9 Attributes to Look For if You Suspect You are Being Spiritually Abused

th  “An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power; and My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?” Jeremiah 5:30-31 

 We see the Lord’s displeasure being expressed against those who operate an effort to control the people. Consumed with their own ambition, these leaders have convinced the people that their power is divine. Yet in reality, these false prophets are merely wielding their self-imposed influence for personal gain, claiming they speak for God.

Pharisee“From the least of them even to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for gain, and from the prophet even to the priest everyone deals falsely. And they have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ but there is no peace” (NAS). Jeremiah 6:13-14 

A common characteristic of an abusive religious system is that the real needs of the people are lost in the never-ending quest by the leaders for personal fulfillment and happiness.  

And this has been my story.  Part of it anyway.  You will find my whole story in detail in my first book, ”Climbing Out of the Box, My Journey Out of Sexual and Spiritual Abuse Into Freedom and Healing” 

climbing-out-of-the-box-by-dixie-r_-diamanti-300x300-e1397103388170https://www.amazon.com/Climbing-Out-Box-Journey-Spiritual-ebook/dp/B00AZ9JKG6

 

spiritualabuse-blue 

Some of my spiritual abuse experiences include:

  1. When I needed to go to work to help support my family I was told by the authorities of the church I attended that I needed to forfeit working and stay in the ministry because if I didn’t I would lose all my gifting to ever do ministry again. For years I thought my gifts would not be used again and that I was disobedient because I didn’t obey them. (Until I was shocked when I began to see my same gifts used out there in the market place..aha moment.)

  2. A church that repeatedly told us they basically had the corner on the market of Jesus and they had the fullness of God and His gifts, where other churches did not, and that if we ever had to go elsewhere, we would miss God’s highest.

  3. A pastor who found ministry to be a vehicle for his great gain, lying and manipulating donors to give more and more money. He actually took the offering in decorated trash cans…(not lying).  The wealthy had the high positions in the church.  There was the pastor who had the men of the church build his home for free labor, stating, that as Solomon had to have the temple built before he could help the people, he, too, needed to have his temple before he was free to really be a pastor.

  4. A leader who cornered me in a room alone, threatened me, and yelled because he said I was too “perfect” to minister to women. He said I needed to dress down and quit painting my nails if I wanted women to identify with me.  He also said I needed to project being poor.  I was devastated.

  5. Openly ostracized and lied about to a congregation of people to manipulate me to quit my women’s ministry outside his organization that was reaching hundreds of women. ( I didn’t quit.  I left his church organization that very night.)

  6. Innocently called into a pastor’s office alone and watching him lose his temper at me, yelling with spittle flying, finger pointed in my face, falsely accusing me of talking about him behind his back because I told a sound man I was removed from the worship team and had no idea why.  I sobbed so loudly I couldn’t gain control while he stared me down with contempt until I finally got up and left.

These are all true stories, and I could go on and on but,

…now, many years later I coach so many who relate their own stories of pain and abuse at the mercy of “godly men and women”.  My heart aches for them because I know this is not Jesus.  This is man or woman who wants to control and the power goes to their heads. 

But, this was just the beginning of my story.  Upon leaving these controlling ministries after 25 years of having a church building as home and family,  I went through a 5 year sabbatical where I had an encounter with Jesus such as I never had, after being in church and busy with ministry all those years.  

freedom  It took me many years to be set free from the damage that was done to my spirit and to be able to enter a church building without anxiety and tears. 

 So don’t lose hope in the pain of loss when you know you have to make a change.  Jesus promises to NEVER leave you or forsake you.  Even when you are brave enough to leave and everyone is saying to just overlook the sin.  

When all the control and crutches are gone guess Who is left standing? 

jesus6    Jesus!!  

And oh what a Man He is…never to leave us or forsake us.  He will reveal Himself to you in all truth and lead you to safe places to experience the true love of God in motion, and connect with believers who really care and walk in His love in confidence.

Things to look out for in your place of church community if you suspect spiritual abuse:

  1. Do they say you have to blindly respect and obey them, without having earned it, just because they said so and they are your leader?

  2. Do they demand your allegiance to them as ‘proof’ that you are a follower of Jesus?

  3. Do they use exclusive language: “We are the only church in town really following Jesus.”  “Our theology is the only sound doctrine.”  Everyone else is missing the “deeper” walk.

  4. Do they shame people, without grace, if they fail to live up to the church’s expectations?

  5. Do they quote scriptures about “not touching God’s anointed” when referring to themselves? Yet they often confront sin in others, particularly ones who bring up legitimate biblical issues. Or they have their circle of influence take on this task, silencing their critics.

  6. Do they cultivate a dependence on one leader or leaders for spiritual insights? Personal discipleship isn’t encouraged. Often the Bible gets pushed away to the fringes unless the main leader is teaching it. And if you have an insight from God they have to approve it before you can share.

  7. Do they demand blind service from their followers, but live prestigious, privileged lives.They live aloof from their followers and justify their material extravagance as God’s favor and approval on their ministry. Unlike Jesus’ instructions to take the last seat, they often take the first seat at events and court others to grant them privileges. They typically chase after wealth–at any cost, and often at the expense of the very people they shepherd.

