Getting Unstuck: Step into the light again

Stuck -jeremy-bishopDo you feel stuck? How long have you been stuck? Was there a situation that happened that threw you into the “stuck” state?

If the definition of stuck is ‘stationary by some obstruction’, then I believe that many times we can get stuck because something happened that we don’t process in a biblical way.  Chronologically, the calendar keeps moving forward, but emotionally, the hands of the clock stand still as we are locked in pain, bitterness, or grief. Someone has hurt us, we hurt ourselves, or some situation has transpired that threw us down the rabbit hole and we don’t know how to get out.  The pain and question marks become the unwanted house guests who refuse to leave.

If we’re Bible believing Christians, this is particularly burdensome, because we have all of this Scripture that promises that the Lord will carry our burdens, that He will be our peace, and that no weapon formed against us will prosper.  So how do we handle the loss when a weapon formed against us does seem to prosper – when we lose a loved one or a relationship, when we experience a large setback like divorce or bankruptcy, or when a habit or addiction has caused us to make some hurtful choices and now we’re living in the stink of those choices?

I believe the answer is to learn how to process our situations in light of the Truth of Who God is and what He says He will do with our messes. We get stuck because a trauma has frozen us in one spot.

But there are ways to get “unstuck”. Let’s look at a couple.

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Flight of the Monarch: Guest Blog Post

Below is a blog written by my friend, Jamie Sasien. I know you’ll be blessed. I look forward to hosting other guest bloggers on my site so stay tuned!

As a homeschooling mom of three children I’m always learning.  My girls and I have been studying insects and when we got to the butterflies we watched some videos on the Monarch.  Did you know that a Monarch butterfly will travel from the north of America and Canada all the way to Southern California or the middle of Mexico each fall?  This is known as the flight of the Monarch.  It got me thinking to my original reason for wanting to write years ago.  God gave me this idea that we as parents are on a journey in raising our children to take the next step of their life.  Our children may not go through a full metamorphosis like the butterfly, but it sometimes feels like it.

So as I was thinking about the butterfly, it got me thinking of our lives with kids.  Butterfly’s mate while in Mexico and then the females in spring begin their long journey back north, where they lay their eggs.  They know that they need to lay their eggs specifically on milkweed, as this is what the baby caterpillars will eat once they are born.  Like our little ones, the first thing they need is food.  Remember those late nights nursing and making sure our little ones had plenty to eat.  Our babies don’t grow as quickly as these small caterpillars but like the caterpillar in this stage, all they do is eat and sleep.

Caterpillar

Photo by Yoal Desurmont on Unsplash

The next stage is the pupa stage.  This is the time when they undergo huge transformations.  For us this stage begins in the pre-k years and continues through the teen years.  These years our children are going through the most transformation.  These can be the hardest of years and the most enjoyable. Then one day they begin to emerge, they begin to crawl out of those years.  They first need to dry their wings before they can take their first flight.  I think of this as a time usually when they are beginning to drive and get their first job.

Monarch Butterfly.jpg

Photo by Sean Stratton on Unsplash

What happens last is the most amazing step.  The steps when we let them go.  We let them fly.  They may not go 2,000 miles away, but it may seem like it when you drop them off to school or send them away to boot camp.  This is what we have been planning for, preparing them for, molding them into.  Thankfully our process isn’t as short as the butterfly, but it feels as if it was just yesterday that we left one stage and entered the next.  I’m not sure what stage of parenting you are in, but God is in all of it.  He has told us this was his plan when he said, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

God knows that our job is to prepare them for where they are going.  Each stage is a step in letting go.  We let go with everything we do with our children.

  • We let go when we wean from nursing.
  • We let go so they can take that first step.
  • We let go when they sleep through the night.
  • We let go when we send them to school.
  • We let go when they begin to read on their own.
  • We let go when they can make their own breakfast, lunch or dinner.
  • We let go when they can do their own laundry.
  • We let go when they begin to drive.
  • We let go…… (You fill in the blank.)

Now you:

  • What steps have you taken in letting go?
  • Have you even noticed your letting them go each step of the way?
  • How are you training your children?
  • What example are you giving them?
  • What steps do you need God’s help in?
  • Are you praying over them during these steps?

You are taking these steps each day, week, year in letting your babies fly.  Your babies are to take their journey, to begin their life.  However, you have a job now at the stage you are in.  It doesn’t matter what mistakes you have made in the past.  You can begin again fresh today.  Remember, “With God, all things are possible.” Your part is in training your children, molding them, praying for them.  They may buck and balk along the way, but what you have done, raising them in the Lord, will come to pass.  Trust the Lord.  Trust the process.  God will never let you down, especially when it comes to your children, His children.

