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!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Clay to life

I sit and ponder the words written by Laura Beach in her new book Rhythms of Restoration...
She's talking about our grief being like quicksand under our feet, the further we try to escape it the deeper in we go. And the idea that what if we ask and allow God to enter our mud and mire and clay, is it possible that maybe He can take it and mold it and shape it into something He can breathe life into? She says, "If God formed humanity by scooping dirt out of the earth, can't it be done again? Can't God reach into the pit, the tomb, the darkness of our grief and pull us out to breathe life into us?" Just as He did with Jesus on Calvary?  
And I think, and I pray, Jesus is this what you are doing with me right now? Could it be?  I look at my life, I look at the rape, the way the dirt and muck got on me and so much of my life has felt like that sinking sand. 
Right now I'm in a process of unpacking the memories, the good and the bad, in hopes of drawing nearer to Jesus, in hopes of a greater love life with Him, and in hopes of finding myself again. There is this longing inside me to be whole, to trust again, to allow God to be on His throne and allow Him to protect and provide  for me. 

I have been venturing into the pages of my journals from when I was a teenager. I am getting to know this girl in these pages and I'm awed at how much I like her. I look at the things she endured, I read the details of things forgotten and I am wowed that she got through it. I marvel at the way she prayed for people, the way she interceded for their salvation, their healing, she prayed for the man that raped her, she prayed that he would find God's love because she recognized how lost he was. She prayed for her mom who was so lost in her own inability to accept love.  She prayed for the hurting. I notice how this girl has this courage, she tells people about Jesus, she stands up for justice even when she knows she will pay for it, she tells others about what happened and how God was there and how God got her through... even as a young teen I started telling my story. And I think, what guts, she knew the cost and she went after things anyways. She was passionate, she had this zeal for life, for Jesus, she was hungry to know Him and to really be His... What stubbornness she had yet what strength she had.
And I find myself asking "where did she go? Is that still me?  I still long for healing for the hurting. I still pray with great longing for healing for the people I love. Yet there's a big part of me though that realizes some of her is gone.  Satan took what wasn't his to take and some of who I was is truly gone and yet other parts of me are buried in that tomb. Some is tangled in lies. I am pretty certain I'm one of the very weakest people I know. I mean I'm hardly consistent with anything..... I struggle with bipolar depression, I have a house that's often caving in on me because I stink at keeping it up...... and yet there's this longing, this desire to embrace HER as ME. I want to know her, I want to find her again but most of all I want to BE me. I want to know who I am and be confident again. I'm reminded of how very much the rape took from me. Satan stole so much from me, and I want it BACK. 

I feel like I'm finally giving God permission to roll the stone away and He is slowly moving it. It isn't without pain. In fact it's super painful to have the light shinning in when I've been hiding in darkness for so long. My eyes are squinting at the light, trying to look into it but mostly having to look away still. God is so tender and patient though, so full of compassion for me. I feel that. 

 I see the darkness, the pit of despair I felt as that young girl having been raped. I realize that I in many ways have spent a lifetime locked up with the mistrust, the shattered self-esteem, the lies, the questions.  I was mistaken to think that if they are hidden in the dark corners of my mind that they are safe for the keeping. I bought into the lie that I need to protect myself, that I need to make others love me, that I need to make sure my husband takes care of me.  I have found myself lost in all the sin of and emptiness of filling my heart with so many things that have no ability to provide for me the things my heart desperately needs, and my God so desperately longs to give. 

And then, there in the midst of it all, in the very heart of the darkness, in all the ugly places I don't even dare go myself I find Jesus. Not just His presence around me but God Himself. He breathes life and in a moment the darkness is invaded with the most glorious light: Jesus Himself.  He enters in my darkness, enters my darkness that only I know. He enters only when I let Him. It all looks differently when God's love enters in. He is giving me back what satan has stolen. One of my favorite life verses is coming to life... "He will restore the years the locust have eaten".  He Will restore all that satan has stolen. He wills to take my mud and mire and shape something beautiful.
He isn't just taking the pretty parts and adding them up to eventually make something good, no He takes the yuck, the broken pieces, the quicksand, the sand that burnt right into my feet, and He forms it into something beautiful. He breathes life into lifeless places.  He's giving back to me pleasant memories, He's restoring to me the strength He placed in me, He's building me up again and restoring my confidence. Much of this I haven't yet seen but I see it forming and am confident He will continue to do it.
It amazes me that out of all of the pieces of my life He picks the darkest, hardest, most dirty pieces to breathe His life into and make something beautiful out of.
I'm pretty certain that as He rolls that stone away He's going to help me find ME, the me I was, but more importantly the me I am now. It's going to be beautiful. I just know it, cause I know Him. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Weaving a tapestry

