Discovering Trust

Almost two years ago, I wrote this post.  In the last week, I have had a revelation.  This is the first time in many years that I do not have that familiar feeling of depression, which always worsens at this time of year.  Something has changed.

During the last year, I have actively confronted something within myself that needed to be dealt with and it has been intense.  Throughout my adult life, I have struggled with a specific, dysfunctional pattern of behavior.  As a young woman, I saw myself as a victim of circumstance and wondered why I kept finding myself in the same situation.  After I was saved, though, Jesus began to show me how I was unconsciously drawn to these situations, because of the abuse and neglect that I had experienced as a child.  I pursued what I knew because that was what felt comfortable, but I kept hoping that the result would be different.

As my eyes were opened to this, I believed that God had healed me and that things would change.  I had been looking for a need to be met and I knew it couldn’t be if I stayed in the place that I was in.  Now, I had such hope in my heart for the future.  Unfortunately, though, the day came when I realized that I was still trapped in the same pattern and despair overwhelmed me.  Without admitting it to myself at the time, I set upon a course to meet the need for myself, although imperfectly.  

I remember having conversations with God in my head during this time.  He told me, “You are not trusting Me.  You are not waiting on Me.”  I responded, “It’s not You; it’s me.  I know You have tried to heal me but I’m just too messed up.  I’m a hopeless cause.  This will just have to be good enough.”  Of course, taking things into my own hands did not turn well.  It just complicated things further.

As the years passed, I eventually admitted to myself what I had done and repented of it.  I couldn’t change the choices I had made and how they had impacted my life, though.  I was committed to walking in obedience but I didn’t have hope for the future.  I was still dealing with the same feelings.  I kept wishing that I could just be content with my life as it was and stop longing for this place in my heart to be filled.  

A little over a year ago, though, God asked me to do something difficult.  I chose to obey and took that first step.  It didn’t seem to help anything at first.  Actually, things seemed even worse.  One day, though, a word came to me – idolatry.  I had made the desire to have this need filled bigger than anything else in my life, including my relationship with God.  Realizing that was a turning point.  I’d had glimpses of it before, but I’d never given the sin a name.  It was liberating.  It gave me a concrete way to rebuke these feelings when I am tempted to dwell on what I do not have.

Then, one day, something else occurred to me.  Fear is what had convinced me that God could never fix me.  I let the enemy into my head.  What I perceived as humility (There’s something wrong with me; I am not enough) was really me saying “This problem is bigger than You.  YOU, God, are not enough.”  I was afraid if I waited on God, that things would never get better.  That’s when the second word came to me – trust.  If I had only TRUSTED Him, there would have been no fear.  I knew that I needed to fall in love with Jesus to be healed and I thought that I had done that, but I had never let myself trust Him with this area of my life.

I’ve made up my mind to trust Him from now on.  I’ve put this need in His hands.  That doesn’t mean that I’m not sad sometimes, or angry, or frustrated.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t make mistakes.  I don’t feel like that unbearable weight is sitting on my shoulders anymore, though, and I didn’t see that coming.  God is good.

On Feeling

Have you ever forced yourself to forget something because it was too hard to handle?

Something happened in my world recently that brought back an ocean (read: my entire childhood) of memories I had repressed.

The funny thing about refusing to allow ourselves to remember, is we somehow believe this will protect us from the pain associated with these memories. It may seem to work for a time, but you may also find yourself feeling all these emotions without knowing where they’re coming from. In my recent experience, I was grossly unprepared to face the memories and all the emotions that came along with them. I’ve practiced the art of “stuffing” for a long time now, and when you’re an expert stuffer like me, “all” you have to deal with are the occasional random bursts of anger. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve “volcanoed” over the tiniest thing – my anger coming to an explosive boil, then settling down to a dormant state until the pressure of forcing down the REAL stuff becomes too much again.

Over the past few weeks, years and years worth of pain I’d refused to deal with came back in one traumatizing blow and left me laying flat on my back wondering how I’d contained it all for so long. Far too many emotions came bubbling to the surface, but this time, they were raw and real, and I didn’t really know what to do with them.

