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Unorthodox Injury with Eric Schwarz

This week, I get to sit down and talk with a guy who was a student of mine when I was doing full-time student ministry, Eric Schwarz. He’s an amazing guy with an amazing story. Here are a few of the bulletpoints form our discussion… though you REALLY need to push play and hear Eric’s story for yourself!

  • Eric was born & raised in San Diego
  • Grew up at North Coast Church and I knew Eric’s older brother, Tony
  • Loved skating & punk rock
  • Knew Jesus was real, but wanted to do his own thing

Why didn’t you follow Jesus if you knew it was real?

  • “I didn’t care about my salvation at that point. I just cared about having fun.”
  • Eric did all the church events, but not any of the relationship with Jesus.
  • He knew there was a reason that everyone else believed, but he never took the time to grasp it and engage with it

Eric’s life dramatically changed… and it all started with an accident

  • One day, Eric got high after school and skated home
  • While following his friend home, his friend crossed the street and as he went to cross, he was hit by a truck.
  • Eric woke up in a hospital with no idea why he was there.
  • Later, Eric learned that a Nissan Titan hit him at 45 mph, Eric was thrown 30 feet, destroyed his shoulder and smacked his head on the concrete.
  • Eric was diagnosed with PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury
  • After getting home from the hospital, he went right back to his old life of smoking, partying and skatingUnorthodox Injury with Eric Schwarz
  • While watching his grandfather die, Eric saw what true commitment to Christ looked like.
  • His grandfather’s example and strength led Eric to follow Jesus for real
  • Now, with this life change, Eric has finished school, advocates for people with TBI and works at a school for the disabled.

What are the long-term impacts of the injury?

  • Life long headaches, anxiety, depression, lower functioning motor skills and lack of focus
  • Eric has found that creating art helps cope with depression

What are words of advice for people going through brain injury?

  • Practice gratitude – gratitude helps you focus on the good things in this world
  • Don’t Isolate yourself – talk to others who know more than you do: professionals, doctors, family, friends
  • Admit you need help – get the help you need!

What advice do you have for people who are in relationship with others who are dealing with depression or TBI?

  • Just be there – you don’t need to do it all
  • Don’t just say good words – have good actions

Eric’s favorite Bible verse?

  • John 3:16 – it is the entire Bible summed up in one verse. It is the Gospel.

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

Closing thoughts:

What you earn give back to others. Keep your word and live in truth

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From Certified Life Coach Dixie Diamanti, Author of Climbing Out of the Box and Fifty Ways to Meet Your Lover:

Actively letting go is a little more pro-active than when you are forced to let go.

  • It’s a practice.
  • It’s being awake.

It can bring great relief.

Except for the agony of it!

It is not the same as “passively letting go.” Like when you have no choice…..whereby life rips stuff out of your grip, or you paint yourself into a corner, or life gets suddenly interrupted by a sudden loss.

I’m talking about a decision to let go of something that only Jesus can heal or take care of.

  • We are not saviors. He is!

5 Things I know by experience about actively letting go:

  1. There’s always more to let go of. Our life is a journey of surrender. The sooner we realize we are not the fixers the sooner we are released from the burden of trying to figure it all out. And sometimes we have to let go of the same thing 100 times or more.
  2. Letting go is painful– in varying degrees, and it is going to stretch you until you feel pain. It leaves an emptiness, a place that the thing took up, that you then have to ask Jesus to fill up for you.
  3. When you find the strength in your spirit to be tough enough to let go, you cross over a sacred line.

And on the other side, His tenderness is waiting for you for He has just been waiting for you to release it, (or them, or whatever it is that you were holding onto).

  1. Baby steps are okay, but you can’t avoid the pain that surfaces when you commit to the letting go and the longer you wait the longer it takes to see Him fixing the thing you had a vice grip on.
  2. Acceptance is obedience and obedience means intimacy with the One who stands there waiting patiently for you to get there.

When you just accept that the pain of letting go is part of the deal, your let-go wound will heal faster.

I’ve surrendered to the endlessness of it. And it’s a resolution that softens my spirit. It is a solution of surrender…which means growth and trust and intimacy with the One that I trust to handle it all for me; the things out of my control…

Where I got in the way!

