I escaped into my closet for a moment to myself. It wasn't the spilled milk all over the floor, or the peanut butter on the wall...it was just everything, all of it. Those things just happened to be the last straw.. And I ran to my closet trying to catch my breath. "Lord I am about to break. This year has been so much, too much. I can't handle one more thing. I could fall apart into a million pieces if this doesn't get any easier." I am sure you have prayed like this before. My hands clenched tightly and my jaw pressed firm together, I did my best to calm down before I walked back out to the living room to assess the situation and somehow, someway lead my four children past this moment and into the rest of our afternoon.
I know I am not alone in this feeling. My desire in my writing today is to come alongside of you and say my heart longs for peace too. My mind longs to not race with questions, doubts and what ifs as well. Friend, you are not alone.
We have had an amazing year but a hard year. Saying yes to God is a dream fulfilled but no dream comes without risks. No stepping out in faith feels easy does it? Faith is the space between what you once knew and what you know to be true and that in-between space reveals your faith. Sometimes you don't like what you find.
The season of fall often leaves one reflecting and maybe you could look back on the past 11 months and see many moments that have left you hurt and questioning. When the tension rises and life feels uncertain it can take your faith and your assurance of things right there with it. Everything starts to be in question, the doubts flood your mind, and life feels too heavy and too much. And you cry out to God in desperation and you wait for any sign of His existence. This is the moment when you really need Him to show up, part the seas, say your name, knock on the door, put a word in the clouds, something... anything, please...
Well the Lord answered me in my honest prayer. Want to know what He said? He simply said, "How about instead of breaking apart you break wide open."
There is a difference isn't there? Breaking apart reminds me of a grenade. A grenade full of shards of glass that, when it explodes, it hurts and hits everything in its' path. Leaving a mess that is not easily cleaned up or swiped away. Breaking apart feels like a momentary burst of uncontrollable emotions left unchecked. Yes it brings a momentary relief but it doesn't really fix anything. It usually makes the situation much worse, it leaves a mark.
But breaking wide open, now that's another choice, another way of living altogether.
Could breaking wide open be an act of true surrender? Like Mary pouring out her oil, her alabaster jar broken wide open for all to see onto the One who is truly worthy. Could breaking wide open be a life of totally letting go, giving in and giving up all control? Is this the every day surrender we often hear preached about? Is this the freedom we all crave?
When you break wide open it uncovers and reveals something in you that you have never known. A faith grown and changed, a perspective that keeps growing and doesn't stay the same. Yes, the breaking wide open is a life poured out. I believe if Mary could talk to us from heaven she would say, "He's worth it, I promise. Every drop, waste it all!"
I don't have a four step process on how to do this. I truly don't think it exists, but I can give you this. What I keep seeing when I pray for this and through this is this picture.It's the Japanese art called kintsugi. It's the art of taking broken pottery and putting it back together and painting the cracks gold.
You see when we break wide open this is possible. This is the redemption work of our Redeemer. This is the refiner's fire. And when we break wide open He reveals Himself in ways we never knew and He shows us more of who He created us to be, and picks us up and puts us back together more beautiful than before. And our cracks now shine as our testimony for another. For that is how we overcome. By the beautiful blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.
So I dare you to break wide open today. The gold paint is waiting to be brushed on you in all the areas you never thought could be beautiful. Let the Artist do His work, for we are His workmanship after all.
I have not written a post in a few months, honestly I haven't written much of anything besides my desperate, vulnerable prayers to the Lord. I have gone to sit down and type something to inspire and motivate you multiple times, but I just feel like I haven't had much to say. I feel the pressure of the expectation I put on myself to write once a month, to produce, to keep pushing towards my writing goals and dreams. But that's not been possible lately, and that's just not the season I have been in, maybe you can relate. Things have just felt so foggy, so full, so flipped in a direction I never thought my life would go or dream it would go that I am left with a lot of thoughts but not many words to string together. I think that's what happens when CHANGE has come. There is that word, it makes some of you cringe, or maybe it makes you excited, it makes you worry, it makes you doubt. The what, when, where, why, and how? All of those questions come rather quickly after the news of change, and then you're left trying to answer those questions from a very small view point of your own life. A zoomed in view so to say, instead of the zoomed out view that the Father has.
I read recently that change is the only constant we really have in our lives, and isn't that the truth. Sometimes the change comes suddenly and other times it comes so gradually that you don't notice till a few weeks or months later, but change is always coming, change will always happen. The question isn't (the 4 W's and the H for my grammar friends); the true question is how will I handle the change when it comes.
