She finally believed she could, so she did.

First, thank you for sticking with me. I appreciate you all more than you know!

I share this news reluctantly…

I have been serving other gods.

Yup. I have.

I have become quite familiar with these gods, their names are:

F-E-A-R,

 S-T-R-E-S-S,

 and A-N-X-I-E-T-Y.

Around Mid-April when the sun was shining through the trees in our front yard and the wind was but a comfortable cool, I sat outside watching my children play.  They were each on their bikes going down the hill of the road that sits in front of our home, and each time they did, my heart would jump within my chest. After a few minutes of observing her momma, my keenly aware middle child and daughter, sat right next to me and placed her hand on my thigh.  She cocked her head up and looked up at me, observing my anxious demeanor and said,

“They’re going to be just fine. They’re kids. They will fall and get hurt, but it doesn’t mean something bad is always going to happen to them.”

I looked at her, drawn to the wise and comforting words of what was then a 9 year old girl little girl and said, “Is it that obvious?”

“Mom, you can’t do this to yourself. You have to trust God. You have to go to Him with this fear of yours and get it out.”

Get. “It.” Out.

But how? It was in my head, consuming my thoughts, feeding me an endless buffet of frightening visions.

This was not my first battle with the enemy and his kingdom, but this year it felt like a long, drawn out war.

As a result of listening to the enemy’s lies and locking in on the terrifying visions that were sent by his kingdom to torment my mind, I was diagnosed with panic attacks and anxiety. At one point, a doctor had shared that I might be suffering from PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Therefore, per the medical community’s instructions and with much reluctance on my part, I began to take prescription medicine for anxiety over the summer, as well as, a bunch of natural medicines to help bring my serotonin and cortisol levels back into balance. In short, I was becoming paralyzed with fear.

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has NOT given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.”

Fear is a spirit, and it is obviously NOT a spirit of God’s kingdom because God did not give it to us. So, If God didn’t give us this spirit of fear then, who did?

His enemy,

Satan and his kingdom,

Who are also the enemies of every child of God.

Fear is the opposite of faith. Faith is a fruit of the spirit of God. My “issue” was that I was not walking in faith and believing God over the enemy’s lies of torment. And, because I would allow the enemy to replay the images and constantly rewind the negative and tormenting thoughts, I suffered from severe anxiety.

1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your cares (anxieties) on Him for He cares for you.”

As a result, I had this pain and rumble in my chest, and it would be hard for me to breathe or even take a breath. I felt jittery. At first I thought I was having a heart attack, but when I would go to the doctor, the result was the same; I had a lot of fear, stress, and anxiety.

I knew that I was suffering from some of that prior to the revealing of our son’s brain tumor.  I forced myself to write what God was doing; how He showed up in my day, our situation, and with Tal. I was soon encouraged that God was indeed in control and caring for us.  It was a walk out process even during that time as I was training my mind to be renewed in trusting God with Tal and our situation.

When the accident happened with our daughter, I was in a much better place.  I was more aware of how God was showing up and confident that He was working all things out for AJ’s good and our family’s good.

However, a few weeks after AJ was home and my body was still fighting to recover from physical stress and lack of sleep, I was tormented with thoughts of dread. I was dreading when the next big trial was going to happen. The enemy had me doubting and worried about each time our children would go outside, to a friend’s home, etc.

Would they get hurt?

 Was another tragedy going to take place?

Will we lose one of them?

Will my heart endure it?

Our son had suffered a few partial seizures in October and albeit frightening at first, I did what I had been training my mind to do for the past few months – kneel and pray. I knelt with him and together we prayed a prayer. It was a challenge for him at first to voice the words while ticking at the same time, but he fought through it. When we were done, what I had standing before me was a well and brave child.

Each time I chose to believe in God’s ways and will for our lives, I was disarming the enemy’s stronghold within me and replacing it with God’s armor and strength.

Did I fail? Yes, but I got back up and was comforted by this verse:

“God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved.” ~Psalm 46:5

This had become my prayer, my mission.

One day I sat on my bed in my bedroom with my door locked and I confessed each fear and vision that the enemy had tormented me with all these months. God’s Spirit rose up within me and I called them out.

The rumble in my chest was gone, and I weaned myself off all of my medications at God’s leading.

At the end of October, as the leaves began to change color and fall off the trees, I found that my mind had changed and these deep rooted issues of fear began to fall out of the recesses of my heart.

I reclaimed my peace that day.

Although the memory of the trials are there, their sting of pain is no longer present with me.

 “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not fight according to the flesh.  For the weapons we fight with are not fleshly but mighty in God for overthrowing strongholds, overthrowing reasonings (the enemy’s tormenting ideas and visions for  my life), and every high and lofty thing (demonic force, the enemy) that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to make it (enemy’s visions, negative thoughts, etc.) obedient to Messiah, and being ready to punish all disobedience (kick out their thoughts, have faith in God and not the tormenting thoughts and visions of enemy for your life), when your obedience is complete. 2 Corinthians 10:4-6

God is faithful to deliver His children if and when they come to Him. I had made the switch with God’s help to bow down to the One true God, and no longer to the spirits/gods of fear, stress, and anxiety.

