Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Home Stretch- Boundaries

"The world wants us to conform, but the Lord wants to transform us, if we will do things His way.  He will take us and change us into something more than we could have ever dreamed---if we will refuse to give up and just keep running the race that is set before us." ~Joyce Meyer

Welcome back friends!  I hope your Memorial Day weekend was a good one.  I switched things up a little from what I normally do since yesterday was a holiday.  I decided to wait until today to post my new message.  If you're new to my blog, I would like to welcome you.  I am so excited you stopped by!  Please stay a while, and feel free to leave your comments and suggestions.  I normally post a new message on Monday and Friday, so please be sure to check back in on Friday for my next post.  Let's get started with today's message!

On Friday I shared some more examples of boundaries (time, emotional distance, other people, consequences), as well as some more common boundary myths ("Boundaries Are a Sign of Disobedience" and "If I Begin Setting Boundaries, I Will Be Hurt By Others").  Today I will follow up with some more examples of boundary myths and share a few examples of what's within your boundaries.

Common Boundary Myths-

Myth #4- "If I Set Boundaries, I Will Hurt Others"-  I was so afraid that if I said no to someone it would hurt their feelings and they would reject me.  I felt like I had to do whatever it took to make sure that didn't happen.  Saying no to someone who is responsible for getting his/her own needs met, may cause them some discomfort, and they may have to look elsewhere to get those needs met, but it doesn't harm them.  Once I learned and understood what I am responsible for, it helped me give a voice to my nos instead of walking in fear.

Myth #5- "Boundaries Mean That I Am Angry"-  Have you ever felt angry when someone didn't want to take no for an answer?  How about when that pushy salesman will not leave you alone after you've told him no, several times?  What about when you get a call from one of those telemarketeres who continues to hound you even after you've politely said no?  Anger is a signal that tells us that our boundaries have been violated.  Angry feelings serve as an early warning sign that tells us we are in danger of being injured or controlled.  Anger doesn't go away over time, regardless of if the danger occured two minutes ago or twenty years ago.  It has to be worked through, otherwise anger lives inside your heart.  I was surprised how angry I felt at first when I started learning how to say no and live a life with healthy boundaries.  Many people who have injured boundaries may be surprised and shocked by how much anger comes out when they first start enforcing boundaries.  This was not new anger I was feeling, although it felt that way because it is just now coming out.  It was old anger coming to the surface from all those years of feeling like I didn't give my no a voice, like it was never respected or listened to. Boundary-injured people commonly go through a season of doing some catching-up with anger by looking at boundary violations of the past that they never realize existed.  Our anger should be a red flag that our boundaries are being violated.

Myth #6- "When Others Set Boundaries, It Injures Me"-  It's hard hearing the word no.  Accepting the boundaries of others is not pleasant.  If you want others to respect your boundaries then you must be willing to respect the boundaries of others.  Below are a few reasons why accepting others' boundaries can be a problem.

*Inappropriate boundaries being set on us can injure us, especially as children.
*We project our own injuries onto others.
*An inability to receive someone's boundary may mean there is an idolatrous relationship.  (The word idolatrous means treating someone or something as an idol.)
*An inability to accept others' boundaries can indicate a problem in taking responsibility for your own life.

What's Within My Boundaries?

1.)  Feelings- 
Your feelings should neither be ignored nor placed in charge.  We must own our feelings.  Your feelings come from your heart and can tell you the state of your relationships.  They can tell you if things are going well, or if there is a problem.  Your feelings are your responsibility and you must own them and see them as your problem so you can begin to find an answer to whatever issue they are pointing to.  How many times have you been in a relationship with someone who continually refused to look at their own problems, but blames you or someone else for the way they feel?  I've been on both sides of this situation.  I've been the one who refused to look at my own insecurities and self-worth issues, and expected someone else to keep me built up all the time so I didn't have to face my own feelings, as well as the one being blamed for not meeting the needs of the person with self-worth and rejection issues.  Once you begin to take responsibility for your own feelings you can begin to walk in peace and freedom.  I know I am the only one who can do something about the way I feel.

2.)  Attitudes and Beliefs-  Attitudes have to do with your orientation toward something, the stance you take toward others, God, life, work, and relationships.  Beliefs are anything you accept as true.  Often we do not see an anttitude, or belief, as the source of discomfort in our life.   We blame other people.  We need to own or attitudes and convictions because they fall within our property line.  We are the ones who feel their effect, and the only ones who can change them.

3.)  Behaviors-  Behaviors have consequences.  A man reaps what he sows.  The problem comes when someone interrupts the law of sowing and reaping in another's life.  To rescue people from the natural consequences of their behavior is to render them powerless.  When people are not held accountable for their behavior it teaches them that it's okay to act in a harmful way towards others.  Taking responsibility for your actions is within your boundaries.

4.)  Choices-  We need to take responsibility for our choices.  This leads to the fruit of self-control.  A common boundary problem is disowning our choices and trying to lay the responsibility for them on someone else.  We are in control of our choices, no matter how we feel.  You are the one who makes them, so you must be the one responsible for them.

5.)  Values-  What we value and love is what we assign importance to.  Often we do not take responsibility for what we value.  I got caught up in valuing man's approval rather than God's approval, which led me down a dead-end road.  Our out of control behavior comes from loving the wrong things or valuing things that have no lasting value.

