Judah Smith 10/17/14 “Home Sweet Home”

I was just feeling heavy-hearted. I feel like this once in a while and literally my internal voice will say to me “I want to go home”. It sometimes feels childlike to say that. Like I’m at work. Or I’m out doing something and for whatever reason I just want to go home. I was remembering today that one of the teachings during the Hillsong Conference touched on this very topic. I recorded the message for later use while listening to it live and today decided to listen to it again at my desk during my day at work. Just listening to Judah’s voice made me happy. It reminded me of the great time of preaching and worship during those three nights and two days. I often feel this way after events such as this and even after Sunday services at church. I just want to be in that place forever. I don’t want to go back into my stress or my “real life” during the week. I want to dwell there in those moments 24/7.

Have you ever felt this way?

I think it often comes when I am overwhelmed, non-confrontational, and just overall not in a happy place. We all go through times like this when we’d much rather be at home with the kids, or in bed, or snuggling up by a fireplace watching movies. Whatever your “home” image looks like. But today it dawned on me that what I really actually want is to be at peace, at home, with Jesus. Sometimes I just want to feel safe. I want to re-calibrate. I want to refuel. After listening to this message I don’t feel 100% night and day but I certainly feel better than I did before.

I hope this encourages you:

Major Points from “Home Sweet Home”:

  • Is my soul healthy? Is my soul well? Is it well with your soul?
  • Scripture says “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.” – 3 John 1:2 ESV
  • God is concerned with the inside far more than the outside–this is why the mind, soul, heart, and spirit are mentioned so much in the Bible.
  • Judah travels a lot and hates traveling and loves the feeling of relaxation and the natural exhale you let out when you are finally back home. This is something about being home because is your space and your sanctuary. You need to go home and you need to visit home often. People were designed to have homes – if you do not visit your home often it affects your personality, your emotions, and your overall health.
  • When was the last time my soul was home? How is my soul? In order to find out we have to go back to Creation.
  • Man was created as a shell/deactivated. When Adam was created there was no mention that he was human, alive, or living until he receives the breath of God. Genesis 2:7 KJV “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
  • When you speak about your soul you are simultaeously speaking about the breath of God. We are all living on borrowed breath. Therefore your soul is the breath of God.
  • To be truly human we must use the breath He gave us and use it to bring Him praise–all of creation is a theater for God’s glory
  • All of creation yearns for Jesus’s return (hills, lakes, trees, etc) all understand they exist to worship God. The trees get it. Their limbs shake in excitement waiting for Him to come. They can’t wait. (This is a wild thought isn’t it?)
  • In scripture Jesus is told that he must make people stop praising Him. Jesus replies that even if a human won’t praise me–even the rocks and trees will grow hands and mouths to praise me.
  • Luke 19:37-38 “Right at the crest, where Mount Olives begins its descent, the whole crowd of disciples burst into enthusiastic praise over all the mighty works they had witnessed:

    Blessed is he who comes,
        the king in God’s name!
    All’s well in heaven!
        Glory in the high places!

    39 Some Pharisees from the crowd told him, “Teacher, get your disciples under control!” But he said, “If they kept quiet, the stones would do it for them, shouting praise.”

  •  Psalm 103 has 22 verses which is equivalent to 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet..it’s the A-Z of life–beginning and ending with “bless the Lord”
  • The Hebrew mind would have read the Psalm and instead of merely understanding it to say praise the Lord oh my soul they would recognize that it is really saying “praise the Lord oh my breath”
  • Judah’s friend is a recent follower of Jesus. Was convinced of Jesus being the real deal when he read the book of John after seeing someone else was reading that book. He explained his experience as follows “it was like coming home” something within him knew this was home. This book was home. What it was saying was home.
  • You can go home even when you’re not physically in your home. This can be through reading the Bible, singing a song, listening to a song, anything that brings your soul home no matter where you are physically.
  • Concluding story of Mary and Martha—“Mary has chosen the better thing.” Perfect illustration because it takes place in a house. Mary is literally home but she is at home in Jesus’s presence. Luke 10:42 shows Jesus addressing the condition of Martha’s soul: “But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

So today no matter where you are, does your soul need to go home? I encourage you to take a moment whether it be in your bedroom, in a public bathroom, in a dressing room, or on your lunch break to visit home. Give rest to your weary soul. I can guarantee you will feel more rested than when you started.

