My living rooms open | Join the party

If you haven’t joined the party yet, this here is my personal invitation…

We’re talking:

  • Faith

  • Motherhood

  • Relationships

  • Freedom

And we’re missing your voice!

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Afraid you won’t fit in?! Impossible..

Grace Clingers, Deep Feelers, Love Warriors WELCOME.

That’s YOU and you know how I know?  Because you’re here now.

The same honesty and rawness you’ve come to know about me here, is there too.

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As I work to complete two NEW and exciting PROJECTS- my book, “Bleeding Hearts” and my e-course, “Know Jesus; Receive God’s love,” – my blog posts are fewer and far between as I channel my creative energies there.

That’s why I want to invite you to my living room floor on instagram. 

I’m sharing parts of my personal faith story never told before, encouragement that works for me when my faith feels hard, lessons from the mundane of motherhood, and the books that are messing with me.

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That thing you’re facing…

This season of life you’re in right now…

The yuck you’re struggling with…

I promise you, you’re not alone!

There’s a tribe of people waiting to prove it to you too, including me!

Come join us, will you? 

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–//

 

Here’s a peek at what we’re wrestling with:

“I wanted to be cool and if I’m really honest, envied. I thought in order to be liked + accepted, people had to want what I had to offer. They couldn’t possibly just like me for me. And that lie, extended into every area of my life: my work, my body, my house, my relationships, my money + my success. I had to be the best. I tried + tried until I almost died. Quite literally…

Anxiety + panic attacks held me hostage. An eating disorder ravaged my body, my moods + my every thought for 15 years. My need for acceptance kept me running every minute of the day trying to prove my worth + please everyone. And I mastered the art quite well! I was good at it. Proud of it even + fooled people into thinking I had life “figured out”. But I didn’t. I was enslaved- chained to my insecurities + fuelled by my fear of rejection. Until I decided to”… [READ THE REST]

 

“You will always regret something. You will always disappoint someone. But it isn’t going to be my husband and our kids.
It has been, but I’m learning. And I’m making things right. And so this morning, I sent the email- afraid I’d be seen as weak or irresponsible, afraid I’d be pulling the ripcord on a career I’d spend a decade building, praying for opportunities like this one… Do I mean all the things I’ve been saying about worth and rest and what matters most, or don’t I?...” [READ THE REST]

 

“I used to run a million miles a minute. I did everything that had to be done and more. I checked off every box and I finished every goal. The thing was, I was still empty inside. Around every next bend I’d find my true identity and my worth- the joy and meaning I was seeking. But it never came. With every new chapter and every new accomplishment I felt more and more frustrated, desperate for something to change. Why was I not truly happy? I had everything I ever wanted… and more.
Slowly but surely, God showed me the culprit. It was” … 
[READ THE REST]

 

 

The UnBecoming | Welcome 29

Every knows that
I was the good girl
I did my best to
Make everyone happy with me
Then I found out that
It was impossible to please
The whole crowd

So I spoke up and I spoke out
I learned that love don’t hold its tongue
And passion doesn’t bow to what they think
It’s You and me
Sometimes it’s painful to be brave
To look fear in the face and know your name
To find your strength

I Spoke Up by Steffany Gretzinger

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But I did.

28 was the year I finally did… or undid.

It was a year of undoing that began with an unravelling.

I faced a death so I could see new life both in me and through me, in the life that I have now.

I found my voice. I found my name. I found Him waiting in my heart, there deep within.

To hold my hand and take me on a journey to who I am today, made new.

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It started first with unbecoming who I thought I was.

Who I’d come to be, not because it was the girl I truly wanted to be.

I’d build up walls. I’d hid in shame.

I’d listened to the voice of fear and all the lies that called me names and told me everyone would leave if I was me.

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Yet here I stand at 29. He’s mine and I am His. I’ll always be.

He’s chosen me. He called me Bride. I heard it clear and I came running to His arms.

I tore down walls. I let him in. I sat there still in his near presence and I received love. So divine. Beyond my words His power healed me deep within.

So today I cry with grateful tears, for all He’s brought me through to bring me here.

This unbecoming to become the woman I was made to be in Christ, indeed set free.

