Tag Archive | hope

Moving forward….

2014

As the end of 2014 comes to a close my thoughts get reflective. Although I am not one to write New Years Resolutions (I gave that up years ago because usually by the end of the first week I have failed to keep them)  I do choose however to reflect on the past year and then ask the Lord for a word or Scripture for the new year and our journey ahead.

Sometimes I get a word, and sometimes I get a thought or a sense of direction Him.

As I’ve been contemplative these last few days I came across these words by Emily P. Freeman and wrote them in my journal:

“Hope isn’t about knowing how things will come about. Hope is about envisioning the future and choosing to enjoy that now. Hope is really about rest. Resting in the imperfections of today because you believe that tomorrow there is possibility. Sometimes the hope isn’t for the change as much is it is for the change in me.”

Hope

HOPE. Yes. This.

The most revolutionary thing I can do is choose to see the fullness instead of the lack, no matter where life has me. 

It was in the early morning, when light was making its way to the horizon and as my husband poured me a cup of steaming coffee, that I came across these words from Ann Voskamp.  I had just been pondering the highlights and the not so great highlights of the past year when I read her words.

Please take the time to read Ann’s blog entry…..

http://www.aholyexperience.com/2014/12/how-to-step-forward-into-the-new-year-when-you-want-a-do-over-on-the-last-year/#

When I finished reading and as the tears formed in the corner of my eyes and made their way silently down my face I knew God was in this (thank you Ann)….I knew He was speaking….words my heart needed to hear…..there amid the many words was one word my soul needed, no, make that longed to hear….”forward”…..I needed to fall forward….to move forward….

forward9

As Ann said: The moving forward always happens in this relief that all our guilt is covered by His grace. What sweet relief to hear that my New Year doesn’t need to-do lists like it needs to-God-be-the-glory lists! YES!!!

To know that my weaknesses, failures, and sins are the places where I am learning that I need grace too. It is there, in those dark mercies, that God teaches me to be humbly dependent. It is there that He draws near to me and sweetly reveals His grace. Paul’s suffering (2 Corinthians 12:7) teaches me to reinterpret my thorn. Instead of seeing it as a curse, perhaps I can see it as the very thing that keeps me”pinned close to the Lord.”
And my heart, like Ann writes, is to keep beating its brave yes to that one invitation:
Forward!

forward 5I believe that this thought of a New Year and a new start is God-given, it resonates in the human soul doesn’t it?
It’s true, we know instinctively that the beginning of a new year is not only a great time to reconsider our goals and priorities, but to recognize our own sins and follies as well. When life becomes too much of my own self-reliance, turning my heart toward the new year proves pivotal, it becomes a time to understand my very real need for divine grace.
What I am talking about is much more than New Year’s resolutions. Because truly, the language of resolutions is, in a way, humanistic. It assumes that the only thing I need to do is make a few better choices this year and I will be fine.

Rather, what I am talking about as I look back at the past year is the need for true heartfelt repentance and the need for a new heart that deeply desires to make better choices….a heart fully surrendered to Jesus Christ….a heart that accepts His grace for my failings to love….my failings to speak with both grace and truth….a heart that accepts His forgiveness and love…..a heart that responds….a heart that desires to move forward despite at times wanting to withhold, to hide or to run away.
“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining FORWARD to what lies ahead…I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
~Phil. 3:13-14

Forward8

No Longer Victims of Fear

Women, especially those have been sexually abused, oftentimes carry deep fears. Men can as well, it just looks different for men then it does for women.

While fear is normal and valuable because it can keep a person from dangerous situations and mobilize a person to flee when danger approaches, it can also be an enemy, wearing a person down, robbing one of health and keep us from enjoying positive relationships.

One area I have had to deal with specifically in my life is that of changing my expectations and not viewing everything through the lens of fear.

expect-great-things

People tend to both see and experience what they expect. How do you feel about that statement?

None of us entered life expecting to be abused, and although there are exceptions to the rule regarding the statement,  generally speaking, I think it is pretty accurate.

Let me use the following story to illustrate.

