past?

What does it look like now?

What are the things, people or experiences in your life right now that you know are collaborative components in your ultimate highest good, well-being or joy?

What would it look like to practice a bias toward pronoia?

Pro[noia] Tip: Today, can you just notice when something goes really, really right for you, and savor that in silence, even for 20 or 30 seconds

I live with a bias towards pronoia because I know that my God is good all the time.  He has plans and purposes that far exceed my understanding or expectations.  He knows how to orchestrate things that I can not fathom.  Here is just a short story of what it has looked like in my life.

In October 2017, during another one of these challenges, I felt led to reach out to a family member that I had not spoken to in over twenty years.  It was a step out of my comfort zone, but a step of obedience in what I can only call God’s prompting.  I had a falling out with my grandmother after my father was placed on hospice, and had not spoken to her since the birth of my daughter the month following his death.

Shortly following reaching out to her, I was able to introduce my grandmother to her granddaughter.  A short time later, I took my other daughter and her husband and children to visit with her.  Then at Thanksgiving, I was able to introduce her to the newest great-great grandchild, my son and his wife.  They were short visits, but seemed to mean the world to her.  I also gave her pictures of all my siblings and their children that had been taken the year before.  I was able to visit with her and my grandfather a few times, and had a few missed visits as they were sleeping when I came over.

In January, my grandmother started getting sick to the point of hospitalization.  She had problems with her heart, that weren’t new, but were getting worse.  When she first went to the hospital, although her memory wasn’t great, she talked for a few hours about various family members, stories from her childhood, and things about my parents.  She was very upbeat and positive.  Not at all the woman I remembered from our falling out.  I just sat with her and let her talk.  I felt like she was making peace with everything in her life during that time.  She discharged to rehab to try to get stronger.

A few days into rehab, she caught the flu.  At first it stressed me out.   I had went to the rehab to see her, but she wasn’t there.  Due to HIPPA, they wouldn’t give me any information.  When I reached out to my grandpa, he told me she was back in the hospital.  My youngest daughter and I visited her at the hospital. Granny was more tired, but still pretty talkative.  They discharged her home while we were there and I wheeled her out to my grandpa’s car.

intentionA few weeks later, I saw her at home and although she didn’t feel great she sat and talked for an hour.  The following week when I went out she did not sound good at all.  She was so weak that my grandpa had to physically move her around.  She denied any needs, and the nurse had been out to visit her that day.

A week and a half later she was back in the hospital.  My grandpa called me a day and a half after she had been admitted to tell me.  I went and visited her, but she was sleeping.  The following night, I sat with her for a few hours.  She ate dinner, but didn’t talk a whole lot.  When she was ready to sleep, I left her.  The following day, she was very confused basically just saying, yes and no or crying out for my grandpa.  I sat with her for a little while, but didn’t stay long when she didn’t want to wake up to eat.  Saturday she slept most of the day although restlessly and then was transferred to the nursing home for hospice care.  I visited her Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, but she never woke up.  This morning I got the call that she had passed away, just a few hours after I left her.  She went peacefully and was not alone when she took her last breath.

I knew I needed to write out my time with her, however brief. Not for the story, but for the memory.  For myself.

Can I marshal evidence of pronoia?  Absolutely.  Had I not reconnected with my grandma in that moment, she would not have been able to meet her youngest great-great grandchild.  She would not have seen my son or met his wife.  For a moment she got to have my family with her, she got to love and be loved.

If I had not reconnected with my grandmother, I would have lived with the regret of not making peace with her before she passed away.  God knew that I needed to make that move at that time, and He prompted me to do it.  He knew how quickly she would decline and wanted me to have good memories of her and have a little quality time that I could cherish.

Had I stayed in her life, I might have been pushed away by her later as her memory faded and her moods became more unstable.  I might have wanted to shield my children from her instead of bring them into her world.  I might have been put-off by the apparent falseness of her stories instead of soaking them up as cherished treasures.  I don’t know what parts of what she talked about where true or false, but they were real to her, so I’m okay with that.

There have been a few moments since Friday that I have started to go down the path of “why didn’t you take that step sooner?” I can think that God is out to get me, this is not fair, we just reconnected.  But I have stopped myself because I can not go back and change the when.  I can only rest assured that God knew that it was time and He made a way for it happen.

He knew that despite the time apart, she was someone I loved very much.  He didn’t want me to live with any regrets.  He loves me and wanted to overwhelm me with the blessings that only He could time.  He gave me time.  He gave me closure.  He gave me answers to questions I didn’t know to ask.  He orchestrated everything with His time, His favor, and His love for both of us.

