Standard

The thing about me, is that everyone gets sick of me.  Sooner or later.  Everyone has their fill.  And, I try. I have tried.  I have tried to get better.  The void just won’t fill, though.  The pain just keeps paining.  You want to believe they will choose you, they will miss you, they will want you.  But, they never do.  And, you can only go on so much with them telling you that you are bad.  That you can’t handle life.  That you let everything hurt you.  You never get better enough quick enough and then you realize you really are all on your own.  Nobody to fight for you.  Nobody to choose you first.  Just you and the Savior.  The only one who would ever choose you wholly and completely.  And it is humbling and hard and you’re thankful, but also so desperate for someone else to see that you have worth.

You don’t know how to be right.  And life just keeps going.   And the broken heart just gets broken’er.  Ha.

The things I wish I could hear the most and believe right now:

“You have done a great job with the cards you have been given.”

“You make the world a better place.”

“I’m sorry that I hurt you.”

-That I am loved.

-That someone on earth would choose me first.

-That what I say matters.

-That my feelings are real, validated, and so I can process and let go of the pain.

 

 

Amazin’ Grace

Standard

I went to a funeral service on Saturday, a younger childhood friend of mine who had left this life too early. The message was simple and sweet and the point of it all – we were there with the purpose to remember, grieve, and love, not to cast our judgment.

I left with the phrase, “There but the grace of God go I,” ringing in my ears.

I am a bull in a china shop when it comes to relationships and life! I thought, “I am sure one person that needs a lot of grace to be in people’s lives.” I trust very few people and let very few into my innermost thoughts. If you think I overshare, here, there is actually MORE you don’t get the privilege of knowing!!!  How about that?  And even if I let you in, you’re on, like, a 10-year probation period to see if I can really trust you. It’s part of my past, part of something I am working on, and if you can’t accept it, I am sad, but I am okay with it. Very cautious with my heart.

For two days after my last post, on changing the negative thought life I was condoning for so long, I felt awful.  I could not combat the dark voices in my head and wasn’t feeling supported in my environment.  It was so hard.  I had just written about overcoming negative self-talk and the process by which God was showing me to do it.  There seemed to be a cement veil between what I knew when I typed my blog message to when I needed to act on my message.  I was crushed.

My consolation was to hide, to isolate, to protect myself.  I know that pattern isn’t right, but it’s self-preservation.  We go back to what we know our brain tells us we’re in fight or flight.  I muddled through Monday, still not quite able to bounce back.  Monday night posed an even bigger struggle as I was challenged and defeated.  I didn’t understand.  I didn’t do anything right – I didn’t talk right, I didn’t listen right, I didn’t apologize right, I should have done this, I should have done that.  I was bad.  Very, very bad.

Tuesday came in with a busy day and I slumped my way to the dentist for a tooth extraction.  Ugh, right?  As I sat, I texted, and when I got home I couldn’t sleep.  I was just so disturbed by my bad feelings and overwhelmed with confusion.

I am 100% confident someone prayed for me about 2 on Tuesday afternoon.  Thank you to whoever did this!  I am aware of the Spirit manifesting its presence in me and I knew I felt God.  I felt His peace, spirit, and power come back to me and I knew, with certainty, I wasn’t as bad as I thought I was.  I got confidence in myself because of God’s confidence in me, through the mercy of Jesus, and by the work of his Holy Spirit.

I went home and tested His will, and found that instead of approving my confidence, it disproved what I had been feeling so sure of moments before.  And just when I thought I was a real whack job, the mystery unfolded.  The light came on.  In a precious little twinkle of His love for me, He gave me a glimmer of His sovereignty.  God gave me the chance to show pride, arrogance, and the muscle of how I had been wrongfully accused and treated.  He also gave me the opportunity to be His very precious daughter who is gracious, abounds in mercy, and chooses love.  I chose love!  I chose to speak softly! I chose to speak life!

