Devotion: 3 Things That We Can Learn from Strongholds

The Soap Opera

I loved watching the Brady Bunch as a kid.  I think every kid in the 70s and 80s watched The Brady Bunch.  There was always some drama going on.  I also used to watch soap operas starting in my teens.  It was one of the many ways my grandmother, Mudear, and I connected.  Some of the stories had you so caught up, that you couldn’t wait till the next day to see what happened.  Praise God that in my 30s, God delivered me from watching those soap operas.  The scenes got to be a little too much at times, and I was totally convicted about needing to give them up.  It’s funny because when one of the scenes came on, my grandmother would say, “Oh shoot!  I wish they would get to the other scene so that I can find out what happened.”  Some of the scenes in the bible play out like a soap opera.  The story that we are going to discuss today, should be sang to the tune of “The Brady Bunch” theme song:  “Here’s the story of a sin called deception……”Strongholds are hard to break and they run through like cancer in our families.  Let’s take a closer look at how the stronghold of deception took place in this particular family.

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ACT 1:

Isaac and Rebekah had twins: Esau and Jacob.  Esau was Isaac’s favorite, and Jacob was Rebekah’s favorite.  Rebekah decided to pull Jacob into the game of deception so that he could steal Esau’s birthright.  Scene 1 plays out with Rebekah helping Jacob setting up the stew and clothing to trick Isaac.  Scene 2 shows us a distraught Esau, who has missed his blessing.

Scene 1:

Go out to the flocks, and bring me two fine young goats. I’ll use them to prepare your father’s favorite dish. 10 Then take the food to your father so he can eat it and bless you before he dies.”

11 “But look,” Jacob replied to Rebekah, “my brother, Esau, is a hairy man, and my skin is smooth. 12 What if my father touches me? He’ll see that I’m trying to trick him, and then he’ll curse me instead of blessing me.”

13 But his mother replied, “Then let the curse fall on me, my son! Just do what I tell you. Go out and get the goats for me!”

14 So Jacob went out and got the young goats for his mother. Rebekah took them and prepared a delicious meal, just the way Isaac liked it.15 Then she took Esau’s favorite clothes, which were there in the house, and gave them to her younger son, Jacob. 16 She covered his arms and the smooth part of his neck with the skin of the young goats. 17 Then she gave Jacob the delicious meal, including freshly baked bread.  Genesis 27:9-17

Scene 2:

As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, and almost before Jacob had left his father, Esau returned from his hunt. 31 Esau prepared a delicious meal and brought it to his father. Then he said, “Sit up, my father, and eat my wild game so you can give me your blessing.”

32 But Isaac asked him, “Who are you?”

Esau replied, “It’s your son, your firstborn son, Esau.”

33 Isaac began to tremble uncontrollably and said, “Then who just served me wild game? I have already eaten it, and I blessed him just before you came. And yes, that blessing must stand!”

34 When Esau heard his father’s words, he let out a loud and bitter cry. “Oh my father, what about me? Bless me, too!” he begged.

35 But Isaac said, “Your brother was here, and he tricked me. He has taken away your blessing.”

36 Esau exclaimed, “No wonder his name is Jacob, for now he has cheated me twice. First he took my rights as the firstborn, and now he has stolen my blessing. Oh, haven’t you saved even one blessing for me?” Genesis 27:30-36

ACT 2:

Act 2 plays out in that Jacob leaves his homeland, never to see mommie dearest again.  Instead, he is heading towards her brother’s home, Good, Old, Uncle Laban.  Uncle Laban isn’t as nice as he seems because Jacob makes a deal with him to work seven years for his daughter Rachel.  However, like his sister, Laban is filled with deception.  At the end of the seven years, Laban gives Jacob Leah instead of Rachel.  Leah gets to appear as the passive one, although she fully participated in the scheme, as Jacob did with Rebekah in tricking Isaac.  Scene 1 showed the end result of how this played out.

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Scene 1:

Since Jacob was in love with Rachel, he told her father, “I’ll work for you for seven years if you’ll give me Rachel, your younger daughter, as my wife.”

19 “Agreed!” Laban replied. “I’d rather give her to you than to anyone else. Stay and work with me.” 20 So Jacob worked seven years to pay for Rachel. But his love for her was so strong that it seemed to him but a few days.

21 Finally, the time came for him to marry her. “I have fulfilled my agreement,” Jacob said to Laban. “Now give me my wife so I can sleep with her.”

