Thursday, December 7, 2017

Messy post from a messy person.

Please excuse the really funky fonts and color blocking. I have no idea what I did to it or how to fix it. 
What started my day with grief from one experience led to grief from another and here I am. This is messy, life is messy and that's ok. (I'll keep asking God to help me believe messy is ok until I believe it).

Earlier today I was sitting listening to one of my favorite little person's counselor explaining to me the different signs and symptoms of trauma and discussing an assessment he had taken on this little person.
I was reminded of my own experience with trauma at a young age.
He was telling me about how depression looks different in children than it does adults. For children, depression often expressed and felt as anger.  That made complete sense to me because as a young teen dealing with trauma I often felt and expressed my depression in anger. I do remember as an older teen hitting some pretty deep depression where I isolated and detached from people and activities but as a young teen it definitely displayed itself in anger. Those that felt the brunt of this most were my family members. I often was able to "hold it together" at school but when I got home I was mad at the world and everyone knew it. As an adult just a year or 2 ago I remember my mom saying something to the effect of:  "I just couldn't figure out why you were so mad at me. I had done all I could to support and help you and you were still so mad at me."  I wasn't mad at her but she felt like I was. I can see why looking back. I wish I had been given the space to feel how I felt and been supported in that but it honestly wasn't something my parents were taught or knew how to do.  To my mom she felt threatened by my strong feelings and actions and she didn't know how to allow space for those feelings. I grew up not knowing how to give myself the ability to feel and I also projected that on Marc (my husband) as well. It wasn't until the conversation my mom and I had when she told me she couldn't figure out why I was so mad at her that I realized that she was taking responsibility for my feelings and I wasn't able to feel them and that that is EXACTLY what I had been doing to Marc all these years (and he to me as well).  That's only something I've learned in the last few years myself through God showing me some of these things in my recovery group teachings, codependency class/study, and counseling.  It was a huge aahhaa light bulb realization for me and I've been learning to let Marc feel what he feels ever since.
 I'm not saying my mom didn't support me because she did in every way that was possible for her. She did all the things that she could do. She took me to endless counseling appointments weekly for years and I am forever grateful to the early healing I had during that time. She tried to reach out to me and she tried to be compassionate and I know she bore a lot of feelings of inadequacy, grief, pain, sadness, and despair in what had happened to me and in trying to know and do what she could to help me. My dad also did what he could. He told my youth group pastor  (Hule Goddard) what had happened to me and he or Hule told the youth counselors he had working with him and I'm forever grateful to my Dad for that.  Those people were the biggest avenues of healing for me during those formative years next to God Himself. I can still think of and Name every single one that impacted my life. Annamarie Hamilton, Nina Pneuman, Missy Meyer, Hal Hamilton, Hule Goddard, Karen Mason, Jennifer Mackinnon, Jennifer Brumm, and the list goes on.  I just can't even imagine the hours and hours some of these amazing youth leaders spent with me in silence. Just taking up space with me and allowing me to be and not be alone in that. They didn't push and prod (Unless I needed it). I to this day can't tell them thank you enough or even try to express what life long effects they have had on my relationship with Jesus, my healing journey, and even my identity in Christ. They were Jesus to me.

About the anger thing, my mom still talks about the Florida/Disney trip my Mom, Brother, Grandma and I took right after the court trial that convicted my rapist.  She still refers to it being the trip that I made everyone miserable on and ruined.  I just remember being so incredibly angry.  Now looking back when I look at pictures from that trip I see this young girl that was still just a little girl. I am stunned by my innocence, how young I look, and how much I was just trying to deal with life. I had no idea I was reeling from the deepest most shameful and degrading experience of my life to date. I had no idea the far reaching effects that one night would have on my soul. I had no idea that I was incredibly brave and strong and beautiful. I was just angry. Looking back I don't remember what I was angry about except I do remember thinking I didn't want to go on that trip because we had JUST had the court trial. I remember being incredibly irritated with everything and wanting to be alone. I remember getting a horrible sunburn and being so miserable I didn't go to Epcot that day and I was glad to be alone. Now looking back I can see that my heart was in pieces and I didn't know what was what and I was just trying to make sense of it all.

