Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Pursued Part 3: Tools of the Trade

Part 1 {here} and Part 2 {here}.

{This post is really for me. I know hard times will come. There will be days I doubt everything I've learned or experienced. This post is to remind me how to hold on to what I've got and little things that can help me regain anything I may have lost. It is not a "look at my holy trinkets" post because A.) That's just weird. B.) If any item becomes more important to me than God, it has crossed over into being a god itself, and that is not okay.}

One of the best parts of my Pursued is the fact that I was able to go with two good friends. It is always easier to navigate the choppy waters when you have someone else in the boat with you. The waters get choppy when you get home, let me tell you. They've been two of the best tools that I brought home from the ranch.

Sometimes you are on your own though. You don't have another person spurring you on, so you have to have other tools to help you keep going. Like I said in Part 2, freedom from your wounds and even your sins is a daily choice. (I don't think I ever really realized that. I thought it was just a magic moment and all was free! That sounds so dumb, but it's true!) I have the opportunity every single day to either leave that stuff lying at the feet of Jesus or to pick it up and walk in shame, fear, and guilt. (Probably with more guilt for picking it back up!) That's where tools come in.

Tools are are things we can do or reminders of who we are and what we've experienced. They can be actions, words, material possessions...anything that reminds you of what really matters. I thought I would share with you some of the things that have helped to keep me on track.

1.) Meaningful jewelry.

Even though I've been home a lot this summer, mostly in not-worthy-for-public-attire, I've made it a point to wear something meaningful as far as jewelry. The Be Still bracelet came from {here} and the charm bracelet is from James Avery. There are so many good reminders on it of people God has surrounded me with, and times that He has carried me though. I love that my "Expect a Miracle" charm is right next to the onesie with Emerson's name on it. That is a huge reminder that God provides!!! I also wear a silver bar necklace with the word, "seek" on it from the same shop I got the Be Still bracelet. It's a good reminder of what I am supposed to do every and be aware of God no matter what kind of day I am having. There are some others, but they are a part of that sacred stuff.

2.) A good devotional

I've talked about this devotional before. It's really that good. I recently bought Justin a copy to read every day as well. (Yes, I have the teenager version...the cover is cuter than the adult one.) I would highly recommend it, but really anything that gets you in the word daily is perfect. We all need something to keep us on track, and devotionals are a great way to do that. I also love My Utmost for His Highest and SheReadsTruth. SheReadsTruth recently launched their app, which is fantastic if you're willing to pay for the new studies. The Bible app also has a lot of great free options for daily reading too. 

I'm figuring out I need a little Jesus-reminder morning, noon, and night. In the mornings, I am reading certain passages in the Bible, my Jesus Calling devo, and journaling. (I've had to commit to getting up earlier, or I let Emerson color next to me while I study.) About lunchtime, I've been reading a year-long scripture/thought thing through the Bible app, but I think I will find something else if I can. At night, I always read something so I might as well keep it about God. Right now I am reading 1,000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Reading something Jesus-centered before I go to sleep has been a good way to end the day grateful for whatever has happened. 

3.) Keeping a journal

I have always kept a journal for as long as I can remember. (There was even a really cute, purple sparkly journal I begged for for Christmas one year. I think I was six. So, yeah, I was all kinds of awesome.) There's something therapeutic to me about writing things down (hello, blog!). I feel like if I write things down it does one of two things: 1.) Helps me to wade through my thoughts or 2.) Helps me to remember important things. This was my journal from the other day after reading Hebrews 12. They aren't cutesy every day...This one just didn't have anything too personal for the internets. Some days it's just a mess of thoughts. Some days it is just a scripture that stuck out. What it looks like doesn't matter (but cute, colorful pens and a great journal sure help my school-supply-loving heart). What matters is that I can look back on journals and see where God has worked in me and in my life. I still have a journal from college where I prayed specific prayers for my future-husband. That's pretty awesome to have now that I have Justin. I can look back and see the hurt of my miscarriage, and now see how God has delivered me from that.

I can also see times I have been distant from God because I tend to write less. Writing it down matters.

4.) Scriptures everywhere 

I've kind of taken over our bathroom mirror with post-it notes. :) (And can we later discuss how I need to have this one tattooed on my face?!?!?) I also keep them on our pantry door, which is chalkboard. I try to put them somewhere I will constantly see them and be reminded of TRUTH. 

5.) Podcasts/Music

One thing I mentioned I struggle with is that inner dialogue. I'm figuring out that if I don't give my mind time to wander, I'm less likely to end up worrying about things or thinking about analyzing people. or myself.  Instead of brain-free time when I am doing things like washing dishes, I listen to worship music or a podcast. My podcast list is basically Bigmama and Boomama when they do theirs or Matt Chandler's sermons from The Village Church. My music usually consists of Shane & Shane, Jesus Culture, Hillsong, or the Rend Collective Experiment. I usually do this during down time at school (my lunch or conference time) and in the car too. It really helps use time that my brain could go into overdrive to fill it with a little Jesus. 

6.) Friends and/or Family

Accountability is #1. I need people to ask questions and push me a little (in a nice way!) to find out what God is doing. It also helps me when other people share what's happening with them. Some of that glory and grace tend to rub off. :) Mostly, it's nice to know you aren't alone. One of the biggest tools Satan uses is to isolate us from other believers. We are more powerful when we are united, so of course he wants to divide us. If I find myself avoiding certain people I know will call me out, that's a sign of trouble. 

This is also a great place for social media. Good gracious, I will be the first to admit I have used Facebook and instagram in unhealthy ways (hello, comparison monster), but there are also some great ways to encourage and be encouraged. I follow several accounts who I know regularly post scripture and God-centered thoughts. I belong to several groups from my church on Facebook to keep me involved there. It can be a good place--in moderation and in perspective! 

7.) Looking for and asking for love notes

"Love notes" are little inside jokes between you and God. Words, symbols, pictures, songs, whatever that have some kind of special meaning between you and God. On days it has been seriously tough, I will pray and ask God for a love note...just a reminder that he's there and he sees me. He has delivered every single time. It may be through something I read in my Bible or Jesus Calling. It could be a word on a t-shirt. It could be something someone texts me. It could be a certain song we sing at church. (All of those have happened within the last week.) It's a note...just for me...from him. When in doubt, ask him for one. I bet you anything he will provide. 

Again, these "things" are simply that...things. They don't replace a daily connection with the Holy Spirit. They are earthly things that keep my mortal, corrupted mind focused on what really matters...HIM.

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