My confusion about how bad I had been quickly withered away.  “There, but by the grace of God go all of us.”  We are not here as judge and jury.  We are here to love.  We may do things differently than others, but if at the heart of it is love, the intention will always be revealed as pure.

God’s love never fails.

 

 

1 Corinthians 13:8

Speakin’ Life

Standard

When I first started my mental health journey, I went to a therapist who talked a lot about the blessings and curses of life.  It sort of freaked me out.  I just don’t like talk like, “curses,” ya know? It’s like witch crafty or voodoo’ey or something that gives me the eeby jeeby’s.  It almost feels taboo.

I now realize that if you believe in good, then you must believe in evil.  If there is light, there is darkness.  If there are powers for good, there are powers for evil.  It is not as freaky as I thought it was.  As real as I believe Jesus is then I must, too, believe that Satan exists.  And, quite honestly, even saying “Satan” makes me feel awkward.  I think one of the most interesting quips I have heard about the evil one is that his greatest weapon is that he is able to convince us he doesn’t even exist.

The more that I have traveled on this road of emotional and mental recovery, the more I have learned that the spiritual powers of Satan are real, but not viable unless we engage in them.  These ideas have become less weird the more I have studied and manipulated them with thought.  Life and death.  Blessings and curses.  We choose them.  Others provide us with them.  Either way, we choose to believe them or not.   The ultimate authority is not Satan and it is not us.  It is God.  What He says goes and we know this.  We know it and yet, we often completely miss it.

I have heard it said that God can speak and it is.  I’ve heard it countless times.  It is part of who He is.  It is part of the creation story in Genesis that even non-believers might know.

Genesis 1:1-3 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

 

I can honestly say that it has taken me about 10 years to really grasp the essence of the power in His voice.  The power in His words.  The power of His Word.  At church last week I was delighted to re-remember that God created all things with His all-powerful, amazing voice.  I expect it to be big and thunderous and clear.  To make vibrations happen, the pictures on the walls would respond in misalignment, dogs would whimper.  What I didn’t ever really realize until it was pointed out in the sermon, was that God didn’t speak humans into being.  He formed us with his very own self.

Genesis 2:7  Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

When He made humans, He worked us into being by thoughtfully crafting us from the dust of the earth.  The sound of His voice did not create us, yet His very breath entered into the first man’s being.  God made us like Him, in His image, and when He was done with our creation, He looked at all that was made and was VERY pleased.

It is with intrigue and passion at the mystery of our God that I reflect on these things this morning and how they affect the life of Dana Clary.  In my own journey, I have cursed myself, my being, my workings and beat myself down so terribly: bruising, breaking, abusing myself in my mental and emotional thought life.  I have used the voice God gave me to curse myself into a pattern of negativity, depression, anxiety, and instability.  This cursing has affected every aspect of my health, experience on this earth, social life, and relationships.

I know I have a puny voice, feeble and wimpy – back in the day when we all still had home phones, I would answer, even in my 30’s, and the caller would ask if my parents were home!  I have had swallowing issues from the MS and I wonder if even though I feel like I am speaking loudly and with effort, many people find my voice hard to hear because it is really not that audible as I believe it is.  But, regardless, in my own small voice, I have the power to create a blessing in my life or to create cursing in my life, and the lives of others.  I know my voice has nothing on the Creator’s, yet, I have been created in His image and likeness, and I must be compelled to believe that my voice comes with even a microscopic bit of power and authority.

I have recently been challenged by the workbook of Priscilla Shirer, “Armor of God,” to take accountability for my part in the behavior of living a cursed or dark life (pages 166-168).  I chose to take what lies I heard, both as a child and adult, and build up negative beliefs about myself.  I have allowed myself to live there.  This negative response has been my defense mechanism and my consolation.  “I’m just stupid…”

I was made aware of how to start breaking down some of the strongholds the enemy has on my life with books like, “The Battlefield of the Mind” by Joyce Meyer.  I have most recently been engaged in a book where the author, Dr. Caroline Leaf, provides a plan of attack to overcome thought patterns and brings into consciousness the idea that our brains can rebuild themselves with a blessing and actually damage themselves with cursing.  Her book, “Switch on Your Brain” comes with a 21-day journey to help overcome negative thought patterns.

