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Monday, July 23, 2018

Stumbling in Identity

There are those of us who have lived lives that honor who we are, that love well, that put others before ourselves, and that always believe the best in people.  There's been maturation and growing in that, but there's nothing insidious that others know of to remind them that's not who they see.

Then there are many of us out there who have lived lives we are not proud of.  Lives marked by selfishness, ignorance, rebellion, no self worth, defiance, or thinking too highly of ourselves.

The stumbling in identity comes when the latter group finally realizes that there is much more to life readily apparent in the lives of people they see. They decide they no longer want to miss out on what life has to offer, and decide to figure out who they really are.

I fall into the latter group.  I didn't realize until I hit about 20 yrs of age that my life had been completely wasted.  I had nothing to show for my existence but a bunch of wreckage in my wake.  I wasn't living, but simply existing.  Waiting.  No goals, no ambitions, no dreams.  I was perfectly content to just numb the pain of being alive because I didn't appreciate the gift of it.  I had so much inexplicable rage in my heart, and very little joy.  I had an internal knowing that there had to be more to life, but didn't know how to ascertain what I was missing.

Over the last two decades, I've come to realize that I am my own worst enemy.  My perceptions were keeping me prisoner to the lack of value I had for life.  I took on other people's opinions of me as my own, and lived as if that was what life was about.  I had a constant dialogue of voices that shaped my skewed view on life.

There are so many voices that each one of us hear as we live our lives. A small sampling of the voices that are common to most are the critical voice, the accusatory voice, the voice of comparison, the pitiful voice (Why Me?), the ungrateful one, all of which rob us of any ability to enjoy our lives.  Thankfully, there are also voices of encouragement, love, and belonging to be heard.  These voices originate from ourselves, friends, parents, enemies, ourselves, media, peers, teachers, employers, etc...

Every now and again, I stumble in my identity as I am reminded of what used to characterize my meager existence.  I hate that I can't change what once was, but I will not let it cause me to stumble walking forward.  Truly, can anyone walk forward in life, not knowing what their paths will bring, while they are focused on looking backwards?

I do not need anyones permission or approval to live out my life with the giftings the Lord has blessed me with. Do I desire acceptance?  Sure.  Do I need it?  Absolutely not.  Some of the most harmful rejection I've encountered has been in the body of Christ.  Truly I can tell you that was a gift.  I've learned more about myself, and what needs to change in me, through the painful things, than I ever have in the good.  If I value what people think more than what I know in my heart, by way of my Father in heaven, and my Lord Jesus Christ, I will never fulfill what He's called me to (which also happens to be the desire of my heart).

I am redeemed.  I am valuable.  I am worthy.  I am learning how to be who I was created to be.  I am unstoppable with Christ strengthening me in my weaknesses.  There will always be places for more growth, but I'm not going to keep my focus on those.  For what I behold, that will I accomplish, for good or for bad.  So, onward and upward, right?  A resounding "YES!" is what fills my heart with joy and propels me forward into the unknown.

"Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.  But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead"
-Philippians 3:12-13

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Free Indeed

As a little girl, I used to swing wild with abandon, every push of my legs back and forth, going higher and higher, with my hair whipping around my face.  It thrilled me to fly as high as the swing would allow, until the chain would slack and the force would pull me back in the opposite direction. I could have stayed on the swing all day long, never growing tired. 

Today, I don't have that same affection for the swing.  The limit of the chains, the awkwardness of the seat, remind me of life, and how what I once thought was truly living and experiencing life, was simply being swung back and forth on a chain.  I had no idea there was a depth to life which was immensely more than anything ever I had ever experienced or known.

I can't say I know complete and total freedom in Jesus Christ, but I do know I am happier now than I ever was before. And it is a joy deeper and more fulfilling than I have ever known.

I want to share something the Lord showed me, as it unfolded in my mind with thoughts and pictures. Such still, sweet words that filled my heart. I saw a picture of a gate, with a lock, which represented the things being guarded that He was growing and developing within me.  The key to unlock the gate was for me to accurately see my own reflection in the mirror, through His eyes, not mine. 

I think most of us have a hard time seeing ourselves as we truly are, as our Father in heaven sees us.  I kept seeing all the flaws in myself in the mirror, and the gate would not open.  It wasn't until I saw the beauty He saw, that the gate swung wide open for me to walk in and experience the awe and beauty of the truth and vision the gate had guarded and held for me. There were many aspects to what I saw, but only one I think is worth elaborating on for others.

As I walked in, He showed me all of the words around me, labels spoken by others, and yet none were worthy of even a glance because they were not words He spoke about me.  As I looked down on myself, I saw the word ‘BROKEN’.  I told Him that word definitely described me and He sweetly laughed at me, and gave me an acronym for that word, and told me I was to identify with that instead.  (I wish I had the ability to artistically draw what I saw, but alas, that is not currently in my giftings.)  Here is the acronym...

Ready to Roar
On Fire
King's Daughter
New Creation 

As I celebrate the death and resurrection of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, these words resound and resonate within me. They bring healing and make me whole.
May God continue to work with us all in crucifying our flesh, in accordance with His love and His word. 
May we know the joy of a child, swinging with abandon, and realize any limits imposed by chains can be broken, and have been broken, through the broken body of Jesus Christ. His love for you and for me knows no bounds and knows no limits.  There is no love like one which lays its life down for another.  May we all remember that wholeheartedly.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Silver and Gold

As I say goodbye to 2017, and embrace 2018 with all my being, I'm reminded of the children's song "Make new friends, but keep the old.  One is silver and the other's gold."  I believe that is a sweet reminder that precious things are ahead, and to not resist the changes, even though they are not what I was wanting.

This is my first year where I didn't get a verse from church to meditate on for my year.  I've always looked forward to that tradition, so it was with some heart hurt to realize I would need to go directly to the source for my verse this year.  Silly to say, and to type, and even more so to read, but it's where I was at!

The trendy thing this year seems to be a word from the Lord to focus on for the year.  I decided I didn't want a word, I wanted a verse.  I prayed and asked the Lord what He had for me this coming year to focus on and had the word "Intent" pressed upon my heart.

Let me reiterate, I didn't want a word, much less a word that didn't seem like an important word either.  Intent?  Already starting my New Year off feeling ungrateful.  How's that for a beloved child of God?!?  Ok, Lord.  Always Your way, and not mine anyways.  Why intent?  What do you want to show me?

I feel the grin of excitement radiating upon me, as He says that I'll find out as I seek Him in it over the course of this year.

That's a pretty awesome way to start the year, even if it's not what I wanted.  I'm telling you.  The Lord delights in showing me His way is not my way, and takes every opportunity to remind me of it. 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Blooming Where You Are Planted? A follow-up from the last blog entry...

I belong to the most amazing church ever.  The pastor is one of the most fatherly shepherds I've ever met, with a true heart of compassion for his flock.  I came to my church 7 yrs ago, to a Saturday evening service and was welcomed as one of their own by the discipleship pastor and his wife.  My family and I attended church elsewhere on Sunday's, but I became a regular at the small church's Saturday night service!  The truth, the love, the fellowship, the worship, the presence of God, all of it, just kept me returning week after week.  After a year I had convinced my family we needed to be at this church, and all of us left to come to this one.

Fast forward 6 yrs (and lots of background later)

Imagine my horror when I felt the Lord asking me to leave this church and go back to our old one.  I can assure you I had a million reasons why that wasn't a good idea, and fought it.  Surely that was NOT the Lord!  Right?!?

I'd love to be able to tell you first and foremost that it wasn't, but that'd be a lie.  Coming in a very close second, I'd like to tell you that I fully supported and trusted the Lord in this leading, ready for my new season in life.  Yeah, that'd be false too.  I tried going to both churches for quite a while, but that didn't really work either.  Plus, it impacted our family time at home which is minimal at best anyways.  I submitted to the Lord's leading, and started attending the one I felt Him call me to.

One day I actually sent my husband and kids into church ahead of me, telling them I'd be right there, and sat in my car and cried to the Lord.  I told him if that's where He wanted me to be, then He needed to help change my heart b/c I disliked most everything about this new/old church.  I think we had been going there about 6 mo at that time. 

Every single week I would be heartsick that I didn't get to go to MY church.  The Lord continued to find ways to bless me at this new/old church even though my heart certainly wasn't right before Him on it.

It took about 3 mo of me doing what I knew to do biblically to partner with God, and affirm my trust in His will for my life, for me to not be ugly in heart about this change.  In order to make a really long and complicated story really short, He told me I needed to do what was best for my family, not what was best for me.  That's actually been a thing He's been working in my heart for awhile now, who would've thunk, lol.

Finally, last week, I wrote an e-mail to my Pastor at my amazing church and told him that I didn't think I'd be back, and how very much I appreciated all that he's done, and how very painful it was for me to say goodbye.  I cried as I wrote it, and find myself crying now as I type this.  I hate letting go of good things.  It makes no sense!

Let me tell you something else that logic doesn't necessarily agree with.  It is possible to bloom where you're planted if you trust the Potter.  After I sent that e-mail and let go of what I wanted for my worship, teaching, and corporate anointing that just left you feeling like you could do anything that God would ask of you, I encountered the most miraculous thing in my heart.

I actually didn't despise going last Sunday.  I enjoyed the worship (even though I still prefer the other, lol).  I heard more truth in the sermon, instead of just light preaching.  I was in a good mood instead of carrying a deep sadness for what I knew I was missing.

I asked the Lord what that was all about, and how in so many other areas I still was walking around with my heart issues, yet this one was completely healed, WHY?  HOW?  WHEN?  I seriously could feel Him laugh at my inquiry as He put on my heart that I couldn't receive where I was at, until I let go of what was no longer mine to hold.  Once I released my will, I could then take His.  The burden of mine on top of His was great, but once I laid mine down, His yoke was easy.

I do hope that I get to go back to that small amazing church who helped shape me and my walk, and showed me what LOVE looks like from those that were equipped to do so well, but if I don't, it'll be okay.  The Lord continues to light my way. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Problems with Presumption

The Lord has put on my heart the word PATIENCE about a fairly serious thing in my life.  It's been a crazy hard word for me, as so many things are hinging on this matter.  I, of course, have a view for what that looks like, and because of that have unknowingly hindered the Lord.

As I plan, the Lord laughs.

In quiet contemplation one day, the Lord highlighted Luke 22:49-51.

And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, "Lord, shall we strike with the sword?" And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear.  But Jesus said, "No more of this!" And he touched his ear and healed him.

As I read the passage, I saw that Jesus's disciples looked to Him for wisdom before deciding what to do. Although one took it upon himself to act of Jesus's behalf before looking to Him for wisdom.  Jesus strongly rebuked that disciple.  The Lord put on my heart that I am not to be operating out of common sense, but wisdom.  He told me to never presume to know how to act on Christ's behalf.  

That explanation made perfect sense, but I had not even the slightest inkling how that applied to me.  I was so confused.  For weeks.  I sought wisdom, and found none.  I had some well meaning church folk give me some great insight into the verse, but nothing that made my spirit come alive like I knew would happen when I got what He wanted me to from it.

Finally, today, He downloaded into my heart how this scripture applied to me.

It's only relatively recently that I am learning how to let go of the place that I'm comfortable with (my church) and have seen faithful and sturdy to weather the storms in my life, and allowing a different place (a different church) built on the same rock to help bring my family into the refuge that we need.  It's one that I've fought, and fought, and fought because *I* didn't think it was best.  I knew WHAT the Lord wanted to do, but I had presumed HOW He wanted to do it.  That was my mistake.

Sometimes the Lord likes to do the exact opposite of what common sense may say, and with the foolish confound the wise.  In hindsight, I'm sorrowful at how I opposed with Lord's work with the best of intentions because I thought I knew what He was doing.  He's done so much in me that I had just assumed that those same things that helped me would also do so much more for my family.  It's an innocent and easily made mistake, but one that has caused stagnation more than what was necessary.

So, on that note, let the fire fall, let the wind blow, and let Your glory come down Lord.  Where you go, I'll go, even if I don't want to =)  I have no doubt that their will be plenty of winds of change to come, sweet refreshing breezes amongst the testing and hard winds, and each one will fan the flame of love in our hearts which will continue to transform us.

Rejoice in ALL things, letting patience perfect you, that you may be found lacking nothing.  Yes and

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly; Being grateful for it all!

My heart is currently full of gratitude at the mercy of God in my life.  Yesterday it wasn't.

I've always been the type that will tell you what's wrong, even when almost everything is perfect.  I have referred to that as being a realist.  My husband strongly disagrees.  I've come to find out that's one area where the Lord and my husband agree.  Faith and realism are at war the same as flesh and spirit are.  Life will happen (aka realism) but we serve a God who is continually weaving together something that can only be seen with eyes of faith.

In the last hour, I've rejoiced with my 12 yr old and 10 yr old as the younger taught the older how to play guitar.  I've laughed with my 10 mo old as she tried to mimic a game my husband and 8 yr old were playing.  I teared up when praying over my toddler as he went to bed for the very last time as a 2 yr old.  I am overcome with God's mercy, even as my priorities were seriously out of whack less than 24 hrs before.

Yesterday I went to a meeting to discuss what comes next for my toddler who has some delays.  I was expecting them to say that he'd still need speech, but that he wouldn't really qualify for the classroom.  I listened attentively as each participant in his evaluation process proceeded to tell me their observations and how they corresponded to my sensory report on him.  My 3 yr old (36 mo for the not so great at math, lol) was testing in most areas in between a 17 mo old and a 24 mo old.  He did have some scattered scores taking him up to 36 mo, but those weren't common.

He's been getting therapy for the last 10 months and has improved quite a bit.  I've been encouraged as I've seen the progress.  This IEP meeting brought me down to reality though.  He's not just a lil' behind like I tell myself, but rather significantly behind and is being placed into a special ed classroom.

This is where it gets ugly.  My heart, and its shallowness, was exposed like a raw nerve in a tooth.  My child needs to be in special education?  NO.  You're wrong.  Not my boy.  He's behind, but he's fine.  He doesn't need to be in THAT ROOM.

I am ashamed to type that, but it is what it is.  I know kids in special education and think they are perfectly wonderful.  I have absolutely zero negative feelings about special ed in regards to the program as a whole, and celebrate how awesome the classrooms are.  I know teachers of special ed and admire their heart for those that need a bit more help than the average child.

Yet, my heart's response showed me that while I may think it's all good and wonderful for someone else, it was not acceptable for my family.  There was a stigma for me, it screamed that I didn't do enough, that I failed him, even though that would NEVER cross my mind for another family with a child in special ed.

Thankfully, I have since learned to rejoice in this report.  He gets to be one of seven children in a classroom with 1 teacher and 2 aides.  He is more than likely going to thrive there.  He will be forced to interact with other children, and develop friendships.  He will be held to a schedule that thus far I've been unable to even hold myself to.  He is going to grow and be stretched.  I'm going to grow and be stretched.  This is a great opportunity for both of us.

Granted, my example of the good, the bad, and the ugly was mediocre at best, but most of life are these kinds of bumps in the roads where we can get derailed and miss the joys of the journey we're on.  I annoy the ever living heck out of my friends in my searching for silver linings.  Sometimes there just isn't one I've been informed.  Fair enough.  Sometimes there is not, but most times, there is. It is for our benefit to search for it and find it like it's treasure.  He works out all things for good.  Bill Johnson has a saying that I found perplexing, but have grown to really like, "God may not be in control, but He is in charge".  We get a say in how we respond to life (the part that God is not in control, we're not robots), but we can trust His word even if it takes our whole life to come together.  He is not a man that He should lie. He has yet to disappoint me even when our timetables, and probably vision, are completely different.  I've learned more about faith in the waiting to see prayers fulfilled than I have in the miraculously fulfilled ones.  I. am. grateful. for. it. all.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

We Make Hard Things HARDER By Our Beliefs

It really comes down to what's in our hearts. Our thoughts reflect our heart. Once we truly believe what the Lord says, the enemy has nothing he can do to us. Until then, he can give us trials in every area while we figure out whether we believe God or not. Thankfully the Lord already knows how He is going to work out His tests and our enemy's trials and tribulations in our lives. That said, we have a part to play in how long we're going through the thing we've decided is our current personal hell.  That part is how we choose to look at it, think about it, and talk about it.

I do very much believe that grumbling and complaining about everything prevents us from walking in the truth of what the Lord has done for us and in us. It also keeps the enemy hooks in our lives quite firmly making his lies appear all the more true.  It's secularly proven that we believe what we hear ourselves say, so SHUT UP with the self-defeating talk people (said super lovingly!!!!).

We need to be doers of the word instead of just hearers only… no angel, human, nor even God himself, is going to do what he is set forth biblically as our part in this beautiful relationship He has designed with us. We can be overcomers by the blood of the lamb AND the word of our testimony, or we can continue to sit and complain that things are so hard while we wait for him to give us a miracle on our terms.  Proverbs 23:7a For as he thinks within himself, so he is.  Our behavior follows our thoughts, so we need to set our minds on the Lord and His truth. Until then, we're constantly in a battle of our flesh versus our spirit. 

He's not angry with us though ! He knows our weaknesses and He’s allowing us to choose to stand on His truth or choose to go around the mountain again and again like we enjoy it or something.

The Lord gave me a picture :  Huge mountain, with a few cliffs to rest on in various places.  We are standing at the bottom looking up and saying "Wow, too hard, there’s no way! Lord just place me at the top near you, I can’t do the climb."  The Lord says “You can’t stay at the top if you don’t climb though, that’s how you get your hinds feet which allow you stay up here.  If I place you here, you’ll just fall and that will be more harmful than just staying where you’re at.  His children respond "Ok Lord, if that’s how it’s got to be, I’ll just start walking around the mountain AGAIN until you change your mind.  I told you it’s just too hard for me."

The Lord with tears in His eyes “My child, just follow my Spirit.  I will take you up the mountain strategically, allowing you to rest after each victory before climbing more.  You’ll be here before you know it”.  Us:  "Lord it sounds good and all, but I just can’t yet.  Give me more of your grace and strength so I can... "

The Lord:  "My child, I’ve given you everything.  There’s nothing left that can be done to help you.  Believe Me, trust Me, and follow Me. There’s only one way to victory, but lots of mind numbing circles to defeat.  You CAN trust Me.   Declare Phil 1:6, 2:13-14, 4:13 over yourself and just keep looking up to Me.

ETA:  This blog entry is written for those that are struggling with normal life events, not life altering ones. When dealing with the death of loved ones, serious illnesses with children or spouses, this is not even close to covering the gamut of what you need, and I apologize that you're facing such heartache.  If you want to reach out, I'd be happy to pray with you, and ask the Lord to give you wisdom, grace, strength, and power to walk out your pain with Him.