Out of the Cave and Back on the Winding Road That Leads Home

Out of the Cave and Back on the Winding Road That Leads Home

I love summer, but not so much when it gets outrageously hot. That’s why the cool Autumn mornings and evenings with its delightful fresh air is so welcome right now. Heat can make me grumpy, discouraged, and depressed. The hot months mean it’s cave time, and it’s easy for me to hide inside in the air conditioning and try not to let my thoughts and emotions take over. Like Elijah, who was running and hid in a cave (I Kings 19:3-18), I know there is only one way out. I must choose to walk out of my cave and move forward.

What causes our discouragement that can lead to depression?

Many different things can cause discouragement and depression. We often hear how health issues or chemical and food imbalances cause it. I found myself in a depressed state many years ago and couldn’t figure out why until I was diagnosed with a thyroid issue that was causing it. Sometimes depression is just the weather, but hiding can also be a choice we make when fear takes over.

What we focus on matters? When Elijah ran for the cave, he left his servant behind. Discouragement and depression make you want to isolate yourself, and that’s the biggest mistake we can make. Many people are still trying to get out of their cave from the isolation they went through during the pandemic. Some live in a cave because they spend too much time on social media comparing their life to others who seem to be living the high life. Sometimes we stay in our cave and hide because of the stigma of being labeled as a failure if we’ve been let go from a job, been caught in an unforeseen economic situation, or perhaps been caught in a challenging family issue. If we hide, maybe it will all just go away. In our “all about me and my influence and success” social media culture today, people back away and don’t want to be associated with someone deemed a loser. It might damage their reputation.

Is the solution spiritual?

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INNER VIEW with Author and Dating Coach, Jodie Swee

INNER VIEW with Author and Dating Coach, Jodie Swee

Are you trusting God through the process? The ins and outs of life can take unexpected turns, but read this month’s INNER VIEW with Jodie Swee as she encourages us to grow, view failure through a different lens, and earn our place of influence with others.

 

BIO

Jodie Swee is a spiritual director, dating coach, and founder of Topanga Social, a dating service for imperfect Christians. Jodie has authored four Bible study series and shared her joy and authenticity with audiences for over 20 years. She lives in the South Bay of Los Angeles with her husband of 16 years and their 2 daughters.

 

INNER VIEW

Kathleen Cooke:  What’s the one thing you’d like to share with women that God has recently taught you?  

Jodie Swee: Trust the process! Growth and accomplishment don’t usually happen overnight. If you spend quality time with Jesus regularly, seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and do your best with what you have, then trust that the Lord will take care of you and lead you to where you need to be.

When you trust the process, you discover an invitation to experience things differently. Failure becomes an opportunity to learn, detours become adventures, and the lack of control over external circumstances becomes a chance to surrender your internal perspective to the Lord.

I recently had a conversation with my best friend, and at that moment, I wasn’t trusting the process. Let me share with you what she told me.

She said, “Babies have to grow.” And she’s right. Our babies…our hopes, dreams, and expectations for the future… need to grow. They need to grow so that the Lord can teach us how to take care of them before they become unruly teenagers with their own ideas!

So, my dear friends, trust the process and enjoy the adventure it brings.

Kathleen: Failure today often dismantles us. How have you dealt with failures in your life?

Jodie: I hate failure. I loathe it. It makes me feel all squishy and small inside, and for many years I used to hide from it behind excuses. But not anymore. Instead of running and hiding from my failure, the Lord has taught me to turn and face it. Don’t get me wrong, I still HATE it, and it makes me feel icky inside. My initial instinct is still to run and hide, but the Lord has granted me the ability to pause before doing so (or before getting too far) and embrace my failure.I don’t embrace it for long, but rather than run from my failure, I receive it…and then bring it to the Lord and yield it. When I do that, he transforms it into something else…something beautiful and beneficial to me and/or others.

Twenty years ago, I was speaking at a young adult event in a church. I completely bombed. After I finished, someone in the crowd actually shouted, “That’s it?” I thought I would be consumed by shame. I blamed it on my lack of talent/skill and ended up quitting speaking for a decade. Until the Lord invited me to try again (which is a sweet, sweet story for another time).

Last year, I was speaking at another church event, and once again, I completely bombed. I experienced all the familiar feelings, but then I laughed (a little) and brought it to the Lord. In doing so, I discovered an opportunity to deepen my spiritual practices before and after speaking. The failure became a gift that will serve me and others for the rest of my life.

For a long time, I thought that someday I would be so wise and experienced that I wouldn’t fail anymore. Bless my naive little heart! Now, I am indeed wiser and more experienced…and I know I’ll never outgrow failure (this side of eternity). It’s not something to outgrow or run away from. It’s something to embrace, even with its uncomfortable feelings, and surrender so we can experience more of God’s transformative love in our lives.

