11/10/2019

Balancing Bipolar

Posted in Encouragement, General, Musings, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 9:21 am by The Water Bearer

Getting diagnosed with Bipolar can be a bittersweet experience. Part of you is relieved to finally have a reason for the strange cycles in your mood and behaviour that causes instability in your life, while another part feels broken, ashamed, angry and even helpless.

But having a mood disorder is a pretty common occurrence in today’s age, and it’s no wonder really. Our lifestyle is highly stimulated and reactive, self-regulation has decreased since the idea of indulgence became humanities priority, our culture’s lean away from family stability, and the impact of spiritual influences increases as time winds up. I’m surprised any of us are actually sane!

There are some simple things we can all do to manage our mood swings and balance out our behaviour. So let’s ditch the stigma and face the situation with hope and these helpful tips.

1. Get Informed

Your moods, your behaviour and your diagnoses are your responsibility, they are not the responsibility of your parents, or your Doctor, or your spouse or your friends. We can gain support from these sources but ultimately any issue that comes up in our lives is an opportunity for growth in our understanding. So educate yourself. We live in the Information Age, and if you’re suffering from any condition and haven’t armed yourself with knowledge about it, then you aren’t really participating in life, are you? You’ve checked out, feeling sorry for yourself, denying the struggles of life in the hope they will just magically disappear. That my friend is a recipe destined for Hell on Earth!

2. Seek Truth

There is a LOT of bullshit information out there, and lots of amazing genuine stuff too. Its your job to be realistic about this when gathering research about your conditions. If one article says to sleep more during a depressed episode, look for any articles that promote exercise during depression. Or if one article says you must take prescription medications, look for ones that explain the side-effects and offer natural options, and always use some good old fashioned common sense before doing anything radical. Opposing views aren’t the enemy, they are the way to see the whole picture of your condition without someone’s biased agenda misleading you and wasting your time. Get honest with yourself too, about how your condition impacts your life and the lives of your loved ones. Rather than getting overwhelmed by ALL the issues you’re facing, just pick the most important one to you, and focus on that until you feel you have a good grasp of what you’re dealing with before expanding to a new topic.

3. Self Care

Some simple daily practices can settle your focus and level out the reactivity of your moods. Having a routine filled with self care is vital if you want to take back control of your life and not be at the mercy of whatever ‘wobbly’ your condition throws your way. Things like a morning ritual of stretching, meditation, journaling, and prayer are wonderful ways to start the day inspired and balanced. Peaceful time out away from screens, errands, chores and work is imperitive to reset and restore your body and mind. A few hours on a blanket in the sun, a long slow walk, a massage, or an art project can bring a sense of control back to our minds. Preparing and eating healthy non-processed foods will make a huge difference to the spikes of sugar levels, while avoiding caffeine and alcohol will calm the nervous system and rejuvenate your natural motivation. Of course no self care practice would be complete without a regular sleep cycle. Going to bed and rising early every day has an amazing impact on our neurotransmitters (brain chemistry). If you struggle to fall asleep, use a screen filter on your phone to remove the blue light after 7pm, avoid screens all together 30 mins before sleep, and a simple cup of chamomile tea never goes astray.

4. Choose your influencers

Influencers are all the rage on social media, and what we read, listen to and engage with has a massive effect on our own patterns of mood and behaviour. If you pay close attention to what you’re feeding your soul with and who you spend your time with, you may realise where you need to trim back on what influences your life. Not just what you follow on social media or watch on Netflix, but also your friends, family and co-workers. Learning to set up some boundaries to protect yourself from impulsive, irresponsible or toxic influences can bring a whole new level of peace to your life than you ever thought possible!

5. Acceptance 

Pretending you don’t have Bipolar or any other condition is not going to help you achieve peace and victory in life, and neither is resisting it. Life would be dull and boring-as-bat-shit if we didn’t have struggles and challenges to test our resilience and strengthen our character. So its time to get over the self-pity and recognise that EVERYONE has their cross to bear, their battle to face, this just happens to be yours. There are plenty of things to be grateful for, at least you’re living in a time of compassion and understanding around these issues and not being burned at the stake for being weird. Acceptance and gratitude play a big part in how well you manage your condition, and that’s not to say you’ll never have a breakdown or a blow out pity-party from time to time, but your attitude of acceptance can be an anchor to come back to whenever the wheels do come off.

