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Vows Aren’t Always a Good Thing
I need to share something I read on FB last week. It impacted me deeply and I am going to tell you why, if you don’t want to know why, feel free to scroll down.
I had made a vow as a nine year old that walled me in from allowing myself to be loved. It was in reaction to nearly losing my mom. While I didn’t actually lose my mom, she’s still alive and kicking and completely fabulous, the thought of losing her crippled me in a way that I have no words for. I was terrified of loss. So at the age of nine after a complete bawling session, I washed my face and looked my little blonde self in the mirror and said, “I will never need anyone again.”
Here are some effects of this vow:
1. I sabotaged relationships and only committed myself to relationships that I knew couldn’t possibly work.
2. I struggled with commitment to anything, even though I craved stability.
3. Even though I had my mom and still have my mom, I didn’t really let her be my mom. I could be found most often trying to be her mom or trying to distance myself from her as far as possible. It would be easier for me that way, like it wouldn’t hurt so much if I lost her. Wow. That doesn’t sound crazy at all, does it?
I need to take a minute to tell you about my little tiny mom. (She’s 4’10” and weighs about 100 lbs…so I call her my little momma). My mom is not perfect, but I have to give her a shout out here. I was not the easiest child to raise (rebellious, mouthy, attitudinal, angry, ran away from home and hitch-hiked to Florida with my boyfriend and one of my best friends at age 17…you get the picture). But she was always there. She never left. My mom is stubborn, honest, and fiercely loyal. She always went to bat for me, and she still does. One could do worse than to have a mom who will fight for you and against you when needed. She made a choice to love me and she never stopped, even when it was hard. Thank you, Little Momma!
4. I went to college and got a degree, but didn’t go after photography and writing which were my actual dreams. I was afraid they would tell me I wasn’t any good at writing and photography, and I couldn’t bear to hear it. So I majored in International Relations (AKA wanting to live in foreign countries where accents abound).
5. I didn’t really try or challenge myself in High School or College because I didn’t want to fail. I always took the easy road, whichever path did not require effort. Why go after what you want? If you do, and do manage to get it, you could lose it. So I didn’t take any risk. Fear of failure, check. Fear of success, check. Crazy, check check.
The kicker is that I had no idea why I did these things. I only understood recently that the reason I was so afraid was wrapped up in a fear of loss and a vow I made at nine years old.
I never told anyone of this decision not to need anyone. I didn’t even remember it until God showed me why I was struggling so hard to give and receive love and why it was so incredibly difficult for me to allow anyone to bless me or help me. This vow was made to protect myself, but really what it did was isolate me and prevent me from really receiving the love I so desperately wanted. I believed that the lie that I wasn’t really loved. I believed the lie that I was a mistake that needed to be erased. I believed the lie that I did not need anyone, not even Jesus. Although I accepted Him as my Savior “just in case” because I was afraid of eternal fire and damnation.
Yes, I am aware of what a mess I was. Yes, I am aware of how crazy all of this sounds and is. It’s why I love Jesus so much. He loved me even when I was completely unable to love Him. He loves me still. And I am crying now. (Deep breath taken here.)
I disavowed that vow and asked Jesus to help me to undo it. I don’t know what kind of help I expected. But I certainly was not expecting a season where I had absolutely no choice but to allow people to help me and ask for help. I have always been willing to give, but receiving has been near impossible for me. And now I have to let people help me, even though I have no way to repay them. I have to trust that Jesus will repay what I cannot. I pray blessing over those that have come along side of me and been helping me. I hope that someday I will be able to pass on what I have been given to other people.
And now I am crying again…sheeesh. I seem to cry a lot these days. Not because I’m sad. But because I am overwhelmed by love and generosity and kindness of the people in my world. Something I never would have experienced if God hadn’t shown me this deeply embedded root. Gratitude abounds in a time when I don’t have a whole lot that seems to be going right.
That being said…here’s a post by Jo Ellen Stevens. (Note: I copied the following word for word. I did not write it, nor do I own the content.) I hope that this helps you.
WHEN MY VOW BECAME A GOD
Jo Ellen Stevens
” If a man vows a vow to the Lord or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break and profane his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.” Numbers 30:2 (AMP)
The Lord spoke to me the other day out of the blue and began to show me something about many of you. He began by reminding me of my story. When I was very, very young I was married to a man that was abusive both verbally and physically. I don’t tell you this story to gain your sympathy or to make excuses for my life but to see you set free of something that you may not even realize has controlled your life for many years…
While I was married to this man back in 1969 I became pregnant with the only child that I ever had and is now with the Lord.. Because of some of the abuse I believe I lost this child.
