Spiritual Walk

12
Mar

Mindshifting: Going from Ugh! to Hallelujah!

There I was sincere, genuine, Jesus-loving me going into a full-blown meltdown! And it was getting ugly! I wanted to blame everything – my household responsibilities, my husband, being an entrepreneur, and most especially my hormones! Yet I knew, underneath it all, I was letting my thoughts get out of control. That’s what mindshifting is – letting your train of thought take you from logical to illogical thinking OR vice versa.

Unfortunately, our thought life always seems to be hanging in the balance, ready to come unraveled at any time. It takes practice to learn how to control those thoughts and images that come into our minds. Since they are so tightly connected to our emotions, if our emotions are yo-yoing, chances are our thought life is as well.

So how do Christians finally break this cycle?

First, we must remember that God has given us control over our thought life. Through the power of Jesus, we need to use our authority in this area daily. In 2 Corinthians 10:5, Paul states: “We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ.” (AMP)

Paul had learned that it not only takes effort, but warring against negativity, to control the thoughts that entered his mind. Though there will be some trial and error, we must not give in to a nature that tries to convince us we cannot win in this area.

Next, we must allow God’s Word to come in and replace those thoughts that are trying to distract and destroy us. Paul instructs us in Romans 12:2: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (NKJV)

Third, in Ephesians, Paul gives us a picture of the armor of God, which every Christian should use to defend themselves from the enemy. To assist us in controlling our thoughts, Paul states “put on salvation as your helmet” (Ephesians 6:17 NLT). By knowing who we are in Christ – the saved and redeemed – we can proudly turn away any thoughts that try to convince us that we are still trapped by our past.

Lastly, we need to replace bad thoughts with good thoughts. Again, Paul gives sound advice in Philippians 4:8 when he states: “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (NLT)

How did Paul get so smart about mindshifting? Well, he had some serious challenges to work through.

We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. 2 Corinthians 6:4-5 (NLT)

Can you imagine being in even one of those scenarios? Yet, Paul suffered them all. Was Paul some kind of Biblical superhero? No, he was just a man who had placed his faith squarely in his Savior and after enduring one trial after another had also learned to control his thoughts. We would do well to study Paul’s life and receive the advice he gives us, and while we practice mindshifting, allow Jesus to guide us one thought at a time!

What kind of thoughts have you been struggling with lately? Do you have a favorite go-to verse that assist you in regaining control of your negative thoughts? Feel free to comment below, and let’s work on moving our thoughts from ugh! to hallelujah!

Blessings to you and yours!

 

 

 

 


Amplified Bible (AMP) Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Publishers Inc.

26
Feb

4 of Paul’s Most Powerful Prayers

Prayer is simply talking with God. Seems like a simple concept, doesn’t it? But oh, how we complicate it!

All the usual questions come to mind – Where should I pray? Is there a specific position of prayer that really expresses my sincerity? How long do I pray? And most importantly, what should I pray?

The Bible provides some great examples of prayer from both Old and New Testament characters, like:

  • Habakkuk (Habakkuk 3:2-19)
  • Jabez (1 Chronicles 4:10)
  • Jesus (Matthew 6:9-15)
  • Stephen (Acts 7:59-60)

Personally, I don’t believe that God is so much concerned about the place, position, or length of prayer we pray. In those areas, do what comes naturally to you, because most likely, He is concerned about the matters within in our hearts. Would you agree?

Therefore, if we take the first three elements of prayer discussed above off the table, that leaves the content of our prayers. Today, I propose that we look at the prayers of Paul as an example of what to pray. (And, of course, I would suggest that we do it in light of the teachings of Jesus).

Though Paul would not have the opportunity to learn about prayer directly from Jesus like the other apostles, his prayers were completely God honoring. They show a level of spiritual maturity that was also reflected in the overall behavior of Paul. And the subject of his prayers provides real guidance for Christians attempting to further their walk with Jesus.

Ready? Let’s jump in!