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Photo Credit: Dragonflight Photography

 

When You’re Feeling Empty and Need to Be Filled… with Joy

You’re asleep now and my heart bubbles over with moments we shared this morning as a family:

cuddles and cartoons on the couch,

playing blocks and colouring on the floor,

dancing and singing to worship music turned loud,

jumping and bum drops on the bed,

an hour long tub party that ended with daddy rocking you amidst the suds, while you nestled in the nape of his neck and asked for lullabies on repeat.

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These simple moments of connection- the everyday ordinary moments- are so full of grace we scarcely miss them them if we’re not careful.

Life can beckon us to move, to do and to go, when The Lord calls us to draw near, to be still and linger a little longer.

But for too long I didn’t listen. I missed my vary life ; that is until

you came along and turned my life –my heart– inside out.

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You showed me where life is truly found.

Where joy, peace and love are hiding.

But they aren’t really hiding. They’re right there for the taking; we must just choose to be present to receive them.

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Seasons change and so do our circumstances but these things remain.

Rooted in Christ and found with eyes wide open to the people and the moments right in front of us, peace, joy and love remain: always, unchanging.

Love mom.

 

When you need a fresh perspective and a nudge to let go

I live in a four story apartment, nestled at the edge of the Burrard Inlet. Every room is privy to a view of the ocean.

It’s breathtaking, to say the least, and with every changing season, my awe of it’s Creator – my Creator- is renewed.

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Today was no different. In fact, each morning this week I’ve found myself glued to the window just staring and reflecting; letting my heart overflow and my internal groans be lifted up in silent prayer.

I know that Holy Spirit speaks for me, but i’m just beginning to trust that in the silence, my connection is just as strong as in my spoken prayers.

The Spirit steps in and articulates prayers for us with groaning too profound for words. He who pursues and explores the human heart intimately knows the Spirit’s mind because He pleads to God for His saints to align their lives with the will of God. – Romans 8:26 | The Voice Translation

This morning, I felt called to go outside – to go down to the waters edge. I wanted to immerse myself in the marvel – the colors, the sights, the sounds of creation. And so I did.

But when I got there, something struck me. Every thing looked different.

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While still beautiful, albeit, it didn’t hold the same luster and sparkle as from above- from the view in my fourth story apartment. And then it hit me.

In my home, I get God’s perspective.

I see this postcard perfect picture the way he does  -the way he designed it to look all together.

I see the harmony of every plant, land, sky and creature coming together to create one masterpiece.

I see the symphony of colours collide, reflect and complement one another in their totality. All parts of one whole.

But down here – from this limited view point – I’m only privy to parts of the whole. Standing this close, it’s far easier to zero in and focus on the individual pieces.

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I forget about the big picture down here. I only see whats right in front of me.

It wont be until I walk further that I’ll see whats on the other side.

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But from up there – from God’s perspective – I can see everything!  I can see how it all works together for Good. The whole’s good. 

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I need this reminder this morning:

From my perspective, it’s far too easy to get caught up in the close and right in front of me. To zero in on me and forget all about the grandeur plan. To pay far too much attention to myself, forgetting that my life and my story, are one part – one creature, one plant, one colour hue – of a whole postcard perfect picture.

I am one part of a whole body and together – every part – will make up a perfect whole.

I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less.

A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together.

If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell?

As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.

But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of.

An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, “Get lost; I don’t need you”? Or, Head telling Foot, “You’re fired; your job has been phased out”? As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way—the “lower” the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary. You can live without an eye, for instance, but not without a stomach.

When it’s a part of your own body you are concerned with, it makes no difference whether the part is visible or clothed, higher or lower. You give it dignity and honor just as it is, without comparisons.

25-26 The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.

27-31 You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this.

Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything. – 1 Corinthians 12 | The Message Version

It was my reminder to rest from striving, to abide and seek Jesus and to release every plan, timeline and expectation to the grand orchestrator.

To trust God to use me – in his time and ways, exactly as he purposed and fashioned me – as part of his grandeur plan.

–//

 

Pray with me, friend:

Lord, I remain in you, as you remain in me. I connect myself to the vine, so I may bear fruit. I cease striving and fighting this moment. I release the timelines i’ve created and the expectations I’ve put on you, myself and others. I will stop initiating and simply remain with you. Reclaim my soul, oh Lord, that it may cling passionately to you. I will not demand answers or try to control outcomes – in life or even in this moment, in my time with you. I will know and trust that you are God. I am not. I choose to abide – to remain, to stay and to connect with you. Move Holy Spirit in ways I can not imagine. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

The new wind in my sails, plus I have something for you from God

I feel a new wind in my sails; a gentle push steering me in new directions.

