Breathe Joy into Me – a poem, a prayer, and a plea

The Beggar's Bakery

POEM

God,
I’ve been feeling so discouraged,
Two steps forward, one step back,
Feeling like my soul is tired,
Over extended, under attack.

Oh to have my joy back!
I know it is mine for the asking.
To gain it I must first surrender to you
The pain that my sadness is masking.
The tiredness, the sickness,
The constant striving,
On my own human power
It keeps me from thriving.
Oh, God, please be infused in me.
They way Holy Spirit desires to be.

I want to have my joy back –
That birthright you left in the empty tomb.
I want the peace – the good shalom –
You left me in that Upper Room.
The weary dark replaced instead with
Your open, welcoming arms,
The chronic illness bested by
Your protection from all harm.

Oh God, please inhabit me, my
Source of peace so close to me
That Holy…

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Sweeping up Eggshells – Life in the New Covenant

The Beggar's Bakery

shells

By: Jana Greene

“When people form their opinion about God from what they hear from contemporary legalistic religion, it’s no wonder they conclude that God is a cranky, old, bookkeeping, judgmental, demanding deity who is more interested in people’s behavior than anything else. It would be easy to see how a god like that would be angry much of the time. Sadly, people who hold that view of God impose it on the Bible and interpret the Bible to present a God like that. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’m not saying that our God is a milquetoast, a mild-mannered god who can be managed. He’s no kitten, that for sure.”  —  Steve McVey (Beyond an Angry God)

Part 4 of The Seismic Seven Series

When I was a little girl, my father would often go into rages. I learned early how to walk on eggshells, as you…

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Self Care: Part I – Setting Boundaries and Letting Go

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By: Jana Greene

*Sigh*

How convenient that I’m kicking off a blog series about Self Care when just the right inspiration presented itself, and made me consider one of the most important tenants of Self Care: Setting Boundaries and Letting Go.

As of late, I’ve been dealing with a situation in which a loved one whom I’ve constructed pretty high fortifications with is lobbing cannonballs at me in the Wonderful World of Social Media.

This person has not tried to contact me in five years. Not even once.

Letting go completely of one’s own family member seems like a cold-hearted thing to do to the casual observer, but I can promise you it’s heart wrenching. It takes years (and sometimes long periods of recovery) to gain the clarity of how very toxic a person is – a person who is supposed to love you.

Preceding any true rift are innumerable fights, a scorched earth battlefield where innumerable feelings went to die, and enough hurt to quite literally kill a person – if you don’t separate yourself from the drama.

I’ve decided that – instead of lobbing cannons over in response  – I’ve drafted:

The Healthy Person’s Guide to Surviving Emotional F*ckwittage and Manipulation –

A Bill of Rights


1. You have the right to estrangement if said toxic person repeatedly oversteps (or bulldozes) boundaries you’ve asked to be respected.

2. It is NOT HONORING someone to allow them to manipulate you.

2. If it’s all about them all the time, it’s not about you having a healthy relationship.

3. You have the right to guard your sobriety (or regular old peace of mind) with everything you’ve got, and if this means stepping away from toxic people because they make you want to use / drink / pull your hair out / jump off a bridge in order to just to DEAL with their drama, so be it.

4. You have the right to pray for the toxic person every single day. I recommend it. Seriously, pray that God will bless them in unimaginable ways and that he will heal both of your wounded hearts.

5. Once you’ve decided that it is in YOUR best interest (yeah, that’s right, YOU get to determine when that is!) to stay away from a toxic person, that is reason ENOUGH. A narcissist will never give you permission, so don’t wait around for it. It ain’t coming.

6. You don’t owe a DAMN thing to anyone. Not one explanation, not one excuse. ONLY YOU know the particulars that left your heart in shards.You’ve been hurt, and it ain’t nobody’s business what/when/where/why you have severed the relationship.

Don’t let others weigh in on your self-care.

Don’t let others weigh in on your self-care.

Don’t let others weigh in on your self-care.

(S0 important, I said it thrice)

I used to worry that everyone would think I was a horrible person for protecting my boundaries. Now I no longer care. I’m not a horrible person, just someone who has learned in the most painful way possible NOT to trust someone.

7. A narcissist will ALWAYS have somebody to blame for every circumstance, relationship, or non-relationship in their lives. It is usually the one person that they are trying to destroy with their manipulations. If they had to own a single shred of responsibility, they are afraid of losing their Victim Card. This entitlement card allows the bearer to run ramshackle over the feelings of others in order to receive constant validation. It also makes it damn near impossible for you to look like any thing but a villain.

Because, as aforementioned, it’s all about them.

8. Setting boundaries, even estrangements, does not mean you stop loving that person. Oh how much easier it would be if that were the case! But love goes so many layers deep in the sediment of relationships. You will ALWAYS love this person – even if they are really bad for you. Who knows? God can do all things, including restoring relationships. But when a person has spent a lifetime cultivating an inability to own any of his / her behaviors, it may be on the other side of the Kindgom before true healing takes place.

Your feelings matter.

Your boundaries are there for a reason.

Your self care is tantamount.

 

 

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Hurts, Psalms, and Healing Balms

japanese

By: Jana Greene

A long time ago, when I had retrospectively minimalist problems, I used to read the Psalms out loud in my morning devotion time. Until recently, I’d forgotten how much power is invoked in reading them aloud.

It’s 4 a.m. right now. And it’s me, it’s me, it’s me, Oh Lord…..standing in the need of prayer. I’ve been up all night with gargantuan aches, pains, and the like –  that seem hellbent of keeping me awake.

