Be still and wait to hear from God!

A huge lack of perspective hit me in big doses this week.  In conversations no less.  No sooner would one conflict end then another would be lurking right around the corner.  I was even accused of being “dogmatic” in one moment where my words were intended to heal a friend’s suffering not encourage it.  Hurtful, no doubt!  But I decided not to take it personally because I knew that sometimes when God does a work in you, it can come in the form of tough love.

I often struggle with knowing when God is speaking through me or is it my own need to control the conversation by inflicting my views to feel more important and religiously sound!

From relationships to world views, when we think we have the right answers to life’s toughest questions or are unwilling to see another view or lack compassion for people’s vulnerability; ignorance can take over and we fall into a trap where we end up speaking before we think and that can lead us into a terrible spotlight showcasing our lack of accountability.

This happened twofold.  Yes, two different scenarios with two different people.  They were unrelated yet parallel and I walked away feeling emotionally exhausted.  At the time I was convinced I was proclaiming gods work by trying to get these two individuals to understand their “constant complaining” over their monotonous (yet clearly painful) situations was getting them nowhere.  That Proverbs 3:5-6 says that if we are trusting with all of our heart, we need not worry.  If we think we have all the answers, we are not trusting.  If we don’t wake up everyday, give our days and worries to God, we will lack a peaceful heart and the proper guidance to get through each day.  I truly don’t believe this scripture works if you do not apply it wholeheartedly.  Not majority, with some wiggle room for fear and worry.  Not partially, with a small allowance to cry to a friend with continuous ranting of your many misfortunes.  So on & so forth, you get the picture!

Even though I believed my words (with underlying convictions) were strongly needed at their designated  times, I began to second guess my actions.  No doubt God was speaking to me but in his way he needed it to come with a clear, hard lesson in humility.  That was a hard pill to swallow.  Couldn’t he have given me a learning curve so I could gingerly change my points of view one circumstance at a time?  Sleep on it, dive into his word a bit and seek council for a few days?  Nope, that was not the case.  It was to come in waves so his message chimed like bells at Christmas.  God wanted a humble heart to come quickly, even if I needed to feel red on the outside and regret on the inside.  It even reminded me of my earthly father’s sound advise, “think before you speak”.  Both my fathers were right!

I’m not saying we are to follow God’s word and eat, sleep and breath in an emotional suit of armor.  That worries and fears are unnatural or childish.  That we don’t hurt when our kids, families or friends are hurting.  That we don’t have the innate ability to want to fix broken pieces surrounding us.  Undoubtedly, we all have the need to lean on people.  It’s indisputable that we will hurt and cry many times in our lives and we need to feel understood and supported.  I even believe that from time to time we are allowed to throw ourselves a pity party.  But most parties I’ve attended have lasted approximately 2-4 hours and then you go home to face your own reality.  When your pity party moves from hours, to days, to years? a new perspective needs to come from your next invitation.

Worry and anxiety are real but Gods words and promises produce the best medicine.  The Bible tells us this in Phillipians 4:6-7

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ.

Wow, that’s some powerful scripture isn’t it?  It’s basically saying there is a promise of peace in our hearts if we pray and give our concerns to God.  That he will heal us through this suffering?  He will also make it clear why we are suffering?  With a promise of protection for us from the enemy who is most likely inflicting this doubt and pain to begin with.

Now I know from truth that it’s OK to lead with his word and trust in your heart to help heal the pain of a sister or brother in need.  Just pray about it first.  God will give you the right words to say at the right times.  His message is clear and his words never fail.

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” – Exodus 14:14

Love to you all!

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Give it all up! (just one of my stories)

Give it all up and follow God!

Now why would I do that?  I go church when it counts?  I pray once in awhile about the things that I need?  I believe there is a God and he has a son named Jesus?  I’m spiritual? I’m religious? Oh and by the way, I am so NOT a sinner like everyone else!  Isn’t that enough! Besides, I like my things, my life, myself.  Why does being a good Christian require me to give it all up? Would I have to change my friends, job, personality?  Sell my house, my possessions, go door to door?  Would I be labeled a Jesus freak, born-again, crazy christian?  Will the chatter around me assume something really, REALLY bad has happened to me and I had 3 choices, self-inflicted death, an evil pathway or accept Jesus as my savior!

Or do I simply not understand exactly what following a Christian life really means?

Exactly!  I had no clue.  In fact it scared me to the core.  I was a Catholic girl.  Still dabbling here and there at my local church.  Truly adoring the people, priests and programs, but not getting a clear message.  The traditional forum was getting to be monotonous.  I knew there had to be something else.  Something deeper and it was tugging at my heart for years. 30 plus to be exact.

