When you’re weary from trying and you know it’s far from over

For two years, God has given me the same passage to hold onto:

Don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new… It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.- Isaiah 43:18

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In 2016, He gave me the word “trust”, to go along with it.

In 2017, he gave me the word “abide.”

a·bide: stand up against, put up with, endure, tolerate, endure

I knew almost immediately, what He meant- what God was asking of me this year: to remain in the struggle, to be constant without change in my circumstance, to stay in the tension (without running, without quitting, without demanding solutions or insisting things be black and white, all or nothing.)

These words- the single words God gives me each year- are like a theme. An overarching plan or purpose for the unfolding 12 months. They’re God’s focus for my life and my heart, should I choose to trust him and obey.

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If you could see my last two years, you’d call it ridiculous-  uncanny, the way these words have thread the 365 days they title;  a bullseye to nearly every lesson and circumstance that follows…

almost as if God knew what He was talking about and was orchestrating the details of my days, right down to the final letter. 😉 

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Truth is, both years have been difficult- the most difficult of my life. And that’s an understatement!

Without Jesus, they would have killed me or at least, made me a mean, pessimistic, cold-hearted woman. Like the world and God owed me- big time, because of what I’d endured. Instead, they’ve remade me, through surrender and refined me in ways I can’t quite articulate in brief.

My suffering has made me better

more compassionate and less judgemental, more patient and less frantic, more tender and less tough, more present and less busy, more confident and less doubtful, primarily in trust of God and His goodness.

Call it trite, but suffering has been the means to moulding and shaping me into the women He created me to be- the woman I need to be, to fulfill my purpose on this earth.

And for that reason, I’ve now count grief and suffering as gift.

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Before you romanticize any notions of what that looks like, let me be frank:

I’ve battled this out on the front lines, hung in there by my teeth and nails. I’ve kicked, screamed and wrestled my way through- physically and emotionally. These two years have been the fight of my life!

What once came easy in other seasons, has become my battleground to claim. And I’m weary.

I feel tired, beaten up and defeated- depression looming on the sidelines, as if to mock me with my former joyful self.

The girl who preaches joy, fighting for every moment of it- who preaches unconditional love, still striving to earn it- who preaches faith, fighting to hold on to hope.

Behind the pretty posture, I feel ugly- my heart heavy and full of darkness. I feel like a fraud.

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There I am on resurrection Sunday (Easter)- the day Christ rose from the grave and defeated death, claiming victory over sin and darkness- and I’d rather stay at saturday thanks! I want to scream in frustration, remain in the dark and hang around the empty tomb weeping.

So, instead of singing, I remained silent- I resented the happy clappyness of Sunday! But why?! I beat myself up, asking…

Like Jesus’ friends on Holy Saturday- the day after his crucifixion- I wanted to sit at the tomb and wail in grief over a dead body… all the dead things in my life. I wanted to question why they were, despite being foretold they’d happen. Like them, I was wrestling for hope, trying to hold fast to Christ’s prophecy-His promise to rise again on the third day. Because my circumstances scream otherwise, just like Jesus’ did!

On Saturday, friends of Jesus waited in darkness. On Saturday they wrestled their emotions. On Saturday they fought to maintain hope.

And friend, that there, is me.

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In church, I begged God to grab me and pull me out of my pit- I was too tired to help myself and quite frankly, I didn’t want to. I needed hope fast.

Back home, I grabbed my phone – an attempt to numb myself; a fact I’m far too acutely aware of. Why, oh why, must I recognize every nuance and defence I use to try and outrun the heaviness, dull the emotions or taste temporary happiness?!

It’s fleeting and I know this– it doesn’t fill my void. Only God can. But today, I don’t care.

I succumb and silently pray that Jesus would do it with me– that he’d show up in the midst of my mindless scrolling.

And he did.

Some things died this year – Friday. Friday requires faith. Then there was the waiting, the uncertainty, the messy middle- Saturday. Saturday requires hope. Then beautiful new things were born – Sunday. Sunday requires nothing but love. Faith, hope, love. First the pain. Then the waiting. Then the rising.

There is no glory but straight through our story.
There is no resurrection without the crucifixion. – Glennon Doyle Melton

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Like lighting, it shocked my heart back to reality- my reality in Jesus and the promise he’s given me over and over and over again- every time I’ve asked him to remind me.

You see, 2016 was a crucifixion- a dying to my life, my marriage, my pride and my expectations.

