Thursday, October 5, 2017

Spilled Pancake Batter

This morning, after getting up two hours before the children do, so that I can do things like use the bathroom and get dressed without interruption, I had a second awakening.

I had my bible and prayer time, sang a hymn that had been running through my mind, and decided to make pancakes for breakfast.

For some reason, the thoughts that began swirling around my mind were not a continuous loop of that hymn, anymore. They were negative thoughts about my husband. At first it was remembering something hurtful, then the string of similarly hurtful things began to play. And then it became a rant in there! I was actually silently exclaiming, with facial expression, my outrage! I was "You, know, he did this, too, and here's the negative effect it has had on my life!" and I would even reply to myself, "Yes! That's awful! He'll just keep on doing these things, too!"

I was mixing the pancake batter during this heated, silent conversation. I went to scrape the side of the rubber spatula on the edge of the bowl, and the bowl tipped over sideways, spilling pancake batter all over the counter.

I admit that my usual response would be frustration over having to clean up another mess, and anger with myself for causing it.

But, something weird (for me) happened instead. I know this wasn't my own doing, unless, maybe, there is maturity and wisdom happening, and I just hadn't noticed it, yet.

As I was calmly (!) cleaning up the mess, my mind immediately stopped it's diatribe about my husbands shortcomings, and switched gears. "Thank you, God, for redirecting my thoughts. Thank you for getting my mind out of the mire and back on you!"

Those thoughts weren't going to solve any problems. They weren't going to contribute to a positive mood in the house when children needed to wake for school. They weren't going to create any goodwill in myself toward my husband.

I know that it is my responsibility to gauge my thoughts, and redirect them when necessary.  It's nice, though, to have help from time to time. It's never bad to reminded that I can think more positively, and that those thoughts have a major bearing, not only on my day, but to some degree, on those that are around me throughout the day.

I do find myself wondering, now, how many inconvenient messes I have righted that were perfect opportunities for changing my thought process.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Natty Chatty

Over the last month and a half, I have begun to write up several articles that I didn't finish.

They started up nicely, and had a bit of a flow in the beginning. Perfectly dry one liners, sharp hooks to grab the intended audience, clever quips and enchanting descriptions were all there. But not for long.

I would stop, read back, and realize it was all garbage. The idea was a good one, but where ever the thing was going, it was just a wad of knotted up fishing line. A reader wouldn't ever get from beginning to end with any idea of what was going on in the middle.

What was going on? Why couldn't I quit winding ideas around one another until they were a useless mass of words that didn't join together?

I began to have another thought about some great article while I was washing up the supper dishes this evening.  It sounded smashing as the sentences spun themselves out in my mind. I began to smile while spinning out this essay. It would be brilliant!

And that's when I realized.

My mind's narrator has a British accent. Everything it says sounds top drawer.

Until I put it down in my own voice. Then it doesn't work.

So, dear readers, you've been exposed to my sad inner dialogue, who believes herself to be quite the natty gal.


Here's hoping I find my voice again, and soon!

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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Burden Bearer

Have you heard the term 'Burden Bearer'?

How about 'Empath'?

There is a spiritual gift of intercession. Generally people who have it aren't happy about it. It's challenge. It's painful. It's exhausting.

When people realize what it is, why they think and feel things on behalf of others, and take it to God, then it becomes a joy.

Feeling things for others is burdensome. It causes people to cry themselves to sleep at night, though they don't immediately know why. They often feel isolated, or seek to shut themselves away from people for a time. They sometimes feel rejected by God, even though they know the truth. They cry out to God in sorrow for pains in the world. They can read people, sometimes they can finish someone's question or sentence. Sometimes they seek to escape, because these things are painful.

This isn't an exhaustive list, to be sure. It's just some of it.

People that bear the burdens of others are often accused of being overly emotional, or too sensitive.

In the church it is eschewed. I've heard a few teachers go into detail about how to respond when emotions are overwhelming, but for the most part, I've heard that becoming overly emotional is useless.

