Monday, February 24, 2020

Do You Feel Stuck? Part II

Hey Friend,

Last week, I asked the question, "Do you feel stuck?"  Along with comments, I got quite a few emails from people telling me about how they are "stuck."  I'd like to share some of these emails (with permission) and address them.

Lauren writes:  "I really enjoyed reading your recent post.  I am definitely feeling stuck.  I really thought that once I got out of this abusive situation (marriage) and finished with court that I would be able to start to thrive.  But, I am struggling much more than I anticipated.  Part of that, no doubt, is losing the amazing church community that I had established.  I felt we had to move away in order to be safe.  I really want to feel peace and freedom to set down roots for my daughter and myself."

In my previous post, I gave the "car sliding off the road" analogy.  Lauren's car has slid off and landed in the ditch of doubt, despair, and disbelief.  In other words, life is not meeting her/your expectations and you/she begins to wonder, where is God in all of this? What should I be doing?  Will I ever get "un-stuck"?

The biggest thing needed when stuck here is ENCOURAGEMENT.

The first source of encouragement needs to be from God so that we can  remember Whose we are and Who is in control. GET IN GOD'S WORD.

"I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit - the fruit that will last..."  (John 15:16)

We are CHOSEN.  Forgetting we are chosen leaves us stuck. Claim your inheritance.  Even if you don't "feel" it, "choose" it.

In addition, call upon the Lord. He's listening. Here is His promise of encouragement for those who are stuck.  God's heart is FOR you...

I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.

(Psalm 40:1-3 life verse.)

Getting "un-stuck" is a work that the Father will do in us and for us if we ask...He hears our cry!  Our pleas will not go unanswered.  

When I lived outside of Chicago, I was traveling along an icy two lane road with ditches on both sides.  Even though I was going slowly, I hit a pure patch of ice and I soon realized I was going off the road and right smack into a snow bank.


I was definitely stuck.  I tried, unsuccessfully, by myself to get my car out of the ditch. Thankfully a couple of drivers stopped to come to my rescue.  One had a big 4 wheel drive truck.  He had a cable that he hooked to my car from the hitch on his truck. The other car had two carpentry fellows heading to a job.  They had wood planks in their vehicle.  

Between the tugging of the big truck, sand underneath my wheels to give them traction, and wooden planks being shoved under my wheels, for leverage, as the two carpenters pushed my car from behind, it wasn't long before I was back on the road again. But, it took a team of encouragers.

When we're stuck we can't go it alone.  We need a "team."

Who is our team?  The body of Christ

Who is the body of Christ?  The Church which is made up of our brothers and sisters in Christ.  

Even if we need to swallow our pride and admit that we need help, we need to run to those who can come alongside us and cheer us on.  This may require hard work on our part - like putting ourselves out there to join a small group or a Sunday School class.  Ask God for the courage.

When I was going through my divorce, I told a few close friends that I REALLY needed their help because I was struggling.  They became my "Perseverance Posse."  They didn't allow me to stay stuck.  They prayed me through. But I had to make myself vulnerable and lose the self-sufficiency way of thinking.  This is healthy dependence.  

Getting un-stuck means setting aside our pride.

Why do we need this team of encouragers?

The enemy of our soul is always prowling about.  He wants nothing more than to isolate us from the pack.  That makes us easy prey.  If he can isolate us, he can more easily destroy us.  He can pour his lies into us and when we're stuck, it's harder to refute them.  

A team of encouragers will remind us of God's Truth and help us hold it up against the enemy's lies.  Being stuck is most definitely a spiritual battle.  One we are bound to lose if we go it alone.  There is safety and comfort in the pack.

Back to my starting point of needing to be in the Word.  

When stuck in a spiritual battle, we need the sword of Truth.  We need to know Whose we are and that God is in control.  We need encouragement.

As I told my new friend Lauren...if she is coming out of an abusive relationship, she could, most definitely, use a Christian counselor, pastor, or mentor.  Though she was physically removed from the abusive relationship, the baggage from years of abuse had not yet been removed from her. 

Sometimes the weight of our "baggage" keeps us stuck.

