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Friday, June 22, 2018

Fruit of the Spirit: Joy (Part 2)





"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, self control. Nothing in the Torah stands against such things. "- Galatians5:22-23 (CJB)
(read Galatians 5:16-26)




Joy, such a different feeling than happiness. It is not dependent on our circumstances. It comes straight from the Ultimate Source, Yah (G-d). Joy like love sets you apart from the world. No matter what is happening in your life at any given moment you can have joy because you know God is in control. He is there even in the midst of the storm.

When I think of joy, I think of Paul. He was in jail for his beliefs and scripture tells us that even then he was content. "I have learned to be content regardless of circumstances." (Phil. 4:11) No matter how hard it got, no matter how much he lost, he chose to be content in the good and the bad of life's journey. He chose joy. The joy of the Lord! "You make me know the path of life; in your presence is unbounded joy,in your right hand eternal delight. (Psalm 16:11)

I wrote this 4 years ago (2014) and at that time many things were changing in my life, health and other life circumstances. Right there and then I chose to began taking time to look on the bright-side of life. I looked for the joy in the present moment not matter my circumstance, no matter how dark things seemed, I chose to find things to thank Yah (G-d) for. In that time, I learned an important lesson. Thankfulness, being grateful for this moment results in joy. The changes that I had to make at that time forced me to stop and evaluate my life and where I was at in my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. It was an awakening. Yah (G-d) really showed me how far I had gone down the wrong path - the path that He hadn't meant for me. Every day I learn more and more about what it is to surrender my life to Him and the plans He has for me. I have found more joy in these hard times than I did in the times when by society's standards I was more "stable." Glory to Yah (G-d)!

January 8, 2014, the day I wrote this, I found joy in a day off from work, sun bathing at our picnic table, the breeze blowing through my hair, music playing, the ability to write and read, the awesomeness of nature, our cats meowing, the mountains against the clear blue skies, baby evergreens growing. Grace inhaled and thanksgiving exhaled. The joy of life and all its turbulent winds and exciting moments. The ability to choose.  

July 22,2018, today I find joy in celebrating another year of my mom's life with her and my dad. Breakfast made by my dad. My mom reading her cards and seeing her flowers. My dad playing lots of birthday songs for her and other music loud enough for the neighborhood to hear, reminds me of my childhood days. In our fur babies (cats and dog) and in my parent's fur babies. The love between my husband and I. Our home. Amazing friends and family in the Lord. Every breathe and beat of my heart. Yah's Word and salvation through His Son Yeshua! 

Today and everyday, take a moment to really see who Yah is. How much He loves you and all of humanity. He has said,  For I know what plans I have in mind for you,’ says Adonai,‘plans for well-being, not for bad things; so that you can have hope and a future. When you call to me and pray to me, I will listen to you. When you seek me, you will find me, provided you seek for me wholeheartedly;" (Jeremiah 23:11) Doesn't that bring you great joy!? 




Challenge:
Love joy! When you pray for Yah to fill you with love as for His joy as well. Ask to see through His eyes. Take time to soak in His blessings and be grateful. 

Act Out Joy:
*Smile

*Laugh
*Share your joy stories
*Share scriptures that bring joy to your heart
*Be grateful
*Choose to be joyful no matter your circumstances
*Most of all praise Yah and spend time in His Word.

We have the free will to choose how we react to the world around us and to what is happening to us. We can let it control us by allowing our emotions to be affected by how we are treated or we can take back that control and understand that everyone is fighting a battle and those of us who serve Yah have Him to fight for us. So let Him fight for you! Rest in Him and find your joy in Him. You can and should walk away from people who bring you down and treat you badly but don't let that make you bitter and angry. Forgive and let God take care of it and live your life in joy.





Let me hear the sound of joy and gladness, so that the bones you crushed can rejoice. Turn away your face from my sins,and blot out all my crimes. Create in me a clean heart, God; renew in me a resolute spirit.  Don’t thrust me away from your presence, don’t take your Ruach Kodesh (Holy Spirit) away from me. Restore my joy in your salvation, and let a willing spirit uphold me. (Psalm 51:8-12)

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Fruit of the Spirit: Love (Part 1)



https://youtu.be/CDyx2kayhGQ

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law." ~Galatians 5:22‭-‬23 NKJV


When the Fruit of the Spirit is evident in our lives others will know who we follow without us having to say a word. Like me, you might look at this list and think, "I live out the Fruit of the Spirit most of the time with most of the people in my life." Our humaness gets in the way sometimes. Yet, we are called to live this out everyday, all day, with all people. *Ouch* Even on our bad days and especially on their bad days.

Love is first on the list. Love is who God is. He doesn't just have love - He is love!

In Mark 12:30-31 we are given these commandments:

"and you are to love Adonai your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your understanding and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You are to love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other mitzvah greater than these.” ~CJB

Scripture tells us that if we love God we will keep His commandments. Love should ensure that we won't violate the relationship. We wouldn't cause pain on purpose. Love should ensure we won't turn our backs on God or one another when things don't go the way we think they should.

"By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” ~John 13:35 NKJV

Love for one another. Love, real agape love, spiritual and selfless love. Unconditional love. Love that sees your faults and loves you anyway. Love that wants to build you up, encourage you to be a better you not a different superficial you.  Love that sees beyond the clothes we wear, brand name or thrift store. Love that sees beyond the silver in our hair, the winkles, the color or our skin. Love that sees beyond the cars and houses we have or don't have. Love that takes time to listen to your heart, love that commits, love that lends a helping hand expecting nothing in return. Love that shines through your eyes, smile, and the words you speak. Love that shows evidence that God lives within us.

Love is the very essence of God. The very essence of who we should be. Are we living love? When we look in the mirror do we see love, hate, maybe indifference?

Challenge:
Everyday before you get out of bed, before you utter that first word. Ask God to fill you with His love. Enough so it overflows from you to others.

Read:
Proverbs 10:12, 1 Corinthians 13:1-8, and
John 3:16.

Crissy Johnson 2014

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Face Forward


The above image quote has been on my mind today. I am going to take each part and try to apply it to my life. I am looking forward to making some positive changes in my life and this quote seems like a good place to start my thought process on just how to do make those changes.

"Face Forward." I am so used to having my head slanted towards the ground eyes looking at the ground. The dirt and I are on a first name basis, we know each other well. There is beauty in every grain of sand, every piece of dirt, every rock, blade of grass, flower, and tree root. There is no doubt that I love the feel of the earth underneath my feet and the treasures I find as I walk upon it. However, I am missing out on many beautiful things that would be at eye-level if I would just lift up my head.


You may be wondering why I am even blogging about this. Well, you see, I have suffered from low self-esteem for as long as I can remember. That is my main reason for keeping my eyes focused on the ground. I don't want to see the look on someone's face when they see me. I just know it won't be good! At least that is what I have come to believe. 


I allowed certain people's words, actions, and beliefs muddy my view of who I was. I believed I was not good enough and my thoughts were not valid. Everything I enjoyed or had a passion for was looked down upon. So I began molding myself into something foreign to me and told myself daily that who I was and what I dreamed were of no worth and should be locked away in the darkest recesses of my being. (Just typing this makes me nauseous)


                                                       For you formed my inward parts
       you knitted me together in my mother's womb.

   I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.


My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,

    intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 
Psalm 139:13-15English Standard Version (ESV)
You're probably wondering, "could things really be that bad?" Yes. yes they can be, they were, and in many ways still are. All because my child-mind didn't understand how to filter out the negativity and the chaos going on around me. So I internalized it. I made it mine. I made it real. I find myself at 39 years old sifting through it all and pulling out the weeds to make room for the sunflowers, green grass, and trees of love and joy to bloom. 

The work is hard. The journey is exhausting. The emotional roller-coaster it nauseating. Most days I want to quit and just live in denial. Working on my physical health is hard, believe me, but this the work of facing forward - straight at myself in the mirror - without casting my eyes downward - is so much harder than I ever imagined. It takes every ounce of energy, courage, and "just do it already" attitude to face forward - to face myself for 30 seconds. I don't like who I allowed myself to become. I don't like the anxious, panicky, depressed, unfocused, chaotic-minded person I have become - or maybe always was. I want to fight her - I want to beat her. But you know that is not the way to healing. I have to love her - accept her. That is much harder to do than to berate her for being this way.  



do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." 
~Philippians 4:6-8English Standard Version (ESV)


My first step to facing forward is awareness. Something I learned from a few years of seeing a counselor (the best decision I have made!). Every moment that I become aware of my triggers, my defense mechanism, my negative self-talk, my need to please people and leave myself on the back burner, I get one step closer to freedom. One step closer to healing. Every moment I become aware of the lies of our spiritual enemy and refuse to believe them, I get one step closer to freedom. One step closer to healing.Now that I am well into becoming more aware of my inner workings, I need to work on the second step. 


Step two to facing forward is "weeding my garden." Yesterday during my session I learned about a process of visualizing my mind, thoughts, attitudes, and feelings as a garden. (I have always found peace in nature). As I sit in the quiet, stillness of my garden I need to look around and find those weeds of self-hate, low self-esteem, doubt, negativity, unforgiveness, bitterness, and any thing else that I have held onto that is hindering my growth. Anything that steals my peace, joy, love, and happiness. (Joy and happiness are different, more on that in another post). Once I find them, I need to pull them out and throw them away!! One by one. Step by step. One day at a time. It may sound simple and a little corny but why over-complicate something that just needs a simple corny solution!?


There are many more steps along the way to healing. As I weed my thought garden I will practice taking every thought captive and guarding my heart so the enemy won't gain a foothold in my life. It may seem as if our battle is with people but it is not. It is a spiritual battle. The enemy, Satan (negative, evil energy), is out to manipulate, steal, kill, and destroy every single good thing inside of every single human being. He doesn't want us to have peace, joy, love for ourselves or others. So he uses us if he can to hurt each other. To bully, be little, and sometimes even physically harm ourselves or others. If he can keep us busy being angry, bitter, hurt, and trying to one up each other then we will not grow into the amazing, fearfully, wonderfully made, human beings we were meant to be. It's time we stop fighting ourselves and each other. It is time to allow the healing to take place.



 "The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity." ~2 Corinthians 10:4-6The Message (MSG)





Monday, December 4, 2017

Being Real


Those who plant in tears 
will harvest with shouts of joy.
~Psalm 126:5 NLT


"In the deepest recesses of my heart, those places I had tried to hide even from him, I sensed God had been waiting a long time for me to begin asking the hard questions. (Hope Prevails Insights from a Doctor's Personal Journey through Depression by Dr. Michelle Bengtson)

When I read this last night it reminded me of all the times I felt God tugging at my heart to talk to Him. To let Him in to those "dark" places. But fear of being open, honest, and raw with my feelings, (even though He already knows but speaking them out loud makes them real for me), made me hold on tighter and push them even further into those places hidden behind the walls. The walls have gotten higher and thicker with every passing year that I hold these things inside. It has not only distracted me from a closer relationship with God but also with myself and others. 

As a teenager I begin having issues with my weight. At the time I didn't know it had more to do with a health issue that was never diagnosed correctly and less to do with what I was doing. However, I begin to believe that I was being punished for something, some sin I couldn't see, some sin that I had forgotten about. I thought maybe I was being punished for things that other people had done to me and how I never spoke up. I internalized everything. I made myself guilty and in eventually the guilt turned into excuses for believing that I wasn't good enough, that I was worthless, ugly, stupid, and should just give up. I know there are so many of us that feel those things at one point or another, but instead of just feeling it and letting it go, I lived it. I let jumped in, believed it, and made it who I was. 

At a very young age I was anxious around people, maybe it was shyness. I have always been afraid of public speaking and even skipped that class in colleges. I dropped out of classes, dropped out of college completely (more than once) all because I was anxious and that turned into panic. It got so bad I couldn't get out my car when I got to the building the class was in. Someday's I couldn't even leave the house. Over the years I have gone through this cycle over and over again. For awhile it seems everything is going great. I am able to leave my house with no anxious feelings. I can go to the store alone. I worked for 8 years straight (with a small hiccup of short term medical leave due to stress). Then I spiral down again. This last spiral has been the worst. It stole so many things from me and at first my only focus was on the things I lost instead of focusing on God and His promises.

In the last year I have been a part of three studies that have helped to open my eyes to what I was missing while "living in the land of negativity." I was tired of feeling lost, worthless, and unhealthy. These studies came at the perfect time. I was finally ready to say, "yes to change." 

A few months ago I begin that real, raw, honest talk with God through journaling and prayer. It was one of the hardest things to do. I can tell you now that it was the best thing I have done in a very long time. It helped me to see myself differently. It helped to see everything I have been through, by choice of my own or by someone else's actions, in a different light. I was able to see the lessons I was learning and the blessings I was being given. Even in this, the worst downward spiral into depression and anxiety, has blessed me. The daily struggles with health issues have made me stronger and have forced me to look at the choices I am making and how those choices are either helping me grow or hurting me. 

In future blog posts I will share more about the changes I have made and will be making. But for now, I just want you to know that being open, honest, real, and raw with yourself and God is the first step to healing your body, mind, and soul. It is putting your best foot forward! 




Coming soon: Making Healthy Choices 



Thursday, November 30, 2017

Hanging On

"...hang on to the vine..."

Am I hanging on? I'd like to say yes. But sometimes I know I lose my grip. I let go to grab on to something else, something I think is going to help me. Sometimes I lose grip because I am holding on to my pain to tightly.

The valley is treacherous with all its darkness and traps. Alone we may not make it out alive. I know because there have been times when I am so worn out I want it to be over. I give up and lay face down in the muck and wallow in it. These are the times I have let go of the vine and tries it on my own.

Sisters, the valley is treacherous even when we hold on to the vine but when we cling to Christ His strength pulls us through. Those worn out exhausted moments are then spent resting in His arms instead of the gross mucky negativity we so desperately cling to sometimes. It is then that we can receive His peace and "wallow" in His love.

Let's....
"Make it your aim to cling to Christ."
(Anxious for nothing by Max Lucado

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Beautiful Struggle


" I can impress you with my achievements, or share my struggle and pray that it leads to your transformation."

~ Kirk Franklin



Looking through some old pictures I saw found this photo of a beautiful green field and it reminded me of how the seasons transform the landscape. Earth shares it's beauty in all forms from lush green fields to hot days to colorful fall leaves to barren fields in the middle of winter. Through it all it never loses it's beauty.

When I read the quote above it got me thinking about the seasons of my own life. In this season, I am in the midst of some struggles that will require changes like the Fall changes the color of the leaves and eventually they fall on the ground and still the tree stands tall awaiting the time the changes it made with be replaced with the blessings of Springtime's green leaves.

I don't share my struggles with many people for fear of being made fun of or for other's to spread it around to whomever they some in contact with. It's not that I am embarrassed anymore about the things I find difficult to deal with or the things that I have learned about myself throughout the last few years, it's that finding people who are ready to be real and honest with me as well has not been an easy task.

If you know anything about me, you know I love to talk. I love to talk about just about anything. Discuss spiritual things, emotional things, things that make us smile and feel loved. I love playing twenty questions or more. I will ask my husband random questions as 2 am because my mind hasn't shut off and I don't want to keep talking to myself in my head. I love learning new things about my husband, our families, and those I have come to know as friends. I want to share my story in hopes that it inspires and encourages others to see that even in the midst of some of the darkest days of my life I survived and they can too.

I wonder, is this world ready for that? Raw, honest, truths that I hold inside. If I open up and share my struggles will they do the same? Will they let their raw, honest, truths inspire and encourage me? Can our stories strengthen our relationships? I know that being completely honest with my husband and he with me has made our bond so much stronger throughout the years. We never have to wonder what they other thinks or feels. We don't have to worry about the things we tell other people about each other, because the love we share is evident to those who know us.

As I read the above quote again, I want to be truthful about every struggle and trust that who I tell will be by my side. They will keep my confidence and I will keep theirs. I want my story to help them look within themselves and find their raw, honest, truths. I want my story to be the seed that helps me grow and helps others grow as well. I want my flame to ignite their flame so we can stand tall and bright in the midst of anything that comes our way.

It's a funny thing that one short quote from the book, She's Still Here by Chrystal Evans Hurst, brought all this to mind. One more reason why I love to read!

Be blessed!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Waiting




November 7th I began a study with Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies, Wait and See by Wendy Pope. I joined my dear friend and sister in Lord Diana Manley Rockwell's group (35). WOW! This study came at the perfect moment. *Godwink* He always knows what we need - when we need it.

"Waiting is hard. In the wait and see, it is imperative that we pause to consider all possibilities of God's design. From the depths of our ache, can we day say to Him, 'Show me what You have planned. I am willing to wait'?" (pg 25)

In my wait I have been impatient, anxious, worried, irritable, depressed, and just overwhelmed! Throughout my life I have had different valley's of waiting, this most recent wait started March of 2014. A few months prior I was diagnosed with a new health issue and the two I was already "dealing" with were worse. I was so stressed out and so tired all the time. Everyday I suffered from panic attacks. Most days I couldn't get out of bed to get to work. I loved working for our local newspaper. I had worked there on and off since I was 19 years old. I started out as a inserter, then delivered papers, circulation assistant, and eventually circulation manager. In the last 8 years I worked for that company I had my ups and downs with just not feeling well. I lowered my hours for about a month per doctor's orders but still no real reason for why I was feeling so bad. I got back to working full-time and once again ignored what my body was telling me, Have you ever done that? You know something is not right but you just don't have time to deal with it. Besides you have to push forward, work harder, make more money, after all that is what life is about, that is what will make a person happy.


For since the beginning of the world
Men have not heard or perceived by ear 
Nor has the eye seen any God besides You,
Who acts for the one who waits for Him. ~Isaiah 64:4

In March I put in my resignation. I just couldn't do it anymore. I could hardly leave the house and I just couldn't concentrate on anything. For to first few months after I quit my job I hardly ever left my seat on the couch. I was terrified of having a panic attack. It seemed that I was getting them so often.  So I stuck my nose in a book and after about 3 months I had read over 80 books. I was trying so hard to distract myself from what was going on. Fast forward to the present day and I am still waiting. Waiting to learn how to love myself, how to take care of myself, how to leave my house without having a panic attack, but most of all how to focus on God while I wait. Just a few weeks ago my husband hurt his back. He is unable to walk without use of a walker, he is unable to do his job, and he is having a hard time dealing with it all. I am trying not to break down. I am trying to focus on God's promises - but today I am losing the battle. 

Waiting is not only hard, it is scary. It has been the hardest thing for me to do. I am a fixer. I have always needed to be busy. I want to make things happen fast. I don't have patience for myself. I overthink everything. I am constantly worried about everything. I am scared of losing control. I am scared to let go. 

Am I still waiting because I am not listening to His voice? Have I let my heart become so hard I can't allow His love to enter? Waiting on myself to find a way to fix my life has left me feeling empty and lost. I don't know how long the wait will be. I don't know where this journey will take me. But, I am willing to wait. 



14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,[c]15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. ~ Ephesians 3:14-20