Have you ever had one of those moments with someone where they say something that makes you wonder if that was a compliment or a cut? Have you ever had someone be mean to you and you honestly did nothing wrong? Have you had an interaction with someone and they are took something out on you, even though it had nothing to do with you? Have you ever been friends with someone and they just don't seem like to value you as much as you value them? If so, pull up a chair and join me for a few minutes would you?
It had been an awkward evening so far. The hug hello was more of a forced acknowledgment of my existence. There was no eye contact, no real greetings were exchanged, just a small quiet and quick "Hi", then a B line to the table. If I went to sit down near her, she would noticeably adjust her body so that her back was to me. It was obvious and so hurtful, yet no one talked about it. (Other than me to Griffin when we got home for hours. Love you babe.) It was an elephant in the room. This went on for years...five years to be exact. I tried to love and "Be Jesus" regardless of what she did. I sought counsel and advice and many would jump on my side and demand that my feelings were totally valid and ...well...they would pretty much tell me that she can stick it...you know where.
And then others would gently say, "Well she is hurting, and is probably jealous (Do you ever get that one?) and you, well you need to just ignore it and let it go." As they give me a back pat (Ps. I do not like those, or fist bumps...please don't fist bump me)
LET IT GO!!! How can I let this go? It is in my head all the time, I hear her name and my anxiety sky rockets through the roof. I can't ignore it. How do you expect me to ignore it? Do I pretend like this is a normal human interaction? Because it's not. This is terrible! I deserve an explanation. I deserve an apology.
(You and I both know we shouldn't base things off what we deserve)
Maybe you are thinking of a person in your head, and I hope it is not as painful as my story is but there are people that have a personal struggle and they project their struggle on to you. Do you know what I mean? People who have an insecurity that if you share a bit of a victory from your own life they get annoyed and make a comment to you. Maybe even a passive aggressive comment. (Those are the worst) What I have learned is that their comments are at me, but they are not about me. Gosh, I hope that frees someone today. I want to type it again for me and for you. Let's even say it together, "Their comments are at me but they are not about me!" Sigh..
I have learned that there is power in putting a line around my life and understanding the things that I can control and the things that I cannot. For example, I cannot control what someone does to me, but I can control my thoughts about them. I cannot control how someone acts toward me but I can control my actions towards them. (There is a difference between a reaction and a reply isn't there?) I can't control what someone says about me, but I can control how I feel about them.
Feelings have no moral value, and that is a big truth to remember.
The Bible says, "The heart is deceitful..."
A question I have been asking myself lately is, "Is this person powerful enough to go into my heart and mind and make me angry?
Make me jealous?
Make me insecure?"
The answer is No.
Now, yes I will feel, and I am not trying to tell you that you shouldn't feel, but what I am saying is don't get stuck there, it's a shaky place to land. A place where the enemy lies and waits to plant the seeds of bitterness and jealousy and insecurity in your heart. And we are not called to get stuck there
The secret to this is that there is nothing you can humanly do to make this all go away. This is a total spiritual thing, A God thing. I tried for a long time to make this go away on my own. To will myself to let it go, but what I realized is that the more I stopped trying to do it, and I just began to surrender it, the weight of the situation lifted away.
There is a difference between doing and surrender. Both are actions, both are verbs, but one has you with your hands full where the other has you with your hands empty. And the victory comes when your hands are empty.
So dear friend, just remember...
1. You are not alone. We have all felt the hurt you feel right now.
2. Knowing how to handle a situation like this is not up to you, it's a God thing, and I hope that helps you breathe easier today.
3. The more you surrender this to God the more you can see them the way He does.
Because it is about loving, and leading, and learning. Not pushing, proving and deserving.
Forgiveness is the ONLY thing to do. (Sorry, I'm over here editing Taylor's lyrics)
But that is the goal, to allow God to open your eyes to see them like He does. That's where the freedom comes and the forgiveness flows. But we do that by not figuring out how but talking to the One who can heal and fix and mend. It's never about the how, it's always about the Who.
I was next in line. There I was...about to make a decision and I had no idea what to choose. I could go with what I always get, play it safe, or I could venture out...be a little crazy, and do something different. We were at the ice cream shop and I didn't know what to get! Yes, that's right...ice cream was making me stress. I was finally able to make a decision for myself, not for a child, not for my husband, I actually didn't have to share this sweet treat, and I didn't know what to choose. Cookie dough is what I always get...should I try cheesecake? But can you really beat raw cookie dough mixed with sweet vanilla? Probably not, but I do love me some cheesecake. It's ice cream Heather, for the love of it all...ice cream....
