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Identity, Spiritual Life, Suffering

Keeping Up Appearances

September 17, 2014

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“You have no idea who I really am. No one does.” 

These were the words that poured out of my seventeen year old mouth one night while sitting on a curb with my best friend. And I meant it. No one really knew me. At least, not the real me.

You see, I grew up in an environment where I believed that good or bad, you always put on a good face. To be weak was to be the unbelieving and faithless Christian. So I faked it.

I had the smile, the giddy personality and the super “I love Jesus forever and ever” persona down to an art form. I was the poster child youth group kid. On the outside, it looked like my life was perfect and I was lovin every minute of it. Inside, I was screaming. Hoping that somehow, someway someone could see through the facade. See me.

Fast forward to three days ago. Husband out of town, one sick kid, one wild preschooler and one worn out, stressed out, plain done mom. I wasn’t in a good place. I yelled at my kids when they didn’t deserve it. I swore to the heavens. I lied to my kids. I was lazy and disconnected and wanted nothing more than to just crawl into a hole and hide for a week. I was a mess.

Sunday came and I was barely able to muster the energy to take my kids and I to church. But I made it, all the while making sure they looked spotless, smiling and happy..and I did the same for myself. I smiled. I sang. I shook hands. Hugged my kids and greeted my friends with a smile. I put on my good “face” because that’s what I thought people wanted to see. But it wasn’t what I feeling. Not in the least.

Masks don’t take away our pain and struggle..they just cover it up. 

I think I believed that if I tried hard enough to keep up the appearance that my life was good, somehow it would magically get better. But it didn’t, and I always ended up feeling worse because I felt hidden. I felt like no one knew, and even worse, that no one cared. But how could someone care for my pain if they never knew it was there in the first place?

Girls, I know some of you are desperately hurting right now. Your pain is kept locked up deep inside your heart as you fake your way through your day with a smile on your face. But that is no way to live. We both know that.

Showing our pain is hard. It’s vulnerable and exposing and scary. It let’s everyone know we don’t have it all together and maybe aren’t the pillar of strength everyone thought we were.

Pain kept hidden kills the soul. Pain revealed sets the soul free. 

There’s a reason addresses pain so much. Because it’s real. Because we can’t escape it. And because we are never ever ever meant to walk through it alone.

“Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you fulfill the law of Christ” Galatians 6:2

Let’s break the chains of keeping up appearances. Let’s set ourselves free from the expectations that we have to be happy and perfect and good. Let’s show and share in one another’s hurts. Let’s cling to Christ and one another, reminding ourselves that we are never ever alone in the fight.

I am not a theologian or a scholar, but I am very aware of the fact that pain is necessary to all of us. In my own life, I think I can honestly say that out of the deepest pain has come the strongest conviction of the presence of God and the love of God.  ~ Elizabeth Elliot

What are you hurting from today? Hold my hand and let’s walk into the storm together.

Identity, Spiritual Life

Serve the Servant

September 10, 2014

 

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God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 1 Peter 4:10 (NLT)

I had grown accustomed to the loudness that seemed to engulf the house as 22 babies/toddlers ran around during our morning play-time. I sat on the floor between the living room and the kitchen, with clear view to the entry door that gave a beautiful view to a Guatemala mountainside. My sweet little chunk sitting on my lap begging for yet another horsey ride…which always resulted in the best gurgling, contagious, laughter and a line of kids waiting for their turn. I watched that morning and took in my surroundings, observing our house mom care for her own three children and then continue to care for the other babies in the same way, no special treatment, you wouldn’t know they were not hers…you would never know they were orphaned, abandoned, given up…she treated them like her own. She loved them, fed them, and even disciplined them. Doing her best to raise them up in a Christ centered home. The door creaked and I knew our day of being peacefully our own “little” family of 22 babies, three honorary house mamas and two house parents would end and the attempt to keep sanity would begin.

Our little spit fire two-year old had bitten someone once again and was being led to time-out…right as two older women walked through the door.  I sat and watched. One stood looking somewhat uncomfortable, not knowing what to do, the other walked straight to the child who had been put in time-out. She took him in her arms, sat him on the couch…and began to “comfort” him…saying “you poor baby, being treated so meanly by the people here, you poor little orphan, let me just show you what love is.”    My heart ripped in two as I watched my sweet house mom put her head down as she over-heard the cutting words. She had made so many sacrifices, as did her family to be here to raise these babies. The women didn’t stay long, just long enough to give some hugs and snap some photos and then they were off to the house upstairs. Never stopping to encourage the woman who spent day and night meeting the needs of these children.  Just as I breathed a sigh of relief a group of giggly, teenage girls stepped in the doorway…they never came in. Simply stood in the door with their cameras…taking pictures of only the cutest babies. Never asking their names.  My heart began to sink…they probably had some skills we could use.

My days continued like this, people bringing in buckets of donations for the kids to be added to the overflowing shed, people wanting to simply play with the kids, and I watched as the house parents of each house seemed more and more worn out, struggling to scrape up money for their own children and family needs, never having time to refresh, breathe or take timeto themselves. Always giving. Always taking criticism from outside groups. All the groups with good intentions, just many with poor actions. That was the summer my heart felt called to the missionaries. The ones giving up the comforts and safety for their children, to serve the least of these. That was the summer I realized I was not called just to love the orphan and widow…I was called to love the missionary, to serve them and help enable them to do what they are called and gifted to do. So many intentions are so good, yet we have an epidemic of fitting God’s calling for us in a box. We have a list of what we are supposed to do, what needs we want to meet instead of asking where the need is and then using our gifts to meet those needs. We forget that helping fold clothes, cooking dinner, or even taking time to stand in a tortilla hut and let the tortilla lady teach you how to make them…are all ways to serve. All ways to meet someone where they are at and show them that they are important, what they are doing is needed. Realize that you have something to offer, to help them be more successful at serving where they are called. You have the ability to sit beside, take their hand, and let them know they are not alone.

A few years later God led me to nanny for those who were on stage and I continued to feel the draw to serving those who were serving their audience. Enabling the ones who felt called to have a voice to a larger group, by helping care for the little, behind the scenes details that make that possible. Giving breath and refreshment to the ones who are exhausted from serving.

Girls, I’m writing this because so many times I have had to stand up and defend my calling. And I know many of you have such needed skills to offer as well. I know how easy it is to get lost in watching others have a big purpose that is noticed and we think that should be our goal as well.

So many times I have had to explain why my heart is for those who are serving others. I’ve fought to explain that they too, need people behind them..we aren’t all called to have our own audiences, our own big, shining task to reach out and do something that will be recognized. Some of us are called to be behind the curtains. Just like a show can’t happen without a lighting crew, sound crew, caterers, and someone to clean up the mess…just like a game can’t happen without someone caring for the field, taking care of the players, making the uniforms…the big missions and callings can’t happen here on earth without the supporters, the prayer warriors, the ones giving the front men a night off….

Don’t get stuck thinking there is one formula, one way to love, one way to serve.

Don’t ever see yourself as not worthy because you aren’t on a platform. Because you don’t fit a comfortable box. You aren’t on the field. You aren’t on the stage.   See yourself as worthy because you have a crazy skill for cleaning bathrooms, organizing, caring for children, mowing a lawn, making a good cup of coffee….whatever you are gifted at..use it. Serve those that are also serving. Find your worth and realize that God has gifted you very specifically, with no mistakes…so that you can offer your gifts to those who need it. Be wary of those who will take advantage of those gifts and give freely to those who desperately need it and see it as part of their ministry tool.

Faith, Identity, Spiritual Life

So Long Summer

August 20, 2014

 

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The end of every summer always brought a mixed sense of sadness and joy for me. Sure, I was going to miss sleeping in, spending the day doing whatever I wanted and the general freedom of the season. Yet the end of summer also brought me something else…a chance to start over.

Even if I was going back to the same school, there was something special about a new school year. It was as though three months of summer hit some kind of reset button and everyone got to come back fresh and new without any of the crap from the previous year. I could be new, different..better, even.

As the beginning of my sophomore year of college was about to drop, I knew I needed to make some changes. I had spent the summer trying to recover from all the vices I picked up the previous year. I was dating a guy who had abused, ridiculed, cheated and then eventually dumped me. I had the beginnings of a serious eating disorder, and a total loss of who I was as a person. I was a hot mess. I needed the summer to purge all of this out of my life and start fresh. Make this next year nothing like the one before it.

