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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dear Lysa-not Dear Abby by Jennifer N

Thank you for openly sharing your life-your heart-your story. The enemy tends to make us feel alone-isolated-crazy...... But, by sharing your story-you have instilled new life into something that was beginning to fade for me-hope. Hope for change. Hope for a 'new beginning'. 
A soul searching question from page 24 caught my attention, and begged to be answered. "Could I trust God and believe that He is working out something good even from things that seem no good?" My oldest son has been through some major health issues the last 3 years. Did I trust God to work out something good from that? Yes. When our world was being turned upside down financially did I trust God to work out something good? Yes. So why is it that I believe He can work all those "major things" out for good--but not my 'ugliness'-the scars I hold inside-the stresses I face-the things that make me come unglued? That "Feeling unglued is really all I've ever known. And I'm starting to wonder if maybe it's all I'll ever be."? (p. 14)
The same shame you mention, slithering up close (DAILY for me)-"Look at you and all your Bible studying...what good is it all?" Your "what a lie" statements went right through me, pierced deep into my heart. Yes, I had been believing a lie for so long. Living a lie for so long. I am not a sum of past mistakes. I am not a sum of my short-comings. I am not a 'victim' of poor temperament. I am a beloved child of God-and He has supplied me with all I need to live a life pleasing to Him. The Holy Spirit-my Comforter, Counselor, Advocate, and Teacher.
Thank you for being so real-for allowing us to see that-to give us hope.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. (NIV 84)

Rev. 12:11: They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony....(NIV 84)

Thank you for sharing your testimony. Please keep sharing your testimony. May God bless you abundantly for it.

With Love,
Jennifer Newsom
OBS group leader (Melissa Taylor's OBS)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Negative chatter and the 'J' woman collide--Jennifer N

Negative self-chatter. Comparison. I could write a book on this. I was blessed by Lysa's take on it in Chapters 9 and 10 of Unglued. To see that I am not alone.

No matter what I do, it's not good enough. No matter how much progress I've made, it's not enough. Self-defeating thoughts. And on....and on....sound familiar?

I tend to listen to it far too often. From myself. From 'well meaning' friends and family. Either way, I listen far too often.

You see--I'm a mama with many hats. Some would say too many hats. But, for this season of life, this is what He has called me to.

  • I homeschool 4 blessings--ages 14, 12, 5 and 3. I love them dearly.
  • I am a wife to a man who works hard and works long hours. A man who is my best friend.
  • I am a nurse. Although I am currently not working for 'pay', I am working in other ways.
  • I am an on-line Bible study group leader for 2 amazing groups of women. Melissa Taylor's OBS, which has been a tremendous blessing in my life (these women are real and have beautiful hearts y'all!) and a group that is mainly made up of local Ky gals who read through and discuss parts of the Bible together. And pray. A lot.
  • I am a student. I recently started Liberty University's Wilmington School of the Bible on-line. For enrichment. For what I feel is a new direction for my life. 
In all this, I remember my life verse, Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the thoughts I think towards you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. (NKJV)

My mission looks 'different' than many people. My personality is different. My 'calling' is different. So why do I often compare myself to others? Why do I allow myself to not 'feel good enough'?
This is what His word says, and is one of our memory verses for this week:

Galatians 6:4-5:
Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load. (NIV 84)
*Each should carry his own.....hmmm.......

My wise 14 year old told me to look this verse up last night:

Colossians 1:10~that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (NKJV).
*For a really neat application to this verse (that answers many of my questions) check this verse out in the Life Application Study Bible if you have one.
My works, my WALK, is to be pleasing to HIM. Not to myself. Not to someone else's idea of what my walk should be. To be fruitful in EVERY good work. Whatever it is He has called me to do.
Is it easy? No. Did He promise it would be? No. His burden is light, because His yoke is easy--He is yoked to us and will help us. But He did promise to never leave nor forsake me. As we learned in another memory verse for this study:

Ephesians 2:10
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (NKJV)

In my 35 years on this earth, I have been through a lot. Not as much as some people, but enough to know that it has to serve some purpose. That the trials were not in vain. To bring God glory through my life as has often been my prayer.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (NKJV)

1 Corinthians 15:58

58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. (NKJV)

My answer to my negative self-chatter and comparison? To those 'voices'?

