Chains That Bind Us

P1010742Have you ever found yourself under attack in the same area over and over again?  Have you ever wondered WHY that seems to be an area of vulnerability for you?   You know it… that one thing that can bring immediate doubts to mind.  That place where you say, “Oh great!  Here we go again!”  Or maybe was, “Victory!!!  It’s done!  I did it!  It’s paid for!”  And then…life happens.  Your victory dance slows, and a stomp ensues.  Shoot!  What IS the issue?!?  You are more likely to be saying things that are not edifying to anyone at this point!  Negative statements or thoughts of defeat.  Have you EVER said, “I will NEVER get this taken care of!  It seems to happen again and again!”  No!  You have NEVER said anything like THAT have you????  Yah…me either…as my nose grew a bit longer…

I lived through many of my parents struggles in this very area for me; the area of finances.  I watched them work hard to provide for us, give us a good life, and one of enjoyment.  But somewhere in the back of my mind I have always wanted my life to be more stable in that area.  Ever thought that way?  Now, I have lived differently in that area of my life than they did, not that the way they did it was particularly bad.  But, I feel sometimes when life hits, that I am no differently positioned than they were.  Oh how thecanstockphoto0019485 devil likes to play in our mind’s sand box!  However, God provided for my parents and me, as well as my siblings.  I was not without.  I loved my childhood.  When I was quite young, I began working.  I had to work hard, but I had what I needed and contributed in ways that I could to help my parents with the burden.  Even through hard times as a parent myself, my kids didn’t have a lot, but we had what we needed.  It wasn’t without hard times, but it taught them to be hard workers, as well as being resourceful.  They saw God’s provision in our lives over and over again on a daily basis.  I know there were times when they didn’t have things they wanted, but they tried their best to understand.  What we had plenty of was a love for each other, and that was our mainstay.

So what is it about those vulnerabilities in our life’s journey, that trip us up?  I have become more and more aware that my thinking has SO much to do with my action.  What do I do when those times hit?  Do I succumb to the negative thoughts that things won’t ever change, or do I put God’s Word into action in my life and change what I say?  I’m choosing the latter for my life any more.  I am replacing those things with statements that are scriptural to me.  What lifts me up.  What brings back my joy.  Replace my thinking and changing the channel.  When I think I can’t go on, I push a little bit harder.  I pray more often.  I inch my way through and push back against those things that try to run me over.  If I’m going to stomp my feet, then let it be against the devil.  Let the dance be in praise!

We took action in the area of vulnerability for us.  We have found God to be very faithful as we trusted Him and put Him first.  Maybe your button isn’t finances, but something else.  It works the same way.  God cares about all things, and that means ALL.  So, if you find yourself dealing with the same issue again and again, begin to be aware of how you are thinking about that area of your life.  Do you want to continue the way you are?  Or, do you want change and have victory over that particular area?  Are you willing to make the changes necessary to gain victory in that area of your life?  We can’t keep hoping for the change without taking action toward the change.  So many times, we keep doing the same thing again and again, hoping something different will happen.  It doesn’t work.  A feeling of defeat is the result.

img_2298-e1407215390181What if you HAVE made changes and you still don’t see it yet?  Are you in prayer about it?  Are you asking God what you need to do?  Are you being obedient to what He tells you?  We can be stubborn sometimes.  I mean, I know a few people who took a lot of years to take an 11 day trip!!!  Now, if you change, don’t think that you won’t have to tests to go through to make sure how committed you are to it.  Oh yes, that’s a given!  But don’t give up because He cares about you AND your situation.

I have a dear friend who at this writing is going into surgery Wednesday for another bout with cancer.  She is 90 years young.  She has had 48 procedures in her life.  When I expressed my concerns over yet another test in life, she told me, “JoAnn, after 90 years of living, one thing I have learned.  We NEVER outgrow the tests in life.  I can tell you from experience that they keep coming.”  I told her what a great attitude that she has.  Her comment back?  “What else can you do?”  I don’t think it’s that simple because we CAN do a lot of different things.  What is different for her?  She trusts God to get her through, and she has lived it well.  She has struggled, wiggled out from underneath the burdens, pushed back, fought the evil one, but in all of that, she hasn’t given up.  She has faith.   She trusts Him.  Period.