  8. Do they hold to outward performance but reject authentic spirituality. And place burdens on followers to act a certain way, dress an acceptable way, and have an acceptable lifestyle, but they often demonstrate licentiousness, greed, and uncontrolled addictions behind closed doors.

  9. Use exclusivity for your blind allegiance to them. Followers close to the leader or leaders feel like lucky insiders. And, of course, this meant they are more spiritual than the rest of the congregation.  Did you ever feel like you are exempt from the “click” of popular people in the community of believers?  Everyone else is on the outside, though they long to be in that inner circle.

We are all one body in His church. 

hands  You are the church!  

We need safe places to gather together and grow together and share Him together.  Don’t settle for less, and be brave enough to change if the Holy Spirit is showing you that something is just not right.  In fact, run!!  

The longer I stayed out of my ‘loyalty’, the move abused I was in the end.  You cannot fix it!!   Run!

  There is healing and restoration from this horrible sin for both the ones who have abused and the victims of their abuse.    Remember we are all an important part of His body.  We ALL have gifts, callings and talents He wants to use.  We were never meant to sit in a pew looking at the backs of heads while listening to one man  teach, without using our own gifts too!!  No one is more important than the other.

Be set free today!!   

Call me if you need help with this issue and you find yourself sunk deep into spiritual abuse and feel like you can’t get out.  Go to the home page from this blog and send me a message.  Or please comment below.

When You Have One Foot in the Grave….Lori’s Story

Just to be transparent with you, I am in a different season right now fraught with change and uncertainty and letting go.   That’s why I haven’t written in a while.  

In this life our journeys take a turn that sometimes come out of nowhere, it seems, and knocks us out for a while.   I am starting to very slowly see through the veil that this is another lesson, another level, a gateway into a deeper level with Jesus.  Though I feel the breath has been knocked out of me and I am very tired I know from my spirit that Jesus walks this valley with me. 

And, yes, I will write more about my story soon. 

Which brings me to Lori’s story.  I have known Lori for about 30 years.   I have watched her and admired her devotion to family and motherhood and God.    I knew her Dad, a mighty man of God,  and loved him very much.   I have been following Lori’s journey through breast cancer and praying along with countless others.  

Then yesterday I read this on Facebook and instantly knew her story is a wake up call for me and all of us.   Not that we will get cancer, but through her valley of trial, and what she learned there, brings us a message to look at our lives and evaluate what is most important.   For our walk on this earth is very short compared to where we are going.

carnival-masks   We get so caught up in our ‘masks’ of who we think we are, or we only show what we want people to see; not the real us.   Vanity takes over and we live this kind of pseudo life of insincerity.   I so admired Lori’s bravery to reveal it all in this trial so that others could see into her world and maybe find hope.

The church was meant for family, for realness, for loving support and transparencies….so that we can grow and heal and know we are not alone.   

Peter 5:8-9 says “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

What is the Holy Spirit assuming about your life? That you are under spiritual attack. This is not a passage about nonbelievers; he’s talking about “your brothers and sisters.” Peter takes it for granted that every believer is under some sort of unseen assault. And what does he insist you do? Resist the devil. Fight back, take a stand.

Lori took a stand and has won her victory.   But the lessons were many.

Thank you sweet Lori, for allowing me to share your story.

lori with hair  “Twenty-nine radiation treatments ago I was overwhelmed thinking that I would never be standing with one foot hovering over the finish line. On Monday, I will get my last radiation treatment. On Thursday I am having my port removed. I have spent half a year tearing up my body to rid it of cancer and the next half will be spent rebuilding it.

 I still have a long road of recovery ahead, but I face it knowing that I am cancer free.

 I know it sounds odd, but I am grateful for everything that I have gone through.

Grateful for the pain?

Grateful for the worry?

Grateful for a disease that ravaged my body and tried to kill me?

lori3  Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes. I am grateful because it has changed me in more ways than taking away (just trying to be real here) half of one of my most magnificent physical features. 

 The fact that I feel grateful is in itself due to the lessons that fighting cancer has taught me.

 When you are diagnosed with cancer, everything stops while you concentrate on beating it. You don’t have the energy to participate in all of your normal activities and your treatments take precedence over everything else in your life…a job, family activities, church, or any other pursuit that normally occupies your time. You try to keep things as normal as possible, but basically your schedule is at the mercy of your disease.

 

At first, I thought that the world was going to crumble if I had to step down from all of the things I was in charge of. Amazingly, the world did just fine during my sabbatical. My husband and kids survived. My house didn’t burn down. The church, the PTA, the cub scouts and all those other things soldiered on. I learned that I don’t have to control every…single…thing.  1209389_575103479218871_301732771_n

I don’t have to stress myself out to make everything my version of perfect. One day it hit me that the same God who I was trusting to heal me was also capable of taking care of the everyday worries in my life. As I began to hand those worries over to Him, I also realized that if I were to leave this earth, He would be there to take care of all those that I left behind.

 lori Cancer certainly causes you to face your immortality. We all know we are going to die…someday. When you are diagnosed with cancer, that far off someday is suddenly smacking you in the face. Death itself, doesn’t scare me. I know where I will spend eternity. I am not afraid of what is to come. For me, facing death was more about worrying over what I was leaving behind.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a peace that God would watch over my family, but I was still sad because I had so many more things that I wanted to do with my kids. There were life lessons I wanted to have the time to teach, memories I wanted to make with them, and my own life experiences that I still hadn’t shared. I was angry at myself for all the time in life I had wasted on things that just don’t matter in the bigger picture.