The truth is that it's uncomfortable. When someone is crying, few people know how to respond. Even the person that is crying!

Let's teach each other.  If you are feeling some overwhelming emotion that doesn't seem connected to yourself in someway, PRAY!  Ask God what you need to know about this emotion.  The Holy Spirit will tell you what you need to know, and whether you need to speak to someone.

Often, the prompt is so that you will pray for a person in regard to whatever the emotion is.  Usually, you will keep it between yourself and God.  You will let the person know that you are praying for them, but usually you won't have a specific thing to tell them.

Sometimes, rarely, there will be a message for someone. The Holy Spirit will let you know.

If you are a burden bearer, you have been one all of your life.

If you didn't or don't have a relationship with God, you may believe that your gifts of prophecy and/or intercession, and burden bearing are spiritual in other ways. Often people with this gifting become fortune tellers, or seers, or witches. Really, those 'principalities, powers, and rulers of darkness' ' that Jesus people talk about (Ephesians 6:12) look to exploit and sully this gift with lies that sound good. Lies that allow people to convince themselves that they should profit, somehow from this gift, or that something that they do or practice gives them this gift. That they have power or control over it. It can seem like a psychic ability.

When I discovered that I could 'see' things, sometimes, I was spooked. I didn't like it. I asked God to take it from me. I didn't want to see what I could see. I didn't want to know what I was given to know. I didn't want to feel what I was feeling. Knowing I needed to tell someone something that they likely didn't want to hear, or that would be encouraging, but could cause skepticism about my sanity, made (still makes) me feel like vomiting. I've been physically ill over having to give a message. I'm willing, now, but glad it isn't often required.

I used to have deja vu often. Quite often. I could tell you exactly what the would happen or be said next. The location. I could have claimed to know future events. I could have called on gods and spirits to show me these things more often. I could have profited.

I have predicted small earthquakes. Just a few times. When you tell someone that there is about to be an earthquake, and then it happens within seconds, they tend to be pretty freaked out. What should I have done with that? Pray, perhaps for people that might sustain damage or injury. What I could have done is boast about it, and profit from it.

There is a responsibility to interact with the Holy Spirit in regard to our gifting. To do otherwise is irresponsible. To claim anything other than God in these situations is a lie. To pursue this gifting apart from God is a path to trouble for someone, if not yourself.

There is no mortal control over this gift! It comes on a person when the Spirit wills. It is the job of the gifted to commune with the Spirit

There is also this: Jesus is the ultimate burden bearer. People do pick up burdens for one another. But sometimes, even when it's gifted for intercession or prophecy, the burden must be laid back down.

Receiving this gift, and using it well is a deliberate acceptance. You are picking up someone's cross and bearing their burden with or for them. It's an enormous undertaking.

All of those who follow Jesus are spiritually gifted in some way. All of those gifts should bring the gifted closer to understanding the character of God, and to emulating it. It should also always point to Christ. Using any gift for personal gain and/or for profit is trouble.

Look at Ezekiel. He bore some heavy burdens. He bore them, and messages were delivered through them. Many people thought he was insane, but the people who knew God, who believed in his Sovereignty and his truth understood. He was pretty close to God. He heard directly from him! But he still learned. He still pointed people to truth.

I pray that I use these gifts well, too. That I point to Jesus. That I don't mix my opinion with the Spirit's messages. That I recognize the Spirit moving and communicate right away. That I point to Jesus, that I allow my words to be God's, and not riddled with my own strife.

If you have this gifting, it's certainly in conjunction with other gifts. Read the scriptures, talk with God. Learn how about it. Be careful where you study. There's a lot of wonky stuff online. There are so many people and groups that quote the bible to support their own theories, rather than finding their truth because of the scriptures. Be discerning. Ask God. Seek accountability, and ask this person to pray for you, too.

This kind of gift is on that is little understood, because people don't talk about it. It's taboo.

I've stepped on many toes with this post. I've more than ruffles some feathers, I'm certain. But it wasn't my message. There are some of you reading this who needed to know that God is getting your attention, and wants you walk in a deep relationship with Him.

