The Break Up

photo provided by Dez Pain.

As a young girl (of about 8 or so?), a few of my brothers and sisters hid under my parents bed, and when I went into my folks room to find my mom one of them reached out and grabbed my feet.  Of course, they all thought it was hysterically funny and I’m sure broke into immediate laughter.  But by my recollection, from the moment of ‘first grab’ to the revealing that it was them hiding under the bed (as opposed to some horrid monster who was going to tear me to pieces and then eat me alive), it was several very long and terrifying minutes!  OK, so maybe I watched a few movies I shouldn’t have been watching at my age – but back then, families rallied around the TV to watch horror movies like The Birds and The Pit and The Pendulum as family bonding experiences.    Anyways, by the time they revealed themselves, I was so completely traumatized that for many years afterwards, I adopted a new routine for going to bed.  I flipped off the light switch, took three running steps, and then leapt onto my bed to avoid anything/anyone that could be hiding under it.

It’s now 2014 and I’m well past the age of hiding under a desk with my head between my knees.  But even now, whenever I hear the sound of a low-flying plane overhead, I am immediately transported back to elementary school where we were taught the principles of “Duck and Cover” and have to fight hard to resist the urge to look outside for signs of a crashing plane or bomb falling from the sky.

I guess I’m old enough to have had some “stuff” happen in my life … and if you’re reading this blog so have you, and there is more “stuff” on the horizon.  I’m not trying to speak pessimistically or out of a doom-and-gloom mentality.  I’m just being honest.  This world does not operate (at present) in accordance with God’s original design for it, nor are we enjoying (at present) all the victory and fellowship with the Father that God originally intended when He created us.  Sure we have mountain top experiences in life – can I get a whoot-whoot for the mountain top!!  Yea Baby!!

But alas, we don’t stay on the mountain tops, do we?   As described so beautifully by Hannah Hurnard in  “Hinds Feet On High Places” , residents of the High Places are called to routinely go back down into the Valley to encourage and invite others who would also make the journey upward.   And sometimes, I do visit the valleys from a position of strength so that I can encourage a valley dweller, and invite them to dare to journey outside the boundary lines of that kingdom and change their citizenship to that of a higher and better Kingdom.

But not always, and truth be told – not as often as I would like.  I would say that for most of my 53 years, when I visit the Valley, it is because I wasn’t wearing my armor  (read earlier post) nor watching where I was going, and next thing I knew … Ker plop!

Sooner or later, I always seem to make my way back down into any number of valleys;  the Valley of Humiliation, the Valley of Loss, the Valley of Loneliness, the Valley of insert name here, hanging out with my much detested former buddies – FEAR, SHAME and all the other family members of the FEARING family! Visiting a valley for God’s purposes is one thing.  Living in the valley’s is something altogether different.  I hate the valleys!

It was about a year or so ago that the Lord began showing me how much of my life has been influenced by FEAR.   I’ve let Fear steal so much from me!  Fear of failure.  Fear of loss.  Fear of what people with think.  Fear of being alone.  Fear of screwing up my kids.  Fear of being uncovered.  Fear of rejection.  You name it, I’ve probably been afraid of it.

Faith declares a positive confident hope and expectation in the Word and promises of God, while Fear declares a negative confidence and expectation in the inability of God to do what He has declared!

 

But no more!  I am finished being romanced and courted by Fear!

It’s taken me a long time to figure it out, but praise God (and thanks to countless hours of listening to faith-filled teachers like Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyers, Charles Capps, and many others), I have finally gotten it through my head that God hates Fear!  And why, you ask?  Because FEAR is the complete opposite of FAITH!   Faith declares a positive confident hope and expectation in the Word and promises of God, while Fear declares a negative confidence and expectation in the inability of God to do what He has declared!  Once I finally saw it like that (like God see’s it), I made a decision!   

Me and Fear are “breaking up”!  And we are NOT going to get back together again!!   EVER!!!  

Sure, I know it’s going to require a lot of effort on my part to quit taking Fear’s calls, answering Fear’s emails, etc.   But I’m done with that liar Fear!  Who is with me??

Out of respect for your time, I’m going to close here and continue under separate posts which will be filed under a new Category entitled “FEAR NOT!”   I hope you will check back periodically, and also share your thoughts on this post in the comment section below.

Be blessed,
Jenny

911 – What’s your emergency?

The other day, my oldest daughter and I were practically rolling on the floor laughing!  She had one of those moments when she realized … gasp … that she is becoming more and more like her mom.  Hey, we’ve all had those moments – and not all of them are funny.  But this one was!!  Hysterical in fact!   And in the telling of her own ridiculously silly story, she reminded me of an incident back in the late 1990’s when we were still living in California.    But first a little background…

I have raised my two daughters, both married now to fine and godly men, as a single parent since they were 4 and 7.   And as a single parent, I think I felt the weight of keeping my family safe a little differently than many moms might – after all, there was no husband around to check out those bumps in the night.    In addition to being a light sleeper (listening for noises that don’t belong), I regularly checked the doors before going to bed, ‘cleared the house’ when we’d all been out for a considerable period of time, and all the other things that one does to protect their children.    After all, that’s what parents do.