When I began to miscarry he took me to the Airforce hospital in Michigan that we were stationed at and there he left me in this cold room with no one to be with me.. I remember there being another person in the room in another bed . I was in full labor because I was about five months along.
I remember at one point a nurse coming in and saying to me that I needed to be quiet so as to not disturb anyone else.. So as silently as I could in that much pain I finished having this miscarriage. The next morning I woke up to go to the restroom and passed out..The next thing I knew I was back in bed and they told me that I had, had a DNC. I didn’t even know what that was I was just 16 years old and didn’t know much about life…
When I came out and went home my husband began to tell me how fat I was, so I ate nothing but beef broth until I was down to my size three clothes again. I found out from someone that my husband had been at a party all the while that I was in the hospital with another woman.
The next week we went to a place with some friends and I was in the back seat and started crying as I was telling the other lady in our car about my miscarriage and my then husband stopped the car abruptly and turned around and began slapping me over and over..
I told you all of this to show you where I was going with this.. Many years later after I had been divorced and had gotten married to my husband now of 25 years. I was in my basement ironing and I was asking the Lord what caused my perfectionism that had driven me and everyone else nearly crazy for many years..
He showed me that at that moment that the incident happened that I had Vowed a Vow in my heart that I would never let another man do that to me again..That I would always be the prettiest and the skinniest, the best house keeper etc….
…He said that I needed to disavow that which I had vowed.. I cried all day but God set me free..
Now just the other day the Lord spoke to me again and said this…. He said that when you vow a vow that was not of him that the vow begins to inwardly govern your life and it becomes a God to you instead of Him..
He said many of my people in tough situations in their lives have become perfectionists and many other things because they vowed a vow that was not of Him..They have blocked out my will for their life because it had become a constitution to them…
He said that He wanted me to bring this out so that any of you can ask the Holy Spirit to shine His light on these areas and you can be set free to be obedient to Him again…
So ask the Lord right now to shine His light in any area that you have made your own constitution. He is ready to set you free…. It is not an easy thing to do .It will tear you up inside but it is a good tearing.. You will feel so free when this happens!!
Many of you will be healed in your body right now as you allow this to happen…. Glory to our Deliverer!!!
Father, we ask you to shine your light on those places in us that we have not yielded over to you because of ungodly vows in our time of pain.. We ask you to cleanse us of that and let your Holy Spirit teach us how to walk in freedom and obedience to your will In Jesus Mighty Name!! Amen!!
Arise,shine! Jo Ellen Stevens
While I was reading Psalm 116 this morning, verse 12 jumped out at me. It asks “How can I repay the Lord for all His goodness to me?” It’s a good question. How do you repay someone who has given you something in excess of your ability to pay? How do you repay such a good God for being who He is?
When I read the next verse it seemed like it was changing topics because it was talking about lifting the cup of salvation. So I looked up lift, cup, and salvation in the Strong’s. Here’s what I found:
Lift (H5375) can mean to accept, take, lift…etc…
Cup (H3583) is from a root that means to hold together. It means container (cup). Figuratively it refers to a portion or lot.
Salvation (H3444) is Yeshûw’âh. It means the whole package of deliverance: deliverance, victory, prosperity, aid, help, health, salvation and welfare. It is everything that Jesus died to give us.
I added this all together…. Willingly accept the whole container of salvation is how you repay the Lord’s goodness. I pondered this because it doesn’t seem good enough to me.
So, I asked Him, “How do I repay Your goodness, Lord?”
His answer, “By accepting it.”
The truth is usually much simpler than we make it out to be.
Because You Love Me
Today’s Musical Monday song is Because You Love Me by Jodee Messina
I suppose that you could make this song about a person who was there for you and really loved you, but really it’s about God’s unconditional and unending love.
Last Thursday, I had a rough and emotional day. One of those days when you just want to flip off the world and go to bed. I was so frustrated and discouraged. Then this song came on and I just cried. I cried because I remembered that I’m not alone. I remembered that I am here because God loves me. I am alive and I survived because of Him. I can be brave because He loves me.
It was exactly what I needed to get my emotions back in check and roll on with my day. So on this Monday, reign it in and remember that you are beloved of the Great Creator and you can do all things through His son Jesus who strengthens you.
God is Good.
Okay, I have to admit that in the past I’ve been annoyed with people saying God is good, because it doesn’t seem enough. I’ve even annoyed myself by saying it. True story. The truth is that it annoyed me because I kept thinking that God is so much bigger than just boring ole standard good. He’s great! He’s awesome! He created the entire universe and everything in it. He’s omniscient, omnipresent and all powerful. Simply put, He knows all things, is everywhere at once and nothing is impossible for Him. Mind blowing, right?
