Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Restoration by Another Name

...something I've been talking about
...something I've been desiring for me and His glory
...something I've been asking from God
...something I've been believing of God
...something I've been proclaiming
...something I've been feeling conviction

Something...for almost three years. Three long years. To be exact, 2.8 years.

I knew the package in which it would be. I knew what it would look like. I knew what it would feel like. I knew the glory the King would receive. I knew the Power it would take to accomplish. I knew who would be restored. I knew; I just knew.

...or so I thought. I thought restoration was of my marriage. I thought God was going to restore beloved and me in our marriage. Restoration but any other means? What's that? Isn't there only one definition? Isn't there only one means and one package for it?

No. God has restored my soul and my heart. God has restored my heart to be full and to be full to the capacity He created in me.

He restored my soul to His during the three years. He restored my heart to full peace and joy that only He could provide. He has restored my hope in something greater than I thought He had already provided with Ephesians 3:20. He has restored my belief that I can find true happiness. He has restored my faith in love, pure and simple love.

It is possible. Love for a lifetime. Yes, just as He destined for man and woman. Love: an action verb, not an adjective or feeling. For a lifetime: that's forever, until death do us part (or Christ returns). It is possible. It is likely.

Restoration: viewed with His lenses and not my finite, restricted lenses. My driver's license says: restricted. For you see, I am restricted from driving without glasses or contacts. I had been viewing God's plan, His desire, His definition of restoration as though I was driving without my contacts. And as easy as it is to pop in my contacts, God literally popped into my heart and my eyes His view of restoration and what it looks like from His position.

Wow. Have you ever had vision problems and once those new glasses go on...boom. The world is opened to such a vibrant, crisp, colorful view. I remember when I was in sixth grade and my dad was insistent on taking me and my brother to the eye doctor. My dad being a lifetime military man, he took us to Ft. Knox, KY. Boy, that was a long trip. On the way down there, my dad kept quizzing us if we could read this sign or that sign. In my stubbornness I kept saying "yes!" (Imagine that with a 12-year old snotty know-it-all attitude.) We had our long wait, as expected on a military base, and finally had our exams. Yep, I needed glasses. However much time passed and then back to school for the first day. I usually sat somewhat in the back and I literally without a doubt believed that was "normal" sight. I mean, God didn't create us to see the chalk board in the back of the class room. It was normal. NOT. I put on the royal blue speckled glasses and boom. I could see the numbers in Geometry. For real? How is that possible. I had no idea that is how it is suppose to be. You mean my dad was right? My dad had more insight and intuition in what I needed. Yes. And though I 'saw' that I did need glasses and I could read the board from great distances, that was still not going to stop me from taking off my glasses between classes. No, I couldn't wear my glasses in the hall way where everyone would see me. Because, only those who turned around in class would see my glasses. And of courses, the teachers.

My dad knew better and insisted we get an eye exam. My Father knew better and showed me His way. My Father knew better and began to prepare and heal me. My Father knew better and opened my eyes literally at the fork in the road. So close to take a different road and He put my bff's words very heavy and seriously in my heart. In my heart, to transform it and on my heart, to show me the way.

I still sit in awe of what He has done and the way He's done this marvelous plan of His. Wow. I am so unworthy of His forgiveness, grace, and wisdom. But He's granted it anyway. He is worthy of my praise and worship. He is worthy of my gratitude. He is worthy of my indebtedness forever. He is worthy of me holding His gift so preciously in my hand and tending to the heart He has given me as though it is my very own heart.

Lord Jesus, You are so worthy. So worthy. Lord, thank You for this path. Thank You for Your infinite wisdom in knowing exactly what I needed and exactly when I needed it. You, Lord, are the Creator of awesomeness. I will live the rest of my life showing praise to You for the giftS You have given me. I will treasure the heart You have placed in my hands. Lord, You have exciting and awesome things in store, don't You?! You truly are the Father of impossibles and the Father of Ephesians 3:20...more than once. There is no limit, Lord, to how many times you can knock our socks off. No, no limit to Your power and grace. I'm so unworthy of Your redeeming love. You, Lord, have restored me and redeemed me.

Being Restored By Him,

© Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

Picture is of my Azalea yesterday.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

His: Fully and Completely, Forever

Welcome to Yes to God Tuesdays for the last time as I temporarily host for sweet Lelia the online study of Lysa Terkeurst's wonderful book, Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl.

Chapter 18: Forever

I cannot believe that I've been reading Lysa's awesome book for eighteen weeks. Eighteen. That's 1-8. Four and a half months. Wow. It's been a blessing for sure. Thanks to Lysa for her willingness to be real, open, and honest. But mostly, thanks to her for being obedient to God in writing this book. Fortunately, I won't be saying goodbye to Lysa nor this topic. I will be leading my ladies' small group in the Bible study that accompanies this book. We begin next week and I've been anticipating and excited since November when I found out she was writing a study.

Lysa's first sentence in this last chapter struck me. "It was one of the most beautiful marriage ceremonies I'd ever attended." In my heart of hearts, I thought, just like mine. Many people said mine was so beautiful and meaningful. I was told that there wasn't a dry eye in the church. We created our own ceremony and it was filled with God everywhere. We were both asked if we had committed our lives to Jesus Christ and then also had words of committed to Jesus throughout our marriage. That may sound very hypocritical considering the state of our union now: still united in God's eyes but not everything as God would desire at this point. My life as it is now, I can't focus on being a bride to a man but rather for this time I'm a bride to my Bridegroom Jesus alone.

I love what Lysa says here: "We were made for the greatest love story of them all. We were made to fall in love with Jesus." Those to me are such sweet words. We were made to fall in love with Jesus. And praise the Lord that I've done that. If I've done nothing else right in my life, I'm thankful that He led me to Himself. That He wooed me with His love. That He captivated my heart.

Stay with me as I process this. But Lysa touches on something that Beth Moore has been saying in her study, Esther. I'm going to try to formulate and process it as I write these words. Lysa shares how she had regrets and had not saved herself for her wedding day. She's not alone in that one, I'm positive. However, she's made peace with her past and realizes we cannot go back and change things. Oh how I'd love to change some of my past. To make right my wrongs. "My journey through life helped me grow a heart totally and purely devoted to Him." Beth says "we cannot amputate our history and fulfill our destiny." She is saying we can't be all that God wants us to be without our past, without our history, without our mistakes and regrets. I can hear Beth's sweet southern drawl (from her CDs) on this emphasis as she repeatedly says "are you hearin' me ladies? Are you gettin' this ladies?" Do we? Do we get what both of these ladies are saying? We can't be the person God is preparing us to be without the journey, without the history. We aren't going to be the person destined to be without journeying through life with our experiences, good and bad, in tote.

Now let's get back to this business of falling in love. Just like with any one and any relationship, love doesn't just happen. We don't just wake up saying "I love you" without putting action behind it. Relationships take time being invested, spent, and shared together. Jesus wants the same. "We will only fall in love when we draw close, deepened our understanding of Him, and seek to do life with Him." Seek to do life with Him.

Lysa momentarily touches on the imperfect heroes of faith. My mind immediately thought of David. I did the study, A Man After God's Heart, this past summer. I'm awed, yet blown away, yet fascinated that a man who could do such terrible things could also have this "title" placed upon him. A man who slept with another man's wife. A man who killed. A man who was deceptive. Yet. Yet, he was a man after God's own heart. To me there is no greater honor than to be called a man or woman after God's own heart. But David was a sinner. He had a past, a terrible past. He had ugliness in his history. That doesn't matter. Just like our pasts. They are what they are. We cannot dwell there but rather live today. Live today with Jesus. Life with Jesus.