Why am I reminiscing about all these things today like I have so many times before?
I'm grieving. So many times I think I've grieved enough and I'm done now and then God brings me to a new layer, a new piece in the puzzle of my healing.   Today I remembered some of the things that little girl inside of me lost that day and then days, months, years that followed and how some of those loses still affect me at times. I
I'm also grieving for where I'm at with the Lord right now. I'm grieving things I don't even know or understand but I do recognize the emotion. I don't like that but I am thankful that today I can at least recognize it and allow myself space to feel and do so and that to be ok. I have a lot to grieve.  had a lot taken from me. I had a lot of loss from that one single night that changed my whole world. I also had a lot taken from me in other areas of my life because of that trauma. I feel like I lost big pieces of my childhood. I lost relationship with my family.. and I could go on and on. Satan took a lot from me and I want it back.  I freaking want it back. I'm starting now at 40 years old and 27 years later am finally asking God to give back to me the things satan stole from me through that. I have a lot of years of not allowing myself to grieve. I have a lot of unfelt feelings. (does that even make sense)?
Today as I sat and listened to the counselor describe every symptom and effect of trauma on a child I related. I remembered and I left there and haven't been able to shake those thoughts and feelings.
I had flashbacks. I had nightmares. I was afraid of people. I was afraid of men. I thought I was dirty. I was angry. I was depressed. I had PTSD. I remember being triggered like I was right there again. I was irritable. I couldn't focus. I didn't do well in school. I felt ugly. I felt "wrong". I had a lot of fear. I was scared of being alone. I dreaded nighttime. I had severe insomnia.  Many nights the I remember wishing and hoping and begging for daylight because the nights were so incredibly long and dark.  I will never forget those dark long nights. I remember trying to stay awake when I could sleep because I was so afraid of the nightmares.
I remember feeling like my dad didn't care about me. I remember trying so hard to gain his approval and his attention. I remember feeling like my sister could capture it but I just couldn't. I didn't know until I was about 35 that this was because my dad hurt so so deeply because of what happened to me that he literally could not look at me sometimes. I didn't know that he sometimes would walk into a room and see me and have to walk back out so he could weep. I didn't know that it was really that he loved me so incredibly much that he hurt so deeply that he couldn't be what he so desperately wished he could be for me.
God spoke to me about that a couple years ago. I never liked the meaning of my name Rebecca. It means captivating, or binding. I thought that was kind of lame until one night I was listening to a friend share her story at our recovery group and she kept using the word captivating (which wasn't normally in her vocab). I had been asking God to reveal something to me about my name because Steve Seamands had told me God wanted to speak to me about my name about 6 months prior to this.
God said to me: "Becky you are captivating to me. If you let me I will be your captive audience and you will have my full attention just as you have my favor." All I ever wanted from my dad and God was offering it to me right there. Pieces of my healing. I know that God works in layers and seasons and He loves me so much He keeps revisiting things so He can do deeper healing and more freeing as I can handle and am ready and willing.
I'd like to say that night sealed it all for me and I've walked in and believed and operated out of that truth ever since. I know I had some deep healing through that truth. Truthfully though I'm struggling a lot right now with that concept. The idea that God even notices, likes, cares, sees me. I struggle with it.  I know it stems from my desires as a child to be noticed, cherished, seen by my dad.  I'm praying for full freedom and healing in my ability to accept God's love for me just as I am. I'm praying that I'll be able to see how much He loves me and in that be freed up to love myself better and in that be able to be outward focused and able to love others better. I want that. I want healing and freedom there.  But there's so much fear. Fear that I'm not enough.  Fear that He will leave me. Fear that I'm not enough to others. Fear that I'm missing the mark. Fear that I'll never be truly free and walking and operating in that wholeness.  Ultimately a deep fear that I'm disappointing God. There I said it. I feel I disappoint God and that I'm not good enough and that I'm completely failing Him. I don't love Him well. I don't love others well. I'm selfish, self centered, needy, broken, fearful, undisciplined, unreliable, inconsistent, shamed, did I mention broken? I miss the mark. I'm not enough. As I type those things my mind says nah that's not right.  Those are lies. I *know* that in my heart or my head... one or the other but they aren't in agreement and then that brings me back to the "I'm failing You God because I'm not walking in Your truth".... I'm not doing and being what I should and could and all those great things that take me from grace to bondage and from mercy to contempt.
I was doing well and on a great healing journey.  I had been focused on recovery and growth ever since I had been diagnosed with bipolar in 2010 and started going to renewal (recovery ministry group)....

And then yet another crisis hit my life in 2012. I was in a season in my life where I was in a good place.  I was working hard in recovery to deal with my illness and was become healthier.  I felt mentally stable, emotionally well, spiritually active, physically healthy (I had lost 60 lbs by eating whole healthy foods) and I felt my marriage was in a place it hadn't been in so many years due to my illness and having 6 babies back to back while dealing with an undiagnosed mental illness. Marc and I were finally in counseling and facing some of our years of stuffing down emotions and just surviving in our "survival mode" years.
We were celebrating our 15th anniversary and were on a special trip to celebrate.
I remember telling Marc I felt like things were so good.
In one moment, with just one sentence of confession my world once again came crashing down around me. I suddenly was faced with the reality that I had not been enough for Marc and all I had thought to be true didn't seem so true anymore. All the security and pillars and idolizing I had done to my husband (after all he was put in my life to be my knight in shining armor and to make me happy ever after right? I mean surely he was responsible for my happiness) came tumbling down.
I did what I had always learned to do though. I made sure to cross my t's and dot my i's and check off all the things I should be doing and how I should be reacting and thinking and feeling and I tried my best to deal with it all as proper as possible. I worked and worked (keeping busy working my business) avoiding what had happened, how I felt about it, avoiding God and how I felt about him since this had happened, and avoiding how I felt about my husband even for fear of losing him (again). Fear. that all too familiar friend. Fear has been a companion. It is a companion. One I don't want but one I feed and protect and give it to. I worked and avoided for honestly years and remember many times thinking "at some point I'll stop and deal with this but for now I just have to keep doing and going". All the while my relationship with Jesus was so broken. Suddenly the person in my life that I believed could or would ever possibly betray me or not be who I thought they were had failed me.
I wasn't enough. (Let me rephrase that, I felt like I hadn' been enough, true or not).  He had chosen another and maybe that meant that Jesus didn't chose me either and maybe it meant that I wasn't enough for Jesus either.
This is where the scripture Gal 5:7 enters my thoughts. My counselor (and recovery leader) asked me a question from this scripture just a few short weeks ago when I found myself back at my recovery group after not going for a good year or more. He said "Do you every feel like someone or something "cut in on you"? (sorry for my horrible grammar/punctuation... I had other concerns during the time I should have been learning it) lol. When He asked me that (during a prayer time) I literally laughed out loud because it was so dead on how I've felt. YES I know what and when I felt "cut in on".