So, where am I at with this?  I will choose to praise Him in the hard times.  I may “feel” the worry come, but I quickly take it to God and thank Him for what is good, and what He IS doing in my life.  I then thank Him for His answers, even the ones I don’t see yet!  However, answer He will!  He always answers, but not always how we think it should go, or in our timing.  Don’t live in defeat!  Live in victory instead!

But, in my case, I don’t give up and I don’t give in.  I’m doing a lot more dancing these days than stomping!  We are all on a journey of progress and learning.  Just stay in school!

Walking the journey with you…

~JoAnn

 

 

Chains and Change

Have you ever had an experience where something you heard, watched or experienced had such an impact on you that you knew you couldn’t do anything else but to change some things in your life? I have recently changed churches at God’s leading, and I attended a class on “Belonging” to this particular church and family. However, as I listened to the pastor share his heart about what belonging to this church means, I knew immediately that I would be challenged in a BIG way!  What is it that really reached down into my heart and stirred me up? Let me share some thoughts with you.

We can so easily get seduced into thinking that what we are doing and the way we are living is “ok” with God. God knows my circumstance and He will understand why I do what I do, say what I say, get mad over anything, call someone a name, say words I shouldn’t say or any number of things we justify. The fact IS? He does care. He asks us to follow Him and leave that all behind us when we accept Him as our personal Savior. I can’t look like the world and live my life for Jesus. I have to do life differently.

So as I listened, God began an excavating process and exposed things for me to change. I have lived all my life for God, but there are areas of my life I don’t like much. My challenge? How am I going to change and adjust my life so I live more fully for Him?

You see, we can get caught up on all kinds of moves and activities; so much so, that we get desensitized to our busyness and begin to justify it to ourselves. We ignore that voice that says, “That isn’t going to take you where I want you to go.” And, let’s face it, change is HARD! It’s so much easier to just ignore it. Shoot, we are so busy doing OUR thing, we don’t even hear that voice trying to encourage us to move toward HIS thing.

So what will I be working on? I will be transparent with you for a minute because I know that is the first step to changing what God wants to change in me. Here I go:

▪                I love to serve, help and encourage people. I love being involved in my church. But in my involvement, I have to be under the authority of the pastor who has a God-given vision and leave my agenda behind. I don’t think that my ideas are the only ideas. I just get excited about what could be! It’s hard for me to keep a lid on it because I’m a visionary! I get all excited about what could be done to help others in their walk with the Lord. But I’m going to work on that submission area.

▪                I’m asking God for control over my mouth, where it can be easy for things to come out that aren’t edifying to anyone.

▪                I’m putting my message that God gave me three years ago and is on my wall, back to work in my life. It says, ” To JoAnn…praying without ceasing. ~God”  Oh, I pray all the time. But I have had a season of time where I have not been as consistent as I was.

▪                I’m expecting that because God is asking me to change these areas, that He will give me the grace to do it; expecting answers to prayers and needs.

▪                I am watching my associations and situations which would get me agitated or riled up. I want the things that stir me up to be God’s agenda.

▪                I will learn with God’s help to be consistently content with what He gives me and also the home where I live. Sometimes, I can get off track when I see others who have more or seem to always have “it”, as my pastor shared last Sunday. I want to be consistent in the area of “living satisfied”.

  • I am creating an environment in my home that says, God lives here, and what I have, I owe to Him. So my husband and I are working on areas that will improve our home to make the atmosphere cozy and inviting. We want our life to me just like a door header I saw that said, “We live to make God famous.”

I’m excited! It’s not going to be easy. But I know God spoke, and He asked me to step up to this challenge from Him and see what He will do! I talk about the journey of my heart on this blog; this is my heart. I’m hopeful that my journey will inspire you to take up the mantle and ask God for the changes that YOU may need in your life, SO THAT, you will have both feet on the side of Jesus! Get your expectation motor started! He will take you to places you never dreamed of! I would love to hear from you! Let me know what God is working on in you! Blessings on your journey!