Discover Your Core

abounding in goodness and truth

I never thought I would have one of these but… I have a personal trainer.  Several months ago I began a physical fitness program.  At the time I started I was in pain throughout my body, had terrible balance, even the motion and effort required for everyday activities challenged me.  My poor condition was the effects of an old injury, an auto-immune disease and overall poor physical fitness.  I was desperate to feel better and I finally faced the fact that I needed to take a hard look at my physical fitness if I was ever going to see physical change take place. From the first day my trainer has told me… “It all starts with your core!”

I found out what he meant when I started the workouts.  I discovered my core… the abdominal muscles at the center of my body.  These muscles, when fit and strong, stabilize my spine; enable me to keep my balance; ensure that I move properly and protect me from injury.  Right from the beginning the exercises required me to use those core muscles.  I was constantly challenged by them… the exercises were uncomfortable.  The possibility of further pain or injury made me anxious… my trainer validated my nervousness and encouraged me to continue the exercise.  He told me to do them consistently, diligently and with a constant awareness to use proper form.  I finally decided that it doesn’t matter how I feel about the exercises… I just do them.  The result has been slow, steady improvement.

Just as my physical fitness stems from my core muscles, my spiritual fitness stems from my core beliefs.  When emotional pain and stress escalates my assurance of God’s promises wane; doubt and fear come in.  I get desperate for change in my life.  Three core beliefs must be strong to allow change to take place despite my feelings and circumstances!  I must decide what I believe in my heart!

  • I must decide to believe that “God is.”

As simple as this may sound – It is easy for me to give mental agreement to God out of habit, or fear or the fact that I have heard about him since I was a child.  However at my core I must decide that God exists, that He is real and no matter how I feel I refuse to let go of that certainty.

  • I must decide that “God doesn’t lie.”

Before Jesus, I had never in my life experienced someone who didn’t lie to me.  I had learned to lie too… for my own protection and then simply to get my own way.  I assumed everyone lied.  But for the Word of God to mean anything to me I need to believe at my core that God does not lie.  Only then I can take all the lies I hear… I’m not good enough; it’s never going to get any better… lies that steal my joy and peace – and replace them with God’s truth.  His word, His promises, everything He says I am is true.

  • I must decide that “God is good.”

There are times when my feelings all scream at me that this last one isn’t true… how could it be with everything that has happened to me in my life?  When I first surrendered my life to Jesus I was frightened and alone. (Life Saving Truth)  Yet deep inside I had a glimmer of something that said, “God is good.”  I didn’t understand where it came from and didn’t spend time trying to analysis it.  I just decided to believe it. We all have a glimmer of the goodness of God… He’s in sunsets, oceans and stars.  At the core of our hearts we must decide that God is good!

Those decisions to believe God still get challenged daily and I make those same decisions over and over again!  When I falter in them I struggle and my feelings grow monstrously dangerous.  Exposing my core to things that strengthen it can be uncomfortable – downright painful at times.  The awesome thing is that when I do I expose the lies that keep me from God.  Then, I can replace them with the truth!

When I settle on those three decisions I have a rock solid foundation.  I believe that what it means to surrender my life to Jesus is that Jesus is actually alive within me and He is Lord of my life.  From that foundation I begin to set my feelings aside and seek what I need from God… through His Word, through prayer and through the comfort and counsel of other Christians.  I begin to experience the goodness of God.  My core beliefs keep me stable and balanced… able to move forward as His loved and cherished child… not necessarily because I feel that way but because He says that is who I am.  The decision in my heart, to believe God, is my core.

Everything that happens in your life requires the same core beliefs.  Exposing your core to things that strengthen it can be uncomfortable – downright painful at times.  I want to validate your feelings and bring a measure of comfort and encouragement.  I also want to encourage you to discover your core.  Ask yourself in the midst of the struggles… What do I believe about God?

If you are struggling with any or all of these core beliefs, please feel free to contact me by completing the “prayer request” form or the “contact me” form.  Both are confidential and are not posted on the webpage but are emailed directly to me.  You may indicate if you would like an email response from me.  Or… you can simply add a comment below and post it to this blog.

A Prayer

 Thank you Father that I am who you say I am… your precious daughter in Christ Jesus.  Thank you that I can seek answers to my struggles and trials; wisdom for my everyday life; and comfort for the pain and turmoil this life holds at times.  Thank you Father – your Word brings peace to my heart.  I have decided to believe that everything you say is true and good.  Thank you Father for Jesus… he is the strength at my core! 

