Resting In God When The World Is Going Crazy

This past year, my senior year, I duel-enrolled at a local college. During my second semester, I took Bio 2 and found it fascinating (minus one section *ahem* parasites/bacteria/etc).

Anyway.

We were learning how everything on Earth is connected and how global warming is affecting it. Here’s the short spill on it – I promise you’ll be able to understand it and I’ll try my best to not spend several paragraphs on it 😉

Because of Earth warming, the Indian Ocean has been steadily warming as well. You’re probably thinking, “ok. so the ocean is a little bit warmer, what’s the big deal?” I’m glad you asked! XD

The increasing temperature of the Indian Ocean has caused the North Atlantic oscillation (aka two air masses) to become stuck on its “intense” cycle. The North Atlantic oscillation has never been completely calm, but there are usually periods or breaks where the intensity lets down and it is more docile. However, with the increasing temperatures that has not been happening.

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It’s amazing how the entire world is so intricately connected. In Africa, there is a body of water called Lake Chad. Wikipedia says, “The United Nations Environment Programme and the Lake Chad Basin Commission concur that at least half of the lake’s decrease is attributable to shifting climate patterns.” As Lake Chad has dried up, the dust and dirt that was beneath the water has been exposed.

You can imagine what sorts of algae, fungi, and other gross things lie at the bottom of the lake. With the dust being out in the open, the pathogenic soil fungus it contains has been swept into the air from the Saharan and blown towards the Caribbean.

Interestingly, this dust has caused an ironic increase in pediatric asthma cases and coral sea fan disease. Which is obviously not good.

Now, I’m going to be honest. I kind of started to worry, because wow, how the heck are we supposed to fix all of this. ITS SO MUCH.

God, knowing this, led me to this verse.

“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near,” ~ Luke 21:25-28

WOW. Like, anyone else amazed??? I mean that’s literally what’s happening! And there it is, right in the Bible. It makes me feel so much better, to know that God knew this was going to happen. None of this is a surprise to him.

Thank you Jesus for that!

~ Southern Dreamer

The Battle Is Not Yours

“And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s,” ~ 2 Chronicles 20:15

Back at the end of January, I was reading a book series. The writing is really well-done and I thought the characters were wonderful, but last night I hit my limit.

It started to talk about stuff that I found too scary, and I tried to push through it because I’m curious and a reader and therefore, wanted to know what would happen. But I started to worry I would have nightmares about it (see blog post about my illness here, but basically horrific dreams come with it, so sometimes frightening things can “trigger” those memories).

So I ended up crying.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m not a crier – it’s just not really my personality type to be overly emotional. However, I was just so scared that I was going to have nightmares and frustrated to be worried about ANOTHER thing.

blog39I feel like I’ve been fighting my whole life, and in all honesty, I’m just tired of fighting. Well, at some point after this, the Holy Spirit reminded me of Exodus 14:14.

“The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent,” ~ Exodus 14:14

This was really neat, because I was so tired of fighting, and…I had/have not memorized this verse.

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you,” ~ John 14:26

I think sometimes we, as humans, get this ‘I have to do everything by myself’ attitude. We fall into the subconscious trap of not asking for help, not relying on someone, and often – at least for me – forgetting to even ask God for his help. I know I can go for so long, “battling” something, and not even remember oh, I should pray about this and go to God for help, until I’m completely exhausted and anxious.

Could this be why Psalm 23 and 46 both talk about being still?

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul,” ~ Psalm 23:1-3a

“Be still, and know that I am God,” ~ Psalm 46:10

I can picture God, as our Father, looking at us and being like, ‘if you will just be still in me and rest – I’ve got this.’

But of course, being our over-working, independent, forget-to-ask-for-help-selves, we run around trying to do it all on our own while our Father is waiting for us to release these burdens to Him, and let Him handle them.

As I finish writing this (I’ve written it scattered over several weeks), I find myself in that weary state again. For being a logical person, you would think that I would struggle with anxiety less. But my OCD brain loves to find silly things to attach itself to and worry on, and it can be exhausting. Maybe it’s because I had some intense anxiety and worries over the past few days and that’s all adding up to me struggling with anxiousness today. I’m not really sure.

Maybe it’s because I’m more tired today, and that exhaustion isn’t helping my mind to think clearly. I’m not going to say that I have found an all-perfect solution to this, as evidenced by this day, but I have to remind myself that even if it feels like it’s never going away, it will.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid,” ~ John 14:27

I love this verse. Fear and anxiety tend to zap any peace we have, and I think it’s so interesting that He says “let not your hearts be troubled.” Often, the heart is associated with emotions, and anxiety tends to send those all out of whack. I don’t know about you, but for me, I find the mental battles are much harder to fight than the physical ones.

For those of you, as well as myself, who struggle with anxiety or are at that place where you are just tired and weary of fighting, let’s remember that the battle is not ours. We are not meant to fight alone, we have a Savior who is more than willing to come beside us and strengthen us during these times. I know I forget this, and then it’s like oh right. God is here to help me, I’m not supposed to do this by myself. Sometimes, maybe, it might invoke an emotional response 😉 (shhh, don’t tell).