In my quest to reclaim my life back from the enemy’s grip, I was deeply comforted by the worship song with lyrics below. I had searched the internet for a song that would wash away the destructive remnants of fear, stress and anxiety and allow for healing again. I share my story and the song that got me through the past few months in hopes that you would be encouraged for all the hope and good God has for you.

I share so that you can finally believe that you can also face your fears with God and overcome them in Him!

You are precious, mighty in God, and of great worth,

Laurie

I have since become a huge fan of Bethel Church Worship!

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Let Them Go and Let God Do the Rest

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One of the first things I do in the morning is walk our dog, Parker. He gets so excited when he sees his leash because what awaits him past the steep hill, and past our neighbor’s homes, is a large clearing lined with tall trees behind it in which he freely, confidently, and happily runs.  I am almost always accompanied by my little shadow, Tal, our 5 year old son who, like Parker, enjoys the taste of freedom on his bike going down the hill, around the bend, and in and out of our neighbor’s yards.

In the afternoon and early evening, I repeat this same walk and I am often accompanied by all of my children.  It is not uncommon in our home for my children to see me lacing up my sneakers and with the excitement bubbling within and their animated eyes, they shout,

“Are you going for a walk? Can I come?”

And each one of them sprints for the garage to choose what they will take on their adventure on our neighborhood walk.

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While there have been many falls, bumps, bruises, and scrapes over the 9 years we have lived on this road; I have also observed each of my children growing in their confidence on their bicycles, skateboards, and running with pretend sticks and swords through the pockets of woods that are spread out through our neighborhood’s winding road. We have all felt a sense of freedom and confidence in the knowns and in the unknowns that sometimes await us on this familiar and routine part of our day.

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There’s something about the familiar, the routine that gives us a sense of security. But, there’s also something about the unknowns that help to nurture the courage and faith we need in life.

Across the road from the clearing that Parker enjoys is a short span of woods in which frenetic jumps can be simultaneously heard as I walk the road in between; Parker in the clearing and my children in the woods.

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It’s in that time that curious hearts are being strengthened with courage and wonder as they travel through the unknowns that might await them in these parts. On the one side I hear the voices of imagination, adventure and creativity as they shout out their pretend stories of how they’re overcoming great obstacles in the mystery and excitement of the woods. On the other side I observe Parker zig-zagging in and out of the woods, sniffing here and there, burying himself like a stealthy predator in the tall grass that lies in front of the trees. I see the sense of adventure and fun in his eyes and imagine that he’s got his own story he’s playing out in his mind.

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It’s on these walks that I’m repeatedly reminded that our children and Parker will never achieve or know what they’re capable of if I keep them on a tight leash and if I don’t give them the freedom to find their confidence; to find who they can be and what they can do apart from me.

As I approach the fire hydrant, Parker comes running back to be put on his leash. My children are still acting out the workings of their overactive imaginations and trying to stay hidden from me because on these adventure walks I am not mom. I have become part of their game in which they challenge themselves to not be seen by me and make it through the mystery woods and yards of our neighborhood without my control or guidance. It’s when we return home that their sense of confidence and achievement to have mastered and overcome their imaginative and sprightly adventures leaves them satisfied. I can picture them all in their triumphant stances and bellowing voices, “See? We made it out of the woods and through the winding road on our bikes without you! We did it on our own!”

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God brings to mind my own harrowing and real life adventures through some of the poor choices I made and just like I need air to breathe, I repeat aloud to myself, “You see, Laurie? You did it too. You turned out OK. You found God and called on Him in the dark moments and they will too!”  

There have been a series of “letting go lessons” happening all at once in our family’s lives. There is much trepidation with letting go as parents, but when we accept the grace to know that we are not the perfect parent, we can open the door to the One who is and who will never let our children go. He will always be there waiting to grasp their hands just as He did with Peter when the waves of insecurity and fear came crashing against Peter’s life boat (Matthew 14:22-36).

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I admit that I often want to protect and control every area of our children’s lives, but sometimes the trials that bring positive changes are usually in a way that we don’t want, or were not expecting in their lives, but they are the ones that our children need to grow. And, if we can allow ourselves to be really honest, they’re the ones that God uses for us to let go and grow too.

As a professing believer, I have had to accept what is even though I may not have liked it or planned it in the same way. I have had to let go of what was for the past holds lessons that we can learn from, and I have had to place my faith in what could be -believing that just like God saved, delivered, and changed me; He will do the same for them.

When we stop expecting our children and their situations to be perfect, we can begin to approach them for who and what they are in Him. If we want peace, we must acknowledge that their actions and purpose and how God chooses to teach them about life, may not be the same as ours in learning life’s lessons and maturing into who God purposes them to be.

On our daily walks I know that once Parker sees the clearing, and once our children have chosen and set their minds to the adventure of that time in our day, I am unable to hold onto that which wants to be let go. In order for us to let go of something or someone, we must first admit that we are holding on too tightly to it, to them. When we come to the place in which we are willing to admit that we are not in control, but God is (and He does a far better job than we ever could), we break the power of fear and anxiety over us.

The only thing each of us has control over are our own choices in life. But, God can take any bad choice and make it good.

Ultimately, it is not our wish for our children to constantly depend on us. We are not their Savior and Redeemer. We are children just like them in need of guidance, love, hope, and healing. Although my parents once worried about how I would end up when I didn’t even love or know God like I do now, He was there with an outstretched arm saying,

“I was here this whole time. All of you just needed to let go. I will do the leading, guiding, and refining. Trust Me.”

“And God will work out ALL things (including our bad choices, difficult upbringings, etc.) for our good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” ~Romans 8:28

Faith is found in the letting go and the letting go is for each of us to walk out individually in which God is ready to meet, save, and change us for the better.

May you always know that no matter how bleak the circumstances may seem, or how distant your children’s heart or opinions may be from your own – God is the One who carries us all in truth and love when our worlds feel like they’re falling apart.  May you always have the confidence that how God chooses to free us from the strongholds in our lives will always be a more powerful and life-changing lesson learned with Him than it could ever be with us.

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While letting go might hurt, let us daily choose to enjoy the moments that we have with each of our children, our loved ones, while we have them with us. May we know when to let go and let them know that while our hand may not always be there for them to grasp in strength and security, God’s hand is and He will never let them go!

You are loved, mighty child of the King!

Laurie

Facebook:  www.facebook/popsoflife

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 I dedicate this to all of the parents who, like me, are in the process of learning to let go and let God.

 

 

 

 

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Rise from the Ashes, Overcomer!

Good Times + Fun Friends = Amazing Memories!

Have you ever asked yourself any of the following questions…

Am I going to make it through this?

Will I be OK at the end of it all?

Will it get any better? 

Will it ever stop?

At times I have felt like I have been on a roller coaster of “What If’s?” since the beginning of the year. It has been a succession of trials that have happened and I’d love to tell you that I have straightened up my back in confidence, shrugged the worries off my shoulders, and have kept my chin up claiming,

 “I’m good. It’s all going to be OK. No worries!”

But, sometimes life just seems too much for the moment; as if you feel like you’re standing behind a baseball’s pitching machine with one ball after another being swiftly driven at you, the target.  We get consumed with the defeating thoughts of fear, stress, and anxiety.   The questions begin to fill our head and we wonder if it will and, if we will be OK.

Just recently God brought me to these scriptures in Numbers 33:1-7 (whole chapter of journeys from one place to another):

“These are the stages of the journeys of Israel, which they went forth out of the land of Egypt with their armies, under the hand of Moses and Aaron.  And Moses wrote their goings out according to their journeys by the commandment of the Lord and these are their journeys according to their goings out.

And they departed from Ramses in the first month…

And they removed from Ramses and encamped in Succoth…

And they set out from Succoth and encamped in Ethan…”

As I began to reflect over the entire chapter of verses of departing and encamping – I saw the parallel to our own individual life story.  God is writing your story.  The book of your life may not enter into the Bible we read now, but it is being written – from one stage to another on your journey.

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Every trial can be overcome by endurance, belief, and hope for the great future God has for us all!

Last week mine went along the lines of;

And they took their son to get his follow up MRI…

And they took that same son to the doctor the next day and found he had a staff infection in his leg…

And they took their middle child to the doctor and dentist to get stitches put in and her two front teeth sealed from being chipped for having tripped and fallen forward on a diving board…

And they took their oldest to her appointment and were told that if she doesn’t get her pinky moving, she might face another surgery…

And their youngest little girl face planted off of a skated board and scraped up her chin and nose…

But, as I read those verses in light of our year and last week, I saw something else; God told them to go from this temporary place onto the next place He had called them to be.

Don’t sit in your past and carry it with you; leave your ashes.

Have you ever tried to clean up the ashes after burning some wood in your fireplace? You grab a small broom and small pail to scoop up the ashes and throw them in the garbage. But, something interesting happens, the ashes don’t all get put in the garbage. They are light and airy and some take flight in the air and land on the mantle, floor, and furniture pieces around them making them gray and dreary looking. Then, we have to clean and wipe those areas down to finally get rid of the ashes and let the beauty of those pieces shine again.

So it goes with us in the “stages” of our journey in life.

Some of us have gone place to place, trial to trial still carrying around our ashes or the dust of the ashes that have fallen from our previous stages in life. Some of us wear them like graveyard clothes, our heads hanging low, and our spirits in despair over what has happened.

Defeating and relentless thoughts come purposing to focus our attention on the ashes so that we miss the beauty in life at the moment.  

