The new has come, the old has passed away | a NEW creation in Christ Jesus

I stood at the back watching, as 100 twenty somethings waved their hands in the air, jumping up and down with reckless abandon. A wave of emotion overcame me. We sang these words on repeat:

No sin too great, no pain too deep, no shame too real, that His love won’t heal.

In that moment, I knew it was true; not just with my head, but with my heart- I was convinced of it.

And as I cradled the revelation, I remembered God’s words:

Behold I am making ALL things new in you, Kailey-  a BRAND NEW thing. I’m making streams of living water in the badlands.”

Not two months ago, I wrestled for hope on Easter Sunday– I was living in not anymore, but STILL not yet. Waiting. Hoping. Holding fast to faith in what God has promised me, but I still had not seen the fruit of.

Yes, I was changed, but I was not entirely new- I still carried scars on my heart like tattooed reminders of my pain and past. And if those didn’t remind me, shame would – it always does, my mind a constant battlefield.

And yet, here I was fully convinced that these words were true for me, personally: There is no sin of mine too great, no pain too deep, no shame too real, that His love can’t heal.

And like a thunderhold, I heard Him in the recess of my heart:

It is finished.

Then these words fell from my lips, like a prophetic declaration:

The old has gone and the new has come. I am entirely new in Christ Jesus. It is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me.

In that moment I knew:

It was done- all the pain of my past healed, redeemed and made new! God had taken every ounce of hurt- the things that hurt me the most– and used them to recreate me from the inside out.

The things that should have killed me, remade me.

Not a patched up version of my old self, but an entirely new creation in Christ Jesus. I look, sound and act like an entirely different person – because I AM!!

I had just preached for 10 hours over the course of three days, and by golly, that woman WAS NOT THE OLD ME! 

I am no longer a caterpillar in a cocoon, awaiting transfiguration, but a butterfly, emerged and ready to fly.

Friend, you can’t possible understand the gravity of that statement…

I have been living in that cocoon for over two years,  in the darkness, awaiting the day when light would break through. Holding hope when it looked like nothing was happening. Trusting in the process even when it looked and felt like death. When it was uncomfortable, pressing in on me from all sides.

My cocoon was a test of faith and perseverance that matured me and built hope. And here I now stand a new creation.

In my newness, I am leaving behind baggage- the backpack I carried for years, like a penance to pay and protect: insecurity, striving, frantic and tired; the neglect of my soul and body- neither some possession that belongs to the spiritual part of me. I am a whole package, designed to love and be loved in unity- all of them deserving my care, attention and affection. If God can love and accept the whole package, so should I.

I have no notions this journey to flight will be easy – learning to walk out my freedom.

I know there will be days I’ll struggle and revert to old habits or thoughts, but through it all, I will ABIDE.

I will cling to Jesus as I learn to glide with grace.

Because I know who I am now- my identity no longer shaky or built on sand- who the world says I am.

I know who God says I am and that it is my lifebreath and song:

I am a warrior, a princess, a poet and a dancer.

… A warrior battling for myself and others to believe The One we belong to and who he says we are, in Him.

… A princess, beloved bride of the Only One who saves.

… A poet pouring out praises for all he’s done in me.

… A dancer, worshipping through movement- the breath of my body.

I am a writer and a speaker, but also a preacher; my voice is my gift to the world. God has called me to healing and deliverance ministry- something I’ve only just begun to taste.

The Holy Spirit will continue to lead me and guide me to truth that will set me free, so that others can be set free- to be who God created us to be, to walk out our callings, to Know Jesus and make Him known, to live wildly in His love and to love others the same.

Where I once doubted these things, I know them now to be true. Not true in some general, for somebody else sense, but all together true for me- my living reality:

God is able and he is trustworthy.

We can take him at his word.

He is powerful and our authority is found in His word.

Our God is good and he is working EVERYTHING out for our good.

What Satans means for evil, he will use for ultimate good- to show His glory and power- power to save, heal, love and redeem.

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Because you can take the girl out of the goal-setting but not the goal-setting out of the girl, this is what I hope for as I walk out my newness:

  • To leave a legacy of love and service, through simple, ordinary, every acts
  • To have loved Jesus more than anyone and anything else in this world
  • To have fulfilled my calling through faithful obedience, not necessarily quantifiable results
  • To have lived a quiet life, keeping to my business and working with my hands
  • For my daughter to know she is loved unconditionally, by me, her dad and Jesus
  • For the world (more importantly my people) to see Jesus in me, finding that beautiful and attractive.

In one year, this is where I hope to be:

  • To have experienced healing in my physical body, uniting it back to my soul and spirit
  • A simpler life: less stuff, deeper relationships and more time with family, friends and Jesus
  • Dancing again, running and yoga regularly, as well as, meditating
  • My health concerns on the mend with new routines and choices that ease my issues and I enjoy
  • Enjoying food and meal time again; uninspired and unmotivated to cook, a thing of the past
  • Minimal, if no TV
  • A spiritual mentor/group feeding, filling and challenging me
  • Regular church attendance that feels organic, routine and anticipated, not obligatory or a struggle
  • Rest as lifestyle
  • Listening to my body and welcoming what it needs

 

Ps: You can bet I’ve added these to my #powersheets and revised my yearly goals.

Pregnant and filled with worry | My Pregnancy and Birth Story

When I found out I was pregnant I was ecstatic – over joyed to be exact. But shortly after the initial high wore off I become worried, then anxious, then scared and sometimes terrified.

Was I going to miscarry? When should I tell people we’re expecting? How should I do it? What will people think? Is my husband as excited as me? Oh Gosh, what’s life going to look like? 

