Free from Condemnation

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

                                    Romans 8:1-2

All of my life I have struggled with self-inflicted condemnation.  I would see God, not as the Father who ran to His prodigal daughter, but as the father who was waiting for me to mess up, wagging his finger at me saying, “I knew you would fail.”

But as I have grown in Christ, especially over the last eight years since melding our two families and two cultures into one, I have realized that my Heavenly Father is not waiting to condemn, but with open arms.

And yet, the father of lies continues to taunt me.  Unfortunately, sometimes I choose to listen to him, and the thoughts in my head, and when my emotions spiral downwards I am unable to function as a child of the King.

I am really good at condemning myself, focusing on how much I fail.  But this in the end is selfishness.  If I am constantly focusing on myself, I cannot worship nor thank the God I love, because all I can hear are the words, “I am not a good enough,” mother, wife, employee, or friend.  When this happens, my focus is in the wrong place: I am looking inward instead of upward.

This is where the Word of the Lord comes in.  When I have put this word into my heart, I know that I am not condemned, because I am free from sin because of the blood of Christ.  I am no longer subject to judgement or the law, because I have been set free.

So, even when the devil tempts me to remain in my old patterns of thinking, I use this verse to remind me who I really am: free.

I Have Hymns You Haven’t Heard

“I have hymns you haven’t heard

 

There is an upward soaring

In which I bend close.

You can barely distinguish me

From the things that kneel before me.

 

They are like sheep, they are grazing.

I am the shepherd on the brow of the hill.

When evening draws them home

I follow after, the dark bridge thudding.

 

And the vapor rising from their backs

Hides my own homecoming.”

1, 40 (101 Barrows and Macy)

 

From ( Rainer Maria) Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God

~translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

 

In high school I memorized several of Rainer Maria Rilke’s poems for a German completion.  Recently, while sipping a latte and  browsing in a used bookstore, I came up on Rilke’s Book of Hours and was excited to find that Rilke wrote many of his poems as psalms to God.  I wasn’t a Christian in high school, but as I have reread some of Rilke’s poems and have searched for the ones I memorized all of those years ago, it is exciting to see the love offered to God in his words.  I am trying to find the ones I memorized, and when I do, I’ll share those too.

Change my Heart of Stone

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  2Corninthians 10:5

Since beginning this journey in adoption, this verse has come to be my lifeline unto the Lord. Until I found myself at the bottom of a pit though, I never really understood how important this verse is to living the everyday Christian life.

Having been hit between the eyes this morning by my child’s really unkind words, I grasped for my lifeline once again. I dove into the Psalms, finding solace as I spoke David’s words aloud, giving voice to my hurt, anger and hopelessness. And slowly, God answers my prayer, directs my mind towards Him and His hope.

Today, I would really rather just walk away from the daily struggles; to quit would be so much easier. No matter how many times I have begged God to take this cup from me, the answer is always “NO.”

And even so, I am here to share with you that no matter how many times your child (or other person) flings hurtful words, disrespect and downright anger, God will not let you go, will not leave you and will lift you up and place your feet on the Rock (Psalm 91) of His Word.

If my thoughts remain stuck in the hurt, I cannot do as God asks me in obedience to do: love this child no matter how many times I have to subject myself to her hurtful words. But, if instead I simply offer God my willingness to take my thoughts captive, He takes those thoughts and does the work for me and changes my heart of stone into a heart of flesh ready to be molded in any way He chooses to.

Context of 2 Corinthians 10:5

Today, it is one of those days when I really have to take my thoughts captive.  Probably because I have changed this website’s purpose to share some of God’s healing tools!

Wednesdays are my crazy busy running around day: teaching an English class, picking up my high schoolers and driving them to their Bible study at our church, then taking our Middle schooler to his soccer practice, to picking up the kids dropped earlier at church, then taking my oldest to a college fair, and my husband will host Bible Study at our home (since I will be at the college fair tonight).

When I look at my to do list, panic and depression threatens to overcome, and the task of doing anything at all seems too overwhelming to consider.  But, press on I must, so I grab my anxiety journal.  I use this journal only to keep track of the scriptures I know will remind me of the truth so that I can refute the lies that I am listening to in my head.  I also record within its pages songs, poems that have spoken to me at various instances in my life, because music often has the power to soothe these.