This post is prompted by
Tara-Nicholle Nelson’s 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders.

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POD #3: Your intentional vacuum

What are you feeling ready to give up in order to create an intentional vacuum of space for fresh, new life:
. . . in your heart?
. . . in your mind?
. . . in your calendar?
. . . and in your home?
Don’t push yourself till it hurts; be gentle and easy with yourself. What feels like you’re ready to release it?
One Very Important Thing: some people find themselves tempted to wait a long time between reading a particularly challenging prompt and writing about it. Trust me when I say this: if you feel discomfort after reading a prompt, you are about to strike personal growth paydirt.
You might be on the verge of the exact breakthrough you came to this Challenge for.
The sooner you pour your feelings onto the page, the sooner you’ll experience that clearing and space. Holding onto the feelings without the release of putting them onto the page simply prolongs the process and delays the relief. Don’t do that, okay?

In the natural, it is very easy for me to purge things.  At least twice a year I do a deep clean and try to get rid of things that are no longer serving a purpose.  Short of a deep sentimental value, I am not attached to many material things.  This past year I purged my book collection.  I decided that if I had read it, the book could go to a place where others could read it for free.  I go through my closet several times a year and give away things that I no longer wear that are in good condition.  About a month ago, I shredded the majority of the paperwork in one of my filing cabinets.  Purging around my home is a regular task.

I also am not one to hold on to too much emotional baggage from the past.  Once I process things, I can let it go.  Not to say that there aren’t things that enemy uses to trip me up from time to time; just generally speaking I am not one to hold grudges or wallow in past hurts or offenses.  I know that it is not healthy to live in the past, even if that past is just thirty minutes ago.  I am quick to purge my emotions.  I experience them, and let them go.

“In life, you often get what you expect.” 
― Michael Hyatt,My calendar, I am not as good at purging; although I have been doing better.  It is very easy for me to over schedule myself.  There are so many things that capture my attention that I want to partake of, and since I don’t believe in doing things half-way I tend to go all in.  People that know me fairly well know I have very little free time.  It just gets booked up.  Right now I have an intentional margin in my calendar, but it doesn’t always translate into free time due to others schedules (AKA my spouse).  I have purged my calendar, but it is an ongoing take that I have to be dilignent and deliberate to purge.

My mind, I would jokingly say I have short-term memory problems so I often purge information.  Destructive thoughts, I am quick to take them captive.  Negative thoughts, I try not to allow to play too long.  Knowledge, I generally share it.

Maybe it is a blind spot, but I don’t think there are any areas that I am not willing to purge.  There is nothing in my life except family that I could not walk away from if I needed to, although I hope that doesn’t mean I will have to.  I try to keep myself open for fresh opportunities, to take in life as it comes, and enjoy it to the fullest.

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POD #4: The Lies We Tell (Ourselves)

These are pretty innocuous examples, but they surface some interesting questions you can take as lightly or as deeply as you’d like:
What are you telling yourself, about yourself, that’s just not true?
What aren’t you giving yourself credit for?
What do you think you want to be or do or have—physically, spiritually or even emotionally—that you in fact already are, already do, or already have?

The revelation of a lie I tell myself came to me as I was reading in the 2nd Chapter of Revelation.

“Write to the angel of the church in Ephesus: “The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand and who walks among the seven gold lampstands says: I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate evil. You have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and you have found them to be liars. You also possess endurance and have tolerated many things because of My name and have not grown weary. But I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place — unless you repent.  Revelation 2:1‭-‬5 HCSB

For all the positive qualities that are listed for the church at Ephesus, it was counted as naught because the church had lost their love for God. One of the lies I have told myself is that I am responsible for everything and must be involved in everything.  I am very bad about filling up my schedule with good things, but things that pull me from where God is calling me to be.  It is simply not true.  It is not realistic.  And if creates a burden I was never meant to carry.

I do not have to be involved in everything that comes up where I work, at church, where I volunteer, even with my family.   I don’t have to feel guilty that I miss a meeting, a family gathering, or if I’m not at church or the volunteer location every time the doors are opened.  The world will not stop, and while people may miss my presence, I’m not going to be condemned to hell forever because of it. It is okay for me to say “no” even if it disappoints someone else.