Am I going to be a good mom? How will I know what to do? Will I ever feel ready or like I have it all together? Wait. What’s going to happen with my work? How will I manage a business and a baby? When do I take mat leave? When do I start getting the house ready?!?!?

And on and on and on and on.

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I felt like the perfect storm of caffeine and adrenaline. And in my worst moments, like a crazy person content to walk down every terrible rabbit trail.

Fear and nerves consumed far too many days.

One of my biggest struggles was the fact that past 12 weeks, I could no longer walk more than a few minutes at a time, let alone run or workout. For a woman who’s struggled with body image issues and disordered eating for most of her life, this was breeding grounds for the devil to taunt me with thoughts of passing on my issues to my baby.

Measuring consistently small in the tummy and the funny looks from others when I told them how far along I was, didn’t help much either.

I battled thoughts of thinking it was my fault and that surely I was doing something wrong. Great… already I’m a bad mother! 

Then come 28 weeks, I woke up to blood. Baby was safe, but from that day forward we’d endure weekly ultrasounds to check on baby’s safety and discover each week something else “was wrong.”

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Did they know what? No. Could they give me anything more than guesses? No. It simply didn’t seem fair.

At 36 weeks, my water broke and we rushed quickly to the hospital. (Because they didn’t know what was wrong, I was advised to come as soon as possible.)

Everything possible raced through my mind and as I quietly clutched to my birthing plan, I had a sneaking suspicious nothing was going to go “just right.”

And boy, was I right. 

Within one hour, they found the root of every problem they’d discovered along the way. And only one small thing had kept them from seeing it… Blood work. They’d never drawn it!

Why? Because they didn’t ask me if I’d had headaches (which I had) or experienced dizzy spells (again, yes. Many times over). But I’m not the doctor and I didn’t think it anything other than dehydration, anxiety or low blood sugar. Go figure. 

[Friends, please take the initiative and tell your doctor every symptom you’re experiencing even if it seems perfectly normal. In pregnancy, even the smallest things can be indicators of something much bigger.]

Again, all I heard was, “my fault.”

We were rushed into critical care, assigned one to one nursing and was informed I had undiagnosed pre-eclampsia. They summoned me to labour in bed and informed me I was allowed no food or water, period, until this nightmare was all over.

 I was at risk of seizures or bleeding out and the baby’s heart rate was rather low. In the nicest and calmest way possible, they shared that they needed to get baby out for both of our safety.

I don’t think at the time I quite understood the severity of my situation and I applaud my medical professionals for that. They did nothing but make me feel safe and secure, when in reality there was much at risk.

They graciously humoured me while I persisted in having a natural delivery until the very last minute. It wasn’t more than mere minutes after receiving my epidural [24 hours in] that they told me my baby was in critical condition and they rushed me in for an emergency C-section. 

I woke up almost 10 hours later, completely drowsy with minimal recollection of anything. I had no idea my daughter was in the NICU and was as fragile as a china doll. And that’s exactly what she looked like.

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While lengthy, she was as petite as could be with no fat to hold her heat [initially she couldn’t be out of an incubator for more than 10 minutes at a time] and features that looked far from human – almost angelic. They insisted there had to be a cause; that while in gestational age she was near-term, her body was not. And so began the gamut of tests to determine yet another “problem” without an answer. 

While our daughter got passed from the NICU to paediatrics, I had my own issues to look after. My pre-eclampsia was’t getting better; ironically worse.

While I see now that it was a gift being in the hospital while my daughter was [as oppose to being discharged and having to drive back each day to be and feed her] at the time it did nothing but feed into my “bad mommy” guilt.

The baby nurses wanted me to be there around the clock to look after and feed my daughter, while my nurses insisted I stay in bed and recover or I’d never make it home to begin mothering. I felt pulled in opposing directions and shamed by the people that were supposed to be helping me.

Don’t get me wrong, my nurses were amazing and diligently advocated for both me and my baby, but I felt crushed by expectations that had me failing before I could begin. 

Are we starting to see a pattern here?

At every turn in my pregnancy and delivery journey there were no answers or rule books to follow. I had zero control and nowhere to place my trust in other than God…

and even that wavered on a minute by minute basis. It looked more akin to half-hearted “Jesus” pleas beneath my breath than anything “holy” or “good Christian like!” I couldn’t remember scripture for the life of me nor could I muster the energy to read my bible. I didn’t want to talk to people, ignoring the 85 text messages from people I love.

One week later, we all left the hospital with strict orders for my [painfully slow] recovery. And despite thinking the worst was behind me, I quickly realized it was only the beginning. From the marathon of labour, I entered the bootcamp of mommy hood, which I affectionately refer to as my “dark days.”

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I see now that my pregnancy was the beginning of a slow unraveling – of learning to surrender control to God one itty bitty step at a time.

And when people ask me how I managed? How I got through it with faith that’s strengthened, I can say only this: 

By the Grace of God. 

Because honestly, I did nothing. 

Sure, I guilted myself into praying. I tried to force myself to read my bible. I used breathing exercising when I was anxious and I tried to get outside everyday. I took lots of social media breaks but the sad truth is, underneath it all, I was still striving; still trying in my own strength to “keep things together” – to save myself! 

It wasn’t until I left the hospital that my faith was truly tested and every thing I knew about being a “good christian woman” shattered in a million pieces.

I went from being someone who studied diligently the bible each day to not opening it for weeks. From a woman who prided herself on prayer, to barely mustering more than single worded pleas. To keeping every sabbath holy and attending church faithfully, to disappearing from congregation until our daughter was six months old. We stopped going to small group and I hid from everyone I knew. I screamed at my husband, pushed him away and wrestled daily with this woman I hardly recognized in the mirror.