Pray! It's 'just' talking with God. No special vocabulary required.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Changing our Cravings

It's possible. To change our cravings.

We can do it by changing habits. Quitting some, beginning others.

We can do it on our own, for a time, too. It's possible.

Mostly, we need Jesus.

He has promised to transform our minds. This is where the decisions are made. It begins with a thought, then we dismiss it or entertain it. We decide what we'll do and what we won't.

God has changed cravings for many people. He has changed something for me. It's a physical thing. There is still work I must do, however.

I've heard people say "Wow, I had a problem with [substance], but when I trusted Jesus, he took my craving away!   I don't doubt that it is possible. I do wonder how long these people made it before having to choose not to indulge in [substance], and whether they blamed Jesus for allowing them to be challenged and giving in.

It's happened with me. I've struggled with my weight for years. I've talked about it here a few times over the past 8 years.

More recently it's been about health rather than vanity. I can't run. I can't walk far without hurting and becoming breathless. I can't read a book, animatedly, without wheezing. It took two weeks to work up from 3 mins to 15 mins on a low impact DVD workout routine.

I have had cellulitis infections in my legs several times in the recent past. Once I had the infection, the fluid in my lymphatic system remained infected, even after taking heavy antibiotics. A year ago, I had been on these antibiotics four times. I spent about 18 mos constantly trying to heal both from infections, and from the cure. I researched how to heal the lymphatic system. It's not that hard, but it is time consuming, and when movement at all has become difficult, then so is healing.

I was tired all of the time because the antibiotics messed up my digestive system. This compounded my problem.

So, I prayed. If I left my lymphatic system a mess, I was going to be in a health crisis. I wanted to hike and run soccer drills with my kids. I wanted to wake up refreshed in the morning, and go to bed tired from doing hard things in the evening.

I realized one day that I had been having major digestive issues for more than a few days. I wasn't able to eat more than a few bite of food at a time, and I was having major pain in my left side when I did eat. One Sunday afternoon, at a pot luck church meeting, I had pain in my chest. There happened to be an EMT sitting at the table with us that asked me a few questions, and gave me a little advice. On Monday, I set an appointment with my doctor to find out what was happening and how to fix it.

She ordered loads of lab tests, and we had results within a couple of days. Everything was in the normal range. There wasn't a single thing that was too high or too low. There was nothing wrong with me. By the end of that week, my digestive issue seemed to just go away.

But something was changed. My appetite has dwindled, and I am unable to eat too much.  Instead of having a meal, and waiting a bit for my stomach and brain to decide whether I'm full, my stomach just tells me.

I'll be eating, and my stomach will send a message of discomfort, telling me not to take another bite. This is after, perhaps, half to three fourths of a meal.

Over the course of parenting, I have learned to bolt my food down quickly, else I might not have the opportunity to eat all. There have been far too many occasions when I've finished my children's plates, though that job usually falls to Mr. TheZoo. And during a period when I was lonely and unfulfilled, food was a friend.

Learning to be fulfilled by God is a thing. And while it is a subject unto it's self, it has applications here.

God is a chain breaker.  He heals our wounds.  He sees us through our challenges.

It doesn't usually look the way we want it to, though.

We take our chains, and we try to attach them to God. We don't have the the capacity to imagine all of the mysterious of the universe. Our minds are more short term.  We have a limited number of scenarios that we know will bring us happiness or comfort. That will eliminate whatever pain or hardship we are currently enduring. God uses those things, when we are open to it, to build character, or to do some good thing that we might never see. God's good things are not the same as our good things. We limit 'goodness' to something that fulfills our flesh during our short stay on the earth.

God's good things are timeless. That messes with us. We know what's best for us, so we pray for that, then we shake our fists when those requests are unfulfilled. We are impatient for the happiness we think we deserve. I wonder how often we miss a miracle because we are focused on whatever looks fulfilling in the moment.

