Man, do I ever need this post!
Have you ever heard of the phrase “He/she’s a whinging Pom”- Well I am originally from England and I can testify this is an accurate title.
I am not completely convinced this constant “whinging” or complaining is always evidence of an unhappy heart or even an unhappy life. I would like to think it is a release of truth and way of sharing our personal experience of life’s daily frustrations and trials with others. A way of being vulnerable with our fellow man and experiencing empathy.
I tend to be a pretty open person, I share truths about my life easily, but especially with those who I trust and am closest to.
Like many of you, I have been weighed down most of my life with one trial after another. Whether it be illness, financial concerns, relationship upheavals, injury, grief, persecution and the like. It seems as soon as I get one sorted there is another one waiting in the midst to hit me from left field. Sound familiar?
I share my trials, like those listed above, and also the daily irritations of life, such as emotional instability, disappointment in others, offense at the deception of the world system, frustration and confusion of motherhood and wifedom, overwhelming workload, or just plain inconveniences.
However, there is an element of negativity to complaining that I recently became self-conscious of. That perhaps my constant sharing of all that is troubling me might actually be making those around me, those I love most, feel heavier because of it. This hit my heart hard! The last thing I want to do is drag anyone down. I have an extremely blessed life and want everyone to know how grateful I am.
Feeling convicted in my spirit by this, I was desperate to find a way to either stop complaining completely, or to change my attitude so that my complaining isn’t disheartening my loved ones and ruining my testimony. I have been praying on this, and seeking the Lord’s wisdom, and this morning I woke up with the answer!
It came to me like this…
LEARN TO FOCUS ON THE LOVE PATTERN
The pattern of life under God’s control is – Suffering leads to Growth or Change all while abounded by Blessings.
Let me explain that a little better….
Suffering softens us and exposes our weaknesses, so rather than complaining negatively about life’s trials, use the urge to complain to prompt us to “Boast in our weakness” (thanks Jefferson Bethke). By being grateful that God sees us completely and hears our cries for change, and accepting that these trials expose our weakness, we take our weakness to God which pushes us further and deeper into relationship and intimacy with Him through Christ. Whose grace and strength washes over us, giving us a new level of change or growth, plus a new level of faith and freedom. All the time He gives comforting signs He is with us, along with abundant provision and protection.
All this is done from His LOVE! Love for you and love for me. This ‘love pattern’ is designed to pull us into His loving arms, regardless of how ‘good’ we have been but rather dependant on how frail and flawed we admit that we are.
Our positive vulnerability will encourage others to be vulnerable, building true connection and empathy with those we share this earth with. All the while giving us an opportunity to share this wonderful news of redemption.
So therefore when someone asks us how our day was and we feel that familiar urge rise within us, lets shift the focus of our complaint from defeat to victory, using our trials to spread the joy of God’s LOVE PATTERN.
I need to end on a prayer here…
Dear Gracious Lord, I lift up your name in Glory as I realise this wisdom you have shared with us. Helps us all to keep your love pattern the focus of our trials. Don’t let our weakness allow this wisdom to be forgotten, use us and our trials to spread your love! In the mighty name of your Son I pray! Amen!
One thing that has consistently blown my mind, since inviting God to guide my steps towards Him, to influence my heart and my life, is His always reliable and impeccably PERFECT timing!
I was once at an appointment for some treatment relating to my car accident, I had not been working for a number of years and money was tight. I had to pay quite a large amount upfront for this treatment and then take my receipt to Medicare to claim the subsidy that I would be reimbursed. My specialist was running late and my treatment took longer than usual. I had much less time than expected and I had to pop into the Medicare office to collect my refund, grab a few items from the shops and get back in time to pick up my children from school.
I rushed through the doors of the Medicare office, punched in to receive my number in the queue, I was ticket number 142 and the ticket they were serving was 79. I had quite a wait. So rather than waste precious time, I took my ticket and nipped across the road to get those few items I needed. I knew I had quite a while to kill so I took my time looking around to try and make sure I got everything I needed. I forgot for a moment my impending ticket number. All of a sudden it dawned on me that I should get back to Medicare before they called my number.