I was angry and hopeless and the only place that felt safe was alone with Jesus.

To everyone around me it looked like my world was falling apart but the truth was it was finally falling into place.

Jesus was at work refining me, stripping away the masks that were keeping me from being seen- and seeing him properly!

In those raw and vulnerable weeks of darkness, I sensed God’s presence like never before. I sensed his nearness, his forgiveness, his gentleness and most overwhelmingly, his love for me.

For the first time in my entire life, I was doing absolutely nothing and God was still delighted in me.

…completely unearned and entirely underserved.

And like a light bulb switch suddenly flipped, I believed with unwavering faith, that He actually likes me and thinks highly of me, even when I mess up or do absolutely nothing for him; even when I’m a big fat heap of ugly on the floor, who can’t get her emotional crap together!

When I least deserved his compassion, his mercy and his comfort, He lavished it upon me. He became my friend, my father and my saviour.

God took the chains of religion that I was waving high, broke them, shattered them, and taught me who He really is.

And my head knowledge of faith being about relationship, not religion, became heart knowledge for the vary first time!

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When it comes to changes in my life since Eden-Elle was born, I could seriously write a novel. Nothing looks the same, including my eyes, my heart and even my head. But I can sum it up like this:

Everyones pregnancy journey looks different. Everyones labour and parenting does too. But one thing stays the same:

Motherhood changes us in ways we can’t prepare for.

Our world topples when we hold that baby in our arms and suddenly, our priorities fall into place. Our eyes are opened, unveiled as if for the first time, to what truly matter most in this world.

 

And friend, I believe God will do this for you too.

It does’t matter what your journey looks like, how messy or unsure you feel, lean in to Jesus and he will meet you were you’re at.

 

Photo Credit: Yinger Wong (Maternity), Christine Pineaar (New Born), Wakefield Productions (Final Headshot)

 

Grief Filled Grace

My entrance into motherhood was anything but pretty. It shattered every elegant notion and bliss-filled fantasy that I had held onto in my 9 months of waiting. I don’t know why I was shocked when reality came crashing down… my wedding experience was no different.

This is how God has refined me time and time again; in the shattering of my perfect laid plans that my mess has become my message – where God has humbled me, stripped me raw and taught me grace, compassion and love for others, as well as myself.

I had been praying for the last year that he would heal me from the things that still held me hostage after years of trying everything [in my strength] to fix myself and for the first time in my entire life I believed he would, with every fibre of my being.

And a strange knowing told me motherhood would be the beginning of that journey.

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It started with my pregnancy roller coaster: the inability to control my every changing body, not being able to run or workout past 12 weeks, facing my fear of food to discover it as fuel, and weeks of tests and complications that had no answers. All the while I felt alone, like I didn’t know who to trust or turn to for answers. Was there a right one?!

I was slowly accepting the reality that only God knew. As much as the doctors could tell me one thing, God was ultimately in control of this pregnancy.. of my hearts condition … of my healing journey.

My delivery was point 2 seconds in before my birth plan got ripped to smithereens and as I grieved my loss of control there [like I had any in the first place over this!] God began a work in my heart preparing me for the trauma of what was ahead.

Labour and Delivery

I never dreamed I’ve be hooked up to IV’s, summoned to a bed and without [any] food or drink for nearly 48 hours. I never dreamed I’d hear the words “undiagnosed pre-eclampsia. You might want to call your family. ” or that a weeks recovery in the hospital would be just the beginning; that my daughter would spend that same duration in intensive care, subjected to test after test asking a “why” that still isn’t answered. That I’d blame myself or that this would open the flood gates of grieving the loss of my 6 month old brother when I was 6 years old- a pain I’d never been able to touch.

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I feared every day that my daughter would die. That God would take her from me and I’d be a heap of nothing on the floor forever….

And while anxiety surged hourly panic attacks through my veins and my fear bore witness to a woman unrecognizable to those who love me most, it brought about a vulnerability I’d never dared let anyone see- not my husband, my family or even God. It ushered in conversations I’d played out in my head for years, confessions of anger and frustrations and most beautifully, the asking of forgiveness for the ways I’d judged, blamed and harboured resentment for years- some my entire life.

And it was there, in the midst of my ugly brokeness, that my healing began. That I came to the end of myself and finally took Gods hand admitting defeat. And like a switch, my heart changed and I surrended. Fully surrendered to whatever God has planned for me.

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While I wish I could tell you things got easier from that point on, they didn’t and I’d go on to walk 8 weeks of darkness before the sun would shine again; the anxiety still plagued me, worry was my best friend, tears were my comfort and a quiet numbness kept the Kailey of yesteryear seem far far away. Yet God felt near and more real than ever before. I could feel his arms hug me, his palm cup my face and his whispers sing delight over me.

With every new dawn, I would extend a trembling open palm accepting each day as grace; every messy, unknown part of it.

And slowly but surely, my standing turned into walking and my walk into a run; my murmurs to grumbles, my grumbles to signing and signing to shouts of praise.

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A mere 3 months in, I still go back to that place when all feels hopeless and my weakness seems all consuming in this thing called motherhood. But Im learning what it truly means to lean on God, to know his strength rather than my own and to keep glued my eyes on him while everything else grows gravely dim.

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I’m settling into the passengers seat and for the first time, enjoying the ride.

Down the Narrow Path

Jesus tells us that the path to him is narrow and the gate, small… only a few will find it. [Matt. 7:14]

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And yet on so many days, I fight the hard stuff and want desperately for my life to be comfortable and easy.

