Tonight’s Prayer

Abba:

I’m getting restless.

I’m tired of being in Oklahoma.
I’m ready to be somewhere else.
Pack up my new tiny home & hit the road.

Realistically, I’m not in a place to leave yet.

And, lately, that truth has been wearing on my heart.

I know that for my own well-being & health, I can’t make this place my forever home.

But, it’s not time for me to move yet. So, I’m almost regretting the choice to come here in the first place, though there has been so much good being here.

There is a spirit of oppression on this place that feels like it weakens my spirit.

There is so much pressure from inside & out to be what everyone wants me to be. I almost feel stuck in my situation. Like there’s no way out, no opportunity for change. Making me ready to cut ties & run.

This is a good chance for me to learn – that’s not the way the world works.

Please, show me the good that has been done. Reveal the next step in Your plan for me here in this place. Open the right doors & close the rest of them.

Lift the spirit of oppression over my life, destroy any anxiety or depression that would threaten what You have called me to do; destroy any apathy that has made it’s way into my heart.

Soften me, remove the callouses that are developing on my heart. 

Open up opportunity for me to use the gifts you’ve given me to bring Glory to You.

May I leave every situation with my integrity intact.image

Send me more relationships to sharpen my relationship with You, allowing me to see more hope in the world around me.

Lord, be with this city, this state, and this nation. May any confusion & disillusionment begin to melt away. Soften hearts and turn them towards you.

God, please remove anything that is hindering the purpose you have for me.

And, in this waiting time, may I remember to take care of my soul & refresh my spirit, trusting that what’s on the other side of this waiting is Your best for my life.

I am so thankful for the amazing life I live, a life of beauty even on the hardest days.

Amen

 

 

I’m actually ready for this (I think…)

As I shared in my last post, I learned a lot in 2015 – I went through a lot.

And, here I am in, with high hopes for 2016.

This morning, the pastor shared things that have been on my heart. Position. Purpose. Praying as if we believed. Living in an intentional way.

And, in Sunday school, we talked about the same thing – in terms of idolatry. And how we often put things before God (like the Israelites in Ezekiel 16)

Instead, he talked about focusing on God in the coming year. Putting nothing before Him (lest our sins hack us to pieces).

In Sunday school we were left with a list of questions to consider before forming our “New Years Resolutions” – a list of questions to assess where we stand.

As I wrote in my last post – this year for me, it’s not about resolutions, it’s about challenges. But, his questions were definitely worth pondering, if for no other reason than to really get an idea of where I’ve come to in the last year,
and at risk of bearing even more of my soul, I’m going to share some of my answers to those questions with you:

  • What do I feel I can pat myself on the back for?  This was a hard one- took a lot of thinking, but I feel like graduating with my Masters’ was such a big accomplishment, as was making the big decision to follow my dreams, which oddly included moving back to a place I thought I’d never live again.
  • What made me lose track of time? What was my biggest time waster? A lot of things made me lose track of time: reading, school work, pinterest & other social media; but, my biggest time waster? Netflix/TV. This is a reminder that I really need to prioritize where I spend my time & find ways to redeem my time.
  • What was the best way I spent my time? Educational pursuits. Career building. My time invested in my relationships & my relationship with God.
  • My biggest struggles? Another hard one for me – I feel like so many. Anxiety has always been there, and this year, depression tried to sneak back in. I struggled with keeping up with my writing/blogging, feeling bogged down by “realities” of life, and my struggles to work on my relationship with God. I struggled within the area of temptations, and purity (and what that actually means).
  • My favorite compliment received this year? Not a spoken one, exactly, but having support for my big move. Allowing me to be a grown up and do something so (seemingly) impulsive.
  • What am I committed to in 2016? Well, I guess I already answered this, sort of, with my challenges to myself. But, what it comes down to, by the end of 2016, I’d like to see myself be More Christlike.

So, that is what this year will be about. Being more intentional. Being more Christlike, whatever may come up as the year goes on.

And, so I say, bring on 2016. I’m actually ready for this (I think…).

Imagine That…

It has been quite the long week. Many moments had me questioning why I was even doing what I’m doing…

I guess God knows we need days like today to remind us that even when things aren’t so, let say glorious, that we are exactly where we need to be.

Why was it a tougher week?

Well, for starters, I’m still not used to this whole “morning” thing…like, isn’t 6 only a number seen when the sun is fading? I guess not…

But, being real for a moment, I work in the Mental Health field with children.

And, we live in a world where the reality is: elementary schoolers as young as kindergarten are threatening to kill their teachers and classmates (and, for anyone who is ready to open a gun discussion here, at that age, the weapon of choice is usually a knife, so, what’s the real issue here…?)

We live in a world where 8 year olds can recite Scarface, complete with fake gun.

We live in a world where kids are being passed around from one relative to another as if they are an inconvenience, or aren’t worth as much as a parent’s next fix, or because parents have been taken off this earth too soon. Older relatives are faced with child-rearing responsibilities they were never expecting to have again, and even the most well-intentioned (and believe me, there are plenty that aren’t) are simply ill-equipped for the challenge.

We live in a world where teenagers are starving themselves, harming each other, and living inside technology boxes simply because they crave attention that is being misplaced by mostly narcissistic parents.

Yes, we live in a crazy world: natural disasters, famine, genocide, homicide, suicide. Religion against religion. Hate breeding more hate. Cruelty leading to more cruelty, teaching our kids that some lives are worth more than others. Bombs, guns, knives, tear gas, pepper spray. Human trafficking, sexual abuse, slavery.

