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Fear

Faith, Fear, God, Identity, Spiritual Life

Out With the Safe

February 18, 2015

aglmkels (2 of 3)

Oh dear daughter, why do you think you must choose to shrink back, take the safe road, and hide behind your insecurity? Why are you so afraid of what others may think of you IF you fail? And why do you think of them as failures at all, isn’t that just the term the world has conjured up to beat you down, the word Satan has whispered in your ear to cause you to think less of yourself, resulting in comparison to those who seem to succeed and have it all together? Especially when those “failures” came from a heart so beautifully wanting to honor and serve your Father. Do you think I would nudge you to move if I thought you could not walk?

Did I not call you a child of Mine?

Did I not call you by name to rise up and be life and light in this world? Just as I was with Esther in her chambers as she prepared to risk her life for her people, just as I blessed and honored Ruth as she courageously chose the path of integrity and compassion despite the risks that came with breaking culture, just as I was with Mary as she humbly accepted her role to carry the greatest gift of all…when she could have said “Oh no God, you’ve got the wrong girl”….I too am with you as I ask you to step out and move. I am the same God today as I was then. You are no less a daughter of mine than they were. My dreams for you are not any smaller.

The dreams you dream are beautiful….but just imagine those ten fold, as my creativity stretches far beyond what your sweet little dreaming mind can fathom. All I ask of you is to step. Step towards the unknown, the less “safe” route, the risk that goes against the grain. Dare to believe that great things can happen with your obedience. Dare to believe that every “failure” as the world labels it is just a perfectly created opportunity for growth, gained wisdom and motivation to keep jumping to the next stepping-stone in preparation for the miracle because there is no end point. Finishing the book is not the neat and tidy end, getting the degree is not the last chapter, starting the orphanage, serving the mom, winning the gold is not what finishes and leaves you with a “success” badge. Choosing the adventure is the success. Choosing to get back up is success.

 You get to choose.

You can choose the safety of decisions that can be wrapped in your control, tied up neatly with a bow and leaving you with a small content little life or you can chose the great adventure of throwing your hands up and leaping into the unknown, listening to my still small voice urging you ahead, resulting in dreams and victories only possible when you give me your tiny fist of control and let me breathe life into dreams unimaginable.

Daughter, dare to believe that I will weep when you weep and I will hurt when you, my child, hurt…but I will hold you through it if you let me, so that your heart, that has now experienced the pain, hurt, fear, and joys can be prepared to serve and live and dream without limit in the great story I am writing for you. So you can then use the strength gained to walk alongside and shoulder the burden of others in those pains and hurts.

You get to choose to step up and be part of a generation of change. To no longer shrink back and let others take your dreams. YOU get to choose to be a woman of boldness and courage, to face the insecurities, tear through the walls of fear and feelings of unworthiness and grasp hold with all your might the miracles God wants to do with you and use as the vision and example to others.   Your choosing to jump gets to be an open testimony to those around you and in the moments when you “fail” you get to decide what those around you see you do as a result….get up and keep leaping? Or stay defeated on the ground and miss out on what was waiting just beyond the next bend.

I am not calling you to live in the safety and comfort of the fluff that settles in a cloud over your culture, I am not calling you to just get by and do the minimum so you can check off a list the little things you accomplished in your own strength. NO.

I am calling you to a recklessly abandoned, relentlessly passionate, overwhelmingly out of your control adventure that will blow your mind.

I am challenging you to act on those small nudges you feel from me without hesitation, taking the risk of failure and defeat….knowing without a doubt that no matter what the world may say, you are walking in victory, because you are Mine. You are moving. You are living. And you are choosing to not just live safe, but to live free and alive.   Daughter, you get to begin new. You get to choose today to start a new way of living. A new way of shining my light…no longer from the cracks in your fists holding tight to the safety and comfort of control, but instead bursting from every inch of your body and soul.

 

 

 

“Let’s be women unafraid to step into our role as His children, let’s own that role and carry the responsibility of what comes with it….being living examples, modern day Esthers, Marys, Lydias, Sarahs, Ruths….Let’s continue the legacy they began.”

Faith, Fear, Spiritual Life

Sorrow for the Soul

January 21, 2015

image1-6

New.

Yes the pains are old, still healing; the trials still need to be faced. But there is new. New chances. New beginnings. New dreams.

 

It has been a year (or 8) of trial after trial. It has been one painful moment after another, feeling like I’m treading water, barely keeping my head up. I’ve often felt like I am screaming for those around me to see that I’m hurt and drowning and instead of reaching out a helping hand I’ve had insults and lies thrown in my face… “You’re being dramatic”, “You need to just move on”, “You are just fine.”

 

I don’t say this to play a victim or seek pity. And it has not been lacking in its little life raft moments and blessings. I look at every step of my story and even the hard times and painful moments brought growth and opened doors to the next step. We’ve had some very key characters play a role in our story.

 

Last year our word of the year was closure. It was one that, at the beginning of the year I was not too excited about. I knew with closure there is often facing pain. Shutting doors that are hard to shut and walking through necessary trials in order to get to the next chapter. When we were given that word I had no idea just how huge it would be throughout the year. I had no idea I would face saying goodbye to our house, saying goodbye to my mom, weeding out unhealthy friendships, living in a foreign country, saying goodbye to my career of 14 year and so much more I cannot even touch on here.

Most nights in 2014 I went to bed crying to my husband feeling like I was alone and crazy. I’ve fought to feel. Fought to process the situations we are in. Knowing in my heart that there are blessings and joys to come, but these moments of pain and sorrow must be faced…wondering why it is so hard for others to step into it. I’ve had dear people in my life base our relationship on our interaction (or lack of) on social media, instead of picking up the phone. I’ve had my relationships weighed out in the number of “likes” I’ve given them, and people tell me that despite my drowning status it was all my responsibility to hold all the responsibility of the relationship.   All I wanted was for those people to acknowledge the pain. Step into the story. And yet on the other hand I have this hope and excitement because of that pain, because of the sorrow we faced.

 

I opened my Streams in the Desert app this morning, praying about how and what I would write today. Feeling the tornado of mixed emotions. Joy and sorrow. Hope and grief.   As I read, it felt as if my whole last year was written on the page (but much more poetic, beautifully worded):

 

“When sorrow comes under the power of Divine grace, it works out a manifold ministry in our lives. Sorrow reveals unknown depths in the soul. And unknown capabilities of experience and service…..Sorrow is God’s plowshare that turns up and subsoils the depths of the soul, that it may yield richer harvests. If we had never fallen, or were in a glorified state, then the strong torrents of Divine joy would be the normal force up all our souls’ capacities; but in a fallen world, sorrow, with despair taken out of it, is the chosen power to reveal ourselves to ourselves. Hence it is sorrow that makes us think deeply, long, and soberly.” ~Streams in the Desert 1/20

 

 

It was definitely a year of soul plowing. We closed the chapter on last year and I took a deep breath. Now that the doors were closed we could only move forward.   We now stand in a year that has promised to be our year of Jubilee. A year we have fought for and pursued for a good 8 years.

A year that without the sorrows of the previous year, would be only another year of blessing taken for granted.

 

Had we not faced the trials, sat in the emotion and pain. The miracles today, the blessings that overwhelm us would not seem like the miracles they are. There would be nothing to contrast them; the deep sigh of relief walking into this year would not have been so great.

Without this last year, my feelings of complete humility and extreme gratitude at what God is placing in front of us would be only a slight fraction of what they are. I would have no victory story, no miracle.

 

We are being promised Jubilee.

 

A promise that sadly, I find myself scared to believe. Scared to believe God would actually fulfill a promise. To think that the dreams we dared to even whisper into the dark last year, the dreams we felt would remain forever just that…dreams. Could be coming true beyond what we could imagine. The big dreams that we put the limits on, the dreams we said “we dream THIS, but we would be perfectly ok with just this fraction of the dream.” Seem to be in the works being fully filled and more. I more naturally want to prepare myself for the next battle. It’s what I have become good at. But I am reminded of the promise long ago that the time is coming. It may take 8 or even more years…but it is coming.

I am here to tell you that God’s promises prevail. It may not be the instant gratification we are so used to in our culture, it may take walking in obedience when things don’t make sense, it may mean facing excruciating pain, we may not understand it all, but if we don’t give up…the promise will come. Throughout the waiting and fighting process He was still fulfilling His promises, He promised to never leave us and He didn’t, He gave us fair warning before every season that something was coming…we had to chose to be aware of the heads-up, we had to chose to cling to that promise.

 

Don’t get so used to the trial, that you are afraid of the blessing. I have to fight the fear so often…when a possible miracle is ahead, a blessing is here…I often become afraid that I’m getting my hopes up only to have them crushed. I love “new”, yet I shy away in fear of being hopeful.

So this year we are stepping into “New”. Stepping into Jubilee. Daring to Dream. Daring to voice those dreams.

They may not turn out how we thought…they may turn out beyond what we thought…

 

If you wait patiently, you may be able to look back and see just how intricately all those pieces had to be put into place first in order for God to go beyond your wildest dreams and make it your reality.

Keep your eyes open, your ears aware, and your hope intact.

 

 

 

Faith, Fear, God, Identity, Spiritual Life

Fear

July 30, 2014

Yesterday my oldest daughter almost got hit by a car.  We were out to eat with some friends which included 7 kids.  It’s always a bit chaotic when we get together because you have one eye on your child and the other eye is in the present conversation.  As Eisley was running ahead of me to leave the restaurant I called her back and very intently told her to stay close to the adults.  She listened for a moment but then I looked away for a brief second while a jeep slammed on his brakes and the driver practically shaking in his seat told me to watch my kid more carefully because he almost hit her and it scared the *#@* out of him.  I then see Eisley running towards me from the street and into my arms.  My eyes welled up with tears.  Did that just happen?  How did she even get in the street?  I was relieved and mad all at the same time.  ” Eisley- you know not to go in the street!!  Why did you do that?  You could have been hurt!”  And then she proceeded to say….” I know mommy.  I’m so sorry.  I won’t ever do that again.”  This fear began to well up inside of me of losing my daughter.  The thought of her getting seriously hurt or even killed brought me to my knees.  But then her words that followed blew me away….  “I was running and then Jesus came and helped me run the other way so I didn’t get hit by the car.”  I sat there for a moment wondering if I heard her correctly.  Jesus helped her!!??  I just held her tightly thanking God for protecting my baby girl in a moment when I had absolutely no control.