…For things to go back to the way they “used to be.”
…For life to magically jump back to a time with less responsibilities and more “freedom.” [Ha! Now that’s a joke, because in the years I’m dreaming of, I was bound by lies of shame, guilt, self hatred and an incessant pursuit of perfectionism that left me feeling unworthy and never good enough]

When I’m fighting the urge to run from my current circumstances, I find myself grasping for things of comfort:

….old TV shows I watched as a child or in an “easier” season of life.  Comfort
….The need to constantly be out and about being entertained or with people.  Distraction
….Feel good books or blogs that make me feel warm and fuzzy inside, like everything is going to be ok.  Peace

All counterfeit. All Worldly. 

And then I slowly start to notice the effects; my prayers become brief and my devotional time routine, like I’m frantic to “get them done” so I can hurry on to something else that’ll make me feel good. “Happy and light” for a moment.

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I run, to all the wrong places and things, seeking the vary things only HE can give me:

  • The strength and courage to keep going, even when I can’t see the light at the end of the season
  • Comfort that allows me to rest in him, right where I am
  • Peace that surpasses all understanding, reason and circumstance
  • Joy, to dance in the midst of the rain, instead of waiting for it to pass
  • Trust, that He knows me, loves me and has a plan for me
  • Surrender, to his will, his plans and his ways

My husband and I knew from the start of 2014 that this year was going to be one of change. Don’t ask us why, but somehow we knew. It seems that for every few years of “coasting,” he throws us a curve ball year of “change.” Or as I like to put it when I’m through the chaos and lessons… Seasons of Growth.

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It’s in these years or seasons that I’ve done the most growing spirtually, personally and professionally. Because what the heart knows, the heart lives and out of the heart the mouth speaks.

And when love, true love, enters your heart, it can’t help but overflow into every area of your life.

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In these hard seasons, I know that’s what He’s teaching me. He’s increasing my capacity to love deeper and to know him more.

But renovations of any kind are never easy, especially renovations of the heart! They might seem fun and exciting in the dreaming stage, but once your knees deep in the mess and chaos, it’s hard to see the end goal or even remember why you wanted to start this crazy project in the first place.

It’s in those moments, where I sit right now, that I’m reaching out and asking him to grab ahold of me. To pull me up on to the ledge of one covered piece of furniture, so I can see from his perspective how things will surely come together.

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Time, patience, hard work, persistence and faith in the process.

I hear him whisper…

The road is narrow and the gate small. But the rewards are perfect and worth it, dear child. Just wait.

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A thousand tiny purposes

No Eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him ~  1 Corinthians 2:9

Just reading this makes my heart start racing and my desire to jump up and down clapping, climb high… or the urge to run through the fields with 1000 balloons take flight. I feel freedom and joy surge through my bones.

I’ve struggled with “letting go” my whole life. The concept of “letting God” was more akin to physical death than a releasing of my grip on my life. I held every minute, every year and every chapter in my minds eye, carefully crafting the next bend, doing everything in my power to prepare, plan and make the transition seamless and easy. From the mundane of running errands, to the grandeur of building “my empire”, I craved perfection and stole the pen from the author of my story.

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But how riduclous! How possibly can the character of a story write the chapters, with the limited view of walking each pages events?  Only can the author know the ending and the reader jump ahead to see whats coming. But the character? She must simply walk, step by step, through unfolding story of her creator.

How marvellous that we have the most exquisite, loving, creative and compassionate author; who so desires to use every line, every page and every chapter of our story for good. There are no meaningless moments, nor can we, as the character, steer our author off course. For he has already dreamt our story and carefully purposed every morsel- from setting the scene, to character development, through to the climax and the happy ending. He is writing a one of a kind masterpiece.

“God is accomplishing a thousand tiny purposes at any given moment around us. There is only so much we can know, but we can leave the stuff we cant know to God and believe he has it all worked out. It may feel quiet some day, possibly even forgotten, but God is moving to work out his plans all around us. What’s our part? To Trust” ~ Jennie Allen Excerpt from Restless

So with gladness and excitment, a keen desire to see my story unfold, I offer up this storybook as a blank canvas and humbly forefit the pen. For I know his plans are more beautiful and his ways more fashioned than this little character could ever muster. I want what he has planned, more than what I could ever create on my own. Why write a simple story, when I could be part of an award winning trilogy?

So I wait with eager expectancy to see him thread this life with purpose…

In every ordinary, simple moment, it will sing of his glory. In every unknown and scary passage, trust will display his power. And every victory and heightened climax will weave the knotted threads, that together create a master tapestry.

This is my life. Crisp white pages in the hands of my storyteller.

Gods will for your life

So often we ask ourselves, “What is Gods will for my life.”
We centre our prayers around this question, we try and determine steps in our personal life and professional careers around it and so often, we use it as a measuring stick for our priorities and investments of time, resources, talents and money.

But in reality, this thinking is rather selfish and completely ignores what the Bible has laid out. God’s will is clearly revealed in his word alongside his promises, which we so willingly cling to, at many times, the omission of his commands.

The first commandment Jesus gave us was to follow Him and he’d make us fishers of men; and before He ascended into heaven, He left us with this: Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy spirit, teaching them to obey his commands. [Matthew 28:19]

You see Gods mission and purposes belong to His people [all people, not just a select few such as the apostles, missionaries, pastors and evangelists. All of us] and are centred on every nation and people group as a whole. It does not belong to one individual or another; we’ve all been commanded the same!

You shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth. Acts 1:8

When we choose to follow Christ and are baptized in His name, we die to our our old selves, publicly declaring that it is no longer us that lives, but Christ in us! [Galatians 2:20] Not only are our minds and emotions transformed but so are our wills. It’s no longer our kingdom come- my dreams, my safety, my career, my comfort, my desires–  but His kingdom come- His purposes, His mission, His Plan, His ways.