Well, by the time of this particular event, my daughters were well into their teens, and I had just returned home from work about the same time as they arrived home from after school events.   It was while I was moving about the house that I discovered a rather large clump of ‘freshly cut hair’ in the bathroom.  You know, like when you go to the salon for a major style change and they cut off locks of hair which then fall to the floor in clusters (for example, large ringlets of wavy hair)?  Well, it was like that.  Like someone had cut their hair in my bathroom.  But this was just ONE clump of ‘freshly cut hair’, and it wasn’t ours!!!!

I was completely freaked out!   My brain could make no sense of this!  Feeling very violated and very vulnerable, I began to panic.  They tell me that with hair in hands, I ran back and forth through our little 900′ house chanting “what kind of pervert breaks into someone’s house to cut their hair???”  I was even considering calling the police!  I suspect it would have gone something like this:

FB_emergencyApp_911911 Operator:  911, what is your emergency?
Me:  I think someone broke into my house!
911 Operator:  Is there evidence of a break in?
Me:  No, not that I can find.
911 Operator:  Is anything missing?
Me:  No, not that I know of.
911 Operator:  What makes you think someone broke in to your home?
Me:  There is a clump of hair in the bathroom!!!

Well, you can imagine how that would have sounded!  Thankfully, my daughters are a lot smarter than their mom.  I now blame it on that strange mysterious thing that happens when you turn 40.  You know … when the brain kinda flickers on and off?   After about an hour of looking like a complete lunatic before my daughters, they both start laughing hysterically and point to a patch on the top of my head where my hair suddenly goes from about 8″ to only 2″ in length!   Yup, I had burned off my own hair with the curling iron that morning and didn’t even notice it!!!!   Which also means I also went to work looking like that!

Well, there is a reason to my telling this story … but you’re going to have to wait for it.  My youngest daughter,  still very much smarter than her mom, has pointed out that shorter blogs are preferred to long dissertations.  So you guessed it – this is a “Part 1 of 2” type of blog post.  But while you wait, hopefully you have had a good chuckle and maybe even remembered a few silly things you’ve done over the years.

“A merry heart does good, like medicine.”   (Proverbs 17:22a)

It’s good to be able to laugh at yourself, even better if others can laugh with you!!  Why don’t you add your own story to the comment section and we’ll keep the laughter going!

Be blessed,
Jenny

PS – don’t forget to check back next week for Part 2!!

The Valley of Dry Bones and Failures

Do you have a ‘valley of dry bones’ in your life?    Passions and aspirations that once inspired you but are now dead and decomposed, their sun-bleached bones discarded into the dump heap?

I do!  Over the years, I’ve had many hopes and dreams that seem to come for a season (nearly overtaking me in their power and all-consuming passion), only to fade away into nothingness over time. Sometimes they were displaced by a new and more captivating dream. Sometimes I abandoned them out of discouragement, weary of chasing something that seemed to be forever out of reach. And some just plain old DIED on me, no matter what kind of emergency life-support treatment was applied!  And my bone pile grew.

Ezekiel 37

Periodically I like to walk among those old bones (it’s important to do that from time to time) and recently, I came upon one particular bone … a bone so old that there was virtually no evidence of life left on it anymore.  It made me a little sad to reflect upon the dreams I had back then, and what this bone represented.  I was so sure that I heard the Lord calling me to do that thing, but ….  I guess I misheard, I’ve been known to do that a time or two-hundred.

“… and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry.  He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”  I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!  This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.  I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’ ”      (Ezekiel 37:3-6)

But as I looked at that old bone, a most wonderful thing happened.

“So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone.”  (Ezekiel 37:7)

His gentle voice whispered into my spirit …. ‘Daughter, I am the one who breathes life to your dreams.   Trust me.  Don’t try to make it happen in your own strength or rush Me.  It will happen at the appointed time.’

Thank you Lord, I receive that.   I think I’ll be hanging onto that bone now, lovingly tending to it until You breathe the fullness of Life into it for Your glory.

Be Blessed,
Jenny

Tethered to hope

HOPE:  a) to wish for something with expectation,  b) a desire accompanied by confident expectation.

I started blogging about 3 years ago and was greatly enjoying posting hope-filled blogs in which I shared my testimony, a few funny stories, and talked through challenges faced.  But then I got too busy with other things for regular posting.  I let my hope-filled blogging slip, and that wasn’t the only thing I let slip.  My attitude took a fall, and instead of ‘hoping well’, I was doing other things well.    Complaining.  Groaning.  And worse.