The scripture says: You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? Gal 5:7   

I was doing so well and then the one I loved and trusted most betrayed me. Enter in all those broken little girl feelings of insecurity and inadequacy, and feeling insignificant and unnoticed. I must be so wrong that I wasn't even enough for my loving Godly husband. I was so busy making sure I claimed my part in the whole thing. I wanted to know and change issues I had that had obviously been part of what got us to where we were at.  I didn't want to just say "Xyz" happened and it's all his fault. I had seen that happen in others marriages and I was fully aware that my baggage mixed with my illness had been a huge component of where we were at. I was aware that satan takes us down where we are weakest and in our focus on feeling and dealing with things we had stuffed (especially Marc because he wasn't able to or given space to feel for so many years because I was the one who wasn't ok and he had to forsake his own feelings for mine). I am also aware as I write all this that this is all full of a big fat mess of unhealthy stinking thinking and lies. I'm just writing out my feelings.  Messy, raw, ugly, beautiful, whatever you want to call them is fine by me. I'm just doing it publicly because 1-I told God I would many years ago. 2-it's healing for me 3-I hope somewhere in the mess of my random crazy thinking someone will be able to say "me too" and know they aren't alone. 4-satan loves secrecy, he loves us to wear our pretty little Sunday morning masks and he wants to keep us all voiceless and hidden... keep us in the dark. 5-writing is therapeutic. I know and have heard plenty from especially family members that I should leave things in the past and not "dredge them up" "dwell on them" and lots of other things but for me this is healing.  Allowing God to take me back to those times, giving me the ability to feel my feelings and hear His heart and my own heart is healing and freeing and each time I'm able to leave more pieces of my brokenness and pick up more pieces of His wholeness. This is my journey and sometimes I feel like I'm completely missing it all and other times I feel the spirit of God well up in me with truth and I can firmly say "He and I we've got this". He loves me. He IS for me. I am ok. I am enough for Him. My husband loves me. I am worthy of love. My Jesus is for me, who can be against me? I know all this in my heart. It's my heart that knows and my mind and the old tapes that play that try to convince me of those things that are not true.  Speaking truth is power though and just as I type these words I remember, I feel, I know that my savior loves me, He sees me. He knows me. He tells me I am His own. 

Am I a hot mess and a loony tune... yep sure am! Am I loved and accepted and crazy special to my Jesus just as I am? YEP I am. Do I feel it and believe it all the time? NOPE. But right now I know that is ok. I know I will be ok. I'm battling. I'm feeling incredibly inadequate, incredibly unfaithful and unworthy but I do have His truth sealed on my heart and I do know that He gets me and He isn't threatened by my doubting. So my mind battles my heart. So what. The truth doesn't change. My foundation is still firm.  So my husband wasn't perfect and he failed me. So what. Jesus NEVER fails me. Our marriage is healing. I'm wounded. Marc is wounded.  We still hurt, we still can't openly allow God to use the experiences to help others, we still feel like we both failed each other and we have super unhealthy thoughts and feelings about what that says about us. I know that's not good or healthy or true. I still feel it and I know Marc does even more.
But I still have security that God will use it. Even if it's not yet and even if it is still so hard this many years later that I rarely have talked about it. I do know deep in my being that God has us and God will continue to restore and redeem and heal. 
I wish I were more faithful, stronger, more willing to just surrender and let Him get on with setting me free. I'm trying to rest and allow Him to love me yet at the same time I'm fighting it so much. Insert that great friend fear that I've known for so long.  Sigh. 
I do hope and pray with desperation to believe and know My Father's great enduring unchanging love for me with such depth and passion that I would live like I believe it instead of constantly trying to earn something that was given freely as a gift and cannot be confined to my conditions and boundaries.  I long to live a grace filled life free to be myself and be comfortable in my own skin because I'm motivated by and operating in Jesus's love for me instead of living and operating out of fear.

I still try to earn things that have already been freely given to me. 
This is the biggest mess of ramblings I think I will publish to date. (not counting all the babbling I've done during some dark depressions).  It's full of my human fleshly thinking that I've so hard to keep hidden from a God who sees everything. So silly. 

