Saturday, November 18, 2017

What Linus and I Have in Common

At the beginning of the New Year, the Lord told me I would go through catalytic transition. I have never been friends with transition. But when the Lord tells you He will take you through a season of change, you sit down, shut up and hang on.

This prophetic declaration over me brought the usual fear, anxiety and hyper-vigilant attention – which is why I am not friends with transition. Thoughts hopscotched through my head. Was God calling me to leave my job? Was He moving me out of Washington? Was I moving somewhere different?

This faith walk through grief-filled caverns has been one of the most profound transitions on my life. I literally felt weights lift off and light spill in as each chambered twist and turn filled with His light and life. The more He spilled in, the more my creative gifts woke up and the more I shed those nasty grave cloths. I glanced down at the dusty, grimy, grayness of the sack cloth and wondered why, oh why did I think it was better to carry this around with me.

Why are sackcloth and old ways so hard to lay down?

Because they are familiar.

Linus can’t give up his dirty blanket. Addicts can’t let go of their chosen vice. Dogs continue to lay in dirty bedding; they even return to their own vomit. Now there is a visual! All because it is so familiar to them and believe there is nothing better - that it is a permanent part of themselves.

Sometimes ingrained comfort places are like grave clothing. And they must be “put off” so we can be clothed with gladness.

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness. To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent.

Oh Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.” Psalms 30:11-12

Thursday, October 26, 2017

What is Your Delilah?

One thing becoming glaringly clear to me over the past 20+ years is that I have more than one Delilah. What is a Delilah? It is the thing we run to for comfort and escape, the things that “own” our emotions until we feel better.

Since I was a kid, my escape was day dreaming wonderful stories. When I wasn’t day dreaming, I was watching I Dream of Jeannie or That Girl. Ok, I just dated myself; but you get my point, right? Now, I have discovered the beauty of Netflix. It is always there for me. It always has the right thing to say and makes me feel better. My other escape is sugar and carbs. The combination of Netflix, potato chips and ice cream is a virtual comfort coma.

During the decades of stale grief and painful seasons, I managed to back myself into a cocoon of comfort that brought physical, mental and creative lethargy with fluffy puffiness (that would be the sugar and carbs). It was easy to see what my sugar/carb addiction was doing to me, but it wasn’t as obvious what was happening to my soul.

One day I stopped writing. Another day I stopped day dreaming. Then I stopped challenging myself mentally to read quality books. I stopped living and started surviving.

Eventually, I stopped praying.

Netflix, sugar and carbs became my worship, prayer, and Bible reading. Binge-watching shows became my go-to for problem solving. Sugar became my dopamine. Chips became a vegetable. (I’m still holding on to the last one…potatoes ARE a vegetable. Baby steps, Dana. Baby steps.)

Basically, I’d given my wounds over to my Delilah and I was suffocating. My creative voice was silenced and my back-side was growing.

As I climb out of the stale grief and allow the Lord to replace Delilah, my gifts are yawning and stretching like a cat unfurling from an afternoon nap in the sun. The suffocation of merely surviving left me gasping in my soul crying out “I want to live!” It has taken seasons of fasting and prayer to climb out of this dark hole. It didn’t just happen. So be encouraged, dear one. And be ignited. The enemy wants nothing more than for us to be unhealthy, distracted, and resting our head in Delilah’s lap.

It’s time to lift the head off Delilah’s lap and walk in our gifting. Living is worth the sacrifice!

I still stay potato chips are a vegetable. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Whose Eyes do You Use?

There are so many things we grieve without realizing we are grieving. Maybe that is why my grief went undetected for so long. The next cavern the Lord brought to light took me by surprise, yet it really was at the core of so much self-perception. It was time to flush out the stale grieving of my self-worth.

Truth be told, this has taken me months to work through and the Lord and I just recently finished this “therapy session.”

As with all good co-dependents, self-worth is intrinsically knitted to how others see and treat us. It is connected to how we feel honored/dishonored or valued/devalued by others. True to my own humanity, I superimposed these things onto how I thought God saw me.

No wonder I was so messed up!

Humans make conscious decisions every day to honor or dishonor through word or action and when we superimpose other’s actions onto our very loving Heavenly Father, it grieves His heart. In reality, all of us start as broken pieces trying to find where we fit. Broken pieces cannot give complete, accurate composites of anything! Even in the light of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, my myopic view of my self-worth was just as fractured and broken as the people whose eyes I was looking through.

This was not going to heal until I got my eyes off man and my eyes focused on HIS view of me. During all the years I’ve spent in prayer and worship, I always pictured myself leaning on Jesus’ chest for a hug or crawling onto my Abba’s lap. I never, NEVER looked into the eyes of my Jesus within my heart-imagination. 

Perhaps I was afraid because I thought I would see my mother’s perfectionism, or my dad’s alcohol-laden stare. Yet, how could I know how Jesus sees me…really SEES me, unless I look into His eyes and see His love for me reflected there. It took courage, why, I still am not sure. Perhaps it is because you truly share heart-intimacy when you look upon your love’s countenance when they gaze into your eyes.

But I chose that day to look upon His face. And it changed my life forever.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Common Ground with Charlie Brown, Part II

So how do you get over not trusting a perfect heavenly Daddy? Great question. For me, this is a constant work in progress; but from what I have gleaned with my time with Him so far, it is much the same as with any transformation of the heart.

  • Repent and share your trust issue with Him. You aren’t telling Him something He doesn’t already know…that part is for your benefit.
  • Spend time with Him. Delight yourself in the Lord. This is a discipline that reaps hope and, in time, trust.
  • Take your time in His Word. His promises are true even if you don’t see the fruit just yet.
  • Remind yourself of all His blessings and seasons you have seen and tasted His goodness and safety. It’s interesting that we have a short memory when it comes to His blessings, yet our memory of lost dreams is vivid and unhindered.
  • Remind yourself that what you perceive as lost dreams and hopes, are really the foundation for the future dreams and hopes. Think of Joseph in Genesis 37. 

I wish I could say I instantly started handing the Lord my football with hand-clapping glee. That is my goal. As of this writing, I hand Him my football with obedience, humility, and yes, a watchful eye.

There is grace for human frailty, hallelujah!

“But as for me, I (choose to) trust in you, Oh Lord.
I say, You are my God. My times (footballs) are in your hand.” Ps. 31:14-15

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Common Ground with Charlie Brown, Part I

You know that feeling when you need to undo a zipper and you can’t reach it? Twisting, turning,
pretzeling your arms isn’t producing the desired result. That’s what this piece of grave clothing felt like. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it to take it off. I couldn’t even find the words in prayer to point to.

I knew there was something else buried, I just couldn’t make it out in the cavernous reaches of my soul. I went through my mental check list of things I’d grieved through but maybe didn’t finish. One by one my fingers tapped on an invisible memory. Nope…it wasn’t connecting.

Then, the Holy Spirit gave me a mental picture of Charlie Brown and Lucy and the infamous football gag. I laughed thinking, “The Lord uses Peanuts to get His point across. This is new revelation.” Then the meaning of the mental cartoon took my breath away.

I didn’t trust Him.

HIM! The maker of the universe, King of all Kings, my Abba, my Beloved.

I didn’t trust HIM.

He showed me that in all the moments of grieving lost dreams - after I had forgiven all others connected to the loss - I still superimposed HIS countenance on Lucy and I was Charlie Brown. My hopes and dreams didn’t feel safe in His hands anymore. Somewhere in this deep cavern a little girl expected her Daddy to protect her dreams and destiny from death. She expected Daddy to protect her castle on a hill.

When the castle burned to the ground, she never fully grieved the loss of perfect trust in a perfect Daddy.

When dreams and hopes are pulled away as you race to launch them and you fall on your back looking at the sky, you stop trusting the one holding the promises.

And on a REALLY bad day a bird flies overhead and poops on you.

“And those who know your name will put their trust in You; 
For you, Oh Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.” Ps 9:10

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Last Thoughts on Shame

Shame and all its accouterments will circle wagons around us if we don’t break the negative cycle. Remember, it is one of the enemy’s favorite tools to keep us from walking in our designed call.

I want to encourage you, loved one, wrestling with these negative cycles does not mean you are not an overcomer! Jacob wrestled with God, David wrestled with his flesh, and the Apostle Paul repeatedly implored the Lord to deliver him from a recurring struggle. We are in good company!

The Lord is calling us to wake up and shed all that entangles and entraps us. The things we overcome will be the foundation and launching pad for our destiny. What you accept, you will learn to adapt, then you will eventually conform to it until you are willing to confront it.”

Your giant will take you if you don’t take them. Life is defined by what you conquer, or by what you DON’T conquer.

“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing (including shame), shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-38

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Starter Kit for Battling Shame

I have been battling shame in one form or another since I was a kid. Unfortunately, it comes with the territory of living with an alcoholic dad and codependent mother. But it wasn’t until the Lord showed me this picture of myself with the sticky residue of shame that I got serious about shedding this unwanted grave clothing.

There is no “formula” for going in to battle; however, if you are new to this, here is a starter kit:
  1. Identify if this is conviction from sin that has putrefied into shame or if this is misplaced shame.
  2. Put your big kid panties on and either a) repent or b) own your portion of the misplaced shame (i.e. are you behaving in a co-dependent way).
  3. Along with your big kid panties, put on your armor, and pick up your Bible.
  4. Choose to believe the promises of God and that all the efforts to put us to shame will fail. It really is a choice. Start proclaiming God’s word over yourself. Below are a few favorite scriptures.
  5. Renounce Shame and the power it has had over your life.
  6. Break it in the mighty name of Jesus!
Then, when shame comes at you again – and it will as it is a favorite tool of the enemy – repeat all steps mentioned above. Do as often as necessary!

We serve a mighty God. He has granted us mighty tools. He will redeem the shattering earthquakes in your life and recover the wasted years. He will replace these grave cloths with shining, pure robes. Instead of shame, He grants double honor! Praise Him!

“But Israel (I) shall be saved by the Lord with an everlasting salvation; you (I) shall not be ashamed or disgraced forever and ever.” Is. 45:17 NKJV
“Do not fear, for you will not be put to shame, and do not feel humiliated or ashamed for you will not be disgraced. For you will forget the shame of your youth and you will no longer remember the disgrace of your widowhood.” Is. 54:4 Amplified
“For the Scripture says, ‘whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” Romans 10:11 NKJV
“No weapon (shame) formed against you will prosper, and every tongue that rises against you in judgment, you shall condemn.” Is. 54:17 NKJV