So I hurriedly headed for the checkout and wouldn’t you know it, two queues. I picked the shortest line and began waiting impatiently, worrying that surely by now my number would be close and I knew if I missed my number I would not have time to line up again. My feet were shifting restlessly as the lady in front of me started to load her items from her basket onto the counter. I couldn’t tell if she was being painstakingly slow on purpose, but my I felt my heart-rate rise with each item. Then came the dreaded price challenge, “I’m sure that was only $2.95 not $3.95” the lady contested. My heart clenched in my chest, heat began to rise up my neck and over my face. I was sure I would not be getting back my $150 refund today and I knew I needed it for fuel for the week. I knew I couldn’t get back here til next week at least…. I knew I needed the money for fuel to get back at all! I was just about to offer to pay the $1 difference to save her from taking up more time by sending the clerk to investigate, when I remembered my relationship with the Almighty and felt a sense of peace rise from within me.
The words “Trust God’s Timing” filled my thoughts. I recalled all the times I had trusted God previously when He had performed miracles in my life. I took a deep breath and relaxed. I made a conscious effort to stop my anxious thoughts and to believe that whatever happened would be just how He planned it.
The clerk came back, the lady was on her way and my sale was finalised (finally), yet I was peaceful. I strolled towards the Medicare office, my thoughts only on God’s power and love for me.
The doors parted and my eyes locked on the flashing ticket number being served….. 141. It clicked over to 142 right in front of my eyes and I walked straight up to the counter, beaming from ear to ear! The feeling of protection and faith that washed over me is indescribable. I wanted to shout and tell the whole room filled with people what had just transpired within my heart and mind, and then been confirmed in the physical.
I don’t believe there are words that can convey how miraculous, or how numerous, or how meticulously specific encounters like this have been in my life. Even if I manage to explain the main segments you must understand that there are too many elements to the puzzle that I cannot possibly recall all of them, pieces that evidence just how perfectly perfect the timing of each incident actually is. It is beyond me and my understanding, it is not knowledge that convicts me of these truths, it feels impossible to try to explain. We must make ourselves into the smallest of the small, and wide eyed to the enormity of things that exist beyond our understanding.
So lets open our hearts and our minds, remove all the barriers that lock us into our comfortable explainable comprehension, and believe for a moment that The Creator of the Universe, The One True God, The Most Omnipotent Being, The one who LOVES us regardless of our constant decrepitude, knows exactly where we will be, precisely what we will think, specifically which direction our heart will lean. He knows and has timed it all for us to experience a tiny shred of His capabilities, if only we play our part in meeting Him there.
No matter how much time passes between occurrences of these precisely perfect coincidences, one factor is always required, and that is my heartfelt recognition of His omnipotence and my complete trust in Him.
I must admit I am the weak link in this equation, I am so often a captive of my own desire to control, of my own fears, of my own doubt, that I forget to meet Him on that stable place of faith. However every single time I look for Him with a willing heart, I find exactly what I need to feel His presence, to know He is right next to me, to know which direction to step towards, or if standing still in the moment is His divine request.
I can testify that EVERY SINGLE TIME I have given the timing over to God He has blown my mind. Over and over again! He has not once, not ever, failed to meet me in the midst of my trust in Him.
Keep an eye out on this blog as I share more of these types of experiences. I have written others on this subject Here and Here, Here and Here and Here. I hope they bless you all as much as they have me.
As the mother of a gorgeous teenager I am being plunged head first into awareness of the various stages that teenagers face in this current era. My heart goes out to the many adolescents who are struggling through these stages, so I have decided to start a new category on this blog called Teen Trials. This subject has been close to my heart for a very long time as I have worked with teens previously and witnessed many degrees of fallout from this crucial phase.
First, a little background…..
I was raised in a single parent household and my mother worked long hours. This meant that my siblings and I were left to our own devices for most of the time. As you can imagine, we got up to much mischief, and thought we were adults long before we should have. As I grew into actual adulthood, I began to find large gaps in my understanding of the world, of relationships, of self-control, of self-esteem, of decisions, of faith. As a result I have made a conscious effort to be around my children as much as possible. I have tried to teach them every single thing I have learned throughout my life. I have struggled with my role as a parent right in plain sight of my children. It is not easy but I believe it is worth it.
A little understanding….
Just like the rest of us, children have their own inner enemies, forces within the flesh guiding them towards unacceptable or unhealthy behaviour. I believe it is the job of the parent to point out these behaviours and use discipline to teach their little ones the destructive consequences of allowing inner enemies unfettered influence. The trouble teenagers face in this regard, is that adolescence is the transitional period where the child must take the reigns of control over their own inner enemies, and parents must find ways to encourage them.
Obviously this is one of the most difficult phases for both teens and their parents, and different parents have different techniques for getting through it. Some are overbearingly strict, which may cause the child to remove themselves from the discipline of their parents in order to gain their own self-control. Some try to be more of a friend, feeling that they should no longer set rules or guidelines for fear of being seen as unapproachable. While other parents take a distant approach and allow the teens much more freedom than is supportive, which may cause their teens to make irrational decisions long before they are mature minded enough to understand the long term consequences.
Then there are the parents who try to aim for a healthy balance, to give enough freedom for the final decision to be their teens own, but with enough support to be able to use their parents’ wisdom as a compass.
Some important keys….
The main keys to this balance are a strongly maintained relationship, open communication, respect, intimacy, value, support and faith. It must go both ways.
Here are a few things I have learned so far about these keys….
Name calling will diminish the level of respect. Without respect the wheels of intimacy fall off.
Yelling only encourages self-imposed deafness. They will simply stop trying to hear you. (It is almost impossible not to yell in the heat of the moment, but a rational talk, after giving them an apology, will open up those lines of communication again.)
Just letting them know you are there for them during the tough times gives them much needed support.
Faith is mimicked, we can’t expect our children to demonstrate more faith than we do.
Compassionate listening without dismissing or lecturing is hard, but try anyway as it helps them tremendously.
Time together creates a relationship, the more time you spend enjoying someone’s company, the stronger a relationship you have.
The more valuable a child feels, the less they will be seduced by a world that is full of false flattery. (Do you tell your child you love them all the time? Try telling them how precious they are to you, or how much you value them, how worthy they are. It sounds different to them.)
As I continue in my journey as the Mum of a young lady becoming an adult, I will share with you in this category. I’d love to hear any tips you would care to share to help me along the way and I hope some will share future posts with their teens also.
I used to believe that I was dead right about the way I assessed my emotions. I used them as platforms from which to bounce. I saw good emotions as reasons to smile, laugh and brag, and I saw negative emotions as an unacceptable state that I wanted to give away to anyone who would listen. I wanted to avoid and control negative feelings. I believed I was addressing everything and never “swept it under a rug”. I told myself this was healthy.
Realistically I was catapulting from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other, and stability was so rare I could barely recognise it enough to know I needed it. Truth be told, I used emotions as an excuse to be reckless in my pursuit of happiness. I thought life owed me happiness, I knew no different. I believed my pain wouldn’t stop unless I focused on it, gave it credit and tried to find a way to stop it. Little did I know, I was adding fuel to the unstable emotional fire.
It was very difficult to firstly accept this mindset and then change it, especially as my entire family of origin are equally emotionally driven.
It is important to understand that emotions are powerful catalysts to another dimension. A dimension where an alien can easily take control of our ship if we fail to handle these inner enemies with caution.
When we become aware of the destructive nature of emotional instability we are on our way to laying a new foundation from which to bounce through life.
Try looking at emotions as an ocean, high waves and low, ripples that can carry on for miles, sometimes intense and sometimes peaceful but always temporary.
Acknowledge how you feel, and why, recall the evidence of past destructive tendencies, and remind yourself, “I am not to be trusted to make good choices right now”. Just like standing under an impending wave, keep your head down (lay low, try to engage with the world as little as possible), allow the waves to crash or wash over you and give it as much time is needed until the wave has passed. You may actually be surprised how much more quickly the emotions lose intensity once you learn to ride them out this way. Once it is safe to lift your head you will see how much more clearly you can think. A clear head space is vital for preventing the mess that is often left in the wake of uncontrolled emotions.
