It’s May! Glory!

It’s May! Glory!

Today is the first day of May and the first month I am taking part in the monthly worship event I’ve created. I was looking for creative ways to be reminded of the awesomeness of God and thought the book of Numbers would be a fun place to start.

I went to Numbers 28 and looked at how often God called the Israelites to either have an assembly, sacrifice, feast, party; what have you… and found that within the Israelite worship calendar it was near impossible to forget God. There are things to do every day week, month, season, and year.

Since we’re not in the Old Covenant of sacrificing animals and bringing the grains and the fruits to the Lord (thank God), I thought about how I could incorporate the routine of worship into a New Covenant calendar. I set up a list of events to give me opportunities to connect with God and thank Him.

Every month, the Israelites would give a burnt offering to the Lord. It was a big event with lots of animals sacrificed (🙁), fine flour, oil, and drink offerings galore! I took this practice and thought of what I could do as a monthly offering to the Lord. Paul said to the Roman church in the first century that they were to present themselves as a living sacrifice to God. They were to devote themselves to Him and seek His good. That was their spiritual worship.

In Jesus’ prayer for His disciples, and those who would come to believe in Him due to their testimony, Jesus said that eternal life for believers was to know God. Jesus’ death and resurrection now allows us to do just that. We can connect with God every day at any time!

So, for every first day of the month, this is what I’m going to do: have a fantastic dinner to honor God and enjoy the gift of a good meal, reflect on how God has provided the past month, anticipate obstacles that could arise this present month, think about who needs prayer, and make note of what I’m excited about that is coming up!

My goal in all of this is to connect with God on a deeper level, grow in gratitude and joy for who He is and what He has done, and share His goodness and truth with others. God is so worthy of praise and I am absolutely excited to get started on this. If you would like to join in on my worship calendar, click on this link and it will subscribe you to a read-only version of it. If you decide to participate, please let me know how it goes! I would love to be inspired by how you worship God on these days.

Before I sign out, I’m going to share one thing I’m grateful for this past month: God’s joy.

I’m at a stage in codependency recovery where I am having more joyful days and fewer days of anxiety and misery. God has increasingly been showing me why I can live a life of freedom and joy. I love Him and feel so blessed to live every day with Him. Today, my expression of happiness in Christ is through thankfulness and unashamedly terrible dancing to this fantastic song. Watch the video and try to stay seated. 😜

God loves you! Celebrate that!

 

In Death, In Life

In Death, In Life

Happy Post-Resurrection Day!!

I hope you enjoyed celebrating the day Jesus rose from the dead! My day was filled with church, family, food, games, and travel… followed by wine, cookies, and recap with family and friends. At the end of the day, it was lovely to relax, pet my dog, and be with like-minded friends that love Jesus.

My neighbor, aunt, and I are celebrating Jesus’ resurrection for the next eight days. Each day this week, we’re living in the joy of new life through Jesus Christ. Today, I wore sparkly shoes and put flowers at my desk. Tonight there will be a toast with my neighbor and we will reflect on the impact of the resurrection in our lives.

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With all this celebrating going on, you’d think my heart would be light and I’d have a smile plastered on my face… but that’s not the case. Well, not continuously. This morning actually started off pretty weird. I was running a little behind this morning and didn’t get to do anything that out of the ordinary in my quiet time. I had wanted to add something extra to celebrate the resurrection, but didn’t get the chance. I threw a lunch together for work, got in the car, and had technology fall apart (which seems to be my norm). As I’m trying to connect my phone to the Bluetooth in my car (because it had disconnected for some reason), the system isn’t recognizing my voice, repeating commands, and failing to pair up. I’m screaming, “CONTINUE!” at my car like I’m speaking to an elderly person with hearing problems. I’m calling people idiots on the freeway and wondering how they received a drivers license.

Halfway to work, I finally got the phone to connect, got my Resurrection playlist going, and felt miserable. How could I praise God for a new life after the fit I had just thrown? I was able to play a song and a half before pulling into work and rushing to clock in. Some day of celebration.

At work, my sparkly shoes were hidden by my desk and everything felt horribly normal.

Lunch came around and I got in my car to run some errands. I put on my Resurrection playlist for a second time and asked God for a fresh start. I’ve been discovering that God can change my day without me going to sleep and waking up the next morning. He can change it in an instant. He can change me in an instant.

The song, “One Thing Remains,” started playing. I listened to that song while at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. That is where it is believed Jesus was crucified – His tomb not too much further away. Thinking of His sacrifice fills me with gratitude when I think on it.

A lyric came that surprised me as I drove in the car.

“In death, in life, I’m confident and covered by the power of your great love.”

At church yesterday, we covered Romans 8:31-39. A well-known part of that scripture reads,

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

The two connected for me in that moment. Neither death nor life. In death, in life. God knows I’m not perfect. Just because I have the Holy Spirit doesn’t mean I’ve reached glory yet. I’m a work in progress. And whether I’ve reverted to my old self (pre-Christ) or whether I’m living the fully satisfied life under Christ, I’m safe. God isn’t looking at each one of my actions, words, or feelings and weighing the balance of good and bad. He’s looking at His Son.

How can I celebrate the resurrection after realizing I’ve been a murmuring, whiney, first world human? Remind myself that is the whole reason Jesus came to live a perfect life, die, and resurrect. He did it so that I can place my trust in Him and know that I am secure regardless of my failures. Not only am I secure in physical death and physical life, but I am safe in spiritual death and spiritual life. There is never a time that I am not protected by Jesus Christ. Praise God!

The fact I am secure while being an idiot is glory to God and His magnificent grace, mercy, and love. His power to save a humanity that does not deserve it! I tell you, after thinking through this remarkable truth, my spirit was lifted and resurrection celebration was on!

So, be encouraged. God loves you and He is able to be present with you because of the sacrifice of His Son. God will never leave us and His love will never fail.

During my lunch break, I bought some flowers to put on my desk. The leaves have a thorny appearance with a beautiful, soft flower in the middle. I thought it was perfect for the lesson God taught me today. The crown of thorns Jesus wore and the suffering He experienced places a hedge of protection around the new life I’ve been given. It can never be taken away and my future glory is promised in Christ.

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Happy Resurrection Week!

Let’s Talk About Shame, Bay-bee

I’m going to get Christian for a second, because I am a Christian, and Christians do that. Read this amazing part of Ephesians about shame:

“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.'”

So, first off, we have all taken part in things we shouldn’t have. It’s part of being human. If you’re like me, there are stories of things you’ve done from kindergarten up that you’d prefer be left between you and God. There are also stories of things that have been done to you by others that you would prefer to keep hidden. Why? Because it’s embarrassing! It’s shameful! And we’ve all been working pretty hard at forming a perception we’d like people to hold us in. If anyone found out about the bad stuff, well, they wouldn’t think of us the same anymore. If we begin to process the bad stuff in our lives, it might be hard to keep moving through life afterwards.

However, carrying around our shameful stories is a burden. It hinders us from truly being ourselves and liking ourselves. It holds us back from really being alive.

When we uncover and process WITH SOMEONE WE TRUST the things we have kept hidden in the dark, they become visible. You’re not the only one who knows. That thing has now officially been revealed and can no longer fester and plague you. It has gone from darkness to the light of day.

Paul wrote in Ephesians, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

Christ shining on you, is you receiving life and freedom! One shameful story at a time. You were not created to walk around carrying a burden of shame. You were created to experience the joy of a life with God.

Most people choose to live in shame because it’s comfortable. Misery can become a nice companion, but it will hold you in darkness and lead you through a life of confusion and discontentment. Until we ask God for the courage to bring our stuff to light, we are walking through life dead. That’s an eery thought. I can say from experience on both sides that it’s true.

Bringing my shameful stories to light is scary and painful, but the feeling of freedom and a fresh start afterwards, is beyond expression. If there is something in your life plaguing you and holding you in darkness, bring it to the light. When it’s brought to the light, Christ will shine on you and you will be changed forever.

Stop Being an Avoidant

Happy New Year! It’s crazy that I’ve had this blog for a year – that I’ve been in recovery for another year. When I met my counselor at our first session two years ago, I wasn’t sure what she would tell me. I knew that family members had been seeing her and were transforming in ways I never thought possible. I thought I was a pretty balanced person and just needed a little fine tuning. After all, they were insane and I was merely a minor case.

Was I ever wrong! I learned I was a miserable, love addict searching for what I already had.

After the first two sessions with my counselor, I left with a light of renewed hope and a joy I never thought possible. This led me to realize I’d been miserable.

Next, I was also working towards a relationship that I had been putting all my hope in for the past year and a half. Over the next five or six crucial months, I would discover I was a love addict pursuing a love avoidant. I was stuck in an endless fearful cycle of intimacy and abandonment. I’d been on an emotional roller coaster for most of my dating life.

Through all of this, I discovered that my walk with God could be opened up into an unending supply of everything I could need. His attributes are lovely, divine, and freeing. His thoughts and feelings about me are overflowing with love, acceptance, affirmation, beauty… you name your need, He has already been providing since you were born. I was finally free.

Do you know the joy of being free? I needed to be free mainly of myself. My obsessive thinking and negative beliefs about myself and how God viewed me. Being healed of that, alone, has catapulted me into a new life that I never want to be free from. I know it’s only going to get better.

I am so grateful.

A lot of ground has been covered in a fast two years and 2017 is here. In the codependency daily devotional, Letting Go, a series of questions are presented for the New Year. One of them struck me in particular: What blocks or character defects would you like to have removed?

After having devoted two years to my love addiction recovery, this year, I would like to focus on removing my love avoidance. It’s a side of myself that has received very little attention due to my out of control love addiction. This year, it’s time to take on the avoidance. Socializing, here I come! It’s time to work through my fear of intimacy and connect… omg.

Anger: A Coping Mechanism for Something Deeper

I know most of you don’t know me or the looks of me, but believe me when I say the idea of me being angry is hard to accept. Most of the time, I am very chill, joyful, and easy going. However, there are the days… the last straw days… where everything is terrible. And the world and all its incompetencies have aimed their ridiculous arrows at my innocent, productive life.

A last straw day can include any of the following (and more):

Family members disappointing you and they have done it for the very last time, terrible drivers that make you late to work… for the very last time, coworkers that can’t seem to get a clue… and today is the last day you’re going to put up with it. The handle to your purse gets caught in the doorknob and jerks you backwards… the doorknob is toast. It’s the Day of Last Straws.

The Day of Last Straws doesn’t begin like this. It starts with an off feeling. I know I don’t feel right but I can’t put my finger on why. Then something will happen to spark the impending blaze.

For me, it can look like this:

In the morning, I’ll walk into the kitchen, and behold, piles of other people’s dirty dishes from last night! I’ll open the dishwasher to put a glass in there. Behold! An empty dishwasher that all those dishes could be in!

Now, on a normal day, I don’t mind either putting the dirty dishes in the dishwasher or just leaving them for whoever it is to take care of… but on last straw days? No, no, no. On those days, leaving dishes out when there’s an empty dishwasher is a murderous crime to my being and it was done with malicious intent and planning. Sparks of righteous indignation clash together from my toes and ignite into a rage that surges to my face.

After the fire is lit, it doesn’t matter what happens next… it’s annoying and an outrage. Someone could walk wrong, breathe wrong, eat wrong, say something – anything, and I’m beyond irritated.

Usually, I’m able to get out of the house without saying anything stupid while I’m in this emotion. But the car… oh, the car. The moment I pull into traffic, I’m in a sea of incompetency that could refill the Mediterranean if need be. The feelings of rage are at peak, the dialogue in my head is running about all the injustices being done to me today, and then – I open my mouth. Expletives, accusations, and slander fly out of my mouth into a thick cloud of anger, all inside the compact box that is my car. Then, I’ll feel horrible and put on some Christian music to try and turn this weird surge of anger around. I’ll be singing along and then shout an obscenity at someone going 20 miles under the speed limit (why do they do this?). This is some serious James 3 stuff right here.

By the time I pull into work, I feel horrible and basically, the cure is going to bed that night and waking up to a new day.

I’ve been experiencing more of these bouts of anger the past couple of months than I can remember ever before. Usually what this means is that God wants me to face something and work through it. When we move into our pain and seek healing, God is gracious and walks with us in the midst. I’ve found that when I am willing to step into the hurt to discover the depths of what’s there, the ongoing misery I’ve been feeling (for most of my life) releases. Living life without those pieces of misery is phenomenal. It’s so worth taking a look into the stuff we want to run and hide from.

So, if you have a Last Straw Day, here are a few tips I received from my counselor on how to work through the misery in the moment.

First, when you feel angry and the dialogue has started in your head, pause.

Anger comes from shame. There is something about yourself that you don’t like, and your ego is blocking you from the shame by placing it on others. The reason your ego does this is because it’s crucial to your survival for you to like yourself. If you didn’t, what’s motivating you to live? We take what we dislike about ourselves and we throw it away from us. It’s time to take it back and own it.

After you pause, ask yourself, what is it that I don’t like about myself right now? If you can’t think of anything, ask God to show you in His divine, perfect will. This is a small, but important step towards overcoming rage.

Godspeed and know I’ll be doing the same!