How Many Trauma’s Can One Person Have? Sheesh!

How Many Trauma’s Can One Person Have? Sheesh!

Hello Friends,

Last week, I spoke about codependency. Please click this link to catch up https://harotianessentials.org/2020/04/28/codependency-you-say/.

I’m learning during this season of life the many ways that one could become codependent on our spouses, friends, family members, etc. Being codependent on anything other than God can cause a lot of heartache because people will always disappointment us. Not because we intentionally try to, but because we live in a broken world and no one is perfect. I have disappointed plenty of people and I pray that they all forgive me one day for it. I’ve allowed my own hurt and pain that I’ve experienced in my life to lead me to do things that I have since regretted.

One doesnt wake up codependent. There are traumas in our lives that trick us into believing that we have to depend on others, even unhealthy relationships, to help us get through this life.

One way that we find ourselves becoming codependent is when we aren’t able to heal from our childhood traumas. Hmmm, traumas?! Such as small word with ugly actions behind it. When I think of that word, I think of extreme situations that only “count” as trauma, such as, beatings, rape, molestation, mental, physical, and spiritual abuse. Yet, I have learned there are subtle “traumas” that would cause us to retreat into a codependent lifestyle because we feel we aren’t good enough for the world.

So what do unhealed childhood trauma’s look like:

  • Are you fearful of rejection and abandonment?
  • Have you experienced loss of a parent or caregiver?
  • Do you find yourself over-sharing, over-giving, and/or over-explaining?
  • Do you consider yourself a people pleaser?
  • Do you find yourself needing excessive validation?
  • Do you lack healthy boundaries?
  • Do you find yourself in and out of toxic relationships?

If you answered yes to some of these questions, like me, then you probably have unresolved childhood traumas. So, our next question is what kind of trauma’s could have occurred in our lives that lead to codependency and tolerance of toxic relationships? This list doesn’t always lead to codependency, but it will give us a good idea on how to acknowledge and begin our healing.

  • Did you grow up with an emotionally absent, or physically and/or emotionally abusive parents?
  • Were you bullied or isolated by your peers or family members?
  • Did you grow up with emotionally and physically abusive peers and/or family members?
  • Were you often ignored by your parents, family members, or care givers?
  • Were you often peer pressured into doing inappropriate things?
  • Were you left alone for long periods of time as a child?
  • Was there inconsistency in love, care, and affection by your parent or caregiver?
  • Were you shamed about eating habits? Too much? Too little?
  • Was there inappropriate sharing of personal details by your parents? (emotional incest)
  • Did you experience “helicopter parenting” where the child isn’t allowed to differentiate from caregivers/parents?

Now, you may be like me and say “Oh, crap! This is me!” I have not only experienced some of these things in my own childhood, but I have done some of things to my own children. When I came to this realization, it prompted even more forgiveness for my own mother and how I was raised. I believe that although my mother made many mistakes, they weren’t intentional. She did the best that she could with the training that she had, or lack there of. Also, realizing that we could do things to our own children without being consciously aware of them. As parents, we can just try to do better and be better.

The only way we are able to do that, is to heal from what was done to us. This means forgiving those who have hurt us, including ourselves. I remember crying for days when I realized the ways I have hurt my children. Anyone who knows me will tell you I will go to war for my children, no matter who they are. So to realize I was one of those people, I didn’t know what to do with myself.

Either way, this reflection is to understand why we are doing the things we are doing so we can repair our hearts and heal from them, not to shame us. I have to admit, because I deal with a lot of shame (that’s the enemies go to when he wants to make me feel really low), it is very easy for me to look at this list and have little to no hope for the future. But then I have to remember the promises of God when it comes to shame and codependency.

God says that when our troubles are too heavy to bear….

You (God) keep track of all my sorrows. You (God) have collected all my tears in your (God) bottle. You (God) have recorded each one in your books.

Psalm 56:8, parenthesis added

How awesome is it to know that not only are we forgiven for our wrong doings, but we are also loved so much that God tends to our wounds and despair? Yes we mess up, but it doesn’t matter to God because He has seen us at our very worse; past, present, and future. Jesus died so that we have a life filled with joy even when things seem lost and overwhelming. Having joy doesn’t mean leading a perfect, stress free life. It simply means that we recognize that we aren’t perfect, but it’s because of our imperfections we are loved and adored by our Lord Jesus Christ, which in turn gives us His perfect peace.

After all, what gives us hope and joy, and what will be our proud reward and crown as we stand before our Lord Jesus when he returns? It is you!

1 Thessalonians 2:19 NLT

Codependency is not our final story, nor are the trauma’s that happened in our childhood. Once I was told, “pain is weakness leaving the body”. When our eyes are opened to the mistakes that we have made, the pain that we have experienced, and the character defects that need to be fixed, this is our chance to allow God to come in with His mighty power and do His mightiest work within us. He wants nothing but good things for us (Psalm 57:2). So let’s allow Him, shall we?

Thank you all for reading my thoughts. A lot of the information I received, was from this awesome psychologist that I follow on social media. You can find Ginger Dean, who specializes in recovery after toxic/abusive relationships, on Facebook and Instagram @lovingmeafterwe. She has helped me tremendously set healthy boundaries with the people in my life that I have had toxic relationships with. Although I am a continued work in progress, it is helpful to be surrounded by a community of people that know exactly what we are going through and specialists that can help us along the way. Please love yourselves and remember to pray for one another.

