How many of us "unplug" on a weekly basis? How many of us after spending time on our phones scrolling we feel more drained than before we started? How many of us, "remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy"? It could possibly be one of the most forgotten commandments. And it could possibly be one of the most important parts of our lives. And most of us, if we are honest, are missing it.
I have been feeling this pull to understand this more. And of course, like only He does, everything I read and see keeps pointing me back to this topic. I love how the Lord does that. He gives us lots of moments to learn the lesson, and for that I am grateful. He is ever patient isn't He? But what I am learning is that our culture is teaching us, and our children that we should consume more than we create. Consume by watching TV, getting more toys, clothes, and treats. And no, I don't think any of those things are wrong, but it's the volume at which we have them that seems to be off balance.
When God first established work is was meant to be a blessing. He didn't give us work to hurt us, it was a gift to help us. To let us have dominion, to build, to create. But most people don't feel excited about their work. There is no joy and life in it. It has become wrapped up in the "American dream" of working hard to retire so you can go do a bunch of hobbies that you really enjoy. That was never God's dream.
Work has become Toil and it was never meant to be.
Work was created to make us come alive and to make the invisible God visible. There was never meant to be a disconnect between our spiritual life and our life...it's all supposed to flow together, to be together and work is a HUGE part of that. Having a job was one of the first calls to man from the beginning. To have a purpose and to do something great... now that is in ALL of us!
“We need to relearn how to power down, unplug, disconnect, take a break, and be in one place at one time. We forget that we’re not a machine. We can’t work 24/7.”
I have come face to face with my exhaustion recently. I can't keep up with the pace of the culture, the instagram feeds that I feel I need to live up to, and the demands of my life..my actual life, not internet life. Supporting Griffin, leading a small group, my free-lance writing job, taking care of the house, homeschooling, keeping three little girls alive while also teaching them about Jesus, the need for boundaries and why we don't sit on each other (Yes I really have had to say that) and the importance of washing our hands. All the while working out, making good choices, and somewhere in there chasing my crazy God-sized dreams! Phew...I am exhausted from typing this. I am realizing I need to get back to the way God created it all to be, especially the REST part.
Heaven and Earth were finished,
down to the last detail.
By the seventh day
God had finished his work.
On the seventh day
he rested from all his work.
God blessed the seventh day.
He made it a Holy Day
Because on that day he rested from his work,
all the creating God had done.
Genesis 2:2-4 The Message
God didn't rest because He was tired, He rested because He was done. He blessed it, and made it holy. So essentially, when you Rest you are Blessed. And when you choose to rest, to be done working, to turn it off, to unplug, you are honoring and remembering what the Lord God did. It's a holy thing to rest, to be still. God never intended us to work every day, that was never His design. He knew the limitations on our bodies and minds and rest is the GIFT for us. I have started a weekly practice in my life, it's a choice, and it is one I have to be disciplined with. It is the ART OF THE SABBATH. Once a week for a day, I turn off my phone, and I "get away" mentally so to say. I only do activities that bring life. I don't discuss things that bring stress or emotional exhaustion. I spend time with no noise, no music, no TV, no outer voices, just the Lord and me. And it has changed everything.
It's the incredible choice to keep your perspective Heavenly. To remember, the Sabbath, is to remember what is important. To remember the Sabbath is to essentially put things in their proper place in your life and to remember who you are and WHOSE you are.
All of these can be found in REST.
The Reality is we cannot let Rest become Leisure.
Leisure by definition is: spare time, time off, free time for your enjoyment.
Rest by definition is: to cease work or movement in order to refresh oneself, recover strength, to let up, to slow down.
So binge watching that show or meaningless scrolling on facebook or instagram...is that refreshing yourself? Is that recovering your strength? Is that helping you let up and slow down? Or is that causing you to feel jealous, to feel like you are missing out, to feel discontent, to compare and compete, to lose sight of all of who you are.
I pray you remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy. Learn the lost art and make it a part of your life. Unplug from all of the things that distract you from real REST. There is a way that God intended you to feel refreshed, and it will never leave you empty.
This is big...and honestly I think when it comes to our relationship with Jesus this is...everything. When we need to make a decision, when we need wisdom, when we need confirmation we are relying on being able to hear His voice. What I have realized from my own personal experience and from talking with friends is most people don't know if they are hearing His voice or their own, and that most people don't know how to even hear Him. They sit quietly and wait but all they hear are crickets and a few minutes later, they are writing their "To-Do's" for the day or they are thinking about something that happened the day before. It is so difficult to hear Him. So I want to help! Now I am NO expert...this is just me sharing my personal journey and how I have learned to hear Him talk to me. I want to share five truths that I think if we can grasp these, you will begin to hear Him in an intimate and direct way in your life.