22 So Laban invited everyone in the neighborhood and prepared a wedding feast. 23 But that night, when it was dark, Laban took Leah to Jacob, and he slept with her. 24 (Laban had given Leah a servant, Zilpah, to be her maid.)

25 But when Jacob woke up in the morning—it was Leah! “What have you done to me?” Jacob raged at Laban. “I worked seven years for Rachel! Why have you tricked me?”

26 “It’s not our custom here to marry off a younger daughter ahead of the firstborn,” Laban replied. 27 “But wait until the bridal week is over; then we’ll give you Rachel, too—provided you promise to work another seven years for me.”

28 So Jacob agreed to work seven more years. A week after Jacob had married Leah, Laban gave him Rachel, too. 29 (Laban gave Rachel a servant, Bilhah, to be her maid.) 30 So Jacob slept with Rachel, too, and he loved her much more than Leah. He then stayed and worked for Laban the additional seven years. Genesis 29: 18-30

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ACT 3:

Act 3 plays out in that Jacob’s boys are out and about, and Joseph comes in his coat of colors to tell them about his dream.  They decide to do something about daddy’s favorite, but not without deceiving their dad into thinking Joseph is dead.

Scene 1:

When Joseph’s brothers saw him coming, they recognized him in the distance. As he approached, they made plans to kill him. 19 “Here comes the dreamer!” they said. 20 “Come on, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns. We can tell our father, ‘A wild animal has eaten him.’ Then we’ll see what becomes of his dreams!”

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21 But when Reuben heard of their scheme, he came to Joseph’s rescue. “Let’s not kill him,” he said. 22 “Why should we shed any blood? Let’s just throw him into this empty cistern here in the wilderness. Then he’ll die without our laying a hand on him.” Reuben was secretly planning to rescue Joseph and return him to his father.

23 So when Joseph arrived, his brothers ripped off the beautiful robe he was wearing. 24 Then they grabbed him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it. 25 Then, just as they were sitting down to eat, they looked up and saw a caravan of camels in the distance coming toward them. It was a group of Ishmaelite traders taking a load of gum, balm, and aromatic resin from Gilead down to Egypt.

26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain by killing our brother? We’d have to cover up the crime.27 Instead of hurting him, let’s sell him to those Ishmaelite traders. After all, he is our brother—our own flesh and blood!” And his brothers agreed. 28 So when the Ishmaelites, who were Midianite traders, came by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to them for twenty piecesd]”>[d] of silver. And the traders took him to Egypt.

29 Some time later, Reuben returned to get Joseph out of the cistern. When he discovered that Joseph was missing, he tore his clothes in grief. 30 Then he went back to his brothers and lamented, “The boy is gone! What will I do now?”

31 Then the brothers killed a young goat and dipped Joseph’s robe in its blood. 32 They sent the beautiful robe to their father with this message: “Look at what we found. Doesn’t this robe belong to your son?”

33 Their father recognized it immediately. “Yes,” he said, “it is my son’s robe. A wild animal must have eaten him. Joseph has clearly been torn to pieces!” 34 Then Jacob tore his clothes and dressed himself in burlap. He mourned deeply for his son for a long time. 35 His family all tried to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “I will go to my grave mourning for my son,” he would say, and then he would weep. Genesis 37: 18-35, NLT

Scene 2:

Scene 2 plays out in that after Joseph is sold as a slave, he is put into high command in Pharaoh’s house.  Pharaoh’s wife falsely accuses him of assault, and Joseph is placed in prison.  Joseph is released from prison after being able to interpret Pharaoh’s dream.  He is promoted just in time to save Egypt from a famine, and wouldn’t you know, his brothers have to come to his town to get food.  Instead of Joseph deceiving and punishing his brothers, he chooses to forgive, and redeem the stronghold of deception.

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Joseph could stand it no longer. There were many people in the room, and he said to his attendants, “Out, all of you!” So he was alone with his brothers when he told them who he was. Then he broke down and wept. He wept so loudly the Egyptians could hear him, and word of it quickly carried to Pharaoh’s palace.

“I am Joseph!” he said to his brothers. “Is my father still alive?” But his brothers were speechless! They were stunned to realize that Joseph was standing there in front of them. “Please, come closer,” he said to them. So they came closer. And he said again, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. This famine that has ravaged the land for two years will last five more years, and there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors. So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh—the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt.  Genesis 45: 1-8, NLT

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What does this crazy soap opera of events teach us?

