“And the people, that is, the men of Israel, encouraged themselves.” Judges 20:22 NKJV
This day was supposed to be a yoga day. A nice, long session of deep breathing and stretching and even attempting a new challenging pose–Kasyapasana. Exciting. My kind of excitement, anyway. The house was relatively quiet as G was having special time with Daddy at the Science Center and Max was working on another fabulous Lego stop motion film before basketball camp. I had woken up in awful pain, which isn’t atypical, put hoped to yogi it out. Please God, help me stretch and move and bend and breathe this out. I got a few little things done around the house hoping to ease some of it away, hoping to judge it’s staying power, rolled the mat out anyway, assumed the mountain pose and just prayed to God, breathing in, breathing out — “God, I need this today. I feel busted up and beaten up on the inside. I feel fragile, hurt, and broken. Please fill me up.” Ten minutes into my practice, tears streaming down my face, I knew this just wasn’t happening today. I know when to push, and I know when to admit tomorrow may be a better day. I rolled up my mat and thanked God for the pain that draws me closer to him. For as much as life hurts sometimes, I always want to be thankful.
It’s easy to get down sometimes, yes? And the verse Philippians 4:13 becomes my mantra when I am tired, ouchie, stressed, overwhelmed, discouraged, or all of the above — “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Through the promises in the Bible we know that we are able to fulfill the destiny that God has ordained for us — and we can, not because we are super humans, but through the strength of Christ. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, it means it’s possible. Not easy, possible — this becomes a mantra also.
Much of my discouragement comes from physical issues–and for all intents and purposes, I look like a “normal” person from the outside–don’t we all? Smile with me. Maybe I’m assuming too much here. At least I try my very best to pull off “normal”. Heh, heh… Having symptoms that overlap other symptoms and living with little pains for most of my life, I ignore things and I push. My bones ache, I always have breathing and lung issues, I’m allergic to pretty much everything inside and out — and between PTSD, migraines, anxiety, depression, severe asthma, environmental and indoor allergies, macrocytosis (enlarged red blood cells due to abnormally high iron counts–they don’t know why–they’ve just ruled out cancer), vein, and a new gluten intolerance and arthritis issues–feeling 80 is fun. HA! And in all this mix of finding out stuff is the tumor scares, a few leg surgeries (stripping veins for clots and rerouting a few) and the realizing that doctors are not gods and they don’t know everything and that my body is a mystery to even them. I find myself wishing (and then laughing at the visual) for one of those machines at the car shops that you hook your car up to (those computer diagnostic things) that tells you everything that’s wrong with your car. Wouldn’t that be awesome?!?! You could just hook your body up to one of those and BAM! All figured out! No need to go from specialist to specialist to specialist or try this and this and this and this. Problems solved! It would also really simplify Obama care. Again, smile with me.
And please, don’t take any of this as whining. I am truly not complaining. I just, sometimes and at some point, need to be able to function through my days–as a mommy and as a wife–and that’s when I have to ask for help from my amazing doctor, from my family of specialists that care for me. That’s all. I know I have nothing severe. Just a bunch of littles that when they all add up get to be a big annoying mess sometimes–where my bones are achy, I can’t catch my breath, and my tummy hurts all the time and I have no energy, all day, for weeks on end. Then I just need a little help to get through those rough patches when everything decides to flare up all at once. That’s all. And in those times I get a little sad–not negative–just sad–not unthankful–just sad–and it’s there that I notice how little encouragement is out in this big old world.
So, instead of doing yoga today, I want to encourage you and encourage me too. Namaste!