My prayer for you:

May God encourage you today.  Know God is pleased with you and He will guide you in raising your children. I pray that God would give you wisdom and knowledge in raising your children.  I pray that He would love them through you and that your children would come to know the Lord because of your teaching and example.  May God bless you in this journey and may you enjoy the process. I pray you will have God’s perfect peace letting your children fly into the plans He has for them.  Amen

About the author of this post:  Jamie Sasien is a homeschooling mom of three ages 13, 12, and 8.  She is also married to her best friend of 16 years.  She writes on a blog: One Day to the Next, where she shares about her love of parenting, marriage, and Jesus. 

Workout your thought life!

Workout2If I could stay in bed, sleep in and still stay fit, I would do it. While I enjoy the camaraderie of my workout classes, if I could avoid the intense exertion five out of seven mornings a week, I would totally do it! But because I enjoy being fit and keeping my weight and mental clarity at a certain level, I make myself rise at an early hour so that I can have time with the Lord and also have time to exercise every day. I say, “No”, to hitting the snooze button 14 times for the greater “Yes” of feeling good after a hard workout and for the rest of the day.

The other morning, when I was doing my devotions, the thought came to me that we can put our thoughts into the same workout regimen that we put our bodies in.  The same way I control what I put into my body and how I exercise it to stay in shape, I can control what I put into my mind and exercise those thoughts to get the flab out of my thought life. Just as my body without exercise would revert to a state of untoned muscles, my mind without exertion becomes slack and untrained. My thoughts will automatically go towards negativity, fear, and low self-esteem. That’s what my mind looks like when left to itself.

But God has given me a great “gym” for my thought life. It’s called the Word of God. For every flabby negative thought that wants to keep me in a cycle of failure, I can purposefully replace it with God’s thoughts about me and my circumstances. But those thoughts aren’t natural, just like working out doesn’t feel natural. I have to MAKE myself dig into the Word and find God’s thoughts on a matter and then I have to WRITE them down so I don’t forget them, and then I have to REHEARSE those words over and over until they get into my brain. Eventually, my thoughts will get into godly shape.

But here’s what I see so often…many of us hear the Word on Sunday and think that a one-time hearing is going to make a change. But let me ask you this: if I went to the gym once a week, do you think I would notice any measurable change in my cardiovascular health or in the shape of my physical body? And if I ate junk food all week and then expected that one visit to the gym to work magic, do you think I would see the results I hope for?

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What’s the deal with sin? It’s a new day

Woman on shoreline at sunrise.jpg

Did I just say that out loud??

Do you ever have those moments when you say something and then realize what you said after you hear it come out of your mouth? Most of the time when that happens to me, it’s not a good moment of realization.  It’s usually one where I stand there in embarrassment wishing the floor would open up and suck me in.

But now and again, I have really great moments of brilliance inspired by the Holy Spirit when I say something wise, or encouraging, or with a knowledge that I KNOW didn’t come from me! I’m just not that good! That happened the other night when I was leading a discussion / book group at a transitions home for women who are coming out of poverty, homelessness and drugs. Most of these women have children. When I look into their eyes, I see such potential and such promise, yet I know they are just one bad decision away from re-entering their destructive life. So I pour out everything in me on those nights, giving my all to demonstrate the immense love of God for these broken girls, most of whom have never known safety, stability, self-discipline and real honest love.

I don’t go up to that house with a plan.  I bring a book that we’re reading together that deals with using God’s Word to bring emotional healing and changing destructive thinking to positive, overcoming thinking. We take turns reading out loud until I feel like we should stop and talk about what we read. Or until one of the girls stops me and asks a question. Every single week is different from the last.

Some girls have left the program…sadly. But more have joined the house than have left. And as our group grows, so does the amount of discussion and the number of questions that I’m fielding. So I lean heavily on the Holy Spirit to give me wisdom for the simple reason that I’ve never been an addict or homeless with my children. I have first-hand experience with addiction in my family, but that’s not the same as being the user and the one who now has to pick up the pieces with children in tow.

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Even If: How do we trust God when things go sideways?

Festoon-lightingI recently heard a song that could have been written about a season in my life. The lyrics perfectly describe a situation that I went through over a decade ago…but whose reality still grips my heart. It’s a song by the band, MercyMe and it’s called ‘Even If’.

Verse 1:

They say, ‘Sometimes you win some / Sometimes you lose some.’

And right now, right now I’m losing bad.

I’ve stood on this stage night after night, reminding the broken it’ll be alright,

But right now, right now I just can’t.

It’s easy to sing when there’s nothing to bring me down.

But what will I sing when I’m held to the flame like I am right now?

 

My husband and I were just a couple years into blending our family. Things had been challenging in every arena but our love and gratitude for this fresh new start was high.

And then the bottom fell out. We were taken to court by someone who wanted to see us fail. This person slandered us, sent us threatening letters, and attacked our character, our finances and the peace in our home. I can’t go into more detail than that, but suffice it to say that the months leading up to the day in court were fraught with anxiety and fear.

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Fruit that Remains: Excerpts from my journals that nourished me and might encourage you, too!

grapevine-with-detail-of-grapes-picjumbo-com

Fruit That Remains: Lessons from my journals. These are excerpts from my journals over the years. Some are more current than others. I love going back into my journals because I always get refreshed and re-learn the lessons that the Lord has taught me and that I have faithfully scribed.

 

I can’t take it anymore! I’m so overwhelmed I feel like I’m going to have a breakdown!

Have you every felt like that? I have – many times! On one such occasion, I had been trying to make everything work in my own strength but I was in a season where there were too many demands and not enough of me to go around.  I had too much on my plate and plainly needed a clone of myself to get all of my work done, let alone things at home and in ministry. It was just TOO MUCH. So I brought my anxiety to the Lord.

1 Peter 5:7 – Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

So in this instance, here is how the conversation went down in my journal:

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What a mess! Can God do anything with this??

What a mess!!Messy room with girl in it

Sometimes it’s easy to look at our life and wonder “Can God do anything with this?” We look at all of our faults and question if there is any way that He will ever be able to truly change the mess inside. But the good news is He already has done something about the mess! The word of God tells us that we are redeemed and restored to glory – that old things have passed away and all things have become new.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

But the enemy will lie to us so consistently and so believably pointing out our flaws and our failures that our consciousness of who we are in Christ becomes deadened and our focus on the lies becomes acute.

What is the solution for this? I believe that thanksgiving plays a major role in keeping God at the center of our focus and not placing weight on the wrong things. Do we have flaws?  Yes, we do. Do we have failures? Yes, we do. But believe it or not, those things do not define us. God has clothed us in the righteousness of Christ and he sees us as perfectly redeemed and restored. He doesn’t see us that way as in seeing us through a hopeful vision of who we may become someday. He sees us that way NOW.

Galatians 3:27
For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

 

Romans 13:14

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.

So why do we continue to struggle with the old man? Why is it so easy to see ourselves as defeated, as a bad person, as a failure?

It’s because we have lost our vision of the truth. But thanksgiving will put the truth back in the center of our focus. It will put the miraculous work that God has done in us and for us on Center Stage. We can’t afford to lose the awareness of God’s presence for one moment or we will succumb to the pressures of this life and to a worldview of ourselves and our limitations.

We serve a God who is unlimited and who calls us to live an unlimited life of adventure and holiness, so a small-minded view of ourselves will hinder God’s plan.

  • Do you wake up excited for a new day? Do you rise in the morning with an awareness of God and a feeling of intimacy with him?
  • Or do you wake up feeling already defeated, hemmed-in by your life, by your obligations and by your poor self-esteem?
  • Do you see other people’s successes and envy them because you feel you will never have success of your own?
  • Do you see goodness in other people and feel condemned by it because you wonder if God is disappointed in you?

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that God adores us and loves us the way he does when we are so busy comparing ourselves to other people. But He does love us each uniquely. He created us and he loves who he created. It is unhealthy to focus more on the problems in our lives and in ourselves than on the goodness of God. Thanksgiving turns our perspective around changing our thinking from focusing on the negative and on our failures to focusing on the work of God.

Now you:

  • Do you want to wake up with a positive attitude about the day and about your life?
  • Do you want to stay aware of the goodness of God throughout the day.

Thankfulness is the key to keeping God at the center of our focus.  We can set a reminder on our phone or place sticky notes around our house to remind us to be thankful.  We can teach our children the difference between being thankful for what they have and complaining about what they don’t have.

I was with a mother last night who had her daughter with her.  The daughter is around 10 or 11 years old.  When they were leaving the cafe where we were meeting, the daughter started to complain that the mom hadn’t bought her a cookie.  The mom calmly stopped her by lifting up her finger and said, “That’s complaining.  That’s not being thankful.  How about being thankful for the wonderful salad with chicken and tomatoes that mom bought you? How about being thankful for your family and for your blessings, like swimming lessons?” The daughter proceeded to try to voice her complaint but the mom stopped her again and said, “If you want to complain, you’re not going to do it front of me. You’re blessed and you need to say ‘Thank you’ to me, not gripe and complain.” The daughter, seeing that her complaining wasn’t getting her what she wanted relented and said, “Thank you for dinner.”  I thought that was such a great lesson.  Instead of telling her daughter that she didn’t want to hear the griping, the mother focused on the fact that being thankful should be her attitude and she helped her daughter by focusing her thoughts on things to be grateful for.

Let’s parent ourselves well and stop that little griping child inside from voicing complaint after complaint.  Let’s put a finger to our mouth and stop ourselves from being unthankful, rather reminding ourselves of things that we can be grateful for! Amen!!