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It Wasn't Me

Life After Redemption

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Can you see?

Who have you SEEN today? Really seen… not glanced at, chatted up or overlooked. Who has crossed your path today needing encouragement or uplifting? Are your words and actions bringing life to others? Or do people turn away because you are too busy, too distracted, too indifferent or too angry to care?

It doesn’t have to fancy or preconceived. It can be simple. A thank you. Calling your server by name… being gracious without expectation of reciprocation. Kindness. Generosity. Love. Freely given.

A compliment that brings a woman up short in shock. A moment of “what? Who, ME?” Yes. You. I see you. You are beautiful. Fabulous. You are seen and loved. To the woman on the stairs… I called you beautiful, and I meant it.

#speakthetruthinlove

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The home that God built…

We live in a house, a home that God bought for me… I wanted something that fit us. With room to grow. With space for a future. With extra room… for a potential spouse, potential kids…. With potential to be the home for the family that God was building. We are the family of God’s own making.

We are a family that has survived a divorce, one that has weathered storms of contention… my two sons, a dog, and me. Out of the ashes we rose, stronger for the struggles and more certain in our identity. We live truth. Unashamed, we talk about God… we wrestle through challenges… we are unfinished, in flux, ever growing and evolving.
Our home had empty rooms, a whole floor that is unused. The door remained closed, the future is at hand, the almost but not yet. It is wasted space. Squandered. The empty rooms of potential life bothered me. I have tried using the space, for something… because it is MINE and must be used by me. Right? Or not.
Dissatisfied with emptiness, I decided to rent the upstairs… to a girl… because, I am surrounded by boys… even the dog is a boy. I was outnumbered, and to balance the scales and to put out the emptiness we got a girl in the attic, two actually.
The first one stayed for six months before she got married… she was our house elf. She baked delicious things and won over the short one with fresh scones. When she left us for her husband (whatever, I know), the short one hugged her in her wedding dress and glared at the man who stole her away.
And the emptiness returned….
Then came Girl 2.0, she was the replacement girl… by now I had determined that the attic no longer would be empty. I liked having a girl upstairs… plus I got to use the phrase “the girl in my attic” ubiquitously on Facebook and in casual conversation. Both of our girls were known to us, and loved by us… and have become ours. But this Girl 2.0 is magical… she is FAMILY and everything has changed.
This is the family that God is building, she is somehow sister to my children and the sister of my heart. I have watched her grow, even before she moved into the attic, from shaken, fragile, woundedness into the strength of a million rainbows. She used to hide in plain sight, not wanting to be seen and now she laughs uproariously and shines with Jesus sparkles.
She has found her voice, she is out of the corner… and temporarily in my attic. I know she is on loan, I have to let her go… she is chasing Jesus and He has laid out a mighty path for her.  She is willing to wait, she is willing to go… I have seen first-hand the fruit of faithfulness working, living through her and it has sustained and revived me in wondrous ways.
We are a family, bound by the Spirit… guided by the Holy Spirit… and sharing this life with Girl 2.0 seems to have exponentially magnified that fact. We are all drowning in majesty, there is a deep spring of redeeming grace flowing around us and it is healing the deepest of wounds. Nightmares of the past are being broken off and being replaced with hope and restoration.
In this house, in this home, this is the family that God is building. The rooms for potential are not mine to fill, it is not actually my space to use. I am just fortunate enough to have a room that is God’s to fill and is His space to use. Each day, I know more and more, that He fills every corner of this home.
This is the house that God built… in all my broken ways, He has built me walls that will always stay. The walls I built, He has torn down; in their place grace will abound. Brick by brick and stone by stone, He has tilled my heart so overgrown. The weeds of rage and bitterness had grown so fierce I could not see all the pain thriving inside of me. With every angry thought, my grief became a forgotten word.
Numb to hear my heart’s own cry. Waves of anger swept me away. The loss of self, a loss of joy. With stumbling steps through a darkened night, I forged a path into the light. Reminded of what once was true, God’s love saves and changes you. In this home, full of love and hope, the future is bright… full of almost and not yet.

Woman of integrity…

Woman of integrity, hear me now. You are not alone. This world we live in is broken and dirty and cruel. It may have robbed you of joy, it may have raped you, and it may have beaten you down. You may have stood on the front lines of a battle waging on beyond your control. Darkness has crept in and is eating your soul. You may have given away little scraps of yourself in exchange for a glimmer of recognition.

