A Sister's Journey Devotional Week #1 I am writing this Devotional from the heart. I hope to share my journey with God and what I have learned along the way. My walk with God started later in life. Before that I lived with mental illness and hopelessness. The lies I believed about myself kept me in bondage for too many years. It wasn't until God's truth was revealed to me that I began to rise from the depths of despair to the mountaintop of hope. Check back every Tuesday as we challenge the lies we believe about ourselves and replace them with God's truth. See you next week as we look at the lie - "I am inferior". I encourage you to meditate on my favorite Scripture this week - Philippians 4:8.
Devotional Week # 2 When I was 13 my Grade 8 teacher called my parents into a meeting. I was not sure what to expect. I thought I had been a "good girl". In that meeting, however, I started to believe the lie that I was inferior. The teacher reviewed my report card and all was good until the teacher said "Karen has an Inferiority Complex". I knew that was a bad thing based on the delivery of those words and the ...reaction of my parents. However, I did not know what it truly meant. Definition- Inferiority is a persistent sense of inadequacy or a tendency to underrate oneself and one's abilities. How easy it is to believe a lie about our identity and worth. I believed this lie for over 40 years! Have you been believing a lie about your worth? What is God's truth? Check back next week as we take a look at that. I encourage you to meditate on Galatians 3:28 this week. See you next Wednesday.
Devotional Week #3 Last week I shared about feeling "inferior" and I promised God's truth. Psalm 139:13 spoke to my heart. It says "For you created my innermost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I know you have heard it said, "God don't make no junk!" It is time for us to believe this. This is a truth we can hold onto. In my walk with God I have come to believe that feeling inferior is a good place to start. For it is in this place that we can learn to totally depend on God to make us feel valued and loved. I encourage you to meditate on 2 Corinthians 3:4-5 this week. Blessings, Pastor Karen.
Devotional Week#4 Have you ever felt offended? I lived most of my life feeling hurt by others. What a terrible place to live. It is like living in a locked room where you can see the person who hurt you dangling the key that unlocks the door! You find yourself locked into all of the pain, emotions, anger and helplessness you feel. You speak words like, "how could they?", "why didn't they?", or "why did they?". The list is endless. Your mind thinks, "did you see the way he/she looked at me?" Or, "why didn't he/she say hi to me?" Satan loves this place in our mind. In the next few weeks I am going to share my journey and the truths that unlocked the doors and set me free. The first truth I learned was that I choose to be offended! Nobody can offend me unless I allow it. Join me next week as we walk through the lies of the enemy and the truth of God. I encourage you to meditate on 2 Corinthians 12:10 this week.
Devotional Week#5 Why is it that when we feel hurt or offended, we hang to the pain like our favorite Teddy Bear? We hold on to the story that goes along with the offence and each time we tell others the story tends to grow. With each retelling our pain grows stronger and before we know it, we are living in anger, bitterness and judgement. Why would we choose to live in such a state? I know, for me, this became my identity. The "victim". I became good at mind reading by believing that I knew what "they are saying/thinking about me." I could concoct such a great victim story. A lot of us play the mind reading game, completely forgetting that the only person who has access to another's thoughts is them. We tend to assume, quite unfairly, that we know the thoughts and intentions of another person. In my studies I have learned that over 90% of the time the other person does NOT INTENTIONALLY set out to hurt us. In fact, they (or we) have no idea that someone has CHOSEN to be hurt. As I mentioned in Week #4, it is OUR CHOICE to be offended. How do we pick up these offenses? I call it my personal filter. Check back next week for more on this topic. I encourage you to meditate on Hebrews 12:15 this week. Blessings, Pastor Karen
Devotional Week #6 Last week I mentioned our personal filter. It has been my experience that the hurt or pain we encounter in our lifetime serves to create a filter through which all other experiences, words, looks, and so on, pass through. If I have not dealt with rejection issues as an example, then my filter becomes one of rejection. When I perceive that another person is rejecting me, I immediately become hurt or offended. The truth is that the other person has no idea that what they have said, did not say, did or did not do in any given situation, would trigger MY feelings of rejection. This gets back to OUR CHOICE as to whether or not we will be hurt or offended. I challenge you this week to ask God about your own personal filters. Write them down and spend time in prayer. Meditate on Ephesians 4:2-3 this week and check back next week as we pursue more on this topic. Blessings, Pastor Karen.
Devotional Week #7 Last week I introduced the idea of each of us having a personal filter through which everything we experience goes through. This filter could be one of rejection or shame. It could be guilt or bitterness. The list is endless. When we are dealing with feeling hurt or offended we often find ourselves judging others for the hurt or pain we feel, when all along it has been our own personal filter that has heightened those feelings. How many times have we pushed others away when they had absolutely no idea why? How many people have we hurt ourselves? Satan loves to see us in this place of unrest. He has taken down many friendships and even churches due to this. If he can get us distrusting and judging each other then he has won. Are we going to continue to let him do this? I challenge you this week to ask God if you are allowing the enemy to keep you in the bondage of offence. Meditate on Matthew 7:1-5. See you next week ... Pastor Karen.
Devotional Week #8 We have spent the last few weeks talking about feeling offended, our personal filters through which all experiences go through, and our choices. I also shared my belief that I was a "victim". I have come to a place in my journey where I no longer believe that lie. I am a "victor" and so are you if you have Jesus as your personal Savior. God has taught me that I am a strong tower who has victory over the enemy. I (and you) are a chosen child of God and nobody can take that away from us. Do I still get hurt or offended? Absolutely. However, that hurt lasts for less than a day in most instances. I now CHOOSE to look at why I feel this way. I deal with the "why" and then I move on. I do not spend my time focusing on the "who". When I focus on the person who I believe hurt me, I fall into the sin of judgement which puts me back into the enemy's camp! Check back next week as I look at how we can defeat the enemy through forgiveness. I encourage you to meditate on John 1:12 and Matthew 5:9 this week. Blessings, Pastor Karen
Devotional Week #9 Last week I mentioned the word forgiveness and how it is through us forgiving others that the enemy can be defeated! I know this to be the truth. Forgiveness unlocked the "bondage" I had placed myself in for many years. If you are living in a place of hurt then I believe this is critical to your healing. In my recent studies, the following spoke loudly to me. Alf Davis' book says, "We want grace and mercy for ourselves, because we know our own failings and weaknesses, but for others, we want justice. It is easy to slip into a double standard." The time has come to show grace and mercy to those who we have chosen to be offended by. Alf goes on to say, "Since you are going to live with the consequences of another person's sin anyway, your real choice is to live in the bitterness of un-forgiveness or the freedom of forgiveness." What choice will you make today? I encourage you to pray this prayer: "Lord, bless me with the power to forgive. Give me the grace to unconditionally forgive those who have hurt me. Give me the strength to let go of the pain and the strength to forgive myself for the sin of judging others. As I repent, I thank you for Your forgiveness. Amen." Meditate on Colossians 3:13 this week.
Devotional Week#10 I have spent the last few days arguing with God about what to write about next. Have you ever argued with God? We all know how that turns out ... so here goes. I had my first attempt at suicide at the age of 16. At the time I had no idea why. My life was not terrible. I had made some very bad decisions but nothing that could not be worked through. Today, I simply thank God that he stopped me in my footsteps and rescued me from the darkness. In my late 40's I started to recognize my own personal filters. My filter was one of believing that I was worthless, useless and unlovable. As I grew older other filters got added but I realized, that at the age of 16, I had already formed these lies in my mind. Where did they come from? How did they form? In the coming weeks I believe God wants me to share my experiences with attempted suicide (not the details) - how the lies we believe can lead us down this pathway. I also want to talk about those filters. It is going to be a long journey, but I believe God wants to heal others through it. I encourage you to read Psalm 34:18-19 this week. Blessings, Pastor Karen
Devotional Week 11 I have struggled this week to write for various reasons. Hence, I am a day late in posting! The question is where to begin. You see, living with a mental illness has been part of my life since I was 13 years old. It became my identity in many ways. I lived with the knowledge that "something wasn't right" and with the stigma of those around me who simply did not understand, or believed they had far better reasons to be ill than I ever had. I guess reliving some of the pain, however briefly, has been difficult for me. Before I share my testimony in great detail, I want you to know that there is hope. If you are struggling in any way with mental illness there is hope. I found my hope in God's love and in a group of believers who demonstrated that love. They continue to encourage and lift me up today! If you are struggling with mental illness and you haven't sought help, please do so today. Call your doctor or reach out to a friend or family member. There are resources available - call 211 to get a list of services in your area. Hopefully by next week my "writer's block" will have lifted! Until then I encourage you to meditate on Galatians 6:2 this week. Reach out and help someone carry their burden.
Devotional Week #12 How do our personal filters, beliefs or lies begin? I have questioned this for many years. As I shared in Week #10, my filter became one where I believed the lies that I was worthless, useless and unlovable. With these beliefs how can anyone succeed? Yet, I have led a successful life. I worked for over 20 years as an Executive Assistant, I led local community support groups, I raised two children and the list goes on. I remember the days where I would make it to work, only to find myself unable to remain there. I remember the days where I wanted to just give up and on three occasions attempted to end my life. The mind is a battlefield. It never shuts off. All of the things we have been taught, all of the experiences we have had and how we have interpreted them are stored in its massive database. If we retrieve the lies from this database often enough, we start to believe them! How to combat those lies? We need to counteract them with the truth! I have read many books, taken many courses and have seen many professionals. I have spent weeks in the hospital. In 1998 I had 12 ECT treatments. However, it wasn't until I started to believe the truth that the word hope entered my database. A book entitled, "Telling Myself the Truth" literally saved my life. I believe God wants me to share my journey through the principles in this book. Check back next week .... I encourage you to meditate on John 8:31-32 this week. Pastor Karen
Devotional Week #13 As we continue the journey together, I want to thank those who have encouraged me recently to continue to share. For as long as I can remember I had believed the lie that I was worthless. Where this belief came from is something I will likely not completely know or understand and I have come to realize that what lies behind no longer matters. It is what the future holds that is worthy of my attention. A future based on God's truth. In the 1990's and beyond, self esteem became a "hot topic". At the time, I was in a leadership position with a National weight loss organization. As part of my duties, I visited and spoke to groups in my district. My topic - how to improve your self esteem! If only the recipients of my "wisdom" knew how I truly felt about myself - worthless. I often find that we teach about the things we ourselves need to learn and understand! We have all heard about the importance of good self esteem. In fact, bad self esteem has been blamed for many defects in human behavior. In the next two weeks I want to talk more about this topic and share what God says about it. In my studies, I have come to believe that good self esteem is believing the truth about ourselves. Bad self esteem is believing the lies or untruthful beliefs about ourselves. People living with depression often devalue themselves, their entire lives and their futures. How about you? Are you allowing the lies to impact how you place value or worth upon yourself? I know I did for a long time. There is hope. It is found in God's truth. This week I encourage you to meditate on Psalm 139 ( yes, the whole Psalm). Let me know what you learn as you go through this portion of scripture. Pastor Karen
Devotional Week #14 Do any if these statements sound familiar to you? These are just some of the lies I was telling myself for years. "I can't do anything right. Everybody else is better at socializing than I am. Things won't get any better. I'm a failure. I'm not as good as other people. I'm bad, sinful, guilty. I always make the wrong decisions. I'm a disappointment to everybody. I never do anything right. Everything is falling apart. Nobody wants to read what I write. " What feelings are generated by these lies? Defeated, hopeless, worthless. Perhaps you feel you have to be perfect? As a result, we find ourselves depressed, anxious, frustrated, angry, useless - the list can be endless. I strongly encourage you to begin hearing the truth. Once I started challenging the lies with the truth, my journey to wellness began. When we look at the list above we see words such as "anything, everybody, always, everything, nobody". These words keep us in bondage to our feelings! This week identify at least one lie that you are telling yourself and challenge it with the truth. Using "I can't do anything right" as an example, challenge the word "anything". Once I started challenging this statement, I realized that there were many things I did right! It's a good place to start... The scripture this week is Matthew 11:28-29. Blessings, Pastor Karen
Devotional - Week #15 I haven't written for two weeks. I could use the excuse that I was away at the church retreat and then on holidays, but that would not be entirely true. They may have been contributing factors but the truth is I didn't think anyone was reading them. Remember in week #14 the lie I believed that "nobody wants to read what I write"? Well ... that lie won out! So, as I challenged you to do in the last devotional, I had to look at the lie and replace it with the truth. It is from the place of truth that our healing begins. What was the truth? I know people are reading what I have written so the "nobody" is a lie. I then asked myself why I had chosen to write in the first place. I had to remind myself of a principle I have kept when speaking or preaching - "if just one person receives the message then it has been worth the sacrifice of my time and energy." A handful of people have shared with me that they are receiving the message - that is certainly more than one. Another lie defeated by the truth. God is good! He gives us examples and experiences to teach us something very important. He has taught me in the last two weeks to be humble, to listen to His voice, and to always seek the truth in every lie that the enemy throws our way. I thank a special friend who helped me to see clearly this week. She encouraged me to continue. I challenge you this week to find the truth in the lies you have been telling yourself. The scripture this week is John 8:31-32. Pay particular attention to "if you abide in My Word." See you next week, Pastor Karen
Devotional Week#16 Have you ever believed the lie that "I can't stand it if someone doesn't like me/is angry with me/doesn't agree with my decision, etc"? I have lost sleep because of this lie. I have experienced anxiety and depression trying to live up to the expectations of others. Or, should I say, perceived expectations. Who really knows the true expectations of another person? Why do we believe it is even possible to please others all the time? Why do we often base our success on how others react to us? This misbelief caused me a lot of grief in the past and, occasionally, I fall into the trap yet again. There are a number of ways to speak truth into these lies. I have found the best way is to know who I am in Christ and to believe what His Word tells me. I am a child of God, wonderfully created and unconditionally loved. I had to learn to believe this before I gained victory in this area. Who are you in Christ? Google can lead you to many resources! Only you can take it into your heart. I was reminded this past week that I am not to please man. I am to please God. When you hear that truth your perspective changes. Others no longer have a hold over you. This is not to say that the opinions of others are null and void. They are important. We get into trouble when those opinions start to determine, in a negative way, how we live our lives. I encourage you to read Galatians 1:10 this week. Blessings, Pastor Karen