Jesus instead of surrendering and laying it all down at your feet I've wrestle with You and with myself for quite some time. I've felt betrayed and I've projected that on You when You didn't deserve it. I've felt rejected and I put that on You when you've never rejected me. I've spent so much time resisting you and giving into fear. 
I'm tired. I just want You to come in and take over. I am desperate enough to say I don't have it all together. I don't have much of anything together right now except that I know I want and need you. I know I've been dying inside without you close by. Not because You went anywhere because I know You didn't but because I've turned my back to You when all I needed was to come running. I've heard you calling and I've resisted. I'm so sorry. Please come close. I miss you. 
I need you. I love you. I know I don't deserve you but I'm surrendering. I'm chosing to jump back in on that race and run with Him instead of continuing to watch on the sideline and buy into the lie that everyone has passed me by and that It's not worth running. I may have sat down at the sidelines for a bit and I may have felt someone "cut in on me" but I'm not going to quit or stay there. I want to be changed. I want to be different. I want to run the race well and run free and wild and passionately.  Please help me embrace your grace. Only You Jesus can do this in me. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Sacred Spot

Earlier tonight I went to Danville for a fundraiser banquet that my friend had invited me to. Oddly enough Siri decided to take me home a different route than I had come.
I found myself rounding the dark corners of some super sharp curvy roads and I knew where this route was taking me.  You see this was the same road I had found myself on one dark night over 25 years ago as a terrified 13 year old little girl.  That night I had babysat super late and the dad was taking me home. Instead of taking me home though he sped past my house and drove for what felt like forever around corner after corner of dark winding curvy roads.
My mind went back to that dark scary night...
He had pulled into a little pull off driveway close to the road that had a chain across it to keep people from going any further. I remember thinking I could try to get out and get away. I was too scared though of the dark and too afraid no one would find me. I couldn't see what was around us and I had no idea where we were.
That night that man stripped every ounce of innocence and naivety known to me.
I sobbed, I begged. I prayed.   I wept uncontrollably and begged over and over and over for him to stop.  The more I cried the meaner he became. I remember him telling me to shut up and that no one could hear me crying.  At the same time in my head I said over and over to God,  "God please save me, please don't let me die, please make him stop. Please make it stop. I pleaded, I begged, and I bargained with God and told Him that if He would just save me I would love Him forever.

Tonight as I rounded curve after curve I recounted detail after detail. Only this time was different. As I drove the song "Amazing Grace" played on  KLOVE.  I remembered and I sang.  As I sang I felt the incredible overwhelming presence of Jesus Christ in that car with me.
I did not feel the common feelings that I have in the past when remembering. There was no sick stomach, no anxiety, no pain. The more I sang, the more I cried, the more I felt, the more I saw Jesus. This time the tears running down my cheek were tears of joy and love for my Jesus. I heard Him say to me... "Look at the way I have preserved your life".

And I sang "... the God who called me here below, wilt be forever mine...".

It was dark the night I was raped, so I couldn't see much around me. Many months later I rode down that road again but this time in broad daylight with a police officer. He wanted to document the site where it had happened.  What I saw was that the little pull off road that that man had parked his car in was literally less than 10 feet from the cliff that made it's way down to the Kentucky River. That man was drunk and violent and he could have easily killed me, dumped me,  and it would have been over.
Oh but God. He saved me.
So tonight as I drove over the kentucky river bridge I pulled into that little drive. It's all covered with tall greenery and there's a big rock kind of blocking it. I could barely get my car in there to park. I got out of my car and I marveled at God's mercy, His unending love, His goodness. I felt as though I was standing on Holy Ground. Thinking back... yeah I was. I mean that's the very spot that caused me year after year to cling to Jesus. It's the very spot where I first knew of my need for Him. It's the spot that changed everything. Some for the bad, some for the good. It's the "spot" that has allowed God His greatest Glory in my life.
I took pictures and I thanked Him over and over and I soaked in the presence of Jesus in that moment.

Isn't it just like Him though to take us to the place of our greatest pain in order to show us His greatest love?

This is the spot. That's the guard rail to the right that protects you from going down off the cliff. That rock now blocks the gravel road so you can't drive in there further.

That was it. The spot where my heart was ripped out, my body bruised, my spirit broken.
It was no doubt the spot where I started the most gut wrenching journey I have ever walked.
But dare I say it is also the very spot where Jesus and I became one?

Tonight I look at that spot and I see the spot that my Savior met me at so many years ago.
My body exposed, my heart laid open. The most vulnerable moments of my life, This is where He met me. Those vulnerable gruesome feelings of violation were not new to Him. He endured them all on the cross. He knew exactly what I was experiencing first hand from His gruesome moments. He too with His heart laid wide open, His body exposed, beaten and bruised. He too questioned His Father and asked Him to save Him. He knew all too well the pain and yet again He chose to go there with me. He and I, we became one in those moments. I never realized to the depth I did tonight how incredibly sacred hose moments between He and I were. At the time I didn't feel Him or see Him. To know just a tiny speck of a glimpse of what He felt, and to experience it with Him, I consider that a gift. It's a huge example to me of how God brings good from evil. Satan meant for that night to crush me. He wanted it to separate me from Jesus. God in His incredible love uses those very things that hurt us the most to bring us the closest to Him though. I know that there isn't anything else in my life that has brought me closer to the face of Jesus than my sorrows.

God is the Ruler of all, the One who holds the whole world in His hands.  He as King has all power, ability and authority to crush us with just one look.  Instead He turns his face towards us.
That night by the river He could have easily hid His face. He could have turned away and decided I could go it alone. He could have chosen to wait and come to me once it was over. He could have just been there for me in the days and weeks and months and years to come. Instead, He entered into my pain. He felt what I felt. I felt what He felt.  He and I became one.

I picture the vision God gave me last year again so clearly in my head. I had asked Him where He was that night while I lay there naked and alone.  Once again I see His body as a shield between me and that man. I see God's eyes piercing into me.  I see that man's hands go through the sides and back of Jesus to touch me. I hear Jesus's sweet words ringing in my ear....
"NOTHING touched you that didn't first touch Me."