  1. Praying for Spiritual Wisdom

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places. Eph. 1:16-20

In this prayer, Paul is praying for those new to the faith to be given wisdom. You can bet that before Paul ever started praying for God’s wisdom to be given to the Church that he was in constant prayer that God would give him wisdom. And he would be right, because as the saying goes, you can’t give what you don’t have. To help mold and shape the Church, Paul would need wisdom.

When God provided that wisdom, Paul was eager to share it with others. In our walk with Christ, we should first seek the foundational building block of wisdom. From there, our understanding of everything else will grow.

2. Praying for Spiritual Strength and Growth

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. Ephesians 3:16-18 NLT

Right after praying for spiritual wisdom, Paul prays for spiritual strength and growth. Knowledge of God’s ways is life changing in and of itself, but it takes inner strength to carry out God’s instructions daily. Paul knew firsthand what it meant to come face to face with the truths of God’s Word.

He also knew how the daily grind of life as well as the challenges of being of a believer could wear away at the soul. So, he prayed for strength, knowing this in turn would give room for spiritual growth on more than a superficial level. And in tandem, the believers’ spiritual growth would fortify their spiritual strength, allowing the cycle to repeat.

3. Praying for Knowledge Regarding God’s Will

So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. Colossians 1:9-10 NLT

In this prayer, Paul repeats some of the same themes he has used in other prayers (e.g., wisdom), but he also adds a new line. Paul asks that the Church be given complete knowledge of God’s will. So, what’s the difference between knowledge and wisdom? Knowledge is simply the information you have been given. Wisdom is the ability to take in information, make sense of it, and then apply that knowledge correctly when making decisions.

Initially, Paul would seek from God the ability to understand His will and then once fully prepared, ask God to reveal His will. I like to think of it this way. Had we not been prepared in 2nd grade to take on the information coming in 3rd grade, once we reached 3rd grade, we would not have been able to fully use what we were being taught. To know God’s will on a level that makes it useful to us, we must be ready to receive it.

4. Praying for Partners in Ministry

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Phil. 1:4-6 NIV

What I love about Paul was his insatiable appetite for all followers of Christ to be active proclaimers of the gospel. As one person who took as much territory for Christ as possible, Paul was keenly aware that if his efforts were doubled by others also taking ground for Christ, the gates of Hell would be completely crushed sooner than later. Likewise, we should be constantly in prayer for our fellow Christians and rejoice when they succeed.

What would happen if we prayed these types of prayers? What if we could stay others-focused? I am the first to admit, I struggle with those questions. However, I have also been a witness to what can be accomplished if we pray with conviction for wisdom, strength, growth, knowledge, and ministry partners. To that end, I will repeat Galatians 6:9 –

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (ESV)

I’ll be praying for you!

 

 

 

 


Scriptures from:

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

28
Jan

5 Verses To Help Us Understand Change

When people and situations in our life change, it can sometimes be a little overwhelming. Most folks aren’t crazy about change, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, in some cases, it is necessary for us to be able to move forward.

If someone had told me five years ago what I would be doing today, I don’t think I would have believed it. Life has changed! But changes were necessary in order to position me for what God has called me to do today.

What about you? Has anything of significance changed in your life lately? I realize not all change is happy change, but hopefully, even in those times that the world feels upside down, somehow you can find a silver lining.

Scripture is very clear that change was, is, and will be a part of life. So today, I want to show you 5 scriptures that back up that statement.

1. God commands us to change our mindset from that of world-focused to kingdom-focused.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2

2. Sometimes God calls us to change our physical location.

It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. Hebrews 11:8

3. If we are a child of God, our spiritual nature should be constantly changing.

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:18

4. Our perception of Jesus will one day change from what we thought we knew about Him to a level of complete understanding.

Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. 1 John 3:2

5. One day, even the heavens and the earth will change from their current status to something gloriously new.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. Revelation 21:1

Are you starting to get the picture? God is a God of change. But luckily for us, it is always out of love that He moves and shifts our lives around.

Today, take some time to list out the things that have changed in your life over the last six months to a year. Then, ask God to show you why the change was necessary.