After a little time passed, the voice of condemnation spoke up (rather loudly in fact) telling me how hypocritical it would be to blog about hope when it seemed as if I was scraping from the bottom of the barrel most days.   So I put off blogging for a month, then three, and ultimately I allowed that voice of shame and condemnation to silence me altogether.

Hebrews 6:19
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19
Of course, the voice of hope was also calling out my name all those months of silence – but I wasn’t really listening.  I was way too busy hanging out with my old and familiar friends jealousy, envy and pity.

Truth be told, about the only thing I know for sure about boating is that unless you want to get wet, the general idea of being in a boat is to stay out of the water.  And the general idea of casting anchor is to keep you tethered to a select and stable place.   How grateful I am that my hope in God and in the promises of God (His Word) is the anchor to my soul!   Or perhaps more accurately, God’s hope, living within me by the power of the Spirit of God, keeps me anchored to hope.  Eventually, I looked away from my circumstances, caught a glimpse of the eyes of my Father, and let Him fill me again with hope for better days.

With your very own hands you formed me.  Now breathe your wisdom over me so that I can understand you.  When they see me waiting, expecting your Word, those who fear you will take heart and be glad.  I can see now, God, that your decisions are right; your testing has taught me what’s true and right.  (Psalms 119:73-75)

Well, obviously I’m blogging again.  Not because my life is now without challenges, but because through the challenges of the last few years I have learned a few things about hope.

1)  that hope is not a feeling, it’s something I choose
2)  that I have to seek out and maintain (as in guard & protect) hope on a daily basis
3)  that real hope (strong, unshakable hope) comes from God

I think Romans 15:13 says it best.   Only the God of hope can fill me with what is required to have hope.  The kind of hope that is an anchor to the soul.

May the God of hope fill  you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

There have been some tough days these past few years.  But bless God, I am getting better about staying tethered to that anchor of hope as though my very life depends upon it … because it does!

Today, again, I choose hope!
Jenny

Staying Positive In Difficult Times

This post was originally published under an older blog of mine in July 2011, just one month before I received a new job offer! Funny thing is that those very lessons I was learning back then (about guarding my thoughts and minding my tongue) are just as important today as they were then.  I enjoyed reading this again, as though for the first time.  I hope you do too!

It’s late, and I really ought to be in bed by now.  But after tossing and turning for the past hour and a half, I finally came to the realization that this is not going to be one of those nights when sleep comes easy to me.    Words are bouncing around in my head and no matter how hard I try, I can’t get them to shut up and leave me alone so that I can get some sleep.  And so instead of tossing and turning for another hour and a half, I have  decided to get up and put pen to paper (so to speak),  trusting that this restlessness is actually God inviting me to partner with Him to meet a need.  Believing that this writing, written as an act of obedience,  will be a blessing to somebody out there.

Today was a good day.  I was able to accomplish most of what I intended to do today, which not only included finishing a blog post I’d been working on for a few days but also catching up with a dear friend who lives in another state.  But I think what really has me so amped up at 11:58 pm are the endless “possibilities” that are before me.   Let me elaborate.

mhGv1bGFirst, a bit of background.  Just under 1 month ago, I joined the ranks of the unemployed.   I’ll be honest and tell you that it was a little scary those first few days of unemployment.  I know several people that have been looking for jobs for well over six months – and the more people you talk to, the more of those stories you hear.  And so as soon as I lost my job, I had to make a decision.  Will I listen to new reports and war stories of family and friends telling me how bleak the job market is right now?  Or will I listen to and put my faith in what the scriptures say about my future?  I choose the later!   And so for the past 4 weeks, I have been rigorously  ‘guarding’ my eyes, ears and thought life so that I am not giving a home to any fear-based thinking about what will happen if …

Put on all the armor that God gives you, so that you will be able to stand up against the Devil’s evil tricks.  For we are not fighting against human beings but against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world, the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of this dark age. So put on God’s armor now! Then when the evil day comes, you will be able to resist the enemy’s attacks; and after fighting to the end, you will still hold your ground.  – Ephesians 6:11-13

When negative news reports come on, I turn to another channel.  When friends tell me how bad the job market is, I quietly rehearse in my head scriptures about God’s promise for provision to those who love Him.  When worry knocks on the door, I don’t stand around and chat with it – invite it in for a nice cup of tea, nor go out on the porch for a quick little catch-up.  Nope, I smack that door shut and then crank up some worship music so that I can’t hear the knocking anymore!

