Grace Michaelson

Hijacked!

Sep
14

I have been busy lately working on a manuscript that I hope I can turn into a book, either by self-publishing or by going the route of finding a agent/publisher.  In recent days, I’ve come to the realization that my book has wondered away from a central theme.

Isn’t that what life is like?  Sometimes everything looks like it’s going right along when all of a sudden you look around you and realize you’ve lost all sight of your path.  Sometimes, like my book, it’s just in one small area, but sometimes you wake up and realize your whole life has been highjacked by life.

When I was young, my most favorite book of all was Tower of Geburah, by John White.  It is a classic allegory about three siblings who learn through their adventures to follow Gaal– the book’s savior and Jesus-figure.  There’s one part of this book that relates to my conversation with you today.  There’s a point in the book where Lisa is following a path that ultimately will lead her to Gaal.  She’s not aware of this fact, only that it appears that the blue lit path is the good path and the other corridors she passes are tantalizing temptations, but lit by other colors.  At one point she falls to the temptation of the smell of freshly baked bread.  She follows down the path only to come to the realization that it’s a trap and she is now lost from the blue tunnel.  She calls out to Gaal and is lead back to where she started.  Yet, the path back to where she started seems to her to be longer than the path was to get herself lost in the first place.

Here’s my point:  It is so easy to find ourselves down a path we didn’t want or shouldn’t have followed.  Oh, I’m yelling at my kids more often again.  Oh, I’m not reading my Bible regularly.  Oh, I’m finding myself in the habit of being late for work.  Oh, there is a bout of illness that doesn’t seem to leave the home.  Death seems to happen often in my life right now, the grief is unbearable.  I’m not just talking about temptation, obviously.  I’m talking about anything that can hijack your life and turn your focus away from the path God has for you.  It’s not a sin to be in grief or to struggle with illness, as long as your eyes are squarely on the King of Kings.

The path back to the state of being you were intended for by the King of Kings can sometimes take longer than it took for your life to get hijacked in the first place.  Be patient with yourself.  Be released from the should’s, would’s, and could of’s.  As you refocus your attention on God, your path will slowly become clear again and you’ll find yourself back on track.  It takes time, and it takes being kind to yourself.  Jumping all over yourself because you got hijacked in the first place will only prolong the journey.

I’m back to step 2 with my book.  I call it step 2 because we will never find ourselves back at step 1 again.  God has already done so much, and He will use this experience you’re in to take you farther.  It may be that you’re lead back to step 2, or you may be lead back to step 10. When I was a child, I used to play Red Light, Green Light with my friends.  I did not like it when the person playing the traffic light would see me move.  That would mean I’d be sent all the way back to start.  I want you to be encouraged by the fact that you’re not playing Red Light, Green light.. Your path is moving forward.  Be kind to yourself.  Focus on Jesus.  Confess where you need to and then forget (1 John 1:9).  Follow the Lord to where you need to be.  God Bless.

 

When Tragedy Strikes

May
02

Things have been rough in my home, I’m not going to lie.  Rather than go into details about why they have been so tough, I’d rather talk about the things my precious Lord is teaching me.

The first thing is that there is never anything that you’re immune to.  Just because you’re a Christian or some other reason doesn’t make you safe.  Life is full of vulnerability, and it’s self-evident in the things we struggle with everyday.  Before you say or think the words, “That will never happen to me.” Take a moment to ask the Lord to be the Author and Finisher of your life.  He will decide what can or can’t happen to you.

There is a saying: “Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you do criticize him, you’ll be a mile away and have his shoes.” ~Steve Martin.

I know that Steve Martin isn’t necessarily a “great” in the eyes of many people, but this quote has stuck to me ever since I read it.  Empathy is so important because, no matter how much we want to believe it is so, we are not omniscient.  There will always be a variable we don’t see or don’t understand that changes the whole dynamic of what someone else is dealing with.  Also, as I said above, anything can happen to you, too.  Before you judge, remember that fact.  Anything can happen in this sinful world.