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As we continue through our days, let’s remember that and determine to not let anxiousness steal our joy.

~ Southern Dreamer

Compassion and Grace ~ A Journal Entry

Recently, I found a passage in the Bible that really touched me. The whole chapter is Isaiah 54. As someone who struggles with perfectionism, I often times tend to see God almost as a dictator. I find myself often thinking, oh no, I just thought that. And that thought usually ends up going in the direction of me fearing punishment from the Lord.

"Shame says that because I am flawed, I am unacceptable. Grace says that though I am flawed, I am cherished.":

Isaiah 54:10 says, “‘For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”

That’s not the only mention of ‘compassion,’ in Isaiah 54, however. Other references to it are, “but with great compassion I will gather you” and “with everlasting love I will have compassion on you.”

For some reason, I tend to forget the fact that God doesn’t expect me to be perfect. He knows I’m a flawed human. He is not expecting me to think, say, or do the right thing all the time. Psalm 103:8 states, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love,” and a few verses later it says, “For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.”

Merriam Webster defines mercy as, “kind or forgiving treatment of someone who could be treated harshly,” gracious as, “marked by kindness and courtesy,” and compassion as, “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.”

Next time my mind starts going in that habitual way of thinking, I am going to try and remind myself of the type of God we serve, one who is merciful, gracious, compassionate, and understanding.

God's Grace by southern-dreams on Polyvore featuring art:

Note: I created the second picture/collage, but the quote is not mine. And the other picture comes from Pinterest 🙂

 

Journal Entry

“It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes,” – Psalm 119:71

There are many verses in Psalm 119 that I love, but I finally decided on this one. At six years old, I was diagnosed with narcolepsy and cataplexy. Narcolepsy is a severe sleep disorder. People, like myself, who have narcolepsy, are not able to sleep through the night. Experiencing constant nightmares, falling asleep multiple times during the day, and other components of narcolepsy are all common to narcoleptics.

Because of my illness, I have to take medication throughout the day and night, rest or nap every three-four hours, and be under a continuous schedule. It’s not always easy, but I wouldn’t change it. If I had not been diagnosed with narcolepsy and cataplexy, I do not believe my relationship with God would be where it is today. Psalm 119:71 says, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.”

I found and find this true in my own life. When you get to a certain place of desperation – where all you have is God, it pushes you to open His Word and seek out answers, comfort.

Love – An Acrostic Prayer Poem

For my Creative Writing class, I had to write an acrostic prayer poem about a topic talked about in the Bible. I chose ‘love’ and this is what I came up with. I hope y’all like it! 🙂

Love is miraculous, amazing in all of its mysterious glory.

Astounding in its selfless passion.

Never abandoning in its constant flow of affection.

It is the tender whispers from the Holy Spirit.

Emotion overflowing as my heart reads the words of His wooing.

Devotion so clear – the sacrifice, the pain, the grace.

Esteeming me to be worthy of respect and fondness.

Always there, love embodies the trinity of God as constant as the saltiness of the sea.

Nothing can disintegrate this love, it is eternal – forever.

No Condemnation

Me being myself and a natural perfectionist, I’m always trying to be perfect. Even though that’s not actually possible and the logical part of my mind knows that, I still find myself in that perfectionistic goal.

Just this morning, I was starting to feel guilty (whether false or true) about something I had been thinking about. And it was sort of like an epiphany when I realized that I don’t have to be “perfect” or think all the “right” things all the time with God. That might sound like something I should have realized a long time ago, but my mentality can often be so perfectionistic that it’s difficult for me to see past that.

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Of course, that doesn’t mean I should stop trying to do the right thing – it’s not giving a free pass to ‘do whatever you want.’ It’s more of in the sense, that when I do something wrong, yes I shouldn’t have done it, but I don’t have to panic (*ahemlikeIusuallydoahem*) about, oh my gosh I’m such a horrible person, I can’t believe I just thought/did that.

Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

The Merriam-Webster dictionary says that the definition of condemn is: “to say in a strong and definite way that someone or something is bad or wrong, to give (someone) a usually severe punishment, to cause (someone) to suffer or live in difficult or unpleasant circumstances.” And for those who are Christians, we are no longer under condemnation. Sometimes that’s easy to forget at least for me, and go into the mentality of, ‘what kind of punishment I’m going to receive’ when I mess up.

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Hebrews 9:12, “He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.

I love that phrase “eternal redemption.” For those who are believers, we are redeemed for all of eternity. In the Bible, there is a term – “kinsman-redeemer” – that connects the Old Testament to the New Testament. A kinsman redeemer was someone who delivers or rescues, redeems property or person, avenges the murder of a relative as a guiltless executioner, and receives restitution for wrong done to a relative who has since died (biblestudytools.com).

