Friday, May 20, 2016

The Rock

A few weeks ago I was standing alone in church and they started singing "The Rock Won't Move" and my heart broke right open...right there...standing in the back. I found my knees buckling a bit.

I was undone.

I think my body knew what the rest of me didn't yet...everything under me was about to give way...and 36 hours later it did.

My counselor asked me to read a book "The Body Keeps The Score, Brain, Mind, and Body In The Healing of Trauma" by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D., and it had come in while I was away that weekend so Monday night I dug in, fell asleep reading it, and at 4 a.m. I awakened to the worst pain in my throat (as if I was trying to swallow broken glass)....and the odyssey of illness had begun. For a solid week I wrestled daily with one ailment after another. I texted my Sis that I felt like my body was attacking itself on purpose. It was eerie and telling (my counselor threw in that last part when I saw her just one day into it). I didn't care though....all I knew was I felt like HELL, and I had important meeting after important meeting coming up, to do lists as long as my legs; I had no time for this. It mattered not. Every day I got sicker and the ailments odder. By the end of the week I crashed, hard - completely spent trying to hold it all together at work that week. YET....Instead of getting better with some rest over the weekend, I seemed to be getting worse. On top of which, I was developing a bizarre and overwhelming anxiety to the point I felt like my brain was eating itself. I was C R A C K I N G up, I thought to myself....this is it. This is when I finally lose it. I spent most of Sunday sprawled in the sunshine on a quilt (on my deck) trying to breathe and soak up some Vitamin D only to be bedridden again on Monday (only my second sick day in 3 1/2 years), a new ailment, and now whatever this anxiety was - it was now in FULL force. I finally sprawled out on my bed and put ice cold washcloths all over my ENTIRE body. It was INSANE. Even now, I am smiling slightly as I recall the scene (oh if someone had walked in my home that day). By late that Monday afternoon, I could feel some semblance of calm returning to my mind and body.

So....let me tell you....I didn't stroll into my counselor's office the next day for my weekly appointment....I RAN into her office, dropped all my stuff like it was on fire, tossed off my shoes, plunged down on the couch....and VERY excitedly exclaimed that she needed to fix me...this was NOT going to work.

Can you imagine?!?!?! :))))

LOL

I bet you can imagine what she said....

Well, one thing...all of this wasn't going to last....and this was NORMAL when starting to work through old trauma.....and a whole bunch of other really smart stuff.

The funny thing is that sometime during our time, I started breathing normally....and relaxing.

I can't keep crying like this....all. the. time.....at the drop of a hat. - I tried to explain.

You have a lot to grieve. - She responded.

When I left her office that day, I drove in a daze to my new "spot" with my giant Sonic Blast (yup...you guessed it; I got the biggest one they make)...and I sat down in the grass, leaned up against a tree, and I let my mind drift off. I was a little in shock...and after a week of wrestling, illness, and anxiety - slightly exhausted. I also wasn't sure what to do with all of the new information she had given me. I was at a loss.

A. Loss.

I didn't know whether I should be mad at a childhood that had left me with a mess of crap to deal with...mad at myself for letting all of it simmer for all of these years...mad at God...???

....and if I could ever figure out who or what to be mad at...there was also the whole how do I get well while also operating in a life at full throttle...for the love of pete???

....and was there enough Kleenex being produced for all of these dang tears. I mean how much buried grief could one girl hold? No. I am really asking....how much???

I got very silent.

For the next few days...I found myself talking very slowly....reserved....and pulling back from any extra "noise" in my life (social media, texting, news, etc.)....it is like I cocooned myself as best one can while operating a firm with a business partner and 45 employees. Oh and with a week chalk full of some of the most important meetings of our tenure as a company. No. Biggie. *Eye Roll*

As a side note....I have barely eaten in two weeks. I order food, take a few bites, and have to throw it away. Zero appetite. Nothing is appealing.

Until this afternoon....and in an instant I felt hunger...like for a meal. So...what do you do when you have your first true food craving in two weeks? You get a double cheeseburger from Wendy's and fries.....which I did....and I ate nearly the whole thing....and it was DELICIOUS.

Then, I had an overwhelming urge to write. IMMEDIATELY.

The counselor encouraged me to write...even when I didn't want to...because it helps me so much...and I begged off b/c it has been two weeks of gibberish and nonsense. She encouraged me to keep going...and I have tried....

I digress.

So now here I am writing a BOOK. Sorry.

....and then there is this...