I can remember a time when I had just found out that my husband was unfaithful and I carried the ashes of that pain for six years. Six years!!! Six years the ashes I carried tainted many of my days and finally God spoke to me,

“Laurie, I’ve told you to forgive him. Are you ready to enjoy him now, or are you still going to let those ashes steal the beauty that you and him can be together, the beauty that I made you? I redeemed this marriage from the pit so stop living like you’re still in it!”

I had a decision to make. We all do. Maybe it’s not enough to say, “Don’t let your past define you.” Maybe we should be realizing that when we carry the ashes of our past around, it robs us of the beauty we are in Him, the beauty we can be to others, and the blessings and beauty of others He’s given to us.

God said in speaking about Jesus,

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek, He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison doors to those that are bound…to comfort all that mourn…to give them BEAUTY FOR ASHES…” Isaiah 61:1-3

I continue to learn this life lesson; that unless we give up our ashes, we cannot have the beauty that God has for us in life.  We must trade our ashes for the beauty of life that God has for us all.

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There are memories to be made, fun to be had, fears and ashes to be overcome – it’s our choice to make it happen!

As it said in the first verse of Numbers 33:1, “These are the stages of the journeys of (insert your name here)…”

I repeatedly reminded our daughter in the hospital as she was writhing in pain, “This is just temporary. Soon you will have that rod out of your leg, surgery will be done and a success, your pelvis and spine will heal, and you will walk again. But, we must go through these things first before we can get to where you want to be.”

These past few months as fear, stress, and anxiety have tried to fill my head and heart, God had sent several close sisters and brothers of mine who would echo the same hope I did with AJ; “Look what God has done, they are doing well, they have healed and continue to heal, and you will all go on living a blessed life. God has redeemed and continues to redeem it all.”

The God of all hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing through the experience of your faith that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing with hope.” ~Romans 15:13

The Israelites had been carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon and God spoke these words to them to move on in life, multiply, and don’t be diminished:

“Build yourselves houses and dwell in them;

plant gardens and eat the fruit of them.

Take wives and have sons and daughters;

take wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriages that they may bear sons and daughters;

multiply there, and DO NOT BE DIMINISHED.” ~Jeremiah 29:5-6

The hope of seeing change in our future helps us rise above the ashes.

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We have realized that we are stronger and more beautiful together than apart. We choose to make memories with the many blessings of hope and life along our journey

Our marriage was rocked with infidelity, but I make a daily choice to enjoy my husband; building a life together and not diminishing it by the ashes that we once went through in a stage of life.

Our children have undergone some pretty challenging trials that changed how they and we do life; but they rose from their ashes and remain alive and enjoying life.

Let’s refuse to live in the ashes or carry them around from place to place diminishing the beauty and the blessings that are in our life right now.

Sure there are more stages to come in our life’s journey, in our book, but God is faithful to bring us through what He brings us to, AND, in the truthful words of Billy Graham,

“I’ve read the last page of the Bible, it’s all going to turn out alright.”

Rise from the ashes and march on, Overcomer! Your book is still being written and there is a future with much hope and many more blessed memories that await you!

Laurie

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Go ALL In!

Tal getting his vitals taken. “God’s got this!”

A few weeks ago, our 5 year old son, Tal, looked to be having onset symptoms of a seizure.  He complained about the same area on his head that was radiating back and forth with pain like it had the previous two episodes that sent him to the hospital.

My “Uh-oh’s and what if’s” were having a field day in my mind.

The doctors at the ER didn’t see the Tal we saw. They saw, “all in” Tal. In whatever he does, he does it with everything he’s got.

No fear. 

It turned out that he could have had an onset of a seizure, but the fact remained that he didn’t and we had a follow up MRI coming up that would confirm whether the tumor was gone.

Tal ready for the anesthesia team and positive about the outcome of his MRI.

MRI day comes and Tal confidently walks with a spring in his step into the hospital, greeting the workers on the way to the elevator, and leading us to the room.  We met with the anesthesiology team and sign off on papers for his anesthesia prep, and Tal just does what he needs to do with no hint of fear and all smiles.  Dad accompanied him to the anesthesia room as he gladly leads the way, like a little general directing everyone on where to go. He sprang up on the table like a human catapult and eagerly went through the now memorized steps, making the anesthesia team proud and overjoyed to have him as their patient.

 How is it that he can be so trusting and confident, God?

Tal leading the way back to the anesthesia room.

I ponder a child’s relationship with their parent, our own relationship with our children. I realize that when they first get up, they look to me to feed them and instruct them on what to do in their day. When they don’t understand something, they come and ask, trusting in our response. When they make or learn something new, they’re excited with joy overflowing to share it with us in hopes that we would respond in same. When they seek comfort or have a boo boo, they will hunt us down like bear cubs in search for mama and papa bear. When they need help with homework, tying their shoes, riding their bike; they don’t hesitate to call for help.  When they do something wrong, they’re quick to ask forgiveness and acceptance once again. When they want a sense of security and love, they simply crawl up in bed beside us or snuggle up right next to us without asking and expect to be held, kissed, and reassured that they are loved. If we tell any of our children to not talk to strangers or to stay close by, they don’t question us for the most part. They see us as their guide and protector.