To put it lightly, I was raised in a violent home; a home where I was not allowed to feel; a home where, if I showed emotion, my bare body would be beaten until my face turned to stone. I started cutting and hitting myself at the age of 9. It was the only way to feel on my own terms without actually feeling. That was my comfort, it was the one way I could feel in control. No one noticed because bruises and scars were normal in my house. I continued this coping mechanism well into my adulthood, and saw it creep back for the first few days as the memories came back. I’ve learned quite well that this method of coping doesn’t actually work.

So what does work? Surprisingly enough, my answer is walking through all that pain. It’s been a very rough few weeks of allowing myself to remember, allowing myself to feel, but I haven’t gone alone. This time, I let God in. I let him guide my way. He has spoken the truth over every memory as I’ve attempted to reconcile heart and head. A lot of my experiences were wrong, but by stuffing them down into the darkest parts of my soul, I was refusing to admit that. I was accepting the lie that these pieces of my life were normal, okay, or deserved. Only by walking through it all with the light of God’s truth have I been able to see clearly.

I challenge you, reader, to ask what you have been stuffing. What do you refuse to feel? What do you refuse to see? Ask the Lord to go into these places with you and heal you. You may (like me) find yourself running into the basement to scream, but at least you won’t be alone in the pain anymore. God really cares about you and what you’re going through. He REALLY does. So let Him.

Wonders Beyond Words

Oh Lord, the work You are doing in this life is so powerful and needs to be shared, but the words I possess cannot even begin to express it all. I am overwhelmed by the beauty of it all.  As I continue to turn this life over, I can see You work. It boils down to trust and obedience on my part. As I let go and stop trying to control, You work miracles. You are putting my brokenness back together and it is a beautiful mosaic. Pieces of me were shattered and You have the ability to take those shards that cut me so deep and make them into a work of art. Why did I hold onto them for so long? I would clutch them so hard that I would bleed. I would think to myself, why would Jesus want these pieces of me? Doesn’t He know how ugly they are? How much pain did they cause to anyone that would dare try to hold them? I would convince myself that it would be wrong to unload these things upon You. Oh, how wrong I was.

I bought into a lie that I shouldn’t “over spiritualize everything” in this life. It has struck me that all things are spiritual in nature as You have created ALL things. You created this all out of nothing and yet I was taught to believe that the spiritual and the physical are somehow separate. One cannot be without the other. We are all Yours; there are no exceptions. Every ounce of this universe is God-breathed, and I can bring it all to You. Oh and the wonders that come when I do.

Thank You for showing me how powerfully You can move in the smallest of spaces I give over to You. And yet these are only small glimpses of what is possible in You. Lord, please continue to break down these walls and work through me, I beg. I give You permission and am so thankful that You wait for me to do so. How much we would miss out on otherwise.  The stories we can share and the beautiful pieces of art we can show others and to let them know that they too can know the Great Artist. Those miracles happen every day. That His work is all around us. That His love is pure and good and healing. That complete healing and complete deliverance are possible. We only need to be willing.

“for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” –  Philippians 2:13

 

Works

Do you ever feel like you’re just never good enough? Do you feel like you’re always falling short? I know that I can easily fall into this place if I am not careful. If I don’t hold these thought and feelings captive, I can slip into a place of basing my self-worth, my faith and my title as a child of God, purely on how well I am performing. The problem is that I have very high standards for myself and am also my own worst critic. This can be a nasty combination if allowed to run free. Luckily, we have an amazing Savior that offers us grace and mercy in all things.  We can’t earn it and we should stop trying to.

I have struggled with these things on and off for most of my life I suppose. I definitely see this in others as well. Just last night my husband and I were discussing this issue and how consuming it can become when left unchecked. The Bible tells us to take our thoughts captive because our Creator knows how we are! Thoughts left to their own devices can be used as a weapon against us. We can become consumed with thoughts of our unworthiness, our failures, our lives can become distorted and we no longer feel any satisfaction. The more we hold onto these thoughts, the more we keep them to ourselves, the further we drift from those around us and from Jesus.

This past Sunday’s message was about the importance of true unity in the Body of Christ. We must truly allow ourselves to be open, honest and vulnerable with each other. We are meant to be a support and to help one another find clarity in the midst of storms. We are meant to lean on each other and to seek counsel when our thoughts are seeming to consume us, when we are feeling like we are not good enough or when we are just feeling spiritual separation and are not sure why. We are meant for more.

