Hebrews 6:19

Hebrews 6:19 "This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast...."

Friday, May 22, 2015

How to be anchored

   The last few months have been particularly challenging for me.  I have had a number of falls recently but the last two have been bad.  Both my right and left legs have sustained damage.  Healing has been slow and arduous; not to mention painful.  I have had so many x-rays in the past few weeks to make sure the bones have not been broken.  This last fall left my right ankle sprained on both sides.  It took over two weeks for the swelling to come down.  During that time walking was exceedingly difficult.  I relied heavily on others to help me out.  My church family was amazing bringing meals for me while I recovered and the kids and Dave have been great helping me out.

    I had a doctors appointment last week and it became clear that my left side is having lots of difficulty responding to the commands my brain sends it.  I didn't realize it was that sluggish until I did the tests.  I have had a CAT scan and EEG for headaches and tremors I was having which seem to affect my left hand the most.  All those were clear and I was diagnosed with Essential Tremors; put on a beta blockers to ease the tremors.  At that time, I hadn't fallen like I have been for the past few months.  My GP wants an MRI and for me to go back to the Neurologist to see what other tests may need to be done.  So, I wait to see how all this unfolds.

   I am physically exhausted and I wonder what it feels like to feel normal or good again.  I have had to limit things I do, train myself to take it slow and easy, give myself permission to not 'do it all".   I haven't been able to drive for the last several weeks only just getting back to it in the last couple days.  I went out for dinner last Friday when a friend picked me up and while it was amazing to get out, walking was difficult and I was sore when I got home. :(

   Through all these physical difficulties I am learning to trust God in different ways.  After my doctors appointment I texted a friend and a few moments later she was at my door.  I burst into tears upon seeing her.  I don't think she will ever understand how much I needed that right then.  We prayed together and I realized that even then, God was pouring encouragement into that single moment.  When we prayed, I knew the Lord was there.  I recalled and claimed the verses in Hebrews 6:19 that talk about Jesus being our hope; the very anchor of our soul (thus the reason this blog is named Anchor of the Soul).  I was reminded that our bodies are fragile and sometimes weak but that our security is firmly rooted in things that are not 'earthly'.  Since our prayer time that day, God has continued to remind me in various ways how true this is - this anchoring of my soul.   After a particularly trying day this past week, the same friend who prayed with me that day sent me scripture to end my night with. Isaiah 41:10 "Do not fear or be dismayed, I am your GOD, I will strengthen you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."   This set of scripture was followed by John 10:27-29 "My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life and they will never perish and no one will snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me is greater than all and no one is able to snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one." ; Psalm 119: 129-130 "Your testimonies are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them. The unfolding of your word gives light, it imparts understanding to the simple."  and finally Psalm 23 "The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul."  These truths are what is lifting me up right now.  As these verses have come to me, either by friend or daily reading of scripture, I have illustrated them in my journal Bible.  They are becoming a part of my soul as I hold tightly onto their truths.

I have been having such a hard time with this emotionally.  I am constantly afraid of falling again and wonder what in the world is going on with me.  It's hard not to let the emotions take over.  Going to the word has kept my soul anchored.  Expressing the verses through art as I turn to my Bible allows me to meditate on it as I form a picture in my head and on paper of how my Heavenly Father holds me when anxiety threatens and fear seeks to control.  He is holding me with His righteous right hand, He is my Shepherd, I am in the palm of His hand, and He restores my soul as His word brings light and understanding.  I can testify to all these things. :)  Doesn't mean I don't struggle, or I have my moments or I don't experience the angst, I do, but I am learning to allow God to hold me through it.  It's humbling.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Finding the Way Back to His Grace

I have been pondering the last few weeks.  I feel alive again.  I mentioned this to a friend and she responded with some words of wisdom.  She said:  "When you hold on to something like anxiety for so long, it becomes a part of you and letting it go is difficult, but when you do, you gain new life. And that is likely why you feel alive again."

I struggled so much with anxiety these past few months and I kept it mostly to myself.  All the things I loved doing, brought little joy.  I spent time with my kids, my husband, friends, prayed, went to church and read my Bible but the things that **I** loved to do were a struggle (crochet, writing, reading, drawing, running etc).  I know it likely had something to do with no sleep.  I have always had problems sleeping.  As early as my childhood I have clear memories of sleepless nights and going through my day exhausted.  It has been worse at various times in my life.  I had a huge struggle on our holidays in September to sleep.  I think the lack of sleep contributed to the anxiety I began to feel.   I strived to write in my journal, to make gratitude my focus, to take the deep breaths but it felt hollow and empty at times.  I couldn't understand it.  My same friend said, "Perhaps you are in a desert time?"  Sure felt like it.