When Your Bed Becomes Your Desk

Hello Friends,

What a fruitful week this has been. I cannot say that I have been able to accomplish all of the things that I’ve wanted to do, but I can say that I am not easily overwhelmed as I used to be. I am forced to accept things as they are. It’s either that or have a nervous breakdown annndddddd who literally has time for that?!?

Yesterday I would say has been the best day I have had in a very long time. It was just like any other day accept:

  • God granted me the serenity to accept the things I could not change
  • Courage to change the things that I could
  • Wisdom to know the difference

Whew! Thank you Jesus. The kids were fighting, the house was (well, who am I kidding?) IS a mess, and I’m a little behind on homework, me and the kids. But it’s ok. I also found myself giggling at the sounds of my kids arguing with each other over who’s fart smells the worst after eating the easter eggs we painted. Or walking into a room finding Rj dancing like a wild man, Christian cheering him on, and Hannah recording it. It was like….pure bliss. PLUS, I still made time to do the things I wanted to do, not what I had to do.

  • I started researching how to start my new up and coming podcast! That’s right people! I’m starting a podcast. I’ll keep you up to date on that.
  • I doodled in my notebook
  • I attended my online support group
  • And drum roll please…….I got the kids in bed before 10pm. BOOM! *drops mic*
What I would literally be doing if my hip didn’t feel like it was able to pop out of place

*Picks mic back up cause Im not done* To sum up, in the words of Ice Cube, “Today was a good day…” And I thank you all and many others for your prayers. God is an awesome God, but prayers definitely make a difference, so thank you from the bottom of my heart.

So, why did I title this blog, “When Your Bed Becomes Your Desk”? Well, this is the first time since my separation that I don’t feel so alone in my bed. Since my kids prefer to sleep in their own beds, tonight I am surrounded by the things I enjoy the most: my bible, writing equipment, my kids art work, reading material, and complete silence.

Tonight, while doing my bible study, I came across this scripture:

…he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and a new life through the Holy Spirit

Titus 3:5

To me, this is God reaffirming that everything will continue to be ok because that was His intent when Jesus died for us. He never promised sunshine and rainbows everyday, but after every storm, the sun shines and the rain….bows (even the wind and waves obey him -Mark 4:41). And yesterday, was my sunshine and rainbows. Without his mercy, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy my kids smelly farts and messy tendencies, their flaws overcrowding my flaws because the same love that my Father has for me, I am able to extend to them. The same grace and mercy my Father has for me, Jesus’ overflowing water runneth over to them. And that is the best gift that the Lord can ever give to me during this quarantine.

Thank you for reading my thoughts tonight. It is currently 1:25am and I should really scoot this stuff over and go to sleep. Nah, screw it, I’ll get comfy on the couch and sleep there. Anyway, love you all and please remember to pray for one another.

Love Letter From Depression Part 2

Hello Ashley,

This is Depression. How are you? Well, don’t answer that. You know I really don’t care. You know what I do care about is why we haven’t been spending time together like we used to? I mean, I see you every once in a while. Every time I think we are going to get back together, you leave me for a guy name Jesus. Like, why? What does he have that I don’t?

You cannot deny it, Ashley. We were so good together. You loved me, I loved you. All we needed was each other. And then this Jesus character came along and told you that you would be better without me. I was shocked! I never thought you would see me for who I really am. I honestly thought we would be together forever.

Remember, we used to have the best times together. I miss your tears of loneliness and hopelessness. I miss how we used to stay in bed together for days, even weeks at a time. I miss how you used to put me ahead of your family. Now you act like you never had such a wonderful, miserable history. You used to tell me how I was the only consistent entity in your life. Now I feel like I am nothing to you.

It’s pretty obvious that whoever this Jesus is that he means more to you than I ever have. That’s how I know he’s powerful because I used to be your whole world. Now all of a sudden he is. I’m angry and hurt because now I know I’ve lost my best victim.

I will never let you go. I will always come back and visit to see if you’ll take me back, I will never stop loving you. But because I see that you are stronger than you have ever been, I’ll have to bring my A game.

Love,

Depression

Click here to read Love Letter from Depression Part One

My Favorite Coat

My Favorite Coat

Hello Friends,

Thank you for joining me on this wonderful Saturday. What makes this day so wonderful, you ask? Well, for one, I’m not experiencing the weight of an elephant on my chest anymore. I am able to have hope for the future. God has been sending so many people to encourage me during this time. All whom have experienced the same trauma and heartache as I. He so is wonderful!!

Although I haven’t been “blogging” I’ve been coming up with so much material. Sometimes I am unable to fall asleep until I have it written all down, or at least cliff notes and it always feels so good.

A few weeks ago, I was able to conjure up a poem. I haven’t written a poem in what seems like forever. In another attempt of stepping out of my comfort zone, I will debut it here.

Stuck

This coat I’m wearing, I love it,
It fits my curves and everything above it.
I’m so proud because it will be mine forever,
As long as we’re together we can battle the worst weathers.
After a while it was all I wore,
The comfort and embrace it provided felt so secure.
Not realizing the more I wore it the more I outgrew it,
But it was mine and I felt good just to own it.

But one day it began to tear at the seams,
I tried my best to patch up what was lost,
But the more I tried the more it cost.
Until one day it was gone, never to be found again,
The devastation killing what was left of my core.
“What else could provide the comfort and loving care?
What would I do with myself? Who would even care?”
See, to you it may be a simple coat that can be replaced,
But to me it was everything I was missing in the first place.
In my life where things seemed so dark, until my coat came along and pulled me out,
Well, looking back, at least I thought.
The more I mourn, the more it becomes clear,
That the struggle wasn’t the coat but something deeper than what appeared.
The coat would have to become distant memory,
Letting the seams tear is a sign that I should move on to make new memories.
We all deserve to have a great, secure coat,
We just have to know where to look.
I began to seek my Father who told me that my story can be rewritten,
It’ll just take a little grinding and pinching.
“But hold on to my promises, Beloved” He says,
I’ll always hear Him repeat to me especially in time of despair.