So, God has changed my cravings. He has transformed my thought about some things already, so I wasn't shocked. I was, however, paying attention. I knew it had to be God, because I was sick. My body was not processing things the way it should have. I was going to have major problems unless this issue was resolved. And then it was. Resolved. And my system began to function differently. Or perhaps the way it used to function before.

I still choose. I choose what to eat and when. I can choose to ignore the slight discomfort and push on. I can choose whatever I want. But I was given a boost. A lift, A hand up. Why would I ignore that? I had already chosen the DVD workout, because that was going to help heal the lymphatic system. Eating less, and making better choices about food are things I need to think about daily, but God has given me a pass on obsessing over it.

My mind is full with kid things, appointments, chores, serving my community. It's full with bill paying, grocery shopping and meal planning. It's full with serving and loving my spouse. It's full with prayer and worship.

Now, I can pay attention to my body, because I'm given a clear signal. I suspect the signal has always been there. I suspect that I have long ignored that signal, and God made a way to get me to notice it again, recognize it, and pay attention to it.

This hasn't been going on very long, a little over two months, I suppose. I haven't lost a lot of weight, only about 20 lbs. I haven't lost many dress sizes yet, only two. But it's a change. It's one that I might have been able to do without God, but it wouldn't have lasted, as the past 20 years can attest. I would quit. I would decide I'd done enough, or that  I deserved something else.

I'm quite the expert on what I deserve. It's rarely what I actually need.

Weight loss, and physical fitness is hard in our USA. We've streamlined and leisure-ized our lives. We've filled our schedules, and left very little time for movement that used to be a natural part of living.

I needed a renewing in how I thought about healing myself, and in how I managed my time to do it.

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think, then you will get to know God's will for you which is good, pleasing, and perfect" Romans 12:2

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Sharp Women

I know some sharp women.

They are strong, joyful, serving, humble, kind people. Those aren't their only descriptors, of course. But they are true ones.

These women, they sharpen me. On occasion, when I remember to listen well, speak with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit (or not at all!), and be available, I have the joy of sharpening them.

Being sharp is HOW we remember to listen well, and speak with wisdom. It's how we encourage one another to good things. It's how we raise our kids in love. It's how we press on in our personal relationships.

It isn't coddling, or gossipping. It isn't bad mouthing someone perceived to be in the wrong. It isn't propelling someone to make a decision that our own wisdom gives, or rooting someone on in destructive behavior.

When you meet people that say "I'd like to pray for you", and they do so on the spot, those are people you want to be around.

These are the people that want for you what God wants for you.

When you meet people that pray for you on the spot, and remind you of scriptures that reveal God's character, those are people you want to be around.

When you meet people that pray for you on the spot, that remind you of God's character through scripture, and whose council and encouragement points to Jesus, those are the people you want to be around.

When we are around those people, we become more like those people. While being like other people isn't the ultimate goal, if those people are like Jesus, the result is that you become more like Jesus.

When we are surround ourselves regularly with sharp women, we become sharp, too.

That "Iron Sharpens Iron" sentiment is real.

People were created for relationship. Ultimately with God, the Creator of the Universe. But on the earth, we also have one another.

Loneliness is hard. Friendlessness is crushing. Self-reliance is deadening.

Sharp women in our lives is a blessing.

Even sharp women become dull after a time. We work and serve. Life demands things of us, and we give it what it needs. Then we need to be resharpened. And we turn to our posse. The people we trust to speak truth.

Don't have sharp women around you? Become one, first. It's a hard journey. It's demanding. You might even sweat. Okay, you WILL sweat. You'll stretch, and change, and grow. It will be noticeable. You will begin to speak life in others. You will be put a seed on someone else's mind to become sharp.  It's possible.

Do it. Be sharp. Help others cut through the crap so they can help someone else.

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

40 Something, Introverted Mom

Look, Socializing wears me out.

I mean, I like people, I just don't have the energy for 'peopling'. You get me?

Mr. TheZoo, he has a hard time meeting new people, but he draws energy from big social situations. Concerts, carnivals, rallies, car races. The noisier and more chaotic, the better. His smile gets bigger, his voice gets louder, his energy spikes.