I was trying too hard in my own strength.  It never occurred to me that God could take the desert away as quickly as I gave it up (see My Soul to Keep).  I felt like if I read more, if I wrote more thankfulness in my journal, if I prayed more, if I gave more of myself etc etc. *I'd* just come out of it; eventually.  It was me doing it; not relinquishing it to the Holy Spirit.  I felt like I had to work hard at it to get it to leave.  It's when I made my way to the throne of grace, with a broken heart that it changed.  The anxiety is gone, there is not a hint of it.  But here's something else, something unexpected, my sleep, has been restored too.  I've been up to pray a couple of times but for the most part, I've been sleeping, very well.

I keep thinking about the Desert Song, verse one and four especially:

This is my prayer in the desert
When all that's within me feels dry
And this in my prayer in the hunger and need
My God is a God who provides

Oh yes, HE provided.   And verse four:

And this is my prayer in the harvest
Where favour and providence flow
I know I'm filled to be emptied again
This seed I've received I will sow.

I know beyond a shadow of doubt, it was GOD who did this in my life.  God restored my ability to sleep at night, and He took the anxiety from me.  I'm in the harvest, of life made new and passions awakened. Only The LORD can do that.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Lord, My Soul to Keep

Carrie Judd Montgomery wrote: "There is a secret place within the holy of holies under the very cover of Christ's wing --a place where we always have access to mercy seat.....a place where our spirits are made so spotless by the blood of Jesus that He can always smile upon us."

The above quote resonated with me - that secret place, the holy of holiness, where nothing is held back and it's all there for Him to see.  All the sin, the shame, the failures and the cares of this world become so transparent that hiding becomes unnessary and healing is all that matters.  

And there I am in the midst of my life, wondering if there is anything that God's Grace can not completely touch?  That His mercy is incapable of healing?  That I even stop to wonder this, astounds me. With the cross before me and His mercy around me, why do I hesitate?   It's the trust, it's my faith that I need to embrace and allow to grow deep into the good soil filled with the newness of life.

I was struggling with anxiety the last few months, not feeling myself and wondering how to get close to God; He seemed so far off.  I awoke one morning, feeling the weight of the anxiety in my chest, like a knot all wound up inside me.  I called out to God, explained how hard I was trying to remain calm and how much I was trying to get close to Him.  I felt the Holy Spirit say: "I can take this from you today, it can be done today, **I** can take this from YOU: TODAY.  And I laughed.  I. Laughed. At. The. Lord.  Here I was as Sarah, who laughed when she was told she would conceive a baby in her old age.  Here I was believing it could not possibly be that easy.  I went about my day, but the knot and pressure in my chest remainded; all the deep breathes, **I** took to quel and calm the anxiety where useless. 

 A little while later I received a call from a dear friend.  She asked me how it was going and I was honest about the high levels of anxiety I was expericing, the panic attacks that were looming ahead of me, just beyond the corner of my mind.  I didn't tell her what The Lord said, and I certainly didn't tell her I laughed at what He said!  But the next words she spoke where the words The Lord had said to me.  She said: "This not who you are, not who God created you to be, He can take this from you today, and it can be over today."  I didn't laugh this time, I wept.  And I felt broken inside.  I knew it was true.  Here I had denided His words, and yet in His grace, mercy and wisdom He sent the message again.  Thanking her for calling, I got off the phone and made my way to His throne, feeling broken and tired, I laid it down.  I took His yolk and He gave me rest.  Matthew 11:9 "Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

I have not had that anxiety since, not the pressure nor the tight knot in my chest, not a panic attack threatens.  They have passed away and the old has become new.  

I have so much old in me needing to become new.  Am I not always learning to die to self and walk in the newness of Christ?????  Oh let it be so!  Galatians 2:20 says "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now life in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me."

Here is His mercy and grace; where His love abounds.  His wings my refuge, His blood that makes me white and new.  And He smiles.  He loves to rescue, to bend down to listen as my mouth lifts up the words to His ever listening ears.  

He lives in me to work and do His good will.  To be glorified.  The old becoming new as He teaches.  He is gentle, and in Him is rest for my soul; where all that matters is the healing He has promised and the grace He provides.  Some things will take more laying down then others, more commitment to prayer, I have no doubt.  But Behind the veil is where I need to be; now and always, for my soul is HIS to keep.

Adoration: Remembering Who God Is

I met with some ladies from my church this past Monday evening for some time of devotion and prayer. We went around to a few separate centres to focus on the ACTS guideline of prayer (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication).  They were all incredible but the one that has captivated me the most was ADORATION.  The idea was to concentrate on the character of God, write them down on sticky notes; without repeating the same quality and/or characteristic.  This was the last table my group visited, so as you can imagine it was a little more difficult as all the 'regular' or more common ones had already been placed on the poster.  As I went through the notes, I began to feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude as our group strove to find those qualities of our God that were not on there.  And being last; meant digging deeper. One lady sifted through the Psalms, I looked on my Bible Cover which had a number of the names of God inscribed on it, and we all thought longer and harder about this amazing God, who truly loves His people. He is just, courageous, loving, the beginning, the end, holy, our comfort, salvation, hiding place, refuge, friend, anchor, rock, cornerstone, helper, deliverer, shield, jealous, perfect, awesome God; just to name a few.  :) There is one that stood out for me though.  One of the ladies shared the word: NEAR.  She was reluctant at first as she wrote it but as soon as she said it my spirit resounded with it and I am so pleased she shared it; for the word has remained with me since.    Perhaps, it's where I am at right now in my walk.  But the fact that God is near, that He cares and listens has brought me more fully to my knees these past couple days.

