Faithfully Thinking: Press into him

I’ve been dealing with depression recently. I go through these spurts from time to time. When I go through them I feel completely unqualified to be sharing about the need to draw closer to God, since I know I’m doing such a poor job of it myself. Maybe, though, I need to be honest when I’m failing at this trusting God stuff, or feel like I’m failing. After all, I know I’m not alone.

One reason for my social media break is that I often run to forums about my health or depression issues to attempt to find solutions instead of running to God. As I have struggled this week with wrong thoughts, I have really been feeling like God has been telling me to press into him.
I’m not exactly sure what that means, but I’d guess he means I need to trust him and not my circumstances.


I feel him asking me to trust him and not people on the internet or my own means.


I heard a clip of a sermon yesterday by Pastor Steven Furtick who suggested that when we are telling God “Hey, I’m trying,” he is telling us “I don’t need you to try. I need you to trust.”

But there have also been other outcomes, that weren’t my choice, that has strengthened me and taught me and taken me down life-giving paths I never would have chosen on my own. I need to remember those when my days are dark, my heart is heavy, and my mind is jumbled with worries and stress.


This week when I have awoken in the night with a weird symptom and that pounding, suffocating, and overwhelming fear that hits me, I am trying to press into God’s goodness, his desire to prosper me, not harm me, to draw me through the bad moments when I want to be lifted out of them.
So I often I base how well my day is going to go on if I think I had a good nights sleep. God is bigger than a bad night of sleep. I need to trust that I can have a good day whether I’ve had a good night of sleep or not because ultimate rest comes in ultimate trust that God’s got this, no matter what “this” is for each day.

More encouraging or thoughtful words under the theme “Faithfully Thinking”:

The Blessing

Didn’t I Tell You to Let Me Handle It?

The Battle Belongs to the Lord

This Isn’t What I Pictured

Reminding Myself of My Word of the Year

More encouraging words from other bloggers:

Every Breath Counts by Bettie G

Faithfully Thinking: Reminding myself of my word of the year

Do you choose a word of the year each year? I have the last few years and it’s interesting. The word I choose is something I pray about and a word I try to reflect on throughout the year to remember why things that are happening in my life are happening and how they are working around what God wanted to do in my life during a particular year.

I’ll be honest, though, I often forget what my word was half way through the year and when I go back and look at it, it helps to ground me again and remind me what I had hoped for the new year but also what God had planned for me (among many other things, of course).

I heard a sermon this weekend where the pastor said God had us choose our word for the year to help us establish before the year even began what we needed to focus on, no matter what the year threw at us. That made me try to remember what my word for 2020 was. And guess what. I had forgot! I went to the blog and searched it and ironically the word was “renew.”

Renew?

Really?

2020?

The word for this year should have been napalmed, I thought to myself.

But then I remembered what happens after a fire in the forest. The fire burns everything down.

Destroys it.

Levels it.

And then new life begins again — restarts, regrows, and RENEWS.

My life the last few years has been leveled and in some ways taken down to the roots, turned upside down and become unrecognizable.

I’ve hated just about every moment of it.

I miss my old life.

I miss having friends.

I miss being connected to family.

I miss family who have passed on.

I feel lost on the ocean without a lifeboat many days.

But this weekend I started to think that maybe God had to burn it all down to 1) bring me back to him and 2) restart a new, better life.

See I am doing a new thing, he says in Isaiah 43:18-19

And sometimes to do that new thing, he has to remove the old. Pulling out the old can hurt, can be confusing, and it can be very disorienting. To grow new life, though, the ground needed to be cleared.

Continuing in that line of thinking, I decided to re-share my post from the beginning of the year when I chose my word for the year. If you haven’t picked a word for the year, it’s not too late. Pray about it and maybe God will show you his plan for the rest of the year and that plan will move forward despite what is going on in the outside world.