I have texted very little with my most intimate tribe as I was a little scared myself at what was happening to me mentally and physically...early Thursday I had sent a text to a friend through HUGE tears, "God is so quiet right now...." and he had been. Terribly quiet. Less than 24 hours later as we stood outside our firm contemplating the biggest win we could have ever imagined and me just QUIET...one of our team said, "Look Heather..." and there it was...

...every bit of 12" in diameter...my God doesn't play ;)


...and then this....


My friend/adopted niece Natali texted me this early this evening from Austin...

....and then while I have been writing, this came....

My friend Zack found texted this to me - found in the creek tonight, he wrote.

If you think I am crying....You. Are. Right.

*Big Tears Streaming Down My Face*

My God loves me...and he didn't send the hearts to me directly....he chose his foot soldiers...his angels...from different walks of my life (none of these three know each other)...and he used them to send me messages from him to me. Touchstones that I am not forgotten...that I am valuable...and maybe even encouragement to keep going....because The Rock Won't Move.

*Deep Sigh*

I promised that I would document my journey through these months of counseling, and I am fighting my own pride to share what has to be some of the hardest and most embarrassing days of my life. I feel unhinged....well because I am.

I think part of the problem is that while I might have understood I needed a little help to sort some stuff out....I had ZERO idea that I was holding in so much. None. Nada. Zip. It is as if I have given myself permission to Let. It. ALL. Hang. Out. (so to speak) and my mind and body are going ALL in...and I am sitting over here wondering what the hell has happened to me. Seriously. I am asking.

...and somewhere over this past two weeks I think I lost hope. Hope that I was going to make it through this with my wits still about me. Hope that God was going to see me through it. I think God knew two weeks ago as I stood in church what I was headed into...dark seas lay just hours away...and he sent me this song...and even as I felt like I was losing it...I have been listening to this and some others given to me...and the music has helped (#musicismylovelanguage) even though I didn't realize it at the time....but the words were already written on my heart...and my heart was not letting go of them...even when maybe my mind was...

....and then when I finally cried out WHERE ARE YOU??? God answered as only he can....and then I am reminded YET again...The. Rock. Won't. Move. Even when I am wrestling and grieving and sick and stressed and traumatized, God. Is. There.

I don't know what tsunami is crashing over you right now, but I do know that going through it alone SUCKS....but even when you are physically alone, there is one who loves you DEEPLY...and he will remind you...in a song, a photo from a friend, something beautiful in nature that speaks deeply to your heart (that might be your love language with God), a sport, a book, words....whatever it is...seek it out, acknowledge it, be grateful, and ALLOW yourself to feel that love.

Tonight I am feeling the gift of a reprieve. The battle I am in is not over, but for tonight I allowing my heart to be renewed and refreshed by the love of good friends and a God that knows me so intimately. Sometimes a single battle can be won when we simply allow ourselves to be loved.

I want to share a link to the song that saw me through this latest trek...maybe it bring hope and joy into the deepest parts of your heart tonight. You are seen and known and loved. We all are, and that IS the gift...the rock that cannot be undone.

Here is a great version by Second Students - The Rock Won't Move and I am posting the lyrics below...

The Rock Won't Move

By Vertical Church Band
 
When the ground beneath my feet gives way
And I hear the sound of crashing waves
All my world is washing out to sea
I'm hidden safe in the God who never moves
Holding fast to the promise of the truth
That You are holding tighter still to me
 
The Rock won't move and His word is strong
The Rock won't move and His love can't be undone
The Rock won't move and His word is strong
The Rock won't move and His love can't be undone
The Rock of our Salvation
 
My hope is in the promise of Your blood
My support within the raging flood
Even in the tempest, I can sing
I'm hidden safe in the God who never moves
Holding fast to the promise of Your truth
That You are holding tighter still to me
 
The Rock won't move and His word is strong
The Rock won't move and His love can't be undone
The Rock won't move and His word is strong
The Rock won't move and His love can't be undone
The Rock of our Salvation
 
Woah, woah
Woah, the Rock of our salvation
 
On Christ the Solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
The Rock won't move, the Rock won't move
When darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace

The Rock won't move, the Rock won't move
The Rock won't move and His word is strong
The Rock won't move and His love can't be undone
The Rock won't move and His word is strong
The Rock won't move and His love can't be undone
 