Are you ignorant of the fact that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by the baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious [power] of the Father, so we too might [habitually] live and behave in newness of life. Romans 6:34

Wow. If that’s not pointed and clear cut, I’m not sure what is!

God is faithful (reliable, trustworthy, and therefore ever true to His promise, and He can be depended on); by Him you were called into companionship and participation with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:9

Thankfully, we have the privilege of serving a God who loves us and can be trusted with our whole lives- he deserves a blank cheque- our entire lives as a surrendered offering. In him, we forfeit the right to determine the direction of our lives. We don’t choose how we spend our life, where we lives, how we’ll spend our money, or what we give away to whom.

In following him, Jesus determines these things as Lord and Master of our lives.

You were bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own]. So then, honor God andbring glory to Him in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:20

Gods concern is not our comfort, our nice life or our personal success and ambitions. His goal is not to get us from point A to B the quickest  and most comfortable way that sees our comfort zone as priority.  His path is narrow and His ultimate concern is that we know Him intimately and trust Him.

Trusting Him means following him, regardless of where that leads us and not just listening to but acting upon His commands.

Take parts of the Bible while ignoring others in not an option but somehow we’ve made that practice acceptable. We paraphrase the parts that scare scare us, we metaphorize the areas that make us uncomfortable and choose to obey only the parts that “fit us” and our lifestyles;  All the we claim his promises for ourselves, without feeling the need to do what he says in order to have them…  Like demanding toddlers who want candy without eating their dinner or entitled youth, who want their bosses salary without working for it.

In Acts 1, Paul tells Theophilus that what he is about to share is a continuation of all that Jesus had begun- meaning that everything Jesus had done up to that point, was just the beginning of all he planned to accomplish. But then in Chapter 11 Jesus is taken up into the sky. What do we make of that?

We see that Jesus’ life on earth was just the first chapter and the rest of history [between the time he ascends and returns again] will be a continuous unfolding of all he plans to do. So how then can a work which has only began be continued if Jesus has physically gone?

Through people like you and me! The baton has been passed, my friends and what began with the apostles is now in yours and my hands!

How beautiful is it that He chooses to use ordinary, broken and imperfect people to accomplish His will by giving us his Holy Spirit – to dwell in us, leading us, guiding us and helping us?!

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8

We need to understand that Jesus is still at work to advance His kingdom and this is His will for all: to redeem every men and women from every nation, tribe and tongue, by His grace and for his glory. 

And He’s invited us to participate! ….. This is to follow our Jesus.

So when we think the question is, “What’s God will for my life,” the real question is,  “will we obey?!”

A hint of who you might be

Lately, my minds been whirling with new heart discoveries, a shift in my thinking and focus and the realities of feeling a new season of life approaching.

Truth be told, Dave and I have been sensing this change for a bit now- the soft, steady push into a new and unknown stage of life. We feel as if we’ve left the young adult stage and suddenly entered adult-ville. And the reality of the unknown is, it can be scary.

What do I know of Holy

No longer do your decisions affect only tomorrow or the next year. But in their place are ramifications on your future and the future of your one- day children. The decisions we make today, have the potential to guide and shape the course of our lives in very distinct ways.

While in the midst of my busiest season of work, we’ve been given opportunity after opportunity to put our faith to action and lean on God, with full force and might. Resisting temptation. Weeding out the “lesser good options” in an effort to stay focused on what matters most. And most unnerving [for me anyway] is multiple new opportunities – big choices that effect our home life and our professional lives, for potentially the next 10-20 years.

The reality is i’m scared and anxious. We and I alone, have made choices in the past that were not God’s will and without fail, God revealed each time, we’d taken paths not meant for us. We’d gone into territory and ventures, he had not anointed us for. We’ve learnt our lesson and vowed to do everything we can, in trust, prayer and faith, to move only where we feel God is calling us. But here’s the thing… it requires  trust, patience and faith- fulling leaning on God and not our own abilities, foresight and judgement.

God has made is vastly clear,  this year in particular, that even when I think I “get it”, and see what he’s doing, I’m always slightly off course and never see the picture crystal clear. Why? Because his plans are always SO MUCH better than I could ever conjure up on my own- they’re more joyful than I can usually anticipate- and in reality, they most times cause me anxiety as I anticpate all “I need to do” and “is expected of me.”  **Yes. I’m laughing with you at my ridiculous “I got this God” ways!!

See my problem.. I’m still learning to let go.

But the beauty in that reality is that with each finger I lift, and slowly release the grip of my control, I see God more clearly. His glory shines brighter and His power magnifies.

Yesterday, the words of a song I’ve listened to a million times, pierced my heart as if I heard them for the very first time…

I made You promises a thousand times
I tried to hear from Heaven, But I talked the whole time
I think I made You too small. I never feared You at all!
If You touched my face would I know You? Looked into my eyes could I behold You?

I guess I thought that I had figured You out
I knew all the stories and I learned to talk about How You were mighty to save
Those were only empty words on a page

Then I caught a glimpse of who You might be
The slightest hint of You brought me down to my knees

-Addison Road | What do I know of Holy

And before I knew it, I was drowning in tears of repentance for my self-reliance, yet again. For putting him in a Box and thinking his ways were not mysterious. For thinking my relationship was alright when half the time I talk WAY TOO much and then run off to “do another thing or make a decision!” I must be getting close to the “end of myself,” no?!

I have far from discovered what it truly means to fear you, my father. But I will not focus on where I need to go, but rejoice in how far I’ve come, because of you and your patient refining.  You will surely complete the work you have started, in me….