A King wanted to find out whether his kingdom contained more weeds or flowers. He called two men into his court. To the first he gave the assignment of cataloging all the weeks in his kingdom. The second man was given the assignment of cataloging all the flowers. They were given two months to complete their assignment.

At the end of the two months they returned to the king. The first said, “O mighty king, your kingdom is covered in weeds! It’s a horrible sight! You must do something about it. It’s sad to have so many weeds invading your kingdom.”

The second man said, “O mighty king, our kingdom is absolutely overrun with flowers of every kind and color. They are glorious. They make your kingdom fresh and alive. It is a joy to be part of your kingdom.”

Talk about two very different perspectives.

What we expect to see colors what we do see in life!! 

believe

Because I have been talking a lot lately about “words” I’d like to share something I have discovered over the years.

While it’s true that although words can be thrown at us carelessly and sometimes they can be hurled with the intent to injure, I can’t help but wonder how often we filter situations or words from others through our already gaping wounds….words from friends, family, co-workers, Christian brothers and sisters…..how often are words spoken and we assume they are insinuating something when it was really the farthest thing from their minds?

Yet their words can pierce deeply because we are hearing them through words and wounds long ago spoken that have left a fracture in our spirits and we tend to filter everything through that.

And so we react, we turn away, we put up a wall, we take offence, we write that person off, we withdraw deeper into ourselves instead of taking the wound or the assumption or the questions to Jesus. How often do we find the courage to go to the person and ask what they really meant, asking them to elaborate, or to risk telling them the effect their words had on us.

I am not saying this to heap more guilt or shame, I am not suggesting that it didn’t hurt, I am never denying the pain….but perhaps it is time to honestly look at our reactions through the lens of Jesus rather than our fears.

Please understand that I am not talking about words that are abusive, insulting , harmful or offensive, words used to control, wound or manipulate us. I am talking about our everyday relationships with friends, co-workers, those with whom we are in community.

Isaiah

 

In dealing with fear, changing my expectations has been a part of my healing process. I was hurt many times as a child, but there are flowers in the kingdom, I had to make the choice to look for them. I had to realize that my life was not totally ruined because of the weeds unless I decided to quit on myself.

 

Our fears are frequently tied to our pasts….maybe it’s time to look at the present for what it is.

 

Because if we live our lives expecting to be hurt, expecting to see weeds wherever we look, expecting others to always let us down, wrong us or think the worst of us….then our abuser wins again.

Remember…..today and tomorrow have no writing on them yet……. 

My hope is that your story will be about changing your expectations, about allowing God to birth something beautiful inside of you, that you will trust Him, and  that you will learn to love without fear.

writing

 

 

 

Keeping it Real

“What if our brokenness reveals more about God’s love for us than our efforts to cover it up?”Girl holding broken heart

These words have stuck with me the last few days.

This is not what I usually think about when it comes to my brokenness. I tend to think more about how I can bury it, get past it, avoiding pain at any cost.

Yet I am coming to realize there are only two ways I can keep my heart alive. I can deaden my heart through denial and addictions, which I hope will numb it. Or I can allow my suffering to expose the real me and lead me to having honest and truthful conversations with God.

The way out is through it…..

                                    God never wastes a hurt……

Two phrases I’m sure you have heard too….and if I am really honest I will admit that I really don’t like those two phrases. Can I trust God? Can I really move from fear to freedom? These words sound so easy don’t they? But actually choosing to trust, well that takes courage, risk and faith doesn’t it?

new heart

 

 

And yet, it is through our suffering and being real with God that we come through the other side a changed person; that the very thing you hate the most in your life is what God wants to use for good in your life. The very thing that brought you such pain is the very thing that God promises He will redeem, the very situation that brought a fracture He can use to grow us up.

 

 

 

Our pain can often reveal God’s purpose for us. Could it be that when you’ve gone through pain, God wants you to help others going through that same hurt.

He wants you to share it.
2 Corinthians 1, verses 4 and 6, “God comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things” (NLT).
Jesus died a cruel death on the cross. He didn’t deserve to die. Yet, He went through that pain for our benefit so that we can be saved, He did it to bring us freedom, healing and life. He came so that we could have life and have it more abundantly.
But we tend to spend the majority of our lives running from the memories, the pain and the shame….but you know what?