6. Keep the Faith

Despite the suckiness of your diagnoses, God is trustworthy, He can turn your trials into triumphs, and your tests into testimonies. But its important to remember that the spiritual realm has to be balanced too. So for all the curses you may be battling, there are blessings scattered amongst them, especially if you plant the seeds of faith during life’s storms. King David who wrote the Psalms, had some serious mood swings and behavioural disorders to contend with, and reading his stories can bring much comfort as he pours faith into each tumultuous circumstance. For all the good God can and will do in your life, the enemy is here to level the playing field, so keeping an eye on his schemes is vital to keep a clear perspective on what you deal with day-in and day-out, and where to channel your energy in fighting against him. If you want to read more on this, this blog is filled with heaps of ways to refocus your faith and defeat the enemy, victory is certain!

 

 

 

 

10/10/2019

Waking Up

Posted in Encouragement, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , at 5:36 am by The Water Bearer

two images

 

The tightness in my chest was beyond belief, I could hardly breathe, my throat closed up… I couldn’t swallow. That old familiar feeling was taking me over yet again. My heart thumped loudly behind my breastbone. I needed to do SOMETHING! ANYTHING to stop this feeling. Quick as lightening my mind began scrolling through all the well worn escape plans of the past, as my ego tried to make a selection. Its like a game of Russian Roulette, spinning a wheel of options, hoping the one your autopilot chooses won’t blow up in your face.

Will I let out my fear in anger and yell or cry, force an explanation, shut down, walk away?

This happens mostly when I feel misunderstood or criticised, thanks to a backstory of emotional threats and volatile accusations.

As a highly sensitive person (HSP), being on guard for these types of attacks has made my sensitivities and the activity in my nervous system painfully obvious. For the first twenty years on this earth, extreme emotional outbursts were just a common part of my daily life (especially around people I cared about the most). That was until I got so sick of feeling miserable and complaining about all the drama in my life. Instead I withdrew, I cut ties, I figured life was much safer without these painful emotions or the people who triggered them. I would be much better on my own.

or so I thought…

Loneliness is not a nice place to visit, but moving in there is diabolical for a being designed for social connection.

Whether it was from loneliness or desperation, I went in search of some stability, and found it in the form of my Dad. After 13 years without him in my life, he began to teach me how to fight back… but not in the ways I had been fighting back my whole life.

First I had to WAKE UP and actually see where the fight really was.

Rather than fighting back against those around me, who instigated these attacks, Dad showed me how to recognise my extreme emotions, he taught me to dig into my own heart until I discovered the source of these emotions, and how to use Scripture to help me identify them and gain control over them. God Rest His Soul my Dad’s teachings changed EVERYTHING! My self-awareness, my reactions, my relationships, my faith, my drama, my decisions, my habits, even my nerves.

Gaining emotional control sure feels like wrestling a monster, maybe that’s just me? But I doubt it, I see people all around me day in day out, struggling to wrestle the emotions that so often rise up and cause problems. If we’re honest, if we’re awake, we’re very much aware of the monster within.

Maybe there’s more than one? But at least the monsters within are ones you have a chance of winning against… We are powerless against the monsters around us, (I leave those to the Lord Almighty) but we absolutely can win battles when we see the monsters within!!

For over 7 years this blog has been dedicated to showing you how.

So if you too are sick of feeling the extremes of your emotions, if your tired of the loneliness, if you’ve had enough with the drama and dysfunction in your relationships, and fed up with the problems your emotional decisions create, perhaps its your time to wake up?

Maybe that’s why you’re reading this blog? Maybe, just maybe you’re ready!

06/08/2019

To KNOW Who You Are

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:41 am by The Water Bearer

If I had a dollar for every time in my life when I hid my own truth, and willingly swallowed someone else’s opinion, I would be a very rich woman. Far too often, a people pleaser will stay quiet when someone needs to speak up for the truth, and a people pleaser does this because they have no idea who they really are.

It was a couple of decades ago when I first realised my people pleasing tendencies and began to question the costs of going with the flow, I started speaking up, I stopped always following the advice of others, and began to stop believing every judgmental opinion cast upon me. Sure, I’ve come a long way, but realistically, I still catch myself giving a few pieces of mental real estate to those who have proven they don’t know me, nor have my back.

That is something I still find disturbing.

Iron sharpens iron, and I want to be sharp! I am not so deceived to believe that I am incapable of being wrong, I am well aware of the sinful nature that tries to trick me into defending it when it rises up and undermines my character, as I am sure many of you will nod in agreement. Most often, the negative opinions aim to undermine my faith and my message, or to accuse my heart of arrogance & self-righteousness.

So I go away and pray “Lord, I know I am capable of being arrogant, just spend 5 minutes with my ego! I know I am capable of being self-righteous, just spend 5 minutes watching adverts for reality TV with me to witness the judgmental comments fly! Lord, I know I am capable of doubt, in those moments when my faith is shaken. Yet in each situation, when I have spoken boldly of your truth, and the wonders you have led me through, and shared the wisdom you have graciously shared with me, read my heart Lord and show me my sin.”

