My Spirit, My Responsibility

Written by: Angela Mercer

We live in a time when emotions seem to trump everything. Truth doesn’t hold a candle to how one feels about a situation— I know I can be the same way. If something scares me, like the Leviathan rollercoaster at Canada’s Wonderland, it doesn’t matter how many times it has run safely. It doesn’t matter. I am scared to death and therefore I will not get on it!

A few years ago, God was challenging us to trust Him and have faith to purchase a particular home in an area we didn’t think we could ever afford. We were in a season of transition and we were already feeling stretched beyond our gifting’s and trusting God financially as well. Was God really asking us to trust Him with one more thing? Didn’t one more thing break the camel’s back?

It would be an understatement to say that we were overwhelmed and nervous and a little scared. Marriage can be challenging during these times but God made us partners and so He will often build up one’s faith so they can help carry the other. At least this is what we have found. In this case, God had shown his grace to me with an incredible, supernatural faith. I just knew we were about to see God do a miracle. He was about to move a mountain right in front of us.

Our situation looked impossible. And we felt pretty fearful, to be honest. What we learned through that time though, was something we will carry with us the rest of our lives. What we see and what we feel is not necessarily an indication of what God is doing. In fact, many times, it is not. That’s why it’s called faith.

I once heard Brian Houston from Hillsong Church preach a message called “My Spirit, My Responsibility”. I have quoted that to myself and to others so many times I have lost count. We don’t have to live by our feelings. We don’t have to be controlled by our emotions. Proverbs 25:28 says “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down without walls”. Brian preaches that “walls are for protection. If broken, we are vulnerable, we are open to attacks: poor choices, emotional roller coasters, vulnerable to anxiety and all kinds of negativity that want to rule our spirit”.

I am sure you can think of a time that you were an emotional roller coaster and experiencing anxiety or negativity. I have been prone to anxiety in my life, where I can actually feel my blood pressure rising. There were moments of some pretty severe anxiety and fear in that season. But I would quote this line to myself, over and over again: My spirit, MY responsibility. It is no one else’s responsibility to keep my peace of mind or my joy or anything else for that matter. It is my responsibility.

So, how do we do this? Here are three things you can do when you are overwhelmed:

  1. Pause and pray. Bring your emotions to God and ask for His peace to rule in your heart. Col 3:15
  2. Recount His faithfulness. Remember a time when you needed God to come through and He did. He is always faithful and He is always with you and He will be faithful again.
  3. Cultivate a grateful heart. Thank Him for what He is doing. Thank Him for always providing. Thank Him for never leaving you. Allow thankfulness to flood your situation and then watch how God changes your spirit.

I know there are times when things are beyond our control and we need to seek professional help. But I also believe there are many times when we are simply not taking our emotions to God and allowing Him to settle our spirits. So, this is what I am trying to do more of – My spirit. My responsibility. I want all God’s peace and comfort and strength and calm He can give me.

Jesus, let your love and peace rule in my heart. Amen.

Boldly and Confidently

Written by: Angela Mercer

Thursday morning is one of my favourite times of the week. This is the day I facilitate our ladies bible study at church. One of my other favourite things is the mixing of generations. I love the conversation that happens each week. I love how the older ladies love on the young mom’s who need some support and encouragement and I love how the younger mom’s look up to and respect the older ones. I love hearing their stories about how God speaks to them or what He is showing them lately. I love hearing another woman’s perspective on life and faith.

One morning as we were cleaning up, our conversation landed on the topic of confidence. More specifically, growing in confidence as we age. A dear woman whom I greatly admire shared that she has always loved the colour purple but she didn’t really like standing out in a crowd. She would purposefully wear beige, grey and black until the day she realized she LOVES purple. So, she started wearing purple.

Don’t we just do that sometimes? Maybe you can relate? I know I can. I have always said “I just like to fly under the radar”. I have always loved fashion and following trends, but at times I prefer to just wear what everyone else is wearing so that I don’t stand out.

A few years ago when we bought a new house I was determined for the first time to make it mine. Which means, be brave enough to do what I really want to do. Flying under the radar as I usually do seeped into my home décor as well. I would use beige, wood, nothing too trendy, a little more traditional approach. So, when we moved in I painted one wall a dark teal. I love the colour teal and I thought it would look so great. I actually did it! I also love yellow so I spray painted a few things yellow and painted a little side table yellow too. I was having so much fun I started not thinking at all about what people might think and started to only think about what I liked. It was so liberating!

Do you ever wish you could tell your younger self something? Well, I would tell my younger self “do it anyway, there is always going to be someone who doesn’t like it. If you like it– that’s all that matters”!

Oh how I wish I had learned this when I was younger. God created me with certain talents, likes/dislikes, desires and passions and they are all unique to me. When we try to please everyone around us by “flying under the radar” we really just become very unhappy people.

If we are not careful we can take this same approach to other areas of our lives. It is very easy in our culture of social media and connectivity to concern ourselves with what the masses are doing and not enough about what we are doing. We ask why everyone else is fine with this or that. We start to wonder if anyone noticed something we did. If we aren’t careful, we will be so wrapped up in what everyone else thinks, far from who we are, and forget about what our Heavenly Father thinks.

Just as we need to be more confident in who we are and be ourselves, our focus needs to remain on God and doing what pleases Him. I think what truly pleases Him is being exactly who He created us to be. With all your flair and colour! After all, He is the only One that really matters.

“I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” Psalm 139:14

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ” Galatians 1:10

Stay Alert!

Written by: Angela Mercer

1 Peter 5:8 Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up.

It’s been almost two years since God did a significant work in my life regarding a particular insecurity that has plagued me since I was a young girl.

I remember the day like it was yesterday. Screaming in my head for God to take every last bit of that ugly root out once and for all.

And He did.

If you’ve ever had that happen – you know. That feeling when there is an intense sense of relief and you know God just did a miracle in your life. There is such a sense of victory! And then, when you are faced with a particular situation where that insecurity rears its ugly head, all of a sudden, you realize you aren’t reacting the way you used to. It still stings but it doesn’t pain like it used to. It is the greatest feeling especially when you come to the conclusion that this is what spiritual healing and growth looks like. You’ve experienced victory over something.

I was ok with the sting. The sting reminded me of what it used to feel like. I would think “if God hadn’t healed me of this I probably would ______________ right now”. I am sure you have your own experiences to fill in that blank.

But the enemy is sneaky and he knows there are a few different ways to trip us up. So if one way doesn’t work he’ll just figure out another way to get a reaction out of you. We can be so naïve in thinking that we are “over” something. We get comfortable and then all of a sudden there it is again.

Carey Scott says it this way: “Victory doesn’t mean we’ll never struggle with insecurity again. Victory means that when we feel the knot begin to tighten, we are quicker to see it and faster to take our tangle to God.”

“…quicker to see it and faster to take our tangle to God”. That is exactly how I would describe this victory in my life. We can all too easily become discouraged when the feelings we have prayed to go away are still there. But how do we measure our growth or answered prayers? I think one way is when something happens and I realize that I am not in tears or full of anxiety – change has occurred. We need to celebrate the moments we notice our insecurities but are quick to pray and release them to God instead of getting caught up all over again!

I guess my real focus now is to not become so comfortable that I am shocked when those insecurities rear their ugly head from time to time. They will come but I will be ready for them and I’ll be quick to take them to God.

For Everything There is a Season

Written by: Angela Mercer

If you were to ask me what was a challenging season of my life, I would have to say the baby/early-child-rearing days were some of the toughest. I know some women who are just such natural nurturers and stay at home moms. I genuinely wish I was that kind of mom. The kind that have schedules and get their hair and make-up done by noon. The kind who don’t stay in their jammies until 4 PM and then quickly change before the husband comes home so you look like you did stuff all day. The kind of mom who makes banana bread and purees their own baby food, plans play-dates and makes homemade play dough. You know that mom.

I was more of the fake til you make it, hair all dishevelled, toys all over the place, too much TV and waiting until husband is home to figure out what I SHOULD have taken out of the freezer so we can eat dinner in a decent time before bath and bedtime routines begin.

If I could go back, I would embrace that season with both arms and legs, like a koala ☺ Why is hindsight ALWAYS 20-20? I would go back, snuggle my babies all day long, plan long play dates, invite people to the house more often, wear my sweat pants out and not worry about my hair or make-up ever getting done. I would make that homemade puree because I want to, not because it’s an expectation. And I would dig into my Bible and enjoy the extra time being at home.

I know those seasons have purpose and a place in our life, but they can be really challenging to get through. I have a greater appreciation for new moms in this stage. It can be a very difficult season personally and usually a difficult marital season as well. It can be straining on all sides. Everyone is just so darn tired!

I don’t know what season you are in right now. Maybe it’s a stay-at-home-mom season, maybe it is an empty-nest season. Maybe it is a sit-and-wait season – for a job, for a husband.

Whatever season you find yourself in I want to challenge you to not waste this time. This is not a holding cell or a waiting room. There is still much to be done and you can be productive in this season. There are people to be encouraged, things to learn that you don’t yet know. This can be a season of preparation.

So, what if we looked into our current season and asked: “God, what do you want to teach me in this season?

I often wonder if God has a particular time set for these seasons or if we, through our attitude, grumbling and complaining, prolong these seasons? My season at home seemed much longer then it was. I didn’t get to where I wanted to go very quickly. It was almost 10 years. I wonder had I approached my season with a different attitude could I have shaved off a few years? I’ll never really know.

From now on, I am determined that I do not want to go through a particular season any longer then I have to. And if any of that is dependent upon MY attitude, I will be better. I will be positive. I will embrace it for all its worth. I will ask God what He wants to teach me, what He wants to change in me, who He wants me to encourage and how I can receive all He has for me. That is what I want. I know it will be hard, but I don’t want to waste any time. God has something for me in every season. Because with God never is ever wasted.

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. Psalm 16:5-6

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. Psalm 1:3

Don’t Set Up Camp

Written by: Angela Mercer

We were lying on the floor attempting some ab exercises and I was telling my friend that I was in a weight-loss rut. She asked what I had been doing and, of course, I went on to tell her about my past few weeks. I have been enjoying this particular class and another friend drags me along with her every time she goes. Ok, I admit, I actually don’t have to be dragged anymore, but we do always meet up to go because the accountability really helps. While she explained to me that my body has settled in quite nicely to my new routine and that I probably just need to switch it up a bit, I quickly found these words came out of my mouth:

But there’s so much comfort in that room. I know exactly what I am doing. I am confident in there. I don’t have to think about what to do.”

And with a smile she looked at me and said “but you know you aren’t going to get the results you want with comfort”.

We laughed. Hard. I have said those words many times myself to people in conversation about faith and other life issues. Ain’t that the truth? No good comes from comfort.

It is hard to begin something new. It’s difficult and requires a lot of planning. It sometimes requires that friend to ‘drag you along’ and keep you accountable. But after a few weeks you get your groove and it doesn’t seem so hard anymore. And then something strange happens. We get comfortable. It gets easier. It becomes habit and we don’t have to think so hard all the time. It becomes second nature. But then we can also become very complacent.

Ugh. I don’t like that word. Complacent. The Cambridge dictionary defines that word as “feeling so satisfied with your own abilities or situation that you feel you do not need to try any harder”.

Ew. I really don’t like that word. But that is exactly what I was. Complacent.

I was so proud of myself for my new routine and regular gym going and “healthier” eating that I was not thinking ahead anymore. I wasn’t thinking my next steps. I wasn’t thinking about the next 15 pounds.

I know it’s important to not get wrapped up in a number. But after struggling many years with health and fitness and weight— I have to. I also know it is so important to celebrate each milestone but we can’t set up camp and stay there either. I had set up camp!!

So, this week, I am setting a new goal and planning for the next leg of this journey. I am tearing down my camp site and packing it away for a while. I have work to do.

Here are some scriptures that have been an encouragement to me these past few months on this new health journey of mine. I hope they bring hope and encouragement to you too. This journey is sure harder then I thought, but I am really enjoying the way the way the Lord puts it all into perspective and I learn more and more what it means to persevere and not give up.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26

Give careful thought to your ways. Haggai 1:28

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Phil 4:13
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross,scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Heb 12:1-3

With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. Matt 19:26

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness… 2 Peter 1:5-6

Boldly And Confidently

Written by: Angela Mercer

Thursday morning is one of my favourite times of the week. This is the day I facilitate our ladies bible study at church. One of my other favourite things is the mixing of generations. I love the conversation that happens each week. I love how the older ladies love on the young mom’s who need some support and encouragement and I love how the younger mom’s look up to and respect the older ones. I love hearing their stories about how God speaks to them or what He is showing them lately. I love hearing another woman’s perspective on life and faith.

One morning as we were cleaning up, our conversation landed on the topic of confidence. More specifically, growing in confidence as we age. A dear woman whom I greatly admire shared that she has always loved the colour purple but she didn’t really like standing out in a crowd. She would purposefully wear beige, grey and black until the day she realized she LOVES purple. So, she started wearing purple.

Don’t we just do that sometimes? Maybe you can relate? I know I can. I have always said “I just like to fly under the radar”. I have always loved fashion and following trends, but at times I prefer to just wear what everyone else is wearing so that I don’t stand out.

A few years ago when we bought a new house I was determined for the first time to make it mine. Which means, be brave enough to do what I really want to do. Flying under the radar as I usually do seeped into my home décor as well. I would use beige, wood, nothing too trendy, a little more traditional approach. So, when we moved in I painted one wall a dark teal. I love the colour teal and I thought it would look so great. I actually did it! I also love yellow so I spray painted a few things yellow and painted a little side table yellow too. I was having so much fun I started not thinking at all about what people might think and started to only think about what I liked. It was so liberating!

Do you ever wish you could tell your younger self something? Well, I would tell my younger self “do it anyway, there is always going to be someone who doesn’t like it. If you like it– that’s all that matters”!

Oh how I wish I had learned this when I was younger. God created me with certain talents, likes/dislikes, desires and passions and they are all unique to me. When we try to please everyone around us by “flying under the radar” we really just become very unhappy people.

If we are not careful we can take this same approach to other areas of our lives. It is very easy in our culture of social media and connectivity to concern ourselves with what the masses are doing and not enough about what we are doing. We ask why everyone else is fine with this or that. We start to wonder if anyone noticed something we did. If we aren’t careful, we will be so wrapped up in what everyone else thinks, far from who we are, and forget about what our Heavenly Father thinks.

Just as we need to be more confident in who we are and be ourselves, our focus needs to remain on God and doing what pleases Him. I think what truly pleases Him is being exactly who He created us to be. With all your flair and colour! After all, He is the only One that really matters.

“I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” Psalm 139:14

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ” Galatians 1:10