The Bible says that biblical David was a man after God’s own heart, but if you read the scripture, it seems that David was a bit of a whiner at best, and a real drama queen at worst. I mucked up a lot, made a lot of mistakes, and STILL God knew his deep and abiding love for him. I absolutely love Kind David. He GETS me.

Yesterday, I got some medical news that I suspected was coming. I’d warned my mind and body about it (as the symptoms had already revealed themselves to said mind and body), but my Spirit put up quite a fit upon learning what’s going on. Renal issues. Enlarged Liver issues. Chronic pain and more migraines to expect. Fatigue as the order of the day forthcoming. And leg and foot cramps that make you want to cry uncle at the top of your lungs at 2 a.m. (My poor, poor husband, I KNOW he is losing sleep…..)

Oh, and did I mention mental health issues arising from dealing with the stress of all of the above PLUS childhood trauma that has never been dealt with, and a whole lifetime of untreated depression? As I lurch forward in treatment for mental health issues, I’m feeling black-and-blue, my heart beat up badly, and bones and soul, too.

Which brings me back to the biblical David, bitcher of circumstance, beloved man after God’s own heart (is it possible to be both? I’m kind of counting on it….) Like David, I am on the cusp of digging deeper in my faith. Like David, I’m getting ready to clean out my closet and make room for fresh hope.

The Psalms are best read aloud because you can better capture biblical David’s desperation aloud. He is one of my favorite biblical characters because he can slay giants, become a mighty king, loves God with all of his heart, and seemingly and impulsively throw it away for a hot chick in a bathtub. Hey, who am I to judge?

Here is a man who knows frustration. Here is a man who gave us authentic prayer of the highest order.

Pray it aloud when you are at the end of your proverbial rope:

1-2 Please, God, no more yelling,
    no more trips to the woodshed.
Treat me nice for a change;
    I’m so starved for affection.

2-3 Can’t you see I’m black-and-blue,
    beat up badly in bones and soul?
God, how long will it take
    for you to let up?

4-5 Break in, God, and break up this fight;
    if you love me at all, get me out of here.
I’m no good to you dead, am I?
    I can’t sing in your choir if I’m buried in some tomb!

6-7 I’m tired of all this—so tired. My bed
    has been floating forty days and nights
On the flood of my tears.
    My mattress is soaked, soggy with tears.
The sockets of my eyes are black holes;
    nearly blind, I squint and grope.

8-9 Get out of here, you Devil’s crew:
    at last God has heard my sobs.
My requests have all been granted,
    my prayers are answered.10 Cowards, my enemies disappear.
Disgraced, they turn tail and run.  Pslam 6:1-10 (MSG

Read this aloud when imploring the Lord, perhaps in times you feel forgotten:

 

13-14 Be kind to me, God;
    I’ve been kicked around long enough.
Once you’ve pulled me back
    from the gates of death,
I’ll write the book on Hallelujahs;
    on the corner of Main and First
    I’ll hold a street meeting;
I’ll be the song leader; we’ll fill the air
    with salvation songs.” Psalm 9:1-10 (MSG)

And then this. Pray it out loud. Pray it so that the devil can hear you. Pray it so that the cells wrapped in pain in your body can know it’s true. If we don’t get healing this side of the kingdom, we get it eventually and in full, and forever! In the meantime, pray it LOUD:

And this after-God’s-own-heart, keeping it 100, plea from an authentic David to God:

“Oh, God, my Lord, step in;
    work a miracle for me—you can do it!
Get me out of here—your love is so great!—
    I’m at the end of my rope, my life in ruins.
I’m fading away to nothing, passing away,
    my youth gone, old before my time.
I’m weak from hunger and can hardly stand up,
    my body a rack of skin and bones.
I’m a joke in poor taste to those who see me;
    they take one look and shake their heads.

26-29 Help me, oh help me, God, my God,
    save me through your wonderful love;
Then they’ll know that your hand is in this,
    that you, God, have been at work.
Let them curse all they want;
    you do the blessing.
Let them be jeered by the crowd when they stand up,
    followed by cheers for me, your servant.
Dress my accusers in clothes dirty with shame,
    discarded and humiliating old ragbag clothes.

30-31 My mouth’s full of great praise for God,
    I’m singing his hallelujahs surrounded by crowds,
For he’s always at hand to take the side of the needy,
    to rescue a life from the unjust judge.(Psalm 109:25-31)

And here, finally, we see the AHA moment in which David sees the light, so to speak. He is at that pivotal place we all need to find ourselves in, in order to keep running that most challenging race set before us:

“Don’t put your life in the hands of experts
    who know nothing of life, of salvation life.
Mere humans don’t have what it takes;
    when they die, their projects die with them.
Instead, get help from the God of Jacob,
    put your hope in God and know real blessing!
God made sky and soil,
    sea and all the fish in it.
He always does what he says—
    he defends the wronged,
    he feeds the hungry.
God frees prisoners—
    he gives sight to the blind,
    he lifts up the fallen.
God loves good people, protects strangers,
    takes the side of orphans and widows,
    but makes short work of the wicked.

10 God’s in charge—always.
    Zion’s God is God for good!
    Hallelujah!” Psalm 146:3-10

Lift up us fallen ones, Abba. We are so tired.

But even in our sickness and sadness and end-of-our-rope-ness, we are are a people after your own Heart!

God bless us, every one.

 

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