Change can be positive or negative, big or small, but it leaves us all searching for something to ground us. Looking for a bit of normalcy and rhythm till we can wrap our minds around our new reality. As I have navigated the change in my life that has unfolded the past two months, I have done some things right and some things wrong. And I will say, the change coming for my family and myself is amazing. It's good, it's Godly, it's some of my dreams coming true and some dreams I didn't even know I had being gifted to me by the grace of God! It's remarkable really. I am humbled. But what I am learning is that as we step out in faith, say yes to God, and He allows the winds of change to come, it by no means, means we will know every step we are taking. It actually feels like a giant trust fall with Him, like we are wearing a blindfold and running listening for His voice and just following that.
So, if you are here, reading this and you are in a season of change, I want to simply remind you of Truths from the Father that He has for you His daughter. Again, I don't have many words, or poetic sentences for you today. But what I have is my real, raw self that is working through this beautiful wild season of change clinging to the Word of God like it's the breath in my lungs, because it truly is. And I have tasted and I have seen that the Lord is good, and I long for you to taste too.
What if we walked through seasons of change not entertaining the question, "What if it doesn't work out?" But instead believe with faith bursting in our hearts, "What if it does?" I smile as I type that. It's risky, it's bold, but beautifully surrendered to the King of Heaven. I'm going for it.
This morning, I am sitting on the street corner of Second and Main watching the world fly by. People walking very slowly, oblivious to the others around them who are trying to get in their steps. The little dog barking at the dog three times bigger than him. The dad on his phone trailing behind the son on his bike far ahead ready to go discover something new today. The man who rode his bike here is now sitting across from me and his little bike light that helps keep him safe is flashing in my peripheral vision…that won’t be fun the rest of this time but I’ll do my best to block it out for the sake of this present I long to give you as you start this new year. He is kind, he offers a polite, “Good morning, is this table open?” He has kindness in his eyes.
It is fun to watch the world go by, it’s fun to sit and take it all in. The ordinary day to day, we can find the Father if we search and look and have eyes to see and ears to hear. In the mundane Mondays, the routines, the schedule; they can really be brand new days of growth, of learning, of joy and holiness. It doesn’t have to come on the first of January as you open that fresh calendar, it can come on a Wednesday in mid-June. It’s a perspective, it’s choice, its living fully present.
I love this day, the new year. I am sucker for starting fresh. I love thinking of all that is to come and I love letting go of all that’s behind me and pressing forward. I want to meet you on this new day, of the new month, of the new year. Maybe you are taking a sigh of relief that 2020 is over, maybe you are still sad and broken about many hard things that happened last year. You woke, hoping to not feel the pain but alas, it’s right there in a tight ball in the middle of your chest. Or maybe you are like me and are hopeful for all that is to come, or maybe you don’t think much about it. You are such a realist that it’s just another day. Well, wherever you are on the spectrum of feelings and thoughts about the New Year I would love to share something the Father has so graciously taught me all last year that He wants me to press in and make it a focus this year.
One of my words for the year is present. Yes, I have more than one, I love words. I have like three words and a theme, I can't help myself. I am such an overachiever, or a bad decision maker, either way I just love it! But God has been speaking to me so much about present. About being present, thinking present, living present, breathing present, and as you start this fresh year I want to share what I have learned last year that I am going to practice all this year.
Being present is such a cliché saying, but what deep meaning it has. To be present is a gift waiting to be opened with expectation every day. Oftentimes we long to escape the present because we don’t like how it feels or it wasn’t what we thought it would look like. Or it is just really hard...beyond hard. We scream, “Lord get me out of here!” And you know what that’s fair. I have said that many of times. But I will say…if I may…in my most trying times are the moments I have felt His presence, and comfort and love in ways I have never experienced Him before. Because up until that point I didn’t need Him like this. But now I do. And isn’t that the gift of the present? His Presence.
Sometimes we don’t like the present because it's the same thing, every day, over and over again. "What's my purpose? Am I seen? Do I bring value? Is what I am doing actually of any worth at all? Does it even matter?" I understand dear friend and have much compassion. I have often felt that as a teacher in a classroom. Feeling, "Is what I am doing really going to change any of my student's lives?" As a mother, constantly pouring myself out every single day when no one else sees me, does this even have any eternal weight? Everyone else's posts and lives look way more vibrant, fun, and important than mine. Yes, all of this is real and valid. But on this new day, of this new year this is where I hope it can shift. Acknowledge of all those feelings, but let us not stay there. Shake off the old and bring in the new, not just today, but every day.
Being present starts in the mind, it starts with our faith. Being present is a choice of a life fully surrendered. A, "Not my will but Yours be done." A life bowed down open to the day and what it might bring. Opening your eyes in the morning like you open a gift expectant that you will find His presence all throughout the 24 hours you have been so graciously given.