  1.  Strongholds are sin.

Sometimes as Christians we feel that calling something a stronghold makes the sin sound better.  Once we are able to handle the truth that our strongholds are indeed sin, then we are able to start doing something about the sin before it gets out out control.  I struggle with the sin of perfectionism.

     2. Strongholds become coping mechanisms.

I was born with an imprint of trauma on my brain due to slavery from my ancestors, a slavery-style caste system in the South that my family had to endure, and the continuing oppression of slavery “wrapped with a bow” in the city of Chicago.  Trauma has by-products of criticism and perfectionism.  Perfectionism became my coping mechanism.  It has been a part of me since I was a little girl.  However, it is still sin.

    3.  Strongholds are passed down when they are not resolved.

The hardest thing for us to realize is that our sin gets passed down when it isn’t addressed.  God has spoken gently to my heart recently to deal with the sin head on so that my kids can see me walk in this freedom.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  Romans 8: 1, KJV

 

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Healing: Lisa Allen’s Weight Journey

Today is the debut of our new weekly series entitled “Healing”.  This is Lisa Allen’s Weight Journey.

My name is Lisa Allen. I live in Lake Villa, IL, and have been a single mother for the past 16 years. I have two kids: my daughter is 17, and my son is 21.  Just to let you know, I am a pastor’s kid too! My dad was a Methodist pastor.  He passed away in 2015, due to a myriad of health issues such as diabetes, heart issues, high blood pressure, and gout.  I have struggled with my weight since as long as I can remember.  If I had to think back, 9 years old is what comes to my mind.  My parents were divorced when I was 9 years old.  This was really painful since my dad was a pastor. They had been married 23 years.  My mom, brothers, and me moved to a new town and started over. My oldest brother hated apartment living, so he moved back with my Dad. We had a two bedroom apartment, and my brother and I could not share a room, so I had to share my mom’s king size bed. It was awful not having my own room.  This even went on in my middle and high school years.  I watched my mom emotionally eat after her divorce, and gain 100 plus pounds, and so my brother and I picked up her poor eating habits. I was always trying to lose weight and very insecure.  Another thing that was difficult is that I was bullied over my weight.

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Fast forward to the time I got married, I had worked hard to lose weight for my wedding day.  I gained a lot of weight with both pregnancies.  Then after I had both of my kids, I struggled to lose the weight. My ex-husband made me feel bad about the weight I had gained. I did find out it was related to my thyroid.  It did not matter.  He still did not like that I had become overweight.  He eventually cheated on me and asked me for a divorce. Then I repeated the cycle that my mom showed me.  I emotionally ate with the stress of becoming a single mom.  My daughter was 22 months old and my son was 5 when their dad left.  I felt worthless.

I was so overwhelmed and so depressed.  I just ate and ate, till one day I reached my all time high of 354 pounds. The weight on my knees was so horrible that it hurt to walk and get up off the couch. I felt so old and wondered if this was how I was going to live out my life.  I had no energy, and was exhausted all the time.  I was on high blood pressure and anti-depression medication.  I prayed so hard.  I begged God for a solution, so I could get the weight off, and get healthy for my kids and myself.  My kids are also overweight.  I just felt like I was a failure as a mom.  I had started Weight Watchers and lost 10 pounds, but I still had no energy, and I felt so bad.  I was up 4-5 times per night.  Filled with exhaustion, I was falling asleep behind the wheel on the highway on my way to work . I needed something, but I just did not know the answer.  I just kept praying.

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One day, a friend of mine posted information on a weight transformation program.  I liked her post.  She reached out to me, and asked if I wanted to learn more about this health and wellness system she and her husband were using.  I agreed to listen and learn more.  I had tried so many things in my life and failed them all.  I was not confident in myself.  I kept thinking to myself, “If I tried something else, would I fail again?”

I listened to my friend, and then I understood how the system worked. I told her I was headed out of town to my father’s house in Wisconsin for our 4th of July family reunion.  I needed to pray about this and get back to her after my trip.  While I was at my dad’s home in Wisconsin, I prayed about it.  What is so sad is that my dad would have lived so much longer had he taken care of his health.  I miss him so very much, and just wished he had led a healthy life so he could still be here with me today.