1. Know that He is Always Speaking
"My sheep hear My voice." John 10:27
I love this scripture, and to me this means He is ALWAYS talking, we just need to learn to be in tune with hearing Him. I remember often I would pray, "God just speak to me, just tell me what to do." But the truth was that He already was speaking to me. Sometimes I think we ask for things that we already have. We ask for the fruit of the Spirit when we already have them, we just need to claim them. And we ask God to speak to us, but He is. He has been speaking to you every day. It's time now to get your mind and heart wired to hear Him.
2. Understanding Yourself
If we are made in the image of God, then understanding who He made us to be will put us more into alignment with who He is in our lives. For example: I am a very sensitive person. All my life I feel like I have been led to believe that this is a negative thing, a nuisance. I was "too much" and an annoyance or inconvenience. But what I am realizing is that my sensitivities are actually my strength. I am "A Feeler" so I actually can "feel" the Spirit so to say. Being overwhelmed by compassion for someone, sensing that a store or a place I am in is not safe, that maybe I shouldn't watch this TV show, that I feel that I need to hug this person, or pray for someone, or do this or that. The more I am aware of those natural feelings, I am realizing that they are the Spirit directing me. Now if the emotion I am feeling is anger or frustration, clearly those are not of God so that's just my own ugly flesh, but what I am saying is that many times, those feelings are the Spirit speaking to you. Bring those under His authority and watch your relationship with Him blossom.
My husband? Yeah, not a feeler, he is a knower. He knows the Word. The way the Bible comes to life to him just blows me away. And this matches his personality because he loves strategy, puzzles, putting pieces together to make a bigger picture. God made him this way, so when he reads scripture, the Holy Spirit begins to speak to him, that this story in Genesis actually is a parallel to this story in the gospels, and this character is the same as this character and it goes on and on. How has God made you? Be aware of your personality, He is speaking to you in the way you naturally see and experience moments.
3. Find Your Space
We are all so different, and what is so amazing is that the Spirit knows that and He wants to connect with you right in that place. So the key is to find your space. Carve out time every day to connect with Him. It might be your ride to work in the morning. You turn off the music, silence your phone and you dedicate the next 20 minutes to listening and praying and communing with Him. For me, I get up at 6 every day, workout and then go on a prayer walk around my neighborhood. It's hit or miss if my neighbors think I am crazy for talking out loud, but the truth is, I feel Him every morning I do it. And the more it has become a habit, the more I crave it, and the more I expect for Him to meet me there. Find your space, whatever it looks like for you. A comfy chair with a cup of coffee, a walk on the causeway, your back porch, maybe it's your lunch break. Make it a habit, make it a priority. I promise He will meet you there. If He is invited, He will come. If He is given authority He will speak. Allow Him into your home, your car, your workout, your walk, your morning, afternoon and evening.
If He is invited, He will come. If He is given authority He will speak.
4. Determine Who is Speaking
We hear more than the Holy Spirit's voice. We also hear our own voice and the voice of the Enemy. It is vital to be able to determine who is speaking. Here are the ways you can differentiate:
5. He Speaks in a Whisper
When I am really trying to teach my children, yelling at them or screaming will never help them gain wisdom. I might "win" the moment but I have lost the opportunity to speak truth into their lives. The Spirit wants to teach us and guide us, but He won't yell. That is not a loving Father, that is not the heart of the Father or His character. It is always in a whisper, it is always in a calm, loving manner. He wants to teach, guide, direct, and lead, but we must quiet the noise of life, the noise in our minds and listen for the whisper.
It might come to you as you read the Bible, it might come to you in feeling, in a sunset, in a word from a friend, a smile from your husband, a laugh from your child, in a vision or dream, but it will always be in the quiet, it will always be in love, and it will always be in alignment with the Word of God.
Modesty. It needs to be talked about. In my mind it has become black and white but in our culture it is more of a gray color. And I know it's trendy, and I know it's hot outside, and I know it's more comfortable...trust me...I know. But I just think we need to chat. And before I begin, this is not a rant...I don't like those. This is just my heart, and yes it is my "thing that gets me fired up" but... I want to just talk. Because below the clothes, the lack of clothes, the finger tip length rules and the v-cut shirts, there is your heart and my heart, and there is a reason why. And I want to talk about that.