The next subtitle Lysa has is Abandon. Oh how I don't like that word. It brings pain to my heart. It brings memories of the worst time in my heart. Is there anything more heartbreaking than to be abandoned. Whether it is from a parent, a friend, a spouse. I've experienced the latter two of those and I'd not wish that on anyone. Abandonment is worse than death. Worse than being separated by death is to be separated by abandonment. It is defined as "to leave completely, to forsake." Just that word makes my toes curl. To forsake someone. On the flip side, I know that no matter who else may forsake me in this life, Jesus will NEVER forsake me.

If we look at all sides of the word abandon, Lysa says it also plays a crucial role in every love story. Love? How can we associate such a negative word with such a joyous experience? Because it shows up in most all wedding vows. In sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful as long as you both shall live. "This forsaking all others is vital to a successful marriage...Leaving behind anything that would hinder the commitment." Wow. Those are very tough words to hear as I long for my failed marriage to be restored to a successful one, where all else is forsaken. If only these truths would have been made known and clear...

"Everything I have. Everything I own. Everything I hope for. Everything I fear. Everything I love. Everything I dream. It's all Yours, Jesus. I trust You in complete and utter abandon."

I abandon it all for the sake of the call.

Let's never be like the rich young ruler in Luke 18. "Instead of forsaking the trappings of this world, he chose to forsake the love his soul was made for."

Utterly surrendered to God's plans. That is exactly what I want to be. I want to do what causes God to pause: complete abandon to my will and utterly surrendered to Yours, God. Utterly surrendered. Utterly. Surrendered.

I can sometimes be goal oriented. Or at least I can set goals and set desires to complete certain things but I may not complete them as quickly as I'd desire. That gush of motivation gets beat down by life, laziness, and lack of motivation. Goals are all fine and well as long as they are kept in the right perspective and priority. "But when having a goal takes your focus off God and His daily intentions for you, it can cause trouble." Basically, when we are too busy focused on the future and on the things we've just got to complete, then we don't focus on today, the moment right now, or this second. Lord, may I always be open to your unfolding invitations.

Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21

"Becoming more than a good Bible study girl means that we desire God's revelations in our life more than we desire our own carefully constructed plans."

Striving to say and be...Yours God.
Fully and Completely. Forever.
If you have more to share on your blog, please use MckLinky below to hook up. I would greatly welcome any comments even if you are not doing the study. You don't have to be reading this book to share your wisdom and insight to this post. I love comments.
© Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Are Your Prayers Dangerous?

Rain. Hairspray. Bangs. Rain. Spiritual vision speech. Frizz. Forgotten notes. More rain. Where was the Lord? He showed up in the umbrella He provided after Lysa got "wet, frustrated, and come face-to-face with something pretty ugly in my heart."

Welcome to Yes to God Tuesdays as I temporarily host for sweet
Lelia the online study of Lysa Terkeurst's wonderful book, Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl.

Ch 17 Praying the Dangerous Prayers

God is so much more concerned with our heart and our character, than He ever is with our circumstances. So if there's something ugly brewing in there, He's gonna do what it takes for us to address it.

"I realized that most times it's not the big things along my spiritual journey that tempt me to get off track. It's a culmination of small daily aggravations I know God could fix but doesn't." [my emphasis] That's a point of contention for me also. Big and small, the things God can fix but chooses not to fix. Even the things that are godly and would bring Him glory. Sometimes that's very, very hard when it's a big thing very close to our hearts...at least for me. And I've felt satan using that against me. Trying to make me focus on God not fixing things instead of focusing on what God does for me and Who God is to me.

"But what if instead of seeing these aggravations as inconveniences, I saw them as reminders to draw near to God?" What a wonderful perspective and outlook of these seemingly purposeless aggravations.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8

And when we draw near to God, He'll speak to us. He'll wave over our minds that we'd never consider without Him during these times of drawing close to God. Sometimes when we draw near to God though, it's more about us being heard and not God being heard as we listen. It's so easy to center our prayers on ways we want God to bless us. Safety, health, ministry, home, finances, kids, food. Those are not bad prayers but maybe slightly flawed. "They set my expectations of God to be what I want without taking into consideration the possibility of God's bigger plan." Oh the things He can do when we have poor health, unsafe surroundings, lack of food, troubled kids, miserable finances. He can do things far greater than if we already had an A+ in all those areas. If we have all those things, then why would we need Him. From where would we draw our strength and wisdom?

