The Battle

November 5, 2019
by Rachael Kathleen Hartman

The Battle

prayerwarrior7.jpgFear of forgottenness
Fear of the future
Regret of the past

Where you gonna run and hide
When you locked up on in the inside
How you gonna get outside

Feelings of unworthiness,
Feelings of unwantedness,
Raging of the mind?

Look around, but see nothing
A seastorm, but no lighthouse
God is there, but you in the dark

Stuck in prison hell
Reaching, fighting, trying
To find an answer

Is it mental? Meditate
Is it spiritual? Pray in tongues
Is it biological? Take the oil or pill

Then sleep and dream
Dreams to interpret
For a clue to the waking world

The mind a battlefield
And you the Wounded Warrior
Prayer Warrior

Drowning it all in the Blood of the Lamb
Fighting the bloody battle of the soul
A battle only He can win
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Suggested reading: Don’t Call Me a Prayer Warrior

 

The Chapter that Ends Well

I’ve been thinking about the next chapter of my life, where I will go, and what I will do. When you lose everything, that is a good thing, as it opens you up to receive everything. There’s nothing there to take up space and keep you from whatever it is that is waiting for you in the future.

Every time I have packed up and moved–which has been often–I have left a part of me behind. I can’t complain about that, as I have always found myself wherever it is I go. God is always with me, even when I am not with Him as I wish I were.

I am still a long way off from moving, about nine months. But I know somewhere deep within me that the apartment that I am in right now, this lovely place, will be difficult for me to leave. So much has happened here. I’ve loved and lost. I’ve grieved and found peace from my grief. I’ve broken down and learned to build myself up. I’ve cried, wept bitterly, and come to a place where there were no more tears.

I’ve had dreams, visions, and whispers from the Lord. I’ve had friends reach out to restore me. I’ve found a place of peace and a place of rest. I’ve found a lot of who I am.

I’ve gained and I’ve lost here. I’ve lost rebellion here. I’ve gained trust in God. I’ve lost unforgiveness here. I’ve found grace. I’ve lost friends. I’ve found new ones.

Something within my spirit feels like spring is about to burst forward. That the death I have died here is ripening my ground.

It’s not so much about what the next chapter holds, as it is that this one ends well. It-is-well.jpg

Please God, Love People

But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.

1 Thessalonians 2:4 ESV

I’ve had three particular situations over the past few days that I have stressed out over.  Today, I stopped and asked myself if I had made the right choice in those situations. Yes, I do believe I did. Then what’s the problem? Why was I stressing?

I’m empathetic by nature, so if I know another person is upset or stressed or mad about something I’ve done, I stress. I want other people to be happy with me. And that is my problem.

Several years ago, I heard a great quote that stuck with me. “I used to love God and please people, but now I please God and love people.” I needed reminding of that today.

As soon as my brain logically admitted the following truths, I felt a weight lift off of me.

  1. Did my choice please God? Yes.
  2. Did I do my best and admit my faults? Yes.
  3. Did I act out of a pure and honest heart? Yes.

That’s when I saw this post by Rachel Miranda Kerry as I scrolled Facebook. I shared it, of course. “Don’t let anyone try to convince you that there is something wrong with you when you are pursuing the heart of God. You are doing right.”

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Perfect timing. It’s honestly not even that other people are trying to convince me that something is wrong with me. It’s my own natural tendencies that I am fighting against. It’s the natural path of guilt and shame that I find myself on that I have to repent from.

Other people may not like our choices, decisions, responses, or boundaries, but it really isn’t about pleasing them. It’s our job to please the Lord, pursue His heart, and to take care of ourselves so that we have the capacity to love others.

I hope this thought helps you as it helped me. I am not perfect, but I am on the right path. I can let go of my stress and rest in the Prince of Peace, His grace, and His love. He loves me as I am, which makes me want to worship Him even more.

Jesus is good, kind, merciful, and full of everlasting love that endures forever.

Obadiah

A few days ago in a post, I wrote about my desire to buy a fish. Well, I did, and I named him Obadiah. Here he is, a little blue betta.

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You may be wondering why such a small fish has such a large name. As I previously shared, while in Bible College I had a fish named Jonah. I love the name Jonah for a fish, but I think it’s pretty awkward to name every fish I own the same name, so I figured I would make my rounds through the Old Testament prophet names. If you want to learn about the book of Obadiah, watch this short video.

In the meantime, I discovered that the name Obadiah means “servant of God” or “worshiper of Yahweh.” The form of Obadiah’s name used in the Septuagint is Obdios; in Latin it is Abdias; in Arabic, it is عبداللّٰه ʿAbdullah.

Every time I see my little fish, I think about what it means to be a servant of God. Sometimes, it does feel like I’m trapped a bit in a little glass bowl with not much going on. But the cool thing is that I don’t have to have a lot going on to worship God. I don’t have to be something super special or extra. I don’t have to have everything in my life the way I ideally want it to be. I just have to be what God created me to be – myself.

A short post, but I have some other fun pictures of my dogs’ reactions to Obadiah that I’d like to share as well. Have a great day!

 

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Contentment

2461889-Jeremiah-Burroughs-Quote-Contentment-is-not-by-addition-but-by.jpgIn my last post, I wrote about hope for the future and looking forward to new seasons. Though that is still the case, I had a huge reminder over the past few weeks about why it is important to be content.

I had two different situations occur that gave me quite a bit of “hope” for what I thought would be a change of season and would breathe fresh air into my life. One of those situations was a potential job and an interview at a very well respected company. The other was a possible new friendship.

I had an interview at the company that went very well. I also had a phone call with the potential new friend that I also thought went very well. Both “potentials” ended up as closed doors that left me wondering why the opportunities even showed themselves to me.

When we are in the midst of times of need and have spent so much time and life waiting and praying for breakthroughs that we just feel like we can’t go forward another step, these kinds of opportunities can feel like the weight of the world is about to be lifted. They give me a bit of wind in my sails and feels like the first day of fall after a scorching hot summer.

Until it doesn’t.

When those opportunities slam shut, the heaviness returns with a vengeance and the emotional rollercoaster jolts back down. It takes a few days before my emotions settle into a steady, even pace again.

These are very small bumps in the road of life, but they can feel so intense after such a long time of waiting and praying. These ups and downs give me an opportunity to demonstrate my trust in God again. I find myself back on my knees surrendering the burdens and trusting that God will make a way when He decides to.

These times of disappointment can propel me down for a few days, but after that, I find myself in a place of contentment. I find myself in the exact same place I was at before those opportunities came my way, yet I am more thankful to be there than I was before. I am more grateful for where I am and the peace I have. I am more at ease walking forward carrying the same weight I was carrying before, yet knowing that at least I know what I have and how to deal with it.

Lord, Jesus,

Help me to stop seeking my own help and trust in You to meet my needs. Though I did not seek out either of those opportunities when they came my way I gave them a chance. It didn’t work out, but it gave me hope that You can change my life for the better anytime You want to. My life is at times unmanageable and confusing, but I am so grateful that I can hand it all over to You. You can choose to open doors and close doors as You see fit. I trust You with where I’ve been, where I’m at, and where I’m going. One day at a time. Thank You for contentment.

 

Quiet Independence

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To be independent is a gift. There’s a peace that comes in knowing you can take care of yourself and even help other people at the same time.

Independence can be quiet. I like quiet. I am quiet. I’m sitting in a beautiful apartment with my two dogs sleeping quietly at my feet.

My to-do list is fairly completed. My laundry is put away (except for one load in the dryer) and I even vacuumed this morning. My bed is made and my place is presentable enough to have a guest stop by. I’m even days ahead in my quest to read the Bible this year.

Sure, I have some dishes to do, I need to grocery shop and meal prep, and I could deep clean. There’s a pile of books I’m reading on the cute new mirrored coffee table I recently bought.

But right now I’m just sitting enjoying the quiet. The dogs sat out on the porch for a while, so I turned off the AC and turned on the fan. We sat and listened to the birds chirp. They are still going at it.

My life is peaceful. I go to the gym five times a week. I listen to podcasts. I work 40+ hours at a job I love. I have a business that is slow right now, but I still have it. I’m about to spend the next couple of hours working on that business. I get to shape it into what it needs to be for the next season.

Independence is quiet and beautiful. My mind is at peace today. There’s plenty enough that I find to worry about, but not today. I like my life. I like the quiet.

But sometimes it gets too quiet.

I’m starting to surround myself with life. I bought a new plant and spent some time nurturing the plants I have. Of course, my little dogs always have my attention. We’ve found a good routine. I volunteer once a week teaching English to international people. I just signed up to be a “Big Sister” and was assigned to a sweet six-year-old. We are going swimming tomorrow.

I have a desire to get a fish. When I was in Bible College, I had a fish named Jonah. I will name my next fish Obadiah. I’ve been thinking about him for the past few weeks. I can tell he’s out there and ready for me to go get him.

There’s another someone out there too. I can sense it. He’s out there, but we haven’t found each other. I’ve looked, for sure, but he hasn’t materialized yet.

Quiet independence. I will enjoy it at the moment, but I’m looking forward to new life.

“We need to help people discover the true meaning of love. Love is generally confused with dependence. those of us who have grown in true love know that we can love only in proportion to our capacit for independence.” -Fred Rogers

 

 

 

 

Not Yet

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Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find?
~Proverbs 20:6 ESV

Did you consider trying to win her?
Or even being her friend?
Where is the consideration, the acts of kindness?
Even saying, “Hello. I was just thinking about you today?”

Where is the admiration?
The time spent?
The building of friendship?
Do any of these acts even exist anymore?

Where is the foundation of commonality?
Shared interests?
Shared vision, passion, or purpose?
Who can find a faithful man?

All I know is, I have not found him yet.

You Messaged Me Today 

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You Messaged Me Today
By Rachael Hartman
July 13, 2019

You messaged me today
Just to say you were thinking of me
It made me feel important for a moment
Like I was not completely forgotten

You messaged me today
With nothing special in what you said
It made me feel connected for a moment
Like I was not completely alone today

I went out and looked around a store
A woman spoke to me and I realized
She was my first human contact all day
Except for your message
And my sister’s phone call

I cried today after you messaged me
Not because you hurt me at all but
Because I remembered I was alive
And that there was hope for me

I looked at myself in the mirror and said
“I love you” sixteen times to myself
I told myself I had what it takes
That I was still alive and attractive after all
And that if you remembered me I should too

 

Disentangled Thoughts

“Thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass through the lips and the fingertips.” -Dawson Trotman

I heard this quote for the first time two nights ago and haven’t been able to shake it since. It accurately describes why I love writing so very much. I’ve said it many times before, writing is my best form of communication. I wish I could accurately convey my heart the way “normal” people do. I’ve come a long way in my social skills, but it’s still an area of struggle for me.

This past year, I have not written much, though in the past few months I’ve made more of an effort to blog at least. It is true, my thoughts have been very tangled up since I haven’t been writing as much.

Tonight I went to church and heard a message about God’s preparation in our lives for His purpose. The pastor made a statement that stuck out to me. He said if you don’t know who you are in God, and you don’t know God’s purpose for your life, you will constantly move around trying to find a place where you fit, but you’ll never fill that emptiness inside.

That idea resonated with me. I felt it. To be honest, lately, I’ve been struggling with the idea of moving and trying to find a new place to “belong.” I’m four months away from being where I am at for two years. It’s accurate timing for me to start feeling the “itch” placed in me growing up in the military’s mobile lifestyle.