Kathleen: You have a deep passion to help others with growing strong, meaningful relationships. What have you learned about developing relationships that last and can be trusted?

Jodie: I have a deep and fierce love for people, and I pastor many. It is my purpose and passion. However, personally, I tend to be somewhat of a loner. Surprisingly, my inner circle is quite small, not by choice but by some intentional design, I believe. Throughout my adult life, I have consistently sought out a steady mentor, but I have never had one. Nevertheless, I have been fortunate to receive bits of wisdom from older friends who have come and gone throughout my journey.

I have ADHD, and I’m not awesome at keeping up with people who live far away. (Out of sight, out of mind is LEGIT for us neurodivergent homies.) I didn’t meet my best friend until I was 42. She was leading worship; I was giving the message…and we bonded for life over the realization that we both experienced the love of Jesus through the TV series Outlander. (That’s weird, I know…but that’s why she’s my bestie.)

My relational experience over the years has taught me to enjoy and delight in what I have, grieve and release what has been lost as a natural part of life, and always be on the lookout for my next kindred spirit to pop up in an unexpected place.

Kathleen: What’s the one thing you’ve learned about how we can influence others?

Jodie: Honestly? I’ve learned that influence can be a sneaky and destructive beast, and it is important for us to be mindful of how we wield it and the individuals we permit to influence us.

Influence should not be won; it should be earned.

I believe that it is earned by faithfully pursuing our calling with our whole lives (public and private), being honest and saying “I don’t have an answer to that” when we don’t, and being intentional about sitting under the authority and influence of God. Any influence we have not supported by a firm foundation in Jesus is just an invitation for that sneaky Satan to twist and misuse. Influence shouldn’t puff us up or make us strong; it should keep us humble and desperately in need of the Lord’s guidance.

Connect with Jodie:
Book a free intro session at: JodieSwee.com

Instagram: @jodieswee and @topangasocial 

Ruth O’Reilly-Smith INNER VIEW 

Ruth O’Reilly-Smith INNER VIEW 

Ruth O’Reilly-Smith – Writer, Radio Host

Ruth O’Reilly-Smith was born in South Africa. She was bitten by the radio bug in 1995 while studying to be a teacher at the University of Pretoria. She began her career working as a presenter on various music variety and talk-based shows and heading up the news desk at a Christian community radio station. Moving to the UK in 1999, Ruth continued in radio, working in the newsroom and as a host of music and talk-based programs for two separate global Christian media charities. She currently hosts a daytime radio show on UCB2, which is part of United Christian Broadcasters. Ruth’s Christian faith is central to all she does, and she is passionate about communicating God’s love through His Word. She has written for the Our Daily Bread Ministries publication for several years and is blessed with the opportunities to preach at churches, ministries and women’s retreats. Her book, God Speaks: 40 Letters From The Father’s Heart, lands in book stores in October 2021.

Ruth and her husband, Paul, have twins – a boy and a girl. They are part of a local church in Staffordshire, England, where she loves long walks in the countryside, great conversation over steaming hot cocoa, and has recently discovered the joy of baking soda bread.

INNER VIEW

Kathleen: Sometimes we forget how seemingly unimportant small choices or habitual patterns can often become a seed that grows into unwanted fields of weeds in our lives. Has God taught you a lesson on paying attention to the small choices?

Ruth O’Reilly – Smith: I’ve been reading the book of Proverbs and felt a renewed desire to seek wisdom in all my interactions intentionally, and then I had a vivid dream. My 14-year-old daughter started smoking, and for some reason, I didn’t say anything at first but felt compelled to stop her when she got up to go outside and smoke again. It was a horrible dream, but it prompted me to pray earnestly for her, and it made me realize how important it is always to be ready to speak the truth in love, perhaps especially when it comes to my role as mum to twin teens.

Kathleen: When we pay attention to God’s nudging in our soul, it changes how we prioritize our actions. Our mind is alerted, which allows us to change our heart so that we can choose differently. It is a recipe for successful living. What new thoughts changed your heart and, in turn, your priorities and actions?

Ruth: My love for God’s Word started as hard work when I wrote for Our Daily Bread Ministries. The discipline of crafting devotionals based on the Bible soon turned into a longing to read it even when I didn’t have to.  I now wake up early just so I can connect with my Maker through His Word. I also enjoy closing my eyes and being still, and when I have a notebook and pen in hand, I write down what I hear Him speaking to my soul. I’ve been challenged to seek God first, above all things, and when I do, He never fails to order my steps. (more…)