It. Is. All. Still. Happening.

But, Imagine….

Imagine how the world would be if we all prayed when we “#Prayfor…”. I mean, if we actually prayed when we: tweeted, posted, blogged, snapped, etc. If we prayed for: Paris. Japan. Mexico. Children. Veterans. (and on and on the list goes)

Imagine if we prayed for *Gasp*: terrorists. mass shooters. politicians.

And, imagine if we started praying like we meant it. Like we believe it.
Like we serve a God who wants to see His Kingdom here on Earth.

Imagine if we spent as much time praying as we do worrying.
As much time in His presence as we do on our earthly “entertainment”.
As much time on the things of Heaven as we do the things of this world.

And, imagine what would happen if we took the time to care for others the way we care for ourselves?
Or, if we took the time to take care of ourselves the way we care for others?

Imagine what that world would look like.

Imagine that…


“Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done
On Earth as it is in Heaven…
For Your’s is the kingdom and power and glory forever…”
– Matthew 6:10 & 13

 

Relief

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” -Colossians 3:23-24

Today’s post is part of the wonderful Five Minute Friday tradition that I love so much. And, it’s actually Friday. The rules are, write for 5 minutes, no over-thinking, no editing. Just writing around the theme word. This week’s word:

Relief

Ready? GO

71 Days…I can do anything for 71 days, right?

71 Days. That’s what my graduation countdown says.

In 71 days, assuming all the paperwork goes through and the registrar’s office get’s my substitution form in the system, I will be graduating with my Masters’ in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in MFT and finally able to get a field job and gather hours towards my license.

Meanwhile, I’m working for a man who doesn’t like me and is ready to get rid of me. Not my immediate boss, but my boss’s boss.

And, now that I know for sure he’s ready to get rid of me, a piece of me dies each time I have to wake up and go to work. A job I used to thoroughly enjoy, I now dread on the days I know I have to interact with him.

I have no desire to keep doing a good job, because I don’t want to keep busting my butt for someone who doesn’t appreciate any of it, and in fact, completely ignores it.

But, today, as I was thinking of the dozen or so passive-aggressive ways I could end my short time left at this job – one not even really related to the career I am working towards. (Things I would encourage my clients to not do), God reminded me of these two verses.

He whispered them into my heart, reminding me who it really is that I continue to work hard for.

And, relief came with them.

Sure, it sucks that my boss has no respect for me or how hard I work. He doesn’t care that the parents love me and are going to be sad to see me go. He pays no attention to the fact that I am excellent at training new staff. And, he completely ignores that I go above and beyond my job description to make sure our work place is up to standard.

But, I don’t do all that for him.

Ultimately, I do all that for God. And the part of those verses I left out is the promise: “since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.” (v24)

And, what a relief it is to remember Who I really work for.

So, tomorrow, I will wake up, remind myself of these verses, and go to work with a smile on my face, whether or not he is there.

And, should I get frustrated, I will also remind myself: 70 more days…

And, oh, what a relief it is.

Life: Unmasked – God Works

Everyone who knows me knows that fall is my favorite time of year. I love the colder weather, longer nights, the sights and smells. I love the chili and cornbread; the hot chocolate. I love the crunchy, colorful leaves, and I especially love football!
 However, until today, I have yet to really enjoy it this year. Not only because we haven’t had a lot of real fall days yet, but also because I have been battling so much anxiety and self image issues lately.
I have had struggles as of late, especially at my workplace – which is unfortunate because I work at a church. But I am doing a job I am not very good at and that leaves me feeling hollow. And, things have been occurring there that challenge integrity, also unfortunate at a church.
Outside of work, I love my life. I live in a cute little duplex, my safe haven from the world. I have great friends, and a church family that loves me. And, I have started a small independent publishing and creative design company with a friend called AngelInk Illuminations. We have made sales, especially of our e-books, which is great. This is the direction I want my career to go: writing, speaking and mentoring.
Last week, though, I was reminded of a small obstacle I have in that regard: I have a very slight struggle with dyslexia. It is embarrassing for me as a writer when someone points it out to me.
I am an emotional perfectionist with an anxiety disorder that is triggered by my imperfections.
All of this has been a struggle lately and, I have also had a sort of cognitive dissonance knowing God was calling me to leave, but worrying that I would be unable to sustain my life. Pretty much seeing my choice as: living with integrity or relying on security.
Today, God took that away. In asking for some flexibility on the job’s part to allow me more time to pursue the path God placed me on, they decided it would be best if they began a transition to let me go. I know it was God, because we worked something out that is good for both of us. I will be able to work for them while they find someone else, but also have the chance to start working on other goals.
The past few weeks, through much prayer and anticipation, I have been learning that as long as I am living with true integrity, true security will follow. The anxiety and questions over my own abilities have been calmed in one reminder that God is in control and has what’s best for them that follow Him (Romans 8:28).
This is a truth that I have known for a while, but I often need a reminder. It is sometimes not enough to just read the words in Romans 8:28-39, I need to see God’s hand working in my life.  
Finally, in a friend’s blog, I was reminded that Faith is the core of our identity. As I read this, I realized that with that faith comes a courage to live with great integrity.
——————–***——————–

Thank you for reading. Have you found yourself in the place I have been, worrying about what others are doing around you or wondering if God will take care of you? If so, I do recommend reading the passage from Romans. I also recommend Psalm 37:1-6.

This post is linked with On Your Heart Tuesdays … Life: Unmasked Twentysomethings@AngelInk

Life: Unmasked