This poem was inspired by the realization that I have been operating in codependent relationships. It wasn’t clear to me why I was experiencing extreme heartache towards someone who clearly wants nothing to do with me. In God’s gracious character, He has been removing my heart so I am able to heal and move forward.

I don’t have all of the answers right now, but right now, I am resting in His promise that “this to shall pass”.

Thank you, friends for reading my thoughts. It has been my pleasure sharing my story, although it has me terrified. Please remember to pray for one another, especially during a time like this. 

But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen and guard you from the enemy. -2 Thessalonians 3:3


Blogging with a Chronic Illness

Blogging with a Chronic Illness

So, when you live with an illness that affects how you process information, it is very difficult to successfully run a blog. It has been for me, anyway.

So, I want to share with you ways I manage a blog while living with Lupus. Please read here if you haven’t already about my fight against Lupus. Right now, I don’t talk about as much because the Plaquenil prescribed by my rheumatologist, has finally kicked in and my blood work is coming back normal. Which is AWESOME-SAUCE! I am definitely in a better place than I was a year ago. I digress.

So, oh yeah…Tips on how to run a blog while living with a chronic illness.

  1. Set small goals: As you know, when living with a chronic illness, your days can be unpredictable. I know for Lupus warriors, one day we are feeling great and the next day it’ll feel like we’ve been hit by a bus. So, don’t overwhelm yourself with too much at once. Set your own pace. The rest will follow.
  2. It’s ok to take a break: Blogging can be emotionally and physically draining for anyone, especially if you have a chronic illness. For me, pain is an issue. I manage it, but I can’t sit one position for too long before my body begins to stiffen up. If you have a schedule for blogging, set aside times for breaks. Blogging can be exhausting, so make sure you take care of yourself.
  3. Water, Water, and what…More Water!: I know you’re tired of hearing this. I’m tired of hearing it, but it true. Water is known to improve your cognition, improve your mood, and lower inflammation. Which means, the more water you drink, the better you will feel.
  4.  Cut yourself some slack: I know that we have goals that we want to accomplish, but remember, it even took the Lord six days to make the universe, and He is a perfect supreme being. Accomplishing anything will take time and continuous effort. I have to remind myself of this daily, especially when I see other people who have blogs that are thriving and mines is…..

Having a chronic illness can definitely put a wrench in the plans, but it doesn’t have to damage our plans completely. Even if it isn’t blogging. Keep going, keep pushing, keep moving. Even if it’s one step forward, three steps back, you are still making progress.

I’ll be praying for your strength while chasing what you love. Thank for you reading words today. God bless each and every one of you. Please remember to pray for one another.

On the darkest days you have to search for a spot of brightness, on the coldest days you have to seek out a spot of warmth; on the bleakest days you have to keep your eyes onward and upward and on the saddest days you have to leave them open to let them cry. To then let them dry. To give them a chance to wash out the pain in order to see fresh and clear once again. -Tahereh Mafi

 

Hope Is…

Hope Is…

Good Day Friends,

Hope. By definition, dictionary.com defines hope as “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen, a feeling of trust, want something to happen or be the case”. Having hope can give us fuel to accomplish more than we have ever imagined for ourselves. Hope can make or break our dreams, our realities, and our faith. Hope can be dangerous but in a good way.

Lately, I’ve been lacking hope. At least I thought I have. Hope that I will get through the circumstances that I am faced with every day. During this season in my life, I’ve found that hopelessness is more dangerous than hope itself because hopelessness brings a wide range of other emotions that could possibly burn me to the ground; fear, turmoil, chaos, envy, disappointment, bitterness, etc.

Hopelessness is dark and confusing. It’s tricky and manipulative. Hopelessness will have you thinking lies about yourself and God. But God, more than anything would like for us to have hope. He knows how important it is because He knows that we have doubts. He knows that we are confused creatures. He’s not surprised when we question Him about the decisions He makes or the things that He allows to happen. Yet, our Father doesn’t want us to lose hope.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. -Hebrews 11:1

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. -Romans 15:13

Why does God want us to have hope?

Hope is:

  • Living a life beyond our pain
  • Looking to God with expectation for the good He wants us to have in our lives. He genuinely cares.
  • Trusting that God has good things in store for us
  • Having confidence in His abilities to make all things work out for good

When we fall into hope, we fall into the arms of our loving Father. A Father who always catches us with the infinite promise that He will carry us from our disappointments, pain, and disparity into a new life with Him and Jesus Christ.

Once we do that, we will find ourselves experiencing new ventures and opportunities that get us beyond hopelessness. A place of freedom that we can only experience when God carries and catches us.

So today, moment by moment, have hope. Even if it’s small, you’re still giving God something to work with.

Thank you for reading my thoughts today. I pray that you are finding God’s hope for you. Also, please remember to pray for one another. We all need hope right now.

It’s All About Perception

It’s All About Perception

Good Day Friends!

Today I’m thinking about how we perceive certain things in our lives and how much perception makes a difference in whether or not we have a good day or a bad day. Sometimes, we are unable to avoid bad days, but overall, I believe perception determines whether we allow those bad days to control the decision we make.