** Sisters in Christ, if you are in an emotionally, verbally, or physically abusive relationship or marriage, God DOES NOT expect you to submit to this person.  God does not want His precious daughters being used as doormats.  Seek help about getting out if your husband shows no signs of changing...REAL change not empty promises. **

Dear Heavenly Father,  please turn to me and hear my cry.  I'm stuck in the mud and mire and I need You to lift me out with your righteous right hand.  I claim that I am chosen by you and dearly loved.  If you are for me, who can be against me.  Help me to set aside my pride and seek encouragement in your Holy Word and in the body of Christ.  Give me a safe hiding place there.  Hide me underneath your wings and keep me safe from the enemy.  I wait, expectantly and thankfully, for the miracle you are about to perform and the way out you will open for me.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

What about you?  What is God calling you to do to get "un-stuck."  How can you be an encourager to someone around you who is stuck?  Are you struggling in the stuck and need prayer?  Please feel free to Comment or contact me and I will pray for you.  

Be blessed....

ps.  If you'd like to read more of this "Stuck to "Un-stuck" series, go to the SUBSCRIBE tab above and enter your contact information to receive my weekly blog post (and nothing else).  Be Sure to check your email inbox for a CONFIRMATION LINK that you will have to click to finish your subscription.  Thanks for reading...

Monday, February 17, 2020

Do You Feel Stuck?

Hey Friend,

U2 tickets in hand, we filed into the outdoor stadium.  My teenage son, the drummer, and his older sister loved this band.  You could feel the electricity in the crowd.  

I had hoped to sit next to my kids, but they eagerly led the way into our seats, followed by my husband, followed by me.  It was hard to talk around my husband in order to tap into my own U2 fans' exuberance.  I wanted to embrace this family moment, but once again, I was literally and figuratively on the outside looking in.  

My husband's back was to me most of the concert and hardly a word was spoken.  When the stage lighting went dark, and you could sense the climax of the concert crescendoing, cell phone flashlights and lighters lit up the circular bowl of humanity. Silence punctuated by thousands of tiny twinkling lights lit up the stadium.

The setting was ethereal as Bono launched into their signature song, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For."  There, among 60,000 people, I never felt so alone in all my life.  No one saw the tears running down my cheeks as I sang and asked God, "Why haven't I found what I'm looking for...someone (my husband) to really love me?"

For many years, I had felt stuck in a loveless and often toxic marriage. I wondered if just being alone would have been better than being in a marriage and feeling this loneliness?  I wondered if God had forgotten me?  Despair, disbelief, and disillusion had settled in like a wet blanket over my life. 

I truly felt stuck in the struggle.  "Lord, I want to be me," I plead.

Within a few months time, my husband was gone.  He up and left.  

I wanted a husband who loves me...not a husband who leaves.  

I have found, driving down this highway called life, that the road is often laiden with potholes, filled with scattered debris, covered in snow, or clogged with angry drivers that cause me/us to sway, swerve, and sometimes we end up stuck in a ditch on the left side of the road. 


This ditch we find ourselves stuck in can be called "Sin."  It's a "stuck" of our own making.  What's needed is God's correction and repentance is key. Asking, "Father, forgive me," can unleash His mighty power.

But perhaps you've swerved off into the culvert on the right.  

This valley you find yourself stuck in can be called "Disbelief" - it's often linked with doubt and despair.  What's needed is God's encouragement.  Also needed is the encouragement and support of fellow believers. Now is not the time to go it alone. 

Or maybe, you're still on the road, but you're "stuck" in a traffic jam.  

This is the path and stuck of "Stagnation."  There's no forward movement or progress.  Apathy and restlessness can accompany this form of "stuck."  You wonder if God's moving, even if you're not?

Do you feel stuck in the struggle?  Are you wrestling with sin or in doubt and  disbelief that the struggle will never end?  Does your faith life feel stale, stagnant, and like you're standing still?  If so you are NOT alone.  

These verses from Psalm 40: 1-3 have become my life verse.  You see, I've experienced many "seasons of stuck" and God has been faithful to never leave nor forsake me.  He is truly, the God who stays. 

I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the muck and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear (be in awe of) the Lord
and put their trust in him.

In upcoming weeks, I want to delve deeper into the phenomenon of being "stuck." The goal is to become "un-stuck." Would you dare to be vulnerable and share where and with what you are feeling stuck?  What are you feeling?  Questioning? Do you wonder if God's moving even if you're not? 

If you've managed to get "un-stuck," would you share what helped you the most?  I want to be able to address the deepest needs.  Thank you in advance for sharing in the Comments or email me:  I'd be honored to pray for you!

Be blessed....

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Sunday, February 9, 2020

Why Are We All So Easily Offended?

Hey Friend,

I had just finished having a delightful lunch with a good friend.  After paying our bill, we got up from the table and headed toward the front door.  We were saying our goodbyes, promising it wouldn't be so long in between get-togethers, when I realized I was heading out into the cold and I had no coat.