1 Corinthians 15:10

10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. (NKJV)

Jeremy Camp: My Desire

The voice that needs silenced--Jennifer N

Negative inside chatter? Sounds like fodder for a visit from the men in white coats huh? Why is it that society is so quick to place a label on everything as either 'normal' or 'abnormal'? I used to joke to people and say, "Of course I talk to myself! I was an only child!" But the truth is, those words are not always nice words. Kind thoughts. I am my own worse critic. Reading Chapter 10 in Unglued, I see that I am not alone. Lysa's exact thoughts could be my own:

"Why did you say that? Everyone thinks you're annoying."*
"Your kids just illustrated inadequacy you have as a mom."*
(Unglued, p. 141)

One of my biggest battles always has to do with motherhood and my role as a wife. My role in my heart for talking about all Jesus has done for me--for walking through the valley with women facing many of the same issues I have faced.

2 Corinthians 1

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

So, how do we silence these thoughts? As an ongoing daily battle, I am still working on this. Imperfect progress. Moving the line in the sand. Imperfect changes are slow steps of progress wrapped in grace....all words we learned from Unglued and ones we should remember.
The first place we *should* go when we have these thoughts is straight to God's Word. Let's see what He says about us:

Jeremiah 31:3

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting lovehave drawn you with loving-kindness.

1 Thessalonians 1:4

For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,

1 Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

We know how important the Word of God is in any battle:

Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Ephesians 6:17
Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Does it surprise you that the only offensive weapon we are given is His word? Does it surprise you that one of the weapons used AGAINST us are words? In looking at the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, satan used and twisted Scripture (Psalm 91) to tempt Him.
True change, lasting change, comes from a renewal of our minds-asking God to sink His words into our hearts and minds.

Romans 12:2

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Praying for and with you sisters. May we keep pressing forward with His help, His grace, and His mercy. Silence the voice. Silence it with the weapon you were given by God. Look to what He says about you, not the voices...........

