Life lessons: Know thyself | Part 1

Happy new year beloved daughter and welcome to part 1 of a 3 part series that I’m beginning on life lessons!

When I started this blog it was on my heart to share more of my life in a way that edifies you, so that’s what I’ll be doing in this series. I want to highlight how God speaks to me through the seemingly mundane occurrences in my life in order to teach me to become more like Christ. I hope you can relate to these experiences and apply the principles to your walk with Christ this year. Continue reading “Life lessons: Know thyself | Part 1”

4 Things I’m Leaving Behind in 2018 | Leaving & Cleaving

2018 is almost over, can you believe it? No, neither can I.

This past week I’ve spent a LOT of time meditating and reflecting on the year past, and something the Lord has continually told me is that it is important for us to not only leave things behind but also cleave to different aspects of His character in order to move forward in our faith.

The Lord has done so many great things in my life this year and I celebrate his faithfulness, but I know that I must press onwards to the greater things that he desires to do in and through me, and that starts with being still, reflecting and make intentional plans about my coming year.

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This post is quite personal to me as I’m pulling the blinds back on some of my lowest points in 2018. I’ve discovered what I need to leave behind and what I need to cleave to, and I hope that me opening up my heart to you will give you the confidence to open up your heart to Abba as we transition into the new year.

So let’s talk about the 4 things I’m leaving behind in 2018:

1. Distractions

In the last quarter of the year, I allowed distractions to obscure my view of the King of my heart. I was so disappointed in myself!!

I am naturally a very focused and goal oriented person who likes setting goals and seeing them met (be it physical, spiritual or intellectual). I was doing pretty well until I became complacent and let my guard down. I didn’t exercise spiritual discernment and I opened up my heart to a few new toxic friendships/relationships.

These associations slowly (but surely) begun to take my heart and mind away from the things above and place them on the things in the world. It started small, but over time I noticed that my desire to be about the Father’s business was diminishing and though I was still passionate about studying the word and praying, I wasn’t taking my light outside my 4 walls (more on this later).

I was happy being comfortable, and we know that no good thing comes from the comfort zone. This was a typical case of what Paul warns us about and the importance of guarding those we associate with closely.

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I thank God who is rich in mercy and opened up my eyes to see before it was too late. I repented of my double-mindedness because I know God wants 100%, and in 2019 I’m taking the decision to daily rededicate my heart, mind, time and energy BACK to my first love: Jesus Christ.

I’m warring against anything and anyone that tries to take his place in my life or fails to push me further on in my walk. I’m leaving behind anything that will disqualify me of my heavenly rewards and I’m cleaving to everything that keeps me running my race faster.

I’m cleaving more than ever to my sisters and brothers in Christ who push me towards holiness and I’m purposing in my heart to stay accountability for not only my devotional and prayer life but also for my God-given assignments, evangelism and kingdom work.

2. Self-loathing, Comparison and Discontentment

This is a hefty one.

I’ve noticed that I go through seasons with these three attitudes. Sometimes I’m so content in God, my ministry work and who he has made me, and other times I can’t recognise myself. I feel so dissatisfied with my life, I see nothing but flaws and convince myself that I’m not as good as X (insert favourite Christian to compare self with..)

This is not only relevant in terms of my giftings and impact, but also in my appearance and personality.

Though I’ve come a long long way in my journey to discovering my gifts and what beauty is inside and out, I’ve faced many hurdles along the way this year. From being tempted to imitate other female Christians in order to be more “likeable”, to being pressured by potential suitors to change my appearance in order to be more pleasing, my confidence in my individuality has been knocked down severally this year.

On many occasions I’ve been made to doubt my journey and question if I should express my gift like X (insert favourite Christian to compare self with..) or behave and dress like the women in the world in order to receive praise and acceptance, but NO. The still small voice of God continues to remind and affirm me in who I am as his daughter. He has helped me to block out the voices of the world that continually try and mould me into something and someone that He never intended for me to be, and things have really gotten better.

So in 2019 I’m leaving behind self-loathing and discontentment with my gifts, talents and appearance and relearning what it means to be loved by my Heavenly Father so I can love myself and my image which he created in his own likeness. I am rejecting everything that try to reduce my value to any standard below God’s, and I’m cleaving to godliness and contentment which is GAIN.

I am also cleaving to the spirit of gratitude and praise, I want to praise my God who made me, the work of his hands are PERFECT!

3. Depression and Anxiety

Mental health – this is a taboo Christian topic, but let’s go there.

I’ve battled with poor mental health this year on many occasions. From completing my master’s research project and writing final exams to the transition into medical school. I’ve experienced a LOT of stress and uncertainty, and my mental health has definitely taken a few blows. As an aspiring psychiatrist, I know that one of the reasons God has taken me through these trials is so I can better relate to my patients in the future.

During my low periods, the Lord comforted me through the story of the prophet Elijah. Though he was heavily anointed and had very close fellowship with God, he still went through seasons of despair and depression that were triggered by circumstances in his life. (you can read the whole story in 1 Kings 19). Reading this story really taught me how God uses low mood and anxiety to draw his daughters to seek and trust him, and that’s exactly what he does with me.

I was so encouraged!!

I don’t need to think that God has left me because he has promised that he never would. He is right there through it ALL and wants me more than ever to cleave to him for comfort and strength while I’m in the valley.

I can’t say for sure that I’ll never struggle with poor mental health, but I’m leaving behind the defeated mindset that wallows in self-pity, runs from God and lets days go by without warring against it. I’m cleaving to God’s presence, the promise of peace and His perfect love to restore a sound mind in me in the midst of my storms.

I will walk each day intentionally knowing that the destination of total healing I often seek isn’t where God gets the glory, but the journey where he prunes me and builds my faith is. I will no longer be naive and ignorant and believe the lie that “true Christians never feel anxious or depressed” but I’ll be ready. I will expect those trials to come and be prepared to use his word to wage war against every thought that tries to exalt itself above Christ.

We seal our minds with the blood of Jesus right now and as we transition into 2019. I trust him to deliver us out of every trial we face both physical and mental and I call his peace upon your heart right now if you’ve ever doubted his presence.

4. Intimidation

So here is the final thing I’m leaving behind. Intimidation.

When I think back to when I first got saved, I didn’t have a care in the world who thought what about me. All I knew was that you MUST know my Jesus by force. As time has gone on my fire has certainly matured but sometimes it simply hasn’t been burning as strong.

There have been times this year when God has given me an opportunity to stand on my beliefs in controversial conversations, and I’ve done it half-heartedly or completely backed off.

“Why Lord? These are the exact scenarios I pray for!!” I’d think to myself.

“I know that I’m not ashamed of the gospel, so why do I sometimes cower away? What is it that’s stopping me from speaking freely and truthfully?”.

The spirit of intimidation.

The spirit of intimidation pushes you into a corner even though you know the way of escape. It silences you though you have the power to speak, and it forces you to blend in when you were called by God to stand out.

I know that standing out is hard, and I’ve struggled with the desire to get along with and be liked by everyone, but that’s the carnal man speaking. I can’t carry on like that. So I am cutting off the timid spirit which is tied to the desire for earthly acceptance. I am leaving behind the sneaky desire to be approved of by man and I’m running completely under the shade of God’s approval.

I am cleaving to boldness, and I am choosing to remain committed to stand upon the words of Jesus Christ and never be ashamed to proclaim his gospel and the life that I choose to live in him.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 ESV)

Many of us experience timidity, and if this is you, say this prayer aloud, write it in your journal or stick it on your wall. We are walking into 2019 with the freedom to make Him known wherever we go!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, please restore the zeal and joy I once had and cast off this timid spirit that I have never known. I want to know you Lord and make you known in my home, my workplace, among my friends and family and everywhere my feet find themselves. Help me to be bold in your name and not shrink back. May you be glorified always by the words that proceed out of my mouth and may your name be exalted through my life. Amen.

So there you have it, that’s what I’m leaving behind in 2018, and what I’m cleaving to instead. I am honestly so excited for the new year. I believe that the Lord is going to do great things among us if we yield to him and cleave to everything that represents his nature!

I pray that you have a peaceful transition into the new year.

Joanne

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Running Out of Steam? | 4 Ways to Get Back on Track!

Do you feel burned out or overwhelmed by life and the challenges it is presenting? Are you desiring to do more for the Lord but always seem to be low on energy? Are you lacking in a desire to serve? I’ve been there, and it truly a tough place to be in. God was merciful and helped me out and here are the 4 things I did to get back on track.

Rest

I can’t stress to you the importance of rest. There is a time for everything. A time to work extremely hard and a time to slow down, and the more we are able to understand these times, the better off we’ll be. You feeling overwhelmed may be your body telling you that you need to stop and rest.

If you happen to be a little bit of a workaholic like me, this can be really hard. You may be tempted to feel as though you are slacking or not doing enough, but I’ve come to learn that rest is a blessing from the Lord and an act of my faith in him and his works.  Sweet sleep is reserved for those he loves, don’t deprive yourself any longer.

Psalm 127:1-2 (AMP)

Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.
It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep.

Reflect

What exactly are you feeling? Overwhelmed? Burdened? Tired? Distant?  During your time of rest journal down what exactly is caused you to feel burnt out. Being aware of your emotions and what is causing the additional stress is the first step in eliminating the problem. Maybe you’ve been taking on too many responsibilities at work, or you’ve been spending to much time on your studies that you end up cramming everything else in.

Identify the problem areas and then you can begin to move forward.

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Regroup

You’ve been knocked down a little bit, mentally, physically and spiritually but it’s time to get yourself together again. Come up with an action plan about what you will do differently and how you will guard against allowing burn-outs to reoccur. They absolutely do not have to become a normal part of your life.

What commitments do you need to take less of an active role in? What may the Lord be calling you to step away from for a season? What burden are you carrying that you have no business carrying?

Upon reflection, I often notice that the burden I have chosen to carry is much greater than the one the Lord intended for me to carry, this may also be the case for you. Pray about these things and review your commitments with God.

Mathew 11:28-30 (NKJV)

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

Restart

You’ve rested. You’ve got a plan. You’ve prayed and your decisions, and have decided on how much you can commit to in this season. Now it’s time to put it into action by faith and obedience.

Get started with the things you know you need to be doing again, but this time go at God’s pace. Let his timing become your timing – his yes your yes and his no your no. Allow his strength to drive you, and also restrain you.

One thing I’m learning more and more by the day is that this Christian life is not an easy 100m sprint, it is a lifelong marathon that requires endurance, consistent progress, commitment and regular self-examination. You want to be it in the long-haul so walk like that daily and remember to look alone to God for strength and sufficiency.

Isaiah 40:31

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

 

Do you have any more tips on how you recover from burnout? Drop them in the comments section below!

Grace & Peace
Joanne

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How to Witness to Unbelieving Loved Ones

Sharing the faith with those that are uninformed is never an easy task, but why does it seem to be even more challenging when it comes to those nearest and dearest to you? and how can you approach this in a loving God-honoring way? Here are 4 ways in which I strive to witness to my unbelieving loved ones:

Continue reading “How to Witness to Unbelieving Loved Ones”

What great love the Father has lavished.

1 John 3:1a See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!..

8pm rolled by and I’d had enough of human interaction, I needed to be alone with my creator. I prayed whilst lying down, offloading my burdens to the Lord, and thanking God for the wonders he was performing in my life. Prayer for me is really intimate and personal, and this evening I felt even more free to open up to God about my deepest fears, burdens, and anxieties.

Continue reading “What great love the Father has lavished.”