Scripture: Hebrews 6:18; Hebrews 11:6; Romans 10:9-10

Life Saving Truth

Have you ever felt like you were losing your grip on life? I found myself hanging precariously, my grip strained and my heart pounding, on the verge of plummeting even to my death.  There were times I struggled to find a moment of peace within my heart.  I was without hope and sat in utter confusion and despair.  I was severely depressed and although I hesitate to reveal this… my mind was trained on only one thing… the act of suicide.    God has a lot to say about losing our grip.  In fact he tells us repeatedly to do exactly the opposite.  God tells us to hold fast!  I pray you are not in this place of despair… yet we all can relate to this in some measure.  When our hands start to slip, when our arms get weak and when our hearts are heavy… God says, “Hold fast my child” to the hope that is in Christ!

  • Share your life… you never know what God will do with it.

    Fabia and I 2

    Fabia and I ~ thirty years later

I was 30 years old and committed to the psych ward in our local hospital for the 3rd time in 1 ½ years.  Each time I had spent 5-6 weeks in the hospital, away from my family.  My children were 8, 6 and 18 months old. My young husband was ill equipped to deal with me and was often frustrated and angry. My only other family was my mother who lived in Hawaii.  I had not seen her in 12 years.  I felt the most alone I had ever been!

Then a young woman who was my next door neighbor came to visit me on the psych unit.  I barely knew her really, and I was shocked to see her.  I knew that I was drawn to her but couldn’t say why at the time.  She was warm and loving and completely non-judgmental.  I knew she was a Christian but she didn’t preach at me or scold me. The biggest thing she did for me was validate how I was feeling… she acknowledged that I was hurt, alone, scared and frustrated and that my reasons for feeling that way were understandable and real.  She would just sit and listen and give me a hug and then say a prayer – nothing long and preachy… just simple and heart felt.  One visit she told me I needed Jesus as my Lord and I prayed with her to surrender my life to Him.  It was still not real to me even after the prayer.

  • Share God’s Word… it holds the power of life itself.

The same visit my neighbor left me a little pamphlet with scripture at the top of each page and a short commentary below.  I was raised in church and I had heard scripture read at services my entire life.  I had never opened a Bible on my own.  I didn’t have one at the time.   Making the connection between scripture and what I was feeling and experiencing was completely foreign to me.

When I received that pamphlet I was on suicide watch in lock-up on the unit, sitting on a bed with paper sheets and wearing paper pajamas.  One scripture seemed like it jumped off the page at me.  It was 2nd Timothy 1:7… For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  Not all versions say “sound mind” but that pamphlet did.  I read that and right away said to myself, that is what I want!  A sound mind!  I knew fear… I could feel fear in every fiber of my body at that very moment.  I knew powerlessness… I had never been so powerless in my entire life!  As far as love was concerned I wanted to be loved but I was convinced I was unlovable.  Still… I thought I might live without love if I could just have a sound mind.

  • Hold fast to your hope in Christ!

Then… the crucial part to all of this took place.  I decided to believe that scripture!  I decided to believe that God was going to give me a sound mind… I didn’t know how but I decided I was going to find out.  I thought I might ask my neighbor for a little help, at least I felt a tiny bit safe with her.  I knew that the first thing I needed to do was get out of lock-up and then off the unit and back to my husband and children.  I took that scripture and I clung to the life saving truth it held!  I read and reread it.  God’s Word was working in my mind and heart that allowed change to take place despite my feelings and circumstances!

It’s hard to hold on in life.  To “hold fast” is all about what we hang on to… and has little to do with our own effort and energy.   It requires action on our part.  In this case I read and reread 2 Timothy 1:7 until it became a part of me.   Once we reach out… God’s faithfulness takes over.  God took one verse and with it he refocused my mind and calmed my heart.  Since that time He has done the same thing over and over again in my life.  Yes… holding fast requires action on our part.  We need to be deliberate about doing this simple sounding suggestion because too often the effort to do it seems huge.  But here’s the amazing grace in it… as you stretch out your hand and heart towards Him, Jesus is already there with his strength and victory.  When it seems like you are losing your grip… HOLD FAST!

A Prayer

 Thank you Father for your faithfulness, love and mercy toward me.  You reached out your hand and held me from destruction; you nurtured me and kept me safe.  Your word is truth.  Help me to seek your word, your wisdom and guidance in every situation and circumstance in my life.  Thank you for placing others in my life, they give comfort and love in just the right measure. Thank you Father for the life of Christ in me… together we do life inseparable and victorious. 

 Scripture: Hebrews 3:6; Deuteronomy 30:20; Proverbs 3:13-18; Jeremiah 31:33

Recipe for Change

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Sometimes I wonder if this mess… the thing about myself that gives me the most trouble every day… will ever change! But then I remember that years ago someone shared with me the key to change in my life. Although I don’t remember who gave me the recipe, I have never forgotten this nugget of insight.

Grace + Truth + Time = Change.

It’s such a simple recipe… just three ingredients, mix well and voila… you have change, right? But is it really that easy? I know for a fact that it’s not always easy… you can really hurt people by trying to say change is too easy. Some change is hard, extremely hard and painful as it happens. Yet it’s not impossible and the result of hard fought change is fulfilling and rewarding in amazing ways. You can also hurt people by trying to say change is too hard. Can a person really change? Are there things that a person cannot change? Sure there are! Physical elements such as gender and intelligence you cannot change. There are some things you can change and some things you can’t… there is wisdom and grace in knowing and accepting that.

Perhaps to fully understand the recipe for change we need to make sure we have all the ingredients. I’ll just tell you, you have them all at your disposal… grace and truth and time. They are available to everyone, given as a gift from God. And to those who surrender their lives to Jesus as Lord these ingredients are always and forever changing you… into the glory of God He created you to be. It’s like an empty pottery mixing bowl… patiently molded and crafted to the right shape and size, painted, glazed and fired to perfection but still missing something. It is still without any substance that brings glory to the one who crafted it.

You need to put something in the mixing bowl… mix well, knead and allow it to rise, then bake in the oven of life to produce the awesome smell and taste of a glorious creation. In Christ, that’s what is happening to you… Jesus came into that hallow place within you and brought grace and truth! Jesus, the one who came from the Father and made his dwelling among us is full of grace and truth. Jesus lives in you… and he is always working to produce change.

Jesus brings Grace…

What is grace? God’s grace is all at once 100% of His kindness, tolerance and patience shown toward each and every one of us. It works like this… I know my shortcomings, my failures and the things I just plain don’t like about myself. I’m my own best critic and worst enemy at times. Left to my own devises I will beat myself up and become buried in shame. Then Jesus comes in with grace… he tells me he loves and values me just the way I am.

Grace reminds me that no matter what I am up against… when I’m an exhausted, frustrated Mom of young children; an overweight, out of shape office worker addicted to sugar and TV; an impatient, critical wife in a quickly failing marriage; a hurt, angry daughter trying to deal with an aging parent… no matter what I am up against ~ Grace is essential in creating an environment that is right for change! On the basis of grace I can ease up on myself a little… maybe even a lot! Grace tells me that there is a reason for the struggles. Grace is love… God’s love for me just the way I am; it is also God loving me enough to not leave me that way! Grace tells me that it’s not me but Him who is making the change in me happen.

Jesus brings truth…

Truth is the essential ingredient that brings about change. Truth needs to be folded into my mind and heart and kneaded throughout my life. Truth begins to highlight areas of my life that I am hurting myself and hurting others. When truth comes in it challenges me! It exposes lies that I may have believed for decades… about myself, about others, about God. Truth corrects and protects… the Word of God comes in and says if I keep going the way I am going I will crash and get hurt. Truth makes change necessary, practical and most of all attainable.

Truth isn’t always comfortable… I see my shortcomings but that doesn’t mean I want anyone else, including God, exposing them. And when God comes in with His loving truth that contradicts the condemning lies I believe about myself, I’m really no happier. Truth isn’t natural to me… sometimes truth confuses me… truth can be frightening! That’s where time comes in!

Jesus gives us time…

Time gives the grace of Jesus, mixed with the truth He brings, the opportunity to work its way through my mind and heart and gradually bring change. In my life, time lets me see the things I need to change yet makes room for the fact that I can’t fix it that first day. Being given time is crucial to change!

Grace + Truth + Time… I believe everyone is doing the best they can with what they have! Some people may have a hard time with that statement… Jesus does not. The grace He brings into my relationship with Him assures me of that. Does that mean I can stay in the mess I see in some areas of my life today? No… truth brings a responsibility to surrender to the change God wants to make in me. But God gives me time! Time respects the need to build trust… to reshape my thinking… to discard old habits… and to feel good right where I am while God is changing me!

Prayer

Thank you Father for the awesome gift of Jesus and all he brings into my life! Such a simple and clear recipe for the change I desperately want to see happen in my life… everything I need is mine through Jesus! Help me experience the grace He brings. Help me give myself grace instead of the self-condemnation I can so easily slip into when I see my shortcomings. Help me experience and accept the truth of your Word. Balance grace and truth in my life so it brings about lasting change. Thank you Father that the time of my life is one continuous journey… with you loving, comforting and changing me every step of the way!

Scripture: John 1:14; Romans 2:4; Malachi 2:6; Ecclesiastes 3:1-12