Now lest I sound like some simple minded Pollyanna, let me be very clear about one thing.  Staying positive in difficult times is not for sissies!   It requires putting on the full armor of God, because if you only put on a few select pieces, I guarantee you that your adversary (the devil) is going to attack those unprotected areas and take you out!   So put on the whole suit – the ‘belt of truth’, the ‘breastplate of righteousness’, your feet fitted with the ‘gospel of peace’.  Put on the ‘helmet of salvation’ and take up the ‘shield of faith’ in one hand and the ‘sword of the Spirit’ in the other.  And of course, PRAY!  This is a war.  And you, my friend, are a called to be a Gladiator!

So stand ready, with truth as a belt tight around your waist, with righteousness as your breastplate, and as your shoes the readiness to announce the Good News of peace.  At all times carry faith as a shield; for with it you will be able to put out all the burning arrows shot by the Evil One.  And accept salvation as a helmet, and the word of God as the sword which the Spirit gives you.  Do all this in prayer, asking for God’s help. Pray on every occasion, as the Spirit leads. For this reason keep alert and never give up; pray always for all God’s people.    – Ephesians 6:14-18

In addition to guarding my thoughts, I am minding my tongue – which is to say that I’m careful about the words I allow to come out of my mouth.  Instead of giving in to the temptation to speak doom and defeat over my circumstances (i.e. I  heard that there are more than 100 applicants for every job out there, I hope I don’t run out of money before I find a job, etc.), I am instead speaking God’s Word over my circumstances!

Proverbs 18:21 reads “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (NASB).  In other words (quoting Charlie E here) … ”you will have what you say’.   Friend, if we are going to ‘eat the fruit of our words’, it only makes sense that you and I be purposeful about what we say!  We must train our tongue to speak God’s Word over our circumstances.   The scriptures are overflowing with promises of provision and prosperity (having more than enough to meet every need for every area of your life).   Cant think of any?  Read my earlier post entitled “I am: Blessed”  and then open your mouth and start speaking out loud the Word of God over your life and circumstances.

And going hand-in-hand with minding my tongue is feeding my spirit.   A couple weeks into the job hunt I hit a wall.  I was mentally and emotionally exhausted.  Nobody was calling me about my resumes, but of course my estranged friends Worry and Fear were quick to come knocking on the door to share with me the latest stats on how many months I should expect to be out of work.  I cranked up the worship music.  The knocking continued.  I watched some Daystar TV.  They rang the doorbell.  Eventually, I took to loading up my Nano with just about every Podcast teaching I could find by a few of my favorite Pastors (Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, Brian Houston) and started taking 6 am walks  … long walks.  Yup, with headphones on and sound teaching streaming into my ears, I opened wide the door and walked  straight past  Fear and Worry, listening to one Podcast after another (i.e.  feeding my spirit) and refusing to turn back towards home until those old cronies legs got tired and they quit following me!  By the time I got back home each day, my faith was so stirred up that I was well prepared to face the challenges of the day with a victorious attitude.   It was awesome!   I’m still replaying several of those teachings in my head even while I type this.

Now I’m not necessarily suggesting that you start walking 4-5 miles a day, but do what you have to do to feed your spirit!  You can put on the armor of God and quote scripture over your circumstances til your blue in the face, but if your spirit man is malnourished, you aren’t going to have the strength and stamina to stay in the game long enough to win this battle!

Four steps to staying positive in difficult times

1.  Put on your Armor

2.  Guard your eyes, ears and thoughts

3.  Open your mouth and speak (appropriate) God’s Word over your life / situation / circumstances

4.  Feed your spirit

 

Now back to my earlier comment about being amped up about the  endless “possibilities” that are before me.   You see, while I was lying in bed trying to reel in my runaway thoughts, I got the brilliant idea to quietly speak (out loud) all the things that I am grateful for about today.  Like how grateful I am for the direction the Holy Spirit provided this morning when I was doing some writing.   How blessed I was to be able to connect with this  out-of-state friend of mine in the afternoon.   What a wonderful teaching I listened to later in the day, and how happy I am that I have learned how to release  my faith in the power of the blood to secure victory over my circumstances.  And then I started naming them off.  One thing led to another, and instead of winding down, I got so excited that I knew I’d not be able to sleep for at least another hour or two.

So there you have it.  The late night (actually, now early morning) ramblings of one very tired woman!  I’m praying that its just fatigue and a wild imagination that keeps seeing little brown shadows flitting across my office floor.   Imagination or not, I’m getting a little creeped out and am going back upstairs to bed before I succumb to the temptation to start singing the song “You’ve Got To Put Your Armor On” by Psalty The Singing Songbook.

Oh, whatever … why not! Who doesn’t like a good chorus??

You’ve got to put your armor on.
You’ve GOT to put your Armor on!
YOU’VE GOT TO PUT YOUR ARMOR ON!
SO YOU’LL * BE * SAFE!!

Side note:  my daughters loved Psalty when they were growing up, and now that I’ve discovered the Psalty collection is still available, I’m totally going to get some to share with my grandchildren!

Goodnight and be blessed!

Jenny