Modesty is one of those words that has left a bad taste in many people's mouths. Feeling like it is a bunch of strict rules you have to follow. That you have to wear turtle necks in the flippin summer (I hate them. Claustrophobic anyone?) And that it is all about helping men not stumble because we are apparently fully responsible, even though, c'mon...we sure do have a very big role. But I want to talk about the reason behind the choices, and the thought behind the decisions.
Because modesty comes from a heart of humility. And humility is not boasting about self, but boasting about God. Let's talk about God and the Bible for just a sec.
Modesty comes from the Greek Word, kosmios which means, orderly, respected, decent, virtuous. This word is used when talking about men and their behavior in leadership of the church and women in how they dress and carry themselves. So how men behave in a leadership position in representing Jesus is just as important as how women dress? It is the same word after all...
(And all of those words that describe modesty up there. I would love those behind my name when someone is describing me wouldn't you?)
But in this status driven culture, with too many profiles and feeds to try and keep up with, it is hard not to join the race of success, to crave the likes and want the followers. We want to put our best versions of ourselves on display, and I get it, those filters do a wonder on my very tired mama eyes.
But when it comes to modesty, how we dress, how we carry ourselves. What is the motive? What is the gain? And when it comes to each other as women....
It will either make someone jealous because they don't look like you.
It will make someone prideful because they think they look better than you.
Nothing. We gain nothing. And in that moment...the enemy gains it all.
This wasn't always black and white for me. But when Griffin and I got married seven years ago a shift started in me. That my body is his and that no one else needs to see it. You have heard the saying, "When you say 'Yes' to someone, you say 'No' to everyone else." Well that also counts with how we dress. How we dress needs to be addressed because what is going on on the inside will always be shown on the outside.
Are you angry on the inside? It will come out sooner or later.
Are you jealous or insecure? The words you speak will reveal the state of your heart.
Do you need someone to tell you that you are beautiful?
Do you need the looks of approval from men?
Do you need to flaunt your body because, hey you worked really hard to get it here and I am proud of it?
If you asked me those questions a few years ago I would have said, "Yes" to every single one. Every. Single. One.
An inside transformation reveals an outside representation. I found a complete and total confidence in who I am in Christ! A confidence that is so deep and real that I no longer needed others to tell me that I am beautiful, worthy, enough, fit, talented, or pretty. (Now I am a words of affirmation junkie so when someone is kind to me, I soak it in and appreciate it very much) But it doesn't sustain me. Only God can do that.
And when Griffin notices my outfit, my hair, my eyes...which he usually does on the days where I don't try it means so much to me and my heart flutters a bit. (Side note: Find yourself a man who loves you when you are bare skin, hair a mess, and workout clothes on.) Anyway...my heart flutters and it matters but it doesn't fill and shape who I am. Only the One who created me can tell me who I am. I began to cover myself because I wasn't look for another created being to fill me up. I am now already filled up by the One who created us all. The One we all should be looking to.
You cover yourself not because you think you are ugly, but because you know you are beautiful.
So what changed was a new way of thinking. It was a change on the inside that showed itself on the outside. And it has changed the way I dress, and it has dictated the way my daughter's dress. It has changed the way I want them to see themselves. It has changed the way I see me and it has changed the way I see you..
And oh friend to truly know your worth, to truly understand who you are...well..it changes everything.
My alarm went off at 6 am like it does every morning. I quickly hit snooze longing for just five more minutes. It was raining, one of those perfectly quiet cozy mornings. Then I heard the whisper of His voice say, "Get up. I want to go on a run with you."
I got dressed, splashed my face with water. I laced up my 5 year old nikes that are perfectly worn and broken in and I walked down the street and began to run. As the rain began to let up, I heard the birds all around me, singing, worshipping, doing what they were created to do, and I just waited. I waited to hear from Him.
I heard my breathing and my feet splashing in puddles with every step, and then He began to speak.
I am going to be very transparent here but before I do, I just want to ask you,
Do you feel unseen?
Do you feel hidden?
Do you feel lost in the place you are in, stagnant, not moving?
Are you trying to make certain talents or giftings in your life your calling when it was never meant to be?
Are you trying to imitate what you see on a screen as you scroll through the parade of photos of edited perfection?
Now that you have said yes...we can be in this together.
He said, "I want you to come into agreement with who I am inside of you. I didn't make you to be like her. I didn't design you to do these things that you think you should be known for. You are not to be known for anything other than to make ME known."
We have gifts and talents. We can be at a certain level in certain seasons of our lives, but that doesn't mean that those things are our purpose or our calling. Most of these moments in my life I see now as simply avenues to get me from here to there. To get me to a certain college, to get me to Griffin, to get me to learn how to lead, to teach me how to do this or how to do that... And now it's time to let them go. It's time to focus on the one thing.
There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:42
David was anointed to be king, yet he remained in the fields with the sheep, for years. His time had not yet come. You can be anointed but not yet announced (Grey) And so that in between time for him, the time of remaining hidden, doing the mundane, doing the same thing every day; tending to the sheep, was all in preparation. Do you feel like you have something big you want to do, but you are not moving? Are you wanting to get to the next season in your life and you don't understand why it hasn't happened yet? Why haven't you met the guy, had the baby, found the house? Why haven't you been able to break through with your job, your dreams, your mindset. You think, "When will I shake the old me, this wrong mentality, when will I stop struggling with the same things!"
I believe what we call ordinary, the Lord calls necessary. What we see as the mundane He sees as the making of you. To be made we have to be undone, because what we are standing on and have believed about who we are and who God is is shaky. A lot of times I believe we build our identity around what we can do, but it's really about building your identity around Who made you. It's the one thing...let go of the other things, and focus on the One thing.
We were still running and I began to speed up my stride and I heard the Spirit say, "Don't get ahead of me, and don't slow down." Every step matters, even the little ones. Every breath counts, even the hard ones. I have you right where I want you."
I don't know what you are chasing today, but I know Who is chasing you.
I don't know what your goal is in life, but I do know Who's got you.
Because it's not about performance, it's about the posture of your heart.
And it's not about power it's about your perspective.
Let's choose the One thing. Thank you for being transparent with me today.
I have a hard time sitting still. I have a difficult time not creating a "to-do" list and then crossing tasks off one by one. It makes me feel like I'm in control of the day, and that I am accomplishing the day one load of laundry at a time. I like to be busy; I like to feel accomplished and productive. And I know you do too!
In church world you would call me a "Martha". Busy, hustling, multi-tasking and prepping for the next activity, the next day, the next move. It's efficient, it's helpful, it's smart! But is it always the best choice in the moment? Because that is what we are constantly doing...assessing and making decisions on what we think is best right now. And the schedules we keep dictate the lives we live.
So is the "to-do" list more important than the faces being kissed? Is the multi-tasking more valuable than the hearts that are asking for all of your attention? Is that thing you want going to fix the places in you that have been hurt or dismissed?
Are you wired this way? The natural posture of your mind is to do, to help, to serve, to pour out, to fix, to help? Are you waiting for that house to come, that relationship to change? Are you desiring those two precious pink lines to show up? Are you wanting to change your habits, to be free from comparison and insecurity and so you think doing more will help that? Does God have you in a season of waiting or being still? You can often feel unproductive, unloved, invalid, and as if time is standing still...and you're not moving forward. And that's just it, maybe you are not supposed to be moving at all.
God is re-wiring my mind. He is changing the way I think.
"...but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think."
Can I challenge you with something?
I am starting to believe, from my own personal humbling, that when we start looking at our life on what we should be doing and where we should be going, we begin to shift the focus from God to ourselves. Because it's not about what you're doing it's about who you are becoming. And it's not about us, it's about God, and it always will be.
And when you are in a waiting season, it's not always about a lesson to be learned it's about God's love to be discerned.
Whenever I have been in a season of waiting, it has always been about my faith and relationship with the Father. And it's not me asking myself or Him what do I need to do better? But it's finding all the ways that I am His treasure. He is way more focused on your heart than your list, more focused on shaping you than giving you what you want or moving you to the next season. He is after YOU!
So many people in the Old Testament went through seasons of waiting, and it was to grow their faith. And God showed up!
He is not in the doing, but He is in the ABIDING, the DWELLING, the BEING STILL. He loved Mary and Martha and He was pouring His love on both, but who was in a posture to receive it?
We have to be at His feet.
Mary and Martha both responded when their brother Lazarus died. Martha ran to Jesus asking Him what should we DO!? She was standing, yes she honored Him and believed in Him, but she was ready to go to work, she was ready to fix it, help, jump in, and serve. All good things, all Godly things yes, but was this the moment for it?
Mary...she ran to Jesus and she fell at His feet.
I am realizing that I must be at His feet before I move forward. I want to wake up and not think of my "to dos" but say, "God, what are You up to today? Because I want to be a part of it!"
If He hasn't told you to move, don't. If He has you waiting, don't worry, because He is working. Working on your circumstance but more importantly He is working on your heart. He is re-wiring you from the inside out.
Don't get me wrong, I still love making "To-Do" lists, they just a look a lot different now.
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.
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!