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I was so worried about failing again. I just asked God, if this program is right for me, then let me know, and I will trust in you and go ahead and do it.  I woke up in the morning with this incredible peace that came over me.  I knew I needed to move forward, and get my body healthy again.  So I called my friend and told her yes, and I asked her what my next steps were for getting started.  I began this journey on July 14, 2017, about 6 weeks before my BIG 50th birthday! I was headed to Vegas at the end of August to celebrate my birthday with a high school friend who had moved out there.  I was feeling amazing just after 5 days of this system!  I had energy again!! For the first time in my life, I felt really alive!

When it came time to leave for vacation, I packed a suitcase with all my healthy products! I did not want to blow this on vacation.  On my past vacations, I ate poorly, and I would cheat, cheat, cheat!  I was determined to stay on course.  I even taught my friend and her daughter how to healthy food prep while I was there.  We had a couple evenings where we did eat a meal out, but I kept it to moderation and made good choices.    We went out on my birthday, and I even enjoyed two glasses of wine and a nice seafood dinner.  All the other days, I stuck right to my program. I  returned home from my vacation maintaining my weight.  It was the first time in my whole life that I succeeded on a vacation! So I just kept going when I returned  home.

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When wintertime came, I think my body was hitting a plateau. I was not losing pounds, but I was still losing inches. So I just kept pressing on.  In the past, I would have given up if the scale was not moving.  I knew that the system was still working because the inches were still coming off!

At this point, I was taking high blood pressure, anti-depressants, and thyroid medications.  My health insurance was awful.  In January, I needed to refill my prescriptions, and I could not afford to go to the doctor.  I went off of them cold turkey.  I knew this could be dangerous, but I did not have a choice. I decided to start exercising in January with a friend.  It began with three days a week, riding the bike for thirty minutes.  I wanted to make the exercise into a habit, so I made the small goal of three times a week.

Once I made that a habit, then I would increase my goal.  I was doing 3 x a week, 30 minutes in the evening after work.  It was a struggle because I worked 10 hour days.  After working out for two months, I decided to ask my friend if we could change our workout time to 5 am, before I started work.  Honestly, I could not imagine working out this early, but I knew it was the best time to get the workout done!  This now meant that three days a week I need to get up at 4:20 AM.  I was really stretching myself!! So I started working out three times a week at 5 am! Then one day my friend could not work out with me.  I panicked, and I had anxiety walking into the gym by myself.  I knew I did not want to miss my workout, so I prayed.  I asked God to give me the courage to walk through the doors by myself.  I need to do this for myself! After all, it was up to me to succeed in my new lifestyle.  So I walked in with my head held high, and went into the gym and did my workout.  When I was riding the bike 🚲, I listened to “Overcomer” by Mandisa(Christian song). I felt God’s presence with me as I did that workout alone that morning.  Little by little, my confidence in myself was coming back! Praise God! I would say I kept this three times a week going for 3-4 months, and then my body was asking me for more! Now my friend could only do the three days. So I started working out 5 days a week at 5 am,and two of the days were by myself!  Again I was stretching myself! I listened to upbeat music and got those workouts done! This was a huge accomplishment for me! I know God was walking along side of me through this whole journey.

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Meanwhile, the scale was still not moving, so I knew that being off my thyroid medication was most likely messing with my metabolism.  I called Lake County Health Department and scheduled them to do blood work on me so I could get back on my medications. They took my blood pressure, and I was nervous because I had been off the medication 3-4 months cold turkey.

The whole time that I was off the medications, I just kept praying to God.  I said to him, “God protect me while I am off these medications. Please protect me from any health complications over being off the high blood pressure medication.  It would be devastating if I landed in the hospital with any complications being off these medications, because I don’t have good health insurance.”  I said “God, I will continue doing my part with this great nutrition. I am using and continuing my exercise routine.” So I just kept saying,” God’s will, my effort! I will be healthy, and no health complications will come from being off these medications.”  I was sitting in the doctor’s office, and the nurse said, “Wow, your blood pressure reading is really good”! I was so over the moon happy! I told her I was so concerned being off the medications, but I also told her that I had been on a health journey since last year, and I had lost 50 pounds and 69 inches! She said,” WOW, that is so awesome!! Keep that going, that is awesome!!  The doctor came in and said, “Lisa we don’t have to put you back on the blood pressure medication anymore.  Your healthy lifestyle is paying off.” I seriously did a happy dance in her office.  She also asked me if  it was safe to say that I didn’t need my antidepressant anymore.  I said, “No I have felt great and happy”!  So the only medication I have to take now is my thyroid.  This was HUGE news for me!