This is where I will close for today my friends.  I will be back on Friday with the last message in this series on Boundaries.  I hope you have a great week and that you are starting to make good decisions to have healthy boundaries.  Here's something for you to think about:  Do you have a hard time taking responsibility for your feelings, attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, choices, and values?  I certainly struggled with these things for many years.  I already felt like I wasn't good enough anyway because of the self-worth and rejections issues.  I felt like I had to blame someone else, or make excuses, for the way I felt (worthless, unloved, depressed, angry, etc.).  One example would be when a friend wouldn't get together with me or call me as much as I thought they should, or if they hung out with someone else more than me.  I felt like they didn't care about me and that I wasn't good enough for them.  I would feel hurt, jealous, and even angry at them.  I expected them to make me "feel" like I was important and valuable by doing the things I thought they should do.  Little did I know that they were powerless to make me feel the things I wanted to feel on a permanent basis.  I might feel built up and loved temporarliy when they were doing the things I wanted them to, but it would only last a short time because I was putting a band-aid on something that required surgery.  It was not anyone else's responsiility to make me feel valued, loved, happy, or at peace.  I was looking for love in all the wrong places.  There is only One who determines my value and worth.  His love for me is beyond comprehension.  He has promised to never leave me nor forsake me.  That is where I needed to look for my worth and value, not to others.  It's not easy to "own your stuff."  It may appear to be easier to blame others, but it won't help you live a life of freedom.  It only keeps you in bondage.  The one person you can never get away from is you.  Moving forward only comes when you decide to face the truth and own your stuff.  It also takes so much pressure off of the people in your life because they are now free to enjoy the blessing of your relationship without feeling pressured to meet all of your needs, which they can't do anyway.  Until next time my friends, be blessed!

Scripture Verses to Encourage You:

So our faces are not covered. They show the bright glory of the Lord, as the Lord’s Spirit makes us more and more like our glorious Lord. ~2 Cor. 3:18 (CEV)

So let's not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don't give up, or quit. ~Galatians 6:9 (MSG)

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.~James 1:2-4 (MSG)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day my friends! I won't be posting my next message on the Boundaries series till tomorrow since it's a holiday.  I've been outside all morning taking advantage of having my husband off today so he can help me with some much needed flower gardening. We've been out there since about 8 this morning and I am just now getting to sit down and eat some lunch. I must tell you, I am completely pooped out! At least the large flower garden on the side of our house is 99% done (separating, moving and replanting some of my lilies, planting some new things, and finally a nice, fresh layer of mulch.  Whew! I'm about ready to hit the shower to get all the grunge off. It was such a nice morning to be working outside. The Lord was so wonderful to keep the clouds around to shield us from the sun while we were working. The flower garden looks awesome! I am very happy with the progress we made today.

I hope and pray you will all have a wonderful holiday.  Please remember that the freedom we enjoy in our country has not, and does not, come free. On this Memorial Day we honor all of the men and women who have served and continue to serve this country. Thank you all so very much for the sacrifices you have made and continue to make every day. God bless you all!

Until tomorrow my friends, be blessed!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Continuing On With Boundaries

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. ~Proverbs 3:5-6

Welcome back friends!  Happy Friday to you!  How has your week been?  I hope it's been good for you.  On Monday I shared some more examples of boundaries (truth and geographical distance), and a common boundary myth ("If I set boundaries I'm being selfish").  Today I will be sharing some more examples in these areas.  I will be wrapping up my study on Boundaries next Friday, June 1st.  I would encourage you again, if you haven't read it, to get the Boundaries book by Dr. John Townsend and Dr. Henry Cloud.  It will give you more understanding of the things I have been sharing with you over the last couple of posts.  Learning to live a life with healthy boundaries takes a lot of hard work and discipline, but the desire for positive change gives us the motivation we need to continue pressing forward.  Let's get started with today's message!

Examples of Boundaries- (continued)

*Time-  There are occasions where taking time away from a person, or a situation, can be a way to regain ownership of an out-of-control area of your life where there are a lack of boundaries.

*Emotional Distance-  Sometimes emotional distance is required to give your heart the space it needs to be safe.  This is not a permanent way of living, but a temporary place to let your emotions thaw out, especially where abusive relationships are concerned.

*Other People-  You need other people to help you set and keep boundaries.  After many years of being subject to a lack of boundaries, supports groups give the strength for many people to say no, perhaps for the first time in their lives.  There are two reasons why you need others to help with boundaries.  The first reason is that our most basic need in life is for relationship.  Fear of being alone keeps many in hurtful patterns for years.  The second reason is you need new input and teaching.  There needs to be a good biblical support system to help you stand against the guilt that comes from old, toxic ways of thinking that tries to keep you in bondage.  Creating boundaries always involves a support network.

*Consequences-  Our boundaries need to be backed up with consequences.  They let others know the seriousness of the trespass and the seriousness of our respect for ourselves.  This teaches others that our commitment to living according to our values is something we hold dear and we will fight to protect and guard them.

Common Boundary Myths-

*Myth #2- "Boundaries Are a Sign of Disobedience"- Guilt and fear can keep many of us trapped in a cycle of endless activities of no genuine and emotional value.  The truth is life-changing; a lack of boundaries is often a sign of disobedience.  People who have shaky limits are often compliant on the outside, but rebellious and resentful on the inside.  Fear often keeps them from saying no, so they cover their fear by giving a half-hearted yes.  What are the thoughts and attitudes of our heart when we say yes?  God is more concerned with our heart than He is with our outward compliance.  There is no fear in love, so if we are saying yes out of fear, then our true motive isn't love.  Our yes is compromised when we are afraid to say no.