 

 

I see you there in the shadows and I tell you… you are NOT alone. There is no wrong, no loss, and no grief so great that I have stopped seeing you. The clouds that pursue you, the rains that threaten to drown you, are not enough to separate you from me. In all of your mess, right where you are… broken and bloodied, I say to you… You are NOT alone. I see you. And you are mine.

 

 

 

I was with you in the darkness. I was with you in your pain. I have heard every broken sob and caught every fallen tear. I see you through the dust, I see you through your shame. I see you hiding from me, and I tell you… do not be ashamed. My love will change the world. My touch will heal your heart. Each day may be a struggle, but do not give up the fight. On the other side are wholeness, redemption, and light.

 

 

 

You may have said you don’t know me, that you never knew my name. With every hair counted, I have always known you were mine. Lost in the darkness. Chasing broken dreams. You pretended not to care as you turned another trick, pouring down a fifth of something to drown out every thought. You think you’ve gone too far, that this is the point of no return… one more day or nothing, it matters not at all.

 

 

 

From the ash and darkness, I can bring forth new life. In the empty grey oblivion of a broken shattered life, I can work a miracle and set your path aright. The cost is a sacrifice, a price already paid… it is yours for the taking if you will just take my hand. I will not forsake you or leave you. I will not exploit you nor betray you, my word is my bond. The perfect promise of salvation, the only covenant not undone.

 

 

 

If you stumble, do not fear, I am there by your side. To hold you and to guide you with a perfect love and eternal plan. I will teach you new things of grace, hope, and life. You will cling to your old ways until you see the way. Your heart of stone will melt, your bricks will fall away. The armor you pick up is holy, and the fight you will fight is mine.

 

 

 

Woman of integrity. This is who I see. Standing in the darkness… the lost daughter of a king.

Life… unboxed

There is something amazing that happens to your spirit once you get out of the box… anytime you feel the walls closing in, your spirit begins to resist. Mine occasionally screams in warning, “This will make you LESS! RUN!!”
In the post-divorce apocalypse, there was a season of complete dryness. Everything that had been truth was stripped away to below the roots. What once was, was tossed asunder. I couldn’t find Jesus on my knees so I lay flat on the ground, broken and needy and lost. My soul calling out, oh how long must I weep Oh Lord before You hear my cries?
I didn’t know. I didn’t understand it. It was so raw and messy and frankly? More than a little bit unsanitary. Yet, so vital to the process of restoration. Everything had to be razed. It all had to go. Like Holy Fire, He burned through all of me leaving nothing but my faith in Him and the tiny flicker of hope that there would be something of that looked like life remaining at the end.
My integrity had been shaken, my reputation had been shattered, and my sanity had been questioned. Prophecies of doom had been declared over me and my children, curses were flung wildly and I struggled with doubts and wrestled to find truth in it all. I knew at my core, that change was required so I moved forward, one millimeter at a time.
Stumbling in the darkness and crying out for the Light eventually the smoke cleared and I found myself on a path of restoration. It was more than just a bandage over a seeping wound. Parts of me that had died along the way were given new life. My spirit had withered and died; it had become smaller, crawling into a box with ever shrinking walls. In a relationship with impossible standards, it adapted and retreated and became less.
Now… it is free. God restores all that was lost. He rebuilt my spirit and is growing it beyond anything I could have previously conceived. I am free to step out and serve. I can commit my life to seeking God, growing deeper, wiser, foolisher (not really a word, but I like it) and living, truly living, saturated in Him. My faith is uncensored… and the freedom of THAT, my friends, is the biggest most abundantest (also not a word) gift of them all.
Today, when I find those walls of conformity sneaking into my world… the box of becoming less, my spirit does NOT retreat. I will NOT be silenced. I will NOT be less than. I WILL NOT become smaller. My God does NOT call me to a small life. He calls me to a life of abundance. He calls ME to be more than my past. HE CALLS ME. ME. Broken, restored, colorful, bejeweled, radiant and growing. HE CALLS ME.
Where I am inadequate, He equips me. Where I am confused, He clarifies me. HE IS WITHIN ME and I WILL NOT FALL. I don’t have to have all the answers. Other than this one… He IS the answer.
Whatever storms come against you or before you, KNOW GOD… and you will know He is with you and for you. He works ALL things for good. He doesn’t give you second best… He gives you HIS best. ALWAYS. AMEN.