The lesson here for the ladies is that it’s NOT all about the scale.  There are so many victories over my one year journey! 50 pounds gone off my aching knees, and 69 inches lost.  Getting off my blood pressure and antidepressants were HUGE victories!! So I continue with my journey of my healthy living.  My goal this year is to lose 60 pounds by August 2019, which will give me a grand total of 100 pounds lost! Then, I can cross the stage at the company’s Celebration Convention, and enter into their 100 pound club!

It’s a HUGE  goal which I know I will do!! God’s will, my effort! I am a work in progress. I remind myself to love myself right where I am! God made me in HIS image! I am beautifully and wonderfully made! I pray that God will use me to help others who might me in a dark place praying for a solution to get themselves healthy.  I hope and pray I could inspire someone else to make the decision to get healthy, and live in the body God intended you to live in! I thank God everyday for this journey! It is never too late to re-write your story! I am living proof at 50 years old.  I made a decision to get healthy! God is so good! He answered my prayer! My journey is still going and I now have the confidence and belief in myself to see this through! I am so blessed and grateful!

 

Praise God for Lisa’s story! Every week we will feature a new story, a new woman who overcame struggles, and exemplified God’s faithfulness.  If you would like to share your story, please email us your story at thorton479@gmail.com.  Have a blessed weekend!

The Triggers Aspect: Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis

Triggers

The “Triggers” aspect of living with and healing from trauma on a daily basis can be daunting at times.  There are days when my brain, emotions, and intuition are right on target.  It is almost like nothing ever happened.  Reality check!  However, there are other days when I am going back and forth trying to decide whether my intuition and the Holy Spirit are trying to tell me something, or if I am just being triggered.  In the beginning, almost everything was a trigger.  Now, I am more evened out where most days are decent, but then other days my symptoms are running rampant, and I have to remind myself that my identity is in Christ, and it is the trauma talking and trying to take over, and to just ride it out.  What I noticed is that with trauma triggers, the more you feed into it, the more your anxiety gets worked up, and thus, the more intense are the triggers.  It can become a vicious cycle.

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Dissecting the Trigger Cycle

One of the hardest things about previously being in a relationship with someone emotionally abusive, and having that person gaslight you almost every day, is that initially it makes you think that every person you talk to who is lying is trying to gaslight you.  Because of the fact that our brains have been through so much,  and is trained to react to certain patterns, it takes a while to get out of this mode.  Full disclosure to help people out  who have teenagers, and live with trauma on a daily basis:   This can be some of the hardest times for you, as it has been for me, because teens take words and change them around from what it is that you are actually saying.  This is part of their development.  However, again, for someone who was in a relationship where they dealt with emotional abuse, and you were gaslight, and everything got turned around and twisted to make it seem like you were the problem, this can be rough.  Reminding yourself that this is a trigger, part of their development, and will get better was essential for me.  My therapist even reminded me, with these words:  “This is going to be a hard time  for you.”  She wasn’t joking.  Initially,  I was discouraged.  However, after time, things got better with this particular trigger.  I pray that it will for you as well.

I hope that this series is helping someone who is needing encouragement as they live with PTSD and trauma on a daily basis.

You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.

Isaiah 26:3, NKJV

Blessings,

 

Katina

The Inner Critic Aspect: Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis

The First Part of the Critic

Today we are discussing another part in the series:  Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis.  It took me a while on this healing journey that I have been on to realize that there is what is called an inner critic of trauma.  The first part of the inner critic aspect of trauma is the critic that is someone else’s voice.  This someone else may have been a parent, a friend, a relative, stranger, or someone else who said something in your childhood that rocked you to the core of your being.  Their comments of criticism and negativity caused you to internalize what they said, and then live out what they said as if it was the truth coming from the bible.  As a child, I was abandoned by my father, and because of this abandonment, I felt rejected.  In a child’s mind, there has to be some reason for this, and oftentimes fault themselves for the situation.  In my mind, since my father was no longer with my mom, and I felt rejected, then I concluded that my mom had rejected me as well.  This set the stage.  I was standing outside of my childhood church, when I overheard a comment said by one teenager to another: “Oh, her mom is so beautiful.  I wonder what happened to her?”  This became the first part of my ruling critic.  It “sealed the deal”  on my already low self-worth and insecurities about my appearance.  The second “other voice” of my inner critic was that of my ex-husband in his brokenness, who used my low self-worth to keep me under his thumb.  He would purposefully say and do things that would reinforce my low self-worth and insecurities.  I had to begin the process of deprogramming my brain from everything that was said and done, and look to the truth of who God says that I am in order to regain my identity and self-worth in him.  This process is one that is tedious, because you have to keep asking, “Are these words really reflecting who I am as a person, or is the “Other person inner critic”, and then telling yourself, ” I am fearfully and wonderfully made”.