The Rock of our Salvation
 
Lead me to the Rock
The Rock that is higher
That is greater
The Rock of our Salvation
Lead me to the Rock
The Rock that is Stronger
That is Stronger
The Rock that is Jesus
The Rock that is Jesus
He will never move
He is faithful

****ADDITIONAL NOTE 5/21/2016 : This morning I started reading Christine Caine's new book Unashamed and was blown away when before the book even starts, she references Isaiah 50:7 which to know me is to know my love of Isaiah, so I went and read it (before going forward) and low and behold as I kept reading (note all of Chapter 50 is amazing)...51:1 "....Look to the rock from which you were cut..." with a footnote directing me to 17:10 "...You have forgotten God your Savior; you have not remembered the Rock, your fortress."....and there you go. I don't know how God works in your life....but in mine...he sends confirmations of three like a lamp unto my feet to let me know I am on the right path (a ding ding ding my daughter rest in this for a moment (how I hear God speak to me sometimes ;) )....so I laugh out loud (whenever it happens) and praise God in the moment because Isaiah has taught me over the years that when God SPEAKS to you and answers PRAYERS (i.e., confirmation in this instance) you PRAISE him in the moment in thanks. Thank you Jesus...you are TOO TOO good to me.****

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

My Heart

I have had some weird issues over the years with my heart. They started in high school. Lots of testing. Useless diagnoses. Life moving on. Flutters (literally) here and there. Always around high stress times. Understandable. Easy to waive away. Last year the chest pains of my teen years came back with a vengeance. I was completing the purge and then there is work - entrepreneurship isn't for the faint of heart (literally) so I excused them away. They did pass once the purge was completed at year-end. Then yesterday...

I thought I would faint. My chest just ballooning inside of me. I was in 90 degree heat for over four hours on the side of the interstate in 5 p.m. traffic - in the middle of yet another work crisis this week. I pushed it away. Especially because I felt such peacefulness - perfectly calm in the middle of a hurricane. I asked God what it was and to give me fair warning if I was about to fall out (laughing a little at me dictating to God.) Then today as I sat down in the dentist chair for a six month cleaning, the same feeling came over me as yesterday. So...I asked God again, "What is this?"

I get back to the office and my business partner motions me into his...a stranger sits across the desk from him...he introduces me, but I barely hear his name...my partner says, "Read Heather that one text and she will know all she needs to know about you." He did, and I did. What transpired afterwards was an hour conversation, the man praying over me and Josh, and a new friendship born. Exactly what we needed today. Exactly. In that prayer, he mentioned verses and things that I have only shared with Sis and Sherri. I was stunned. Stunned.


Yes, Lord.

My heart is not in pain; it is expanding.

Whoa.

I didn't get it. It wasn't all clicking until I was at Sonic after work tonight. Don't judge me. Mama Bear needed an ice cream cone; my people are trying to kill me - death by fill-in-the-blank.

I digress.

I am sitting there and a man comes up to my window. He needs gas for his truck. I have cash (I never have cash), and I offer him some. He says, "Even more than money, can you pray for me?" I reply, "Yes sir, I can and will pray for you."

Since Austin, I am having encounters every few days with someone out of sorts, homeless, etc. who needs a little help, a meal for their child, gas money, prayer, and I have what they need when they ask.

Now....for someone that a) never carries cash, yet has had it on me when I have needed it every time; b) is awkward and uncomfortable in strange situations esp. when I have no control...Ummm....this is ALL outside of my comfort zone...norm.

Yet....it keeps happening.

I prayed this little prayer to God about breaking my heart for what breaks his and then giving me the dreams of my heart...and oh my gosh...I think he is doing it.

I literally just LOL'd.


So I am not saying I am the Grinch, but lets be honest...we all have walls up between us and them, us and things, us and fear, us and fill-in-the-blank....I am no different. I have stuff that makes me shrink back from living and being Jesus in my everyday life with everyday people just like you and me.

When the stranger (now friend) from this morning was praying over us he suddenly said, "Whoa Heather I feel that you have a wall and a divorce (all three of us opened our eyes and looked up)." I said, I am not getting a divorce; never been married. He replied, divorce doesn't just mean marriage.

#idiot

Definition of divorce CLICK HERE.

He continued praying....and when he did he suddenly compared my "divorce" to a transition onto eagle's wings, Isaiah 40:31 - where I have been planted (Isaiah 40) since March 26, 2016.

Ummmm....

This is where I start grinning.

Big.

Restoration.

Sometimes healing looks a lot like growth.

My heart is healing from the inside out via counseling, and in the process God is preparing it...growing it....for more.

