Thought Mines

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I used to think that I was the only one whose mind felt more like a battlefield than a place for ideas to grow. My thoughts are constantly running, oftentimes like a taunting play-by-play of the day’s events.

Event: Walking into a group. 
Taunting play-by-play thoughts: You so do not belong here. You don’t fit in. They are all staring at you. (But at the same time) No one cares that you’re here. 
Event: I find a seat.
Thoughts: See, no one sat by you, proof that you don’t belong. Oh wait, someone did sit by you. OK, say something. No, not that! Now you look dumb. You are so bad and small talk. Just stop talking.
Event: Someone asks me if I’ve finished something that I’ve been working on. (I have not)
Thoughts: They are so disappointed in you. You think you’re so good, but you can’t even finish that one thing. You should just quit. 

My head is a fun place, huh? Super good times in my mind!

Ugh. I want these thoughts to stop. I long to turn off the hurtful play-by-play.

I truly thought I was alone in this experience (in fact, “You’re the only one who feels this way” is one of the many “thought mines” that explode in the battlefield of my mind.) So you can imagine my surprise when I realized that other people have similar thought mines!

And sadly, since misery does love company the realization helped a little.

But then again, I don’t want anyone to feel this way! Especially not my kids who are also very prone to these destructive thoughts.

So it got me thinking and praying about how to disarm our thought mines.

And while still a giant work in progress, I am beginning to SEE that finding and disarming these mines is possible if we:

  1. Identify the trigger
  2. Expose the thought mine
  3. Disarm with truth

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Identify the Trigger 

A land mine is typically detonated automatically by way of pressure when a target steps on it or drives over it….

Over the next few days, pay attention to the events (pressures) that cause your thought mines to detonate. Can you find a pattern? Are you most vulnerable to attack when in a large group? When tired? When dealing with your children? Husband? Family? Do you trip over thought mines more easily when you are facing a deadline? Facing a fear? Alone? Surrounded?

Begin identifying those situations that make you more vulnerable to thought mines. Write them down if you are able. In counseling they refer to those triggers as activating events. For many of us, our triggers are simply being conscience 😉  but we all have moments and situations which create more thought mines than usual.

For me, putting myself “out there” in anyway is the equivalent of me traipsing through a densely packed thought mine.

Expose the Thought Mines

A land mine is an explosive device concealed under ground for the purpose of destroying a target

As you are paying attention to your triggers, also start to take note of the automatic thoughts that “explode” in your mind. Record them if you can.

Write down the event and one or two thoughts you had about it. Don’t filter yourself or try to minimize your thoughts. We need to drag them out into the light, so be honest and just write them as they are. Counselors call these negative/harmful thoughts faulty beliefs.

Warning: some of our thought mines are ugly and mean and hard to acknowledge, but THAT’S OK, because they thrive and grow in silence and darkness. That’s why we are dragging them into the light. So that we can stop being harmed by their destructive forces.

A land mine may cause damage by direct blast effect, by fragments that are thrown by the blast, or by both.

Challenge with Truth
Now here comes the good part! Where we disarm and dig up our thought mines. Now that you have your list of triggers and thought mines, we begin to fight them with Truth. Are you tired of writing yet? Oh, I hope not because here’s where writing is so helpful!

Write truth! Get out your Bible or Bible app. Google will even be helpful here. Begin compiling a list of verses to combat the enemy’s thought mines. I know, I know…Bible verses as weapons? It sounds too simple, too childlike, too easy. But you guys, God doesn’t call His Word a sword for nothing! There is power, true power, in His Word. Try it!

If your thought mines tend to involve taunts of not being good enough, then look up verses about how God sees you. Verses like:

1 Peter 2:9, 1 Thessalonians 5:5, John 1:12 and Romans 8:35-39

If your thought mines detonate with taunts of being unloved then write verses like:

Romans 5:8, Ephesians 3:17-19, Jeremiah 31:3, Lamentations 3:22-23, Zephaniah 3:17

If your thought mines explode with accusations not being strong enough or capable enough, record verses such as:

Isaiah 41:13, Joshua 1:9, Psalm 23:4, Matthew 10:19-20, 2 Chronicles 20:17

Of course there are many different thought mines that bury themselves deep in our minds and so your list of truth challenges will grow and morph over time. But try to find at least one verse for each thought mine you find.

Then place your truths (preferably written on an index card) somewhere you will see them everyday. Memorize them. Recite them. As soon as a thought mine is triggered, speak that verse to yourself, or shout it out loud! Keep your verses with you and all around you as reminders that you have the power to disarm those thought mines before they fully detonate.

God’s Word is power.

Replacing our hurtful self-talk with God’s life-giving truth is the first step in disarming our thought mines.

Are you willing to give it a try?

Let me know if you do! And know that I’m digging up buried thought mines right along with you!