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The Second Part of the Critic

The second part of the inner critic is yourself.  Yes, yourself.  This is a hard pill to swallow.  After being able to distinguish whether the critic voices are true to your sense of self or not, then comes the hard part of dealing with the lies that you have formed about yourself that the enemy convinced you of from day one.  There are no fingers to point at this stage because the mirror is only reflecting us.  These lies force us to deal with things by using coping mechanisms to get through life.  The coping mechanisms are byproducts of trauma.  Mine is perfectionism.  This perfectionism starting off as overachievement in school, but by the time my brokenness met up with my ex-husband’s it went into every area of my life.  However, there gets to a point on life, when God says, ” Enough! I freed you, and I want you to walk in it.”  Our coping mechanisms only work so long before we are faced with walking the path of freedom from them, or having them to stunt our growth in certain areas.  When we get rid of anything, it has to be replaced with something else.  I have found that if I am not striving/perfecting/overachieving/then I need to be resting in God.  I am not sure what your coping mechanisms are, but God can handle them all, one day at a time.

Blessings,

Katina

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.  Psalms 139:14

 

Rejoice in the Lord

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.  Philippians 4:4

Dissecting Rejoice

What does the word rejoice mean? Joy is one of the fruit of the spirit.  The fruit of the spirit are all independent of our feelings, although when we are going through things, it definitely doesn’t seem like it.  When we have joy, it is when we focus on God’s goodness, grace, mercy, and all the things that he has blessed us with.  So, when we are rejoicing, it is doing this over and over again until it gets contagious to others.  Sometimes when I listen to praise music, and I bask in God, and who he is to get centered, I get so filled, that I am just beside myself, literally having worship service in my kitchen or living room.  It’s not that my circumstances have changed at all, but God is using the praise music to steer my heart close to him.  So even though nothing has changed, everything has changed.

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Reality

When we go through trials, and unfortunately, this summer has given me my fair share, we will know beyond a shadow of a doubt what Philippians 4:4 means.  It isn’t going to be easy, and it hasn’t been for me.  Sometimes I have to air out my feelings and tell God that I know what he says in Romans 8:28, ” And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose”, but right now I am just upset by yet another trial.  After I get it out, then I can praise him.  What I notice is that when I don’t get my feelings out, then there is internal conflict, and when our emotions are split, we can’t be in the present.  I also have to remind myself that God already knows my heart, and since he already knows, what better time to air my frustrations, so that I can move on.  So that I can get to the rejoicing part.

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I have a saying that I like to tell my kids all the time.  They laugh, but it is true:  Every morning we get to hit the reset button on God’s mercy.

 

Blessngs,

Katina

The Call of Wisdom

She Cries in the Streets

It is very hard when we are going through things in life.  The immediate response when trouble hits is to panic.  It is natural.  God created us to have emotions.  What tends to happen is that when we panic, we oftentimes forget to give ourselves room to breathe.  Room to pray, think about the situation, and breathe some more.  Satan usually have our minds in such an uproar, that anxiety often takes over, and then instead of us praying and asking God for discernment in these situations, we become reactive instead of responsive.  Anxiety and fear tells us that we have to come up with a solution right now.  Wisdom tells us to wait on God for promptings of the Holy Spirit on the how, when, why of the response.  Praise God that all we have to do is ask!

James 1:5:  “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”

 

 

wisdom, trust, anxiety, fear

 

Wisdom, She Cries in the Streets

Wisdom, Wisdom, She Cries in the Streets:

“Put the knowing into doing,

And discernment we will greet.”

Wisdom, Wisdom, It is ours for the asking.

Helps us make the right decisions.

Fills the blanks in the lacking.

Wisdom, Wisdom, Right with God in the Beginning.

Everything ever so perfect,

Right before there came the sinning.

Wisdom, Wisdom, it is given to us freely,

All we have to do is ask,

Get right down to praying and kneeling.

Wisdom, Wisdom, far more precious than those rubies:

God’s great grace poured out to help us,

To perform our earthly duties.

