Fill it Up, Hold the Guilt

I signed up for a mentoring program at my church. I’ve been paired up with a mentor (hurray!!) and this week was our second time getting together. We’ve elected not to go through a book or create any additional homework. We are attempting “life on life” discipleship. This week we walked, next week we are making dessert together. During our quality time we share a little bit about our past, our present, and especially what God is teaching us.

About 45 minutes into our walk I made the remark that I just felt a little dry. Life has been filled with lots of great things, but lately has left little room for me to open up the Word each day. I explained,

“I wanted to pull out my Bible this morning, but every time I went to open it, my daughter just needed me. Diaper changes, naps, feeding, falling, teething, and then the laundry buzzer sounds.  I feel like it’s just out of my grasp today. I so need it to set my mind and heart each day or I just don’t think I can make it.”

My mentor shared about her past struggle with legalism. She felt guilty for years because she wasn’t a morning person and rarely pulled out her Bible until the evening.

But then she decided to stop feeling guilty and just start enjoying the time she did have to read. The important thing was to not get caught up in rote performance. Her words have replayed in my head for the past few days.

“You talk about filling up in the morning and getting set for the day. That’s great when that can happen, especially if it’s how you are wired. But don’t forget that you have the Holy Spirit – you ARE filled up.”

 filled

I’m the first person to tell you not to let guilt keep you from the gift of God’s presence, but I often forget that truth in my own life. This season of life makes me hunger for the Word like never before. That’s a good thing. But I cannot let myself feel guilty or defeated if I don’t have that thirty minutes to give. I can turn to the Lord and know that He is faithful to give His presence in so many ways, especially in prayer. Time in the Word is worth it, but I don’t have to live like my well has run dry. My cup runneth over because of a living, moving, and personal God. He provides streams in the desert.

Maybe I’m the only one who needed that reminder today. But just in case, I thought I’d share it here too.

 “… keep on being filled with the Spirit.” Ephesians 5:18, ISV

Following in freedom,

Ginger

Step #9. Set Your Hope

season

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14, NIV

“But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.  You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month.  For nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:30-37, NIV

Forty-two generations of hoping.

Nine months of waiting.

One teenage girl.

One eternal promise.

Mary teaches us all what it means to hope. She hoped in the words of an angel who said the impossible would happen.  She hoped in a God who had chosen an unassuming Nazarene to bear the Messiah. She hoped that this baby would bring hope to all.

hope

Perhaps you are hoping for answers or resolution in the coming year. Perhaps you too wait in expectation to see what this season will bring. Maybe you don’t even know what to hope for, you simply have a yearning for something different.

Mary shows us where to place our hope. If we desire to have hearts that sing of grace, we must place our hope in the Messiah.

stepStep #9. Set Your Hope.

Are you crushed by circumstances?  He is your hope.
Are you worried about upcoming situations?  He is your hope.
Are you stinging from wounds?  He is your hope.
If only for this one moment today- take time to stop. Gaze at the Nativity scene in your home or even locate one in a neighbor’s yard. Look at the Messiah and take a deep breath of hope. Imagine His first breath of life and find hope in knowing that His life gives YOU life. Take heart, the King has come. Take hope, the answer is here.

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” Romans 8:22-25, NIV

“Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.”

 

Following,
Ginger

To catch up on the rest of the series:

Tune My Heart

Step #1. Demonstrate Gratitude

Step #2. Today’s Manna

Step #3. Limit Distractions

Step #4. Rest

Step #5. Listen for the Echoes

Step #6. Practice Prayer

Step. #7. Give Grace

Step. #8. Prepare Him Room

Getting Ready

trust quote

Does anyone else find anxious thoughts to be a default mode when it comes to the unknown future? Anyone else feeling nervous about a coming transition?

Had you asked me  a month ago to identify my nerves on a scale of 1-10 (1 being totally calm, “ain’t no thing” and 10 being “I can’t fall asleep at night/these thoughts consume me”), I would have likely said a 6 or maybe even a 7. The more books on pregnancy, delivery, and child rearing that I read, the more fears I seemed to add to my list.

But in the last week I’ve felt and watched that worry level drop all the way down to a 3… and at times even a 1. I KNOW. It’s been amazing.