Change is ahead of me and while the fog is still heavy before me, I’m beginning to see clues of the new land I’ll be docking in.

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I first recognized this new wind inside me; the echoes of a new and different woman; a woman with stronger hope, braver strength and a fiercer passion than her former self.

And as I’ve looked around me, I’ve seen how ever so surely, much that once felt cozy and comfortable now feels like ill fitting clothes that must be cast aside for proper fitting ones.

My website being one of them.

While the words it houses feel right, it’s physical shell no longer does.

It feels like I’m sitting in some else’s living room trying to make it my own. Or like I’ve moved, trying to re -create my old home with the walls and configuring of a new one.

And rather than trying to fit the old into the new, I want to start fresh. A clean slate. To live out the newness that is within me.

I want to paint the walls with colors of this new wind inside me, but I haven’t quite put my finger on which ones yet.

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It’ll come to me in time. Slowly but surely, I’m starting to see the pieces come together.

But besides the physical shell, what I care about more is YOU… the souls that dare to entertain my own. Especially those who have journeyed with me in the last two years.

You, my friend, are the real deal. My tribe. My people.

You have sat with me in the shadows of darkness and the ick of my mess and not run from it. You have dared to hear my hurting heart and not judge it or blame it away. You just listened.

And you have been brave- brave enough to look inside yourself also and shine the light where it is dark within.

I’ve had countless conversations, online and off, that have reminded me that it is our weaknesses and our messes that connect us, not the pretty and perfect. It’s our imperfections that declare our humanity and our willingness to sit inside our stories and embrace them, that give others permission to do the same.

You have been a warrior, my friend, and you have reminded me I am one too on the days I’ve forgotten. By simply showing up, by reading my words and my sharing your own heart and journey with me. And for that I’ll be ever grateful.

Thank you for being my safe house in the raging of the storm.

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So while I begin this renovation project on my blog, one that first started in my heart, I want to invite you along – to invite you in.

Would you dare to let me in, also?

Would you be brave enough to share with me a little bit about yourself and how I can best love and serve you, the same way you’ve blessed me?

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BY ANSWERING THESE FEW QUESTIONS, YOU WILL BLESS ME WITH GENUINE KNOWLEDGE OF THE HEARTS GOD HAS PLACED IN FRONT OF ME.

YOU WILL HELP ME STEER THIS SHIP DOWN THE RIGHT PASSAGE WAY AND LAND IN THE DOCK GOD HAS APPOINTED FOR ME.

AND ULTIMATELY, YOU WILL BE HELPING YOURSELF.

BECAUSE I HAVE SOMETHING FOR YOU FROM GOD.

I DON’T QUITE KNOW WHAT IT IS YET, BUT HE WANTS ME TO GIVE YOU – TO BLESS YOU – WITH SOMETHING AND I’M READY AND WILLING TO DO IT.

WOULD YOU HELP ME DISCOVER WHAT IT IS?

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I love you friend, in the dearest sense of the word. Your heart makes mine bubble over with gratitude and pride.

You matter and so does your presence here.

Thank you for sojourning with me.

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When you want to experience Jesus and know he’s real without a shadow of doubt

I feel all sorts of goofy and giddy; like the beginning of young love. My heart beats fast, I blush when I realize he’s looking at me and I’ll find just about any excuse to be alone with him.

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I break out in song because every one feels like the perfect ballot to belt out my love. I’ve picked about twelve songs that feel like “ours” right now.

But the truth is, this isn’t the first time I’ve fallen in love with him, nor the second. And yet it feels like new love all over again. He’s arrested my heart and stolen my devotion for the 100th time.

Unreserved, unrestrained, your love is wild, Your love is wild for me,

It isn’t shy, it’s unashamed your love is proud to be seen with me

You don’t give your heart in pieces, you don’t hide yourself to tease us

Uncontrolled, uncontained, your love is a fire
Burning bright for me

It’s not just a spark , its not just a flame your love is a light
That all the world will see  – Pieces | Amanda Cook

Like the flood gates of grace have opened up again and the dam breaks, his love rushing over me. I’m swimming in it; overcome by it.

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I can smell the sweet scent of a man I love dearly and see his love letters tucked in every nook and cranny. Some say happenstance, but I know better

… know better than to believe he’s not my bridegroom, madly in love with me, ever persistent in his pursuit of all my heart; of my total surrender to his all consuming love.

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Call me a fool but I’m a fool in love.

In love with a man who loved me enough to die for me.

In love with a father who adores me to pieces.

In love with a Spirit who belts my deepest heart cries.

With all the sand that fills the hourglass
With every breath between my first and last

I love You
I’m trying to
Love You more
I’m ready
Please help me
Love You more – Nichol Nordeman | Love you More 

 

–//

 

Prayer is such a huge topic and I won’t pretend to have all the answers. But what I do know is this:

My entire faith changed and so did my prayer life when I began these two practices:

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Meditative Prayer

Closing my eyes, envisioning Jesus in front of me and sharing my heart with him; my honest, unfiltered and unreserved thoughts and feelings. And then waiting…. and listening for his response.

Sometimes I’ll simply turn on worship music, lie down and close my eyes. I’ll invite the Holy Spirit to speak to me and then wait in silence. Sometimes he shows me visions, sometimes I see pictures, other times words or phrases come to mind. But whatever comes, I sit in it and allow it to wash over me, trusting his leading.

There are lots of difference ways to do meditative prayer. I personally used the guided encounters in Heart Made Whole and Guided Encounters by Christa Black Gifford to learn this practice and have adapted it to suit my personal prayer life. 

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Writing Out and Praying God’s Word back to Him 

I was challenged to try reading the bible like I would a novel, without analyzing and studying it, just letting it hit me and stir me naturally. And when it did, to write it out.

I started in Ephesians and began to make my way through the epistles (letters). An amazing thing happened: almost every line caused me to stop and think. It was something I wanted for myself, something I felt convicted by, advice or encouragement I wanted to share with a friend or  a new revelation of sorts. I would write whatever it was out – sometimes a single passage, other times entire paragraphs – personalizing it for myself or for those I love. Finally I would then pray it back to God. 

I cannot explain what followed other than this: I now know with my heart and not just my head that God’s word is powerful! And he most definitely watches over his word to perform it. When we pray it, he hears us and we can count it already ours! 

I have seen miracle after miracle after changed heart and behaviour – in myself and others – since beginning this practice. And it’s rocking my world. 

When you desire to be fully Christ’s, body, mind and soul.

I woke up with a day to myself before me. My daughter was with her nama (grandma) and wouldn’t be home until evening.

Immediately, I knew I needed to spend the day alone with God, resting, praying, listening. I needed quiet and slow, allow solitude to nurture me back to health emotionally and physically.

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Not only was I emotionally fried from weeks of walking a new season of life- one full of new work and new burdens that feel far to0 heavy to carry- but also physically fried. I’d hardly eaten in over a month and my lack of health had led to a poor immense system. Now I’m lying in bed weak and unable to do much anything; bone weary, shaky and light headed.

I felt weak emotionally and physically and I knew the place to start with restoration was spiritually; to connect back with the one who made me and knows me intimately, inside and out. 

I began simply by speaking what was on my heart- thanksgiving for all he had been doing and the ways he had prepared me for this exact moment in time, in my life, in history. I no longer doubted myself or Him. His plan was underway and the things he spoke and imprinted on my heart ten years ago, were starting to unfold. This was the beginning and I knew it without question. 

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As fast as the thanksgiving poured out, the worry began. The fears next, but mostly the regret – the guilt that had consumed me for the past month. I lay it all out before God and confessed that while my heart and soul belonged to him, my body- physically- had not yet been redeemed and found home in him.

And like a revelation, I suddenly saw it: for years I have hated my physical body, beating it into submission trying to silence it’s voice. I had shamed her (my body) for not being what I wanted in each moment, whether that’s for vanities sake or the sake of wanting to be and do a million things yesterday. 

And then the vision came.

A picture formed in my mind of me walking- marching actually through life- dragging a dead weight body behind me, limp and dying; like Christ carrying the cross to calvary. Every so often I would turn and beat her, flog this body- my body- with a strap.

The little girl in me recognizes the body as herself and there I am dragging her and beating her for not being good enough, what I need her to be; for not being perfect. 

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While God has changed my heart dramatically in regards to chasing perfect, I realize I’ve applied grace to every area of my life exact the physical.

Somewhere down the line I had divorced my physical body and cast her aside, refusing to see her any longer as important and part of me. I

n her place- one I used to lift up and idolize- I’d replace her with things of holiness and righteousness. Except how can one divorce their physical when it is the temple of The Holy Spirit? The home of the very one to whom my heart belongs?

God knit my body together in my mother’s wombs and then placed his Spirit within me. All of me is of him made in His image;  the spiritual and the physical, the soul and the body. And he declared it good. All good.

While God has healed me of my eating disorder and body image struggles,  I suddenly see in this vision that I’m still hating the work of his hand; his unique masterpiece, my body.

I’ve been blaming her, judging her and shaming her for being so weak and carnal. I used to beat her up for being addicted, trying to hide her brokenness- food, sex, exercise and busyness. And here I am continuing to see her as bad and evil- the enemy -who led me into temptation and into bondage for so much of my life. Who, if i’m not careful, will lead me back there; one who can’t be trusted.

All I’d done is deflect the anger I used to beat my now healed heart up with, to my body.

I’d chosen to forgot about her, declare her good as dead to me and carried on with the rest of my life.

While food, exercise and body image no longer control me, I’ve abandoned all her felt needs along with it- mainly physical rest and proper nutrition.

Sure I eat, but it’s not enough and not what’s best; only what’s easy because I can’t be bothered to care enough. I’ve thrown her scraps as she sits at the masters table.

Sure I rest and have learnt to embrace slow, but I’ve been far more focused on caring for my mind and my spirit than the physical. I haven’t given her enough sleep or physical rest on my sabbath. Like a mom who’s just given birth and heads into the trenches of motherhood; depleted and deprived.

And consequently, like the apps constantly running in the background of my iPhone, my body is no longer working properly. I am malfunctioning and short circuiting.

My lack of heath is effecting every function of my life and being. I need a reset. 

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I turned on worship music- the playlist that somehow always brings me low; low in humility and I palpably feel the presence of my Lord and Saviour. I lay down on the floor and listen and wait. With my eyes closed I begin to feel myself respond.

In my minds eye I can see myself kneeling at the feet of Jesus, gripping his ankles with tears spilling down my face and onto his feet. I’m rocking back and forth, wailing in confession, when a sudden awareness of his love consumes me. I can feel it. And while I rock there telling him of all my wrong and bad, I can sense his acceptance and delight in me. Like he doesn’t see it or he doesn’t care. 

How can he love a wretch like me, I think; a broken, hysterical, mess of a woman like me?! Somehow he loves me and even delights in me regardless. But how and why? I cry in overwhelm now at the love and beauty amidst the ugly and hard. 

Then I see him get low.

He bends down, sits on his heels and facing each other, he throws his arms around me and embraces me in my snotty nose mess. He softly shushes me and tells me it’s ok and together we rock in unison of my wails.

He grabs my shoulders and with my arms pinned to my side, I see him stand me up and walk me to a stage in front of a large ground. He begins to tell the crowd that this here is his beloved, his chosen one, the women he loves completely. This is the woman he wants to spend eternity with in marriage.

The crowd stares in confusion at why such a man would choose a wreck like me. My wails get louder. I can hardly breath I’m crying so hard and I’m gasping for breath.

How? How I think to myself… why would you love this putrid mess? And to choose me? 

In this moment I’m completely undone. Physically and emotionally, I’m undone by this love. And then it hits me, from my head down to my heart: He’s not going anywhere and he’s dead serious.

Jesus loves this mess of a women; this makeup-less, snotty nosed and balling like a baby mess and he’ll continue to choose me and pursue me for the rest of my life. And he’ll keep telling me and showing me until I believe him. Until there’s no shadow of doubt left as to his devotion.

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Photo Credit: Dragonflight Photography

I see my body fall to the ground, completely wrecked my his love and unable to stand any longer – a surrender – a death of sorts. Jesus falls to the ground beside me and puts his hands on my chest.

I see him lay me down and cut horizontally from my chest down to my pubic none. He opens me up and reaches his hands inside me. He cups my heart with his hand I see His love start flowing inside me.

I’m physically gasping out loud now and my physical chest is beating and rising heavily. Something inside me is changing. I sense it’s my heart physically receiving his love. 

He stitches me back up like a surgeon and then runs his finger along the cut. It’s heals instantly and in my minds eye, I see a scar form in its place. I think of my C-Section scar and how the greatest things of love in my life have required surgery.

….Like how something inside me changed and a love I’d never experienced was birthed after having my daughter. My physical body now wears that scar proudly and I sense the same happening here.

God is changing me internally and in receiving his love, a new love is being birthed now; a love that like the love for my daughter, will forever change me.

There will be no going back. I will be made new by this love. 

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Photo Credit: Dragonflight Photography

In my own resurrection, I now see myself rising to heaven; my soul ascending, Jesus lifting it below me.

The sky is moving around me and suddenly I see myself standing in the throne room before God, Jesus presenting me to his father.

“This is my chosen- my beloved- my bride.” I hear him say. “And I want to marry her.”

Now the throne room turns into a wedding and like the infamous first dance, I’m dancing with my Saviour – my now husband.

At first my feet are perched on his and he’s carrying me, swaying me to the music. My head is nestled in the book of his neck and every so often he kisses my forehead.

The music changes and as the pace picks up, I’m realize I’m now dancing on my own two feet. I’m laughing while together Jesus and I twirl and dance before God the Father and a crowd of heavenly witnesses.

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Photo Credit: Ameris

Suddenly I see us lying in bed and the scene turns deeply intimate. Like a bridegroom and his beloved on their first night as man and wife. I witness in my minds eye a joining of two becoming one. And when it’s over, I’m exhausted, lying in a lovers coma. 

Somehow my heart knows what’s just happened:

Jesus has taken me as his own.  

Not just spiritually through my decision to follow Christ…

Not just emotionally in my learning to pray and share my heart with him unashamed…

But physically.

We are now united fully as one.

He mine and me his. 

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Photo Credit: Ameris

“And nothing will ever change that.” I utter out loud.

My flesh – my body – has been redeemed.  God has given me a gift in this vision; this meditative prayer of sorts.

When my mind doubts his love, my heart and body will now remember. I’ll be forever stamped, unable to doubt his love for me. 

And if Jesus loves me this much, I must begin to love me too- fully, wholly, relentlessly- including my body.

 

 

Finding Community I Never Knew Existed

We sat last night just four- three souls and mine- gathered in my tiny living room with candles burning and the lights down low. With music wafting and the sounds of our hearts echoing between each other.

Just four, like we used to be back when it all began three years ago. Back when I opened my door for the very first time, obediently, but not without apprehension.

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Like Abraham, God was calling me to go to a foreign land, to embrace people I didn’t know. People who were very different from me and likely, I never would have chosen for myself.

And yet, there we gathered; four women, all together unlikely as friends but bound by one common thread: a wrestling, a stirring, a longing for more…. For more of Jesus, to know that God was real and to encounter him. We wanted to be transformed by Him.

I’m no pastor, Im no theologian. Heck, I have not a stitch of formal training! But what I did have, and still do, is a heart that follows hard after God and clings passionately to Jesus.

It was enough then and it is enough now.

…Now, as we continue to gather each week as eight, grown from our original four. Some have gone, while others took their place. One had stuck with us the whole way through.

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And while there is so much that could be said for what’s happened in these past three years, I always come back to this:

God is in this, He is with us and His presence shows up each week to meet us … to change us.. to wreck us with his love.

On more than one occasion, we’ve had ladies who have grown up in church confess that they weren’t really “christians” until they came to this group. We’ve had others who refused to put a title to their faith come slowly and sweetly into surrender, now claiming Jesus as their own. We’ve had ladies who do not share our faith come, long to find community.

And here, gathered on my floor, wrapped in blankets on my couch, we’ve all found home for our weary, longing souls.

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I never knew community until I started this group. I never knew sisterly love until these women wrecked my walls….

The walls I used to build to keep people out and show them only what I wanted them to see. The walls that made me feel safe and yet at the same time, all together lonely. The walls that beckoned, “Don’t come in! If you saw what’s inside here you’d never love me and stay.” The walls that eventually formed a prison and locked me away from love, belonging and connection.

But God has done something in this group – in this space when he shows up: He’s given us zero tolerance for surface talk and a hunger for things of the deep.

The things way, way below the surface that rarely ever see the light of day; the thoughts, the fears, the wrestlings we’d rather push away and deny. It’s these things He calls to the surface, week after week after week. And while it’s scary, we discover something afresh each time: love, acceptance and empathy for who we are, whatever we are, exactly where we are in that moment.

No need to fix. No need to blame. No need to Judge one another away.

Only love.