Christ came and died for each of us. His death was to bring us true freedom. Basing our self-worth on our works only allows us to be held captive once again. There is no list to check off, we never arrive at a place where we are deserving, we are loved no matter what we do. This is such a hard concept to hold onto. Be free in the Grace and the Mercy that is available in all things. Every morning we wake fresh and forgiven, but only if we accept it. Essentially, we are rejecting Christ’s gift when we allow ourselves to become consumed by our negative thoughts. We are getting in the way of ourselves and of the Holy Spirit. We build walls that keep others out and keep ourselves alienated.

I have said this so many times, my personal prayer has been for our Gracious Lord to show me how He sees me. I know that He created me on purpose and He has used me in ways I could never have imagined. He tells me that I am made in His image and that He loves me, so who better to show me what that really means. Who am I to allow myself to become wrapped up in these thoughts of self-loathing? Who am I to say that I am not good enough to be of use in God’s Kingdom? Do I really think that Jesus has made a mistake? That in all the world, our Perfect Creator made this one mistake in me? That is not the Lord I believe in. The God I worship is a God of perfection, patience, kindness, and mercy. My Lord works all things for perfection and beauty. So why do I find it so hard to this see within myself?

I do believe that working to better ourselves, to seek true transformation, and to be true to our callings are important. I also know that we are not meant to beat ourselves up and to drag ourselves down. If we take the time to bring these things before The Living God, He will show us how He sees us. Jesus is ready and willing to bring us all on a path of true freedom, true joy, and true transformation; we only need to get out-of-the-way.

Today I choose to lean on my brothers and sisters in Christ. I seek wise counsel when I am feeling lost and weighed down. I spend time in the presence of our Lord and remember that He is the Creator of all things. He has a plan and it is a privileged to be part of that plan. I will not base my worth on works. I will continue to move forward and follow God’s path, even when I am not seeing results. I know in my heart that I am loved and He has shown me this so many times. Peace is found in Jesus. When I am feeling unsettled and distant, I need to evaluate my thought life and hold captive those that threaten to derail me from my calling. I am a child of God and am free in Him. Thank you, Jesus, for all You have done, for all You are doing, and for that which You continue to do in my life each day.

Perfectly Made

Compliments are a weird thing for me. When I am given one, I don’t know what to do with it. I try to smile and say thank you, most of the time I deflect and try to avoid them. I once thought that not accepting a compliment was a type of humility, then I began to think of it as a pride issue. Lately, I have been given another perspective.

I have had the pleasure of going through some healing of old wounds with a woman who is in the same place as me, on so many levels. We have both experienced some crazy traumas as kids and have rebelled and lashed out in some similar ways. It has been great to meet with someone who listens with an open heart and that is willing to share their struggles so freely. We went through a book that I thought wold be much more difficult than it turned out to be. This last book dug into past traumas that can affect current relationships and reminded us on how Jesus wants to heal those places. He was there, is there and is the only One that can bring true healing. How amazed I am by the love He shares so freely. How much I enjoy digging into those places that once hurt and see just how powerfully He moves through those places, brings healing and allows the experience to bring healing to others. We only need to be willing.

Recently we have begun a book on another topic my friend felt she needed to face. I did some searching and found a great one. I was excited to start this process with her and expect miracles to take place. The thing I did not expect was just how deep this would hit home for me as well. The emotions it has stirred, the memories that threaten to become clearer, the pain buried so deeply, so long ago. The topic of Forgiving our Fathers and Mothers. Ugh, it is apparently a place that needs to be dug up and brought into the Light. The good news is that when Jesus asks me to step into these hard places, I know that it is so that He can release me from the burdens I carry. Burdens that I was never meant to carry. Experiences that can be shared and that can be used for His greater Good once I learn to release them.

After I completed the first chapter, I was struck by the fact that for most of my childhood, my internal feelings and thoughts were never acknowledged. In fact they were replaced with my parents telling me that I was not good enough, I was not worthy of love and that I would never be anything more than a burden and a mistake. When you learn these things in these stages of development, you carry those feelings of inadequacy into adulthood. We become unable to accept when others acknowledge a gift or skill in ourselves. We were never taught how. We were raised to believe that anything we felt we were successful in was a lie. We were told, in many different ways, that we should not acknowledge any beauty in ourselves. We are not to see our talents as something good. We will never measure up.