That...leaves me breathless.

This has been a tough week. Work challenges. I have been sick for three days now (as if my body is purging itself from the inside out - head, lungs, and now scar tissue that has built up in my foot from a surgery that was 16 years ago (you cannot make this up). Through all of this, I have felt perfect peace. I mean, I am stressed, but at peace in it. The world and the enemy keep dumping on my lap, and in one swoop, I am placing it at the foot of the cross. If you can visualize that, do. There is a single fluid motion that is occurring because I am not even letting the junk rest on my lap before I am scooping it up. As I do it, I can hear one of two songs in my head....

 
 
If the enemy thinks he is going to get me to sway, he is sadly mistaken. Sadly.

I am already in the midst of my seven times around the wall. Step-by-step, inch-by-inch....I'm doing this.

I am already laughing....celebrating the end before it even gets here.

I always wondered what the Israelites were feeling and thinking as they walked around that wall. I mean, I am sure the emotions varied. Today...I know there were those who in their heart had already claimed the victory and they were laughing....joyously. I get it. I am there with them in spirit.


"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us," - Hebrews 12:1
 

There is healing. There is hope. There is restoration.

Once was broken. Once was desolate. Once was dead.

Healing. Hope. Restoration.

Jesus, thank you for coming for my heart. It wasn't dead, but it was dying and so much smaller than it should be...stretch it and me into whatever places and situations you see fit. I am uncomfortable and awkward and outside of my air cover, but I am trusting in you to make the way clear and provide for me what I need when I need it - in the big ways - just as you have been providing for others through me in the small ways. I love you. In fact, I don't know that I have felt this flutter in my heart for you and your ways since that little girl skipped through the church bus at the age of 4 pasting those smiley faces everywhere. How sad that I always gave the locale the credit for that joy...when it had been you that had placed that in my heart then. I pray I never again misplace the joy you are restoring in my heart....but let me give it away in the bucketfuls to all those that need it...*Deep Sigh* and Amen.

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Promise

There is nothing more special than the gift of a promise...especially when that promise is made by God to  you. When he speaks to the deepest parts of your heart and soul and says, "This is what I want to do with YOU."

*Big Tears*

Last summer God gave me this promise (hint: it involves a train)...I didn't speak of it to anyone until a fateful call with a friend while I was criss-crossing the state on business...she described to me this theory on 'What If' she was reading about, and I verbally exploded on her of this dream/conversation I had experienced with God a few weeks prior. It was a FATEFUL conversation because it felt like confirmation that what I had KNOWN in my heart was true - God had made me a promise....and though I didn't know when or where or how it would come true, it was nonetheless real and personal...to me.....to God and I.

This is going to be a short post, but I needed to share this truth bomb (to me) this morning because that same friend and I were talking by phone yesterday and I was dumping truth bomb after truth bomb on them (#bless) as I unwound (I am wound pretty tight right now.) verbally with them about everything from counseling to work to kids growing up too fast to discussions around lack of sleep to God and his promises......and in that conversation we discussed the specific promise God had given me last year and how in the world he was going to pull that off (because we humans just love to question and doubt God #facepalm)....and I said the prophetic words..."Well, I am simply asking God to open doors and close doors and make it so very clear to me that I am on the right path because I believe in God and the promise I heard last year....and I just need to be faithful."

So....fast forward to a professional e-mail and a more personal e-mail hitting my inbox yesterday...and then this hitting my eyes this morning....


...AFTER waking up to some text messages that left me slack-jawed.

Let me tell you something.

Be faithful in your trust in God with the promises he has given you.

He just loves to SHOW OUT and answer you in the strangest ways and strangest times with exactly what you need (that you didn't know you needed) to respond to the question - is this real? will you close the wrong doors and open the right ones?

...and then you have to ask yourself....Am I brave? Am I willing to be brave?

Because that is the deal....God can open the doors and close the doors....but are you willing to cross the thresholds????

Am I?

I feel the Holy Spirit in my bedroom this morning so clearly that I swear if I close my eyes and reach out my hand....I can feel her.

*I just did that. My fingers tingled.*

I am at this strange crossroads of confessing all and inviting deep healing into my soul while also jumping off the high dive.

It is exhilarating and terrifying.

I need a good, long, deep, soul-wrenching cry.

There is a LOT of emotion going on inside of me these days.

Also, if this is what 45 feels like. I wish I had always been this age. :))))

Let this post encourage you today....God is in the roses and the thorns....he is a God of promises - healing those broken and giving you the ones you never dared dream. He needs us to be brave though....

The Israelites wandered for 40 years because when they were called up, they shrunk. They didn't have faith. When God called them up again with the craziest of requests....march around seven times....yada yada yada....What were they thinking??? Here we go again? Were there doubters among them??

I have this feeling they felt a little like they were in purgatory - they couldn't back - where? to Egypt? keep wandering around the wilderness? They felt unsure of moving forward - the strongest military in the world was on the other side of a wall. Ummm.....

So they had to choose. Fear or Faith.

Am I going to have faith that God's word is what it is....and keep walking in faith through and to it?

OR

Am I going to stand here and wander....aimlessly?

Counseling is my wall.

My deep and old pain and shame is my "world's fiercest military."

On the other side is everything God has ever promised me.

Am I brave?

Hold on...we are about to find out...

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Fight for Peace


I was getting ready for a day at the ballpark and reading an article (multitasking is who I am) online when it hit me. I am wound tight because I haven't MADE the time to write in weeks. I have been so busy living and surviving life that I haven't MADE the space to download; the truth is writing is the most selfish thing I do because it relaxes me and helps me process. When you are single, I think writing can become like the partner you don't have - at least for this girl.

The past several weeks have been FULL. Trying to manage a growing firm is more than a full-time job, and I am overwhelmed - hourly - by it. In addition, weekly counseling sessions are unearthing things long-since buried, and I am NOT enjoying the process - though I still wholeheartedly agree this is the Best. Thing. I. Have. Ever. Done. For. Myself. Plus, there is this amazing family with tons of changing and growing and events and doors opening and doors closing that is happening....and if you think I am going to miss a thing, you don't really know me. So...I have ALL the BEST excuses, but the fact remains...I haven't written, and I am slowly losing my mind a little because of it.

I just realized that I am fighting for peace.

In.

My.

Life.

...and to do that...

I.

Must.

Go.

War.

....with the enemy. my past. my secrets. my sin. my shame. everything that shackles my soul and holds me back from living a full life.

Key word.

LIFE.

So...here is me admitting that I am at war.

Every.

Single.

Day.

So...the level of exhaustion I feel on a daily basis was compounded the moment I crossed the threshold that first day of counseling. This past week, my counselor said, I think the hardest thing you have ever done was come to counseling that first day. I gave her the strangest look, but days later as I sit here cross-legged on my Sis' bed...I get it. Completely.

My tired is tired.

It isn't about stopping. I never have the urge to do that.

I just can't believe that I have waited all of these years to do this GOOD work on myself. I also wish I could go away to an island and knock it all out in solitude with my counselor because trying to walk through my life WHILE also working through 44 years and one week worth of pure CRAP is overwhelming....and yes I am whining...and yes I too am over myself. ;)

So why share and who the heck cares?!?!

Well....all of us are fighting for peace one way or another. We are all fighting to be known or fighting to hide - or both. We are all fighting to make it through the next hour or day or week. Our fighting often looks like us railing against the social media angst of the day, but the truth is that the real battle is in our spirit....our soul....our heart...and because it is too painful or embarrassing to discuss that battle....we rail against da'man (so to speak).

So...what would happen if we all just owned our battles? For one day we just admitted....I am weak, tired, overwhelmed, struggling, scared, broken, angry, and any number of other battles that each and every one of us struggles with every single day of our lives???

What if?

I am neither proud nor ashamed that I am 44 years old and in weekly counseling because I find the pain I have hidden away for every bit of 40 years too much to bear alone anymore. There are things about me, my life, my struggles, my shame that not one single solitary person on the entire earth knows about...not even my Sis. I have wrapped things and circumstances and people and pain up in tiny boxes and lined them up on a pretty shelf since I was a little girl. I believed a whole host of lies about them and me. I have fought them out in solitude. That solitude is slowly killing me. I can't do it anymore.

The saddest part about all of this?

I am not alone.

We are broken people in a broken world and we all slam up against one another every day ill-equipped to help ourselves or those around us.

I don't want to be that person anymore.

I want to be a helper.

I want to let God help me.

I want to then show others God so they will let him help them.

...because the biggest lie I ever believed was that it was ALL my fault...my responsibility...on my shoulders to FIX me (or even others). I have tried to be God for far too long in my life.

There is no peace in trying to be God.

None.