Then I can trust His mercy and conviction to tenderly handle my short-comings, and reveal to me where HE wants me to improve. And the added bonus is He can create situations that actually bring about the changes He wants!

I’ve always tried to give value to each persons voice, because I value their soul and perspective, and don’t want to be blind-sided by my own ignorance, but there is a line that must be drawn in order for me to step even more boldly into my purpose. And that is to still value the soul of each human being, but not simply see myself through their eyes, nor change my truth to suit their narrative. It is far too toxic, especially looking through the eyes of those who aren’t even aware of their own arrogance, their own ignorance, their own doubts, or their own self-righteousness.

They don’t know themselves, so how can they know me & how can they know you?

There is only ONE who knows our hearts, even better than we know ourselves… and He is the ONLY one we can depend on when it comes to knowing who we are. The scriptures have the perfect precision of discerning the intentions of our hearts and revealing to us where we’re being led astray by our nature, or our ego, or the enemy.

Men and women of Remnant Faith have been called to speak boldly, especially in times when its not popular or convenient. And be assured if we do this, we will be persecuted for it, just as our Lord Himself was. It is the voices that make us doubt who we are that prevent us fulfilling this calling.

So here is a reminder to focus on who God knows me to be… (Feel free to apply it to yourself too!)

I am His!

Whoever the world thinks I am is none of my concern if I know who I am!

17/06/2019

Catching Zzzz’s & Escape plans

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , at 2:41 pm by The Water Bearer

Loud snores rattle out across the room, as the group lay on their Pilates mats in astronaut’s rest pose, trying to stay focused on the guided relaxation portion of the class.

This is a common occupational hazard if you’re a meditation instructor.

Its hard for clients to direct their attention to the “sounds around them” without bursting into laughter at the chainsaw buzzing from someone’s nasal cavity. :o)

I’ve been told that having the ability to put someone to sleep (especially at their first class) is a unique gift I have. I must admit, it is sweet that they are so comfortable in my class that sleep is easy to find.

However, jokes aside, there is something about it that highlights the necessity for increased mindfulness practice in today’s world.

While I’m flattered that some find my voice and relaxation techniques so relaxing that they drift off to slumber, this is not exactly what Sanctuary Stretch is aiming for. If we are on auto-pilot hour after hour and mind-wandering is our mind’s default setting, then trying to slow thoughts and focus them is extremely difficult at first. The mind simply looks for an escape, because focused attention for that long at that slow pace is like lifting weights for our concentration. Falling asleep is a common and initial phase when practicing mindfulness meditation, but its not helpful if we are still falling asleep regularly after a few months of practice.

Many of my clients come to Sanctuary Stretch to help with mental health struggles, as well as seeking flexibility and physical wellbeing. When reality is a place of emotional upheaval, or fear, or pain, or lack of hope, its common for a client to be searching for an ESCAPE.

Peace is certainly a state we are aiming for, however escaping reality to find peace is not a healthy long-term solution. I try to encourage my clients to practice staying awake, staying with me, and watching out for the mind’s escape plans.

You may be asking.. “What’s so wrong with falling asleep during meditation?” (Aside from the obvious snoring that is!)

One of the reasons I believe in the practice of Sanctuary Stretch so deeply, is because it is a carefully considered strategy to combat the struggles of life. That’s right I said combat! Because Combat reminds us of what’s at stake.

I understand the desire to want to escape, to wish you could give up, to feel the pressure is just too much sometimes, I honestly do, just read this post to see for yourself. But I know you are capable of much more than you give yourself credit for, and there are resources that can fill up your arsenal so that rather than looking for an escape, you are more likely to step forward to the front line of the war for your soul and feel competent because you have on your armour, you have your weapons, and your know how to use them.

Its pretty clear to me, that having the confidence to face life’s trials is far more realistic and beneficial than trying to avoid them. Our Inner Enemies of doubt and fear are hell-bent on depleting our confidence and faith, they want us to feel helpless in the face of struggles and trauma. But let’s not fall for the lie that Life is meant to be easy! Its not! Falling for this lie only leads to self-limiting beliefs and bitterness. The friction and contention we come up against in life has a very specific purpose – To prepare us, to mature us, to show us what we are capable of, and to help us reach our highest potential.

Without these things we become atrophic, useless, and defeated, when we didn’t even accept or realise that we are in a war.

So next time you practice mindfulness meditation, catch yourself before your mind escapes, and use your intention to strengthen the muscles of the mind, to get familiar and skillful at wielding the weapons of faith and self-awareness so that you may claim your victory, rather than your retreat!