I often think of Gideon when I feel small. Little Gideon, described as the ‘runt of the litter’, and how God used him for such great things (Griffyn was almost a Gideon). I think of David and Goliath. I think of Esther. I even think of Peter, an ordinary fisherman, whom God called “the Rock upon which I’ll build my church.” God uses ordinary, in fact–God uses what the world would deem less than ordinary–to do extraordinary things for his kingdom. Split me open and fill me up. It’s on days like this that I can thank God for ridding me of any hubris I may have regarding my own personal strengths or gifts. I get by solely by the grace and strength of God, baby. In fact, I pretty much coast on his mercy. And in a world that has very little empathy, values self preservation, being tough, and picking yourself up by your own bootstraps, it took me awhile to grasp that this was okay, that I was NOT less than–that Jesus was enough and I could just let it go (cue Elsa–go ahead, sing it!). And I can breathe, dear God, I can breathe again. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. ” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 One foot in front of the other, just following Jesus…
Toby Mac has a song entitled, “Lose Myself” from his album “Eye On It” (one of the boy’s and I’s new faves to rock out to) that has become something I meditate on regularly. My ego gets in my way so often. It messes so many things up for me. There really isn’t a “balance”. What I mean is, this life is not about me. It’s about Him, and when things get out of whack, it’s often because I’m letting myself get in the way. When I get so deeply hurt from something someone has said or done to me and just can’t let go from the injustice of it all–that’s my pride–my ego. God sees it, He’ll take care of it. Let it go. When the future seems uncertain to me and it’s just not quite going according to my plans–again, that’s my ego–and I need to let go and work those faith muscles–and know that God’s plans for me, for this family–go far beyond my wildest dreams. And this here and now? Well, it isn’t IT. It IS, however, our big chance to praise Him, love on each other, live for Him, and tell everyone we know about our incredible creator and what He has done for us — and not just tell them — but show them by the way we live our lives. So all this, “it’s not fair business”, is just my silly ego getting in the way. I’ll let Toby take it from here…
“Take all of the good, and all of the bad, ’cause all of it’s so me. Take all of my ways, the things that I chase, the things that control me. And all that I hide, could you bring it to life, could you open my eyes and show me, take all that was me, and shape it to be reflecting you solely. I want to lose myself, lose myself to find you. I don’t care how it sounds, burn it all to the ground, your kingdom my desire, I want to lose myself, lose myself to find you. I need to find you. As all of me fades, I’ll be on my way, the wreckage behind me. My feet on the ground, my hands reaching out, the future is blinding–so what is stirring in you, may it stir up in me, all the dreams that you placed inside me, take all that you see, then shape it to be, the story you’re writing.”
Amen, Toby, AMEN!
So, I don’t need credit, I don’t need others to say or validate that I am a good person, what matters–what truly matters–is God’s voice–and I need to be still, and I need to focus these eyes, these ears and this heart on Him so that I can HEAR that voice–amidst all the noise of the world. And these little owies that I have–as my baby calls them–well, they help me focus–and I praise God for that.
“Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 NKJV
I don’t think God expects us to walk around with smiles continuously on our faces, but it really is okay to be happy. It also took me a long time to realize this. That sounds silly to some of you, I’m guessing. I was raised is a home where happiness meant you weren’t being Godly, to extremely oversimplify. That is an entirely different blog entry for another day. Not this one. God meant for us to be happy. To experience joy. FULL ON JOY. In fact, it is even one of the fruits of the spirit–the way others will know we are His. Being constantly stressed, worried, anxious–these are not–smile with me, and breathe. Joy IS.
Joy gives of strength. And not just any joy–but the joy of the LORD. This joy supersedes any circumstance we may encounter and it’s the real stuff–the kind that fills your heart up even when you are depleted. And He desires this for us. Our Father wants us to be happy! So go on and smile. Call on Him. Ask Him to fill your heart up with the joy that only he can give. And even if your heart hurts, your body aches, and the situations you face may be less than stellar, your heart can sing a new song. No, your life will not instantly be butterflies and rainbows (although those are beautiful masterpieces of His creation too)–He will give you the strength to continue anew — each and every morning.