Jesus is still back there my friends…….

        Waiting…..

               Speaking to you………..

                      Saying; I saw you then…….

                                I see you now………

                                         You are real……….

                                                          You are not alone……..

                                                                       You are not abandoned…………

                                                                                      You are not unwanted………..

                                                                       brokenness

Healing and peace isn’t found by forgetting…..it is found when we risk remembering our pain, shame, fears and our sorrow and being fully present with Jesus….it is found in being “real”.

You keep him in perfect peace (Shalom) whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3)

Bonnie Gray in her book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace says the following:
“Shalom peace from God is a putting back together. It is the movement to recover pieces of ourselves that have been abandoned, a putting back together of what we’ve left behind, to find Jesus with us in our memories.”

Healing…..

……is what we find in this journey with Jesus

……inviting Him back to those places of pain brings Shalom peace, freedom and healing

……we might feel so broken by the wounds but in the process of being real with Him we are actually regaining more of our soul.

Are you willing to be real?

 

Our scars make us know that our past was for real~Jane Austen

broken

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Hope does not put us to shame.

“You are not wanted!!” Have you heard those words?

Whether flung carelessly or with intent, the impact those words had on your heart left an imprint.sad

No one wants to hear those words…..in our workplace, in our job interviews, in our relationships, in our community, or from someone we love deeply and trust.

No matter where the words come from they can influence our decisions and often drive us to be more, to do more, all in order to never hear those words again.
They can cause us to live our lives in fear. When we live fearing to never hear those words again we can find ourselves living as someone who strives to be loved and cherished, not for who we are but for what we can do or who we can become in order to accepted.

words hurt
And we fear failing….therefore we strive all the harder…..in our parenting, in our friendships that seem to always end up as one way relationships, in our giving more then our 100% in our work place, in seeking approval from those in authority…..why, because we fear not being enough….we fear failing….we fear stopping the roller coaster because our worth is based on what we can do and not who we are.

What would happen to us if we stopped doing and simply offered our authentic, plain selves?
What would happen if we allowed ourselves the grace to be simply who we are instead of offering ourselves to others from that place of wounding- letting the words of not being wanted, or good enough, or pretty enough, or strong enough, or successful enough, or smart enough, or having what it takes define us….what then….

free or hiding

The power of words.
Words that have the power to wound us still….. often making us feel smaller then we already are feeling. Or maybe they make us feel coerced into getting over what we just can’t seem to get over. Words that make us feel more alone…..standing on the outside…..not feeling loved, understood or accepted.

Take a moment to look into the soul of that small child within you who felt the full power of words that wounded. The small child who felt crushed. Lonely. Abandoned. Forgotten. Beat Up. Broken. Humiliated. Take a moment to allow Jesus to speak His WORDS into that tender soul.
What might you hear Him say….

He sees you
He hears you
He knows you
He gathers you to Him
He holds you
He understands you
He is with you always
He is preparing a place for you, just for you
He knows you
He comforts you
He is that place of safety for you
He lifts your head
He looks into your eyes with a love that goes deeper and transcends all words and wounds
He wants you to be real, because He is real
He doesn’t give up on you
And He asks you to not give up on that small child either……

He asks you to risk, risk trusting Him…..trust Him when you find yourself wanting to be yourself yet you are afraid to be loved and known. He asks you let Him love the child within you….will you let Him?

god-whispers

Romans 5:5 (ESV)
And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Enjoy your weekend….

For those who know me and are “friends” on Facebook, one of the things I love to do is share weekend blessings. Sometimes they are my own and sometimes they are from Emily P. Freeman. She is one of my favorite authors and she shares these weekend blessings as an emotional stop sign, a spiritual mirror and a reminder to slow down and create space to breathe.
Breathe-rock
This is from her….

May you enjoy all the blues of summertime and find someone to share them with. May you notice and receive the gifts that present themselves to you in hidden ways, gifts you may not have even known to ask for.

Enjoy your weekend, friends.

muskoka_chairs_MG_4998

The Journey Begins…..

There I was, sitting on the floor with my face nuzzled into my big, black puppy’s neck, sobbing…..pain from somewhere deep within finding its way to the surface….