 

Be blessed,

 

Katina

Black Lentil Soup with Rice

Venture:  Making Black Lentil Soup with Rice

This is a super quick and easy recipe to make for lunch or dinner.  Depending on how many pounds of black lentils that you buy, you can have this to last for 5 to 7 days, even with a large family.  As I mentioned in one of my more recent posts, you are going to see a lot of recipes where I use cut-leaf spinach and fire-roasted salsa style diced tomatoes.  This is also one of them.  They are inexpensive, and I love the combination.  The tomatoes give just the right kick without being overwhelming.

It would be too much like right if I could just give the recipe without a background story or some drama behind an ingredient.  My friend and I went into Whole Foods about a month ago.  When we got in the store, we both went our separate ways.  I was happily pouring items into bags and weighing them over in the bulk session.  My friend and her daughter were in bliss over in the bakery section. I was just finishing up on grabbing the black lentils, when I decided that I would purchase some split green peas.  I pulled the lever down, and the lever got stuck.  Literally six to seven pounds of split green peas went all over the floor, and inside the squares into between the bulk items.  A worker came over to sweep up the mess.  I tried to explain what happened, but I don’t think it was any comfort.  She gave me grace by not saying anything and grabbing the broom and dustpan to take care of the clean-up job.  At this point, I was thinking, maybe I should grab the almond flour and head to the front.

black lentils, rice, soup. spinach, fire-roasted tomatoes
Black Lentil Soup with Rice

By the time that I got to the register, my friend and her daughter were there.  I tell her about what happened, and how I had an embarrassing moment in the bulk section.  She proceeded to tell me about her embarrassing moment in the bakery section.  What’s an adventure to the grocery store without a little bit of drama?  Here’s the recipe:

Activity:

Making Black Lentil Soup with Rice

Total Prepping and Cooking Time:

70 minutes

Ingredients:

  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
  • paprika
  • cumin
  • curry
  • turmeric
  • italian seasoning
  • Imagine low sodium vegan broth
  • 2 pds. of black lentils
  • 1 can of cut leaf spinach
  • 2 cans of fire-roasted salsa style diced tomatoes

Directions:

  • Boil two cups of white rice.
  • While the white rice is bowling, boil 8 cups of water, and add two pounds of black lentils after the  water starts boiling.
  • The lentils need to cook for about 35 minutes.
  • Saute the spinach and tomatoes with oil or vegan butter.
  • After the lentils are ready, add the broth and all the rest of the ingredients, except the rice.
  • Cook for another 15 minutes.
  • I kept the rice on the side and poured the black lentil soup on top.

Behold, I am doing a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43:19

Oatmeal Pumpkin Seed Cookies

The Venture-Making Oatmeal Pumpkin Seed Coconut Cookies

I had been itching for the last couple of weeks to make oatmeal pumpkin seed coconut cookies.  There are several reasons that it hadn’t happened yet:

  • Didn’t have the time
  • Had the time, but didn’t have the energy
  • Had the time and the energy, but I had a sink full of dishes already
oatmeal, almond flour, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, healthy eating, healthy recipes, healthy desserts
Oatmeal Pumpkin Coconut cookies

Well, a few days ago, I finally got to baking the cookies.  They were surprisingly delicious.  On the cooking shows, they say that things are so good that they make you want to slap someone.  For my purpose here, I will say that they make you want to jump up and down and dance.  My kids laugh at me because most of the things that I cook or bake usually starts with my mind going, ” Oh, I wonder what would happen if I mix this and that together.”  That’s what happened with these cookies.  Most of the times I have good results.  Other times, it’s one of those things where you know there’s always next time.  I call them my concoctions.  I bought the almond flour about a month ago, so I didn’t have to worry about having to run out and get it.  This was my first time ever using it for baking, and I loved it.  Well, so much for rambling on…

oatmeal, almond flour, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, healthy eating, healthy recipes, healthy desserts
Second View of Oatmeal Cookies

I set the oven for 350 degrees, at a 22-minute timer.  At 17 minutes into the baking, the entire house smelled like almonds.  My daughter said, “Mom, I think that you need to check the cookies.  They smell ready.”  I felt them and they were still soft.  However, she reminded me that they will finish cooking even after I take them out.  She was right.  She is the one who is the baker, but I am learning.  I hope that you enjoy these cookies.  I think that next time I will add quinoa.  Here is the recipe:

oatmeal, almond flour, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, healthy eating, healthy recipes, healthy desserts
Third View of Oatmeal Pumpkin Coconut Cookies