If we all took a few minutes each week to jot down how our life is changing, we would probably start to see some patterns. I challenge to you to journal any changes you experience over the next 30 days. And then, talk to God. He would love to show you where He is leading you. Will you be open to guidance?

Blessings to you and yours!

 

 

 


Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

 

15
Jan

Defining Your Top Fifty Goals in 2017

We are officially two weeks into the year! How is 2017 going so far? Did you set any New Year’s resolutions, or for those who don’t make resolutions, did you pick out some goals for the year? What’s driving you this year? If I asked you to come up with the top fifty goals you would like to see happen, could you? How long would it take you to create such a list?

Recently, I was asked to list the top fifty goals I would like to carry out if there were no restrictions on my obtaining them. And then, I was asked to label them as a 1, 3, 5, or 10 year goal –meaning the timeframe in which I thought they could be accomplished.

It was both interesting and fun to sit and actually let my mind wander! What did I want to happen in the near future?

Believe it or not, it took me a few days to list 50. Oh, when I started writing my list, thoughts just came flying, and I feverishly wrote them out. Then, around 20-25, the process became much harder. What else did I want to happen? “You mean I can list more?”

More seemed so greedy, more seemed so selfish, but after a while MORE came!

What about you? Are you struggling to set a few goals or can you easily come up with 50? What categories do they fall into, such as family life, wealth, or ministry. What do they say about you as a person or as a Christian? Exercises like this one can really help us do a “heart-check” on where we are spiritually. Listen, I believe we can and should think bigger. We serve a BIG God, and those that make the big ask delight Him!

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8

However, though we can ask for anything; we shouldn’t expect to receive everything!!

Now wait a minute, Matthew 7 said “ask, and it will be given.”  Yes, it does, but don’t take it out of context with other scriptures along the same subject:

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 1 John 5:14

 

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:3

Now I’m just confused!

Don’t be! We should allow ourselves to dream. Dreaming brings creativity and allows us to think beyond what we can readily see. Sounds a little like walking by faith versus sight, doesn’t it? (2 Corinthians 5:7). Yet, as Christians, our requests must align with the will of God. If not, well then, the answer is most likely no! (no magic 8 ball required)

So now, let me give you the rest of the instructions (yes, I left a few details out, but only to help make a point). Once you have your 50 goals and have labeled them by their potential year of completion, from the goals you labeled as one year goals, pick the top 4. How closely does your top 4 goals line up with your Christian faith and God’s will for your life? It makes a difference, doesn’t it?

If only we did this exercise on a regular basis! It could really help to steer our life into a more meaningful, God-oriented existence. And if we were successful in living completely under the influence of God’s will, what would our top 50 look like then? This year, let’s lean into Him and allow Him to shape our top fifty goals! There is no telling how blessed and enriched life will become. I, for one, am ready for it!! Will you join me?

Blessings to you and yours!!

Elaine


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

31
Dec

Figuring Out Your Spiritual Gifting in 2017

Can you believe another year has come and gone? 2016 was rough for a lot of people and so, we gladly welcome 2017 in hopes that spirits will be lifted and positive life change will happen.

With the New Year comes dreams of making a difference and/or making a change. One way to have an impactful year is to figure out and understand your spiritual gifting. Ever wondered what your purpose is in life? …or in other words, what you spiritual gift is?

I recently entered into an agreement for mentorship –I am being mentored by someone who can help me get very specific in 2017 on where God would have me take Transforming Love Ministries. Part of that process is figuring out and refining the mission and goals of TLM –there has to be a game plan in order to accomplish anything! My mentor asked that I take a spiritual gifting assessment as the first building block in this process. It is very validating to clearly know your strengths and weaknesses.