I'm so terribly guilty of this and of not focusing on His bigger picture. In our small-perspective minds we can't fathom God's big plans; we can't envision the vastness of His plans. So we settle to what we can see and what we want. "I make God into One who stunts my growth with convenience and comfort rather than One who grows me into a woman of character, perseverance, and maturity." Did you get that? With our perspective WE make God to be One who stunts our growth. Yes, by having such a small vision, we stunt our own growth of what we can be if we just get out of our box and our comfort zone. And...take God out of the box we can put Him in.

"We want the promises but...not the dirt under our fingernails.
We want comfortable circumstances but...not transformation changes.
We want the gifts but...do we want the Giver more?"

We don't even come close to touching the promises of Jesus.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7

Lysa quotes Nancy Guthrie from her article, "Prayers That Move the Heart of God." "There's so much to want--healed bodies, restored relationships, changed circumstances. But asking, seeking, and knocking aren't secret formulas for getting what we want from God; they're ways to get more of God. As I listen to God speak to me through His Word, He gives me more of Himself in fuller, newer ways. Then if healing doesn't come, if the relationship remains broken, or if the pressures increase, I have the opportunity to discover for myself He is enough. His presence is enough. His purpose is enough."

Wow. That's hard. That convicts me because I'm not satisfied with relationships not being restored. I must need a lot more growing because my heart hasn't seen the "opportunity" in this yet. Have I seen some benefits and growth? Yes. But full benefit to view it as an opportunity by remaining unrestored? No.

Nancy changed her prayers to be more about getting to know God rather than getting what she wants from God. Then, she began experiencing God in deeper ways than ever.

Lysa suggests we go deeper by praying dangerous prayers. "Why do we pray? To get things, or get God?" Which is the focus of our prayers?

Lysa is focusing on three things:
♥ aligning my heart with God's heart;
♥ escaping from my own selfish perspective of life;
♥ and listening, really listening, to God.

Like Lysa, I too, want my prayers to be more about hearing God than talking to God. I want God to be the One whispering to me. "Power enters our prayers...by listening for even the slightest whisper from the One who is all-powerful."

The beauty of dangerous prayers is "inviting the divine presence into otherwise mundane moments. They are dangerous [prayers] because they will not leave us unchanged--and most of us consider change right down frightening."

Lysa's dangerous prayers:
♥ God inconvenience me to be constantly reminded to draw near to You.
♥ Interrupt me, Lord.
♥ Shake things up in me, Lord.
♥ Reveal what's in me that's not of You, Lord.
♥ And, Lord more than anything, I want more of You.

"You may hear nothing at first. The silence may be deafening, frustrating, slightly disappointing. But don't stop sitting with God. At some point when God is the deepest desire of your heart, you will hear Him." [my emphasis]

Lord, Draw my heart out of the chaos and into the sweet stillness of Your presence.

"Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile." Jeremiah 29:12-14

Oh how I love to see those verses quoted, especially 12-13. Those that I call living in the shadow of the well-known Jeremiah 29:11. He will be found. He is not hiding from us. He is listening. He is not turning a deaf ear to us. Come, come to Me. With all your heart. All your heart.

Live more expectantly of experiencing God.

If you have more to share on your blog, please use MckLinky below to hook up. I would greatly welcome any comments even if you are not doing the study. You don't have to be reading this book to share your wisdom and insight to this post. I love comments.

Wanting to Experience God More,

© Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Picture is of my wall decal in my chocolatey living room.
Are you craving chocolate now? I bet you are.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Looking For and Finding God

Welcome to Yes to God Tuesdays as I temporarily host for sweet Lelia the online study of Lysa Terkeurst's wonderful book, Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl.

