Tag Archives: comfort

Memories: Changing the Cycle of Pain and Automatic Reactions

Sometimes we hold ourselves back from certain people, places, dates and times, experiences and other aspects of life because of a painful or traumatic memory.

Unconscious intrusive triggers might inhibit us from participating in good aspects of life because we get hung up on the somatic (physical) and psychological (mental) effects of remembering. We don’t want a repeat of a painful “last time,” and try to avoid such occurrences. Such memory recall often triggers episodes of reliving an experience adding to and even reinforcing the negative experiences we had.  THis may also act as a reinforcer unhelpful belief patterns. When this occurs, PAIN becomes our counsellor, and even sometimes, our governor. What can we do? 

One thing you often can do is to overwrite an old memory by making a new memory with the present opportunity you have. We are constantly overwriting old memories with new material unconsciously. We can consciously do so too with some intention and belief it is possible. Hope is a strong motivator.

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The Brain is powerful in the cognitive function of plasticity. Scientists used to believe that memory was hardwired and once formed, permanent. However, since then it has been discovered through neuroscience and cognitive psychology that each time we recall a memory, it changes in subtle ways. We unconsciously edit a memory with minute subtractions and additions, and the memory becomes re-consolidated (reconstructed and saved) in a new way. 

This is in part why some parts of memory stand out more than others, some parts fade, others increase in intensity and quality, and sometimes other people’s recall of a same event is different than our own. Occasionally our minds even fill in the blanks with color or other details we have forgotten, aren’t true or didn’t actually occur. E.g. “I could swear that motorcycle Joe had was red, not blue.” 

Particularly salient parts of memory are more likely to stand out and last longer. However, even memories of traumatic events such as 9-11, are, and can be, edited as we remember them. An interesting area of study on salient events involves eye-witness cases, which have high inconsistencies and are now considered as somewhat unreliable evidence in courts of law. We can embellish memories or micro-delete aspects unconsciously or by deliberate choice. Memory is influenced by numerous variables and is an interesting study on its own.

This fact also means we be active in choosing how we want to remember by reconstructing a memory association.  I am not advocating telling ourselves lies or myths to cope. This is what I do mean…

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Memory works strongly with associations such as taste, smell, touch, sight, sound, and other senses such as feelings/emotions. E.g. people may forget what you said, but they’ll never forget how they felt when you said it.

I rephrased this popular saying because, regarding emotions (which differ from our physical yet are interconnected) we have power and responsibility in part for our feelings and how we manage or act on them even when another is an initiator of negative events. We may be on a learning curve on how to do this, but ultimately, its within our power to decide how we will allow things effect us long term, and what we will do to begin the process and fulfillment of healing.

When pain and fear anchor as primary emotions in our memory consolidation process, it can create a reinforcement cycle of the memory like a well worn path. Further, painful social situations activate the same nerve and brain areas as physical pain does. This is why we experience heartache as a physical pain, or get pain symptoms in various parts of our bodies (soma-symptoms). However our bodies can learn to release trauma and pain from soma and muscle memory as well.

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We usually have understanding of the problem of our pain, but are often uncertain how to get our minds out of memory holding patterns. This pattern is what needs changed to heal. By the same principle of the well worn path, a pathway barely used becomes overgrown. In the case of brain patterns and memory, when dendrites and synapses (our brain’s tree branches and leaves, or highways and intersections) are not in frequent use, the brain prunes our memory tree, closes road.

Then as we learn or adapt our thinking, it regrows new branches or paves new roads or adds an overpass, which function differently.  This principle of use and disuse is quite noticeable in things like second languages, directions, or placing a name to a face.

We don’t have to revisit every painful memory for this to happen, like scientists and therapists used to believe. We can actively make new memories in place of the old. It is like overwriting old code. This removes old triggering associations, by creating new ones.

This memory flexibility and resilience underlies certain professional psychological treatments for trauma, phobias, and general cognitive restructuring. The brain gets rewired as to what our focus is on, connects to new associations, forming patterns in our memory, which then re-consolidates into a new framework, or schema. Thus we can remember events or other things without pain or triggers when this change occurs.

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What we focus on expands and magnifies.