The first thing I need to do is pray, and remind myself of the promise of God’s peace when I pray and let God do the work of instilling that into my heart.  Then I open my journal, and begin to read from the beginning until I find a verse that speaks to just what I need to focus on today.  I’m going to leave that verse open on the table and when I feel the fear rise, I will say the words out loud.

So I suggest getting a journal or just a simple notebook and as you read your bible, or listen to the radio or sermon on Sunday, record the verses that speak to whatever you are struggling with today.

The verse that is speaking to me today, is 2 Corinthians 10:5, written out for you below.  I need to set myself towards God, not against the knowledge of Him.  When I do this, I can go through my day, doing the things that I know are necessary and letting go of those that are not, and then allowing His joy to fill me as I walk in obedience to His calling just for today.

So, lets get started.  Here’s the verse:

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

2Corinthians 10:5

Journaling

Today, look at the context (the verses surrounding the scripture passage) and record any new insights you find in your journal. Try repeating the verse out loud 3 times or more until you feel it is being cemented in your memory.

 

 

 

 

To Make It Obedient to Christ

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

2Corinthians 10:5

Read the above verse out loud, emphasizing, a different word each time you read it.

For example, emphasize the word we as you read the entire verse, saying “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Next, emphasize the second word, demolish, as you read, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Continue in this manner, emphasizing a different word each time until you have emphasized every word. When finished, journal what the Lord said to you about this verse as you meditate on which words stood out to you.

God’s Kind of Healing

I am the mother of six children: three biological and three adopted.  We started on this adoption journey over eight years ago and our children came home to live with us seven years ago.  My husband and I knew it would not be easy adding three children and essentially doubling our family size overnight!  Yet, nothing prepared us for the reality of how hard it would really be: we are Christians after all, suffering should last a little while and then go away right?  We thought God would repair all of our brokenness and we would soon be living the “happily ever after.”  He didn’t.

He chose, in His sovereignty and wisdom, to allow us all to suffer through a lot of major growing pains.  But these were the kind of growing pains that not only stretches the muscles, but rips them.  The tears heal eventually, but not before causing some major pain and disabilities in the mean time.  Life became very, very difficult.  I became angry: I raged against God who would choose this life for me.  I became bitter: I resented the fact that I had stepped out in faith, done as God had asked me, and now I was stuck with this rotten lot!  I became depressed: I truly lost all hope for the future, forgetting the promises of God.

Even in my raging, God never left me (even though He probably should have.)  I tried to seek solace in food at times, searched for like minded families who wished they had never embarked on this journey or at very least a book by an adopted mother that told me I was not the complete failure that I felt like.  But, in the end, I found solace in nothing, except God.  He didn’t fix my life, but he gave me incremental strength to make it through the very next moment.  I survived the first four years after our adoption because God gave me His strength for one moment at a time.  Slowly, very slowly, my anger began to subside, the bitterness went away and I heard the Holy Spirit’s voice reminding me of God’s unfailing love for me, giving me hope for the future.  Each day became a little easier than the last.

Yet I still struggled, feeling alone in this journey of adopting three older children.  At first our lives felt so very hopeless, but as I look back over almost eight  years of the struggle, I can see the redemption and healing that has gradually been taking place.  And that even in the day to day chaos, their runs a river of grace for all of us.  And while God has promised me healing for our family (without a clue as to what this will look like) I can still not with any certainty claim that these children, despite my prayers and striving, will not  decide to walk away from God and live a life apart from our family values.  I am learning, learning and relearning, to do everything for an audience of One, allowing conviction to turn my heart when I have sinned against my children, or resting in the Lord’s sovereignty even when I have done what I know is right and yet there seems to be so little fruit for my efforts.

In living this life and having seen other families struggle, I share my heartaches and failures as well as my joy and the grace He offers to me so frequently because even when the healing God promises is painstakingly slow, He gives me the strength just for the next moment to keep walking purposefully down the path He has chosen for me.  He will give you that same grace, conviction and strength, but only for the exact moment you need it so that you can learn to rely on Him at all times and for the praise of His glory.  I write because the only true hope for our family’s healing is through Christ and Christ alone.

WIN_20141018_105429

A Change

Recently I have started a new blog Shaken and Filled.  So, I have changed the purpose of this blog to share some of the tools God has given me to heal.  I struggled for years with depression, anxiety and panic attacks in relation to our family’s decision to enlarge our family through adoption, and God showed me a path to healing that I will share here.  No magic remedies, just His word and promises.  In my primary blog you can read about how God’s healing for our entire family is working out in our daily lives.  Hope you will visit often.