*Myth #3- "If I Begin Setting Boundaries, I Will Be Hurt by Others"- It is possible that others will become angry at our boundaries and attack or withdraw from us.  God never gave us the power or the right to control how others respond to our no.  Some people will welcome it and some will hate it.  We cannot manipulate people into swallowing our boundaries by sugarcoating them.  The people in our lives who can respect our boundaries will love our wills, our opinions, and our separateness.  The people who cannot respect out boundaries are essentially telling us that they only love our yes and our compliance, not our no.  Setting limits has to do with telling the truth.  Wise is the person who welcomes and accepts your boundaries.  Then there is the person who hates limits, resents your difference, and tries to manipulate you into giving up your treasures.  These people do not respect you or your boundaries.  Will some people abandon or attack you for having boundaries? Yes, they will.  Better to learn about their character and take steps to fix the problem than to never know.

This is where I will close for today my friends.  The Examples of Boundaries given in this post concludes the ones given in the Boundaries book.  I will continue on Monday with more Boundary Myths, as well as sharing What's Within Our Boundaries.  Here's something for you to think about: The main reason I would not say no to people was because of guilt and fear.  I didn't want to say no because I thought I needed the validation and approval of others for my worth.  To say no might mean losing the approval I so desperately sought.  I had great struggles with guilt because I thought I was being mean to say no, and I didn't want to make anyone angry or mad at me.  The process I've gone through in learning to say no has not been easy, in fact, it has been very difficult at times for me.  Still, it has been worth it to be free from the lies and bondage of living that way.  I hope and pray that you will find freedom and peace as you seek to have healthy boundaries.  Until next time my friends, be blessed!

*Scripture Verses to Encourage You:

"Yes, indeed—God is my salvation.
   I trust, I won't be afraid.
God—yes God!—is my strength and song,
   best of all, my salvation!"~Isaiah 12:2 (MSG)

For I, the Lord your God,
    hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, “Fear not,
    I am the one who helps you.”~Isaiah 41:13 (ESV)

An intelligent heart acquires knowledge,
    and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge. ~Proverbs 18:15 (ESV)

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. ~1 John 4:18 (NIV)

Monday, May 21, 2012

More on Boundaries

 The purpose in a man's heart is like deep water,
    but a man of understanding will draw it out. ~Proverbs 20:5

Welcome back friends!  I hope you're doing well on this Monday!  Last week I talked a little more in depth about what boundaries are, as well as giving a few examples of boundaries (skin and words).  Today I would like to give you some more examples of boundaries and share some common boundary myths with you.  Let's get started with the message!

Examples of Boundaries- (continued)
*Truth-  God is the founder of boundaries.  All we have to do is look back to the garden of Eden for an example of God's boundaries.  God told Adam and Eve they could eat of any of the trees in the garden, except one.  God was not trying to be mean or controlling by enforcing this boundary.  He was showing His love for them by trying to protect them from harm.  Our enemy, Satan, is called the Father of Lies because he distorts reality and truth.  Satan tempted Eve by causing doubt in her mind, which made her question God's boundaries and His truth.  We know that the consequences of her disregard for God's boundaries were not only disastorious, but life-changing for all of mankind from that point forward.  There is safety in the truth, whether it's in knowing God's truth or in knowing the truth about ourselves.  When we know the truth about God and all that is His, it puts limits on us, as well as shows us His boundaries.  Once we realize the truth that He is unchanging, this helps us define ourselves in relation to Him.  When we live in accordance to God's truth and boundaries it makes for a better life for us.  When we don't accept or express the truth of who we are and our boundaries, our lives can feel stressful, scattered, and disorderly because we are living outside our own boundaries.

*Geographical DistanceSometimes we have to physically remove ourselves from a situation to help enforce and maintain boundaries.  Proverbs 22:3 says, "A prudent person sees trouble coming and ducks; a simpleton walks in blindly and is clobbered."  There are times when we have to take time to replenish ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually after we have given to our limit.  Jesus did this often.  He would go off, by Himself, to spend time in prayer and in fellowship with His Father, so that He could be restored and renewed.  We may also have to remove ourselves from dangerous situations and put limits on evil.  We may have to seperate ourselves from those who continue to hurt us, so that we can create a safe place for ourselves.  When we remove ourselves from a situation like this, it will cause the one who is left behind to experience loss of fellowship, which may lead to a change in behavior on their part.  Many times in abusive relationships the only way to finally show the other person that you are serious and your boundaries are real is to leave the situation until they are ready to face up to their problems and deal with them.

Common Boundary Myths- One of the definitions of a myth is a fiction that looks like a truth. If it sounds true, we sometimes believe it automatically.  These myths can come from our family backgrounds, our church or theological foundations, and some can come from our own misunderstandings.

*Myth #1- "If I Set Boundaries, I'm Being Selfish"- One of the main problems to setting boundaries, especially for Christians, is a deep fear that we are being selfish or mean when we say no to people.  While it's true that we are to be a loving people and be concerned for others, we must also understand that we are responsible for our own lives and how we manage them.  Our lives are a gift from God.  We are responsible for our time, energy, money, and feelings.  There must be balance and boundaries to have a peaceful life and to walk in freedom.  It is not selfish to say no to people and things that are sucking the life out of you.  It is not selfish to say no to those people who are taking advantage of your kindness.  It is not selfish to say no when you can't fit one more thing into your schedule, or when you feel like you're going to scream because you have reached your limit.  It may appear that you're being selfish to the person who wants to continue to stomp on your boundaries while demanding more than you're willing or able to give.  Stop believing the lie!  It is not selfish to have boundaries.  In fact, the opposite is true, when we have healthy boundaries we are better able to give out of a sincere desire to help others, instead of feeling obligated or fearing that others will think badly of us for saying no.  "Stress is what happens when your insides are saying, "I can't do this" and your mouth is saying, "of course I would be happy to." Are we being wise stewards of what God has given us?