My big puppy stoically allowed me to let it all out…finally turning to me when the tears were spent and gave me a big, sloppy lick on my face as if to say, I’m here and it’s going to be okay, we will play again when you are ready. I couldn’t help but smile…yes; I want to play again….
balance

An imbalanced life….that’s how I felt that day…..but it is risky to stop and investigate the whys and how did I get here? Why do I feel so stressed? No one wants to feel this way; no one wants to feel alone and desolate….

Desolate- now there is a word that you don’t want to identify yourself with. How can you find rest for your soul in a place such as this? But this was the place within me that I hid from, ran from even…..the places where stress, anxiety and fear overtake….robbing me of my moments….and yet, it is to a desolate place where Jesus went to meet with God. It’s the place he retreated too….it is where he found his quiet time.
“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely [desolate] places and prayed. Luke 15: 16”

In that moment of vulnerability with my head buried in the soft fur of my puppy, God showed me where He wanted to take me…..He was asking me to “follow” Him to this place of discovery~to “quit” being afraid of what others think! Ouch….do I want to go there…umm, no, but I know I should, I know I must, in order to find soul rest.

My need to be what other people wanted, needed and expected me to be was far too great to actually allow me to stand up for myself. How is it after all these years I can still find myself defined not by God’s love but by what others think of me?

QuitBeingAfraid600

And so….

follow Him….

I must…..

Psalm 27:7-10
The Message (MSG)
7-9 Listen, God, I’m calling at the top of my lungs:
“Be good to me! Answer me!”
When my heart whispered, “Seek God,”
my whole being replied,
“I’m seeking him!”
Don’t hide from me now!
9-10 You’ve always been right there for me;
don’t turn your back on me now.
Don’t throw me out, don’t abandon me;
you’ve always kept the door open.
My father and mother walked out and left me,
but God took me in.

It’s time for a change….

Image

 It’s time for a change….and not just in the design of my blog….but in the design and rhythm of my life.

Have you ever said “I quit”? I have. I have said it quietly while in tears, I’ve shouted it from a place of absolute frustration, I said it in desperate resignation….and I’ve meant it every time…..and yet, too often I find myself right back to the very place where the words buried in my heart once make their way once to the surface.
I quit, it doesn’t sound very Christian does it? But the quitting I am talking about isn’t about weakness and giving up in despair. It’s about strength and choosing to live in truth. It will require the death of illusions….no longer pretending….quitting for me is about choosing.
It involves quitting those things that are damaging to my soul, or to the souls of others, it then frees me to choose other ways of being and relating that are rooted in love and lead to life.
Things like:
-quit fearing what others think and choose freedom
-quit faulty thinking and choose to live in reality
and there are more that I desire to unpack as I begin this new journey.

Author Bonnie Gray, in her book: Finding Spiritual Whitespace says the following:
“I believed my faith buried my hurt in the past, but I was using faith to hide from the past . . . What’s worked for me since I was a child – staying strong, reading more Scripture, praying more fervently, exerting more self-discipline, applying greater optimism – isn’t going to solve this problem. Jesus has been whispering one phrase into my heart – follow the current downstream. I’ve rowed my boat upstream for so long, I didn’t know if I could stop.”

Whitespace….I like that word.

Finding spiritual whitespace isn’t about carving out an hour of time to escape the things that stress us. It’s the opposite. It’s getting away from everything we do to distract ourselves from all the hidden pieces — in order to nurture our soul.
For the last year I found myself in a place where I ran out of words. I no longer had anything to say and God felt so far away. I gave up reading….both books and the Word to a degree.
Even though I knew I ought to pray, praying felt like another check box that left me feeling guilty.
Life is complicated isn’t it?

This past year I have looked at my everyday life, both at work and home, and I have felt overwhelmed with dilemmas, conflicting desires and needs, which left me feeling discouraged.

Ironically, when we’re most stressed, we often deprive ourselves of what we need most: God’s goodness.
Somehow, we’ve learned we deserve to rest only after we solve our problems…..

But the truth is that it is just the opposite.
We need God’s tender, loving care and we need to give ourselves permission to receive and enjoy it.
Unconditionally.