The free, self-scoring online survey I took is a well researched and recognized testing tool developed by Dorena DellaVecchio, Ph.D. in 2005, and is based on the spiritual gifts listed in Romans 12:

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Romans 12:6-8 NIV

After completing the assessment, you can see your top 2-3 gifts by score. For example, here were my results:

The site goes on to give a detailed explanation of each gift and the characteristics of the person with the gift. Are you curious what it will say about you? I hope so! You can take the test here: http://www.gifttest.org

With this type of knowledge, we can charge into 2017 with a better understanding of how God wants to use us! Understanding our gifting coupled with seeking Him the way Jeremiah tells us to seek Him is a great way to ensure we make 2017 our BEST year ever!!

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13 NIV

I will be praying that you have a blessed and successful 2017! Happy New Year!

PS: Have you heard about the TLM Sisterhood? If you live in any of the seven cities in Hampton Roads (Virginia) or live in Isle of Wight or Southampton County, you are welcome to join this secret Facebook group!!! We aren’t trying to leave anyone out, we are just building a strong foundation for TLM, so we can launch nationwide in 2017!! If you would like to join the group, you can go here to request access! Once you are approved, you can invite all your friends that live in the areas listed above!!!

 

It’s going to be a GREAT year!!! xoxo, Elaine


Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

https://www.gifttest.org/ © 2005, Dorena DellaVecchio, Ph.D.

10
Jul

Seven Verses for Your Week!

Let’s take a few minutes to start our week off right. This post has seven scriptures – one for each day! Let these verses speak to you and create a sense of peace and hope within you that you may not have experienced last week.

Sunday – The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26

Monday – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

Tuesday – For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5

Wednesday – Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Thursday – Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Friday – So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

Saturday – Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” John 6:35

I believe God never wastes a word. When we read scripture, we sometimes think that we have happened upon them. But I believe they are put before us for a reason. When we slow down and allow God to work on our hearts through the words we read, something changes on the inside of us. Each change brings us closer and closer to Him. And that is just where I want to be! How about you? 


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

14
Jun

Can You Pass the Tissue Test?

Have you seen the commercial for Crest toothpaste that states: “Can you pass the tissue test?” Now, the commercial has to do with the whiteness of our teeth, but I can’t help relating this to our spiritual life.

Jesus has come to save those who are lost, and in that process He forgives us of our sins. In the Bible, sins are equated with “a red stain.” Yet through the forgiveness offered by Jesus, we are cleansed and made “white.”

“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.” Isa. 1:18 NLT

Now Isaiah is talking about a shade of white that is not described as off white, eggshell, magnolia, or any other shade. No, he is talking about a very bright, very clean white. And the Bible describes Jesus and his believers as represented by white. Why this color? White is a significant color meaning clean, pure, and righteous. Let’s look at some scriptures that include the color “white” in the description:

  1. Jesus’ transfiguration. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. Matt. 17:2
  2. Inside Jesus’ tomb post resurrection. She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. John 20:12
  3. Jesus’ ascension. As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. Acts 1:10
  4. Jesus’ appearance per John’s vision. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. Rev. 1:14
  5. Jesus’ giving of a new name to believers. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it. Rev. 2:17
  6. Jesus’ followers in End Times. All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine. Rev. 3:5
  7. Again Jesus’ followers in End Times. After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. Rev. 7:9

Are you getting the picture? 

Through Him we are unsoiled, unstained, and without fault. Nothing represents that better than the color white.

Today, let’s think about what we can do to show the righteousness of our Savior. When our lives are compared to His, let’s hope we can pass the tissue test because our spirits so closely reflect His love and nature.

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. Esp. 5:1-2 NKJV


Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

16
May

4 Levels of Perseverance – Succeeding in Each

Wow! My heart is so full! There is so much I want to tell you, but my thoughts are coming so fast that I have to take a deep breath and really concentrate to untangle them!

Within the next month, I hope to tell you all that God has done recently (yep, I’m leaving that teaser right there!).

But today, let’s talk about perseverance. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines perseverance this way: a “continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition.” Notice that little word ‘despite’ makes all the difference in the world when one is trying to understand the meaning of perseverance.

When we push through difficulties in our life to achieve our goals, we are preserving. Some days we are just trying to get through the daily routine of the house –preparing meals, getting the kids off to school, or surviving an eight-hour work day. Other times we are dealing with some really heavy stuff –guilt, depression, rejection, loss.