I know when I am not operating in His love, but am instead running on auto-pilot; I would guess that others around me know too.  I lose my peace.  When I am not connected to Him as I should be, things that normally flow easily become a struggle.  I find myself more frustrated than I should be.  I love a good challenge, but when I am not connected to Him, challenges drain me instead of invigorating me.  I tend to be more negative, when generally I am a strengths based person.

lie I beleivedI give myself credit because I generally have clear boundaries.  It is okay for me to have boundaries even in the good things in my life.  It is okay to exercise self-care.  The one thing that I am responsible for it my time with God.  I am responsible for creating the time, keeping the time, and honoring the time.  He doesn’t just want me to show up with Him, He wants me to abide with Him, to live in Him, to love Him.

The truth is that God does not want me to run myself ragged in His name, He wants me to rest in Him. He wants me to run with endurance towards Him, not just for Him. Everything must flow out of love for Him. It is easy in the hustle of life to get caught up in the routines of doing good things. However when I stop abiding in Him and allowing His love to pour through me, I loose my Source of Power. My good actions only mirror the world’s actions when I don’t let them flow out of love for Him. They are not filled with His supernatural touch. First and foremost I must abide in Him. Everything else must flow out of that relationship.

This post is prompted by
Tara-Nicholle Nelson’s 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders.

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POD #2: Your Positive Essential Quality

At this point of my life, my most Positive Essential Quality is energy: a soul-deep, love-driven, overflowing energy to care for the people and create the projects that matter to me—the projects I know I’m here to do.

The other day, my Lyft driver figured me out in a 30 minute ride. He said: “I’m getting a contact high off your energy!” My essential energy is a very focused energy. I had a friend say to me once that it’s hard to get a meeting on the calendar with me (true), but that once we’re across the table or in the room together, I am 200% in that room, 200% at that table, 200% in connection with the person or thing I’m doing. If I decide to do a thing or engage with a person, I care about it, a lot. And I pour myself into it. Not to a level of dysfunction or detriment, but I do engage, I do enthuse, and I don’t analyze or second-guess that. Your prompt today is to sit with this question: what is your most prized, positive, essential quality at this point in your life? What is that thing about you that is like the candle’s flicker? What is the trait or quality that most purely makes you you? What is at your core? What is your essence? How do you know this? What’s a recent example of a time your positive essential quality came out and showed itself in all its glory? Is it hard for you to think up or write this wonderful thing about yourself? (If it is hard, write more about it, describe it in detail, to get some practice in).

It is midnight, and I am wide awake, a million thoughts running through my head, so what the heck I will catch up on my prompts. I have answered this before with “resourcefulness” which I still stand by as number one. But another essential quality that comes to mind is boldness. As the youngest of five children, I learned if I wanted anything, I had to be bold.

Those who know me in arenas where I feel secure, have a hard time identifying any reserve or shyness in me. People think that I am an extrovert because I am bold. I’m not; I am more of an ambivert.boldness

I am not one who will stay quiet if it is something that I am passionate about, and I can easily be moved to passion with a small bit of encouragement. I have no problem speaking up if something will impact those I care about. If there is a need to be met, I have no problem asking for it – often even if it isn’t something that really matters to me.

I often get appointed as spokesperson. I have no problem being the voice for something, as long as I understand what I’m sharing. People often mistake that I want to be the voice for attention, those childhood days passed a long time ago. If someone else will step up, I’m happy to step back into the quiet shadows. I actually prefer not to be the center of attention.

When I am in a group, I don’t mind speaking up, even if it looks like I may be the lone wolf. If I feel strongly about something, I will speak up and out. I can be persuasive with my boldness. I am assertive with my boldness. I can be loud and overpowering with my boldness. If I feel comfortable, I am bold.

I see this as a flicker, because so many people identify me with bold. Because I know my inner insecurities, I don’t always recognize myself as bold. Yet people comment how I speak with confidence and authority. Yesterday, I had someone randomly come up and tell me what an effective communicator I was. I promise I needed the boost because I felt like I was stumbling over my words all day.

I don’t mind having difficult conversations. I don’t back down from conflict. I am rarely intimidated by someone who has a differing opinion from my own. I will speak boldly in any of these situations because I don’t believe things can change if no one knows there is a problem. I can usually share my opinion with others without changing or attacking someone else’s view. I can present facts with boldness for others to make their own decision. My boldness doesn’t mean I’m always right, it just means I’m willing to put my voice out there as an option.

This post is prompted by
Tara-Nicholle Nelson’s 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders.

