Sunday, February 28, 2010

Getting My Joy Back

Sadly as I look back over the past 5 years or so, I really seemed to waste a lot of time trying to find joy in all the wrong places. Because of depression, anxiety, losing myself in my kids and family responsibilites and just going through the motions after a while, I had just lost my joy altogether and really couldn't find it consistently anymore. Yet there was still this deep longing for that joy to return. I just didn't know how to get it back.
I haven't talked about this much with many people but the only thing for a very long time that I could remember feeling true joy and fulfillment from was when I was pregnant and when my children were born. Therefore, my longing for more children would never go away, even after my 3rd child. Up until a few months ago, I wanted a 4th child pretty badly, but couldn't really figure out why. I had really lost that ability to find joy in my life outside of the idea of carrying and bringing another child into the world. Even raising my kids wasn't bringing any joy to me like I'd always hoped. It was a duty that turned into a daunting task each and every day because I truly felt I was a big failure daily with this job, as I know many parents feel, and it was zapping any joy I could find from my children sadly. They were just exposing my weaknesses and that didn't feel good. And of course there was always this voice that said I was nuts for wanting more kids because i could hardly take care of the ones I had without being a neurotic mess most of the time. But I still couldn't make the desire for more kids to go away. And I knew that desire was coming from a lack of something deeper.
I have maintained a relationship with God all this time even yet I still wasn't satisfied. I mean the Bible says that He is the one who satisfies our deepest longings, but I wasn't feelin' it still.

Well over the past several months, God has been unleashing some things in my heart that have allowed this longing to finally start being fulfilled. He has given me a world of things around me to enjoy and be filled by. I have been challenged to really list what these things are and recognize them as gifst from God. I think He tries to fulfill us in ways beyond our recognition sometimes. And as I have been recognizing these things, it has revealed to me that there has been a joy-filled life here for the taking each and every day of my life that I have been missing out on because I had that "grass is always greener" mentality all this time. Now I just have to choose to recognize that it's to let my life be where God has me. My dad used to say all the time to look for God's fingerprints everywhere you go. And that is just what I've been doing. And you don't have to look far. This is that "taking God outside of the box" mentality too. He's EVERYWHERE if you just look for Him.
So I'm gonna get even more personal and list some things that have been restoring my joy each day. Notice they don't have to be BIG or expensive or life-altering. Many are small things but that fill my heart up immediately if I just soak in the moment.

1. The freedom to pray and read the Word anytime
2. My kids' laughter
3. Hugs and kisses from my kids
4. hot baths (I just had to put this one in)
5. My husband's companionship and love for me
6. Serving my husband selflessly
7. Serving my kids their favorite meal and seeing the smiles on their faces
7. Dancing for fun
8. Worship music
9. Sunny 70 degree days
10. Speaking a word of encouragement to someone
11. The privelege of being at home full time
12. new opportunities to share Christ with others

These are just some of the things that I've found that I've taken for granted too long. But if I choose to see them all as gifts from God, my whole perspective changes. Do you realize that all of these things don't cost a dime (well I guess we could get technical about that baths..ha). And do you notice some things even involve giving out to others? Giving out I've found can be the most fulfilling if my heart and motives are in the right place.

Well, there you have it. Some improvements being made in Bethany's life. And God is behind it all. Just like we love to see our children filled with joy, he wants the same for me. That alone brings me joy.

What would your list look like? What things can you find joy in again? You dont' have to look far. It's all around you for the taking.

