“I”dentity

I’m reading a couple of different “thinking books” right now: A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman and Women of the Word by Jen Wilken. I would have never really thought these two books would cross over, but they really do.

I love both of these books more than I thought I would and I am trying my best to read them slowly. To go back over what I’ve read and journal it and to really work through savoring every piece that I can out of both.

Probably my one biggest struggle in life has been identity. Who am I? What am I here for? For a while I was a student, then a teacher, then a wife and then a mother. At one time I was almost all of those at the same time. Then I stopped working and I was “just” a mother and a wife. As we have struggled with finances, my struggle with identity has greatly increased. It was in reading the first chapter of Wilken’s book that I realized that all this time I have been asking the wrong question. It’s not “who am I?” but “who is God?”

So often in my life I have identified with the Israelites. Wandering, complaining and just longing for something better than what they had. Longing for peace and security that they thought would come after they finally made it to the promised land. They wanted to be slaves again because it provided a security that they didn’t have while wandering in the desert.

But now, I’m almost realizing that I’m more like Moses. God tells Moses to “go” and Moses doesn’t say “ok!”, but rather he asks “who am I?” God then tells him “I will be with you.” But that isn’t enough. Moses asks “what should I do and what should I say to them?” And then God doesn’t answer his questions, but rather starts rattling off
who He is
what He has done
what He is doing
what He will do.
Moses begs to know who He is, but God answers with “I AM”.
and that should be enough.

Emily Freeman expands on this in her book by relaying what happened in the Garden. Our identity was challenged. We were no longer content to just be made in God’s image and reflections of His glory…we wanted to BE Him and HAVE His glory.

So all along my life, I have been striving to find my place and my role, when I should have been looking harder at who God is. For in finding and knowing who God is, I know who I am.

In searching the Scriptures to know more of who God is, I don’t lose myself I find out who I am. My identity isn’t lost in Christ – but found in Him.

And who I am is a creation, a poiema, a poem of God. We weren’t just “boom” created by God, we were crafted by Him. We exist out of His inner desire to bring glory to the Father. Every ounce of our being should move out of the place that reflects His glory. That is the core of who we really are.

For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. ~ Romans 1:20

I pray that as I walk through this day that people have no excuse for not knowing God because they see Him instead of me.

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five minute friday {hold}

Hold is actually a hard word for me, because hold is what I do too much of.
Hold onto the past.
Hold onto a grudge.
Hold onto life because change is frightening.
More often, when I think of the word “hold”, I think of the opposite of it…let go.
(Which then causes me to sing like Elsa…uggg). I digress.

I tend to think of hold in a pessimistic, negative way.
And I never think of hold in what Jesus does to me. That He does hold me.
While I need to let go of so many things, He never lets me go.
I am graven into His hands and heart and there is no erasing me from him.

What I do need to hold onto is hope.
Hope right now reminds me of jello. It’s slippery and I can’t seem to carry it and hold it on a spoon without it wiggling and falling off. I keep losing it.
I’m wondering if I’m losing hold of it because I’m trying to pick it up too quickly? I’m trying to move through life too quickly? I’m trying to cram hope onto this tiny, little spoon when really what I need to do is scoop it up with a huge bowl.
Here’s to a big bowl of wiggly, jiggly hope.
That’s what I’m holding onto today.

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choices

A few months ago we were filling out paperwork to go overseas with TEAM missions. It is a lengthy process and the final steps are pretty grueling. In the midst of our final responsibilities before going before the approval committee we had to go through a pretty rough assessment. In that process God revealed some hefty sins within our marriage. Because of that we halted our application and we’ve been wrestling with it ever since.

I struggle so much with feeling so confident about a path or choice…only to have that path ripped out from under me. Then I wonder if I was ever on the right path to begin with? I am learning to distinguish between fear of the unknown and the fear and anxiety that comes from being out of God’s will. There truly is a difference. For the longest time I felt like God was giving us a choice. Not a wrong or right one, but really just two paths leading to two different places. Both places calling us to a level of dependence we’ve never known of Him. Both calling us out of our comfort zone and calling our family into a different way of life as we know it.

Then the bottom fell out and I began to think that we had stayed on the path to missions only to have God bring to the top these grievous sins. To bring on a redemption and renewal that I’ve been longing an praying for for years.

