When My Body Said, “Enough!”

12 08 2015

Stuffing emotions is how I’ve coped with life. As a child, any emotion that was a little too happy or too sad was cause for a reprimand:

“Sit down and act your age. Settle down.”

Or

“Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.”

Sanguine by nature, I learned to behave like a Melancholy. In fact, I picked up many of the characteristics of that personality type: organized, analytical, studious, and focused.

I also suffered from severe Eczema, hives, bronchitis, and wet the bed well into my teens (TMI, I know).

It wasn’t until I was in my 20s that this ‘crazy fun’ personality made her appearance. I would get happy and act all crazy…then wonder if I was crazy, then stuff that nutso back in the box.

In 1980, I heard Florence Littauer speak on the four personality types. In a matter of a couple of hours, I saw what was going on and began to operate as the personality God gave me:

“Do it my way and we’ll have fun!” I love it!!

While I was set free to be me, I continued to stuff negative emotions. Expressing those had never gone very well, and this didn’t improve once I became an adult.

After several years of emotional healing, the skin ailments and bronchitis disappeared. I’ve been very healthy – without so much as the yearly bouts of flu and colds.

Until last year, that is.

It was like my body said, “That’s it! There isn’t room in here for one more thing.”

I began to have physical ailments, sometimes separately, at other times, several at once: migraines, joint pain, kidney stones, and gall stones.

One by one, though, as I addressed old wounds with my counselor, these began to go away.

It became apparent that certain types of stressors affected certain organs in my body. This is what I learned about the above maladies:

Migraines: Lies I believed about God, myself, and others.
Joint pain: Unforgiveness
Kidney stones: Rejection
Gallstones: Fear

As we worked through the lies I believed, I would get a raging migraine. By the time we’d worked through the current one, it would disappear.

These have become a warning sign for me that the enemy is attempting to sell me a lie. As soon as my head starts hurting, I consider what I’ve been thinking about. Every time, this has been the case for me.

In the spring of 2013, my entire bone structure came loose. When I moved around, my back sounded like a zipper. The rest of my joints continually popped as I walked around or used my limbs. It was a creepy feeling.

After nine months of forgiving people who hurt me, my skeleton is back to normal. I am so thankful for that! There were times when I thought a hip would dislocate just by moving it out of line with my body. That was scary.

Major emotional upsets that involved rejection resulted every time in a urinary tract disorder of one sort or another. The severity determined whether it would be stones or an infection of the kidneys or bladder.

No fooling. Absolutely every time, within 24 hours of the rejection this was the case.

And gallstones? I now understand that ‘blinding pain’ isn’t just a cute little phrase. Pain can be so intense that everything before your eyes goes completely black.

(Yes, I could go have my guts yanked out, but I like my guts and God wouldn’t have given them to me if they were unnecessary!)

It took a while to figure out what was causing stones, but after a few months it became apparent. Fear had to go.

Whenever a situation arose where I should have spoken up, but chose to be a coward – bam! Gallbladder attack. As soon as I addressed the situation, I would pass a stone (or several) and all would be well…

…until the next time.

This is the year I am learning to stand up for myself. Fear has no place in my life. My gallbladder says so.

I’ve learned that my body is the dashboard of my heart. When I deal with my heart…dis-ease goes away.

No, I am not prepared to claim this for everyone. Each of us is unique, the choices of medical care and medications between us and the Lord.

However, my body has been the way the Lord got my attention so He could heal my heart. Maybe this will help someone else, too. I’ve read reports from many medical professionals which state that up to 85% of all illness is due to emotions. I may not be that far off. It’s proven to be the case in my own life.

For me, this is the year of no more stuffing.

My body said, “Enough!”





Of Alligators and Such

14 07 2014

When we are up to our necks in alligators, there are a couple of important things we need to know:

Our opinions and judgment calls don’t change anything; and

We will need help to make it to safety!

This has been a season of alligators and valuable lessons.

It began in January, when the Lord warned me of an approaching trial that would be like none I had experienced before. Whew! He wasn’t kidding. He’d never given me a heads-up before. I’m thankful that He chose to do so this time. I doubt things would have gone as well without this info.

At the time, my hubby and I were taking a class at our church on mentoring and discipleship. The instructor, Jim Bailey, gave excellent training. So good, in fact, that the Lord wanted us to really ‘get’ it – to practice what we’d learned.

Application, it seems, was very important. Not only did He give us people to mentor…He asked us to let them stay with us. No “two-hours-per-week” sessions for us, but around the clock “Tami, you need to learn how to do this!” We were given three adults and three small children…then five kids…with two more kids part time!

I can tell you this, for sure: People in crisis are not always easy to live with!

Further, when life is interrupted and we are asked to set aside everything in order to be available, it feels like a free-fall. The only thing within our grasp is the wind rushing past us – which, I discovered, is the Holy Spirit!

At first, the tendency is to kick against the thing – work lays unfinished, our “tidy little life” is no longer ours to run.

After a while, though, it becomes easier to let productivity go – and focus on relationships instead.

I wanted to have opinions about our new residents, to judge their cases, to straighten them out. God sent them to me so I could fix them…right? Wrong!

Shhh! was all the Lord kept saying. Just love them.

This became easier with time, as well, and made possible more peace than I would ever have thought possible. (Ever been around an opinionated person…whose thoughts about you were not complimentary? It’s amazing how quickly we can build walls to protect ourselves. We are unwilling to receive anything that person has to say.)

Oh…my opinions and judgments turned out to be mostly wrong! I would have done a lot of damage had I voiced what I ‘thought’ I knew to be true!

Cowardice loomed large during this time as well.

I didn’t want to do or say anything that might make people not like me.

Yeah, that definitely had to go! At the end of the day, if God was pleased with me then I was content.

I learned the word, “Enough,” and that I had a right to use it for the purpose of maintaining my home as my sanctuary. After all, I didn’t have anywhere else to go.

Boundaries are beautiful!

Joshua 1 is a pep talk between the Lord and Joshua. In the third verse, He tells Josh, “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, just as I promised to Moses.”

Read that: “You’re headed into the Promised Land, my child. It’s filled with giants. There will be battles; but every place where you put your foot down and say, ‘Enough,’ that territory is yours to claim.”

The other important point is that when we’re surrounded by pressing matters, we dare not try to be the Lone Ranger.

We need the support and encouragement that can only come from other people.

Thankfully, although we’ve only been at our new church since January, I’ve made several good friends, in addition to the dear friend I’ve had for a few years.

Friendship is something new to me. In the past, I’ve been ‘relationally challenged!’ We moved so much during my childhood – and then again as an adult – that I never learned how to maintain a friendship. Sad, but true.

Every week I meet with one or two of them just because we enjoy one another’s company! We don’t have an agenda, which is a weird concept to me, but one to which I am growing accustomed.

On particularly heavy days, I can shoot any (or all) of them a text and ask for prayer. Once in a while, I’ve run things past them to get input. Because they are godly women who are after God’s heart, they speak life into my situation and point me in the right direction…back into Abba’s arms. I love them all dearly.

As I suspected, all the “wax on, wax off, paint the fence, and sand the floor'” training (Karate Kid) I received was indeed preparation for a much larger trial…the ‘granddaddy’ of them all. That’s where I am today. Thanks to the lessons learned over the last four months, I am able to deflect blows that would have taken me out last year. Muscle memory was well-developed, thanks to the Lord’s thorough training program!

Today I heard from the Lord that this season is over. What a relief!

Thanks to all of you for your prayer support. Christianity is about community – life together. Your prayers and words of encouragement empowered me to continue on when I had no strength left. Words can’t begin to express my gratitude.

Because of what we’ve been through, God prepared us for the issue at hand. While I am not at liberty to give particulars, just know that these captives are being set free. Although the process is in the early stages, we begin to see a little more light every day. God is so good to us!

In conclusion, when surrounded by alligators remember that our opinion of them doesn’t make them go away…or fix them; and that we’re not going to make it to safety alone!





Who’s the Artist?

16 05 2014

Christian, my firstborn was two when he found a picture I was embroidering. It was beautifully sewn with satin stitched vines and many colorful flowers cascading all around. In the center, I had carefully sewn, “Peace to All Who Enter Here.”

He also found my threaded needle and my scissors, and decided to make my handiwork his project. He made a little snip here, another over there, and then “embroidered” crisscrosses back and forth over the top of my beautiful work. It was quite a sight!

By the time he got done with it, I thought it would best be displayed with a knife hilt stuck in one of the holes, some flattened lead bullets in the others, presented in a beaten up frame with more bullets, another knife, the feathered end of an arrow as if the picture had been shot through…and perhaps an embedded Chinese star.

Peace indeed!

Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus.

That day I learned how God feel when we, His children, decide to make His work our project. We cut a little here, stitch a little there, and mar what He intended to be a masterpiece.

We do this with ourselves when we decide what “belongs” and what should be “cut out,” without so much as a glance at the stitching diagram.

Mostly we do this with others. We approach them with a critical eye, scissors in hand, and decide what needs to be done to shape them up!

Sometimes the scars that are present in our tapestry are the result of our actions and sin, sometimes caused by others who had a “better” plan.

This is what happens when we try to “help” God with His masterpiece – us!

Despite our intrusion, God hums quietly and continues to craft us into a work of art. The ugly messes we’ve made when we’ve tried to add our personal touch to the work are carefully mended and redone by His skillful hands.

We would do well to leave the work of creation to Him, and like the fabric onto which embroidery is sewn, surrender to the hands and needle of the Master Crafter. We are not our own project. Our job is to be yielded to Him, to cooperate with Him, and let Him work into us that which will make us a treasured picture of His love, mercy, and grace.

 





The Gift

8 01 2014

Christmas Eve was difficult. For the first time in eight years, I was ill and unable to join our worship team for the Candle-lighting Ceremony. I popped in long enough to hear my granddaughter sing in the flash mob, and then came home.

As I drove along, I began to talk to the Lord about Christmas and my desire to give Him a gift. The way I saw it, the only thing I could give Him that He had not first given me was my heart. The chorus to the song  “You Are Good” ran through my head:

“How can I thank You? What can I bring?

“What can these poor hands lay at the feet of the King?

“I’ll sing You a love song – it’s all that I have

“To tell You I’m grateful for holding my life in Your hands

“You are holding my life in Your hands.”

As I looked at my heart, though, I realized that it was filled with dirt and grime…envy, jealousy, unforgiveness, and a host of other ills. It broke my heart to offer such a piece of rubbish to the King of kings – but I had nothing else to offer Him that was truly mine to give. With tears streaming down my face, I lifted my hands as if my heart were there and offered it up to Him, and apologized for its miserable condition.

 The next day, my daughter and her family stopped by. With a look of joyous expectation, she handed me a small, wrapped package.

“This is for you. I believe you are meant to have it.”

Wondering what the package contained, I opened it. Within was a small jewelry box.

I was filled with horror when I opened it and found my mother’s wedding ring nestled inside.

“I don’t want this. It means nothing to me,” I said sharply as I plopped the box on the dining room table.

Tears welled up in her eyes. “Mom, I really believe you are supposed to have the ring,” she said.

I left the box where I’d set it and changed the subject.

Now, this surely seems like a bizarre reaction to a lovely gift. At any other time, it would be. There is history behind my rude behavior, though.

When my mom moved to heaven, my dad basically disinherited me. He’d had very little love for my mom – mostly used her to support himself. Her wedding rings were given away to others, leaving me without a “daughter’s” honor in this and every other way. It’s hard to describe, and I don’t wish to go into details to help you understand!

For the last eight years I’ve been passed over, put down, and pushed out, so when God began to speak the word, “Chosen” to me, it stirred my heart and brought healing.

This single word has been swirling around me like a gentle breeze, softly lighting in my heart.

On Christmas Day, it finally hit home. 

God said, “This is not a wedding ring you’ve been given. It’s a daughter’s ring, for you are Mine. No one can ever take that from you. This ring is a gift from Me, not just from your daughter. I want you to know how much I love you.”

Whooee! When the Lord wants us to understand something, He certainly has a way of getting through…if we have the ears to hear His voice.

Are you listening to Him? He has such wonderful words of love for you as well. Pay close attention, for He is drawing His own to Himself as never before!

Oh, how our Father loves you and me!

PS – it’s not about the “bling” God chose to give me, either. That was just His way of cementing the truths He’d been speaking to me all month. He has many, many ways of showing us how much He loves us. Often, it’s in the form of heart-shaped rocks, hummingbirds, or a beautiful sunset. Don’t miss the little things. Mmm. The word “chosen” spoke volumes more than the little ring I now wear on my finger.





Let’s Try Something Different

11 10 2013

Is your faith waning? What will it take to strengthen it again? Left alone, it will become negativity…and lead to complaining. That never goes well.

The Israelites were delivered from a lifetime of bondage. Every one of them was born into slavery.

What began as a refuge from the famine in Joseph’s time had become a nightmare. The current Pharaoh, afraid the Israelites would overrun his country, forced them into slavery. With friends and family members being beaten, abused, and killed on a daily basis, no doubt they asked, “Where is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?”

I have an inkling of how they perceived Him: unloving and powerless – or worse – uncaring.

Without a memory bank filled with examples of the time God …(provided, healed, etc.), they were without hope of His intervention.

Did you ever wonder why God went “over the top” to remove the Israelites from Egypt? He could have, just as easily, merely had Moses waltz in and tell Pharaoh to let them go or all the government officials would drop dead. In the confusion that followed, the Israelites could have left.

Instead, there were the ten plagues…a learning opportunity for the Egyptians, the Israelites, and for us as well.

Here is one example:

When people have a very perverted view of God, He will do what is necessary to break through the lies and reveal Who He is. This is especially true when, as Jeremiah 29:13 says, they seek Him with all their heart.

Do you remember how God kept telling the people to “remember”? He wanted them to rehearse the things they’d seen Him do because in so doing, their faith in Him would remain strong.

For the Israelites – and for us as well – the battlefield is the mind. The minute we forget what we’ve learned about God, doubt begins to creep in.

If those doubts aren’t taken captive – caught and examined in light of what we know about God – they give way to negativity.

Because we doubt God’s ability to act, we begin to think things like, “This is hopeless,” or “This circumstance will never change.”

When we find ourselves doing in doubt, we must  stop and ask, “Is this true? What have I seen God do in the past?”

It’s at this point that we need to make a conscious decision to trust God despite what we see.

Psalm 13 is a great chapter to meditate on at such a time:

“How long O Lord will You forget me? How long will You look the other way? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts, and every day have such sorrow in my heart?

“Look on me and answer, O God my Father, bring light to my darkness before they see me fall.

(Here’s the important part)

“But I trust in Your unfailing love…You have been good, You will be good to me.”

This is a great song to learn and sing when things get shaky:

 

***

With our eyes redirected back to God and what we know to be true about Him, we will not fall into the trap of murmuring and complaining to others. Bit by bit, you’ll find your ability to trust God strengthened once again.

When we get to where we can say, “God, I don’t get this…but I trust that You have a plan and a purpose for what’s going on. Please don’t let me miss the lesson you have for me in this test,” we are in a very good place, and we begin to experience the “peace that passes all understanding.”

The funny thing is that nothing

– apart from out thoughts –

has changed. 

Yet!

And we won’t become complainers who take out others in the process!

***

As Stephen kindly pointed out in yesterday’s comments, “we need to look beyond His miracles, and look at His character instead. WHY He did something, instead of WHAT He did. Then our faith will be based on something far deeper and substantial.” We must not live from experience to experience, demanding a sign or miracle from God. We will become disillusioned if we expect Him to behave like a Genie in a lamp.

Praise God who will do the necessary “What” in order to lead us to ask “Why” – why did God do what He did? He longs for us to know Him and trust Him.

“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.

2 Chronicles 16:9

Read the beginning of this series: Here We Go Again