This is where I will close for today my friends.  I hope what I've shared will get you to thinking about how important it is to have healthy boundaries.  I will continue on Friday with more examples of boundaries and more boundary myths.  Here's something for you to think about:  The more you allow fear to control your actions and who you are, the more you will lose yourself.  When you give of yourself, in whatever way that is, it is always best to do so with a sincere heart, not out of fear.  This will only cause you to feel overwhelmed, resentful, angry, stressed out, and discouraged.  Just as we are responsible for our own lives and our own feelings, so others are responsible for their own lives and feelings.  Just as we expect others to respect our boundaries, we also must respect other people's boundaries.  Healthy boundaries do not hurt, attack, or control others.  What they do is keep your treasures from being taken at the wrong time.  Until next time my friends, be blessed!

*Scripture Verses to Encourage You:

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. ~Psalm 139:23-24

Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. ~Psalm 51:6

Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. ~Psalm 25:4-5

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid....for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. ~Deuteronomy 31:6

Friday, May 18, 2012

Boundaries (continued)

They will be like trees
    growing beside a stream—
trees with roots that reach
    down to the water,
and with leaves
    that are always green.
They bear fruit every year
and are never worried
    by a lack of rain. ~Jeremiah 17:8

Welcome back friends!  I hope your week has gone well.  How are things going for you in the areas we've been focusing on over the last three weeks now?  Have you seen any toxic thought patterns?  Have you been believing lies about yourself?  Do you look to others for your worth and value?  Please feel free to leave your comments and suggestions if there are things you would like me to focus on a little more or explain in more detail.  If you have any questions at all, I am here to help.  Let's get started with today's message!

Last week I touched on the subject of boundaries, which is an area I have struggled with and didn't fully understand until I read the Boundaries book by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend.  I would like to elaborate a little more today on what boundaries are and some of the boundary problems we struggle with.  I believe this is such an important subject to understand, not only for our own peace of mind, but to be able to have healthy relationships with others.  I want to make it clear that I have not mastered the area of boundaries yet.  I am still retraining my mind and replacing the lies I've believed for so long because of the self-worth and rejection issues.  Enforcing boundaries was, and still is at times, difficult for me.  When you struggle with self-worth and rejections issues, you think you're being mean when you say no to someone or when you enforce boundaries, not to mention the guilt messages that immediately start playing in your mind.  I had let people run over me and take advantage of me for so long that it felt foreign to me when I first started putting boundaries in place.  I had never stood up for myself.  I would go out of my way to help other people, even to the point of putting my own health and needs aside.  I had no boundaries for myself, which caused me to feel stressed out, angry, and resentful.  You may be saying, "Well aren't we supposed to help others and serve them?"  Yes, we are, but not to the point where we are sacrificing our own health and needs to do so.  Nor is it a good thing to say yes to people out of fear that they will reject you or that they will think you're a bad person for not doing what they want.  That is not the kind of giving or serving that the Lord wants from any of us.  Something is broken when we feel we have to say yes out of fear or to please others.  I would say yes, even when I really wanted, and sometimes needed, to say no to certain requests made of me.  I would get so angry at myself when I would do this.  Why couldn't I just stand up for myself?  Why couldn't I just say no?  I felt like such a push-over.  Have you ever felt pressured by someone else, or even by yourself, to say yes in a situation because you were so afraid the other person would get mad at you or think badly of you if you said no?  That is a terrible place to be.  My toxic thinking kept me in that place for many years.  I finally had one of those "lightbulb moments"  while reading this book when I learned that I am not responsible for how others feel.  Not only that, but I am not responsible for what they think, what they do, or what they say.  What???  Yes, that's right.  When we say no to someone, or enforce boudaries in certain areas, we are not responsible for how the other person feels or how they react.  We are responsible for our own feelings, thoughts, words, and actions.

Here is the definition of boundaries from the Boundaries book, "Boundaries define us.  They define what is me and what is not me.  A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership.  Knowing what I own and take responsibility for gives me freedom.  If I know where my yard begins and ends, I am free to do with it what I like.  Taking responsibility for my life opens up many different options.  However, if I do not "own" my life, my choices and options become very limited.  The concept of boundaries comes from the very nature of God.  God defines himself as a distinct, seperate being, and he is responsible for himself.  He defines, and takes responsibility for his personalality by telling us what he thinks, feels, plans, allows, will not allow, likes, and dislikes."

Here are a few examples of boundaries from the Boundaries book:

*Skin-  The most basic boundary that defines you.  Your physical self is the first way you learn you are seperate from others.  It keeps the good in and the bad out.  It protects your blood and your bones, holding them on the inside and all together.  It also keeps germs outside, protecting you from infection.  Victims of physical and sexual abuse often have a poor sense of boundaries. Early in life they were taught that their property did not really begin at their skin.  Others could invade their property and do whatever they wanted.  As a result, they have difficulty establishing boundaries later in life.

*Words-  In the physical world a fence or some other kind of structure usually delineates a boundary.  In the spiritual world, fences are invisible.  Nevertheless, you can create good protective fences with your words.  The most basic boundary-setting word is no.  It lets others know that you exist apart from them and that you are in control of you.  No is a confrontational word.  People with poor boundaries struggle with saying no to the control, pressure, demands, and sometimes the real needs of others.  They feel that if they say no to someone, they will endanger their relationship with that person, so they passively comply but inwardly resent.  Sometimes a person is pressuring you to do something; other times the pressure comes from your own sense of what you "should" do.  If you cannot say no to this external or internal pressure, you have lost control of your property and are not enjoying the fruit of "self-control."  Your words also define your property for others as you communicate your feelings, intentions, or dislikes.  It is difficult for people to know where you stand when you do not use words to define your property.  "I don't like it when you yell at me!" gives people a clear message about how you conduct relationships and lets them know the "rules" of your yard.

