The Ivy of Anxiety

The anxiety began to build creeping in and taking over like a beautiful ivy. I ignored the warning signs and let the vine wrap itself tighter and tighter. Soon I was unable to move, unable to breathe, the anxiety controlled my every move. I fell to my knees, as others did on my behalf as well. The Spirit began to cut the vine away, slowly returning me to me. I fell to my yoga practice, worship music filling the room. My muscles shook, my body depleted as the words from “It is well” washed through me.

“Through it all, through it all.

My eyes are on you

And it is well with me.”

 

The words whisper to my heart as the last strands of the vine burn away in the heat of his love.

It’s so easy to wonder, to worry, to doubt, to drop my eyes from him and let the waves overtake me as I cry out in fear. Every time He catches me and every time he asks, “My love, why do you still doubt? I will never leave you, nor forsake you. I have plans for you; plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Call upon me and I will hear you. Seek me with all your heart and you will find me in the still small voice residing in your soul. Do not be anxious, but pray without ceasing, for whether you to turn to the left or to the right you will know my will and the way to walk in.”

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Alice in Wonderland

I had just left another church service, which I had been late to.  I already felt defeated as I sat through one of my favorite worship songs, feeling like my insides were growing harder by the second.  I listened to a sermon that probably related to me in more ways then I was willing to hear.  And then I got into my car and drove away, talking to a God who I wasn’t sure was even listening to me.  I drove talking and screaming,  giving voice to the truth of my hardened heart, and my inability to feel connection with those around me.  I topped a hill and began to beat on my chest, screaming at the God of the universe that “I am broken!”

Something inside of me is broken. I have given up, lost my desire to push through struggles in life and I am just tired.  After 6 months of rest, I have realized there is no amount of sleep or downtime that will fix this in my life.  Only He can.  But He and I have been here before, I have met Him in this place time and time again.  I always find myself applying my truth that I am broken, unfixable.  This is who I am, life has made me this way, and there is no way back.  After all they say you can’t go backwards.  My future terrifies me, and the God that I trusted to bring me here has stopped talking.  In His silence I recall that asked me to take the path less traveled, and I did.   It led me into an area untamed, with no path forward.  For months I have taken my machete to the forest around me, only to run into spiritual wall after spiritual wall.  I find myself no closer to happiness, joy or God.  Yet in the stillness, I repeat His word to myself  “Be still and Know that He is God”  to trust Him that “He has a plan for my life, for wholeness and not for evil.”  And His promises that He has prepared good works for me to do and I will walk in them.  I the silence and the waiting I am spiraling out of control and losing my sanity.  In defeat I fall to my knees and spend my days and nights reminding myself that He is a Good Good Father and He will never let me down!  It is all I can do, I have nothing left.

Nothing has changed, I still feel dead and broken inside, I feel like He has stopped walking with me.   I fear I left him on the side of the path somewhere. He turned and I missed the still small voice in my ear telling me to turn left or right.  Out of habit I have turned to my old friends Fear and Anxiety to only feel disgusted with myself, weak and inferior.  Shouldn’t I turn to His word?  I try but His words ring hollow to me right now.  I am lost in the hopelessness and the truth that He does not promise happiness this side of heaven.  So who am I to ask?  I read passages encouraging me to be brave and courageous and I become angry.  I have taken that path before, only to have door after door slammed into my face.

My options are many, but I feel lost in my indecision.  I can lean against the walls I have uncovered, go backwards-daydreaming that if I had only stayed it would be different, pick up my machete and move forward putting my hope in my own accomplishments, or I wait on Him to finally tell me what to do.  So I wait, surrounded by brambles, thorns, and animals unknown.  Attacked day and night by my own fears, insecurities, and hopelessness, and wonder if I can truly put all my hope in Him and trust that He has a plan for my life and he is currently working it out.  What if He is telling me to pick up my machete again?  How do I overcome my fear and move forward, not knowing if another wall will meet me once I beat my way through.  How am I to know I am to beat my way through and not wait for him to clear them.  It is all so confusing and I don’t know what to do.

I want to end this leaving you with hope that I will be okay, but today in this moment I don’t know that.  The only thing I do know is He is my savior and I when I leave this earth I will see Him face to face.  Until then, I will seek His face, pray he holds to his promises, and someday I will find His face again.

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He’s in the waiting

I sit in your presence in the waiting room of life.

