Monday, March 21, 2022

My Heart-ostat

Today my counselor and I got onto the subject of regulating and expressing emotions.

{I love my counselor, she is very much a Biblical Counselor, not just a nominally Christian counselor like some of the ones I have gone to in the past. Ellen actually uses Scripture with me, every time - and she opens and closes us in prayer, every time. She is also incredibly affirming and encouraging ... at least most of the time. But she's also not afraid to call me out on something when she senses the need!}

This evening, after we'd been talking about some various life circumstances, she took us to James 4:1-3. I won't say this nearly as eloquently as she did, but I'm going to try and share with you the lesson that she shared with me from that passage. And yes, I do have her permission to blog about and publish this! :)

Our regulator as believers is the Spirit of Christ indwelling in us, she shared. And by Him indwelling us, it doesn't just mean that He lives inside of us; but also that He fills every part of us.

In James 4, the author paints a picture of people who were very *dys*regulated. They were fighting and quarreling because of the {fleshly} desires battling within them. They were going to the extent of killing {I would guess in a Matthew 5:22-sense} just because they could not get what they desired. Their covetousness led to fights and quarrels. Why? Because they weren't asking God for what they desired; or when they did ask, they asked selfishly (with wrong motives), wanting to spend what they got on their {fleshly} pleasures.

It is a serious inditement, and all the more so because James wrote this strong warning to believers!!

Ellen pointed out that just because the Spirit of Christ indwells us, does not guarantee that we'll be surrendered to Him and subject to His controlling influence. He does not force Himself upon us, but rather waits for us to call upon Him. {Sometimes I wish that were the other way around!!}

When she asked me what I was hearing from what she said, as she often does, I said that it made me think of a thermostat {thus the title - a thermostat for our inner emotional hearts is a heart-ostat, right?}.

To further tease out the analogy I was thinking of, Paraclete is like a thermostat because unless I tap into Him, He doesn't regulate my emotional climate. But when I do turn toward Him and ask for help {setting the thermostat}, He is so very capable of controlling the entire HVAC system of my heart.

People without Christ's Spirit indwelling them don't have that heart-ostat available to them. They may be able to regulate their own emotions somewhat, but nothing can replace the divine regulation that is available to believers in whom the Holy Spirit resides.

When I choose to allow Paraclete to regulate the expression of my emotions, it's not just about me! It's also a witness to the watching spiritual hosts, and quite probably also a witness to people around me too. I don't want to be someone who stuffs all my emotions OR blows them all out of proportion. I need Him in me, the hope of glory, that HIS power may show forth in and through my weaknesses!

So, that's what I have to share tonight. Thanks for reading and caring! :)

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Beginning a Gratitude List

This song has been stuck re-echoing through my head the past several days, ever since I heard Brandon & Maverick City Music perform it live last Saturday at Life Surge (a "pep rally for Christians" as my mom termed it :)).

To be honest, it's been a challenging month for me. 

In my previous post, I talked about the positive anniversary of Jan. 25th, 2011. What I left out mentioning was the negative 4th anniversary of Jan. 24, 2018 the day before. Between that date of my mental breakdown and my departure from Uganda on April 4, I was ..... in limbo I guess. I rarely consciously choose to think about those weeks, because they are still painful memories. But this post is not about that. 

As I was saying, it's been a challenging month.
He continues to work, even in the midst of my brokenness, weakness, and failings.
And this song has been calling me to shift my perspective from everything that is wrong to the MANY things I can praise God for.

"So I'll throw up my hands and praise You again and again."

Here's the beginnings of a list ... because I need to reinstitute this practice in my life!

  • Father God's constant love and grace toward me.
  • Our Savior's faithfulness, that He is gentle and lowly and understands us in our weakness from His 33-ish years of experience with temptation.
  • Paraclete, using Scripture passages and songs like this to woo back my heart.
  • Tom's excellent sermon on Sunday at CBC, talking about how the indwelling of Paraclete is the guarantee of our inheritance, the assurance of our salvation.
  • Life Surge was a really neat event - I had the opportunity to hear Nick Vujicic, Willie Robertson, Priscilla Shirer and other speakers in person. I am definitely glad I went!
  • I'm *immensely* grateful for my friends, my coworkers, my mentors, my counselor, my doctor, etc! They both support me in spite of my shortcomings, but also call me not to stay in that place. They shoot straight, not coddling me when what I need is a wakeup call.
  • This week, two negative things happened to my car, and my "Dallas grandpa" had to do a repair of an older fender bender in order for my car to hopefully pass inspection. But I'm grateful to one of the deacons from my church for helping me replace a flat tire Monday night, and to the said adoptive grandpa for working on my car for me yesterday.
  • On the same note, I'm thankful that the lady whose car I slid into this morning on the way to work is fine and that her car is too. Praying that once she sees that, she won't file anything with my insurance!
  • I appreciate the book we've been reading for our CBC Young Adults' Group, Gentle and Lowly which I "just happened" to read this morning before heading to work - and which is helping inform the second bullet point.
  • I'm grateful for my newest coworker, who is also a huge encourager and a great hugger!
  • Praising God for good sleep recently, that is certainly a blessing!!
  • As much as I gripe about my weight loss program internally, I'm thankful for the progress being made in that area.
  • That even when we are under spiritual attack, we can fight from a place of victory ALREADY won!!
  • For a fun time talking with my "sister" Sarah about her well-written book that she is sharing with me.
I could/should think of many many more things .... but for tonight I think that's enough of a starter :)

