Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Why I'm glad I didn't give up on a book too early

I borrowed this book for my kindle from my local library (technology is amazing). Honestly? I started reading it, got a few pages through and returned it. I just wasn't feeling it and felt blah about it. I'm one of those people that juggles 5 or 6 books at a time. I like to flip back and forth and I have no idea why. So I went back to reading Let's All Be Brave: Living Life with Everything You Have for the bloom book club book. Even if I'm not always the most active in the discussions about the Bloom books, I generally read them all. Annie mentioned the book in her book stating that we should read Freefall to Fly, please. So I succumbed to peer (author) pressure, re-checked it out and started reading it. I clearly put this book down too early. A little back story. I have dealt with anxiety and depression since I was a small child. My childhood was far from ideal therefore my environmental factors played a huge role in a disorder that can also be genetic, which is a contributor in my case. They are considered mood disorders by the American Psychological Association and the first line of treatment from doctors? Medication. Medications that make you feel and behave like a zombie are usually their answer. I have taken many of these. Many that have made my chronic pain condition worse. Many that friends and family could immediately tell that something was off about me, that I wasn't my usual spazzy, happy self. They were seemingly convinced that the pain I am in most nights, and my insomnia were solely related to my inability to get my brain to shut up over anxiety. They were kind of hand in hand, yes, but not the only reason. The chronic pain condition started many years later and while it didn't help the anxiety and depression, it certainly was not caused by it. At this time, I am not taking medication for any mood disorders.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”20 He promises our weary souls rest, but do we really believe Him? Do we trust that the God of this universe is strong enough to lighten our loads?
-"Freefall to Fly" Rebekah Lyons After I read this section of the book, my eyes glazed over in tears, I dropped my kindle and fell to my bed, on my knees, crying and praying. I was so overcome with emotion and a feeling of grace that I couldn't handle it. I prayed for recovery, I prayed for forgiveness, I prayed for thankfulness from our Lord. I prayed for my son, my family, my dog (she was curled up in my face trying to figure out what in the world I was doing). I felt a strange sense of peace, a feeling of settling in my soul that was so hard to explain. I glanced at the verse from Matthew every few minutes and repeated them to myself. I read her book as another Mom, as a woman, as a follower of Christ, and as someone who also suffers from sometimes crippling anxiety. I didn't know that that was what this book was about when I first checked it out. I liked the cover, I liked the blurb, I saw the recommendations. I had no idea how much of an impact this author's words would have on me. Like Rebekah, I'm in my early 30's, and feel like my true path in life was cut down my others who were not as encouraging, who wanted to pigeon hole me. I used to win awards for my writing as a student, but because those I was closest to didn't see it as good enough, or as real writing, I felt discouraged and gave up. Now I'm even more determined to pave my way as God sees fit. I need to use the gifts I have, anxiety ridden and all, and ride it out. God has a plan for me and I need to let go and let God have control of my ship. I think I ended up adding 6 more books to my wishlist on Amazon because of her as well! A couple of quotes I loved from her book:
one of my heroes, Viktor Frankl, believed anxiety was “due to [a person’s] sense of unfulfilled responsibility and a lack of meaning.” If I was to sustain or even complete this journey, fulfilling my responsibility would be critical
If we ignore the yearnings of our souls, we atrophy, and our dreams die. Sadly, many of us choose this descent because we believe it’s safer. If we don’t hope, we won’t be let down. If we don’t imagine, reality won’t disappoint. Either way, we avoid pain

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Prayer: Part 2

But when you pray, go into your [most] private room, and, closing the door, pray to your Father, Who is in secret; and your Father, Who sees in secret, will reward you in the open. Matthew 6:6

After last weeks post on focusing more on my prayer life, I've done some further research I love research, if you ever need help with research, message me, I'm serious!), read a bunch of books (or am in the process of reading some of them at least) and working on how to be more diligent in my prayer life. Below is a list of some resources I'm using for this journey.

Prayer - 10th Anniversary Edition: Finding the Heart's True Home-According to my Kindle, I'm at 21% completion on this one. This book is trying for me to read and I have to read it in small gaps but it is full of great information!

A set of Prayer Journals  from Val Marie Paper. I've always been a big journaler (yep, not a word, don't care) and enjoy seeing my thoughts written down to meditate on later. From her website, each month has the following sections: 

  • The World
  • The Nation
  • My Loves
  • My Family
  • My Friends
  • Those Hurts
  • Personal
  • 3 Untitled Sections – Create your own titles (i.e. “Trying to Conceive”, “Businesses”, “Projects”)Answered PrayersScriptureQuotes

Contemplative Prayer (Image Classics)-I'm about halfway through this book and really enjoying it. It is definitely different from most of the books I read since the author, Thomas Merton, was a former Trappist Monk. The reason for reading Thomas Merton is that I see him mentioned so often in other books, that I want to be able to read his words for myself. Also, I get to go visit Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani next year, where he is buried and where he lived. 

Monastic prayer begins not so much with “considerations” as with a “return to the heart,” finding one’s deepest center, awakening the profound depths of our being in the presence of God, who is the source of our being and our life.
Lord, Teach Us To Pray by Andrew Murray. I haven't gotten very far with this one yet. One of the first things I read was 
Lord, teach us to pray.' Yes, to pray. This is what we need to be taught. Though in its beginnings prayer is so simple that the feeble child can pray, yet it is at the same time the highest and holiest work to which man can rise. It is fellowship with the Unseen and Most Holy One.
I think I'll like this book. 

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Spiritual Misfit

I have a Kindle and it is always pretty well loaded down with books. Books I've purchased, gifts, as well as books that I have borrowed electronically from my local library. I love doing this because it gives me a chance to try books I might not otherwise have gotten a chance to.

The book Spiritual Misfit was one I actually borrowed a while back, read a few pages, and then returned it. I just couldn't grasp it somehow. I had heard tons of great things about it but somehow just couldn't digest it. 

So a couple of days ago, I saw that it was still sitting in my wish list and decided to try it again.

Yeah...maybe the reason I didn't want to involve myself in it is because I definitely fit into the category of a spiritual misfit. 

I listen to my friends and co-workers expound on their beliefs, the importance of God and Christ, and they are all so passionate. So in love with loving God. They pray, they attend church, go on trips in the name of God, do all of these things, and I'm generally sitting here thinking "okay, soooo what part did I miss? Did I do it wrong?" 

Some of her phrases made me laugh because I had this vivid image in my head of her actions when certain things were brought to her attention, such as when her pastor said that they needed to cultivate a deeper relationship with God and she says 

"Great, I thought as I sank lower in the pew. Like it’s not hard enough to believe in God. Now I actually have to work at connecting with him too? Frankly it was enough of a challenge to cultivate my marriage, a relationship with a real, live, breathing, conversing person who lived in my house."

I picture her slinking down in the pew, throwing her head back like a teenager who was just told that, no they could not go hang out with their friends, and pouted in frustration. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Faith Focus-Prayer

This is a sort of challenge I am giving myself. I see challenges online all of the time for gratitude, Thanksgiving. I have decided to do a study on prayer. Not just on if prayer works, we know it does, but I sincerely feel like this is an area where I am sorely lacking in discipline with my faith. I need to deepen my relationship with God.

Part of this has come about due to the fact that I am in chronic pain and relying on my faith to see me through it. This isn't always easy, especially in our society that values medicinal or surgical fixes over anything else. And for me, that was my first path. I have visited countless doctors, been prescribed over 20 medication in the last year, visited an acupuncturist, tried meditation, and even saw a vein specialist as a last ditch effort. So far? Nothing. The pain, if anything is getting worse and I started noticing a correlation between my pain increasing, and my practice of my faith decreasing. NOT GOOD!

To start, I am going to make a conscious effort to pray more. Not just at night before I go to sleep, but to put into action a prayer schedule almost (though I typically pray randomly, such as when I'm driving to work).

I am also going to read books on prayer. Sometimes, it's good to get a different perspective. I don't remember ever being taught how to pray, however we are always told throughout the Bible to pray without any clear direction taught to us through our churches it seems like. (Another one of the many points that I agree with Michelle DeRusha of Spiritual Misfit: A Memoir of Uneasy Faithcan agree on.

I feel more centered when my church life, prayer life, and God life, are in check. I need reminders not to let one thing get me down. This is WAY easier said than done since my chronic pain is causing me to be unable to sleep, which is crashing my immune system and health in general. I am also on a medical leave from work. A prayer journal, books on prayer, and church life are going to be my aids in this. I'm thinking about getting this set of prayer journals I found on Etsy: (UPDATE: I just purchased them). How do you pray? Do you have a set "script" for prayer? Do you pray like you're speaking to a figure of authority, or like a friend, or family member? I'm interested to know!

Monday, October 13, 2014


I am a huge music lover. I have music on most of the time and often times, I find myself listening to Christian music. Yes I listen to secular music quite often as well, but sometimes I just need uplifting, praying alongside worthy, worship music. So I present, my latest playlist.

If those links don't work, since Blogger can be a jerk sometimes, they are
"Oceans"-Hillsong United
"How Sweet the Sound"-Citizen Way
"You Amaze Us"-Selah
"Whom Shall I Fear"-Chris Tomlin
"Love Come To Life"-Big Daddy Weave
"All I Can Say"-David Crowder Band
"Lead Me"=Sanctus Real