Psalm 16:11
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

My Bad Dream

For some reason I've felt led to share something that happened a few nights ago that woke me up in the middle of the night with my heart just pounding. I was gripped with fear when I woke up. This is the second time this has happened to me in the past month and it doesn't seem ironic that as my heart is being healed in areas, the enemy is going to use one of my most vulnerable states, in my sleep to try to attack it.
So the other night, I had a nightmare where I was almost killed, and others were actually killed in my dream in a helicopter crash. I woke up in a panic, knowing I was safe in my room, but at the same time I felt very unsafe because it didn't feel like my I was in the twilight zone or something. Tim has had a hard time sleeping in our room for several reasons so he was out on the couch sleeping as he has for a while. So I was alone, and I almost crawled out on the couch with him I was so scared. It was about 2 in the morning when this awful dream woke me up.
As I laid there, I was trying really hard to wake up completely so I could combat this fear that was piercing me and keeping me from resting. I then kept reciting the verse "I lie down and sleep in peace for you O Lord make me dwell in safety". I had to say it over and over. Then the Lord prompted me to pray for the others in my dream. I began to battle for them in my prayers and was so heavy-hearted toward them. I have to trust it was for a reason. Then the Lord gave me a vision of angels that were surrounding my room. They were protecting me, ready to take on any dark forces that would surround me. The crazy thing is, even the thought of angels around me spooked me a little. I thought, "What is wrong with me?" Now I'm fearing the very thing that God sends to protect me?
So anyways, it took me an hour to finally settle myself back to sleep. I still haven't quite figured out what that was all about. We are told when we come out of D2, our hearts are very vulnerable for attack, so that could be just what that was. I don't know. But it was aweful and I really don't want to go through that again.
So to whoever is reading this, any insight would be welcome on what you think this was all about. Any verses that would help me fight it if it happens again are also very appreciated. Any thoughts?

Peace out :).

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Purging...and Filling

I've been trying to figure out where to begin with explaining where I am at this week emotionally and spiritually. Tim and I went to our second phase of Discovery last weekend, a.k.a. D2. This time it dealt with our present obstacles in life. Last month dealt with our past.
Let me just say that this was my major breakthrough weekend for me. MAJOR!! Last month was great, but I knew this past weekend would probably be even better for me as I really do struggle more with my present circumstances than I ever did my past ones. And I was right. There was some "heart surgery" that still needed to be done obviously and that is just what happened. And it really did bring some healing for me.

So I'm just gonna share the two hilighted experiences that were defining moments for me:

To start off, in one instance, we were asked to think of one relationship in our life that we needed the most healing in. I was torn between two different ones. I prayed for the Lord to tell me which one He wanted me to address. And before I knew it, I was speaking my heart out to my 5 year old daughter. I didn't see that comin' actually.
I knew I had been dealing with some frustration and disconnectedness toward her and had been defeating myself as a mother in general for a long time. She is such an amazing little girl. And she brings so much joy to my life. And yet I've been finding myself just being so distant from her emotionally...and also butting heads with her way too much lately. I know many parents deal with this. But I had beat my head against a wall too long and I had had enough. And I kept saying to myself, "she's not getting younger, she's only gonna get older and even more difficult to reach out to". Yikes! And I knew that this precous gift from God, as well as my other 2 precious gifts, deserves a whole mother, not a self-defeating, insecure, and frustrated one. And until I was able to speak from that dark place in my heart the way I needed to, there was no way I could have known what was down there. So out it came. And wow! Little did I know what was in there. I wept so hard. Tears were a-pourin' like a waterfall. But it felt so good to get it out. It was so healing. Like flushing out the toxins so things could flow freely again out of my heart. Then after I got it all out, the person I was speaking to just held me while I wept some more. That's where the filling came in. My heart felt whole...and I could see clearly again the love for my children that God meant it to be. And needless to say, I couldn't wait to get home after that point and just hold my girls. And that is just what I did. The second I walked in the door Sunday night, we sat on the couch and all cuddled for a very long time. It was a defining moment for us.

So backing up, the other highlighted moment that day, after all that weeping...ha...was when Tim and I had the opportunity to speak into each other's lives as well...straight out of our hearts. It was unexpected yet so timely. This is the short version as to not give too much away of the details in case someone reading this decides to ever go to Discovery, but really and truly, it was a beautiful moment in our marriage...and once again, we were ultimately weeping on each other like it was the last time we'd ever see each other. Really a defining moment for us that I will never forget. And I'd say that was the best Valentine's present a woman could ask for. Talk about filling up your heart!

Now back to reality here, we've already had our bumps this week. But will I choose to live with a free heart still or let the toxins back in that clogged it up before?

"It is for freedom that Christ has set you free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery". Galatians 5:1

"You show that you are a letter from Christ, a result of your ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts".
2 Cor. 3:3