Monday, January 14, 2013

I've been delivered from death!

Sounds like an extreme title for a post, but it's the absolute truth. No, I didn't have a physical near death experience...but I definitely was having a sort of extended near death spiritual experience. The experience is called laziness. I wrote about it in my previous post about how a few weeks ago the Lord had mercy on me and had me make some changes in my life. They were seemingly simple changes, but they've had huge implications on what my daily life looks like.

Now, let me explain that for years, I've struggled with anxiety and fear of impending death to my husband, children or even myself. I was absolutely sure that I was about to experience a traumatic/death experience with one of these people that's the closest to my heart. I can't count how many hours of sleep I've lost over it. Sometimes, the thought would quickly enter my mind and I had absolutely no control over it and would just burst into tears!  The day would be beautiful...all was well...nothing negative happening, and suddenly the fear would strike and the panic was on. This was truly torture and there was no sensible explanation for this irrational fear. And trying to explain it all here, wouldn't even do justice to the extremely depressing and agonizing emotional roller coaster I was riding for so long. I'm a generally happy person and I recognize the countless blessings in my life which made this even more bizarre.

I noticed that over the last year or so, it seemed even worse than usual. Asking my husband and close friends to pray for me because of the fear in my mind. I even believed that God may be the one preparing me for some sort of death. How do you prepare yourself for something like this??! I had no comfort or resolution to my issue.

But I prayed and begged God for help. I couldn't live like this for the rest of my life!! I couldn't bare the thought of so randomly and so often being consumed with thoughts of a death sentence to any one of us at  any given moment. I believe this constant tension and mental stress played a part in my lack of digestive health as well! I was a mess mentally and physically. And I love Jesus for crying out loud! Why was I dealing with this?!

So this is where my laziness comes in. Now, I have 3 kids. Very young kids at that, so I don't mean laziness as in 'sit on my couch' and literally do nothing all day every day. The laziness I'm referring to is being far less fruitful and productive in my role and responsibility as a wife, mother and general home maker that what should have been happening. I was spending incredible amounts of time on social media and online 'creativity' sites. My time was for sure, consumed with tending to my 'friends' and getting ideas and creative short cuts to tending to things in my house. The problem is, I wasn't tending to my husband and kids OR my home! I had lots of strategies and good ideas, but little was actually being done.

These are some of the scriptures I would pray to God regarding my situation with fear and anxiety...

Psalm 4:1 "Answer  me when I call, O God who declares me innocent. {only by of the blood of Jesus} Take away my distress. Have mercy on me and hear my prayer."

Psalm 4:7-8 " Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house; with deepest awe I will worship at your Temple. Lead me in the right path, O Lord, or my enemies will conquer me. {I was my own enemy!} Tell me clearly what to do, and show me which way to turn."

So as December 2012 was coming, I was noticing how much time I was actually wasting being 'productive' on the internet and unproductive in my real daily life. Now, although I'm a total work in progress and God is faithfully continuing the work He's begun in me, I can definitely say that I'm in a place of surrender to the will of the Lord over my life. My true desire is to serve and follow Him with everything in me. But I was blind to this  area within myself. No matter who said what, I couldn't see it and it took the Holy Spirit to remove those blinders and let me see this.

December 20th I had a moment alone with the Lord. No kids were around and I was with Him through the Word. I felt this quiet and gentle 'invitation' from God to get off of Facebook. Not just for a day, but to really turn it off and let Him fill that time instead. So BY THE GRACE of God...I simply and gladly accepted. I deactivated my account right then, knowing that I should go with the grace while it was there and not delay.

Then right after that,  I began reading the book of Hosea. If you're not familiar with this book of the Bible, it's in the old testament and it's a story of the prophet Hosea. A man who loved God and the Lord instructs him to marry Gomer...a prostitute! {gah!} This was to illustrate to the Israelites {God's people} how they were behaving to Him. They were His, yet they were prostituting themselves away, and destruction/judgement was imminent if they didn't repent and turn from their ways.

So in the most tender of ways, on what I consider a miraculous day....the Lord moved on my heart and made me willing, then spoke to me about how HE saw my situation. The laziness I was recognizing in my own life was actually me prostituting my time and attention away from all that the Lord had given me....including my time with Him! My responsibilities to my family and home are GIFTS from Him that I was treating like second hand "I'll get to it later" type of stuff. The laziness was for sure taking it's toll and since I hadn't recognized and repented from it, destruction and judgement really was on it's way! There was legitimate and biblical explanation for all the anxiety on my mind!

Not only was my family suffering from my lack of fruitfulness and responsibility with what I was given, my relationship with the Lord wasn't what it could have been and I was literally at the door step of some sort of death that would consume me constantly. The mental anxiety and fear I was struggling with for so long was the literal result laziness in my life! Who knew?! {Believe it or not, I have the first verse underlined in my Bible, but obviously didn't have it underlined in my heart.}

Proverbs 21: 25 " The desires of lazy people will be their ruin, for their hands refuse to work."

Proverbs 18:9 "A  lazy person is as bad as someone who destroys things."  {ouch!}

So here I was...convinced that 'ruin' was so near, and it actually was! And not because the devil was attacking me, {as it's always to easy to blame the devil for difficulties or trials}, but it was the Lord Himself letting me experience that mental struggle all because I was a lazy person! Wow. That's intense to realize. But even more, it's to realize God's incredible Love and mercy on my life. My Father knew that if He didn't discipline me in this way and allow me to feel the effects of my sin, that I may never become desperate enough to cry out to Him and thus, change!

The laziness might have stayed with me forever to wreak havoc on my family and to never be able to glorify the Lord with my life! The primary way of me glorifying the Lord is serving my family and home. And if the serving part was left out, then what was I doing?! Nothing worthy of giving Him glory! Ah, how sad.

So, as the new year came around and the Lord began speaking to me more and more about how different my life should look, a concern was that it would take so long for these changes to actually happen in me. I was encouraged that I could actually see these issues within myself, but discouraged about how different I wanted to be and how long it might take. But in God's kindness and power, HE is the one changing me, not me changing myself. If we could all just snap a finger and change ourselves, wouldn't we all?! But the willingness He gave me, plus His love has made big changes within weeks of the invitation to get off social media and not be lazy. This is HIS transforming power! And as my laziness has wore off and fruitfulness has come on, another thing has come on....mental PEACE! The solution to laziness, besides a new mindset which comes from the Holy Spirit, is just getting up and doing what you have to do. It's not a matter of doing everything perfectly, but a matter of pursuing excellence while you actually DO the thing! Easy enough?! No wonder we've seen such changes in a matter of weeks....not the years I was expecting to have to wait to see a difference in myself. I'm just finally doing what I have to do, and how great it is!

I noticed how I've been sleeping better and have a tangible difference in my mind and body. I'm not feeling the anxiety and fear of impending 'ruin.' I feel free and I feel LIFE.

Thank you Jesus, I've been delivered from death!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A new year and a new me...

December was an interesting month for me...nothing really crazy or interesting happened, but toward the end of the month I was beginning to feel the Lord stirring somethings up in my heart. I wasn't sure what it was all about but as I was doing my devotional one day, I felt the Lord just 'invite' me to get off facebook for a while. I was gentle but clear and clearly from God, since I do enjoy my social life on facebook. And that was the problem...I enjoyed it a little too much. I was spending quite a bit of time scrolling through people's pages, looking at pictures, and genuinely trying to keep up and be in touch with my almost 1,200 'friends' there. Yes, it was practically everyone I've ever known, haha! {not really, but maybe most of them!}

Yeah trying to keep up with about twelve hundred people took time...time I didn't actually have because I have 4 very special people that needed that time and they weren't getting it! So the offer came for me to just get off FB and see what kind of benefits I would reap. So Feb 20th I deactivated my account. It was monumental for me considering what a normal and very regular part of my day it was....and right before Christmas and New Years?! What timing!  My husband would offer me to get off the computer and read or something once in a while, but I was way more interested in seeing who was pregnant, saying happy birthday to so and so, keeping up with old friends, etc. So when I just deactivated the account, it was quite the happy shock to my man. And surprisingly, I felt really good about it, too.

Now, just 3 1/2 weeks later, we are ALL enjoying some serious benefits! Who knew that putting my priorities in line could be so amazing?! {duh} So here are a few things that have changed in my own personal life so far...  

I read to my kids. I cuddle with them. I find I have more patience with them {which is seriously needed since they're 5 1/2, almost 4 and 2!}  I'm excited to make meals. My house is pretty darn clean. The dishes are pretty much ALWAYS done. I'm actually caught up with laundry {but we all know, that never really ends}. I *see* my husband again. Oh- no, not that he was gone before, but I was too busy with all the other 1200 people to talk to him. {And I see him with a twinkle in my eye, which helps even more!} Yeah it was pretty bad. I'm getting into crafting again. I feel more motivated to exercise. And I've been doing my *daily* devotional AND 'Extreme Woman Makeover' 30-day Challenge....and I'm praying WAY more! This is serious stuff! Imagine everything I just mentioned, but the opposite. Ok, so maybe not 100% opposite, but opposite enough, which is bad.

So, the 30 day woman challenge thing has really put some major biblical language to what I was doing and all the changes I was making in my lifestyle. Being lazy scared me half to death since I was totally being lazy and I see laziness within my own family back round and I knew/know that I would have to be attentive and purposeful in fighting that in myself. I mean, between Facebook and Pinterest, I couldn't even tell you how many hours were wasted literally EVERY single day. And this isn't a bash facebook and pinterest post, if anything a "wow, I had no self control" post...and I still think they both definitely have their benefits. But for me, my family and I were suffering from it being so accessible rather than reaping the benefits. I also knew that I had to quit 'cold turkey' or I wouldn't get such a handle on it the way the Lord and I both desired. So only by the grace of God was I willing to just say goodbye in an instant. Actually I didn't even say goodbye or give any sort of explaination about what I was doing. I just did it. And I felt bad at first, but now I see the wisdom of God in having it that way... I'm sentimental! I might've been totally convinced out of it. So, thank you Lord...for your grace and mercy on me.

I'm praying on whether or not I'll ever get back to the facebook world or not, but as considered it a few days ago, I realized I'm not done reaping the benefits of this quiet and undistracted time.

I pray for courage and willingness to let go of ANYTHING that distracts you of your priorities in life. Ask God to show you if there is and if so, He will give you the grace and peace to move forward in getting things into line.

Love & Blessings,