Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Calm My Anxious Heart - Week Uno

So as I have posted before, we have started our journey to being content and no longer anxious ( We are following the book above by Linda Dillow). Today marks the one week mark in our study. So far I'm loving it! It has been convicting, rich, encouraging, eye-opening and truthful. I appreciate the direct approach she uses. On the other hand, it's been embarrassing to always get the time of the bible study wrong...was late...AGAIN!!! nonetheless it has been a challenging study.
The back of the book houses a study guide filled with questions for each week. 
These are the questions for this week and my answers. Please note that these are my personal notes and by no means do they need to be accepted or copied by all.

Week 1 – “My Journey to Contentment” 

1. Memorize Philippians 4: 11-13. Write the verses on a card and go over them every day. Pray the verses back to God and ask Him to burn His truth into your heart.

11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

I must confess I have it written down, but have not memorized it! 

2. Write a paraphrase of Philippians 4:11-13.

I like the way the message puts it 

Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. I don’t mean that your help didn’t mean a lot to me—it did. It was a beautiful thing that you came alongside me in my troubles.

Though God's strength I can be happy and content with much or with little. True happiness is being content with Him and what He chooses to give me. With him I can overcome and do anything be that poverty or rich abundance. I have learned to fully rely on Him. He is enough!

3. Reflect on Philippians 4:11-13 and what you have read in Chapter 1 (if following along in the book). Then write a definition of contentment.

"A soul sufficiency, a peace separate from our circumstances"

“An internal satisfaction which does not demand changes in external circumstances”—Holman Bible Dictionary.

con·tent·ment           (kn-tntmnt)
1. The state of being contented; satisfaction.
2. A source of satisfaction: the contentments of a comfortable retirement.

Being content in God alone, not in this world or it's goods.

I like how Kelly (one of our leaders) commented on how Linda used the word "soul sufficiency" and not the oh so common "self sufficiency" , it takes the us out of the equation and puts it all on God. We are able through Him. We can't rely on ourselves.

4. Reflect upon Ella Spees’ (missionary with the pygmies in Africa for fifty-two years) five statements that made up her prescription for contentment: (pages 11-12) 
  • Never allow yourself to complain about anything- not even the weather. 
  • Never picture yourself in any other circumstances or someplace else. 
  • Never compare your lot with another’s. 
  • Never allow yourself to wish this or that had been otherwise. 
  • Never dwell on tomorrow- remember that is God’s, not ours.
Never is a very hard never complain is quite a task, one that I know I will have a hard time with. Complaining is one of the things I have a problem with. But then again we are reminded in the verse above that with God we have the strength to do anything! practice makes perfect comes to mind...

5. How do you think Ella Spees’ was able to have a “holy habit” of contentment?

"The secret is in the last statement. Her eye's were fixed on eternity. Her tomorrows belonged to God. She had given them to Him. And because all her tomorrows were nestled in God's strong arms, she was free to live today. One day at a time she could make the right choices and grow to possess the holy habit of contentment. Ella's focus was eternal, and her focus led to eternal contentment"

6. Read 1 Timothy 6:15. Look up the word sovereign in the dictionary. Write a paraphrase of the verse using what you learn about this word.

15 For at just the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords.

sov·er·eign      (svr-n, svrn)
  1. A supreme ruler, esp. a monarch
  2. Possessing supreme or ultimate power: "the people's will is in theory sovereign".

God the almighty ruler of heaven and earth who has the supreme power over all and everything will come at just the right time, His time, and reveal Christ to all.

7. What difference would it make if you truly let God be the Blessed controller of your circumstances? Give a practical example.

I truly believe that I would be a happier, more peaceful and healthier version of myself. Like it said I would be blessed, I would be able to relax and be calm and know that God the sovereign Lord has it all under control. I can remember the promises He made to me. I picture a baby snuggling into his parents shoulder while slowly falling asleep, without a care in the world. He knows that he is safe in the loving arms of his parents. I would love to have that with God. the faith and trust to let go. I need to let go of all the stresses of the day (cleaning, kids, this blog...) I need to quiet down and concentrate on Him. 
I believe I would be a more involved and less stressed mom and wife. I would hope I could instill the peace of God into my kids, instead of the hectic life style I have now.
I would have more patience and I foresee myself being able to listen more to others instead of having my mind focused on my own problems. smiles would be present.
Finances are usually my stumbling block and my children's development chart. they tend to be my biggest struggle with trust. I know that I need to trust that God has it in control but I tend to get impatient and frustrated when things don't go according to my schedule (usually it's a timing issue).

8. Reread the story of the two monks on page 19.
a. which monk do you think describes you?

Mostly the second one, I pray but now looking back, I tend to tell God what to do and how I expect things to be done. "Lord please..." I don't think there is anything wrong in praying for specific things, actually He asks us to ask even though He already knows what we need. But I do believe it's a state of mind, understanding that God will work on His schedule and His timing. NOT ours. 

b. Do you think most women try to control or manipulate people and circumstances? if yes why?

I think know I do, I don't like being wrong. I like to be in control most all the time. I don't want it to seem that I go overboard but I do like having a say in my life.
I think it has something to do with how we as women live our lives anyways. We have the capacity to multitask and think of a hundred different things at once. I'm able to write this blog and somewhat plan my evening all in one, sometimes even more. Any mom of young kids can relate to that. We wear a lot of hats. I think it's hard to find the fine line between "organizing" our lives and "controlling". It's very hard to switch between the two, and most of the time not even noticing or meaning to do it. We as women have come so far in the past years we now have so many things we are 'required" by society to achieve as moms and women in general. We have the ability to provide for our family the same way our husbands do, by working (don't get me wrong I have absolutely no problem with working moms, I have a problem with the worlds expectations that go with it) but we are also suppose to be excellent mothers, wives, friends. We are looked down upon if anything in our lives does not correspond with the worlds views. For example; my son was born by an emergency c-section after being induced two weeks after his so said due date, I was unable to breast feed him. He is now three and still not anywhere close to being potty trained. I fed my son Cheetos today and gave him candy. The world tells me that I should have just waited and done things naturally. I was told I deprived my son of a healthy foundation by not feeding him myself. And I have definitely been looked down on for not successfully potty-training my child. I should not be feeding my son "dead" food. organic and homemade is the way to go (again I'm not downing the food choices. we follow a clean eating plan at home but i'm just not overly strict when it comes to fun snacks here and there). All I'm trying to say i there is a lot of stress out there for us women to perform to certain standards. I tend to find myself being controlling on matters like the potty training for instance because I feel stuck and things are not progressing on my/the worlds time line.I get frustrated and nervous and start worrying that something is wrong with my child and I take over the reigns in my life, and end up making an even bigger mess. C'est moi! 
(again please know that yes I believe that giving birth naturally is best but it's not what God granted me at the time, same with breast feeding, I wasn't able to and my sons health was more important at the time. I would love to be able to afford organic food all the time but right now we can't...and that's OK. So please know I have nothing against these things ;-)...)

9. Write in your journal: 
a. what did I learn about God this week? 

God is my ever present help in times of need, my comforter and sustainer . His Grace and love are ever present and He offers them freely. I'm worth more to Him that the birds in the air. He sustains my soul and helps me overcome myself. No judgement is passed and He stretches His arms and hands toward me, even when I have snatched mine away. He is enough to get me through, all other things fade away. He is patient.

b. What did I learn about myself?

I am self-ish, self-sufficient, self-absorbed, I tend to manipulate God because I don't think He can manage or fulfill my idea or plan. I will go to God last, He ends up being my last resort. Prayer is more for attaining and rectifying things than to converse with him just because. I lack the trust and faith. I can do nothing on my own. I am not enough. But I do have the willpower and desire to want to change, to soften my heart and to practice and work on my faith issues. And with His strength through me I am able to change. 

c. Write a prayer to remember what God has taught you.

My Father, 

Oh Lord of Lords how majestic is Your name in all the earth.Oh Lord I magnify Your name, Prince of Peace Mighty God, oh Lord God all Mighty.
You are my source of comfort and strength. You are the sustainer of all life. You have the power to give and take away. And yet You choose to accept me as Your child, You Love me with an agape love. No one can love me as You do. Your Grace abounds and is extended to me. You gave up Your son, so I could live. No greater love exists. 
And You offer all this to me even though my heart is hard and filled with doubt worry and anger. 
Father please forgive me for doubting You, for manipulating circumstances and prayers for being self absorbed and for pushing You away. Please restore unto me the joy of Your salvation and renew a right spirit within me. I pray You help me over come the worry and anxiety in my heart, conquer the tiredness and defeat lingering in my soul. May the ashes in my life be restored to beauty.
Restore Father. Let me taste of true life, abundant life. Let Your love and grace and light shine through me. Let the walls around my heart be torn down. May the strings of my life be tuned to make a beautiful sound in Your ears.  May You be omnipresent in my life.
May You be sufficient in my life. turn away anything that does not come from You. Mold this heart to be anxiety free. 
I love You Lord


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