We can’t control emotions by stopping them or avoiding them, but we can control how much damage they cause us by controlling ourselves during those waves. Thanks be to God, I have noticed that I can manage the lows much better than I used to, and find long-lasting peace in the present, without all the emotions that only seemed to create temporary happiness.
There is no denying it, strong emotions easily influence our decisions, and not usually in a good way.
We’ve all experienced overwhelming emotions in varying degrees in our lives. Times when clarity evades us under a dark cloud of confusing heartache, desperation, anguish, guilt, fear….
Even enjoyable emotions can negatively influence our decisions, especially in relationships. We feel so strongly, emotionally excited, that we let our pursuit of those feelings misguide our ability to be logical and rational regarding the pace we let the relationship develop and how deeply or quickly we invest our trust. Not just in romantic relationships but friendships as well. Our desire to be loved and accepted can smother the logic that recognizes a red flag and should deter us from believing flattery and false promises.
Negative emotions can cause us to make rash reactive decisions, without evaluating at the time, we may not like the long term consequences. We have all made a decision in the heat of the moment only to realize we would have done things differently had we had control of the emotions effecting us at the time.
I suffer from a few psychological issues, mainly anxiety and a manic/depressive mood disorder. Unstable emotions play a huge role in my daily life. I am extremely guilty of letting emotions control my decisions in the past, and truth be told, they still haunt me sometimes.
So what has changed? …. Lots!
We may not be able to stop our emotions, but we can prevent them from poisoning our choices. Oh and don’t be confused here: Reactions are not choices. However, using our emotions to excuse our reactions is a choice.
Through many years of therapy and self-awareness I have learned not to trust my emotions. I have learned to accept them as a reactive response but I know if I act too quickly while experiencing the emotion I will regret it later. So I had to set myself some rules.
It is important to develop your own set of rules, by looking back over your life and seeing the patterns. If you know you always find yourself in the same predicaments over and over, seek a Councillor/Psychologist to help you establish some rules that are healthy for you and the decisions you want to make in future.
Look carefully at the people you spend time with. Are they empowering your emotions and encouraging impulsive choices? Or do they display self-control and rational choices? We are all influenced by the people we associate with on a regular basis, but the beauty is we get to choose not to spend time with those who negatively impact us.
A stable confidant is vital to this transition, to detoxing our decision making.
When dealing with volatile situations and strong emotions, get some distance from the immediate situation and speak to someone who you know has a calm, unemotional sense of reason before doing anything else.
Remember: A little prayer goes a long way. If you resonate with this post but doubt your ability to overcome your overpowering emotions, ask your Heavenly Father for some help, read His Word. Through Christ’s strength ALL things are possible!
Watching from the outside as someone you love is being put through the paces of a “life changing” experience can be quite nerve wracking. My Dad used to say “There can be no reconstruction without there first being deconstruction”, or simply, “No one can rebuild a better life until they go through the process of breaking down their current life.”
Friends, family and others can offer simple support or short term guidance to loved ones in crisis, but unfortunately sometimes certain attempts to help may actually enable the unhealthy patterns to continue. Offering comfort and attempts to fix or stop the suffering can prevent them learning the very important lesson which only rock bottom can teach.
When someone truly seeks Him, God is the ultimate designer of both deconstruction and reconstruction. The strategy in place is that before we can accept His blessings and have a productive, fulfilling and contented life, we must allow Him to shake things up, to show us where the problem areas are. Then we must learn to distance ourselves from the old ways we have been living and determine our minds to be renewed, through His word and an honest relationship with Him.
As you may have guessed, this is not a simple one time action. It takes many steps to undo all the unhealthy beliefs, habits and influences on our decisions, to completely remove their power over us. Sure enough, these steps aren’t all forward, we may take ten steps backwards before one faithfully productive step forward is earned. It can feel like we aren’t getting very far at all, and it can appear that way to those around us as well.