Photo Credit: https://www.premierproductions.com/tour/hillsong-conference-usa-2014/new-york-city-ny

Wednesday Inspiration 10.8.14

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Last night I had a series of disturbing dreams–one of which involved me getting fired from my current job. I didn’t wake up afraid but it made me think about this quote I wrote and put up on my Instagram. I’m doing very well at my job. Yes, there are still occasional mistakes or things I can improve on but the CEO and my co-workers are very happy with me which is a great feeling. However, the enemy will never sleep. He will ALWAYS look for an opportunity to sneak into your thoughts, dreams, or attempt to plant a seed of doubt and worry. Think about it this way–if God is allowing you to succeed, the enemy is threatened. He wants nothing more than to make you question yourself.

Instead of allowing these worries or dreams or whatever it might be to take up residence in your mind and heart–see it as an opportunity to notice where you are doing well and where you are thriving. Sounds strange right? But really if the Enemy is dogging your tail on this–chances are it’s something He sees as a threat and doesn’t want you to be enjoying your success or feeling confident.

Psalm 91:1-16 (MSG)

91 1-13 You who sit down in the High God’s presence,
    spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow,
Say this: “God, you’re my refuge.
    I trust in you and I’m safe!”
That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps,
    shields you from deadly hazards.
His huge outstretched arms protect you—
    under them you’re perfectly safe;
    his arms fend off all harm.
Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night,
    not flying arrows in the day,
Not disease that prowls through the darkness,
    not disaster that erupts at high noon.
Even though others succumb all around,
    drop like flies right and left,
    no harm will even graze you.
You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance,
    watch the wicked turn into corpses.
Yes, because God’s your refuge,
    the High God your very own home,
Evil can’t get close to you,
    harm can’t get through the door.
He ordered his angels
    to guard you wherever you go.
If you stumble, they’ll catch you;
    their job is to keep you from falling.
You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes,
    and kick young lions and serpents from the path.

14-16 “If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God,
    “I’ll get you out of any trouble.
I’ll give you the best of care
    if you’ll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times;
    I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I’ll give you a long life,
    give you a long drink of salvation!”

Wednesday Inspiration 9.24.14

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This week I’ve gotten a few different messages from friends–one’s mom lost a job, another was having anxiety, and the last was going to rehab for an eating disorder. Sometimes it can seem daunting to be surrounded by problems and have no solutions for people. But ultimately we can always remind them that God is in control. He withholds no good thing.

At the end of Psalm 84 MSG it says:

All sunshine and sovereign is God,
    generous in gifts and glory.
He doesn’t scrimp with his traveling companions.
    It’s smooth sailing all the way with God-of-the-Angel-Armies.”

Meaning. God is not making things go South for you. He’s not laughing maniacally at your struggles like a cruel tyrant. Instead He is generous and doesn’t hold back. If my friend’s mom lost her job–maybe God desires to get her out of complacency and into a job she always wanted but never thought she’d have. Or maybe he’s allowing her to rest. Maybe He’s reminding her that He is in control and she can just relax and stop trying to make ends meet in her own power.

For my friend with anxiety..God withholds no good thing. He is generous in His peace. He is a protector. Maybe she was used to being independent–relying on no one. And as life happens you begin to see that you really have no control over anything. Life happens and you are along for the ride sometimes. But God will anchor you. You might feel like you are in a whirlpool but He knows you won’t sink. In Matthew 11:28-30 it says:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

To sum it up. STOP WORRYING. Be anxious for nothing. Don’t be afraid. God desires to take you alongside Him and recover. He won’t run ahead of you, He wants you to learn from Him and watch closely how He does it. He is the Prince of Peace after all.

Finally for my friend. I’m assuming she’s in rehab again because I haven’t heard from her since last week but I look forward to her getting help. But I also hope during this time she remembers the true Healer is God. While therapy helps you work it out, God is the one that made us all new. In Him we can have hope of a new life. No where else. I think therapy is good to bring issues out of hiding but I know plenty of people who have gone into rehab over and over only to fail. It is a matter of the heart and the mind to me. And God, well He has authority to heal a bitter or broken heart and a mind filled with destructive thoughts. It is important to remember these things in HIs Word:

  • Genesis 1:27 — You were made in the image of God.
  • Psalm 8 — In the whole wonderful universe, He gives you a place of honor.
  • Proverbs 31:30 — Outward appearances don’t matter as much as what’s inside.
  • Zephaniah 3:17 — The God of the universe takes delight in YOU!
  • Romans 5:8 — God loves you enough to send His Son to die for you.
  • 1 Peter 3:3 — How you look is not what really makes you beautiful.

-http://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/teen_booklets/truth-about-eating-disorders.aspx

I’m grateful that I’m in a season where I can remind people not to worry or to question God’s goodness in the bad times. Remember who you are and even more so remember who God is. You are stronger than you think and God is greater than you might believe in the midst of hardships.

Photo Credit: Pinterest.com

Tuesday Inspiration 9.9.14

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I saw this picture randomly online and really loved it because of the truth it contains. I never thought about it like this but it is so spot on. Let it be a great reminder about where our thoughts can lead us and how to keep focused on the present.

It’s a simple reminder.

1. Looking at the past will only make you depressed

Isaiah 43 (MSG)

18-19 “Forget about what’s happened;
    don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
    It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?”

 

2. Looking into the future will only make you anxious

Matthew 6:34 (MSG)

34 “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

 

3. Looking at the present will keep you at peace

Psalm 118 (NIV)

24 “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it”

 

 

Photo Credit: thewellnesswarrior.com.au

Monday Inspiration 6.16.14

Monday Inspiration 6.16.14

I’m still on a high from church yesterday. I spent the morning decorating the Hillsong NYC location in NJ for Father’s Day and went to the last service in Manhattan which I haven’t had the chance to do in a while. Today seemed like a good day to list out my thanks:

Thank You Lord:

1. For Hillsong NYC. I’ve gone to a handful of churches over the course of my life and by far this is my favorite house. I have never felt more challenged, more loved, and more creatively useful in my journey thus far.

2. For Venue Design Team. I remember going to my first Team Night/Creative Night at Hillsong NYC last July. It was a little awkward because I didn’t know anyone but I instantly felt connected there. From the playlist before the night started (Alt-J was amongst the songs played), to people giving me hugs, to the information bar helping me select a volunteer team, to the people who shared a message that night i.e. one about there always being room for you, I knew this was going to be a place for me. Now almost a year later I love my Venue Design team. I am one of the leaders of the team. And it feels good to have a mini church family.

3. For being a God of surprises. I am not an amazing singer. I can hold a tune but I’m not going to be cutting albums. I was on worship teams in two prior churches and in my last church I wanted to be part of the team but after auditions I was told my vocals weren’t as professional as they were looking for. I was disappointed but I wasn’t bitter about it. At Hillsong NYC it’s kind of a funny story. At my first Team Night I remember walking to the building and saying to God–“Well I just don’t want to sing here”. Little did I know there were only two creative teams meeting that night: vocals and musicians. Clearly I couldn’t fake being a musician so that only left vocals. I wanted to stay the entire night so I ended up going to the vocal team. I remember again saying to God–“Well okay but I’m not singing in front of anyone”. And I think you can gather what happened next. We were broken up into small groups and told to harmonize with each other. One of the leaders of my group sings in the worship band and is clearly much more talented than I am, but I swallowed my pride and harmonized with her. I felt awkward but other people were just as awkward and it was okay in the end. I remember weeks later another girl who sings in the band asking if I was going to join vocals and I recall saying something to the effect of “No, I’m not really that good. I don’t think it’s my gift”. Or something. And I wasn’t disappointed because well it’s not really something I was dying to do and not something I felt like I was up to par with. Hillsong is known for it’s albums and worship and there’s no way I am on that level. I admire it. I think it would be cool to have their voices for like 24 hours to belt out whatever I wanted to but beyond that I don’t think it’s what I was put on the Earth for. And I’m okay with that. The point of the story is God will surprise you. About three weeks ago this girl came up to me out of a group of friends as we were setting up for Venue Design and basically said “Hey, we’re short some people for choir, would you be interested? We always need 8 people or we can’t do it.” And I just remember laughing to myself like. Okay God. You’re hilarious. I didn’t ask for that. I didn’t even really want that anymore. And yet there was a need. And God knows me. I’m the type of girl who with no hand-eye coordination with small sporting equipment joined a JV softball team in High School because a girl in my class was desperate to play and the team needed 1 more player to keep a JV team. Now 100%. I was horrible. I can’t swing a bat. Apparently I drop my shoulder when I swing. I’m sure because I have the arms of an 11 year old boy. I was pretty much good for stealing bases and being hit with the ball to get on base. That was the extent of my talent. Now fast forward to this choir situation. I’ve been doing it for a few weeks now. Everyone is so happy to see me. I’m helping make sure that people who want to be in choir get to do it and meanwhile God is also showing me “Hey, if I want you somewhere–even if you don’t think you’re good enough for it–I’m going to create a need. I’m going to do this because I can”.

4. For this blog. For years it was painful for me to think about being creative with my writing. I had endured a terribly dark season following a horrible relationship. I didn’t feel good about myself. In a way I wanted to stay in my hole of despair and just go through the motions. I just wanted to survive. I didn’t really want to live. And granted. My blog is pretty insignificant in the scheme of things. But seeing people view it from other countries. Having even 50 people following me–is validation. It’s validation that this is my talent and my story is worth telling.

5. For my relationship with God. Ever since I started going to Hillsong I feel closer and closer to God. I don’t think it’s 100% the church but more like being in the right place at the right time. I started going to Hillsong late. I knew for about a year before I came that it was the place I wanted to be but I wasn’t ready to cut ties with my old church. Even though there was a lot of sadness in my old church and bad friendships I still felt like I needed to push on for some reason. I’m glad I took the plunge though. Even though I was in the midst of a horrible time at work, anxiety, sadness, and all sorts of things I needed something to be happy about. Something to look forward to. And church. And Team Night every week was like a dangling carrot to look forward to every week. I used to feel awkward raising my hand in worship. Worrying how I looked or worrying that it wouldn’t be genuine or thinking I was just doing it because everyone else was. But I look at my worship now and I feel God all around me. I hear Him in my days speaking to me, sometimes singing to me, showing me things in my dreams and as hard as this season of life can be–I still don’t think I would trade it for what I have now.

It’s always a good idea to reflect on what you are thankful for. It’s easy to get wrapped up in what isn’t happening but it’s a boost when you look at what is happening and what has happened.

A thought for the day comes from Joyce Meyer’s Power Thoughts. “As I began to study the subject of receiving God’s love, I realized I was in desperate need of the message myself. I had a subconscious, vague sort of understanding that God loved me, but I needed deeper revelation. The love of God is meant to be a powerful force in our lives, one that will take us through even the most difficult trials without our ever doubting God’s love. Power thought: I am actively aware of God’s love for me.”

I think even though I grew up in the church it was still hard for me until the past few years to really feel that God loved me individually. It was easy to think of God’s love as an umbrella and we are all equally underneath but His love for me individually is a waterfall and in actuality I am the only one underneath. He wants to bring us all to a place where we get a personal revelation of how much He cares for us personally. He is big enough to love each of us as if we were the only person on Earth He created. It’s time to receive that and to be thankful for all that He does to prepare us for it.

Photo Credit: Found on Etsy.com

Wednesday Inspiration 5.28.14

Wednesday Inspiration 5.28.14

This verse is one of the more challenging ones for me. In the Message it translates “You’re not yet taking God seriously,” said Jesus. “The simple truth is that if you had a mere kernel of faith, a poppy seed, say, you would tell this mountain, ‘Move!’ and it would move. There is nothing you wouldn’t be able to tackle.” Can you imagine having THAT much faith? We say that with God anything is possible but moving a mountain? I don’t even want to CLIMB a mountain.

There are still areas of my life long dead. I’m still waiting for a new job, a relationship, the salvation of my dad, a solid group of friends and financial breakthrough just to name a few. But God wants me and you to remember than even a tiny fleck of faith can move mountains–even the ones in our lives. In Romans 15:13 it proclaims “Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!” I like that picture. Green hope. Fresh hope. The first sign of spring after a harsh winter. Our God is a god of GREEN hope.

I want to be the John 1 version of myself always –“my true self, my child-of-God self”. I never want to be crippled by doubt, anxiety, or intimidation in the face of mountains. I want to continue to grow day by day and have the mountains flee from my path.

Luke 1:45 “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

Photo Credit: Found on Etsy.com

Thursday Inspiration 5.22.14

Thursday Inspiration 5.22.14

I think this is a good reminder for any day. God is making things happen even when you can’t see it or feel it. He is always listening to your prayers. I’ve grown a lot over the past 2 years in my faith. I never used to realize how much of a control freak I was over certain things in my life. Overall I am very laid back and go with the flow. I let people be who they are, nothing really rattles me. However I’ve seen how my career, provision for my life, and organizing my present and future was getting a little out of hand. There were times where I wouldn’t buy anything at all because my outlook was just pay bills, get out of debt, have a cushion for when your family can’t pay a bill, etc. It was unhealthy. Or I would search search search for a new job and it consumed every moment thinking should I apply for this, or should I call this person back again–instead of just resting. I’ve learned to be less of a doer and more of a receiver. God doesn’t want me to be a Martha. Running around like a chicken without a head when I should be more like Mary sitting at His feet and resting knowing He will work it all out.

Psalm 143 is a good example of this cry of my heart:

7-10 Hurry with your answer, God!
I’m nearly at the end of my rope.
Don’t turn away; don’t ignore me!
That would be certain death.
If you wake me each morning with the sound of your loving voice,
I’ll go to sleep each night trusting in you.
Point out the road I must travel;
I’m all ears, all eyes before you.
Save me from my enemies, God—
you’re my only hope!
Teach me how to live to please you,
because you’re my God.
Lead me by your blessed Spirit
into cleared and level pastureland.

I want to always be the kind of daughter that “goes to sleep every night trusting” my Father and who is “all ears” and “all eyes” before Him. So often we are tempted to figure it all out and be self-reliant and yet, that’s not what God asks from us. If anything it is offensive to Him because he wants so badly for us to trust Him. In Hebrews 11 5-6 it says “it’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.” It’s all about that relationship–the trust that comes along with it.

And the funny thing about all of this is that He didn’t wait for me to be okay with letting go. Over time you just learn that you can’t handle anything anymore. And the more I let go of taking care of my future myself, being financially crippled, not knowing how to improve in my career and advance, the more honestly–it makes sense why I struggled with anxiety. You don’t realize how tightly you held on to things until you give them to God. It’s in our weakness that we are strong because we finally surrender our human strength for His unrivaled strength. In Romans 5:6-8 it says that “Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.” God can do anything but He’s also not forceful. He will wait for our own strength to run out so we can finally look up and reach out for His. Otherwise we can’t be much use to Him if we are still adamant on spinning the tires.

My prayer is that I always remember Isaiah 40:27-31:

“Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening?
God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.
He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.
And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired,
they walk and don’t lag behind.

Found on pawleysislandposh.blogspot.com

Thursday Inspiration 5.8.14

Thursday Inspiration 5.8.14

It was a little scary to think about traveling last week alone. Normally I love getting on a plane. I love having a new place to go and plans. However this season of my life has been plagued with anxiety as I’ve alluded to in previous entries. So there was that little part of me that worried about being on a plane alone for 7 hours, being in a country I’ve never been to alone, things like that. However, I can honestly say I was fine the entire trip. Surprisingly fine.

Even though there have been times that I felt crippled with anxiety since the Summer, sick to my stomach anxious, I know that I am closer to the other side than ever before–I am hand in hand with my Jesus and He is guiding me through the valley of the shadow of death. Through anxiety, through whatever darkness is trying to appear to be worse than it is, I am holding hands with the Light. He is my lantern in the darkness, my beacon in the shadows, and He will never leave me or forsake me.

What darkness are you walking through? Does it appear to be never-ending? Sometimes it’s a matter of looking into the void and knowing that you may stumble over things that you cannot see as if you are walking through a very dark room, but you are holding hands with the One who can turn on the light–He who promises to illuminate what cannot be seen.

I am a huge fan of Harry Potter and so I’ll leave you with this:

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

The Drought Ends

It’s a new work week and instead of feeling well rested after the weekend I actually feel totally depleted. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I had horrible bouts of insomnia. No matter what I did I could not stay asleep. Friday I woke up out of a deep sleep and remained up from 1 am – 4 am. Saturday I could not fall asleep and when I did I slept for about 4 hours. And last night..well last night you would think out of sheer exhaustion it would have been easy to drift off to sleep but I went to bed and woke up an hour later.

 

I prayed out loud that Jesus does not give me a spirit of fear, that I do not have to be awake or anxious because Jesus has won this fight I am going through and therefore a sound mind and heart are mine to claim. However, while it settled me to a degree I feel like the storm raged on–less intense but still enough to remain in a state of unrest. The one last night actually resulted in bodily tremors almost like I was freezing even though I wasn’t all that cold. And yet during that time I found some verses that were kind of incredible despite everything I was going through:

“You pulled me from the brink of death, my feet from the cliff-edge of doom. Now I stroll at leisure with God in the sunlit fields of life” – Psalm 56:13

“…under God’s mighty hand he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” – 1 Peter 5:6

“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters you will not go down…I paid a huge price for you…that’s how much you mean to me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you.” – Isaiah 43:1-6

“I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand” – Isaiah 51:16

It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and he got our hopes up, he has his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone” – Ephesians 1:11-12

“You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights,  Each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book” – Psalm 56:8

“The minute I said “I’m slipping, I’m falling” your love God took hold and held me fast. When i was upset and beside myself, you calmed me down and cheered me up” – Psalm 94:16-19

It’s hard because I honestly feel horrible the majority of the time. I’ve lost weight over the course of Summer-Fall 2013, I’m quick to get sick which never used to happen, I’m overly stressed mentally, my body has daily aches and pains, I’m not resting properly when it’s time to decompress and relax for sleep and yet I’m clinging to what I know to be true. Jesus is my defender and my deliverer and nothing will destroy the good he has for me. I know the plans he has for me are all positive. My faith has overcome the world and because I am a child of God I will overcome my present circumstances (1 John 5:4). And yet it is still challenging to walk in the knowledge that this is a temporary struggle when it feels like in every way you’ve reached your limit and there is no end in sight.

I came into the office this morning with a note from a friend about a message she heard at her church yesterday:

I pretty much was in tears throughout the service especially when the pastor said what do you do when you are doing all you know to do and nothing is happening. It’s like people are passing you in circles while you are standing still feeling like you are stuck. Then you hear the thoughts in your mind that this job is all you will ever have, nobody wants you, you aren’t good enough, you don’t have the qualifications and so on.

He came from the scripture 1 Kings 18:41-45 when there was a drought happening but Elijah believed the message he heard from God that it was going to rain. He sent Ahab to go look in the sea to see if it was filled and Ahab did it but didn’t see anything and it wasn’t until the 7th time that he went to look that it started to rain. He pretty much said this year is going to be a year where we can’t see things in a logical sense. He said God is preparing us and showing us things on a  deeper spiritual level and in order to be ready for the move of God we have to look past what we see. If all this turmoil is going on then you know God is up to something great because the title of that verse is the drought ends. We need to always have the word of God in us and ready to speak it in our circumstances so we can use it back to him because His word will not return to him void but accomplish what He pleases and prosper you.

 

And so in the midst of my exhaustion I will renew my mind with the promise of rain.

Because of Them

One of my favorite verses is Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV) “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” I think the word “them” applies to a lot of different situations for people: money, health issues, memories of abuse, a journey of recovery from addiction, etc. All of us have a looming “them” that fills us with fear even though we may know we are not going through these things alone. For me here and now in this season of my life that applies to any time I feel anxiety setting in. Ever since the summer I have struggled with panic attacks. I know everyone deals with stress differently and even though I’ve had a handful in my life this was happening multiple times a week and sometimes even twice in a day. My workload in the office was insurmountable this year with the highlight being in the summer and it still hasn’t teetered out. The verbal abuse any time I requested help or problems came up was excruciating and it was difficult for me to not feel badly about myself because of it. Sundays were hard for me because I knew I was going to work the next day and it’s like my body was bracing itself for impact. Sometimes I would be nervous staying in the city late for weekly events because I felt alone and if something were to happen to me because of my panic attacks I would be too far from home to be picked up. People would see me falling apart. People would know I was nuts or something.

Most days I would be sitting on the bus to or from work and I would pull up this verse and read it over and over to myself in my head. Sometimes I would take a deep breath or hold my breath in between words “(inhale) Be strong and courageous (exhale). (Inhale and hold breath) Do not be afraid or terrified because of them (your anxious thoughts, your indigestion, your racing thoughts, your bubbling nausea) (exhale) For the Lord your God goes with you. (inhale) He will never leave you (exhale) or forsake you (repeat). As silly as that sounds it gave me something to focus on. I carry around ginger candy or cough drops too sometimes as a means of calming my tight throat down. To settle the nausea that I often get when I start to rev up. I keep my iPod handy to drown out my own thoughts when my mind desperately tries to churn over thoughts and worries until I actually feel like I could black out from worry and exhaustion.

I wanted to write this today because even though I still struggle with anxiety and even though it is something I’ve never dealt with before– I am seeing myself improve. I don’t have anxiety attacks for as long in duration as I once did for one. I’m learning to use different tools to combat it and I try to use scripture to settle myself down when I see the signs of anxiety start to set in:

           2 Corinthians 10:5

The Message (MSG)

3-6 The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.

In other words I try to take every thought captive. In the office I’ve noticed towards the end of 2013 and still into this year that people have also come to me to vent about how poorly their health is and that they are struggling with anxiety-related health issues i.e. heartburn, acid-reflux, panic attacks, ulcers, and more. And if anything as dire as it seems, if I’m honest, to be just another wounded person in this office I also know that I’m set apart because I at least know who my Healer is. I’m at the very least able to renew my mind and body through His promises and Word. Do you ever think about that? Some days I literally say to myself if I wasn’t a Christian I would have lost it by now. 100% The things in my current life/past and most people’s are incredibly dark. It’s easy to spiral. Some days I think how badly I feel or how painful this trial is for me personally and I even feel like a poor example of a Christian sometimes. Like shouldn’t I be better at finding joy? Why am I letting this eat away at me? And yet even at my absolute worst I still know that I am on the right track. I’m on a treatment plan if you will but the people around me are still sick.

It’s hard for me to know why I am here in this often toxic environment and although I have one Christian co-worker even she is falling apart. I came into the office with a private email from her saying that once again she’s at her breaking point. She wants to quit. She almost did yesterday after I left for the day. It’s not easy when everyone’s falling down like Dominoes around you. And yet I know His promises for me are for good and not evil. He promises to give me hope and a future. He knows me and my co-worker and everyone in my office for that matter intimately and longs to bring us into the fullness of what he has prepared in advance for us.

Exodus 23: 20-24 “Now get yourselves ready. I’m sending my Angel ahead of you to guard you in your travels, to lead you to the place that I’ve prepared. Pay close attention to him. Obey him. Don’t go against him. He won’t put up with your rebellions because he’s acting on my authority. But if you obey him and do everything I tell you, I’ll be an enemy to your enemies, I’ll fight those who fight you….25-26 “But you—you serve your God and he’ll bless your food and your water. I’ll get rid of the sickness among you… I’ll make sure you live full and complete lives.