I believe that one way we overcome life struggles is to perceive our struggles in a positive aspect. I see a lot of post about how changing our mindsets is important to achieve the goals that we have set for ourselves. Even God says that we have to renew our minds each day in order to live a more fulfilling life.

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

I love how it says that God’s will for us is “good and pleasing and perfect”!

I used to think that being diagnosed with mental illness, lupus, and fibromyalgia was the worst thing that could have ever happened to me. I truly thought my life was over, but then I realized it was just the beginning. Changing my perception helped me to realize that I can use this new diagnosis to my advantage.

Changing our mindset or how we view our circumstances helps us forgive those who have hurt us, it helps us to accept our current situation; good or bad, it helps us to have courage to overcome future obstacles, and it helps us to let go and not sweat the small stuff and become more appreciative. Changing our perception also helps us have more faith in God; that He will deliver us from whatever is going on and like scripture says, it will be “good and pleasing and perfect”.

When I decided to change my perception, I asked God for His help and of course He came through with His promise of changing how I think. Fact of the matter is, God will pursue us. He will find ways to get our attention. He will allow things such as illness’ to get our attention so we can actively seek Him, so we can have a close relationship with Him.

He will use our struggles as a chance to get closer to us. God wants us to have a relationship with Him. He wants us to spend time with Him, just like a Father who wants to have a relationship with his children. His love is neither conditional nor passive. I believe God has used mental and physical illness to get my attention so He can have a close relationship with me. Let’s face it. When I was healthy, I really didn’t seek God. I wasn’t concerned with having relationship with Him. I was so wrapped up in my own life, only seeking what I wanted.

When He uses such things are illness’ to get our attention, God doesn’t just sit back and expect us to fight it alone. He fights for us!

The Lord is a warrior: Yahweh is his name. -Exodus 15:3

“Don’t be afraid. Just stand still ad watch the Lord rescue you today… The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” -Exodus 14:13,14

Truthfully speaking, my life has gotten better because of it. Why you ask? Since I’ve embraced that this is the current season in my life, it has inspired me to do the things that I’ve always wanted to do. For instance: I am unable to hold a full time job because of this condition. Since I cannot work, I am able to spend more time with my children. I am able to be at home with them more. I am able to connect with them more. I am able to put more time and effort into starting my own business. I am able to concentrate on starting and sustaining my writing career. And more important, I am able to help people by sharing my struggles and helping them overcome theirs. It truly is the best feeling.

Since my diagnosis, I’ve grown closer to God which is awesome! I feel His presence more and more. I feel His unconditional love like never before. I am able to appreciate life more. I am able to slow down and enjoy sunsets. I no longer desire death when I become overwhelmed. I no longer desire to give up. I’ve shed most of the pain that has been apart of me most of my life. I am free from shame, guilt, and condemnation from the enemy. I’ve been able to forgive and forget. I’m eating healthier and I’ve been motivated to work on my dreams.

My diagnosis has been the best worst thing that has happened to me. It has given me a testimony to share with others who are in same boat as I am.

When changing our perception, it is helpful to remember:

  • Gods love is faithful and good (Psalm 36:5)
  • All we have to do is slow down in our self-efforts and allow God to guide our steps (Psalm 37:23)
  • We are safe and secure in Gods love (Deuteronomy 33:27)
  • We are sheltered by His presence (Exodus 33:14)
  • Allow His knowledge to wash over us (Romans 1:19,20)

“Remember, it is not your weakness that will get in the way of Gods working through you, but your delusions of strength. His strength is made perfect is made perfect in our weakness! Point to His strength by being willing to admit your weakness.” -Paul David Tripp

Thank you all for reading my thoughts today. I pray that you all are having a wonderful day. As always, I appreciate everyone who takes the time out to support my blog. Please remember to pray for one another. God bless you!

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him. -Isaiah 64:4

 

For the Easily Offended

For the Easily Offended

It seems as though when dealing with mental illness, it is easily to take constructive criticism the wrong way. I desperately try not to, but when the world is kicking me down, one incident after another, it is possible to take something that is not supposed to be offensive, offensively.

You don’t have to have a mental illness to become easily offended and become defensive when something you don’t want to hear is brought to your attention. If I’m not making sense, let me clarify.

Let’s say, for example, you are severely depressed and a good friend who has been having a bad day says, “I didn’t like that you did…blah blah blah.” Now, a healthy minded person would be able to resolve whatever conflict that was created by what was said to hurt their friend’s feelings. Or at the very least being honest enough to let them know you are unable to confront those issues right now. But since you are severely depressed, you may feel like it’s an attack on you or even just take it the wrong way.

A person could argue that a friend would know that it would be a bad time to talk about whatever was said or done to hurt them if they know you are severely depressed, but then not everyone can recognize the symptoms of depression and mania. Anyway, that’s a different discussion.

Sometimes, talking to someone with a mental illness is kind of like walking through a minefield when they are going through a rough time. You never know if and when you may say or do something that will push them over the edge. Personally, I think it is unfair for my family and friends to walk on eggshells around me because of the mental instability I sometimes experience. One day, I hope that people will find it easier to talk to me about important topics without the fear of me spiraling into a further depression or having a preconceived notion that I wont be able to handle what is being said. Or even fearing my response will be that of a toddlers.

Plus, I want to be confident enough in myself that anyone could approach me about anything and I will be able to either let them know that I am unable to deal with confrontation, or most importantly, being able to have a conversation (resolve issues) no matter how I’m feeling.

It is in my opinion, that people with mental illness should understand that it is just as hard for our loved ones as it is for us. It is easy to scream that we want to be understood and shown compassion, but living with a disease not only effects the host, but the people who surround them.