So...here I go into another day where I secretly wish I could go hide away in my Sis' prayer closet and cry, sleep, pray, or simply zone out....BUT there is this thing called LIFE awaiting me and the call from that is stronger....even on these days. So I fight again today against the memories that overwhelm me after the most brutal counseling session yet...and I choose LIFE.

You know why we can't find peace....because war is easier.

I am fighting for peace to come to the deepest parts of me...I am trusting that God can and will heal that with which I am mustering up the strength to be brave and face. I am fighting to own and accept my story. To be able to put words to what I have lived, survived...endured. I am fighting through the unpacking of each and every single box lined up on those shelves. One at a time. Some of them I am ripping open like a toddler at Christmas. Others I am sneaking up on like they are a bomb...is this the one that is going to be "live" and do me in? (I secretly ask myself.).

I am fighting to be brave.

I want to encourage others to be their own brave. Whatever that looks like.

If we want peace, we have to find it first within ourselves.

This morning I was reading an old post that was discussing the amazingness of Luke 22:31-32
 
31 And the Lord said,[a] “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”

Let me tell you....it spoke to the deepest parts of my heart this morning...Jon Acuff's post focused on the comma - that beautiful pause between "...returned to Me..." and "...strengthen your brethren." I mean...WOW!

I feel like I am swimming in the comma right now.

...maybe drowning.

I know that God can use anything...anybody. I am not excited about the possibility of him using the worst of me to help others. I hardly think Peter was either.

Maybe that is part of our problem...my problem.

There is beauty and restoration in peace, but humility?

I am uncomfortable.

Just writing that, I am wickedly uncomfortable.

*Deep Sigh*

Oh to have the fortitude of Peter. We laugh at his passion and failings and zeal...but who of us could overcome the denial of Jesus...to lead others to freedom?

The fight for peace is not a pretty story. I so wish it were. I am wrestling my way through it like a cat in a bathtub.

...or a Peter swimming to Jesus on shore.

...because I love Jesus...and breakfast....and restoration.

I have loved you with an everlasting love.

I am counting on that Jesus.

Counting on it.

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :) 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Broken Prayer - The Lessons of Lent

 
Every. Day.
 
Well Lent is over.

My second year.

46 days.

6 of those considered #lentfreedays (though I technically only used three of them).

40+ days of no carbs (no bread, no pasta, no alcohol*, no fried foods).

I did it.

With joy. Okay...more joy than last year. I claim that as a triumph. ;)

What did I learn?

Did I learn anything?

I did.

Allow me to share.

LOL

Lets start with the easy physical lessons...

I learned my body operates better without carbs.

*Deep Sigh*

Within two days, and I so wish I were exaggerating, my energy level increased...and by increased I mean skyrocketed. Noticeably. I was shocked. Literally.

Also, my #lentfreedays (which for those who don't know anything about Lent - me two years ago - are the days you can have whatever you gave up - Sundays) took me out. I was lethargic and FULL and by full I mean FULL as in stuffed and maybe a bellyache (depending).

I also realized that I order like a robot at restaurants...barely skimming the menu and ordering the same thing every single time. I know this because I eat out a lot because I am have a lot of business meals and I am single....so imagine me at 44 reading full menus for maybe the first time ever. I also want to state that I know where the best salmon salads are across Central Arkansas (ask me) and there are a few restaurants that will remain nameless (Outback) that basically don't have a carb-free offering and when you "create" one they have no idea what to do with the order so they throw something together and you end up snacking later. *Insert Eye Roll*

I don't really miss carbs. I mean there were days and meals that I had a "wanting" look in my eyes, but for the most part this was easy. Now I handled brunch on Sundays Like. A. Boss. but....what can I say...brunch is my absolute favorite meal.

So....after the physical lessons, about midway through Lent, I made a decision to remain carb-free post Lent except for the weekends (giving myself two days a week) to see how I felt, etc. I am pretty excited about it. I love how I feel - I need the extra energy - and I have plenty of doctors giving me the look - so the health benefits of this are a big plus.

Now lets talk about the spiritual lessons...

I started counseling in the middle of Lent.

Okay, I am done.

Just. Kidding.

Kinda.

I started counseling. It is kicking my butt and breaking my heart.

After counseling last week, I came across this...

Hosea 2:14-15The Message (MSG)

To Start All Over Again

14-15 “And now, here’s what I’m going to do:
    I’m going to start all over again.
I’m taking her back out into the wilderness
    where we had our first date, and I’ll court her.
I’ll give her bouquets of roses.
    I’ll turn Heartbreak Valley into Acres of Hope.
She’ll respond like she did as a young girl,
    those days when she was fresh out of Egypt.

