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Dreams with Meaning

Recently, I started writing down my dreams (that I feel have some sort of significance to them), prophecies, and visions. I wanted to keep a log of them so I could come back to them and test them. One of the dreams I recently logged was from high school. It had meaning back then but it seems to have more now as an adult and life lived a little.

The dream starts with me in some sort corral for sheep. I realize that I have a snake on me and it had slithered onto my head. I try to claw at the snake to get it off but it doesn’t budge. It’s as if the snake adhered itself to my scalp. I felt extremely anxious and frustrated that I couldn’t remove it and that it was somehow stuck to me. I then realize on a large rock within this same corral is a Lion. I stand in fear of the lion but I’m not afraid of the Lion. I walk to it because I somehow know that the Lion is the only one who could remove the snake. But the Lion refuses to remove the snake instead tells me to walk with Him. The Lion transforms into a human we walk together by a river. He gives me peace and although the snake is still there I no longer feel frustrated and anxious.

Obviously the snake represents sin or suffering and the Lion represents Jesus himself. Now in light of life lived, I realize the snake is suffering and it is suffering of the mind. The very feelings I felt in the dream anxiousness, frustration, and depression are the very things I battle against. The Lion which only had the ability to remove it chose not to but instead told me to walk with him in that suffering. He gave me peace through it.

Many people battle depression and anxiousness and for me for a long time I thought it must be because of weak faith. Maybe I just wasn’t trusting God enough but after further studying scripture and church history I don’t believe that is the case. It is a thorn just like Paul’s. It is something I wish would leave to be normal and feel normal. But it is there and it is purposed. For what testimony or witness do I have to other hurting moms If I have never hurt before? Gods grace is sufficient.

I am encouraged by scripture in this. King David was all over the map with his emotions. One minute he is praising the Most High and the next he is down in the dumps. I am encouraged by Charles Spurgeon. He was/is amazing person of faith. His books, sermons, and commentary is widely respected. The wisdom given him from God to teach others absolutely tremendous but the man suffered with deep depression.

It is an encouragement to see similar sufferings and realize Christ alone is our help. He may not remove what we suffer with but what he will do is walk with us through it. He gives us the peace we need and comforts the soul. He uses that suffering to glorify himself and give us a testimony to others of his grace and mercy.

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Mirror, Mirror on The Wall, You Don’t Tell The Truth At All

I don’t like talking about my feelings on a first person present tense basis. If you noticed my writing are generally done based upon what has happened (past tense) not what is happening. It makes me very uncomfortable to talk about how I feel and doing presently. In part, I have a very difficult time accurately expressing exactly what I am feeling. I call this emotionally constipated and when it does come out…extremely unpleasant. (Sorry for the terrible and gross analogy but it fits best)

Lately, the Lord has me in a position of stillness. I would have to say I’m not a huge fan of it. For one, I feel like I’m a hamster on a wheel going around and around and getting no where or at least seemingly no where. I keep asking Lord what should I do? How should I serve? Give me words to speak something! And there is just one answer “stay still.” And on occasion words to speak. But this morning he brought to mind Psalm 23 and the verses that say, “he makes me lie in green pastures and walks with me beside still waters.” So he has me in this place of stillness and where I am not out “doing” I am required to focus on “being.”

But see there is a big problem with that… What am I “being?” This stillness has required a silent uncomfortable assessment of myself. A mirror has been laid before me and I have been required to look at myself. Now, let me explain how uncomfortable this is to me. Physically I can’t stand to look at myself in the mirror. It makes me feel totally awkward and like a total doofus. Looking at pictures of myself makes me feel anxious and frustrated. Watching myself on video…is like dying a slow death. It’s awful!

But having to stay still while God holds up a mirror so that I can see the “inner man” as Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 4:16 is highly uncomfortable. Now, if I was looking at this to find flaw and issue no problem I could pick apart myself with ease. But no, the Lord is not holding it up to find flaw and issue no He is holding up a mirror to change what I see to what He sees. See the Lord knows, why I am so uncomfortable he knows the negative view I have and he knows that negative view of myself is as harmful to my witness and testimony of Him as a prideful conceded view.

The Lord has me in a place of stillness to get me to look at myself and pattern my view according to His word so that I may take that and be built up and build others up. My negative view is like wounded soldier and I can’t fight if I’m nursing wounds and shying away. So this healing and change is required and it’s so uncomfortable.

In other words, my identity in Christ is strictly head knowledge not heart knowledge and now I’m going through an intensive makeover. Ouch. But with all the unpleasantries, good does come out of it. See I am forced to look but not alone. When I look into that mirror the Lord is holding my hand. See before I could even get to the point of looking He had to bust me out of prison. I had to be set free.

Maybe you can relate. Prior to looking into the mirror and being uncomfortable I had to hold his hand and leave the prison and that was very difficult.

The best way to describe a negative view of oneself is this: I was locked in a labyrinth of lying mirrors. Each one a lie the enemy had placed to imprison me. A hurt that had been done would be a door for him to seal with a lying mirror. I had been so surrounded by these lies I was left to believe they were true to the point the enemy no longer had to build the prison I started to build it myself. I built thinking I was protecting myself from hurt. Until Jesus came and broke down the prison door. Breaking down that door didn’t feel like rescue it felt like my world was imploding. Everything felt dark and for first time I recognized I was chained and not free. The Lord gave me a choice I was either going to walk through some dark hallways to get through this labyrinth with him or I was going to choose to stay in that prison of lying mirrors.

I chose to go with Him but I had to walk very dark hallways. Hallways so dark I wanted to cut parts of me off because it was too painful to deal with. But the Lord is good and he walks with me the whole way never letting go even if I can see nothing.

Now that he has rescued me from the prison He doesn’t leave me to heal myself. No, He tends to me. He heals the wounds and he requires me to stay still and recover and restore so that I may go out not just “knowing” I am a new creation but acting as a new creation.

Jesus is good! He is my hope! He is the light! Praise be to Him!

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Art in Progress

This is a work in progress painting of myself and my daughter nursing. And as I make progress with this painting it brings to mind the progress God has done in me.

Over this last year I have started painting again. I had not painted since I graduated high school. But as the Lord has been at work healing my heart and my lack of understanding of my identity, He has brought back a joy in my life. Growing up I loved drawing, and when I discovered oil painting in high school it was like a door opened to pour out creativity. Not to mention, I had an awesome friend in my class who loved the Lord and was an encouragement to me.

But when I entered into college that expression of joy was pushed way down. I unfortunately did not have the foresight or wisdom to value the talent the Lord had given me. I could not see how “art” would make money or get a good job. Since I lacked direction during that time, I found myself going my own way and eventually quitting.

Now, in Gods great mercy and grace the Lord has blessed me beyond measure regardless of the lack wisdom in my youth. He is a great God and he is full of grace and in that grace he is restoring what I once threw away. In this season of restoration, He has given me the wisdom and understanding of His gifts that he has given me. He is remolding my image to fit his design for me. What I took as a fun but useless talent is being restored for something greater.

The Lord has shown me the importance of artistic talent. The Lord is referred to a potter and we are his clay. He molds us into the shape he so chooses for the purposes he so chooses. Regardless of the clays purpose, it is art formed by the potter. In the same way, the art that the Lord guides me to create is for his purposes. Maybe the art will not be much more than painting my everyday life to be a reminder of Gods beauty in everyday things. I don’t believe that I will become some famous artist but I believe I can honor God through it. I believe God can use art to draw people to himself and bring glory to himself.

I see my own children developing an artistic talent. They have a love of drawing and creating and I have no clue what God will do with that in the future. But I do know God does not give useless talents. He has a purpose for them even if I cannot recognize it. As a parent, my job is to help my children cultivate the talents the Lord has given them and to help them look to Christ for their purpose. He already has a plan and design for them and I am just here to point them in that direction.

I am so thankful that the Lord restores what is lost and that he renews the mind and heart to be more like his.

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Power of Words

The power of words amazes me. In my family, I am a stickler for words and the proper pronunciation of them. I love broadening my vocabulary and using new found knowledge to communicate more precisely and effectively.

But beyond the pronunciation and the enlarged vocabulary it’s how our words are used. The spoken and written word is a powerful force. It can bring life or it can destroy. I think of its power in my parenting to either raise up my children or to tear them down.

James speaks of the tongue:

“but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”
‭‭James‬ ‭3:8-12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Our tongue, the one who forms the words we speak is notorious for being a fire. In our human self, we cannot tame this wretched fire that spreads. But the Holy Spirit that lives within the believer can. What flows out of our mouth is what is in the heart, and it is not what enters us that defiles us but what comes out.

How do you speak with your children? How do you speak with others in general? When you are frustrated do you allow an onslaught of insults be hurled at a loved one? Or do you criticize their every move? Do you remind them of everything they did wrong or are you quick to remind them what was done right? When your children are simply being children, are you dismissive? Do you discredit their feelings and struggle because they are young? Or are quick to listen and slow to speak weighing each word through the spirit in order to direct them to Christ?

What about your speech towards others? Do you cut people down or people groups? Are you mindful of the impact your words, your tone and your expressions have on your children or those around you?

We live in a world where words are thrown around without care. We throw insults, criticism and pain without acknowledging the devastating effect. In fact we are so out of touch with words that we have a saying, “ sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Unfortunately, words are far more devastating than sticks and stones. Words especially used by parents to children, develops a child’s perception of themselves. If a parent constantly is ridiculing a child or calling them names, that child will begin to develop the idea that is exactly who they are. And even our speech about others that children listen to also effects how our children view themselves in light of those people and how they view others.

Our job as parents are to encourage, lift up and admonish our children. We are to direct them to Christ through our words and our actions. We are suppose to build up in them who they are in Christ and arm them in how to handle insult and lies from the enemy. We are not to break our children down with our frustrations and insults leaving them to the enemy to have an identity built up in lies and pain. As parents, our words are heavy weighted and as Christian parents even more so. Take every opportunity to speak life into your children. Speak the word of God to them and over them denounce lies that they may believe and build with truth.

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Relationship

One thing the Lord keeps reminding me is the importance of building a relationship with our children.
The Lord is relational the trinity is relational, love is relational. I think about how the Lord parents us and our relationship is with him. He draws us into himself he knows everything about us and invites us to know about himself. He isn’t this big God in the sky sitting and making rules and keeping hands off and until you screw up so he can send down judgement. No, he is a high priest! He understands our suffering he understands our hurt and our pain, he jumps for joy with our triumphs. He has compassion and empathy toward us. He weeps when we weep. There is no need too small for him no concern too little to be brought to him. He wants us to come to him with our little things that are hard so that we will come to him with our big things that are impossible. He isn’t too busy to hear about our days. He doesn’t discipline without encouragement and uplifting us. Always reminding us of who we are in him and that we are not the sum of poor choices but created in him image and made for his purposes.
So, It begs the question does my parenting resemble this loving parenting?
Do I treat my children as a nuisance to my busy day? Do I care to get to know my children for who God made them to be? Do I take interest in what interest them? Do I rejoice in their triumphs? When they hurt do I hurt or do I discount their struggle or emotions as not being much in the scheme of things? When I discipline and have to correct behavior, do I follow up with reminding them of who they are in Jesus and what he has for them?
When we focus on a relationship with our children we indeed are discipling that child to know Christ. When we build relationships we build trust and respect. When we have loving God centered relationships it allows us to speak hard truths in love.
But does this mean that our kids won’t stray? No it doesn’t. God is a perfect and loving father and yet we still stray but he pursues us despite our waywardness. He still holds up his end of the relationship with arms open.
Because of Jesus’s amazing grace and his desire to have a relationship with me (a very sinful person) I am free to go beyond myself and love with that same grace. I can build relationships with my children and with others so that I can better share Gods love for them by my words and actions.