Ch 16 Finding God in Unlikely Places

Lysa entices us at the beginning of the chapter with a story about clippity-clap shoes, publishers, and chocolate-covered strawberries. Again, just showing how real, down-to-earth, and authentic she is.

I just turned to the third page only to stop and stare at the heading "Seeing the Good in Hard Things." Seeing the good. That means there is good in the hard things but do we see it. Honestly, for me the pain and difficulty can easily cover and diminish the good. It's there; we/I just have to intently and purposefully look for it and choose to see it.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. Romans 8:26-28

He doesn't work things for our happiness or our timing but for our good. It's really a matter of trust. Do we trust the good He chooses? If we trust Him, then the happiness and timing should be of no concern. We know He works for our good. We must trust Him and we'll trust the good He has planned.

Hindsight is 20/20. We can see "now" why we had to go through the pain, rejection, and difficulty. We see the purpose in the pain. Many times we can interpret delays as punishment or discipline from God as though we were undeserving of the calling earlier. Rather, it is "His way of preparing [us] for it." Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10

"God used that preparation time to teach me how to be passionate about following only His plans."

"Becoming more than a good Bible study girl means waiting for God's timing, waiting for the good He is working in us. And when we're ready to move forward, becoming a good Bible study girl means remembering to help those coming along just behind us. This ensures that our calling is not just about us."

Lysa shares how she discovered a conference notebook left in the bathroom stall at a convention. She wrote in the notebook before turning it into 'lost and found'. The owner of the notebook, Tracey, was blown away that of 1500 women and hundreds of bathroom stalls, both her and Lysa's paths crossed in divine ways. The entire encounter was solely supernatural by God. Lysa's comment in the notebook was the confirmation Tracey needed with a concern heavy on her for several months.

"The more we follow Jesus, the more we fall in love with Him, want to obey Him, experience life with Him, and become a beacon of light to others through Him."

Like Lysa says, I am one of those many people thinking God's plan will come in one lump assignment, one that is so obvious to me. But she believes "that discovering our purpose will unfold slowly like a seed planted deep in the ground." Just like the seed, our purpose "is revealed through embracing each and every circumstance God brought its way." Read that again. Embracing. Each. Every. God. Brought. Our way. He's allowed it; let's embrace it. It's a tough request but one we must do to completely fulfill His plan.

We shouldn't settle for less than what God has for us. And if we are truly trusting God, we will accept and desire His way, knowing it's the best.

Obedient to His Word.
In tune to His Voice.

God doesn't ask us to do great things but just to be greatly devoted to Him.

If you have more to share on your blog, please use MckLinky below to hook up. I would greatly welcome any comments even if you are not doing the study. You don't have to be reading this book to share your wisdom and insight to this post.


© Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sensing Him; Seeing Him

Welcome to Yes to God Tuesdays as I temporarily host for sweet Lelia the online study of Lysa Terkeurst's wonderful book, Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl.

Chapter 15 A Glorious Sense of Possibility

Lysa begins by sharing an experience of delays in her flight to a speaking engagement. Upon several encounters the finally made another flight. Helped by a stranger. Void of any more delays. Many things that to the human eye can appear as coincidence or good luck. But Lysa saw much more.

For me personally, I don’t see anything as coincidence but rather Godincidences. A word I thought I created a couple years ago until I saw it used by someone a few months ago.

The word seek can be found numerous times in the Word. One of my favorites is one usually overlooked by its close neighbor, Jeremiah 29:11. You will seek Me and find me when you seek Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13 “To see God means to actively look for Him and anticipate His activity in everything.” [my emphasis] To anticipate means to expect, believe, know that God is working in all areas of our lives.

If Lysa could give every woman only one gift it would be “to glimpse God throughout their days—the miraculous mixed with the mundane. This would radically change the way we think, the way we process, and certainly the degree to which we trust God.” The possibility of seeing God. The evidence of His activity. Knowing God without any evidence is an awesome gift. But to see evidence of His activity in our lives is superb. It is the whip cream and cherry on our delicious hot fudge sundae.