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POD #1: Altitude training

BEFORE you took this Challenge, when was the last time you trained at altitude—diving into something that stretched you beyond what you’d ever done or felt before, or stepping out toward a dream without the perfect resources or plan in place?
How did it go? Describe the adventure.
What new superpowers did you develop in the process?
What powers—extraordinary traits at the core of who you are—did you realize you’d always had, all along?
And what powers do you intend to grow and unlock here, in this 30 Day Writing Challenge? Declare it!

I can easily be driven by passion.  I love learning and can easily get lost in research for knowledge.  My Enneagram personality type is a five, Investigator/Observer.  Every aspect of the description fits me.  When my friend read the book, she was like “It explains so much.”  Like a window to my soul, it helped her see my perspective a little clearer. It is easier for me to get trapped in training mode instead of really living.  I can easily dive in and never allow myself to get stretched.  So I paused to think about the last time I dove into something that really stretched me and three things came to mind.

First was exercise.  I have never been athletic.  Never.  I am sure I caused my physical education teacher much pain as I never attempted to even pretend to be interested in anything athletic.  A few years ago, I decided that I needed to make a change in my lifestyle.  I would love to say that I have been successful in that endeavor,  but outside my initial goals, I have not been consistent.  However, I set a goal to complete a 5K  and I did.   I was consistent swimming at the gym and working out five days a week following the death of my mother two years ago.  I was successful loosing fifty-pounds.

Both were trainings that I stepped out in alone, and pushed myself towards my goal.    I might not ever enjoy exercise, but I did enjoy the benefits of energy and health.  I learned I could use exercise to help reduce my stress and focus.  I learned I could push myself despite what I felt like doing.  I need to get back into exercising.  I realize that self-motivation is key for me to reach the next altitude.  When I decide I really want it, nothing can stop me until I reach it.

purposeMy second altitude training came when I stepped out from what I was comfortable in to take on running a nonprofit organization that helped me at a turning point in my life.  It was a step to relocate, take a drastic pay cut, change careers, and take on a role that I had no experience.  My passion drove me to take the leap of faith.  I knew the population I was serving, because I had been where they were twenty years prior.  I knew the community resources, because I had been helped by so many.  I knew nothing about running a non-profit or about the day-to-day demands that helping fifteen single parents and thirty-six children would place on me.

I soaked in so much information over the next three years, Attended trainings, watched webinars, read articles, questioned leaders in other nonprofits.  There were many times that I knew I was in over my head.  There were other times that I could see the difference that I was making.  Not only a difference in the lives of the women and children in the program, but also in lending my voice and story to help raise awareness of the needs in the community.

I gained information that I have been able to share with other organizations and leaders.  I gained connections that would help future people I encountered.  I remembered the passion I have for speaking, raising awareness, and getting people to work together towards a common cause.   I realized I do have power to influence; I have to choose where I lend that power. I learned I can’t control everything, but that everything has a purpose.  It was an amazing journey.

The third time, and one that I am currently walking in is the training of complete surrender.  I like to be in control.  I like clearly laid plans.  I like goals that I can complete.  I can be flexible but I like to know the end result I am working towards.  Right now I feel like I am in a stretching process, and I don’t have any idea what I am being stretched towards.  I am diving in, and I have no idea how deep the water is.  I am stepping out and have no idea how many steps I will have to take before I am able to see the next goal.  Each time I think I am getting a clearer picture, I feel like the challenge just grows bigger and deeper.

Thus far in the walk, I realize I have the heart knowledge to walk it out.  All the areas that I thought I had control, I have seen that it was just an illusion.  I have a deeper trust in God  than I did just four years ago.  He was there with His guiding hand, even when I thought I was the one forging the path.  I have people in my life that support my journey, regardless of where it leads.  I can ask for help along the way, and I will need that help.  I have the ability to just lay the honest truth out and I don’t have to be concerned with how others will respond.  This is the journey I am on, they will either support and encourage or continue on in their own path – they may not be the same or even parallel.

The power that has to grow is God’s power in my life.  He wants my focus and my obedience.  It is not by chance that I find myself where I am, at this time, learning the things that have been available always but are just starting to sink in now.  I see things much differently that I have in the past.  I know I am at a crossroads in life that will take me down His path for my life, if I just surrender and obey.  I have to keep my focus on what He has placed before me instead of allowing myself to investigate and observe things outside of the path He has placed before me.  I realize it is going to encompass my whole being – that physical health and activity level is needed for where He is taking me.  Those skills He was growing in my elevation training at the nonprofit was purposeful and planned.  The past four years, although they have felt random and scattered to me, have been intentional on His part.  My altitude training will not only take me to my higher purpose, but towards the One that holds my purpose.