I don’t know what happens to us from childhood to adulthood.  Somewhere in the teens we swear we know it all, and from there we begin to take risks and rely on our own strength. When we do, we fail miserably and the fears, doubts, anxieties, and delusions of life begin to set in for the long haul.

We trade…

Trust for skepticism.

Optimism for pessimism.

Transparency for reticence.

Humility in lack of knowledge for arrogance.

Wonder for ridicule.

Creativity for status quo.

And, faith for fear.

At one point, I say to Tal, “Can you just rub elbows with mommy so I can have some of what you have?”  He joyfully obliges.

As I think of the countless times I am freaking out on the inside, but putting on my brave face, uttering the reassuring words, “It’s going to be OK. You’re going to be OK. Mommy is right here.”

Where am I later? Up early in the morning or having another sleepless night as I journal and pray over my scroll of worries, doubts, fears, anxieties, and trust issues.

Or, the times that I flew off the handle and uttered not-so-nice and loud words and excused myself from the room only to have them check up on me in the bathroom to see if I’m OK.

“I’m OK. Mommy is just dealing with something right now. I’m sorry.”

I pick myself up, wipe my face, lift a few prayers along the way and get back to mom mode.

There are times when I call in a lifeline and speak to a friend who prays me up and gives me the white-knuckle truth I need. Or, I am up late or early in the morning and one of my Pops comes out, and I beg, “Mommy needs time alone. If you want nice mommy, give me time with God.”  I lock myself in my room in hopes that at the end of “my time” I will face the day “all in” trusting God.

Take heart, courageous child of God!

What you’ve wrestled and persevered through in the dark, the relentless darts of darkness, will shine in the perfect timing of God’s Light.

Darkness comes before the Light.  

Your tears and prayers are not shed and said in vain.

I ask the question,

“How can I be so trusting and confident like him, God?”

 “And we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love. And, he that dwells in love, dwells in God, and God in him. Herein our love is made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is so are we in this world.” ~1 John 4:16-17

God’s love is made perfect in us and because He is in us we can boldly face our trials. We overcome our trials because He overcame the world, and that power and love is in us enabling us to do the same.

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear for fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love.” ~1 John 4:18

Tal’s neurosurgeon checking out his scar.

Tal knew no fear because he was confident, trusting, and aware of God’s love for him, and our love for him. He has known and reassured us countless times from the beginning of his trial in February that, “God’s got this!” And, with that, his MRI results were of no surprise to him and a huge sigh of relief to us, there is no trace or sign of the tumor. It has been completely removed.

“I told you!” he proudly confirms.

Tal proudly take a picture with his “good doctor that God gave him.”

 

There is no perfect faith. There is a faithful Father who loves us perfectly. There is no one that stands unshaken by whatever magnitude of trial they face. There is an unshakable God who enables us to face all of life’s trials. We’re human, and real humans wrestle with fears, anxieties, depression, oppression, rejection, and brokenness.  Real humans who want to get well, don’t hide behind masks displaying bravado when it’s just a pretense. If we want that child-like faith, we must go all in  like a child in our parent-child relationship with God.

It is where we will find…

Grace.

Mercy.

Favor.

Healing.

Peace.

Joy.

Faith.

Strength.

Love.

It’s available for me and you,

Today. Tomorrow. Everyday.

Are you ready to go all in with God? Because He is more than enough for whatever trial you will ever face.

You are loved,

Laurie

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Positive Thinking Thursday: Keep Your Head in the Water!

For the past few weeks I have been taking our children to swim lessons and I have learned some valuable life lessons as I sat poolside observing them.

As I hear their instructors command, “Keep your head in the water!” I hear God say, “Keep your head in the water, the Living Water, Laurie.”

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So often we go through the challenging times of life saying, “I just can’t keep my head above the water,” or “I just want to get my head above the water.” As if to say, “I am overwhelmed. I feel like I am going to be consumed by all that is around me and those that are begging for my attention,

Trials

Relationships

Spouse

Parenting

Financial matters

Managing the home

Managing and dealing with unexpected issues.

Remembering to eat healthy and exercise.

Finding the rest and peace my mind, heart and body needs.

Perhaps your list is different than mine at the moment.  Perhaps we share some of the same. But, I will assure you that it’s not, “I just can’t keep my head above water.”

Rather, it should be, “I need to keep my head in the water, the Living Water.”

When you first learn to swim, you must get a feel for the water and most would agree that that’s not an easy transition when you spend most of your time living on land.  As we transition to the water world, we have to begin to trust the water and work with it so that we can become good swimmers. But, these two worlds are very different in their technique in movement and survival.

We spend most of our time and energy living on land. I dare say that on land we are more distracted and the hustle and bustle of life often leaves us feeling depleted. We learn to react more, burning our energy, and we carry these same life-depleting habits to the water.