A fellow speaker of Proverbs 31 and friend of Lysa’s, Whitney Capps, had a forty foot pole-climb experience that went much further than a physical exertion. As she stopped just 12 inches from the top and tempted to give up, she determined to continue. She did but then fell. Whitney learned that she has little spiritual stamina and stops short of a full-on devotion to God. How many times do we all do that? We set out with a new devotional reading plan, a new Bible study, a new routine with God, and a few weeks into it something happens. The discipline is broken and we fall back into a disrupted devotion.

Whitney goes on to say “I’m not disappointed that I fell in the last second. I’m glad that I didn’t believe the lies that ‘close was close enough.’ The difference between emotion and devotion may only be a few inches, but the view is dramatically different. Emotion can get you near the top, but that’s about it. Only devotion lets you experience a view so grand it takes your breath away.” Lysa questions why we aren’t more “compelled, convinced, and concerned with pursuing God more wholeheartedly.” That word always perks my ears as I’ve been asking for several months for a wholehearted devotion and an undivided heart.

Has God’s commands-->Obeys them­-->Love Jesus-->Loved by God-->Loved by Jesus-->Sees Jesus.
Our personal road map. Atlas. Mapquest. McNally.

Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him. John 14:21

Whoever = everybody. Regardless of church attendance. Regardless of Bible knowledge. Regardless of past actions.

Has my commands and obeys them. His commands are in His Word. The greatest command being to love God with all we have. Heart. Soul. Mind. Strength. The second being to love others. (Mark 12:30-31) If we have a wholehearted devotion to God, filled with loving Him and others, it’s hard to lie, steal, cheat, hurt, etc.

He is the one who loves me. Who is he? Who is this person? The one who has God’s commands and obeys them. There is a direct relationship between our obedience and love. Our obedience is an act that shows our love for God. God wants to be loved. The One who is love. The One who loves. Yet, He still wants to be loved. He desires our love. He desires my love.

He who loves me will be loved by My Father, and I too will love him and show Myself to him. This is not a possibility but reality. It doesn’t say I might love you and I might show Myself. There’s no possible in it. I will love you and show Myself to you. If we obey Him, it will show our love for Him. If we love Him, we will obey Him. It’s not out of obligation but out of desire. Yes, a desire to obey God unlike a child obeying a parent out of obligation or even fear. Our love for God will compel us to obey Him.

Do you “dare to believe that Jesus would love to show Himself to you? Wouldn’t it make your soul come alive like never before to see evidence of His presence constantly and consistently all around you?” [my emphasis]

Lysa says “I can hardly go through anything in life without seeing God’s hand in it.” My mind is meditating on that. I know God’s hand is on my life and every area. However, I struggle with seeing His hand in certain situations. I can’t see what He’s doing in that conversation, in that relationship, in that emotional low. Yet I know He is, though I don’t see the details of His work. Maybe that’s it. Maybe me being such a detail-oriented person I’m looking for details and He doesn’t want me to focus that small? But then the supposed ‘happenstances’ and the ‘coincidences’--the Godincidences--of life are detailed. TMI…too much information on my complex mind for my precious readers.

Lysa hits the nail on the head with “what if an experience I attribute to God isn’t from Him at all?” That is so me. Sometimes it can be so gray in discerning His hand, satan’s scheme, or my flesh.

However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him"but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.1 Corinthians 2:9-10

“If only you will open up your heart to the possibilities for Him to use everyday things to change you, grow you, strengthen you, and remind you of His amazing love…You will start to see Him. You will start to hear Him. You will get to know Him more deeply. And you will want to follow Him more boldly. And what a glorious sense of possibility that is!”

If you have more to share on your blog, please use MckLinky below to hook up. I would greatly welcome any comments even if you are not doing the study. You don't have to be reading this book to share your wisdom and insight to this post.