 If you find certain places, people, objects etc are triggers for you, you might want to give making new memory associations a chance. It may not happen the first time you try, you may feel very uncomfortable at first. It may even feel worse to begin with, but with persistence and support from others, the memories, experiences,  relationships, etcetera that you want to keep but with new healthy associations, can happen for you. I have shared this concept with personal friends and have started receiving good feedback about its affects.

In reality, we don’t ‘unlearn’ things- we learn again- the overwriting aspect. This plasticity is also a mechanic of the spiritual reality of renewing our minds to truth, and shifting belief patterns. You can be free of negative past associations. Let’s get creative.

*Not every memory is one we want to keep; some we are better off losing completely– I don’t mean repression. Depending on the severity of trauma and our personal experiences, this type of overwriting may work great without other’s involvement, or, people may find they need assistance in this process, whether a friend, counsellor, or by supernatural means.

For those of you whose hope has been crushed by being told you have a disorder that can’t be healed, only managed, I encourage you to seek counsel and wholeness through Jesus our Healer. The greatest helper, Jesus Christ, is the master physician and counselor for memories that have crushed one’s spirit. I, and, many others can personally attest to His healing power and loving process to heal memories.

For further interest, this book was recommended to me by my oversight (a practicing psychiatrist) in my undergrad course Abnormal Psychology  regarding my course project: investigating  DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) and Depersonalization–Derealization Disorder (DDD–which is in fact more common than generally realized by practitioners). For those who like a little more scientific info, or wonder about the mechanics of how focus affects any number of our systems including spiritual focus see:

New York Times Bestseller, FOCUS: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, by Daniel Goleman.

 

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When God seems silent in tradgedy

We are ever discovering who God is. Sometimes He may seem silent when we feel like we most need to hear Him speak.

We might react in feeling abandoned, interpret the sense of void as rejection, or indifference on His part. Feelings influence our sense of interpretation, and schema we develop our world view around. They can be highly effective, or disruptive, and therefore need to be processed through discernment.

One of the reasons I love the written word (scriptures) is that I can go search Him out even when He seems MIA, and  be reminded of the truth of who He is even when feelings and thoughts contradict. And I love the rhema word- the “right now” spirit to spirit communication that comes through relationship with Him and gives knowledge and instruction in a moment.

When my brother (in law) died in March I was in utter shock– my expectation was a physical miracle. The shock that accompanied his death carried a sort of numbing quality with it.

In the days that followed, I came to sit in God’s presence. I didn’t have a lot to say, some things seemed futile to ask or say,  sometimes I just wept–my words forming in tears and deep sighs. At some point I began to think on how I wasn’t hearing Him say anything to me, yet I knew He was actively present.

Still I took time specifically to come sit in His presence. During one of these times, I suddenly understood–

He was sitting in mine.

He didn’t immediately start filling up the air space with words as we often do in an effort to comfort either ourselves or the one’s whose loss is so deep. Just as for seven days Job’s friends had the sense and wisdom to simply sit with Job in his pain and misery without explanation or instruction, just to be with Job in stillness and presence, HE came and sat in mine.

When we experience a deep sense of loss and pain, He doesn’t fill the air with platitudes, and cliches as people often feel compelled to do. He draws us into His arms and rests his kiss on our heads. Lets us soak in His strength, comfort and healing. He prepares our hearts to be able to listen and receive. He gently ministers the salve and healing oil, so that numbness abates and our hearts can hear.

And when we are able and ready to hear Him speak, then He does. The sensitivity of God makes Him the greatest friend anyone can hope for.

When He begins to speak, He doesn’t always speak to the things we are wanting to know. He speaks to who we are. Identity is something we may begin to forget when we don’t see the kingdom and words of God manifest as we desire and expect to. The rawness of pain and loss can cloud “truth reality” with “experiential factuality,” and so He speaks to our identity and reveals again why we believed as we did to begin with. And He speaks of who He is. Still. Even if…

Sometimes God sits with us in silence. He is not withholding, He is not rejecting or disciplining. He is presenting us with His presence, His person. In tender wisdom, He lets us express ourselves and He listens, holding us close, lending His strength.

I began to realize the wisdom He acted in by sitting with me in silence. Silence is powerful. We are often to tempted to fill it all up with words, especially in Western culture. But it has its own purpose and wisdom. It leads us into stillness. In stillness, we find understanding, and renewal. We begin to know what He knows.

When God seems silent, lean in and see if He is really sitting in your presence, drawing you into His arms, placing his lips on your head, letting you pour out your heart, adding the salve and the oil, readying you to be able to hear. Know He is present, even if you can’t yet perceive Him. By faith, you will.

Be still, and Know,– I Am God. [j]Cease striving and know that I am God;

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,
[b]A very present help in [c]trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the [d]sea;
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. [e]Selah.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
The holy dwelling places of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved;
God will help her [f]when morning dawns.

10 [j]Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the [k]nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah. NASB

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Are Those Joined to Jesus “Prone” to sin? “Prone” to Wander?

Prone: Predisposed. Likely to or liable to suffer from, do, or experience something, typically something regrettable or unwelcome. (Google)

Sin: To fall shy of the perfect and complete; to act apart from the original union, holiness and glory God created us to dwell in with Him.

Worship lyrics, spiritual teaching, preaching…I frequently hear a theme within these, in somewhat varied presentations, that we are prone to sin, prone to wander away from the Lord. I understand the sentiment. It seems humble…admitting our need for God.

Yet, is this proneness to sin and wander theme doctrinally and biblically sound truth for new covenant believers in Jesus? Or a misguided trope that weakens the conscience of believers and causes a sense of vulnerability to sin and a falling away?

Let’s look at just a few verses.

2 Corinthians 5:14-17 Weust version For the love which Christ has [for me] presses on me from all sides, holding me to one end and prohibiting me from considering any other, wrapping itself around me in tenderness, giving me an impelling motive, having brought me to this conclusion, namely, that One died on behalf of all in order that those who are living no longer are living for themselves but for the One who died on their behalf and instead of them, and was raised.

So that, as for us, from this particular time onward, not even one individual do we know as judged upon the basis of human standard. Even though we [Paul in his unsaved state] have known Christ as judged by human standard, yet now no longer do we know Him as such. So that, assuming that anyone is in Christ, he is a creation new in quality. The antiquated, out-of-date things [which do not belong to the new life in Christ Jesus] have passed away. Behold, all things have become new in quality.

This scripture reveals that our whole person is radically changed when we join ourselves to Jesus, the Christ. Our nature becomes new, the old ways have died, and like dead, injured flesh, has been cut, and cast away.

When we have only partial understanding about being unified with Jesus, we may think because we are tempted, or because we still have old habits, that we have a dual nature. I’m convinced this skewed belief is what keeps many from walking as new beings.

Many people think Romans chapter seven explains that we have a dual nature, but Paul is truly talking there about his old nature, not the new. This is why reading on to Romans 8-the redemptive chapter- is so necessary.

For instance, if in receiving Jesus Christ we continued in an old nature, Christ’s work is, at least partially, in vain. Or, if we were given a new nature, but retained the old nature as well (dual nature), then we would live in limbo-sinning one time, and standing strong resisting sin another. Though this may seem to be our experience, and a dual nature is often taught as being true, it is not accurate either.

If we believe, after joining ourselves to Christ that our whole nature hasn’t changed, then we will likely believe that we have no power over sin, that we can’t help but sin, that it’s normal to sin, and expect to sin. This belief acts as type of self-fulfilling prophecy, by which we might then fall into a cycle of false profession, and confession of habitual sins.

The old nature is prone to sin; the new nature is not.

Are we still able to sin? Unfortunately-yes. I’m not proposing we are all completely sinless, but that we will sin less. Just as Adam & Eve were created pure, and good, and had ability to choose, we also have this ability (power) to choose now, to sin, or not sin, having died to sin and being raised again as a new being. Reborn or born again.

Our new and present reality is greater than what Adam and Eve knew, having been made living souls of and in the earth; the new birth conjoins us to Jesus, the life giving spirit, and seats us with Him above all things. (See 1Corinthians 15:45, Ephesians 2:4-10.)

Paul shares the antithesis to a cycle of sin in Romans 8.

Romans 8:1-4 Therefore, now, there is not even one bit of condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, for the law of the Spirit, that of the life in Christ Jesus, freed you once for all from the law of the sinful nature and of death. For that which is an impossibility for the law, because it was weak through the sinful nature, God having sent His Son in likeness of flesh of sin, and concerning sin, condemned sin in the sinful nature, in order that the righteous requirement of the law may be brought to completion in us who, not as dominated by the sinful nature are ordering our behavior but as dominated by the Spirit.

In Jesus, we have been given a new nature in place of the old. This means we are no longer “sinners.” It is no longer our nature to sin. We have been transformed into a new identity- partaking of the very nature of God Himself. We are living, Being, in the dominion and power of the Holy Spirit, our own spirit made right(eous). If this is true, why does sin still seem to be a problem? And why do so many struggle greatly with sin patterns?

Most of us have yet to grasp the full reality of the work of Jesus and what it literally means to us and our transformation. This realization is continuously unfolding in our understanding.

We are called to renew our mind (restructure our thinking) to the truth of what Jesus has done for us and the righteousness, holiness and justification He’s placed us into by our faith in Him. By agreeing with Him, about ourselves, our mind, beliefs and ways begin to change into His likeness; as the image in a mirror. When Christ is fully formed in us, we look like Him. Like twins.

Romans 6:18+ And having been set free once for all from the sinful nature, you were constituted slaves to righteousness…But now, having been set free from the sinful nature and having been made bondslaves of God, you are having your fruit resulting in holiness, and the consummation, life eternal.

Galatians 5:22-25 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfullness, meekness, self-control. Against such things as these there is no law. And they who belong to Christ Jesus crucified the evil nature with its dispositions and cravings once for all. In view of the fact that we are being sustained in spiritual life by the Spirit, by means of the Spirit let us go on ordering our conduct.

2 Corinthians 3: 12-18 Now, as for us, we all, with uncovered face, reflecting as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are having our outward expressions changed into the same image from one degree of glory to another according as this change of expression proceeds from the Lord, the Spirit, this outward expression coming from and being truly representative of our Lord.

Examining these verses and many verses like them, we see that though it’s true we were once prone to sin, weakness, rage, lust, deceit etc., in the old nature, but we are now new and prone to righteousness via our new nature-God’s nature! Our spirit DNA that was fallen, has be upgraded, once we join in union with Jesus. We become one–one spirit. 1 Corinthians 6:17.

What then, happens when we do sin?

Romans 8:27 Moreover, He who is constantly searching our hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit because, according to God, He continually makes intercession on behalf of the saints.

What does this mean?

Jesus (and through his blood and body) is continuously active, present on our behalf, intervening to make us continually clean and righteous before Him. And, the Holy Spirit of God, makes us conscious of righteousness and holiness, drawing us to that mindfulness.

Hebrews 10:21-23…and having a Priest, a Great One, over the house of God, let us keep on drawing near with a genuinely true heart in full assurance of faith, having had our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and having had our body washed with pure water.

1 John 1:7 But if within the sphere of the light we are habitually ordering our behavior as He himself is in the light, things in common and thus fellowship we [the believer and God] are having with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son keeps continually cleansing us from every sin.

1 John 2:1 My little children [born-ones, bairns], these things I am writing to you in order that you may not commit an act of sin. And if anyone commits an act of sin, One who pleads our cause we constantly have facing the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous One.

In truth, He is focussing on our new nature now; whether we are being corrected or celebrated, He is drawing attention to our new nature, not the old (it’s dead). Since His focus is on the new, our’s ought to be too. God is not stuck in sin consciousness and neither should we be. We are to be love, righteousness, and holiness focused. What we focus on amplifies and expands.

It it also necessary to understand, that if we say and believe we are unified with Jesus, then our overall actions will become a proof of this union. We will not want to do the things that seemed natural when we lived in an old nature. We will desire and delight to live out of our new nature.

Though for a time, while we are growing up out of our newborn birth, the old nature may still seem familiar, yet, eventually the more intimate we grow with God, and the more we renew our minds to the truth, the old will seem foreign and unusual, so that IF we sin (not when), we will want to change our stance immediately and turn back to moving out of our new nature, which affects peace and joy.

Gods grace empowers us to say, “No,”to sin (Titus 2:12). People who keep on deliberately living the same old way as before, have not understood the reality of joining to Jesus.

John 14:20-21 In that day you shall know experientially that I am in my Father and you in me and I in you. He who has my commandments and habitually keeps them, that one is he who is loving me with a divine and self-sacrificial love. And he who is loving me thus, shall be loved with this same kind of love by my Father, and I shall love him with a divine and self-sacrificial love, and I shall disclose myself to him.

1 John 2:6 He who is constantly saying that he as a habit of life is living in close fellowship with dependence upon Him is morally obligated just as that One conducted himself, also himself in the manner spoken of to be conducting himself.

This action isn’t gritting our teeth, in self effort and reliance. The Holy Spirit, our helper, partners with us and compels our hearts and minds to act and Be in our new nature. In time, experientially as well as literally, it doesn’t become second nature to us, but First nature.

1Corinthians 2:9-12 But as for us, not the spirit of the world system did we receive but the Spirit who is of God in order that we might come to know the things which by God have been in grace bestowed upon us, which things also we put into words, not in words taught by human philosophy but in words taught by the Spirit, fitly joining together Spirit-revealed truths with Spirit-taught words.

Romans 8:26+ But if that which we do not see, we hope for, through patience we expectantly wait for it. And in like manner also the Spirit lends us a helping hand with reference to our weakness, for the particular thing that we should pray for according to what is necessary in the nature of the case, we do not know with an absolute knowledge; but the Spirit himself comes to our rescue by interceding with unutterable groanings.

Moreover, He who is constantly searching our hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit because, according to God, He continually makes intercession on behalf of the saints. And we know with an absolute knowledge that for those who are loving God, all things are working together resulting in good, for those who are divinely-summoned ones according to His purpose.

By examining the inspired scriptures we can be assured that we no longer have a sin nature, nor a dual nature if we have been joined to God. The old died and was cut away. Upon our union of spirit and new birth (reborn/born again) and have a new nature, the nature of God.

We are also given the Holy Spirit who teaches and empowers us how to live out of it, and to reject past sinful ways. If we do sin, we can come to Him, dialogue about how we and others have been effected, and know that He faithfully cleanses us, including our conscience.

Go on out there with Godfidence! You are Prone to the persuasion of God’s Spirit and your new nature in Christ Jesus, not to sin or wandering. Check out the books of Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Hebrews, and 1rst 2nd & 3rd books of John for more clarity. Study it out and see for yourself.

*If you stumbled on this post, and have not made your peace and union with God, through Jesus Christ, the invitation to do so is open for every single person. He’s waiting to make you new- into a son, daughter, new being- just reach out to him from your heart. He hears and He rushes to you.

Please let me know if you’ve made this choice and/or if you feel you need further understanding or help: connect at liifetree12@gmail.com

Unmarked photos–Photo credits to Panoramio.com and mzayat.com respectively.

Standing in the Heat of Conflict

Much of the time when the Bible speaks of warfare, our part is simply to stand and withstand, immovable. In trusting quietness and confidence we engage His strength (Isaiah 30. 15). In one of the most challenging personal & corporate skirmishes I’d encountered, God had someone send me this word–It’s challenging to summon words to express my gratitude, and how it helped me endure through the length of the difficulty, which is one of the functions of prophetic words. Edification, fortification.

My prayer is that in sharing this vision, your spirit and soul will be emboldened and strengthened to stand, and having done all–stand firm. If it helps you, or you have a similar story to share, please leave a comment!

I was simply acting from a place of knowing, a place of rest, being still in my heart and mind. Being unmoved. Knowing that regardless of what was occurring or the backlash that was coming in the natural through people being influenced, that I just needed to stay in this place of stillness, responding and not reacting myself.

Honestly, there were days it felt more than terrible in the natural, but in the spirit, I was learning how to move with God and keep my stance in the heat of the conflict. This is for those of you who may find yourselves there now, or are wondering what you could have done different.

The Lord is good and kind. I didn’t share to prayer chains or ask for prayer about this (not that it would be wrong- I just didn’t feel that was needed) The Lord Himself had this sister contact me.

“I feel I’m supposed to tell you that you need to stand on whatever promises He’s given you. You need to stand.

And I see you, and I’m not used to having visions/dreams like this, but I see you with flaming red hair and you look like you’re almost dancing the way you are blocking every fiery dart that’s coming your way. There’s no effort in it, just that you seem to know exactly where to move ahead of time to the next position. You’re a warrior- that’s how I saw you.

Details of Dream:

It was early morning and I was just coming out of sleep. Picture a light baby blue background. There is one mountain with airy cloud 3 quarters the way up. It stretched horizontally across the mountain in the vision and the mountain was encompassed in this foggy stretch of cloud.

Now this mountain was very high and there was nothing below other than clear blue. You were in the heavens…this definitely represented spirit realm. The top of the mountain was like a small space. 3 ft by 3ft.

Your hair was long and red and orange and it looked like crackling fire. Now there had to be a wind like force as you rotated around combating. I say this because you hair wasn’t dangling but being fanned back with tension, but not enough to remove the wave/crackle.

Now the angle that I could see this from was way higher. You were wayyy below wherever I was being shown from. I interpret this was from the 3rd heaven. A specific” honing in” on this platform. You were in white straight leg cotton pants 6 inches above your ankles.

I saw your right foot briefly fairly detailed. It was a strong foot. I could see when I prayed this morning a few veins around the ankle. I could see the blood in them was light blue but what I got out of this was healthy in a physical sense. Your toes were gripping and moving firmly as you required them to.

No sign of being shaken or challenged. They were still very much female feet and they really had no sign of wear and tear. Like no dead skin. Fresh. I was going to say like baby skin but that’s not accurate.

The word that cut that thought off was-the foot was alive. Like the foot of Eve before she fell. Able to meet the demand easily because you had done this many times and had the skill and precision as a nature above all instinct to do so. Auto pilot is a good word. I did not see any callouses or abrasions. I only recall seeing the right foot briefly in a staggered stance with your right leg forward.

Because I don’t want you to think that this image was intended for you to think about the feet more than the rest of it. Your top was v necked. Not really low but an inch under the collar bones. It had a 2 inch thicker hemming or additional white fabric. 3 quarter length arms were loose but a thick white material too. Like a cross of cotton and potato sac. The bottom of the top would fall just passed the hips. There were small v slits on each side.

I didn’t see much about the 2nd belt you had on but must have been a 4 inch. The first one just tied underneath built in to pants. white. He also gave me scripture but I’ll get into that.

So what I saw coming at you were wooden arrows traveling by a force that wasn’t made to known to me. So the source of where they came from I didn’t see. But you didn’t actually make contact with them and they were snapped in half from my viewpoint looked like 6 inches. So from where you were was nowhere near as close. They came from far enough away that they were moving quickly but you were prepared before they were close enough to be an issue and were already moving into the next position without looking at the next one.

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What I thought was awesome was the way you moved–like fluid and to me….. what this says is the laws of the natural were not applicable to you. They were overridden.

You’re facial expression was focused but not fearful. Just anticipating, really precisely and quickly. Like as if you were being told what to do…not because you were so focused on the arrow. You were skilled, not so much toward the arrows, but skilled on knowing where to be next. You just had to move to the next position. You’re limbs would just respond to your body’s shift. Your force didn’t even need to be that close to the arrow. But no fear at all, and easily breaking these things.”

This is what “warfare” is meant to look like when backlash or an attack comes. Quiet, attuned, confidence. Sometimes it comes because we have done the right thing, not the wrong thing. We stay focused on His voice and the deep knowing– this is faith. Being in faith doesn’t always immediately shift how other’s react; it does shift how we respond. A number of times, someone that would never know my situation, has commented to me that they had an assignment to help me make it through the heat.

Some times we may feel very alone in our battles, yet He has stirred someone out of their sleep to pray, or has someone composing a prophetic encouragement to share. Sometimes we never know at all, due to the sensitive nature of our struggles, that He has someone praying on our behalf. All we may know is we made it through!

I can think of some situations right now that I have prayed for and never breathed a word to the persons involved–my assignment was only to pray, and safeguard the secret that God was keeping for them. He is faithful. And having been made like us, for a time, a compassionate and powerful strength. May you be encouraged and confident in the heat just as in the cool and calm.

 

 

 

The Word Opens Up Encounters

By faith we inherit…Therefore inheriting the promises is the outcome of faith and depends entirely on faith, in order that it might be given as an act of grace, to make it stable and valid and guarenteed to all his descendants… Romans 4 (Amplified).

Grace, Faith and Promise

By grace through a promise we receive. Takes a load of performance pressure off doesn’t it? Whatever point of our journey, God is anticipating using our experiences as opportunities to reveal Himself to us that we might know Him- not just doctrinally, but experientially. One of my favorite things is noticing a verse or paragraph and then experientially understanding it, or having some encounter with God and then finding a verse that affirms it. This is a story about that. Encountering God experientially after meditating on a passage of scripture for a time- Romans 4.

Singing a Love Song

I love to sing. More to the point I love to worship through song. Since I was a child, who discovered she could carry a tune and do a half decent rendition of Dolly Parton’s Jolleen, I have sung my way through life’s joys and sorrows. I grew up on Country and later imagined myself singing Jazz and Blues in the nightclubs (it was the only place I knew where crooners would be welcome).

To hone my craft, I joined school and church choirs, moved on to duets and finally “solos” then on to weddings, christian ladies brunches, and funerals. For a very short stint, I was the singer for a band called Sweet and Nasty– I was the sweet, and other members were the nasty. We had one gig at Klondike Days (K-Days) in the Christian Motorcycle Group’s tent and then I faded into obscurity. I was later invited to join another band that had some small time tour plans but by that time I had a beautiful 5 month old son, and my priorities had shifted. My band days were behind me.

At some point I decided my voice had been given by God and belonged to purposes that put the spotlight on Him alone, so I never did croon the jazz and blues as I had dreamed. But He was attentive to my heart desires and opened up a place for me to lead worship in the church, something that I had prayed secretly for but had not voiced. I was delighted! This is the background upon which my personal encounter with Him became staged…

Trial and Pain

Somewhere between singing and diapers I began to experience pain on the right side of my jaw. I ignored it as long as possible until I began getting headaches as well and sharp biting pains that would move from my jaw up the side to the top of my head, and my jaw began to click when it opened and closed. A little trauma at the dentist as a child made me anxious-avoidant but the pain became too frequent to ignore, so I made an appointment. The x-rays showed my wisdom teeth on both sides were turned and impacted. One tooth kept trying to move up into place but because of its orientation it was pushing against the molar in front of it instead. This was what caused the jaw and headache issues.

At the time I didn’t know much about the authority and power given to believers for intervention or how miracles came about, so I made my next appointment with the specialist, and began scrimping to save the cost of the surgery, around $1500 dollars. The day arrived and the doctor came out to speak to me as a preview to surgery. He asked a number of medical questions and what I did for hobbies. I shared with them that I was a singer, I sang in the church and a few other places.

He left and returned after a short examination of the x-rays with some unhappy news. One of the teeth was oriented in such a way that it appeared to go through the nasal cavity. This would mean that when they removed it, it would change my airways and my sound when I sang. Basically it might ruin my singing. Further, because it was an awkward surgery, it would be about $300 more than they had quoted me. I’ve heard this is the same reason Barbara Streisand chose to leave her nose as it was, the nose or the song. If it’s true, I’d say she chose well. Wind Beneath My Wings is a great song.

Laying it Down, Choosing Faith, Believing

This became a hard decision to make in a matter of minutes. I didn’t have more money- not in paper or plastic. And I loved to sing- I couldn’t imagine not singing. But this pain was becoming somewhat debilitating and I couldn’t see myself trying to live with it any longer. As I sat in the waiting room I turned to the Lord and offered Him back His gift I had used for His glory, as best I knew how. I said simply, “You gave me this ability to sing, and I really don’t want to lose it–but this pain is too much. I’m going to have the surgery and I’ll leave it to you whether I can still sing or not when I wake up.” I had an expectancy, and I was willing to entrust it all to Him.

An Encounter with my Beloved

I remember waking up from my own cry feeling drugged and nauseous, the nurse assuring me of where I was, that I was okay, but I must “breathe deeper”. Others had come after me and left before me, and I was having a difficult time waking up from the anesthetic. Yet before the fog lifted from me and consciousness returned, I experienced something that feels just as profound to me now as it did in that moment. It’s a little hard to describe, but I’ll attempt it and hope you can imagine how it would feel to you.

The thick cloaking presence of God was moving over and around me- I imagine like in Genesis, where it says the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the deep. Simultaneously I heard the most masculine, deep, strong with authority, voice speaking to me saying, “Abraham believed God”. Then I woke with a start by my own cry of pain. Please, close your eyes for a moment and imagine the sense of God’s spirit hovering and moving over you and hearing a deep voice speak the Word you have been studying back to you. It is a sense of sacred, of holy, and of power. I was in wonder and awe. I still am.

The Word Is Reality

I no longer would merely muse about Romans 4, and what that might look like in my life. I had a living encounter with my Lord, who using a short phrase and a foreknowing of circumstance chose to personally reveal Himself and His word to me in a deeper way. When I was conscious enough, the dentist informed me that although it had been scrupulously close to the nasal cavity, the tooth was not through it; I could continue to sing to, and about, the one I love. As an odd sort of bonus, a cyst was found on one of the teeth which would allow them to file a type of claim and reduce the cost of the surgery back to the original amount. I was given more than I thought to ask for.

Mediating on the Word sets us up for personal encounters with Him. Believing Him is our most basic need, and our glory. Years later I’m still singing, sharing how faithful He is to watch over His word to perform it, and that He is no respecter of persons. He will meet with each of us and perform His word.

Father, You are amazingly Good. We anticipate meeting you in both typical and unusual places and circumstances. The everyday life is a doorway to encountering your loving kindness. Thank you that your written words are gateways to meeting You, the living Word. Help us to honor your Word, make it alive to each of us, that we may intimately know you, and love you more.

 

Prophetic Word: Living Unsettled

Prophetic word:

Earlier a friend posted a quote on growth happening when we getting out of our comfort zone- I replied, “What about living in the ‘discomfort’ zone?” She replied, “Lots of growth!!!” And it’s true. 
Then this comes in my email: 

“Cyndi, 

Can you get comfortable with being uncomfortable?

Because if you can, you’ll be right in the sweet spot of personal growth. The times when you’re getting stretched, pushing through the pain, or feeling out of your element — that’s when the magic happens. It doesn’t happen when you sit back on your heels and start getting complacent…” -Michael Hyatt

Then another friend sent a similar insight… Repeats are cues and clues to listen and engage…

The reality is, I’ve felt and heard the Lord say over a long period, more than a year now, 

“My people need to learn to live “unsettled”. 

The meaning is that we are creatures of habit and routine, and while to some degree we need structure, we can also become dependent on our ‘familiar’ circumstances rather than Him as our anchor and stability. 

It’s interesting that without pruning, grape vines (and other plants) will choose spreading leaf and runners over producing fruit. Pruning is essential. It may seem a bit of a shock to the system, but it’s part of Life. 

Likewise we tend to get rattled and sometimes even frantic when our comfort zones get challenged. We pray for change and yet become highly resistant to it at the same time. Resistance can hinder or help, it depends on the application.
In these globally troubled days, we are being taught how to thrive in the midst of turmoil, upheaval, and distress by learning to live and move and have our being in Him, not in our circumstances, not in our familiar routines, or our sometimes entrenched expectations of how life must go. Sometimes we may feel like we’ll only be okay when everything settles. If this becomes our expectation, we may long feel upended and as though life feels out of control. We are being taugh to live in the flux. 

Much of our anxiety, pain and discomfort is in our resistance. We need to discern when resistance is helpful and when it is actually in our way. In the big picture, we are foreigners and aliens transversing this life, we are unsettled, moving through, by an internal map and compass of the spirit. 
Will the upheaval settle? Not permanently, every shaking causes us to inherit the unshakable, if we are willing. The shaking and displacing of our comfort isn’t going to stop in some permanent manner in which we can “settle”, but if we learn to move along, living “unsettled”, if we can learn to get comfortable being uncomfortable, then we won’t as likely go into shock when the dismantling of our familiar occurs. 

Sure, it takes a bit to find our feet in it all, but this is why we are given a Comforter-to help us get comfortable in the uncomfortable. 
“Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice.” Isaiah 41:10