I was floored to tears when I watched Beth Moore, in the opening video of her Bible study, “The Quest,” ask the question, “Who told you that?”  Who told you, you weren’t good enough, smart enough, and able enough?  Who told you, you were bad?  Who told you, you were stupid, unfit, and messed up?  If it is not in alignment with God, it is not real, unless you choose to make it real.

I would have suggested, several years ago, that there is an attitude of depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns that were completely out of my control.  Genetics, environment, personal history, disease, and more could all play a role in the darkness that I was living in.  At this point in my walk, however, I am led to believe that there is more power within us to free ourselves from the curses of darkness and live the blessed life God has for us.  We have more choice in the matter than we would like to confess.

I am by no means completely turned from my old self, healed from my corruption, or an expert in this field of study.  But, I do know that I am on a path that the Lord has crafted for me to become what He originally had designed.  I am delighted to confess my part in the way I have let my mind live only because I am at the point of repentance.  Seeking to change.  Seeking Him first, allowing Him to reshape and remold me, and feeling the wondrous new breath of life in my spirit.

I started this journey in 2016.  That’s when I first decided to reach out for help.  I expect this pilgrimage I am on to last a lifetime.  I am excited to share a transparent life only that others might find restoration in their own lives.  It is not with expertise of any sort that I write.  It is the soulful expression of the life experience of an uneducated, ordinary flower chick in little old Idaho.

Turning Off the Negative

Standard

In my former post “Switch On, Switch Off”  last week, I reported about a book I stumbled upon that helps detoxify patterns of thinking that are unhealthy and damaging.  I chose to specifically help myself from thinking negatively.  Any negative thought.  I have to admit, I have missed a few days of meditation.  Not on purpose, just busy days and not enough discipline to quiet myself, I suppose.  However, I have done it enough to note that there is a new awareness in my mind of thinking negatively.  It’s almost like when my kids were littles and they weren’t allowed to say the word, “stupid.”  Every time they heard it, lighting bolts went off in their eyes even if it wasn’t used in an offensive way to hurt a person,  “Mommy, so and so said their cell phone was stupid.”

I can sense my brain getting a little more red flaggy when I start the negative thinkin’ roller coaster.  I have had plenty of moments when I could have gone downhill fast and though I was struck down a few times in the last week, I was not defeated or crushed.  A little bruised and certainly a little disheveled, but the path of negativity and depression didn’t overwhelm my soul to the extremes I have allowed it before.

Of course when we are trying to learn something new to make ourselves improved servants of God, the enemy will attack.  There have absolutely been challenges where it is easier to say, “I’m a bad mom” or “I am a bad wife” rather than uphold my quest to conquer the gross thoughts.  However, the bouncing back periods have been getting shorter and I’ve been more buoyant.

I would also say that my therapist appreciated the idea of writing in this process because you get to see patterns you wouldn’t otherwise notice.  One thing I have seen in myself, is that when I get overwhelmed – and it doesn’t take nearly as much as it used to – the negativity tends to come out more.  I have started the process of breaking down the busy’ness of the day’s ‘to do’ lists, the chores, the being tired, and sense that taking breaks to breathe and call upon the Lord to help me through the feelings of “I can’t do this” are my next steps when this thought occurs.  I think the daily fatigue of MS, coupled with busy kids, a messy house, the busiest season at the flower shop, and the regular complications of life get the best of me.  I am going to choose to learn a new way to fight the battle in my mind in a healthy way.  I have a choice in this attitude, depression, and anxiety.  I can do something.