It was the first time I fully surrendered to God. I stopped trying and gave up entirely. I threw my hands in the air and said, “I give up!” In waving my white flag, I finally gave Him control.

God had to show up, because I was done saving myself – and everyone else, for that matter!

I learnt trust and through it, cultivated faith with roots down deep- faith build on a solid foundation, unshakable in Christ Jesus.

2016 was my friday; a death that required faith.

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2017 has been my year of waiting and uncertainty- of wrestling the messy, awkward tension- of holding fast in the in-between. Of not anymore but not quite yet.

2017 has been my Saturday. The dark tomb of waiting.

As much as I hate to admit it, it’s cultivating in me hope- an unwavering hope, grounded in his promises. The one He’s given me, two years in a row, that he’s doing a BRAND NEW thing, building rivers in the badlands- Don’t I see it?! (no, FYI: I don’t see it yet!.. okay, maybe a little.)

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Do you see what this means, friend?!

My sunday is coming and so is yours!

This hard and heavy season comes with purpose. It too, is part of the process- part of His plan.

It isn’t a result of anything I’ve done or failed to do- it’s not another thing I need to fix or “heal my way out of.” I can let go and stop trying to make it what it’s not-  stop striving to fix my heavy heart and just trust God. Not my circumstances, or even myself, but GOD!!!

What has come to me, has come through God. This darkness is God appointed and it comes with great intent!

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It also means my heart is still living in Saturday…. There’s a reason I want to stay there and honour it.

I’m all in it- fully immersed in Saturday, sitting by my tomb waiting, grieving and wrestling-  all while fighting for hope.

And that’s very much ok. In fact: it’s necessary.

Because in order to experience the joy of resurrection, we must first grieve the death.

Both are an act of worship and surrender. Both an act of trust and faith. Because our hope isn’t in the tomb, but in The One who raises from it.

And He too, shall raise us to new life!

Our sunday is coming….

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Wherever you’re at this Easter season- a painful Friday of death, a dark Saturday of waiting or a victorious Sunday of new life- be all in it, friend! God will honour and accept your worship, however it looks. He sees you and He’s proud of you- you’re exactly where you’re suppose to be…This season comes with purpose.

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When you’re defeated and desperately want to quit

 

I took this photo going into my counsellors office last year.

I felt hopeless and desperately wanted to give up and call it quits. I thought things would never change. Settling felt easier.

Then I walked in and settled on the couch.

In her own words, She said something like this- and friend, it changed everything…

Courage isn’t found in comfort, strength isn’t build in easy places. Both are cultivated in messy, hard soil, which if you persevere, become holy ground: anointed and set apart with purpose and great intent.

They lead us to transformation.

Don’t give up.

Don’t short change yourself because it feels easier.

Push through.

New life is waiting on the other side.

I decided right then and there, that whatever had come to me, had to go through God.

And therefor, it came FOR GOOD.

And I don’t say that lightly- I say that from the most suckered punched part of my heart-made-whole.

What the enemy meant for evil, God used for good: to bring a newness of life and transformation, I never could have imagined– or seen then! It would take months, until I caught a glimpse.

But for the time being, her words were a gift of hope – what I needed to carry on and push through to the other side.

Today, they’re my gift to you.

Carry on, Warrior.

#justkeepswimming #thedifferenceayearmakes #littlebylittle #newlifeiscoming

New Name, Old Problem | Hope in depression

I discovered an old blog post of mine from 4 years ago.

Yet as I read my words, I could have sworn I wrote them today!

Identical- my emotions are identical! Every t crossed and period placed – the same emotional battlefield, just four years apart.

This baffles me for two reasons:

  1. Maybe I’ve always struggled with minor depression and didn’t know it.

  2. I’m starting to see a pattern to how God works in my life – a rhythm to the seasons and struggles.

This isn’t the first time I’ve stumbled on old posts of mine, that speak directly to my current circumstance…

So messy, I am! Sometimes I resent my own heart… ’cause you know, shaming myself always works!

What I need right now is not that- not shame– but grace and acceptance.

Depression has a stigma though, doesn’t it? Few want to touch it.

Which if I’m honest, suddenly makes me feel like something’s wrong with me, when nothing’s changed- I’ve just put a word to a struggle I’ve battled my whole life.

Im no different… but suddenly I’m not ok?

I don’t want to feel like a freak or like there’s something wrong with me! Or like my emotions scare people… That makes me retreat more and withdrawal makes the darkness worse.

I need to stop hiding and actually engage people- be honest about how I’m feeling. Because it’s OK!

Depression is not a scary word: in fact, the vast majority of the world struggles with it.

Statistics show anxiety and depression are the number two disorder in ALL our world right now.

I needed to come to terms with this- that fact that I suffer with depression.

I needed to realize that I’m no different today, than I ever have been! I’ve always been this way – a deep feeler who experiences high, highs and low, lows.

I just have a name for it now.

It’s an opportunity to learn more about myself: understand my heart more, grow compassion and then extend grace to myself. Because I must learn it for myself before I can give it away to others.

… Like how I discovered I was an introvert after YEARS of living like an extrovert!

I’m still learning how to love myself in that one and walk gracefully in my new reality.

Nothing’s changed- I always was an introvert– but I wasn’t living like one (which explained the perpetual cycle of strive/burn out/numbing I found myself in every three months).

So, here I am again, at the crossroads of opportunity – to own who I am and love her relentlessly: a deep feeling introvert, who experiences seasons of depression.

Don’t you know I’m going to learn to love you well, Kailey.

God’s done this before and He’ll do it again!

When you realize you’re in a pit and depression seems plausible

I’m only now, just coming to terms with the probability- that I struggle with depression and could, from time to time. 

It’s entirely circumstantial- emotional stress, without a doubt….

It’s me carrying burdens I’m not meant to carry – things too big and outside of my control. 

Like people’s salvation and the world’s rejection and misconception of Jesus. It’s me thinking it’s my responsibility to save/change/convince people to Christ and manage outcomes. 

It’s yucky pride and me still trying to measure up, to make Jesus proud.

As much as I hate to admit it, this bout of depression is necessary: another layer God needs to shed, in order for me to walk in freedom and know Him deeper.

‘Cause I beat myself up when I see the darkness still inside me- as if on this side of heaven, I can obtain perfection. The lie that because I’ve experienced transformation and freedom and healing in Christ, I should have it all figured out now and no longer require grace or forgiveness. 

The realization of my sin sends me into deep grief.

And it’s that grief, when carried too long, that turns to depression. 

I see the light out of this pit- Jesus has begun to reach down and pull me out. But if I’ve learnt anything so far, it’s this:

It’s time to let Him move the reality of grace, from my head down to my heart. 

 


After writing this post, God led me to a one day silent retreat at home, using the following resource. If you’re feeling down, irritable, angry, weary, or fearful, I’d encourage you to set a day aside to be alone with Jesus. Go somewhere that inspires you or send the kids out for the day… I received the grace I needed- I walked away with quiet joy and peace knowing that this is not another thing I need to “fix” about myself- that God is sovereign over the dark, just as He is the light. He will use every experience, including seasons of depression, for good and glory.

 

Alone with the Lord: A Guide to a Personal Day of PrayerAlone with the Lord: A Guide to a Personal Day of Prayer by Gordon T. Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A powerful, yet easy to use tool for a day of personal reflection, and encountering Christ. I appreciated the prompts and pointers, while still leaving room for personal application and interpretation.

I used this for my very 1st silent retreat- I didn’t know what to expect, really, but I left with joy, peace and clarity. Great resource. Will use it again!

View all my reviews

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 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.

 

 

When you’re ready to love yourself and feel at peace within

As long as parts of your heart are at war with one another, the peace you long for will remain beyond your reach. As long as you despise your negative emotions, they can never change. As long as you condemn your old wounds, they will never heal. And as long as you stay in denial, you can never uncover truth and be made whole. The only way for your heart to live in unity with God is if you’re also living in unity with yourself. This can happen only if you call in a skilled mediator, Jesus, who sits with all the parts of your heart, both wounded and whole, and begins a safe, truthful, inner conversation in which everything is brought to light and laid out on the table. – Christa Black Gifford | Heart Made Whole 

I closed my eyes and envisioned the scene that I’ve played out countless times this past month…

I imagined myself running at top speed towards a round pool of shimmering gold water. I dove in, singing down deep in the depths of the water. My body was flailing and my eyes were open frantically searching for someone to save me. Suddenly, a strong hand, much larger than my own reaches down and pulls me out of the water into his arms. He hugs me tightly before pulling away to grab my face between his hands. He looks me square in the eyes.

This man is Jesus and his love for me is palpable; like a love sick bridegroom, who just saved his blushing bride.