I would love to tell you there is an easier way through this mental stress, but unfortunately I can’t. However, I can encourage you that if you are walking with Jesus, He has your back!

For lessons in working through difficulties, we can turn to the apostle Paul who knew a few things about having a bad day.

I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 2 Cor. 11:23-28 NIV

Most days, Paul’s tribulations make mine look like child’s play. But there are those who are certainly suffering, certainly preserving despite some really troubling situations. So what advice does Paul give?

And not only this, but [with joy] let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship (distress, pressure, trouble) produces patient endurance; and endurance, proven character (spiritual maturity); and proven character, hope and confident assurance [of eternal salvation]. Rom. 5:3-4 AMP

I believe that Paul reveals the different levels of perseverance in this verse. So let’s take a few minutes to really break it down.

  1. Surface issue. Whatever difficulty you are facing, the difficulty itself is a smoke screen that is attempting to keep you in a place where you are ineffective in your walk with God. Once we can take a step back (and I’m not saying that is easy to do), we start to fully appreciate that there are boundaries. What I mean by that is, when we can remove ourselves emotionally from the situation and start to see the options we have (and there are always options), something arises in our spirit that says: “I can make it.”
  2. Patient endurance. As our mind starts to formulate an end to our situation, our spirit is strengthen and we find a resolve we didn’t know we had. Instead of living in a constant state of anxiety, we become steadfast, steady, and unwavering. And all the while, we are patient, able to tolerate all that is happening to or around us.
  3. Proven character. No other time do we learn what it means to fully trust God as when we are in situations that cause us to suffer one way or another. And as we are fighting our way through, our spiritual maturity grows. No one becomes a spiritual giant without having faced a few mountains.
  4. Hope. As we reach this level of perseverance, something in our soul explodes. We call it hope! Once we grab a hold of hope, there is no turning back. At that stage, we fully expect and believe that the situation is going to shift. And as we put one foot in front of the other, day after day our hope grows bigger.

No, no real difficulty goes away over night. But as we persevere through the situation, we change. And as we change, we become stronger.

As I went through the chaos that interrupted my life between 2008-2013, there were days I certainly felt defeated. There were days I bawled my eyes out. But day after day, I learned to persevere. When I could finally see the situation for what it was -a smoke screen meant to throw me off course- I realized there were options. I could either let it defeat me or I could turn the tables and become all that God wanted me to be. When that clicked, I was then able to patiently endure all the ups and downs that came. As I grew up spiritually, my faith rose to new heights. And as hope took a hold of my heart, I knew there was no turning back.

Since then, there have been other challenges, but I now face them with great confidence because Jesus is my hope!

I keep my eyes always on the LordWith him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Ps. 16:8 NIV

Is there a challenge in front of you today? Are you preserving? If not, turn to the One who can show you how!


Amplified Bible (AMP), Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

17
Apr

Four Communication Failures with Our Husbands and How to Fix Them

Proverbs18_21

“You never listen to me.” For probably the millionth time in our twenty-three year marriage, those words came spilling out of my mouth. And my sweet husband, who had continued to work toward completing the task he was working on, looks up and repeats back to me the highlights of what I was just talking about. Oh, I hate it when that happens!

Now, maybe you have a similar situation or perhaps a different spin on this situation. But if we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit –sometimes we are not the best communicators when talking with our spouses. And frankly, that inability to feel as if we are being heard is really our problem and not theirs.

I realize there are times when the communication issue lies with our husband, but if we want our relationships to grow, we have to own our downfalls as well.

When Darrell and I first got married, I was a hot communication mess! At the tender age of 21, having only dated a couple of guys before meeting my husband, I was indeed relationship-challenged when it came to discussing the deeper things in life. After the first big disagreement we had, I shut down. My emotions were running so high; I couldn’t process all that had just occurred. Taking everything that came out of his mouth personally, I just stop talking –for three whole days!