  • Deep, deep, deep in my soul, beneath limits of time, and fantasies, and things I “captured” along the way that I thought I could fix, is the freedom that has been pulling me forward my whole life. Forward right into His lap.
  • Trust is deeply rooted in how Father feels about us. Jesus wanted us to know that he does not withhold his glory or make us earn his favor. We’re his dearest friends! He wants us to experience the fullness of his life, and the best way we do that is to be learning to relax and let go of our need to control our own lives and define security on our own terms.
  • People who fuss, grab and manipulate simply don’t understand how God works. What a statement! I had no idea that my anxieties were the best evidence that I had simply not learned how God works. Because I didn’t trust him to bring into my life all that I needed to walk in him, I had to scheme and labor to try and get it for myself.
  • And even when that doesn’t work, we don’t consider that our approach to God is flawed, only that we’re not working hard enough. So instead of giving up and learning to let go, we have to try even harder.
  • Jesus is inviting a new generation of his followers to learn how to live dependent on the awesome love of his incredible Father. Isn’t it interesting that we have built most of our religious institutions on the fear that we can’t trust him to lead his people and therefore must provide programs and rituals to make people feel secure? Unfortunately we end up spending more energy building substitutes for people to trust in instead of equipping them to fully trust him.

Gazing into His eyes with my spirit, even though each and every time it is like cutting off an appendage, I let go of my priceless treasures that is outside my control and give it all to Him.

So I’m still shedding — taking deep breaths and actively letting go. I’m not waiting until I’m ready to let go. I’ve waited long enough. Carried stuff long enough. Longed long enough.

For that tender place, dancing with Him, on the other side of courage.

And you know what?   In each and every case after actively letting go I have found the reality of truly living by faith….for He has never let me down.

And I have delightfully discovered that He does a much better job of fixing than I can.

So, take a deep breath, and as an act of faith, share with me those things you have truly let go of too!

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Sometimes, God allows us to see into the spirit realm.  It is called Discerning of Spirits.   (1John 4)   When we were in the process of losing our house the day the house went on the auction block, I saw cars going up and down our street circling my house about an hour before it was to be auctioned.   I was very troubled in my spirit and overcome with dread.  In my spirit I saw myself standing on the roof of my house in the middle of the ocean and sharks were circling me.  They were getting closer and closer and I was struck with terror and this horrible feeling of being swallowed up.    As I prayed and began to do spiritual warfare I saw huge angels on top of the house with pulled swords.  They were fighting off demons that were propelling at them with lightening speed right and left.  It was like they were circling for the kill and they were trying desperately to destroy all we held dear.   I knew something huge was going on in the Heavenlies on our behalf.  I also knew God was right on it and knew every detail of what was happening.  I actually saw in my spirit the angels of warfare.

  • I feel compelled to address the fact that sometimes we become complacent to his wiles.  We forget that he is constantly assaulting the ones who are a threat to his kingdom.  In other words, he is after the church, to cripple and defeat.  You have an enemy, folks.  He is trying to steal your freedom, kill your heart, and destroy your life.   There are so many within the churches that simply are not enjoying that abundant life of the kingdom Jesus talks about.  To live in ignorance of spiritual warfare is the most dangerous thing a person can do.  It is like swimming with killer whales with a black wet suit on.
  • You don’t escape spiritual warfare simply because you choose to stick your head in the sand.   With a lot of people it is the fact that they just don’t know if their prayers work, so it is easier to ignore it, until he attacks.  John 10 reminds us that the thief (Satan) is trying to steal the life God wants to give you.  It is either ignore it and live a defeated life, or realize who you are in Christ and the power that is yours to use to fight the fight, through what He accomplished at the cross.
  • My husband, Greg, is getting ready to go to a men’s spiritual retreat in the mountains.  The leader of the retreat sent out a letter to all the men that included a prayer of warfare for them to pray every day until they go on the retreat.  He said that the enemy will try every way in the book to prevent them from coming to a place that will set them free from strongholds in their life.  He said to fight the fight and know that your enemy can’t prevent you from coming unless you allow him to.   It is coming up soon and already we have felt some of the attack… so he continues to pray the prayer of faith.

Today I was to do a radio interview with a large ministry on the east coast of the US, (I am on the west coast).   When we tried to connect, the phone lines began to act weird.  After repeated times of hanging up and re-calling we finally had to give it up and reschedule.  She said that never happens.    My belief is that whatever we were going to discuss, Satan didn’t want it to happen.  That makes me excited to do the interview next week because God is going to do great things in the lives of those who listen in.  But I shall do warfare before the radio meeting.