"Silly me," I giggled.  "I guess I'm just having a 'blonde' moment."  My friend, also a blonde, joined in the laughter. 

"Excuse me," a curt voice sliced into our laughter.  "I'm a natural blonde and I'm offended by your remark!"

Kind of dumbfounded, I looked at my friend with raised eyebrows.  Is this woman serious? I wondered?  I was just having a little fun at my own expense.  I used to be a natural blonde, though chemistry has been an essential aid in recent years.  I didn't mean to offend. I was simply not taking myself so seriously. 

Since then, I've been pondering...why are we all so easily offended these days?

Here's my hypothesis: I believe that a repeated pattern of being offended is symptomatic of harboring a victim mentality.

Could it be that, as a society in general, we've chosen to be victims instead of victorious overcomers?

What creates the victim mentality?  

I believe that victims are those who are wrestling with their faith and their identity.  I think that describes a lot of people.

If we don't find our identity in Christ (being seen as perfect through the sacrificial blood of Christ) we don't know that in Christ we are more than conquerors.

If we don't find our identity in Christ, chances are we are looking for worldly success and approval from others to fill the voids only intended for God to fill. When we look to the world and it doesn't meet our needs, we get offended.

When we are outwardly critical, it often signals that we are inwardly jealous or insecure. 

If we aren't secure in WHOSE we are, then we will take every opportunity to put others down in order to lift ourselves up.

Does this sound at all familiar in 2020?

The victim mentality says that we should blame others for our circumstances.

Our environment and life events do affect us, but at some point we need to accept our role and responsibility in the circumstances of our life.  Not everything that happens to us is someone else's fault. If life has dealt you a bad hand, you have to decide how you're going to play it.

The victim mentality says, "The world revolves around me."  

I believe we've forgotten that we are to live a sacrificial life and serve others.  This is the example Jesus modeled for us.  The key to having JOY is to think of Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself third.  J-O-Y....JOY!

Have we, as a society, gotten this backwards??  YOJ??  Have I gotten it backwards?  I'm in this society.

The victim mentality overlooks God's blessings.

When we live our lives to an audience of One and seek the approval and favor of God and not man, it's amazing how we are then able to CHOOSE not to be offended and instead, choose gratitude.  We can opt to be blessed vs. continually offended. 

There was something to be said for saying the Pledge of Allegiance in our classrooms.

It reminded us that we are One Nation Under God... not warring factions looking out, only, for ourselves.   

We are to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. (James 1:19)

I don't know about you, but I keep running into a lot of angry people.  People who are easily offended.  People who desperately need to find their faith and their identity in God.  I am guilty as well.  We need to turn from our evil ways. God's word tells us how He loves a humble and contrite heart.

God has been calling to us from days of old:

I [Lord] said, "Here I am, here I am," 
to a Nation that did not call on my name.
"I spread out my hands all day long
to a rebellious people
who walk in the path that is not good,
following their own thoughts..."
(Isaiah 65:1b-2)

God is always there waiting to welcome us back into his arms, continually wooing us with His love.  He's ready to wrap us in His loving comfort and let us know that He is our God if we'll have Him.  He is patient and longsuffering - not wanting for any to remain lost. 

Come...there is a healing balm in Gilead that frees the sin sick soul.

Dear Heavenly Father,  Forgive us O Lord for our evil ways.  May we turn away from our sins and return to You.  You alone are our rock and our salvation.  Let us find our joy in knowing we are your beloved and you sent your Son to die for us.  Let that knowledge wipe away any offense from our minds and hearts.  Lead us on the path that leads to life everlasting.  Let us be a people that are for you and for others - not just our own vain pursuits.  Let us love others like you first loved us.  Give us the grace to take ourselves lightly.  Humble us. We praise you for you are merciful, indeed.  In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

What about you?  Are you easily angered?  Easily offended?  What do you think is at the root of our prickliness as a society?  What can you, as one person, do?
Will you share your thoughts?

Be blessed...

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Sunday, February 2, 2020

Does God REALLY Love Me?

Hey Friend,

I can vividly remember the pages in my childhood Sunday School books and bibles.  There were pictures of Jesus, arms outstretched, beckoning the little children to come to Him.  A warm sunny halo surrounded Him and there was a tender, welcoming smile on His face.  I felt like Jesus really loved me.  I could sing these words and mean it:

Jesus loves me, this I know
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong;
They are weak but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me,
Yes, Jesus loves me,
Yes, Jesus loves me,
The Bible tells me so.

But God loving me?  That was a different story.  In this triune Godhead, I could relate to God the Son (God made man), but God the Father intimidated me.  I viewed God as this mighty, powerful, omniscient, authority figure who, quite frankly, always sat in judgment and scared me more than a little bit.

I was in awe of His Creation, but from early on when He caught Adam and Eve in their sin in the Garden, to wanting to destroy everything He had made in the great flood, to causing a long list of plagues, I wasn't so certain that I could cozy up to God. More than anything, I think I feared Him.  I was certain that He was disappointed in me...all the times I'd failed.

For many years, God was just kind of there, on a shelf, in the bookcase of my life.  That was until I found myself face down sobbing in my pillow and writhing with anxiety and depression.  

Deep down, I was mad at God.  I wanted my first baby so desperately, but I couldn’t enjoy her.  Anxiety, along with fear, worry, and depression had a stranglehold on me.  The family doctor said it was most likely post-partum depression and, given time, it would pass.  It didn’t.

I could call out to Jesus, but I couldn't bring myself to call out to God.  God still remained this aloof, judgmental father figure that I just couldn't relate to. More than anything I needed to know that He loved me.  I needed Him to wipe the guilt and shame from my life.  I needed to know He wasn't disappointed in me.  I needed the assurance of His love.

I had tried to get to know God in my own power, in my own way.  I went to church.  I worshiped Him. I sang about Him.  I studied Him.  I served Him, but I don't think I loved Him and I wasn't sure if He really loved me and I desperately needed to know that He did.

That's when I heard God speak.  Not audibly, but a voice rose up in my heart and, with a solid nudge, urged, "Just ask."

I don't remember the exact words, but my prayer went something like this...

"Dear Heavenly God,  I want to know you.  I need to know you.  I need to know you love me.  I've tried, but I can't muster up a feeling of you loving me.  I need YOU to work that TRUTH deep into my soul until I know without a doubt that your love for me is furious, tender, and unconditional. I can't do it on my own.  I need YOU to do it.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen."

That simple, gut-wrenching, heartfelt prayer was the catalyst that began to change my life.  It wasn't instantaneous.  It wasn't over night, but I know that prayer opened the door for God to do a mighty work in my life. I began to discover and live out the sole reason and purpose for God creating be in relationship with Him.

Thus began a tender love story... 

I learned that Asking God was not a sign of weakness, but one of strength and faith.

I had invited Jesus into my life to be my Lord and Savior some twenty years before, and now, for the first time, I was asking God in to be with me and work in me.  I needed His enabling strength and power. I wanted to REALLY know Him.

"ASK" was the verb that I had been needing to employ all along.  

Verses like these began to spring off the pages of the bible to me:

Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip?  Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.  How can you say,'Show us the Father'?"  (John 14:9)

I needed to stop striving, performing, attempting to earn God's love.  Instead I needed, simply to abide in Him.  

"Abiding in Him is not a work that we have to do as the condition for enjoying His salvation, but a consenting to let Him do all for us, and in us and through us.  It is a work He does for us - the fruit and power of His redeeming love.  Our part is simply to yield, to trust, and to wait for what He has engaged to perform."  - from Abide in Christ

It's been over twenty-five years since I called out to God and asked.  He's been working the TRUTH that I am dearly loved into my life ever since. Like a baker, He's been kneading His love into the dough of my soul. It hasn't been easy.  He's had to toss out a lot of guilt and shame.  I've had to wrestle with doubt and disappointment.  I've even cursed Him a time or two, but I have learned that my God, is the God who stays.  No matter what.

The life lessons in faith have been many and the road, long.  I am working on a book that highlights my journey that has brought me to, and helped me over, hurdles like: learning to see God, and His love, through Jesus; discovering the reason I was created; overcoming guilt and condemnation; living victoriously with physical and emotional suffering; surviving divorce; kicking the enemy to the curb; conquering pride, perfectionism, and people-pleasing. There is power in knowing God's great love for me - power to cast out fear. I've been learning to live with abandon and walk in freedom. 

Victoriously hurdling these obstacles has always been propelled by the same word - "ASK."  

I'm asking YOU, my reader, if this is a book you would want to pick up and read? It would be the antithesis to any "self-help" book since it would be a "God-help" book. Have you ever been plagued by this same question - Does God REALLY love me? Do you struggle with how to harness the power of His love?  Do you long to enjoy God?

Would you like to be better able to deal with the trials and struggles in your life? What do you struggle with most? Would you like to know how you, too, can tap into God's love in order to cast out fear, transform your life, and live with abandon? I could really use your input. Would you share? 

Please leave a comment or feel free to email me:

I'd love to hear from blessed...

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