I also want to say that sometimes things happen because you’re doing everything right.  You’re reading your Bible, your praying, your living by faith, and yet crap still happens.  I would say it’s important to acknowledge that we have a great enemy who doesn’t like it when we do these things.  He wants to leave us compromised, judgmental, and un-useful in our present state to the Lord.  That is why it’s so important to persevere in prayer, reading God’s Word, and faith.  Put on that full armor of God. (Ephesians 6:10) Persevere.  Send the devil to the Lord each time he attacks.  Christ has already won the victory and he promises to us a life of victory, too.

Lastly, I have learned that ultimately it’s not the things that happen to us in this life that make us who we should be.  God may use these things to strengthen His Identity in us, but we aren’t what we experience.  We can separate the things that happen to us, the labels the world puts on us, and the actions of other people, from our true identity.  Our true identity is what Christ went to the cross to preserve.  Child of God, bride of Christ, loved, righteous, precious to God are just a few words that describe what Christ preserved on the cross.  That is who you really are, not your experiences or anything else.  Praise and thanksgiving be given to God.

 

Crossroads

Feb
22

Today I want to talk about those moments in your life where life takes you to a fork in the road.  I specifically want to talk about the forks in the road that leave you broken hearted either way you go.  The kind where you beg God for a third option, a less painful option, but realize as your praying for this third option, God is saying, “Not this time.”

So what do we do in this situation?  I think that as we touch on these forks in our roads we also need to talk about God’s presence during these times.  I have known some of these forks before, and the truth is, sometimes I do feel God’s presence more keen, but there are times that I don’t.  It is hardest to make the right choice when your feelings don’t feel God, but I’ve come to believe strongly that these forks in our road are the times God tucks us into His Heart more than any other time.  When we don’t actually feel Him, it is in those times that the shield of faith is oh so important.

Now I want to talk about the decision.  Which way to go?  Prayer in the situation is fundamentally important.  It is through contact with God that we begin to see which road, no matter how painful it might be, is the right one to take.  If we abandon prayer and seek to make these crossroad decisions with logic or with emotion, we will invariably make the wrong choice.

Looking back at my many crossroads, I see a few things that have become extremely clear to me.  One we’ve already talked about:  God never leaves us.  Another is the wisdom God hands out freely to those who ask for it.  The final one is that God does not push you in any one direction.  You have to make the choice and take the first step yourself.  God did not make us to be robots.  He has given us free choice.  While one way is the right way and one way is the wrong way, God will not make you decide the correct one.  He always gives us a choice.

On the same subject, though, is another fundamental truth.  After and while you make your choice, no matter if it’s good or bad, our God does not leave.  Sure, if we make the bad choice it will be extremely painful in the end.  The glorious truth is that he holds us when we make the right choice and he puts limits around the consequences if we make the wrong choice.  One of those limits is that He does not abandon us.

There’s no such thing as “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”  He does do that in this crossroad scenario.  However, this is the real truth right here:  God can handle anything.  Truth:  “God won’t give you more than He can handle.” So, my Dear Sister and my Dear Brother, lean on our great God and take a step into your road.  God is there.

Relax. Let God.

Jul
06

This week has been one of those weeks where my emotions have decided to pick up their signs and take to the pick-it line.  I feel drained and frustrated with trying to figure out exactly why I feel so anxious and emotional.  Added to that, after months of really not feeling sick at all, my body has decided to take a hiatus at the funny farm, because none of my doctor’s precious labs that he loves oh so much can explain why I feel oh so sick.

So, am I insane?  Even more of a personal question, have I somehow gone off the radar spiritually?  Am I angry at someone/God?  Am I angry at my situation?  Have I given into depression?  Have I sinned and God is punishing me?  These are all honest thoughts that go through all sincere Christian’s minds when bad things or bad days happen, or just when our emotions decide to go on a rampage.

