Tag Archives: Inner Healing

What’s the Big Deal with Thanksgiving?

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I should be in the kitchen right now, throwing together some dough for the pie crusts I’ll need later today. The shopping is almost complete, but I do have to make that one last pesky run to the grocery store for the extras I forgot. And of course, there are several seasonal additions to our schedule for this Wednesday before Thanksgiving. But for just a minute, I’m going to sit right here and center my heart. If I skip that part, everything else is meaningless.

This year, the holidays came barreling at us like a stampede of wildebeests. We have been counting down days to Christmas break when our daughter will be able to come home and spend time with the family again, but we seem a bit blindsided by Thanksgiving. My mother in law recently passed away, our teenage daughter is living a continent away from us this year, and we are under the daily pressures of learning a new language, navigating crises and trying to reach out to the refugee community in our city. Living outside the USA makes it easy for us to skip over the American holidays and traditions we came from, and believe me, it’s very tempting to simply let them go at times like this. Granted, many of our Americanisms have already been released to elsewhere since we have stepped into life in Germany…but Thanksgiving? That’s a hill I’m willing to die on.

Why?

Because without gratitude—without Thanksgiving—we’re bankrupt. Cultivating thankfulness actually creates a good life that emanates outward from the soul, affecting everything we do, coloring our world with heaven’s perspectives. Without gratitude at work in my heart, I drift toward the default setting of negativity, self-pity and lack. I know where that leads because I have gone down that road before, and I’m done wasting time there!

I want my life to be full, passionate, joyful and fun—doesn’t everyone? But I’m old enough to know that abundant life isn’t a one-stop-shop. Abundant life is the product of plugging into the Source of Life, and actively training my soul in His ways. I have to submit my negativity, selfishness, pride (and the list goes on), and open up to be filled with the Spirit. I have to tune my heart to the frequency of His voice. I have to commune with Him—converse, listen, sing, pray, cry, and just be—soaking in His comforting, personal Presence.

The key to opening the gate of communion with God is THANKSGIVING. We begin to see a glimpse of God’s Kingdom, His beautiful reality, when we train our souls to thank Him.

Think you’ve got a sum total ZERO to be thankful for? You’re just not trying hard enough! Start with the easy stuff:

  1. breath in my lungs
  2. sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell
  3. sunshine
  4. stars
  5. trees
  6. puppies
  7. indoor plumbing
  8. candles
  9. squirrels
  10. geraniums

And go from there. It can be anything that you could say, “Thank you, God, for _________.” Anything! From the cosmic down to the microscopic–there are endless numbers of things to be thankful for! Pick a notebook and designate it as your “Gratitude Journal” or whatever you’d like to call it. Then set a goal for yourself: write down 10 things every day that you are thankful for. Maybe it should be more like 25 or 50 a day. You decide. The great thing is, once you prime the pump on your gratitude, it starts to flow more easily. Maybe you’ll even start going past your daily goal and keep on writing…maybe you’ll need a second journal!

After a few days, you will feel different. After a few weeks of faithfully writing down your thankfulness, you will see differently.  And after training your soul in gratitude for any extended time, you will be different—you will have flipped the switch from negative/lacking/depressed to positive/overflowing/joyful.

God knows what our hearts need. He is intimately involved in the details of your life. He loves you and wants what is best for you—even more that you do for yourself. Trust Him—He knows how your heart works, and His prescription for gratitude will heal you from the inside out.

 

Here’s my list for today:

  1. Family
  2. Annoying family members
  3. Non-annoying family members
  4. Framily–friends who feel more like family
  5. Friends and family members who live with integrity and compassion
  6. Running water
  7. Soap
  8. Hairspray
  9. Cereal
  10. Cheddar cheese
  11. Deviled eggs like my Gramma made
  12. Pumpkin pie
  13. Pie crusts from scratch
  14. The feel of dough in my hands while baking
  15. Mulling spices simmering on the stove
  16. Christmas music
  17. Crooners
  18. Orchestras
  19. Jackets
  20. Gloves
  21. WhatsApp
  22. FaceTime
  23. Amazon.com
  24. Sleep
  25. Comfy pillows
  26. Books
  27. The smell of books
  28. Spekulatius cookies
  29. Candy corn
  30. Maple syrup
  31. Elf movie
  32. Gut-busting laughter
  33. Coffee
  34. Coffee
  35. Coffee (yeah, it gets at least three spots today)
  36. Old friends
  37. Good as gold friends
  38. Spiced tea
  39. A complete set of markers
  40. Spiral notebooks
  41. Chip clips
  42. Paper towels
  43. Vacuums
  44. Balconies
  45. Flower boxes
  46. Cobblestones
  47. Lap dogs
  48. Wagging tails
  49. Pianos
  50. Someone to sing with

Why not try it? You’ve got absolutely nothing to lose, and practically everything to gain. I pray that this Thanksgiving holiday will be your moment–a first step into a new life of gratitude.