Now, I don’t believe we are meant to dwell in these places for long, but I do think it’s important to gain a new perspective and to dig deep to understand the underlying issues. If we go there, when Jesus leads us, we can find true freedom. We can replace the lies that were told to us so long ago. We can begin to see ourselves as the creations we are. Our Creator has made us all for a purpose and we need to know that. We need this to sink to the depths of our hearts so that we can be free to move within that purpose. It’s important.

I have had a desire to see myself as Jesus sees me, for some time now. It’s not a quick process, but a life long one. To allow Him to undo the lies and guilt that we grip onto so tightly. The defenses we have grown accustomed to carrying around, fully engaged. We don’t even realize how exhausting it is anymore, we have forgotten any other way. Jesus knows our burdens, He knows our pain and He is the only One that can release us from them. We only need to give Him the space to do so. He is gentle, patient and willing to wait until we go before Him and lay it all down. How lovely it is when we are able to drop the defenses and to walk in His will with confidence. The beauty we are able to encounter within ourselves is amazing.

Today I would encourage you all to turn your hearts over to Jesus and to ask Him what He wants you to see within yourself. Focus on following the path that He laid out for you so long ago. Remember that you were molded into perfection by His hands and that He wants a close and personal relationship with you. He is the true Father and His love never wavers. He has the perfect vision of who you are and what you are meant to do for His Kingdom. Rest on that. Seek His will. See yourself through His perfect eyes. Receive His love and acceptance. Let those defenses fall away and know that no one can hurt you anymore, for you are His and He will always protect you. He laid down His life for you. Now live  yours for Him.

 

Psalm 139

For the choir director: A psalm of David.

O Lord, you have examined my heart
    and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
    and when I rest at home.
    You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
    even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand!

I can never escape from your Spirit!
    I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
    if I go down to the grave,[a] you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
    if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    and your strength will support me.
11 I could ask the darkness to hide me
    and the light around me to become night—
12     but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
    Darkness and light are the same to you.

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.

17 How precious are your thoughts about me,[b] O God.
    They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
    they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
    you are still with me!

19 O God, if only you would destroy the wicked!
    Get out of my life, you murderers!
20 They blaspheme you;
    your enemies misuse your name.
21 O Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate you?
    Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose you?
22 Yes, I hate them with total hatred,
    for your enemies are my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

A New Family

The holidays have come and gone in the usual whirlwind, but this (past) year’s celebrations seemed to drag far less than usual.

What was different about this year was my intentionality in spending time with the people I’d truly call family – be they biological or not. In previous years, I’ve done what was expected and spent some very hard hours with people who share my blood but nothing else – people who’d rather talk about who I was than love who I am now – people who’d rather fight and prove their points than respect another human’s opinions or views – people without the trueness of the love of God in them.

I was raised in a family that called themselves “Christian”, but acted out the opposite. We were an unloving judgmental people who valued perceived perfection over God’s grace.

I suppose you could say that it took me a long time to shake off the dust. It’s taken me a long journey and study to see who God is and who He wants me to be. Part of this journey has been having to take a break from my family… utter “radio silence”.

After I had my daughter, we had some messy, painful interactions with my biological family. When I found out I was pregnant again, I knew I couldn’t subject any of my kids to the abuse that time with this biological family always turns out to be; so this year, I said “enough”.

I recently read the encouraging words of Jesus in Matthew 19:29, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.”

That’s not to say it’s not still painful. I hope and wish and dream for the day I can be reunited with “the biologicals” and feel good about it and not be manipulated or trampled on, but so much has to change first that it seems impossible; so the sting is there.

This year, we spent our second Thanksgiving with a family that’s been like my adoptive family. We ate, talked, played, gave thanks, walked over to see the neighbors, I announced my pregnancy… it was just a fun relaxed time that felt like real home.

My daughter wasn’t shoved around and treated like garbage, and when she was being hurt by a little boy at a New Year’s gathering at another friend’s house, other people stood up for her. It wasn’t me standing up for her alone and being ignored because she’s a girl and “boys are superior”, no! These people truly care! They see her as a person with as much value as any other, no matter her gender (or other factors). Moments like these shouldn’t be so shocking to me, but with the upbringing I was subjected to, it’s very surprising when good things – things which should be normal – like this happen.

