Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Superhero" Syndrome

Back in March of 2009, I remember feeling overwhelmed, and anxious.  I was a mom trying to “do it all” playing a part that I don’t remember trying out for.  Many other women are playing the same role as I was, “Supermom” or “Super-wife” or how about “Super-spiritual woman”?   What I didn’t realize was that I was suffering from “Superhero” syndrome.  -A seemingly contagious syndrome brought on by the willingness of the host to compete with other women.

Standing in my kitchen, my heart started to race and I thought, “Oh no, I am NOT having one of those anxiety attacks.”  Super-people types like me surly didn’t EVER experience those! (I’m hoping you sense my sarcasm)  So I realized, it was trying to take hold of me, so I prayed.  I asked God to give me a verse in the Bible to pray over myself to bring me some peace.  I felt in my spirit to turn to Psalm 62 and so I did.  Here’s what it says:

Psalm 62 (God’s Word Translation) (I added the highlighting for emphasis)

   For the choir director; according to Jeduthun; a psalm by David.

 1My soul waits calmly for God alone.
   My salvation comes from him.
2He alone is my rock and my savior—my stronghold.
   I cannot be severely shaken.

 3How long will all of you attack a person?
How long will you try to murder him,
   as though he were a leaning wall or a sagging fence?
    4They plan to force him out of his high position.
      They are happy to lie.
      They bless with their mouths,
         but in their hearts they curse.
 5Wait calmly for God alone, my soul,
   because my hope comes from him.
6He alone is my rock and my savior—my stronghold.
   I cannot be shaken.

 7My salvation and my glory depend on God.
   God is the rock of my strength, my refuge.
8Trust him at all times, you people.
Pour out your hearts in his presence.
      God is our refuge.
 9Common people are only a whisper in the wind.
Important people are only a delusion.
   When all of them are weighed on a scale, they amount to nothing.
   They are less than a whisper in the wind.
10Do not count on extortion to make you rich.
Do not hope to gain anything through robbery.
   When riches increase, do not depend on them.

 11God has spoken once.
   I have heard it said twice:
      “Power belongs to God.
       12Mercy belongs to you, O Lord.
            You reward a person based on what he has done.”

I literally prayed this prayer over myself, YES, out loud!  Then I wrote out my own personal version:
My soul finds rest in God alone.
He alone is my rock.
I will never be shaken.

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him.
My honor depends on God.

Trust in Him at all times; pour out your hearts to Him
For His is our safe place.

Though my riches increase, I will not set my heart on them.

You, O God, are strong.
You, O Lord, are loving.

When I got done praying this, my heart slowed back down and the weight of “doing it all” lifted.

A simple cure for the “Superhero” syndrome we all seem to get once in a while.  The best thing to do is not to catch it at all.  I’ve learned to stop this “Superhero” syndrome from developing (resulting in anxiety like symptoms); I need to stop trying to compete with other women.

So what about you?  Are you suffering from “Superhero” syndrome brought on by petty competition with others?  I challenge you to try the cure: pray and ask God to show you in His Word then let go and find rest for your soul.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Don't Slap the Lifeguard

I was listening to a song on the radio back in 2010 and the lyrics said, “God draw close to me, and I’ll hold on to you” and that got me thinking.  I believe God is already close to us; it is us who need to draw close to him.  (Psalm 145:18 The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. (NIV)) (James 4:8 Come near to God, and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners. Make your hearts pure, you who can't make up your minds. (NIRV))

““You who can’t make up your minds,” ….so what’s that about?” you may ask, well it's really about choosing whether you are going to do life on your own or God’s way. It is as if our life experience is like swimming in an ocean and there are people around us (our selves included at times) drowning in that ocean.  Sometimes the ocean is calm and peaceful and it’s easy to swim in it, it’s easy to float around in it.  Other times the ocean is rough and choppy and the waves either almost consume you or do consume you. Life sometimes is just one big struggle to swim, and most of the time you struggle to make it.  Yes, you can swim in the ocean without a lifeguard; you can try to do everything on your own.  You may or may not drown, but it’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of effort to survive swimming in that ocean on your own.  But there’s another option, you can reach out for a lifeguard.

