Painful

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Tearing away from old habits can be uncomfortable and even flat out painful.

In my search for a healthier life both physically and spiritually, I have had to cut away people and things that I held on to for comfort that was not healthy for me. In fact, it was painful to let the very people go that were in the long term hurting me far greater than I had known. I cried and I prayed, I missed and wanted to reach out, but these relationships were causing a dependency in my life that was not healthy, for I held the opinions and attention of those people, much higher than I ever should have.

I’ve had to let go of medications that had side effects far greater than their worth, but I had formed a dependency on them after 10 years.  When I stopped taking them, I thought my skin was crawling and my legs were so restless. I had chills and cramping and the reason I took these medications was for pain, and the pain came flooding back in an assault as I was withdrawing. The experience was absolutely painful and the craving to just cover it all up was strong.

Most recently I am having to change my diet (again). I have tried this numerous times but old habits are hard to break and for me, indulgence in food has become one of the hardest. This is very much an uncomfortable process and even at times painful. I am overweight and have diet sensitivities. But man I crave all the wrong things and my emotions are attached to those cravings!
I know I must make a change now before my abilities decrease even more physically. I know when the hard part is over and I have adjusted I feel better mentally and have benefits that far outweigh that cookie or frosting. I must fight all the urges just like anyone else making any lifestyle change. Making a change for the betterment of our life is often uncomfortable in the least, if not outright painful.

I need to build my stamina, I need to regain my physical strength and endurance. I already know from past attempts, this is painful. It is not easy. It is work. My body fights me and one day of working five minutes can hurt for three days. Recovery time, I think to myself, recover from what? What did I really accomplish? But I know, those five minutes can turn into fifteen minutes, then a half an hour, then an hour. I just have to get over the flesh desire to always be comfortable.

And I ask myself, how can I believe for my healing, and continue to do all the wrong things? My very treasure of health is being robbed, and I am absolutely allowing it to happen.
Proverbs 25:28- A  man without self-control, is like a city broken into and left without walls. 


The reward of growth with disciplined lifestyle is far greater than any of the pain that must be walked through. The uncomfortable is a moment but the rewards can be lifelong. Healing, strength, peace, joy and so much more can come from the practice of being disciplined and seeking your best health above all unhealthy habits, despite the painful process.

What have you been fighting because you are afraid or unwilling to go through a period of being uncomfortable? Will you consider that it is time for the best and the uncomfortable will not last forever? Or will you continue to sit in sickness or an unhealthy situation and lifestyle choices because it is not worth the painful process to have better?

I am seriously speaking to my self in this situation. Even now I am craving a candy bar like no one’s business and I am hungry to my core following my recommended calories. I would love to slather a piece of sourdough bread with butter and stuff my face. I know in the past I have tried and failed and tried again.
BUT…

Today, I am choosing one more time to be self-disciplined. Today I am choosing a better life even in my moment of uncomfortable. Tomorrow, I will face the painful workout again even when this body wants to fight me. Because I know that with each victory I gain strength. No longer a slave to the painful, but an overcomer in the uncomfortable. I will not fear, I will not worry and I will not give in to defeat before I have even tried.

Perhaps you have something that needs to be changed in your life. Perhaps you have some things you need to let go of that you hold dear. Patterns, habits, and comforts that are more hurtful than life-giving. It is time to walk through the painful and uncomfortable moments to obtain your best physical and spiritual health, so that not only can you live victoriously but be the most impactful.

 

 

 

 

 

Beyond the Limits​

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Definition of Limit: a point or level beyond which something does not or may not extend or pass. Synonyms: restrict, curb, check, place a limit on, cap, keep within bounds, hold in check, restrain, put a brake on, hold, or freeze.

We all have done it. We have all dreamed of something big and so far beyond our reach. However, many like myself, first see the limits and often won’t pursue farther than the dream. I have had seasons where it hasn’t mattered if the limit was imagined or real. I would just stand frozen, looking at the desire of my heart and not know how to pursue it. I look at every angle and then get perplexed on what in the world to do.

Other’s will pursue wholeheartedly their life, dreams, and ambitions, but then stop as limits rise up against them. They had momentum for a season, but the wall rose up and they stand immobile, not sure how to move beyond that limit in front of them.