Sensing Possibilities,

© Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

"I Like Me"

Welcome to Yes to God Tuesdays as I temporarily host for sweet Lelia the online study of Lysa Terkeurst's wonderful book, Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl.

Chapter 14 Learning to Simply Like Me

As I read that title I thought 'Oh no! Yeah right!' Let's say I don't have a surplus of self-esteem and liking myself. But I do have more self-esteem than I've probably ever had in 35 years.

Lysa spoke of the unique spelling of her name and what comes with that. My niece's name is Maya so we know too well how hard it is to find things with that spelling. Lysa is such a hoot; one of the reasons I adore her so much. "I had a bubble lettered homemade sign on my knock-off Huffy. Nothing speaks cool like an index card surrounded by duct tap flapping in the breeze as you blaze the trails of childhood." I know about homemade, hand-me-down, make-it-your-own, kind of childhood. We weren't living in plenty either.

I dido exactly what Lysa says here: "I have had to learn to appreciate my own uniqueness and, over time, have grown to like myself." Faults and flaws...God can make them florish.

Lysa shares the counter sides of Matthew 22:39 and Matthew 16:24-26. The debate of whether we should love ourselves. Instead we should learn "how to make peace with who we are so that feelings of insecurity don't become a distraction to living our faith out loud." A distraction. Not liking who we are can actually distract us from the main thing: living the Gospel and spreading the Gospel.

Have you ever gotten a necklace tangled up so bad it takes forever to fix? That's exactly what the self-distracting thoughts do to our hearts: Entangle. Entanglements of self-distracting thoughts.

Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. Hebrews 12:1

That means we are to throw off the thoughts of ourselves that distract, hinder, and entangle. How? Fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Hebrews 12:2

Our eyes can't be fixed on ourselves and Jesus both. "Many of us spend years trying to hide or fix what we perceive as personal flaws." [my emphasis] Ahem. Perceive. Oh, how much of me I have perceived as flaws of mine. I still do. Super sensitive. Inquisitive. Very Curious. Just a few that come to mind.

Lysa tells us to think of things less appealing in us and how Jesus can use those for our good. I'm still baffled how He can use my curiosity and inquisitiveness. Yes, I gain knowledge (assuming my questions get answered) but how much does it bother those on whom I impose questions? Do others see it as me being interested or as a bother? I'm just talking this out but I know that I don't need to know how He will use my less appealing qualities but just know He will.

"Jesus would love for us to see ourselves as a package deal of unique qualities that He saw as necessary for the life He's calling us to live." A package deal you say? Necessary. My flaws and less appealing qualities are necessary for His calling on my life. Really? Hmm...seems I'd be better off without my irritating, damaging, inflicting flaws. But God knows best. He works it all out for our good and His glory. (Romans 8:28)

In addition to our self-distracting thoughts, we need to avoid past distractions. That is, those hurts, struggles, and trials from our past that distract, entangle, and hinder us.

Lysa's abortion early in life was one such thing for her. This statement is rolling around my mind regarding my own life mess ups. "Up until that point [abortion], the things that brought hurt in my life were caused by others. But the abortion was a choice I made myself." There is such a sense of guilt when we inflict pain by our choices, even those we don't even realize we are making. Revisiting the past pain, guilt, and regret is like continually banging our head on the wall. "We can't move forward with God when our past keeps pulling us down."

I leave you with the closing remarks of this chapter in full because it's so good. It's like an equation in my analytical, logical, mathematical mind.

"The more we see our life's purpose unfold,
the more we'll be secure in the person God created us to be.

The more we become secure in the person God has created us to be,
the more we'll be able to make peace with liking who we are.

The more we make peace with liking who we are,
the more we will be able to untangle self-distracting thoughts.

The less entangled we are,
the more effective we'll be for Christ.

And we'll start to see how we are
becoming more than just a good Bible study girl."

If you have more to share on your blog, please use MckLinky below to hook up. I would greatly welcome any comments even if you are not doing the study. You don't have to be reading this book to share your wisdom and insight to this post.

Trying to Simply Like Me,

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