Who does that? Who chooses to enter into the ugliest, darkest, messiest places with us?
Jesus, oh but only Jesus.  The Jesus who decided that it wasn't enough to just be "with" me during the most terrifying moments of my life but instead He chose to bear them with me.  My cries were not unheard. They were intertwine with the tears of my Father. Our tears ran together. We became one.  My pain became His pain.  Sacred moments. Gut wrenching moments that bring me to the feet of Jesus again and again.

For in my deepest need I was met with His greatest love.

My greatest pain has become His greatest glory.  He has used my brokeness as a means of love and intimacy with Him.  He has restored and redeemed.

I am reminded that in God's deepest pain (loss of His one and only son) He showed us His greatest love. His pain became our means to love and intimacy with Him. Jesus's deepest pain (the cross) became THE greatest redemption.

I type these words and tears of joy sting my face. Healing tears. Grateful tears. Tears of awe and wonder. Oh how He loves me. Oh how loves you.   He does so much more than just save. He indeed saved my life. I indeed love Him forever. He honored my measly pitiful bargain yet He has done so much more.

He has restored the years the locust have eaten. He reached down and pulled me out of the pit of despair, out of the mire and clay. He has restored my soul, for His namesake. Yeh though I walk through the valley and the shadow of death I will fear no evil. My God is with me. He is mighty to save. He quiets me with His love. He rejoices over me with singing. He has turned my mourning into dancing. He has loved me with an everlasting love. Though my heart and my flesh fail God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  I would have lost heart unless I had known I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.  He has given me beauty for ashes, strength for fear. Gladness for mourning and peace for despair.  God is my redeemer, my Savior, my Best Friend. He's my Abba, my Morning Star, the Lifter of my head.  He is my Prince of Peace and the Lover of my Soul.  He gives me strength when all my strength is gone. He is merciful and slow to anger. He dances over me with rejoicing. He restores my soul. What satan meant for evil God has used for Good.  He brings good from evil because He loves me and I am called to His purposes.  He has given me hope where there was no hope. He has restored the ruins of my heart and has given me a new song. He will never leave me nor forsake me. He knows my coming; He knows my going and He is acquainted with all my ways. There is no where I can go from His presence. He has a plan for my life. He is glorified through my suffering. He died so that I can live. He gave Himself up for me. He is full of grace and everything good and beautiful.

I am His chosen one, His beloved and He is mine.  He is my Shepherd and I am His little Lamb.  I am precious in His sight and He honors me. I am an oak of righteousness. I am called according to His purposes to bring Him glory. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted. I have all I need for life and godliness in Him. When I am weak He is strong. When I am weary He picks me up. He takes hold of my hand and says to me "Do not fear, I will help you". He is my beginning and my end.

He's my healer, my Faithful One. He's my heavenly Daddy and He's all I need. He knows me inside and out and He loves me still. He sees me for who I really am.  He understands my human frame and He has compassion on me. He is well pleased with me and He is for me. He is Faithful. He is Trustworthy. He is Long-suffering . He sees me. He knows me. He gets me. He feels me. He is in me. He is One with me. He has chosen me. I am the apple of His eye. I am the 1 in the 99. He pursues me. He woes me. His eyes are on me. He cares for me. I am never alone. The ocean can not overcome me and the flames cannot not scorch me. I am strong. I am courageous.  I was created by a loving Father, MY father.  He is my Strength and my Shield. He is my Rock and my Salvation. He is not far from me.  He covers me in the shelter of His wings. He is my breath, He is my Life. I am complete in Him. I am more than a conqueror because of Christ Jesus. I can do all things through Him.  I will take heart because my God has overcome the world. The enemy can't have me. I've been bought. I've been paid for. I have freedom through Christ. The truth sets me free and I am free indeed! I have been restored.  I am no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God. I am the daughter of the Most High. I am a new creation. The old has gone. God sees me as forgiven, beautiful, restored, whole. I am empowered by Jesus. Satan has no hold on me. I belong to Jesus. God has a purpose and plan for my life. My story is His story.  My story is not over. My hope is in Him. My peace comes from Him. He is my firm foundation. I will not be moved.  I do not fear the future. My God is in control. I am surrendered to Him. I am no longer my own but it is Christ who lives in me. My hope is in Him. In Him I have victory! The Hope of Glory!

As I neared my house tonight the scripture that I clung to so many years ago echoed in my heart:
"I have loved you with an everlasting love. I will build you again and you will be rebuilt."
Indeed He has. He keeps His promises.

I linked below the version of "Amazing Grace" that was playing on my radio tonight as I drove around those curvy roads during my divine encounter with the Holy Spirit.... listen at the link below and be blessed.  I prayed for every one of you tonight who will read this. My prayer is for you to know how deep, how wide, how great the love of the Father is for YOU. I pray that you will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free, just as it is setting me free.

Amazing Grace by Chris Tomlin:

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Sunflower for Jesus

It's no secret that life's been a struggle. I've been battling depression off and on for months. This isn't new for me considering I have bipolar illness, but normally it comes and goes and I have long periods of steady and doing well. Seems like the last 6 months the darkness of depression has been pressing in on me more than not. 