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PS: To remind  us how good, merciful and trustworthy our God is, Dave and I started a thanksgiving cup.  Each time God answers our prayers, whether it’s little or big, we write it down and full the cup. In times of doubt, uncertainty and overwhelm, we can come back and see just how much God loves us and cares around every little thing that concerns us! Nothing is too big or too small to bring to God.

“You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. ” Psalm 23:5

Afflict the Comfortable

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I’ve been reading  Jen Hatmaker‘s 7: an experimental mutiny against excess. And to say it’s moved me, would be lie. Because “moved” is a far cry from the gnawing, unsettling and somewhat disturbing feeling I’m left with each time I open and close a chapter. It only intensifies as I read on.

“7 is the true story of how Jen (along with her husband and her children to varying degrees) took seven months, identified seven areas of excess, and made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence.

Food. Clothes. Spending. Media. Possessions. Waste. Stress. They would spend thirty days on each topic, boiling it down to the number seven. Only eat seven foods, wear seven articles of clothing, and spend money in seven places. Eliminate use of seven media types, give away seven things each day for one month, adopt seven green habits, and observe “seven sacred pauses.” 

You see, I’ve come a long way from the Chanel wearing, compulsive shopping, dining out every night girl that I once was. I moved from the big city to a small ocean village and adjusted by hobbies from wining, shopping and dining to running, reading and cooking [at home]. We reigned in our spending [thanks to the life changing ways of Financial Peace University] and learned to live within our means. We tithe. we donate. We contribute to outreach ministry groups within our church and are vocal about our faith in every facet of our lives, both personally and professional. To be frank, I thought we were doing well… heck, dare I say it, “our part!”

But as I’ve turned the pages and resonated with the “Jen of 10 years ago,” as she puts it, I’ve shuttered… that Jen , [paraphrased] “drove around nice neighbourhoods coveting the perfectly manicured landscaping,  four car garages and beautifully groomed owners – labelled neighbours as “messy and irresponsible” rather than “widow in distress,”- had to be awesome and hated to be ordinary- failed to forget that God is the ONLY authority- despised defeat and struggled to admit she didn’t know everything- saw value in influence and reputation more than breaking bread with the homeless and giving away the shoes off her feet.”….. and the list goes on.

Ouch. Thats me. 

Oh dear Lord, forgive me. I have so, so far to go….

 

“Comfort the afflicted. Afflict the comfortable.”

 

My husband’s been wanting to get this saying tattooed on his arm for a while. I was so proud of him when he told me his desire to do this. I imagined my Jesus loving husband challenging complacent Christians to grow up in their faith and start making Jesus known in their areas of influence, both in word and deed. [A side note here: Dave and I struggle with understanding how people can keep their love of Jesus and their faith to themselves, if they truly understand destiny’s are at stake and genuinely want to see their friends and loved ones joyful and “found” rather than running the rat race of life lost in a shuffle of “be more. do more. acquire more!” ] Then on the flip side, I imagined him [Dave, my husband] with his arms stretch around a brother, desperately struggling to find hope, purpose and “the answer” to his EVERY question and struggle.

But if I’m honest with myself, [and you, like God calls me to admit my sins to my brothers and sisters] I would divulge that I really didn’t see myself in this equation or the quote pertaining to me. I neither saw myself as afflicted, nor would I dare to admit comfortable… that was until I started reading 7.

Which brings me full circle to the gnawing, unsettled and somewhat disturbing feeling challenging me in ways I’m not quite clear of yet. But what I am certain of is change- action on the part of this “over consuming, abundant living, Christian in box, on top the hill looking down. ”

“So, what’s the payoff from living a deeply reduced life? It’s the discovery of a greatly increased God—a call toward Christ-like simplicity and generosity that transcends social experiment to become a radically better existence.”

Lord lead me to action. Help me to change. Give me what I need  to live a deeply reduced life and to do it with joy. I want more of you and less of me…. and all my stuff!

 

Made to Crave

We desire desperately to hear from Jesus. We want to mature as passionate Christian women and seek him whole heartedly. We want to FEEL him-  his presence in our lives. So, We pray diligently that he would create a hunger in us – an unwavering flame of enthusiasm for his word and to be in close relationship with him. Because it’s in this place that we feel most alive and on fire with true propose and intent for our life. Can I get an Amen?!
Our prayers are fervent, heartfelt and sometimes loud [I tend to have a personal flair for the dramatic from time to time], but when our prayers come back “unanswered” and we lack the “God luster ” we were hoping for, we fall frustrated to our knees kicking and screaming…..
“Why God!? I want to experience you like never before. I’m ready!”

But to experience something we’ve never felt before [even if it’s simply an intensity we’ve yet to reach], we must do what we’ve never yet done! We fail, many times to see, that we ourselves are usually the problem.

In order to see God, hear him and experience him deeper, we must seek him like never before- with everything we’ve got and every desire we own. But as in most worthwhile pursuits, to seek something diligently, with gazelle intensity, passion and focus, we must first hunger for it, deny it and eventually crave it. And until we crave it, to the point where everything else ceases to exist before it, we won’t pursue it with everything we’ve got.

Faith Size of Mustard Seed
Think about it: You’re on a new health kick, perhaps a diet or new fitness regime. You’ve planned to kick the sugar cravings square in the noggin and work out 3x a week consistently. Day one you’re golden. You’ve got this and you’re determined. Day two you wake with enthusiasm but by 8pm, you’re willing bed to come, if only to kill the hunger pains. Day three brings with it struggle; you’re enthusiasm is wavering and you’re starting to feel bored with the cheesless, sauceless variation of salad you’re munching. Not to mention your butt and thighs are killing and you’ve discovered muscles you didn’t know you had, again! Then thursday roles around and you’re downright soar, frustrated , cranky and feeling deprived.
You think, “well I’ve been good for three whole days and I’m already feeling better! A little rest will do my body good. I’ll be more motivated and ready to work harder tomorrow.” And before you know it, you’ve succumb to an evening on the couch. Next up, the famous DQ commercial, with it’s rich, silky blizzards and it’s delicious up-side down trick. In no time, your minds racing and thoughts of grabbing your car keys won’t stop swirling. You might deny it a few times, but quickler than the average sitcom, you’re on your way and drooling until your fantasy becomes a reality and your scarfing the ice cream classic. [Is it obvious I’m speaking from experience?!]

The fact is you caved FAR too easy and failed miserably at the first sign of temptation and testing. A big ol’ F is what you deserve. You gave into your fleshly craving for instant gratification and comfort in food, while forfeiting the potential to create a hunger and craving for the benefits and joy of a healthier lifestyle.  In the end, that new routine would bring you victory and you gave up, before you were barely out the gate!

My friend, meet your flesh. The tricky, manipulative, devil on your shoulder thats derails much of our good intentions.

By feeding your flesh, you’ve killed the hunger before it’s barely begun and without the development of hunger you’ll never develop a craving for anything other than what you’re giving into now.

Our flesh fights hard because it knows there’s victory in overcoming it. When we deny ourself, embrace our weakness and struggles and bear it, we are walking in obedience with our Lord.

 “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

Because until we’ve come to experience trials with perseverance and learnt to anticpate them with acceptance, well never come to know victory in our lives.

God never promised Life would be easy. In fact be promised the opposite, cause  he’s more concerned with our condition than our comfort! He comes to Comfort the afflict and afflict the comfortable.

The  greatest things in life are worth  fighting for and it’s in the battle for them that we come to know joy and learn to dance amoung the rain! You had to experience the bad before you can appreciate the good for all it’s worth. You can’t comfort until you can relate and you don’t see Jesus until you see your need for him. It takes facing the ugly, plowing through with preserverance and trusting God to deliver us, before we can reap the reward of our harvest. Victory comes through battle, not a dodge around the puddle.

” Joseph was a strikingly handsome man. As time went on, his master’s wife became infatuated with Joseph and one day said, “Sleep with me.” He wouldn’t do it. He said to his master’s wife, “Look, with me here, my master doesn’t give a second thought to anything that goes on here—he’s put me in charge of everything he owns. He treats me as an equal. The only thing he hasn’t turned over to me is you. You’re his wife, after all! How could I violate his trust and sin against God?” She pestered him day after day after day, but he stood his ground. He refused to go to bed with her.” Genesis 39:6-10

Take Joseph as a perfect example. He was tempted daily, persistently by someone of major influence to sin against God and his master. And despite the calling of his flesh [let’s be honest. He’s a man after all and she’s a beautiful woman adorned from head to tow in riches and beauty] he denied himself, each and every day with poise and determination, not giving in or even entertaining the thought. [Your mind is your greatest battlefield] He stood strong in his faith, not letting time and repeated testing wear him down.

When your flesh fights hard, whether its your desire to quit, give up or give in, fight back and lean into God with all you’ve got. Ask him to give you what you need to not stumble and to resist  with Joy, considering trial a blessing, knowing the other side is worth the fight. After all Messiah, starts with the word M-E-S-S.

It’s time we own the fact we need him and stop entering battle alone.

Fruit of the Spirit

Like that God sized void the world is desperately trying to fill with everything other than God himself, we, as his children need to stop killing our hunger for him, by feeding our flesh before it’s barely thirsty. Cause when we’re full on everything else we’ll never have room for him.

We were made to crave, but in a world of plenty- of abundance and excess- we far too often live as the world does, stuffing our desires and feeding our cravings, with the longings of our flesh, rather than it’s true cries answer- Jesus.

  • We run to food for both pleasure and comfort before coming to him in petition or thanksgiving
  • We turn on the tv to “rejuvenate and relax” before opening our bible or resting in his presence through prayer
  • We push to meet our “goals for the future” rather than seeking his will for today
  • We rush to meet our deadlines, rather than helping our neighbour take up her groceries
  • We busy ourselves working for God, rather than taking time to know him
  • We seek acceptance from everyone else before the vary one who made us
  • We reach to be worthy, heard and important before tending to his basic command to love others above ourselves
  • We compare and justify our sin against others rather than repenting to find freedom
  • We schedule in our meetings, our date nights and our coffee, but “fit in” our bible study and our prayer time
  • We give in to our cravings, fall off band wagons and fail miserably because we’re determined to do it in our own strength, rather than in his
What we lack among many things, is self-control  to push past our discomforts, to be be diligent in our prayers and persisent in our quest to get our strength from God alone.

“You are already living as God has taught you, but try even harder! Don’t be a slave of your desires or live like people who don’t know God.” 1 Thessalonians 4:1,5

Pray with me, won’t you: Lord God, temptation surrounds me everyday. Like Joseph, may my heart be yours, so I will refuse to sin against you. Help me to see my areas of weakness and struggle for what they are and reveal to me any ways, in which I have sinned against you. Fill my heart with such love and reverence for you, that I may resist temptation, have self-control and the will-power to not cave to my fleshly desires, keeping my body, your home, pure, clean and holy before you. I specifically pray for ___________[voice your area of struggle at the moment]. Thank you that in you I have victory. I praise you and thank you in advance for helping me overcome this struggle. Amen!

My Journey with Food

The truth is I’ve struggled with food my whole life. It’s been a love hate relationship I navigated liked stormy seas, either barely treading water or sinking miserably. I spent more years of my childhood than I can count on one hand staring at my body in the mirror, analyzing it’s every curve and cupping my waste between my two hands to ensure my fingers touched. Nearly 30 hours a week in a body suit didn’t help [once piece dance garment].