My daughter admits, “Mom, I wanted to join swim team because I mostly doggie paddle, or swim underwater. I want to learn how to be a better swimmer, above the water.”

“Doggie paddling through the water is not swimming. It tires you out quicker,” admonishes the instructor.

I don’t want to doggie paddle through life. There are times when I feel strong in my faith and I am in the Word daily. Then, there are times when the waters of life feel like they’re raging against me and I am doing all I can to keep my head above the water. I am doggie paddling and tiring myself out when I should be swimming and trusting God to guide me through the raging waters.

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I am reminded again, “Keep your head in the water”.

“When you put your head in the water, come up for air. Exhale when you put your head back in the water” one of the instructors reminds them.

I find that lately I have done more of the inhaling of life’s trials than the exhaling of them.

I learned that when you don’t exhale in the water and you hold your breath instead, the buildup of carbon dioxide in your system causes tension, making it hard for you to trust and feel the water. Exhaling in the water releases the tension.

How many times have I opened up His Word in times of utter stress and chaos and frantically looked for a verse that would set my mind and heart at peace like a magic pill?  How many times have I expected that if I just pray a certain prayer, all would be better, but I fail to let “it” go and release the tensions to Him?

I fail to exhale.

I hear Him say, “Trust Me. Let Me guide you through the raging waters as you keep your head down and you release your tensions to Me.”

“When you’re exhaling, keep your head still. If you rotate you will get dizzy and uncoordinated,” another instructor chides.

He paints the picture in my mind as He teaches me to swim in raging waters. I must release the raging concerns and chaos within me and into the Living Water where my body will become weightless and trusting of the water as He guides me through it.

I think back to the one word God gave me for the year, “Rest” and the scripture,

“Be still and KNOW that I am God.” ~Psalm 46:10

The “rest” implies releasing the tensions unto Him, being still, and trusting that He; not me, will get me through it.

Maybe you feel like you’re doggie paddling and doing life in your own strength.  God loves you and is your Savior, your LifeSaver. He wants to teach you and I how to be good swimmers in the many waters of life that we face.

Keep your head in the Living Water, His Word.

Exhale – Blow the bubbles and release your troubles to Him.

Swim as you trust the Living Water to smoothly guide you through the waters of life.

I am ready to swim, are you?

You are Loved,

Laurie

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Soulful Sunday: In Hope We Rise

"She'll ride the sunshine. She's gonna break free!"  In hope we will ride towards the Son and shine, for He will break us free to live and love!

“She’ll ride the sunshine. She’s gonna break free!” Inspirational art by our daughter, AJ.      In hope we will ride towards the Son and shine, for He will break us free to live and love!

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” ~Proverbs 18:21

Sometimes I wish I could go back and have a heart to heart talk with my much younger self.

I would firmly and lovingly hold her hands, stare into her fearful eyes, and admonish her not to believe all of the cruel things people said to her, especially those that were supposed to love her.  I would explain that all of the fault finding they did was wrong and untrue – she was created beautiful and good in God’s eyes. She was made to shine, she was born for a purpose – she is a precious gift unto this world.

We all are.

I wouldn’t brush off their hurtful words with that old cliché,

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”

I would explain that the hurtful names, the mean lies – all of it hurts and you spend a good deal of your adult life trying to battle the things that were said and done to your much younger self.  The words and deeds that happened somehow take up permanent residence like relentless inner bullies in your mind.  They taunt you and keep you like a prisoner of fear in life; a life that was made to live and enjoy in faith and love.

These inner bullies made me afraid of the faces and anger of man when I was younger. I learned how to get good at tiptoeing on eggshells around certain people. When I got older, I didn’t know how to walk away from the lies, but rather I would learn how to placate and continue to tolerate the wrong attitudes and actions of others towards me. Worse, I would wind up doing the same to someone else and repeat the vicious cycle of deep wounds.

“Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.” ~Proverbs 22:24-25

Hurting people hurt people.

The behaviors back then affect who we are now for evil or for good. We can continue to choose to hurt people, or we can learn to start over and choose to be an instrument of hope and healing to others.

How many things have we failed to try simply because we feared what others might say, think, or do?

Admittedly, I was like that for most of my early childhood. Oh, I would try things, but if there were people there that spurned me through their words and actions, I would think twice of trying again, but not in front of them.

I can remember hiding in my bedroom, with a closed and locked door, practicing the things that I so desperately wanted to do well like the other kids. My room became a sanctuary free from taunts, threats, beatings, or jokes. Although I missed many chances to embrace life in my younger days, behind that door was a world all my own where God began to instill in me a longing for the day that I would be free to live, love, and enjoy my life. I would lift my right arm high in triumph and with great hope swelling up in me, I would stand up to my inner bullies and cry, “I CAN do it!”

In hope I began to rise so that others in my life would not fall prey to the same debilitating inner bullies that I did.