Originally published Jan. 1, 2020

Do you start your new year off with a word you hope and plan will define that new year?
I’ve been doing that for a few years now, a tradition that started with my brother who was doing it with someone else on a blog. I really don’t think about the word that much during the year, to be honest, but sometimes I will remind myself of the word I chose (or feel was given to me) and redirect my attitude. It’s also interesting to look back at the end of a year and see how the world aligned with what happened that year.

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Last year my word was “contentment.”It took me several months into 2019 to reach the point of contentment in some situations in my life, however. I was not content with the loss of (or changes in) friendships at all last year, or with our traditionally difficult financial situation. But, over time, toward the end of the year, I started to settle in with the idea that friendships I had once thought would be around for a long time to come had faded and that we may never be rich, but somehow we seem to pull through and pay all our bills, even if it requires some sacrifices.

A couple of years ago I chose the words “peace” and “simplicity.” Everything in my world was not peaceful or simple during that year but there were periods of peace and simplicity at least. Decisions were also made with those words at the forefront of my mind, as much as possible anyhow. To keep with the sentiment behind the words I also cut out some people and aspects of my life that created little more than stress.

Another year I chose the word “restoration” because a lot in my life needed to be restored that year. The year I chose “reconciliation” we seemed to be reconciled with family but by the end of the year that had crumbled and they returned to only contacting us when they wanted something (usually transportation somewhere).

This year I am choosing the word “renew” because my life needs new energy – big time and in many areas, including my relationship with God, my relationship with family, my role a teacher for my kids, my health, my diet, my career (such that it is..or whatever it is), and my spiritual well being. That is a long list, but, really, my entire life needs an overhaul. My children’s lives also need renewal and one of the biggest areas where they need renewal are in their friendships. My daughter, 5, needs friends, period, and my son, 13, needs much better friends than he has now.

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I am using the definition of renewal that is “the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken.” Not the definition of starting something back up again – unless I apply that definition to my life in general. I am broken. Physically for sure and in some ways emotionally and spiritually. I need to hit the refresh button in my life and revitalize my diet, my exercise, my mind, my spirit.

I am tired.

Every day.

I am physically tired but somedays I’m not sure if I am physically tired because I am emotionally and spiritually tired or if I’m physically tired because of something going on with my health. I have hypothyroidism, so that does make me tired. I seem to be in the midst of perimenopause, so that makes me tired. I may, or may not, have an autoimmune disease, so that makes me tired.  My vitamin d is low (which may be related to one of the possible health issues I have) so that makes me tired too.

But I think some days I am tired because I think too much and my mental exhaustion translates into physical exhaustion. I watch too many sermons, trying to incorporate it all into my life in one fell swoop, instead of just watching one and meditating on that one sermon all week. I follow too many social media sites that offer encouragement, which I know sounds silly. How can you receive too much encouragement? But, when you try to apply it all at once like I do points from the sermon, it can become too much.

In other words, sometimes there are too many voices in my head and I need to silence them so I can hear God’s.

“Just…ssshhh. Let me think. Let me hear.” That’s what I want to say to all the voices.

“Let me try to figure this out before ya’ll start yelling at me about how to get my health back on track; how to get closer to God; how to improve my spiritual walk; what I should eat to feel better; who I should watch for spiritual guidance; what I should/shouldn’t be saying to/doing with my children.”

I just can’t listen to it all anymore.

I need renewal and I need it with a little less noise.

That’s why five days ago I started a complete social media fast that I hope will force me to focus on the areas of my life I need to work on. Health is certainly at the top of that list because, as I mentioned above, I am tired. My muscles hurt. I am winded from climbing the stairs most days. And, yes, I am grossly over the weight I should be for my short stature.

I do not eat fast food. I do not eat bread. I do eat some sugar. I do not eat regularly or include enough protein with each meal. And I do not exercise because – did I not mention this yet? – I am TIRED!

However, I do know that exercise can help with that as well, so I hope to incorporate at least some walking this year and go from there. To be honest, though, I’m so tired today (a few days before that lovely Aunt Flo comes) that even writing “I plan to walk more this year” makes me feel like a blooming hypocrite. I don’t know if I really do “plan” to walk more, but I “want” to walk more. How about that?

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Other words I could adopt this year: reinvigorate and refresh. I need to be reinvigorated and I need to hit a refresh button.  Part of that refresh we hope will come by selling this house and moving to a new one. Leaving this house won’t leave behind the hurts we’ve experienced while living in this town. It won’t change that family on my husband’s side have barely spoken to us in years and somehow blame us even though we tried to reconnect but were always told “We’re too busy for you.” Moving will not change many things, but we see it as a type of restart – a chance to make some changes for the better.

That restart started for us in April of last year when my husband started a new job, 40  minutes from where we live now, and opened up a door to an entirely new experience for him. The rest of the family is ready for some changes and new experiences too so right now we are praying we can sell this house, buy the one we already have an offer on and “get out of dodge”, so to speak.

So how about you? Do you choose a word of the year? A word to help guide you throughout the year, not pressure you like a resolution? A word to grow with you as you step through each day? Let me know in the comments.

If you are interested in choosing a word and would like some guidance on how to do it (even if it just for yourself and not to announce to your readers or publically) check out The Dolly Mama’s post, How To Choose Your Word of the Year (helpful reminders and simple steps)…Find Out Mine

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Faithfully Thinking: The battle belongs to the Lord

“I don’t see a change, Lord,” I said one night, laying in bed, thinking about all my health issues. “Some days it almost seems worse. No matter how much I pray for healing. Figuring it all out is so expensive and I don’t want surgery if I even need it. What do I do?”

Silence.

“Should I call the doctor?”

Silence.

“Should I fight to actually be diagnosed with this disease, or should I . . .”

Silence.

Honestly, I sometimes feel as if God really isn’t listening to, or helping, me with some of the health concerns I’ve been having for the last few years, but then, there are days I feel like he’s directing me to “wait.”

Be still and wait.

Two of the things I am the absolute worst at.

“You know what, God, I’ll just handle this!” I cry out in frustration. “Just..never mind! If you don’t want to answer me, then I’ll just fix it myself.”

Be still and wait. I’ve got this.

It’s very hard to trust God when we don’t see things changing. Trust me, I know this first hand.

But the Bible tells us to trust he is working for our good even when we can’t see it.

This whole “trust in God” thing has been a real struggle for me over the last couple of years. There are days I feel so hopeless with situations in my life, from finances to the lack of friendships, to trying to sell our house and chronic health issues that never seem to go away.

I heard a great sermon once entitled “The Battle Belongs to the Lord.” I don’t always agree with the pastor, but for this sermon, I absolutely agreed with him.

Each time I find myself in despair I hear the pastor saying, “The battle belongs to the Lord.”

The devil will tell us, “But your checking account is still empty,” and that is when you say “The battle belongs to the Lord,” the pastor said.

This is exactly what happened to me last week when I looked at our savings and realized we were really going to be struggling to make our mortgage payment this month after some unexpected expenses. I began to fall back into the familiar pattern of panic, trying to figure it all out in my head and fix it on my own.

Then I heard the words: “The battle belongs to the Lord.”

This week my mind, for some reason, started rushing again with thoughts of some inconclusive tests I have had in the last few years for a disease that can only be cured by what some consider a minor surgery (I consider all surgeries major.)

“What if I have this?”

“I need to figure this out.”

“I need to decide what to do right now about it because what if this disease kills me. I mean, they say it could take many years, but still. . . ”

I began “researching” on Google, talking to others on a Facebook support group who have it, looking at all my test results again, thinking and stressing. I started to fall back again into a pattern of negative thinking that three years ago left me almost completely mentally paralyzed.

The battle belongs to the Lord.

The words kept coming back to me. Over and over.

I signed out of Facebook, I stopped Googling, and I turned on a sermon podcast and laid down for bed. A year ago I wouldn’t have done any of those things. I would have Googled and researched and fretted all night long.

“The battle belongs to the Lord,” I repeated to myself, over and over to try to calm myself.