I have tried to put a substantial concrete reason to why I feel so crappy right now.  I’ve finally realized today, though, that there is no logical reason for it that I can fix.  Sometimes crappy things just happen.  Not because of anything we’ve said, or done, or are going to do.  Not because of anything we can control.  They are just there.  There because, I believe, Satan wants to see if we’re going to give up, curse God, and die! Or are we going to stop trying so much and start trusting God for His answer.  They sound a little similar, just that the “curse God” part is switched for “trust God” and we don’t have to die… at least not yet.

I have to admit, I’m still trying to figure this out.  How do you “try less”.  These emotions are so strong!  How do I fight them?  How do I control them?  It’s so tough when they make me so crabby!  I keep trying to find answers to why I feel this way so that maybe then I can make them go away.  Yet, I realized today that’s not the answer.  The answer is being OK with feeling the feelings.  It’s OK that I feel anxious.  The Bible does say be anxious for nothing, yes.  But, what it means is, when you feel anxious, give it to God.  Don’t fight the anxiety, trying not to feel it.  Just acknowledge it’s presence and then tell God about it.  Then God’s peace comes.  Sometimes you gotta do it over and over and over again throughout the day if you’ve got anxiety like I do.

I know that the hardest thing to fight is the idea of looking dumb.  The symptoms of anxiety can really make you feel dumb and look dumb sometimes.  I hate it when anxiety crops up and the most inopportune time.  I want to look smart and with-it, clever and genuine.  Not fearful and dismayed!  The best thing to do is try less.  Be honest.  Be sincere.  It’s OK to be a little nervous when trying new things.

What if your emotion is not anxiety?  Is it anger? Shame? Fear? Frustration at not being perfect? What is your challenging emotion? Grief?  All these feelings are what America has labeled negative, but what I would like to encourage you to learn to see at positive and OK to feel and accept in yourself as you give them to God a little at a time.  True they can overwhelm you if you ruminate in them, but if you’re feeling them to then pass them onto God, you’re going to be OK.  Don’t squash them down to try and hide them.  God already sees.  Don’t try to control them, they will get too big.  Just try less and give them to God.  Relax.  Let God.

Balance and the Baby’s Cry

Apr
13

Family comes first, right?  So when your baby wants in your bed at 2 am that’s where he should be!  Or if your baby won’t sleep through the night, you should be up every 3 hours rocking her to sleep, because, hubby has to be at work in the morning and you don’t, and it’s cruel to make baby cry herself to sleep.  At least that’s what your tired brain is reasoning, but is that really the truth?

How do we as “The Mom” balance everyday parenting and marriage with our own needs?  Most of us end up sacrificing ourselves so much that we completely lose our identity.  Does this look familiar?

A typical mom's promise to her child at 2 AM.

A typical mom’s promise to her child at 2 AM.

Yes, this is all too familiar too us Mom’s who have given up all that make us who we are for the sake of our families.  We laugh at the memes about living in our p.j.’s and being unshowered, yet does it really feel good to live our lives to that level of sacrifice?

I know that I am on the other side of babies and you’re probably saying to me, “Well, it’s easy for you to say, your baby is 14 years old and not kicking you in your bed at night anymore.”  Yes, but my baby is trying to push me to the limit every time she turns around and my 17 year old wants to take my car and doesn’t understand why I can’t cancel my appointment so that he and his girlfriend can go on a date with my car!  So, all mom’s, in all stages, are in the same boat.  We’re all asked by our families to make unnecessary sacrifices, and the question is, why do we allow that to happen? What can we do to regain our identities in the middle of the chaos of raising a family and blessing our husbands?

I’d like to give you a few clues that I have been given to help you realize a little sanity in the midst of raising your babies/teens/spoiling grandchildren.  What ever stage of parenting you’re at, you should never have to forsake your own sanity and identity for that of your families needs.  God never once says in His Word “Take up your cross  and lose yourself for your family.”  He says instead, “Take up your cross and follow ME”.  What Chrisitanity was revolutionary for in the age the early years of the church, was the fact that it taught that God loves everyone, men, women, & children.

We’re ALL important, slave or free, rich or poor, men or women, to God and He does not want ANYONE to be sacrificed and marginalized.  We are created to live a life following God’s Will.  God’s will doesn’t involve losing our identity.  It involves God creating a New Identity (Christ’s Identity) in us, and if we’re so busy with our family that we’re marginalized and forgotten and sacrificed, how can God do that work in us?

I know that that sounds hocus-pocus.  In practice, how does one actually keep from losing oneself?

A couple of ways:

1.  Keep to your own backyard.  Keep in mind the idea that we are all tending an emotional backyard.  Each of us has our own negative and positive emotions (flowers and weeds).  If someone comes up to you and throws a negative emotion at you, it’s not your job to weed their backyard.  Don’t take it upon yourself to own their negative emotion.  It’s not your weed.  Keep to your backyard.

2.  Children are resilient.  They don’t need to be in your bed.  They can cry themselves to sleep.  They can even be locked into their rooms if they have to be.  Don’t worry, a fire is not going to burn them alive while you train them to stay in their room.  That is just a “weed” keeping you from teaching your child responsibility for their weeds.  You do not want to be responsible for being that parent who sends your child to therapy as an adult because they don’t know how to take care of their own backyard.

3.  You are a beautiful person.  You deserve respect from your husband, your kids, from other people.  Own it.  Demand it.  Demand it of yourself.  Get out of the jammies.  Take a shower.  Brush your teeth.  Even if you have a bad night.  Do it.  Feel good about yourself.  If the teen is being giving you a “Teen ‘Tude” and not giving your respect  take the car keys or the phone.  Get their attention.  You deserve this you Beautiful Queen, you!  You are the Bride of Christ, after all.  Again, remember who’s backyard you want to play in and that you’re wanting to train your kids to stay in their own backyard, as well.  No crossing into your backyard.

4.  One last thing, and this is so important.  Make sure God wants you to do it.  You are put here on Earth not to be Soccer Mom, not to be the Ultimate Housewife, not to be the Supreme Working Mom.  You are put here on Earth to do God’s will and follow Him!  If God didn’t tell you to sign your kid up for soccer, then you better not be doing it, even if it is your kid’s dream to be an Olympian!  And if God told you to start writing a blog about Zebra’s in a Horse-filled world, then you better do that, even if it doesn’t make sense.  God’s will trumps family priorities.  It’s so easy to think you’re supposed to be doing something because you’re a mom.  If you’re walking with God daily, hourly, by the minute, He’s going to tell you what you’re really supposed to be doing.

Go and get your life back… The life God really has for you!

 

Bloom Where You’re Planted? or Christ-Mimicker?

Mar
25

I here a lot of people talk about the idea of feeling free now that people have learned to be themselves.  Heck, I have even fallen into that, at times.  The idea of freedom in no longer dancing with societies games of cat and mouse is appealing. Waltzing around the big pink elephants in the room, such as our agendas and hidden struggles that we don’t want anyone to know about for fear of getting caught or outed in the middle of society, can be very time-consuming and for some people anxiety-inducing.  No one, these days, wants their deepest, darkest secrets found out and spread all over town by the town-gossip, so we suffer in desperate silence hoping some compassionate soul will come up to us and help us find away to free ourselves to live openly as our true selves, right?  At least that’s how the movies depict it.  That’s not the truth of society.

This morning I was thinking about this subject.  I have tried to live free from societies nuances and games of cat and mouse.  All that has done for me has created a lonely life where people back out of my life, uncomfortable with all the honesty.  This has led me to believe that I am simply not a people person and I don’t do well with human interaction.  I have become very black and white and cynical about today’s society as a result of this hurt, but lately I have realized that the problem may not be societies problem alone, that I may be causing just as much of the problem with my black and white thinking.

I have made no apologies on this blog in regards to my Christian Faith.  Lately, God has been leading me to passage after passage in regards to loving people, especially loving Christian believers.  So how does one like me, a black and white thinker who keeps alienating people by her honesty, learn to integrate into society and love my fellow humans?  This has been a quandary to me for some time because I don’t exactly know how to maneuver around in the subtle grays that society is comfortable living in.  While people are enamored by my genuine writing style, when confronted with the genuine, black-and-white person that I truly am, most people can’t take it.

So, what is the answer to following my faith and loving humans, but still being “true to myself”?  I believe it is being a Christ-Mimicker.  I don’t believe that once you are a Christian you have the right to continue trying to live “free to be yourself”.  As much as I want to live my whole life as I want to, my life is now Christ’s.  I am to live it as Christ would have lived it.  So, what am I to be like?  I do so hate the WWJD movement.  It is a cliché that really dumbs down what we are to truly be in Christ.  So please don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that we’re supposed to go around wearing WWJD plastic bracelets and preach on the street corners and make a total annoyance of ourselves.  What I’m trying to say is, mimic what Christ did while on Earth.  1) He found time to be with His Father every day, 2) He did what His Father told him to do every moment of every day.  That means he was in-tuned to the Father’s will. He tapped into His Power, 3) He socialized with the unwanted, the needy, the “sinners”.  He didn’t preach at them, he was among them.  He loved them. 4) He didn’t demand others to accept Him as Himself or therefore he snubbed them, but He was also comfortable with others going the other way if they couldn’t accept Him for Who He was.  He didn’t own other’s feelings, He let them have their own thoughts and feelings, and that was OK. 5) The most important:  He stood up for the Truth.  There comes a time when gray is not OK.  When black and white wins out.  When Truth must stand firm.  That is why it’s so important to always be in-tuned to the Father and no when and where those times are and when it’s OK to be gray and when it is time to stand up for truth.

Anxiety and God’s Peace

Nov
16

As I have shared in many of my posts, I have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety is not something that I fool around with. I hate the feeling completely. It’s an out-of-control feeling in the pit of my throat and upper chest that tells me that I am deeply, deeply afraid of where I find myself and what my circumstances are. My heart beats above 100 beats a minute resting and I have to take extra breaths or my head will start to spin and I will feel like I’m going to faint. My hands tremble and I can see “those looks” coming from people around me because I look anything but normal when I’m fighting panic. Have any of you tried to pretend you are perfectly OK while fighting back waves upon waves of panic for no reason at all? This is just part of what it’s like to live with an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety is a very read disorder. It’s not something you should deny or “just live with” or try to spiritualize and blow off. So what I’m going to share, though it may seem like I’m “blowing off anxiety”, I want to forward with a warning. If you haven’t sought help and gotten the physical part of your anxiety disorder dealt with, this post is not for you. This post is for people who have dealt with the physical aspect of their anxiety-are on medication that is replacing the hormones their body can not make on its own, or are taking medication to suppress the hormones they are making too much of.

After you have that medication on board, it’s time to deal with the bad habits your left with as a result of your brain having been broken (having too little or too much of the hormones that caused your panic/anxiety disorder.) All of us are left with residual effects, no matter what your mental illness might be. That is why it’s so important to add counseling, spiritual growth, and exercise to your regimen of healing.

So, lately my life has been very stressful. I have been very ill and one of my children has been very ill. We are both headed to Mayo tomorrow, in fact, to get checked out and hopefully diagnosed. This has caused some of my bad habits in the anxiety disorder to rear their ugly head. So I took some steps:

I immediately informed my psychiatrist that I was having trouble with my anxiety again. He was able to adjust some of my PRN meds to be able to get me through the next couple of weeks that will be stressful.
2. I decided to take steps in my spiritual walk. I found verses to encourage me that talked about walking in obedience to the Lord in regards to anxiety. I want to share with you some of the verses so that you can be encouraged, too. Philippians 4:4-8, Psalm 139:23-24, 1 Peter 5:6-7, John 16:33, Philippians 4:11-13.

The biggest thing I have learned about anxiety is that it can be beat by obedience to Christ and prayer. Pretty much all those verses above are either talking about casting your anxiety on Christ, or are about someone praying and casting their anxiety on Christ. That is where we must obey. We must cast our anxiety on Christ in obedience and ask him to replace that anxiety with His Peace as we pray and thank him for His answers in regards to what we were afraid about.

We can be set free from being victims to our fears. We can be victorious.