Thank you for reading my thoughts today. I pray you all are having a wonderful start to your week. Please remember to pray for one another.

Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start. -Nido Qubein 

Fight For Your Freedom

Fight For Your Freedom

Hey Friends,

Have I ever told you guys that I love history? It was one of my favorite subjects in school. I feel like if we know about our history, then we can better prepare ourselves for our future.

You guys also know that for the past few months, I’ve been trying to walk in freedom with Jesus Christ. For me, in order to walk in freedom, I need to know about my past, my history.

I’ll give you guys an example. Are you guys familiar with US American history? Well, for my readers that do not know, I’ll give you a quick run down.

So, when this country was “founded” by Amerigo Vespucci, Great Britain decided to claim it and call it their own. Fast forward a couple hundred years later, Great Britain set up 13 colonies in what is now called North America. A war started in 1776 called the Revolutionary War or The American Revolution between the 13 colonies in North American and British government because they decided to raise taxes. It was getting to the point where people couldn’t afford to feed their children and take care of their families.

George Washington, Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, and others decided to commit treason by fighting against the British government so North American can become independent from Great Britain. Initially, North America stopped paying taxes, which caused the British armies to come over using brutal force to make us pay. But as you see, it didn’t work. After eight years of fighting, America won our independence from Great Britain. This is why we celebrate the 4th of July!

Photo by Rakicevic Nenad on Pexels.com

Why am I talking about my countries independence day? Well, I promise I have a point to what I’m sure was a history lesson that most of you already knew. When I think about the Revolutionary War, I think about how that was the start of our countries freedom. People didn’t like the circumstances in which they were living so they stood up and did something about it. And almost 300 years later, we still have one of the best military operations that continue to fight so we can maintain our freedom as a country. We have our problems and we have certainly made mistakes, but it doesn’t negate the fact that we have a lot more freedom in our country than most countries in the world.

Now, let’s think about our freedom in Christ the same way. I got tired of “paying taxes” to the enemy when I wasn’t even suppose to. Jesus defeated the enemy when he sacrificed himself on the cross for us. But the enemy lied to me. He had me thinking that I was trapped in his prison and that there was no escape. He had me thinking I had to “pay taxes” when Jesus has already paid the ultimate tax. Just like North American citizens in 1775, I was being robbed. I was being robbed of my mind, God’s love, peace, grace, and mercy that is freely offered to us by our heavenly Father.

There is already a war going on in the spiritual realm for our souls, but it’s not our fight. Anything that the enemy tries to throw at you, Jesus says to give it to him, lay it at his feet and he will take care of it. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28. We also can’t stand idly by and allow the enemy to take over our minds. We can fight against the enemy ourselves by renouncing the lies that he has been feeding us and announcing God’s Truths.

How do we do that, you ask? Well, all you have to do is match up your thoughts with the Bible. If what you’re thinking doesn’t match what the Bible says, you thought is coming from the devil. For example, if you’re thinking that no one loves you, that is a lie from the pits of hell because number one the bible says God loves you and there isn’t anything you can do that will make Him stop loving you and number 2 I love you.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -Romans 8:38-39

Knowing our history has helped me better prepare for our future. I am able to appreciate the hard work and sacrifice that our military has made and continues to make everyday so we can be free. And just like our country continues to fight for our freedom, we have to continue to fight and put on our armor each day (Ephesians 6:10-18) in order to stay free by renewing our minds each day with the Word of God.

I love and appreciate our Lord Jesus Christ even more for the sacrifice that he made to make sure we are free. What’s even more cool about it, is that his sacrifice came from an overwhelming amount of love that he has for us, a love so big, our simple human minds can’t even fathom it. And in knowing that, we can try to love ourselves and each other the way Christ Jesus loves us.

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” -Zephaniah 3:17

Saying Goodbye Is Such Sweet Sorrow

Saying Goodbye Is Such Sweet Sorrow

Hey Friends,

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how our minds are enslaved to the things that we enjoy. There are so many things that we enjoy that keep us in the very prison we want to escape from. I’ll give you an example.

You know the hit television show, Game of Thrones, right? Well, I am such a huge fan, my family and I named our cat after one of the popular characters, Khaleesi. Needless to say, I love everything about the show. From the dramatic sword fights with blood spewing everywhere to the sexy, nude love scenes. I’ve been like an addict checking YouTube for updates, predictions, and new trailors for the upcoming, last season of the show.

But, God revealed to me that this show is very unhealthy for my spirit. Last season, I remember feelings “not right” immediately after I watched a episode. I was restless, unable to sleep. And once I feel asleep, my dreams were weird and eerie.

Bondage is like a prison cell and the deception of the enemy is the darkness. God is telling us to trust the light in front of it and follow it (Jesus). God is providing one light for each step at a time, but we have to put on foot forward. Sometimes he’ll even light up 2 lights in front of us for encourage. But ultimately, our goal is to walk through the prison doors, which have already been opened by the blood of the lamb. We just have to follow the light of Jesus as a guide to make sure we’re following the right directions.

Me watching Game of Thrones keeps me in the darkness. The violent and sex scene keeps in my mind in a warped prison which in turn penetrats my heart. It’s breaking my heart to know that I cannot watch my favorite television show. But guess what? I can sleep at night. I can rest knowing that I am pleasing my heavenly Father and He is rewarding me for acknowledging my weakness and staying away from it. He loves that I am renewing my mind in His word and not in the ways of the world.

