Posts tagged identity
Identity in Christ
I found out today about Speak Up: Wild & Free 
where we make vlogs to share a little bit more about ourselves and our hearts. I am excited to get involved in new communities I haven't before, so thought it would be a good idea to participate in this and hopefully make some new blogging friends.

My whole video is 10 minutes long, so here is a little snippet.
{working on my creative editing skills}

My entire video is below

To read more about the time in my life I was talking about, 
you can read about it HERE.

Join in on the link up!

Mr. Thomas and Me

Full Video Below

Voices in My Head: Thoughts on Crash the Chatterbox book
When my blogging friend sent me a copy of Crash the Chatterbox by pastor Steven Furtick, I knew it was something God must want me to read. Every chapter was filled with the things I feel God has shown me over the past year or so.

Struggling with inner dialog is something I believe every person deals with, but for someone who struggles with depression it's even more prevalent. They call is ruminating, where you think the same negative thoughts repetitively and you can't stop yourself. Eventually it becomes so true to you it feels like the weight of it is going to crush your heart and soul, the very life out of you. I was literally trapped in this way of thinking, I felt scared of other people's opinions and was always afraid they were going to judge me, criticize me, or worst of all, misunderstand me. The truth is, I should have been more scared of myself, of my chatterbox, of the bully that I let run my head space.

The truth is, without eyes to see or discernment, you just think whatever thoughts pop in your head. I saw a quote recently that said something to the effect that people only believe about 20% of what other people tell them, but 100% of what they tell themselves. This is scarily accurate. The problem is that every thought you think, we think, is not necessarily true and yet we play out scenarios as if they are. I suppose that is why Jesus tells us to "take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ." We can't let our thoughts run the show up there.

My beginning awareness in this season of this problem for me was recognizing that I felt guilty about everything. I felt guilty about how I was a mom, a wife, a church go-er, a sister-in-law, a daughter, a sister, and especially a Christian. I felt trapped in my own guilt, in my own feelings of unworthiness. For years I felt like I scrambled to figure out what the source of all this was, from where. I searched and became bitter at whose fault my brokenness could be. Where was the strong, adventurous, carefree girl I used to be, know, and enjoy. She was gone and this witch with a b was left in her place.

I read all sorts of things and listened to endless sermons. Just show me what to do and I'll do it. I read the Boundaries book, it helped me start seeing some things more clearly. Mostly, that it is not my responsibility to keep everyone happy with me. They won't always be, not everyone will like me, but I have to like me, and remember that God likes me and made me, so it's OK. 

Time marched on and those old familiar voices invaded again. "Look at you, they think you are disgusting with your big fat body" "You will NEVER be mentally stable enough to anything of significance for the Lord." "Your life is so boring, it will always be boring" or more frequently "Ugh!!! You are so annoying, no one can stand you!"

When I started going to counseling my counselor pointed out this bully inside me. That she was shoving me into imaginary lockers calling me dorky, weak and ugly. I could really resonate with that, that is how I saw myself, and I saw that as annoying. I started to pay more attention to that bully, this chatterbox, and I started to tell her to shut up and sit down.

You see, chatterboxes sound just like us, so we tend to listen. That chatterbox is many times the Enemy using something we might struggle with, be insecure about, or unsure about and use it against us to get us to believe we are those things.

When I first really understood shame was when I was listening to a book by Brene Brown as I was training for my marathon. Finally, I understood. Guilt was when I felt bad about doing something wrong, shame was when I began to identify myself as someone wrong. I didn't overeat, I was a fat girl. I didn't lose my temper, I was an out of control beeotch. I wasn't isolating myself, I was unworthy of having friends. See that huge difference? One is manageable, the other crushing.

There were so many great parts of Crash the Chatterbox but I really resonated with a couple parts. In one was in the book where he tells a story of when he loses his temper and cusses at his wife in front of his kids. Watch the sermon with the story HERE. He talks about the immediate chatter that took place in his mind, this being only a day after preaching his Christmas sermon. I recognized in myself every part of that story. But he points out how to start differentiating between the voice of condemnation "You always, You Never, You suck" from the voice of the Holy Spirit and conviction "come to me, lets work on this, I love you." He points out how God loves him as much in the front yard cussing and he did preaching behind the pulpit, that is true love, that unconditional love we long for. 
He talks about when Peter denies Christ three times and the look Jesus gave him after the rooster crows. Although purely speculatory, he wonders was it a look of disapproval, or sadness and disappointment, or love? That same look that Peter had seen in Jesus' eyes many times before, the look of acceptance, the love of someone he didn't deserve, this is what brought him to his knees. That God isn't the one condemning me to a shameful label that makes me question trusting Him, or makes me want to stay away and hide what I have come to believe I am. No, conviction draws me to His heart, reminds me He has already called me worthy because of His son's death. He asks me, then, will I hold onto Him, with that same look of love and acceptance in His eyes, as He changed me. And the change isn''t to look better or act better, rather it's about my freedom to be more of who I really am, rather than chained to the shame names the chatterbox shackled me to in hopes for forever imprisonment.