15/03/2019

The Devil Made Me Do It

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 2:32 pm by The Water Bearer

Have you ever reached a point of anger that has become uncontrollable? Has it made you act in ways you never thought you would?

Have you ever felt so much pain and fear that defensive protection mechanisms caused you to say terrible and hurtful things to people you love?

I sure have.

I do understand how powerful emotions can make us want to lash out. I lived it for the first 20 years of my own life. I blamed everyone around me for my own feelings of disappointment and anger, I accused people of being unloving if they failed to meet my ideals of what love should look like. I called people I love names like “F’ing Asshole” and “F’ing bitch” and pointed out all their failings with nastiness, and then I shared all of their misgivings with anyone who would listen. I wrote letters outlining all the reasons I felt mistreated, all the reasons they were wrong and I was right.

Worst of all, I believed I was justified. I believed my emotions were valid. I believed my behaviour was not as bad as what they had caused me to feel. I believed that they had asked for it, that they deserved it. I took zero responsibility for my emotional outbursts, and in return I expected and longed for close happy relationships.

The real trouble with blaming, accusing, name calling, put downs, backstabbing etc is that once they leave our mouths or are written and sent, they break the precious trust that is needed to be close in that relationship.

Each time we say these things we feel, and they are directed at someone as a personal attack, more trust is broken. Broken trust creates distance, division, stress, triggers, defensiveness and many mental health problems like anxiety, depression etc.

The only way to repair that broken trust is to own up to the nasty things said and done and truly apologise, to feel the remorse of having said and done these things to someone cared for. Truly feeling the remorse of becoming untrustworthy and not being as close as before, and to promise to try not to do it anymore, while accepting that they get to choose whether or not to give another chance. Then to do everything possible to alter feelings and behaviours so that the pattern stops happening.

It is very hard to break patterns of emotion like this but it is possible, with time, therapy, faith and techniques that build self-awareness. This whole blog Inner Angels and Enemies, is dedicated to empowering us to succeed.

Being held hostage by powerful emotions that push us to treat the people we love that way, is not how I wanted to live my life. I saw this pattern in myself and my family and I desperately refused to pass the curse onto my daughters. And for the last 20 years I’ve been working hard to break this cycle.

I had to realise that not all my emotions are valid, and there is a devil who can create emotions within me, I was his puppet and emotions were his strings. Then I would be his weapon against people and all I had to say was “its not my fault its how I feel”. But what we say and how we act is our responsibility, and yes there is more than enough grace to cover all our failings, yet God can’t forgive based on the excuses that our ’emotions made us do it’, which really means ‘the devil made me do it’.

However God mercifully forgives our confessions, which is when we’ve taken responsibility and showed true remorse.

It is the devil at play, but we can overcome the devil through Christ’s example and He will help us change and break the devil’s hold. So then it is possible to gain control over our emotions more and more. Its a constant war. This is the spiritual war. This is what its ALL about.

“These two forces within us are constantly fighting each other to win control over us, and our wishes are never free from their pressures” Galatians 5:17

The constant battle within each of us between the devils powerful emotions, and God’s forgiveness and power over those emotions. So we can move into Freedom from all the devil’s games and find real lasting unity with others.

Selah!

02/01/2019

Setting Intentions for 2019

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 9:28 am by The Water Bearer

How do you approach a New Year?

It feels so shiny and fresh, doesn’t it! A clean slate to paint a new masterpiece.

I’m not a fan of making new year’s resolutions, I kind of see them like I see marriage ceremonies in the modern world, a “promise” that can easily be broken. There is something powerful about our words, our vows, and when they become watered down and meaningless a little piece of that power dies. As I look about the world I see a lot of dying power and meaningless promises. So, instead of making another promise that I may break, I start my new year by setting intentions.

An intention is something you come back to over and over, so that if you drift off track, or ‘fail to stay true’ there is no loss of power, just a little refocus back to your intention and away you go again.

Before I share my intentions for 2019, a little backstory…

The past 4 years have exploded for me in my calling and gifts. Something about my time in Africa opened up my faith to levels that I felt even my biggest most unfathomable dreams were somehow possible. So, I took some time out from writing my novel (a promise I made to God 20 years ago), and began the task to create and open Sanctuary Stretch. Since then I have been overwhelmed with an abundance of ideas of how I can build this ministry/business, which has kept my focus from returning completely back to my promised novel.

