Waters

waters blog graphic“Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.” – Isaiah 43:19

On occasion, we come to a place where we underestimate God. What is that sentence, even?

We forget that He is sovereign, creator, unfailing, all-knowing, ever-present God.

We let our fears and our anxieties have priority as our faith decays. Our beliefs take a backseat while we wrestle with God’s timing, His will, His goodness, and all of the things we have no control over.

In the barrenness of our souls, Christ comes and does something incredible. He reaches into the depths of our wilderness and creates life out of the dust.

This life is given, not so that we can take it for granted, rather it is given so that we can take it and run for His glory.

“I will make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.”
A river gives life not to one broken and dry soul, but to everything surrounding it. I read this and wonder, is my life flourishing, green, full of life, and located close enough to the river that it can spread that life beyond myself? What barren places in my life need to sink deep into the rich soil to drink up this life giving water? What places need to bloom and burst with new life once again?

What places in your life are barren and lifeless? Bring them to Him today.

Our Creator sees through our circumstances, encased by dust and despair and he asks us to trust him to bring out new life: the blossoms, the fruit, the beauty. He draws unexpected life out from what appears to be dry and dead.

 

He makes a way in the wilderness, he causes rivers to flow in the dessert, and sometimes he bursts blossoms from lifeless branches.

 

Marissa

Rest & Responsibility | Three Steps to Self-Care

In a world consumed by accomplishment, the topic of self-care is rarely discussed.  When, according to the American Psychological Association, “the nation is on the verge of a stress-induced public health crisis”, self-care is not a topic that can be afforded the luxury of mindless neglect.

We feel the need to over-perform as a means of proving ourselves worthy adversaries in the workplace, while feeling the pressure to be perfect in every other area when we’re off the clock.  Naturally, the result is the ongoing neglect of needs, as we attempt to be everything, do everything, and excel at everything all at the same time.

There comes a time in every person’s life, when they are given choices between filling their schedules to the brim, beyond what they feel their capacity allows, or choosing to maintain a healthy balance between responsibility and rest in a fast-paced society filled with thousands of elements fighting for our time, attention, and commitment.

I have struggled with these same perspectives of priorities, and therefore, had none. It came to a breaking point one day where I simply couldn’t handle anything else.

This is what I have found to be true: we neglect self-care out of an attitude of self-sacrifice.  We often feel the pressure to give beyond our capacity, and to lead this unrealistically perfect life where we are helpful to all those who ask and available for anyone who might have a need.  Then we are made to feel selfish if we take responsibility of our physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual health.

So, the question now is how can we reverse this self-neglect?

Here are some helpful tips I found in my research on self-care.

  1. Take Time to “Be.”

    Until we recognize this need, we will neglect our own self-care at the expense of our own personal health and wellbeing.

    Could it be that cycles of busyness are created simply as an attempt to distract us from the deeper stressors and anxieties we experience in life?  We fill our time with endless tasks, responsibilities, meetings, and work, leaves little to no time for us to process anything that is going on in our lives, let alone allow us the time to refrain from all of our stressful responsibilities.  Instead we need to practice being mindful throughout the day, taking breaks from stressful tasks when needed and taking time out of each day for something that helps us to focus on things we enjoy or excel at.

  2. Thoughtfully Examine Priorities

    It says in Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord,” implying that everything that we do should be done with the goal and purpose in mind of the glorification of God.  With this in mind, how does a life reflect the glory of God when we don’t make time for God in our schedules, or in the same vein, live our lives in a monotonous, mindless manner, simply to get things checked off of our lists?  At the root of the issue, disguised by frantic scheduling conflicts and blanket statements of “I am so busy,” is the belief that we are capable of doing and accomplishing everything on our own, the belief system that says that “the more I do, the more I am worth.”  This system can be simplified into one word; idol.

    In “We Become What We Worship”, G.K. Beale says, “The idol that we revere, we reflect, which leads ultimately to ruin.  Desiring to reflect the idol of ourselves and making ourselves larger can only lead to becoming small, because of judgment.  But heaping glory on the true God and worshipfully acknowledging his greatness leads to sharing in God’s greatness and glory by reflecting his glory, which is reflected back on him.  Thus God is seen as the unique and weighty great One of the cosmos” (Beale, p. 140).

    Is it too bold to suggest that as a whole, we have glorified and idolized busyness?
    Busyness and the need to say “yes” to every opportunity, plea, and request, leads ultimately to burnout. By making the word “no” stronger in our vocabulary, we can refocus our attention on the things that really matter in our lives.

  3. Decide to Be Intentional

    The cure for burnout is quite possibly intentionality.  Without being intentional, a person’s mind left to its own random thoughts “are more likely to be ruminative and negative” (Sood, p.68).  Even within someone’s thought processes, they must choose to be intentional or they will suffer the consequences of stress and anxiety.

    Dr. Sood’s suggestions resemble the principles that would be found throughout the Bible, such as kindness, gratitude, compassion, acceptance, forgiveness, and meditation.  When we are intentional about our thoughts, our mindset can be correctly placed on our priorities.

    Why is this alignment of priorities and responsibilities so important? Dr. Elias Moitinho, lead in the APA’s “Stress in America Survey” was led to believe that “particularly for counselors and ministers, if stress is not managed effectively it may lead to compassion fatigue or burnout” (Moitinho, 2013).  Dr. Moitinho also suggested that “self-care is following the example of Jesus’ ministry model” (Moitinho, 2013).  It can be seen throughout the Gospels that Jesus managed his busy life of ministry by practicing self-care and intentional rest.  Examples of this can be found throughout the Gospel of Mark, when Jesus withdrew from the crowds to rest, or when he rested in the boat that his disciples were sailing.

Coming from a Christian perspective, we benefit spiritually from making God a priority in our lives.  Jesus promises to bring rest and refreshment to the weary.  1 Peter 5:7 says, “cast your cares upon the Lord for he cares for you.”  Psalm 23 promises, “God will refresh your soul and lead you to quiet waters.”  Matthew 11:28-30 promises, “God will give you rest. His yoke is easy and his burden is light.”  By making the practice of resting in God’s presence daily, which is also, oftentimes referred to as meditation upon the Word of God, it is promised that God will give a rest and refreshment that is impossible outside of his presence.

As we set God as our first priority in life, the maintenance of all of the remaining priorities will naturally flow out of the presence of God.

Here are some ideas to get you started in your new self-care routine!

  1. Spend some time alone, wherever the most relaxation can be experienced. For me, this would preferably be at the spa 😉
  2. Exercise to increase endorphins for a healthy release of emotions
  3. Take the time to be still, read, etc. anything that lets your mind and body rest
  4. Rework your routine to make sure the things that are most important to you fit in
  5. Make your spirit a priority by setting time aside daily to seek God and meditate upon his Word,
  6. Make your body a priority by getting the proper nutrition, sleep, and physical activity
  7. Learn to say “No!”when it is required. Only take on the tasks that you are called to
  8. Make your emotional health a priority by doing things you enjoy in the midst of responsibilities and routines

Brady Boyd, in “Addicted to Busy” said, “God has given us everything we need in order to live rhythmic, well-rested lives.  To ignore those divine resources is to sign up for slavery, again and again and again.  This is true because rest is freedom; the unrested live unfree” (Boyd, p. 90).

If we chose to abide in the balance of rest and responsibility, our lives will be fuller, more satisfied, and more impactful for the Kingdom of God.

The road to self-care is one that will require a fight of intentionality, but will also be worth that fight.  We can rest in the breathtaking balance between rest and responsibility that allows for the margin that is required in order to do those things that we are passionate about. The things we are called to.

Marissa

 

*You can check out my references and resources here!

 

The Wonders Yet to Come

For many, this weekend is a time of reflection and remembrance, and appropriately so.

Good Friday was yesterday, the day when we remember Jesus going to the cross in a sacrificial act of unconditional love.

What we oftentimes forget about is the waiting period between the death and the resurrection.

It is natural that we all have or will experience a “death” in our lives. A crushed dream, the loss of a loved one, or the unbearable tearing away from comfort.

The Bible speaks of seasons, and most of the time we don’t celebrate the ones marked by death, loss, or drought, but in those times we also feel a vibrant hope birthing from within the darkest of places.

Perhaps that is because of this very Easter season. We live after the fact and we know that Jesus rose from the dead and that he is alive today.

Yesterday, I was reading in Joshua 3 of the less told story of the parting of waters, squeezed in between Rahab helping the spies and the walls of Jericho crumbling. Joshua was now leading the Israelites and they needed to cross the Jordan River. There was one verse that really stuck out to me though. In verse 5, Joshua told the people “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.”