  • Satan is called in scripture the father of lies.  The truth is not in him at all.  Everything he says to us is a lie.    Just like in the Garden of Eden when he deceived Eve with his cunning, he is hoping you will buy into whatever he is saying or offering you.   He constantly attacks our minds with negative, faith crushing thoughts, hoping we will begin to agree with him; that yes, we are defeated, and we become consumed with fear.  “You are bad; you are weak; you are ugly; you will never succeed; you will lose your house; your kids are stupid”; where your weaknesses lie is where he will attack in your thoughts.   We must not ever agree with him.    Because we do not live as if we are at war many times we just assume these thoughts are our own… and then they give way to bone crushing fear.  Where two agree on a matter faith is moving it shall be given unto us.  That works both ways.  If you agree with God, no matter what it looks like, He is there to protect you.  But if you agree with Satan by speaking out what he is telling you then watch for the fear and terror to hit you.
  • If it steals, kills, or destroys you can know where it is coming from.  If it gives you life and joy then you know it is from God.  When we make agreements with demonic forces suggesting things to us, we come under their influence.   We give permission to our enemy to move in with force.  Anxiety attacks are rampant these days.  Depression is too.  Jesus wants so much more for us; as a matter of fact He has already given us all we need to stand firm and fight this fight.

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We have an enemy. He is not happy when we are involved in changing lives for the Kingdom of God.   He is hoping we will forget and succumb to him, but we know that “Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.”   Satan roams around like a lion “seeking whom he may devour”… notice it says “seeking”… not all of us have our heads in the sand. We have to be on our guard and walking in the presence of Jesus and not allow ourselves to be distracted by the noise of the enemy, and believe me he will make a lot of noise.

  • I have realized it is going to take a supernatural life to be able to withstand evil attacks in these coming days.   It is time folks, to determine that whatever else our goals and hopes are for this year we need to be seeking the strengthening of our souls.
  • Remember, we are a spirit, (the part that is born again with the receiving of Jesus as Lord of our life), we have a soul, which is our mind, will, and emotions, and we live in a body.   The bible talks about the renewing of our soul daily. Not our spirits. They are already born again and saved for eternity. Our SOULS… our minds!!   They have to be renewed daily to what God says about us and so that we can recognize what the enemy says about us. This is why the bible teaches us that we are not fighting against flesh and blood, but against principalities and darkness and everything that exalts itself over and against our God.

So, how do I fight my wars?   Yesterday, I went for a walk with Jesus, by the ocean. It was a glorious day of sunshine and I was totally focusing on Jesus and seeking His strength in the trials I am facing right now. There are some things that seem impossible in the natural; things happening in my life right now, and I could feel the struggle within my soul of good over evil. Fear was hovering off to my side just waiting to grab hold of my thought life. I could feel its insidious force trying to penetrate. I kept my course. I started praying every scripture I could think of. When I ran out of things to say I repeated the name of Jesus over and over. I looked up and there on the mountainside was this hideous rock formation that resembled the face of a demon with a fish body.   It seemed to be mocking me. For a moment my environment seemed dark. I looked through the forest off to my side and it was dark. And then I looked again and there were all these streams of bright light penetrating the darkness. Out of my mouth I began to sing, out of Psalms 25:

Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul

Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul

O my God, I trust in thee:

Let me not be ashamed,

Let not mine enemies triumph over me.

I sang it over and over until I felt the temptation to fear leave me. Throughout the rest of the day I continued to hear evil reports but I maintained my thoughts on the possibilities of Jesus and what He so wants to accomplish in my life.

There are so many tools he gives us to fight this good fight of faith and to keep our shields up to ward off the fiery darts that Satan aims at us.

  1. Pray the word. Put your name right in there as you pray. Or pray the word over your family or others you may be called to pray for until you see God’s intervention. Faith comes by hearing yourself speak truth!! An example: Psalms 91:1&2:

Lord, I thank you that because I dwell in the secret place of You, oh most high, I shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of You, my Almighty God, whose power NO foe can withstand…”

  1. Sing the word of God. I love singing my prayers. It slows down my mind. And many times, in the Spirit, I have heard Him singing back to me in my own voice in answer to my song. It is really beautiful.
  1. Let the Holy Spirit pray through you. Just go with it and His leading in however He shows you to pray.
  1. When the heat is turned up and I just can’t seem to pray anything, I just say the name of Jesus over and over. In Acts it says that there is no other name as powerful as the name of Jesus, and at the mention of that name every knee has to bow in both heaven and earth.   So the way I see it, even if you can’t do anything else when you just say His name He is right there fighting for you.