I’ve come to realize that I have the right and privilege to choose who I call family. They’re the people who act in love and show grace. They’re the people I can say anything to and not worry about being “cut off” until I apologize and align my beliefs with theirs. They’re the people who see me as a single human being of value, not an extension of whatever man is “above me” currently (father, husband…). They’re the people around whom I can relax, be my true self, stay off-guard, and just.be.

An Amazing Year

I sit here and ponder the last year or so of this life. The path traveled was a windy and unexpected one. I left the field of hospice care and accepted a position offered to me that I clearly saw Your hand in. I knew for a fact that You meant for me to take that position, even though it meant leaving a field I had spent eight years in. It meant leaving a company I working with from the day they opened their doors here in CT. It meant walking away from the known and into the unknown. So I did, knowing that You had a plan and this was just a step towards something. I took that position, knowing that it would not be a position I would be in forever. It was scary, exciting and freeing in so many ways. The job was great, I was able to work from home and that allowed me to be there each morning to get my kids on the bus. It meant I no longer stressed on snow days, delays and when sickness hit. It allowed me to flex my time and get more involved in my church. It was great.

After working in this new place for six months, layoffs began and I knew that my position would be one of them. I began to apply to some jobs I found I qualified for, but I hated the thought of having to give up my work at the church and my flexibility around my family. Then I lost my job. I was let go during the second wave of layoffs and went on unemployment. The only other time I have ever been on unemployment was ten years ago. It was a shock and yet I heard You telling me that this was all part of Your plan. You told me to trust You and I did. Between the pay I received “in lieu of notice” and the unemployment, we never skipped a beat financially. You just kept on providing. I was blown away each time. I adjusted my budget and saw the negatives glowing red. It brought me anxiety and instead of panicking, I rested on Your promises and handed them over to You. Our finances are not our own, they are Yours and I knew You would ensure that we were taken care of. I was blown away, week by week. You met us in those places of uncertainty every time. I am so blessed to see You move in my life. I am still amazed as I write about it.

The layoff came just three days before my step-daughters were coming to stay for the summer. I was able to be present. I was able to do more around my house and that allowed my husband to do less as he worked a ton of over-time. The over-time that was not supposed to be, the over-time that You provided. The over-time that filled those red spaces in our budget. As we walked in faith, You filled the gaps. We walked knowing that You were there and that You were working, but not knowing how. It is so freeing to be in that place once you let go of the fear.

As I continued to try to pick up more side jobs and applied to other “real jobs”, I was never called in for an interview. This is a first for me! I have always worked and have never had trouble finding a job. I took this to be You telling me that I was to continue to do what I was doing at the church I loved and with the family I adored. I kept walking blindly, just knowing in my heart that this was all going to be great. I also had moments of complete anxiety and fear, those became fewer and fewer. You brought me to a place of immense peace. You reminded me that I have always desired for more and that You were bringing me to that place. You reminded me that what seems like less to the world is so much more to You.

As my professional world lessened, my husband’s expanded. As I had more time to give, I gave it to the church I adore. I was able to serve the people there and use the skills You have given me through time. I never really thought I was “good enough” to serve as a volunteer coordinator at any church, yet my heart has desired it for so long. Here I was, volunteer coordinator at Your church. Crazy. Seriously. I knew I wanted it, but there was always this part that whispered to me of how unqualified I was. There was this part of me that didn’t think I deserved it. I mean, I don’t. The thing is, none of that matters. I knew God was calling me to a different place and I followed and just kept giving Him all my worries and doubts. He is so kind and gentle, He would remind me of who He is and what He was calling me to in so many ways. He used His people to speak just the right words at just the right time and blew me away every time.

As we approached the end of the year, so came the end of my unemployment. I was unsuccessful in finding a job that would offer what I needed to continue my work at the church and allow me to be available for my kids in the same manner that I have been. So now I am working at Your church part-time as I was able to grow into this position You called me to. You gave me this space and told me what to do with it. It was frightening, completely different from anything I have ever done before, yet I just knew that it was exactly where You wanted me.

So now I start a new year as a part-time volunteer coordinator in Your church, I am still with my kids before and after school, I am tending to my home more than I was ever able to before. There has been this huge shift in my life, but everyone here is happy and things haven’t really changed all that much. It’s difficult to explain. Walking in faith is hard, it’s a struggle. There is no easy way to follow You blindly, oh but the rewards are great. The things You have brought me through have hit my core. You have truly transformed this soul in ways that I couldn’t even begin to explain. The peace, the joy, the healing and the light that You have brought in this life are amazing.