If I'm really honest.. and I am trying to be, I would have to say a lot of it is spiritual. I've had this battle going on in my spirit. Questions. Doubts. Disappointments. I've questioned if God is everything He says He is. I've doubted if He cares for me the way He says He does. I've doubted my worth to Him and to others. I've wondered if it's worth the time and effort to keep on coming back to Him. Seems I'm good at running away, and then running back. 
I've felt disappointment, I've felt sorrow, I've felt pain. I often feel like I'm on the outskirts of everything. I feel left out, forgotten, not chosen. It's enough to bring me into the throws of depression over and over again. 
Deep in my heart I know  He loves me, He is for me, He is with me, He has chosen me, He sees me... but my head whispers.. "Is this even true? Is it even worth it? Does it even matter? Do I even matter? Does He even care?

A friend messaged me on facebook tonight to tell me she is praying for me. She said: "I see a big picture of a sunflower and I don't know if that means anything, but you are loved by God. He sees light and beauty in you."   When I read it I was busy so I thanked her and forgot about it until tonight when I was  printing labels for orders.  I remembered her facebook message. I've never ever thought about or even cared about sunflowers so I thought I would look up the meaning and see if that meant anything to me. 
This is what I found: 
"Sunflowers symbolize adoration, loyalty, and longevity. Much of the meaning of sunflowers stems from it's namesake, the sun itself. "
"Sunflower has recently been adopted as a symbol of adoration, strength, a love of the sun and sunlight and... it is said to always turn its face to the sun" 
"The sunflower looks forward for the brightness of tomorrow".
"The sunflower moves itself in the most direct position in front of the sun so it can get the maximum sun rays. It moves it's face to the lifegiving rays of the sun".
"It's always facing the sun". 
"The sunflower will actually follow the sun from morning to night". 
"The sunflower is a symbol of God's love". 
"These flowers are unique in that they have the ability to provide energy in the form of nourishment and vibrancy- attributes which mirror the sun and the energy provided by its heat and light." 
Another interesting thing I read about sunflowers is that scientifically they turn towards the sun as part of their growth process.  The scientist said no one really knows why the flowers themselves turn towards the sun but the best guess is that they need more heat to grow more seeds. 
I read and I wept. I felt the Holy Spirit well up in my spirit. 
And this is what He spoke to me:
"Come to Me. Turn your face towards me.  Fix your eyes on Me. Turn away from focusing on yourself and the darkness you feel and see. Look to me, I am Light. I am life.  Seek to see me, know me. Receive from me my warmth, my love, my light. Allow me to overshadow the darkness you feel. Come to me to give you all that you need. Come to me for your needs. Turn away from yourself, focus on me. Allow me to shine MY rays of hope on your darkness and depression. You are to be a sunflower who turns towards me continuely to receive from me. Just like sunflowers adore the sun, adore Me. Have faith in Me. Love me. Live for ME."   
I am to be a sunflower that looks to my Father, who FIXES my eyes on Him, who morning till night does not turn my back on Him but seeks to see, to know, to receive from Him. 
I need to steady my sight on Him so I can receive the maximum dose of His sun rays, His life-giving rays. 
I am to be an adorer, to be longsuffering, loyal to My God just as He adores me and He is long-suffering and loyal to me.  I am to mirror the Sun/Son. I am to turn my eyes away from my own pain and struggles, upward to Him. As He fills me with His light I am to shoot out rays of hope, HIS hope to the hopeless around me. I am to mimic the image of Christ. 

I have been lacking the light of Jesus, the hope of Christ, I have become hopeless because I have been lightless. I have turned my face from God in so many ways. I have often decided it wasn't worth it, in essence that He wasn't worth it. I've lost my light. I've felt the darkness pressing in on me. I've hidden my face from Christ. 
How then can I expect His light to shine on me? How can I expect brighter days if I'm hiding from the giver of Life and light. How can I have hope when I am only looking for the hopeless.  How can I be filled with Light if I'm only exposing myself to the darkness. 
I must turn my eyes upon Jesus, I must look up, look away from myself and into the direction of my life giver. 
I must surrender to the SON before I will see myself through Him and Him through me. 
I will continue to wilt and wither away under the weight and pressure of depression if I do not turn my eyes on Jesus and Jesus alone.
I must position myself in a posture of constantly facing Him, in pursuit of Him, His perspective, His presense, His light. 

The Message Matthew 17:2 says that "Sunlight poured from His face". Just as the sunflower looks towards the sun, We ought to look towards Jesus.  He will expose our darkness and pour out His light. 

Those lies we whisper about ourselves, about God, they pierce the heart deep. I think it's ok to wrestle. I think it can bring spiritual growth.  But in the questioning we must fix our hearts, our minds, our eyes on the Lord and allow Him to shed His light and His truth on us. We must purpose in our hearts to lay ourselves down, to pick up His lenses and look at ourselves, our situations, our lives through the lenses of His perspective. He has promised to pour Himself out on us. If we allow Him He will shine bright and pierce our darkest places until they become light. He brings beauty for ashes. This I know. 

"Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.

Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I". Isaiah 58:8-9

God will be our rear guard. That means He will go behind us and guard us. No more running as we turn around to see satan's grip digging into our heels. No we are to look foward to Him, fix our eyes on His love for us. He will sustain us. 