Psalm 143: 8
So all these places you want to go, these dreams you have, these hopes and expectations for the future. Well before you can get there, you have to be here.
To be present is to be PRE-SENT.
Before you can go or be where you hope to be you must show up to the here and the now. The Lord spoke to Samuel in the night, and he answered, "Here I am." HERE. We must be here. In Isaiah 6:8 the Lord asks, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" And Isaiah answers, "Here I am..."
I know you have dreams. I know you have hopes. And we both know the Lord has plans for your future full of hope, joy, and love. (It will most likely come in ways you don't expect) I have huge dreams, and hopes, and desires. But to get there, you must be HERE. I must be here. In the middle of night when my son wakes afraid and wants me to comfort him. In the middle of homeschool where I patiently guide my children in handwriting or math. In the kitchen making dinner again for the hundredth time.
So show up today. Be fully present, in His presence today.
The man on the bike, his name is Peter, he is a head and neck surgeon. I told him I am a writer. I always feel so confident and joyful when I say that out loud. His profession feels much more prominent than mine, but the goal is the same, to help people, to bring life to dead places. We chat about my husband’s job, with him being a pastor that usually sparks more thoughts or ends the conversation rather quickly. He wishes me a happy new year and says, “Good luck with your writing, I hope to hear about you some day.” I tear up, “Yes, me too Peter.” A word spoken into my deep longing, my biggest dream. And it is spoken on a normal day on Second and Main. It’s the being present, there is the gift right there.
I needed to feel confident. It was a hard day, that turned into a hard week that escalated into a long, tiring, and weary month. (2020 anyone?) I needed to feel strong, confident and capable so I went on a run. I put on my headphones and blasted my anthem song. I started to run as my pace increased, I envisioned myself boxing. Yes boxing, it's literally been a dream of mine to be able to box. (I'm aggressive ok!) As I started to run, I thought of all the moments (and people) that have frustrated me and I ran faster and faster. I said to myself I feel so strong, I am confident, and capable. And then I rounded the corner of the neighborhood and I heard a gentle whisper that said, "This isn't the strong I want you to be Heather."
I turned the music off and stopped with my hands on my hips catching my breath, I suddenly felt His presence. With tears in my eyes I just listened. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest as my lungs breathed hard exhaling my frustrations and inhaling awaited breaths as I hoped He would keep speaking to me. Then I heard, "Strong is complete brokenness. Bending down low, humbling yourself so you can hear My ways, my plans and my strategies. Strong is every day serving your children with joy in your heart. Strong is submission in humbleness willing to go where I send you and walk where I lead you. Yes strong is fighting and pushing and working. But Heather you know how to do that already. I am cultivating in you another type of strong."
Are you a strong woman? There seems to be a movement in the world...definitely more culture led than spiritual, but it is about strong women. Standing up for yourself, fighting, breaking the glass ceiling, doing things only men have ever done. Now I am all about that, I have three daughters, so hear me I want them to be strong. But what kind of strong are you?
I grew up climbing trees, playing sports with all the boys, ruff and tumble and don't tell me what I can't do kinda girl. I pushed and strived, and fought and was down right determined to do whatever it was someone believed I couldn't. I was strong. And in this world, we must be strong. We fight, we work, we get it done. We do it afraid, we run hard, we don't quit. And that's beautiful. That's something I would applaud, most would applaud. Most people recognize this as strength, maybe some are intimidated by this and call this bossy, pushy, cocky, etc. But I am not talking about that today. I could, because I have been labeled many of those, (a blog for another time). But today, I am talking about strength, because this is a deeper level of faith and trust that I have walked and I know it's where the Lord wants to take His daughters. This is the kind-of strength I am talking about that is not awarded by this world. It is not liked or followed on Instagram. It isn't pinned on Pinterest and it surely isn't building your platform of influence. But it's the kinda strong that brings heaven to earth, that shifts a room, that softens a harden heart.
It's the kinda strong that breaks down walls of insecurity, fear, and bitterness. The strong that intercedes in prayer and never gives up, the strong that dies to self everyday so that you can be led by Jesus in every way. The strong that breaks herself open like an alabaster jar and pours herself out and the aroma of her life is pleasing to the Father. Yes this is strong. And this is the kind-of strong we must be "For such a time as this."
To the world it looks lowly, forgotten, passive, a pushover, a wimp, a doormat. It won't be applauded or praised, it wont look too good filtered or cropped for a photo, because it's messy, and hard, and holy, and broken in the best way. It's not logical, it's heavenly and focused on the unseen. It's a never giving up; not by striving for attention but by seeking the affection of the Lord. Because He promises when you seek Him you will find Him. We are all looking for something, and you will find it. And if this year hasn't taught you how fragile everything except Jesus is then I am here to tell you that He is the only thing that doesn't change, shift, break or lie. It's time to wake up and be fully alive and that means fully surrendering to what He is doing in HIS-Story. (History) And it's time to live the broken life before Jesus, because that is truly strong.