Me, not so much.

These situations suck the energy out of me in seconds. If it's something that I truly desire to be involved in, I can prepare myself ahead of time to rally for a longer amount of time. It usually means that I'm not making much conversation, or that I'm holding my arms close to myself. I might cringe at loud close up loudness, or a major change in plan.

I'm depleted pretty quickly. If there's a way to sort of recharge,  and then rejoin, I will do that. If there's a quiet space someplace. Maybe it's not too difficult to go sit in the car for 20 minutes, or maybe the bathroom is nice and not to crowded. Maybe there's a shadowy corner that everyone else is avoiding, I can sit there and scroll through nothing on my phone, just to rebuild the energy that is required to do this crowded, chaotic, loud thing.

Oh, this isn't just rock concerts and Disneyland. This is highschool graduations. This is grocery shopping on a Saturday afternoon, This is church on Sunday mornings.

I've been around long enough to recognize what is happening and how to cope. I also know how to rally when I can't leave a situation, for the most part.

I might sit in the back, and appear anti-social. I guess I am, but it's more about having no social energy left.  I will still smile, and speak to anyone that speaks to me, but for the moment, I won't be seeking people out. If I do, I won't have anything to say, because, here's a weird one...small talk hurts my chest.

Meaningless chatter, conversations that last for 20 minutes about nothing but weather. It's painful! I get that we aren't revealing our deepest thoughts to strangers. That would be weird, too. But "Hi! So, how about those *whatever the current local sportsing thing is*?" just isn't my jam.

I don't really understand how to carry on small talk. Sarcasm, puns and humor to displace stress. That I can do. I'll stand there and poke fun at just about anything, rather than review the weather yet again. I'll even make fun of the weather. Or the weather apps, or weather forecasters, or even people that small talk about the weather.

I've been told that I'm fun to be around. I don't always see that. With people I know well, sure. I mean, we have time and familiarity on our side. With new people, though, I'm afraid that most of the time, they walk away shaking their heads, wondering what is wrong with that woman? She's a grown up for heaven's sake, and has kids! How do her children survive?!?!?!

Truth is, they've also learned sarcasm, puns, and humor to displace stress. They are very good at it. You could say it's their first language.

Of course, I've had to 'grow-up'. I hate that phrase in regard to this sort of thing, but it truly is the best way to describe it.

When my children need me to advocate for them, I step up. This means that I need to introduce myself to people, seek people out, ask questions, and have uncomfortable conversations.  I do it.

I take a deep breath, I ask Jesus to send the Holy Spirit to guide me, because there is no way in Lucifer's Fiery Afterlife that I could do it on my own. And I get to it. I HAVE learned how to do small talk, to some extent. I still don't like it, and it still takes quite a lot out of me.

Have you seen those movies and television shows that depict an empath character? Usually it's some awful tale about fairy tale type characters, or people with super or special powers. The empath feels what everyone around them feels, and often it's overpowering, and the empath character passes out, or lapses into a coma after feeling too much.

That's obviously melodramatic, but it is a decent attempt to depict a real thing.

I have a gift of empathy. That doesn't really mean that I channel the feelings of everyone around me. It means that I can often tell things about people that I am talking to. I can sometimes discern if a person is lying, or hurting, especially.  I can often tell if someone isn't who they are presenting themselves to be. Of course, I do that. I present myself as energetic, perhaps even bubbly. Maybe you've met me as confident.  I am not naturally any of those things. I can be those things temporarily.

It takes a lot of energy to either ignore a discernment, or to hold on to it until later. Depending on the situation, I might not do a thing with a discernment. Probably, I'll never meet that person again. But. What if I do? What then?

The whole discernment about people thing is another topic all together. More on that later, probably.

So, I sit in the back. I find a quiet place. I wait until someone speaks to me.

Or, I find a way to cancel.

Maybe we could just get together for coffee. You know fewer than 10 people that I already know, in a familiar place. That would be nice.

You in?

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