But what was happening on the outside as I stared through the glass at all the buckets of dairy filled goodness, was a picture of what was going on inside of me. God was asking me to let go something so He could take me somewhere new. And I was scared. Anyone with me? Anyone been at this crossroads where you are asking for something yet you didn't know you would have to give something up in return? Like when you buy a new shirt, you need to make room in your closet by getting rid of something old. I try to keep this rule. But then I think, "So what I haven't worn yellow shirt in a year. What if I need it and I go to wear and I don't have it? Then I'll have to buy a new yellow shirt and that will just be annoying. I should probably keep it." Suddenly, my closet just gets really cluttered and messy and full.
Are you asking for a new job, but forgetting you have to first let go of the comforts of where you are now? Desiring a relationship but now seeing all that is about to change when you get it? Your heart's desire is to become a parent yet there are so many sacrifices you have to make that you don't know if you are fully ready?
Maybe it's internal. Are you wanting to be freed from a certain way of thinking only to realize thinking this new way will totally put you outside your comfort zone? Are you tired of believing a lie about yourself but the pruning process to get to freedom is intimidating?
I am feeling the tension of seeing what is ahead of me. I see what God is doing, I see where He wants me to go, yet I don't want to walk away from where I am right now. I love this season, this place I am. I am good at it, it is comfortable. I know what every day looks like, the good and the bad, and I like that. I like knowing what's coming. I don't want to let go of what I have. What I have is so good. But I want whats next. I have seen a glimpse of what could be, and it is so sweet. Just like those flavors of ice cream I was looking at I see how good it will be.
But I don't know....There is a flow and a rhythm I have found here in this season and now You just want to come and take that away and have me start over in a new place? Have me change to a new way of living and move on to a new season? Yes. Yes He does.
I feel the angst, the worry, and the fear of all that I don't know about the future. And letting go of where I am now seems so hard to handle. But the truth is...the promise we have when we let go is all that God will give. Because....with every new season, there is a new supply.
Isaiah 43 in The Message puts it this way.
“Forget about what’s happened;
don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new."
Brand new in the Greek means "Fresh this year". God has been reminding me and gently showing me that it is time to move on. Have you been feeling this tension at all in any area of your life? If so...know this....letting go is so hard, but when God is calling us to a new season, a new place, a new adventure that means we have learned all we can where we were, and it is time. Every season needs the other ones. We need this next one, it doesn't stay winter forever. And what is so good to remember is that everything starts out as a seed. So this new place you are about to venture to, this new way of thinking, of living...well it is a brand new seed. It needs nurturing, sunlight...("Son"light), water, nourishment, and grace. So take a deep breath, let go of where you were and say yes to God leading you to where He wants you to be.
I chose cheesecake.
"Well, your cyst is gone, and your six week old baby looks great!" The nurse said.
"I'm sorry, my what?" Looking at the nurse like she was crazy. Surely that was not my uterus on the screen.
"Your baby...your six week old...baby? Oh my gosh...did you not know that you were pregnant?"
"Ummm, does this look like a face of a woman who knew she was pregnant!"
This was the start of my day. It was May 15th, 2014, to be exact. I remember the shock on the nurse's face that suddenly turned to laughter and excitement. "Wow! I have never been able to tell someone they are pregnant! This is so fun!"
Yep...this is fun...but what are we going to do? We live in a 1000 square foot condo. I am literally about to stop nursing Harper. She is almost one. We made it! We did it! We kept her alive for almost a whole year! (That is how I felt as a first time mom. Anyone else?) Now where is this baby going to go? I have the smallest car that Toyota has ever made, and we only have one salary. We need another crib. We need another carseat. We need more clothes, more diapers. Oh, good Lord the diapers! When can I start potty training Harper? We need a double stroller! We need a bigger kitchen table! What? And where? And how? Those are all of the questions that were flying through my mind as the nurse ran out into the hallway telling other nurses. You would have thought this woman won the lottery!
Have you ever been in a place in your life that the unknowns were so overwhelming you couldn't breathe? My journey is much different than yours, and we were beyond excited and blessed beyond measure to be pregnant please do not get me wrong. I could not imagine my life without my Paisley Joy. But it just wasn't the way we thought it would go, and the timing was much different than ours. I didn't think I was ready. I was exhausted. And I just figured out one child, how could I do two? ...Maybe today, you have a mountain in your life, you have unknowns...you want to have a baby...and all you keep getting are negative tests. Maybe you need to know if you should buy this house or not. Maybe you long to adopt or foster, but the door won't open. You just need a house that is livable in your budget, or you really need a new car. You need a breakthrough in your marriage, with your children or a family member. Maybe you need financial support, healing over your body or healing in a relationship. You need wisdom, an answer, a little bit of direction! You just need a miracle! And you need this mountain to move.