Cancer forced me sift through all the unimportant things in life, causing me to recognize the things that truly mattered…. Ironically “things” didn’t even make the list. I was actually able to clean out my closets and get rid of those clothes I have been holding onto for 15 years because one day the stars might align and they will once more fit me and come back in style all in the same week.

 As I begin to purge the stuff in my house, I also took stock of the stuff in my character. I realized that I had held on to grudges, bitterness, anger, hurts, and worries, much the way I had held onto my Members Only jacket from Jr. High.  mind-clutter

It was time to let it all go.

When you have one foot in the grave, what this one said about you or that one did to you really doesn’t matter so much.

 With the sweeping away of emotional cobwebs comes clarity. Suddenly it occurred to me how much energy I had wasted being worried about what other people think.

How many times had I not embraced life because I was afraid that someone would say I was too old or too fat or too anything to be participating in something I really wanted to do?

 Losing my hair was a wakeup call for me. I thought everyone would stare, but the truth is, most people don’t take the time to look beyond themselves and really see those around them. It only took a few times of walking through the grocery store bald, to figure out that no one was looking at me.   

bald lori

Mind blowing!

Never again will I forgo an opportunity to swim with my kids or enjoy a gorgeous day at the beach because I am afraid of what people will think of my body. Never again will I allow myself to be shy because I am worried someone won’t like me based on my outward appearance. I also vow to stop avoiding cameras.

I have a ten-year gap in the photo album, where there are no pictures of me. I always made the excuse that I am the one who takes the pictures, so I am never in them.   lori2

 

The truth is that I didn’t want to be in them. We haven’t posed for a family portrait since 2008, because I don’t like the way I look. When I faced my darkest days of cancer, it hit me that if I were to die, my kids wouldn’t have any pictures of me. As they grew older, their memories might grow foggy. They might even be unable to remember their own mother’s face.

 lori donna    I have a picture of my mom and me that she hated because she thought she looked old. When I look at it, I don’t see wrinkles, I just see love. I could continue to be the phony girl with a profile picture on Facebook that was taken in 2004, or I could just say, “Screw it, this is me, love it or hate it I don’t care, I choose to be real.”

 As I look back on this journey, I see that the healing I received wasn’t limited to the physical. I like to think that in my battle with breast cancer, a tumor was removed from more than my body.

 I feel like a cancerous growth has also been removed from my spirit and for that I am grateful for everything that I have gone through. So thank you, cancer. You invaded my body with sights set on my destruction, but you lost!  Broken-Chains

 

Not only were you defeated, but what you meant for bad, in the end made me a happier person. I am not the woman I was a year ago and that suits me just fine.”

gi-letting-go-butterfly11

When He Whispers My Name

jesus-womanGod longs for you to know that He is more than enough in your troubled times.   He desires you to rest and fully embrace that where you are is exactly where God plans for you to be. 

Even in situations like you have never faced before.

It  has taken me so long to be able to write again.   I was frozen in time it seemed–for the last  3 months of 2015.   But the last 2 weeks I could feel it rising up within me again and now I think I can verbalize somewhat of what I have learned in the very hard and trying year of 2015.

I have learned that when I feel like my faith has been shaken to the core that I become~

~stunned and “shell shocked”…

sharksThat it’s a tumultuous venture, this walking by faith. At one time or another, you encounter the completely unexpected followed by the unthinkable.

 

And when it happens, the impact of it brings you to your knees, able to utter only one desperate word – “Why?”

It’s an intense battle when you’re that overwhelmed. First there’s shock and anger, then comes denial, 

 “This can’t be what my loving Jesus has planned for me – not me, not His beloved child.”

 thumb_COLOURBOX1908348You wonder why God doesn’t see that you need a different outcome. Perhaps if you just go slow and lay out the alternatives for Him – each and every one of them – you’ll help Him figure out how to reverse what’s been put in motion… 

But…..

 He whispers my name~~and I feel His presence~~and it is more than enough.

  • When I finally realized that our steady income from investigations was gone for good due to California laws, and if we were to survive in life it would be a miracle…..

He whispered my name…akiane-kramarik-jesus-painting

…and said that I was to take no thought for tomorrow for He would sustain us as a mother sustains her babies life by giving it sustenance from her own body.   He would be our life giving force.  From that day forward we watch daily as He brings in the finances we need from various sources.   He never fails and I have found I can just rest in it and not have to be hyper-vigilant and afraid that maybe today it won’t happen. 

Philippians 4:13 Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.

  • When my precious daughter had a ruptured appendix and I stood over her bed, helpless, watching her in agony as a result of poor medical care, and fear wanted to grip my heart and squeeze the life out of it;

fear

He whispered my name…

..as I stood there over her bed I felt His hand on my shoulder and his voice in my ear saying, “Dixie, I have this, she will be okay.”

I John 3:22 We’re able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we’re doing what he said, doing what pleases him.

  • When the horror and shock and fear came when my ‘adopted’ son was in a freak accident, while intoxicated, that took someone’s life ….the father of my grand kids…and I had to tell my babies that their daddy was going to prison. 

  • As I sit in the court room weeks on end gripped by anxiety, unable to breathe– and watched the judge, moved with compassion for a lone veteran gripped with PTSD, miraculously lessen his sentence…  I felt Jesus in the fire with me and with him…and I knew God had a plan.


mary-w-jesus-2He whispered my name….

His plan has unfolded, in the midst of the pain,  in opening huge doors of prison ministry for my adopted son and has brought healing to him in areas that was never able to be reached…but in the midst of the deep valley He has found a very real Jesus.

426__550x413_jesus-and-peter-walking_on_waterI Corinthians 9:8 God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done.

  • When my father, (who molested me for years) on his death bed, told me he could not forgive ME for exposing  “our” secret to my mother and that I ruined HIS life…and Mom’s life, before she died.   Realizing there would be no closure with my abuser before he left this earth– when my picture was always of his saying how sorry he was for his crime against me and my little girl.  There I was, sitting in his hospital room, with, strangely, no one around, next to his bed, while he told me he could not forgive ME


Jesus-By-My-Side-342x200Jesus whispered my name
~~ I felt Him in the chair beside me and felt His breath tickle my ear as He whispered, “Dixie, I’m right here and I am not going anywhere.  Just lean into me.”    I knew I could endure the pain and shock of it all.  It was the last conversation I had with Dad. Jesus’ presence got me through the funeral of confusion and distress at being so removed from all feeling,  just numbness,  as my husband performed the ceremony.  

Matthew 21:22,23  But Jesus was matter-of-fact: “Yes—and if you embrace this kingdom life and don’t doubt God, you’ll not only do minor feats like I did to the fig tree, but also triumph over huge obstacles. This mountain, for instance, you’ll tell, ‘Go jump in the lake,’ and it will jump. Absolutely everything, ranging from small to large, as you make it a part of your believing prayer, gets included as you lay hold of God.

  • When I read my parents trust sent to me after my dad’s death, and realized that in 2006, my mother and my father stated that they, in full disclosure, and with full knowledge did NOT want their daughter, Dixie, to have one thing that belonged to them; I felt the ultimate abandonment and full force of their anger towards me for stopping my father from molesting again after he molested my daughter.   I was the black sheep of their family and was pretty much hit with it on their deaths.   I had to admit to myself, finally, that I didn’t want their “things” but what I had wanted was their love, and would never find it here on earth.

487580_424694517593102_1292768395_n (1)He whispered my name~~ “Dixie, you have a new name that I have given you.  I will be both mother and father to you. I take the sting away of their earthly rejection. This is the end of years of torment for you and though you didn’t hear what you needed to hear from them, you will hear it from me and I am more than enough for you.”

Ephesians 3:20,21 God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

And you know what, HE IS more than enough.  Better.  No comparison.

God wants you to know that He is so much bigger than all the desperate and tragic situations in this life. He wants you to know He is always with you and for you.

His blessing isn’t found in what He gives or takes away. You find it as you abide in Him. 

545570_417758148257124_357419294_n (1)Ask Him to align your heart with His. Believe His Word. Trust Him. 

Count it all joy.

In my journal to Him, He speaks to me too…in one recent one Jesus said to me,

“Don’t count on what you feel but continue to allow me to fill you where you are lacking and believe Me when I say, I know what you lack, and I am more than enough for you…..I am doing a work you cannot see!”

 

Embrace Him as your absolute EVERYTHING.

 

He is, indeed, all you’ll ever need.

 

He whispers your name~~

7 Behaviors of a Persistently Unhappy Person….It is a Choice

Unhappy-PersonBeing a Life Purpose Coach has opened my eyes to so many things in my own life. One of those things I have learned is that I am responsible for my own happiness-no one else is responsible for me.  So, I often coach about happiness being a choice and the one responsible for your happiness is YOU! 

Six years of coaching has shown me there are some definite characteristics of a chronically unhappy person.  It may take a few sessions but invariably it becomes clear to me the areas we need to work on.

Mostly as we grow spiritually and mentally we tend to bounce back and forth between happiness and unhappiness in the course of even one day.  But there are those who are blinded to the fact that they can change the course of their life by allowing God to show them how to renew their minds and what tools to use to do that.

mind-clutterI’ve learned there are certain traits and habits chronically unhappy people seem to have mastered. We all have bad days, even weeks when we fall down in all seven areas. 

But, the difference between a happy and unhappy life is how often and how long we stay there.

And I must say a few things about the difference in happiness and the Joy that comes from Jesus.

Happiness is fleeting.  It can claim your full attention for the ten seconds it takes to sing a fun song.  Or it can stream through your being for weeks on end.  But happiness can’t hold the same space as sadness, or anger, or the range of so-called “negative” emotions for very long.  This is why it’s transitory and subject to your choices.

praying-womanJoy is the foundation of your Soul (mind, will, and emotions), and since your Soul can never be annihilated, your access to joy never vanishes. Because joy is so foundational to your true being, every other state or emotion can rest on top of joy, it can accommodate everything.

This means that it’s possible to grieve with your whole heart, and still sense your joy.  You can feel rage, suffering, and pain and still be aware of joy waiting patiently for you to return, and you take deep comfort in that.

