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Grave Clothes

While reading a devotional recently I was reminded of the scene in the Bible when Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead (John, Chapter 11).  A particular line from this passage caught my attention: After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, Jesus said, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go” (John 11:44).

Something struck me about this passage. Lazarus was dead, then Jesus brought him back to life. Lazarus needed to keep on living, walking around, eating, doing ministry, visiting with his family and friends, and all the other activities of life … and he could not do any of that with those grave clothes on! Lazarus needed to shed the bindings of his death that would hold him back from the renewed and abundant life that Christ gave him!

You and I were once dead. But then, if you know the Christ as your Lord and Savior, you and I were given new life. Eternal life, absolutely and irrevocably! But also new life right here and now, and for the rest of our days on this planet!

However, we cannot move freely and fully into that life if we are still bound by the evidence of our previous life and the death that life brought to us. We need to surrender those things to the Lord and let him remove them from us, once and for all. We tend to want to keep those things wrapped around us because even though they are not meant for us to hold onto, they are familiar, and that makes them just a little bit comfortable to us (or, in come cases, VERY comfortable, am I right?). But they are cumbersome, burdensome, and yes, they even tend to stink up the new life we have been given.

These grave clothes are made up of lots of things, like unforgiveness, addiction, unhealthy speech and thought patterns, generational curses (fancy words for unhealthy junk our parents and grandparents passed onto us, often unintentionally), and even toxic relationships. This list is by no means all-inclusive, so I urge you to go to Jesus in prayer so he can lovingly show you what grave clothes are keeping you from walking freely and completely out of the life you died to and living the full, rich life that He intends for you to live.

It is often uncomfortable, challenging work, peeling off and surrendering those grave clothes, but with the help of Jesus, it can be done. Won’t you let him minister to you, help remove what hinders you and the sin that has you entangled (Hebrews 12:1)?

Step by unhindered step, with the help of Jesus, you can come forth from the grave of your past and be clothed with the freedom of the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14). And when you do, you will be able to leap and dance and run with joy the race set out before you (Hebrews 12:1)!

As always, if you find your self stuck or in need of help to take steps to live and feel healthier and more satisfied with your life, please feel free to reach out to me!

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The Best Gift Ever!

This week, we celebrate the beginning of the most significant life ever lived on this earth. The beginning of the ultimate rescue. The arrival of the key to peace.

This life would not be easy. The life of a King who chose poverty over riches, who lived as equal to the Father but as humble as a servant. The life of a man who refused to be enslaved by his flesh, in order that he could offer us freedom.

This week we will celebrate the beginning of the most precious life ever lived, the life of a man who taught, who wept, who laughed with his friends and experienced anguish like few of us will ever know. A man who loved like none of us are capable of loving. A young life ended unjustly, tragically, and voluntarily. A life that was lived, and ended, to give us a gift. The gift of salvation.

In light of such a gift, our response must be simple and true; we must be thankful. And the fruit of such a depth of gratitude is to live a life in service to the giver of such a magnificent gift.

It can be easy to get “wrapped up” in giving and receiving gifts to and from loved ones. But don’t forget, in this season of busyness and in these days of chaos and uncertainty, that there has only ever been one gift that really and truly matters. One gift that transcends time and the temporal. One gift we cannot hold in our hands, only in our hearts. It is the gift of the Christ. If you have not yet received this gift, I believe your soul is eager and longing to. Please, reach out to me or another believer you know; the gift we have been given longs to be the best gift you’ll ever receive, as well!

Let us celebrate with awe, reverence, and purest joy this Christmas. Happy birthday, Lord Jesus the Christ!

From our home to yours, merry Christmas.

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Renew Your Power

“But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him]
Will gain new strength and renew their power;
They will lift up their wings [and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun];
They will run and not become weary,
They will walk and not grow tired.” (AMP)

In Isaiah 40:31, Scripture tells us that those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. It does not say that when we worry and strive and grasp and overanalyze (which I am FAMOUS for, believe me) we will find rest.

I don’t know about you, but I’m guilty of running full steam ahead and hoping I’ll see the moment when God says, “Here, Angela. Have some peace as you try to do all this stuff you are doing on your own power. Have a healthy dose of joy as you choose to exhaust yourself.” That is sort of like when those amazing, wonderful humans stand on the side of a racecourse and hand out little sips of water to the runners. Experienced runners do not typically swallow that water, they just wet their mouths with it, so they do not get sick. But the water is not hydrating their bodies like it does when we drink deeply. It is refreshing, but only comforts for a short time. Sort of like all those little things we soothe ourselves with when we get worn out because we choose not to rest, like alcohol, food, drugs, television … it is a long and often shocking list.

When I do not stop and rest in the Lord. He does not abandon me. But I do not get that soul-deep peace I crave. I do not get that joy that I can feel in all of my spirit. I do not overflow with hope until I surrender my striving and my running and my planning to trusting in Him. To believing in Him. To waiting for Him, with Him, in Him.

Won’t you join me in making a conscious decision to make time to rest in Him at least once per week? This may look different for you than for me, but it could include any one – or combination – of these: time in prayer, time spent pondering Scripture (even one verse that touches your heart), time being still and silent in His presence, or any other way that you feel deeply connected to the Holy Spirit that leaves you feeling refreshed afterward, like your power has been renewed.

Let’s be people of rest, not people who are stressed.

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Hope in Times of Hardship

Recently, I found myself wondering why it is that we have to look so far – all the way to heaven – for joy, peace, comfort. Why this life “must” be so full of hardship, as we are told in Scripture that it will be (1 John 16:33). Then a few things happened:

  1. I remembered that it is sin that has our world so upside-down and inside-out, so full of strife; and that it is a gift from God that we do, in fact, have heaven to look forward to!
  2. As I began to read Scriptures involving suffering, I found an interesting takeaway: the majority of them come with an encouraging promise! A few examples:
    • “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:10, NIV, emphasis mine).
    • “The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all” (Psalm 34:19, NIV, emphasis mine). (Note that you are made righteous when you receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior (Romans 3:22), so this promise is for all believers.)
    • “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (1 Cor. 4:17, NIV, emphasis mine).
    • “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sinAs a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God” (1 Peter 4:1-2, NIV, emphasis mine).
    • “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” 1 John 16:33, NIV, emphasis mine).

There are more, but I encourage you to find them on your own.

  • God reminded me that heaven isn’t so far away, particularly since believers are indwelt with the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 1:21-22). I mean, for me that feels like a piece of heaven living right inside me!
  • I remembered that when I keep my gaze to heaven, a couple of things become clear:
    • Heaven doesn’t seem so far away; and
    • I am no longer focused on the suffering of this world.
  • I am reminded that if I choose to, I can see much good in the world, even good that comes from suffering. Is that always easy? Well, no. But it does get easier the more I intentionally practice it. So, my perspective, as usual, largely dictates my emotional state, and my perspective is up to me to adjust (and is one of the few things in life I can actually control).

I came away from this prayer time (and from writing this post!) encouraged and at peace. I hope you will, also!

If you are struggling to find hope in your current circumstances, please reach out to me, or to someone, for help. You can reach me at angelaglicklifecoach@gmail.com.

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The Chains I Chose

Self-condemnation is a place where I’ve spent too much time. Maybe you can relate? I have been living in my heart with the same attitude toward myself I had back then, before I began passionately pursuing the heart of Christ. I have been merely existing, feeling shackled to condemnation, isolation, and “never-good-enough-ness.” I’ve been standing at the back of the room desperately wanting to be near my Savior, and at the same time fearful he would notice me and scorn me.

Mercifully, God has been working with me to help me see the truth; in large part that I am not the same woman I was 15-20 years ago and beyond (or even yesterday). He is showing me that she – the old me – is gone, along with the old life, and that a new life has begun (1 Cor. 5:17)!

One of the chains that Christ wants to break in your life is the one that keeps you bound to thinking you are still the person you were before you surrendered your life to him!

The enemy would be all too happy for us to choose to chain ourselves to our sin and shame. He’d thrill to know that we choose to keep our focus on what has been, rather than on what God says will be; on who we once were rather than the person God says we are now!

See, those chains were broken the moment we acknowledged that Jesus is the Son of God, and that we, as sinners, need him to save us from ourselves, from sin, and from our greatest foe. So why on Earth have I chosen to hold onto them for so long?!

I want to live free, and I can’t do that if I let the ghost of who I used to be hold me hostage daily!

If you can relate all too well to this, I urge you to pray the following courageous prayer with me:

God, search my heart, and I pray that you would find the good in me and help me to see it, too, for You, in your boundless generosity and grace, created me in Your image. You have molded me over the years, taking every good and every bad experience, and made me who I am today:  a broken but beautiful, flawed but forgiven, weak but washed in the blood of the Lamb, person who loves you – and is loved by you – passionately! Lord, forgive me for submitting to the enemy of my soul and gazing into the pool of shame he has shown me for far too long. Today and every day, help me choose to keep my eyes focused forward and upward, wherever YOU are! Amen!

I Was Drowning

Before Christ saved me, I was drowning. Flailing, sputtering, sinking, choking and utterly helpless to save myself.

Then he came. He put his arm around me, but as so many people who are drowning do, I resisted my rescuer.

Why is it that drowning people so often do this? They (we) tend to struggle against those who would protect us and lead us to safety, even though they are perhaps the only thing between us and certain death. It’s about fear. It’s about losing control.

In order for him to save me, I had to surrender to him. I had to stop fighting. I had to give him total control. I had to let go and be still and let him rescue me, pull me to safety, completely dependent on him.

Lord, I thank you for being my rescuer. I pray that every time I find myself in over my head, I will surrender to you, giving you control and trusting you completely. And God? I’m sorry for all the times I make you work so hard, and for the times I resist you. Amen.

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Sticky Fingers

Surrender sounds easy, doesn’t it? 

I mean, it’s putting down something, unburdening.  It’s the opposite of striving. 

Most of us get pretty attached to things, often without intending to, and if you’ve tried surrendering, you probably already know how hard it really is.  It’s some of the most challenging work we’ll ever do.  (And some of the most important.)

I’m a crafter, and as God tends to do, He used one of my passions to make a point with me (maybe this has happened to you?):

When I’m playing around in my craft room, I often get glue on my fingers, and if I don’t get it all off, suddenly I touch something and it sticks to my fingers.  I imagine life is like that sometimes.  We reach for a thing and it gets stuck to our hands.  A dream.  A goal.  A job.  A relationship. 

Before we know it, there are so many things stuck to us that if God tried to give us a gift, a person, or a purpose, it would slide right out of our grasp, and we couldn’t receive it.

It takes effort to surrender all that stuff.  We have to consciously peel our hands away from the things that we become glued to and lay them aside.  It’s hard, and sometimes painful.  But wow, do my hands feel better without a bunch of junk stuck to them!  I can wash them and open them up before the Lord and receive whatever He chooses to give me. 

What do you need to peel your hands away from today?  What do you need to surrender?  Don’t be afraid!  God always has better gifts for us than we could ever dream of!

So go ahead, start peeling.  Start unsticking yourself from all those things that keep you from receiving God’s best for you!

I pray that as you let go and surrender to Him, that He gives you peace and rest and a sense of sweet release. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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You are not a wimp.

Have you ever found yourself in a season of life when it feels like the universe has just crapped in your Cheerios?  I sure have.  I have been known to rail at the powers that be – God, the universe, my cat – because life just wasn’t turning out the way I wanted it to.

Then I grew up a bit.

I realized that wherever I find myself in life, I am the one who put me there. 

Okay, we can get into a lengthy and ultimately unresolved debate about predestination vs. foreknowledge of God and free will, but this isn’t that post.

Also, let’s go ahead and get past the obvious: life throws us curve balls.  Someone we love dies, we fall ill through no direct action of our own, the cat swipes the Lego off the table onto the floor right before we put our foot down . . . sometimes things do just happen without our consent.  Those are not the situations I’m talking about.

So what am I talking about?  I’m talking about when my pants don’t fit “like they used to.”  When I’m broke.  When I feel like someone is sucking the energy out of me every time I find myself within the sound of their voice.  Or when I hate my job – and have for the last six years.

Can we all just take a moment and stop blaming everyone and everything except ourselves and take ownership?  TRUST ME, THIS HAS A HUGE “UP” SIDE!

You may be thinking I’m just being mean, but I promise I’m not.  As always, I have your (and my) best interests at heart!  So, how does that look?

Once we reckon with the fact that we are where we are in life due to a series of our own choices, we recognize that we are empowered to make better choices.

Are you suffering at your job because you’re late to work every day?  Your co-workers are bitter, your boss is annoyed, AND you feel stress and shame every time you walk in late?  Sunshine, you need to suck it up and get out of bed earlier.  It’s a choice.

Are you annoyed with that one friend who always marginalizes her time with you and reschedules 5 out of every 6 times you try to meet up with her?  To borrow one of my favorite lines form Eat, Pray, Love, wish her love and light – and then let her go.  It’s a choice.  (And if you struggle with healthy boundaries, let’s talk!  Seriously.  Contact me.)

Are you so so so so tired of being 8 pounds overweight – and you don’t have a legitimate medical issue, but you just plowed through half a box of Krispy Kreme donut holes?  Sweetheart, math is math.  Stop taking in more calories than you burn – this one is NOT Krispy Kreme’s fault.  I know, the force is strong with Krispy Kreme, y’all, but y’all got this!  It’s a choice.

If you hate the work you do, and every time you bring it up your friends scatter like cockroaches when the lights come on because you’ve been griping about work for the last three years . . . or 6 . . . or 26, it may be time to dust off your resume and go find something else.  Or maybe it’s time to take a step in a new direction by taking a class or two.  Stop making excuses – if you watch more than 30 minutes of television a day you won’t have to give up much here.  (And if you need help managing your time, I’m here for you – contact me!).  Ask your friends what you’re good at besides griping about your job; trust me, they’ll be more than happy to help if it means they get to enjoy your sunny smile again!  It’s a choice.

One I hear often is that folks want to have a better spiritual life, but they’re just too busy.  Honey, you can’t build a meaningful relationship with anyone, let alone the Creator of the universe, if you only make time for drive-through relationships.  Come on in and sit a spell.  Be with Him and He will be with you.  There won’t be fireworks every time, but that’s true in any relationship.  If you spend less time on Facebook or watching television or playing games on your phone, you can probably squeeze out an extra half hour a day for your spiritual life.  At the risk of offending you, the fact is that we make time for what we truly care about.  Ouch!  But it’s true.  And, yes.  It’s a choice.

Detecting a pattern here?

Life isn’t happening to you without your consent.  You are not some wimp being beat up by everything and everyone in your life.  You are not a doormat (unless you choose to be).  You weren’t created that way!

Doesn’t it feel good, though, to know that you can make choices that change how you feel about your life?  Learn to say, “no” to the things that don’t move you in the direction of where you want to be in six months, a year, three years . . . and say “yes” to making time and space for the things that do!

Go ahead.  Start with one good choice today and then look back on it tomorrow and again in a week and see if you don’t feel better!  And feel free to share with me your victories, big and small, related to changing your life in healthy ways!

If you need help with time management, motivation or developing your spiritual life, please feel free to contact me!

Photo Credit: Graphics and More

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Give Yourself a Break!

After just finishing up a challenging semester in grad school (and aren’t they all challenging, really?), I’m giving myself this week off!  I worked really hard to make time for some much-needed rest and relaxation, and this time I’m really, really going to do it.  Stop laughing, I’m serious!

See, usually, I *say* I’m going to take the week off and then I book every single day with as much as I can fit in.  I call it the “funnel effect,” and I’m betting you’re familiar with it.  It happens when I have so many things on my “to do” list that I can’t possibly get them done in a day, so they accumulate until I can’t get them done in a week, and on it goes (until I “declutter” my “to do” list, but I’ve already blogged about that).

So when I stop to take a break from school, all the miscellaneous stuff that hasn’t gotten done over the semester funnels right into the space I’ve created in my schedule, until I’m completely overwhelmed again!  So, maybe it’s household stuff, and sure, that needs to get done.  Maybe it’s time with friends, and absolutely, I love spending time with my friends!  Maybe it’s working on my blog, which I enjoy, or tending to some marketing matters for my small business(es) I’d like to grow, and that’s legitimate and helpful to our household.  I’m betting you can relate to the funnel effect, am I right?

But wait . . .

If all that stuff has waited for the last sixteen or seventeen weeks, I’m left wondering . . . why do I try to squeeze it all into the time off that I’ve worked so hard to carve out?!  Maybe it’s important, but it’s obviously not urgent or it would probably not still be on my “to do” list, right?  Some things have been put off during the school term BECAUSE THEY CAN BE PUT OFF.  So that means they don’t all have to get done on my break, either.

I’ve capped off the funnel this time!  I set a small amount of time aside to visit with a couple of friends, I have a work-related project I really do want to accomplish this week, and I’m going to dust our apartment and clean one particular window that’s driving me nuts.  Otherwise, I have a novel I’ve been trying to read for over a year (did I mention that I’m in grad school?) and I *will* finish it on my break, on our balcony, with a cup of tea, possibly in my bathrobe.

I will spend precious time in my studio making beautiful things – some for sale, but much will be for our home and for gifting – because that makes my heart happy, and because engaging the creative part of my brain is an excellent way to de-stress (studies prove it!).  I’ll practice yoga, spend some extra time in prayer and meditation, and do whatever else rejuvenates me, but I’m *not* adding anything new to my calendar or my “to do” list.  In fact, I intentionally scheduled one day with absolutely NOTHING on the calendar or the to-do list, and I may turn it into a prayer and meditation day (super rejuvenating!)

I’m determined to feel like I took a break.  I can do it.  But since I already know this, the reason I’m posting it publicly is to remind you that you can, too!  Someone recently mentioned that every weekend leaves her feeling like she needs another weekend to recover from it.  We’ve all said that, probably.

Busyness is largely a choice, and often is a symptom of weak boundaries.  I know, I know, that sounds harsh.  And it hurts when I have to say it to myself, too.  But it’s the raw truth.  So, go ahead and give yourself a break – all the cool kids are doing it!

So to that end, my faithful followers, I am wrapping up this post and I’m going to head to the studio!  Shalom!

If you need help with life strategies such as stress management, spiritual development, and women’s concerns including painting a victorious new future after overcoming emotional, sexual and physical abuse, please contact me!  We can set something up for next week.  😉

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Stress Management Tool #3 – Meditation

Stop rolling your eyes!  Any healthy conversation about holistic stress management has to turn to meditation sooner or later – and you can do it!  Come on, then, and let’s talk a little about meditation, and hopefully demystify it and make it more accessible…

What Exactly is Meditation?  Chrisman and Blackwell (2018) define meditation as “a practice of concentrated focus upon a sound, object, visualization, the breath, movement, or attention itself in order to increase awareness of the present moment, reduce stress, promote relaxation, and enhance personal and spiritual growth” (p. 2256).  The recommended focus varies among cultures and religions; however, Clinton, et al. (2005) teach that Christian meditation includes meditating on God’s Word and on Christ.

Benefits of Meditation.  The National Institutes of Health (2016) reports a finding that scientific evidence supports that meditation reduces the symptoms of stress, to include depression and anxiety.  In fact, one study found that meditation is among the top-recommended methods of coping with a wide range of stress-related maladies, both physical and emotional (Chrisman & Blackwell, 2018).  Bergland (2013) writes that “any type of meditation will reduce anxiety” and lower the levels of cortisol, the body’s primary stress hormone; Bergland goes on to recommend taking several deep, slow breaths at the first signs of stress.

Methods of Meditation.  Meditation can seem a bit “mystical” and “mysterious” to those who have not practiced it, but it is a valid stress intervention that is readily available to everyone, and it’s more down-to-earth than you may think (i.e., it doesn’t have to be all “woo-woo” – a technical term).  In fact, Christians may be surprised to learn that meditation is a practice supported by Scripture (see Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1:2, Psalm 104:34).

Bergland (2013) offers this encouragement:

“You can meditate anytime and any place. There don’t have to be strict boundaries to when and how you do it. Mindfulness and meditation is a powerful de-stressor and cortisol reducer that is always in your toolbox and at your fingertips. You can squeeze in a few minutes of meditation on the subway, in a waiting room, on a coffee break . . .”

Bergland goes on to write that setting aside as little as ten minutes for meditation can calm the mind and body.

So now that you know what meditation is and how beneficial it can be, you may be wondering how to do it yourself.  Need specific tips to start your own meditation practice to help relieve stress in your life?  Contact me and I’ll be delighted to help you develop your own meditation practice!

 References

Bergland, C. (2013). Cortisol: Why the “stress hormone” is public enemy no. 1: 5 simple ways to lower your cortisol levels without drugs. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201301/cortisol-why-the-stress-hormone-is-public-enemy-no-1

Chrisman, L., & Blackwell, A. H. (2018). Meditation. In J. L. Longe (Ed.), The Gale Encyclopedia of Nursing and Allied Health (4th ed., Vol. 4, pp. 2256-2260). Farmington Hills, MI: Gale. Retrieved from https://link-galegroup-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/apps/doc/CX3662600722/HWRC?u=vic_liberty&sid=HWRC&xid=23ec990f

Clinton, T., Hart, A. and Ohlschlager, G. (2005). Caring for people God’s way: Personal and emotional issues, addictions, grief and trauma.  Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.

National Institutes of Health. (2016, January). Mind and body approaches for stress: What the science says. NCCIH Clinical Digest for health professionals. Retrieved June 23, 2018, from https://nccih.nih.gov/health/providers/digest/mind-body-stress-science