Well, miracles are great, but I think you need something even better. Better? What could be better than a miracle?
God has brought me to a season of life where I am not looking for miracles...I mean I expect and wait for God to move, and I believe He can do anything and I want Him to come and do whatever He wants to, but my deepest heart's desire, the posture of my heart, has been more to hear Him, to be near Him, not so much in the results from Him. In 1 Kings, you will read the story of Elijah. God had the ravens bring him bread, He used Elijah to bring a little boy back to life and in front of 100's of Baal worshippers, he "dropped the mic" and made fire fall down from heaven. The kids these days would say he was lit or something like that. ( I try and keep up with the youths being the wife of a youth pastor and all) Anyway, needless to say Elijah was no joke, hands down an incredible prophet. He was doing miracles like it was nothing and He walked with God and heard His voice and he was profoundly anointed. Yet one day...his life was threatened. Jezebel wanted nothing more than to kill him. And she sent an army of soldiers to do just that. And Elijah? After he was used by God to perform these incredible miracles...he fled. He feared what could happen to him over what the power of God could do through Him.
He feared what could happen to him over what the power of God could do through Him.
And I think that can be us at times. We fear the circumstance, the season of life, or the unknowns of the future and that dictates our view or understanding of the power of God. We can so easily forget what God has done, the miracles, the provision, the amazing acts of His love for us; when we get faced with the next big mountain, we flee in fear.
But what does God do with Elijah? He meets him there, in the wilderness. An angel comes to him twice and brings him food, bread, because God is the bread of life. God is meeting him where he is and showing him that, "I am all you need and I will see you through." He goes to the mountain to meet with God and it says,
"Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper." 1 Kings 19:11-12.
After Elijah experienced the whisper. The intimate presence of God, he no longer feared. See God could have been in the wind, in the earthquake and in the fire. Because He is big, strong, fierce, and unstoppable. But He chose to come in a whisper. Elijah no longer feared at all. He left that mountain changed. He was led by faith and fear no longer dictated his life, his decisions, his steps, and his view of the future.
We need the whisper. Because, let's face it, life will go up and then it will come down and yes oh yes we always need God to show up. We need the bread of life, we need provision, protection every day. But what we need, that will keep us consistent, that will keep us thriving regardless of the season or circumstance is to hear His voice. That whisper is intimate, it's close, it's personal, and we must quiet ourselves to listen for it. We have to be close enough to God to be able to hear from God.
Let's not be desperate for the miracle but rather be dependent for the whisper.
Whatever you face today, my hope is you don't just ask God for the miracle of the mountain to be moved, but that you seek to hear Him whisper to you this week. Cause I promise you, He is talking.
"Can you just stay two forever Paisy?" These were my words to my middle child yesterday. Her birthday is next week and I cannot wait to celebrate her little life, her laughter, her spunk, her fire...but honestly...I don't want her to grow up. As a mother, the essence of time has really taken a turn in my mind. The days feel so long but then I blink, I sleep one night and they are an inch taller, a day smarter. There face has changed since I kissed them good night and they can speak ten more words than they could yesterday. And there is nothing I can do to make time make sense in my mind. I feel like time is something I am trying desperately to grasp but yet...it runs through my fingers like water.
Do you feel that? This desperate need to stay present, or to be still as if we can control the time and stop time in those sweet moments yet speed it up when it is just broken and messy and miserable. Maybe it's a painful season in your life. One you wish time would hurry through. You just feel the ache of something, there is a need. A need for the house, then you will feel better. The ache and longing for the baby, the relationship or the career and then it will all just make sense, then time will make sense.
I look at myself and I see time. I see lines on my face that show the years of emotions.... smiles around my lips and tears from my eyes. The black circles under my eyes are warrior marks of a worn mother who has given it all, lost sleep and has sacrificed. Sacrificed. Wait...could that be it? That maybe our perspective on time must shift to something bigger and greater than ourselves. Maybe time isn't about holding on but letting go. Maybe it isn't about something you grab but about something you give. Maybe...just maybe it is not about something you seize but something you sacrifice?