When somebody is drowning, their arms start flailing around, then they start to panic all the while they are trying to keep their head above water but then the more they panic, the more tired they become and their head starts going under the waves.   The lifeguard comes to try and rescue that person but the person drowning physically pushes the lifeguard away, not meaning to, but because they are in such a state of panic and fear that they end up slapping and pushing the person rescuing them away and consequently the person drowning will end up drowning because they pushed the help away.

Jesus is our true lifeguard, we can have relationships with other people that can come in and try to save us, and try to help us, but it’s only temporary. They can only do it for a little while because they themselves are swimming in this ocean of life.  If you are swimming along next to a friend who is drowning, you can help them for a time, but you can’t hold onto them long enough to stabilize them through their whole life.  There’s only one person who can do that and that is Jesus.

Jesus is our only lifeguard that we have, so when we go through hard times, times where we feel like we are drowning, he is right there in the water with us. He’s right there, but we have to be able to stop flailing our arms, risk drowning, risk everything and stop trying to save ourselves and let the real savior save us from the situation we are in.

If we try to save ourselves and ask Jesus to save us from the situation that we are in at the same time it’s not going to work, it doesn’t work that way.  You cannot be drowning and save yourself along with a lifeguard saving you.   You have to make a choice. Jesus is saying, “I want to save you, I want to help you, but you keep pushing me away because you want to do it on your own.”  It only works when we completely surrender, we risk everything, we risk drowning, even though it feels like our head is going to go completely under and we’re not going to make it, we’re not going to survive what we are going through.  But that’s when the lifeguard can grab hold of us and keep our head above water, that’s when Jesus can save us from the struggle we are going through.

Jesus is the only one that has walked on water, so he can walk on the waves of frustration, depression, financial turmoil, divorce, and loss.  He can stay with us through every stormy situation and He’s also there with us through the peaceful times, when we are in that peaceful, calm cove He’s still right there with us.  Even though we don’t think we need him during those times, He’s still right there watching, making sure we’re ok, loving us, protecting us.  Don’t fight the lifeguard in times of turmoil, when the seas are rough and it seems like waves are going to take us down, don’t fight Jesus, because he is right there.

We are the only ones stopping the Lifeguard from saving us from drowning in our situation, Jesus wants to save us, He’s never left us, He’ll never forsake us, it’s only us who forsake Him.  Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (NIV)

What area of your life do you feel like you are drowning in?  Surrender to the Lifeguard and let him rescue you today.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Heart Song: Choosing a Path

Have you ever felt like you were doing the right thing, but in the end realizing you didn’t really think the whole process through?  This is what happened to Abram in Genesis 13.  God had called him to leave everything and everyone behind, and go to the land he was directing him to. He should have taken a moment to think why God had specifically said to leave everyone and move on and even if he couldn’t see the big picture, he should have trusted God.  Instead, he didn’t fully obey the directions, and now has found himself in a argument with his nephew Lot over land. 

   I feel like this sort of thing happens to me more often than I would like. (the thinking the whole process through...not the arguing over land)  I’m the type of person that is more spontaneous rather than analytical.  In 1994 my husband and I were in our twenty’s with no children yet and just married for a little over a year.  We had seen a commercial for a brand new Toyota Celica and we just loved it.  Then one day as we were driving on the on-ramp to the freeway, that same new Celica sped past us like a racecar.  I can’t really remember who said it, but one of us said, let’s go look at the Toyota lot just for “fun”. (Ok, it was probably me, being the spontaneous one.)  We walked onto the lot just looking for “fun” and three hours later we were driving off the lot with our new Toyota Celica and a lease that we would later regret.  You see we hadn’t really thought it through.  We didn’t take the time to even hear that still small voice inside of us saying, “Hey, you might want to think about the big picture here.” –Oh and if you don’t know already that still small voice is in each one of us and it’s called the Holy Spirit.  That car was fun until we wanted to buy a house.  Now it looked like a massive debt, and it ended up causing a lot of stress and delayed us from getting a house when we wanted to.  The path we chose to walk was our own way, without any concern for the leading of the Lord. 