I think it is helpful to go back and read through the book “Switch on Your Brain:  The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health” just to sort through the big concepts as you work the process.  I do believe this plan has a viable theory to help people who want to help themselves to heal and to live in righteousness and accordance to God’s will.

Switch On, Switch Off

Standard

I recently discovered this free book on Kindle called “Switch on Your Brain:  The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health” by Dr Caroline Leaf.  I have just finished reading the book, yes it really was FREE, and now I am to the part where the rubber meets the road .  The basic concept is to start apply the keys and tools provided to capture your thoughts, replace them with positive scriptural reinforcement, and develop a new pattern of living and thinking.

I was very excited about the concepts she introduces in part one of the book.  There are bunches of technical and sciency terms that could easily squash that excitement, but they were delivered in short form and I was able to get a glimpse of how her process could work.  Though, I am far from understanding all of it.

The idea that the brain is trainable, with the mind, should not be news to me, but it was!  My brain, DNA, circumstances and environment are not in control of me.  I control my reactions and can live a very full life in any situation.  The idea that the brain is flexible and has plasticity, can be built up with positive reinforcement or damaged with negative, really hit me hard.  The brain is changeable!

Despite a lot of  my awareness, I have been unable to break free from negative thought patterns.  I use negative thoughts almost as a shield – they can’t hurt me with their words because I already know I am bad.  I have heard negative things said about me the last few years, and they have taken up space in my brain, crushed my spirit, and have been expressed by my attitude and soul and reactions to life.

I love this book because as a Christian, and a believer in an awesome God, the book does not want you to replace the negatives with positive affirmations or positive self-talk, but with scripture that we believe in.  Our maker has already breathed the remedy into the Bible, we just have to use it.

The second part of the book talks about a five step process, it takes 10 minutes or more a day to complete, and is done for 21 day cycles.  If at the end of the cycle, the thought pattern is not broken, you repeat.  If it has been broken, I believe you continue to repeat the action part of the process for two more 21 day cycles, so that it becomes automatic, as in learning to ride a bike.

The five steps are a guided meditation coupled with journaling and doing.  In the first step you gather and capture the thoughts.  You think about what you are thinking about.  It seems to me that it is a form of guided meditation where you quiet the brain and to see where the Holy Spirit convicts you to change.

In the second step you focus on the one thought you are trying to change and replace it with healthy new thoughts supported by scripture.  Again, the Holy Spirit is used in this process to lead your heart to right thinking and the new thought, scripture, and to align you with Christ.

The third step involves writing – you sum up the gathering, the reflection, the new ideas, and add more to each of the two steps above.   Writing develops the process in your mind and also allows you to visually see the thought patterns.  It can bring forth new ideas and also remind you of other areas that need work.  The first time I did this guided mediation, it wasn’t clear which thought/thought pattern I wanted to change until I got to the writing portion.  The writing is encouraged to be creative, descriptive, and in doing so, brings clarity and organization to the thoughts in the above steps.

In the fourth step, you revisit the problem thinking with a solution.  This is where the plan of attack comes in on how you will respond when the negative thinking occurs.  This is the exciting part.  You get to figure out how to fix the injured parts of the brain!

In the fifth step, you DO.  You make a point to stop the thinking or action that has been happening, capture it, toss it out, and replace it with the new thoughts or actions.  This happens throughout your day.

In 21 days, your brain should have used all of it’s amazing parts to build, remodel, shift, breakdown, and restore some harmony to your life.

It is my hope to first eliminate negative thinking, period.  I have a tendency of thinking pessimistically, or negatively, so I am defeated before the world gets a chance to defeat me.  I have specific attacks on myself that I also use (“I am bad,” “I am not a good mom,” “I suck at life,” “I am unworthy,” to name a few) and after I get through my first cycle, I hope to see some clarity on which of these negative phrases still stand out and I will work there.