Jesus always speaks of time as our moment to give it all away so we can live abundantly more. Jesus died so our time isn't dictated by the drum of our fears but by the ticking of eternity. He broke down the barriers of time so we can escape and live for the kingdom. So now time doesn't control our dreams and our purpose. It can't tell us how to live in this generation, because under the hands of the clock are His everlasting arms. And time can no longer steal our joy, our prayers, or our destiny. And time does not heal like God does.
He broke down the barriers of time so we can escape and live for the kingdom. So now time doesn't control our dreams and our purpose. It can't tell us how to live in this generation, because under the hands of the clock our His everlasting arms. And time can no longer steal our joy, our prayers, or our destiny. And time does not heal like God does.
So if we shift our perspective of time to eternity time and if we can really live out this idea of sacrifice then I think we should be focusing more on the things that are unseen than seen. I think it's time we let go of the idols of the seen, the performance, the "standard", because the house or the wardrobe doesn't reflect the state of my soul. But it's the unseen. The prayers, the love in the midst of the work, the relationships, the kisses on my little girl's knee after she falls, the moments of stopping what I am doing to look into her eyes as she tells me her story. It's about saving my best for my husband at the end of the day, not just throwing him my scraps because you're right I am exhausted and I am tired. But he is worth it, he is my number one and he will have my heart, my body, my mind, and my attention.
You see, it's the unseen that holds it all, it's the unseen that really matters. Because if time is sacrifice and we all only have so many days then we can't waste one. We have to believe that the amount of time God has given us is enough for a meaningful life, a full life.
I sit under the oak tree in my front yard. My girls giving each other kisses, tackling their daddy and dancing to Christmas music even though Christmas has come and gone. It's their hair catching the light through the limbs of the trees, its the little bit of jelly on the corner of their mouth, it's the smell of his cologne as he wraps his arms around me and I breathe him in. The bounce of her curls and their sweet giggles. They feel like time embraced.
Your time is limited. So don't limit your life by wanting someone else's.
I can look back at my life and see these monumental moments that really mattered. Choices I made. Paths I took that led me here or there. Friendships that helped, relationships that hurt. And I can see moments of complete rejection that have effected the way I love people today. Even more so the way I love myself. And in all of those moments the F word was really necessary.
Forgiveness. I never thought I had an issue with it. I always thought it came easy to me. But when I can think of a person's face and all of the horrible things they have done to me flash through my mind like a movie...yea...I think I struggle with forgiveness. All of the words they said, the things they did, I see it, I remember it, and I feel it as if it just happened. But forgiveness isn't a feeling, it's a choice.
Forgiveness isn't a feeling, it's a choice. "
Forgiveness is a decision. You see our feelings cannot be trusted and if we allow them to dictate our lives, it will deteriorate our relationships. And if I base my decisions and my love for others and myself off of feelings, well...I will be inconsistent and unable to love wholly and love myself for who God created me to be. So, I have started to dig deeper and I realized that I struggle with forgiveness because I have trust issues. I have been hurt by a lot of people, and rejected by key figures in my life. Maybe you can relate. I could list them all right now, but I bet as you are reading this you can think of someone that has hurt you in such a way that it has changed the course of your thinking about yourself and your relationships.
I have realized that I go looking for love and worth from everyone. But the truth of it all is we are fully loved already. So, if I can live in the truth that I am fully loved then I won't go looking for scraps of love from anyone else.
Photo: Brittany Pannebaker
But no soul can soar to the places of living fully loved if you can't forgive. Oh girl, and I want to soar and fly and live my life loved and I want my 3 beautiful girls to know what it looks like to forgive and what it looks like to be free.
But why is forgiveness so hard? Why does it feel like I am pouring rubbing alcohol on a cut? The sting is just so fresh and unbearable and I can't look past it until that feeling goes away.
Forgiveness cannot be won with our flesh, it is a spiritual act. And if I am really honest with you...and you could see my journal...you would see a lot of reasons why this person does not deserve my forgiveness. The way she spoke to me, treated me, and pushed me aside like I was nothing for years and years...I have a lot of reasons to write her off. But something within me is pushing me to fight for her. I have been shrugging my shoulders at this saying, 'No, God, no way. I don't want her to think she can walk all over me. I am not going to change my schedule around to fit hers after 5 years of this. It's not happening. I need more time." Yet I hear the voice again. And again. And again. That voice keeps telling me that I have an enemy but it's not her. And the voice says, "Aren't you glad I didn't need time to forgive you."
When you don't forgive, you allow room for roots of bitterness to grow in your heart. And those roots tangle themselves all over the place and it begins to affect every inch of who you are. Out of the mouth the heart speaks, and our hearts are our mind, will and emotions (feelings). But bitterness does not belong in a heart as beautiful as yours my friend.
Bitterness does not belong in a heart as beautiful as yours.
And none of this is easy. I am trudging through the deep waters of forgiveness with you. And when I have been hurt I don't automatically say to myself, "Oh it's ok, because I know God loves me and my identity is in Him." Nope. I am usually crying, then I get to a place where I am mad, like need a punching bag mad, and then I think of all of these awesome one-liners or great comebacks I could have said. (I have never been very witty) And then I play through the countless scenarios for the next time I see this person and how I am going to act or what I am going to say. I have it all planned out, and I am ready with fists tight and jaw clenched. Because I won't be hurt again. I won't be treated like this. And I build that wall around my heart because people cannot be trusted. But if we live in a place of being fully loved by God we allow people to be people. Fickle and fragile. And simply trying to figure themselves out as well.
And our job in these moments is to honor God and His job is to take care of everything else. Well, what does that look like?
Have good intentions in the midst of a bad situation
Speak with love when you have been unloved
Walk in peace in the midst of war
Trust in God's love for you not in the person's actions towards you
And we must choose to do all of this, not so that we can gain a friend, or fix a broken relationship. Not even so we will be back in each other's lives. We don't forgive because we think we are right, or because he is right or she is right. We do all of this because we want to honor God and we want to soar.
My thoughts are a little scattered but I have been processing these thoughts for long enough and it's time to get them out. It's time to really look at the Bible for just a second and see how maybe we could seek Jesus a little more, and stop running the race a little less, the wrong race. It's easy to get caught up in this world, society, the pace, the race of the culture, of beauty standards, of Instagram feed perfection, of Pinterest perfect households, table settings and parties. I know because I have been there...am there...trying to get out of there.
Today I am here to talk about one big thing. It is in all of our lives, it is needed, and it is necessary for us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Some of us do this really well, and some of us struggle. Me? I struggle...but I am learning...always learning. So, today...we are talking about REST.
Rest. Relaxing. Taking Time. That's not something our culture admires is it? In a society that is constantly on the go, stopping and slowing down is a fight. I mean, look around, everything is fast. Drive thru breakfast, lunch, and dinner, coffee every corner. Order at home and pick it up on the go, super convenient by the way, but it all feeds this thought that we must keep moving. As a mom I felt the pace when my oldest hit 1. I was bombarded with, "When is she starting swim?" "When are you getting her into sports?" "Are you thinking about pre-school? If so, you better sign up now!" Whoa whoa, I just celebrated her 1st birthday. I successfully kept her alive and happy for 1 whole year. She knows her colors, she can say words, she's walking, can we take a moment and simply celebrate that?! But no...
No time to slow down, no time to actually get out and sit and enjoy our coffee. You must multi-task, you must have the "To Do" list finished before lunch time, work, move, be productive. Kids, start studying for the SATs at age 11, and for the love of it all you better figure out what you want to be by Senior year of high school, because you have college applications and goals and dreams and expectations to meet and you must meet them now. Gosh, Im exhausted after typing all of that.
And here is where I stop, here is my thought for you and for me...It seems that maybe..just maybe we are more a slave to time. It can often feel like this can't it? I think this is one of those sneaky moves of the enemy. He can enslave you with addictions, wrong relationships, toxic environments. But he can also enslave you to "good things". Your job, your ministry, your fitness, even those hobbies you love to enjoy. The things that are so life-giving, he can take them in an instant, or maybe it's a slow climb, but he can take it and turn it into a cruel master, and suddenly you are a slave to it. Well I believe Not Every Good thing is a God thing.
My second thought...as I parent and watch and learn and make decisions is this...
Do you really think the American dream and gospel centered parenting go together?
Because I am starting to believe they don't.
I know you might be thinking, what does this girl know? You're right...I am young. I am 29, with 3 beautiful little girls ages 4 and younger, I haven't faced these decisions yet with them, I haven't walked these roads yet. But I'll tell ya, I have watched a lot of people...and I have experienced a lot of this...and I don't think I want to walk it the same way. My husband and I have had a lot of challenging conversations about our family, our future and we have a fire burning deep inside of us to do things different. It comes from personal experience and what we have witnessed but what we have learned that we desire our children to be centered around the success of the gospel and not centered around the success of society.
And I believe that one way that starts is with a simple habit called REST.
In 5 minutes I found over 30 scriptures that talk about rest. It is everywhere, and it starts in the very beginning. Maybe I am on to something...
Genesis 2:2-3, "And on the seventh day God finished His work that He had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all His work that He had done in all creation.
When we rest we are practicing a holy thing, a Godly thing. Rest was a part of God's life, a part of Jesus' life. (Luke 5:16, Matthew 6:6, Mark 1:35)
When we rest we are blessed. When we rest we take time to stop so we can have the time to run. Because you cannot run if you cannot rest.
The word Sabbath, comes from the Hebrew word "Shabbat" which means, "to cease, to stop, to pause". It is a moment to, "Be still and know that He is God." He is God and you are not, to set your mind on things above, not earthly things. It is a moment to deliberately stop and choose a rhythm of rest and grace over to do lists, activities, appointments, meetings; over social media, Netflix. So when I think of myself, my marriage, my kids, I think, we must learn this pace, this ability to slow down, to rest, and to be still without being entertained or stimulated. Call me old fashion but the idea of having no TV and a big backyard where my kiddos run free and we breathe in fresh air, we see the real and raw movements of God because we are more aware of His presence and beauty then what's happening on social media. We know what God is doing more than what the world is. What if, just what if we took our free time and spent it with Jesus? I wonder how peaceful, rested, and relaxed we would feel from our head to our toes, our minds to our souls. It's almost as if that was the plan all along.
The thought I have is this: The Values You Make Will Dictate Your Schedule
So what do you value? Education? Sports? Being popular? Do you have a fear of missing out? Do you need to be everywhere in everything? Is it status? Is it being updated on current events? Is it continuing to move up in your job? Because those values will dictate your life, your schedule, your mind and your family.
Galatians 5:1, "It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing and do not be subject AGAIN to the yoke of slavery."
Today, take a moment, and REST. God has a race for you alone to run. A Godly one, a God ordained sustained one. But we must rest to run. And look at your life...is it too fast? I challenge you to write down 3 values for you and your family. Make decisions through those values. Suddenly things will become a bit more simple, decisions will be made with ease and peace. Your value is not in what you do, it is in who you are.
Rest in that truth today.
Chase the Gospel Dream not the American One.
I think we can all collectively say that our biggest fear with a hurricane is not having power! And I think we can also agree that last week and the week leading up to the storm was some of the most stressful days we have all had in a long time. Everywhere on social media, there were cones, spaghetti plots, and trackers. Every story on the news was of gas and water shortages, evacuation routes and locations to where you can get your sand bags. I remember walking into WalMart with the girls and the store was in a frenzy. People were grabbing anything and everything. People had 10 cases of water...10! Like, now all of a sudden you are going to drink your needed 8 glasses of water a day?
But in the midst of the storm, in the midst of the craziness, making decisions, prepping the house, packing up the girl's clothes, hiding our most sacred belongings, I learned a lot. I learned about myself, my family and I learned a lot about God. But today I will just share 3 of my biggest lessons I learned through this storm.
So here are my 3 Take Aways From Irma:
1. You Can't Control Anything - I know this sounds cliche and I know you might know this already. But when you walk through a situation, where you watch a storm strengthen and shift and move to come right to you. You realize that you cannot control your future, you cannot control your destiny. But when you can live in this place, it doesn't need to bring fear it can actually build faith. When you can wrap your mind around this truth, it will give you freedom, it will bring you peace, and it will help you release control. Because you suddenly take your eyes off of the circumstance and start focusing on the Savior. You stop magnifying the problem and you begin magnifying the Prince of Peace.
2. Family is Everything - We went to our church during the storm, then we weren't home for half the week because our house had no power. We were a family of gypsies. But I just want to say I am so proud of our 3 little girls. I realized that all of my days at home with them, the little lessons, the hard moments, the tiring mornings...they weren't for not. And I know that because they were ok without their toys, their beds, their home, because they had their Mom, Dad and each other. There was contentment in their hearts throughout the whole process. And watching them sleep in different places and undergo different situations, their normal routine was all thrown off, but they just went with it, because they trusted us. I am creating the family I have always dreamed of because I am leaning on the One who created me.
3. Fear is contagious - Walking through the store with my girls and watching everyone race through aisles, grabbing things they thought were necessary to survive began to make me feel anxious. Suddenly I had a cart full of stuff that I did not have on the list but I saw everyone else grabbing them so maybe...just maybe they knew something I didn't know about hurricanes and who knows, I might need this!! I started to push the cart faster, I began to feel panicked. Their fear was rubbing off on me. And it felt terrible. Their panic, their angst, their tense emotions was coming out in their words, their actions, their facial expressions, and the whole atmosphere of the store changed. I felt like I couldn't breathe. So if fear is contagious then so is faith. Everyday we make choices, fear or faith? Joy or Anxiety? Contentment or discontentment? Just remember that what you choose is contagious to those around you. And you will be known for what you make others feel.