Thankfully, I married a guy who is extremely patient, was a few years older than me, and has a great sense of humor. Though I could never stay mad at him for anything, it took years for me to reach a point where we could have a conversation without me flying off the handle. Truth be told, on a rare occasion, I still have those moments, but they are fewer and far between.

So as women of God, let’s discuss four communication failures that creep into our marriages and learn how to improve our conversations with our spouse. (Trust me, I have experienced them all!)

  1. Use of the Silent Treatment. You know what I mean. You at the height of an argument and he makes that one statement that sends you into orbit, and then suddenly –crickets! The silent treatment is on. You vow to yourself that you are not saying another word –ever. Oh, we ladies are a master at this one. We sulk around the house, carrying on as if nothing happened, with lips sealed tighter than two pieces of metal welded together.

But what does the Bible have to say about all this? For this communication failure, let’s look at Ephesians 4:26-27 (NLT):

And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

Over the years, I begin to realize my silence was rooted in deep anger, and that anger was hurting me more than my spouse. It certainly affected him, but I was the one opening myself up to the devil’s antics. I was the one really losing. Once I got a hold of this, I started taking the time to reflect on why I was so angry, and eventually I learned to go back to my husband, after a cooling off period, and articulate the issue. This was huge turning point in our communication with each other and has strengthened our marriage tremendously. Make a commitment today, that before the sun goes down you will break the silence and discuss why you became so angry.

  1. Emotional Sabotage. In this case, you are probably already upset about something that your spouse has nothing to do with and you are just waiting for a reason to unleash your frustration. Maybe he doesn’t appear to acknowledge your discontented state. Maybe he just asked what’s for dinner. But that’s all it takes for you to let him have it! And there he stands stunned as if he walked into a minefield and stepped on a hidden explosive.

Psalm 25:28 (ESV) states:

A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.

Girlfriends, life is downright aggravating some days, but let’s not use our men as emotional punching bags. For years, I justified my actions by minimizing how my attitude was affecting our marriage. Everyone has their breaking point and needs to vent. However, a marriage license is not a consent for you to treat you husband anyway you want (and vice versa) and he is obligated to take it! That kind of thinking can lead to a huge divide in your marriage, which at some point may be unfixable. Work on the one person you can work on – YOU!

  1. Dangerous Assumptions. This starts off as an issue in our thought life, but it becomes a communication issue when we don’t verify the truth or untruth about the assumption. I believe most of our dangerous assumptions (e.g., he doesn’t think I am pretty anymore, he thinks I’m too skinny or too fat, etc.) is rooted in fear. In those times, remember 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT):

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

Are we allowing our own fears and insecurities to fill in the blanks of those crazy thoughts that run through our heads and try to discourage us? Before you assume what your husband is thinking, ASK! It might just cut down on the number of sleepless nights you’re having!

  1. Allowing the Bank to Go Broke. I love the concept of each person in the relationship having an emotional bank in which the other person needs to make deposits into. Those deposits become withdrawals (e.g., your husband feels well-loved, so he sends you flowers in reciprocation). Whenever there is a marriage series at our church, this exchange is discussed. And it makes so much sense! I think it really goes back to one of the greatest teachings of Jesus:

Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31 (NIV)

Remember, we not only communicate with our words, but with our body language and actions. If you are longing for your husband to be a little more affectionate, evaluate how you have communicated your affection for him lately. Make deposits into his account regularly and enjoy the return on investment!

Communication is hard sometimes. It involves some work on the part of both individuals. To be sure you are strengthening your communication skills with your husband, remember to avoid these four communication failures: Using the Silent Treatment, Emotional Sabotage, Dangerous Assumptions, and Allowing the Bank to Go Broke. Preventing these hazards can be as simple as breaking the silence before dark, working on controlling your own emotions, clarifying your husband’s thoughts and viewpoints, and making consistent deposits into his emotional bank.

Happy wife, happy life! Happy husband, joyous wife!