Although you aren’t likely in the exact same situation of anticipating the birth of your first child while finalizing the manuscript of your first book, I believe that the tools for combatting worry are the same regardless of the extenuating circumstances. These points carry over the various question marks in our lives.

1. LIST IT AND MATCH IT.

Once I’m able to take those circular thoughts that keep racing around my head and put them on paper, they seem to lose at least a portion of their strength. Often the list is shorter than expected. If it’s something stealing peace in your day then make sure you write it out, even if you feel like it’s silly. Sometimes seeing how silly a worry looks when written is all that it takes before I’m able to cross through it.

For example:

  • We still don’t have everything we need for a newborn baby.
  • My face might be swollen in our first pics together as a family.
  • Labor could be far more painful than I’d ever imagined.
  • I don’t get to eat while in labor. (I am the worst case of hungry [hungry + angry] you’ve ever seen.)
  • Embarrassing moments will happen at every turn in the hospital.
  • I will have to fight for my preferences in the hospital.
  • I will never finish the manuscript.
  • AND ON AND ON.

Once I captured every worried thought, I jotted down two Bible verses on the top of the list.

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, NIV

“You will keep in perfect peace
    those whose minds are steadfast,
    because they trust in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
    for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.” Isaiah 26:3

So how do I take those thoughts captive and keep my mind steadfast, trusting in God?

I identify each fear and assign a truth match. Something like this…

Even if labor is more painful than I’d ever imagined… He will be with me, strengthen me, and help me.Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Even if I have a gazillion embarrassing moments in the hospital… it really ain’t no thing in the grand scheme. I have to remind myself that the medical staff have all seen CRAZY things during their career. This part of life is beautiful AND messy. At the end of the day… I can cast all that anxiety upon the Lord, because He cares about my worries and fears.Cast all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

2. CARRY THE TRUTH.

Once we’ve identified the problems and set out to get rid of all that anxiety, I believe we have to make the choice to actively walk in that truth. So after you’ve matched your fears with God’s Word, jot it down on notecards and keep it at your side! Memorize the verses. Choose to take God at His Word.

“Beloved, belief is not a feeling. It’s a choice. We may live many days when we don’t feel loved or lovely; but in spite of our emotions, we can choose to take God at His Word.” – Beth Moore, Breaking Free

3. TALK THROUGH IT.

I’d recommend that you talk through the whoppers on your list with someone who has walked a similar path, a specialist, or someone who is spiritually mature in this area. I have been asking specific questions of my doctor. I’ve talked through my specific fears with my husband and he and I talked about ways he could encourage me during labor and delivery. Sometimes keeping yourself in the dark can produce way more fears than you need. Vocalize what’s keeping you up at night to someone you trust. 

4. PRAY THROUGH IT.

Life up your fears and requests to the Lord throughout the day. Share any remaining fears with a prayer partner. I love when someone asks me to pray specifically for a need. As much as I enjoy writing out a long list of names, I am always challenged to pray more when I know what to ask my Heavenly Father for.

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:9-13

5. GIVE OUTWARD.

Sometimes I just need to get out of my head and concern myself with something other than MYSELF. Loving others is a great way to shift our focus outward. A laundry list of worries can keep us self-focused and isolated. Call your friend. Send a card. Pick up your neighbor’s paper. Hold the door open. Volunteer with the refugee family. You get the idea. When I start giving my capacity to worry decreases immensely.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7

Regardless of the date my daughter arrives or how prepared I feel, this transition is going to happen.

crib

  • You will start college in the fall.
  • You will find the job you’ve been hunting.
  • The move will happen.
  • The unexpected will occur.
  • Your friend might transfer to another school.
  • Your plans might have to change at the drop of a hat.

Transitions are coming. We can’t control much of the circumstances but we can choose to control our thought patterns.

I don’t know about you, but I would much rather spend these weeks in joyful expectation rather than anxious trepidation. Life is too short and our God too loving for us to spend it walking on eggshells.

“All around you, people will be tiptoeing through life, just to arrive at death safely. Dear children, do not tiptoe. Run, hop, skip or dance, but do not tiptoe.” –Shane Claiborne, Irresistible Revolution

Following more and worrying less,
Ginger