Creative Chaos

I am really enjoying the book God threw me called A Beautiful Mess. I love this Quote by the author.

“Artists aren’t primarily concerned with order. They are concerned with Beauty, freedom, expression, emotion, paradox, dissonance and color. Not order. Order speaks of a scholar who must put together a thesis that is controlled, rational, ordered, reasonable, and factual. An artist is interested in something other than fact, Art is experienced. It is not a critical analysis.” ( A Beautiful Mess, by Danielle Strickland)

It helps me to understand myself a little bit more. I am not an ordered or orderly person. I struggle with keeping or if I’m really honest creating order. I have been told that until I get things in order, that I can not minister or go after the mission that God gave to me. That thought and perspective has held me back in so many ways. I think I used that to keep me from reaching out to those who need to hear the truth that God gave me. I never was able to keep anything orderly or clean for more than a week. I am a messy (honest admission here) . this is an embarrassing admission to me. I have been taught that cleanliness is next to godliness, and that I can not offer myself or my home until it is spotless. That thought has been overwhelming to me, and causes me to ignore and avoid what needs to be done, because it feels like it is too much.

Someone has said to me, that a messy house can be an indication of depression or abuse not dealt with. As a child I have experienced abuse at the hands of friends and strangers. I never dealt with it. I hid from those facts and have “moved on”. Not really, I think it still lurks in the back of my mind. I now see my messy house as an extension of a messy soul. I now understand that depression is something that I struggle with (this is hard to admit, I do have a good life, people who love me, all the necessities…).

I think that as I have fallen apart lately, I have been more introspective, I have looked closely at my soul’s condition, I have had to, It became imperative. I could not continue as I was. It was impossible, it was suffocating me. I am starting to feel as if I can breathe again. As I am honestly expressing myself and telling the truth to those I live in deep community with, I gain freedom from pain, from darkness. I am exposing myself to the light.

My life has always been lived in chaos. I have believed that is not a healthy place to be, but I never found the way out for long. I was always looking for a way out of the chaos. I never looked for the beauty and the miracles found within the chaos. Beautiful things are born within chaos. Chaos is full of creativity and creation. Emotions are often chaotic, feeling joy and pain at the same time. As I have watched my children grow up, as they leave our house to start their own, I have felt the pain of losing the ability to interact with them on a daily basis, however at the same time, I feel the joy of witnessing an independent child, fully capable of taking care of themselves. I feel pain and pride at the same time. It is a weirdly wonderful feeling.

After our daughter Taylor died, the loss and pain was so overwhelming, I couldn’t function well. I felt that I was just going through the motions of living, not really able to feel anything but pain and sorrow, I felt numb. It was during this time that I understood the joy of the Lord, as I felt His very real presence and comfort. I grew closer to Him, as I knew I could not function without Him. My life was not possible without Him. As time went by He blessed me with the gift of sleep, when my anxiety was just too much to allow me to rest. He let me see the miracle of Stephanie, her milestones, her childlike joy. I started seeing life through her eyes. I could only explain this as God’s work in me. I still experienced incredible pain, but I also found joy in the midst of my pain.

” The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” (M. Scott Peck)

I found God, or I really experienced God in the middle of my deepest pain. As I look back, I can see God working through my chaos. He walked with me and taught me about Himself. He showed me His faithfulness through this season of my life. When all others abandoned me to my pain, because they didn’t understand it, God never left me. He understood it far better than any earthly being could understand it. He increased my faith in Him, and gave me a new understanding of who He is within that unbearable pain. This was His creation in my chaos, He helped propel me out of my ruts within my faith, He helped me to see the truth of His involvement in my life and in the lives of all of His creation. He taught me that He was not just an observer, but an active participant and creator in my life. He helped me understand that He wasn’t going to leave me in the state I was in, that eventually, I would walk out of the deep dark place I found myself in. I have never gotten over the death of my daughter, I never will. She is a piece of me. However, I also know that God is taking care of her, that her life had purpose even if it was for a really short time. I know that eventually I will see her again and understand completely what was going on with this happening in my life. I don’t understand it here, but I trust that I will in my future eternity.

Chaos is hard, but there is also a lot of good in it. It causes us to be uncomfortable and we look for ways to get out of that place. If we allow God to teach us His truth within the chaos it is good and life-giving.

As an artist, I know that the light is enhanced by the dark, beauty is more because of the dark chaotic parts of the art. Our lives are a beautiful masterpiece created by the Master and Maker of original art. God uses the hard, dark places in our lives to accentuate the beautifully bright, incredibly colorful, joy-filled places. Without pain, we would have no idea what joy feels like.