My mind may always be a bit of a battlefield (it’s part of my introverted introspective nature) BUT, I don’t have to take the assaults! I can stand up to the lies that infiltrate my mind, by firing back at them with Truth.

And lies have no power when confronted with Truth!

Replacing our hurtful self-talk with God's life-giving truth is the first step in thinning our thought mines.

Much love,
Jen

 

A Heart-Reset

No sound was coming from my phone. I wanted to listen to music, but no matter how many times I increased the volume, no sound came from the tiny speaker. Frustrated and clueless as to how to fix it, I did what anyone in my position would do: I handed my phone to my teenager!

Within moments my son handed the finicky device back to me.

“All fixed,” he announced.

“What did you do?” I asked, embarrassed that he had fixed it so quickly. What had I missed?

“You just needed to do a hard reset it,” he explained. “You just had to hold the power and the home buttons at the same time.”

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A hard reset.

Two days later, I was at a women’s Bible study where our awesome leader was talking about Martha. We were studying the passage where Martha, frustrated and overwhelmed with her responsibilities, asked Jesus to make her sister, Mary, help her.

Mary had been sitting at Jesus’ feet, while Martha flitted from task to task.

“Jesus, it’s just not fair,” she complained.

“Martha, Martha,” He responded, “You are worry and distracted by many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken from her.”

Our Bible study leader then said something which illuminated this passage in an entirely new light for me:

“Martha needed a hard reset.”

My ears perked up, the familiar phrase fresh on my mind. Our leader went on,

“Jesus didn’t chastise Martha for serving. Nor did He tell her to sit down like Mary.
No, He simply wanted her to focus on Him.”

As I listened that night, I began to see a picture in my mind:

Martha, stressed-out and weary, leans over Jesus; perhaps refiling His cup while asking Him to get Mary to help her. Jesus turns His face to His hostess. His eyes—the eyes of Love itself—look up at her.

“Martha….”

But Martha’s eyes are scanning the table: who needs a refill? Whose plate is empty? Would it kill my sister to help me???

“Martha.”

She pauses. Looks at Him. Her eyes meet His. And everything stops.

Him.

Jesus.

Savior.

I imagine the very air was charged between their gazes as Martha’s heart was reset.

It is all about Him.

It is all for Him.

Her priorities reorganized. Her purpose restated. Her mission recommissioned.

The power and the home button had been pressed: the power of the One who had gifted her with a servant’s heart, reminded her of her eternal home and purpose.

Then, with her goal clear and her heart reset, she again served. But this time with gladness and joy. With Jesus’ as her focus, she approached her tasks with a new energy.

Martha Invite (2)

A hard reset.

In the past, I’ve always identified more with Mary in that story (mainly because I have never considered myself the organized party-planning, hostess extraordinaire type) but a few days ago, God kinda rocked my hidden-Martha self.

I was sitting at my table literally reviewing all the things I had to do and the lack of time in which I had to do them. And I had just been asked to add something else to the list,

And I just couldn’t….

“Lord,” I whined, “I just can’t. I mean, how could I possibly fit this in? Maybe I should quit two things instead of adding one. Lord, it’s just not fair. Can’t someone else do it?”

“Jen, Jen,” I heard in my heart, “You are worried and distracted by many things. But remember what is best. Remember why you are serving. Remember Who you are serving. Remember me.”

I had needed a hard reset. A reminder as to why I was serving and Who I was serving.

Of course, sometimes the right thing is saying no to one more opportunity. But God knows my heart, and He knew that me saying no, in that circumstance, was more about me choosing what was lesser. He wanted me to choose what was better. He wanted me to choose Him, and to trust Him.

A heart reset.

Pressing the power button and home button at the same time. 

A refocusing on the source of our power and hope.

A Heart-Reset

Much love,
Jen

When I’m Just Not Feelin’ It

When Scotty McCreery released his summer theme song “Feelin’ It,” I was instantly hooked. Probably because deep down I’ll always be a beach-loving, flip-flop Florida girl at heart. But whereas I might always be feelin’ a beach day, sometimes I’m just not feelin’ it spiritually. And often, my lack of feelin’ it comes at odd times, like when it would seem that I would feel the closest to Him.

Isn’t it strange how a spiritual mountaintop can often feel more like a steep cliff whose edge you got too close to?

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I always want to linger on the mountain. Throw my arms out and go all Julie Andrews from the Sound of Music. But inevitably my raised arms start to flail and I plunge from the mountain to the valley below.

I want to bask and rejoice in God’s goodness, but find myself worrying and fretting about what’s next. I want to linger over His word, but scurry of to the next to-do. I want to keep the momentum going, but find myself hiding under my covers.

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Romans 7:15

The enemy’s taunts drown out truth’s whisper and I am down. Looking up at the mountain that now seems so far away.

So what changed?

Not God. Never God. He’s the same always.

Did I take my eyes off of Him? Did I get so wrapped up in the feelings of being on the mountain that I let my guard down? Does being on a mountain just make you a easy target?

I imagine the answer is yes to all of the above.

So what is the answer when we’re just not feelin’ it, spiritually?

Give up? Give in? Stop? Try again tomorrow? Pull the covers up a little higher? (that last one is my personal strategy of choice!)

No!

  • We say out loud that my faith is not a feeling! (Repeating as many times as necessary)
  • We pray – confessing our lack of feelin’ it and praising God that our faith is not our feelings. Faith is trust. Faith is belief. Faith is being sure of what we can’t see or feel. Faith is about who Jesus is – it’s not about me.
  • We reflect on the Who of Jesus – making a list, reviewing it out loud.
  • And then we get out God’s Word and we read it. Even if it’s just a verse or two. We claim truth. We stand on truth (even if we stand in the valley with arms sore from flailing).

Today, I’m just not feelin’ it. But I know it’s ok, because my faith is not based on my feelings, but on my constant Savior.

Much love,
Jen

Faith is NOT a feeling (1)

 

When you see the loaves and fishes multiplying before your very eyes….

Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to be in the crowd the day Jesus fed the 5,000?

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As your hungry belly reminds you that lunchtime has come and gone, your heart will not let you leave the presence of the man who speaks with an authority you can’t explain. You see a small boy approach Jesus. The crowd is so large that you have to crane your neck around the other onlookers, to see what Jesus is doing. You can’t hear what the disciples are whispering about, but they look confused. As you try to decipher their expressions, you hear Jesus cry out in a loud voice His thanksgiving to the Father. You see Him raise His arms toward heaven. In them, the little boy’s lunch. The crowd begins to murmur, the scene suddenly chaotic. Why? What has happened? The disciples stand, faces transfixed on Jesus. Their expressions a mix of fear, shock and excitement. The crowd begins moving forward. The disciples shake their heads, as if coming out of a fog. Something is being passed. Is it a basket? Yes. Some kind of large basket is making its way back to you. You see people reaching in and taking something out. What? Your stomach surges with the realization that it is food. Food! The sweet smell of bread mingles with the salty smell of fish. People greedily take what is offered. The basket is passed, and passed and passed. Hands pulling out all of its glorious contents. Your heart drops. There won’t be any left. Too many hands have taken from the basket. Your stomach tightens, hunger wraps around your belly. As always, you are too late, too far, too….passed over. As if taunting you, the basket continues its journey back through the crowd. You can no longer bring yourself to watch as the last pieces are taken. Where did the food come from? And will more ever come? With your gaze fixed on the grass beneath your feet, the basket is placed in your hands. Tempted to just pass the empty vessel to the next unfortunate soul, you decide to peak inside in hopes a crumb remains. You thrust your hand in, intending to scrape from the bottom. Yet your hand is stopped. Something is blocking the opening. Your hand opens, it touches… bread. You close your fist around the loaf. Your free hand takes another. The basket is taken from you, continuing it’s journey. Your mind is swirling with questions, just as another basket makes its way to you. With two loaves in one hand, you thrust your free one into this other basket. Fish. The basket is held for you as it travels. You quickly withdraw a few fish. Your hands now full, your mind reeling. How did that just happen? You saw the baskets. You saw people taking from them. They should have been empty. You should still be hungry. Yet, as you take bite after bite, you are full. Both stomach and soul. How? The question whispers through your mind the rest of the day. How? How?? As the sun makes its descendent toward the horizon, the crowd disperses. Open space now dots the once packed mountainside. You turn to face the water, still trying to process the abundance. Your gaze catches His. Jesus stands looking at you. A knowing smile on his lips. As if He somehow speaks the words without moving His mouth, you hear the phrase, “With God all things are possible.” They were words you have heard Him speak before. Beautiful words. Powerful words. But now they are more…the words became bread, they became fish, they became…..Him.

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Over the past month and a half, I have experienced God’s provision of abundance in ways I can hardly comprehend. He has provided words to a story in six weeks, that I had previously worked on for 4 years! When He called me to Start Over I couldn’t see it. Couldn’t imagine it. There’s no way Lord. There won’t be enough time. There won’t be enough words. There just won’t be enough….

With God, all things are possible

But God knew. And He patiently and overwhelmingly showed me that He is more than enough. Yesterday I completed the content for my manuscript. According to my previous calculations (and going faster than I thought I even could) I should have been done in two more weeks.

But God’s timing is not ours and He knew. He knew what He had in store. I did not. Seeing Him work. Experiencing the multiplying of time, the outpouring of words, the “enough” of Jesus, has been life altering.

And just because He is God and He is all about abundance my final word count was 75,075. (although it will certainly change as the editing process begins.)

Being a bit of a nerd when it comes to the Biblical significance of things like numbers, I found myself looking up the significance of the numbers 7 and 5 (you know since there’s two of each in that number!)

Guess what?

7 means complete and 5….well, it’s the number for grace.

So as I typed the words the end

It was as if God spoke the words, “Complete Grace.”

I long to share with you over the next few weeks and months more about the book, the story behind the book and all the ways I have seen God’s hand in this process, but for now I just wanted to publicly acknowledge and praise the God of abundance who graces us with far more than we could ever ask for or possibly imagine!!!!

Much love,
Jen

The End

For the Battle Weary….

Lord, Your people are hurting. The fight is exhausting. We try to stand for you, yet continually find ourselves getting knocked down.

Standing in the light of Your love makes for an illuminated target. 

The enemy is relentless in his pursuit-a fact that makes our hearts soar with anticipation of what you must have in store, while at the same time trembling in fear of what lies around the bend. He has bruised us. We ache. We find it hard to lift our heads.

The armor you promise us is on, but Lord, today it feels so heavy. Our shields of faith drag the ground-the weight, at times, too much to bear.

Father, your people are tired. Just getting out of bed some mornings is all we can manage. Fears assail us from under the covers: can I do this? Is this the right thing? What will this day bring? The “what-ifs” taunt us: What if I fail? What if I succeed?  What if I’m not enough?

Sickness, grief, uncertainty, darkness abound. Draining us of our energy. The news plays in the the background: floods, war, hatred, protests, murder, abuse, terror. God, when will it ever stop?

Jesus, your people are wounded. This life hurts, yet sadly-tragically-some hurts are caused by those who bear Your Name. And those wounds seem to hurt more. We cry out to You in pain, in fear, in frustration. We cry out to you in anger and desperation.

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Jesus we need to see You, to feel You, to hear You. All we can see right now is pain, brokenness and darkness. We are weary from battle and we need You. Now.

I AM here.

Our hearts hear the whisper of Your voice. A glimmer of hope lifts our heads.

I AM with you.

We rise from our bed of worry and doubt.

I AM for you.

We stand up.

I AM your strength.

You take your place in front and behind us. You hem us in. You place Your shield of faith in our weary arms. Although, they no longer feel quite as weary. Remarkably, they have been infused with strength. Your strength. We are able to hold firm Your shield of faith. We look to our right, to our left. Others are standing up holding shields like ours. All linked together, forming an impenetrable wall.

I AM enough. 

We take a shaky step forward. Then another. And another. We are once again walking. Walking in the light of the goodness of God. Walking in Love and in truth. We are once an an illuminated target, but we are filled with Power and Strength.
An arrow flies and then another, but we do not fear for we are Yours and You are in us.

We walk, we run, we fight, we speak, we write, we drive, we go. We go in Your Name. We go in Your strength. We go in Your power.

Lord, your people need You. The battles get hard-You know that better than anyone. Yet, even when You were weary and hungry, broken and bleeding, You fought. You spoke truth. You loved perfectly. You sacrificed. You gave freely. And You defeated the enemy once and for all.

With but a bow of Your head You trampled sin and death. With an empty tomb and a pre-dawn greeting You broke every chain.

And one day. One glorious day, You will speak but a Word and silence hell once and for all.

We are battle weary, but the battle is not ours nor will it last forever. Help us today to remember that truth. It is Your battle and you call us to fight in Your strength.

We are weak today. Remind us that we have access to the full measure of true Power.

We are tired. Call us to find rest in the arms of Love.

We trust You and depend on You. We stand in Your presence. Filled with Your strength. We stand wrapped in Your love. Help us today precious Father. Help us shine Your light and love into this world. Trusting that You who are in us is greater than he who is in the world.

We love You Lord.

In the powerful and eternal Name of Jesus we pray, amen.

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You Are Not Alone

Working on the manuscript today (pretty much what I will be doing every day for the next month until it’s done!) I am writing a scene based on true events where I needed to reference the song “You’re Not Alone” by Meredith Andrews. I couldn’t remember the song, so I looked it up. What a powerful message for us all!

Do you feel alone today? Do you feel unseen? Unloved? Unheard? Uncared for?

Sweet one, the truth is….you are never alone! God is always there, waiting for us to turn to Him. Waiting for us to cry out to Him. Life is hard. Oftentimes life hurts. There may not be an easy fix for your circumstances. But there is Hope. There is One who can carry you through the pain. One who will wipe your tears and strengthen your heart. For right now….at this very moment you are seen. You are loved. You are heard. You are cared for. Cry out to Him. Turn to Him. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Read His Word….not just to check a box but to receive a glimpse of His heart. Cling to Hope…for He is there with you.

And my friend He is for you!!!
Much love,
Jen