This post is prompted by
Tara-Nicholle Nelson’s 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders.

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Democratic Kingdom

I have been a believer for the majority of my life. Yet if I am honest with myself, I haven’t really let God be the King in my life. I have preferred to allow Him to be more of a democratic leader where if He agreed with my thinking, I could submit. I have allowed Him to lead, but there were other parties that I also gave influence to my life. I have let my mood and thoughts rule much of my life, despite claiming He is the King of my life.

My pastor has been talking lately about the difference between Democracy vs Kingdom and how the view impacts our perception of how things in the Christian walk should work.  It got me to thinking and researching as I often do with new thoughts.  I live in a democratic government.  Through voting, the majority of the people’s opinions are supposed to govern the land.  It is also a republic as elected officials are who truly make those decisions on our behalf.  Whereas, a kingdom is generally under monarchy rule with a king or queen at the head.kingdom

In a democratic society people feel free to speak whatever is on their mind.  If majority rules those with the loudest voice get heard.  People are able to get their voice to the leaders, if not through direct access through communication.  In a Kingdom, it is not that easy to speak out against the one who rules over you.  You read in the Old Testament how Queen Esther could be killed for approaching the king without his request.

“All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that any man or woman who goes into the inner court to the king, who has not been called, he has but one law: put all to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter, that he may live. Yet I myself have not been called to go in to the king these thirty days.”  Esther 4:11

In a democratic government rules can be changed through voting  by the republic or through popular vote.  In a kingdom, you read about the decrees that were made that could not be reversed even by the king.  In the testimony of Daniel being thrown into the lion’s den we see this in play.  Once a rule was put in place, it could not simply be undone, even if the king didn’t want to see the rule enforced.

The king answered and said, “The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which does not alter.”
So they answered and said before the king, “That Daniel, who is one of the captives[a] from Judah, does not show due regard for you, O king, or for the decree that you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.”
And the king, when he heard these words, was greatly displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him; and he labored till the going down of the sun to deliver him.  Then these men approached the king, and said to the king, “Know, O king, that it is the law of the Medes and Persians that no decree or statute which the king establishes may be changed.”
So the king gave the command, and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions. Daniel 6:12-16

Because this is not the current culture, it is hard  to understand the authority, power, and finality of God’s Word.  Our society has changed so much since Biblical times.  There has been much progress, but there has also been a moral decline. Tolerance and political correctness have given way to lack of enforceable boundaries for those in authority.  Yet God’s Word is clear about how we are to respond to authority:

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor. Romans 13:1-7

I was pondering on the information above as my pastor preached today.  I admit, I am still trying to understand Kingdom mentality and that God is really the final authority.  I have always tried to be in control, independent, and a leader. So when my pastor preached on this more today, it really made me ponder the governing of my life. My pastor said something that really got me thinking:

In a kingdom, only one king can have dominion over a territory at a time.  You have two choices in a kingdom – to submit to the authority and expand the kingdom’s territory or rebel against authority and help build another kingdom’s territory.  Kingdoms are all about gaining territory.  In God’s Kingdom you are either advancing His Kingdom, or advancing the kingdom of darkness.

I would love to say that I heard this message, I repented, surrendered, and now I can walk in the full power of the Kingdom of God. I don’t want to advance the darkness. Yet, if I am walking in rebellion, that is exactly what I am doing. I can not have my way and say God rules my life. I immediately felt convicted, not condemned as I know God’s grace is available, about areas in my life where I really struggle. Three quickly came to mind. Overeating – if God is King, I can surrender my appetite to Him. He already has the victory. My family – if God has dominion in my life, His Word prevails in my home. My finances – God is my provider. I am left asking “how do I change this Lord?”

Instead of walking in it, I am just in the processing mode. Processing the true revelation of what Kingdom means. Processing the conviction. Processing the change that is needed in my own life. Processing the power that is really available and how it truly could change not just my life and my family but the region I live in. I’m trying to fathom the reality of all of Kingdom advancement if just a portion of believers started walking in this truth.

I find myself wanting to dig deeper in to the Kingdom.  What I do know it is that it is time for me to learn to live in a Kingdom.  That I want to walk in the Kingdom of God instead of professing He is the King and walking in a Democratic mindset.  Change is available.  How willing am I to allow God to really do that work in my life?