   Here’s another story much more recent, my daughter was in a Girl Scout Troop and they were planning an over night trip.  I spontaneously said that my daughter and I would both go, then wrote a check for $80.00. As I wrote the check, I felt like maybe I should think about this a little, maybe I shouldn’t sign up for this, but then I dismissed it.  After all, it was just one night away, why would I need to think about this?   A day before the trip, I got really sick and since my daughter didn’t want to go without me, I had to cancel.  When I asked to get my money back, it was too late and there was no way I could get a refund.  I spent $80.00 for nothing.  Looking back, God was trying to tell me not to go.  He knew that I would get sick that weekend and that I should just save that $80.00.  I didn’t listen, I didn’t obey, and I suffered the consequences for my actions. 

   God isn’t asking us to just listen for his direction in the big decisions in life, but in the little ones too.  Whether you are buying a car, moving to a new home, going on vacation, or just out to dinner.  God cares about the little details in all of our lives.  He is looking after us like a father looks after his children.  I am still learning to listen and obey trusting the path that God is leading me down, even though I can’t see the whole path, I know that he has my best interest in mind –and he has yours too.

As far as Abram and Lot are concerned, they now had another path before them to choose.  How were they going to resolve their conflict and go on with their lives in peace?  This time Abram was going to listen to all of the instructions.

Choosing a path for our own lives comes daily for all of us.  It comes in the form of attitudes towards the people and the situations around us.  It comes in the little ways we act toward others and it also comes in the way we respond to the leading of God.  What path are you choosing today? 

(This is an excerpt from my book,  “Path of the Blessing.”)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Baby, I Aint No Angel

While I realize “aint” isn’t a word, I tend to hear people use it every so often.  I suppose that it’s more of a representation of an attitude then the assumed meaning of “am not” and that’s why I’m using it in my blog title.

Most people consider the term “Angel” as a compliment, for example, “Doesn’t she look just like a little angel?” or how about “You’re such an angel” or even being termed “Angel” as a pet name by a husband or a boyfriend.  When in fact, to be considered or called an angel is quite an insult!

Angels play out many roles in the Bible, such as messengers of good news, destruction, comfort, and prophecy.  But did you know that in 1 Corinthians 6:3, the bible says that “Do you not know that we will judge angels?...” (NIV)  Wow!  We will judge the angels at the end of time.  God has placed us as believers in a place of authority over angels.

Not only that, they are sent by God to serve us.  This is found in Hebrews 1:14 “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” (NIV) 

Finally in Hebrews 2:5-9, it seems like the author is placing angels at a higher level of importance than we are as people, but as you will read, that’s not the truth.

 “It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. But there is a place where someone has testified:
   “What is mankind that you are mindful of them,
   a son of man that you care for him?
You made them a little lower than the angels;
   you crowned them with glory and honor
 and put everything under their feet.”

   In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them. But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” (NIV)

So in this last verse we see that angels are subject to us as believers in Christ and not only that, but Jesus died for us, not for the salvation of angels.

God holds us in a higher regard than angels, and we need to think of ourselves that way too.  God made the angels to serve him and his people, God made us for relationship with Him.  We are loved, we are unique, and we are God’s special creation.

So the next time someone calls you an Angel, let them know, you’re better than that.  Let them know the love of God for his unique creation, YOU!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Gardening 101: Weed Prevention

In the past I have struggled with gardening; pulling out weeds over and over every week, frustrated with the fact that they just keep coming back no matter what I do.  I tried to prevent those darn weeds by pulling them but it wasn’t until I washed (so to speak) those weeds with a liquid weed killer that I finally got results.  Have you ever had that problem?  Not only are there weeds in our physical world but in our spiritual world as well.

In Matthew 13:37-39 Jesus tells us that the world is like a field and there has been planted good seed by God and weed seed by the Devil.  In fact, the bible goes on to say that at the end of the age, every weed is pulled up and thrown into a fiery furnace to be burned up. (Matt. 13:40-42, Matt. 15:13)  Yikes!!

“Lord, I don’t want to be a weed.” 
(This was a short little prayer I wrote when I originally did this study in 2009.)

So to prevent becoming a weed, first you have to know what a weed looks like.

Weeds are:

Planted by the enemy of our souls (Matt. 13:39)
Offended by the truth (Matt. 15:12)
People who follow religious teachings and rules meant to control the lives of others (Matt. 15:9)
People who honor Jesus with their words, but their hearts don’t know him at all (Matt. 15:8)
People who have an “unclean” heart and speak out of that (Matt. 15:18,19)
What is “unclean”?
   -Evil thoughts
   -Sexual immorality
   -False testimony

-Whoa!  Wait a second, you might be thinking….”Hey, I have done some of these things on this list.”  Well you know what? So have I!  The good news is that time isn’t up yet; you still have time to ask God to forgive you and then move on.  Don’t continue in that behavior and it will be as if you never did anything at all.

One last thing to add to what weeds are:

Everything that causes sin (Matt. 13:41)

So that last sentence pretty much sums it up.  Unless you have led a perfect life, you are a weed.  So what can be done?  Now that we know what a weed looks like, how do we prevent ourselves from living the life of a weed?

The answer:  Get into relationship with Jesus Christ, the gardener of our souls.  Let him wash you with forgiveness, washing away all of those weed qualities and turning you into good seed.

The Gardener knows we aren’t perfect, so he is always waiting to restore us to the good seed that we are intended to be.  So what’s stopping you from your weed prevention? 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Trend Report: The Designer Collection

What’s in style this season and every season for your soul?  Only the latest most fashionable clothing line ever created by The Designer himself.  If you don’t know who this famous Designer is, you might want to know him.  His name is Jesus, God, Holy Spirit and he is the absolute best. 

In my last blog, I talked about how there was a person who wasn’t allowed into the party because he wasn’t wearing the right clothes.  So today, I want to expand on the clothing line that God has for us to wear.  I absolutely LOVE shopping and so when I go out shopping I am always looking for designer labels marked down to fantastic prices (Don’t tell anyone, but I am a secret bargain shopper!).    One of the best things about the Designer’s clothing line in the Bible is it’s FREE for all who decide to follow him as their Lord and Savior. 

What does this Designer collection look like?  Well, the Bible says in Proverbs 31:25 (NIV) that the wife of noble character, “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”  In Luke 24:49 (NIV) the scripture says that you will be “…clothed with power from on high.” Then in Romans 13:14 (NIV) the key piece that brings the whole line together, making it totally original,  “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”  Then again in Galatians 3:26,27 (NIV) “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”  You’ll find in Colossians 3:12 (NIV) more of the Designer’s clothing line, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Finally in 1 Peter 5:5 (NIV) the last mention of the final piece, “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another….”  (Wow, Humility must be one of the “Must Have” pieces of the collection, considering it was mentioned twice)

The Designer collection: Strength, Dignity, Power, Relationship with Jesus, Compassion, Kindness, Humility, Gentleness, and Patience.

So what are you wearing this season?  Are you wearing the Designer Collection?  Check it out for yourself, try it on and see how it fits; I’m sure once people see what you’re wearing, they will want to know where they can get it for themselves.

Have you been wearing the Designer Collection and getting noticed?  How have you inspired others toward relationship with God?