The real secret to really dwelling in His presence is pretty simple. Be intimate with Him. Sit with Him. Journal to Him. Have coffee with Him. Get to know Him. Let Him speak to you and step out in faith and believe that it is Him.   In that way, you learn to recognize His voice over the voice of Satan.   Remember it is His sheep that hear His voice and the voice of a stranger they will not follow.

→    How do you find sweet peace while you sleep without the barrage of worry that hits many of us in the middle of the night? Or bad dreams?

→   When you feel the urging of the spirit to spend some time to fight off the demons of hell that are attacking you or your loved ones, how do you do it?

→   How do you saturate yourself in Him to the point you are constantly aware of His presence in this day and age without following a formula or ritual that doesn’t come from the heart?

  • I am all for simplicity.  I hate it when people make the gospel so difficult that it seems like we could never attain what we are believing for.   It is easier than religion ever taught, friends.  Religion is based on rules, formulas, works and such, that, in essence, we can not live up too. When we really know Him it still takes determination to NOT settle for less than is available to you.  In my simplicity, I will share with you what I do to accomplish these things.  Not that I have all the answers by any means.  But such as I have I will freely share with you.

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”   (John 10:10)

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I was busy watering my flowers and snipping dead heads off of them one evening totally oblivious to anything else around me.  As I was carrying on a conversation in my head, listening to the birds chirping, and very much lost in thought,  suddenly I hear someone say out loud, “Uh huh” and I jumped.  Looking around to see who was joining in my head conversation, there was no one there.  I realized I had said it!!  Was this it, I wondered?  Am I starting to talk to myself now?  Yikes!!

Mulling over this little incident I realized that when I am talking to the Lord on my walks in the morning and throughout the day we, He and I, have a running conversation.  I seriously hear him answering me when I ask him questions about my life and whatever I am praying about.  If I am paying attention, that is.  Unlike that day suddenly hearing myself answer myself and being startled, when I talk to Jesus I am usually expecting an answer.   And He gives it.  Now, I don’t hear a voice audibly.  It seems like it though.  It is like a thought comes into my head that I positively know it did not come from me.  And it is so loving and kind in the way he approaches me that I know it is Him.  The first time this happened I was astounded, and excited, to say the least.  But I knew it was Him.  You just know.  I can’t explain it any other way.  He said in the scriptures that His sheep know His voice.  We talk all the time.  And I honestly feel the extreme trust and closeness that constantly keeps growing because of it

I remember one day driving out of town and I was not in a good place emotionally and was feeling a little abandoned by God.  Don’t we all have those days?  Occasionally, throughout my walk with God, I have learned to sing my thoughts to Him when it is hard to talk about them.  So, this particular day, I was singing in the car while picturing Him on the seat next to me.  I sang for about a half hour and was struck by the peace that seemed to fill the car.  Then, I opened my mouth to continue to sing, but it was different; my voice, but definitely His words.  I had been singing over and over, “Here I am Lord, do You hear me? I’m right here longing for your touch.”  He sang back to me, “I’m right here Dixie, I can see you.  You are my precious child and I love you.”   It was amazing and wonderful all at the same time.

He is available as much as we want Him.  The more time you give Him the more you will experience Him.  It is our choice.  He is a gentleman and won’t force you to spend time with Him but He is always there just waiting.   Even in those times you are waiting for answers, or need direction and are not hearing anything, He is still there and, even though He is not going to tell you all you want to know, He will encompass you with His presence and bring you His peace in the midst of chaos.

If you are one of His sheep, then He is speaking to you and you are hearing His voice! The problem is that we have not learned how to recognize His voice and differentiate it from all of the other voices that bombard our hearts and minds. This will lead to a deeper intimacy with Him as well as greater faith, hope and joy in your life.

Wouldn’t it be incredible if you clearly heard God’s voice every single day for the rest of your life? You can receive daily direction from the Wonderful Counselor Who encourages you and guides you in cultivating great relationships with family and friends. You will learn divine patterns for approaching God and clearly hear God’s voice every day. You can begin to discern God’s voice from other voices which clamor for your attention

I am excited about this particular subject because I can’t imagine anyone not wanting more of God.  He doesn’t tell us to live and move and have our very being in Him and then make it hard for us to get there.   Don’t settle for anything less than what He makes possible to attain!!!!

For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ (Acts 17:28)

 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27)

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Today, I offer a personal testimony:

My last airplane journey was to Montana. I was to fly out of Burbank to Salt Lake City, then on to Montana.   I felt all grown up; big time ministry woman, hitting the skies.   I love traveling alone. I call these trips me and Jesus journeys.