The other great insight for me was at the very end of the book in the conclusion. He talks about Elisha and his last miracle. Elisha is giving instructions to the king who is begging him for victory over them impending enemy. He tells him to pound the ground, and the king does, only three time and Elisha reprimands him for not doing it more times. At first I am thinking "calm down, grumpy ol man!" but then Pastor Steven explains more. The pounds were representative of the battles to be fought and one, and wars were fought over many more battles than three. Had the king struck the ground more times victory would have come, but instead only three times would they overcome. My realization or question that I asked myself is "what do you want? Do I want partial victory, to win a few battles and feel better, or pound that sucker till victory is declared. That latter please.

I think I am beginning to catch a glimpse of who I really am, who He has made me to be. I am slowly letting go of who my bully has labeled me and stopped being shamed by wearing name tags that don't belong to me. God has used this book to further expand my weapons. And believe me, the more aware, the more awareness to new problems, temptations, weaknesses, oppositions. But God has put a fire in my spirit, one of a lioness {which I wrote about here}, a warrior princess {both fierce and lovely},one of pure passion. Yes, my passion can be a double edge sword, like Peter's was, but I pray in the hands of God's sanctification it will be a sword He can use.

I highly recommend checking out this book and sermon series. Actually anything by Steven Furtick has proved to be good. Maybe I see a little of myself in him, but I really appreciate his authenticity and believe God speaks through him greatly,

I was inspired by the pound the ground story to write this poem...

Wake Up, You're in a War
Life is hard, you're barely hanging on
Wake up, you're in a war

It takes too much, it lasts too long
Wake up, you're in a war

Someones found another reason to show you why you're null
You're feeling strong, you're moving on, then you feel that wordly pull
Wake up, you're in a war

I hear you Lord, give me one more day
Wake up, you're in a war

I'm hit again, make them go away
Wake up, you're in a war

My eyes are heavy with the weight of apathy
there's no way I can be who I'm made to be,
Wake up, you're in a war

Wars rage on to break you
So much easier when you lay back and let them take you
You fight a battle, you've been hit
You give up, you're over it
Wake up, you're in a war

You have to see your purpose here
You'll be taken out by doubt and fear
Wake up, you're in a war

Don't lay there and let them take cheap shot
Wake up, you're in a war
Paralyzed like it's all you've got
Wake up, you're in a war

No one to come and pat your back
Or hold your hand or stop attack
Wake up, you're in a war

It's not one battle and you're done
You fight until the victories won
If God is for us, who's against
Stand up no and take offense
Wake up, you're in a war

Feel it rising, the fight within
Remember whose you are
Keep fighting as you stand in Him
Wake up, you're in a war

Remembering Whose Story it Is
Sometimes I feel like God is speaking to me so much that I barely have time to digest it all or internalize His message and words to me. I feel like I am in a bit of a season like that again at the moment.
Recently it's been this theme that it's not about me. I read a quote by Joyce Meyer that said something to the effect of after we're done praying for everything we want and need maybe we should ask Him what we could do for Him. I was also listening to Francis Chan and he mentioned how we see Christianity like we see Jesus on the side of the road and think He is a good idea and tell Him to jump in the trunk. We will pop Him out when we might need Him, but mostly we want Him to just stay in there, not bother us too much, and please, no conviction.

I remember being younger, maybe in my teens, and wondering why we weren't taught more about the "fear of the Lord", especially if it was the beginning of wisdom. You know, about reverencing Him more. I would read all these Psalms and Proverbs about that, and I wanted to have more wisdom, but what did this fearing Him look like? I also remember when I was 8 or 9 and singing "Holy ground, we're standing on holy ground" and taking my shoes off in church. That command that God gave Moses when he was standing in God's presence, it was a big deal, it mattered.
 Yes I suppose I have always been quite literal with the Lord, and everything.

And so there is this combination message of "it's not about you" as well as this reminding me of His hand that has been guiding me since my childhood. That He has been drawing me to Himself and cultivating a sensitivity to Himself since I realized it was in fact my sin that put Him on that cross back when I was six. Remembering how much I wanted to go on journey's with Paul, that I wanted to be like Timothy because he got to experience all that. How when I was 14 I wrote in my Bible that I would go and do anything for the Lord, and at 16 went to Mexico by myself to an orphanage for nearly a month because I wanted to know what doing this on my own was really like. God has impressed His call on my life for years, and I have been searching, searching, looking, wondering waiting, for Him to reveal it. Perhaps He has been little by little every year. That who I am and what I do is somehow all rolled into one. That sanctifying me through these years and making me slowly more and more to look like His son, that is His goal as much as where I am or what I am doing.

I see His faithfulness in my life. Like a current I've never been able to really go against. A true love for Jesus Christ, a real friendship with Him, a true desire to please Him and serve Him. I remember a time when I was not spending time with Him frequently and I kept hearing that Temptations song, "Can't Get Next to You". It's all about "I could turn the grayest skies to blue, I could make it rain whenever I want it to" and it goes on, but "I can't next to you" and this realization that true love is giving the other person the choice to choose. Choose to love, spend time, and in God's case, see Him for who He is, honor Him, obey Him, that is true love.

A guy I led on a team in Northern Ireland back in 2005 emailed me a couple days ago and shared with me that one time I told him that his life was not all about him and how that had really stuck with him and had helped him in life and now in his new marriage. That was clearly God using me because I don't remember the conversation at all, but I told him how that was exactly what God was speaking to me right now. That I didn't invite Him into my story, but me into His. That maybe I should just know that God knows better than I, who He has created me to be, and the gifts He has given me, and the doors that He wants me to go through. I don't have to search for them, or beg, strive or worry about the hows. Rather just hold His hand as He leads me and serve Him in any way I can.

I don't feel threatened or indignant about being reminded of this, that it is all about Him, rather in awe. That I want to know the real God of the Bible, not a god I have created in my image, who I try and make conform to my whims and ideas of Him. To feel the full weight of the sacrifice it was to give up His life for me, out of love, and that is what true love looks like. That when I pray, I am talking to the creator of all things.

Nichole Nordeman's song Tremble puts its so well....

Have I come to casually
because it seems to me there's something I've neglected
How does one approach a Deity
and still protect the sacred?

Cause you came and chose to wear the skin of all of us
and it's easy to forget you left a throne

And the line get's blurry all the time
between daily and divine
It's hard to know the difference.

Oh let me not forget to tremble
face down on the ground do I dare
to take the liberty to stare at you
oh, let me know forget to tremble

What a shame to think that I'd appear
even slightly cavalier in the matter of salvation
Do I claim this gift you freely gave
As if it were mine to take
with such littler hesitation

Cause you came and stood among the very least of us
And it's easy to forget you left a throne

The cradle and the grave could not contain your divinity
neither can I, over simplify, this love

Reading through Crash the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick, he talks about Mary's response to the angel after being told she would be carrying the Son of God. She says "Be to your servant as you have said." It struck me that in that time, although she was scared, worried, etc. her reverence for God was still in the forefront of her mind, always remembering she was created for Him, not the other way around.

This awareness, this knowledge, this has been lost somewhere along the way for me and so many of us. He is our Savior, yes, but He is also our Lord. We get so easily frustrated when God won't obey us, aka answer our prayers that we, in all our wisdom, think will best resolve to our situation. When God does not comply, we get frustrated with Him, mistrust Him, doubt Him, blame Him, etc. I am guilty of all the above. But when He does say no, He is still loving us 100% perfectly. We think love is getting what we asked for, for someone to behave the way we have decided is the way love looks, but we don't know, we don't understand. That Jesus gave His life on a cross that was meant for me, that is not fair, that doesn't seem like love. That love was God, asking His son to do something for us we could never do for ourselves, because HE wanted to make a way to be with us. That is love. And God sent us the Holy Spirit to live in us, to teach us, and to guide us into righteousness and these are the things eternal and internal. God's priority is not always fixing our pressing pain or trouble, His purposes are greater. Just like when my son begs me for another cookie, I know it's not good for him. He gets mad and frustrated because he doesn't understand, it just feels like I am being mean, he doesn't see how this might hurt him, that it might cause a domino effect of consequences. And that is only a very small example of so many things that we don't know or see the whole picture of. I need to know my God well enough to trust Him.

I am glad God knows our frailties, our misunderstanding of it all. How He engages us and our hearts in our questions, and truly cares about what we care about. So much so that He says "Father forgive them for they don't know what they are doing" when He is on the cross as He suffered. That when Hagar ran away from Sarah with Ishmael that God goes to her and comforts her and "see's her". Even though she wasn't the one to bring the promise, and her son wasn't the one they were waiting for, He still cared deeply about her pain, about her heart. And I am so thankful for Him when I am hurting and short sighted or blinded by my circumstances or pain.

But to the degree that I am able to be aware, to the point I have realization about the holiness of God, I want to honor Him in His otherness. That He is so far above and beyond us. That I am made free to choose and I choose to honor Him and bring Him glory for the magnificent One He is. That is is less about figuring out what I am supposed to do and striving to become that, and more about knowing I am created for Him to do whatever it is HE wants me to do. If I keep that in perspective, I think He will just move me where He needs me with the gifts He has given me, to all of us.

From Him, By Him, For Him. Let us not forget whose story this is.