It can be tempting to get drawn in by those going through the ugliness of this phase, out of concern for the destruction we are witnessing, or our desire to prevent our loved ones from suffering. However, we may want to remember that progress isn’t pretty, and be reminded of how many times we had to fall and become a complete mess before we saw any progress in our own lives. Pray for them, love them, give them into God’s trustworthy hands, and try not to allow fear to motivate our contributions to their issues. Don’t let it make you lose faith in the possibility of positive faithful progress, which may be just around the next corner they take. Remember and believe that we serve a LOVING, FAITHFUL & AMAZING GOD!
How weak and discouraged we can become! Oh how easy it is to slip! It amazes me that even with bucket loads of genuine faith, it is still so easy to listen to our own excuses and take the easier options. A profound quote, which I heard recently, comes to mind….
“The blood of Christ can cleanse EVERY confessed sin, the only thing it cannot cleanse is an excuse!”
There are countless excuses to put off doing the often grueling work of a calling. My recent excuse has been my illness and medication. The high levels of medication needed for the past year totally destroyed my ability to be creative. I could barely come up with an idea of what to make for dinner, let alone write something that may inspire any of you!
In His usual merciful way, the Lord gives much needed grace. The pressure to perform work for Him decreases, and even though we keep Him in our thoughts and speak of Him to others, It’s easier to turn to comfort and away from suffering willingly. Instead of researching diligently for motivation and spiritual food, we often give up and lean hard on any distraction.
True to form, the Lord gives us enough rope to hang ourselves with, and as usual He reaches down and intervenes before we can completely destroy ourselves and all His blessings around us.
As the rope tightens, fear overcomes us, discord enters our lives from almost every angle. In my case I became defensive and self-righteous. I had used my excuses for a longer period than God had deemed acceptable. By stepping outside His will we step outside His protection. As a result we become discouraged, full of confusion and despair.
In times like this we need a WORD from the Lord, and sometimes that word is not the full picture but a single step which He directs us to take. A single step of obedience, often a horribly scary and difficult step. However when you get a WORD from God you know that you know what you must do, no doubt at all. It’s a step that takes constant prayer, complete reliance on God’s strength to stick to it, and acceptance of our weakness, our inability to perform it without Him. All trust and Hope must be in Him!
Steps like this usually go against every step we would normally take, it is a step within the spiritual system and appears to be something entirely different to those in the world system. It also comes with intense demonic attack. Attack trying to discourage you so your faith is weak. Attack to distract you from staying within God’s will, and you can be sure you will get attack after taking that step of obedience, as spiritual backlash. This is spiritual warfare at it’s core, a fight within ourselves against our flesh, a fight within ourselves against our poisoned souls and hard hearts, a fight against the armies of the spiritual world aimed to unravel God’s plan. Inner Angels and Enemies in full force BATTLE!
Without knowing the entire message, we must obey, we must take that step and stand there waiting for our next direction. Standing in that tiny square, waiting on God in obedience, is a test. How long we must stay there depends on how long it takes for us to get an A+. God wants us to pass with flying colours and is patient enough to wait however long it takes.
After the time of this test, while standing still, leaning on this WORD, this step, I turned, face first into God’s presence and the moment I did, the Lord began to comfort me. Not many more steps were needed in His direction to receive His revelation, and after my remorseful confession came His wonderful blessing! Stable, Strong, Zealous, and Productive Faith!
I am overjoyed to be useful to Him again! To have Clarity replace Confusion, Faith replace Fear, Health replace Illness, Love replace Hate. God is SO GOOD!
One thing I have found to be a true blessing, along with spiritual faith, is self-awareness. It is one of the most important things we need to achieve growth and inner peace in this life, and something I write about often.
I have lately been thinking about those who may not have as much self-awareness as others, about those people who haven’t changed much over the years, and are still stuck in the same old patterns they have always been.
I read a little something recently, it said:
“If you are the same person, with the same perspective you had a decade ago; then you have just wasted ten years of your life!”
Before I gained some Godly self-awareness, I thought I was self-aware. I thought I was a ‘good person’. I prided myself on having good intentions and wisdom. My heart was in the right place (or so I thought), I knew the difference between right and wrong (or so I thought), and I was a good friend and family member (or so I thought).
Back then I had no regrets, I had no lingering, self-conscious guilt, because I always had a very good explanation for my actions. It was usually something like, “I meant well”, “I felt ….”, “I’m only human”, or “I had no choice” (because of what someone else did first).