So off I went feeling the woman in charge of my own life.   I was shocked at the smallness of the airport and when I asked the way to my boarding area they laughed at me. I soon found out why. There was only one boarding area and it was right around the wall behind where they stood.   Okay joke’s on me.

I walk around the corner and saw the plane was ready to board already, but they were not calling us to board.   Starting to feel a little anxiety I kept watching the clock because in 4 hours I was to board the flight to Montana from Salt Lake City. And that was the last one for the night.   What would I do stranded at an airport all night?

The hours crawled as I watched a literal circus of errors with no explanation as to why we could not board the plane.   The Santa Ana winds had come up and were blowing the plane all over the place but they assured us that was not the problem. They came on the speaker and asked who among us would be willing to get off the plane because there was too much weight for it to fly.

Seriously?   Of course, The Voice, began to chime in (read previous blog to see who The Voice is) telling me that it was MY weight that would down the plane. What if I was the one who tipped the scales of the plane and sent it spiraling downward killing us all?   I knew I should have lost those 20 lbs before this trip!   No one volunteered to be the one to get off.   I had to reach Salt Lake before my other plane left. My anxiety level was rising.

Okay Jesus, it is you and me.   This is scary.   Bring me peace.

Now!

What should I do?

Silence.

Then He whispered. “It’s okay, Dixie, I go before you, remember?”

I’m good. I’m good. I’m not in a hurry. Mercy. Grace.

He had my back.   But my mind was killing me.

“Bring every thought captive, to His voice, Dixie.” I self talked.

Two hours later they finally let us on the plane with no explanation as to why we couldn’t get on before that and I was just wondering if they truly did they get that one fat person off so we wouldn’t fall out of the sky? The stewardess told us that it was “bunk” that the plane would weigh too much.   Then we saw the pilot come on the plane, who, up until then, had been missing in action. Hmmmmm.   And he was all smiles as he climbed into the cock pit.

Now, I have to ask you, when your pilot delays the plane by not showing up on time, what comes to your mind?

“Okay, Lord, here we go.”

The stewardess walked the isle and told us under her breath that we needed to write to Delta and complain about this incident.   This told me she knew something she was not telling us.

“Good grief, Lord, I am so glad you are with me up here.”

I was already emotionally triggered, though. I was thrown back into my childhood.   The old scripts started playing.   “Nothing ever works right for you, Dixie.   If it’s going to go wrong it will be on your watch.”

God was revealing yet again, deeper issues in my heart that need his tending; areas I need to repent of and receive his forgiveness and perfect love in;  areas I need to lean in and trust more and let my mind be renewed; areas where I am harsh for some underlying reason that I need Jesus to reveal and heal.

Now we are in the air in the Santa Ana winds. We lurched our way to Utah, literally. Like riding a bucking bronco, I am sure.   I had texted everyone how much I loved them by then.

Arriving in Salt Lake, a man who had looked up my flight to Montana had told me that it had left an hour before, so I needed to find an attendant and ask for a motel. So, sure enough, the plane had left without me.   I mean, really, how many people were going to Helena, Montana that time of night. Probably two people, they told me. They could have waited for me.

“Lord, I simply can’t sleep in one of these airport seats like Tom Hanks did in that movie where he had to live at the airport.”

“I’ve got this Dixie.” Deep breath.

The man at the counter told me they would put me up in a nearby motel and transport me there and bring me back in the morning to catch the next flight.   Wow! Okay then.   I was put up in a very fancy hotel near the airport.

“Just like a husband, you are, my Jesus!!”

“When you say you trust me, that means even when the way looks bleak, my child.” He whispered.

The ride to the motel put me on a shuttle with a woman who was alone. She went to another motel but the next morning we ended up sitting together on our way to Montana.

And then I knew.

The delay was so the Lord could put us together for a one hour flight.   In that hour we found we were both believers and we connected on a level I knew was Jesus. She was encouraged and I was too.

A divine appointment.

By the time we arrived in Helena and got off the plane, (there were about five of us on the plane) it was like we had always known each other and I introduced her to my friend I was visiting.   I will not know until eternity what that whole encounter was really about. But I do know the whole trip was planned out by Jesus for this particular meeting.

And to reveal to me new things about myself.

That’s what he’s up to; This loving, wild, relentless, fabulous God of ours.  He’s always after my restoration.

My emotional healing.  My deliverance.  My freedom.

And he’s after yours, as well.

I say yes to you, Lord.  I don’t like the ugly parts of me you have revealed, but I would stay in that ugliness if you didn’t show it to me.

So show me.

Even in airports, I am held in his grace.  I am held in his love.  I am being restored.  So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

(2 Corinthians 3:18)

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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.

I’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.

  • 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.
  • Joy 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 victimhood. 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.

  1. 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.

Unhappy 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.

  1. 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”. Happy 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:

6-7 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.

8-9 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.

  1. You compare yourself to others and harbor jealousy.
    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.

  1. 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. Unhappy 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 curveball.

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.

  1. You consider your future with worry and fear.
    Unhappy people fill their thoughts with what could go wrong versus what might go right. Happy 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.

  1. You fill your conversations with comparisons and complaints.
    Unhappy 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.

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Reflections of Grace Slider

My prayer:

“I’ve been in a slump Lord and wondering why I feel bored with my life and finally realizing the One I miss is You. Interesting because I feel You with me all the time. But You are teaching me that if I don’t take the time to sit and listen to You, my intimate needs of connecting with you will wane. You are who I miss. It is You I need. When I can’t put my finger on what I’m lacking then I can always know it is You. Oh, for the body of Christ to learn this truth! There wouldn’t be so many needy people. So, here I am my Love. I long for You in the deepest places.   In the depth of my soul. Fill my cup back up Lord. Fill me up and make me whole. Give me energy again, and health, and vitality. Hope and vision. Thank you for Your patience with me and your long-suffering. Thank you also for the vision of me as an uncut diamond that You are in process of chiseling away the dark coal–which is causing the light of Yourself to shoot off of me in so many ways.”

As I waited on Him, He replied,

“Yes, my love it is about your depletion of me. This is the next step of intimacy. You already know that I walk with you every moment, but now you must remember that when you are feeling lonely, sad, bored, and have a lack of vision it is me you are being called to connect with. Your reserves are depleted when you give out of yourself so much of the time and you get distracted. You forget to move all distractions out of the way and just sit with me, so I can fill you up. I am your very lifeline. Instead of turning to everything else, including connecting with people, you must turn to Me. If you do this, you will find your rest and peace and restored hope for the life I have called you too.

Yes, you are My diamond. The rays of My light shoot off of you as I have been chiseling away on everything that obscures my light. This will continue to manifest more and more as you walk on in the face of the chiseling. Your suffering for me has not gone unnoticed and your maturity in rising above the flesh in the many hardships you have faced has made Me delight over you with joy. Feel My smile, Dixie. Feel My love, Dixie. Feel My presence enveloping you, Dixie. I love you!”

Do you stop and just ask Him what it is you need at those confusing moments?  Sometimes we just don’t even think about asking Him what our problem is. Jesus sees you as His precious treasure… and He longs to have a close relationship with you.

More than anything He wants you to have an intimate love relationship and friendship with Him. God wants you to spend time with Him and intimately communicate with Him, to enjoy fellowship with Him, to trust and follow Him, and to give your life meaning and purpose by giving you the privilege of joining Him in His life here on earth.

  • All of humanity can be defined as a vast, gaping need. Looking across the globe of this generation we witness men and women, young and old, throwing themselves into entertainment, recreation, technology, food, music, friends, and a host of things as they grope for the answer to the riddle of why they are alive and seek to silence the screaming voice of yearning in their souls.
  • And throw in these troubling times of terror and the unknown of what we will face before we are taken out of here is gripping people with fear…and distracting them from the very One who can give them peace when our world is seemingly falling apart.
  • No matter how much we buy, who we know, or what fleeting pleasures we experience, we find that none of it can quench the insatiable thirst in the depths of our being. So it is that day after day we go about panting and groaning for something that will satisfy the desires that dominate our inner man.

We all know that we want intimacy because, on some level, we believe that only God can fill that void in our hearts. Still, for most of us, we don’t know quite how to get it, and what it actually means when we’re referring to intimacy with God Himself.

  • We must realize that it is not just a certain way of speaking about God nor is it merely a feeling we experience.
  • Intimacy with God consists of relational knowledge – we are most intimate with those whom we know at the deepest levels. Jesus stands at the center of this pursuit because in His face we see the light of the knowledge of the glory of God and that is what intimacy is really all about.

One of the most common misperceptions relates to how He feels about you. From years of various and sundry teachings born out of our organizational churches, deep inside we think that Jesus is mostly unemotional and distant, except for how disappointed He is with us – that is the one feeling many of us are convinced He does actually feel.

  • Yet the truth is that His heart is full of love and desire for you. This isn’t just an idea or a sweet sentiment, but a reality that He put on display in every moment of His life.
  • In drinking in the wild beauty of this Man, your soul will at last find its rest. This is intimacy, and this is what you were created for – to enjoy and adore the splendor of His glory forever.

So forgetting what is behind, let us press on to know Him.

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My legs were screaming for relief from the steady climb up the mountain.  I was enjoying the hike so much and it was so beautiful and green as we trudged upward.  Our goal was to reach the top that overlooked the whole valley below, a five-mile trek all together.  At first the walk seemed easy.  But as we slowly climbed the hill I noticed it was hard to talk without sounding like a steam engine.

I started becoming tired and overly winded about three miles into the hike and was slowly coming to the determination that I would not make it to the top and was considering turning around.  But the greater part of me was not willing to give up the majestic view I knew I would encounter at the top.  And I had to prove to myself I could do it.

So, keeping my head down, watching my feet, I kept on going, one foot in front of the other. At one point I lost my balance and was on the edge of a climb and thought surely I would topple down making an utter fool of myself.  I envisioned myself rolling over and over through the green grass all the way to the bottom.

But it didn’t happen.  I caught myself before I fell and was able to steady my gait.   Onward and upward I went.  Just before reaching the top, I had this feeling I just wasn’t going to make it.  I was so tired.  My back hurt.  My muscles hurt.  But I noticed that I had passed some sort of milestone in my breathing and I wasn’t huffing like a steam engine anymore.  So, I kept going, one foot in front of the other.

When we reached the top we were stunned with the beauty.  Our trail had turned into a Little Red Riding Hood sort of mystical trail.  There were huge oak trees with branches that stretch out forever that made the adventuress little girl in me want to climb them, (but quickly talked myself out of that one).  Looking down from the oak trees we could see for miles in all directions and I was thrilled at my reward for not listening to my weakness of wanting to quit and staying on the course.

As we began the descent a while after exploring the top I began to think about the spiritual application that so plainly ran parallel to what I had just experienced.

When I am advancing into a trial that is taking great faith, at first I am so full of positive energy that God is more than able to see me through whatever I am facing.  I begin to move forward, believing God is with me, and am proud of the fact I have no fear.  I can do this.  I can even enjoy the climb.  The mountaintop is waiting and who knows what Joys await my perseverance.

But as the going gets rougher and my spiritual energy becomes laborious I think, “Uh oh, I’m not going to make it.  My faith will not get me to the top this time.”  I start looking up that mountain and wonder if I will ever make it.  Doubt creeps in.  I don’t want to go any further.

“Surely you will die” my adversary whispers.  “God will not come through for you this time.  As a matter of fact, you have missed God all together.”  Where have I heard that before?   Boy, is Satan predictable or what?

At some point I seem to lose my balance while believing God, due to the enormous strength it takes to remain steadfast.   I feel off, somehow, and wobbly.  And just like when I thought I would topple down that mountain and make a fool of myself that day, I think the same thing in a spiritual trial.  “What will people think when they see me fail in this trial.  I am going to be seen as a failure.”  Recognizing my enemy, it gives me strength to press on.  I figure if he wants me to quit, there must be a great blessing ahead.

So, I keep pressing forward, one foot in front of the other, up that hill of faith.  Oh, my body hurts, my soul hurts, but my spirit is willing to press on.  So, I do.

Pretty soon I can feel the wind beneath my feet and I catch my breath.   I can feel the victory in the climb before I reach the top.  And then there it is!!  I am at the top.  I am victorious!  I can see for miles now and it all becomes so much clearer to me.

If we never had any mountains to climb our faith would not grow.  Our spiritual muscles would grow weak.  We would have a defeated thought life.  So, we must count it all joy when we have mountains to climb.  Without them we miss an opportunity to soar with the eagles.

“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while.  These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” (1Peter 1:6-7)

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As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5)

Interesting that in my time of wilderness, at the point that I felt I could not endure it any longer, something happened… my perspective of life in general has taken on a new picture as I wait for the promise.

For me, sometimes life seems to slowly evolve into a new way of living over time; outside my comfort zone. Do I fight it? Yes. But I eventually surrender my control. Since I know He is ever with me I can rise to the challenge.

The Trial, The Fire, The Wilderness, The Desert, The Black Hole, The Refiner’s Wheel –

Whatever you want to call it, it is temporary.