Big Daddy Weave: Redeemed

Blessings to you,
Jennifer N, OBS group leader

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Our story part 4

While we were at the other hospital, I received a call from the well known Children's Hospital we were awaiting to get in for a second opinion. Once they heard the seriousness of the situation we were facing, they bumped up our time to come in. We were hopeful.......
Sometime later, we set off. My husband, myself, my son and my mom. Making an 8 hour drive. Bryce was drowsy and 'out of it' from all the medicines coursing through his body and weak from the repeated seizure activity. Rather, the constant seizure activity. We pulled up to the hospital and had to call for a wheelchair. My strong boy was tired. And weak. These seizures left the right side of his body almost paralyzed. They actually did paralyze his right hand and arm up to his elbow, the rest was just so weak. I was so tired, yet hopeful. Hopeful that they could find some treatment, anything but brain surgery. This hospital was highly ranked in the US News and World Report's list of best children's hospitals for Neurology and Neurosurgery.
Fast forward. We got him settled in. We thought we were to see the main doctor--the reason we came. Rather we were told we would see an associate through the weekend. Someone not familiar with him. Someone who had her own 'plan' of how to treat him. I was not happy. More meds were started. More lethargy as my child slept away most of the day and night.
Monday came. The doctor finally came. He didn't want to run too many more tests and instead 'wait' for the other hospital to send the ones they did. I was under the impression they had their own tests to run-different tests--wasn't that why we came? He did mention a few--some sounded pretty dangerous, almost as bad as the surgery itself. I was disappointed. More meds started. We weren't as close to the nurses and staff as we were at the other hospital and I felt alone. Except one sweet nurse and one EEG tech we are forever grateful for. Each day brought the news "We are still waiting for his test results from the other hospital." Still seizing. More meds started. IV and oral. He went from sleeping all the time to suddenly being unable to do ANYTHING for himself. He didn't eat much. We had to help him use the bathroom. We had to give him bed baths. We had to turn him every two hours and apply cream because his skin was getting compromised. As a nurse, I knew if we didn't do something, he would develop bed sores and maybe atrophy. I tried to do exercises with his limbs. I asked for specific creams.
My husband and I kept 'shifts' with him. He did the nights, I did the days. (We both worked night shift at our jobs). I spent much time in the room crying out to God and begging Him for healing. Begging Him to guide us. Bryce was getting worse. Was I being stubborn? I questioned myself AND my supposed nursing knowledge greatly during this time.
When they seen we were getting upset, they finally decided to order some tests. The other hospital had yet to send any. So, we went for another MRI and a few other tests. By this time, the list of 'bad' meds he was on was astounding. They were trying their best to get him medically under control. I understand. But I am a mama first. And I didn't like what I saw. I went to the bathroom and called his other neurologist from the original hospital. I was scared. I didn't like what I saw. I wanted to come back 'home'. He said not only would they accept Bryce back, but they would hire a plane to meet us at the airport and fly us into their home airport. The hospital we were at couldn't get a helicopter out for a few days and they would have to stop and refuel before arriving at the other hospital. I couldn't take that chance. And I couldn't afford the private plane the home hospital offered-I knew insurance wouldn't cover that. Since I was a nurse, our home hospital said to release him to me for the drive back. I had been dealing with him through it all and they felt it was ok for me to bring him in.
We told them about it and the social workers were not happy. They didn't want to release him. They hadn't been able to get ahold of the neurologist and wanted to know how I did and what 'connection' I had. (The home hospital is a world wide known hospital too). I told them I had the neurologist's personal cell phone number and I would have him call them. A couple hours later, they came in with release paperwork and said they still didn't know how I did that-the neurologist told them about the offer of a plane to come get him. Well, honestly, I don't either. All I know is the 'home' hospital has always showed love for my family and Bryce. And I was praying often for the right decision. That is the only answer I can give anyone.
When we finally arrived at the home was a sight. We were admitted by some interns and resident. One of our favorite nurses came in and made everything stop. She was calling his neurologist right away. She was deeply disturbed by what she saw. She said, "This isn't Bryce. What happened to him?". He was on so many meds that he couldn't function on his own. AT ALL. We did everything for him. And I mean everything.............

Friday, October 19, 2012

BOP--Biblical Operating Procedure

Doing the Unglued study with Melissa Taylor's OBS has been a blessing. Leading a beautiful group of ladies in this adventure has been an even bigger blessing. Seeing the things they go through is an example of a 'perspective-magnifying opportunity' that Lysa talks about in Chapter 8. Two of such ladies in this group are foreign missionaries. Their lives and what they face have been both an inspiration and a perspective changing opportunity for me.
While I trudge through my 'unglued' experiences, it is important for me to remember several things, aka my BOP--Biblical Operating Procedure, to keep me 'glued'.

1.) Focus. "Keep your eyes on Jesus". I must do this first and foremost. I taught my girls this in homeschool last year with a craft. Rather than look at the storm around me, I must look at the one who calms the storm. (Matthew 14:29-31)

2.) Remember and Rejoice. Often times the same things I prayed for seem to be the things that cause me to be unglued. Be thankful for them! (Eph. 5:20)

3.) Pause. As we learned from Deborah Pegues, "there is power in the pause!" Let the heat of the moment fade. React to the situation--not to the emotion I am feeling. (Prov. 15:1)

4.) Think. How would I like to be spoken to in the same situation? (Romans 12:3)

5.) Respond. Appropriately. (Ps. 19:14)

While I am still making 'imperfect progress', I can see how much this BOP is going to help me. First and foremost crying out to Jesus for His help, His perspective into this situation. This helps for the explosive moments. The stuffing moments? Still working on those..........chisel.........chisel...........

God bless!
Jennifer N, OBS group leader