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Of Anniversaries and Confession/Renewal

I don't know quite where to start - other than with the goodness of God's Grace :)

The back story to this post will be on my mental health journey blog, hopefully by mid-March. Then I'll link to it here. But I don't want to wait to celebrate what God is doing in the present.

This morning, I woke up around 4 a.m. and didn't fall back asleep. I was expecting this ... I am sharing a special devotional/spiritual object lesson with my coworkers and I really want it to go well!!!

But as a result, I made a good choice that it has taken me a long time (too long) to make consistently:

I read the next paragraph in Colossians 1. I had started the end of October, and had only done it twice since then. Personal devotions and prayer have been a struggle I have not been winning for many months. I've let other things crowd those two critical things out. On Saturday and yesterday evening I admitted this to one of my best friends and to my counselor ... and both of them are actively encouraging me to make a point of getting back into daily, personal relationship with God!!

This morning in Colossians, the verse that most stood out to me was 1:6b - "Since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth." That verse is especially poignant to me on today, January 25th. You see, it was 11 years ago today that Paraclete's light of GRACE broke into the cell of legalism where I had chained my heart. Click the link on "January 25th" above to read more about that :)

So it was very sweet of God to bring me back to just the paragraph that held that fragment of a verse.

I want to believe that God is continually doing a new thing in my life & soul. In some ways, it's been a long three years since I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and there are still things that I need to surrender back to God and trust Him with & leave it there. I hope and choose to trust that this morning is a baby step back in that direction!!!

Also, thanks to all the men who shared in our church service on Sunday at Community Bible Chapel - Paraclete definitely used each of you in working on my heart!!

Monday, November 1, 2021


On Thursday, by the help of Paraclete, I finally confessed & repented of the fear & distrust I’ve been harboring toward God for a few years now. If you’re surprised to hear me admit that, I think I’ve been a “horrifically ‘good’ hypocrite.” If you’re not surprised, consider yourself privileged that I didn’t try to hide it from you too.

The back story that led up to Thurs night will appear on the blog of my journey with bipolar later … but for now I wanted to leave this here as a testimony to God’s faithfulness.

Because He helped me to finally lift up my eyes from the deep hurt I was clinging to {the “that” of the 2nd line of the quote}. This is what I wrote in my journal as I chose with His enabling, helping hand to change perspective.

Sure, work is still hectic. Yes, I still have bipolar. But I’m done acting like an abused victim! I’m done charading around trying to cover over a heart full of pain & darkness.



But God, that is NOT what I want to choose to believe about You.

But God, those are the lies of the enemy rather than Your true truth.

But God, You have promised in Your Word to work all things for good to those who love You & are called by You.

But God, I believe I am called and redeemed by Your grace & mercy, regardless of how much I want to run away.

But God, please whisper Your truth into my soul; draw me back into abiding trust & sweet communion in You!

But God, I don’t want to live this lousy hypocritical life any more. I am not living with integrity before You!

But God, I confess this to You.

But God, cause my eyes to see You as You truly are and to repent in sackcloth & ashes.

But God, You ARE the Kintsugi Artist who redeems & restores that which You did not lightly allow to break.

But God, my hope & joy are in Jesus Christ, NOT in my circumstances!*

But God, YOU are worthy.

Praise You, Paraclete. Only You could turn something so big & scary into something so beautiful & sacred!

I declare that I am nothing without You in my life. You are worthy & I praise You for Your perfect goodness—and I choose to root my trust back into You. I cannot keep that commitment on my own, But God, You are exceedingly, abundantly able to equip me with the humility of surrender. I believe You!


*A paraphrase from one of Elizabeth’s prayers in the movie War Room.


I would greatly appreciate your prayers as I seek to replow the ground of my heart & mind. It’s been rutted pretty deeply over the past 3.5-5 years into some negative thought patterns – but NOTHING is impossible for my God!!!!!

Yesterday, for the first time in about six months, I pulled my Bible off my shelf for individual, personal Bible study. And it was sweet!

This morning, I fell back into the rut and didn’t think of doing that until after I had been at work for a few hours.

But tomorrow is a new day!! And I serve a patient, faithful God!!

Sunday, July 25, 2021

"Look What You've Done"

In my car, the radio is pretty much always on to 94.9 KLTY, a local Christian station. It feels like in different seasons there's a song that plays every time I get in the car, even if it's just my 10-minute commute to work.

Recently, it's been this song:

Initially, I honestly resented this song a bit. The past three years have been challenging for me spiritually, not something I've usually been willing to rejoice & praise God in. And now, with my upcoming (Lord willing) visit to Uganda, all that heart crud that can usually hide beneath the surface is getting stirred up.

But on my way home from ministry group (church small group) this evening, as I got close to my parents' house where I needed to pick up a couple things, this song played again. And this time, Paraclete showered down grace---and I received the song with a heart of hope. As I listened to this song, I found myself hoping and praying. I found myself begging God, "Please let me see that song be true in my life next month!"

But then I wondered why I felt like I needed to beg God for that and plead with Him to make it come to pass. Isn't that exactly what He desires to do, to heal, to redeem?

And so by grace & in faith I intentionally shifted my prayer---"Lord, give me the humility to receive Your healing!" And I knew I needed to dust this blog off and report on what God is doing, the seed He is planting in my heart of positive change.

It's like the chives & hibiscus plant in my garden here at my new place. Last weekend when I went to plant the small hibiscus shrub I had bought several week before, I first cleared the area of weeds, mostly chives that had been allowed to run wild. Or at least I thought I cleared it!! 

When I started digging the hole "as deep as and slightly larger than the pot," guess what I found right beneath the surface? A matted, entangled, enmeshed network of chives roots & bulbs. I threw away the top three inches of soil, because I knew I didn't want those roots back in the hole with my poor hibiscus plant!!

The lies I believed They got some roots that run deep I let em take a hold of my life I let em take control of my life

The same is true with secreted resentment and bitterness. They're like the chive roots that have already sprung back up all around my hibiscus plant, that parts where I didn't dig those three inches deep to dig them out.

But God.

Standing in Your presence Lord I can feel You diggin' all the roots up I can feel Ya healin' all my wounds up All I can say is hallelujah Look what You've done

It's my hope and prayer that in the next month, as I spend two weeks with my dearly loved Ugandan sisters (towards whom I hold no hard feelings) and the others (some of whom I have struggled to forgive), that God will do just this.

Will the process be fun?
Probably not always.

Will it be worth it?
I believe so, definitely.

Please join me in praying the truths of this song over me in the coming four weeks!!!

Sunday, January 31, 2021

The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength

 I was up at 3 a.m. this morning, making herbal "Sleep Tea" that I had bought from a friend-of-a-friend, after waking up at 2 and having a fruitless hour of trying to fall back asleep.

I grabbed this mug because of its large size, but seeing what it said reminded me of a post I've been meaning to write!

Back on Jan. 19th, I was responsible for leading the daily prayer time at my workplace. I had contacted some of our workers for prayer requests, but only received two responses - not enough to keep us occupied for half an hour.

Then I looked at my Verse-a-day calendar on my desk, and it had the verse above -- and so I went with a bit of a longer devotional before the prayer time.

So, Nehemiah 8:10 - we all know it, even if we don't know the reference. "The Joy of the Lord is your strength." A positive, encouraging verse, right? Yes, but even more so if you know the context!

Anyone out there know the context of this verse?


{There was silence when I asked this question in the devotional time.}

So I took us back to the context, something I had noticed a few years ago (probably when I was reading through Nehemiah!) and that has stuck with me every time I've seen or heard that verse since.

After Nehemiah and company had rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem, there came a day when Ezra read the law to the people from morning until midday, with other priests there to explain the meaning (Neh. 8:1-7).

Nehemiah continues: 


"They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, 'This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.' For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law" (8:8-9).


I don't know about for you, but this doesn't seem to me like the context for a go-to voice on Joy!

But that's not all - look at the majority of verse 10, the part that never gets quoted: 


"Then he said to them, 'Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength'" (Neh. 8:10).

Nehemiah and Ezra shared this line with a people who were grieving over the ways they had fallen short of what the law required!!

As New Covenant believers, we are no longer under the same set of laws and demands that the Israelites were. But what can we learn from their example?

I think too often we use this verse as a band aid or a somewhat trite expression to try and encourage someone. But what if, to really help our friends, we urged them to acknowledge and confess the ways they have fallen short, and then to find new strength in the joy of God’s forgiveness? What if we made confession like the Israelite's a regular practice among ourselves?

Then I walked through the definitions of 'confession,' from good ol'


  1. acknowledgment; avowal; admission: a confession of incompetence.​
  2. acknowledgment or disclosure of sin or sinfulness, especially to a priest to obtain absolution.​
  3. something that is confessed.​
  4. a formal, usually written, acknowledgment of guilt by a person accused of a crime.​
  5. Also called confession of faith: a formal profession of belief and acceptance of doctrines, as before being admitted to church membership.​

As a Protestant, I don't believe that confession to a priest is necessary to obtain absolution. And, I had forgotten about the positive sense of confession, indicated in the 5th point.

I then read the following prayer of confession from a church in Indiana, a combination of two separate ones the pastor had shared on the church's blog:


"Holy and merciful God, in your presence we confess our sinfulness, our shortcomings, and our offenses against you. You alone know how often we have sinned in wandering from your ways, in wasting your gifts, in forgetting your love. Have mercy on us, O Lord, for we are ashamed and sorry for all we have done to displease you. Cleanse us from all our offenses, and deliver us from proud thoughts and vain desires. With lowliness and meekness may we draw near to you, confessing our faults, confiding in your grace, and finding in you our refuge and strength; through Jesus Christ your Son. Amen."

And then I just opened up the floor for a couple people to pray their own personal prayers of confession, and then we launched into praying for a couple of our workers.

So, thanks for reading!! This is something that has been meaningful to me--as I said, for a couple years--and having thought through it a little more concretely recently, I wanted to share it on here!

Friday, May 3, 2019

Resentment & Repentance

I don’t know exactly how this post is going to come out…….I’m still in the messiness of processing this, and writing is usually my best way of processing. So here goes.

It was a couple weeks ago, the day I read Luke 15 in preparation for Bible Study that evening, and thinking about what I wrote in my previous blog post. I went out for a walk with the baby I’m nannying, and it wasn’t long before Paraclete walloped me on the side of the head with it: You’ve been acting a lot like the older son this past year.

And it’s true. There have been various moments in the past year+ when I’ve internally cried out the questions to God…“I was doing what I thought You called me to do. What happened?? What more do You want from me? Why did You take it all away? I don’t deserve…”

Do you hear the voice of the elder son there? ‘All these years I have served you, and you never even gave me a small party.’ As if service and outward obedience earn the right to demand fair recompense.

Part of me wishes we knew more of this story—how long had the elder son harbored such bitterness and resentment in his heart? How did he respond to his father after this? Did he stay the same, hard and unforgiving? Or did he repent?

But Jesus had evidently done what He intended with the story as is.

We know that His hearers at the time, the Pharisees, didn’t take to heart the application of the story. They didn’t change their attitude – they still hated Jesus for what He claimed and preached, and they still ended up killing Him as their attempted solution.

But what about someone like me, who never set out to harbor resentment and feelings of injustice towards God? Someone who comes to see the folly and selfishness of such a heart attitude? What am I to do to change and not be like that anymore?

I think the answer to that question actually takes us back to the other two parables in Luke 15, which each follow a very similar pattern. Something is lost, the owner searches and finds it, a celebration ensues, and the parables end with the statement “I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (vs. 10, vs. 7 is similar).

But really, what did a sheep and a coin do to repent? What could they do? They don’t even have enough sense to try to be found. It was all up to the owner to find what was lost, and yet the final verse compares them to a repentant sinner.

Maybe repentance has a lot less to do with me and my ability to return to God than I would like to think.

So how should I respond when the Holy Spirit points out something like this?

I guess the first step would be to confess it—to agree with God that what He said is true. And then to repent of it—to trust God for the grace and strength to stop resenting Him for what I don’t have and instead believe His promises of all the good things He has given me.

Easy to say, hard for my prideful flesh to be willing to do.

At the root of such bitterness as the elder brother showed is belief in a falsehood: That I deserve commendation and reward for my good behavior. What is the truth about every single one of us? What do we truly deserve? Only God’s condemnation and punishment for our sins against a perfectly righteous God. All else is only by grace.

I want and expect promises of comfort and ease—but that’s not what Christ gave. He promised that we would have trouble in this life (John 16:33), and yet in the same breath He promised His peace. So why do I try to stiff arm the challenges? In so doing, I also reject the lessons God has for me in those experiences.

Can I learn and choose instead to embrace whatever He has for me, knowing that He is a good Father and so whatever He sends must also be for my good? Not a journey that my heart has made much progress on….though I know and believe it to be true.

Like I said – I’m still in the midst of processing this. I don’t have the application all neatly packaged up and ready to be implemented….Lord help me to have the humility to submit to You and repent!