Archive for March, 2015

Home » March 2015

WHY IS YOUR STORY UNFOLDING THE WAY THAT IT IS?

Steps__Halton_Castle__Runcorn__Cheshire_1984

Don’t buy into the lie that “my past is my past and has nothing to do with who I am today.”

Understanding the past, your history, is to appreciate how your story began and gain insight as to why your story is unfolding the way it is.

You did not choose where you were born or the family you were born into or how others treated you in the past. You had no control over circumstances or responsibility for other people’s choices, but you have complete control over your ability to reflect on your history in order to gain insight and understand yourself better, therefore allowing you to change your present and future.

In fact, Peter Scazzero, author of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, says that “Denying the past’s impact on the present is one of the top ten symptoms of unhealthy spirituality.”

As for me, there are many things I wish I could delete from my past, but I choose not to buy into the lie that “it’s just easier to forget your past.” Instead, I want to learn more about myself by processing my past and the family that raised me. My questions have become, “How can I learn from my past?” and “How can I use that knowledge to make me emotionally healthier and more spiritually mature?”

So, what does this actually look like? How do we go about understanding ourselves better so that we can make changes for a healthier future?

Allow me to go first and give an example from my life, hoping that steers you in the right direction.

REFELCT ON MY HISTORY

“After my parents divorced in the early 1970’s, my mother had to go back to work full- time, and it wasn’t long before I needed to become quite independent. By the time I was in fourth grade, I was making breakfast, getting my brother and I off to school in the morning, and taking care of the both of us after school until our mom got home from work.”

GAIN INSIGHT TO UNDERSTAND MYSELF BETTER

“This independence grew over time until I believed that it was my responsibility to carry everybody else’s responsibilities upon my shoulders. In other words, I thought it was my job to fix or solve all the problems within our family.

This eventually led to a young lady who didn’t know how to get out from under the immense weight of enabling others.”

CHANGE MY PRESENT & FUTURE

“I don’t have to be responsible for others for the rest of my life.

I have come to realize at this point in my life that I am only responsible for myself (you’ll hear this a million times from me). It is ludicrous to think that I actually have power over another person or that I can make their choices for them. Others make their choices and are responsible for each choice they make, and I make my choices in life and I am responsible for each one.

When my son throws a fit because we don’t have what he needs for his science project the night before it is due, I remind him that ‘It’s not my responsibility to get homework information;’ when my friend uses guilt to motivate me to do what she wants, I can now say, ‘No thanks or I’m sorry but that’s not my responsibility.’

Knowing this truth, I now take the weight of other’s bad choices and allow it to be their responsibility. I do use it as a reminder, however, to carry them through prayer to His throne and lay them at His feet for His will to be accomplished in their lives.”

Now it’s your turn…

REFLECT ON YOUR HISTORY

  • Make a list of any traits/characteristics that you don’t like about yourself.
  • Can you connect any of these traits to people from your upbringing that modeled those traits for you?
  • Can you connect any of those characteristics to past events or patterns?

GAIN INSIGHT TO UNDERSTAND YOURSELF BETTER

  • When and how did you first begin to repeat this negative behavior?
  • Why do you think your negative choices have become “just part of who you are?”
  • How has this unwanted trait grown in your life?

 

CHANGE YOUR PRESENT & FUTURE

  • What can you learn about this negative choice?  Find Scripture that specifically addresses it and discover what God desires. Read blogs, articles, or books that will give you an accurate perspective. Talk with someone you highly respect that doesn’t struggle with the same issue.
  • What would you need to change/add/stop in your life to rid yourself of this behavior?
  • Create 2 baby steps for change.
  • Who could keep you accountable for growth in this area?

 

My heart strongly  desires for others to continually be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit to the glory of God. May this be true for your life as you look back in order to be healthier and more mature today and tomorrow.

Read more

DON’T LET THE 2 BIG TATTLETALES GET YOU INTO TROUBLE!

SONY DSC

Do you say what you mean?

It’s hard to imagine anyone answering “no” to that question, isn’t it? Surely the vast majority of people believe that their words are a fair representation of their thoughts and feelings.

The bigger question is, “Do you do what you say?”

While people do most likely mean what they say, despite that, they often do something else. It happens a lot, doesn’t it? There are many cases where people’s words and actions don’t match.

I recall a time when my husband Mark called me out on this…and as much as I wish I could say that he was mistaken…he was right on the money. Throughout the first year of our marriage I was adapting to living in a new city and state where I knew no one, so my husband became accustomed to me being at home and anxiously awaiting his arrival home from work.

It didn’t take long for this Type A personality to build her own network of friends, co-workers, and those with which to co-minister. Along with that network came a whole lot of time commitments.