It gave me hope. Hopeful for the resurrection the upcoming Sunday (last Sunday was Easter).....Hopeful for counseling...Hopeful for this latest wilderness season. I felt a prayer rise up within me, "Jesus come and restore my heart to that beginning, when I was young, fresh out of the clutches of evil, before/fresh from the womb, innocent, young, and at peace." Isn't that beautiful?

A broken prayer.

I just realized that was what that was...a broken prayer. A broken prayer to Jesus.

Isn't that the purpose of Lent...to remind us that we are broken...that Jesus was broken for us...that we have the hope in Jesus to be made whole...We. Have. The. HOPE.

This world doesn't feel very hopeful right now. It feels hard, broken, harsh, dangerous, and dark. I am a born optimist and I struggle to find hope on some days.

So here we are in this messy, broken world...marinating in our own personal brokenness...and it can be hard to find HOPE in all of that....but here is Jesus. Steady, stable, and offering love...offering life. I think the truth of the matter is that for a long, long time I didn't know what to do with that...Honestly. It was simply too lavish an offer for a girl like me. So here I am this year hopeful that maybe 2016 is the year I "get it" when I can finally understand the gift I was given oh so long ago. There is healing on the other side of this counseling, so deep and real to me that I can nearly touch and taste it. I feel God all over me in this...like he has me in a bubble. There is no doubt he is protecting my heart. A heart that is being SHATTERED by what I am learning...recognizing...owning for the first time.

This year I focused on being joyful in the sacrifice of giving up the comforts of foods I love (OH SO MUCH), and what I learned about myself is that I not only don't need those foods...my body doesn't really want those foods (at least not at the quantity I previously consumed them). While I was focused on all of that, Jesus was preparing my heart for the tsunami of counseling. Imagine a talkaholic and wordsmith sitting across from a stranger grasping for words. It feels like open heart surgery. The pain comes in waves too. I am wanting to explain, but I am sitting here with no words. I imagine the longer I go, the easier it will be to find the words. I hope.

Lent is over but the lessons continue.

I am reminded once again at the beauty in the sacrifice.

I entered Lent beaten down and feeling under attack - on all levels and from all directions.

I exited Lent on the wings of hope. Renewed. Reminded. Reverent of a Jesus who died, fought, and then rose again...for me. for you.

I offer up to Jesus, every day, my broken prayer. To give him my heart. To lay down at his feet again all that I was never meant to bear/carry/control. To pick up his gifts of grace, mercy, and LIFE. To walk away from my own tomb and carry the message of a love so deep and true that it can even set this captive free.

That is what I am holding onto...restoration. Not for a season. For eternity.

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :) 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Our Hour of Trial

Have you ever been bemoaning something with a friend and then seconds later in going about your daily tasks, God whacks you over the head with a 2x4?

No?

Just me??

A few minutes ago that happened to me....so I have dropped everything to sit down here and document it...because...well, it is important.

Someone was doing the announcements at church a few weeks ago and mentioned this book CLICK HERE FOR LINK called "Morning and Evening - Devotional by Charles H. Spurgeon, and his comments were such that I ordered it.


This morning I am being texted encouragement by a friend because frankly yesterday felt like a snippet of February 2016, and I just can't even....I mean, my can't even can't even...

I digress.

So as I jokingly stated I had emphasized while doing the Daily Prayer (Extended Version) with John Eldredge (you can do it via this link on the website OR via the Ransomed Heart app - and you can read along, listen to John Eldredge pray it, or both at the same time) to God that...."I need PROTECTION."...{insert nervous laughter}

Right after that text, I open my morning devotional to read Matthew 26:39...

"...and going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed..."

Ummm...Jesus just dropped the mic on me.

I am going through a bit of a trial right now that I cannot speak of here due to confidentiality, I don't know who all reads this, sensitive nature, etc., but let me be clear....the trial is consuming me...and this morning with my friend a prayer came out of me about it that I think stunned her as much as me. In the deepest parts of who I am I want healing...but...BUT what God reminded me of this morning was two things...

1. the healing I seek will impact EVERY aspect of my life....the thing that I am learning impacts me personally, impacts me professionally too....and that is jaw-dropping.

2. it is okay to plead, "My Father, hear my cry."