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It’s not what it looks like

My struggle is real. If we are all honest, it is real for each and every one of us. I tend to keep my struggle quiet. Usually, it is silent. That is, until it erupts like a volcano spewing out molten ash burning everything in its path.  Over the years, the eruptions have grown farther apart. By God’s grace, the struggle has lessened in its intensity. God has also taught me the subtle art of keeping my mouth shut. Asking for forgiveness is harder to do when you have already been told not to engage. Now I often find the battle plays in my head until I release it to the only One who can intervene on both our behalf.

Marriage is a struggle for most people, even if you are not in one. If you don’t have a marriage, you struggle with the unknown. Do I really want one? Does anyone want me? Am I too young? Am I too old? What if I find the wrong one? What if I let go of the right one? Is it wrong for me to not want one?

If you have divorced, you struggle with the what ifs. Was it my fault? Should I have fought harder? Was I not enough? Why didn’t I listen to people when they told me not to? Why didn’t I see it coming? What if it happens again? Is it worth the heartache to try dating again? And the struggle only grows bigger if there are children involved.

If your widowed the struggles usually start with the cans and shoulds. Should I remain faithful to the vows despite death? Can I open myself up to love again? Can I move on? Should I move on? Can someone new understand the love is still there and will never go away? Can family and friends accept me with someone else?  The struggle can grow if there were any type of issues that were also in play at the time of death.

But when you are in married life there is a struggle for both spouses   Generally speaking it can be at the same time but often it is at different times for each spouse. Two imperfect people, with different backgrounds, perspectives, expectations and wills coming together in unity. The struggle is there, even if you don’t see it.  Marriage, it’s not what it looks like on the surface.

Marriage is messy.  Marriage is a place where you learn to be vulnerable. Where you learn to communicate openly even about the tough things.  A place where you learn to heal and be healed.  Marriage is where you learn how selfish you really are and how to put someone else’s wants and desires above your own.  Marriage is where you learn to compromise and learn when you need to stand your ground.  Marriage is about honor, trust, love, and respect.  Marriage is about intimacy on a level that can never be shared with others.  Marriage is complex. complicated, and often contradicting.

That is how marriage really is.  We like to think that somewhere there is this perfect marriage where “They lived happily every after.” but there is a reason fairy tales end.  Real life is messy.  Marriage though is more than just a wedding day, vows, and two people trying to live life together.  It is a commitment.  It is a covenant.  It is our opportunity to learn, especially as Christians, how to love unconditionally.  It is our human attempt to learn how to live the life we will walk out with Christ in heaven.

jogging-1722552_1920I love my husband, don’t get me wrong.  I can with confidence say that he loves me too.  We have been married for nineteen years, and I wouldn’t trade him for the world.  I can say that, because we have been divorced from each other, and still found our way back to this covenant called marriage with each other.  We tried to trade each other in, but we bought the same model again!  He has been by my side, consistently longer than anyone outside my birth family.  I don’t doubt that we are meant to be together.

Yet marriage is still a struggle.  We are two very different people.  We both are on different paths, that will hopefully arrive at the same destination eventually.  There are days that I look at him and think “I am the luckiest girl on the plant.” He truly can be that great of a guy.  And yet there are other days that I wonder why I continue the struggle.  Like most people we have the same mountains we go around over and over.  Some times it looks like we are on the right path, only to revert back to old patterns of behaviors.  Some days I am beyond frustrated with him, and I know there are days that he gets frustrated with me.

The difference is where I choose to put my focus. Yes, there are days, like the day I started writing this blog where my focus is on my own wants and needs and I look only at the struggle.  It is all too easy to go down that path, and I admit that there are times in my marriage that I lived there.  It is a miserable place to be.  And it makes for a miserable marriage.

Yet with a quick change of perspective, I can turn my focus onto the things I appreciate about my husband.  Some days it may take work; if I don’t want to be miserable and make his life miserable too, it is worth it.  I can turn my attention on how he encourages me to pursue my dreams, regardless of the fact that he doesn’t always like the time commitment that my dreams take.  Or how great of a grandpa he is with our grandbabies.  Or how he is a great provider, hard worker, terrific cook, and when he wants to be has a romantic side that I love to see come out.  I see how he tries in his own way to care for me, even if it doesn’t look like I think it should.

When I talk about the great parts of me marriage, I am not trying to portray something that isn’t.  I learned some time ago, that  God united us into one.  When I tear down my husband, I am tearing down not only my marriage, but myself.  I choose to build up my husband and our marriage.  He generally knows when he has hurt me or is frustrating, he doesn’t need me to share that with social media.  The struggle is real.  It’s not always what it looks like,  but the good side, that is the side of my marriage I choose to let others see. 

 

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