"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning." Ps. 30:5

Jesus you know how fleshly I can be.  You know how pitiful and wilted and weary I get when I turn away from You and have my eyes on me. Please help me to look to You for my everything. Please pierce my darkness with Your light. Shine into my darkness; help me to see you there. Help me to be an image bearer of Your light, even in my own darkness. Teach me to adore you. Give me strength to be faithful to you. Thank You Jesus that you choose to be my light/Life giver and thank You for rescuing me time and time again. Your love is life to me. Help me be a sunflower for you Jesus. Teach me to constantly turn my face to You. 

"So we're not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without His unfolding grace. These hard time are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There's far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can't see now will last forever." 2 Cor. 4:16-18

When the darkness presses in on you, turn your face to the Son. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Light into my darkness

Most of you know that I've been struggling lately with my bipolar illness and I've been fighting depression off and on for the past couple months.
In the last week or so things have felt really dark. I started to succumb to the depression in ways that I haven't for a really long time. I've learned through counseling, prayer and hard work to look at my illness as something I deal with but have choices in. I've learned to embrace the idea that I don't have to give in to all the feelings I'm having even when I'm in the trenches of those dark times. But lately it's been different.
Instead of wanting to be well again and wanting to fight the depression and wanting to surrender it to God I've felt myself desiring to give into the hopeless thoughts and feelings. Where I once wanted to fight I now wanted to give up. I wanted to allow the depression to suck me into the abyss of meaningless, worthless, lifeless living. A few nights ago the fog of the enemy was so thick and so strong I felt I was losing myself. I felt so unlovable, so hopeless, so far from reality, so far from God and so deeply entrenched in the lies of the enemy. He was after my soul. I felt the shadow of death clawing at the back of my feet. I didn't want whatever was true or right. I wanted to give in.
My friends through much counsel and prayer helped me to realize I was fighting the wrong battle. Instead of looking to God in a posture of surrender and rest I was turned around with my back to Him duking it out with the enemy. I was fighting a battle that wasn't mine to fight and a battle that had already been won. I was allowing the enemy reign in my life and he was gaining ground quickly.
Even in this realization that I needed to surrender to God I still felt there was something deeper pulling me towards the enemy but I couldn't get to the core root of what it was.  I was reading scripture, praying yet I felt I was getting further from the truth rather than closer.
It felt as though I was drowning and barely able to keep my head above the water. The greater problem was that instead of wanting the life buoy that God was throwing to me I began to want to drown. I wanted to give up. I wanted satan to take me under. I wanted to resist and fight God. I was incredibly mad at God.
I knew there was a reason that I wanted to run from God instead of to Him but I couldn't figure out what that was.  Rebellion was welling up in my spirit.
Last night a friend sent me this scripture and we talked a bit:
“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭10:13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

It didn't really sink in but today I re-read the scripture and God broke through.
This desire to give up, to not fight back, to not surrender to God in the midst of it... it was an attack from the enemy. He was tempting me in my own weakness, knowing where I am most vulnerable.
I realized that at the heart of my wrestling was the belief that this suffering came from the hand of God, that He was testing me and He was the reason for my suffering not the way out.
Somewhere along my journey  I bought that lie that God had chosen this suffering for me. I started to believe that God had given this mental illness as my lot in life and that He was tying me to Himself that way, so I would need Him. My anger came with the thinking that God picked this suffering for me, and that He expected me to endure it.  In that I decided that God must not care for me all that much to give me this plague and expect me to still trust and follow Him in the midst of it. I have struggled deeply with this, even to the point of questioning whether I want to serve THAT kind of God.  I was angry. I was confused and I felt defeated. I surely didn't feel like God was "on my side" or fighting for me. I was too busy thinking He was handing me all my suffering.
God has allowed this suffering, yes. He is fully aware of it and it it first slipped through His fingers before it touched me but He isn't the source.  He's the solution to my suffering. Instead of feeling tied to God through bondage to to this sin and pain in my life He showed me that I'm tied to Him because He chose me and He so loved me that He gave Jesus as the solution to my suffering.  He is fully present and fully aware of my suffering and He only asks me to surrender to Him and allow Him to transform me through His love for me.

His calling for me is not found in my illness. My calling isn't to be bound by the devastation and hopelessness of mental illness. My calling is to live surrendered to Him in the midst of this struggle, to be willing to speak and tell and show the love He has poured out on me, share the grace He extends to me, the Hope He instills in me in the midst of suffering.  He is reflected through my suffering if I surrender to Him in it. He wants me to be a voice for the voiceless, to speak out against the things that satan wants us to keep hidden. He has called me to be real, to be raw, and to BREAK into the silence and darkness that satan works so hard to keep us bound up in. And nothing by my own works but by the Power of His Spirit at work in me in the midst of my unbelief, lack of faith, and misunderstanding.

He has called me to THIS:
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

An oak of righteousness, not by my own right-ness but because He has made me right. Even in my darkest places and darkest days I am all right because I have been made right by Him. I knew this, but the enemy seeks to steal, kill and destroy. He wants to devour us and make us void of all hope. He torments with fear and false accusations. He twists the truth around and if we aren't completely focused on Christ he quickly ensnares us and we fall into the pit of despair. I was blaming God for things that satan is responsible for.