For now, I just wanted to share where I was in this process.  I am excited that I don’t have to be stuck like this, in a brain that dislikes it’s owner and tells her as much daily.  I am excited to gather my scriptures to respond to my negative thinking.  I am excited to capture my thoughts and to be able to reject the ones that are not of God.

I look forward to posting again as I work my way through this detoxifying plan and I am prayerful it will bring more joy, peace, and blessing to my life.

True Grit

Standard

The truth hurts.  Sometimes we’ve been living it and not realizing it.  And then one day, “Poof!”  Truth reveals itself like the rabbit out of the magician’s hat.  The silly creature was in the hat the whole time; Hidden by a tricky panel in the hat that we were always aware of.  But, it’s not obvious to the crowd that we’ve been on stage with a rabbit in our hat until that final moment of excitement and escalated “Ta da!”  Now, everyone knows.

I’ve walked a pretty close line between vulnerability and TMI.  Google “TMI,” if you don’t know what it means. Also, welcome to 2018.  When you finally reach that place of being so transparent and the things that you’ve been trying to keep hidden behind secret panels can no longer contain themselves, that’s about where I am.

The truth is, I don’t trust but a few people.  And, even those people, I expect to get hurt by.  The truth is, my formative years as a child were spent on a roller coaster of fear, violence, stress, and pain.  I was never abused physically or sexually.  Emotionally and mentally, for sure.  It is those two areas that are hard to get out of the brain.  Those bruises don’t heal as easily.

I went through a season of EMDR to release the most toxic and traumatic of my childhood memories – the worst being the attempted murder of my mother.  It is the most painful of the secrets I keep hidden deep down.  It was her fault.  She deserved it.  He was drunk.  After my sister and I begged and pleaded for her life, she was set free.  Purple in face, eyes barely opened, gasping for air.  As she cried on the edge of her bed, I tried to creep past him to the living room to comfort her sobs.  “She’s not crying because she’s hurt, she’s crying because she wants you to feel sorry for her.”  You don’t forget words.

So, this fear is planted inside of me and the more pain I feel from people, the red flags just go up.  Stay away.  Keep them away.  The more panic sweeps into your pounding heart when you think about being close to those who have attacked with their words, piercing my heart hard and plunging me back to those school-aged days.

Way back when, we pretended nothing happened.  We woke up the next day and were the best we could be so nobody would know the secrets pounded into those cheap walls of the trailer.  But, they don’t just disappear.  They come up when you are 20 and 30 and almost 40.  And, here you are in the middle of an act, on stage trying to pretend like the magician that you’ve got it all under control.  The rabbit needs to stay in the hat.  The show is to keep it all together.  You suddenly realize you have only a handful you can trust because you know who causes pain, who rubs your face in your bad ways, who tells you how bad you are.  And, there are very few arms that you feel safe to reach to.  And sometimes, they can’t take your badness anymore, either, and pull away.

The only reach I can think of that I so desprately want, is the reach to my God.  The One who knows me, all my flaws, my hurts, my sadness, my pain.  He understands why I hurt the way I do because He is the One who made me.  I felt alone, but He was there, through it all, protecting me, making sure I could come out of it.

Perhaps the only reason I did come out of it was so that I could make other’s strong.  To help them fight fierce.  And, if I don’t get personal, if I don’t reveal what’s up my sleeve and in my hat that I have been so anxiously trying to hide, nobody will see where I have come from and why the pain of life is what it is.  And, nobody will know that they can make it, too.

With the strength of God inside of me and with the power of the Holy Spirit, I publish this small account of my life as a testimony to those who may be hurting deep.  Hurting way down beneath the depths of what anyone else knows.  I feel called to share only that my healing may begin.  That I will not be blanketed in thick fear and disgust of who I am.  But, that I will be understood, standing tall, victorious in all my flaws, frailties, and the damaged expression of my soul.

