Wednesday, December 31, 2014

What God Wants to Give Us Instead of Resolutions - 6 Things to Practice...

Was it really only six days ago when we were last filled with hope and awe as we remembered, once again, the birth of our King and Savior? Not only our hearts, but the entire world stilled – it didn’t even matter if it was because one believed or if the stillness was demanded by a culture needing their holiday. Only six days ago our minds were wrapped around thoughts of peace and joy and quiet wonder.

We wonder how to press those qualities deep within the marrow of our being, that they may become our lifeblood in the days to come.   Were our fickle hearts transformed this year, or would they betray us once again, returning to their old ways?  Did we know 6 days ago that in a few hours “real life” would draw us back to responsibilities and the state of feeling pressure?  And perhaps we were practicing a bit of psychological denial in some hidden place so that we could enjoy whatever moments we possible that cocoon of timelessness we weave for these holidays?

How Resolutions Grow in Our Hearts

That gentle, tender time of Christmas forms the backdrop to where we perhaps find ourselves now….reaching into self instead of resting in the sacred.  We can rest in Him when all of life is suspended for these holy-days, but how to carry that sense of being enveloped in the sacred to our everyday is a lesson some of us haven’t quite learned – or in my case, I have to learn it again and again!  The juxtaposition of the urgent that calls forth our flesh against the holy that nourishes our spirit finds its most intense expression when we try to make a  “New Year’s Resolution”.  We want to take that feeling God has nurtured in our hearts and make it incarnate through some action.  Maybe we want to prove that what we have felt is important to us, and that we believe He can change us and this new year will be better than any before. 

Our thoughts and intentions are good – but if accomplished from self-effort, they are destined to fail – maybe in a couple of days, or a couple of weeks, or a couple of months (if we are particularly strong willed as I am!).  Six days ago we were abiding in Him; now we reach for a goal we can work towards to show Him our love, our strength, our determination.  (Oh, how He must be smiling now!  Isn’t that what He came to save us from? Ourselves?)

 And here it occurs to me that the number six represents the number of man, 7 is the number of God, of perfection…6 days ago we were on our way to 7, but we stopped short, and so are left to our own strength.   In this season of making resolutions, of setting goals, God wants to bring something better into our lives, our hearts, our homes.  What we need is something that relies on His Spirit within and isn’t so dependent on our own soul (our thoughts, will, and emotions) and therefore subject to our inherent frailties!   

We are making resolutions when God wants to give us revelation!

Revelation is that something more, something better, something permanent, something not burdensome and never dependent on our own efforts!  Revelation is what we have stopped short of.    The Lord always wants to reveal Himself to us...He declares:

“Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit…”
Zechariah 4:6

And He also says that He has given us a spirit of power and self-control…

“For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
2 Timothy 1:7

Not only has He given us His Spirit, but He has also granted us His promises!

…His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.  
For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, 
so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature…”
2 Peter 1:3-4

And His promises are His Word, which always accomplishes the matter for which He sends it:

"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. "For you will go out with joy And be led forth with peace; The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, And all the trees of the field will clap their hands…
Isaiah 55:10-12

Instead of resolutions, let’s lay hold of God’s revelation!  
6 Steps to try from within His encircling embrace! 

Simply answer this question: What promises of God are you claiming for the new year?

Better relationships?
A closer walk with Him?

So many promises!  How does a person narrow it down?

1.  Ask yourself, “What has He prepared me for?”  God can use it all - the hurt, mistakes, scars, pain – for His good.

2.  What do you need?  There is a promise that addresses it.  Search the Bible for that promise, then write it down, keep it in a prominent place, labor over understanding it and experiencing it  till it is rooted in your heart…to do this you may have to press into the next step:

3.  Pray for Him to prepare you – let go of bitterness and unforgiveness.  Let Him enlarge your vision; begin to see yourself the way He sees you…He is faithful to His promise and you will  see it fulfilled…but it might be further in the future than you are comfortable with!

4.  Pray for revelation of steps to the promise.  You need to take steps to get anywhere on a journey – but perhaps the first revelation will be to step into His embrace!  And then:

 there may be a hunger that grows,
you may realize a “holy dissatisfaction”,
  there may be a remembering of things He has already instilled in you.

                Ask God to show you which step He wants you to take.

