The Truth

Some days I have profound moments with God where I know He is speaking straight to me.  It’s not in a different voice, it’s my voice affirming a truth from His Word.

Seasons come and go and I’m in a hard one.  One that is requiring a lot of my time, energy, and attention.  Emotional growth is one of the hardest parts of my journey so far.  Connecting with my emotions, memories, hurts and pains.  I don’t like it.

What I am learning in this time is God’s Presence in my life is deeper than I ever have felt Him before.  Another layer, depth with my God, my Savior who promises to never leave me or forsake me.

I’d love to just have some comfort and an easy walk but to be honest I don’t really think about God being with me then.  I think about how I am crushing it and keeping myself together.

So today, I’m spending time journaling and putting pieces together that feel painful but I’m seeing fruit.  And the verse, John 8:32 comes to mind, “…then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”  I kind of brush it off, because I have read this verse a million times praying it over myself usually in the form of freedom from anxiety.  But today something new came and I want to share it with you.

Sometimes searching for the truth feels a little like detective work.  But in this case God clarified for me I want you to experience the truth.  Truth that is real no matter what’s going on.  See freedom from anxiety is circumstantial.  Stressors will come and I will deal with the anxiety again, and hopefully less overwhelming the next time.

But God says to me I want more:

I want you to experience my love.

I want you to experience my forgiveness.

I want you to experience my closeness.

I want you to experience my grace and compassion for you.

And experience comes from being with other people and allowing them to minister to you.  Allowing them to speak over your life the truth when you are having a hard time holding onto it. And in this God shows us Himself, through people.  And it can draw our eyes back to Him.

John 8:31 says, “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciple…”  from this verse I’m reminded of James 1:25, “But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”  I don’t know about you, but I need help remembering.

Freedom comes from sitting with Jesus over and over and over until we finally experience who He truly is to us.  And what I love is this is not an independent endeavor.  People are a part of this process.  Mine are a counselor, friends, mentors, and my husband.

Who are your people?  Who are helping you experience who God really is?  How are they teaching you?  What connections are you making from these experiences?

Lord help us to see you for who You are and how You see us in return. 

Do you re-read books?

Do you re-read books?

I have a few I like to re-read.  These are part of my resources.  Books that speak over me and encourage me.

It goes without saying but just in case, the Bible is an irreplaceable resource for me.  It speaks to me and it amazes me how I can hear the same verse and depending on the day I hear it differently.  God speaks through His word and I believe He speaks through other’s too.

So while God is speaking to me through His word, He also comforts me through others words.  Books have been a comfort for me especially as I work through healing.

Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning was one of the first books that taught me I can come and sit at Jesus feet as is.  I can come to Jesus with all of my feelings that I’ve labeled good or bad.  I can come with my sin and sit at His feet and you know what He gave me in those moments, His love.  Deep gratitude began to grow in me towards God.

Then it was a few years and a lot of heartache later, God met me with the book Finding Spiritual Whitespace by Bonnie Gray and it rocked my world.  I was in counseling working through trauma and Bonnie’s words spoke over me so clearly.  The heart of her message was that I need “space/rest” for God to speak over my wounds.  She has been a kindred spirit and I am grateful for her words and how God to used them in my life.  She also wrote Whispers of Rest which is a continuation of how we get spiritual whitespace in our life.  This book really helped me reconnect with myself, because God wants to be with all of us not just part of us.

Finally, two books that are impacting my new year.  Try Softer by Aundi Kolber  and To Bless the Space Between Us by John O’Donohue.  If you need salve for a worn out soul, if you need comfort, if you need space to just breathe and know you are safe-these book hold that space for you.  They draw you back to God and renew a fresh perspective that is better.  It is better to try softer and not be so harsh with ourselves.  God is a God with compassionate love towards us.  I believe He wants us to experience this here and now.

These are some of my re-reads.  I will pick them up when I feel misunderstood and hurt.  I will pick them up when I need a pick me up.  I will pick them up when I need to know I’m not alone. These books break me out of that “stuck” feeling and help me become more curious.

What are you reading that is speaking to your heart?

Encouraging you in a new way?

 

Continually

Man, what if I told you our work isn’t done until we meet Jesus face to face.

You’d say, yeah I already know that, thanks.

But what about your heart? I know there are still issues there, because there are still issues in my heart.

What if I said God continually wants to work on you?

I’d say, whew I’m already exhausted from this whole being made new thing.

And guess what, I’m exhausted because deep down in my spirit I believe I can pull one over on God. I think yeah yeah, but watch me God, I’m gonna do this super fast and we will work this issue until it’s gone forever. Then something happens and that old way is triggered and I find myself working on it once again.

Guess what, He’s not proud of us if we do it faster. He’s proud because we are His and we did nothing to deserve it.

Because, we all have sin. We all have pain. We all have needs. We all have areas God is not done with yet. We all have suffered and if we haven’t, we will.

Jesus says in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart I have overcome the world.”

In this world, we will be wronged. We will feel hurt. We will experience pain. We will be rejected.

And because of all that, we need a deep ever present God to be with us. And if we are constantly seeking Him, repenting and asking for forgiveness, and truly crying out to Him for wisdom and mercy:

He will give it.

He will forgive us.

He will meet us where we are.

Over and over again.

And one day we will be in His Presence and we will know Him because we walked with Him through it all.

So keep soldiering on and know this is a good process of continually being made whole.

I can change my mind.

The mind.

It’s beautifully complex but sometimes doesn’t feel so beautiful. Oppressive thoughts, low self worth, and speaking defeated words over ourselves make us feel less than.

I fall into bad thinking patterns when I feel stuck and unsure what the right decision is to make. I feel guilty if I make a wrong decision and unsure if I make the decision because I’m unsure how’s it’s going to turn out.

Whew. Feel better about yourself?

I found some wisdom from this crappy thought life yesterday.

My son woke up with a sore throat, he’s gotten strep before, so I wanted to see how he felt once he was up for a bit. Not seeing much change, I decided to keep him home.

Thirty minutes later it was pretty clear he had a little cough, but was feeling fine, no fever. He confirmed he felt fine.

So we decided to get him to school even though he was thirty minutes late.

As I was driving home from dropping my son off late, I realized I didn’t feel guilty. Confirming how I felt, truth came: This was not a pattern for my kid faking sick or crying because he didn’t want to go to school. He’s pretty tough. And it really wasn’t a big deal for him to miss one day.

NEW THOUGHTS! Truthful thoughts.

Shocked.

Ah-ha!

I thought, hey I can change my mind!

We can change our minds. Turning this into a spiritual truth, we can take our crappy thoughts captive and make them obey Christ. We can change.

(Note: see Jen Wilkins book “None like Him.” She writes a whole chapter on how this.)

This simple reality of changing my mind to take my son to school opened wide the lie: this won’t work for you, you can’t change your mind, you are stuck.

I can’t do this on my own, but with Christ I will.

The weapons I get to use aren’t more strength on my own part, but trusting in a mighty God who never gets tired helping me to do His part!

He will never fail us.

Masterpiece

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More than a decade ago my husband spoke this verse over me.  He was my boyfriend at the time and I’ll never forget that moment.  I was doubting my worth, my purpose.  I was so unsure of myself and if God could use me.  Timid, fearful.  I still struggle with some of those same identity issues.  However, when I struggle and I hear this verse I am able to go back to that suspended memory of my sweet man pointing my eyes up when all I wanted to do was look at my feet in discouragement.  Yesterday I looked up at the sky and saw a masterpiece.  Sun shining and the clouds were painted beautifully, I was reminded again of this verse.

Workmanship.  Poetry.  Masterpiece.

I’m not sure where you are in life.  Wondering what your purpose is?  Unsure if God is even doing anything in your life?  Maybe you are not sure you “deserve” for God to use you.

If it’s yes, me too.

Today I heard the song “Symphony” by Switch.  “Through all of this chaos, YOU are writing a symphony.”  A symphony.  God already knows the end of your masterpiece, He knows the notes, the details, the highs and lows.  He knows the notes that will be hit and the ones that will be missed.  Maybe, life with Christ is letting Him teach us the song He wrote for us or the masterpiece He is revealing one brush stroke at a time.  He is making us aware of the masterpiece we are in Him.  Maybe the masterpiece is us learning and growing and unlearning and regrowing.  The undoing of our old ways and allowing Him to make us new.

Being made into a masterpiece doesn’t always feel beautiful.  But I bet anyone who has laid paint to a canvas isn’t sure what the end product will look like, but at the end they step back and say, “Yes!  This is it!  I didn’t even know it would look this beautiful.”  Or someone sitting down to write a song, the words begin to flow, the lyrics fall together, and the rhythm makes you tap your feet.  It all comes together.

As we learn to walk in this truth that we are God’s masterpiece, a work He is proud of.  It’s ugly at first, we miss terribly.  Our dance moves are less than.  But all the sudden we start putting one step to the next.  Seeing connections, feeling His presence more and more.  Healing.  We begin to lean more into Him, trusting He is who He says He is.  We can trust this process of becoming.  Becoming His masterpiece.  It’s worth every step.  At least that’s what I’m telling myself.  And telling you too.  It is worth it.

 

Control

I like control. There’s a safety there. Where you know what you’re capable of and how you will handle it all.

Where does that leave you?

Are you tired of trying to keep it all together?

Controlling your emotions.

Maybe controlling your response, not too angry so you don’t lose control but you still feel the need to express it.

Part of me has believed if I expressed an emotion then maybe it would go away.

So I’d confess away, trying to find relief especially from those intense emotions: anger, fear, depression.

Feeling like if I didn’t confess them the emotions would control me, take over. I’d condemn myself saying “I can’t believe you felt that way.”

Recently reading a book called “You are the one you’ve been waiting for.”

And it talks about how valid each of our emotions are, they are parts of us, is humans at least. And one emotion is not who we are, but a part. I have had depression and anxiety but those were expressions of deep hurt I was trying to control and mask so it would look prettier, more presentable. I’m learning there are parts of me that I have not taken care of.

Anxiety was a way I coped. It was the best I had at the time. So now, I’m relearning. And I’m really excited because God has a new way.

He came for all those parts I try to hide, the ones I push aside or lay a verse in it hoping it would consume it for me.

Stay posted, I’m walking this one out.

On waiting

Sometimes waiting is enough to push me over the edge.  Then sometimes I love waiting, like waiting for the coffee timer to ding that the coffee is done.

But sometimes waiting is painful…

  • waiting for the doctor to call, i.e. high blood pressure
  • healing to come
  • relationships to restore
  • falling asleep
  • coffee to finish brewing (its both, anticipated and taking way too long the next morning)

How are we supposed to wait well?

How do we let our heart take courage, when it’s difficult?  When what we are waiting on we are not looking forward to?

Psalm 27: 14 says,

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”

I don’t know why you are waiting, and I’m betting that answer wouldn’t help.  But maybe we can allow ourselves to wait, so that our heart can take courage.  We don’t have to know why, but we can know that there is purpose.

Maybe, our hearts aren’t ready yet.  Maybe you are waiting to see a black and yellow butterfly drinking nectar out of your zinnias out front.  So we can stop and be in awe that we aren’t the ones holding this whole thing together.  That we are loved, cherished, adored.  Strengthen your heart with that truth today.

So what are you waiting on today?  Let your heart take courage.  img_1299-1

Tough Stuff

I have struggled with not having answers.  I want answers.  I want to find comfort in having all the answers.  So I can justify something that has happened, making the pain less.  I want something tangible to hang on to.

Life circumstances just don’t make sense sometimes.

What are we supposed to do when we don’t have answers?  When we can’t see the light in the darkness.

I’m sitting here thinking about this pastor, 30 years old Andrew Stoecklein, who committed suicide.  Suffering.  Alone.  My heart aches for that family, the suffering they are enduring.

And then I realize, there are a lot of things in life we don’t have answers for.

People die of cancer, car accidents, natural disasters.  This is the age old question “If God is real, why is there suffering in this world?”

I hate suffering, does anyone like it?  Have you suffered?  Grieved a loss?  Walked through a dark time in life?  Been so anxious you couldn’t eat or sleep?

I have and because I have experienced those things, I know there is a God who is real.  More real than any pain we can experience here on this earth.  More intentional with showing us the way than ever before.  More loving and kind than I imagined.  More powerful and real even without healing.  Even in death, He is with us.  Oh He is with us.

Romans 8:38-39 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Satan would love for us to see it differently.  That he is the one with all the power.  He’s gross and cruel.  He has no victory, and he is acting out of defeat and he knows it.  He’d love to deceive us into believing he’s won.

But Jesus took our pain and sin carrying it to the Cross and broke its power by sacrificing Himself because of His love for us.  And then in all His power, rose from the dead, letting us know He is the One who holds all the victory.  He has won.  We can rest there when we don’t understand.  When it hurts too much.

Father, show us Your Love and help us to have eyes to see it even when we have no answers.  In Jesus name, amen.

 

Fear

I’ve lived a lot of my life in fear.  The more I feared things, the more those things came true, which kept me in this cycle believing all those fears because some of them had come true.

Last night my son had a bad thought, which made him fearful he’d have nightmares.  Oh bless him, I couldn’t hug him tight enough.  I encouraged him to say his fear out loud, breaking it’s power, praying with him, and checking on him as he fell back to sleep.

It felt right.  I could tell he was calm.  My heart swelled with love for him.  I didn’t think less of him because he had a bad thought.  I didn’t tell him to quit it and get it together.  It didn’t make sense to say those things.

But how often do we say those things to ourselves?  Just stop worrying, get it together, no one else thinks this way.  And in our silence we’ve given power to those thoughts.

Negative thoughts are normal, it is what we do with them that gives them power or dissolves them.  

It also hit me after Caleb went to lay down, just because you think something doesn’t make it true.  Our brains need this reminder.  We are hardwired for protection.  Our brains know how to do this well.  And if we’ve had any sort of trauma we are hardwired for more protection.

A thought is a thought and we get to choose what to do with it.

  1. Speak it out loud.  So our brains have a chance to look at it differently.
  2. Share it with someone else. Maybe a friend or a counselor.
  3. Pray.
  4. Let others check on you.  People who love you and encourage you.  Reminding you that you are not alone, no shame.  Just joy shared in this journey.

 

Hopefully this encourages you, by reminding you, you are not alone.  How we speak to our kids is how we should speak to ourselves.  Or speak to ourselves the way we want to speak to our kids.  Parenting continues to teach me more and more about myself.  Grateful. img_0228

Rewriting Your Story

Two songs that are speaking to my heart right now are Phil Wickham “Till I Found You” and Steffany Gretzinger “Letting Go.”  Go Listen!

A line in Phil Wickham’s song is “You are rewriting my story.”  Man, it’s is singing to my heart right now.  Maybe you planned life differently.  Maybe you hadn’t really planned at all and are taking life as it comes.  Even so, I’m sure you had an amount of expectation on what life would look like even if generally.  Those expectations can be great if life goes as planned, if it all turns out great.  But what about those hard pieces that inevitably come?

John 16:33 “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.

(The red felt appropriate, words from Jesus.)

So maybe we can let go of the expectation that life with Jesus will be easy.  That we shouldn’t have to endure hardships.  That’s why we came running right?  To him for salvation.  But I think it is when our faith endures these hard times that we are refined, our true selves brought forth.

Now the second song “Letting Go” has a line “I’m letting go, and falling into you.”

Letting go of what others think.

Letting go of fear.

Letting go of lies.

Letting go of who we think we are.

Letting go of self doubt.

Letting go of shame.

Don’t worry we aren’t letting go into an abyss, if we have Jesus.  We are letting go and clinging to him in the tough and in the good.  We are stepping with one eye peeking open praying “Oh please have me Lord.”  And I think we can let go, because His plan will be infinitely better.  Do we believe it is better?  Letting go requires trusting our God is really good.  And that He will be good to us, even still.

Another lyric, “You unwind me until I’m totally undone.”  Oh, let that sink in.  How many of you need Him to unwind you?  Yeah, me too.  Me too.

So let Him write a new story.  Start by letting go, so you can become the person who celebrates others, who is brave, who steps out, who has confidence in themselves, who looks up instead of down at their feet, one who stands tall proud of who you are and the God you serve.

I’m still figuring this all out.