This is where I will close for today friends.  I hope the above examples I've included will help you understand a little more about boundaries.  I will give some more examples in my next message coming up on Monday.  Here is something for you to think about over the next couple of days:  I cannot begin to tell you the struggles I have gone through over the years with saying no to people and not having healthy boundaries.  The times I actually did say no, which were few and far between, I would beat myself up so badly because of the fear and anxiety of thinking they would be mad at me and not talk to me anymore because I said no.  I was causing undo stress and anxiety for myself as a result of thinking this way.  That is stinkin' thinking!  God wants us to be motivated to give freely out of love, not fear, pressure, or under compulsion.  The Bible says in 2 Cor. 9:7, "Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."  I believe this is true for more than just giving in monetary terms.  How can we give cheerfully and with the right heart if we are doing it for the wrong reasons?  Having boundaries is a good, healthy thing.  They guard our treasures.  They let us know what we are responsible for and what we're not.  Let your yes be yes, and your no be no.  Until next time my friends, be blessed!

*Scripture Verses to Encourage You:

Happy (blessed, fortunate, enviable) is the man who finds skillful and godly Wisdom, and the man who gets understanding [drawing it forth from God’s Word and life’s experiences].  For the gaining of it is better than the gaining of silver, and the profit of it better than fine gold.  Skillful and godly Wisdom is more precious than rubies; and nothing you can wish for is to be compared to her. ~Proverbs 3:13-15 (AMP)

These little troubles are getting us ready for an eternal glory that will make all our troubles seem like nothing.  Things that are seen don’t last forever, but things that are not seen are eternal. That’s why we keep our minds on the things that cannot be seen. ~2 Cor. 4:17 (CEV)

Do your own work well, and then you will have something to be proud of.  But don’t compare yourself with others.  We each must carry our own load. ~Galatians 6:4-5 (CEV)

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. ~James 1:2-4 (NLT)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Boundaries, What Are Boundaries?

"What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly."  ~Richard Bach

Welcome back friends! I hope you had a wonderful weekend and that all you moms out there had a great Mother's Day! How have things been going with you thinking about what you're thinking about?  How about with recognizing the lies stemming from the negative thoughts and self-talk?  Have you found the root causes of why you think and say certain things?  Have you been working on replacing the lies with the truth from God's Word?  I hope things are starting to come together for you in these areas and that you will start seeing a positive change in how you think and respond.  Don't give up dear one.  You can do it!  It takes time and patience on this new journey to freedom.  I have faith that you will persevere.  Let's get started with today's message!

Last week I talked about how a special friend came into my life to help me in my journey to freedom from negative self-talk and toxic thought patterns. During this time of deep revelation and understanding of why I had been thinking, feeling, and doing things the way I had for so long, the Lord also revealed to me that my little girl heart, which was so badly wounded when I was a child, had never been completely healed.  My way of dealing with hurt over the years was to stuff it down and pretend I was okay.  I didn't want anyone to think anything was wrong.  I had to wear the mask that portrayed me as having it all together.  If I acted like I was okay then I didn't have to deal with the pain in my heart.  I can tell you from personal experience that living in denial does not resolve anything, it just makes it worse.  Why do we think we have to act like we have it all together when we really don't?  The biggest reason we do this is because most of us do not like to deal with pain, of any sort.  We normally run the other way because let's face it, pain hurts, and we don't like to hurt.  Pain is not fun.  It's scary to look pain and hurt in the face and deal with it.  However, that is the only way to see it for what it is and find the root cause so we can heal and move forward.  As truth is revealed to us we can either ignore it or we can take notice of what we're being shown.

I mentioned in a previous post a book I read by  Dr. John Townsend and Dr. Henry Cloud called, Boundaries: When to Say YES, When to Say NO, To Take Control of Your Life.  It was an eye-opener for me.  As I was reading through this book I discovered that many of the areas I struggled with were not only coming from the toxic thought patterns, but also from not having healthy boundaries.  No wonder I had been a door mat all my life.  I did not grow up in a home where I was taught or shown anything about healthy boundaries, if anything, it was the complete opposite.  I grew up in a home where there was alcohol abuse, mental and physical abuse, and living in constant fear.  I grew up in a home where promises were always being broken.  I had some very deep-rooted trust issues and insecurities because of the lack of affirmation, affection, love, and security, as well as struggling for many years with fear.  As I read through this book, I could see that I was going to have to make some changes not only in my thinking, but also in my relationships with others.  Here is just a little something from a chapter in the book......"Change is frightening.  It may comfort you to know, that if you are afraid, you are possibly on the right road--the road to change and growth.  Boundaries separate you from what you have known and what you do not want.  They open up all sorts of new options for you.  You will have mixed emotions as you let go of the old and familiar and venture out into the new."  I can tell you from traveling this boundaries road for the last couple of years now, it was, and still is at times, very frightening because I had to be willing to look inside myself to see why I was feeling the things I felt when others would disregard or overstep my boundaries.  I had to face the root issues of why I would feel guilty when I chose to enforce certain boundaries with certain people.  Learning to say no has been a hard lesson for me, but I have experienced the positive aspects of having healthy boundaries.  I am well on my way to living a life of freedom in this area.  On the inside flap of this book there are three questions for you...."Are you in control of your life?  Do people take advantage of you?  Do you have trouble saying no?"  I could answer a resounding "yes" to those questions when I first picked this book up a few years ago. How about you?  Do you have struggles in the area of boundaries? Please know that you are not alone if you have struggles in this area.  I will be spending some more time on boundaries and what they are over the next few upcoming posts.  I believe boundaries are the key to having healthy relationships.