All my efforts…

There are days when my best efforts are simply not enough… I am not perfect, I definitely make mistakes but I do the best that I can and somehow muddle through. then I am reminded, with a quick reality check, that there is one way through this messy world… and I am not the solution.

I live a grounded in Jesus life, I serve in ministry and I feel like I am growing into the kind of person that Jesus would be proud to say “that’s MY girl.” I stand on the strength of my convictions. I seek to counsel and guide others to finding Truth and a relationship that is supremely intimate with Jesus. In the midst of experiencing blessing and connection to other believers AND actively seeing His hands at work in my life and the lives of others around me, I still find that stumbling block.

It’s more of a hurdle, a hard-hearted conflict, the kind that leaves your knees bloodied when you don’t manage to successfully clear it. You find yourself winded, the wind knocked out of your lungs… and suddenly you now longer wish to adult. As if that were an actual choice to be made. And here I sit, fuming and raging… venting and bitter. In the midst of a blessed day, I have been derailed by a single encounter. I cannot EVEN imagine extending grace or love… I am happy to say that the source of conflict is NOT technically my “neighbor” because miles exist between us. I know in my heart that Jesus is shaking His head and weeping over my pique of uncharitable thoughts and plots to overthrow all who dare come against me.

Here I sit. Unsatisfied. Irritated. Wanting justice. A lightning bolt. Something, please God something. Anger is that nasty infection that once inflamed does not easily subside, it burns red hot… starving for more fuel, consuming everything. Peace is lost. And found again.

The lightning bolt is this… my best efforts are never going to be enough. I am not righteous enough, evolved enough, or even adult enough to power through conflict or storms on my own strength. I am human, fallible and flawed… I cannot do this in my own strength. There is a prevalent darkness looming in the world, seeking to destroy us with our own best efforts and intentions. So, pouting maturely, I submit to Jesus my need for this “justice”, I will release my anger and let Him sort out the details.

Jesus, I am not enough. Please, please, PLEASE, carry me over, around and through the storms that come before me. Give me the words to speak the truth in love, even to… ugh… especially to my “neighbor”… because I am not doing this on my own. Thank you that your love is sufficient for all of my needs, and it is your love that drives out the darkness and quenches the flames of anger. AMEN.


Standing on the Rock…


There is a difference in standing with my toes to the lines, ready for combat on a stormy beach and being placed on a firm foundation of stone, placed there by Him. (Please click this link to read about Him calling me to keep my toes to the line!) 


Where I once was a fiery warrior, learning to follow Him in obedience to not attack but to stand on the line awaiting His command. Shoulder to shoulder, interceding with the legion of His angels ready to fight. But learning to stand fast no matter what the storms brought in.

First, He tempered my desire to fight all things in His name or not, by teaching me how to obey and just to stand and wait for Him. When my flesh was unwilling, my heart cried out to Him… and toe by toe I stepped up to that line in the sand. When I felt lost all I had to do was remember “toes to the line” and I was back on track.

Since then, my world has changed… the scenery is new and my heart has changed. I am not standing alone on a stormy beach, I am secure in the kingdom. In this process of transformation, God has moved me from chaos and placed me on a foundation of stone.

Therein lies the difference. On the beach, when the storms came in I stood fast… settling in my stance, digging my feet into the sand, bracing myself for the fight about to descend.

Now my feet stand on rock, unshakable in its permanence. When the storms roll in, I can no longer stand firm. My feet don’t sink down into the sand. The storms are coming and I could be blown away.

Shaking under the weight of a recent attack, I knew I was going to fall. Standing and shaken, I was unable to brace myself against the winds of the enemy. All of the healing and growth were slipping away, the darkness was coming. I could not fall again. The darkness could not win.

This is MY spot! HE put me here. It is right, I know it is. And yet I was not able to stand and hold my place. Torn between my own fears and the attack at hand I was losing the battle. In order to hold on, I shifted my stance… and I dropped to my knees. I held onto the rock and cried out, “I will not be shaken”.

The storm stopped. And I was still there. Each time the darkness rose up, I met it with the same declaration… bowing down, making myself humble. Where God once taught me to stand, He was now teaching me to kneel. All the strength I lack, He has and pours out onto the willing.

Coming from a place of self-perceived strength, it has been liberating to not have to fight my own battles. I don’t have to anymore. Amen.

Psalm 144:1-3

A psalm of David.

1 Praise the Lord, who is my rock.
He trains my hands for war
and gives my fingers skill for battle.

2 He is my loving ally and my fortress,
my tower of safety, my rescuer.
He is my shield, and I take refuge in him.
He makes the nations[a] submit to me.

3 O Lord, what are human beings that you should notice them,
mere mortals that you should think about them?

New Living Translation (NLT)

That’s me in the corner…

Sometimes I am an idiot. With all my thinking I “know” people, like I can see into them and read who they are. Mostly I can, its a gift. Kinda. But then there is that knee-jerk reaction… she is tall, thin and unusually pretty. She is that girl. The ones who I never fit in with. The ones who laughed at me and mocked me, excluded me. Yes. It is high school and middle school all over again.

So I know her. We have met before. We will not be friends. I am the nonconformist, I march to my own special beat… and she, well she is obviously too vain to be friends with someone who doesn’t conform to the status quo. Boat rocker. I know she’s judging me, disdainfully looking at me… putting me into the “other” category, the dismissed from inclusion list

Mhm. This 30 second assessment occurred in my head today. Me, oh so insightful… so walking it out with Jesus. Being my regular “inclusive” self while secretly creating a wall of judgement between myself and this other woman before we have even spoken a word to each other.

Oh my lovely flesh… all weak and insecure. The lies you tell me. The lies I think for a nanosecond could be true. Those past hurts and rejections still live in my memory waiting to be recalled into action. To preserve all the scars I bear, these hurts could rule my heart if given enough attention.

So with the lies ringing in my heart I wait for this woman to demonstrate her shallowness and obvious superficial fakeness… and feel that lie deflate in my heart. She is genuine and true. Passionate about her faith, loving children, desiring to be called into missions… humble, and gentle AND kind.

And then I can so clearly see the lie. It started so small and in less than a breath it grew, poisoning my heart and feeding my fears. It tells me a truth, “I know people” and then adds in the lie, “you will be rejected”. Survival teaches us to protect ourselves… and with a sufficient wall in place? I will be safe from harm.

It starts so small… seemingly harmless, just waiting to be fed. And once you feed the lie, it grows exponentially and begins to consume your joy.

As soon as she spoke, I knew I had been wrong. Frankly? I was ashamed and relieved all at once. Ashamed that I so quickly misjudged her and relieved that the lie was so quickly revealed in my heart.

Not one of us is immune to the enemy’s lies, he works in the smoky realm of half-truths and feeds off our innermost fears and pain. BUT… he can only thrive when we feed him. The enemy requires our attention and focus to survive. He will poke at our wounds until we lose focus on God for a second, and then he tries to keep us bound in blindness from the light.

In my glorious tumble off the path of God today, I was reminded to keep my focus on Him … ALWAYS. The enemy will do what he always does, but through the grace and mercy of Christ, he will not succeed. We may stumble for a moment, or longer, but we don’t have to stay off track. In the same nanosecond it took me to fall, I chose to give it over to God and repent. Boom. Just like that.

So today I fell out of grace and back in again before lunch… Thank you God, that your mercy knows no end. Thank You that You work through our weaknesses to strengthen us and transform us into Your Holy image. With each lesson, let me grow more and more deeply into the likeness of Christ who dwells within me. Open our eyes to see one another as you see us…. as Your chosen people, set apart, united in the name of Christ Jesus. Amen.

Change is knocking…

It terrifies me, more than just a little bit when people start talking about change. I am not talking about just rearranging the seating chart or what time I go to church. CHANGE. It is ominous, it makes my hands sweat and my heart stop.

My life has CHANGED so dramatically in the last three years… the end of a marriage, a break-up with my home church of nearly ten years, two moves and financial struggles. The thought of more change? Fills me with all the joyous anticipation of being punched in the chest. Not a happy thought.

Recently in church our pastor talked about the eagle stirring the nest, getting the young ready to fly. Not right after they have hatched, not after they are bigger than their parents… somehow that momma eagle just KNOWS when its time to make the nest a little less cozy, to push them out so that they can fly.

I trust God, really I do… but this change thing? I don’t trust it at all. Even though I have seen that through tremendous upheaval and drama He will pull me through and put me upon firmer ground. Where I stand now is a firm rock, a much stronger foundation than the shifting sands I stood on before.

There is that ME part of me, that is so afraid… what will happen next? I just got HERE… right here, why do I have to change again? I am not ready, so not ready, really not ready. Change is painful, it requires sacrifice, and it can absolutely devastate our concept of now.

There is that part of me that has been asking for more, seeking Him deeper, wanting to grow. So what is it that I fear? That He is answering my prayer? He is the God that keeps His promises. He continues to broaden my knowledge in Him.

