God help me

I am coming back to writing.

Here is a place my heart deeply longs to be.

I find out where my heart is aching and where my passion is when I write.

I have been pouring myself into youth group at my church.

Building relationships with teens and engaging their hearts for Christ.

I so often feel I am not cut out for this and yet this is where God has me.

And so I keep walking.

Its not that kind of not cut out …like woe is me, how can God use me….

but more like GOD HELP ME! I need you and your ways, your words, your love.,.

kind of not cut out for this….I don’t have what it takes ..but HE does!! Thank Goodness.

Working with these teens and a wonderful team of people has created a situation where I have had to dig deeper, love more, grow and hold on to God.

I love it!! and yet it also terrifies me.

I am pulled out of my comfort zone on a weekly basis, required to reveal more of who I am without hiding behind my door and screen comfort of home.

But every time God is right there.

I see it and feel it in the relationships being built and the trust between one another.

Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectionate to one another in brotherly love with honor giving preference to one another….

I feel like we are walking this out!! I love seeing Gods word come alive in our midst.

I hope to be writing more often then I have been.

I certainly feel a lot better when I do.

STARLA

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What’s Your Core Values?

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My Pastor gave me an assignment, to write out my core values. It has taken me 3 1/2 weeks to do it. This has not been an easy task. Thinking about what are the powerful drivers that move me to action. To think about when they became important and how they work in my life. It has been an eye opening experience.

I set out to find somewhere between 6-8 core values.

These are things that are bottom of your gut necessary to who you are.

These are the things that are powerful drivers in your life that move you to action.

How do you find these core values?

Look at your check book, what do you spend money on?

Look at your calendar, what do you spend your time on?

Look at your conversations, what are you talking about?

Look at what you think about? What angers you? What joys you?

The Children’s Pastor at my church wrote her values in a format that I thought made sense.

Written below I have :  How did it become a value? How does it apply to my spiritual life?

How I found my 1st value is I looked at my struggles! I struggle with fear.

The opposite of fear for me is TRUST

TRUST: Without trust there is no point. Trusting in God and His goodwill toward me will take me through anything this life holds. Trusting in people is not wise but if those people also trust in God, I can have a measurable amount of success in my relationships and dealings as we walk together in Christ. With this type of trust I can have faith to be open and honest with who I am, believing that God is my defender when pain comes my way. With this type of trust I also can overcome hurt and forgive others. Trust first became a value from enduring a few negative situations that caused me to crave trust. The need for trust became so important that I spent much of my waking hours testing and looking for evidence of mistrust in the faces, words and body language of the people around me, making me a very suspicious person. When I came to know the Lord I began to walk through many situations that have required me to actively rely on God in trust. This has lessened my fears and has grounded me in the fact that Jesus is steadfast. I have also come to know when I have left this trust and started walking about in fear. I can hear it in the words I use and see it in the way that I behave. Having trust in GOD has made me free to be me.

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

My 2nd value was I looked at the ways that I protect myself.

SECURITY/CONFIDENCE: is important to me because security/confidence means that I am safe and free from intentional harm. It means that I can relax and enjoy my surroundings. It means I can share myself and partake of who others are without fear,not hiding who I am or running from situations to find safety.  I have been in many instances where I did not feel safe with others. I came to see security/ confidence as a need through enduring emotional abuse, accusation, physical harm and many threating situations. No one ought to feel that way. Jesus is a strong tower of safety high above the evil and pain of this world. I may encounter it but I know in whom I trust. In the mean time I endeavor to be a safe place for others to be who they are and be honest about where they are.

Proverbs 29:25 The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.

Proverbs 18:10 The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe

I found my 3rd value is by examining how I see myself.

RESPONSIBILITY: What I do and what I say are expressions of who I am. Who I am is hidden in Christ. These things are an expression or the fruit of who Christ is in me. I believe, If I say I will do something, I do it. If I agree, then I follow through. If I mess up, I own it and learn and move forward. Words have meaning! What I say, I am responsible for. When I was about 13 I found out that my dad was not my dad. The way I found out was through my dad sending a request for paternity. He took me on as his responsibility. My parents never planned on telling me. When they split up that changed. I was crushed. God never did that to me,  instead He took me on and even sent Christ to pay for my sin.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Psalm 19:14
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

My 4th value came through looking at what brings me joy and excitement.

Exploration/Discovery: When I was a kid my Grammy took me on little trips. We never went to the same place twice. It was always an adventure in discovering what was just around the bend. I remember she would say “which way should we go?” and someone in the van would yell out “left or right.” These little trips developed a love of the unknown. I am a little more planned out than that now that I have grown up but I still love finding little places, coffee shops, nooks and crannies and finding what is behind a laugh, a smile, a sentence, a feeling, a friendship, anything really. I want to understand what I call the backstory. I want to know what is going on underneath the veneer that we put out into the word. I want to know what’s and why’s. This is also how I overcome myself and its sabotage. What I am not willing to look at I cannot understand and overcome. Walking into the dark places and letting Christ speak to me there, looking at my ways and wanderings with me in friendship has helped me see where I am invested in self-effort and pride rather than walking in love and truth. Without this process I stuff my emotions. I disconnect from life and live half alive. Exploration and discovery bring to me interest in my life, color, joy, captivating things, words, quotes, poetry, music, things to share, beauty to see and life to live!

Ephesians 4:18
They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.

Ecclesiastes 8:15

So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.

I found my 5th value through where pride can slip me up if I am do not remain humble.

Independence: I do not depend on other people to tell me what is or isn’t. I search out the matter myself. Sometimes this takes years but I will have a solid base rather than the reason of “someone said so.” I don’t allow people to coerce me. I will stand my ground for what I believe is right. I had many instances of being made to sit and listen to what a certain person had to say. I could not question or search out an idea or topic. The conversation was for me to hear and adhere to. I sat quietly but I did not adhere nor listen if I found the information to be nonsense. When I first became a Christian the pastor at the church I attended told me that I was a Berean. I looked it up, of course! I believe it is important to look into what is said, what is common, what is normal, to see if it holds up under a close examination. God does this to us within our hearts and I believe we ought to do that too so that we are not following blindly.

Acts 17:10-12
The brothers  immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

Psalm 139:23

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!

My 6th value is how I am moved by God and would like to touch others.

Worship: Music has always been a part of me. When I was in Junior high I joined choir and it changed me. I continued choir all through high school. I saw how the presence of voices or absence of voices added to the ambiance of the song. I noticed that the way a song is presented had a way of reaching me or repelling me. I was told a time or two that I couldn’t sing and to just be quiet. I was determined to sing and I practiced until I knew the music inside out. I couldn’t stop. Music moved me. I have always known that singing was a major connection for me to feel my emotions and connect with a deeper place than I can get to without it. When I worship God with song I can feel it, get inside the meaning, let the emotion pour through me and out to God and people. When I worship it is a place that my mind stops spinning on what is going on and I fully focus on God. I want to create a moment for people to open their hearts to God. I want them to feel lifted into His presence, to know just how near He really is. If they have seen Him and found rest from their lives in Him and released their selves to be moved to worship Him too then I have done what I came to do.

Psalm 100:2

Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.

Psalm 28:7

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.

My 7th and final value is how I learn and grow.

Journal/Blogging/Writing: These are the ways that I connect with myself, Talk to myself, find myself and vent to myself. Without it I am disconnected and bury my emotions, lost in my thoughts without clarity. If I don’t take the time to write I move on too quickly and I don’t learn my lessons. I discovered a love of writing from Mr. Brower who was my English teacher in high school. I found great joy and amazing passion when I write. I have found that I respect and care for myself when I write what is going on in my life. Writing creates a safe place for me to deal with my struggles and weaknesses. It also allows me to count my blessings and remember moments, keeping track of time in journal books.  These books are the place that I work out truth and understanding of who God says that I am. I feel more confident about who I am in Christ when I am writing. I have found that when I am confused or unsure writing helps me to know what I think, what I need, what I want or do not want. It is a place that I speak to God and it is also one of the ways that God uses to speak to me. I am dry and lifeless without it.

Proverbs 2:1-8

My son (daughter), if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding—
indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He holds success in store for the upright,
he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
for he guards the course of the just
and protects the way of his faithful ones.

ITS AMAZING WHAT GOD CAN BUILD FROM ALL YOUR POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE EXPERIENCES. PRAISE TO THE KING!

Surviving Truth

I awoke out of a dead sleep. I tried to turn over and I heard the voice of a male say in a deep hush “don’t move.” I thought to myself am I dreaming and I tried to move again.  He spoke sharply “I said! don’t move!” but this time he pressed something like a knife, the tip felt like what I thought an ice pick might feel like and I froze. I was suddenly aware of what was happening. He then said, “lift up your shirt.” I said quietly and defiant “no!”  He repeated himself and so did I. He said more urgently “get up, slowly, don’t look at me!” and he pressed my face forward as he pulled me out of my bed.  I’m standing  in sweat pants and a t-shirt  I can feel the coolness of the floor on my bare feet. He stood just behind me to my right. His hand pressed on my left shoulder and his right hand held the knife to the side of my neck. He was tall. His shoulder was about level with my head and I could see out of the corner of my eye the tip of his nose and the light from the window shown off the top of his forehead. He moved  a little closer to me and wrapped his arm around my shoulders covering my chest. I reach up and grabbed his wrist to pull it down and away from my throat. I could feel a gauze-like covering on his arm. He said “ we are going to walk out of here! If you scream I will cut you!

Earlier that day I had met a man that introduced himself by his nickname, he called himself QT. Something about this man in my room seemed vaguely familiar. So I calmly said to the man “you’re QT aren’t you?”  He said, “no I’m not, now let’s go!” And again, I said “yes, you are! you are QT.” I remember thinking at this point it is very odd that he would be arguing with me if this was not QT. He said, “ stop saying that, no I am not!” And again I said, “ yes, you are!” This time, he gave me a jerking shove toward the door and said: “ let’s go!” I realized this was my last chance, either I find the courage to do something or this man is taking me out of my home.

My Mother and her boyfriend had their  bedroom right next to mine and it was about 2 o’clock in the morning. I had decided that there was NO WAY this man was taking me anywhere. He could cut me, kill me right here but he was not taking me anywhere to do whatever terrible thing he had in mind.  I knew what was up. I was an avid watcher of murder mystery and cop shows. I knew that if a perpetrator could remove you from the 1st location to a secondary location that you were as good as dead. So it was time to make a stand. I released all the emotion I had been holding back in order to stay calm and I felt a boil of rage, fear and terror coming from the bottom of my soul and it traveled up through my guts into my stomach and came out my mouth. It was a blood-curdling scream like nothing I have ever heard come out of me since. It was the stuff made of primal instinct, the reactions of the desperation for survival. I bared down and said in the most gut belting screech

“It’ssssssssssssssssss QT, AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

I heard the words “what the hell” come from the other room and so did this man who had thought he was taking me out of my home. He ran with swiftness and precision like he knew my house layout perfectly. The only thing that slowed his pace was in trying to open the front door. It was always locked with the bottom lock, the dead bolt, and the chain. That chain caught him by surprise, a detail he may have overlooked.  His pounding footsteps, the sounding bang of the chain catching the door and that door left wide open was the only evidence to my mom and her boyfriend of what just happened. My mom’s boyfriend ran out the door to see which way he had gone. My mom called the police.

While we waited for the cops. I told myself to calm down, I knew I was no longer in any harm. I didn’t think being an emotional mess would be helpful to the police. They needed the facts so they could catch the guy. The cop that came questioned me like I was up to no good. All his words forming skeptical and non-compassionate pictures. He kept asking me why I was so calm as if calmness meant I was a liar. He kept insinuating that I must have had my boyfriend over and it got a little to ruff and we made noise and this was the story to cover it up. He had decided that what I was telling him was not true based on the fact that I was not an emotional wreck.  The cop said to my mom “ you have quite a little actress there!” Needless to say, my mom told them to get out of her house. They never caught the guy. I’m not sure they ever really looked.

By all rights, I should be scared of dark nights, of being alone, fearful of an attacker coming into my home. But honestly, I am not. This moment in my life didn’t cause me physical fears. It formed spiritual ones. We all have been bent and shaped by the circumstances in our lives. For me,  I was more afraid of being considered dishonest, afraid of my word not being trusted. Through situations like this and a few others in younger years, I acquired a tape in my mind. It told me that people won’t believe me even if I do tell the truth. I have been in more situations than I can count where I think I hear accusation and insinuation or a little smidge of disbelief. I find myself studying the look on people’s faces or the tone in their voices, in reaction to what I am saying and I would shut down, turn off, and stop all communication if I caught a slight gathering that they didn’t believe me.

This belief system had formed the warped ways I had  expected trust from people all the while distrusting them. Instead of realizing that they have their own tapes from their own broken stories.

Psalm 44:21

would not God have discovered it, since he knows the secrets of the heart?

The Lord asks “ Do you trust me?”
Fear of what a person thinks was my warped expression of the need for trust and safety.

Through many years of God teaching me layers of what this trust issue looks like I have learned  I can be open and not shut down. I trust in God that while I am speaking my truth, no matter what happens, He will never change, nor will who He says I am or how He loves me.  Either I bow to fear and go silent or I stand in honor of my True King and speak rightly. He knows. He wants to walk with me through it all. Jesus wants to comfort me even when no one believes what I say and encourage me when I am afraid to speak with courage.

Do I stand or fall by what men may think or say?….no, not at all unless I embrace the fear.

I need only be grounded in the truth that God is the One I can fully trust to hear me, know me, and completely understand me and keep me, no matter what people around me may believe.

~Starla

I am linking with Emily @ Imperfect Prose

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World out of whack

I am really not that hard to please, child. -God

– Let’s Talk -Cynthia Bezek

I was reading this post and these words……

These words touch me deep

How often do I take moments, just ordinary daily moments and churn them into nothing good because I choose to be hard to please?

And going deeper….

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Isn’t being hard to please rooted in not trusting that the hand God has given is not the best hand to get? That laundry and dishes, and dinner too late in the evening, and piles left for me to pick up, are not things that please but things that I allow to harden my heart.

Trusting God is better than pleasing God ….

For pleasing God is grafted from that place that says I can work my way into His good pleasure. But trusting God always brings His pleasure on me because I am walking in faith of what He can do!

I find this connection to when I have disconnected from trusting my Lord that I find fear, worry, doubt, anger, dissatisfaction wake upon my heart like a tempest tossed sea coast.

And when I am full of anxiety, my body is worn and my heart is heavy…when terrorist strike and explosions dislodge the soul from its source. When life out there in the world seems so out of whack, that the inner here in my home and here in my heart going on high alert to right the wrongs. A need for order and rightness bares down in upper management decrees and need for control. Clean this, do that, do this, pick up your room, take out the garbage….and when that still doesn’t fill the need…this God who loves opens a moment of joy to walk into…

In the middle of my mind fighting for pushy dictatorship to right the house up now!…I see a girl…my girl in the grass and I get a nudge to join her.

I spent the whole afternoon resting in the grass on a blanket, reading a book, talking to my daughter, enjoying the sunshine and watching my son play in the yard. Having shared heart convo’s and telling of tales and giving of thanks.

It really was more delightful that working to right the wrongs!

Psalm 16:9

And so my heart is glad. My soul is full of joy. My body also will rest without fear.

Sarah2