So I started moving towards path B. But in the midst of it all we’ve started wondering about the original way we were headed. Was it really just to expose that sin? Or did we jump off the path too quickly? While God is being proclaimed greatly through what is going on in our relationship…was it just a precurser to how greatly He will be proclaimed if we follow through?

We so often think that God only gives us one choice that is good. But so many times I wonder if He doesn’t give us a multitude that is good and we search too hard for the right one; consumed with worry that we won’t get it right? Are we, am I, searching too hard in my own strength for fear of failure, when all He wants me to do is just trust in Him? I think I’m trying to solve problems and find solutions that aren’t mine to find.

My verse all along has been Psalm 27
I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.

And I cling to the promise that no matter what choice I choose…I will see His goodness. Because He is always good.

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replacing habits

My daughter has a horrible habit of chewing on her hair. It’s a coping behavior that has come and gone and come back again over the past few years. While we spend a fair amount of time asking her to take her hair out of her mouth, I’ve recently started talking to her about replacing that habit with another one. When she picks up her hair to put it in her mouth, I’m trying to train her to put it behind her ear instead. Replacing the one habit of chewing, with a somewhat better one of putting it behind her ear. It’s a crazy hard thing to change a habit.

The same goes with us and our mental or spiritual habits. Back when I was struggling significantly with anxiety and fear, I went to see a biblical counselor. He called my anxiety and fears what they were: sin issues. My anxiety and fear, specifically of thunderstorms, stemmed from my inability to trust God. It was me moving into the future and forecasting what I predicted might happen (which usually wasn’t positive), which was in essence me attempting to be bigger than God. But when my mind started to wander into those predictions, I had to learn how to replace that habit with another one. For me, that means when my mind starts to go to that place of presumption I first start replacing my fearful thoughts with the verse from Philippians:

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything with prayer and petition present your requests to God and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

But to be honest, it took weeks and weeks and even into years before this became embedded into me. Habits are not easy to replace.

There’s a great book, that sadly I only made it partly through, about habits called The Power of a Habit by Charles Duhigg. While it’s not written from a Biblical perspective, there is so much of it that speaks into our spiritual lives. There are so many things we can change and improve in our lives merely by realizing our habits and replacing them with another one.

I really feel like this is the success of Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts campaign. Choosing to see the blessing, choosing to count the gifts is a habit. When I take my pessimistic oriented mind and choose to see the glass half full instead of half empty, I am changing the habit of my negativity.

I’m sitting at a red light frustrated with the person in front of me who didn’t move fast enough and now I’m stuck at the red light again. In that moment, instead of getting angry and bitter about it and spending that red light fuming over the car in front of me, I change that habit and choose to find the blessings. I choose to find something to be thankful for. I choose to replace the habit of my anger with thankfulness.

There’s a great verse in 1 Corinthians: We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. I think I’ve known that verse for years, but never really understood what it means to “take every thought captive” for in reality that’s the battle we are in. Taking every single thought that we have captive. But it’s not enough to just become aware of those thoughts, we also have to replace them.

It makes me think of the verse from Colossians:

“Let the word of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”

 

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five minute friday {ready}

START

So this blog has sat silent for a ridiculous amount of time. I stopped for a lot of reasons, but mostly because I was tired of writing and putting myself out there in some crazy cloud/blogosphere. But things lately have made me realize that my stopping writing and my stopping journaling has really shrunken my soul. It has in many ways contributed to my sense of lost-ness and confusion.

When we don’t have a way of letting out the things we put in we just become stuffed and full. And eventually things do start to come out, but maybe not the things we had hoped. It’s not that I’ve been stuffing myself with bad or wrong things…but all the negative thoughts I struggle with and even the scripture I cling to combat it are in some ways meaningless to me if I don’t let them out. If I don’t process them and just let them simmer inside.

So I’m ready. I’m ready to come back to letting out the thoughts and things that linger and simmer and are stuffed up in my head.
I’m ready for Jesus to come in and start cleaning out all the negative and emptying me out so that I can be filled with nothing but His goodness.
And not overfilled…but ready to be overflowing and poured out for His good.

STOP

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