Activity:  Making Oatmeal Pumpkin Coconut Cookies

Prepping and Baking Time: 33 minutes

Ingredients:

  • (1/4) cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • (1 1/2) cup of almond milk
  • (1/4) cup of grapeseed & sunflower seed oil blend
  • (1/4) cup of sunflower seeds
  • (1/4) cup of pumpkin seeds
  • (1/4) cup of raisins
  • (1 1/4) cup of almond flour
  • (1 1/4) cup of oatmeal
  • (1) teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • (1/2) cup of brown sugar
  • (1/2) teaspoon of baking soda
  • (1) tablespoon of chia seeds
  • (3) tablespoons of flaxseed meal and 4.5 tablespoons of water mixed together

Directions: 

  1. Use parchment paper or grease a full-sized cookie sheet with oil.
  2. Whisk together the following in bowl number one: almond flour, oatmeal, baking soda, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds.
  3. Mix together the following in bowl number two: grapeseed oil, coconut flakes, flaxseed meal mixture, almond milk, vanilla extract, and brown sugar.
  4. Dump bowl number one into bowl number two and mix well.
  5. Use a cookie scoop to form balls with the cookie mixture and place them on the cookie sheet.
  6. Enjoy and have a blessed weekend!

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

Psalms 91:4

Devotion: 6 Ways to Help Someone Grieving or Going Through Trauma

No matter who we are, at some time or another, we are going to experience grief in our lifetime.  Some of us will not only experience grief, but we will experience traumatic events as well.  There is no way to prepare for trauma.  It sneaks upon you out of nowhere, like an ambush.  Grief can be this way as well.  You are not prepared for either of these happening, and you don’t know when the symptoms will occur.  I can remember times that I was in the grocery store, and I felt like grief was going to overtake me in the aisle.  The symptoms of grief are different for everyone.  Some of them may be:

 

grief, trauma, sadness
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
  • irritability
  • regurgitation
  • digestion problems
  • inability to stop crying
  • denial
  • magical thinking
  • physical pain and eye troubles
grief, trauma, sadness
Photo by Juan Pablo Arenas on Pexels.com

Job experienced trauma and grief.  He lost everything that he owned in no time:  everything and everyone except his wife.  For some reason, ever since I was a child, I marveled over how there was always one person who was able to come back and relay the news to Job about the next devastation that hit him.  I have been there with Job.  When you get to the point of such compounded trauma, you just end up numbing out.  Your brain just can’t seem to handle it all.  Job’s friends came to support him, and they were fine until they opened their mouth.  God ended up reprimanding them for going on and on to Job with wild explanations for his “suffering”: After the LORD had finished speaking to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “I am angry with you and your two friends, for you have not spoken accurately about me, as my servant Job has.” Job 42:7, NLT 

 

Here are six tips to take to heart if we know someone who is suffering from grief or trauma.

1.  Words and Physical Touch:  Express to your friends or loved ones how much you love them with words or giving them a hug.  If you are not sure of what to say, then just sit with them and say nothing.  Sometimes we say the wrong things without realizing it, even if they are true.  As Christians, we do know that if that person was saved, they will be in heaven with Jesus.  However, it is still hard sometimes for this reality to be of comfort to a person.  It is also hard for people to wrap their minds around the fact  that the person is no longer suffering.  It is still a loss to that person.  Sometimes it is better to remind a person that you will be praying for them.

2.  Meals:  Offer to bring meals over, as well as setup a mealtrain with the small groups at church, as well as the neighborhood friends.

3.  Calls and Errands:  Offer to run errands or make calls to family members, friends, and churches to inform them of the death.  Sometimes when we are in such shock, your focus and memory is off.  If the person has a phone book or contact list, it would be nice to go through the list and call each person.

4.  Babysit:  Suggest taking the kids for a few hours so that the person has time to process and grieve what has happened without having to stuff their pain and scare their children.  This is especially helpful if the children are young.  

5.  Pamper:  Treat your friend or loved one to something that would make them feel good:  getting a facial, mani-pedi, beauty or  barber shop appointment, or a nice outfit.

Have a blessed night!

Katina

Products

Valley of Grace blog’s New Merchandise Store is up and running! Time to get those products.  Whether you are at work or play, you can be reminded of what it means to live simple, functional, grace-filled lives!

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