By the last half of 2018 I was at the end of my tether. I had created this amazing program and was running a few classes and workshops, and yet I felt defeated. By having so much inspiration, and starting a dozen new mini-projects, none of which came to completion, I was just so sick of wasting precious time. God was showing me in every direction that time was fleeting and the final round was upon us and yet I felt if I held onto these alluring mini-goals I could still reach the finish line before time runs out.

So as this new year dawned, I didn’t want to drag the frustration of last year into this shiny new year. I decided to take some time on my favourite beach to reflect on the past year, pray, quieten the noise of my mind and the world, and listen for what God was trying to tell me.

The intentions that came out of that time on the beach were 3 fold:

  1. To deny my own will and give God the floor to bring His Will into fruition (or in other words, to see the eternal rewards, rather than looking for mini ‘worldly’ rewards).
  2. To spend more time practicing what God has taught me, instead of always trying to teach it to others (especially those who may not have asked for it).
  3. To be more relaxed with myself and my family over our mistakes and missteps. (I am hyper-responsible sometimes and need to practice more tolerance and learn to laugh at myself more).

I took some time to journal out these intentions, and as a way to ensure I had denied my own will, I sat at God’s feet and cast lots, (this is a great way to discover how God wants to proceed) I held up every one of my projects and asked which ones I was meant to push forward with, which to throw out and which to put aside for the time being.

Some were a deadest NO, others were WAIT, but wouldn’t you know it.. I got the go ahead on only one project.

The Novel.

I’m so grateful that God prompted me to wake up and smell the urgency of keeping my promise. Now I can enter 2019 with my intentions set and one goal to focus on, turning the 55,107 word, 89 page document into a fully-fledged book. Wow that’s scary to say out loud!!

ARGH! I’m going to need so much help!

Good job “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” (Philippians 4:13)

Mini goals are so much easier, tempting us with small rewards, and yet the big stuff, the stuff that requires a heap more faith, that is where the real and lasting rewards lie.

What are your intentions for this blank canvas, 2019? Are you sick of wasting precious time as well and ready to keep that big promise?

 

07/12/2018

2018! What was that?

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:55 am by The Water Bearer

I was hesitant to publish this post, because it exposes my more controversial insights. However, I am too excited not to record this for future reflection! I know I’m not alone when I say that 2018 was one epic, hectic, uncharted, warp-speed, challenging and astounding year! I’m unsure how many people out there notice spiritual patterns… But I for one see them everywhere, and 2018 was riddled with a few very specific sequences.

What on earth am I talking about? Well let me explain….

The first and most obvious was the fluctuation in time. Each year we all hear the cliché, “Time gets faster every year” But this year was significantly faster than most, because it was jam packed with developments in the spiritual calendar. I doubt we could maintain this speed for long without going insane, so I for one am interested to see exactly what the time fluctuations will be in 2019.

In 2018 I noticed some huge life-altering changes, as well as some pretty intense attacks, plus the purging of some life-long strong holds, there were huge revelations and breakthroughs, and last but definitely not least I noticed evidence of God tying up loose ends and separating the wheat from the chaff.

First lets look a little at the overarching and perhaps most interesting aspect of the 2018 spiritual patterns, the separating the wheat from the chaff, which is creating a huge divide between those who have hearts that soften under God’s hand, and those who hold onto their stubborn ignorance. I say ignorance because all those who I’ve seen fall into this pattern of separation were given many many chances to turn their hearts and their ears to God’s call, and instead chose to close off their hearts and block their ears, in order to cling to what suits them better., i.e their own understanding and place in the world.

There has been a significant amount of evidence that God is tying up loose ends as well in 2018. Especially as those who have been persecuted and ridiculed in the past are now being vindicated and those who stood against the remnant are being exposed. The chaff and the persecutors seem to have nowhere hide as God reveals the consequences of having enough rope to hang oneself.

The chickens have come home to roost, and I trust God and I know His judgments are fair and justified, because He alone can read the hearts of men. Still I feel sadness for those who are now suffering. And I don’t mean suffering like the spiritual warfare many of us are suffering under, the frequent yet temporary spiritual attacks or death by a thousand papercuts. No, the suffering I am seeing goes right to the pit of Hell and they aren’t escaping it. They are struggling to find any way out, because there is only one way out, and that’s through the Cross!

He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.” Matt 3:12 NLT

So that my friends is the revealing of the ‘chaff’.

As for the wheat! Well it’s time to raise the roof if you are counted as Wheat! Yeeew!