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Together kneeling, he motions for me to look down at a heart. I know it’s my heart and he encourages me to talk to it.

I ask my emotional heart how she’s doing and before me appears a young girl, maybe 8. She’s sitting crossed legged with her head hung low and she’s picking at the grass to make a floral crown.

“I’m doing fine,” she says. “Much better actually. I’m grateful that you’re finally listening to me and you’re not yelling at me all the time, telling me I’m weak and stupid. I feel hopeful again and I know that in time, I won’t feel sad or angry about the past anymore. But I’m content with where I’m at and I feel a still, quiet joy stirring inside me. I’ll return to my bubbly, outgoing self again soon. But I still need a bit more time. Please be patient with me. I’m not trying to be a burden.

I told her there was no rush and that she could take all the time in the world to fully heal. I reminded her it’s been a long 28 years getting here and there are a whole slew more days ahead of us to move on. I wanted her to be at her best before we continue on in our life’s journey. I told her I love her dearly, even though I’ve been terrible at showing it up until now but I would spend the rest of my life trying to love her well. I grabbed her and pulled her close in a big family bear hug with Jesus. Together, we plastered her with kisses and she giggled sweetly.  And for the first time, I knew she truly believed she was loved and adored.

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I then asked my Guardian heart how he was doing. [Yes he, because truth is, I identify with masculine tendencies when it comes to my guardian and functional heart.] He looked confused and while his armour was still on, the straps weren’t done up and his sword and shield were dangling by his side.

“I’m so confused” he said. “I have no idea who I’m supposed to be battling right now or and what I’m suppose to protect you from. First, I thought our enemy was Emotional heart, but then you told me to leave her alone. Then I thought It was God, but he too, you told me I could trust. Finally, I thought it was your husband and just yesterday, you told me me to bow out of that battle also. So, I don’t know what to do! I feel useless now.”

I told him he wasn’t useless and I reminded him that it was only because of him that I’d been able to start putting up healthy boundaries as of late. It was because of him that I was able to drop the legalism of my faith and embrace fully, my relationship with Jesus. It was because of him that I was beginning to embrace and love myself for who God created me to be.  “Oh…” he said.

I told him I had a new job for him and it was this…

“From now until eternity, this is your life’s greatest mission, my friend. I need you to guard my relationship with Jesus from anything that will disconnected me from him. And I need you to protect my time with the father. ” I pointed to the little girl and continued. “Emotional heart needs ample time with her daddy right now, so guard her time from anything that will take that away from her. This is the best thing you can do for me!”

“Got it.”  He said and his battle stance resumed.

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Finally, I checked in with my functional heart and immediately a smile formed across my face. Standing with his arms cross and a pout fuelled by jealous anger, I immediately recognized an old friend. I knew he was hurt and felt rejected.

With sincerity, I apologized. “I know I haven’t needed you much this last while, Function, but I haven’t forgotten about you. I still need you! So much of who I am and what I’ve accomplished in life is because of you and I’m so grateful for that.

But the truth is, and I say this in the nicest way, you’re kind of bossy and you want to be a lone soldier!

Even if you don’t want to admit it to me, my life is a responsibility you can’t carry all on your own. You’ll eventually get tired when the going gets hard and by the time you realize it, you’ll have lost your greatest allies. You need your tribe!

The only way we’re going to do this life well is if we do this as a team: you, me, emotional heart, guardian heart and Jesus. You’ll lead us, but you must be willing to hear us out and take our advice when making decisions.

If you do that, you’ll have SO much less stress and anxiety as we trek on. You’ll know joy, peace and contentment more, my friend. And when we hit rough spots, you’ll know you’re not alone in the battle! We’re all in it together and we’ll carry each other through.”

He stayed silent but I knew he heard me loud and clear. And he knew I was right.

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“I want you to stop fighting your own team and start embracing each other! Lean on the others and remember that I need each of you to be healthy and whole. Not one of you is more or less important that the other. I love each of you for what you uniquely bring to the table of my heart.”

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Still kneeling, I looked over at Jesus who was watching intently. He smiled at me with pride, hugged me from the side and leaned in to kiss my forehead.

“Atta girl.” He said.

And for the first time in my life, my heart was no longer divided, but united in perfect love.

When I’m with You
I feel the real me finally breaking through
It’s all because of You, Jesus
Anytime, anywhere, any heartache
I’m never too much for You to take
There’s only love
There’s only grace
When I’m with You

Nobody knows me like You do
No need for walls, You see right through
Every hurt, every scar, every secret… You just love me

I’m breathing in
I’m innocent
It’s like my heart’s on fire again
I’m not afraid
I’m not ashamed
I’m safe when I am with You

So I’m here just as I am
Bruised or broken
I don’t have to pretend

-When I’m with You | Citizens Way 

____________________

 

To learn more about the different parts of your heart, their unique functions in your life and emotional health, pick up the newly launched book, Heart Made Whole

I had the absolutely pleasure of working through the book as part of the launch team and I cannot say enough about my experience! Seriously, friend, it’s a MUST read!

It’s raw, powerful and transformational; like the most authentic and vulnerable counselling session where you trust the person sitting in front of you knows your pain intimately, can sit with you without judging or blaming and sees the person you are destined to become. You’ll not only crave healing and freedom like never before, you’ll know it’s possible not only for yourself but for everyone else you know and love.

Its helped me with anger, letting go, trust and even expectations. I’ve forgiven God and even myself for so many things I’ve been mad about for years! And let me tell you, never ever before have I begun to truly love and embrace who I am – messy, imperfect parts and all , with such freedom and without fighting or running from my emotions.

 

 

When you’re hurting and you feel let down and mad at God

I sat once again on my counsellors sofa. I could feel the emotions bubbling just under the surface but after a week of endless emotional fits before God and nothing to soothe the wounds I’d ripped open, I was reluctant to open the dam again.

I wanted more to numb the excruciating pain from the emotional baggage I keep putting down but somehow keep picking back up.

For seven days, I’d been wrestling God with metaphorical punches and then tender embraces, sharing with him all the ugly unspoken broken I’d been processing. It has taken me two long years of depression, grieving, counselling and the hard work of healing to get here, but I’d finally gotten to the core of my deepest pain: Rejection.

In every significant relationship, whether it was romantic, friendship, familial, business or mentorship, I’ve experienced rejection over and over by the people I most adored and desired connection, depth and intimacy with. The ones I sought passionately to know me and love me from the inside out, have in some form or fashion made me feel cast aside, unwanted, unloved, and ultimately not good enough.

And in the last week, I discovered I was now feeling the exact same way about God!

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1,6, 12, 16, 19, 20, 24 and now again at almost 29, I have experienced deep rejection time and again.

I’ve been unpacking my pain and these experiences of rejection with the help of counselling, The Trauma prayer, Wild and Free, as well as Heart Made Whole and sitting alone for hours on end in prayer and guided mediation with Jesus. I’ve been desperate for comfort and love, but not from anyone, from THE ONE.

I’ve wanted God more than any other time in my life to make himself known in a vary real way to me, as my father, my protector, my comforter, my encourager and my healer.

And yet, I haven’t felt him in any way shape of form in recent weeks.

….like a little girl who has her arms outstretched ready for her daddy to pick her up and comfort her in her sorrow and he won’t.

…..like a love sick teenager who’s just poured her heart out, waiting in desperation for a response to her love song and hears crickets.

…..like a hurting friend who’s deep in a pit and longs for someone to see her, sit with her and embrace her without judgement of her heart or blame.

…..like an unsure and scared college grad who longs to know their potential and needs someone to speak life over them and tell them what they’re made for!

These are the things I’ve wanted desperately- almost pathetically– from my Father, God.

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And yet I’ve felt nothing but crickets.

As I sat on that couch, I poured out my hurt, anger and frustration at God. I begged to know why I’m so desperate for God’s affection, to just be with him and to know his thoughts- the very things he says he wants from me– and yet I feel like he’s refusing me. It’s like I know he’s there but he wont do anything but stare at me in silence!

My counsellor listened with such empathy, giving weight and validity to my hurt and anger. “Thank you!” I lamented. “I feel like a freak most days; like no one understands and I’m supposed to just shut up, stop acting like a child and move on already. Like I’m selfish and wrong for feeling these things!”

“Kailey,” she lovingly protested, “That would never work for you, ever! Hear me when I tell you that if you approach your hurt and relationship with God in that manner, you will never be able to receive and feel God’s love for you! You’ll spend the rest of your life striving for God’s affection and still feel rejected and like you’re not good enough in your last breath.

Because everything about that mentality and approach to hurt makes the little girl in you scream in tantrum protest. That little girl in you has experienced pain in her life and she needs someone- The One- to hear her hurt and validate it! No one else will do;Only her daddy can soothe that.”

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“But I’ve been doing exactly that and I’ve been furiously protesting everything and everyone who’s trying to hit me with the message of “grow up and get over yourself.” And yet he wont answer me! He refuses to meet me where I’m at! WHY!”

“Work with me here.”  she said, as she proceeded to take me through a guided mediation in which I spoke face to face with my father, God.

I told him everything I had just shared with her and more and then I waited for his response.

To my absolute astonishment and surprise, God revealed that he’d been earnestly trying – doing everything in his power to comfort me and speak life over me- but the fact is I can’t hear him or see him because I refuse to. My anger has my “talk to the hand” thrown up high and no matter what he does or try’s to tell me, it will never be good enough until…

I FORGIVE HIM.

WAIT…..WHAT? Forgive God?!?!

No one has ever even hinted towards the idea that God, my father, would seek my forgiveness for the ways I feel he has let me down, he should have protected me and I’ve been hurt!

I literally sat in silence for an extended period. I was dumb founded…and that’s a feat for me.

And like the weight of a million bricks was lifted from my heart, I felt peace and such relief for the first time in weeks. I actually started to laugh!

Me. Little old me. My God would choose to humble himself and submit to my choices – to MY will! Wow. That’s crazy.

Now don’t get me wrong. This isn’t an all together new idea but in some aspects, it’s certainly not a common theme you hear preached or discussed in Christian circles.

When your heart explodes with love for someone, it chooses to give the gift of affection, which is why God gave you a control center deep within your heart that possesses the ability to either choose to love Him or choose to reject Him. Since He created the human heart, giving it the great gift called free will, He gave all of us full jurisdiction over our inner realm, including the ability to say “no” to His love, His will, and His ways.

Let that sink in for a second. You are the only one who will ever be in full control of your own heart—not God. He will never violate the control He gave you. Our good God will always be present and willing to be your Counselor, Helper, Protector, Redeemer, Savior, and the Restorer, but you hold the final say. God offers you unconditional love and eternal relationship, but then gives you the freedom to refuse His gift. – Christa Black Gifford | Heart Made Whole 

Part of relationship is honesty and God has been very gracious and gentle in allowing me to learn he is big enough to take my messy and sometimes ugly emotions; in fact he wants me to bring them to him!

But never ever have I entertained the idea of two way forgiveness in our relationship.

And yet that makes so much sense!

In every relationship I have, forgiveness is required on both ends, including my relationship with my daughter. While she is only 15 months, I have already on countless occasion sought her forgiveness. And I have no disillusions that it’ll stop. As she gets older with convictions and ideas of her own – no doubt many that will differ, contradict and even challenge mine- there will be times where I hurt her, even if I don’t mean to… even if what I do or say is quote on quote “for her good.” 

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Because the thing is, emotions are neither right or wrong. They simply are. And no one can tell me that how I feel isn’t valid, because it’s my heart that’s experiencing life in my unique way; my experiences and my personality help shape that.

So, whether or not we always understand why someone feels the way they do, it is always the loving and kind response to seek to understand, to extend grace and empathy and if applicable, to seek forgiveness. And on the other end, it is always the hope that the recipient will accept the invitation and offer forgiveness in return.

Because forgiveness always reconciles connection in relationship.

Isn’t this Christianity 101?

__________________

Find a quiet place in solitude. Perhaps wait until no one is home or try the bath, the closet or your car. It’s important you have the time and space to invest in this moment without feeling nervous someone will walk in/hear you or could be pulled away suddenly. 

Is there anything in your life that you are mad at God for? Do you feel he’s let you down or hasn’t been what you believe you needed at the time? We may never fully understand why God allows certain things on this earth, but we can trust that God weeps with us in our sorrow, that he hurts when we hurt and that he desires to have your heart fully trusting that he is for you and that he is good. 

Close you eyes and imagine yourself sitting face to face with God. Take all the time you need to connect with how you really feel. Invite Holy Spirit to remind you of the things you’ve been ponding and wrestling with – all the things you’ve imagined asking him or saying to him one day in hope of answers. Share your hurt, your pain, your frustration and your confusion. Don’t hold anything back! Let every emotion rise to the surface and allow it to fully run it’s course. It doesn’t matter what it looks like, how you sound or even if what you say makes sense. Just say it out loud! 

When you’ve let it all out, just rest in silence and wait. Listen for what he has to say to you. Trust that the things that come to you in your mind and heart are God’s response. 

If you can find it somewhere inside of you, offer God your forgiveness and ask him to restore your heart to his. If you can’t just yet, that OK! Ask God to help you want to forgive him and trust in time, you’ll get there. 

When you can’t help but give thanks for the hard stuff

I fell to my knees and weeped. I weeped in gratitude and then in confession and finally in gratitude again.

I weeped for the gift of this season and the things I never realized until now, that it affords me. I weeped for all the ways I’ve squandered it away, even fought it, and finally for the reality that it’s not too late. I haven’t missed it!

It’s taken me 14 months to get here and truth is I’ve pushed back against it all the while – against God. I’ve pushed back in fear of who I would become and what I would discover when all the noise and doing was set aside; what I would hear in the rest and slowness of my new found normal.

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But most of all, I feared what I would come to know when I wasn’t so full of “all knowing” and my plans.

It’s taken me an entire cycle of seasons, becoming a mother, a marathon of healing, giving up everything I’d worked for and grieving major loss and heartache to get here but I wouldn’t change a moment of it… not for anything.

Because it’s in the trials and the hurting that God has shown me who He is and who I am, apart from my plans and my expectations; apart from the reputation I built for myself and the “good work” I want to do; apart from perfect circumstances and comfortable living; apart from being heard, seen and understood by the world – even those closest to me.

There are days I’ve taken more than I can give
And there are choices that I made
That I wouldn’t make again
I’ve had my share of laughter
Of tears and troubled times
This has been the story of my life

You were there when it all came down on me
And I was blinded by my fear
And I struggled to believe
But in those unclear moments
You were the one keeping me strong
This is how my story’s always gone

And this is who You are
More constant than the stars up in the sky
All these years of our lives
I, I look back and I see You
Right now I still do
And I’m always going to

I have won and I have lost
I got it right sometimes
But sometimes I did not
Life’s been a journey
I’ve seen joy
I’ve seen regret
Oh and You have been my God
Through all of it

Colton Dixon | Through all of It

He’s showed me how every hard moment invites me into something greater that he has planned, if I’ll surrender to it.

The cross invites us to see grace where there is pain, resurrection where there is death and that every hard moment leads to new life. – Henri Nouwen | Turn my Mounring into Dancing

He’s taught me the battle’s won in prayer – to pray like I’ve never prayed before- believing in miracles. He’s taught me to face my hard emotions and not run from them or punish myself for feeling them; that it’s ok to not be ok and to admit it. He’s taught me to love people where they’re at, having compassion for their pain and hurting. He’s taught me that true love is the hardest gift to give- the deepest sacrifice- and yet the most rewarding.

He’s taught me being “no one” is so much better than being “someone”, because it affords me the time and space to live fully alive – alive to the people and places right in front of me, investing in those that actually mean something to me.  He’s taught me I can’t love all people but I can the one– the one desperate for recognition of them– the one I hurt when I’m too busy seeking others recognition. He’s taught me true community comes at a cost; a willingness to sit with others in their ugly without fixing it and going when it’s all together inconvenient.

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He’s taught me the transformation power of solitude – of intentional times of silence and justing waiting in his presence. He’s taught me the freedom of accepting I’m not enough and I never will be and that is all together ok because He’s enough for me.

And he’s taught me that nothing I do, no matter how small, is insignificant in the kingdom of God. Whether I’m folding laundry, talking to a stranger, running food to a friend, giving clothes to a mom in need, leading a teeny tiny bible study in my home or writing a few words on a blog that few will ever read – none of it will come back void, if done in gratitude and for His glory alone.

For the first time in my life I don’t want to be someone, I don’t want more and I don’t want to be doing for the sake of doing. And I can’t tell you how freeing that is…

Like the heaviest burden – years of endless striving and trying but always failing – has ceased to exist and in it’s place a lightness and childlike joy I carry in my heart….

Like I’m five again and I believe anything is possible – that I can be anything I want to be without a care for what the world thinks- but in the mean time, I think I’ll just enjoy twirling and running into the arms of the ones I loves.

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When I’m with You
I feel the real me finally breaking through
It’s all because of You, Jesus

It’s like my heart’s on fire again
I’m not afraid
I’m not ashamed
I’m safe when I am with You

So I’m here just as I am
Bruised or broken
I don’t have to pretend

Citizens Way | When I am with You