Today when I woke I found several rows of quilted squares sitting on my cutting table. Sarah my 11 year old wants to be just like her mama and that blesses my socks off. Yesterday when she saw what I was doing she started cutting out squares too for her own quilt.  She actually had to help me yesterday just to figure out how to hand stitch. Love that girl and she's too smart for her britches! Today she got way ahead of me. Here's what she finished..
Abby (9) decided today she wants to make a small one for her baby doll... she's like me in that she likes quick projects so she is machine stitching hers. She cut out all her squares by herself and stitched these by herself. She's ahead of me too now! LOL 

It's precious to me that my children love me and honestly sometimes it surprises me. I have a long way to go in healing with the way I view myself and the lack of value I feel for myself. I just know God's going to heal that though and soon I'll see myself as the woman He created me as, beautiful and capable. There are times the light peers in and I can see that in glimpses. God may I see the truth and allow Your light to shine into those dark places more and more so that one day there will only be your light in the corners of my heart.
So tonight after cutting out lots of tiny squares I started to stitch a couple together. I finished stitching the 3rd square on and Sarah (11) looked at it with this kind of scared look and I realized I had put one square on backwards. HA I laughed outloud to which she began laughing. So funny! I get so ahead of myself with stuff and I thought about how so often in my healing journey I get ahead of myself and hurry it. Steps get missed that way. May God show me through this quilt process that I am worth taking time for and allowing Him to take His time on.  I was telling Marc (my husband) that my OCD side wants to lay out all the squares and decide which ones go together etc. and I know I would over analyze like crazy but there's a part of me that feels I need to learn to go with the flow and allow it to develop and evolve and I don't have to know just how it's going to turn out. His response was yes maybe God wants to teach you to let go of control. It's so true. Part of the deep damage of being raped is what it has done to my trust in Jesus and my trust and relationship with others. I want to allow Him to guide me in my healing process and I want Him to be in control of how that looks much like I want to let go figuring out how this quilt will look and allow myself to just be present. I don't have to heal any certain way and I don't have to do it perfectly either. I need Him to keep reminding me of that.
The tenderness of God, the way He orchestrates and plans and weaves together my life for His good just amazes me.
I posted on a couple quilt groups about wanting to make my very first quilt and about the healing journey God has me on with this quilt and I have been completely blown away by the support. Many ladies have messaged me and shared their own stories of pain and healing, many people have offered to send me fabric scraps and squares for my quilt and I am just blown away with the goodness of God. I feel so supported, and kindred spirit with these ladies. God is so good to know I will need that. I also adore the idea of having a piece of so many ladies stories woven together along with my own story into my quilt, either through squares of fabric they have sent or through encouraging words they have spoken. I am so very thankful to be a part of the body of Christ.One of the ladies told me quilting was like a silent prayer, a communion with the Holy Spirit. How beautiful.
God is weaving together dark and light in my life to create a tapestry that I can't even begin to image yet.
So here's my progress today, small but so very satisfying and I am quite stunned at how close I felt to Jesus as I worked on this. I love Him so very much.

I read this Poem (popularized by Corrie Ten Boom) tonight and it touched me so.
My Life is but a weaving
between my Lord and me;
I cannot choose the colors
He worketh steadily. 
Oft times He weaveth sorrow
And I, in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper,
And I the under side.
Not til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God unroll the canvas
And explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the Weaver’s skillful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.
He knows, He loves, He cares,
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives His very best to those
Who leave the choice with Him

Pieces of my heart

Lately I've been feeling God's proding to work through more of the rape. I feel like He's put His finger on some things and is reminding me to not forget that He has more healing for me and to stop and allow Him to walk me through it. A couple months ago I bought the Book and Workbook The wounded Heart...  last week I picked it up one night and as I read the very beginning of the book I found myself in tears as my heart echoed a resounding YES YES that's exactly how I feel!! I realized that I do indeed have a lot of beliefs, feelings, thoughts and hurts as a result of being raped. I worked through a lot as a teenager in counseling, I did a book called Courage to Heal that was good,  and over the years God has done deeper healing but as I read the words on the pages I realized that I had not processed a lot of it as an adult and that it was time. God wants greater freedom and healing and I want that too.
Last week I was talking with a friend who is also really involved in my journey to healing. She mentioned that the book has activities to do that use creativity as a way to process and work through things and that she could see me sewing as a part of that.... Well over the next week God has been unfolding a beautiful idea in my heart and I'm super excited about it.
Those that know me well and know I love to sew may or may not know that I only like super short projects that are able to be finished within a few hours.  I've sewn for years but always easy quick projects. I have said I would probably never make a quilt because I don't have the patience for it and it's too time consuming... Well God is funny and He's really put it on my heart to make a quilt, and not just any quilt but a hand pieced and hand stitched quilt.  I got the idea to make a grief/healing/journey quilt that I could hand stitch as a form of healing and as a way to be present and aware and process what God's teaching me...
God gave me this picture of the quilt as a representation of my healing journey... my life has had a lot of brokeness, lots of pieces that God has been taking and shaping and stitching His healing love throughout. He weaves His love and hope into our dark places. He is taking our brokeness and piecing it together to bring good from it.
 And was thinking maybe I will back my quilt with something beautiful that represents Jesus "covering" me throughout my journey.  And on the front He will be woven throughout all my pain and brokeness, weaving Himself stitch by stitch into my brokeness and creating something beautiful with all those pieces.
Those that know me know that I'm not really very consistent in many things.... so this could really take me a really really really long time... like years and actually I've been told by avid quilters that it probably will. I'm ok with that though. I feel like whatever I do will be part of the journey and will be healing and therapeudic so whatever this looks like and however this ends up is ok with me. God knows my story, He knows my heart, He knows my journey and He takes great time and detail in weaving it all together for me as He designs the masterpiece so I'm ok with this piece of my journey taking time.
 I want to allow Him to use this crafty project as a way to get to my soul, to heal pieces of me, to go into the basement of my heart and find the dark corners and begin to weave His light into those places that I have kept locked off. I want the act of creating beauty out of scraps of fabric to be a symbol and an avenue to a greater transformation of my heart... I want Him to take me from Shame and fear and mistrust to peace and freedom and confidence in Him. I want Him to so cover me with Himself that I would be able to allow Him to take all my brokeness and pain and weave Himself right through the middle and to show me just how deeply He has covered me throughout every single moment of my journey.  I want to be in the moment, fully present and feel quilting will be a peaceful and meditative thing that will aid me in that process.
This quilt is one that another lady made.. she had pieced and hand stitched it... when I saw it I right away saw Jesus as the backing and His love woven through all of the little tiny patches just as He weaves Himself through every part of our journey, stitch by stitch with much love.  This picture was my inspiration for this... it was made by a lady named JoAn Sutton. I love how it has tons of different prints that are all so unique and crazy, yet when woven together they make a beautiful masterpiece.
And then the 2nd picture is the first small handful of squares I cut out for my quilt. As I cut these out I spent the time listening to worship focused on healing and I also listened to a youtube video of a lady's journey to healing who had also been raped. I felt really close to Jesus doing this. Felt like I was able to honor my pain a little. I felt as if I was holding space for myself, for that young girl. It felt good to care for myself in this way. I'm thankful that Jesus holds space for us so well and that He was right there with me as I cut those first few squares out... just as He was with me during those first moments during and following the rape. He is so very present.
I read this quote tonight and it so touched me as my name means captivating... and I relate butterflies to my name since I had a framed picture on my wall that had my name and meaning and butterflies flying on it as a child/teenager. God spoke to me about the meaning of my name a few months ago and told me I was captivating to Him and that He was my captive audience, and I have His full attention and favor. 
"Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly".