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The Rock Of Empathy and Understanding

Have you been misunderstood, wronged, hurt, betrayed or falsely accused?  Everyone has at some point.

You know what is the most difficult thing for me to do, but the right and respectable thing, taking it to prayer rather than people? Bringing my hurt to The Father rather than Facebook, and to the Scriptures rather than my stories.

We all desire to be affirmed and understood, but when that desire becomes more about needing the validation of people than God,  I know I have a problem.

This is a great and convicting quote from Julie Sparkman’s book, Unhitching From The Crazy Train, co-written by Jennifer Phillips.  “When you are wronged, instead of pleading, “God, make this right!” you begin to pray, “Jesus,  You know what it feels like to be mocked, misunderstood, and falsely accused. I do long for You to make this right, but in the meantime, would You show me how to honor You as I bear up under injustice?  These Christlike prayers and attitudes come from the Scripture that is stored in your heart.”

I love this!

We have a Savior who suffered to know and identify with us in our affliction.  I am the first to forget to submit mine to Him, the Rock of empathy and understanding.  He is there for me and for you, friend.  Let’s not forget Him.

You are loved.

Unhitching From The Crazy Train is available at Lifeway and on Amazon 2/5/18. Also, you can order from newhopepublishers.com. 

www.restore-ministries.org

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Unhitching From The Crazy Train

Shame loves nothing more than to be my shadow.  I am so prone to beating myself up over choices, (right and wrong), that have resulted in uneasy circumstances.  Sometimes when I forget the gospel, it manifests like this, if I had done, (blank) instead of (blank) life would be more comfortable.
 Whether as a mom, wife, daughter, friend or child of God, I can look back on so many examples of situations I wish I handled differently.  When I allow myself to go down the road of regret, condemnation is waiting on me with open arms.  Accusation always breeds self-pity, and both are fruits of unbelief.
Despair over my choices sheds light on the subtle sediment of unbelief that wrecks my peace and contentment.  When I believe I alone am responsible for how my story goes, I am maximizing myself and minimizing God.  Yes, there are consequences, both good and bad, for my choices, but if I profess to believe in a sovereign God, I cannot leave Him out of the equation.  For all the decisions I have made, right and wrong, God was in the midst and on the throne at the very moment of decision.
Emancipation day from the supremacy of my choices was a lot of years in the making.  I have a very vivid memory of sitting in Julie Sparkman’s office one morning and giving her a tearful litany of all the things I had done right, yet there I sat shattered because life was not reflective of the pictures I developed in the euphoric realm of my expectations. The reality that my “goodness” was no guarantee from pain had come crashing down around me.  Oh boy, did I have a lot to learn!
Chapter four of Julie’s book, Unhitching From The Crazy Train, is one of my favorites.  It is titled, The Deadly Theology of Good Choices.  Does this sound familiar?  If I do A+B, it will =C.  If I eat all the right foods, I will not get cancer.  If I raise my kids right and make sure they have good friends, they will make right choices…   Notice the keyword?  I.  If you believe something along these lines of thinking, you need to read this book.  If you know this kind of logic to be untrue, you, too need to read this book!
Below is from chapter 4:
“Good choices can lead to good outcomes, and alternatively when we make choices we know to be disobedient, there will probably be natural consequences of those choices, and we are called to repent. However, the redemption story God writes cannot be rewritten by our choices. We are held accountable for our choices, yes, but God is bigger than our choices, so they cannot trump God’s overarching plan.” ~Julie Sparkman/Jennifer Phillips
Friends, I have no incentive for highly recommending this book other than I believe with all my heart it will enhance your life in so many ways.  I love you all and earnestly long to see more and more people brought into the freedom that the yoke of Christ offers.  Please do not misunderstand me.  This book is not a self-help, quick fix guide to all of life’s hardships.  It is a better way through them.
We work so hard and bear so much responsibility, no wonder we never feel like enough.  John 1:51 reminds us that Christ already did the work and paved the way.  He is the way.   “I tell you the truth; you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.” ~Jesus.  Notice He does not say I am at the top of the ladder so try your hardest and climb fast.  He is the ladder.  Jesus has bridged the gap between Heaven and Earth for us.
I sincerely hope you will read Unhitching From The Crazy Train.  You will laugh, I promise.  You may cry.  I know for sure, though you will be able to identify and you will find freedom and rest regardless of your current circumstances.
Unhitching From The Crazy Train will be available for order February 5th.  Amazon.  Lifeway.  You may pre-order now from www.newhopepublishers.com.
Julie counsels clients at Restore Ministries in Birmingham, Alabama.   www.restore-ministries.org.
Jennifer writes a blog at www.jenniferphillipsblog.com
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Jesus Holds Our Little Lambs

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Yesterday was a difficult day for me as a mom. Some days our hardest job is remembering that God does not get it wrong-ever! In no circumstance is this a harder fight than circumstances involving our children. My son suffered a traumatic brain injury last July. His cognitive recovery has been a struggle. School is a struggle. Life is a struggle.

His neuropsychologist and case manager spoke with me about considering placing him on a life skills tract as opposed to a diploma/college track at school. He is in the ninth grade. The doctor said his cognitive scores place him within the category of a life skills track. These were very tough words to digest. I tried to put my best armor on and let the words bounce off of me, but the tears were tougher, and they won out.

The emotions are still raw from that tragic day. I think they always will be. A sight, a sound, a smell, a memory; they can all trigger a rush of emotion that no amount of effort can contain. My son is forever changed. I am forever changed. Our family is forever changed. This is not all ominous news. Change chiseled from crisis forges character, perseverance, deeper faith and so much more. The fruits born out of frustration are often some of the sweetest.

My son is not a victim, and I refuse to be either. Once we take on that role we put limitations on ourselves. We also maximize our sufficiency and minimize the soverignty of our Savior. I am sad that the circumstances are as they are. I hurt, I ache and at times I worry about the future. In all my fleshly responses, a voice keeps echoing in my head, BUT GOD. That is my life preserver friends! Test scores are indicators, but they are not dictators. Doctor’s opinions are assessments, but they are not absolutes. I much prefer the infallible provisions of My Provider to the fallible predictions of man.

I don’t know at this time what our decision about our sons’ school track will be. I am not ready to make that decision, nor am I ready to confine him to the limitations of a label. Labels we put on things are typically stickers. Over time, they are prone to fall off. I choose not to rely on labels, I prefer to rest in the hope of providential plans.

Yesterday I heard this quote from my friend, Julie Sparkman, of Restore Ministries. During the third session of her bible study series, Unhitching From the Crazy Train, she said, “Getting under the yoke with Jesus does not give you a different life; it gives you a different way of doing life.” Those words spoke so poignantly to my heart.

No matter what obstacles you or I are confronting today friends, our hope does not rest in the what of our struggle. It resides in the Who of our surrender. That is great news! This truth is a rest for our weary souls. Will you fight to reside here with me? Jesus holds our little lambs.

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Inadequate and Unashamed

 

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Vulnerability, for me is one of the keys to living free. It is the willingness to say, I am broken and weak that opens a reservoir of strength we can only gain in our inadequacy.If we need not, we seek not. It is only in seeking we find.

I’m muddling through my days right now friends. Intense, sudden trauma can wreck havoc on your body and mind weeks and months after the jolting of its turbulence has passed. It certainly has mine. I’m relieved but restless. I thankful but tired. I mingle with grief and walk with gratitude. If you have never occupied such a space, you may not understand, but it is a cumbersome place to fall. I find myself wondering when I will feel adequate again? When will I not feel like I’m letting everyone and everything in my home, and around me down?

Then I’m reminded, that is an arrogant, self sufficient line of interrogation. There will never be a time I will not be neglecting someone or something. In those moments when I forget, I am consumed by frustration. Rest, peace and growth become good desires I am chasing in vain.

I have been feeling very insufficient since Carter’s accident. I am very forgetful. My memory has abandoned me. I do hope it’s on a beach somewhere planning a return soon. If not, I hope it comes back to get the rest of me-:). I’m going to need to shop soon for new clothes, sheets, towels, etc…if the laundry continues to not do itself. My pantry and refrigerator scare me. Every time I open them, they rebuke me. Really, it goes something like this, “we need eggs, ice cream, milk, bread, and just when exactly do you plan on getting to the store?”

With Carter in school such short days, and so many appointments, I am finding it hard to manage my time and responsibilities. When I get a few moments, the to do list is longer than my ability to perform, and sturdier than my stamina. The last few days I have been feeling particularly inferior to my sub par performance- Until yesterday morning.

During a Bible study, Unhitching from the Crazy Train, Julie Sparkman of @Restore Ministries, said this, “we are inadequate and unashamed- that equals the Gospel. That gem of truth was a life giving reminder on a flesh flourishing day for me. It was like a refreshing drink of water on a scorching August afternoon. I knew, but I had forgotten. I had forgotten, and thus forsaken the Gospel.

Jesus died for my inadequacies, and yours. Being ashamed of them is being dishonorable to Him. He willingly gave his life to give me life. He suffered a cruel, undeserved death to complete me in all the areas I am incomplete. Because He is whole, I am free to be broken. Because he is perfect, I am free to be imperfect. That is good news for a ragamuffin like me.There is no need to twinge in light of my truth. There is no need to cower to condemnation. I am righteous because Jesus is risen.

Life has its way of coaxing us into forgetting, but the Gospel has its way of coaching us into remembering.

C. S. Lewis said, “people need reminding a lot more than they need instructing.” Those words are bearers of solid truth. I know, and I forget. I am reminded, and I am set free.

Our years are a series of stages and phases. I am grateful for the ones in which my insufficiency is illuminated so my mind and spirit can once again yield to the exclusion of the One who secures for me all that I cannot attain on my own. I need the Gospel in my hands everyday, so that my heart may remember everyday. I am continually drawn to an awareness that growth is most fertile when planted in the soil of grief. Staying cognizant of that is a bridge to hope and gratitude.

I hope in all the areas you feel inadequate today, and everyday you can find some freedom from this, as I did.