Many of you are about to or are in that same boat. A new year, a new chance to be something better and different than last year. You’re plagued by the mistakes of your past, and in a way, feel doomed to be that girl from now on.

My first day of sophomore year was hell. I remember struggling to eat that bite of food, knowing I needed the nutrients more than my ability to feel in control. I struggled to not look at my ex as he walked around campus acting as though I was nothing and that all he had done to me that had destroyed my soul was no big deal. I was determined to change. I needed to change.

Our approach to change can either cripple us, or set us free. 

I spent my sophomore year unable to let go of the things I had vowed to rid myself of. I went back to the abusive boyfriend. I continued to restrict my eating so that I could feel like I had a hold on my life. I was outwardly happy, but in inwardly dying.

What things are you holding on to that you know God is wanting you to change? A relationship that’s become an idol? An unhealthy friendship? An obsession with your looks? Or maybe an attitude of bitterness, anger, or pride? Whatever it is, are you willing to make the change?

Not every “fresh start” feels great. Starting over can often feel like giving up everything for the unknown- for the possibility that things might be better. And who wants to give up everything for a “might?”

I let my fear of change and failure lead me back down a path I never wanted to return to. Another year of mistakes, hurts, and abuse. My need to control, to resist the pain of growth made me more burdened and scared than I ever was. The year that was meant to be my chance to be free, to be who God saw I could be, was instead one of possibly the most painful years of my life.

“I am God—yes, I Am. I haven’t changed. And because I haven’t changed, you, the descendants of Jacob, haven’t been destroyed.” Malachi 3:6 (The Msg)

Thank God that He is unchangeable. Though our lives ebb and flow, peak and dip; He is constant. He is always faithful, always present, always loving, always forgiving, always believing in what we could be and not what we think we are. Our failure to embrace change, to take that step to freedom doesn’t alter His love for us one bit. He’s still our greatest champion, cheering us on; knowing that if we just turn our eyes to Him, nothing can shake us.

“The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him;” Psalm 37:23

“In the same way I will not cause pain
    without allowing something new to be born,” says the Lord.” Isaiah 66:9

Listen ladies, we weren’t called to be the meek, mild mannered, silent observers of this world. We are warriors. Brave, fearless, strong, and bold. When we believe we are the less than, the unchangeable, the forever broken; we are robbing ourselves of the beauty of becoming the more.

Don’t let the mistakes of your past declare who you are going to be tomorrow. 

Summer is coming to an end. A new season is on it’s way. So let’s seize it while we can. Let’s hold on to Jesus and run fearlessly into a new beginning. Throwing off all the crud and baggage that keeps us from being anything less than the glorious perfection that He has proclaimed us to be.

I’m ready for a new beginning. I’m ready to be more because I am more. Because HE IS MORE. Are you?

So long summer. This girl’s moving on.

God, Identity, Judging, Relationships

Judging Stephanie

August 13, 2014

Back in the day I used to know this girl named- well lets just say Stephanie.  Stephanie lived in my neighborhood.  There was a group of us that would always hang out and  Stephanie wasn’t one of them.  She was different.  She wore really short shorts and cropped tops usually showing most of her bra.  Her long blond hair was always hanging down the middle of her back and her face was hidden somewhere beneath all of the makeup.  I remember my friends and I would talk about her a lot.  Things usually like- “I can’t believe she is wearing that.  Who does she think she is?  I can’t believe she smokes…. that’s so wrong.  She’s really bad and we shouldn’t be associated with her.  So glad we’re not like her.”  Words like these were exchanged for a whole year between me and my friends.  But one day we stopped seeing her around.  We didn’t think much of it until we met another girl who used to be friends with her who told us what happened to her.  Stephanie had moved away because she was a foster kid.  Apparently she would stay with a family until they got sick of her and then she would be shipped off to live with someone else.  Most of her life she felt unwanted.  When I heard this I remember feeling sick to my stomach.  Here I was judging her without knowing anything about her.  Without knowing her at all.

“Judging others is a blindfold.  Judging others is a blindfold that blinds us to our own grime and blinds us to the GRACE which others are as eligible and entitled to as we are.” – Voskamp

 Everyone has traveled their own road.  Everyone has a story to tell, pain they have had to suffer, and life experiences that has shaped them one way or another.

Matthew 7:1-5- ” Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your (sister’s) eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your (sister) Let me take the speck out of your eye, when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your (sister’s) eye.”

Phew!  Girls!  Where is your heart?  Is there someone that you may be presuming assumptions upon because of the way they look, because of their attitude towards you, because of the choices they have made and all of the outward things your eyes may see??  Ask yourself do you know their story?   Do you know them at all?  Or are you just sizing them up to be the very thing you want them to be in order to make yourself feel better about yourself? Have you looked at your own heart lately?

 “Do you hold other people to a standard of perfection instead of letting them all be held in the arms of grace?”- Voskamp

Oh sweet grace.  We can rejoice because we are covered by GRACE!!  We can rejoice because they too are covered by GRACE!!  I am dancing and singing with my arms outstretched because of who I am in Christ!  The more I believe in His love for me the more I am able to love everyone else regardless of who they are or who they seem to be.  We are called to love and we are ALL entitled to grace.

And then there are those of you who find yourself on the other side of it.  You feel alone and isolated because you have been accused of being a certain way.  Or other girls have their opinion about you because they are only looking at your outward appearance and not taking the time to really get to know your heart.  Maybe you’re the one who has had to travel a dirty road leading you to a pain so deep that the only thing you know to do is to inflict pain onto others.  Maybe you’re hurting others because you yourself are hurting.

There is hope for you dear friend.  “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”- 1 Samuel 16:7

The Lord sees your whole story and sees the very depths of your heart.  He is lifting up your head, staring into your eyes and carrying through the weight of each day.  You are not what everyone else says of you… you belong to Jesus and He says that you are His child!  You are His friend. – John 15:15  You are justified and redeemed. Rom. 3:24  You are a fellow heir with Christ.  Rom 8:17  You are a temple of the Holy Spirit. 1 Cor. 9:19  You are joined to the Lord and are one spirit with Him.  1 Cor. 6:17  You are a new creation  2 Cor. 5:17  The list goes on and on.  Who cares what others say about you… who does Jesus say you are?  The one who knows everything about you actually calls you one with Himself!  Hold on to this truth and be careful to not find yourself judging those who judge you.

In whichever situation you find yourself in, go to Jesus.  May he open our hearts to our own sin and dig out the filth that has been piling up needing to be plucked out.  I pray that pride will fall and shame will be thrown to the ground.  I pray our eyes be taken off of ourselves all together and placed on the cross. I pray we live each day with kindness on our lips uplifting one another, encouraging one another and loving each other because we have been given kindness and love when we do not deserve it ourselves.  May we not find ourselves assuming the worst in someone but may we find ourselves always seeking to understand.  “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord: keep watch over the door of my lips.  Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil….” Psalm 141:3-4

I wish I could go back to that little neighborhood where all my time was wrapped around my friends like my feathered bangs wrapped around my head, and Stephanie sitting on her front porch with a cigarette between her fingers.  I would do things a little differently.  My hope is that I would walk up to her and say hi.  I would tell her my name.  I would sit down next to her and maybe ask her questions about herself.  I would try to get to know her.  I may even risk being associated with her.  After all- Jesus was associated with sinners.  The tax collectors, the drunks, the prostitutes……hmmmmm….. even me.

I was no better than Stephanie.  I am no better than you.  We are all just children in need of Jesus.

“When this life ends we will all see each other for what we really are.  There will be surprises.  One of those surprises will surely be how ill-willed our judgements were.  Another will be how much suffering we caused others through wrongly judging them.  Yet another will be how often we were guilty of the very thing we judged another for”. – Anonymous

Body Image, Identity

Nearly “A”

August 6, 2014

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There’s something about buying a bra that makes me burst out into a cold sweat. I’ve been wearing a bra for well over two decades now, but even still, the same anxieties linger every time I cross the threshold and enter into the land of the “unmentionables.”

For me, bra shopping is an unforgivable lesson in humility. A constant reminder of just what God didn’t see fit to give me.

When I was in high school, there was line of bras that specialized in offering half sizes in case you just weren’t quite able to fit in to a general size. From the outside this seemed like a great idea, but for me, it was torture.

Grabbing an array of bras in full and half sizes, I made my way somewhat confidently to the changing room; all the while secretly praying that I somehow would miraculously grow boobs in the two yards I was walking to go try them on. Of course, as fate would have it, I was not the Nearly B or even the Full A, but the lonely and pathetic Nearly A.

Nearly A? Is that even a size? It almost felt like someone was trying to politely say, “You’re really built like a boy and have no chance of ever getting boobs, but here’s a bra anyway girlfriend.”

I didn’t buy the Nearly A that day, but the stigma of being a Nearly A has stayed with me since. For years I would try and buy any bra that gave away the impression that I was anything but a Nearly A. I wore the miracle bras, gel-filled bras, the 97% padding 3% you bras. Push up, push down, push sideways, if it made me look like I had a chest, I was buying it. Yet no matter how hard I tried, I still felt like the Nearly A.

I wonder when we decided as women that the size of our breasts somehow became a barometer for the kind of person we are. As if the bigger my chest got, the nicer I was and the more people would like me. When you really think about it, it’s kind of silly.

But that’s what we do, isn’t it? We take the things like being the girl with small boobs, or the girl with freckles, or the girls with a big bootie and we turn it into this measuring stick of our character and ultimately our worth. This causes us to then live in this horrific shame cycle of statements like “Why can’t I be” or “If only I was.”

When we stop seeing the beauty and worth in who we are, we begin to instead measure ourselves by what we are not.

“I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” Psalm 139:14

Oftentimes it’s hard for us to look past all that we see in the mirror and grasp the true depth of beauty amongst the pimples, dimples, flab, and lack of curves. But ask yourself, if all you’re ever known and liked for is how you look on the outside, is that really an accurate picture of who you are? Of course not!

So what if I’m 32 and can still wear a training bra like it’s no joke? I’m also a loyal friend. So yeah, I got tummy flab that may or may not muffin top over a too tight pair of pants. But you know what? I also have a really great sense of humor. I love my kids, my husband, my God and my friends fiercely. I am honest and passionate. I am bold and at times ridiculous. None of these things can be seen and known by how well I fill out a bra or how good I look in a bikini. Being a Nearly A means nearly nothing when it comes to who I truly am.

There are still many days when I am that Nearly A girl. Days when I look in the mirror and tell myself that I am not, because I have not. Then I remember that His works are wonderful, which means I’m wonderful. My Nearly A body is Christ’s absolute perfect daughter. If He can see beyond what’s right in front of us, maybe we all should try and take a second look ourselves.

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, God, Identity, Redemption, Relationships, Spiritual Life, Suffering

Hey There Lonely Girl

July 9, 2014

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Hey There Lonely Girl,

On some park bench in the middle of the day, there you sit. You see everything and everyone around you, and you wonder, do they see you back. These vacant benches and quiet spaces have become like an old comfy shirt to your weary and broken soul.

For to be seen, is to be known. 

Sitting in secluded corners sipping coffee, you look like you’re waiting for a friend to arrive, but you know that’s not the case. You seem confident in the loneliness, almost as though you prefer the solace. No one can see, however,  that silently your heart is screaming for someone, anyone to notice you. To come into your pain. To make you…not so lonely.
Coffee Shop Girl

Fear of your destiny to forever be abandoned, excluded, denied, rejected, and forgotten sweep over your already tired soul and you just cant imagine how this life could ever bring you joy again. You will forever be alone.

Darkness has a way of captivating our spirit. Consuming us thick and tricking us into believing that dawn will never come, only night. Only the emptiness.

But hear me when I say this, Lonely Girl- light HAS come. He has come. He has seen those spaces and places you keep hidden from the world. The things that trap you in your loneliness. He knows the thoughts and regrets that plague you in the night when you feel the most alone. He knows it all.

And the moments when your heart’s mouth cries out to be known, to be loved, to be seen, He is right there, looking right at you….and loving you.

The world will always lie to you. It will tell you that you were a mistake, too screwed up to ever be fixed; destined for solitude. But He who is named TRUTH says otherwise.

He has said that you are more precious than rubies. He has said that you are so worth loving, that life itself is not too great a sacrifice for you. He has said he would never leave you or abandon you. To Him your name is not Lonely. To Him, your name is

Holy, Righteous, & Redeemed

He is for you. I am for you. And a chord of three strands cannot be broken.

holding_hands

So hold hands with me as we hold onto to Him and together we will see just how abundant this life can be.

“For Greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.