Sunday, April 23, 2017

You are Free

I was looking for suggestions for our next women's study for church when I came across this and thought it might be helpful for you as well.


Monday, April 17, 2017

Five Minute Friday: Empty

As always I let the word lead me for as long as it leads.

Empty


"I cannot fill that which is already full."

I look into myself deep.  What I feel is empty He sees as full.  So, I hold the proverbial bowl of me in my hands, like Pooh looking into the honey pot.  And like Pooh, I don't find the sweet goodness I am looking for.

"Helloo-oo-oo?" I call out into the emptiness. "What are you seeing Lord that I am not?"

"I see fear. Fear of failing. Fear of being hurt.  Fear of being unwanted. So much fear that you can't allow anything new to come in. No willingness to risk being known.  You want relationship, but you are not willing to empty out the fear in order to be filled with being known and loved. Even with me."

"Hmmm." I don't like that answer much, because I know He is right.

"I also see hurt. Hurts that guide and fill every action and thought.  You don't see them, because you refuse to bring them into the light. My Light.  A dark room can look empty until you turn on the light. And baby you need to let me turn on that light.  Until you allow yourself to see and feel the hurts I cannot fill you with healing."

I say nothing, but my "empty" bowl is starting to feel much heavier in my hands.

"Sadness and Anger fill you like intertwined weeds that climb and strangle.  You don't see them, but I know you feel them, but you don't like to feel, so you numb yourself from them as much as you can."

I look again with open eyes.

"How do I empty these things, so that you can fill?"

"Trust Me. If you fail, trust Me that I will prosper you later. If you hurt, trust that I will hold you. If you are unwanted, trust that I will always want you.  Trust that I will lead you where you are meant to go.  Give Me control over guarding your heart.  I can guard it much better than you can.  Trust Me. You fear knowing Me, because then you will truly know yourself.  Trust that I created you without mistake.  The you that you fear is not the you that I know and created you to be.

Trust Me to show you the hurts without overwhelming you with them. Trust My timing in what I bring to light and when.  Trust Me to illuminate that which you have kept in darkness.  Stop holding your hand over the light switch and saying you can't turn on the light.  Trust Me to hold the switch.

Trust that I created all feelings for a reason, even the ones you don't like.  There is a purpose for feeling them.  Trust that I can work through sadness, anger, and fear, but only if you stop pushing them back down. Stop numbing yourself.  Trust Me.  It is trust that will empty you, so that I might fill you."

 Jesus said, 
“Daughter, you took a risk trusting me, 
and now you’re healed and whole.
 Live well, live blessed!”
Luke 8:48 MSG




Friday, March 17, 2017

The whole story

So I had a thing happen this morning.  A hurtful thing.  A stinging thing.  A thing that felt like my hand being slapped after reaching out.

That thing sent into motion a flurry of tears and heartbreak and wondering why I even try to reach.

My morning was quickly turning into mourning.

But I only had half of the story.  My half.  There was nothing untrue about the half I had, but it was only a partial picture, not the whole.

I had put up a video onto a church facebook page.  One of me reading out loud the last blog I had posted.  I had read those words out loud in our women's book study group earlier that night and had been asked to share it there.

When I woke up in the morning facebook told me that I had activity on that post.  When I went to see what was there that post was gone.  As was the post I had made the week before.

I tried to shrug it off.  I am new to this church and this page, maybe I had overstepped a line I didn't know was there, but the longer I sat with it the more painful it felt.

The old tapes started to play  you know the ones, the mean voiced ones that never lead anywhere good......... "I told you not to share!"  "Just who do you think you are anyways?"  "You aren't wanted!"

I messaged a friend.  She said, "ASK WHY! Get the whole story!"

So after sitting in my sadness a little longer I did.  And then I waited and I fretted and cried some more.

Then the answer came.  A very reasonable answer.  One that had absolutely nothing to do with me and nothing to do with what I shared other than that page was not intended for that purpose and at the last update some of the settings accidentally were changed.  It was just a misunderstanding and nothing personal.

My brain accepted this news right off, but it took my heart a little longer to catch up.

And it made me wonder how much of my life is like this.  I react to only the small part of the picture that I know.  It won't be until I can see the whole picture that I fully will understand it.

And how often is God saying, "I have the whole story!  Ask me!"  and I choose to mourn over just the small bit of the picture that I can see.  My brain is accepting this quite well, but my heart is taking a little longer to catch up.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Hard Road

The Hard Road

It Is Time To Go




I can see Him standing there in my mind’s eye.  Arm outstretched, the wounds left by His earthly life still visible.  

“Baby, it is time to go.” He informs me.

“I don’t want to.” I say, shaking my head and letting my fear speak.  The road He is standing on is a hard one.  It isn’t going to be an easy walk and I fear that I won’t make it through the difficult spaces.  It is dark and all I can see is what is right before me, the rest is pitch black with only a promise that daylight will meet us at the end of it.  Until then only where we are standing will be illuminated.

He looks down at the ground for a moment before He looks me in the eyes, His hand still reaching for me. I can see the water welling up around His deep brown eyes that search me.  

“Baby, you know I walked a hard road once, too.  I would never ask you to go where I haven’t already been.  Take ahold of my hand.  I will lead the way and when the darkness before you gets too overwhelming just look up at Me.”

I begin to cry.

“But that road, it scares me.  Can’t we go another way?  Can’t we go around it to get to the light?  I have worked very hard to forget what happened on that road.  I want to leave it behind me, not walk back through it.”

He reaches up and wipes away my tears, catching them with the sleeve of His garment.

“No, Baby, the only way to get to the light at the end is to go back down the road that brought you to here.”

“But you told me to leave the old way behind, not to walk back through it. I don’t understand why you are asking me to travel such a difficult road.  Especially when everyone else says to leave it in the past.”

He cups my chin and stoops down to meet me face to face.  

“You and they have mis-understood.  I said for you to leave all of the things that you picked up along this road behind.  I need you to set down your mortar and your bricks, the ones that you have gathered up to build all of your walls. Those need to stay here.  And all that luggage that you have acquired along the way filled with the things you clothe yourself in such as despair, doubt, hurt, anger, and fear.  Those are the things that we will shed together as we walk, so that I can clothe you in strength , trust, joy, and courage.  If we bypass this road you will bring all of that with you and you will never make it to the path that is meant for you.”

I sniffle and let His words sink in.

“I don’t like it. I don’t like it one bit.” I grumble with a loud sniff.

He chuckles as he stands back up.

“No, I don’t expect that you do, but when we come to the end of this road and you start on your new path you will be glad that you walked this hard road with me. I promise.”

“My stomach is shaking.” I say as I grab His hand.

“I know, Baby.  I know.”


I hear Him humming softly the song He has often sung over me as we take the first steps.  Though hesitant I squeeze His hand and lean into His strong yet gentle arm and hum along with Him.




Monday, February 13, 2017

How Lovely Are The Feet Of Him


Living in the Pacific Northwest I am surrounded by beauty.  Awe inspiring beauty.  On a clear day we have a saying that the mountains are “out”.  My little city is rimmed in by mountains and water.  To say that the views are stunning does not do it justice. One particularly clear day while I was driving I noticed that the mountains were indeed out and I was thinking about how gorgeous God’s creation is, especially the mountains.  As I was admiring them God whispered in my mind,


“Baby, all of that beauty was born out of pain.”

And as I stared at those jagged mountain tops rimmed white with snow I saw it.  I saw the pain that was beneath the beauty.  For what is a mountain, but buckled, scarred, and scorched earth?  A clashing together to form a rising up and in some places a molten burning in the core of it’s belly. Even though it went through searing, shattering, and jarring pain it was turned into inexplicable beauty.

And so it can be with us.

How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him
 who brings good news, 
Who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, 
Who announces salvation, 
And says to Zion, "Your God reigns!"
Isaiah 52:7


Christ comes and He stands on our mountains made from wounds. He stands on those places in us that have been scorched and burned and He declares good news. He declares peace over the memories that sear our souls and He reminds us that He reigns over them all.  Even in those places of extreme hurt and cataclysmic change He can bring beauty.

How gently He reminded me that morning that unfathomable beauty can be built out of the ruins of our buckled, scarred, and scorched lives.

Are you buckled by the clashing of another’s will against your own?

Have you been scarred?

Do the memories scorch your soul?

How lovely are the feet of Him who wants to come and stand on the charred ground of your life to bring the good news of happiness that He reigns over the broken places.  And He can bring about spectacular beauty even from the most destructive of circumstances.




Friday, January 20, 2017

Strength and dignity

Proverbs 31:25-26

Strength and dignity
are her clothing,
and she laughs at the
time to come.

She opens her mouth
with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness
is on her tongue.


Momma had taught her well and there was no man, woman, or child who was gonna take from her what God had put into her.  She looked out the window of her home and saw the life that lay outside of it for what it was, a battlefield.  So many hurting.  So many dying. Everybody wanting. Wanting someone to see them, to hear them, to join them in whatever war it was they were fighting in.  All of them feeling justified.  All of them feeling right or wronged whichever the case may be.  

She wasn't interested in their wars.  

She was a warrior, that much was true, but what her eyes could see wasn't where her battle lay and she knew that.  Her armor wasn't worn against her skin but within her heart.  Her weapons were not made to harm, but to heal; to expose lies with truth and love.  (Lots of people do one but not the other.  Love without truth is enabling.  Truth without love is condemning.) To give comfort to the comfortless. To give dignity and grace to the disgraced.  To give strength to the weak.  To give back kindness in the face of hate. 

Yes, her Momma had taught her well. 

She had passed down the ways of the only kind of warrior who can bring peace wherever she goes, because she taught her who she was fighting for and against.  Her enemy wasn't the people who lay waste against each other in the streets, that would be too simple, too easy to be able to draw that line between"us" and "them".  Those lines are what lets the real enemy attack, because people stop looking for him and fighting against him.  They get too caught up in the chalk they hold onto while drawing line after line.  Then they forget who they are really fighting against and begin to fight over the line drawn out of chalk dust.  

She was given too much responsibility and authority just to spend it fighting over dust.

There at that window she sank to her knees, because she knew that is where the start of every victory begins.




It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.
2 Samuel 22:33


dig·ni·ty
noun
the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect.



A final word:
 Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able
to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies,
but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world,
against mighty powers in this dark world,
and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Therefore,
put on every piece of God’s armor
so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil.
Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.
Stand your ground,
putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.
For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News
so that you will be fully prepared.
In addition to all of these,
hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.
Put on salvation as your helmet,
and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion.

Ephesians 6:10-18




Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Shame Vs. God


I am doing a women's book study on Thursday's with my new church here in Washington.  It is Christine Caine's book "Unashamed".  After I finished reading the book I wanted a visual that I could look at.  As humans, but especially as women we are so susceptible to the voice of shame.  The shame voice leaves us feeling small.  It makes us want to hide ourselves, telling us that if we speak up we will be exposed.  Living in shame is living in darkness. The girl in the corner is a visual for me of what heeding the voice of shame looks like.  


Ruby: Pieces and Parts

I have about 5500  words written of Ruby's story.  It has lots of gaps and areas that need filling, but here is a little taste of what I have.

...Chapter…

Waking before dawn after a fitful night of sleep Ruby quietly dressed in the dark.  She was careful not to wake her roommates  as she slipped her journal from the drawer and went to find a quiet spot  where she could write and think.  She chose a comfortable chair that faced a large window in the lounge, sat down, pulled her feet up underneath her, and opened her journal.  She looked at the blank page before her unsure of what to write.  She raised her eyes to the dark window.  Her dim reflection looked back at her.  She didn’t see a battle ready warrior, she saw a frightened child, one who knew how to hide much better than she knew how to be seen and one who knew even less on how to fight the scratching and clawing she felt within her. She sighed at the dirty sad little girl that stared back at her.  It was she that had to die here.  It was she who held all the hurts and the sadness.  Ruby, put pen to paper.

November 2

I see you little girl.  I see you every time I look in the mirror or see my reflection.  I see your sad eyes, the way they hurt, and the fear within them.  I don’t want to see you anymore.  I can’t. You are ruining my life, you are keeping me from wanting to live.  All I can hear are your cries at night and all I can feel is your terror.  I don't know how to heal you and free you from the prison that you have built up within me.  I am here to rid myself of you.  I am so tired of hurting and not knowing how to stop it.  I don’t want to die.  I don’t.  But I don’t want to live with you anymore either.  It is you who I want to die.  But to kill you is to kill me.  I hate that you are a part of me.  I hate that you weren’t strong enough to protect yourself, to protect me, and now I live with your weakness and your oozing scars. You bring me shame.  You make me dirty.  When I look at you all I see is dirt.  I want you gone, but you have locked yourself up within me, behind a door I don’t know how to open.  A door I am afraid to open, because you locked all the monsters up in there with you.  I hear those monsters scratching at the door; scratch, scratch, scratching.  To open that door is to let all of you out and if I let you out I won’t know how to be me.  I will be you, lost in the memories I don’t want to remember, the emotions, the terror.  You with all your anger and your sadness will be loosed along with the monsters and I will be suffocated in the process.  I can feel it even as I write.  I can feel the splintering wood of that door you reside behind.  Pieces of you and them leaking through.  