I had little or no remorse for my own actions, (unless of course I got hurt in the fallout). I never set out to hurt anyone, and if I did hurt someone else, I found a way to believe I was right, and that made it ok with me. I saw no reason to change, I was onto it (or so I thought). I used my excuses, and understanding to stay in my own spiraling cycle.
When I became aware of how God saw things, it smacked me in the face and it hurt!
I was SELFISH! I saw things from my way and didn’t consider that perhaps there was a better way. Sure I was always rushing to help people, I was thoughtful and did kind deeds all the time. I tried to find ways to show my affection for others so that they would know how much I thought of them. But I didn’t realise that I was really only doing it to be seen as a good person, not because I was actually a good person. I couldn’t admit the truth to myself so I figured all the trials of life were not lessons I had to learn, just tests to see if I was strong enough and if I could keep my faith through them.
Life will do it’s best to help us become aware of ourselves, and if we stop avoiding it we will be amazed by the realisation. And while it is a challenge to work hard and break the cycles you have been stuck in your whole life, it is definately worth it.
In a recent therapy session we were discussing the downfalls of having no self-awareness. My therapist put it this way “If you don’t regret your actions that affected yourself or others in a negative way, then you avoid the reasoning to need to repair the situation, and refuse to take a realistic look at yourself and make necessary changes.” In other words, these people can’t apologise without explaining why they aren’t really to blame, and they don’t see the need to alter the way they handle things.
He also said that “People who excuse their own actions and don’t own up to the pain they caused another, will continue to hurt others and will usually end up very lonely, they will also wonder why”.
How sad is that! Out of a lack of self-awareness we can damage our relationships so badly, and some will never find the inner peace of growth, or a new perspective and the truth about themselves. It may leave them without a clue as to why they feel isolated from others. We can easily blame everyone else yet we refuse to accept blame ourselves, it would simply be more productive if we swallowed our pride and took a good look in the mirror. That is the only area of our lives that we can bring about a true transformation.
The serenity prayer is one commonly found in households all over the world. It aims to tackle this self-awareness problem. We need the courage to face ourselves head on, to see the truth about ourselves and make the adjustments necessary to bring about a change in our lives, one we will never regret.
“God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Santa, Christmas trees, excess, overload are things that hurt my heart at Christmas. As I walk around my daily life at this time of year, nothing reminds me of the wonderful joyful time of celebrating the Birth of Our Saviour. I hope you all have a safe and merry time praising the Name of Our Lord this Christmas. Blessings to you!
Originally posted on Inner Angels & Enemies:
“Lilly sit still” My mother’s voice rings out
“I don’t want to” I say, as I punch and shout.
The fat jolly man on who’s knee I was sat
Thought it ok to give a soothing pat
But his touch didn’t soothe my flighty fight
In fact it didn’t feel quite right
And when I tried to sleep that night
The thought of him gave me an awful fright
I’d heard of Santa Claus and his right
To come into my home at night
Our security screens were in doubt
And wouldn’t keep this stranger out
My parents said “sleep” I must
For “Santa Claus we sure could trust”
But everything else they had taught before
Lay open in warning all over the floor
I knew I hadn’t done my best all year
So why were there so many presents here?
They told me he…
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In memory of my Dear Dad…. It has been 4 years this week since Dad went to the next place. Until we meet again. Much Love. xoxo P.s. The book was wonderful! Blessings to all!
Originally posted on Inner Angels & Enemies:
Until the passing of my Dad from cancer a couple of years ago I had not previously suffered the loss of anyone who was extremely close to my heart. It was such a shock to my inner spirit, even though I consciously knew it was coming, I had no idea how I would handle the grief of such a loss.
He was the most spiritually-powerful person in my life who would fervently pray for me when I was too deep in my own weakness to pray for myself, which of course was when I needed it the most. He was my mentor, my confidant and my friend and the hole he left in my life is proving to be extremely hard to fill.
I guess I am lucky in the sense that he helped me to build such intensely strong beliefs, and somewhat of an understanding of the spiritual realm…
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