Monday, December 14, 2015

Authenticity



For the last several years, my goals for each year have been summed up in one word. 

In 2015, my focus was “children”, I wanted to work on being a better parent, by better I mean more engaged.

In 2014, it was “intentional". I wanted to work on making intentional decisions in my life. Growing up, I wasn’t always taught that, more so I learned by reactions of those around me. The year of “intentional” grew me so much as a person and I was able to develop goals in a lot of areas of my life 

In 2013, the word was “growth”, I wanted to continue with the work that was began in me in 2012 with focus on “Recovery”.

I love that the good Lord sees fit to help me out in simple focus areas. It has amazed me since this journey back to my intended path. Life has been complicated and it tends to make me think too much so simple focus makes mountains movable.

I am finally sure of 2016, and the area of focus I'm called to. It is “authenticity”. 

This is a huge one for me. Growing up in dysfunction, I survived by being who I needed to be. I am sure my authentic self was deeply hidden by the time I was 4 years old when told my teacher I had a twin sister who lived with dad. (This was a completely fictional story I made up to justify why my dad was gone and why I felt so alone, yay therapy, but whatever).

Back to the point, I know as a Christian I was made with a purpose, sewn together in my mother’s womb by a God who knew my name since before the beginning of the earth.
           
 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb.~ Psalms 139:13

This world tried hard to change me and dictate me and remove me from my purpose and bury the real me underneath the desire to be loved and the fear of being seen. At least the fear of the real me being seen because anyone that knows me, knows I will work my way to the center of attention every time! Maybe I have a gift when it comes to teaching to a large group of people but whatever that looks like, it is time for it to be a reflection of my authentic self, the one the world tried to shame into hiding. 

So I have fallen in love with author and shame researcher Brene Brown. If you don’t know her work, you should know her work. It has been through this work that I have learned the importance of authenticity. I think some of my shame comes from the fact I know, that not everyone, knows the same me and that is just ridiculous. I will take it one step farther (for the sake of authenticity of course) and tell you that if you haven’t seen me in the last year, you just don’t know what I look like. I am terrified of a picture that hasn’t been cropped and filtered making it to social media. I have never been this large even when 9 months pregnant (and I have birthed 5 children). Okay, I know someone relates to that! Workout clothes and shoes are on my Christmas list, I will be working out and making that area of my life “authentic”. I don’t want to pretend to look happy with myself in a picture, I want to be happy.

One more specific area for those still following. I don’t want to be nice to the lady at the grocery store or kind to a client at work just to come home and be short with my kids. They deserve the best of me, not the less of me. I hate being out in public with them all bubbly and smiling to others to come home and be fussy and sad in their presence. I grew up with all that and it just isn’t going to happen here. They are my first priority, not my last and they deserve to know it.

So, authenticity it is for 2016. Ironically this is probably one of the most authentic posts I have written. Have you thought of an area you can surrender this year? Just one small focus handed over to one Sovereign God can accomplish so much!

A Grateful Believer in Jesus Christ,
Johnna


 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Winning the Battle: Complacent No More

If we are complacent, meaning overly satisfied with our situation, than you can be sure it is a sign that we are exactly where Satan wants us to be. God didn't call us to complacency, he called us to battle as warriors of Christ. That is why he provided us with a full armour.

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people." Ephesians 6:10-28 NIV

Recently, a family member has been preparing to make some new, some better decisions. We had a discussion about the spiritual battle that was certain to ensue. You see, as long as we are content in our own little world, not growing, not changing, Satan will often leave us alone. He likes us to be content. As soon as we allow for change, for growth, for God to do the good works in us that he desires to do, well that will get then enemy in a tantrum and he will start throwing fiery arrows at us. It is a scare tactic for us to recede back into that stagnant place rather than to be out there witnessing to others and winning them over for Christ. 

The armour we are given, it is all defensive, to keep us from harm and protect our selves from the attacks, except for one piece. We are given a sword, a sword of the spirit. This sword is God's word, the bible. The more we know our bible, the more we are able to pray God's word, speak his truth and claim his promises, the stronger we will become in Him. 

The surest way to get the enemy to recede, while we stand firm, is to use our sword. When we fight back against the enemy's attacks in a way that will strengthen us in Christ, Satan will make a run for it. The enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10). He wants to weaken us with oppression and depression. When he sees his attacks are strengthening us, when he sees us calling on Christ and winning the spiritual battle through prayer and agreement, he will cease the attack. Satan doesn't want anything to do with us growing as Christians. 

As people, we see life as hard. Before I had an understanding of how to win at spiritual warfare, I felt every time I tried to make things better, they got worse. I felt defeated and overwhelmed and often wandered, what's the point. When my paradigm shifted and I gained an understanding of God's purpose for our journey, when I learned that war had been waged and we have been called to battle, I no longer felt defeated. I became empowered through Christ understanding that I could do all things through Him that strengthen me, including, defeating the enemy. 

I share this today, because I want to encourage you to take up your battle.  There may be changes you want to  make, that God is calling you out and preparing you for. He does have a purpose and a plan for your life and maybe you aren't in His will yet but He wants to help you get to that place. Take that leap of faith, and be fully prepared by putting on the armour of God. If God has brought you to it, He will bring you through it. Let Him.

A Grateful Believer in Jesus Christ
~Johnna