My word for the year is PRAYER.  Last year it was HOPE.  God gave me a passage to cling to last year and build on (Hebrews 6:17-20).  Likewise this year He gave me a verse from the Psalms to build upon: Psalm 116:2 "Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!" NLT.  I love the imagery this verse creates:  "Because He BENDS DOWN to LISTEN", He comes NEAR to me.  And then: to pray as long as I have breath!   Indeed.

Prayer, it encompasses the day.  From the early of the morning when all is still and I quiet my soul, to the times of confession and sorrow, for the plea of help, for the heart full of adoration and thanksgiving, the whispered prayers for a friend, to the corporate calling out of the saints.  It's that communion that never ceases, where you can be real and vulnerable to the maker and lover of your soul.

Monday evening with this group of women was an encouragement.  I took a picture of the poster, of the qualities that we all worked to remember and embrace.  And I know that God is near, as we pray and seek Him together.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Confidence of Hope & Presence of Prayer

Life bustles forward with such activity and energy that often times it threatens to carry me away with it. The hard decisions, the challenges of parenthood, job, marriage, ministry; all things worthy of doing but the feelings of tiredness and failure sometimes loom.  As they threaten to define me, I am drawn back to hope. Not just the mere idea of it but the hope that touches the inner parts of my soul.  It searches out the cobwebs and breaths life into the parts of my heart that so desperately need new life.  I am reminded of Romans 15:13 "I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with the confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit." NLT and of Psalm 116:2 "Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath." NLT  None of it, just words, but the power to breath life, to make change.  I am a child of the living God, He bends down to listen, He is the source of hope, the confidence that transfigures me.

I can look around me, I can see the waves of life, the water beneath me, or I can look to my Saviour for the direction He has promised to give me, the faith He told me He will build and be faithful to complete.   I just need to remember who I am. I'm His.  In Him I find freedom to walk in prayer, in hope and to call on Him.

I'm anchored.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Holding on to Hope

"Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
    my hope comes from him."  ~ Psalm 62:5

     Hope - the word I have chosen to sow into the New Year has proved to be a challenge this month.  There has been much commotion and activity and I have felt overwhelmed by finding hope in the midst of all of it.  I'm trying to get a handle on how hope works into my day and my life.  Scripture is filled with the promise of it, so I know it is there waiting for me to build upon it.  I have determined then, that in my quiet reading time I will be doing a word/Bible Study on hope and I will journal about it as I go.  I have chosen my words for the new year in the past but I want to make this year more intentional in terms of how I sow that word into my year.  As I prayed about it, I felt the Lord lead me in this direction, so in this direction I will follow His leading. :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Strength of Solitude

What a fast paced life.  So much commotion and motion, places to go and things to do!  Sometimes I feel overwhelmed trying to fit it all in; 'do it all'.  True enough, things need to be done but it is in the moments of deep solitude that I find the strength to surrender.  Early morning has always been my favorite time, there is something fresh and new about it.  I am reminded of the conversation between Anne and Miss Stacey in Anne of Green Gables: "Tomorrow is fresh a start - with no mistakes in it - yet."  I think that's why I like the morning because the day holds no mistakes.  It holds the promise of God's mercy; new each morning.  Inside the quiet, the solitude, my Saviour meets me.  He starts the day fresh, filled with His promises of faithfulness and love.  In those moments I find my strength to begin again this journey of continual surrender to His will.  When I look at Jesus, I see that He sought out the solitude, He fasted, He prayed, He spent moments with His Father alone.  How precious those moments are, for in them I find the strength to carry out my day.  And from them I draw the strength to continue my day.  Really it's about rest, not physical rest but spiritual rest, the renewal of my mind as I begin the day anew; centered in His will. I have a daily devotional I read in the morning.  A friend gave it to me for the New Year.  It's by Frances J. Roberts.  It's not a huge devotional book and I find it goes well with daily Bible Readings.  One line in particular stood out to me today: "Abiding brings confiding, for to know Me is to trust Me, and trust brings peace.".  Oh yes!  It's about sowing into my relationship with my Father in Heaven, resting in Him and abiding in Him, so my hope will flourish, even as the day progresses!  I can find the strength in those moments of solitude with my Saviour, as I have sought out His face for the day.  I can abide and confide building on, drawing strength from Him, trusting in Him; that's what brings the peace.  And I can carry the peace with me wherever I go and in whatever I do.  How I miss out on the blessing of the relationship with my Saviour when I don't embrace this time of solitude with Him.  Essential. Necessary. Habitual.  Powerful.