It seems 2018 was the year for change and a year for truth (well for those who value truth at least!). Those of us who had been held captive by lies for far too long saw the light split through and bring clarity! So much clarity, which in turn empowered the courage to take leaps of faith and accept the changes on the horizon, rather than plodding along as normal. This shift saw changes in family dynamics, career paths, finances, schooling, health, location and even faith. It was refreshing, but not without its pains. As with all spiritual empowerment there comes backlash. The intensity of the attacks rose significantly this year, however they seemed short lived for those with strong faith. Just a day here and a week there of distress followed by another incredible and intimate burst of faith. When going through these distress patterns its always important to ask ourselves, “What is God purging from my life?” Often the answer is not just the obvious superficial cleansing but a deeper hidden motive which needs pulling out at the root. This is fabulous news for those who’ve been praying for personal breakthroughs!

Back to touch on that earlier point of ‘incredible and intimate bursts of faith’, the amount of revelation throughout 2018 has been outstanding for those who are open to hearing it. Epiphanies are coming thick and fast as God reveals His secrets to those who trust in Him. If we can manage to hold onto our sanity during the attacks, then the highs are Heavenly indeed!

“Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” Jeremiah 33:3 (KJV)

If none of this makes sense to you, I apologise for the confusion. Those who see the world with physical eyes instead of seeing the spiritual world with their hearts, will surely be confused by this post.

All I have to say is simply this. If what I am seeing is accurate then you will know if you are wheat or you are chaff. You know if you constantly turn your ear to hear God’s voice and follow Him through thick and thin, or if you have chosen not to listen and go your own way.

It’s not too late….. but something BIG is coming so let’s be willing to do whatever it takes to be on the winning side! A little discernment and self-awareness goes a long way!

I’d love to hear if your insights can confirm or deny these patterns. Please get in touch. xx

06/11/2018

The Beauty of Hell

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:06 pm by The Water Bearer

Aren’t you tired of hearing the warning and seeing the cartoons of “Eternal Burning Hell” as the place for those who aren’t righteous and ‘saved’? Those who know me know I get wildly angry around this threat!

Let’s at least agree to the fact that NO ONE actually knows what happens after we pass through death, except those who’ve died, but we can’t really ask them can we? Scriptures give us some hints, but it keeps its secrets hidden for a good reason. If we’re honest, all of us have an idea in our heads of what we would like to happen to the very worst of mankind, but we have to recognise that we DO NOT KNOW! Its not a good look, trying to scare people with some words in a book they don’t value.

As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.” Ecclesiastes 11:5

To be frank, I prefer to leave the things I can’t possibly yet understand to God and trust Him that the end result will be fair.

FIRE & BRIM…… What?

While that fantastical threat of ‘Fire & Brimstone’ (what the hell is brimstone anyway?) has been a worthy motivator for conversion to Christianity for millennia, I find the afterlife less motivation than the “Hell on Earth” that we are all familiar with in the here and now.

In this life I’ve had a taste of how horrible Hell on Earth is without my Saviour by my side. That Hellish feeling where everything becomes overwhelming, and fear takes hold, that state of hopelessness and lack of feeling God’s love is unbearable. It’s the place of our crucible, which according to Merriam-Webster means; “a place or situation in which concentrated forces interact to cause or influence change or development“. The truth of this Hell I speak of, didn’t become a distant memory once I asked my Lord to take hold of me and never let me go. Not at all, now He just goes to Hell with me, and because He’s been there before, He can show me the way out, time and time again. Hell still holds its usual bite, but these days I know there is much more than suffering going on.

Even the best of us will go to this Hell at some point, ‘saved’ or not, but the deciding factor as to whether you stay there, or find God and follow His guidance to get out, is not simply a religious act. It’s a conversion of the heart, a listening for His voice in the core of your being when everything around you is in turmoil. Its the very act of being able to identify your own sinful motives, find and trust God personally, gain the lesson and then see the beneficial evidence in the aftermath of that heart transformation.

Then you are resurrected out of hell and into hope, unity, love and peace with God.

Or in other words, you get a taste of absolute HEAVEN on EARTH!

From this perspective, sending someone to Hell is a divine and loving act, remember He sent His own SON there! For it’s the birthplace of freedom from sin!

Some of you won’t follow me from here on out, so before you leave me mid-paragraph, just know that there is no need to keep using your imagination and Scriptural threats to ‘encourage’ people to turn to God. You can use Scripture to confirm your own personal experiences of Heaven and Hell on Earth and share them, at least then your warnings don’t seem like idle threats you can’t back up with priceless tangible experience.

For those special few who grasp this and are hungry for more, lets dig into this together….

PACK YOUR CROSS & GO TO HELL!

Now that we’ve gotten rid of any fakers, let get real. Just because I said the sinner’s prayer and I completely believe that Jesus died for my sins on the cross, went to Hell, and was resurrected, (Yeeew AMEN!) doesn’t mean I have never again sinned or had to suffer the consequences for my sins. I may not need to worry about what comes after my death, but while I’m still here there is still plenty of work to be done, and plenty of unrighteous motives still hidden in my heart that need to be purged. And yours too…. even if you’re not aware of them.

Thankfully I know just the guy to help ‘burn off the dross’ Psalm 119:119 and purify my heart and yours. Please don’t fall for the illusion, it’s a life-long process, and while I more often experience Heaven on Earth since falling in love with Yahweh, than periods of Hell, doesn’t mean I don’t still need to go there from time to time and kill off a deeper level of sin.

“The Son of Man must suffer many things,” He said. “He must be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Then Jesus said to all of them, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.…” (Luke 9:22-24)

I don’t believe Jesus was being facetious for dramatic effect or simply referring to the direction of our physical lives. There is a clear message in this Scripture that has helped me find comfort in my own personal experiences of Hell. That, regular awareness of my current and hidden sins will bring me to the cross in deep remorse, where I am willing to give up the sin I was poisoned by, which will take me into a season of Hell, in which I will depend completely on my Saviour to bring me out and then experience the wonderful benefits of the “Born Again” condition on the other side of it all. That’s exactly how I feel. I feel renewed, free from the burden and influence of that sin, a new creation, and deeply in love with my Lord more than ever before…. If that’s at all possible.

Most of you who have stayed with me thus far will know this isn’t a one-time event, and it hasn’t been done ‘for you’ so that you can ignore your sins or pretend they aren’t there. This is a systematic and vital part of the faith journey. In fact, the more sins you identify… THE BETTER! Sure, you’ll go through Hell, but there is no avoiding it, and you don’t have to stay there! You don’t have to go alone! And the Heaven on the other side is incredibly worth it!

“For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.”
2 Corinthians 7:10

HELL ON EARTH IS ENOUGH MOTIVATION

Perhaps those of you who value this process, will now be more comfortable using your own admission of purging sin, of Hell on Earth, and the brilliance of the Cross, to encourage others to connect with Christ.

Not because of the fear of some unfathomable place after you die, but because suffering here is real and it can be Hell: If its not a matter of if I go to Hell but when, I’d rather not go alone. Would you? We can carry our cross in one hand and hold our Saviours’ hand with the other. There is more than enough motivation in this to fall head over heels in love with our Lord once He meets you in Hell and shows you the way out. … because you never know, if you go alone you just may find yourself stuck there for what feels like eternity.

05/10/2018

The Itchy Jumper

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 10:17 am by The Water Bearer


I’m struggling to put into words what is happening to me right now….. Trust me, this is not something I’m used to, I can always find some verbal acrobatics to wrap around what God is doing and how my soul is responding. Alas sometimes there are no familiar words.

Its just well ….. New.

And admittedly, not very comfortable.

Like wearing that tight itchy woolen jumper which your favourite Nanna handmade and watched with delight as you stretched it over your body. You can’t simply discard it, it is far too precious, but wearing it attacks your thoughts, constantly begging to be removed, to soften, to fit.

Over the years since my car accident and even since reuniting with my Dad some years prior, I’ve watched as God has unearthed secret inner enemies from my soul and given me opportunities to practice making new decisions without the influence of each one. Each was a strange and foreign experience; practicing life with a brand new insight, and deeper awareness felt just like wearing that jumper. I always felt extremely self-conscious.. I simply could not blend in!

Does that even make sense?

Let me give a couple of examples….

Once I realised the secret within me which believed in false versions of love, I was given opportunities to practice changing the way my emotions led me down that path… It was awkward to not rely on auto-pilot, or default to beliefs I’d held for decades. It took a forceful mindful effort to rethink my actions, and not to give way to old habits and old ways of thinking. After many years of practice I now recognise true love almost instinctively.

Once I realised the secret of my ‘Daddy Issues‘, I was given opportunities to build my security from faith in The Almighty, rather than expect it from human beings. It was uncomfortable to be watchful and ask the questions, what is my motive here, who am I relying on, am I doing it again? These days, I see security in every direction. Amen!

There have been thousands of these inner enemies over the past two decades.

And now I’m facing another one. The itchy jumper is back! Ugh!

This time, the secret is the deep archaic desire to please people, to be loved, be heard, accepted, understood, valued.

With the arrival of my new business/ministry venture it’s far too easy to be seduced into looking at the external landmarks, the number of clients, the evidence of connection, the potential, the expansion, as the gauge of its success. A powerful motivator isn’t it! Yet, I’m aware that this seduction may very well pollute the purity of my motives, empowering that secret desire and letting it push me outside of God’s will.

I refuse to go on allowing my deepest inner critic or the fault-finders in my life to misconstrue my value or success. I will not make another step towards that goal. It’s almost like an alter in the high places in Canaan which God warned His children to destroy. I wanted to burn Sanctuary Stretch to the ground rather than risk building an idol.

The itchy jumper is that I shall fail. Fail to live up to other people’s expectations. Fail to get through to those who aren’t yet ready for this message. Fail to be completely understood. Fail to be popular. Fail to be successful. I chose to fail because….

I’d rather fail, I’d rather see it all fall in a heap, than allow inner enemies to corrupt it. I aim to seek approval of God alone, His promises to me are not reliant upon what others think. People look to the outside, but my Lord, He looks to the heart! The deepest, truest part of the heart!

And so here I am, still helping my clients, still running workshops, still writing blogs and class programs and meditations, but without any of the potential to appease the inner desire or feed my inner enemies. I wait on Him, wearing that itchy jumper, expecting His promises will be kept without any help from my inner enemies.

I wonder if others out there know how this itchy jumper feels? Do you rip it off? Soak it in fabric softener? Wear a long-sleeved shirt underneath? Or do you tolerate it? Learn from it? Wear it in until it becomes your favourite jumper in the world!

03/09/2018

Accepting All the Seasons of You

Posted in Encouragement, Musings, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , , at 8:52 am by The Water Bearer

I tend to think of moods and emotions as patterns. Perhaps this comes from my Cyclothymia diagnosis (a mood disorder under the banner of Bipolar). Those cyclic patterns of highs and lows are something I’ve trained myself to understand and watch for. The hardest part was learning to accept them and not resist them or be ashamed of them. These emotional patterns remind me of the seasons.

Our Father Creator knew exactly what He was doing when He created the seasonal patterns that encompass our lives on this planet. The earth bursts with life in times of productivity, and growth, we might think of these seasons in our own lives as basking in sunshine, but just like the earth, parts of us at times die off, we lose hope, and retreat behind the doors of our souls.  

People often call me Claire-Bear, which is pretty funny around winter, cause just like a bear I tend to hibernate. I find it so hard to be my best self in Winter. I’m more irritable, less motivated, unsure of myself and feel sadness easily. So I withdraw, stay inside, have early nights, limited social calls and have to work harder on my self-care… I’m so glad that Winter here in Australia is over!

How about you? Everyone is different. Some of you get more irritable in the summer heat, looking for any escape. Thank God for air-conditioning right! We all accept our seasonal physical life, but why do we struggle so much to accept the seasonal patterns woven throughout our emotional landscape?

We are all guilty of trying to “Cheer up” a loved one or acquaintance who’s voicing unpleasant emotions. It seems no one likes to be around a misery-guts. Fair enough if they do nothing else but stay miserable and don’t want to recognise it or deal with it, yes that sux to be around! My Lord! But it seems ALL periods of negative emotion have become stigmatised.

I know this all too well. It happened to me just after my car accident, when I experienced my first of many severe depressive episodes. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone tried to change me, or took offense to my low mood. So few people recognise the value of our low times. We tend to avoid them, supress them, numb them and hide them behind a veil of unhealthy denial, just to save face. Although, I found tremendous value from those lowest moments. Now please understand me, I’m not suggesting the low times should be our aim, not at all, but they are a season that is there for good reason and we need to stop trying to avoid that reality. We need to change the way we speak around those who are going through a low mood. We need to stop jumping to conclusions that those experiencing periods of unhappiness are guilty of failing at life or faith!

Sure of course it’s so nice to see those we love happy and bursting with motivation, but usually the best motivation and long-lasting mature faith is born from the seasons of emotional winter in our lives. Its time to change this stigma. Its time we accepted these patterns of life as the nothing more than reality and stopped placing unnecessary expectations on ourselves and others. We don’t look at the winter months and decide its a sign that the earth is doomed, or is less of a planet than Mercury which is always in sunshine. Remember that nothing grows on Mercury! We know that the seasons all have their purpose and we accept each season for what it is, temporary.

The most severe episodes I have been through over the past decade or so were pretty clear cut transformations. The person who went into them was changed for the better on the way out. I’ve killed off things like co-dependence, emotional manipulation, low self-worth, toxic relationships, limiting beliefs, generational curses and so much more! Our God knows what parts of us are ready to die off, and these emotional winters are just the catalyst for that purging.

I hope you accept whichever season you are in and not allow what’s meant to be temporary to become a permanent condition. Learn to ride it out, to trust God with it, gleaning the lessons, and benefitting from the death of the unhealthiest parts of your soul so you can burst with life once again, even better and brighter than before!


Next page

%d bloggers like this: