New Year’s Resolutions

To ring in the new year of 2017, late in the month of January, my mom, my four sisters, myself and some of my nieces met together for a brunch.  This was a first for us, and it was a very meaningful time.  It was a needed time.

So, why am I writing on this now?  Ha.  We are half-way through the year!  Let me explain.

One of the activities we did that day was writing our “New Year’s Resolutions” on 3×5 notecards, and then if we wanted, sharing with the group.  It was such a great idea, it truly helped me to slow down and be intentional about what my priorities really were for the year.  Afterwards, I placed my little cards in my Bible as bookmarks and needed reminders for my daily life.  Here we are in July, and halfway through the year and I smiled this morning as this particular resolution marked my Psalm this morning.  Rest.  True Rest.  Did I even know what that meant when I wrote it?  I certainly didn’t know what all my year would hold… that’s certain.  But, I smiled because I thought the definition of rest has taken on a new shape, and new meaning for me in so many ways the past few years.

blog me

Rest.  True rest.

That’s what she said in January – beginning 2017.  Here we are in July.

I like to visualize rest thinking about our cat Thomas.  Now that fellow knows how to rest!  He has a little routine every day.  And it all revolves around rest, I’m pretty sure (well, that and eating..).  He has his morning stretches, his breakfast, his nap on Paul’s top bunk, snacktime, naptime on Wesley’s bed, snacktime, naptime on couch, snacktime, aggravate our other cat Romo time, snacktime, and then relax-time on back of couch or in our laps to complete his evening before bed time.

blog 2.JPG

The only time he doesn’t rest is when his food bowl is empty.  Not only does he not rest,  WE can’t rest.  Because he paces, stares, and even gives a little bite (if it comes to that!) to remind us “MY BOWL IS EMPTY.”

Kinda like me.  I can rest when things are all nice and tidy… all my ducks swimming pretty in a row (and for the record, I can’t even remember when it was that way for me.  I am thinking they are not even ducks at this point… maybe chinchillas?).

But, oh God where is the rest when things aren’t the way I want them?

Not when things are hard and confusing.

Or, when I have needs that I feel aren’t met.

Not when I feel I’m wronged or shorted from what I deserve.  (Ouch).

Or, how can I rest when the storms are big and unexpected… and the lights seem to flicker on and off.

Where are you?

And, He reminds me.  The wind and waves know my name.  You can rest.

flowrers bridge

Throughout the years, lack of sleep has become my nemesis.  I’ve learned some practical ways that help.  Sleep association patterns:  Reading before bed, journaling my “to-do” list for the next day, calming playlist, lavender scents, relaxing a wee bit on my caffeine intake :), less screen time, good hydration, etc.  All great aids!  Definitely have proven to help me greatly!

But, maybe you will agree with me… there seems sometimes to be no cure for an anxious heart.  When you toss and turn on your bed, and sleep seems so far away.  Your pillow may be the only one you trust with your tears, but God sees.

What was the Psalm that my resolution from January had randomly marked?

“When I said, “My foot is slipping,”
    your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.
 When anxiety was great within me,
    your consolation brought me joy.”

Psalm 94:18-19

What’s the true rest I want to practice?  Trusting Him.  Allowing His words to console the deepest corners of my soul.  Letting go of what others think, giving Him all the heavy things I carry, fully embracing His forgiveness and grace, trusting that He is at work in all areas… even the ones that may be difficult to understand.  Entrusting each step to His wisdom and ways.  Reaching for His word when I want to ruminate on issues.  Committing myself to pray, even when there aren’t words, or when all I want to do is complain or worry. Looking for faithful friends who can listen, pray for me, and share needed perspective and truth to my ears. Settling my mind to know I am not the “fixer” of anything, I’m just a girl who has the opportunity to love others, as I have been loved. Loving is easy, when you spend time with the One who loves you.

Sleepless nights will still find us.  Anxious moments will come.  That’s for sure.  But even in those moments, we can have the gift of true rest.

2017 –  A year of rest.  The gift of rest that we can all embrace.

 

 

Advertisements

Two Kingdoms & Hope For A Weary Heart

img_8382Straddling two kingdoms. Some days I feel my legs stretching into the splits as the crevice between the two grows farther and farther apart in my heart. Looking down and wondering about a free fall. The tears flowing down my face from the pains of this one, while I gaze into the bliss of the other. When will there be no more dying, no more pain, no more ugly… and oh God, I cry out… where is the justice? The windshield wipers clicked back and forth in the rain… I wish I had one for my eyes too. Where is the justice? For children who suffer abuse around our world, for those suffering mental health that are judged and criticized while they are suffocating, for the hurting and the rejected. For the kids who hear whispers behind their back about their clothing, hanging their head in shame.. Don’t you think they wish they had nikes?? Or clean clothes? Don’t you think that they see the differences? Don’t we understand that no matter how tough the exterior is everyone would love a comfy bed like yours or a hot shower in the morning to be a norm? Don’t we know that every soul on this earth is struggling along every day just wanting to know true love… just like me and you?

But, oh the screaming and labeling. The shouting and the angry voices. The fear… the insecurities.

And so where is it that my heart lives? In this struggling, fighting, insecure world? Or does my Saviour invite me to look elsewhere?

Seek His kingdom now. We are in this world… not of this world. My heart is breaking for us as we straddle the two, but oh that we might more and more gain sight of the kingdom He offers!

We must awake all our senses to this gift. Take a deep breath, and inhale the fragrance of His grace. What we don’t deserve, but so freely given. My pastor this past week in his sermon said, “free, not cheap.” No, not cheap – this costly, precious exchange of His life to give us ours with feet set firmly in a new kingdom! May we stretch out our arms and let it flow… We have the opportunity to be the healing hands of Jesus.

For those struggling with mental health who need to be carried!

img_8386For the poor and rejected!

img_8385For the neglected and forgotten!

img_8384

For those without a voice!

Aren’t these the ones that Jesus reached out to? Didn’t He come to seek and save the lost.. the broken.. we that are in need?

img_8310Because the kingdom that He invites us to seek.. Oh, my friends! This is the kingdom of a radical Saviour who sees the value of a soul!

It’s a kingdom of hope!

It’s a kingdom of peace!

It’s a kingdom of joy!

It’s a kingdom of love… love that is patient and kind. Love that isn’t selfish or rude, or seeking its own interest. Love that isn’t boastful or conceited. Love that doesn’t get excited over wrongdoing… running in corners to whisper or delight over tragedy. We know the passage.. but do we really sink into the passage? Do we see how God pours out that passage lavishly all over our own lives?

Oh God, Your kingdom, come..

What will your heart given to the complete trust and reign of God look like? Take a minute to ponder that… Seek His kingdom first, Christ says. And all will be added. So, we look at the line we straddle, we lift our eyes up to Him, take a deep breath… and free fall into His love. His kingdom. Every choice, every thought, every talent.. all His. What’s in your life that you can place to use in His kingdom? Why, simply your all. All. All. How shall we walk in one kingdom, and live in another? That’s the miracle He offers us. Seek His heart today. Openly look to Him with eyes afresh and clean…not clogged up by the media, fear, or our own understanding. Lean in; freefall in His love. God will guide you as you navigate this messy world with a pure heart to fight in His kingdom for the news of this love.

For meditation: 1 Cor 13, Proverbs 3:5-6, 1 John 2:15-17, 1 John 4:18-19, Matthew 6:33-34

To A Wild Rose: Straight From the Heart of Joanna

Next up in our series, “To A Wild Rose,” I have the privilege of introducing you to my little sis, Joanna.  They say (who is they?) that dynamite comes in small packages, and that fits our Joanna.  She is small in form, yet has the biggest, strongest heart that you will find.  She currently works in child care caring for little ones; her hobbies include collecting silver-screen flicks, children’s books and movies, gardening, and she is currently a yellow-belt in karate.  Read on, I think you will be inspired by one of my heroes.  

What God Wants

I used to have a really bad habit of mentally bashing myself over the head. When I would feel bullied by other people, I would then bully myself even more. I would repeat the mean words they had said over and over in my head. I have come to realize that I was probably my biggest bully because other people might have lit the fire, but I was the one who poured gasoline on it. (I just want to stop here for a second and say if some is bullying you in any way don’t think that you can’t talk about it! Go to someone you trust, maybe a friend, a pastor or a counselor and tell them about it. I have learned that it’s ok to talk about things.)

I still have the problem of bullying myself from time to time. But, the difference is I used to think I deserved to be bullied, now I know I don’t. Don’t let someone bully you, and don’t bully yourself. I can tell you it’s not right. I like to remember the words of  Eleanor Roosevelt – “No one can make you feel inferior with out your consent.” If someone is verbally bullying you, you don’t have to listen to them. And you do not have to have the same thoughts about yourself. You choose who you are and what you think of yourself. I’m still learning to think positively about myself. I have came a long way through the encouragement of loving friends and family, and I would like to share with you a quote that I have grown to love.

“God wants us to be victors not victims; to grow not grovel; to soar not sink; to overcome not be overwhelmed.”  — William A. Ward

Ok, now I’m going to tell you when I first read this quote I liked it…. but, part of me did not like it. Because I had been so harsh on myself and always running myself down there was a part of me that felt judged by this quote. I knew I was doing the opposite of what this quote was saying that God wanted. I had spent so much time  beating myself over the head that I did not understand the way that God wanted me to be.  I also had a messed up view of God, and so I thought, “Wait does this mean that God is going to be upset with me for not being a victor?  For choosing to grovel at peoples feet? For allowing myself to sink down into sadness? For letting everything around me get me so overwhelmed??”

But, as I have grown to know God better I have actually learned just how much He loves me.  

God loves us so much that He Wants us to be victors. He Wants us to grow in Him. He Wants us to soar high in His happiness. He Wants us to overcome obstacles through HIM and HIS love.  He Loves Us and Truly Wants the Best For Us.  He is not sitting up in heaven going, “YOU better get this right.” He is up there saying, “You can do this and I’m going to help you if you’ll let me.”

I am learning to look at myself not how I see myself, but as God sees me.
o-black-woman-happy-outside-facebook
We can be victors. We can grow. We can soar. We can overcome through Christ and God’s love. But, you know there are a lot of days that I don’t just jump out of my bed and be like, “WOOHOOO I’M A VICTOR!”Some days I look up at God and I’m like, “God, I don’t feel like a victor today I’m struggling with some stuff.”  Soo, I was like hmmm I’m going to look up the meaning of the word VICTOR (a person who has overcome or defeated an adversary; conqueror / a winner in any struggle or contest)and  that made me start thinking… you must first run the race to win, or climb the mountain to stand on top.  We might be in the middle of a struggle, but we can get through it.

woman-mountain

Speaking of mountains, I was thinking, you know that kids song “the bear went over the mountain, the bear went over the mountain, the bear went over the mountain, to see what he could see, and he saw another mountain, he saw another mountain….” Anyway, the point is this bear keeps climbing all these mountains, and every time he gets to the top there’s another mountain and I was thinking That’s Like Life!!! We are constantly going through something, or struggling with something.  These are our mountains and no matter how many mountains we climb there always seems to be another mountain. But, as long as we keep climbing we can make it to the top of our mountains, and when you stand on top of one of your mountains, even if your looking at another mountain right in front of you, you can stand at the top and say I am a victor! And, right now if you’re in the middle of  climbing one of your mountains, holding on to God’s hand, telling God “I’m tired I’m thirsty are we there yet?”….Just remember don’t give up and remember What God Wants For You.

God wants us to be victors not victims. To grow not grovel. To soar not sink. To overcome and not be overwhelmed.

respect

Favim.com-sad-sadness-rain-umbrella-girl-510534

Respect: “to value and regard highly; treating someone with importance.”

I’ll let you in on my secret blogging/writing style of world.  I write a ton.  I post a little.  I keep certain posts ruminating for awhile, and sometimes they sit in my draft box for months awaiting my decision to hit the final delete or post.  It’s all a gamble for the words that pound out on this keyboard. Ha.  This is my last post for this series on our emotional needs, and ironically today I saw that I began this particular series a year ago.  I began this one on respect, and it has sat in my draft box since May.  With all the tragedy, sadness, and turmoil of late, I have been thinking often about this emotional need of respect that God placed in our souls.  That He placed deep, deep, set in our core this need for respect.  The need to give, and the need to receive respect.

When I began to think about what all respect is, and what it looks like in our lives, I decided to poll a couple of my guys and I asked them, “When do you feel respected”… and this is the results:

9 year old: “When someone treats me like they treat all the other people that they like.”

11 year old:  “When they include me with what they’re doing, and give me the chance to be like everyone else to them.”

Amazing how well they summarized and brought to life the definition for me.  I thought, that’s so right-on!  I just want to be treated as valuable as the next guy.  The more I thought about these definitions the more I thought about those who feel the entire world has disrespected them at times, and the days that I have in this life felt disrespected.

The abused.

The broken.

The oppressed.

The neglected.

In the face of the injustice and unfairness we get angry.  We feel the disrespect and we hurt.  Especially when we build up the courage to speak up, and we aren’t heard in our pain, or even worse when others who don’t understand what we’ve been through, make statements of how we need our “thinking fixed” in this way, or that.  And we cry out, you don’t even know what my pain is like!  You don’t even know what my pathway looks like, and you don’t even begin to listen before you try to fix me.  Or judge me.  Or criticize me.

And the disrespect is felt all the heavier.

I’ve seen time after time the hurting finally speak up… and then they are made to feel like the “bad guy.”  How sad.  Why can’t we listen?  Why can’t we empathize?  Why can’t we give respect and know that if we haven’t been in their shoes, all we can do is listen and express that what you say is important!   We might not always agree, or understand, but we can listen and seek to find some common ground.  We can desire to have a new perspective from another set of eyes.  Disagreeing is not disrespect!  Not fully understanding is not disrespect.  Refusing to listen, and choosing not to value what another has to say is disrespect.  Refusing to think about and work to help protect another from injustice is disrespect.  

As Atticus said in one of my favorite books, To Kill A Mockingbird, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view- until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

We really don’t take time to do that, do we?  Instead, we see through our own filters, cultures, life experiences and allow our mentalities to see through only our own point of view…

We say that we want to hear our loved ones thoughts, but then balk when it concerns something we’ve done wrong, or might need to think through a change. “How dare you suggest I need to change!  It’s you!”  We read the newspaper and question why the date rape victim did not fight back more, “Well, that wouldn’t have happened to me.  I have more fight in me, than her.”  We don’t get why the young lady who has had years of abuse is so quiet and to herself, “She’s just outright stuck up.  Must be because she thinks she’s better than me.”  We downplay people’s cries for equality, “Well, don’t they realize they’ve already got it?!  Why can’t walking-alonethey just move on?” We see the homeless man wandering the streets, and think, “Get a job, man.”

Really, have we been in their skin?  Have we walked in their shoes?

We truly can have respect.  But, we must be intentional, and prayerful, and looking through God’s eyes of value for you, and for me, and for the us, and for the we.  For the little, and the big, and for the hurting, and the happy, for those hidden, and those exposed, for the them, and for the they.  For His all.

 

Some basic ways to show respect….

May look like:

  • Listening without interrupting
  • Appropriate tone of voice and body language.
  • Asking before taking or borrowing something that doesn’t belong to you.
  • Not encroaching on another’s personal space without permission.
  • Appreciating other’s efforts.
  • Sincerity.
  • Checking before making plans that affect others.
  • Confessing wrong.
  • Keeping your commitments.
  • Making effort to learn about their perspective.

May sound like:  “I’d like to hear your ideas.”  “Which do you prefer?”  “I was wrong… will you forgive me?”

————————————————————————–

I’m weary of my heart disrespected others. I’m weary of disrespect and slander that I see others imposing on each other.  I’m purposing to value and regard all life as equally valuable and equally important.  Let’s purpose that together?  Because, the truth is… We are.

All precious in His sight.

References:  Center for Relational Care, MacMillan Dictionary (2015); Abraham Maslow; Robert McGee; The Bible (Genesis 1:27, Romans 10:12, 1 Samuel 16:7, Ephesians 4:32, 1 Peter 3:18-22, To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, (1960).

 

Safe and Secure

“Confident of harmony in relationships; free from fear of harm.”

“Feeling safe means you do not anticipate either harm or hurt, emotionally or physically.”

I remember as a child being wrapped up in my mother’s arms on a frosty winter morning.  Startled by a nightmare that wakened me, the feeling that followed spoke straight to my soul gentle words of love and peace as her tender arms wrapped around me.  All was well.  I was safe and secure.  Snuggled up right there in her arms is a place that I recall often even today when I’m afraid.  She was the embodiment of all things love, and all things safe for my little, innocent child-heart.

little heartsFeeling “safe” is not always the emotion, or need that we would think about on a regular basis.  Its contradiction fear, however, is something that seems to face off squarely and often, calling us to attention.  It’s easy to remember moments of intense fear, but if you will, take a moment now and recall a moment when you felt safe, secure… confident of harmony – body, soul, and spirit.  It’s important that we realize what safe means to us, because that’s what we need to use in order to help us draw protective boundaries, nurture that feeling to those we love, and even understand what it is that we need in order to wage war with our fears.  And, we are all created exquisitely different – the atmosphere that I need to feel complete and safe may not be exactly duplicated with exact results for another.  Thus, we pursue understanding one another, listening, and finding what it is we need to feel the security so that we may flourish in our own lives, and how to contribute that for others.

When we look at security, we also see how sometimes we starve ourselves by the patterns that we fall into. Day in, and day out deprivation cycles. Cycles that we may fall into suggesting a pattern of what is the “norm” for us.  Maybe for some it is that abuse, fear, and insecurity are ways of life that have never seen another way, or a different perspective.  Can we look at that and assume that the pain and agony caused is any differently since that is what is “normal” for our situation?  It’s what we’ve always known, right?  Maybe that’s just the way it is, and always will be.  No!   Pain inflicted in one’s soul, is pain inflicted that causes wounding.  Period.  Just because I may have grown accustomed to ignoring wounds inflicted by someone’s knife stab to my skin does not mean that the wound is not going to cause the same damage as for the person who cries out, “Help me!  I’ve been stabbed!”  The wounding is the same.  The human need for safety and security is the same.shame

Thinking about security, we must acknowledge that abuse keeps one from
being safe…. physically, emotionally and mentally.  It’s a threat to not only our happiness, it’s a threat to our well-being and penetrates deep into our souls.  Even those who seem calloused after years of abuse, have hearts that our continually wilting under the pain, and starvation from the need of security.  Please, stop the cycle.  If you are being abused, please seek help.  You are loved!  Your life can look different!  I know that you want to thrive… I know that you have dark moments when you beg for things to just be set right for you.  Talk to someone that you feel you can trust, and listen to their thoughts for you.  Let others support and help you.  Maybe, you are the one who is acting in a way that is domineering to others, and you detest the face you see in the mirror some days.  It isn’t who you know you were made to be, but somehow you keep falling back into a place acting out your own anger, fears, or pain by hurting those you love with your hands, words, actions….. Please, reach out.  This can stop.  It takes work.  It takes courage.  It takes a new day, with determination to love with God’s strength and His way.  But, let’s stop the cycle.  Today.    It’s never a better moment than today to start a new journey! Below you will find some resources that may help, or find a trusted friend.  You may need to report to authorities for the safety of yourself or others.. Please be that voice.  Do not suffer alone, talk to someone and listen to their helpful words for you.

And, maybe for you the need is to draw some boundaries… or learn to identify what you need for safety. Maybe, you need help seeing that security is possible.  There will be things that we face on this earth that are fearful.  The nightmares will come at times, the wrong-doings will happen, and all the many, many fears that we each individually must face will have their place and time in our lives.  But, we do not have to be ruled by them, when we know where our safe places are, and when our safe tanks are filled with needed nourishment for this trek.

Safe and secure might…

Sound like: “I’m here for you.”  “We’re going to work this all out.”  “I’m going to keep my promises to you.” “Rest with me a bit before you face what you have to today.”  “You don’t have to worry if my mood will explode on you, just be yourself. Relax.”  “I don’t ever want to harm you, and I also want to help protect you.  I love you!”

fatherandson-trustLook like: Moments with coffee, and quiet prayer.  Wrapped up in a loved ones arms.  Being free to express who you really are.  Conversations that you know will be kept confidential and judgment-free.  A hand on your shoulder.  A walk in the sunshine.  Warmth by the fire.

For me, Perfect Love is a beautiful, safe place.  It’s the antidote given me for all my fears, and a place to rest my heart.  God’s Perfect Love for me helps me face my giants, squishes my insecurities, and quiets my storms.  It gives me the courage to stand up and draw boundaries where I need, and to rest when I need it most.

What a gift of opportunity those of us who are parents or caregivers of little ones have to contribute to their knowledge and feeling of security!  Just as my mom wrapped her arms around me in unconditional love, and tender care we have the same opportunity to love in this way!  Safety is vital for a child’s well-being and development!  Now, today I relate “safe” back to that cold, winter morning and it continues to reflect my Father’s love for me day after day when my fears confront me.

There are many places in this world that are dangerous and risky… that’s a certain part of this life.  But, when we know the place to run that is safe from the uncertainties and dangers our souls will know where to look for secure footing each step of the way, and find rest.

brids

National Child Abuse Hotline:  1 (800)-4-ACHILD

National Domestic Violence Helpline: 1 (800)799-7233

Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network 1 (800)656-HOPE

References:  Center for Relational Care, MacMillan Dictionary (2015); Abraham Maslow; Robert McGee; The Need for Family Appreciation, MSU, (2013).

 

 

the fruit — post 3

341

This is an excerpt from a sermon by Christian Cheong, from the Kim Tian Christian Church based on John14:25-27. It resonated with this heart, and I hope it does for you too, my friend.

“We all need peace, but what give us peace really?
Is peace just an absence of any trouble or problem?
Is peace just an atmosphere of quietness or serenity?
The world defines it this way. It has to do with the surroundings.
If you are strolling along the path in Botanic Gardens and not downtown Orchard road, you would probably say it’s peaceful.

If peace is the absence of any noise, problem or trouble, then peace is a product of the surrounding.
–Yet when we look at what Jesus said here, this is not what true peace is all about.

WHY DO WE NEED TO PRAY? – because only in Jesus can we find true peace.
If Jesus says, “peace I leave with you…” – it means He is the SOURCE of peace.
If He says, “my peace I give you…” – it means He is the GIVER of peace.
If He says, “I do not give to you as the world gives…” – it means only in Jesus can we find true peace – something that the world do not have.

In order words, it has nothing to do with you. It has nothing to do with the surrounding or to what is happening in our world today.

• His peace is different from the world, and something you can’t find in the world.
• No wonder Paul says it is a peace that surpasses understanding!

What is the practical implication of all these:
• If you’re worried over some things, anxious or disturb, and you needed peace in your heart – you have to turn to Christ. That’s the only way.
• You may find some sense of comfort by hiding in a quiet, serene place, but you’ll never find true peace. Emotionally you may feel good, but only Christ can give us true comfort and peace.

No wonder Jesus needed to say this – the disciples really need it.
• They were about to face the greatest shock of their lives – Jesus would soon be arrested and crucified.
• Their Master for 3 years will be taken away from them forcefully.
• They would be left on their own, for the first time… without a teacher, a guide, someone whom they have depended upon for 3 years.

The disciples need to know that NOTHING has gone out of control.
• You see, everything will look like a defeat to them. They are defeated.
• Judas managed to betray Jesus, he won. The soldiers arrested Jesus without a fight. The people succeeded in killing Jesus.
• Circumstances tell them it’s a FAILURE.

They need to understand – and we need to understand that today – that nothing has really gone wrong in the eyes of God.
• Everything was in God’s plan. Everything is still in God’s control.

BELIEVE IN THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD

What Jesus says is very true. Only He can give us peace.
• Why – because only God is in control of all things.
• If God can handle this whole universe, He can handle your problems.
• If He cannot, He is no God. Then we’ll have no guarantee of peace.

If we believe that God is Sovereign, then we have nothing to fear.
• Man cannot find peace because he is not in control.
• We cannot control the circumstances, we cannot control the future.

• It would be so nice if we can plan our future and everything works exactly as we have planned it. We love to feel that we’re in control but the truth is we are not, and we’ll never be.

So we need to look to the One who is in control.
• We need to learn to LET GO and LET GOD.”