And then… I remember, not all change is bad. SO change happens… I have been talking about, and really clinging tightly to the three BIG BAD changes that happened in the last three years. It just occurred to me that there have been other changes as well, many many more changes that have been absolutely amazing. I think perhaps I was looking at the glass from the wrong direction…

God has moved us out of a season of turmoil and rejection and placed us firmly in a new church. A life-sustaining, life-giving AMAZING church family. After so many years of trying on churches, only to discover that they are the wrong fit for us we have truly found and have been given the perfect fit for us out of all the churches around! Wow! Okay, so that is CHANGE… and it didn’t hurt one bit. 
Next? For the first time in my walk with Jesus, I get to put HIM first. No excuses, no hiding, I am totally in the perfect place in Him and in me… He comes first. Every day, in every way… another CHANGE that didn’t hurt, and is quite liberating.
Quasi-finally… there is really more than this, but I like to work with the magic of threes… Thirdly, I have been blessed with an abundance of friends who love me truly, madly deeply. What is significant is that they are unique and diverse, liberal and conservative… and they are not just friends limited to the four walls of a church. 
It is these changes that have… well, CHANGED my life. And it is these changes that will ripple out and touch people beyond my little bubble of life. These changes of growth and life are the new chapters of my future. And they do NOT cause me to fear, rather I step forward and with each passing moment I get to rejoice!!

Deuteronomy 32:10-11

10 In a desert <sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AD)”>land he found him,
    in a barren and howling waste. <sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AE)”>
He shielded <sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AF)”>him and cared for him;
    he guarded him as the apple of his eye, <sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AG)”>
11 


like an eagle that stirs up its nest
    and hovers over its young, <sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AH)”>
that spreads its wings to catch them
    and carries them aloft. 

Remedial lessons in forgiveness, take 2….

I am anguished. It was a three step forward kind of day, and then a big shove backward. That old panic and pain was stirred up after watching a movie about a painful marriage. I am keeping my eyes fixed on God and His promises for me. I am not choosing to dwell in these past pains. So when I get triggered like this, it brings a fresh wash of grief for a marriage failed.
How long do I need to mourn this loss? I long for the day that I don’t immediately remember the pain of cruel words or the shameful knowledge of his secret addictions. Bound by covenant, sworn to be the secret keeper… it was the perfect trap.
My spirit grieves for my bruised heart. No longer is that my reality. Solid with my family, connected into a life-giving growing church family, eyes lifted to Him to provide all things. And then there is the pain. I must ask not WHY AGAIN, but what do I need to learn from this pain, God? This thorn still in my heart partly connected through my unforgiving heart.
I am capable of relying on God, and releasing my unforgiveness to His care. It is not a burden that I have to carry. And I do trust HIM with it. I just don’t know how to let go of that piece and anger and betrayal. Deep down there is a part of me that want to see him fall, see him shamed for all that he has done and gotten away with. And it is that primal part of my brain that tells me to hold on for my justice.
 Forgiveness is a choice. Every day I get up and say, “Today I choose to forgive.” But I am not committing to that fully. I am holding back. Really what I am saying is that I choose to forgive on MY terms. I will ‘truly’ forgive when I feel that justice has been served. Until then… I am not all in. In fact, I am barely in at all.

Which is really, well, stupid. In all these sweeping areas of my life I am completely giddy committed to follow Him. Step out, pray, speak, write, praise, exhort, uplift, host, encourage… done, done and done. No questions asked. Except for this one thing, this teeny tiny thing? It’s holding me back; Keeping me available to relive those feelings of grief, pain and anger over and over again. I choose. I choose unforgiveness. And it is hurting my heart.
It grieves my Father when I withhold things from Him, the things that He has not called me to carry. My daughter, what are you doing? How can I heal you of these wounds when you are continuously drinking from the well that is poison to your soul? STOP. Let me take these things from you. Believe that I am truly greater than your circumstance, greater than your grieving.
I have gone all in with God before, and for the most part I still am ALL IN. I refuse to be my own stumbling block. I will not continue to negotiate or withhold these parts of myself from Him. I do trust that He is mightier than any circumstance that I have walked through. So I choose, I CHOOSE to forgive to my enemy. I release my need to see justice served. And claim the promise that God will provide all that I need for this life.
AMEN.
1 Corinthians 10:13
13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
1 Peter 5:5-7
All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 

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