Enter a true emergency.  I got sick.  Mentally ill in fact. Firstly, during my college graduation I unfortunately had my first of many Panic Attacks.  Having no idea what was going on, I thought I was having a heart attack.  At 21?  Yes, I was convinced and embarrassingly led out of the large graduation ceremony to a medic room to watch 4 years go by without that proper acknowledgement.  To this day, my mother still thinks I “slept in” and blew it off. Geesh!  Those attacks were a few and far between and lasted only a few months.  Then they were gone.  Fast forward 3 years, a new city, wedding engagement and full-fledged panic disorder overtaking my life.  And without health insurance to heal it properly.  Somehow, that faded away too.

Faster, faster forward to my 39th year. And you all know what comes next, the big 4-0! For some reason THAT scared me to death. Literally.  It was the unreal and that really haunted me. Simply watching a TV medical drama and seeing a 39-year-old male have chest pains and die due to a heart attack freaked me out.  Reality that a young (I still think 40 is young) mom with 2 kids in the car, getting into a deadly car accident then autopsy reports saying it was due to a heart attack, that was petrifying.  And, on and on and on.  Why my fear was around the (cardiac) heart, I have no idea.  It did prompt me to see a cardiologist and get a full work-up. BTW’s my heart is in great shape. That helped.  Well, a little.

But the turning point was in that 39th year and my overwhelming fear of getting older that my mind started to race.  And it was going faster than I could keep up with.  For no real reason at all.  No death in my immediate circle, no incurable illness, no financial burdens, kids were good, marriage was good.  I, should have been good.  On top of the world.  But I wasn’t and a reality check set in that changed me for the long-term better while enduring the short-term worse.  Enter full working panic disorder with general anxiety and attacks every waking moment and during my precious sleep too.  I couldn’t sleep, function, eat.  I lost several pounds (that was slightly a highlight).  My family & doctors didn’t know what to do because I was adamant about not taking medication.

One day my mother came over fearing my condition was worsening and asked me to go visit a friend of ours.  A woman I had known most of my life.  She had worked with my mother and watched me grow up through my odd teenage years, prom, college and weddings.  We had lost touch over the years but I would run into her around town.  She was a true friend of my family.  But moreover, she was a true Christian woman.  One that was intrigued by the Proverbs 31 woman.  She modeled that.  But she was real, modern and seemed to “get this” world we live in.  Faults, sins and all.  A beautiful married woman, with a beautiful family of 3 kids, husband, and a successful business, she was a working mom who seemed to have it all.  I wanted to model her. I didn’t know why, but I did.  Did she “give it all up” too?  I found out she didn’t, while she actually did!

My mom set up the date and I awkwardly accepted.  I was to go to her house and talk to her.  Just that.  Weird right?  No premise, no specific topic, no wine, just ladies who lunch.  Eek.  I had no idea what we were going to say.  Come to find out, neither did she.  I respectively brought over lunch and we sat at the table and chit-chatted for a while.  Mainly about life, a little about my condition, stuff.  Then, enters the Lord.

My friend had a sister whom was a Christian warrior and so loved the lord that on her deathbed she was still full of grace and praise for our king.  My friend had just spoken to her sister before my visit and her sister was praying for us during our time together.  When the conversation turned “jesusy”, I got uncomfortable.  I never thought of him as a solution to my problems let alone I needed to build a relationship.  But through the grace of my friends love for Christ (and me), her sisters prayers and petitions and Jesus’s presence right there at that table, my curiosity sparked.

From there I was asked to partake in a bible study with a Christian starter kit/guidebook and 3 ladies who love coffee and the lord.  We met weekly and through a baby step, open-minded approach, I started to realize, I have been very lost in the way I was living my life.  I thought I had a good life but discovered I had a bad, covetous attitude.  My world view was way off and my self worth was ignorantly displayed by the things I possessed, flashed and displayed for all to jealously admire!  I wasn’t living my best life because I was convinced I was in charge of my life.  Oh what the foolish at heart are capable of manifesting in our heads.

Through medicine and therapy (and of course the Grace of God), I do have my Panic Disorder/Anxiety under control.  But still, on occasion, when those attacks happen? I no sooner dive into my bible and they seem to go away.  Hmmm, go figure!

The lord started to do a work in me and brought about more chapters I hope to share with you very soon.

Grace and Love,

Jodi

Why are you suffering?

Matthew 11:28
Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest.

It’s a question I often ask myself day in and day out.  Not so much for my own self but for people that I meet along the way or have known and loved for years.

You see, I know a secret.  Apparently the best kept secret in life.  I mean it must be a secret because if it was common knowledge there would be less suffering in this world and less suffering in our hearts.

His name is Jesus Christ and he is magnificent.  He was sent from heaven to die for our sins.  To heal our suffering and give us eternal happiness.  He also left a huge present here on earth.  The Holy Spirit.  All you have to do is ask for him to come into your heart and he will happily oblige and you will be at peace.  Could it be that simple?  Well, sort of.

Jesus so badly wants a relationship with each and everyone of Gods children here on earth and all we have to do is ask him for that.  Who knew it was the most simplist of answers to the hardest of hearts?  Best friends with Jesus?  I’m in.  I’m scared, but I’m in!

I’ve added a scipture above that is a beautiful way to start a conversation with Jesus right now.  But if you’re new to this journey with Christ and not comfortable with scripture (yet) feel free to say the following words:

“Jesus I am weary and burdened.  I am so tired of chasing after my life. I am scared and feel hopeless and don’t know what to do.  Please come into my heart and give me peace, understanding and the promise of a life filled with Love and Joy.  I want to know you more.  Please give me rest.  In your name, Amen!”

That was so easy wasn’t it?  But it doesn’t stop there.  Like every relationship we value and want to last a lifetime, we have to invest and work hard.  But he makes it easy. It probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to you right now but once you get going you will be amazed.  The work that he does in your life actually enables less work that you actually have to apply to your everday life.  We are all guilty of overworking our hearts and minds with worries, fears and negativity.  He manages that.  Trust me on this one.

So the short answer is you have to Love Jesus and Trust in God.  The long answer is you have to talk to Jesus from time to time (in fact waking up and giving your day to him first? Yes, that helps and can work wonders).  You also have to read the Bible.  It’s imperative to hear Gods words in order to understand his purpose and his purpose for us. Its truly fascinating reading Old Testament parables, meeting Gods prophets & Jesus’s apostles, memorizing his proverbs, learning about Jesus’s story and his second coming and so on.  Seems like a lot now doesn’t it?   It’s like any great book, once you get started you get drawn in like a good series on Netflix.  You may not start by binge reading all 66 books in the bible in one week, but just start wherever you are led.  I recommend you start with the book of Proverbs.  It’s one of my favorites and it’s an easy read.  It’s God “instructional booklet” for our life and it is really good.

The good news is you don’t have to do all of this in a day.  In fact it may take you years and years and years and that’s OK.  I’ve been learning the Bible for years and years and years and I am nowhere near where I hope to be someday.  I have also been building my relationship with Jesus Christ for years and years and years and I am nowhere where I hope to be someday.  We are all a work in progress and never completed.  We should yearn to learn each and every day.  God knows that and he doesn’t care about what pace you take it at.  He is ready to meet you where you are.  He just wants you to know him on earth and come to heaven one day to live in his promised eternal paradise.  The only way to achieve this is to love his only son, Jesus Christ.

Start with the above prayer and then let Jesus take the wheel of your life.  You will be so amazed at what he can do in your life.  In no way am I claiming that you will have an easy journey through life.  Nor would I claim that you were going to get everything you want out of life or think you deserve.  So sorry, it doesn’t work that way.  I thought the same thing.  Oh Lord, did he set me on the straight and narrow. God knows the only way we are going to become stronger and wiser is to give us trials and tribulations and see how we pull through.  It’s only in those storms that when we call upon him, he gives us the peace and understanding as to why we are hurting and how to prevail with him in charge.  Wisdom is gained through understanding, acceptance and learning from those who have made it through the rain by always seeing God behind those clouds.  He actually brings people into our lives whether it’s to “do life with” or to learn a little something along the way to inevitably bring you to his open arms.

The enemy has a powerful way of blinding us to seeing his goodness.  Just deny Satan in Jesus’s name and he will go away.  No seriously?  He literally will leave your mind and the trouble he is causing disappears!  It’s amazing and it’s fullproof.

Once in a while we tend to forget who our Lord is and where he belongs in our lives. We get engrossed in the rustle and bustle of our crazy lives thinking we have to please everyone around us and that we have full control.  He then throws us curveballs to remind us that we are not focused on him and then gives us a big “Hello, come back to the one who knows you best and can set those pathways straight”.  You will feel it when you steer far away from Jesus.  It’s a crappy feeling but when you reconnect, you then feel an ease only he can provide.  What other relationships in your life offer that?  Not many!

I can speak these truths to you because I have lived them in conjunction with grace. I do know that God will give you what you need and those blessings are beyond any materialistic belonging, tainted relationship, tortured heart, daily failure and hopeless feelings that you may be experiencing prior to this personal revalation.  If you enter this journey without doubt or fear and simply trust, your life will change for the better.

That, my friend is the best kept secret.  So what’s keeping you from Jesus’s truth and grace?  You!