But any way you look at it, it seems to be a place of silence and nothingness…definitely not a fun place to be. It is a time when God seems (note I said ‘seems’) to remove the resources and support we normally rely on to feel secure; like:

  • Employment–Friends–Finances

A preparation time…

Here are the nine things, from my limited point of view, that I have become aware of while in my desert;

  1. Don’t just sit and pout.   Evaluate your life and your relationship with God. Are you in tune with Him?

I certainly came to realize that no amount of crying, begging, or being mad moved God one bit nor was He impressed with my drama.

  1. Discern whether there are any habits, attitudes, unbelief, or denials you have been avoiding dealing with. Hint: NOW is the time to get right!!

This is the best time to look at the root of fear in your security issues. Do we really trust Him for our daily needs every day, or just when it looks like that paycheck might not come in?

  1. Don’t trust your feelings. Trust Him in spite of your feelings!   The Voice will come I can guarantee it: “God is abandoning you. Just go ahead and lose hope. He has left you utterly alone.”

All lies! Feelings change by the hour and they come and go. God is unchanging.

  1. Keep in the forefront of your thought life that a trial of this magnitude is intended to develop maturity of character and refine you.

Let it happen; succumb to losing control. Because the minute you do He takes over. You could stay on that merry go round a long time trying to control it. Just stop the merry go round and get off!!   Just LET GO.

SURRENDER!!

  1. Know that the change in you will influence every single person you come in contact with, including, possibly, thousands of other people.

Our deserts are not just about us, but about the people God brings into our influence. Let the fire refine you. It won’t last forever even though it seems like it will.

  1. Don’t hurry the experience along, (as if you could).   Remember Joseph? He couldn’t do anything to get out of that hole he was put in by his brothers. He probably tried everything including yelling to the top of his lungs, climbing, catapulting, and did I say yelling? All he could do was pray and wait upon the Lord for deliverance.

And then when God got him out of the hole, it was to go into exile in Egypt.

  1. Lean on God. I mean let go and fall backwards off the cliff into His waiting arms. Talk to Him!! Sing to Him. Praise Him in thankfulness in spite of yourself.

And then:

  1. Be silent and listen for His still small voice. His wonderful melodic and wise and restful voice.

He is speaking, even in the silence.

I just don’t feel alone anymore. Never.   Even when it seems He isn’t paying attention, I know He is. I don’t trust my feelings. They are very fickle. He has not let me down yet. My feelings certainly have.

  1. Be willing to leave your box of preconceived notions of how God has to work according to your interpretations, truths, and leadings; And enjoy the new discoveries in the Kingdom that He begins to show you. But remember it is in HIS time, not yours.

You just might be resting on top of a rich storehouse of spiritual riches for your soul that you could not imagine. Whatever He has out ahead for you it is a good plan and not for evil!

Oswald Chambers said, “Whenever God gives a vision to a saint, he puts the saint in the shadow of His hand, as it were, and the saint’s duty is to be still and listen… When God gives a vision and darkness follows, waiting on God will bring you into accordance with the vision He has given if you await His timing. Otherwise, you try to do away with the supernatural in God’s undertakings. Never try to help God fulfill His word.”

God uses tests to bring us to spiritual maturity and He requires us to wait on His deliverance through those isolated trials so that we can know it is really Him when His plan does unfold.

When we have a vision that God has given us, sometimes it seems like all hell is unleashed against us first. It just never fits our picture. It doesn’t make sense to the human mind. Look at it all through your spiritual eyes.

I now see God in this trial.

Satan is such a bluffer and has no power other than what I give Him by setting myself in agreement with his words introduced to my mind.

Don’t agree with Satan!! He only has the power you give him.

Jesus is teaching me to persevere, to obey, and to wait on Him for His perfect timing.

I figure if He isn’t true to His word to take care of me when I am waiting then why am I even doing what I do. He is either true or He is not. Why waste our time if He is not? When I put His words to me to the test He never fails to bring them to pass. It may not look like what I wanted it too, but it is always a better plan.

You will return from your desert experience His promises are true.   He will change the way you look at things. He is sufficient to meet our daily needs, one day at a time.

It is about learning to just rest and follow in His strength and not mine.

We have to choose life if we want to live in Kingdom ways. We have to be willing to risk.. I am convinced that the only safe place for us is to press in deeply into the magnificent, wonderful, reckless, overwhelming love that God has for us. His love is the only safety net that will hold.

Really, do we have an option?

As John Eldridge says, “How is that life of fearful control working for you?”   Or how is it working for those around you that have to live with your control?

Let’s be free in the love of God.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil” (Proverbs 3:5-7).

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