A friend once told me that when I feel that “itch” to move that I should NOT scratch it. She said the itch means I’m healing, but if I scratch it, I will delay my healing. What she said made sense to me. I knew the day would come when the itch would begin again, but I really haven’t focused my mind on what I should do to keep myself occupied and not “scratching.”

I feel a little sad tonight. I feel passed over and forgotten. When I’m the new person, it is exciting. There are “places to go and people to see . . .” But right now, I just feel here. I feel unsure of what is next. I feel unsure even of what I’m doing right now. I feel unsure of who I am and what God’s purpose for me is . . . I want to “go” to find it, but as the preacher said tonight, I will keep trying to fill the hole in my heart, but I’ll never be able to fill it outside of God’s purpose and plan.

As I type, my thoughts are disentangling themselves a bit. I feel the need to quiet my mind and meditate on the Word of God. Who does God say that I am?

I remember a paper I once taped to the back of my apartment door. It was scripture-based affirmations of who I am in Christ. Anytime I felt down, unsure, low, etc. I would read those affirmations aloud. Whichever one pierced my heart is the one I knew I needed to be reminded of.

I searched for the affirmations online and found a couple of versions of it. Here is the one I had originally taped to my door. The version I read tonight had several additional affirmations. These are the ones that pierced my heart tonight.

I am a temple…a dwelling place…of God. His Spirit and His life dwell in me. (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19)

I am united to the Lord and am one spirit with Him. (1 Corinthians 6:17)

I am bought with a price; I am not my own; I belong to God. (1 Corinthians 6:19,20; 7:23)

I am called. (1 Corinthians 7:17)

I am a member of Christ’s Body. (1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 5:30)

I am victorious through Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)

I have been established, anointed and sealed by God in Christ, and I have been given to the Holy Spirit as a pledge guaranteeing my inheritance to come. (2 Corinthians 1:21; Ephesians 1:13,14)

I thank God that I am healed (Isaiah 53:5). I thank God that I have been redeemed (Revelation 5:9).

God does have a purpose for my life. He isn’t finished with me. He has a plan and a place for me to belong. I am not forgotten. He has provided for me. He is preparing me for His plan for the future. I don’t understand it all today, but in the future, I will be able to look back on this time and thank God for it.

 

What do you have to lose?

I read a poem by Elizabeth Bishop titled One Art. In the poem (shared below), Bishop wrote about an art that isn’t hard to master – the art of losing. She talks about losing door keys, time, places, names, hopes, houses, cities, and even a continent.

It’s easy to lose things: our tempers, our hearts, our heads. Even sadder, it’s easy to lose friends or potential friendships. These things that are easy to lose are the things that matter the most in life.

It’s more difficult to lose other things that we want to lose: weight, debt, guilt, grudges. These things seem to cling to us (or some of us), and sometimes feel impossible to dump. There may be even more difficult things that are clinging to us: addictions, unhealthy relationships, apathy or a lack of compassion.

I thank God that He has made a way for us to be free from sin, and free from the weight of life. The Word says Truth sets us free (John 8:32); Jesus sets us free (John 8:36); where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17).

The Lord is also a keeper. He keeps His promises and His covenant with us (Deuteronomy 7:9). He keeps us from harm (Psalm 121:7). He keeps us from falling (Jude 1:24). It is our job to keep ourselves in His love (Jude 1:21).

Jesus will also help us lose things out of our lives that are not good for us. What will you lose today? Will you lose bitterness, hatred, judgment, or hurt feelings? Will you lose pain or low self-esteem? Will you lose the need to be right, or the need to defend yourself?

Today, my prayer is that I would lose the things I need to lose (hurt, bitterness, unforgiveness), and keep the things I need to keep (God’s love, mercy, grace, and kindness). I pray that for you all today as well.

One Art, by ELIZABETH BISHOP

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.
I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.
—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.