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

In the long run, it’s helping me relate to my family, friends, and even myself. I am able to love and find comfort in hard times and not become angry or discouraged when things get tough. What does that have to do with a television show? Well, if I’m constantly watching violent behavior, then I will eventually begin to emulate violent behavior when I am faced with my own challenges. But…if I fill my mind with God’s love and grace, then that is the kind of behavior I will emulate when I am faced with my own challenges. See the difference?

Thank you guys for reading my thoughts today. I pray you guys are having a good day. Please remember to pray for one another.

The Horror’s of To-Do Lists

The Horror’s of To-Do Lists

Hey Friends,

The world says putting together a to-do list will cause you to be more productive. I would kind of agree with that, IF….to-do lists didn’t give me so much anxiety. Well let me be clear, it’s not the to-do list themselves that gives me anxiety. It’s the inability to complete it that’ll put my mind in a vice grip. There are a number of reasons why I am unable to get to a item on my to-do list, but the most frustrating reason is not being inspired to complete them.

For instance, when one is dealing with bipolar disorder and they are experiencing a “down moment” of depression, it’s hard to roll out of bed, let alone tackle a list of things that need to be done besides surviving the next 24 hours without having suicidal thoughts. Or what about just being emotionally drained from all of the things that require so much of your attention leading up to the due dates of said items on the to-do list.

Today, I just so happen to want to talk about to-do list because I have realized that they have been getting in the way of the most important relationship that in my life; God and I. Sometimes, I distract myself with piling things onto my to-do list, so I don’t have to focus on the things that I don’t want to deal with. But then, my to-do list will get so long, I’ll want to scream in frustration that there is too much to do. See my conundrum?

Then…after all of that, I will get so overwhelmed, I will begin to ignore my to-do list all together, but by this time, I’m far from God AND my to-do list. I’ve swam too far off shore without my safety net. I lost my focus on Christ and began focusing on what was in the water.

(by the way, I think this is God’s view of me when I’m freaking out over my to-do list)

What I’m learning now is that God doesn’t care about a to-do list. He cares about the things that we need to get done, but He doesn’t care that we have a list of things that need to get done before spending time with Him first. Why? Because He knows that we cannot do those task on our own, that we have to draw strength from Him and allow Him to walk alongside of us. Even if you consider it to be a small task. And the great part of the bargain is that He will give us peace and joy in our hearts when we tackle those pesky to-do rodents.

Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy

-Colossians 1:10-11

When we draw from Gods strength, He is able to carry us day after day after day rather than being burnt out from carrying our own burdens in our own strength day after day after day. Isn’t that a relief?

The only hard part is remembering that we don’t have to do it in our own strength…that He will joyfully take it upon Himself and carry it for us.

To-do lists’ can be helpful, but proceed with caution. Please don’t allow them to get in the way of things that are truly important. Love you guys. Thanks for reading my thoughts, or God’s thoughts, rather. Please remember to pray for one another. I pray you have a wonderful start to your week.

Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. -Isaiah 40:28-29,31 

Can I Trust God With My Children?

Can I Trust God With My Children?

Hey Friends,

Over the weekend, my family and I took family photos. It was only afterward I began to realize how much time has passed by since the last time we took them. We went through the normal hustle and bustle of making sure that everyone’s hair was properly in place, clothes were neatly ironed, and everyone was in high spirits to smile when the camera flashed.

While waiting for the photographer, I reflected back on how many times we’ve gone through this same process. Ultimately, it was the same process. Being a mom, I was in control of almost everything; hairstyles, outfits, poses, etc.

Now in 2019, this time was different. Now, the kids are older so they can make their own decisions. I can honestly say, that was the most difficult part for me; letting go of control.

For most of our kid’s lives, parents are in control of most of what our kids do (for their safety of course). What they eat. What they drink. What they wear (because it always looks so cute). What time they go to bed. Who their friends are. Even the kind of toys they play with. Where they go. But as they get older, those decisions become less about what we want and more about what they want.

Letting go of control is hard. My oldest will be thirteen this year and I’m afraid for her every day. I’ve made so many decisions for her, I’m afraid that she will have a hard time making the right decisions for herself. She is growing up in a world that is influenced by what everyone else is doing. She has unlimited access to information at her fingertips. She is book smart, but not street smart and that fear of her being taken advantage of is overwhelming at times.

I talk to God about this all of the time. He knows that I struggle with letting go and trusting Him with her completely. Like any other parent, I don’t want my kids to struggle. But I also have to remember that they to have to go through the fire to be refined and forged in order to become who God wants them to be. I’m also afraid that I won’t be able to handle whatever they go through in life. Selfish, right? I know, but it’s how I feel.

One day, they’ll get their heart broken if it hasn’t happened already. One day they’ll face a challenge and have no idea how to handle it. I pray that through my dedication to the Lord, they will follow suit and want to grow closer to him as well. I’m afraid that some of my decisions have damaged them for good. I’m afraid that some of my poor decisions have scarred them life. But I rest in the knowledge that God knows how to fix it. So although I’m afraid, I trust that God will see us through as a family and remove that fear. For it says in His Word:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. -2 Timothy 1:7

God has been so good to me, to us. He has gotten us through some pretty rough times. He has proven to us over and over again that He will not leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). My kids may not see it, but one day they will.

The point that I am trying to make today is that I can no longer control my children. WE can no longer control our children. If we do, we will push them further away. I want my kids to spread their wings while keeping a close eye on them; watch them without them knowing I’m watching. 🙂

Right now, I am preparing my kids for the world. Teaching them the love that Christ Jesus has for us and being as honest as I can about the questions they have for this life. The rest is in God’s hand because He loves them way more than I ever could (and that says a lot because the love that I have for my kids is unconditional). So can you imagine how much He loves them?