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

10
Apr

Five Ways to Handle Your Chaos

Spirit of Power and Love v2

So there I sat, my face in my hands, tears of frustration rolling. Three years ago, if you had told me that I would be working on my second book, holding down a full-time job, caring for my elderly mother, raising a high school senior, and encouraging my husband to make a bold career change, I would have laughed. But the stress and tension of it all was very real when I let myself feel all the emotions I had pent-up inside. What had I gotten myself into, and more importantly, how do I get out of it?

Can you relate? Has your life ever felt like a game of Twister? Pushing you. Twisting you. Challenging you to reach out and touch one more circle (aka responsibility). It can really throw a girl into a self-pity party like no other!

And in the mist of it all, we think about our Christianity and how our faith should be enough for us to take on the world –and we feel worse.

I have been in this situation more times than I like to admit. On the outside, I seem to have it all together. On the inside, there is a lava pit bubbling. Often, friends who know all the things I juggle on a day-to-day basis will ask: “How do you do it all?”

My answer to that is always the same: “I have Jesus.”

Listen, none of us are superheroes. Although some of us can put on a strong front for a while, trust me, we have our moments too! We are all God’s creation, and how we handle the chaos of life is tied to our uniqueness. But let’s look at some ways in which we can all find comfort and feel a little more in control, even when life gets hairy.

  1. First, and foremost, we have to hold on to this promise by Jesus:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV

Girlfriend, He’s got this. Don’t think about it. Don’t run through all the scenarios your mind is tempting you to consider. Just BELIEVE it!

  1. Stop beating yourself up for being human! Those little tear ducts in your eyes are there for a purpose. Sometimes, we just have to let the tears flow. Most research studies agree that crying on many levels is a healthy form of releasing our emotions. When I stay all balled up inside, it only leads to more stress and often to feelings of anger.
  2. Don’t believe the myth that you can really balance everything you do. It is impossible! Not too long ago, my pastor shared this thought with me, and it changed my entire perspective.

I know, some of you are about to quote Matthew 19:26 or Mark 10:27 to me, which states: “…with God all things are possible.” Hey, I love that verse too, and believe it will all I’ve got. But if you really look at the context of the verse, it is focused on salvation –not our everyday responsibilities.

The point is we are all attempting to balance many things in our life. But while we have one thing under control (70%), something else is lacking (30%). Maybe your tasks are at a 60/40 split or a 25/25/50 split. Owning up to the fact that they will never be at a 50/50 split, takes a LOT of pressure off. The key is to do the best that we can at the task at hand and then when we can turn our attention to something else, give that task the attention it deserves. That’s it! That’s all you need to do!

  1. Don’t go overboard! Listen, emotional release is needed, but don’t try to win an Oscar while you are at it! I hear you giggling, so I know you know what I mean. Flinging yourself on the bed or going through five boxes of Kleenex may be just a little excessive. Remember what 2 Timothy 1:7 (AMP) teaches us:

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].

Once you have let the tension out, let it be done! Your family will thank you later.

  1. Lastly, don’t attempt to do life alone! We were created for fellowship –fellowship with God and with others. Surround yourself with two or three really good friends and do life together! Get involved in your local church and assist others in their time of need. Soon you’ll have a network of folks to rely on in your time of need! I highly recommend it!

Feeling better? I hope so! Life is tough some days, but you don’t have to let it defeat you. I challenge you to post this list of reminders everywhere you need to! Let them lift and encourage you in those weary and tired moments.

  1. Remember, Jesus has overcome the world!
  2. Relax; it’s OK to be human.
  3. Come to terms with the fact that complete balance in life is a myth.
  4. Don’t go overboard! Strengthen your self-control muscle daily.
  5. Do life with others!

There it is in a nutshell. My ability to handle the chaos in my life stems from these five truths! I hope you will take this to heart. If you have something to add to the list, go for it! Make it your own, and consider sharing it with the rest of us! Looking forward to seeing you (and me) grow in this area!

Blessings!

 

How do you handle the chaos of life, and what one thing do you want to start doing in order to handle it better?

 


Amplified Bible (AMP) Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.