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“And this is the point of our beautiful mess. The darkness is real, the climb is treacherous and the conditions are never perfect, but the summit is worth it. The moments when we can see God’s light emerge on all that is our world – where revelation makes some sense of it all – where we can finally see clearly… it’s worth it. It really is.( A Beautiful Mess by Danielle Strickland)

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I love seeing the beautiful pictures of our universe. Often they are incredibly chaotic, and unbelievably beautiful in its chaos. The Master artist is very real, and it shows in His creation. He paints in color and chaos, He makes the chaos beautiful. This is the same in our own chaos, in our mess. He makes beauty out of it, if we allow Him to work with it. I love the Lord Of The Rings, and the quote below is one that speaks to my soul, it is a truth that He has revealed to me.

Taken from The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien:

Sam: “I know. It’s all wrong. By right we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.”

I have seen some darkness in my life “pass” or “fade” and through that I have been able to see the light, and have been able to see life through clearer lenses. I still have a long way to go, but if I allow God to speak to me in my chaos, life becomes more and more beautiful. In that beauty He helps to order my soul. He helps me to see Him who is divine order, working with chaos to make beauty. This brings clarity, order and peace to the core of who I am. He is bring me into order through my chaos, through my mess, He is helping me gain order. There is an unhealthy need to be orderly because there is a desperate need to create your own order no matter what, it becomes destructive when it becomes a control thing. This often happens because it feels like is the only thing that you can control. God’s divine order is an order that is brought only by truth and an understanding of who God is, and who we are because of Him. God is good no matter what. Hopefully you understand that within chaos can be a good place to be. God can work with it if you let Him.

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Love Is Stunning

What is love?

Love is hard to describe. It can be emotional. It can feel like butterflies in your stomach, sweaty palms, excitement and anticipation. It can also feel like hard work.

After 26, almost 27 years of marriage, I have been through the gambit of emotions. The one thing I have learned during that time, is that love, even if it starts with the butterflies, that feeling doesn’t last very long. Oh I still get them with Cam, sometimes it’s a look he gives me, or when he helps me with housework, or just when we spend time talking, especially when he who pursues me. I have learned that this butterfly thing is not what love is all about. I think that is what we all have been duped into believing. Love is about making the choice to love no matter what, and then doing the hard work that cultivating that love takes. It is hard work, because it means being intentional. It means being Jesus with skin on to the other spouse. It means forgiving even when it hurts. It means saying the things that NEED to be said. It means that you need to get to know how the other one ticks, what makes their heart happy, and what hurts them, and then as much as you can avoiding the hurt. Love means putting up with their humanness.

Being human means that you do not have it all together. Being human means you are messy, emotional, and hard-wired to selfishness. So when the other person hurts you, most of the time it is unintentional. In the beginning it is usually unintentional, just someone stumbling around in unfamiliar territory. If not dealt with or if it is allowed to continue, hearts become hardened, motives are questioned, there is no trust. When one of the two in a marriage stops trusting the other, there is no love, there is just acceptance, a roommate situation. A slow dying of the heart (love) for that person, then there is a relationship that just barely exists. This is a hard place to live in, it is incredibly lonely. I think it is even lonelier than actually being alone. You remember the love and wonder where it has gone. I have been there. I thank God that I am no longer there, that I don’t live in the abyss of existing side by side.

I am now living in the life of expectation and anticipation. I am expecting the best out of Cam because my vision has changed. I am looking through brand new glasses. The ones I was wearing before were broken and dirty. I couldn’t see Cam’s heart clearly. I thought I saw his heart and his motives. I thought he was being difficult on purpose. I also thought that I was the only one trying. I see things differently now. I see his heart clearer now. His heart is for me, when I thought it was against me. I see his care, when I used to see his apathy. I used to see selfishness, where now I see a man who is doing his best in his stress filled life. Work has been hard for him lately, his ministry has been hard, his hobby (airsoft) has been almost non existent, and home has been really hard. He has been under incredible pressure, and so I see that at home, he feels safe to let off some steam. Where I thought he was angry and impatient with us, now I see that I am the only one he feels safe enough to vent with. What he didn’t realize, because I never told him, was how much I took everything he did or said to heart. After all the pain that has attacked us lately we have come to a place of security and in that peace. Outside of this place, life is still chaotic. Life and all that it throws at us hasn’t changed, only the lenses through which we see each other has changed. I believe that it is God who gave us new glasses.

Love looks better again, it is becoming beautiful again. There was a day that it was stunning, and I wait in anticipation for that again. I believe that it will look even better as we do the hard work of living a life of love. This can only happen through the originator of love. God is love and only He can help you to see another person through the lenses of love.

