Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hating and Being Hated

Matthew 5:21-26

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder,[a] and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause[b] shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.

I have been guilty of hatred. I am still struggling with the feelings that I have toward one person in particular, and as I strive to forgive this person (who shall remain completely anonymous in both name and gender), I have been continually convicted of the anger that I feel. My anger has a purpose, but it can no longer be called "righteous." There is nothing that I can do to help or to change this person. Only Yah can do that, and He will, in His time. They  must be open to that change and to recognizing Him in their life. 

At the same time, I deal regularly with being hated, not only by the same person with whom I struggle, but by others as well. I have not always lived a good life, and even now I cannot say that I am where I want to be. There are so many changes that I strive to make on a daily basis. Simple choices can make an enormous difference. These people do not know me as I am now because they don't make an effort to get to know me as I am now. However, the fact is that I have not reached out to them, either, for fear of having my hands slapped away. 

A season of my life is ending now. I cannot continue to sit by and allow this anger and hatred to fester. I have to do something about it. I have worked on forgiveness and I simply haven't gotten that far. But it is time to reach out. I don't know whether or not I will be sending out any kind of cards for the holidays, since I don't celebrate Christmas, but we will see. I think that is probably the best way to open the door of communication and offer to begin speaking to these people again. In the meantime, I must continue to focus on Matthew 5:21-26. It is important to me to let this go and leave it entirely behind me.

Current Goal: My current goal is to learn to organize both my home and my time. This isn't going so well right at the moment, but I am making some progress, even if it isn't steady.
Today's Habit: Today, I was supposed to read my reminders from Flylady. I forgot about it until just now. Oops. The sink still isn't shiny. I have dishes that need to be done and I won't move them out of the sink since it was shining when I put them in there.
Reading: I'm in Chapter 2 of The Surrendered Wife by Laura Doyle. I was in Chapter 1 yesterday. I forgot that the first chapter is an introduction.
Bible Reading: I am pacing myself through Genesis and picking at Proverbs. 
Memorizing: I am working on memorizing Proverbs 31:10-31 at the moment. For this week/day it is Proverbs 31:10-12.
Praying for: I am praying for my husband's work. Again. I actually overlooked this part of my prayer time yesterday. Oops. I am also praying for the strength to forgive those who have hurt me and the courage to reach out to them. For more information see The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian. I am also praying for calm.
Grateful for: A beautiful day with my daughter. She was so sweet today and we spent a day without television!


Monday, October 4, 2010

Unexpected Visitors

I have a confession to make: unexpected visitors terrify me. There are issues from the past that have fed this fear, and I don't wish to discuss those issues at this point in time (or probably ever). But I do want to be honest about the issue of being afraid of knocks on the door, because I believe that my failure to answer the door is a sin. I believe that part of being like Messiah is to be hospitable. Although I believe that He understands my reasons for not answering the door, I also know that this isn't what He would have for me.

I don't blame God for my fears. Most of the things that have happened to me have been my own fault. Some of them have been authored by others, and some of those others I believe have been under Satan's influence. I don't have to accept this as part of who I am, but it is something that is going to take time to work through. I know that my Abba is willing to work with me until I can get past these issues, and I know that He has some patience with me (or at least I believe He does). On the other hand, I'm just tired of living this way.

Today there was a knock on the door. It's not been my best day. The first half of the day was quite peaceful, but later on the little one decided that it was time to start shouting and screaming about how "mad" she is (the end result of watching Ni Hao Kai-Lan). It isn't so much that I have been impatient with her as that I have had things to do, and the noise levels are making it difficult for me to concentrate. I also have to worry about her getting into things, since she has been a real livewire today.

So my tension levels were already high when there was a friendly knock at the door. Figuring that it was a friend of ours, I looked out the window to see if his car was out there. It wasn't, nor was there any other vehicle, which struck me as incredibly odd. Just as I was about to scoop my daughter up and move her screaming away from the door, she called out "Daddy!" At the same moment, the person at the door tried the knob (which was horrifically unlocked! Given that part of the root of my fears if from robbery, this was really brutal!). When the person at the door heard my daughter call out for her father, the screen door slammed and they were gone. That was over an hour ago and nobody has returned. There is no evidence that anyone was here. No notes on the door from UPS or any other company, no phone calls or e-mails from friends. This tells me that not only was the visitor unexpected, but unwelcome as well.

I don't like this. My stomach is churning, and the fear is irrational, but it is there. I wish that there was something I could do about this immediately, so that the feeling would go away. I've tried several things already, and the house is never clean enough for me to feel comfortable, or my daughter has stripped off all of her clothes, or I'm in the middle of doing something or the worst case scenario is just flashing through my mind at the time that the knock happens.

It has been a stressful day because of this. I just want this to stop and to go away. If you pray, please take a moment to pray for me.

Current Goal: My current goal is to learn to organize both my home and my time. At this point I must also confess that some mental organization would be beneficial as well, so that I can let go of some of these irrational fears.
Secondary Goal: I am trying to beat food addiction and lose weight. It has been an uphill battle, but I know that with YHVH's help I can do it!
Today's Habit: Today, as every day, I got dressed to lace up shoes. My sink isn't shining though :(
Reading: I'm in Chapter 2 of The Surrendered Wife by Laura Doyle.
Bible Reading: I am pacing myself through Genesis and picking at Proverbs. 
Memorizing: I am working on memorizing Proverbs 31:10-31 at the moment. For this week/day it is Proverbs 31:10-12.
Praying for: I am praying for my husband's work. For more information see The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian. I am also praying for calm.
Grateful for: I am incredibly grateful for YHVH's forgiveness. Here I am dealing with this terrible fear, and the result of the fear is sin, and I know that He is willing to forgive me if I repent, and help me to move forward for the best.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

The First Cold Day of Fall

It's too bad that we live in the city, or I might have something good to photograph and share with all of you. It has been an easy day to be contented. The cooler weather means that we are more comfortable, if a little bit sleepy. I no longer struggle with the feeling of being overheated when I am working a large piece of knitting or crochet in my lap. Most of all, this is my favorite time of year, as things begin to change. I am surprised to have discovered a real sense of contentment today. This is what I have been looking for (and failing to find) for several weeks. YHVH is really working in my life, and He is taking me where He wants me to go. The best part about it is that I want to go with Him.

I have decided that at least through this season, I am going to try to start blogging daily. For those of you who know that I struggle with computer addiction from time to time, this isn't part of that. This is part of the necessary process of getting into a routine and seeking fellowship with other believers. I need to be doing more to reach out, and I keep feeling that I am inadequate as a believer, so I pull back and start over again, often from a different angle. So far nothing has made me feel as though I'm getting it right, so I figure that I might as well practice it until things work out. 

Right now I am going through a process of learning some new and essential skills. At the top of this list of skills is consistent organization. I know how to make things neat and organized, but they almost never stay that way. I can no longer claim that I know where everything in my house is, because we have begun the terrible process of replacing lost items. This is not only expensive but it is unhealthy. 

My goal here is to be entirely honest with you. There are some things about which I almost never talk except one-on-one. Most of that isn't going to change, though you will likely find out some things about me that you didn't previously know. Some things may cause you to ask questions that I cannot or will not answer. I apologize for this. I am not claiming to be transparent, but I will always at least be honest with you. 

Part of this organizational process is getting into the habit of reading and memorizing scripture and catechism. No, I am not Catholic, and yes, I will be teaching my daughter catechism as a faith-sealing and faith-expanding practice. She's a bit young yet, but I don't think that it is ever too early to expose her to these kinds of important things.

I will always let you know what my goals are and what I am working on. In fact, I am about to create a little form that I hope to put at the end of every post as I walk this path with you. I hope that some people will join me and make comments. I really do need the moral support right now, as I am going through a lot and do not have any kind of spiritual family (that is to say, I am not attending any kind of an assembly and only just found out that there is a Messianic congregation in my city today).

Current Goal: My current goal is to learn to organize both my home and my time.
Secondary Goal: I am trying to beat food addiction and lose weight. It has been an uphill battle, but I know that with YHVH's help I can do it!
Today's Habit: Today I am shining my sink. Yes, it is a Flylady thing. And yes, I am doing Flylady again. I know that this can work for me if I just stick with the program. So far I have not.
Reading: Today I am going to start reading The Surrendered Wife by Laura Doyle. I will review it when I am finished.
Bible Reading: I am pacing myself through Genesis and picking at Proverbs. I want to re-read the Torah right now but I am also drawn to Proverbs, so I'm reading when I can. I will read through at least the first two chapters of Genesis tonight.
Memorizing: I am working on memorizing Proverbs 31:10-31 at the moment. For this week/day it is Proverbs 31:10-12.
Praying for: I am praying for my husband's wife. For more information see The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian.
Grateful for: Today I am intensely grateful for the incredible peace of this day. I am almost finished with a gift for my mother (I participate in, but do not celebrate, Christmas) and should be able to finish my sister's tomorrow, then move on to toys for the kids. I'm very, very content and grateful to the Ruach Hakodesh for giving me such great comfort today.


Monday, September 27, 2010

When He Speaks...

I don't know how YHVH speaks to others. I only know that He speaks to me very clearly either by giving me particular passages of scripture to read (leading me to them, usually using blogs or other media) or by simply inspiring me and causing me to think of something that answers a recent prayer. This has been happening more and more often lately. I am incredibly grateful to Yah for giving me the opportunity to improve myself and my devotion to Him. This walk has been difficult at times, and I think that if it weren't for His voice there may have been times I would simply have given up and chosen an easier path, such as the one I was one before I really discovered Yeshua.

I want to tell you today about the way in which He spoke to me. It was incredibly significant, but I didn't recognize it until only a moment ago, when I was attempting to write an entirely different blog post. 

It began today while I was watching TV and working on knitting a gift for my father. I was watching a television show on TLC and the husband mentioned that his wife was always happy and smiling, no matter what the circumstances. He went on to say that they always had fun together. It occurred to me that although I don't typically watch this show, in this case (at least) she seemed to be a genuinely and constantly happy woman. This clearly pleased her husband, who was happy not only with her, but with the time that they spent together. 

Even had it not occurred to me that my husband and I have not been enjoying our "together time" as much as we could, it would have struck me that I don't smile very much these days. I could try to blame the lack of smiles on overall stress or on the fact that the autumn weather has begun the process of making me depressed (because I need to start taking artificial vitamins or drinking more milk, which I have been craving). This would, however, be displaced blame. The source of my unhappiness is me. It would be dishonest of me to claim that something other than my own attitude and behavior was making me unhappy. Recognizing this, I immediately sent up a prayer to Yah, asking Him to help me to smile more often. I asked Him to give me reasons to smile and to help me to smile even when I didn't feel like smiling. I then went on to spend the rest of the knitting period observing within myself just how much I enjoy knitting. And yes, I did smile. 

But YHVH wasn't finished with me quite yet. Just when I was satisfied that I understood His intentions, He reminded me of a book that I have read off and on over the past year: The Prayer that Changes Everything by Stormie Omartian. For those who have never read (or heard of) the book, the emphasis is on the power of praising YHVH for everything that He is and everything that He has done for us. There is no end to the praise that we can bring to our Father, and the author gives personal anecdotal evidence for the power of praise to work in our lives in order to help us to realize our greatest dreams. She particularly shows us how powerful praise is when we are in a particularly dark time in our lives, because it can help us to see the power of YHVH and to walk more closely with Him. 

I've tried this before, and become frustrated. The reason is usually because during these periods of praise, the attack is strong. I may run into blogs or websites that discourage Messianic believers (particularly Messianic Jews) and lump all of us in with "The Sacred Name People" or who teach dogma that isn't in the scriptures. I become confused and befuddled and suddenly HaShem stops making sense to me. I forget, during those periods of time, that our G-d is not the author of confusion: He is quite clear, and I believe that by reading the scriptures we can find Him and His clear desire for us as His people. I see no contradiction, and yet these people and websites teach things that are contrary to the scriptures as I understand them. In truth, I have now learned that it is best to avoid them entirely. 

I'm giving this another try, and I am determined to see it through to thirty days of praise, without supplication (except for others). I am looking for YHVH to work a real miracle in my life: to show me the path to becoming a happier, more settled and observant Messianic Gentile. I love Him too much to feel comfortable with letting Him down. It is my time now, and I plan on seeing it through.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Identifying Emotions

Clearly it has been a long time since I wrote here. I have never been particularly good at blogging about faith, because I am constantly questioning whether or not what I believe or do is "good enough." I read so many faith blogs (and don't comment) that make me feel as though other believers are so much further ahead of me on the path to righteousness that I just become discouraged. So very much of this faith journey is being taken alone while we continue to seek a church home, and I often feel as though I am struggling with the very basics of serving YHVH.

There has been a lot of emotion running through me lately. I started college and then became so frustrated with the program that I chose that I decided to transfer. The transfer has become iffy, at best, because of complications with financial aid. It is going to very likely be spring semester before I can get started. The stress has sent me over the edge into what I feel is the beginning of a depression. I have been fighting the urge to simply succumb, but what I have not been doing is identifying my emotions as they relate to the current circumstances.

In this exact moment, I am angry. Anger is not an emotion with which I deal well, and it took me several moments to realize that my anger was in no way righteous, and that I had to let it go. I am still struggling with that, as I feel stepped on, shut down and shut out. I feel marginalized and as though I am a nuisance. I feel as though I keep bothering people with my problems and that they would prefer that I simply go away.

I realize that this is coming from the voice in my head and not some external place. It is very likely an attack from Satan that is trying to make me stray from the prayerful path that I have been on for the past several days. This internal voice is not helping me to love myself, others or YHVH. It is destructive to everything that I hold dear, and I know that the best thing that I can do is to renounce it. So why is it so hard to let go of that anger and bitterness that is holding me back?

I believe that Yah wants for me to be happy. He wants for me to continue in the way that I have been, loving others and holding tightly to Him. I need Him so desperately right now, and it is true that I have felt the Ruach Hakodesh surrounding me lately. Satan is simply trying to break that barrier of protection that I have been given to keep him out. I must let YHVH work in my life and I must cling to him in all things.

In the meantime, I need to continue to work on identifying the emotions before they consume me. I have been arguing quite a bit with my husband lately and the emotions have been getting the better of me. Several factors are standing in the way of me living just a simple, normal life with my family, and I need to jump over those hurdles (or better yet, ask Yah to lift me over them).

I will probably be talking a lot about emotions for a while. There is a lot that needs to be said, and I may need help in identifying where I am, why I am there, and how to move forward. Thanks for listening.



Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The "Perfect" Believer

I'm not perfect. I don't believe that perfection is possible unless you are Elohim. In fact, I would prefer to think of myself as an imperfect believer than to think of myself as being equal to Him. I make simple mistakes and I give in to temptations much more often than is reasonable for someone who has been following after Yeshua for more than two years now. Sometimes I even give in knowing that what I'm doing is wrong because it is so much easier to chase after the flesh than to follow Him.

But I am confused. I have noticed a lack of humility in some branches of the community of believers. The obvious eagerness to be "right" seems to have clouded the overall vision. More often than not, it seems that believers are eager to point out the speck in another's eye, while avoiding the subject of the beam in their own. For me, this has resulted in the sensation of being cornered or trapped by my own sin while looking around me to see the apparent sinlessness of my sisters in Messiah.

Please don't misunderstand: I want help and need guidance. I'm a young believer and moreover there is no church for my family at the moment (for several reasons I may outline in a future post). I desire the fellowship and the togetherness. 

The truth is that there is no "perfect" believer (regardless of what some say -- and I mean that literally). Romans tells us "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." (3:23 KJV)

It is impossible for us to fully support one another as long as we wear the mantle of perfectionism. So please, let us stop and share with one another our stumblings as well as our successes, so that those of us who are most discouraged can know that we aren't alone.



Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Home from Holidays

I'm not feeling up to writing very much right now. The last few days have been something of a struggle for a variety of reasons. My family was out of town to visit my parents and friends out of state for a few days and it takes some time to get assimilated back at home. I hope that the transition will be easier this time than it was the last time we were away to North Carolina.

The issues of feminism are still very much on my mind, but I want to be able to tackle the subject fresh instead of when I'm feeling so particularly exhausted.

In Messiah,