You finally have a chance to sit down. The house is quiet, the day is ending. You climb into that favorite spot of yours and you just take a deep breath. You close your eyes for just a moment when suddenly you remember the conversation you had. You wonder if the words that were said were completely true. Did they mean that comment in a negative way? You question the motive, the tone. Yet you shake your head and try to move on. But then you remember the text from the friend; she responded days later. Was that intentional? She responded to the group text right away but not your personal. Was it an accident?
You move on again to just relax and you decide to open Instagram and start to scroll, and after 5 minutes you have seen 20 photos of other people losing weight, getting pregnant or engaged. Buying that new dream house, releasing a book, writing a new song, or having just the best day ever and you throw your phone down and immediately feel inadequate, insecure, and incompetent.
You sat down to breathe, to rest your mind, to relax in the quiet, but what happens when we get in the quiet is we realize that it's not so quiet after all. Because all day you were busy and those feelings and thoughts didn't have a chance to be recognized, but once you have a moment here they come rushing up and rushing in. You and I do one of two things.
1. You acknowledge and work through them, surrendering them to the Father and finding healing.
2. You ignore them and go to an escape, that really isn't an escape. It's a trap.
I come to you with these words not as an expert but as a student longing to have her mind rewired because if this year has proven anything to me it is that the only words that are completely trustworthy are Gods' and I am not wasting another year getting caught up in the earthly brokenness when I have been called higher to live in a heavenly beauty. Those two choices above reveal to you where you are living.
We must learn to mind our mind. Be aware of your thoughts, and be aware of the path your thoughts lead you down. Like when you are getting ready for the day and you are talking out loud through a scenario just in case it happens. Usually you are explaining yourself or you are defending yourself right? Or you are driving and you remember something that happened and how hurt you were and suddenly a pleasant drive just turned into a very angry moment. Your hands are tight on the wheel and you feel heat rising up in your chest as you replay the scenario like a scene from a movie. Like it just happened. How did you get here? Your thoughts led you here.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.
/ˈstrôNGˌhōld/ - a place where a particular cause or belief is strongly defended or upheld
This verse has been speaking to me for weeks now. I always saw strongholds as good. The Lord if my stronghold, my tower, my protection. Psalm 94:22, Psalm 18:2, Psalm 27:1-3, yes and amen to these but this verse refers to the strongholds that are not good ones. And I think for the renewing of our minds to take place we MUST recognize these strongholds that are present. These strongholds are built on lies we have believed. Those lies become realties that we begin to live that effect the way we see. The way we see ourselves and the way we see others, the way we see God. They don't just mess with our vision but they then change the way we speak and love and serve, they change the way we dream and set goals, the way we walk in confidence and assuredness of our hope and future. And it all started from a thought in our mind that has now turned into a stronghold.
There are places in our mind that could potentially have these strongholds we begin to defend them, as if they are real. Do you see the danger here? The deceit of the enemy and the craftiness. And it all happens in between our ears. I recently listened to someone speak about the power of our minds and a lot of big words I didn't fully understand, but what I did take away was this. Our brains want the quickest way to think through something, the way we always think. For example, if you have a stronghold that says, "I am not loved." And you wave to someone and they don't see you, your brain will take you down this "road" so to say, this thought, this stronghold that you are not loved. This road becomes a highway and it gets bigger and bigger that you continually believe you are not loved.
"But be transformed by the RENEWING of your mind..."
What is so beautiful if you are in Jesus is that we have a choice. We can change our thought process. And you know how long that takes? Ten minutes. It takes ten minutes to create a new thought and for that thought to make a "new road" in your mind. Just ten minutes. So my dear sister in Christ, if you can muster the strength to face those thoughts, the ones that you know lead you down the wrong roads, and let the Father renew your mind, you will be transformed. You will be set free.
I encourage you today to take captive those thoughts to the obedience of Christ. Because when we walk in obedience, heaven comes down, we begin to see and hear the way He intended, and we begin to think on the things of heaven. We just have to mind our minds.
Disappointment. That's the feeling I have been facing the past few months, and maybe like me, in the middle of what seems to be the hardest year we have faced, you can resonate with that word.
The job that is not at all what you thought it would be, the homeschooling hopes that were quickly dashed when you began to feel "not cut out for this". The friendships that you thought were something that they just aren't. The family situation, the truth being revealed and you are left picking up the pieces to a very big mess that you did not make. Disappointment leaves us with an ache and an anger because you know things could be better. They really don't have to be this way, but the reality is that they are. And you are left ..well disappointed.
I have felt a bit stuck here in this disappointment. Maybe it's my own doing and a lack of better perspective, maybe it's hormones because for some reason after baby #4 my body seems angry at me, or maybe just maybe the Lord is wanting to teach me something...to have me dig a bit deeper past the disappointment and have me look at my hopes and my expectations and where I am placing them and in whom am I placing them.
(of a person) sad or displeased because someone or something has failed to fulfill one's hopes or expectations.
I am learning as I trudge through this disappointment that whenever we place the key to our happiness or, our hopes really, in someone else's pocket you are setting yourself up to be disappointed. Because people fail and they are flawed, with the best intentions they try but they will never meet your hopes. People are inconsistent, they don't love like you, not all in like you. They don't ask the question back, "And how are you doing right now?" It's one-sided, you wait and wait but as every day goes by without a text or simply an acknowledgement on one of the thousand of social media platforms you are left disappointed, because yet again your hopes were broken.
Your hope in your spouse because you are just wanting them to see all you are doing and help or acknowledge, you just feel so weary so exhausted from it all. And that being the most vulnerable relationship, when our hopes are dashed there it can feel like running away is the best option.
Your plans you had set your hopes in, the way you really wanted things to go and because of many unfortunate events nothing is going as planned and you are completely defeated and want to just give up.
Or that big dream you have, the husband, the baby, the big job, and there again you see someone else got what you really want. You are left comparing, feeling deflated and defeated, wondering what's the point, is it ever going to happen for me?
Let's face it, many times we talk negatively about ourselves is because we haven't met our own expectations. You set a goal and you can't meet it. You gained more weight the past month than you lost. You wanted to wake up early but you just fall short every time. You fall back into those old habits and ways and you are left angry at yourself because you are disappointed in you.
So, what do you do? This isn't the first or the last time you are going to feel the weight of disappointment. You can't change people but you change you...or rather the Lord can change you.
It was nap time, so I put my son to bed, and snuck across the hall to my room to sneak in a quick workout. (Don't think I am awesome ok, I ate a lot of cookie dough the night before and felt like I needed to balance it all out)
I was in front of my full length mirror doing my workout and I heard Him say, "You can change the way you look, but I can change the way you see." I sat straight up and the weight of my disappointment hit me. The friends that have let me down recently, the hopes I have that feel so unreachable, the dreams and desires that I wonder, "God am I crazy to even believe this could be real?" They all came like a wave and as the tears poured I began to except that the disappointments are pushing me to see differently. And in a year like this, 2020 being the number of "perfect vision" don't we all want to see a little differently? All the truths that have been revealed on a national level, it's so heavy on the heart isn't it? And as I am sure what has been going on in your personal life isn't any lighter, what if we allowed the Father to change the way we see it all.
Ourselves seeing how much your body has done and being proud of all you have walked through and believing in wholeness for yourself. Our relationships to just love without expecting anything in return. Our spouse learning to give grace upon grace. Our Children loving them selflessly and not looking to them to be someone they are not. Our neighbor with the opposite political view. The person at church who thinks a bit differently about things than you.
Oh, what if we hit New Year's Eve and our hope wasn't in politics. It wasn't in a vaccine. It wasn't in people, a ring, a baby, the longing of our hearts...no, what if it was all in the UNseen.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.
Now faith brings our hopes into reality and becomes the foundation needed to acquire the things we long for. It is all the evidence required to prove what is still unseen.
(ESV, MSG, TPT)
We were meant to put our hope in Jesus. In the eternal, the things unseen. I heard a quote that says, "Hope is acknowledging the reality of a situation but in the same breath acknowledging the sovereignty of God." And isn't that just it. We see what it is, but we Hope in what God can do in it. Not hoping in people changing, not hoping they finally accept me, that they finally be the friend I long for, but we hope in what God wants to do regardless of what people do. We hope in the unseen, the things we can't imagine, the impossible is only made possible with Jesus. And it will be done if it is His will and it will happen ALL for His glory. Now what if we went into 2021 with new vision for everything and everyone in our lives? Then 2020, your disappointments will be well worth it all in the end. Because your disappointments push you to the appointed King over your life who cannot let you down.
He never changes nor forgets you. He sees you right where you are and He longs for you to see Him right where He is and will always be. On the throne.
Praying Fresh Vision for You
What are you looking for today?
You have access to the world at your fingertips, you can follow an unfollow, like and unlike and click on any emoji to share your feelings. You can search and google anything and everything you want. There is no distance you can't go, no knowledge you can't find and no opinions you can't see. It's everywhere, and anywhere and it will affect your internal culture, your soul if you allow it. When did this become so normal? And do we think this is healthy? That this is good?
We are soulful beings, soul-filled beings, with an eternal life at stake and those souls that we were given were not created with the ability to sift through over thousands of words a minute, of different peoples lives with a flick of the thumb, to see disasters all over the world, to see hate, anger, hurt and brokenness. (Now I agree we must be aware, however there needs to be lines and safety measures for your soul. You can all tell when you have seen too much can't you?)
And whatever you are looking for today you will find. The stain on the couch instead of being grateful for a place to sit. Your husband leaving something out instead of seeing all that he does around the house. Your stretch marks instead of the strength of your body, your uneven skin tone instead of your beautiful eyes. Your children’s mess instead of the memories…guilty very very guilty.
You will find what you are looking for…so what exactly are you looking for? That’s the question I hope you ask yourself today in this trying season of our nation. There is an outward culture and an inward culture…the outward should never be able to effect the inward but it does, and it does it so often. It's been a heavy year so far, and it's taking us on a rollercoaster of emotions. But God...hmm..but God. How often did David pen those words…in the midst of his trouble, of his fear of running for his life he said BUT GOD.
You see you will find what you are looking for. Turn on the news and you will find disaster, whether it's true or not, you will find it. Social media? Reasons to complain or compare. But If you want peace open your Bible. It’s full of it. Full of everything you could possibly need to take care of the inward culture. Because when your inward culture, your soul, is filled up with peace, joy, perspective, heavenly wisdom, knowledge and the fear of the Lord, it doesn’t matter anymore what the outward culture is doing or saying. It’s hard to live in a fallen world where the god of this age has blinded the eyes of the unsaved. (2 Corinthians 4:4) If you belong to Jesus then you don’t belong here, we are meant to be IN the world but not OF it. That’s not easy…it’s the hardest mindset I have ever tried to hold onto.
But again, you will find what you are looking for. If the eyes are the gateway to the soul (Matthew 6:22-24) then what you watch, what you read, what you scroll through matters…it matters…IT MATTERS. More is depending upon it than we know.
If I can be completely vulnerable here the Lord told me months ago, in regards to social media, “If you can’t do it with a pure heart don’t do it at all.” So I want to pass this onto you. What are you looking for today? A reason to complain? To fear? To Worry? Are you looking for a fight? Are you looking for someone who seems to have a better life than you based off their little 1080 x 1080 squares? The filter, posed, cropped photo with the perfect preset…that’s stealing your joy?…but again…you will find what you are looking for?
Hows your heart today? How’s your soul? I just want to encourage you while we are right in the middle of this crazy year to maybe to do a reset: soul detox, a social detox, a screen detox…ask yourself what am I looking for? What do I want to find? This year matters. And you don’t have to survive through it, or go into hiding till it’s over. The earth is His footstool…the King of all Kings…this is no surprise to Him. You can live a victorious life right here and right now.
Me? I am looking for joy, for patience with four kids that I feel like I don’t know how to love and nurture right now. I am looking for the ability to see my interruptions as divine appointments for me to learn patience and love. I am looking for peace. I am looking for deep breaths, and adventures and creativity and beautiful spaces, and places to remind me of God’s goodness EVEN in this midst of this HE IS GOOD. Even in the anger HE IS JOY. 2020 has been the year of complete exposure, now I know you might be thinking politics, agendas…yes yes I see that too…but I am talking about YOU! 2020 has made us all come face to face with some baggage we have been carrying around for years and it’s time to let it go. It’s time to break free…but what are you looking for? Because what you are looking for…you will surely find.
I have taken the quiz multiple times and out of all the love languages you could have my score for "words of encouragement" far exceeds them all. I am a writer, a poet, an artist, it is just in me, it is in my blood and I have accepted this proudly as if I wear a badge that says, "say something nice and we are friends forever". I love amplified Bibles because there are extra words, I love looking up definitions of words and the synonyms and the Greek and Hebrew! Just give me all the words!! They are my favorite gift to give and my favorite to receive. But lately...I have realized in some hard ways that not all words can have the same weight.
Her text was so nice! It was so unexpected, just a pleasant surprise. I had tucked my phone away like I do every Saturday, because Saturday are my family's sacred space. With Griffin working all Sunday, Saturday is our coveted family day, our Sabbath, so leaving the phone behind is vital. We went to the zoo all morning and had such a great time. It was a perfect Florida day, 70 and sunny. We got back in the car and I checked my phone and opened it up to the sweetest text. It was a sweet compliment from someone that I hadn't yet had the pleasure to really connect with. She had gotten my number from someone else and had gone out of her way to send me this text. I thought of all the effort and read each word slowly and carefully. I put my phone down and smiled and let it sink in. "Wow, that means so much that she thinks this of me." I thought to myself. I picked up the phone and read it again. (Like I said, words fill up my heart) Maybe you feel the same, maybe words from others are like honey to your heart. But have you ever then run into the person within the next day or two and their actions towards you don't mirror what they texted you? When you are left feeling really confused if they meant it? Any of it? What do you do when someone says something to you and it makes you question yourself? When you walk away from your conversation replaying what they said because you wonder, "Was that a compliment or a jab?" When you can't decipher whether what someone said was sarcastic or real. Oh words...how they can be such a weapon. The real truth about words is that they reveal much more about the person who said them than who they are saying the words to.
Proverbs 1 8:21,
The Bible speaks a lot about the power of words. As if He knew we would need to listen quickly and speak slowly, that the temptation to just say what we feel without regard would be a slippery slope. Words show and reveal the character of the heart, they expose true hurts and brokenness, words can have the power to break a heart. Words are eternal aren't they? Right now, you can think of something that your mother spoke over you when you were young. Whether it was good or bad, you can remember word for word and you remember the emotion that was triggered and quite possibly the string of actions that were made because of the words.
I am here to share what I am learning about words. And the truth is, that words must be spoken and received with the most thoughtful mind. Compliments can carry a person through a hard season, correction can save them from a wrong turn, but all and any word must be spoken with love and out of love.
The Lord has so gently nudged me that He does not want other peoples words to carry the some weight and profoundness of His words over me. The reality is that He is longing to speak to us over all the voices straining for our attention. And when you hear His voice over any other voices, even your own, His voice begin to mold and make you. His words begin to prune and prepare you for your future. His words fill you to overflow and His words, turn into your worth which changes your life.
Three Truths About the Power of Our Words
Take some time to reflect on the words that have impacted you the most negatively and positively, work through them. Write them down and be grateful for the good and ask the Lord to set you free from the bad. Continue practicing hearing the Father's voice, I pray it is the loudest in your mind of all.
To the Girl who Struggles with Comparing,
I totally understand. It is so hard to be fully confident in who you are and too easy to think you are missing something that someone else has. Like breathing, we do it and don't realize it until we have thoughts that have been running through our minds for so long until they run straight down to our hearts and they come out in passing words or unsatisfied glances in the mirror. It's true...you and me, in a world that tells you beauty fits in this box and success fits in this circle, it's easy to feel like a triangle that just doesn't belong. But I am here to wrap my arm around your shoulder and remind you that you can't be measured. Maybe your waist can, but your soul isn't measured, and your soul is the only thing that matters.
And when it comes to material stuff, the house, the clothes, the wants and the needs... we often feel like we have been shortchanged, like God is holding out on us. Like a child in time-out who now misses out you feel like you have been led to the same fate.. you are missing out. Someone has it better, someone's got it good. Which means if they have it good you must have it bad.
You know what I think is causing us to get stuck in a cycle of comparing? The quantity of time we are seeing what other people have. I recently read something that said, "Pay attention to what you pay attention to." Pay attention to what gets your attention and then ask yourself why? Force yourself to stop and not just go on with the day and now carry the feeling as if it has attached itself to you. But stop and ask why. You might be surprised what you uncover, but it's no surprise to your heavenly Father what is there.
In Matthew 20, Jesus is teaching the "Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard". This is an illustration exceptionally brought to life by the best Story Teller. He is talking about salvation and that it doesn't matter how late someone comes to Christ in their life they still get the beautiful gift of eternal life. But I noticed something new, like you can often do no matter how many times you read the Bible, that the workers were content with what they had been given for their wages UNTIL they saw what the others had.
They said yes to this amount that was given to them and they believed it to be fair, but their mindset changed when they saw that others worked less and were given the same as them. They began to compare. "They didn't work as hard as I did why do they get this? They didn't earn it!"
And isn't that just like us. We are content UNTIL we scroll through instagram and see that So and So got a new house, or she's pregnant again. Or she gets her nails done every week. New floors, a new car? The luxury vacations, the Christmas cabin... I could go on. We didn't feel discontent until we started taking in what everyone else has. We close out our phone and then that 30 minutes of comparing comes in comments out at your husband when he gets home from work or your kids or yourself.
We were just not created to have so much coming at us throughout the day. Our minds can't handle that in less than an hour you can see over 100 peoples highlights and you're left feeling completely inadequate and maybe that God is holding out on you. And if you reading that line made your heart sink a bit. I would start there. Do you really think God the Father, who made you, and loves you the most is holding out on you? If that is a yes, take those thoughts straight to Him. He will show you in a million little ways how He has blessed you and provided your whole life. A Father only withholds if He knows there is something better. And for His daughters He wants the best. The very best.