I can hardly remember conversations from my teen years, muffled and stolen by the obsessive calorie counting that controlled my every thought. Over and over I’d list off the food I’d eaten, counting every morsel that passed my lips.

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It got so bad, that I could convince myself I’d eaten a cake by simply staring at it long enough. By my late teens, I stopped perspiring and would get sent out of dance class for not working hard enough. “If I wasn’t sweating, how could I be giving it my all?” My teacher would protest. My attitude didn’t help much. I was permanently moody from the hunger pains I learnt to praise- markers for a day of neglecting food, well done.

There were points in my life where I’d come back from the deep end and realize how deadly and scary my obsession had become. A period of time would pass, where I’d allow myself to eat more normally and enjoy food as my family and friends did. But soon enough I’d reach a tipping point, where I couldn’t face my naked self in the mirror and I’d be back on the roller coaster of unhealthy eating habits. Binge and Fast; the premise of my journey with food for nearly 15 years.

As my relationship with God matured and he began to refine me [more like do an overhaul] , he showed me quickly how deeply engrained my obsession with food and vanity had become. A lie had been planted by Satan many years ago and over time, I had allowed it to become “truth”, even accepting Satan’s voice as my own. While many of the lies were surface things, such as believing I couldn’t be loved if I didn’t look a certain way or that I was much “bigger” than I truly was, the root of the lie was so much deeper. It preyed on the vary thing that kept me furthest from God for years: acceptance, my need for control and my desire to “have everything together and wrapped up pretty.”

I had come to believe that if I didn’t look perfect on the outside, people would begin to question my inside. They’d know I was weak. They’d know I was broken. They’d mock me. And no one would be my friend.

I viewed perfection as my credibility in all things.

I had come to the end of myself and knew that if anything was going to change, it would have to be God led and inspired. I’d already tried everything I could think of, from learning about nutrition, forming healthy eating and workout habits, going for counselling, reading every self help book I could get my hands on and owning up to it to family and friends. In essence, I tried everything I could try, but in my own strength. And none of it worked.

So I laid it at his feet, repented of my foolish and all consuming sin [allowing a silly thing like food to take priority and focus over God in my life] and prayed that he would heal me and restore me to full health. If there was anything he needed me to do, I’d do it. Just simply say the word, Holy Spirit, and I will jump.

The first leg of my recovery came from an encounter with Lisa Bevere and the transformational healing that took place through her book, “You are not what you weigh.” In it I discovered how I had allowed food to become an idol that I worshipped over God; that I trusted it and myself, more than I did Jesus. And so long as I tried to control the situation and find my identity and worth in it, I’d be in bondage. I was choosing to be in slavery, rather than accept the easy yoke of Christ! I experienced the power of true repentance and the healing that follows, as God opened my eyes, freed me from my obsessive thinking, changed the way I saw food and restored my digestive system back to health. [I had stopped producing electrolytes, my metabolism had slowed and I had developed gluten and dairy intolerance] It truly was a miracle, God orchestrated.

But like the onions that we are, God is never truly done. ‘Cause when one layers been shed, there’s another to be peeled, until we finally reach the core or the root of our problem.

I experienced months of new found joy and contentment with food before old habits crept in again. And with a few busy months behind me, including 2 weeks of travel, I found myself feeling sluggish, opting for chips and a second serving of ice cream, rather than a run and my go-to protein smoothie. I felt jailed by my cravings, unable to say no, with little motivation to eat clean or work out.

I prayed for guidance and felt the Holy Spirit nudge me towards a juice cleanse. Nothing serious; just a simple 3 day detox to rid myself of the cravings. This had nothing to do with loosing weight and my heart was entirely in the right place. I’ve learnt my lesson. I want to walk in obedience, turning from the things that steal my focus and attention from God.

Those three days were nothing short of war; a test of my faith and perseverance! I was permanently “hAngry,” my days were packed back to back with disappointing and frustrating meetings, my vehicle broke down, nearly leaving me stranded in the middle of the highway with no hazard lights and I had no energy to answer the incessant phone calls and texts from everyone who needed me [many of whom I love dearly and truly needed my prayers and support]. Every fibre in my being wanted to scream from the rooftops how terrible my days were treating me and drive through dairy queen to make myself feel better; but instead I chose to hang on, keep my nose in his word and give thanks.

And friends, I’m so glad I did. ‘Cause on the other side there was light and clarity.  I see now why Satan fought so hard to derail me in those 3 days.

You see, I discovered something; a root of ingratitude and poor return for the kindness and love that God has shown me. I’d become numb to some of the basic blessings that I should be giving thanks for every day, like food, water and shelter.

I’d taken for granted the feeling of being full, even despising it and abusing it’s gift – keeping me healthy and letting me know when my body needs fuel or has had enough. There are people every day, starving for just ONE morsel and here I was wishing away the feeling of being full because it meant bloating and uncomfortable jean buttons!

I didn’t appreciate that food is the fuel that allowed me to stay focused during the day, get to and do the things I needed to and be joyful all the while doing them! It gives me the energy to share Jesus with others, show compassion to those who are hurting, love until it’s uncomfortable and show mercy to difficult people.

Without fuel, I’m an empty, angry, defeated shell. How ever then, can I be a light and disciple without food?

Lord forgive me for not seeing this sooner and thank you for unveiling my eyes. Your blessings are abundant both profound and simple. Yet every one of them intentional, with purpose and a mission. May I never again take for granted the blessings of food, the fuel it provides and the community that is built enjoying it together. I praise you and worship you in Jesus’ name, Amen!