The reason why this stuck out to me so much was not because of what would take place the next day, but the fact that it wasn’t an immediate miracle. Joshua had to tell the people to consecrate themselves: make themselves holy and purified, because the next day, the Lord would do wonders.

Could it be that the miracle you’re waiting for, the thing you’ve been longing for, the death you’re waiting for new life to inhabit is requiring something more than a stagnant waiting? Are we preparing ourselves for the wonders the Lord wants to do among us? The death may have taken place yesterday, but the resurrection is about to happen tomorrow. As we wait in anticipation of the miraculous, don’t lose sight of the hope that lies within the darkness.

And so in the midst of death we wait. We wait and prepare for the wonders to come. The resurrection of new life, of new hope, of new glorious light.

Marissa

Nerve Damage

I guest wrote this blog post for Wings of Refuge.

Wings of Refuge is a nonprofit in Iowa that serves women who have been commercially sexually exploited.

I imagine most people will agree with me when I say that we all hate pain. We don’t think fondly of it, wish for it, or enjoy it.

Our team attended the Exodus Cry Abolition Summit this month and one of the speakers told this true story:

Once there was a man who was doing ministry in a Leper Colony. One day, when in the dining hall the bell was rung signaling that dinner was ready for everyone, a man in the distance was seen standing on crutches with a broken ankle.

This man wanted to be the first to receive his meal, and so he began to run as fast as he could down the field that separated him from this building. He hobbled along the best that he could, before he became frustrated and threw down the crutches that were slowing him down. He ran on his broken foot the remainder of the way and sure enough, he was the first to arrive at the building. When he stood at the doorway, he looked down to discover that his foot had broken even more, bone exposed and in very bad shape.

The thing about Leprosy is, contrary to common belief, does not cause limbs to fall off of one’s body. Instead, it causes damage to the nerves and in turn, the loss of feeling or sensation. Because of this, pain, injury, or damage may go unnoticed and you may not feel pain that can warn you of harm to your body.

Pain is a necessary alarm system within our body, mind, and spirit that signals to us that something is wrong and that a change or action is required in order to save yourself from further injury or damage.

At Wings of Refuge, when a participant is experiencing pain it can be easy for us as staff members to want to attempt to remedy that pain with distractions or whatever it is we feel she needs in that moment.

After all, that’s our job, isn’t it? Not exactly…

As difficult as it can be to watch someone walk through painful circumstances or deal with painful consequences, and although we can offer advice and suggest changes or solutions, many times, the pain they’re feeling is going to be the motivation for change and transformation.

Part of our role in her restoration is helping her nerve damage heal and repair so that she can recognize it and understand it. The trauma that she has perhaps become numb to as a defense mechanism that still needs to be stitched and bandaged and given the space and time to heal.

You see, although God does not desire pain for us, He will use it if we allow Him to. Our response to pain signals can refine us, mature us, and bring us closer to Christ. In the Bible, Job, who endured unspeakable suffering, said, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” God allows us to experience pain in our humanity so that we will turn to the hope that is in His sovereignty.

Marissa Price

The Hard Questions: A God Who is Present in Pain, Loss, and Unanswered Prayer

In a social media post not too long ago, I asked a question; one that led to a new series called The Hard Questions, because when I posed the question asking for people’s deepest theological struggles, I was overwhelmed by the response. I realized that it’s not simply people who are struggling with faith who are also struggling with these gut wrenching “why’s”.

Today, I will be addressing and talking through one of the hardest questions. I want to start out by clarifying that I do not claim to know everything.

In fact, I claim to not know very much at all.

I am seeking to bring some sort of clarity to those who are in need of answers. I am coming from the position of a girl who is turning toward the Word of God for some answers to some very difficult questions. In turn, I am hoping to be able to bring some sort of peace to a wondering soul.

The first question I have been mulling over for quite some time now is one of pain and loss and of not knowing how God can be present in the midst of both. Questions like,“Does our prayer really change anything?” “Does it affect outcomes?” “What about when it seems like God doesn’t hear our cries?”

Let’s delve deeper into this issue. I am going to start directly with scripture, because surely there is nowhere else we can seek and find the very heart of Christ.

2 Corinthians 1:3-11
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”

When it comes to, really any subject, I like to look for Paul’s perspective. There is so much wisdom found in his life and example. At the end of the day, if you want advice for the trials you are walking through, look at Paul.

Here are some of the main things I observed while studying this;

  1. Suffering, pain, and loss point us and the Church toward Christ, together.
    Sometimes, it is so that we can share in the suffering and loss and pain of others. It says that one’s comfort is also for another’s just as suffering is. As the body of Christ, we walk through times of suffering and comfort, but all together and all for the edification of the Church and for the glorification of God.
  2. To suffer is to be like Christ.
    Suffering makes us like Christ and is a part of the Christian walk. “the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives” just as much as His comfort does.
    Another scripture that shares this truth is Philippians 3:10-11, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so somehow to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” We all want the first half of this verse to be our life. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection! Woo! What a beautiful thing! Oh…AND the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…ouch.
    But here’s the thing; we cannot experience the power of his resurrection until we experience the fellowship of his sufferings.
    While the power of his resurrection is beautiful, the fellowship of his sufferings is life-altering.
  3. Let’s put to death the myth that “God will never give us more than we can handle.” This is nowhere to be found in the Bible….nowhere…go look. In fact, right here in verses 8-9 it says “we were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure” so much so that they didn’t want to live. BUT here comes the hope…
  4. Christ doesn’t leave us to suffer on our own.
    My favorite part of this scripture lies within these three statements; “He has delivered us…he will deliver us…he will continue to deliver us.”

 

Our testimony, our response and our overcoming of loss, pain, suffering, and trials, gives other believers the courage to be bold in their faith, points non-believers or those struggling with their faith toward Christ and makes us more like Christ in His sufferings so that we can truly know the power of His resurrection.

Maybe it’s not that our prayers are unanswered. Maybe it’s that our God, our Deliverer, is making us more like His son. Maybe we can’t fully minister to a broken world unless we have been broken, maybe we can’t heal the wounded until we have needed healing, and maybe we can’t point the lost to a Deliverer if we have not yet needed deliverance.

As sure as I am of those things I am even more sure of this; He has delivered us, He will deliver us, and He will continue to deliver us.

 

Marissa Price

Beyond The Red X

Beyond the red x

Today, thousands of people from all over  shared a similar photo. A selfie with a red X drawn on their hand. I am one of them, because I understand the importance of awareness when it comes to modern day slavery. You can’t change what you don’t know about.

The purpose is to raise awareness on the issue of modern day slavery, or human trafficking. The purpose is a great concept and the reach is far. The followthrough on the other hand, is lacking, in my opinion.

Since I began working for an organization that helps survivors of commercial sexual exploitation, I have had a unique first hand look and experience with the other side of the issue.

Awareness is the first of many steps in the process of eradicating sex trafficking today. It is vital and important, and at the risk of becoming numb to the realness of this issue, we cannot stop after awareness.

So, what do we do once we are aware and in turn spread awareness? What comes next?

Here are 3 simple ways to help in the ending of sex trafficking, beyond the red x.

  1. Financial & Item Donations
    Recovery and restoration is expensive work. In restoration work alone, it takes medical visits, therapy, full-time staff, housing, groceries, clothing, bedding, electricity, water, education, training, and so many other aspects to provide daily restorative care for survivors.
    a. Host A Speaking or Awareness Event
    b. Become A Monthly Partner
    Partner with an organization that is doing the work you believe in, whether that be in the “rescue” or restoration process.
    c. Host or Develop A Fundraiser for the organization of your choice
    d. Donate Household Items; consistently used bathroom or kitchen items like toiletries, hygiene products, etc.
  2. Volunteer Your Skills
    You possess the skills and abilities needed to make a difference in someone’s life. You can teach those lifestyle or professional skills to aid in equipping survivors for life beyond a restoration program.
    You can also volunteer your skill in other ways; grant writing, development, event planning, create and sell items that profit an organization working in the area of rescue or restoration, there are SO many options when it comes to this!
    Get creative and get going! Your skills can change someone’s life!
  3. Make Lifestyle Changes
    Many of us are unaware of the ways in which our daily lifestyle contributes to both labor and sex trafficking. One simple yet eye opening way to gauge your footprint is by taking this quiz!

These things alone, of course, seem to barely make a dent in the issue that is 27 million lives, but when we work together, we change things, one life at a time. There are so many aspects that feed into the supply and demand of human lives, and it will take a moral and ethical revolution to overturn the trends. Your daily decisions make a difference and your voice and actions are desperately needed.