This is where I will close for today friends.  Here are a few things to think about this week:  Continue to think about what you're thinking about.  Be aware that the enemy does not want you free in this area, so be on the look-out for his attacks on your mind.  Recognize the lies of the enemy and continue speaking the truths God has shown you out-loud.  If you haven't read the Boundaries book I referred to earlier, please consider doing that.  It will help you so much.  Until next time my friends, be blessed! 

"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant." ~Robert Louis Stevenson

*Scriptures to Encourage You:

The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack.
He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters.  He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him—not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake.
Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over.  Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place. ~Psalm 23:1-6 (AMP)

It is the Lord Who goes before you; He will [march] with you; He will not fail you or let you go or forsake you; [let there be no cowardice or flinching, but] fear not, neither become broken [in spirit—depressed, dismayed, and unnerved with alarm]. ~Deuteronomy 31:8

Friday, May 11, 2012

Leaning On The Arms of Love

"Two are better off than one, because together they can work more effectively.  If one of them falls down, the other can help him up. But if someone is alone and falls, it's just too bad, because there is no one to help him." ~Ecclesiastes 4:9&10

Welcome back friends!  How has the week been for you?  This has been a very emotionally and physically draining week for me.  I spent the majority of the week doing some extensive, spring cleaning, which has caused a substantial increase in my pain levels.  As hard as I try to keep a positive attitude, and I do try very hard, I am not always Little Miss Sunshine when I'm in a great deal of pain.  Thankfully, I have a very loving, understanding family, who shows me much grace during those times.  Do you beat yourself up when you have a bad day, or when you mess up?  We are only human and we all have times when we fall short.  It doesn't make you any less valuable or loved.  If we were perfect then we wouldn't have needed Jesus to come and pay the great price for our sins.  Give yourself grace when you're having one of those days dear friends.  Let's get started with today''s message!

I have found over the years that God has ways of opening doors, closing doors, and bringing just the right people into your life, at just the right time.  God brought a wonderful friend into my life at the same time I was beginning to get a hold on the fact that I needed to change the way I think.  She had already been through her own struggles with abuse, rejection, and self-worth issues, as well as stinkin' thinking.  She was on the other side of this mountain and had tasted freedom in these areas.  She was kind enough to share her journey to freedom with me.  She was someone I felt safe with.  She was someone I opened my heart to and allowed her to see the things I was struggling with.  She had compassion and understanding for what I had been through and where I currently was.  I shared things with her and she didn't belittle me, or make me feel like my problems weren't a big deal.  She really listened to me.  We all want to be heard.  How many times have you shared things with someone and you felt like they just weren't listening?  Hearing someone and really listening to them are completely different things.  Listening requires you to put your own attitudes and opinions aside and focus on what the other person is saying to you.  We are drawn to those we can be open with and feel that we are being heard.  My friend not only shared her knowledge and understanding with me, but she loved me and prayed for me.  Her encouragement and love has played a huge part in my journey to freedom.  There were many times where she would talk to me for hours to help me through some rough patches, and there have been quite a few of those over the last several years.  I know without a doubt that she was meant to be in my life to help me gain freedom from the negative thought patterns I had struggled with.  As hard as it was, it would have been much harder without her encouragement and love.  My friend has a wonderful blog that I encourage you to visit.  Her name is Veronica and here is the link: http://silentcries-veronica.blogspot.com/  I know you will gain more understanding and wisdom from the things she shares.

Here are a few lines from the song, Lean On Me, by Bill Withers. Most of you are probably familiar with this song, but if you haven't heard it before, here is a link to the lyrics and even a video of Bill Withers singing it: ( http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/b/bill_withers/lean_on_me.html ) It's an oldie, but a goodie!  The lyrics of this song are very powerful and speak of what true friendship should consist of.

Lean On Me-

Sometimes in our lives
We all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there's always tomorrow

Lean on me, when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on

Isn't that what we all want?  To have someone to lean on when we go through those hard times, as well as someone to rejoice with us in the good times....someone who truly listens to us.  This is where I will close for today friends.  Join me on Monday for my next message entitled, "Boundaries, What Are Boundaries?"  Here is something for you to think about over the next few days:  You may be saying, "I don't have a friend like that in my life."  God knows what you have need of and I truly believe He will bless you with just the right people at just the right time.  Please understand dear ones that there is One who is always there for you and gives you His undivided attention.  He will not interrupt you or ignore you.  He is there day or night, whenever you need Him.  He is a friend who will walk beside you and let you lean on Him when you feel that you can barely take one more step.  His name is Jesus.  His love for you is greater than any love you will ever know, so why not open your heart and share everything with Him.  He is a friend, who sticks closer than a brother.  He can be trusted with your heart.  Until then my friends, be blessed! 

Scripture Verses to Encourage You:

There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. ~Proverbs 18:24

I'm no longer calling you servants because servants don't understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I've named you friends because I've let you in on everything I've heard from the Father. ~John 15:15

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.~John 15:13

Monday, May 7, 2012

Just What the Doctor Ordered

Beautiful Lord, wonderful Savior
I know for sure
All of my days are held in Your hands
Crafted into Your perfect plan ~Darlene Zschech

Welcome back friends!  I hope you're doing well and that you had a good weekend.  Pour yourself a cup of tea/coffee, pull up a seat, and stay for a little while.  Let's get started!