I remember Mark sarcastically asking me if he could “schedule” a time slot with me. My defensive comeback led to a heated discussion wherein I tried to validate that our marriage relationship still came first in my life.

You see, I had a whole lot of heartfelt words expressing the value I placed on my marriage, but my actions were telling a different story.

I couldn’t argue with what we all know — actions speak louder than words. 100H

I had been tattled on by one of the two biggest tattletales in life…the CALENDAR. What’s the other big tattletale you ask? It is the CHECKBOOK.

Where you send your TIME and where you spend your MONEY

will always reveal who or what you truly value.

What I say I value is not what I value. I shout with my choices what I value.

So, let’s take a moment and look in the mirror and have a little talk with ourselves.

  • What or who do I value most in this life? Make a list of the top 4-7.
  • Is this where or with whom I spend the most of my time?
  • Is this where or with whom I spend the most of my money?

 

We cannot honestly SAY that list we just created is what and who we value most in this life if we aren’t ACTING on it with the investment of our time and our money.

I continue to use this as a tool for evaluation in my life. For instance, I was very challenged by this when I realized that if I valued God so highly, I would be willing to spend money on any resource or retreat that would draw me closer to Him, but I wasn’t. I wanted to justify it with the money we tithed or gave in support of various missionaries and ministries, but it fell flat in my spirit. I knew that if I valued God as much as I said I did, then I wouldn’t become a cheap bargain-basement follower when it came to drawing closer to Him.

What challenges you when you hold up what you “say you value” to how you “actively spend your time and money?”

Read more

HAVE YOU BECOME “HOLIER-THAN-THOU” WITHOUT EVEN REALIZING IT?

file000266947757What is self-righteousness? Self-righteousness is a form of religious pride, and all pride is an inflated sense of one’s personal status or accomplishments.

Wikpedia says that it’s a feeling of smug moral superiority derived from a sense that one’s beliefs, actions, or affiliations are of greater virtue than those of the average person. (Note all the “inflated” words: smug, superior, greater)

What’s frightening is that self-righteousness is so easy to slip into, most often without even realizing it!

Let’s ask some probing questions that have the potential to reveal whether you have blindly become self-righteous. I will lead the way in answering them and allow you a glimpse into how prideful I am.

Do I ask questions with built-in assumptions?

Yes, and sad to say, that I do this most often with my husband. I am not curious or exploring with an open mind or even trying to understand. Truthfully, I am trying to make a point and cleverly disguise it as a question.

Do I tend to remove myself from people who do not agree with me?

Yes, I have. You will most likely find me doing this when I am tired or lacking the energy to listen to another. How sad! No matter the reason, the bottom line is that I miss out on hearing another point of view or gaining understanding as to why someone believes what they do. If I really am concerned about other’s hearts, then I will have missed out on an opportunity to engage in meaningful conversation.

Do I find myself critical of others?

This one I like to justify because my critical thoughts are left unspoken for the most part. However, the answer is yes – just because I critique another inside my head does not mean I have not critiqued them!

Do I tend be highly concerned about my image in public?

Yes and the height of my concern corresponds with the how much the audience personally matters to me.

Do I tend to serve others expecting some sort of recognition?

I wish I could say it doesn’t matter to me but my reactions say otherwise. If my contribution is ignored or wrongfully given as credit to another, my feelings are hurt.

Here are a few more revealing questions, but this time I’ll let you lead the way…

blue_green_peacock_eyes

Do I have a hard time admitting my weaknesses?

 Do I find it easy to build a case against someone that makes me seem right and him/her wrong?

Do I believe God loves some more than others?

Am I overly concerned about who is to blame?                  

Do I wear my ‘godly character’ like it’s a badge?

The only solution to self-righteous living that our Lord makes perfectly clear in His Word is to kill our pride and embrace humility.

I find this far easier to do when I remember all that I am NOT in my natural state — good, pure, able to save myself, meek, unselfish, self-sacrificing. When these truths aren’t far from my mind, how could I possibly use inflated words about myself?

We are all completely lost. No one could be more lost than you and you can’t be more lost than another. Lost is lost.

And all the lost need a Savior.

God makes it clear throughout Scripture that He hates pride (Ps. 10:4, Prov. 16:5,18) and searches out those who are humble for they are most like His son, Jesus (2 Chron.7:14,Philip. 2:3-11).

Humility is the mother of all virtues; purity, charity and obedience. It is in being humble that our love becomes real, devoted and ardent. If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.” Mother Teresa

Have you embraced humility?

Read more

FOR WOMEN WHO WANT TO ESCAPE THE LAND OF INSECURITY

LW3UZSHJU8

If I was conducting a survey and asked all of you whether you would rather be confident or insecure the rest of your life, I would be wasting my time. Nobody wants to be insecure. Nobody likes to feel insignificant. Nobody wants to always question or compare themselves. Nobody enjoys avoiding life or just watching it go by. Nobody desires to sabotage their own success. Nobody can handle being self-absorbed 24/7. And yet the land of insecurity is where so many of us women live, both young and old.

However, most of us have never been given a map or directions on how to get out of the land of insecurity. There aren’t any education courses out there titled “Becoming Confident 101.” Nor do I know of any reality TV show called Miss Confident Woman.

So where or how do we start? Let’s start with the definition.

Confidence is defined by Webster as “the feeling or consciousness of one’s powers or of one’s reliance on circumstances; the quality or state of being certain.”

Don’t be mistaken! When we talk about being confident, we are not talking about arrogance, superiority, having an overbearing personality, being a know-it-all, or being pushy…but we are talking about “being certain.”

“Being certain” of what is the key question?


Over time, I’ve gained my own conclusion of what we need to be certain of in order to be confident women. I believe a confident woman can say:

• I am certain of who I am
• I am certain of who God is
• I am certain of who I am in God
• I am certain of what I need to change in order to become all God intends me to be


Answering these questions take time and soul searching, which honestly, in our culture of busyness and superficiality, doesn’t happen. Only you can courageously look in the mirror and the Word of God to ask yourself these questions, as well as figure out the answers. But ladies, when you can rattle off the answers with conviction to each of these questions at any given time, watch out! There is one beautiful, confident woman on the loose!

You have to know why this issue for women is so close to my heart — it’s because I have lived it. I had a huge dwelling place in this land of feeling worthless, invaluable, and ugly. Growing up, I felt like the poster child for insecurity and like I ran the advertising for all the mistakes “to do” in order to make it worse. But God lead me on a journey through answering each of these 4 questions and growing me to the place that I am absolutely certain of each answer. I no longer question them. That doesn’t mean I never battle thoughts or feelings of insecurity, but God sets me straight pretty quickly by anchoring me to what I know to be true.

Let me offer you a road map of questions that will help you find the answers needed in order to leave the land of insecurity for good.

I am certain of who I am.

So, who are you? If you know yourself well, then you should be able to rattle off the answers to the following questions.

What are your strengths and what are your weaknesses? What most motivates you in life? What triggers stress for you? What type of confronter are you and how do you handle conflict? What do you need most from your relationships? What are your spiritual gifts and favorite ways to use them? What are your core values? What kind of a woman, wife, mother do you desire to be? How do you desire to influence and impact this world? What do you want your legacy to be?

Knowing yourself is not only an essential life skill, but it is necessary for security.

I am certain of who God is.

How well do you really know your God and His heart? Can you introduce Him to others? Are these easy blanks for you to fill in?

God has proved Himself faithful to me when He _____. I would explain God’s holiness as His _____. God’s love can’t be embraced without understanding His _____. God is most passionate about _____. The 7 things God says He hates are ______. The only sin that God can’t forgive is _____. God absolutely loves it when I _____. God wants me to view this world as _____. God thinks it is far more important that I _____ rather than _____. God would rather me be _____ than _____. 

Please note the God is beyond my blanks, beyond our minds, and beyond the time we have on earth to come to know completely. He is beyond all. There is none besides Him. And yet, He longs to be known by us. Ladies, we love Him by making every effort to get to know Him better.

I am certain of who I am in God.

Your identity in Christ Jesus as His child is the foundation of every choice you make. You must take the time to dig into the pages of Scripture and discover every facet of your identity in Him. Here are a few websites that could help you get started — but please don’t let them do the work for you. Look up each passage surrounding the verse and study it.

Who Am I in Christ

100 Bible Verses – Who I Am in Christ

Never forget that your life should not determine you identity, but that your identity should determine your life.

I am certain of what I need to change in order to become all God intends me to be
.

If you are aware of who you are, who God is, and who you are in God, the gaps in your life that don’t match your Christ-given identity become very clear. You now must open your eyes to where you are not making healthy or holy choices. You even ask others to help you recognize the patterns of unbelief and habitual sin that need to be dealt with. You spend time with God begging the Holy Spirit to search our heart and make you aware of immature or rebellious issues that need to be addressed. You can use Galatians 5 to check in how Spirit-controlled you are living or 1 Corinthians 13 to check in how well you are loving.

Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to changing and growing so that you an be all you were created to be.

No more excuses for living in the land of insecurity. Grab the road map, spend a whole lot of time with God, and let His truth lead you out of there.

Just remember that confidence isn’t perfection or arrival. It’s being certain of who you and where you are going.

Come on, find the confidence you were born to live with.

Read more