It has never failed that when I have been through the most heart-breaking passages of my life — betrayal, financial hardship, divorce, dreams dashed, deep loss — the pain brought me to the floor of my spiritual being and what did I find there?  His presence….and then His joy in the midst of my sorrow.

♥  Happiness.  Has to be a choice you make.  You are the only one responsible for your happiness.

♥  Joy.  It’s the love from His character that lasts no matter what.  You walk into it by faith and He gives freely.

So, with that said here are 7 traits of chronically unhappy people that I have noted.

1. Your core belief is that life is hard all the time.  You think there is something wrong with you, as opposed to others, that makes your life hard.

Happy people know life can be hard and tend to bounce through hard times with an attitude of curiosity versus victimization.  They know who they are in Christ and realize that though life may be hard they take responsibility for their thought lives and focus on moving forward to better times.  Perseverance towards problem-solving versus complaining over circumstances is a symptom of a happy person.  Unhappy people see themselves as victims of life and stay stuck in the “look what happened to me” attitude versus finding a way through and out the other side.  They tend to think God is a respecter of people and has ruled them out when it comes to happiness.

2. You believe most people can’t be trusted, thus limiting your vulnerability to those who can truly help you see truth.

Healthy discernment is important, but most happy people are willing to trust.  They believe in the good in people, versus assuming everyone is out to get them.  They are generally open and friendly towards people they meet, and happy people foster a sense of community around themselves and meet new people with an open heart.
walk in the lightUnhappy people are distrustful of most people they meet and assume that strangers can’t be trusted.  Unfortunately this behavior slowly starts to close the door on any connection and thwarts all chances of meeting new friends.

3. You concentrate on what’s wrong in this world versus what’s right.

There’s plenty wrong with this world and all you have to do is watch the nightly news to open the door to fear, yet unhappy people turn a blind eye to what’s actually right in this world and instead focus on what’s wrong.  It can and is addictive to fill your mind with the negative, day in and day out.

They are usually the ones complaining and responding to any positive attributes of our world with “yeah but”.

loveHappy people are aware of global issues, but balance their concern with also seeing what’s right.  They allow their focus to be on Him rather than what they see in the world.  Or as the word of God tells us:  Philippians 4: 6-9 says this:

Don’t fret or worry.  Instead of worrying, pray.  Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.  Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.  It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.  Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized.  Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”

However, unhappy people tend to close one eye towards anything good in this world in fear they might be distracted from what’s wrong.  Happy people keep it in perspective.  They know our world has problems and they also keep an eye on what’s right.

4. You compare yourself to others and harbor jealousy.choices

Unhappy people believe someone else’s good fortune steals from their own.  They believe there’s not enough goodness to go around and constantly compare yours against theirs.  This leads to jealousy and resentment.

Happy people know that their good luck and circumstance are merely signs of what they too can aspire to achieve.  Happy people believe they carry a unique blueprint that can’t be duplicated or stolen from –which is true…we were created unique and special and God has a plan for each of our lives.  They believe in unlimited possibilities and don’t get bogged down by thinking one person’s good fortune limits their possible outcome in life.

5. You strive to control your life.

There’s a difference between control and striving to achieve our goals. Happy people take steps daily to achieve their goals, but realize in the end, there’s very little control over sufferings and trials that may come…it is those trials however, that perfect our faith and draw us closer to Him.

happinessUnhappy people tend to micromanage their lives in effort to control all outcomes and fall apart in dramatic display when life throws a wrench in their plan.  Happy people can be just as focused, yet still have the ability to go with the flow and not melt down when life delivers a curve-ball.

The key here is to be goal-oriented and focused, but allow room for growth when the best laid plans go awry- because they will sometimes. Going with the flow is what happy people have as plan B.

 6. You consider your future with worry and fear.

people-running-scared-clipart-1044249-Royalty-Free-RF-Clip-Art-Illustration-Of-A-Cartoon-Fearful-Man-RunningUnhappy people fill their thoughts with what could go wrong versus what might go right.

Unhappy people are usually deluded with doubts and allow themselves to daydream about what they’d like to have life unfold for them but are always disappointed things didn’t go as planned.

Unhappy people fill their souls with constant worry and fear.

Happy people experience fear and worry, but make an important distinction between feeling it and living it.  When fear or worry crosses a happy person’s mind, they’ll ask themselves what choices they can make to rise up over their adverse circumstances and how they can fight the good fight of faith to prevent their fear or worry from happening (there’s responsibility again) and they take it.  If not, they realize they’re rooted in fear and they lay it down.

 

7. You fill your conversations with comparisons and complaints.

lonelyUnhappy people like to live in the past.  What’s happened to them and life’s hardships are their conversation of choice.  They are sometimes so stuck in their past pain they just can’t get to a place of letting go.  It actually becomes their identity and like an old friend (foe?) to stay in the pain.  And sometimes when they run out of things to say, they’ll turn to other people’s lives and compare.

Happy people live in the now and dream about the future.  You can feel their positive vibe from across the room.  They’re excited about something they’re working on, grateful for what they have and dreaming about the possibilities of life and what wonderful things the Lord has for them in the future.

Obviously none of us are perfect.  We’re all going to swim in negative waters once in a while, but what matters is how long we stay there and how quickly we work to get ourselves out.  Practicing positive habits daily is what sets happy people apart from unhappy people.

dixie1If you need help in identifying the tools to help you become a happy person, Life Coaching can help tremendously.  But again, it is a choice.  Just read some success stories on my web site: http://www.reflectionsofgracehome.com/#!success-stories/c24vq to see how God’s perspective has helped countless others to make this transition from unhappiness to being happy!

Queenism photo posted by permission from http://QueenofYourOwnLife.com/

Life Interrupted

life-interruptedMy sweet 38 year old daughter was struck with a ruptured appendix 2 weeks ago.   From the point she went into emergency I was with her.  It was so frightening.  The ER doctor sent her home on pain pills without ruling out appendicitis.  It ruptured and became an extreme emergency.  Everything in my life stopped and took a back seat while we sat long hours in the ER and surgery; and I prayed nonstop as she writhed in pain…and after surgery as the road to healing began in the hospital and as she went home.  She needed me.  It was a scary and unnerving thing to watch my child in so much pain.  My life was just was put on hold.  Everything took a back seat.  Now that she is on the mend I now feel scattered and am having trouble getting back into things that were part of my everyday life, from writing to coaching and even exercise. 

But, suddenly I realized I have grown spiritually, in finding God in the midst of the suffering.  There comes a recognizable depth of character when you come out of the fire of suffering, and when you are still in it you find Him in places you’d never thought you’d be.

picture of Linda My dear friend Linda has been told her brain tumor is back.  Her life will now be on hold while she has it removed….again.  Since her last surgery, while recovering, she has obtained her Masters in Psychology, been maintaining her own practice in psychotherapy, is writing a book, and is doing a host of wonderful things God has called her to do.  Now, her life will be interrupted again, indefinitely, to undergo another surgery on her brain with the outcome uncertain in earthly terms.  But not to God.  He knows.  We are all  believing for God’s divine hand to reach down and heal her swiftly and easily this time with no side effects.   Linda would share with you how her suffering has put her in touch with a Savior that never leaves her.  Even while her life is on hold.  You can read Linda’s whole story of traveling this perilous road on her web site at: http://lindalochridge.com/brainsurgery/

I just read Michelle Cushatt’s blog this morning.  She is an author, experienced keynote speaker and emcee.  I love her writings and sweet spirit of thankfulness.  Now after years of fighting cancer and walking in God’s healing power she has just learned the cancer is back…and her life will now go on hold for extended medical treatment once again to rid her of the invasion on her body.  She is fearless and undefeatable.  You can read Michelle’s story here http://michelecushatt.com/red-sea-moments/

All around me I see people going through sudden and great trials…some have been hit very suddenly and their life has taken an abrupt turn and they just feel like the wind was knocked out of them.

As I contemplated these things and wondered what God has to say in the midst of sudden trials and sudden fear I think I found truth. 

The truth is, God sometimes allows us to be placed in situations (sometimes difficult, even painful ones) where we can glorify Him; where His presence and power are displayed with clarity, and where fellowship with Him is the sweetest spot we could find ourselves in.

thumb_colourbox1908348God wants us to experience His gift of total reliance on Him…of letting go of our own pride and self sufficiency….our own power….and show us that in our own weaknesses He is made strong….to bless us by giving the gift of relying solely on Him.

In our trials we find His presence.  You see, God’s blessings and healing and perseverance come with His presence.  No matter what trials we face.  It is His presence, His Spirit that ushers in His strength, encouragement and power…..it is what develops His character in us so that we reflect Him in all that we do. 

The worst part about not being OK when a sudden change comes to our lives is that once you are there, you tend to temporarily lose your vision. 

raging-seaBut as Michelle explained in her  blog, when you run up against the Red Sea, you feel blindsided.  There is no place to turn but to ask for His mercy and grace and a miracle.  

You sometimes become profoundly nearsighted.

You can lose the ability to see any further than that horrible not-being-okay feeling right in front of you; to believe that outside of all of it, just beyond the fear and the sadness and the failure, there’s another place.  That is where He is.

At that moment of darkness, it’s nearly impossible to see what you are capable of enduring….if you can withstand it all just a bit more, if you can weather the winds and storms and the wounds and the worry, you’ll end-up stepping into that  place of peace, softly and securely, and you’ll feel the weightless lift of hope again.

You will gain new insight into the unchanging Jesus, while your world is turned upside down.  You will see into places that never occurred to you while all was well and they’ll all seem like wonderful love letters directly from the Lover of your soul; words of truth spoken directly to your heart, telling you that life is given by Him and He has your name written right into His nail scarred hands.

PeaceI promise you He will…He is the great I AM.

But in the meantime, before you get there, I want to tell you one more important thing about where you are right now:

It’s OK to feel.  He knows you are human.  Tell Him your fears and worry and everything that swirls around inside of you.  Talk to HIM!!

He already knows anyway.  Acknowledge that.  Bring Him into your journey and let Him walk with you there.

It’s alright to admit your feelings to yourself, and to say it to someone else, too.  In fact, doing so isn’t admitting defeat at all.  It isn’t giving-up.  It’s simply consenting, to fully feeling the reality of the despair and the pain of the moment.

So that you can move on.

As you do, just remember that you won’t feel like that forever.