Ruby stopped writing and closed her eyes.  The emotions that were rising up inside of her were threatening to take over.   She slowed her breathing, froze all movements and began to calm her racing heart.  She imagined a white nothingness surrounding her.  No corners for things to hide in, just white light that surrounded her until she disappeared within it.  The only sound was her breathing.  She emptied herself of all emotions, all thought, and buried herself in the white of her mind.  It stopped the rising flood…..for now.  She opened her eyes and looked out the window and let her mind go to that day not too long ago, the day that brought her to end up here.

She had gone looking for help, looking for someone to tell her that she was going to be okay.   She had asked what she should do if death’s call became too loud for her to ignore, where should she go, who could she call?  She knew that hospitals were supposed to be safe, but experience had told her that they weren’t.  Death would be better than being left sitting in a hallway alone with people staring.  Death would be better than being told you were wasting their time with your hurting.  The person she had asked told her that there were no guarantees of being treated well and with respect and practically begged Ruby to seek counseling.  The speaker had no idea how hard it was for her to put word on top of word when eyes were watching or how her heart sank with each passing moment.  She had gone there searching for a hero and for rescue, but instead she had found neither, only honest answers that left her feeling worse than when she had come.  She appreciated the honesty, but she needed more. She needed a refuge from herself, but instead left that meeting feeling more lonely, hurt, and desperate than she had ever felt before.

After she left the building she walked over to the rail that overlooked the ground several stories below. Holding the rail tightly in her hands she stared at the concrete, trees, and shrubs, it seemed as if they were speaking to her: “Jump into our arms,” they whispered, “we can bring you help.  We can silence the ache.”  Tears fell from her eyes as she gripped the rail tighter and stepped closer to it.  She had been so tempted to join them, to land in their prickly arms.  As she was about to begin her climb she saw a man below who stood looking up at her.  When their eyes met, he saw into her and she was truly seen, past the typical mirror looking back and into the window of her.  It was enough to quiet the whispers and she walked away that day and back into her life.

Ruby looked out the window where the sky was turning from black to gray and went back to her writing.

It was you he saw at the rail that day little girl, it was you that had me standing there. It is you who leaves me feeling weak and needy.  I need help killing you.  I am sure that I will be told that I can’t kill you, that I need to learn how to blend you and I - the me I would be without you - together, so that I can become one whole person instead of two separate beings.



 Dawn was approaching.  She watched as the light revealed the beauty on the other side of the window.  Beauty that had been hidden in the dark shadows of night.  The sun crept over the manicured lawns, walking paths, pond, and fountains.  There was a large oak tree that stood tall and ancient.  It had stood its ground long before any of these buildings.  It had watched many nights come and go and still stood waiting for the dawn of each new day.  

……………………………Chapter…………………………

  

Warm water washed over her body as she stood underneath the shower head.  She stood there watching the dirt swirl down the drain and disappear. No matter how hard she stared at the drain her memories wouldn’t mix with the dirt, they just kept swirling through her mind, and as the last bit of dirt swirled away her ability to avoid the emotions that went with the memories went down the drain with it.  The emotions washed over her and she sank down into the bathtub.  Every negative emotion that one could feel pelted her along with the water: sadness, anger, fear, terror, heartache, loneliness, want, hurt, pain, and more.  She could not hold them down any longer.  She had held them for far too long.  The voice in her head emulated that of Dr. Robins, “Can you name them?  You cannot fight nor embrace that which doesn’t have a name. Giving them a name gives you the power, not them.  Find your power, Ruby.  Name them.”

Ruby rubbed the snot, tears, and water from her face and pushed the hair out of her eyes, a spark of fight beginning to gleam in them.

“FEAR”  she whispered. “I am taking my power back. I acknowledge you, but you will no longer control me and make me run.” She thought of the motivational poster she had seen on a wall. “No longer will I try to Forget Everything And Run. I will allow myself to Feel Everything And Rise.”

As she went through the list of emotions coursing through her and naming each of them her voice and the belief in the words she was saying became stronger causing their hold on her to grow weaker.  

Then she rose. 

If her experience under the willow tree had been the death of who she had been then this was her resurrection—a baptism— a parting of her old ways of merely surviving into a rising up to a new life of thriving.  She was ready to name the reality of what her past had been.  Ready to name it and fight what needed fighting and to embrace what needed embracing.  When Ruby turned the water on that evening she was a casualty of the war that raged within her.  Now as she turned the water off she was emerging as a warrior ready to battle.