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Confessions of a Former Woman-Hater

Bodiam Castle

*Revisiting this post from a few years back. Still rings true for me today–and describes a defining moment in my life.*

Yeah, I used to be a hater.

It must have had to do with some authoritarian woman teacher in my past…but however I got there, I HATED women with a passion. (Strange, since I AM one, I know.) I couldn’t stand the ways women would manipulate others to get what they wanted. I detested when girls would “play dumb” to attract male attention. And I absolutely abhorred large gatherings of women. All the cackling and clique-iness happening under the billowing clouds of estrogen made me sick to my stomach.

Funny how so many other women I know have expressed similar feelings to my own. What makes us hate our sisters so much? It doesn’t really make sense, until we see what is behind the hatred. Most women walking the planet right now have been hurt very badly by another woman. Our mothers, our sisters, our teachers, pastors and friends have hurt us. So most of us have resolved to avoid being hurt again…and have built up fortresses around our hearts. “You shall not pass!” has been our standard response to any woman who dared knock at the castle gate.

I lived quite happily alone in my castle for a long time, just me and Jesus. I didn’t need sisterhood. I would smile and wave civilly from my window high above the masses, but never considered for a moment that I would ever let someone in. Just me and Jesus. Jesus and me. I loved Jesus very much. He was my everything and I was so satisfied with Him.

Well, somehow I found myself roped into playing guitar and leading worship for a small group of women from our church. I loved worship and being in the flow of God’s presence, so I agreed to come to the group every week and “be a member” if it would allow me to lead in worship. I thought I would go in and keep to myself, tolerate all the dumb woman-y stuff and just enjoy the worship part. Week after week went by, and I began to soften a bit as I got to know the ladies in the group. Some of them were very funny! Some were deep in their walk with God. But the thing that totally blind-sided me was the book Captivating by John & Stasi Eldredge. Our group was reading and discussing that book over the course of a semester, and I was kind of enjoying it. It had some neat points and good stories. But one day as I sat and read chapter 5, I felt tears roll down my cheeks as fury rose up in my bones. For the first time, I realized that it is Satan who hates women so much. He has assaulted women since the dawn of time, 1) because we bear the beauty of God, and 2) because we give life. That revelation rocked me to my core. I felt the flip of a switch inside my heart and then everything changed.

Years before, my husband had a vision of me standing in front of thousands of women, ministering to them. I actually laughed when he told me! I could not imagine myself ever doing such a thing—I hated women, especially in large groups! I dismissed his “prophetic vision” like it was no big deal.

Fast forward to the tears and fury moment of realization…and see me running down flights of stairs in my heart-castle. I ran to my front gate, unbarred the door and flung it wide open. My Jesus, who I loved so dearly, had finally gotten through to me: my hatred of women had only aligned my heart with Satan’s agenda! I wanted no part of that anymore! At that moment, I resolved to be a lover of women, to shelter them from the assault on their lives and to stand with my sword drawn to defend them. I pledged my life to storm into the darkness and bring as many women into the Light as I possibly could for the rest of my days.

I had to learn how to have real relationships with women again. Since I had shut them out for so long, it was a little awkward at first. But the more I surrendered myself to the Holy Spirit, the easier it became. It was really just His love for women that I needed. As I took baby steps in allowing women into my life and experiencing friendship, I began to notice strong, powerful women leaders. In fact, there was one in particular who taught me how to love women in a way that could heal them. I was entranced by the way she gave such grace and raised up the other women around her. She was not self-seeking or prideful. She genuinely loved other women and saw the best in them. She loved me that way and called out giftings and destiny in me, and I have been eternally altered by her impact on my life.

Think you don’t need mothering? Sisterhood? Friendships? You could probably make it through life without those if you tried. But your life can be so full when you open yourself up to them. Do you hate women because of something a woman has done to you in the past? The enemy wants you to stay hurt and angry about it. He wants you to stay barred in your castle and never come into meaningful contact with another woman as long as you live. He wants to destroy you. The castle you constructed for protection is really just a prison. You’ll never see the fullness and vibrancy of the life God intends for you if you don’t open the door and go outside.

You don’t have to stay wounded, you know. God can come in right now and heal that painful spot in your heart.

Remember the vision my husband told me about? The one I laughed at? Well, since the storming of my own castle, I have actually begun stepping into that vision. Satan wanted to keep me tucked neatly away, while God intended from the beginning that I speak into the lives of thousands of women. You just never know what may be around the corner! Don’t let the wounds from your past keep you from living out God’s amazing dreams for you!

We, as women, need you. You are valuable. You are precious. You are one-of-a-kind.

Is that a knock at your castle door?

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Helpful resources for women:

Captivating, by John & Stasi Eldredge

Women at War, by Jan Greenwood

Fashioned to Reign, by Kris Vallotton

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