So with all that, how can people just say, “God is good?” and leave it there?
I don’t know about everyone else, but I’ve said it because it’s hard to describe God sometimes. He’s so fabulously magnificent that words sometimes fail me. So I just simply mutter, “Wow. He’s good.”
Words have power. Even the word good. So today I want to check out this word good. It first appears in Genesis 1:3-4, “Then God said, “Let there be light; and there was light. And God saw the light and it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.”
This same word good is found to describe God MANY MANY times in scripture. Here are a few of them:
“Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” I Chronicles 16:34
“The Lord is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him.” Nahum 1:7
“For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.” Psalm 100:5
Good in Hebrew is the word ‘towb.’ It is H2896 in the Strong’s Concordance. It essentially means good, pleasant,and agreeable. It can also be translated into the following: beautiful, best, cheerful, at ease, fair, favor, fine, glad, good, graciously, joyfully, kindly, kindness, loving, most merry, pleasant, pleasure, precious, prosperity, right (as in ethical) sweet, wealth (valuable in estimation, rich), welfare (as in benefit) and well-favored.
Put all those words together into a description and it’s starting to sound like a better description of God to me!
So NOW every time you hear someone say God is good or you read in the Word that God is good, you know what good really means. So NOW you can join in the praise! You can give a shout and say, “He sure is! All the time.” I know I’m going to!
Have a good Tuesday!
If You Want Me To
In January 2010, God released me. I was at my church I’d been at since 2003. It was my home and my 2nd family. I loved it there. sigh. Anyway. We were in praise and worship and singing Jesus Lead Me On by Planetshakers. I was dancing and singing and just enjoying God’s presence…and BAM He released me. I felt different. It was one of those moments like Jesus after His baptism. I felt the fresh anointing. I felt refreshed. The peace was AMAZING! I was ready to take on the world!!!
Now had I listened fully, I would have understood He was releasing me from my church to send me to a different church. But I didn’t. I heard released and took that to mean I get to go where I want. And I wanted to go to England! So I tried everything in my power to get to England. Feel free to laugh. It’s funny. Now. It’s funny now.
What followed then wasn’t funny. I lost my job. Couldn’t afford my house. And finally at age 35, I had to live with my mom. For almost a year. I had to turn my car in to the bank, I couldn’t afford it. I felt like I’d lost everything.
Then in that broken place God started dealing with some of the darkest and most broken places of my heart and soul. The things that were so deep, I didn’t know they were there. It was painful. I would journal and then burn the pages in my sister’s woodstove so no one could read it. It was that dark. But slowly I came out of it. I’m grateful to my Mom and family for providing a safe place for me to fall apart. I’m grateful that God never left me. I’m grateful that that junk is gone. I’m grateful that when God heals, it’s so completely that it changes you forever. I’m grateful that when God restores, He gives you back what you lost plus some. I’m grateful that even when I don’t fully listen, God still moves on my behalf.
There’s way more to this story about God’s provision and things He spoke to me along the way. But this is a blog, not a book.
Anyway…after a year at my Mom’s, my old company called me. I got a job. My friend’s parents (who were like my 2nd parents) let me stay with them until I could get a place. I went back to my church. I got a new car. I got my house back. It’s like it was before I lost everything. But something was off. My church hadn’t changed, but I had. It wasn’t home anymore. But I loved the people and I didn’t want to leave. I loved the word and the worship. I didn’t want to leave. But it got to the point where I’d sit in service and leave exactly the way I came in only annoyed. I wasn’t moved by the vision of the house anymore and I couldn’t understand it. So I asked God.
This was His response, “Jill, I released you from here in 2010, why are you still here?”
Then it all clicked. Ohhhhh! That’s what you meant. You released me from my church. He made it clear where I needed to be and confirmed it. I’ve been there ever since.
What’s my point? I actually have 2.
One. What is going on, may not actually be what’s going on. Sometimes what looks like a season of loss is actually a season of gain because God’s changing you and changing your thinking. Embrace it, even if it hurts and it sucks and it takes away all your independence and pride. I promise you it’s worth it.
Two. When God speaks, listen. Write it down. Ask Him to clarify and confirm. He will. Also whatever God speaks will ALWAYS line up with the Bible. Always! If you don’t fully listen you could end up like me who is still trying to explain to people why I am not in England…three years later.