Then there are those victors. Those people that seem unstoppable. Everything they put their hand to is golden and all falls into place for them. Or does it?  I believe most beyond the limit people, are just that, they live beyond their limits. They have things that rise up, they have things in their way, they have things that could hold them back, but they have learned how to move forward, taking steps into the further and pushing on harder, not because of those limits but in spite of them.

I want to be one that propels forward with expectation and boldness. But first I had to identify those limits that were restricting me, that kept me within my bounds, and held me frozen. I had to identify not only limits for my own self but for others as well that may rise up in the face of pursuit. I am sure that I will not cover all that everyone would face, but recognizing the vast walls before us is key to overcoming and moving beyond the limits that hold us back.

Moving beyond the limits we place on ourselves:

1. Qualification:  This is the biggest struggle I personally have faced over the years. I never felt qualified or validated to finish my pursuits. I would start something, and see my failures more than possibilities. Let’s face it unless one is touched by the divine, and everything they do is perfect, most have to work for what we want to become, or accomplish. It takes hard work and faithfulness. I finally have learned that we are often called to do that which we are not qualified for. It is in the faithfulness, living beyond what we see, and honing our craft/skill, that shines far beyond what we lay down unfinished by giving up and staying frozen out of lack of discipline.

2. Opinions or lack of support: Often we look to other’s approval to validate that what we have to contribute is valuable. When other’s mock us, ignore us or roll their eyes when we share our vision, we can feel like what we have to put out there has no worth. It is very important to know who is your true supporters, and believe it or not, your support may not come from your closest circles. You see, many people in our lives, don’t see the hard work behind the scenes that we are putting in. They may only see where we have been, not where we are going. They have preconceived notions about our ability and our reach. This is not always the case, but if you share your heart and others are not supportive or even silent, perhaps you should hold your treasure a little closer to your heart, and protect it. Pursue, strengthen and equip. Show those that doubt that you are able and move beyond their limits. You see they can not support that which they can not visualize themselves.

3. Pride: Society has us constantly aware of how we are perceived. Nobody wants to appear foolish, unqualified, unsupported or exposed. So many times, I have stepped away from my passion because I have not been able to do what other’s expectations of me were. I walked in embarrassment, rather than the truth of my calling. Going live was one of my biggest challenges. I have such a low opinion of myself at times, that seeing those lives have left me embarrassed, even though I know personally others have been encouraged. If I let pride and vanity stand in the way of my calling, I am never going to reach my destination meant for me.

4. Fear: There are so many ways fear can limit us in pursuing that on our heart. Fear of failure, fear of time wasted, fear of unknowns, and fear of others, etc. You name it, there is probably a fear in the face of it. I have found one of the best ways to move beyond fear, is to identify it, and walk through it. Fear often only holds us back, because real or perceived, we allow it to. Think of every fear you have had that you have overcome. What did it take to overcome that fear? For me, it was action. It was the doing, no matter what. It was stepping out of what was safe and comfortable and saying, I will move beyond this limit. It will not hold me. Fear will not be the force that keeps me from the plan for my life.

5. Time: This is such a trial in the pursuit of callings and dreams. Because the truth is, we all face a certain amount of hours every day, and we all have responsibilities within those hours. However, when you have a passion and a dream, you must etch out some time to hone the skills, and pursue that dream. Otherwise, like me, 20 years later, I am still looking at the undone. I put the kids first, which was great, it was my season, I put the church first which is great it was my season, I put so many things first and in the seasons that is okay. But looking back, I could have definitely etched some time in to pursue things that would lay a foundation for my now. If you have it on your heart to write, but there is just no time, record your musings and thoughts on a voice memo on your phone when you are doing other tasks. Keep those thoughts on record for a day, when you have more time to actually write it all down. Think of that which you truly want, and seek where you may be letting time be wasted, or how can your time be extended in a day. Yes, time can be a limit, but only if we don’t see the possibilities of conquering. Sometimes it is just an evaluation of how your days are being spent.

6. Finances: Money or lack of, can be a very real challenge in living beyond the limits. We were a one income family most of our marriage and with 3 little ones and no health insurance for most of those days and a one year lay off where we lost everything, I can honestly say that finances were definitely a limit I put on myself. However, I am seeing the older I get, how those limits sometimes are also a mindset. I wanted to paint for years, but good quality canvas and paint is expensive, well while learning, I could have used cardboard, cheaper materials and practiced away.
I get it sometimes it is hard to even put bread on the table, and when our mind is around survival it can be hard to dream. BUT… there are resources. Get creative. Barter, research, visit a library, free education online, my unemployment offices have resources for learning and possibly ask to apprentice with someone skilled in your passions. I know many people that have had dreams with little finances and completely self-educated their passion and pursued to full success.  If something is burning in you to be accomplished, do not allow finances to hold you back. Become creative in the pursuit of living beyond the limit.

7. Physical: I know this one well. I have physical limits. However, I have been looking at so many others that live beyond their limit physically and are extremely successful. Sometimes when we have limits with our bodies or situations, we need to become creative. Just because something is in our way physically does not mean we can let it limit us and keep us frozen. It is just a new challenge to see how we can move beyond what we face and overcome those obstacles. I think of those I have seen with far more physical limitations than myself, rise above and do so much. Not only are they pursuing and conquering their dreams and passions, but they are true inspirations to others like myself, that get tempted to give up and just coast in life. I don’t want to be one that just gets by in this life any longer, but I want to thrive and bring others along with me.

Ultimately the dreams and passions within our hearts are for the taking. We just have to overcome and live beyond the limits placed on ourselves. This is how true victors become victorious. They do not let their limits get in their way.

 

The Empty Box

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I got this prayer box necklace from my aunt years ago and recently it got me to thinking.

Looking at the empty box, I could have worn this as just a pretty necklace over the years, or I could take my prayer and place it in the box, close to the heart. I chose to write my favorite scripture and put it in the box and whenever the necklace moved or I saw it in a reflection I would meditate and believe that word was qualified in my own life.  The empty box did not remain empty.

I use this, as an illustration, to show how we may take the time for our empty box during our downtime. We have spent all day, pouring out our energy and when we stop we are depleted. When we take the time to recharge,  we make choices. Those choices are to leave that box empty, fill it with distraction, or fill it with life.

For a season I found myself filling the empty box with distraction. Such as binge-watching Netflix or spending hours on my social media accounts when I wanted to just ‘chill’. Not before too long it became habitual and without any thought, I pick up my phone first thing in the morning and throughout the day, all day, and mindlessly scroll.
Then there is the other box in the room that grabs my time. As soon as I sit on my couch I would reach for my remote and scroll for an hour looking for something to watch.
Then one day it hit me, did I really just waste an hour (or hours)  scrolling nothingness?

There is a danger for me personally to use ‘nothing’ or distraction during down time. Before too long it becomes same old’ same old’ and if not careful I slip into the melancholy of nothingness and the empty box turns into a life of meh.

Think of your own life, are you working and going home and doing nothing? Is the place that you want to be in 5 years? I ask this because if you are filling your free time with nothingness or distractions, then in 5 years time, you will accomplish only keeping your box empty.

I know this may be an extreme thought, but for me it became extreme. I was created to write, paint, minister and to be present, yet I filled up a season of my life with nothingness and wondered why I was not getting anywhere. It all turned so quickly and without notice went from a few minutes of decompressing daily, into a lifestyle.

I am being exposed here. Not because it is fun to admit it, but because I know I am not alone and my hope is that others will see before the melancholy or time thief sets in. The thief of your time can also be a thief of your joy.

So what can you fill the empty box with?

I am determined to fill my life with things from the Lord through prayer, worship of all forms and pursuit of my future that He has planned for me. I want my empty box to become filled with life. So that I may pour it out onto others and not be running on a nothingness.  So that I may remain young and strong.

Psalm 103:5- He fills my life with good things so that I stay young and strong like an eagle.  

Fight the Battle

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One thing I have discovered with life… there is always something.
There is always an opportunity of one kind or another to fight the battle ahead.

When the battles seem overwhelming our nature may be to retreat. Some of us are fighters and some of us need to learn how to fight. Others are natural warriors that don’t see anything but victory ahead in the midst of it all. This is how I want to fight the battle.

I want to be the warrior that sees their victory ahead of the attack. Just as a good coach, sees victory for his team and focuses on the win rather than the idea of loss, I want to set my sight on a glorious outcome rather than the moment I am fighting the battle.

How do I walk this out? How do I fight the battle, when I feel the onslaught of ‘life’ coming at me from every side?

*RECOGNIZE
I used to bury my head in the sand, instead of looking at the battle head-on. I used to make excuses, and except the battle as just a part of life. Yes, our battles are a part of life, but I don’t have to accept the defeat before even entering the ring. I can’t roll over and just keep getting kicked while I am down. I must stand up and fight not only for myself for all those around me that a defeated outlook or blindness to the situation will effect. If I roll over and am exhausted by the battle, with just a smile on my face, I am affecting my family, my ministry team and others the Lord has placed in my life. It is like a soldier watching everyone get shot around them with a smile on their face that all is fine. NO, it is not fine. It is a battle and I am going in!! This is how we fight the battle. We recognize we are in one!!

Ephesians 6:12- For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

 

*EQUIP and Position

This is the time to take out all the resources in your tool belt! A soldier going to war would not do well if He forgot all his equipment, and just showed up for battle in his shorts and flipflops.
In this same line of thought, a soldier or a team needs all their partners in the battle. Know your team members. Share your heart, let them back you. Know your source of support. This is key to fight the battle. The most important member you can have to back you is the heavenly creator, that has purposed for you to be victorious. He has a battle plan. He has the equipment ready for you to put on and take your stand. Even if all the other team members have run from the fight, you still have that coach pushing you on. He is ahead of the battle. The battle is HIS to fight. We need to ready our ears and hearts to listen and fight the battle.

Ephesians 6:13-18 

The Whole Armor of God

13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

* FAITH
Be ready to fight! Posture your heart in readiness. Walk in boldness that you are mighty in victory. Know that the battle belongs to the Lord and the outcome is always victory. It may not look like it at the moment, but the battle is won, when we are ready to win. When we are ready to fight the battle when we are ready to take ownership of victory. We have won. It does not matter what we are seeing. We see with a different lens. It does not matter what we are feeling, our feelings are fleeting. It does not matter that it all is crumbling and falling down around us, we have a master builder, that is ready to remodel and build fresh and new. The fight in the battle is knowing we have won!

Proverbs 21:31- The horse is made ready for the day of battle,
    but the victory belongs to the Lord.


*CELEBRATE- 

Rejoice in your victory! Be thankful the battle is won. You may not see it yet, well, set your eye on the other side. Celebrate your last victories! See what has worked in your favor. Celebrate how you have come out a victor before in your battles. Your battle does not own you. Your battle does not define you. Your battle is what you walk through and you already have the tools to overcome! Celebrating the one that sees you through, is a mighty weapon in the fight of the battle. Praise and worship, it goes before me. I am equipped and ready. I am the victor and I am seeing the victory ahead! I know the victory may look very different than I expect, but it is mine and I will take it and praise Him for it.

2 Chronicles 20:21- Jehoshaphat asked the people for advice. Then he appointed men to sing to the Lord. He wanted them to praise the Lord because of his glory and holiness. They marched out in front of the army. They said,

“Give thanks to the Lord.
    His faithful love continues forever.”

BE ENCOURAGED WITH THIS ONE : This is how I fight my Battles

COMMUNITY

54730098_10218592822756772_3689364288650084352_o Awakened_arts 

“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much” – Helen Keller.

I had started a very basic purple painted canvas on the first day of spring.
I asked my social media friends, to share what color they wanted on the picture, fully intending to see who matched what was on my mind for the painting. The interesting thing, everyone had a different idea for the secondary color than mine. As I stood and stared at the purple canvas, deciding which color I would pick, the name of the piece came to me, “Community”. 

This painting wasn’t about one or two solid ideas, but about combining the creativity of many into something of beauty. I took each color that my friends had suggested and I thought of them and prayed as I painted their color. I sought where the Lord would have them impact the piece and prayed for individual situations. A few friends had chosen teal, it didn’t matter, as I applied the color again, a new friend came to mind. Another, shared her idea for the technique to add dimension and direction. This was a wonderful example of community, each contributing, every individual uniqueness adding a new depth and detail as we collaborated. 

This piece alone reminded me of how important it is to be in community with one another. I could have said, ew I don’t like that color, it would never look right, but looking at this painting, it needed every single color whether at first, I thought it would belong or not. As I looked at the painting with each layer I was timid to place more colors, yet a sense of belonging came over me as I saw the work coming together. 

You would not know that two years ago, I had my self hidden away, shying away from the world, from being hurt, from being ignored and passed over. I had a horrible sense of my self. I had lost the knowledge of my worth somewhere on the journey of surviving grief and illness that had reared its ugly head like never before and the depression wanted to take over. In the past, I was swallowed by that depression. I cut everyone and everything off and literally wanted to die.

The amazing thing, this time, depression could not stay! While I started blocking people out of my life, there were the solid, the community that would not let me. There were the people who reminded me of who I am. There were the people that pointed out when I was being flat-out ridiculous and that I needed to stop identifying with what I was facing and start identifying on who God says I am. It was my community that picked me up and reminded me how much ground I have gained and even in this hiccup, it was safe to spread my wings and fly again. 

Community: A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

Romans 12:5-
so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Do I always agree with everything they do? No. Do I enjoy every single personality within my community at every moment? No.  Do I share every single belief and value? No. 

Do I drive people in my community crazy at times? Ah, YAH! 

However, when in the community, despite our human differences we can choose to stay united with a common goal. Intentional to build together, to hold one another up by carrying each other’s burdens and remind each other there is hope in a sea of unknowns.

When the going gets tough, we can be tempted to run from our communities, but all that brings is isolation and loneliness, which in turn becomes bitterness and anger. I think this is why the Lord mentions not forsaking the gathering of our brethren. He knew that we needed far more than to hear our own voice whisper silently to the wind. 

Hebrews 10: 24-25-
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 
not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

 

 

Hope

44360648_10217396586811621_7015477418978705408_o Instagram:  awakened_arts

Romans 15:13- May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

How do I hope when I am surrounded on all sides? When the darkness comes in and clouds my mind. I am tempted to succumb to my weakness and lack rather than rising in His strength. How do I overcome? It is not by might, but by His spirit. It is connecting to Him in Spirit by praise and worship. It is in surrender, for in losing my old self, He clothes me with new life. And so…

When HOPE and EXPECTATION rise in my spirit fear, anger, hurt, insecurity and all forms of darkness are shaken out of my sites. Joy and peace become my covering.
Trusting in the Lord is the key to my hope.

I will sing of His wondrous love that saved me from my self.
I will rejoice in His overwhelming grace that covers all my shortcomings.
I praise Him in the morning, His mercies are new each day.
I take my eyes off of my moment and look to my helper, my comfort, my strength.
My moment will pass, but He is ever constant, faithful with every breath I take.
A keeper of promises.
A healer of disease.
Mighty fortress in times of trouble.
Provider for my needs.
The Hope will rise and overflow from my soul.
For the God of all Hope has said it will be so.

With Everything~ Worship song for my day

 

 

More

33248955_10216228639453667_8634740846178074624_nBy Writing for joy: Instagram @awakened_arts

 

I was at church Sunday and the word that kept rising in my heart for a young man was more.
“More God?” I asked, and he replied in my spirit, “yes, more, more, more.”
God kept nudging me to share and I had no idea this young man was in the process of being taught about coming to Jesus at the moment by another.

I walked up to him and said God wants you to know that you can ask for more. That He wants to give you more. Just as you look at your little baby and want everything for her, this is how the father looks at you. He doesn’t want you to miss out on anything.

I went home and the thought kept pondering in my mind. More, more, more.

Ephesians 3:19-20
And to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do infinitely more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.

Just like this father looking at his tiny baby, our heavenly father looks at us. He wants the best for us, He wants his gifts for us, He wants more for us than we in our human minds, don’t think to ask for. 

I want to walk in my kingdom identity as His daughter, with His inheritance as my stepping stool to launch me into His work for my life. I want to know His love in infinite ways. God holds nothing back from me as His child, seeking Him first, He holds everything to give to me at the right time.

If I walked up to a stranger and asked for the inheritance to his life’s work, he would look at me with disdain and say, “who are you to ask such a thing?” 
But my heavenly father says… “YOU ARE MINE. All you have need of, ask. All that you can imagine, ask.
This isn’t about seeking the savior for what you get..it is about receiving because you have sought Him first and He is yours and everything that that entails. 

So as I say “yes Lord, I will receive your more, more more.”
He answers me,
 Now you have revelation it is time, live your life today by Kingdom standards, not earthly limits! ”

“Yes, Lord!”