If you have followed our blog for a long time it will be no surprise to you my struggle with fear.  In all honesty it’s a battle I can’t say I have won.  I have good days and bad days.  I’ve had two miscarriages and difficult pregnancies which has led me to fear losing my children.  I have had past relationships with guys who gave me more attention if I was looking pretty which has led me to fear losing acceptance from people if I didn’t look up to their standards.  I fear messing up my daily routine and schedule for fear of being left with a messy house and moody children.  I long to be used by God yet fear being used by God.  I fear that one day my husband will get sick of me or will no longer be attracted to me even though he has never given me any reason to ever worry over that.  I fear God will bring some major tragedy into our lives in order to teach me a valuable lesson or build more character within me. Sometimes I even draw back from praying for certain things out of fear of the cost it will take in order to receive it.  I fear losing friendships, gaining friendships, being judged, sagging skin, dying, truly living, darkness, being alone, what people think about me, others being used more than me, change, making the wrong decision, disappointing God, disappointing my dad…the list goes on and on.

Like the apostle Peter, I love Jesus wildly and passionately, but when given the option of looking at the wind of my fears or looking at the face of Jesus, my fears often win.  It’s hard to step out of the boat when we are anchored to our fears.  I think that’s why I tend to be a little over controlling in some areas.  However, last night Jesus showed up to my little girl and controlled the very thing that I could not.  Even when my trust in HIm has been lacking and my faith has been sinking in the storm… He still showed up.  I can’t help but think all my self- preserving and self-protecting has kept me from truly seeing His hand at work in all the things I fear.  Am I missing it?  Am I missing the sight of goodness because my fear keeps my eyes so busy?  God calls us out of ourselves and into Himself so we might live and leave everything up to Him.  So we might be radiant and full of peace.

God is calling us out of our fears.

“When God calls us up, it’s easy and tempting to look down at everything we lack.  We feel the limitations of our humanity and we become acutely aware of our weaknesses and foibles.  When we focus on our fears ,the risk of stepping out feels greater than the potential reward of living by faith.  In Christ we’re called, appointed, and equipped to live lives bigger than we are.  We need to stop judging ourselves by what we lack.  We come alive, find courage, and gain ground to the extent that we keep our eyes on the One who says we lack no good thing apart from Him.” – Susie Larson  Do you trust HIm?  Do you see HIm?

“What a God we have!! And how fortunate we are to have Him, this Father of our Master Jesus!  Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand- new life and have everything to live for! Including a future in heaven- and the future starts now.  God is keeping careful watch over us and the future.  The day is coming when you’ll have it all- life healed and whole.” – 1 Peter 1:3-5 The Message

” I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.  Those who look to HIm are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”- Ps. 34:4-5

Those who look to Him are radiant- meaning They found light!  Their faces brightened up and became cheerful.  Their minds were made calm, for they felt assured that God would protect them.  In Hebrew it means “to flow together”.  When you look to Jesus, not only will your face shine and be lightened but you will flow as one with God.  Look to Him and be lightened.  Look up to God in prayer and by faith, when in distressed and uncomfortable circumstances, for help and deliverance.  Expect mercy.  Your face will not be covered in shame which means you will not be disappointed by your hope but you will find relief.

I am sure there are past experiences you have had that has created fear within you.  However, we need to be careful to not blame the past for our fears or even allow that to give us permission to fear… because Jesus commands us DO NOT FEAR!  We have no excuse.  His power resides within us and His death as overcome fear itself.  Its easier said than done.. I know.  I’m not one to sit here and say I have the answer because it is a daily struggle I face.  But I am aware of my lack in trusting God… are you?  Will you trust HIm today?  Will you lay down your fears, look to His face and shine?  Will you surrender your past to His loving hands and stop making excuses for your fear?

“Climb out of that drugged, dead comforting pit that is keeping you paralyzed and break right up through the earth and into the life you were born for, in the now of your life, while there is till time and hunger in your veins.”- Voskamp

Faith, Fear, God, Redemption, Suffering

Dear Despair

July 2, 2014

 

Dear Despair

You used to be an old friend of mine.  We would sit for hours while you told me lie after lie and I would listen.  You saw into my heart and you knew the strings to pull bringing me closer to you and farther away from truth and peace.  You somehow shadowed my vision so that all I saw in front of me was the painful circumstances at hand.  It was as if your home was a deep pit and once I walked through the door I would fall onto your cement floor and stay for awhile.

You sat across from me and told me this life was too much for me.  You told me there would be no more money to provide for my needs.  You told me there would be no job coming to my door and my searching would go in vain.  You told me I would be alone forever and no one would ever want me.  You told me that I wasn’t worth much.  You told me death would win and I would be left only in sadness without hope.  You told me my burdens would continue to push me down and this struggle would get the best of me.  You told me there was only light if I could see it, feel it, and sense it.  You told me to put my hope only in my friends, family and others who I admired.  You taught me how to put people on pedestals and secretly worship them.  When I sat there crying you told me I had every right to be upset- I deserved to feel hopeless- I deserved to feel like the victim, to remain the victim.  In some twisted way that brought me comfort.  In some twisted way it gave me control.  You told me God was failing me and He didn’t really care at all.

For some reason I trusted and believed you.

But even in my doubts of a loving God and in my believing of your lies… truth broke through as it always ends up doing.  You were wrong.  You didn’t tell me- ” He knows what He is doing with me, and when He has tested me, I will come forth as pure gold!!” (Job 23:10)

You didn’t tell me that God may be calling me to live my life without something I never thought I could live without.  But if I have Him- I have the only wealth, health, love, honor, and security I really need and cannot lose.

You didn’t tell me that these present burdens are actually mercies from God.

You didn’t tell me when it feels like God is killing me He is actually saving me!!

 You didn’t tell me of the redemption that lies at the end of all this.  The Joy available to me in every moment.  The peace residing in me who is Jesus.

My trust has not been in God but has been in my circumstances, public opinion and my own competence!

I may not always understand… but I now see the truth.

God will provide for all of my needs.  (Matthew 6)

I don’t have to fear because God is always with me and I’m never alone.  (Isaiah 41:10)

I am worth more than sparrows.  (Matthew 10:31)  The sparrows were worth nothing… and yet God was concerned with them!  He cared for them and not one of them fell to the ground without God knowing.  If God is concerned with these birds… how much more He must be concerned with me?

Death may come and sickness may sneak in, but even death cannot overcome me or my God.  (1 Cor. 15)  There can somehow be peace present in the pain.  Unimaginable peace.  Unexplainable hope!

There is light.  When I don’t see it, feel it, or sense it…. it is there.  (2 Sam.22:29, Ps. 27:1, Psalm 4:6, Ps. 119:105, 119:130, John 8:12, 2 Cor. 4:6, 1 Peter 2:9)

God will not fail me.  (Jos. 1:5)  At times I feel as though He has dropped me from His hands.  But in those times I now see my faith is found in God, not my feelings.  He is Gracious and Holy.  Merciful and Loving.

You’re very good at persuading me to look at what God may not be doing.  But you forget that it’s all about who God is.

Dear Despair

You won’t win.  You cannot have my heart, my thoughts and my body.  I have believed your lies too often and now I see the truth.  For even when I am discouraged I will look to Him and rejoice in what He did for me, I will have the joy and hope necessary- and the freedom to follow the call of God when times seem at their darkest and most difficult.  I choose to not remain a victim.  I will stand up and shadow my eyes from the darkness so that all I can see is Him standing there with me- lifting my heavy shoulders, teaching me how to walk again up the mountain, and bringing me out of this shining as pure gold.

“We’ve all felt it- the uncertainty, pain or fear that leaves us on the brink of despair.  Perhaps you are feeling it today as you rise to meet what greets you.  We close our eyes and drink in the truth like water: He is our hope.”- Anonymous

 

Faith, Fear, God, Identity, Redemption, Sex, Spiritual Life, Suffering

And Then The Fog Lifted

June 10, 2014

 

It’s as if for the last year or better my life has been like driving in a fog. It was as though I could see where I was heading, but the world around me felt dismal and cloudy. Sure there were bright spots, lots of bright spots in facts. Moments where the sun broke through and the world seemed well again. But the fog always stayed.

A year ago I went into therapy. Theory after theory of what was causing this heavy pressing on spirit was tossed about, but no answers came. At one point, I just said it’s the season of life I’m in and it will get better. For a while, it did. I left therapy and I thought the fog as well. But that fog….it kept pushing.

I could count on my hand the many “Ah-ha!” moments I’ve had in my life. You know, the ones where everything suddenly clicked into place and all made sense in the world? Five months ago I got my ah-ha.

Weeks before it happened I could feel the fog pressing down stronger than ever. It was almost so thick, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. The night before, I was listening to a sermon online by Tim Keller. He was speaking about the rich young ruler who God told to sell all his possessions and follow Him. As we know, the man couldn’t do it, and left grieving. What Tim said next cut deep to my core.

He said that in the book of Luke he writes, “Jesus looked at him and loved him and..” Tim’s point was that God looked into the heart of the ruler, saw a cancer living in his soul that kept him from Christ, and out of his love for the man, he wanted to call him to freedom from it. Amazing, right?!?

The next night I was sitting with Jeff in our room when the fog began to consume me and I was left in panic. I asked him to give me a moment alone, and began to pray. I begged God for answers/deliverance/healing..anything I could name. And gently, like the fog lifting at the dawn of a new morning, I had my answer. The answer I’d been seeking for over a year. The answer as to what was making my spirit feel so incredibly heavy.

lifting the fog1

I, Heather, had been sexually abused by a boyfriend in college. 

I wish I could go into the depths of all that transpired leading up to that moment and all that took place immediately in the moments after, but I will save that for another post. What I can say is this: God had seen this cancer in me for years. A cancer that I somehow never saw. And because He loved me, He had, for the past year, slowly been drawing that cancer to the surface so that I could be healed from it and become closer to Him.

I’ve been back in therapy for a while. Painful, beautiful, agonizing and glorious therapy. One thing my counselor said to me in my first session was that this abuse would one day not be the thing I fear, but a foundation on which I stand. Today ladies, is that day.

So few women/people ever speak on the journey of healing from abuse. The ones that do only find the ability to do so after years removed from the pain of the process. I can understand why. But what if someone invited others to walk with them AS they journeyed along this path? Could there be power in that for others? Could you, dear girl, maybe find the courage to face the cancer living inside your own soul? Could you, along with me begin to realize that the journey is not something to fear but rather a foundation to build upon?

I want you to come along with me as I hold hands with my abuse and learn how what the enemy intended for evil, God intends for good. His good, and my own. I can’t promise you my journey will be easy or pain free. But I can tell you it will be honest, and hopefully, it will show you that you are not alone and that our God…wow…that He is so very very good.

To continue following my story, please head to our sister page A Girl In Progress .There I will be posting regularly the road I am traveling, and hopefully, one you’ll walk alongside me in.

Faith, Fear, God, Redemption, Suffering

When Will the Evil End?

April 16, 2014

 

I’m really trying to make sense of it all.  Trying to understand why bad things happen.  Why evil is so real and so awful and why I seem to be so clueless to the pain people feel at night when I’m safe in my bed.  I’m trying to understand why God chose me to have this life and why others have to go through “hell”.

Sometimes life shakes life up a bit.  Sometimes it even shakes my faith up a bit.

Tossing and turning in the storm as waves start crashing in the boat and I’m told that God is in control.  Most of the time this gives me hope, but today it makes me angry and confused.  Do I believe God is in control?  Absolutely.  However, I’m a little terrified He sometimes choses to not stop the storm.  To allow it to persist and to let evil get away with evil per say.

You don’t really think about evil all that much when you’re running to do errands, cleaning the house, in class, having coffee with a friend. But then there’s moments when you come face to face with it.  When you see the murder, you see the sexually abused, the physically abused, the scared and the starving, when you see death right in front of you.  You see it presently in the life of someone you know.  Then it becomes real.

She stopped at the side of the curb with her tire spitting out air and becoming a flat.  I had just finished a run and stopped to ask if she wanted some help.  She stepped out of her car with her messed up hair and her thin frame.  Her bony fingers began to shake a bit as she began to explain that all she did was look down for a second to put lotion on her hands when her car hit the curb.  She then looked up at me and on the side of her face was a massive hole in her cheek.  Looked like someone took a cigar and burned her cheek until it practically burned through to the other side.  You could tell she didn’t want me to see it.  She tried to look at me from the corner of her eye so that her face was hidden.  Her husband wasn’t the kind and friendly type when he showed up.  He was definitely not “thrilled” that she had a flat and even his shirt posed some kind of threat.  I walked into my house and felt my stomach drop.  Who knows what kind of life this woman was living right around the corner from my life in here.  Was she being abused? Was she constantly having to defend herself physically?  Did she fall asleep at night in fear of screwing up and fear of what the outcome might be?

We all ask the question “Why does God allow bad things to happen?”  And not just bad things… horrible things!  I typically have the answer- God has reasons beyond our understanding.. reasons leading to an ultimate good.  But tonight I am searching high and low for God to give me a really good reason for all the pain in this world.  Because I am seeing it with my own eyes in people that I love and I don’t think this is ok.

In my searching for “why”… I was answered with “who.”  The heart of God doesn’t think this is ok either.  His heart is broken.  When we search the heart of the Father we find that He is not this big powerful being just watching it all happen without a care in the world…He is weeping and angry and ready to pounce.  ” …..how I have been broken over their whoring heart that has departed from me and over their eyes that go whoring after their idols.  And they will be loathsome in their own sight for the evils that they have committed, for all their abominations.  And they shall know that I am the Lord.”- Ezekiel 6:9  God, even more than myself, wants evil to end.  He hates evil.  He will not let evil go unpunished.  And that, my friends, is where I find hope.  I may not know why but I do know there is punishment waiting for those who walk in evil.  And there has to be judgement.  Either on the sinner or Christ for the sinner! There will be redemption! He will make right everything that is so wrong.  This life will be made new and these scars will be wiped clean.

” He will bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God’ to comfit all who mourn; to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit….. for I the Lord LOVE justice; I HATE robbery and wrong with violence.” – Isaiah 61

We have hope in the God of justice and love.  We have hope in His wrath knowing that He will have revenge on all who have chosen to take the path of idolatry and evil.  And we have hope in His love for us… He is fighting for us and He has died for us.  He is coming back! Your kingdom come Lord!!

” Let the one who is doing harm continue to do harm; let the one who is vile continue to be vile; let the one who is righteous continue to live righteously; let the one who is hoy continue to be holy.  Look, I AM COMING SOON!!  Bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.  Blessed are those who wash their robes.  ( In His blood)  They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life.  Outside the city are the dogs- the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie.  I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this message for the churches.  I am both the source of David and the heir to his throne.  I am the bright morning star!.” Rev. 22:10-16   

” I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage… in the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for ALL hearts, for the comforting of ALL resentments, for the atonement of ALL the crimes of humanity, for ALL the blood that they’ve shed; that it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened.”- Fyodor Dostoyevsky,  The Brothers Karamozov

 

Faith, Fear, God, Redemption, Spiritual Life, Suffering

There’s Always A Light

March 12, 2014

I don’t like the dark. It’s not that I’m really afraid of the dark, it’s just that there is a level of uncertainty that comes in a poorly lit room or area that makes me a tad uncomfortable. Even in the most familiar of spaces, like my home, I get uneasy walking through at night when there aren’t any lights on. Shadowy corners become dark figures, noises become heightened and I, well, I become on edge.

Crazy things happen to our bodies when we enter into darkness. Our vision blurs, our pulse races, and our anxieties heighten. The night closes in and almost feels thick, tangible to the touch. Yet in the midst of it all, our body also begins to seek out light. Our brain sends a message to our pupils causing them to open as wide as they can, embracing the darkness so that it can grab on to any light source that exists. Once found, our vision adjusts, things become clear and we can see again. In a moment, that huge void no longer seems quite so colossal.

I’ve been memorizing scripture throughout the book of John this year. One of the first verses I learned was John 1:5-

“The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”

The light (Jesus) shines in the darkness (evil/sin/pain/hurt/abuse/fear/anxiety) and the darkness has not overcome it. Just like our bodies are designed to instinctively seek out light in a dark room, so are our souls created to ache for the hope and light of Christ when our lives seem to be overcome with darkness. Because there is always, always ALWAYS light.

The greatest weakness of the enemy is that he cannot see the future. When he rides in and stirs chaos and deceit and abuse and pain and lies and sin…in his arrogance, he believes he’s beat you. But girl, he cannot see what God sees. He forgets that light can never become overcome by darkness. And that because light can never be consumed, it can never be destroyed. And if it can never be destroyed, then light will always win.

In my own life, I’m currently entering into a very dark room that has been hidden deep in the chasms of my soul for a very long time. It’s a room I didn’t know was there, and one that’s way too painful and uncomfortable for me to go into. Everything in me wants to run. I want to close the door and tell myself that the hurt doesn’t exist and that I can be ok and happy even if the room is still there.

And then He whispers…”My light is in you…you cannot be consumed.” So I open the door and walk in to that darkness. I embrace the vastness of the black abyss as it slowly leeks its way out of its protective walls and fills up the spaces of my heart. My spirit begins to feel weak, my heart’s vision starting to blur. And then…light

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His light. Like the pupils in my eyes, my soul begins to stretch..to open itself up to the darkness and seek His light because I know it’s there. He’s there. And when I find Him I find hope. Hope that creates a spark filling up all the corners of my darkened heart with a light and grace that moves me forward into to greater joys. It moves me into freedom.

So for you girl, the one who feels like her soul is welling up with darkness, there is light. There is Him. And with Him, the darkness will never consume you. Never. Don’t fear walking into that dark place. Do it holding the hand of Jesus as he guides you with the marvelous light of His mercy and grace into the place of life abundant.

Because in the end, the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness will never overcome it.

Faith, Fear

Poor ‘ol Me

February 26, 2014

I admit that I am the queen at throwing myself a beautiful little pity party.  The invitation presents itself many times a week and I don’t even RSVP… I just let myself right in to the celebration of wallowing and sadness for poor little ol me.  I’d ask you to join me… but I’m sure you have thrown your own party a time or two.   Catch me on a good day and I can give you the speech on God’s goodness, how we can trust Him with our life and He will work out all things for our good.  I would tell you about HIs love and His plans which have a purpose and a future.  However, as I definitely believe those things are true, I seem to throw it all out the window when crap hits the fan.

I immediately begin to doubt that God even knows what He’s doing and I start to think maybe He’s not all trustworthy as I had thought.  When this happens I’m faced with a choice… do I choose to feel bad for myself because of my present circumstances or do I choose to act on what I say I believe is true- which is the fact that I am the result of His perfect workmanship and his calling on my life IS for my good?

Just recently I found myself at one of these so called pity parties.

I had just found out that June was a bit underweight and she wasn’t getting enough milk because I had stopped producing the amount needed.  In order to get enough food in her little belly it required me to spend even more of my day feeding, supplementing, and working at getting her what she needed.  And so I found myself locked up in my room for many hours of the day without time for myself, without time with my older two children and with plenty of time to feel sorry for poor ‘ol me.  It all led to me comparing myself to others and feeling like I was given the unfair hand.  This is not what I signed up for.  I deserve better don’t I?

In the midst of my mopey face and annoyed remarks under my breath something hit me.  What if God had walked into my room months ago and said- ” Hey Kelly, I am going to give you a special task.  I’m giving you this baby and she is going to be a difficult eater so I am going to need you to take care of her and tend to her to make sure she gets what she needs.  I will be with you and help you through it… can you do that for me?”- I would have said- ” Of course God!!”  You see, God chose ME specifically to be this little girl’s mother.  No one else… just me.  And with this blessed title comes trials… but it’s ok.. because God chose me knowing I could do it with His provision.  Talk about a revelation!  All of a sudden I saw my calling not as a burden but as a gift.  A unique adventure planned for just me.  And God actually entrusted me to do it.

” For we are His MASTERPIECE! He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.”- Eph. 2:10

So, this got me thinking.  What other things has God chosen me to do?  What has God chosen you to do?  Most likely you can’t relate to my situation but….. Today is He choosing you to be jobless so that you can use your talents to bless someone else?  Is He choosing you to be single so that you can spend your time serving others around you?  Is He choosing you to love the person in your youth group that no one else wants to talk to?  Is He choosing you to be the daughter of a difficult parent so you can point them towards Christ?  Is He choosing you to be the wife of a difficult man so that you can show Him unconditional love?

Now I know that some of you are finding yourself in very hard circumstances leaving you barely reaching for air.  These things I write are a whole lot easier to write than to live out.  I get that!  That’s why I’m writing this to admit to you my failure in this over and over again… and I am so tired of falling into anxiety because of my doubts in the power of my Father!  So hear me out… Maybe we just need a little perspective.  We are a new creation in Christ.  We are His masterpiece and prized possession… and He has prepared for us, before we were even born, specific plans for our lives.  He’s calling you specifically to carry out His good work… it may be hard, it may be crippling and frustrating, and it may not line up with your own plans you have for your life… but it’s a calling that will lead to so much good!  He’s walking into your room and He’s looking at you and handing you this journey that He has written out in detail for you… and He’s choosing just you to carry it through.  He’s entrusting you to abide in Him, lean on Him and trust Him as you take the life you’ve been given and, with gratitude, face the circumstances in front of you knowing that all this in the end will be as it should be.

Eph. 2 goes on to say- ” THEREFORE… remember that you were at one time separated from Christ…. having no hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For He Himself is our peace!!”

It is no coincidence these verses follow verse 10.  He knew we would be tempted to fall into anxiety when faced with certain callings on our life.  But He is telling us to remember that He has drawn us near to Himself… and HE is our peace.  We CAN trust Him to help us and give us the strength we need when our feelings don’t match up to His truth.  What has He chosen you to do today?  Who has He chosen you to be?

It’s really easy to pity yourself when life, in this moment, doesn’t look like the way you thought it would.  But when I picture God picking me out of the crowd to carry out these specific works He has designed for me long ago, I become motivated by His love to carry it through fully trusting in Him.  I see more of the good than the bad.  I see life spilling through my lonely darkness.  So maybe you could stop feeling sorry for yourself and embrace what God has chosen you to do to bring Him glory and in the end to bring you good.

 

 

 

Faith, Fear, Redemption, Suffering

Hope in our Grief

January 29, 2014

You know the saying.. ” When it rains it pours”?  I guess you could say it’s starting to flood around here.  Seems as though the rain has come to stay in the form of tears.  When the days are pouring with one hard thing after another I come to find myself slowing down to a place of question, thought, and a sense of grief.  I wish I didn’t have days where I found myself sad, disappointed or feeling loss and pain.

You see, my heart has been heavy with two parents who have been battling physical issues, two marriages that seem to be ripping apart at the seems, and two dear friends who have held their new babies and had to watch them pass away just in this last week.  Why God?  Why do you have to let these things happen?  Why did you not intervene?  Why are you not fixing this?  I don’t understand you some times… I don’t understand your ways… and I don’t understand why there has to be so much hurt.  How do you look at someone who just watched their baby die and tell them that God is good and He is love and it’s going to be ok?  How do you look at your friend whose husband wants to leave her while she carries his baby inside her and tell her that God has a plan and He cares for her?  How do I tell those of you who are reading this and experiencing so much heartache that God is merciful and is kind?  How do you fall into grief and still trust in the goodness of God?

It would be easier to just shut my heart off.  Lock myself up with a heavy key.  Build a strong wall in between my heart and everyone else to protect myself from feeling the worst. I could just keep everyone at an arms length.  If we just didn’t let ourselves get close to anyone else, then we wouldn’t have to experience the hurt that can come along with it right?  We would be protected and we would be safe.  But safe from what?  Pain more painful then the loneliness you feel within your walls?  Pain more painful then to not love at all?

It was through reading the words of my friend Sarah who recently lost her child that I came to have hope that there can be light in the midst of grief.

The definition of grief is- “keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret.”     

My friend Sara says this-” In our darkest, most grief filled moments, our desire (that which we are reaching for and shouting out to) is the removal of the affliction or the resurrection of the loss, for the wrong to be made right.  But, sadly, this is usually not possible.  The loved one is still gone, the marriage is still over, the house is still destroyed, the friendship is still lost, each without the ability to return.”

However, as she goes on, she points me back to Jesus.  Jesus, the Son of God, hanging on the cross.  He knows before hand the suffering that He will have to endure.  And yet He still chooses to go through with it!  Why?  When I look back to the pain I have had to face and loss I have had to accept in my life, i’m not so sure I would actually choose to go through it.  The only thing that would make me choose it is if I knew that on the other side there was something worth all my tears and grief.  But what is it? Since Jesus chose to suffer- He must have known there was something greater on the other side that would make His pain worth it. ” For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame…” Heb. 12

Maybe He looked at you and He looked at me and chose to suffer because His love for us outweighed the pain.  His love for you was worth the grief.  So, if God showed His love for me through His suffering… does my love also show through my suffering?

Grief has no power without love.  When you choose to love you choose to suffer.  To love someone is to take risks.  Risks of being hurt, risk of losing, risk of pain and heartache.  To truly love is to let all your walls down and allow yourself to really feel.  To love is to take the masks off and be vulnerable.  To love is to let go of the one you hold onto too tightly.  To love is to say- I choose to suffer for you because you are worth it.  We will always have days of grief and sorrow but there is a light in love that shines through any darkness.

I choose to love.  I choose to not build up the walls that I am so tempted to do.  I choose to risk the pain, risk the sorrow, risk the grief, because on the other side there is something worth it.  There is something greater than the grief.  It’s love itself.  ” Anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”- 1 John 4:8  I choose to know love, to know God.  I pray you do the same.  No matter what curve ball life has thrown your way, no matter what tears you can’t seem to stop- I pray that you keep your heart open to love.  Don’t hide away, don’t try to protect yourself from the pain, take a risk and find that in the end… love is worth it.

I can’t seem to say it any better than Sarah

– “Every time we throw the dice to love we are showing a willingness to suffer.  We are saying, “You are worth great pain.  You are worth long nights full of tears.  You are worth aching and grieving for.  You are worth my love. ”

We have chosen to love God and oh how we have ached for it.

We have chosen to love others and oh how we have paid in tears.

BUT the joy in loving God and loving others is always, ALWAYS, greater than grief.

Grief is never fair BUT in the end, grief will never win.” – Sarah Macintosh

 

 

Faith, Fear, God, Spiritual Life

Prone To Wander

November 12, 2013

I am a girl just like you. That’s why I want to share with you what God has been doing in my life. I think it is so beautiful that in our weaknesses, God’s power is made perfect. So I hope and pray that through my weaknesses, God’s power will be displayed to you because this is not about me at all. This is his story that he is forming.

But, I get so caught every minute of the day thinking that this day is about me. It’s my life. My thoughts. My dreams. My money. My looks. My friends. My time.

I think I deserve to have fun all the time. I think I deserve to marry the perfect guy so then I can finally have the marriage I’ve always dreamed of. I think I deserve to spend my money on what I want to do. I think I deserve to use my time the way I want, to get the most done and to have time to myself.

Do you hear how selfish and prideful that is?

I want to be real with you. I am struggling. I am struggling with anxiety, stress, discontentment, selfishness, pride, idolatry… you name it.

Honestly, writing out my sin to you right now is so heavy on me because I am being reminded that I AM A SINNER. That shouldn’t be a surprise. But sadly, I forget. I am so distracted. I am busy. I am good at ignoring my sin. There’s just too much of it to handle. But when I take time to evaluate what is going on in my heart, I am again reminded that I am not good on my own. I can never be satisfied. I can never find peace. I can never find rest on my own.

Dear sisters, I am not afraid to confess what is going on in my heart because God tells us that the heart is unclean (Matt. 15:18), it is full of foolishness (Prov. 22:15), and it is desperately sick (Jeremiah 17:9).  I am not alone in this and neither are you.

Ok, enough with this. God doesn’t want us to dwell on the diseased state of our hearts. He wants us to see and recognize that we were born in a sinful and diseased world. But then he wants us to see who He is and what He has done for us, and then STAY THERE. Stay in his presence and stay in his love and grace and forgiveness for YOU.

Jesus tells us to ABIDE in him. Remain there. He doesn’t want you to go back to your old state of brokenness. It’s heavy, stressful, and enslaving.

But when we look to Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who joyfully bore our sin and the wrath of God in our place, we find new mercies every morning, love that never fails or ends, and grace that abounds more than our sin ever could.

I am telling you this because we all need to hear it every day. I put my life on this. If you take your eyes off of who Jesus is and what he has done for you, you are going to drown and you will have nothing left to give.

I have been drowning in stress and anxiety these past few months. I have been seeking to control my days and my time. They are a gift from God, so my time and my days are not about me. I have been rejecting God’s presence in parts of my life, and I have been overwhelmed in those parts. I know that it hurts him, but I also know that He keeps pursuing me and will not stop. He loves me more than anyone ever could love me and will never stop. His grace is greater than my sin will ever be. And I know that this beautiful news is true for the story he is forming for you too if you will seek Him.

It’s been easy for my eyes to wander to other desires. But again, that’s when I start to drown.  “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love”. We are all prone to wander and that does not surprise Him.

So how do you run to Jesus when you are prone to wander? Well, first I would tell you to be honest with yourself and search your heart. What areas of your life are you anxious or stressed because you want control? What areas are you not surrendering to Jesus, your Lord? He wants you to let go of those burdens.

Then remind yourself every day of the gospel. Remind yourself that Jesus has given you grace and forgiveness that covers all your sin you’re struggling with today. And you don’t want to miss spending time in his word so you can know his truth and blessings for you — for it is life to those who find it and healing to all your flesh!

If you want a place to read today, check out Romans 5 and Psalm 103

AllisonAllison wrote with us all throughout the month of September and still is an amazing friend and woman of God. Search in name in our tool bar to read more about her and her other posts.