God always has bigger plans for us that we have for ourselves. To illustrate, here’s a video of Ginny Owens, a very talented singer/songwriter about her journey to being a recording artist. She really wanted to be a High School choir director, but God had different plans for her. It also includes her song “If you want me to.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLgkt3OCMCc
Waiting and Rejoicing
“Listen Your watchmen lift their voices; together they shout for joy! When the Lord returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes.” Isaiah 52:8
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6
Waiting for something from the Lord is not like waiting for a doctor appointment or even for the weekend to get here.
Isaiah 52 says that the watchmen were shouting for joy while they were waiting and watching. That’s how we should be waiting.
“But Jill, it’s been a month. A week. A year. A decade.” I hear you, believe me! But think about this: Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years for Isaac. Caleb and Joshua waited 40 years in the desert to enter the Promised Land. I received a promise from God 10 years ago. I’m still waiting too.
We can choose to cross our arms and pout OR we can do what the Word says and rejoice while we wait! Hope is a confident and joyful expectation of good. Are you expecting good? What are you speaking? Choose to speak the Word over your situation. Pray scripture over your situation and believe God.
Then use your faith and start praising and thanking Him for the victory BEFORE you actually see it. Seeing it happen is actually the reward of your active faith. See Hebrews 11:6.
Look I know it’s hard to speak joyfully over a lingering sickness. I know it’s hard to believe when the circumstances look bleak. I have my days where I want to throw in the towel on situations. But those moments are the very ones that Hebrews 11:6 and Isaiah 52:8 are referring to. In those moments, choose to thank Him. Choose to praise Him. And choose to believe.
What’s the alternative? Complaining and murmuring? Waste of time; see Numbers 11:1 and Exodus chapters 16-17. Giving up? Then what? You want to wait all that time just to quit and die in the desert? Waste of time; see Numbers 14:34, 32:13, Deuteronomy 2:7, 8:2-4 and Joshua 5:6. You want to do it your own way? Waste of time; see I Samuel 13.
Consider this: The only difference between the generation who died in the desert and Caleb is that Caleb believed God.
“Then the children of Judah came to Joshua in Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him: “You know the word which the Lord said to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh Barnea. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart. Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the Lord my God. So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children’s forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God.’ And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the Lord spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in. Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said.” Joshua 14:6-12
You’re going to wait no matter what. God’s timing is God’s timing. He is always on time, never early and never late. He has very specific reasons why He does things when He does. Maybe you’re not ready for what you’ve asked for. Maybe there are things in your heart that need to be worked out. Maybe He’s using your situation to teach others and allowing you to have an amazing testimony. He’s a good God, so why not choose to rejoice while you wait? Happy Friday!
(Scripture from the NKJV today)
Iron Sharpens Iron
Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend [to show rage or worthy purpose]. Proverbs 27:17 AMP
Today I’m just grateful for those friends who’ve challenged me go grow, called me out in love when I needed it and have been there for me when things were hard.
I love you.
That’s all today.
- Friends Sharpen the Minds of Friends (lindseydbriggs.wordpress.com)
Tombs of the Unknown Soldiers
A few years ago I went to Arlington National Cemetary. One of the things that impacted me was the changing of the guard at The Tomb of the Unknowns. The respect shown by these young men for those who gave their lives anonymously is inspiring to me. They guard the Tomb 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They do this no matter the weather, and have maintainted their post even during hurricanes and snow storms. http://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/VisitorInformation/ChangingofTheGuard.aspx?tb=2
I was thinking about respect and honor today as we head into Memorial Day Weekend. Memorial Day is meant to be a day of mourning and rememberance to those who’ve given the ultimate sacrifice. Take some time on Monday to remember our fallen service men and women. Let’s also not forget the families who’ve lost a loved one in service to our country. Remember them in your prayers! To both those fallen and to those whose families were forever changed by their loss I say, “Thank you.”
PS: Memorial Day (4th Monday in May) is not the same as Veterans Day. Veterans Day (November 11th) is meant to be a day of gratitude and respect to honor all those who’ve served honorably, whether in war or peace time. It is focused on the living veterans. Memorial Day’s focus is those who died in battle or by wounds sustained in battle. But any day of the year is a good day to thank a veteran for their service and honor those who never came home.
PSS: Did you know that many countries have monuments and memorials to their unknown soldiers? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomb_of_the_Unknown_Soldier
PSSS: The above photo isn’t mine I found it on http://www.barefootsworld.net/unknownsoldier.html
PSSSS: Here’s some additional info about the Tomb of the Unknowns: http://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/VisitorInformation/TombofUnknowns.aspx