Snuggled into the body of the creator, I stare at the bright green walls. My mind wonders to what’s happening on stage. I long to know what is ahead for me, I ask Him to tell me, plead with Him to let me know. Instead He smiles down at me, smooths back the hair from my forehead and gently kisses where hair meets skin.
He pulls me in closer and we settle back into our positions. I pull away and begin to pace the room, looking for a clue among the things scattered around me. I see a map, a pen and paper, heartache and love, joy and loss, but no answer comes. Instead I stare at the door, longing to go out, knowing I could step out there, but I would have to leave His presence if I did.
I fire questions at Him, hoping that this time He will answer. I lay out my plan, the future I want and ask Him to bless it. I square off with the silent figure, sitting so peacefully, with every intention of demanding what I want out of this life.
I stop cold as I stare into the eyes of creation. I see the lines of compassion etched into his face and all I can do is collapse back into His arms.
He pulls me back into where I belong, grace floods over me and peace restores my sanity. I cling to the mountain of foundation and stare at the door, waiting for life to begin.

This is how I feel most days. My desperate need for rest has led me down a path where I am in a holding pattern, waiting for God to show me the next step. I have tried multiple options to get that door open, but nothing works. So now I sit here, some what apathetic and bored with life, wishing He would give me a clue as to what comes next. Instead He smiles at me, eases my fears, encourages me to rest and continues to restore my soul.  So I choose to wait for Him to move.

“Hear instruction and be wise,
and do not neglect it.
Blessed is the one who listens to me,
watching daily at my gates,
waiting beside my doors.
For whoever finds me finds life
and obtains favor from the Lord,”
Proverbs8″33-35

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Beauty in the Battle

I went for a walk this morning.  I am blessed to live 5 minutes from Smithville Lake, so I walk on the trail there.  As I started out I marveled at the beauty of the day.  The sky was a crystal blue, birds danced above the trees and the water was smooth and calm.  As I walked though, a wind began to blow.  It started out behind me, driving me pushing me forward, I hardly noticed it was there at first as it did nothing to impede my progress.

Soon I had to turn and I was walking straight into the rushing air.  It was blowing so hard I could do nothing but put one foot in front of the other using the path to guide me back to my car.  The beautiful day around me was lost as I struggled to make progress in the blustery wind.  When I did look up the once calm water had grown choppy and dangerous and clouds had begun to form in the empty sky.

As I struggled I tried to focus on the beauty that still surrounded me God began to relate my current predicament to the last few months in Kansas City.  When I moved here in January I did so full of hope and promise, even excitement at some of the things God was asking me to do.  Sure it was a new level of trust and obedience, but He always asks more of us so we have to rely on Him, right.  But this past month the winds of Fear and Self-doubt have taken over my life, sucking the joy and hope out of each day.

God wanted to show me though that the beauty of the process still surrounds me.  The time with my mother is precious, not to mention the much needed space to rest and remember who I am in Christ.  Add on top of that the joy in chasing a dream, being allowed to follow my heart, this current life is a dream come true.

However, I have to choose how I am going to look at it.  Will I continue to plow forward through the mundane or will I choose to look up and see the beauty of what god is doing.  Be
cause, struggles come and struggles go, in fact most of my life has felt like a continual battle uphill.  But the truth is there has been beauty every step along the way, I have just missed it in the moment.  By refusing to look up and let my eyes rest on Jesus, I miss what He is doing.  In the midst of my daily struggles he is moving and if I am not careful I will miss it.

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Finding myself

What’s it like living in the will of God?

It’s confusing, emotional, and sometimes downright awful!

It’s questioning, every moment of every day, if you really heard his voice say go that way.  Then deciding if you will continue to go where He pointed.

These past two months have been some of the hardest of my life.  I had to choose to let go of the good life I had found and choose His best. But I never doubted for a second, in my heart anyway, that this was His will. 12 years ago, I choose Him and I have done my best to follow Him. But the last four years I choose to ignore His calling on my life and I ended up in the desert of rebellion. Now, I have turned my gaze back to Him and have agreed to walk the path He wants me.  And my soul feels as if it is refreshed by the living spring of God. He has given me water as he promised and the only thing I really thirst for is more of Him.

But I still find myself angry and confused.
This is not the path I would have picked for me. I picked a path that included a husband, a couple kids, weekends at the ball park that kind of thing. On my path, I would live out my days merely raising the next generation and loving my husband. But He has more for me, and if I am honest I am truly excited to see what His best really is. I have clung to good for so long, and now I am attempting to reach for His best and what I am finding is surprising me.
At the bottom of His wellspring of life I have found a joy and peace that is truly indescribable. And I have found a confidence in myself and an ability to deal with the hard things I never wanted to before. But most importantly I am finding me, the me He shaped me to be before I was even in my mother’s womb.

I am stepping into the dream of my heart and I am excited to see where He takes me.

This is me taking a big bite out of life!

So I ask again, what’s it like to live in the will of God? Terrifying, fulfilling, joyful and peaceful!!

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Whispered Words

It all started out so innocently.
Whispered words from a trusted friend.
“Your not happy here.”
A simple statement, with an immediate and profound impact on my current state of being.

Those words washed over me like a flood, destroying the emotional dam I’d built up to numb me from the truth. The truth that I was living in rebellion, outside the will of God. But how could I admit those words were true when I finally had a job I loved?

For the last 20 years I have held many positions, in the pursuit of a career, and have found only one job I truly enjoyed. There are three things that I look for when determining if I love a job or not. Good pay, wonderful co-workers and work that stimulates me mentally. However, most jobs only meet one of those criteria! In fact only one has met all three and it was in Nashville outside of the will of God.  For the first time in my life I had found a job that stimulated me mentally, offered financial security and I had the best co-workers in the world. So for 8 hours a day I poured myself into my work, only to trudge home to an empty house and an empty heart. I had friends in abundance, but no social life, and churches in abundance, but no relationship with Him.

For four years I struggled to find connection, to feel a part of something, and to connect with Him without admitting the truth. The truth that I was living in rebellion. God had called me back to Kansas City and instead I choose to go to Nashville. He let me, and He blessed me in that choice, but the consequence of my rebellion was separation from Him, the source of my joy, peace and life. When I choose to ignore His voice and move to Nashville I built a wall that separated me from Him. A wall that I couldn’t break through without acknowledging the truth of those words.

“Your not happy here.”

So when those words washed over me I watched as my wall was demolished in one fell swoop. And I knew in that instance that I had a choice I could rebuild the wall or I could have relationship with Him.

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The Master

The Master’s hands flowed over the edge of the bowl, each finger with a purpose, intent on creation.   The Host looked on, their beauty, nothing in comparison to what He was creating.  

Their breathe held,  he spoke the first moment into being.  

The scream of new life, the sigh of exhaustion, pure love, joy, confusion.  This started it all. Her first breathe, her place in the world defined.  Angela, messenger, daughter, warrior, princess, beautiful.  His fingers picked up speed, blurring as He placed every minute, every hour.   Day after day, stopping periodically to mourn a moment of pain, or celebrate the moment she chose Him.  

After, several years, he paused, and a tear rolled down his cheek.  His strong hands stroked the small form as he whispered “my love, this will hurt so bad, and you will make so many choices based on this moment.  I wish we could skip it, but others will make decisions that bring this pain into your unsuspecting heart.  I promise you though, I will use this for good.”  

Once again his fingers began their work, pushing (“for good”), prodding (“for good”), stretching (“for good”), shaping (“for good”). Pausing for a second time, a huge smile spreading across his face “Here is the first time you will see the good.  Your pain will bring comfort to someone else, even draw her closer to me.  You will find such joy in sharing me, helping others.”  As he said these words his fingers continued their work.

Once again his fingers slowed.  Gently placing each moment, whispering to the form, reassuring her of his presence. “My dear, this is your desert, you will be here for years and see no way out.  Seek me and you will find me.  This time is so precious.  Here you will discover your value, and begin to view yourself as I do.  Finally, the rhythm of life will begin to make sense and you will start to find joy in every breathe I give you.  You will let go of everything but me and I will begin to show you what I can really do.  Even in the joy you will find pain, but nothing will destroy you.  Instead you will become stronger and stronger.”  

He continued placing each moment, living each moment as it happened, as it happens, as it will happen, until he reached the end.  He slowed to etch in the specifics, the beauty of her mother, the wanderlust of her father.  Blonde hair that sparkles with rubies.  Eyes of blue that burn green with anger.  Passion for life, calmness to contain it.  Compassion for those who can’t fight for themselves.  He stopped, taking in the beauty of His creation.  She shown with joy and peace and would be a light of love to those around her.  He looked up into the eyes of the Host and smiled, the anticipation in the room reaching a frenzy.  And the Host began to sing “Holy, Holy is the Lord Almighty” 

The Master leaned down breathing life into her form, placing the last moment and whispering “this is where you come home to me.”  

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And in a small town in Texas I took my first breathe.  each moment already viewed by a living God, placed specifically for me, tailored to deal with the choices of others, as well as mine.

And He has done the same for you.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s wound.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”  Psalms 139:13-14

“But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay,and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8

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My Story

 

Have you heard this song?  “My Story” Listen to it here

“If I told you my story
You would hear Hope that wouldn’t let go
And if I told you my story
You would hear Love that never gave up
And if I told you my story
You would hear Life, but it wasn’t mine”

For the last year I have struggled with guilt that I was letting God down by not writing, but when I heard this song  I swear a little light bulb popped up over my head!  Maybe God doesn’t need me to tell my story for Him, but to remind me of who He is.  You see when I lost hope, I lost me.  I lost my purpose and my passion for this life and I lost what He is to me.  MY savior and redeemer.  When I don’t write, when I don’t tell my story I loose what He has done and is doing, and He knows this!  But I also loose out on opportunities to connect with others.

There is this woman, who has been telling me her story for years, and she doesn’t even know it.  Because she does it through sharing when she has an aha moment with God, or when she hasn’t heard from Him in years.  She does it through her authenticity when she tells me of her struggle to be a Godly wife and mom.  But I also hear it in the voices of her daughters as they grow into beautiful women.

Most of us bleed our stories into life around us and have no idea the impact we make on those around us. Tonight I was reminded of a time when I did this, and it reminded me of who I am in God.

So here I am trying to believe that my story is not inadequate and that someone needs to hear them.  Because I need to tell my story, I need to bleed it.  I need to remind myself that my story isn’t my story but His story.

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A New Hope

It’s new years eve, that time of year we all sit and reflect on the past year.  2015 was the hardest year Ive encountered since I came to Christ over 10 years ago, and there is not one thing that made it so.  I just systematically gave up each day a little bit more, until I had no hope in anything ever going right.  But most importantly I gave up on God.   But He didn’t give up on me (does He ever).

My car was stolen – He blessed me with more than I paid for it in compensation

I sprained my ankle – it should have broke!!

I pulled away from church, friends – they reached out to me and wouldn’t let me fall through the cracks.

I pulled away from Him – He continued to bless me with answered prayers, a trip to India, memories with my mother and renewed relationships.

I gained loads of weight – He reminded me of my true beauty outside of my appearance.

I lost all hope – He showed me what hope truly looks like.

For over ten years I have chased after the love of my life, but my hope wasn’t in Him.  It was in me.  I believed I was the one who always had to push through, I was the one who had to get up and keep going everyday.  But I see now my hope was misplaced, and that is why this year was so hard.  You see when you place your hope in yourself or another person you are bound to be let down.  But if your hope is in the living God, life is limitless, because He is limitless.

And this is how I enter 2016 with a new Hope in a living God, and I am excited.  I have never encountered Him this way before and it feels good to function out of hope instead of despair.  So I face this year with hope that He will guide me out of the depths of laziness I have fallen into it.  That He will show me my value to His kingdom, not this world.   And my Hope is in His promise that He is working all things for my good and His glory.

I pray you find a new hope this year as well and that your life would be transformed by the saving power of Christ.

A New Hope

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Is low self-esteem a sin?

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” Proverbs 29:25

Last time,I confessed the loss of my first love. I also confessed how I refuse to see myself through His eyes. In response my mother asked me if dwelling on low self esteem is a sin?

“Well of course it is!” I thought.

After much pondering I reached the same conlcusion. Our society spends so much talking about self-improvement it is hard for us to face this sin, but it is.

Over the past two week I have asked my self the following questions:
Is low self esteem a sin, is dwelling on it a sin?
Does low self esteem grieve the Holy Spirit? And if so, why?

When God made man He endowed us with a sense of self, which Freud termed our Ego. This is where our motivation and drive for decisions as well as our self talk come from. The ego is where our sense of reason is developed and where our curiosity blossoms from. But most importantly it is the part of us which interacts with the Holy Spirit.

So how can the development of this integral part of us be a sin? By feeding it the wrong things.

We have two choices when fueling our ego.
1.We can choose to fuel it with things of the world; images from magazines, movies and music, words from popular songs and those I allow to be around me. This strengths my ego to see myself as the world does: overweight, lazy, unwanted, and unloveable.

2. We can choose to fuel it with the things of God; His Word, worship music, wise council and truth from the Spirit. This strengthens my ego to see myself the way God created me: intelligent, creative, funny, emotional, deeply interested in others, good listener, musically talented, writer, runner, loved by many.

In reality I could go on for days with words describing who God created me to be. But I choose most days to focus on how the world sees me.

So how is self esteem or dwelling on self esteem a sin?

By the focus of our heart. My heart should dwell continually on Christ and who He is. This will in turn cause the fruits of the Spirit to flow from within me, making my need to focus on my self unnecessary.

How do I make Christ the focus? By being aware of every word spoken in my presence. By drowning myself in the words of His book. And by spending time in His presence and focused on His people.

Where does your heart truly lie?

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