A love that binds us together and builds each other up in Christ. A love that sees beyond the circumstance, beyond our weak and frail limitations. A love that sees past our mistakes and looks fiercely into the eyes of one made right before God. A love that calls each other up, rather than calling each other out-  although theres been a healthy dose of that too, in our midst. And yet, even that, has been a sweet and loving call to action.

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Because here, we are safe. Here we are known. Here we can trust each other with our hearts; every messy, broken, insecure fibre of our beings. And together, we grab hands in seeking Jesus, the only one who can save us, heal us, and transform us.

And oh, that he has done 100 fold. Time and again. In every life that shows up in this home.

Not because of me- it has nothing to do with me- and everything to do with Him.

—//

 

So if you’re longing for community – real community – the kind that grabs hands and sings “cumbiyah” – here you’ll find it. If you long to know Jesus and trust that God is real – here you will discover Him. If you long to love you and embrace yourself freely – here you will find and meet her.

Because whatever it is God knows your longing and it’s his greatest delight to meet it.

Thank you girls, for loving me relentlessly as I’ve fumbled my way through leading you. Thank you Jesus for teaching me grace and humility that’s led me home and to your heart. Thank you God for trusting me and using this broken vessel to bring forth water – water that never runs dry – to be poured out among your children. May your will be done on earth through this life and this group, as it is in Heaven.

Happy 3rd Anniversary, Seeking Grace Small Group! 

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When you need a reminder that prayer works and how best to pray

Line after line I furiously wrote. With a new hunger and passion for the scriptures, my heart beat faster with ever one written.

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“It’s amazing.” I told my husband. ” It’s like I’m reading it with new eyes, as if for the very first time!

…. the very longings of my heart – the things I can’t put words to half the time-  right there for me to read and pray back to him!

And the amazing thing is, it tells me right here that He watches over his word to perform it! That when I pray according to his will,  I can consider it heard and done. Answered now, already and in advance!!”

I am alert and active, watching over My word to perform it. ~ Jeremiah 1:12

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him. ~ 1 John 5:14-15

This isn’t new to me, friend. In truth, I’ve heard those very statement umpteen times before but like a fresh revelation, they’ve finally entered my heart.

Their truth has moved from my head to my heart, where true knowledge and wisdom are learnt and housed; and ultimately lived out of.

For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. ~ Luke 6:45

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. ~ Matthew 6:21

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.~ Proverbs 23:7

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Not the first time, I’ve been reading “The Power of a Praying Parent.” Chapter after chapter I’m convinced again of the saving, healing power of prayer.

How prayer is the greatest gift, aside from love, that we can offer our children.

Prayers for love, faith, friendship, purpose, even protection… The one I wrote out and prayed this morning: Psalm 91.

Say this: “God, you’re my refuge.
    I trust in you and I’m safe!”
That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps,
    shields you from deadly hazards.
His huge outstretched arms protect you—
    under them you’re perfectly safe;
    his arms fend off all harm.
Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night,
    not flying arrows in the day,
Not disease that prowls through the darkness,
    not disaster that erupts at high noon.
Even though others succumb all around,
    drop like flies right and left,
    no harm will even graze you.
You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance,
    watch the wicked turn into corpses.
Yes, because God’s your refuge. 

As we walked the trails with friends, I had no idea a lesson was coming; that God would show me just how powerful my prayers really are. And he did in a simple yet profound way.

As the kids frolicked and played, they found their way to a cut-out patch of forest. They stomped and jumped and gigged and laughed.

Until she screamed….

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My girlfriend’s three year old daughter.

A deafening scream that radiated every cell of my being.

We quickly discovered she was stung by a bee and my daughter was still tromping in the area! So caught up in the moment, it took me minutes to pull her out….

and that’s when I saw it; the bee swarming her.

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As we walked home, I couldn’t help but utter thank you’s that she hadn’t been stung also. But it wasn’t until later that I realized the truth.

God had protected her.

It could just have easily been her! She should have been stung too! And yet she wasn’t….

She played in the same area, doing the same things, even stomping around minutes after, while the bee continued to circle her.

But God had protected her, a direct answer to my morning prayer for protection.

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–//

If you haven’t yet read through Stormie Omartian’s “Power of a Praying Wife/Husband/Parent/Woman/Marriage” series, check them out! They take the guesswork out of prayer. If you want to save the cash or prefer to write out your own prayers, just open up The Psalms! 

–//

I do not believe God caused the bee sting to teach me a lesson. I believe he used the situation and brought good out of it.

I say this because in my own faith journey, God’s role in pain and suffering has been a deep and hard wrestle. And it’s taken me a long time to come to a place of peace and confidence in my stance. I want to be sensitive to those who are wrestling with this themselves. I empathize with you and understand. Press on, friend. God will reveal his heart when you seek answers from him directly. 

When you feel scared and you wanna run anywhere but here

We were a mere 24 hours into our trip before the text came in.

“He’s gone.”

…..and then the phone calls one after the other, after the other.

Having left my phone at home to charge, I’d missed ever last one of them.

I was two hours too late. 

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I called him back. “What do you mean he’s gone?! What happened?”

“We were out walking and things were going great! He was off leash for over an hour and then suddenly, he took off… And he was gone.

He ran across the highway and before I could do anything he disappeared. I have no idea where he is! I’m so sorry!”

We had left our city dwelling labradooddle with extended family and while they loved dogs dearly, he didn’t know them too well.

I had told myself countless times he’d be fine, but to be quite honest, I had my suspicions. 

Our dog Guinness was abused and neglected as a pup, and when we got him, his behaviour was nothing short of timid, skittish and afraid. It took us months to get him to come out from behind our feet and even longer to mingle with other people or dogs. But with persistence and a patience love, Guinness transformed into the worlds best dog.

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He was so loyal and well behaved and never did he need a leash. I could leave him outside a store to roam while I picked up groceries. The idea of running away did not allure him because he’d found home and a love he could trust. 

That is until we dropped him off, reminiscent of the times before he’s been neglected and given up by former owners. He knew he was far from home, that we were gone and and he didn’t recognize his new caretakers. And he spooked. 

Not knowing the whole story- that we were only gone a few days and would return to pick him up- he got scared and ran for his life. Except that where he ran was so much worse.

… onto the highway, into the mountains and far off the beaten path! He was out of our will and so far from our plans for him- our plans to protect him and to love him; plans for his good! 

Hours later in the pitch black some family picked him. He was just sitting there exhausted, they said, on the side of the highway, like he’d given up hope all together.

“If we hadn’t stopped, he would never have made it through the night! It’s bear and cougar country on that mountain pass!”

A cuddly, scared, suburban pup; certainly he wouldn’t have made it home… If it wasn’t for that family!

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In his love and mercy, God gave Guinness [our dog] a way out of his own foolishness, and led him back to the safety of our arms. But it wasn’t without a long detour- a 6 hour car ride and an overnight stay in a land and with people he didn’t know; all the while, leashed and restrained – something he wasn’t used to even on his worse days!

And while I sat there shaking my head, I couldn’t help but think of myself;  that I too- perhaps you- have done the very same thing, time and again. 

While I know God loves me and he’ll never forsake me, I don’t always trust his plan. Because let’s be honest, a lot of the time, I can’t quite figure it out! 

In my limited understanding, my fear and my discomfort, I spook and run…. to anywhere but here!

….running in an attempt to take back “control” of my life.

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Like Guinness, when I run from the centre of Gods will, I run head on into the wilderness ; to territory that’s far more dangerous and unknown then where I was!

And yet, the same way God rescued Guinness, our Father rescues us.

Ever faithful in his pursuit of bringing us home, he relentlessly chases after us regardless of where we’ve run. And sure, it’s not alway painless coming home – coming back to the centre of God will and his path for us – and it may require we take the long way home and spend some time in places were uncomfortable…

But eventually we’ll get back. 

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The same way we were coming for Guinness but our return took shy of 12 hours, so too does our walk with God require us to be patient and to trust that he’s working to get us- to save us, to heal us, to change us and our circumstances- even when we can’t see it or feel it. 

Because regardless of the effort and inconvenience we’ve caused God, in spite of our naivety and our tendency to wander,  he always welcomes us home with open arms and a grateful heart…. the same way we welcomed Guinness home.

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He does not look at us disapprovingly, shaming us for our behaviour. He does not question how, after all this time and after all the ways He’s loved us, we’d could still doubt him. He does not get angry at us out of sheer frustration of the inconveniences we’ve caused him. And He doesn’t give up on us, leaving us to fend for ourselves with the bears. 

He cradles us in his arms and rocks us like a baby, for as long as it takes for us to trust again, knowing in our heart that we are indeed safe and loved, unconditionally.

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