He pulled me from the pits of hell. So what more could He do for them?

Father, I am choosing and committing right now to trust you with my children. You love them unconditionally and will do what is in their best interest. Father, you see the whole picture, not just what’s in front of You, like us mere mortals. Thank You, Father, for Your grace, love, mercy, and the gift of righteousness that will save them from the enemies lies. I love You with all of my mind, heart, and soul. Amen.

Here is our family photo from this weekend

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” -Romans‬ ‭5:6-8‬ ‭

 

 

Do I Lack Compassion?

Do I Lack Compassion?

Hey Friends,

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about compassion and how much I’ve lacked it over the years. I mean, in my opinion, I haven’t been an extremely judgemental person, but I have had moments where I would hear a rumor and “shake my head” at it, thinking to myself how much of a shame it is. I’ve been known to share rumors that we’re shared with me, shamefully. I’ve even gone as far as saying things like, “Well I would never…” or “They should have done…” or “Here’s what you did wrong”.

But then, when it came down to my own tragic moments, I would crawl in a little ball, afraid to share my story in fear that people would do the same to me what I have done to others; shame them. Essentially, projecting how I feel onto people, assuming they will share the same guilty, shameful feelings that I have about myself.

Through my journey, what I’m finding out is, God has a way of humbling us through our trials and tribulations. He gives us a choice. It is a wonderful gift of grace and mercy that He extends through the love of Jesus.

Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. -John 7:16
I’ve also found out that during my seasons of suffering, God shows me so much compassion (more than I deserve), therefore, I am able to show other’s more compassion when I learn that they have been through similar situations as I. See, if God isn’t expecting perfection from us, why are expecting it from other people?
I think God does this so we can love each other better. In Colossians 3:12, He states that “as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
Compassion is the key to truly loving one another through faults and flaws. We may not agree with each other’s decisions, but having compassion for one another through the difficult times will not only allow your heart to heal through your own darkness, but it will give God so much glory and honor. It will allow us to focus less on ourselves so we can extend the same amount of grace to other’s that God extends to us when our hearts feel like they have been through the garbage disposal a few times.
Usually, when we are busy pointing out the wrongs in other people, we are really pointing out what is wrong within ourselves. Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience are all acts that every human being would love to receive, but sometimes it’s so hard to give, especially when we’ve been hurt. But let’s all ask God to help us draw nearer to Him so we can show each other what He shows us without question or expectation.
Today, because of what I’ve gone through, especially in the past four years or so, I have more compassion for people, but I still have a long way to go. There are many times where I am convicted by the Holy Spirit because of something I have said or done to show that God is still working on me.
So I would like to pray for you and me; that God will no longer allow us to approach life with broken hearts, disappointments, cautious, and cynical attitudes. But instead soften our hearts so that we can be more compassionate, tender, grace-giving, and loving towards one another. I want to thank God for always meeting us right where we are in our brokenness, while not expecting more than we can give at the moment, but still loving us with His beautiful grace, love, and mercy. Thank you, God. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Holy Spirit.
Thank you for reading my thoughts today. I pray you are having a wonderful humpday. Please remember to pray for one another.
“Just as breaking bread with another hungry human feeds our bodies with nourishment; breaking secrecy with another hurting human feeds our souls with compassion.” -Lysa Terkeurst, It’s Not Suppose To Be This Way

It Takes A Village

It Takes A Village

Hey Friends,

I’ve been through some pretty difficult challenges in life, but one challenge that outweighs the rest of them all is parenting 👶🏽👶🏽👶🏽. There, I said it. Parenting is by far the most difficult task that has been assigned to me. Now before you judge me, just think about why people say “it takes a village to raise a child”. Well, what would it take to raise three or four or ten?

Being a stay at mom requires patience, diligence, Gods love (not human), and being able to multitask at any given moment. You have to be able to hold your composer when you want to yell and scream 🗣and throw a tantrum yourself when your kid wants to act a darn fool out in public. You have moms faking it for social media trying to make it look so easy, but it’s not. I think moms try so desperately to make it look easy because they don’t want to be judged by society. If we were to admit that sometimes we think about running away and never looking back, society would “clutch their pearls” and gasp for air in awe, like, “how dare she? 👀 Children are the most precious things in the world. I would never think such a thing.” Yea, well, most people who think that have never had to stop a three-year-old from throwing a tantrum in the middle of the grocery store almost every time they went shopping or better yet, never had children of their own.

Yes, children are precious and I would give my life for mine, but that doesn’t mean that sometimes I’m not tempted to rip their heads off every once in a while for the frustrating, nail-biting, angering things that they do as children.

I knew this one lady. She was the epidemy of a perfect mother. She was patient and kind to her children. She even made baby food from real fruits and vegetables. Sometimes I don’t even have the energy to make real vegetables and fruits for dinner for my whole family. Anyway, her house was always nice and clean and her children were so well behaved. Until….I found out that she and her six children were all taking over the recommended dose of Adderall (a drug to treat ADHD). No wonder she had the energy to get things done! Everybody in the family was drugged up. My only point being is everything isn’t always what it seems. And she was heavily addicted to drugs to help her raise her family.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Yes! Kids can drive you to drugs and alcohol if you’re not too careful. People like to assume that loving your kids will make you make the right decisions for them. Love will make you become patient and kind. Love will conquer all the feelings of fear and frustration that comes along with parenting. I am here to tell you that is not the case. Only Gods love for us can do those things. We need support and guidance from other moms who have been down the same road. We need a shoulder to cry on when those days come when we just want to run. We need help!

I judge myself all of the time as a parent. I want to do this right and that right. I want to make them happy, but discipline them so they become responsible adults. I want to love them unconditionally, but also let them know that I am not their friend, but their mom. Lately, I feel like I’ve been screwing up on all of it. I’ve allowed other people to get into my head to fuel those feelings of insecurities and inadequacy. My love for them just never feels like enough because of the things that I struggle with within me. I’m a bad mother…so I thought.

Then I have to remember. Who made me? God did. Who made my children? God did (with a little hanky panky). Who gave me my specific children? God did. Who trusts me with them? God does. Gods opinion of me is the only one that matter and if someone’s else’s opinion of me doesn’t match Gods opinion of me, then that is their problem, not mine. I’m learning to parent everyday that I wake up. I know what God says about me, therefore I know what He says about them.

He says I’m more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus. I am an overcomer by the blood of the Lamb and the word of my testimony. And I know there is nothing that one one can ever say to me that can separate me from His love. And He says the same things about you and your children.

God also says in His word that children are a gift and that He is will get us through everything that we go through, including raising children. So I want to tell you that if you are a parent and you are feeling overwhelmed, please know that you are not alone. I’m sure you are doing the best you can with what you have. Of course, if you feel yourself getting angry to the point where you want to beat or shake your kid(s), please seek help. Go see your pediatrician and they should provide help for you. Otherwise, look in your area to see where the nearest emergency nursery is. It’s an organization that provides free childcare for parents who need a couple of hours to themselves to clear their heads.

This parenting thing is hard work and it definitely didn’t come with an instructional manual. I don’t care how many baby books you’ve read, each child is different so something that worked for one child may not work for your child.

Thank you for reading my thoughts today. I pray if you are having a rough day, that God shines His light brighter than usually during your moment of darkness. I pray you are able to sit at His feet, even if you have a screaming toddler sitting at yours. I pray that you are able to see your children as God sees you, worth more than all of the riches in heaven and on earth. I love you all and please remember to pray for one another, especially us parents ☝🏽🙂

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. -Hebrews 12:11

Restoration

Restoration

Good Morning Friends,

God is so wonderful, isn’t he? God does wonderful things in everyone lives, including yours. Even when it seems that everything is going wrong, God is right there beside you, guiding you with the Spirit that lives inside of you.

What Spirit you ask…The same Spirit that rose our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead to make us right with God (Rom. 4:25). Isn’t that powerful? Thank you, Jesus!

Sometimes it’s hard to see the blessings that are right in front of us because we may be distracted by what is going wrong in our lives. I am guilty of this and quite frankly, it’s frustrating as hell. But, when we know and acknowledge the love that God has for us, we are able to see our problems from a different perspective.

We like to blame God for our issues. We may see Him as cold, heartless, distant, or even cruel. My daughter told me that God is the reason why she is having a hard time in math. I’m going to tell you the same thing I told her…God is not at fault. The god of this world is at fault and his name is Satan. Since we live in a broken world, no one is perfect. So, we struggle with things and situations. Here is where God is awesome. Because He knows that we are not perfect (nor does He expect us to be) He has promised that He will be there for us and love us every step of the way towards RESTORATION and PEACE.

As of lately, the Holy Spirit has been pointing me in the direction of restoration and faith. I love when God answers prayers. It’s so cool! A while ago, I started praying that He speaks LOUD and CLEAR for me to hear. I become confused by His whispers because I doubt whether or not it’s Him speaking to me or my own will speaking to me. So, He has done just that.

For example, I’ve recently begun taking a precept class at my church that is now talking about faith and it is coinciding with my daily devotional of Walking In Freedom by Neil T. Anderson (which all Spirit lead, meaning, I didn’t know that these two studies would touch basis on such topics). Also, last night, I was able to attend my Overcomers support group that I haven’t been able to attend in months, and guess what? We were talking about restoration and faith.

At this point, God is not only speaking loud and clear, but he is slapping me in the face with it. By bringing restoration and faith to my attention, He is gently answering a prayer that I have been crying to Him about for so long. I was starting to wonder why He hasn’t been answering me, why He is leaving me stagnant. But He’s not, He hasn’t. He is speaking loud and clear saying, “Ashley, I am the God of restoration. Just have faith and hang in there.”

 God, your God, will restore everything you lost; he’ll have compassion on you; he’ll come back and pick up the pieces from all the places where you were scattered. -Deut. 30:3

How wonderful is our God! How glorious is His kindness and mercy! I am so proud to call myself His daughter and Jesus my brother. They love all of US so much.

If you are feeling like God is being distant, don’t! He is right next to you (Psalm 145:18). Remember, our feelings can betray and deceive us, just like the enemy. Don’t fall into Satans trap of deception. Understand and know the truth of Jesus and his promises:

  1. Whoever seeks God, they will find. Whoever knocks, it will be open to them. Whoever asks, will receive. All according to Gods will in the name of Jesus Christ (Matt. 7:7-11)
  2. Whoever trust Jesus will be able to not only do what he does, but they will be able to do more. Whatever we ask for in the name of Jesus will be done to glorify God our Father. (John 14:12-14)
  3. Jesus chose us to bear great fruit (love, joy, kindness, goodness, self-control, faithfulness, gentleness, peace, and forbearance) and that it shall remain. (John 15:16)

Thank you for reading God’s words today. I pray that everyone is having a wonderful start to their week. Please remember to pray for one another. Love you all and God bless you.

“[Jesus] was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.” -Romans 4:25