My friends, in this day and age, rest is radical.

It takes the walls down; allowing us to become real, authentic, human, and spiritual.

Bonnie Gray again says:
“We become real, vulnerable, open with our weaknesses, not just our strengths.
Rest brings us closer to each other, to strangers who become friends and to God because our hearts are tender and vulnerable.
I want to bring this message of rest with my whole heart,so I’m letting go of expectations. Saying the harder “no” to expectations, performing, dysfunctional relationships –and saying “yes” to finding spiritual whitespace.”

I am finding myself stressed, overwhelmed and feeling lonely among the chaos of life in our digitized, fast-paced world of wonderful technology — which I love and enjoy –but I know I need a shot of soul rest.

I need slowing down.

I want to write to the rhythm of rest. I want to write out of a heart fully alive, engaged.

You are welcome to journey with me….Let’s see what God will speak to us and through us during this time….

 

 

The Power of our Words….

As you can see I have taken a hiatus from blogging for awhile, not because I haven’t had anything thing to share, not because my heart isn’t still passionate to see women and men find freedom and walk in victory through Jesus, but because it feels like God has taken me through a season of pruning….a season of trusting, of walking by faith not by sight, a season of aloneness…..and I continue trusting Him as He is giving me just enough light for the step I am on.

But I am back now and hope to share more of His heart with you….more of my self with you…..and trusting that He has a purpose for all things.

I’d like to share something different from what I normally do… the following is from author, Holley Gerth, and her words are powerful for us women….words that need to be heard.

Women, I am sure we are all guilty of this at some point in our lives. We need this reminder to support and love each other. We need to take the gentler path and offer grace to each other.
I pray we can stop our critical and dismissive behavior and words because the truth is: God loves us all equally! There is no competition for God’s love!
What she shares is true, beautiful, convicting and real….

Commitment-of-Words

From Holley: “I sit at a junior high lunch table feeling self-conscious about my braces and wondering if I will ever have a boyfriend. My thoughts are interrupted by a group of girls behind me. “Oh, she wants to be cool but she’s not,” says one. The others laugh and add similar remarks. My back stiffens and I stare ahead, sure they’re talking about me.

But then someone says, “Shh, here she comes.” A girl slides into a seat next to the rest of the group and they welcome her like they’re all BFFs. She has no idea she’s just been the topic of conversation. Or does she? Somewhere deep inside her, doesn’t she realize that if her group talks about everyone else then of course at some point it’s going to be her turn too?

The only way to make our sisters feel truly, deeply, heart safe is to never talk critically about anyone. No gossip. No condemnation. No judgment. Not even disguised as a prayer request. Is this hard? Oh, honey. But it’s one of the greatest gifts we can offer to each other.

Yes, you will have times when you will have a genuine concern about someone and you will need to process it verbally with someone else in order to help that person, resolve a disagreement, or for another worthy cause. I’m not talking about those times–that’s a whole post on its own. I’m talking about when we tear down our sisters as a type of entertainment. For a moment we feel less insecure, more powerful, included. We suddenly feel more value when we say, “Did you know…?” and follow that phrase with the latest juicy tidbit.

But after the temporary sense of belonging wears off we walk away wondering, “What do they say about me when I’m not there?” Expect that your friends talk about you in the same way they do everyone else in their lives. And expect that they will imagine you do the same. Telling someone, “But I would never say anything like that about you” is little reassurance.

Let’s start a new movement, friends. Instead of women being known for talking behind each other’s backs, what if we were known for having each other’s backs? Jesus said, “By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another” {John 13:35}. That includes our words.

Years ago I wrote the commitment of words above and I still hold tight to it today. I want you to know you are safe with me. You are safe with (in)courage. You are safe with each other. We are not that lunch table in junior high. We never have been and we never will be. Everyone is welcome but words that wound are not allowed. No, ma’am.

So come in, sister, sit down and share your heart. We want to hear. We want to know you. We want to cheer you on. And when you stand up and take a step forward in faith, you can be sure we’ll have your back wherever God asks you to go.

XOXO

Holley Gerth

http://holleygerth.com/