“Ask and it will be given to you.” Matthew 7:7
So, this momma prays a lot. It may be misconstrued as talking to myself (although I do that too–smile). I pray for so many friends, my husband, my children, my family, so many situations, and sometimes I forget to talk to God like the friend He is. Yes, he is our sovereign Lord, but he is also such a friend and our Father. Sometimes we just need to ASK. For example, my marriage really hurts right now God, could you please help me know how to help this. This situation with this person is constantly sapping my spirit, what do I do? And then we need to be still and listen. And then there are the times that I am so overwhelmed that I don’t even know what to pray or what to ask and I am comforted by the fact that God knows my heart–He KNOWS it friends–and my sighs and groans–those are words to Him. My tears? It’s language enough. Prayer. So powerful. So incredibly powerful. While we are lifting others up, don’t forget to lift your heart up to Him–it’s okay to ask Him for help in fixing it. Extremely humbling yes, but He asks us to humble ourselves before Him. He truly doesn’t mind. He loves us. So much. He wants to heal us, not hurt us. Again, I don’t want to tell you how many years it took me to figure this one out. Too many. “When I pray, you answer me, and encourage me by giving me the strength I need.” Psalm 138:3 TLB You can talk to God anytime, anywhere. He’s always there and will always listen.
“There is no other god who can rescue like this!” Daniel 3:29 NLT
This has always been one of my favorite verses in the Bible–a bold proclamation. My boys can’t get enough of this story in the Bible. Talk about unfair! The deceit of such awful, jealous men that manipulated a king into making a law that they knew would get Daniel thrown into a den of lions for serving his God. So scary–both the depravity of human nature and a den of lions. My boys always find two things equally amazing. That these “not nice” men KNEW Daniel would still worship his God despite this law they would get the king to decree (Daniel’s faith was that pronounced) AND the fact that Daniel didn’t get eaten by the lions. I find my boy’s hearts and souls equally amazing. Sharing the Bible with them has opened my heart and eyes to so many things. I’ve said it again and again. I KNOW God is real because I am here, breathing and typing this long, all over the place, blog. He rescued this girl that most certainly would not be without Him. It’s as simple–and as complex–as all that. I know He is because of the miracle rescues I have seen all around me in the lives of many others who were not supposed to be or would not be because of Him. So many miracles. I know He is because nature breathes His name. I know He is because my soul recognizes it’s maker. I know He is because purpose without Him on earth would be nonsensical and faith makes more sense to me than anything I can touch or see.
The birds are chirping and my six year old is reminding me we need to “det fings done” today for my sisters and brother coming in tomorrow night!!! So exciting. I am telling myself that small steps are steps, none the less, as not to overwhelm myself. They will not care if my house is not immaculately clean. Today may be a day of resting and doing little things here and there and having to rest again while my tummy decides to go crazy and my lungs decide to give me a work out. I’m thankful for my nutribullet which makes nutrition absorbable and for pumpkin powder and almond milk which are supposed to give me a little energy (thanks, Mom, going to try it in a moment — waiting for my tummy to settle down a bit). We can transcend our bodies (thank you, yoga, in it’s spiritual form, for teaching me this) and our circumstances (thank your, Lord, for constantly teaching me this–you are such a merciful and gracious God) to breathe in and out with thankful hearts full of joy. And I wish you all so much. Our bodies are just that — vessels — bones and skin. And our circumstances are just that — time that comes and goes — that will eventually pass (and I don’t mean to trivialize awful things that happen, not at all — I know some of that stays with us forever, I truly, truly do — we can talk about that later– but we can still let go and find strength in joy — yes, yes we can) . We are divine souls and we serve a BIG God (as my boys so sweetly remind me). Such a big God! Bigger than anything we will encounter on this journey. Anything. Any person, any circumstance, bigger than anything!
And it’s okay if you need to stop today and just be — just rest that soul if it’s a little weary. God doesn’t measure you by what you do, but by who you are. You know, your guts — smile again. Put your feet up and meditate, draw close to him, take this time to listen in that stillness to His voice — to the quiet. May it be balm for your soul in the chaos, in the loud, in the confusion of life. And may you feel peace, love, and so much joy.
So smile, be joyful, breathe in the good, exhale the bad, and know you are loved beyond your wildest dreams–you beautiful soul.
Peace and Namaste