 “For as a man thinks in his heart so is he.” ~Proverbs 23:17

When you choose not to stand up to your inner bullies their taunts, threats, and words cut deeper – wounding the spirit. They gain strength from the many times you fail to try or cower in fear of them and then, use it against you to prevent you from truly living. They lead you to sacrifice many years of joy, peace, and confidence – your very life.

Many times during my walk with God, He has used what the enemy tried to do to me to give others hope. At first, I was too ashamed to share my testimony for fear of man. One time in particular, I had just gone through the toughest battle with my husband and very few people knew about it. I was asked to lead a women’s bible study over an 8 week period of time with a small group of ladies. Each week dealt with a topic that connected with a wound from my past.

Each week I would battle that same spirit of fear, the inner bullies, that would vehemently tell me to shut up because others might judge me, not accept me, threaten me, or not like me. I would feel the trembling in my bones just before my guests would arrive.  When they did, I would welcome them with a smile, but on the inside my spirit was at war with my inner bullies who would taunt and threaten me to shut up.

But, God didn’t want me to shut up. 

The teachings began and I poured out my vulnerable and much-pained heart before them as God called and equipped me to do.

This was not about me.

This was not about my abusers.

This was not about anyone that was part of my testimony.

This was about God’s redemption story through me. 

I can remember one of the ladies coming up to me after I shared my testimony for that day and she said, “I know that that was hard for you, but God is using that in a big way for us. Your pain gives us hope.”

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” ~Proverbs 13:12

I was tired of my heart being sick.  I needed to hold on to hope.

Hope.

It is this one word and feeling that God gave me in my room as a kid.

It is what the devil hates because when you truly have it, it can’t ever be taken away from you.

Years later I would counsel our daughter, AJ, as she shared the paralyzing fears and words that her inner bullies would replay in her mind as she lay there scarred for life, disfigured in her arm, and crippled for a short period of time. Yes, a short period of time. She was told she wouldn’t walk for 9-12 months, but in 7 weeks from the date of her accident, she walks!

“There is one that speaks rashly like thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” ~Proverbs 12:18

I would think about that heart to heart talk with my much younger self and the words would fall out of my mouth like rain, washing away the dirt that her inner bullies tried to suffocate and bury her in,

“You are beautiful. You were created good in God’s eyes. You were born for a purpose. You are a precious gift unto this world.

YOU. CAN. DO. ALL. THINGS. THROUGH. CHRIST. WHO. GIVES. YOU. STRENGTH!”

We believe that by exhorting AJ to forsake listening to her inner bullies and encouraging her to live and love life, God quickened her healing.  She replaced the “I can’ts” with the “I cans!” She replaced the “You’re not…” with the “I am… in Him!” She is now walking and daring to enjoy and live life by going out on dates with her boyfriend and friends, writing, and daring to paint again.  All of which she was too scared to do for fear of man and what others might say or do.

I may have been defeated in may wars by the words, taunts and threats of my inner bullies as a child.  BUT, God was using it all to break the generational curse of hiding in the bedroom and setting others free with the hope that He poured in me.

The negative things that people said and did to you are not who you are created to be. Your inner bullies want to program you with their lies and threats so you never become who you were created to be. They want you to fear what others might say or do, paralyzing you and making you a prisoner of life. A prisoner in a bedroom like me.  They do not want you to go out daring to enjoy life, love yourself as you are, and daring to share that others may have hope like you too.

God can and will take all that the devil tried to do and redeem it just like He did for me, just like He did for AJ.  He will do this for you if you just dare to hope in Him.

The will of God won’t take you where the grace and strength of God won’t keep you.

The battles with our inner bullies wages daily.  But, you must choose to believe that you are not  the same scared and insecure child you once were – as a child of the One true King, you can be dauntless.  And, in hope you will continue to rise again and break free from your inner bullies.

Wage war against your inner bullies and dare to rise again!  Dare to truly live and be who you were created to be! Dare to share and be a beacon of hope to others!

I leave you with Hawk Nelson’s powerful lyrics on how to use our words as life:

Laurie

Facebook: http://www.facebook.popsoflife

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I Get By with a Little Help from My Friends

Can I let you in on a little secret of mine?

I can’t do this walk in life alone.

I mean, I need the positive people in my life.

God sends those positive people in our lives who help us, who lift up our spirits when we are down, and who give us the “umph” that motivates us to try. Ultimately, triumphing over our circumstances.

Oh, I am sure you’ve heard the song by the Beatles,

“Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends;

Mm, I get high with a little help from my friends;

Oh, I’m going to try with a little help from my friends…”

I just replaced the “high” connotation with the lifting of spirits, but it’s all the same – I need the positive people in my life, my friends.

We all do. And, God sends them at just the right time.

At times I find myself just bumping through the “life goes on” crowds in life. You know, where you’re weak and not moving at quite the same hurried and confident pace as others due to life’s circumstances. The crowd is bustling and the cacophony of people’s voices fill the space all around. Suddenly, I find myself on the ground, worried that I might be trampled upon by the herd of people doing life all around me and I’m so desperately wanting to keep my footing and do life too.

Most just push their way through; they’re busy and they have got to MOVE!

Some vociferate unpleasant words for being on the ground and in their way.

The offer to help you up from the ground does not come from the likes of these.

They come from the person who realizes your down and creates a barrier, shouting at others to give you room to get up.

Still, there are those who ask you if you’re ok and are moved with compassion by your current plight.

And, finally, there are those who move into action and help you back up on your feet again and may even walk with you some, or even a mile if you need it.

This is how the past few months and mainly these past few weeks have been for me. I fall down, I get back up – “with a little help from my friends.”

My face is pensive and I find that my spirit feels as if it has collapsed in the throes of agony.  Discord. No one likes it, but it’s a fact of life. I normally bounce back quickly, but this time I didn’t and I knew that I needed and need time to heal.  After a couple of weeks of battling this and trying to find my groove again, I get the text,

“Good morning, Sunshine!!! You are welcome to come over and go for a swim =)”

God knew I needed to heal and sometimes our healing comes with a change of scenery and almost always with positive people.

I sing, “I get by with a little help from my friends.”

AJ and Spunky Pops on a paddle boat. We are all cheering AJ on for how far she has come - she worked her legs out!

AJ and Spunky Pops on a paddle boat. We are all cheering AJ on for how far she has come – she worked her legs out!

Fun in the sun/

A merry heart does good like medicine ~Proverbs 17:22

Friends helping friends.

Friends helping friends.

I’m overcome with joy as I feel like I have stolen some much needed time for my husband and myself.  It’s after my own yearly check-up and I call him in hopes to secure a lunch date. We sit across from one another on a lunch that’s been paid for by some friends who gave us a gift card two months back after our son’s tumor, and enjoy that time catching up and being a-l-o-n-e.

A long pause and my husband reaches for a large mailing envelope placing it on the table, and gently slides it over to me.

“I picked this up from the chief.”

I open it up to find many envelopes with dollar amounts and “friends” written on them with some cards.

I couldn’t fight back the tears.

Thank you, friends, at my husband’s job!

How did they know that we had just had a conversation the night before about our financial situation as my worried thoughts raced about in my head and out of my mouth to my husband?

They didn’t. But, God did and He sent it at just the right time.

Spirits lifted and the light of hope begins to shine brighter at the end of the tunnel.

We sing, “I get high with a little help from my friends.”

I wish I had a picture of all the precious hearts that continue to give and pray for us in our GPD family. We love and appreciate all of you for going with us the extra miles!

I wish I had a picture of all the precious hearts that continue to give and pray for us in our GPD family. We love and appreciate all of you for going with us the extra miles!

A walker sits abandoned and remote in our home.

“Six weeks,” the doctor said, “she will need to use the walker for six weeks and then, we will think about lifting all restrictions.”

I panic as I think about the dining chairs that are circling our table. There are a couple of chairs with a weak leg and when you go to sit on it, you’re praying that you’re not the one who will find themselves Kerplop! on the ground.

I chide over her shoulder, “You need to use the walker! What if you fall? The doctor said six weeks!!!”

I get the tap on the shoulder.  You know, the Holy Spirit tap that says, “Um, can I talk to you privately for a moment?”

“Y-e-e-e-e-s…”

And so went our Job-like deliberating.

“Wasn’t it I who dropped into your spirit that you weren’t going to die of cancer regardless of what the doctors said?”

“Yes.”

“Did you not tell her to not take their words as golden and to trust My leading?  You’ve instilled what I have taught you in her.  She is trusting Me and is trying to do what I am asking, but always with the support of all of you.”

A Selah moment grabs hold of my heart.

I march back to her room like a school girl having just left the principal’s office and come clean, “You know our dining room chairs?”

“Yes?”

“Well, I’m worried that you might be putting too much pressure and…” I look down, my eyes welling up with tears and she quickly retorts, “Mom, you told me at the beginning of all of this to not take the doctors words as golden for me. I felt God drop in my spirit that I would heal quicker than what was being predicted. You asked me to trust in God’s leading. That’s what I am doing. I feel my spine getting stronger.  I don’t push myself like the chairs.”

She sings, “Oh, I’m going to try with a little help from my friends.”

AJ and her friend enjoying a night out at the movies, walker free! God is good!

AJ and her friend enjoying a night out at the movies, walker free! God is good!

Thank you to all of the positive people and friends for being faithful to breathe necessary life into our spirits through precious memories, thoughtful gifts, and for lifting us up and walking alongside of us.  We couldn’t have gotten this far without you!

Next time you’re in a bustling crowd doing life in fast forward, stop and put life on slow play. There might be someone on the ground like me who hopes to get by with a little help from a friend. And, the next time you see me, I hope to be one of the ones walking a mile or two with you encouraging you to seize God’s blessings in life’s circumstances!

Laurie for the PopTribe

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