One day, you’ll feel well enough to share your journey with someone else who is not so well, and you’ll perpetuate the hope that He gives to you in your own suffering.

So today, friend, for what it’s worth and for what you’re worth (which is immeasurable), know this:

As dark as it seems, as difficult as it is, as much as it hurts…He knows right where you are and He has a plan that you sometimes just can’t see.  Hold onto Him very tightly in these times.

It may seem like it but it won’t last forever.  You may have to make changes…but He said, actually promised, that He would not ever leave you nor forsake you.  

Take Him with you whatever comes.  He only wants His very best for you and will go to battle for you as you hold on for dear life.

Life is an adventure with a destination.  jesus and me

The Sea of Me….A Story of Gratitude

raging-seaI have come to know you, my audience, as my friends.  I have allowed myself to share my heart with you in my most intimate places.  For I know that true transparencies bring true continued healing and restoration in not only myself but in you.

 

So, today, I just want to share a heart of thanksgiving with you that sometimes is hard to contain.  As you know I am a Life Purpose Coach.  But I do not write this as a ploy to get more clients.  I write this out of a desire to share the wonderful joy that I have overflowing in my heart at changed lives.

Because of the confidentiality and bonding that happens in such a transparent relationship of Life Coaching, you don’t get to share details of the glorious work of God that often.  Life purpose coaching is a time of traveling for a while with someone on their journey, allowing Holy Spirit to bring those things out that need to be healed or exposed so the person can move forward unstuck; into God’s perfect plan for them.

 I get to assist the Holy Spirit while He changes lives!! 

  

I always explain to my clients that I am just the person running alongside them on the sidelines; doing cart wheels, waving flags, and shouting “You can do this.” But they are the ones who actually do the work.  Can you see the picture?

 Cartwheel

Coaching is what YOU make it.   When you make the decision to sign up for coaching, you are ready for finally letting go of your own ways and surrendering to God and allowing Him to open doors you never even imagined or walked in before.  It is a wonderful and amazing thing to do for yourself.  When someone is ready for Life Coaching, they are ready for God to do a new thing and discover answers to questions they may have had their whole life.

Life coaching guides you into clarity and fulfillment in your life by discovering what you were always meant to do through examining your life’s experiences, good and bad. Coaching will help you if you are blocked, stuck, or blinded by circumstances, yet are committed to moving forward responsibly.  

 

I always tell my clients that you can’t take one step towards God that He doesn’t take 5 towards you.

 

Almost from the first day with someone I get to see changes in them that absolutely thrill my soul.  I feel like I get an inside seat to watch the heart of God at work.  What a privilege!!

It has been an absolute joy to get to assist the Holy Spirit while He changes the lives of those willing to take that step of faith.   Week after week, after appointments, the minute I hang up the phone or close the door, I get to dance with Jesus in excitement over the joy in faces that show new awakening, and for new life emerging from the past in all of its complexities.   I watch giftings and talents uncovered, new adventures beginning, freedom from old strongholds and generational patterns, a new awareness that Jesus is a very real lover of their souls, and a newfound love of His constant companionship.

jesus and me

 I get to do this!!   

 

I praise Him with all my heart for choosing me to get to walk hundreds of journeys with His children and to have a first row seat to watch it all unfold in His perfectness.  

Many times I have wished I could just share everything I have experienced with everyone I meet because I get so excited at the awesomeness of what He does in personal lives.  He and I rejoice together and I feel Him smile at me when I get so excited and He is the only one I can tell everything to.

It humbles me beyond words.   For so many years I felt like God used everyone but me.   I always felt like an imposter.  It took a while (my whole life to this point, actually), for Him to bring me around to see my own gifts and callings.  It took many more years of pain and healing to finally get to this point of finding what He was preparing me for all along.

I have been through many horrible years of childhood incest, spiritual abuse, divorce, my own child being molested, poverty mentality, extreme loss, wrongful thinking, and 5 years in the desert to finally find who I really am.  I guess that is why I know that He is no respecter of persons and all it takes is a willing heart and sometimes someone to guide us into the right path.  His desire is to bring us all to that place of knowing we are walking in His will.

Learning to trust Him in what He has called me to do; I can now see how all of my trials led me to this place.  He knows what to do with us and what we need to open our eyes to His reality and not our own.  

Joy and excitement jumps within me each and every time someone I have been assigned to have their eyes opened to how deeply and completely they are loved by Jesus and as I watch a deep relationship formed between the two of them, I marvel at His goodness.

Sometimes a client is so excited in their new found freedom they desire to share it with the world.

So, I want to introduce Donna, a client I am actually still working with but she has given me permission and says she would be honored if I would share her story in a recent poem she wrote.   She recently shared this poem at a convention, and when she was done the tears flowed freely among herself and many attending, as they could relate to her story of pain and then hope.   There is so much I would like to say about Donna, but I am always mindful that it can only be shared in all of its completeness by her. 

 

It is her story.   

 

The Sea of Me  thumb_COLOURBOX1908348

By Donna Hines, through our Lord

 

One day I decided to go down to the sea,

To see if I could find the part that was missing of me.

 

I went down to the cliff and gazed off the rocky shore,

I could not visualize me. I couldn’t see me anymore.

 

It was gone, that part that held my dreams,

It slipped beneath the surface where shadow and light mimic moonbeams.

 

Dark waves crashed overhead causing ripples of fear,

It dissected my soul and caused me to disappear.

 

I was lost like Peter, but beneath the sea,

Dark, quiet motions as I screamed silently.

 

Where was God, where was Jesus, where was Holy Spirit,

Was that me gasping and who was there to hear it?

 

Thrashing, turning, convoluting my form;

Struggling for control in my personal storm.

 

I had to let go and stop the struggle,

I had to give up; I had no more air bubbles.

 

It was then that I knew I had no answers,

I was a puppet with the minuet dancers.

 

I thought that I could direct my life,

And found out instead I only directed the strife.

 

Jesus is the beautiful lover of my soul,

He gathers my pieces, He makes me whole.

 

He gives me a path, a direction to take,

What ocean I swim in is not His mistake.

 

Arm over arm I delight in the waves,

It is beautiful Jesus I rest in, it is Him who saves.

 

Awesome God, O Great I Am, you are where I find that missing part of me.

I am deeply loved, have always been cherished, never chained and unequivocally free!

 

 

Donna is sharing almost daily with me all the wonderful things that are transpiring in her life right now, as God has been revealing her gifts to her;  Gifts that were always there, but buried beneath years of struggle and pain.

Can we not all relate to this poem? 

 

Our answers lie in Jesus, always!!   It doesn’t matter what the issue is when a client comes to me.  It always goes back to filling the gaping hole within their hearts with Jesus.

 

He will move you into His perfect plan for your life as well.  Can you imagine finding complete fulfillment in what God has called you to do?  Seek Him for His plan for you, if you don’t know what it is yet.

 

For it was for relationship with Him that we were created.

Nails In The Fence and the Wicked Tongue

 


anger-nails-in-the-fenceI really don’t like talking about the tongue, do you?  Yet the bible, the blueprint for our life, has so much to say about it. 

 Gentle words are a tree of life a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit;  , Proverbs 15:4 NLT

Have you ever been in the company of an angry person?  Have you been the brunt of their issues being lashed out at you? Have you been tempted yourself to just give in to your baser self and say whatever you want to say, in spite of who hears it?  

The bible says a lot about out of control anger and our tongues are a major part of venting our emotions.  


In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches, but a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire.
  James 3:5 NLT

 But no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison.  James 3:8 NLT

There is a story that always worked to remind me to call on self control when I am the angriest and wanting to indulge myself and let my words fling over whoever is standing there.

 

“There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence.
The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.
holes from nailsFinally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.
The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there.” Author Unknown

I have had so many toxic words spoken over me and to me throughout my life. I remember one time my precious and favorite grandma, whom I had spent all my summers with growing up, was losing her mental faculties after having a heart attack.  I was a young mom and had so many loving memories with grandma.  I had always felt she was my one family member who always had my back.  One day she called me right before her death. 

She started telling me that I didn’t know anything and that “I was uglier than home-made soap”.I could hear my grandpa yelling at her to stop in the background.

I will never forget those words.  My intellect told me she wasn’t herself, but the words cut like a knife.  I knew she would never say those things to me, but yet, she did, and the words have never left me.  Of course I forgave and the memories I have of her are good.  But I still have the memory of those words floating in my head and still feel the sting at hearing those words come out of my trusted and loved grandma’s mouth, and directed at me, her baby girl. 

You can forgive and not let the past define you.  You can even reason them away.  But somehow the words spoken harshly have left you a changed person inside.


And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. 
James 3:6 NLT

In realizing the power of life and death are in the tongue I was always so careful how I talked to my own children growing up.   I would never call them a name, even when I was very angry at something they did. And I would not allow anyone else to either.  I endeavored to only speak life giving positive words to them.  Even when disciplining them, I would tell them that God had a plan for them and they were disciples, taught of the Lord, and obedient to His will. 

My own mother always told me I was fat, and so to this day I have to over-rule those words and conquer my addiction to food.  Even now that I am maintaining a good weight, I still see myself fat and struggle with that image she created with her words to me.  In other blogs I call those words spoken to us over and over as the “Voice”. 

nail1Words create, life or death, our choice.

Will we answer to God for destroying others with our words?  Yes, we will.  But even when we are forgiven, our words are still there in that person’s head.

It has taken me many years to learn that those words spoken to me were out of someone else’s insecurities and they do not define who I am.  Yet, because of those words, it is a fight and the hurt is there.

Some people are just not strong enough to overcome the death words in their life.

You know why? 

Because our words, without restraint, is the only thing the enemy can use against us.  He uses words to condemn, slice, wound, kill us, steal from us and destroy us.  Our own words are bringing life or death into our lives, our households, our children, and our grandchildren.  It is the only power Satan has in our life. 

And our tongue is the hardest to bring under God’s control. 

Self control is a fruit of His spirit.  Not our spirit.  When we focus on Him and His love in all situations, even our angry tirades, He provides His self control for us to use to conquer the rage. 

But we have to apply it and just do it!   

Learn to call upon Him for help in attaining this fruit of the spirit, self control.  Especially if you have a weakness of out of control anger. 

Let’s make it a practice to speak life into the lives of those Jesus brings to us.

  Let’s CHOOSE life and not death!!

Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.  Proverbs 18:21 NLT