Have you ever heard the Lord called by the name, The Great Physician?  I have called Him by that name many times in my prayers for healing, whether it be physical healing, emotional healing, or spiritual healing.  He is The Greatest Physician who ever came to heal the sick. I completely believe that miraculous healing can and does happen, but there are times when we have a part in the work God is doing.  He will faithfully do His part, but He won't do ours.  What was my part in being free from all those things I struggled with, which I shared with you in the previous posts?  The first step was to admit I had problems in these areas.  I then learned I needed to replace the lies I had been believing with what God says about me.  It wasn't enough to just say I wanted to do this, I had to put action behind my words.  If I didn't replace the lies, then I would only end up falling right back into the old ways of thinking, which would start the whole cycle over again.  I started to replace those lies by reading God's Word.  This is His love letter us.  He used His Word to show me who I was in Him.  I also read some other material that helped me tremendously, which I will list at the end of this post for you.  The next thing I did was speak those truths out-loud to myself.  Please understand that this was not a one time occurrence.  This was something I did every day; sometimes several times a day.  Each time those negative thoughts would come, I would speak those truths from God's Word.  Even though that was several years ago, there are still times when I do this because I am not at the point where I no longer struggle with these things.  The reason for speaking the truth out-loud is because our words have power.  God's Words have power!  They have the power to change the way you think.  Proverbs 18:21 (MSG) says, "Words kill, words give life;  they're either poison or fruit—you choose."  I had spent way too many years speaking words that brought death and were poisonous to me.  I needed to speak words of life and healing.  I wanted to see good fruit coming from the words I spoke.  There is another reason for you to speak these truths out-loud, so the enemy will hear it.  He has been a willing party to fill your mind with lies about who you are.  He has spent a lot of time putting you down, speaking words of death to you.  When you start speaking the truth about yourself, this lets him know you are onto him and that you are not going to be fooled by him any longer.  As hard as Satan tries to beat you down, there is another who can beat you down even more......yourself.  You can be your own worst enemy, or you can be your best cheerleader. You have the power to change the way you think!  What are you going to do?

This is where I will close for today friends.  Join me on Friday for my next post entitled, "Leaning on the Arms of Love."  Here's something for you to think about over the next few days:  I know how hard it is to make the changes in this area, but please know dear ones, it is so worth it.  I am still growing in this area, but I actually like who I am.  I don't say that in a puffed up or cocky way, but for so long I compared myself with others, thinking I was supposed to be like this person, or that person.  I believed a bunch of lies.  God made me to be me, no one else.  I am going to try to be the best me I can be.  That is what I would like to ask you to do this week....be the best you that you can be!  Don't try to be just like someone else.  Don't let anyone make you feel like you're not good enough.  Spend this week focusing on all the wonderful things about yourself.  If you don't think there are any wonderful things about you, then you are believing lies.  Go to God's Word and ask Him to show you who you are.  He will do it.  He will expose the lies.  Until next time my friends, be blessed!

*Reading Material That Helped Me-
Battlefield of The Mind by Joyce Meyer
Loving God With All Your Mind by Elizabeth George
Who I Am In Christ by Neil Anderson
How To Handle Your Emotions by June Hunt (This book was suggested to me by a very dear friend.  It helped me tremendously in knowing why I felt the way I did.  I highly recommend this book!)

*Scripture Verses to Encourage You-
"The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it [a]overflows)." ~John 10:10 (AMP)

"I am the bread of life.  He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty." ~John 6:35

"I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." ~John 8:12

“I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” ~John 15:5

"And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you. ~Philippians 1:6 (AMP)

"How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He's the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.  Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we're a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth. " ~Ephesians 1:3-8 (MSG)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

 "A rose is no less beautiful or sweet because of it's thorns."

Welcome back friends!  I hope this has been a good week for you.  Just a quick reminder, if you haven't read the three previous messages in this series, you may want to take a few moments to do that so you can be up to speed on today's message.  Alright, let's get started!

Did you get a chance to think about the question I asked you on Wednesday? I asked, "Are you basing your worth and value on what others say about you or how they treat you?"  This is a tough question to ask yourself.  It was definitely a hard one for me because for many years, I didn't even realize I was doing this, or how messed up my way of thinking was.  I thought this was just how people normally thought about things.  I was on an emotional roller-coaster ride with each new twist and turn that came into my life.  When you have self-worth and rejection issues, it distorts the truth. There is a constant struggle with your emotions and thoughts because all you can hear in your mind is the negative self-talk, which is what you weigh everything against.

Okay, so how do you know if you are basing your worth and value on what others say about you or how they treat you?  Here are a few examples:  You do things for people even when you don't really want to, you feel the need to seek compliments from others to build yourself up, you feel angry and hurt when others don't treat you the way you treat them, you try to impress others to make them like you, you get worried and feel bad if someone acts like they don't like you, you don't share your opinion because you're afraid you won't be liked or someone will think you're stupid, you may also feel the need to defend yourself by making excuses.  I have done each and every one of these things over the years.  My way of thinking was so far from how God wanted me to think about myself.  So far from the Truth!  I finally realized that there could be no moving forward if I was going to stay stuck in old, destructive mindsets.  I could not be the woman God created me to be if I continued to believe the lies.  When I first started making a conscious effort to change the way I think, it was a battle.  Not only was I fighting against what I had normally done, but I was also fighting against the enemy, who did not want me to be free in this area.  He didn't want me to know the truth.  He wanted me to stay beat down, living in fear and doubt.  The enemy knows how powerful we can be when we know who we really are in Christ.  God already had a plan set in place to help me along in this new journey.  He wanted me to finally be free of these chains.  He knew it was going to be worth all the pain I would face.  God was starting the process of cleaning out the ugly, nasty wounds in my heart, so that I could walk in the freedom He desired for me.  I've learned that we have to face our pain to be able to move forward.  It is not easy by any means to face the pain and the lies we've been telling ourselves over the years, but how much worse it would be for us to stay stuck in our mess and never truly be free.