So when the next storm comes, literally or figuratively, let your faith be contagious, focus in on what is most important, and trust in the One who made you and who is changing you and shaping you.
Do you call yourself certain names? When you talk about yourself do you give yourself a label? The life of the party, the introvert. The designer, the dreamer, the logical thinker. The wild one, the quiet one. The never good enough, the not wanted one. The pretty one, the wrong one? Well I am a seeker, a striver, a fighter, a doer. Any of you with me? Can you "label" yourself one of these things? I have seen that my fighting and my doing has gotten me to point A to point B, and the striving has led me to achieve when others wouldn't even try, and it has helped me come back when some would quit. Yep, those are good labels. But...I am also a competitor in all the wrong ways, I have a fear of missing out so I can't just Be in one place, and I rush and rush till I am weary and worn down. I have labels. And God has decided to rip the labels off of me.
What I am learning now, is that if I don't stop striving to be something I'm not, I'm never going to find out who I really am. I don't need to be able to do it all, and be it all and be every where. It is ok to say no when I need to say no and to remember that God has placed lines around my life, and they fall on beautiful places. (Psalm 16) I can trust the lines He has drawn on my life because He drew them with purpose and a destiny. I don't need to be able to do everything for everyone, because then I am not being anything to anyone. If I am allowing myself to be pulled every which way till I am pulled apart, then no one will get the best of me. And God wants the best, the fullest, the most vibrant you. If you live your life trying to be someone else, then the people who need you wont have anyone at all.
This has been my undoing. God has taken the labels I have gathered throughout my life and He has held them up in front of Him and me for us to look at and examine together. And He simply says, "This is not you. I gave you this gift, to get you here to meet him and marry him and to have these children. I allowed this door to open to help her find me and to use you to get her to my feet. But this is not you." Because labels lie and only Love defines a soul.
So those pieces of you... let them fall till you see yourself in the mirror and you see what He sees, and you value what He envisioned for you, and you breathe in the beauty with which He made you. Because if you want to talk about labels...we only really have one....Redeemed.
The week was like every other. Play dates, snack time, naps, time outs, lots of messes to clean and lots of laughter between sisters. I worked out, made dinners, wiped down kitchen counters. I folded the little shirts and made the beds. So it was the same like every other week, but everyone kept bringing us flowers.
Griffin walked in the door with a flower for each daughter. Call me old fashion but I love when he walks in with a smile on his face and flowers behind his back. My mother-in-law brought a gardenia for each little the next day. A new friend who came over to our our home for the first time brought a sparkly glitter vase full of purple wild flowers. I wouldn't have thought anything of it, except that this week I was fasting, and the Lord often speaks to me through nature and repetition.
So I saw the invitation to grow, to be pruned and I accepted. Timidly I accepted. And it all unraveled. Well I did at least. Because I have been living all wrong.
I am a go getter. I am disciplined and strong to my core. I love to be challenged to my limits. Tell me to run this far and I'll try and sprint it, just say I can't lift this weight and I won't stop till I lift that bar over my head. Tell me I can't keep playing soccer after 4 ACL surgeries and I'll defy all odds and do it. (This is not a wow your tough Heather or a yikes... cocky much?) No no, my tone is to share, to be really honest about my strength. I am disciplined and determined. And my greatest strength had become my greatest weakness. I began to feel the need to prove to myself, to “them” that I am strong, capable and able to do it all, be it all. I believed the lie that the more you do the more you become. The more doing the more becoming and I wanted to become. Become the best, the strongest, the most capable, the do it all, be it all. But this mentality was leaving me weary and exhausted. If something needed to be fixed, cleaned, or changed I was going to do it. Don't show weakness, don't seem demanding or needy, he will leave you just like your dad. He will think you are high maintenance and boy I was determined to be the most low key easy going wife there was. Don't show that you can't measure up, you won't be accepted, your place will be taken and they won't miss you. I believed the lies from the father of lies that my worth was found in what I could do and offer.
And just then a petal fell.
So yeah, back to the flowers. These flowers that everyone brought over, were fully bloomed. You could smell their incredible fragrance from across the room. When you looked their way, you couldn't help but to stop and stare. Their beauty was eye catching, they were inviting, amazing, full of color and life and refreshment yet their petals were falling off.
And then the Spirit whispered, “You see Heather. You thought this flower was at its best. What it presents to you looks perfect, yet for it to stay alive, for it to grow in the ground, into real soil, not the artificial depth of a vase; if it wants to really grow and stay and be who I created it to be, then all of the petals must fall.”
And that’s exactly it.
I have thought all along that I have needed to compete. I thought I needed to show perfection and this capability to do anything and be everything people needed me to be or what I thought I needed to be, but oh how shallow that is. There is no depth there, its a facade, a mask. Like the stem of the flowers trying to dig themselves into hard, cold glass.
Because when my roots are not in soil, I blossom quickly and fade all the same. I run out. I was living this pace of the world, the culture. Hustle, drink coffee, get it done, take the kids to do amazing things, work, work out, clean house, Instagram worthy pictures only, drink more coffee, no tv time for them, always engaging, always going, always working, go, go go.
And these petals must fall.
So I am now on a journey. A remaking of my life or the way I live life. I invite you to come along with me. I think I am going to experience a lot of God’s grace, love, and I am going to be uprooted and replanted, and I am nervous and ready all at once.
Because I cannot keep living this way. And I am learning that my worth is not found in what I do, but my worth is found in what God did.
I am ready to taste and see what life feels like and looks like living in that freedom.
I'll be back soon.
I saw myself in a big room. The room was filled with lots of women…all different ages, but they were in beautiful dresses, hair done, makeup…looking their best, and there I was in rags, no makeup…just raw, simple me. We were all in a big circle facing the middle, suddenly the lights dim and all that I can see is a bright chandelier in the center. We all fall to our knees and in he walks.
I can't see his face, just his strong chest, his hands, his jaw and mouth…He looks and feels safe, loving, strong, but gentle. He is going to choose someone to dance with.
I feel like I can’t even look up. I feel so unworthy…not good enough, not pretty enough, smart enough, tall enough, rich enough…just not enough. I knew there were so many others in the room that were more prepared for this moment, that would look better than me…I knew I didn’t deserve this dance but I also knew it was all I wanted, and needed. As if my soul was made for this…it was the deep hurt and ache welling up in my soul. It felt like it had been there my whole life…I knew I needed him.
He stands still…looking around, then he begins to walk. I can’t look up. I hold my breath. Tears are welling in my eyes and my face is to the ground with my eyes closed.
Suddenly…everything stops, my whole world stops…I look up and I see his feet. “Surely he didn’t stop at me…” But he did..
He reaches His hand out and smiles, “Dance with Me.”
He didn’t ask, he told me…as if it was where I belong, with him, in his arms.
I started to cry…”Im not dressed for this.”
“Your heart is all I see…”
“I don’t know the steps….”
“I will lead you…”
“I am not good enough..”
“But I am enough for you…”
I reach my hand out and he pulls me hard but gently…with purpose, with love. He pulls me tight…so tight to his chest. I dare not look up. I close my eyes…but I can feel him smile.
We begin to dance. I’m shaking, trying to pull away but he holds me even tighter. I bite my lip…and he rubs his thumb over my hand as if to say…”Just let it go…”
I took a deep breath and with every move I began to feel my ragged brokenness just fall away, I feel light, I feel safe, I feel wanted, loved, chosen, redeemed. I feel good enough because He is enough. He leads the steps, and I follow. The more I follow the easier it is to dance. My dress turns to pure white, He kisses me on the forehead.
“I made you, I love you, I want to dance with you everyday.”
This is not a story...this is a vision I had. Let me explain. When I was in high school, sitting in chapel I asked God to reveal Himself to me in a vision. I wanted to see Him, feel Him....and ever since that simple ask...He has.
I felt led today to share this one.
This is about the intimacy of God. I never understood this, this type of romantic love the Lord has for us. But when I encountered Him in this way it filled every hole I have been left with from broken relationships in this world, and it took a weight away for my husband to fill. This is a deep soul drenching love. This is a heavenly romance, one that no one on earth can match and is supposed to match.
So I share this to hopefully encourage someone. To say that God loves you relentlessly. He wants to reveal His romantic head over heels love for you today, and all we have to do is ask.
And every morning I wake up and say, "Lord I am ready to dance today..."
How has the Lord revealed Himself to you? Please share, if you are willing below or as a comment on facebook.
I’m Heather a blessed wife and mama to three beautiful little girls and a son who always keep me wild. My goal is to uplift and inspire as I share my life with you. Thanks for stopping by!