                **I believe this is the place where the growing movement of “My word for the year” can
                 really be useful.  It may take a year to really learn and understand the promises He has 
                 revealed to you!  I have personally joined His Kingdom Come – a new site with a
                 Christian focus that a few of my friends are on.  They are unveiling a "word for the year"
                  directive called Logos365!  I am looking forward to it!

5.   Look to the example of Simeon:  Divine revelation always results in some God- ordained action that positions you to receive what was promised.  For instance, the Word says of Simeon in Luke 2:27-28:

Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts.
When the parents brought in the child Jesus
to do for him what the custom of the Law required,
Simeon took him in his arms…

Simeon followed through on the Spirit's leading - this is NOT acting out of the flesh, but being obedient to the promptings of the Spirit within us.  Sometimes the knowing of "is it me" or "is it God" is confusing, until we have built the experience of knowing that we know that we know His voice!  And perhaps this is the task God wants to refine in us this year?!

6.  Look to the example of Anna:  Worship, fasting and prayer positions you to receive His promise. 

She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 
Coming up to them at that very moment, 
she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child 
to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. 
 Luke 2:37-38

Anna was going through her normal routine - which was focusing on the Lord - and He placed the divine appointment in her path.  He will do this for us, allowing us to "let go" of the striving in the flesh that we are prone to...

That is it!  We can enter into God’s revelation instead of working in the flesh to achieve resolutions!

Till later, beloved...

Friday, December 26, 2014

Exploring Circles - A Shield of Protection - part 6 {Paths to Healing}...

I have written about the Caim prayer already in this post; but I do want to share even a little more deeply here.  The word "Caim" is an old Gaelic word meaning:  "protecting", "encircling", "sanctuary", loop or circle and has been passed down from the ancient Celtic church.

When the ancient Celtic Christians of Britain felt threatened physically or spiritually they used the Caim (encircling) prayer. The Caim involved both a spoken prayer and a simple ritual. (To some this may sound odd, but it is nearer to prophetic acts of the Old Testament prophets or words and symbolism,  eg baptism, communion, even handshaking or stopping at red traffic lights, that are used today.) The "simple ritual" was the actual "drawing of a circle" in the air using ones hand, much like making the sign of the cross at the end of a prayer that some of our Christian brothers and sisters use.  The act helps make the connection with God's Presence more real, visible, in this physical world.  Brother Tadhg Jonathan calls these "enacted" prayers.

There are several prayers called caim, and the individual is encouraged to adapt them according to need. 

Here are some samples:

The sacred three
my fortress be
encircling me
come and be round
my hearth and home. (Prayer from Outer Hebrides)

From : Susan Gaddis
Use your imagination to see yourself and those you are praying for surrounded by the safety of the Father’s care and protection.
Here are several ancient caim prayers from Celtic Daily Prayer.
Circle me, Lord. Keep protection near and danger afar.
Circle me, Lord. Keep light near and darkness afar.
Circle me, Lord. Keep peace within; keep evil out.
See how easy it is? The basic structure of a caim prayer looks like these examples. Simply insert the name of the person you are praying for and change the wording to suit the circumstances.
Circle (name), Lord. Keep (name the good you want revealed) near and (name the evil you want removed) afar.
Circle (name), Lord. Keep comfort near and discouragement afar. Keep peace within and turmoil out.
Circle (name), Lord. Keep hope within and despair without.
Circle love (exploring circles post)...
Exploring Circles - techniques post - {Paths to Healing}...
Exploring circles - post 1 - {Paths to Healing}...
Exploring circles - post 2 - {Paths to Healing}...
Exploring Circles - post 3 - {Paths to Healing}...
Exploring Circles - Bringing Focus, Bringing Containment - part 4 {Paths to Healing}...
Exploring Circles - A Shield of Protection - part 5 {Paths to Healing}...

Thursday, December 18, 2014

When You Need to Encourage Yourself (Jude 1:20-21)

In my last post I wrote about the need we sometimes have to encourage ourselves:
 Not everybody knows how to be encouraging.  The word means to "put courage in", not to be critical.  Encouragement shows someone how to find strength even in their weakness, points them to Jesus, and stays in relationship no matter how messy it gets.  Encouragers never use shame to motivate.  Evaluate your relationships and let go of people who are the opposite of encouragement to you.  Pray for the Lord to send people that will build you up and support you in what God has called you to. You may find that you have to encourage yourself for a while until the right relationships have developed, and I have a video (coming later today) that will give you some ideas on "how".
Well, here is the video:

At the end of the video I invite you to visit my and my friends' online "joybox" on Pinterest right here ...

There is so much inspiration on Pinterest, and I think everyone has a quote pinboard that holds meaningful words - see, you already know how to encourage yourself! But just in case you need that encouragement and CAN'T be on the internet, a little joybox on your shelf is the next best thing...

Till later, beloved,

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Holiday of Lights - What is the Significance of Hannukah for Modern Christians?
Image Source

 Voice of the Lord

God raised him to the highest place and gave him the name above every name (Philippians 2:9).
Jewish Date

Although Chanukkah (the Feast of Dedication) is not a festival specifically commanded in the Scriptures, we are told that Yeshua observed it in first-century Jerusalem (John 10:22). He certainly affirmed the importance of the Maccabean victory of 164 B. C. E. and celebrated the preservation of his people, Israel. A central part of the observance is the lighting of the nine-branched chanukkiyah (Chanukkah menorah, or lampstand) to commemorate the miracle of the oil.

We are told in the Talmud that as the Maccabees kindled the Menorah in the restored Temple, one day's worth of oil lasted for eight days until a new supply could be produced. Hence, we light one candle for each of the eight days. Why the ninth candle? We call this candle the shammash (servant). It is the first candle lit, kindled by the match; in turn, it gives light to the other eight candles. Although shammash means "servant," it is clearly exalted above the rest of the candles of the chanukkiyah. It stands taller than the others.

The shammash candle is a perfect picture of Yeshua the Messiah. He left his glory in heaven and humbled himself to become a shammash to mankind. Yet after his death, he was raised by the Father and exalted. We can only experience the light of God as we receive it from his Son, Yeshua, the Servant.

Thank you, Abba, for the light of your exalted servant, Yeshua HaMashiach (the Messiah)!*

Believers can celebrate this season along with their Jewish brothers and sisters...more in depth teaching from a Messianic perspective is available at this link if you are interested.  In addition there are instructions for the driedel game, the traditional game of the holiday!

For myself, I wanted to observe the holiday in a simple way.  I asked the Lord for help, and He gave me a simple verse and single thought for each candle.  Here is my celebration:

 You are welcome to use these same scriptures for your own Hanukkah lights - you can download a version at this link or a clean white background version at this link.

Till later, beloved...


*The italicized portion is taken from the Voice of the Lord edited by David J. Rudolph. Copyright © 1998. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Messianic Jewish Publishers, 6120 Day Long Lane, Clarksville, MD 21029.

Monday, December 15, 2014

5 Things You Need to Endure When the Holiday Season Gets Tough

I always enter the Holiday Season thinking I have everything planned and in place so I can relax and enjoy the surprises that always come our way during this season.  I have my mind set to be the one customer in cash register lines that is NOT in a hurry, and I smile and chat with those around me and bless the cashier during my turn.  But then there are things that happen like the cookies burning at 10 pm because my ancient oven decides to give a burst of heat to prove it isn't really that old...and the co-op homeschool party gets rescheduled 3 times!  The heater has gone out downstairs, but that is the room with a fireplace, so in actuality that is the perfect excuse to have more fires!
God is with me - all the time - and my life is good. 

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
Psalm 16:6

It isn't that life doesn't hold heart-ache.  We have had our difficult years.  I don't talk about this often, but we have an adult son who is in prison, and we are raising our grand-daughter (this is my sweet teenager I talk about).  We have been her parents since she was a baby.  She has learning differences that sometimes still take me by surprise, because she is so "normal" 80% of the time.  My career outside the home didn't happen as we had planned- well, it did and then we made the decision to homeschool her.  God has been with us every step.

But sometimes I feel that I cannot stretch again.  I become hard and rigid with others so that I don't feel the scraping and punctures of emotional hurts - whether intentional or not.

I am needy, too.  Sometimes life is hard.  I am in need of endurance and hope and encouragement just like anyone else.    Whatever is the name of your hard place - loneliness, illness, stress, fear, unrest, depression - because we have Jesus, we can stand strong in the midst of whatever is happening.

That is the kind of environment the new believers of the New Testament also dwelt in.  The writer of the book of Hebrews exhorted these young Christians to stand strong in the midst of their circumstances.  He reminded them of the deity of Jesus, of His fulfillment of the prophecies of the Messiah, how His life and sacrifice abolished the futility of the legalistic system.  How He had opened up the way to fellowship with God once again.  And he further encouraged them with these words:

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, 
for He who promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:23 

Four of the five qualities we need to endure are in this verse:

1. Hold fast - In the original language, this phrase is put together from words that means to "pull down from a higher plane and to hold there.  I love the idea this creates in me - I "see" believers pulling down from heaven the promises of God, clinging to them in their present trials.

2. Confess our hope - The word "confess" here is homologia.  If you have been in a good Bible teaching church for a while, you may have already learned the meaning of this word: "to say the same thing about".  But even more deeply, it means arriving at the same conclusion.  We can "confess" without having the heart assurance, but this means that our confession is based on a conclusion that we have arrived at...we really need to have confidence in the thing we are confessing.  And hope is our confident expectation.  To confess our hope means to declare as true what we are confidently expecting when it comes to the promises of God.

3. Don't waver - Unbending.  Unyielding.  Resolute.  That is the meaning of the word translated "don't waver".  It must come from a place of strength; strength that is built by "holding fast" and true "confessing" the promises of God.

4. Be assured of His faithfulness - From  Strong's Word Studies:  1861 epaggéllō (from 1909 /epí, "on, fitting" intensifying aggellō, "announce") – properly, to declare a promise that is fitting (apt), i.e. legitimately applies. God specifically pledges (promises) His Word, and does so in particular situations.  And He is trustworthy (faithful) to fulfill what He has promised, not necessarily what we think He said.  That is why it is so important to know what His voice sounds like, so we don't go running around saying "thus says the Lord" when it is really just our own imagination!  So many writers are emphasizing this right now - know God's voice is definitely a "kairos" (always important but strategic for right now) word for the moment!

The fifth thing needed is other encouraging people:

and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,
not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some,
but encouraging one another;
and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
Hebrews 10:24-25 NASB

Not everybody knows how to be encouraging.  The word means to "put courage in", not to be critical.  Encouragement shows someone how to find strength even in their weakness, points them to Jesus, and stays in relationship no matter how messy it gets.  Encouragers never use shame to motivate.  Evaluate your relationships and let go of people who are the opposite of encouragement to you.  Pray for the Lord to send people that will build you up and support you in what God has called you to. You may find that you have to encourage yourself for a while until the right relationships have developed, and I have a video (coming later today) that will give you some ideas on "how".


Saturday, November 29, 2014

A little quiet time reflection and thoughts I wanted to share with you.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; 
give thanks to Him and praise His name. 
Psalm 100:4 

How beautiful to go to the temple of the Lord, and minister to Him.  To see the visible place of His dwelling surely caused the praise and thanksgiving to rise up spontaneously in each worshipper. In Old Testament times, the priests even lived in the temple, the closest place to Him on earth. What joy to be counted among those who were set apart for this service! And we have this kind of access to Him 24/7 because His temple is our heart, He live in us!  In considering how this verse applies to our present reality, I was brought to this thought: to "enter His gates" today means to pause, consider, and acknowledge that
 1) He is in His temple 
 2) we are that place and
 3) "entering in" means to be present to this truth and 
act in awareness of His constant presence with us! 

During this season, I am praying to be daily more aware of this incredible truth that the Living God, the Creator of the Universe has made His home in my heart...and the implications of this. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Real - Food Thanksgiving (recipes from around the web)

I am putting the finishing touches on my Thanksgiving shopping list and getting ready to head out the door - so this post may be a little late in your planning schedule, but just in it is!

In my own personal journey of making better, healthier choices for myself and my family this year, I have been "devouring" (pun intended) several particular blogs that focus on gluten-free or real food preparation and is really the way I grew up eating in rural Iowa.  It was effortless was what we grew on the farm ourselves!

So, my menu this year isn't 100% real food, gluten-free...but I thought I would post some things that seemed mouth watering from my favorite blogs.  You might want to start following them, too, as the owners "keep it simple" and provide lots of help in making the changes your family will love!

Maybe by next year I'll be adding my own "tried and true" menu, but for now enjoy the hard work these women have already done!

 Rustic Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes - from #realfoodholiday

An entire menu WITH recipes!

Another entire menu for a FRUGAL and real-food Thanksgiving + a
stress-free cooking timeline...
Frugal Real Food Thanksgiving Menu {}

My Simple, European Style, Everyday Bread Recipe

Thursday, November 20, 2014

5 Important Ways to Get Emotionally Ready for the Holiday Season

One of the things I hear most often from clients is "I don't have time to _____________".  The blank is usually something like "fall apart", "deal with this", or "work on this".  There is a sense of an enormous tidal wave of emotion that will be experienced, and concern that, like tidal waves, clean-up will take years.  Even more so, NO ONE wants to open up that place where the emotional waves are surging during the holiday season!  (There is a kernel of wisdom behind this thought!)

But it is often the added activity of the holiday season that brings personal stress to the point that these emotions begin to spill over what ever mental "sand bags" have kept them in place.  Having a "mini plan of action" can help a person manage the holidays and actually build a strong internal framework that will aid the healing process AFTER the holiday season.

Could you have unresolved issues feeding your secret thoughts and heart issues?

Some evidence of this possibility is:

1.  A clinging sense of guilt, even with head knowledge that God has totally forgiven you and accepts you,
2.  A sense of lack of control or desire to control even when life is full of goodness and abundance,
3.  Not quite sure of what "normal" is so you are always second guessing your decisions, and
4.  No amount of prayer and/or Bible Study seems to move the heaviness and insecurity so you have this little nagging thought that you are too broken for God to fix, or this is just "your cross to bear" but the hopelessness is getting a little too heavy to bear.
5. You have forgiven the persons who hurt you, but you still sense that surge of emotion (you're not even sure what to call this emotion) when you think of or see the individual(s).  You wonder, "Have I really forgiven them?" 
6. You are VERY responsible, and the holidays are a time when your responsible creativity can shine as you make the perfect holiday, the one you always dreamed of as a child...and yet this dream of the "perfect holiday" is what is driving you a little crazy at the moment...

A Suggested "Plan of Action"

1. Make it a priority to spend some time with God daily.  Try for at least 15 minutes a day.  Every time, lay down your desire to make everything perfect at His feet.  Lay your plans down as well, and examine them with His gentle presence along side of you.  As Creator of the Universe, He is the master planner and organizer.  He will show you what to pick back up and aim for in preparations.  Leave the things He doesn't give back to you...last year He laid on my heart to go very simple with my Christmas decorations and preparations, and when I (trembling) presented the new plan with my family, they were 100% behind it, and the result was truly peace and joy!

2.  Take note of when you become irritable with those closest to you.  If the holidays are times to make family memories, you being angry isn't one of the memories you want to instill in your family!

Are you angry?
Try "shelving" it until you have some time to process it.  Then make it a point to find 30 minutes of private time to examine what was fueling the anger.  I have a 30 minute journaling exercise here that will help the processing...believe me, take that 30 minutes!  You will feel better and you can spend a lot more than 30 minutes picking up the "emotional" pieces of everyone around you after an temper explosion!

Sitting down to a cup of tea, apple slices and some peanut butter or cheese may be a fun little tradition to add into the holiday preparations - and can help "reset" everyone's emotions.

That little bit of tea-time I mentioned above can provide a 15-20 minute break that will refresh you in the middle of the day.  But there is no substitute for a good night's rest.  If you have trouble going to sleep and staying asleep, high quality lavender essential oil rubbed on the feet is an in-expensive and powerful sleep aid - the hidden issues can cause sleep problems, so this one may take more effort to manage.

Feeling unloved (lonely).
This is the hardest one.  It is never a quick fix.  It can be rooted in perfectionism (i.e., if I am not "perfect" I do not deserve love).  It may be that you need to begin loving yourself as Jesus does!  And your family cannot provide what is needed here.  You must find your worth in what God says about you first.  So, since change here is a long process - begin right now!  This one area is where having access to the internet shines!  Make a pinboard with truth quotes, search for inspirational photos and words online, follow facebook business pages that are all about inspiring and encouraging people, make your own "comfort box" and collect these inspirations to have in the real world (I'll post a "how to and what to include and link it here, later).  Finally, reach out to someone and share with them.  Ask them to be an accountability partner, someone you can be vulnerable and honest with...someone that will accept you and all your self-perceived warts!  It will bless them, promise!  (Ask the Lord who He thinks will be a good person for this task)

Reset to love and grace, and let the performance fall by the wayside.  Remember the story of the loaves and fishes.  When we submit our meager offerings to Jesus, He multiplies it and everyone has what he or she needs and in abundance! 

3.  Let go of control and enjoy the mess that is bound to hold a message.  This is closely related to number 2.  Irritability and control have a tendency to go together.  You CAN control your emotions, your time (to some degree), your behavior...and order is to be desired.  But be flexible instead of rigid.  The world probably won't come to an end because things aren't going exactly as you had planned.  In fact, Jesus is STILL on the throne when things don't go as you planned!  And there is a chance that the resulting memories are even BETTER than your dreams.

4.  Make lists. 
a) You probably have your Thanksgiving menu all planned out - if not, as you gather your recipes this year, consider making a folder, online or in real life, of all the go-to recipes you use, all the ideas for decorating, and ideas for fostering a peaceful attitude through the holidays.  Being intentional like this might seem unnatural at first - but it will help create and maintain that peace you are longing for!

b)  Make a list of fun outdoor things to do before autumn is over - crunch through leaves, have marshmallows around a bonfire, maybe one last picnic, a nature walk to collect items for your Thanksgiving table decor (you can do that this weekend!), gather the supplies for a wonderful spicy stove top pot-pourri mix, and more! 

c)  But the list no one really talks about is this one (it doesn't have to be neat and orderly!) and you may want to keep it someplace private...a list of the people you are dreading being around during the holiday season!  I know, shocking!  But don't stop there.  Think about what is uncomfortable about them, and then make some plans of how you will handle the inevitable awkward interactions.   There is not enough space on the web to anticipate all the possibilities, but here are some ideas to give you a pattern of how to create your own list.  Planning ahead also gives you time to enlist the help of others if that is needed.

Situation 1 - a family member always gets drunk.  If you are at someone else's house, your plan might be that you will leave if that person becomes too mean or inappropriate.  If you are married with children, this leaving may need to be discussed in advance.  If it is at your house, you might find a time to let that person know in advance that he/she will be asked to leave if they become drunk or you can stipulate that there will be no alcohol consumed while at your house.  If you don't think you can do either one of these options, do you have a "safe" family member that you can be close to when things get uncomfortable, one that will give you encouragement and support?  Having this thought through ahead of time is empowering!

Situation 2 - There is that one family member who is always putting everyone else in the family down.  You feel like a child again yourself when this person is around.  And you know that criticism will be directed your way.  Options include: have encouragement prepared in advance to counteract the criticism...for yourself and others.  Quotes, verses from the Scripture, and armor of God (Ephesians 6) in place can be a help.  Know where your "safe" person is the find them quickly.  Depending on the words used, you can even "agree with your accuser" but add "thank you for pointing [that] out...and God isn't finished with me yet...".  The "thank you" has a way of disarming the critical person, and it knocks the "fiery dart" of the comment away from finding a bulls-eye in your heart.  Since the Holy Spirit is living inside of you, making constant intercession, your non-defensive response joins your spirit in the intercession as well, and you can have confidence that the situation has been lifted to heaven already (see Romans 8:26-30 and Philippians 4:6).

5.  Spend time in the Scripture, especially in areas that affirm what God says about His children.  In fact, reading and meditating on the entire chapter of Romans 8 will be a great way to mentally, emotionally, and spiritually prepare for the holidays ahead!

I pray these steps help you through this holiday season - don't hesitate to contact me (leave a comment on facebook is the quickest)!

Till later, beloved...

{5 Important Ways to Get Emotionally Ready for the Holiday Season first appeared on 12 Tribes on November 20, 2014}

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

15 Ways of Thinking That God Wants to Transform in You

On Friday of last week I gave a "healing art prompt" on my Facebook page - did you see it?  It was really a journaling (writing, not art journaling) assignment that I use frequently with clients.  You can find it at my "Paths of Healing" section on the navbar up above.  (Click the link or copy and past this address in your browser search bar:

That journaling exercise will help calm and move you through intense emotions...but it doesn't change your thinking.  It CAN help you identify thoughts, and then ultimate belief structures that drive those thoughts.  Of course the Lord is already working on the needed healing, but He won't do it without your partnership - He wants you to recognize the structures you have built in your mind that are not of Him.  If He just removed them instantly at salvation, you would keep repeating the same patterns with the same unhealthy results...this partnership in the healing process is part of what "transformation" means in Romans 12:2:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, 
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. 
Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Distorted thinking is at the root of most relationship problems.  Distorted thinking usually is a result of a sense of shame.  We won't go indepth into this issue, but shame is NOT from God.  It is a sense of inadequacy, of being defective, bad, not enough.  It can create chaos in your inmost being, where you long for peace to reign!  Even though shame may seem an elusive foe to "lay hold of and defeat", it does show up in predictable ways of thinking.  And we CAN identify these ways of thinking!

I have included a worksheet titled "Fifteen Styles of Distorted Thinking" to guide you in uprooting a sense of shame. ( Click here to download it or copy this link in your browser:  And when you are done with that exercise, be sure to download the companion guide: Changing the Fifteen Styles. (Copy and paste this link:  Later this week we will look at different verses that talk about God's Identity in you, and how we can use that list to confront this distorted thinking as well. 

Come on over to my facebook page and let me know what you are discovering!

Take you time on this!  Deep emotions may get stirred...pause and do some self-care if needed.  Go through the first worksheet in one sitting.  Then follow the instructions there to go further.  Take a full week to let yourself understand how your particular styles are affecting your life.  True change takes at least 6 weeks - that long to develop new, healthier habits.  Get started now, but pace this process because "slow and steady wins".  Fast and furious burns out!  Consider creating some art in your art journal in response to what thoughts and feelings you are uncovering.

Here is the first portion...


Problems in relationships (even finding peace within your own heart) are often caused by faulty thinking – and generally, our own particular style of “faulty thinking” can be found in the following list.  Rate each of the following statements of a scale of 1 – 10, with 1 being “strongly disagree” and 10 being “strongly agree”.  Rate using 5 if the statement is true “some of the time”.  Rate 0 if the statement doesn’t apply at all.  At the end you will have identified your own personal style of distorted thinking – and once identified, you can begin to change it with the help of the Holy Spirit.  Take the top two or three problems areas and invite the Lord to help show you how these styles of thinking are in your life.  With this companion list of “Changing the 15 Styles of Distorted Thinking” (click here or copy and post this link into your browser: begin a daily practice of recognizing that particular thought pattern and then actively use the “Changing…” worksheet to partner with God in changing your thought life!

1.                  Filtering – You take the negative details and magnify them while filtering out all positive aspects of a situation.

2.                  Polarized Thinking – Things are black or white, good or bad.  You have to be perfect or you’re a failure.  There is no middle ground.

3.                  Overgeneralization – You come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or piece of evidence.  If something bad happens once, you expect it to happen over and over again.

4.                  Mind Reading – Without their saying so, you know what people are feeling and why they act the way they do.  In particular, you are able to divine how people are feeling toward you.

5.                  Catastrophizing – You expect disaster.  You notice or hear about a problem and start “what if’s”:  What if tragedy strikes?  What if it happens to you?

6.                  Personalization – Thinking that everything people do or say is some kind of reaction to you.  You also compare yourself to others, trying to determine who’s smarter, better looking, etc.

7.                  Control Fallacies – If you feel externally controlled, you see yourself as helpless, a victim of fate.  The fallacy of internal control has you responsible for the pain and happiness of everyone around you.

8.                  Fallacy of Fairness – You feel resentful because you think you know what’s fair but other people won’t agree with you.

9.                  Blaming – You hold other people responsible for your pain, or take the other tack and blame yourself for every problem or reversal.

10.              Shoulds – You have a list of ironclad rules about how you and other people should act.  People who break the rules anger you and you feel guilty if you violate the rules.

11.              Emotional Reasoning – You believe that what you feel must be true – automatically.  If you feel stupid and boring, then you must be stupid and boring.

12.              Fallacy of Change – You expect that other people will change to suit you if you just pressure or cajole them enough.  You need to change people because you hopes for happiness seem to depend entirely on them.

13.              Global Labeling – You generalize one or two qualities into a negative global judgment.

14.              Being Right – You are continually on trial to prove that your opinions and actions are correct.  Being wrong is unthinkable and you will go to any length to demonstrate your rightness.

15.              Heaven’s Reward Fallacy – You expect all your sacrifice and self-denial to pay off, as if there were someone keeping score.  You feel bitter when the reward doesn’t come (according to your expectation).

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