I sit here in amazement of You. The path You have brought me through still boggles my mind. To know that so much more is still unseen is impossible to comprehend. Your vast love and kindness must never be forgotten. The freedom You have provided me is incomprehensible, yet I know I only taste a small portion of it. I know I have struggles to go through still and that each brings me closer to You. Each trial offers true strength, true peace, and unspeakable love. The weight being lifted, the pain I hardly know knew was there. Even as I struggle physically, my Soul shines brightly. The enemy may slow me down from time to time, but You’re always there. You lift me up, You patiently wait and You never waver.

To know that You truly want me to be happy, that walking in the way You asked me to would seem so irresponsible to me, yet brought such miracles. How I blindly followed You and it brought me to a place that I cannot describe. My words fail, but my heart sings to You. My gratitude pours out of me. You’ve met me at every step and I know that You always will.

Thank You Lord

Dear Jesus 12/9/2015

Dearest Jesus,

Will you ever cease to amaze me? The promises you write on my heart seem so far fetched to a wreck like me. The deep transformations that have taken place, the healing that continues day to day, and the hurts from long ago being used to bring others to those places of healing. Words truly cannot give the magnitude of Your love justice. I hear words coming out of my mouth that sound so cliche and I know I once would have rolled my eyes at such things. The thing is, that there are no other ways to try to explain the things going on in my heart, in my life, in the lives around me.

Although I may seem young in years to some, I have lived a long life full of pain, destruction, and anxiety. The depth of that pain and devastation is still unknown to me as I have only just begun to see how far and wide they have reached in me. The dysfunction and darkness that wrapped itself around me as far back as I can remember no longer have a hold on me. Today, I can say that I am free. This has only come through the Grace and Mercy given so freely by my Lord, Jesus Christ. Trust me, I have tried many other ways.

Therapy, self-help, self-medication and denial only brought me to a point of being able to mask my pain easily. This I can see so clearly now. All things I tried before lacked an essential ingredient, God’s love. Without the Holy Spirit working in me, all else is pointless. Christ has a way of opening those places I shut down so long ago, He enters those places to bring light and healing beyond anything I could have ever hoped for. Nothing else could bring me to this place. The funny thing is, I know I still have so much further to go!

I share this with you all as a testament to the power that is available to every single human being on this planet. Don’t start thinking about all the people that are not worthy, don’t start thinking about all the ways that you are unworthy, just settle on the fact that Jesus loves you anyway. Let your heart hear that. Jesus loves you. He is not temperamental and He doesn’t expect you to get it together before you come to Him. He literally wants you to come to Him as you are. Right now, this very moment. Go to Him and let Him show you, true love. Let Him show you that You are His and always have been, always will be. He is loving you right this very moment, even if you are in a place of denying His existence, even if You hate Him. How we feel and how we respond to Him will never change how He loves us. The only requirement is that we turn to Him and accept it.

Let Him love you, let Him heal you, allow Him into those places full of pain, anxiety and darkness. There is no point in hiding, He knows us all better than we know ourselves. His love is a true love that we will never know or understand completely. The depths of His truly unconditional love are eternal. Take that step into the love that is waiting for you. Yes, you. He is calling you this very moment and all you have to do is answer. Turn to Him and accept the gift He brings. Know that your life has a purpose beyond what you could ever imagine.

Freedom comes when I accept Jesus into my life and begin to walk in the purpose He designed for my life long before the creation of the very world we live in. I only need to accept the gift He offers to all. I have to acknowledge that His grace is sufficient and that I could never earn that. This is not a life of doing this and not doing that. This is a life of acceptance, peace, love and life. The life full of guilt, shame, pain and trying to measure up is exhausting and fake. True life begins in Jesus. If a wretch like me, a woman that detested Christianity and all I stood for, can find Jesus then I know you can too.

Lord, I thank You for the forgiveness You offer to anyone that will accept it. I thank You that You do not require anything more from us, but present us with opportunities to change the world around us in Your name. You allow us to touch lives in ways that blow me away. You are merciful and loving. You truly take the unqualified of this world and use us to bring others to a life full of freedom. A freedom that cannot be explained, but only experienced. A freedom that cannot be intellectualized, but must be heard by the heart. I pray that whoever reads this today will stop and look to You. I pray that they will ask You to show them Your love in the midst of wherever they are right now. Pierce their core, soften their hearts and pour into them, Lord. In Jesus’ precious name I pray these things. Amen.

You Amaze Me

Dearest Jesus,

You amaze me more and more each day. The depths of healing, peace, and restoration You have bestowed upon me are beyond anything I could have hoped for. The way You have taken such a mess as me and made me part of such beautiful things. I once thought this world full of only darkness, corruption, and disappointments. I long ago counted so much as lost. Yet You have brought me to places that have shown me the true Hope, Peace and Love of all creation. You have shown me that all the misconceptions I once held were lies. Those lies kept me from You for so long and how I hope that I can be a testimony to those that believe those lies now.

I one was lost, a wretch, a liar, and full of destruction. Now that I have You, I can feel the life being poured into me and I am amazed at all  that You have used to bring good into this life. The baggage I once carried has been lifted and I am now able to use my past as a tool to bring others healing. Regret, shame, and guilt melt away with each passing day. Thank You for that.

I see now that I allowed what human beings did in Your name, keep me from You. I see it in people all around me. We are all human and no one is perfect. Following Christ is not an easy road to travel and how easily we can be pulled into the things of the world. How easy it is to use our Lord’s good name to bring pain, suffering , and guilt upon others. We must rely on Jesus every moment. We all fail, we all fall short and we all make mistakes. The Good News is that Jesus died for us and we can repent and be used for greater things. All we need to do is accept Jesus into our hearts. Welcome Him into our lives, learn about Him, let Him into those deep places we try so hard to hide. Let Him be our shelter in the storms of life. Stand firm on the knowledge that He has a plan for each and every person on this planet.

Thank You Lord for Your mercy, your love, your patience, and your kindness. Thank You for answering my prayer and allowing me glimpses of how You see me. I am honored that You look upon me with such affection, for I am most unworthy. Let this life be a testimony to Your greatness, to the transformation made possible in You. You took a lost, destructive, wreck of a life and made it beautiful. I pray that more people can come to know the healing I have experienced. I pray that You continue to heal this life and to dig deeper. I lay my life in Your hands. You created me and I will follow wherever You go.

Thank You, You are amazing.

Living Lies

Have you ever been told a lie so many times that you start to believe it – even though you once knew it to be untrue? Have you agreed to, furthered, or made these lies your identity?

We are told many lies about ourselves throughout our lives. In childhood, I was told I was stupid, worthless, ugly, and that no one would ever love me, and I didn’t have a voice; as a teenager, I learned that I was an object, that I should live in fear, and that I was alone.

As an adult in an abusive marriage, these lies I’d believed for so long were just re-itterated and drummed into my soul once more. With all this hatred for myself, I began hitting myself and cutting, thinking that somehow, my blood and my physical pain would somehow be a pennance for the horrible person such that I was. I hated God at this point in my life, I believed a lie that told me He hated me for my failings and that He didn’t care for my pain; BUT GOD.

One night, as I planned and prepared for my suicide, God came to me in His still small voice and told me to go to church. It was night, and I didn’t even know what day it was, but I found a church and sat in the back in my work uniform. I don’t remember a word that was spoken during the sermon, but afterwards, a friend of my husbands who had heard all the lies going around about me, came to me and said, “you know, Jesus loves you” and walked away.

Me? Loved?

After this God-encounter of mine, I was able to push past some of the hatred I had for my husband and press forward into a renewed relationship; but again, I was living a lie.

I allowed shame and self-hate to be the story. I allowed my husband to be the hero who’d saved me from the dragon of my own depravity. I shrunk in shame, and the abuse continued, though softened, now that we had a baby on the way.

Years of having to tell this story to new friends, or hearing, “what an amazing man you’ve got” after they’ve heard, have only served to shove me further down my pit of depression and worthlessness.

I am pulling down the walls of dirt that have surrounded me for so long and made me feel so filthy, I’m climbing out, and I’m coming clean.

John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (NASB)

So let me ask you this; is living a lie that destroys you the will of God? (No!)

What lies are you living? What lies have you allowed to shape your life? I would encourage you to ask God to show you where you’ve allowed a lie to steal your abundant life. Get into His word and search the truth of who He says you are.

Godspeed, my friends.

God transforms if we let Him.

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