He calls me to be obedient to what He has put before me. If that means I am to endure my bipolar with surrender and faith in Him so that His glory may be reflected in my life then so be it. He calls me to obedience.  I have confessed and repented for my false belief of who He is, and for believing false things about who I am, for choosing darkness and allowing fear and false accusations to rule me. I have repented for my desire to rebel against God. I have asked for His grace to help me choose truth. He is faithful. He is showing me the way out. He is bringing light into my darkness.

When temptation comes our way we must chose to resist the enemy and surrender to God and ask Him to show us the way out. Sometimes it feels like there isn't a way out, but the truth sets us free and when we ask He always provides for us out of His love for us. He is FOR us. So often I think that God must be against me because of the attacks and the suffering I'm experiencing but that's a lie. The truth is that someone is against me but it's not God, it's the enemy. He wants to deceive us into thinking that if God loved us He would prevent us from struggling but that isn't biblical. Christ says "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

I don't know yet how all that's suppose to look but it is revolutionary and so freeing to SEE the truth that He isn't the giver of my suffering and He isn't tempting me.  I was just thinking yesterday morning at church about how I will always have this bipolar illness and if God doesn't choose to heal me that I will never be free from it completely. I felt so discouraged in that thought. A friend today reminded me (Not knowing that I was struggling with this thought) that I will NOT be bipolar forever, there will be a day when there will be no more suffering. O happy day!

God is our solution and He is our source of hope. He longs to save us and redeem us and we only have to open that door and welcome Him in and allow Him to do in us what we can't do in ourselves. That's grace.  He uses our suffering as a means to refine us into His image. He desires wholeness and He made a way through His son Jesus. He loves us so much that He was willing to give up his beloved child so that we, His children could have life and have it victoriously. Through the cross Jesus endured more suffering than we will ever know or experience. This stands to reason that if God loved Jesus with all His heart and yet He was willing to allow His precious son to suffer so that His purpose and plan could be fulfilled then He allows our suffering so His purpose and plan can be fulfilled... NOT because He doesn't love or care for us... but BECAUSE He loves and cares for us and wants us to know and experience that love for ETERNITY.

For all my friends who walked me through this spiritual battle this week, for being Jesus with skin on, for pointing me to my Savior, for listening to the Holy Spirit and fighting on my behalf.... I an eternally grateful. You show me the love God has for me in such tangible ways. I am in awe.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

When grief rolls in

Sometimes grief rolls in like a tidal wave.  It washes over us and engulfs ones being in just seconds and all is consumed.
In the ocean the tide rolls out as fast as it rolls in.
In the sea of grief, the tide often lingers.  It scatters and surrounds and soaks in and what once felt clear seems muddled and muted.  Grief begs to be noticed. If we ignore our losses, on the surface grief seems to disappear... but it doesn't really.  It soaks down deep into the depth of our soul and hides out there.

I've had my share of losses, and lately I've felt the Lord beckoning me back into the ocean. Calling me into the sea of grief.  I feel the tide coming in, the waves beating against my feet. When that tide rolls back out into the sea my losses are tossed up on the shore.  It feels as though grief has saturated my very essence and it's begging to be heard, to be felt, to come up out of the depths and be exposed. I know it's God calling me out,  and though I resist I know it's safe to enter in with Him. 

"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you."  Isaiah 43:1-2

I've spent more than half my lifetime stuffing feelings and controlling emotions. I've built up an army of false beliefs and self protection. I've also spent more than half my life seeking God's healing and longing for more freedom.  God has been faithful to heal and restore and break through brokenness as I surrender it to Him. Lately He has placed His finger in a dark corner in my heart, beckoning for me to let Him in so He can shine His light on my losses.  I've struggled to surrender. It's scary to face things kept hidden. 

The tide rolls in and grief washes over me. I walk the shore with my Jesus. We talk about things from many years ago. The tide rolls back into the sea and I watch. I look and I see what God has tossed upon  the shore.  I reach down,  pick one up.  One by one I count my losses. I examine them, and hold them to the Light of God's love.  I sit with my God and we linger there in the moment. We talk about things that were taken from me.  I open my hands to my Healer.  I ask Him what I need to keep and what I need to toss back in the sea. I feel the weight of my losses. He whispers to me "Child I will restore to you all that satan has taken from you.  It's in those moments that He enters into my sorrow. We remember together. We feel and we grieve. He and I, we become one. He enters into my pain. It's in those moments I am changed.

"I will restore to you the years the locust have eaten." Joel 2:25

“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore with loving kindness I have drawn you.
Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt. Jeremiah 31:3

I can trust my Father because He has proven His love to me time and time again. He has a perfect track record. He's never let me down.

 Father I ask You to give me confidence to trust and not fear, to feel and not cover up or close off, to embrace your Truth and not default to lies. I ask you Father to restore me and bring me into greater freedom in You. Redeem me from false beliefs, doubt and disappointment. Allow me to embrace who I am, who's I am, and who I am becoming.
Thank You for being with me on my journey, for making my story for Your glory, and for making me capable and able to work through, to recover and heal. You are my Everlasting Peace, my Redeemer. Thank you for Your favor, your promises, Your steadfast love. Thank you for for not discarding my broken pieces, but instead You create beauty from the ashes. You waste nothing and You restore everything. 
Isaiah 63:1-3
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

God you are so Faithful. Thank for what You've done, are doing, and will do.  All the glory and all my love to you!