I have never been more alone in my life.  Just me and Jesus these days.  Unable to connect with my husband and kids.  Feeling that I don’t belong in my church or my own skin.  The only one I have pursued is Christ.  Understanding him, putting  my faith in him, finding joy in him.  It is for Christ alone that we have any hope at all.  Amen.

Praying Fierce

Standard

If you’ve been praying, but feel that you don’t see results, feel anything, and walk away empty – I totally get you.  For a long time, I was in that rut.  Part of it was the way I was praying, the expectations of my prayers, and my internal disbelief that God really hears me or cares.  As I have grown in Jesus, I have learned a bit on the journey from then to here.

Sometimes the reason if feels our prayer life is limited, is because our connection to the Father isn’t quite clear.  Think of a cell to cell phone call where a tower in between the two networks is breaking, broken, or in the middle of a storm.  The call isn’t clear, either way.  Whether you have a new or old relationship with the Father, if the call or answer of prayer isn’t clear, it can indicate that there are things that we need to get cleaned up, fixed, or worked on before the connection between the two can be opened up.  The signal between you and God is not muddled by a cell phone tower, but a genuine relationship like any other that requires the substance of time, forgiveness, and learning each other.

Sometimes we are only praying because we are in trouble.  I remember praying to a God I had rarely prayed to when I hit my daughter in the head with a golf club and we were on a Life Flight helicopter ride.  Yes, I did.  No, it was not on purpose.  That story is for another day.  The point is, I went to a God I barely knew asking Him to make it right and save my daughter’s life.  You know that feeling, when someone only comes to you when they need something?  Thank goodness God didn’t reject me.  He was merciful and brought my daughter out of the hospital after seven days.  She came home to us with no long-term consequences to her sweet little brain.

He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea.

Psalm 102:17

Aside from clearing up some old baggage, sin, disbelief, and praying only to get what you want to a God you rarely meet with, there is a strategy to prayer that can open up your soul and allow you to express to God the true nature of your heart.  If you’re willing, He’ll guide you to a place of correction and new life will begin.  A new or elevated relationship, that He so desperately desires, will begin.

The book that brought me out of my mediocre prayer life and instilled valuable tools within me to connect with the Father brand new was, “How to Develop a Powerful Prayer Life – The Biblical Path to Holiness and Relationship with God” by Dr. Gregory Frizzell.    This book was a gift from a friend and I had no idea I needed it.  The pamphlet-like feel and proportions of the book made it an easier book to read.  I have since read other authors that offer the same sequence or method of prayer, but since this was the first one that found me and the way it really changed my life, it gets the credit.

One thing I do caution myself from is making prayer an unemotional routine for the sake of saying I prayed.  Sometimes, for weeks, you may follow the prayer pattern this book teaches.  When life happens, I don’t think there is much more precious and beautiful to the Father than an authentic cry from a broken heart, rather than a rehearsed pattern.  Feel free to break up the cycle!  At some of life’s hardest moments, I didn’t even make a sound in my prayer time, other than the sound of crying and tears falling from my cheeks.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 34:18

The wonderful thing about learning how to pray in this guided manner is that it adds rhythm and routine to your life where there was none before.  With practice, the time with God is no longer an awkward list and visitation with someone you aren’t familiar with, but a sacred conversation between you and the One who loves you most.

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

Jeremiah 29:12

The key things this book taught me about prayer were:

  • Renewing the mind with scripture, daily and before prayer.
  • A prayer order of praise & worship, confession & repentance, petition, intercession, and meditation.
  • Writing and keeping a prayer journal.

Again, I would like to stress that there is no magical formula to prayer, specifically to answered prayer.  The condition of the heart and the willingness to show up and spend time in the Father’s presence, every day, are probably two factors that will most affect your prayer life.  It is in this relationship that the essence of your spiritual life will be transformed and the blessings will overflow.

May you find the same hope that I found in seeking Him.  Amen.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

Matthew 7:7