And as my arm is wrapped around your shoulder, I encourage you to stay awake. Stay awake to what you have, who you are and who you are not. Pay attention to what gains your attention and see if you really want it to. Fix your eyes on the things that are REAL, that you can reach out and touch. That little device in your hand holds too much that is edited, opinionated, and automated. You don't need to see it all or be it all, just be all of who you are. The world needs more of that.
Friendships can be really tricky sometimes, and I was recently reminded of one that is very broken. Okay, let me first share what happened. It was Sunday morning, I woke before the girls while Elisha was on the bed inching his way closer to the side. (I'm at that stage with him where you block the baby in with big fluffy pillows and hope he doesn't fall off in the few seconds you look away)
I woke the girls and got them dressed with minimal tears (high five), had a quick breakfast and got out the door on time! (Miracles happen) They all went into their classes like brave girls, I strapped baby boy into the carrier and headed into church. I sat on the left side, which I haven't sat on that side in months. I found a seat on the end in case I needed to sneak out with Elisha, and just as I sat down I saw her.
I saw the woman who said some really hurtful things to me, made me feel like a complete failure and has unfollowed me on all socials (which is a big deal now a days) and avoids eye contact in public. I saw her sitting with her husband, in the spot she has always sat in, with her hair in a cute braid, sipping her coffee. I didn't even see her eyes, I didn't even talk to her in the lobby, I didn't even see the side of her face and EVERY SINGLE emotion from that really hurtful friendship came up.
Worship started and I closed my eyes and tried to focus, really I did. But I couldn't. I opened my eyes and I saw the back of her head again and began to replay every detail of it all. I was questioning myself again, wondering if it all REALLY was my fault. If what she said about me, my character, was really true. But the insecurity I felt quickly turned to anger as I remembered the words she said about the ways she thought I should be, the dirty looks she has given me since then and the complete fallout we have had. Halfway through the second song I realized I was completely stressed, shoulders tightened, swaying with Elisha trying to get him to sleep but squeezing him as I replayed all the hurts, all the words, all the painful memories. I took a breath and relaxed my body. I whispered, "Oh God, how did I get here? All by seeing the back of her head?"
I don't think I am alone. Maybe your emotions aren't as intense as mine, maybe you have the incredible super power to let things go, like really let them go and they just don't bother you anymore. (Oh to be like you) Or maybe you fall somewhere around where I am. Where you forgive someone, but sometimes, you can be caught off guard or be reminded, out of nowhere of it all. All the hurt and pain and plain confusion that someone brought to your life. And your mind takes you back like a time traveling machine and you are reliving all those moments again. You snap back to reality 5, 10 minutes later and you have to somehow shake it off, and move on with the day and pretend you aren't re-visiting that painful memory.
I don't have some amazing epiphany to tell you. In fact, that Sunday morning I am describing happened very recently and I am still trying to work my way through it all. But what I do want to share is maybe having expectations on each other steals us of the grace we are supposed to give? When relationships become like contracts and we have check lists that we think people should be performing at a certain level we lose the ability to love people for where they are, which is right where you are. Flawed, tired, busy, and trying to figure it all out.
When I know I want to change the way I think and the way I live I study the life of Jesus. It is the one thing I know that can really help, because He did it perfectly, walking with broken people, handling people who speak lies and hurtful words, people who compare and compete, loving those who misunderstood Him, not holding grudges, all the things we struggle with, He didn't.
He kept the peace, but was not a peacemaker.
He loved people, but was not a people pleaser.
He was inviting, and not intimidating.
He was content, not competitive.
And one big thing I am learning is we are all "In Process"
Our salvation is complete but our sanctification is never ending. (Thank you Griffin for that)
So, that friendship, that woman that was in your life that maybe said the wrong thing that you seem to not be able to shake. The time she let you down, she overstepped or didn't step in at all. When she left you feeling insecure, when she judged you, mistreated you, gossiped about you, put expectations on you...she is in process.
Her process is messy like your process. Her heart needs to be wrapped in grace in all kinds of ways just like yours. So even if you never got the, "I'm sorry", even if you never found the closure, even if your hopes were never fulfilled, if you can learn to take all of that to the Father, then that is how you will learn to let it go, that's how you can be free.
Because the voice you listen to is the voice that defines you and He can go beyond your hopes, He can speak truth over the lies that were said and believed about you and about her. He can use anything, anything, anything for our good and He can take our little and make it much. (It's all throughout the Bible and He does it all the time. )
I am learning that in the process of letting it go, you really gain what you really want. Peace.