Jesus is our ‘kinsman-redeemer.’ He delivered us from an eternity apart from Him and redeemed us from sin so that we can be made righteous.

~ Southern Dreamer

Prison of Fear

Everyone has fears. Some are small, others are big, and then, there are those that completely and totally overwhelm us.

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Fear is a tricky thing. It can creep up slowly and over time; perhaps subconsciously, until it rears its ugly head in our face. In other cases, it can come suddenly and without announcement. Maybe you’ve been through something traumatic and suddenly things that you did not fear before, are now quite terrifying.

I think, sometimes, we visualize fear in a one dimensional picture: snakes, the dark, experiencing change. But fear can also be the root cause of other issues in our life. Perfectionism (I fall into this category :p): fearing that you must be perfect, fearing the punishment or reaction if you are not. Being a people-pleaser: fearing that you have to make everyone happy, fearing the reaction of others if you say something that contradicts their own beliefs.

In the Bible, there are over a 100 references where it says, “fear not” or “do not be afraid” (http://www.openbible.info/topics/living_life_to_the_fullest). By that sheer number, it’s apparent that Jesus knew we were going to have fear – BUT, that we do not have to be afraid.

John 10:10 says, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

God wants us to live life in the freedom of our salvation. He does not want fear to keep us from experiencing the blessings He offers. Of course, this is easier said than done. I know in my own life, its very easy to say, ‘oh, I’m not going to be afraid. I’m going to give this to the Lord,’ but quite another to actually follow through with it.

2 Timothy 1:7 states, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Yet as the verse above says, God has given us a spirit full of power, love, and self-control. All components that help to combat fear.

Power is the Holy Spirit. If you really desire to be free from fear, this is where everything starts. The others are important too, but without the Holy Spirit, we’re trying to drive a car without gas.

The Bible says in 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.” Think of a time when you felt completely safe and secure. Was it when you were wrapped in the arms of your father or mother? Watching a movie in bed with your brother or sister? Similarly, God’s love is our security. We do not have to worry whether or not He will love us one moment and stop the next. His love is perfect, unfailing, and encompassing. Jesus demonstrated the greatest form of love there is: dying for us when we were still stuck in the mud of sin and unrighteousness. His love overcomes fear

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Jeremiah 31:3 and Proverbs 8:35

 

Self-control is the last one mentioned in 2 Timothy. This is where our ‘homework’ comes into play. You have to want to be free from fear and be willing to do the necessary work. Self-control does not include only physical actions, but the discipline of the mind – which can be harder in many ways since it is not a tangible thing.

And Jesus does not expect us to fight our fears or anxiety alone! Sometimes I completely forget that I can ask Him to help me to not be afraid; I’m so set on how can I solve this or how I can work through this, that I neglect the one being who can help me through anything.

Being willing to ask for help – tell a close family member or friend. Expose light onto the fear so it cannot continue to ravage around in your mind, rely on God, and put in the effort are all important parts of overcoming fear. Fear doesn’t go away on its own. It must be a conscious decision to defeat it.

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Matthew 6:34 says, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

~ Southern Dreamer

Proclaim

 

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In this world, it is critical for us to remind ourselves of all the Lord has done in our lives. So often, however, we can find ourselves dismissing that notion. Perhaps because of pride, or maybe we truly aren’t sure how God has been at work in our life.

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Psalm 96:2-3 says, “Sing to the Lord; praise His name. Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does” (NLT).

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I find it interesting that the Scripture specifically says tell others about what Christ has done. I believe he says this for many reasons, and while I do not claim to know them all, I feel that there are a few He has revealed to me.

One, when we tell others about the acts of God, it can not only strengthen our own faith but the Holy Spirit can use what we say to increase the faith of the listener.

Secondly, we never know who around us is being attentive as well. It could lead the way to deeper conversations or cause them to become curious about who this God is. And remember that whoever you are talking to, may not have a reaction. Perhaps their face is completely empty of any emotion. Or they act as though you did not say anything. Even though this is difficult, God is not limited by this. Despite their reaction or lack thereof, the Holy Spirit can prod their heart long after your conversation.

And lastly, when we are constantly speaking in a verbal manner about everything the Lord has done, it creates not only a heart of thankfulness but reminds us of how powerful He truly is. Sometimes in our busy, day-to-day lives, we forget. We forget the strength and power that He has and how He can work, act, and move situations – change people.

In Luke 8:39, Jesus says, “‘Return home and tell how much God has done for you.’ So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.”

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It can’t get much clearer than that. Jesus literally says, “tell how much God has done for you.” God never does anything just ‘because,’ He always has a reason. Maybe for you, its to strengthen your own faith – or perhaps encourage someone else.

Today, I encourage you to tell one person about something Jesus has done in your life – and remember, it doesn’t have to be a huge act. If you remain uncertain of how Christ has worked in your life, I encourage you to ask a godly mentor or adult who can offer wise insight. If you would like further study, make sure to check out Psalm 145.

~ Southern Dreamer