I don’t think it is a coincidence that I fall into these obsessive, worrying thoughts about my health, finances, or future in seasons of my life where I feel God is calling me to continue with a task he has asked me to finish. I have a feeling someone is trying all he can to distract me from the here and now; to lead me down paths of confusion so I will forget my calling, forget that God has asked me

to write and to raise and teach my children. What God has called me to may not seem as important as what he has called others to, but this is the path he has set for me and it is clear to me that Satan prefers that I forget about that path and wander off on some wild goose chase in another direction.

There have been more than a few times I have snapped back to reality while running around an empty left field of life like a chicken with my head cut off. I’ve looked around and noticed that where I was supposed to be is way off in the distance. I then have to toss aside the random worries to get back to where I need to be, but I can only do that with the help of God.

He tenderly takes my hand every time this happens and says, “No. Not here. Over here where I asked you to be and where I am doing a new thing, even if you can’t see it. Stay on this path. I will be here with you, even on the darkest days.”

And God does this repeatedly.

Repeatedly he steps off the path we were on together, and I wandered off from, takes my hand and leads me out of the wilderness of anxiety, panic, and confusion and back to the path he set for me.

He’s never impatient when he guides me back.

He’s never frustrated and never scolds me for walking off and letting my human side rule for a while.

He simply leads me back, leans down close and whispers, “Keep going. This way. We’ll get there together, beloved.”

I know I’ll wander off again.

I know I’ll lose myself in a fog of confusion again.

I know I’ll panic again, cry and ask God, “Where are you?!” because I will forget, once again, that he’s right here, next to me, where he’s always been.

Faithfully Thinking: Didn’t I tell you to let me handle it?

I am a control freak.

I know it.

My family knows it.

God knows it.

I’m not as bad as some people, no.

But, I’m still someone who likes to control situations around me – mainly any situation I feel could affect my own well being or that of a family member.

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If I think I can do something to change a situation for the better, I will do it, or at least attempt to do it. Often, though, I can not change a situation and I still lay there at night and try to figure out how I can.

For instance, we need to sell our house, sooner rather than later, so for several nights in a row, I was lying awake, trying to figure out how to get the money to fix this house up so we can sell it faster. I couldn’t figure it out and it was leaving me exhausted and irritated. One night I was laying there, physically tossing in bed while my brain tossed all the possibilities of remedying this situation back and forth. That’s when I heard a voice, of sorts, in my head. Actually, it was more like a sentence that I didn’t put there, so, for me, it was God reminding me of something.

The conversation went something like this:

“Didn’t I tell you to let me handle it?”

“Well, yes, Lord, but . . . ”

“Then let me handle it.”

The conversation was over that quickly.

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God didn’t ask me to figure it all out. He didn’t ask me to find the solution to our need to find a house closer to my husband’s job or figure out how to get people to read my books when I write them (specifically Fully Alive when it is done. This is the book I really feel God was prodding me to write and I’m terrified to continue writing because I feel completely unqualified to do so.) He also didn’t ask me to be the so-called perfect teacher for my children while I homeschool – he just asked me to do it and reminded me he would take it from there.

I’m not good at obeying.

I’m a rebel.

I don’t like to be told what to do, but as a follower of Christ, I need to trust that he knows better than I do about the things of life.

And I need to trust that ultimately God will handle it, whatever “it” is at that point in my life.

 

Who is your pilot today? | Guest blog post

Thank you to Michelle Delp from Pasture-ized for sharing this guest blog post with us today!

 

A pilot relies on the person in the tower to navigate him to safety.

He can’t see that air traffic controller. He can’t always see the dangers around him, but he trusts that when he gets the message to alter his course, it’s for his own good.

What would happen if the pilot decided to turn off his communication, and just “do his own thing”?
He might be successful for the short term, avoiding tragedy by inches here or there, but at some point he’s going to crash and burn.

We aren’t designed to navigate life alone.

Sometimes God asks us to bank to the left for a reason.

Maybe you’re feeling a little air sick from all the circles life is taking you in, and you look out the window and you can’t even pinpoint where you are any more.

Turn the two-way back on.

Proverbs 3: 5,6 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.