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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,

bobby & family 2016

   For the past year my son, daughter in law, and two small grandsons have been on stateside assignment. For 9 of those months they lived in Scotland while my son worked on his masters. Not living in a 3rd world country, we have enjoyed the luxury of easy access to them via internet.

   At present they are living with us as they prepare to return to Africa. And once again I’m faced with the painful thought that they will be leaving soon. But something unexpected happened while they were home that complicated the  emotional strain of sending them off.

Rach & family

   My husband and I have four children and two of them live near us. We take a great deal of comfort in knowing two of our daughters are close by. That was until recently! In April we were hit with the news that one of those daughters would likely be moving an 11 hours’ drive away to San Antonio, Texas. (And they did just that on August 18th)

   Therefore, this summer has been one of extreme high’s and extreme lows. There was a constant flow of children and grandchildren in our house all summer. Three of those weeks were especially momentous: Nammy Camp for the 6 granddaughters, a family vacation in East Tennessee for all 20 of us, and Nammy Camp for the 4 grandsons. The month of August our son and his family has been spent here with my husband and I.  My life was filled to overflowing with memory after wonderful memory of times spent together.

   The quote from A Tale of Two Cities (post title), describes my emotional state over this past summer quite succinctly. And predictably with every low moment I was hit with a barrage of fiery darts.

   It would have been my undoing had it not been for God’s instruction which had prepared me to not only identify fiery dart thinking but how to extinguish such thoughts as well.  While the pain persists, I’m learning by His tender mercies, how to manage it. My life moves forward as God tenderly and lovingly leads me. 

One of the most helpful Truth Thoughts I have found is Psalm 34:17:

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How does God deliver me from my present troubles and rescue my crushed spirit?

If I cooperate with God, He will give me the desire that pleases Him (Philip. 2:13) He will remind me that He will fill the void when my children move away. (Philip. 4:19).

His presence will restore my crushed spirit. Every time I began to focus on my loss, He reminds me to direct my focus towards His presence and the love He has for me. (Psalm 16:11)

He reminds me that He will work all this out for my good (Rom 8:28). 

Okay, so I have a choice!

I can pick up my shield of faith and face down the enemy with these Truth Thoughts! 

Or I can continue to focus on my losses and grow more miserable with every day!

My choice is obvious!

 

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Who’s Messing With Your Self Worth?

The Cognitive Triangle

The Cognitive Triangle

First we entertain a thought. That thought will cause certain related feelings. Thus, behavior is based on our thoughts and feelings.  p.16, FD

     Several years ago and over a two year period of time, I suffered from a serious bout of depression. I remember battling suicidal thoughts and deep sadness to the point that my prayers became a desperate cry for God to hold on to me because I had no strength left to hold on to Him.  I survived that dark time in my life but that’s about it. It wouldn’t be until several years later as God initiated my training in fiery dart recognition that I would be able to recognize the bondage that defined my existence during those two years. 

Here’s what happened to me and I see this same overused but deadly effective tactic of Satan’s still being used today!

     Refer to the diagram above. In my case I was a people pleaser. If I felt significant people in my life approved of me, then life was good and I felt good about myself. On the other hand, if there was strife or conflict in these relationships life was not good and I became convinced I had little reason to feel good about myself. Self approval you see was strongly connected to what others thought of me. (Or what I thought they thought!)

Do you see the pattern?

     First this negative thought (fiery dart remember) would plant itself into my head producing some very negative feelings or emotions. Never mind that these negative thoughts had no basis in Truth! The poison of these fiery darts seeped into my thinking producing destructive attitudes and behavior. 

     The purpose of these fiery darts, you see, was to diminish any sense of self worth that I might still possess. I was an easy target because it was way too important for me to have the good opinion of those significant people in my life. As relationships with these people deteriorated, so did my self worth.

I wonder if I have touched a nerve? 

     Are you sad seemingly all the time? Are you convinced you don’t measure up and that significant persons in your life don’t approve of you? Does the dangerous thought that your family would be better off without you ever sneak into your mind? Please hold on, for I have glorious news for you in my next post. In the meantime hold on to the following verse,

For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. To give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

This is My Reality–But. . .

Are you depressed over your present reality?

Do you find yourself wishing things in your life were different?

Are you a negative thinker, more often than not?

Well, my dear readers, don’t look now but you have become a victim of fiery dart thinking.  A fiery dart thinker has some curious characteristics. Here’s only a few:

Sees a cup half empty; instead of half full!

Focuses on self–primarily!

Knows little of contentment!

Is quick to find fault with others!

Lacks appreciation and gratefulness!

Has a difficult time accepting their reality; gets upset easily!

Nobody would want it said of them that they possess any of the characteristics from the list above.  And the good news is that while we may have such a negative bent, it can be overcome and brought under control.  But there are some things of which we need to become aware.

I have found in my own life, that there came a time when I needed to stop wishing things were different and to pray for grace to accept things they way they were.  When my problem was defined and I came to realize the power of negative thinking, only then did the light begin to shine:

As God continues to shed light on the darkness that plagued my walk with Him, I am developing an understanding of what has gone so wrong for so many. For it has become glaringly clear that negative thinking,. . . was at the core of my problematic walk with God…(FD p2-3)

While this game changing revelation didn’t occur until recent years (Oh how I wish it had but my reality is that it didn’t. I accept that and focus on all those powerful lessons I learned and am learning that I have to share with you), I have discovered some pretty exciting things.  Here’s a sampling:

I can be at peace in the midst of my storms!  (now I am not saying this occurs immediately but I get there a lot sooner than I use to!)

I see cups that are half full more often than not!

I’ve got more fight in me to resist those fiery darts so the negative thinking does not rule me as it once did!

I get attacked but I don’t fall down! (Hey, that sounds familiar doesn’t it!)  Well, it ought too, read this:

 We are experiencing all kinds of trouble, but we aren’t crushed. We are confused, but we aren’t depressed. We are harassed, but we aren’t abandoned. We are knocked down, but we aren’t knocked out.2 Corinthians 4:8-9 English Bible (CEB)

And may I add, that after an attack, I don’t dive into depression and turn on myself like I use to.  Those fiery darts just have lost their power to rule me! Yes, they grab me sometimes and depending on the degree of fire in them may shake me, but my training (you know, my lessons on fiery darts. It’s a book now!) empowers me to break free.  Hallelujah!

And you know that sense of contentment that seems to elude us far too often?  Well, let me just say, it doesn’t elude me anything like it use too.  And this verse contains the secret:    

   Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in what whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippines 4:11-13 NIV

And finally, I’m learning to pick and choose what I allow to influence me.  Certainly, not the world. No tv show, actor, or actress, or the negative attitude of others.  Nope, I resist those fiery darts (and like I said, some are tougher than others, but I plant my feet and resist) and turn my gaze upon what’s important to Jesus!

 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 (NIV)

Sometimes, we encounter some pretty unpleasant and difficult realities in this world, but take heart we get to choose how we deal with them, 

I would encourage you to remember that you choose victory or defeat. And know that refusing to choose is a choice to fall and suffer defeat. Victory is yours as Deuteronomy 20:4 reminds us, “For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” (NIV) It is your choice! We know that Satan’s plans are to destroy us, but take heart for God has plans for us as well. Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”(NIV) FIERY DARTS: SATAN’S WEAPON OF CHOICE, p. 45