I'm struggling. Wrestling. It is brutal and ugly. At one point last night, I quite literally shook both fists at the heavens (I was lying in the tub by the way - which is important to note as God and I - we have this thing about the ridiculous) crying out, "aaarrrrggghhhh!!!!!" which is to say it was inaudible.

...but what I was reminded of this morning....is that these conventional and unconventional prayers from me to God are okay...this is part of the journey. In some aspects, I am having to (quite literally) learn how to use my words. I am also learning perseverance....in my prayers. God is in this messy season and this messy situation. I know that. I know that more than I know anything, but the enemy is here too....fighting to keep me from restoration...fighting to keep me broken. It is important to remember that in some very real ways, there is a war happening in my very soul as God and I wrestle some of my deepest places away from the enemy's clutches. Strongholds he has had claim over for decades.

...but I am also learning to leave these prayers at the foot of the cross and release them to the will of God.

...and that is HARD.

"Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." - Matthew 26:39

Yet not as I will, but as you will....

And there is the prayer.

In one verse, Jesus taught us how to pray. Beautifully.

Matthew 26:39
Whatever you are wrestling with today...whatever messy has plopped down on your doorstep...there is healing and release in picking it up and handing it over to God. Using all the words, but then at the end simply saying as you will Lord.

This morning I have pleaded and whined and laughed, but with a deep sigh I am leaving it here with God to do with it as he will...I trust him. Maybe this whole process was him asking me if I did...(God might have just face-palmed right then)...and Jesus...I do. I really really do.

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :)

The Promise of Our Triune God

It is day two, and I have already learned a couple dozen words and phrases that cause me to pause and look them up.

That makes me grin.

I remember a day when that would have caused me shame. A girl who has been in the church since the womb should know...what?...ALL things?!?! Ludicrous. Yet for years I have believed that lie.

I digress...

Our Triune God - God who is three in one. The Trinity.

Deep. Sigh.

This past Saturday I was reading ahead to Day 2's lesson here and I made it to the bottom of p.21 and then suddenly felt the Holy Spirit urged me to go back up the page and re-read "...He said, Let us make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness."..." {emphasis added by me}

Our image.

I have probably read that verse a thousand or more times...but this time something clicked...OUR.

That means that we were made in the image of the Holy Trinity - God...Jesus...and the Holy Spirit. Let that sink in for a minute. We have a bit of each of them in us and the power of the synergy created by all three. Suddenly I felt a little bit like Superman with a ball of power in his hand and beams shooting out of it....and placing that over someone....and that power seeping into them....restoring them. That is what I see for each of us.

I was made in their image.

Pick. Me. Off. The. Floor.

I suddenly want to treat my body a little bit better.

We each have the Trinity - individually and collectively - in us.

That is some powerful stuff.

Then I go back and re-read Romans 4 - it speaks of Abraham's faith and then it all explodes for me on 4:19 - faith does not refuse to face reality but looks beyond all difficulties to God and his promises.

I want the faith of Abraham.

Why?

Because I love you so Jesus....

and I want faith that is as deep as the love that I feel in my heart for you...

I don't want what others have...but what you have for me....

Is that it? Is it that we covet other's faith when what God is calling us to is an individual...a personal....faith - one built on the walk he has given us and the relationship he has/is cultivating with us. So in some respects my faith will look different than each of yours...no less true...just different?!?!

...and isn't that the gift of the technology most who read this will be accessing??? An app that allows each of us to express our faith and walk on the most individual of levels as we wrestle with creeds and verses and simply asking ourselves the basic question of Why? What IF? Then what?

For three years Jesus walked with the disciples teaching and preaching - he literally walked it out with them. He used story and imagery. He was personal, intentional, and loving. We have the opportunity every day to walk out the love of Jesus with people through story and imagery. To be personal, intentional, and loving.

To come to know Jesus is to engage that ball of power placed in us when we were made....instantly things are clicking into place. It is the feeling of coming home and being home and knowing home all wrapped up in one.

Rainbow in Haiti, October 2014

Every day we have that power...the power of the promise. God invites us to be a part of his heavenly court. We have a role. We belong. We are his beloved. 

He is our one God.

...and we are his.

There is richness in knowing and believing that to be true in our lives.

John 17:21 "...Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one; I in them and you in me...."

If you would like to study with IF - I Believe, The Nicene Creed - you can learn more by going to www.ifequip.com or www.ifgatheringapp.com and you can order a study (though you don't need it) at IF Gathering Shoppe.

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :)