3 Steps To Keep Yourself In Check

woman-on-stepsHave you ever been caught in the middle of a conversation between your doctor’s office and your insurance company? What a nightmare! What the doctor’s office knew to be normal procedure did not apply in my case. I only needed them to call the number the insurance company had provided, but they would not. I felt anger and indignation rise up in my heart.  I wanted to prove that I was right and defend myself. I wanted them to care and respect me by making that phone call. I felt my face getting red and heart beating faster. My frustration level was maxing out!

Can you recall a time of emotional frustration? Maybe with a friend, family member, neighbor, or in regards to a bill… You knew you were right in the matter, but the other person was stiff-necked, prompting ugly emotions to rise up within you.

We can allow our emotions to drive us to say or do things that are contrary to our character. We can even justify our actions and feel righteous. With this confidence, we may even stand taller with chin lifted, feeling good that we showed them who was boss.

God’s word has challenged me regarding this kind of assertiveness and pride. Because I was feeling weary and burdened by all of this, I opened the Word to Matthew 11:28-30.  I had read it many times but on this day, something caught my attention.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

This is more than exchanging yokes with Jesus. We must also learn from Him how to have a gentle and humble heart. Then, we will find rest. That is a tough one! I knew I was not displaying this kind of heart and knew exactly what I needed to do.

I have a three step process to keep myself in check. I love how my husband says, “Check yourself before you wreck yourself.” 🙂

  1. What is the condition of my heart? Is it clean or is there sin I need to repent of? What are my motives?
  2. I ponder the truth from the word. In this case, I asked myself if I was displaying a gentle and humble heart. Am I being Christ-like in the situation?
  3. I put into action what God has revealed to me. Sometimes I need to repent for wrong heart motives. But the greatest action to apply is loving others as God loves them.

By the third step, my entire attitude and heart has changed towards that person or situation.  Instead of letting our frustration level max out, let’s aim for a gentle and humble heart so we can remain a light in this dark world. Confrontation does not have to be ugly when you approach it with a gentle and humble heart.

Are you keeping yourself in check today? What scripture are you pondering to do so? I would love to hear from you.

 

 

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Look Me Straight in the Eyes

parent holding cheeks of child softRecently, I found myself focusing on my circumstances instead of God, who has control over them. This left me feeling out of control, and anxious. I thought about my children when they were small, and how they had similar emotions. One could snatch a toy from the other and “all chaos” would break out, leaving the empty handed one feeling anxious and out of control. To get their attention and calm them, I would cup their plump cheeks in the palms of my hands, lift their head, and say, “Look me straight in the eyes.” As they focused on my eyes, I would softly tell them to calm down and that everything was going to be okay. Once this truth settled in their little hearts, they would experience a calming peace.

Are you focused on your circumstances?

Maybe you’re like me when fatigue swoops in. It sets our emotions on our shoulders causing our focus to be on ourselves and our circumstances. Then, everything becomes amplified. For example, small things can feel like huge failures. Such as missing deadlines, not following through with paperwork for a volunteer position, procrastinating reaching out to that new friend, staying perpetually behind on the laundry…I could go on and crossover into worries and fears because when we intentionally focus on ourselves, we naturally build a list of all our failures.

By now, we feel like “all chaos” has broken out, and we have lost control.

As I was walking and talking through the details with God, I was reminded that He is the lifter of my head. I pictured God cupping my own plump cheeks in His hands as He said, “Look me straight in the eyes!” Focus on ME, not what is going on around you. Psalm 3:3 (NIV) came to mind … “You, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.”

Then, I remembered where my eyes are supposed to be. Psalm 121:1-2 …“I lift up my eyes to the mountains. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth”. As this truth settled in my heart, a calming peace wrapped around me like a warm blanket. I wish I could always maintain this kind of peace, but my flesh is weak. However, I have a phrase I ponder on to help me, but it only works when I remember it and apply it: “I cannot do anything apart from Christ, but I can do ALL things through Him.”

Let’s choose to apply this truth today, and let God be the lifter of our head. He is in control. We can calm down … everything will be okay.

If The Shoe Fits Wear It

QuestionYourselfRomans12-2 smallFor years, I forced my feet to conform to shoes that did not fit properly.  The right shoe was always more snug than the left. But when I tried a larger size, my left foot would come out of the shoe while my right foot fit the shoe perfectly.

So, I just dealt with it and chose the smaller size. This decision grew to be a painful one over time. A painful knot formed on my right foot that only a shot of cortisone could relieve.  Let me tell you that getting a shot in the side of your foot makes you want to slap someone!  It concerned me that I was the cause of this growing problem. I had not realized it was taking place until it was too late.

This experience left me asking myself, “What else have I conformed to that was not a fit for me? And, if it was not a fit, why did I force it?”  Here are a few things that came to mind:

  • An unhealthy friendship—because I could see so much potential in this person.
  • Meeting expectations others had on me—because I did not want to let anyone down.
  • A spiritual gift that I did not have—because my real one felt insignificant.
  • Saying yes to one more thing on my schedule way too often—because saying no was hard.
  • Filling a void with a purpose I created—because I got impatient waiting on God to show me my purpose.

I had to ask myself this question:   “What grew from trying to conform to what was not a fit for me?”  Well, the answer to this question “stinks” worse than my feet:  🙂

  • Bitterness
  • Resentment
  • Loss of identity
  • Fatigue
  • Stress

Can you relate to any of this, or am I all by myself?

When we force ourselves to fit a mold that was not designed for us, we stunt our growth and suffer.

When we accept Gods unique design for us, we cultivate a willingness to forgive, appreciate others, accept our true identity, and no longer conformed, but transformed for the glory of God.

I am reminded of Romans 12:2 (NASB), “ And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Read that last part again and let it sink in: “The will of God is good, acceptable and perfect.”

The experience of David comes to mind in 1 Samuel 17. David was preparing to go toe to toe with Goliath and King Saul tried making him wear military armor.  David could not even walk in it.  Instead of conforming to what was expected for one to wear going into battle he chose to walk onto the battle   field wearing his spiritual armor.  The armor designed just for him.  And, by the way, David killed Goliath with the very skill and gifts God gave him.

This makes me want to shout: “If the shoe fits wear it!”

I encourage you to ask yourself the same questions I asked myself.  Be honest.  Then, choose to release what is not a fit for you, and let God heal the pain that has grown from it.  God’s ways are perfect, so seek Him first in all your ways.  You can trust Him.

Proverbs 16:4 “The Lord has made everything for its own purpose…”

 

 

5 Words That Impacted My Year

Words on Fingers

Earlier this year I considered what word from Scripture I could adapt and implement in my life that would impact the way I live for God? The Lord led me to this passage.

“Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.

Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;” (Psalm 37:4-7 NIV)

The words “delight-commit-trust-be still” reached from the pages and gripped my heart. They became resources for me through this year’s ups and downs.

I have written separate articles on “delight” (here) and “commit” (here).

Often, I found myself in situations that brought on stress, fear, and uncertainty. Sometimes applying the words “trust” and “be still” simply meant repeating them until I settled down.

Trusting in the Lord and being still before Him has been the greater challenges this year.  I needed to have confidence in God to handle the uncertainties. This is a challenge for me because I am a doer and to put my hands up in the air and say “You take over God” can feel frightening. (Random thought: that made me think of the song “Jesus Take the Wheel.”) So the challenge was, and is, to build that confidence so I experience peace instead of fear.

For example, my youngest child received his driver’s license this year. (Insert lump in throat here!) I ran hundreds of scenarios through my mind and with each one he needed me.  Obviously I cannot always be with him, but I know someone who can and is: God! I had to decide to trust God to see my son through any situation. I did not know how God would care for my son but I was reminded that faith is “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).

Have I mastered this kind of trust? No, but I get better with each trip he takes…

I choose to trust God every time my son gets in the car. When I do I am at peace; however, being still before the Lord and waiting on Him PATIENTLY can be a “nail biter.”  So, I’ve learned that taking a deep breath and remembering God’s faithfulness leads to growing longer nails. J

Have these five words the way I live for God? Yes! They have impacted my mindset, attitude, and outlook. They have affected my interaction with others, my faith, and my well-being. (Plus…my husband thinks I am nicer 🙂 ).

Are you up for a challenge in 2016? Search Scripture for a word or verse for YOU! Pray for God to reveal it to you.  God will give you what you need for next year.  It will be a fruitful lasting word that will impact your life.

Prayer: Lord, show me where in the Bible to look for the word or verse You would have me apply to my life throughout 2016.  I pray that You will etch it on my heart and let it be a change-agent in my life for Your glory. In Jesus Name. Amen.