This is where I will close for today my friends.  Join me on Monday for my next post entitled, "Just What the Doctor Ordered."  Here's something for you to think about over the next few days:  It is a dangerous thing to base your worth and value on others.  People change, which means their opinions change.  You are not something to be thrown away when someone changes how they feel about you.  Your worth and value are not dependent on what anyone else says about you or how they treat you. You are unique and special in your own way.  You are not meant to be like anyone else.  The Creator of the Universe designed you and carefully shaped you to be who you are.  You are His greatest Masterpiece!  If someone else doesn't like you then that's okay.  It doesn't make you any less valuable if they don't give you their "approval."  God approves of you and He has some wonderful plans for you.  He wants you to walk in freedom and be ALL He created you to be.  Keep thinking about what you're thinking about and ask God to reveal the lies you've been believing about yourself.  Until next time my friends, be blessed!

*Scripture Verses to Encourage You-

" For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." ~Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

"Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you." ~Galatians 5:1 (MSG)

"Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." ~Romans 12:2

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I Was Blind, But Now I See

Welcome back friends! Happy Wednesday to you! Well, I must tell you that today is pretty special to me.....it's my birthday! That's right, today I am forty-six years old. Gosh, it seems like just yesterday that I was eighteen and getting out of high school.  Who hit the fast-forward button?  My how time does fly.

I shared with you on Monday how the self-worth and rejection issues I suffered with from childhood had affected me through negative self-talk, toxic thought patterns, people-pleasing mentality, having no boundaries, anger, jealousy, shame, and bitterness.  I would also like to add that I suffered with depression off and on over the years as well.  I did seek out medical help with the depression when it got to the point where I could not pull myself out of that pit, which was also when I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  I was put on anti-depressants for a little while and it helped me tremendously.  Please know my friends, that there is no shame in asking for help.  Please don't let anyone make you feel bad for seeking out medical help if you are struggling in this area.  God wants us whole and He can certainly use doctors to help us in these areas.  Let's get started with today's message!

After crying out to the Lord for help with these things I had struggled with for so long, He faithfully started showing me, a little at a time, that many of those problems were rooted in wrong thinking about who I was, as well as believing the lies of the enemy.  He also revealed to me, on one particular day, that I had made an idol out of seeking other's approval for my worth and value.  He showed me that I had put what others said and thought about me above what He says about me.  Ouch, ouch, and ouch!  Now that was a hard truth to hear.  I remember the day this happened.  I was out on our back porch swing, where I would go often to have some quiet time.  I was feeling frustrated and discouraged about some very painful things that had recently happened, as well as feeling that God didn't love me since He didn't prevent these things from happening.  I was struggling with those same old negative, toxic feelings and thoughts coming to the surface once more.  I told God that if He truly loved me then He would have protected me and my family from this painful situation.  I didn't understand why things had happened the way they had.  The painful losses we had suffered were overwhelming to me.  I was feeling angry and hurt, and I said, "God, I thought You loved me!"  I remember so clearly what God said to me in that moment.....He said, "Sherry, I have given you everything I have to show you how much I love you.  I have given my Only Son to die for you.  If you can't see how much I love you by what I've already done for you, then there is nothing more I can give to convince you."  My heart felt like it was breaking.  This crushed me.  I could not believe I had done that.  It was true though.  I sat there in shock.  I had done exactly what He said.  It was like scales had been removed from my eyes.  How many people had given their very life for me to show me how much they loved me?  How many people had died a horrific death to show me the depth of their love?  I could finally see the whole, ugly truth of what I had done for so many years.  I sat there for the longest time just weeping.  How lost and blind I had been!  I immediately asked God to forgive me.  I told Him I would no longer place what others say about me above what He says about me.  I would no longer look to others for my worth and value.  I thanked Him over and over for His love.  It is more than enough for me!  This was the beginning of freedom for me!

This is where I will close for today my friends.  I will pick back up on Friday with my next post entitled, "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly."  Here's something for you to think about over the next couple of days: Are you basing your worth and value on what others say about you or how they treat you?  This can be a tough question.  Please remember my dear friends, that your worth and value come from your Heavenly Father, not anyone else.  He thought you were so valuable and worth so much that He was willing to send His One and Only Son to die for you.  There is no greater love than that.  He knows every hair on your head and created you to be like no one else.  You are greatly loved!  Keep thinking about what you're thinking about!  Until next time my friend, be blessed!

*Scripture Verses to Encourage You:

"Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And [yet] not one of them is forgotten or uncared for in the presence of God.  But [even] the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not be struck with fear or seized with alarm; you are of greater worth than many [flocks] of sparrows." ~Luke 12:6-7

"Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
     you formed me in my mother's womb.
 I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking!
      Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
      I worship in adoration—what a creation!
 You know me inside and out,
      you know every bone in my body;
 You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
      how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
 Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
      all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
      before I'd even lived one day." ~Psalm 139:13-16 (MSG)