On the Upswing

This weekend, I was struggling with what Ben calls my “downswing”. In the beginning, postpartum anxiety made every day hard, but over time, the hard days have gotten fewer, and I enjoy longer “upswings”.:) But Ben still needs to remind me during my times of discouragement that it comes and goes, and if I just hang in there, things will soon get better.

Saturday morning, I could feel the downswing coming on, and I worked hard to resist it all day. In my head, I knew there was no reason to feel fear or stress, but no amount of logical thinking could get rid of the heavy spirit that persisted. I kept praying and distracting myself, but by Sunday morning, I was feeling worn out.

That’s when I remembered something a friend says:

“Worship changes the atmosphere in your home.”

I believe that’s true, but I seem to underestimate the power of it….

I got out my phone, and started looking for a good song on our youtube playlist. Nothing was hitting the spot, so I started searching Bethel music for a good option. I didn’t really know exactly what I was looking for, but when nothing stood out, I decided to just play the first song that popped up.

You guys. This is what I heard:

“No Longer Slaves”

You unravel me, with a melody
You surround me with a song
Of deliverance, from my enemies
Till all my fears are gone

I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

From my mothers womb
You have chosen me
Love has called my name
I’ve been born again, into your family
Your blood flows through my veins

I am surrounded
By the arms of the father
I am surrounded
By songs of deliverance

We’ve been liberated
From our bondage
We’re the sons and the daughters
Let us sing our freedom

You split the sea
So I could walk right through it
All my fears were drowned in perfect love
You rescued me
So I could stand and sing
I am child of God…
WHAT ARE THE CHANCES??!! God is awesome. I was a bawling mess by the chorus, and for the rest of the day, those words kept running through my mind – “I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God….”
How often is He waiting to provide exactly what we need, right when we need it? All the time. How often do I miss it? I dismiss it as coincidence, or I don’t slow down and take the time to follow the promptings in my heart, or I’m not quiet enough to let Him get a word in edgewise.
But this time I got it right, and I’m so thankful I didn’t miss it. He rescued me so I could stand and sing. He takes my hand, and we are on the upswing!

The Physical Posture of Surrender

I read once that changing posture can change emotions, and alter what is chemically happening in the brain.

For example, standing up straight with good posture can make a person feel positive and confident. Slouching over can drain energy and bring on a feeling of depression.

This fascinated me. I think everyone wants to be happy and feel better about life, but standing up straight is not usually the way we go about achieving these things.

That little tidbit of information stayed tucked away in my brain, and suddenly came out in a question one night: Could the same be true for spirituality? Does my posture affect how I feel about God and where my my relationship is at with Him?


The reason this question came up was because I was participating in a worship event, and while I was praying quietly, I felt the urge to kneel. As I knelt there, my conversation with God turned in the direction of confessing and surrendering to God, and I felt as though I should hold out my hands, palms down – as a way of laying down everything before God that I had been hanging on to tightly and rebelliously.

I’ve never done that before, and it was such a powerful experience – it seemed to go on and on, as one thing after another bubbled to the surface, and I became increasingly aware of the areas of my life that I needed to surrender and lay down.

Finally, my mind and heart seemed to still, and I felt the urge to turn my hands over – palms up, to receive all that God was pouring out onto me. This, too, seemed to go on for a long time, as I waited silently before God, allowing Him to give to me everything I needed in that moment, to worship and be still before Him.

Now, all this is coming from someone who doesn’t usually get physically expressive about worship. It does not come naturally to me, although I have been learning a little bit about becoming a more free with it, in the privacy of my kitchen, when everyone else is fast asleep.;)

But all this makes me wonder – when we are told to bow down in worship to God, is it more than just a physical act for us? Did God create us in a way that makes it go beyond simply being a physical expression of worship, humility, and surrender? Does it change the way we feel about God? Can it change the way we think about Him?

Because if, like straightening our posture, using our bodies to express ourselves to God could affect us on a spiritual, emotional level, this would be enough to lure me away from what can be stiff, restricted expressions of worship.

It feels strange at first – I’ve been experimenting in small bits, and this physical expression can feel as foreign as pulling back my shoulders and standing up straight. Correct posture uses muscles I’m not accustomed to using, but it’s a habit which can be changed – muscles can be strengthened. Can my ability to let go, and find more freedom in physical expression of worship also be strengthened, and become an ingrained habit?

I’m curious…

Pouring Everything At Jesus’ Feet

Well, I feel like we’ve had a few weeks of me baring all of my ugly insecurities and secret thoughts. That Beth Moore. She unearths all kinds of unexpected junk. Here’s a list of the topics we’ve covered in this little series on insecurity:

Introduction: Insecure Much?

Part 1: What’s Your “One Thing”?

Part 2: I Want to Be the Best

Part 3: When We Try to Play God

Today we’re going to look at a story from the Bible that has been one of my favorites for a few years.

It’s the story about the woman who pours perfume on Jesus’ feet. There is something that has always made me feel slightly uncomfortable about that story. I think it’s because it’s a story about a moment so intimate that you almost feel like you shouldn’t be part of it – kind of like when you catch a couple kissing when they think they’re alone.

Or like the time we turned our baby monitor on, and instead of picking up our base, it picked up our neighbor’s base, and we could hear him singing his little girl to sleep. (Different house, so you don’t have to try to figure out who it was!)

Some things are so beautiful and personal, you feel the need to look away, but at the same time, you don’t want to, because those moments are like a window into a person’s soul. You feel like you just want to catch a glimpse…

The story of Jesus being anointed with perfume is one of those glimpses. I’ve read that story so many times – I can still remember the illustration in my old Picture Bible: with her long, long hair, bending over Jesus feet, crying and wiping, completely broken before Him.

That picture in itself is a beautiful, vulnerable thing, but there is another whole dimension added to it – she was displaying that vulnerability in front of a room full of men.

Because of being a woman, she would already have been looked down on, but even more so because the Bible specifies that she “had lived a sinful life”.

I try to imagine what she must have been feeling that moved her to do what she did…

Have you ever been in a place where Jesus has gripped your heart? You’ve gone to the depths to clean out the junk from the past, you’ve been showered with His grace, and you feel so full of Him, so grateful and humbled and broken but whole? Nothing really matters but being one with Him. You want to get as close as possible, and desire a way to praise Him enough, thank Him enough for all that He’s done.

I imagine the woman feeling a bit like that.

So she got out the alabaster jar of perfume, took it to the home of a Pharisee, went into that room full of men, and worshiped Jesus in the most whole way that she could – all of her, poured out. Her perfume, her tears, her hair, her heart. All of it at Jesus’ feet, with everybody watching.

And it didn’t matter to her that everybody was watching, because all she cared about was Jesus. Her heart was so full, Jesus was all that mattered.

There are many, many times I’ve thought about that when I’ve been in a room full of people.

I want to live a life so full of Jesus, my heart so full of thankfulness and worship and love, that I don’t even see, don’t even care who is watching or what they think. I want to rise above every insecure thought I’ve ever had, and permanently live in a place where Jesus is everything, and always enough.

I want to be vulnerable, and I want to serve and love Jesus with my whole being, to the point where I pour out everything.

Because you know what Jesus said in defense of that woman? When Judas spoke up and voiced his negative opinion about her actions, Jesus said,

“Leave her alone….Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me….She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” (Mark 14:6-9)

Amazing, isn’t it? “Wherever the gospel is preached…” She just poured out her heart, and Jesus took it as the ultimate act of worship.

He called it beautiful.

It makes me wonder how He feels when we allow the lies of this world to creep in, and we start to feel ashamed, inadequate, ugly, unwanted, unworthy. We hide some parts of ourselves away, and curl into ourselves, because the most precious things we want to protect. We couldn’t bear if someone who saw it would mock or criticize.

But that guarded spirit can be contagious. Others can feel it when we are not transparent and vulnerable. So they start to hide certain things away, too. And before long, we end up in a world where a certain image is everything, and we must be so careful to portray only a carefully constructed front.

And the people who are comfortable with public displays of crying, perfume-dumping and hair-wiping are considered the weird ones.

But Jesus calls it beautiful.

Insecurity is a slippery thing. It can disguise itself in many ways, as we’ve talked about over the last two weeks. It can dampen our spirits, break our souls, and cause people to hide their true selves. It can hinder the way we worship and live out our relationship with Jesus.

What would happen if we would decide we don’t want that anymore? If we would embrace those vulnerable moments, and courageously worship in a transparent way?

I think Jesus might call  it beautiful….

How are you doing? Do you feel like you can show your true self? Are you free to pour yourself at Jesus’ feet, or do you hold back because of who is watching?


What is a sanctuary?

Anika was asking me this last week when we were getting ready to visit the goose sanctuary near camp. She’s been there many times before, but this time she had a lot more questions about the purpose of it, and wanting to know why geese need a sanctuary.

Trying to explain it to her got me thinking a lot about the word “sanctuary” in a different context than one for geese.  A few years ago, I read a book called Soul Sanctuary (which I can’t find on Amazon, and can’t remember the author – too bad, it was so good!) It was about creating space in your life for your soul to “breathe” – for peace, quiet, worship, and rest.

What would it mean for your soul to rest?

I got out my dictionary to dig deeper into the meaning of “sanctuary”, and I found words like refuge, protection, haven, harbour, port.

I like that – the thought of a safe port for my soul to sail to.

Life gets so noisy sometimes, and I don’t even think about whether my soul needs some rest.

As I stood there at the goose sanctuary, looking out over the peaceful lake surrounded with beautiful rocks and trees, I was thinking about how lucky those geese are.

Maybe I need to get away to the goose sanctuary and join the geese a little more often! I need a sanctuary, too.