God’s love is incomparable. What we experience in a relationship with another human being is nowhere near as beautiful as the love we experience with God our creator. There is nothing on this earth even close. God’s love is always there, He looks at us always with love. We can be messy with our love, but his love is never messy, it is always pure, always honest, always good, and completely stunning. It is hard to believe that most of us don’t really see it or pay attention to the lover of our souls, we are indifferent, we take it so for granted that it doesn’t even enter our thoughts most days, but when we take the time to look for it, it stuns us, it overwhelms us. Love like this fills us up, it makes our hearts worship the one who loves so generously, so incredibly. We can’t help but be bowled over when we pay attention to the one whose name is Love. I want to live in that love, I don’t know why I stray from that place of love, why I look anywhere else for that love. I know that when I live within God’s love, when I intentionally seek out God, my whole world changes, my whole outlook on life is different. I no longer need anyone else’s approval, I no longer crave love from Cam, or my kids. I am able to love deeply, I splash love freely on those around me. God’s love is love that is uncontainable. It is beautiful, it is stunning to those who receive it.

Lately I have been selfish, I have not looked around me and seen the God love that is there for me, just waiting for me to take it. Because of that I have been unable to see the love that others have for me, my lenses shattered, my heart broke and became hard to the ones I am to love the most. I still loved, but not to my full capacity or potential. I thought my heart was open, when it was rusty and corroded.  God is doing the hard work of fixing my heart, pouring His love into me, so that I can love like I am meant to. He is so good. I don’t deserve His grace, His mercy and most especially His love. I deserve worse than nothing for my selfishness, but that is not what God gives me. He gives me incredible, overwhelming and stunning love. I don’t deserve it but He loves me anyway, and because He loves me, He makes me deserving of love. He says I am loved, and I am because He says so. Love is a gift of God and we wouldn’t have it without the originator of love. He created it, without Him there would be no such thing as love. Do you have that kind of love in your life? It is there freely offered for anyone who chooses to believe in the one whose name is LOVE.

I have been to two weddings within one year, both important ones to me. Weddings remind me of God. I see God when two people pledge their lives together. When they promise to love each other no matter what. It reminds me of the day that Cam and I pledged our undying love. I look at that day from a distance now and see that I had no idea what that meant at the time. Love seemed so easy then. I had rose colored glasses on. My heart beat for Cam, and his did for me. My grandmother on my dad’s side told me once, when I was engaged to Cam, that I had no idea what love was yet. I kind of thought that was a weird thing to say, I thought of course I know what love was, I was getting married to the man I loved. We loved each other didn’t we? Little did I know at the time the wisdom of those words. She was preparing my heart for knowledge of what real love looked like. She saw what love really looked like through 40 plus years of marriage then. She saw how it could be messy, she saw how painful it could be, but she also saw what perseverance in love looked like, she saw what choosing to love no matter what looked like, and most importantly she saw what the love of God lived out in a marriage looked like. She experienced stunning love, and somehow she was telling me that there was so much more to real love than I was experiencing in that moment. She was wise. I now look back and can share that with my children.

Last year on Sept. 20, 2015 I watched my daughter Stephanie marry the love of her life. She married the young man who pursued her from childhood, her best friend.They dated a long time. When Harlen and Steph first started dating it was so cute to see their love blossom. Cam and I knew for many years before they started dating that Harlen was the one, we saw their love for each other before they did and we would tease them about it. 🙂 It was so easy to see. After they started dating Harlen would come over to the house to wait till Steph got home from work to see her. Often waiting at the end of the street to watch Steph walking home from the bus. I was often amazed  to see the excitement that Harlen had when he saw her. Often he would bounce just slightly on the balls of his feet when he saw her. It was beautiful to see. I was so happy that someone else saw in her what I saw. I was so happy for them, to see them in love, and the depth of it stunned me. Once during this time of young love, I got a little jealous. Cam had never acted like that around me. When we dated it felt like I was the one pursuing not the one being pursued. I am sure that from Cam’s perspective it was different. However in that moment when I was watching Harlen bounce, I saw that was how much God loved me, I knew in that moment that God bounced for me, when He saw me turning toward Him. What an awesome picture.

As their years of dating turned into engagement their love deepened into an intense commitment to each other, a parent can’t ask for anything more than for their child to feel such deep love from another human being. It made me so happy for her. Harlen understood the treasure that was Stephanie and treated her as such. He cherished her.

Their wedding was one of the most beautiful that I have witnessed. It was filled with purity of love, dedication, commitment and a promise before God to not forget to love, even in the hard times. It was also the covenant to keep God in their marriage and strive to make Him the center of it. Stephanie was stunning, she has always been incredibly beautiful, but this was a whole new level of beauty. She shone! She loved Harlen and it showed in every aspect of her being. She walked in an engaged girlfriend and walked out a married to your best friend woman, excited about creating a new life with Harlen. Their wedding was so unique to them, full of fun games, and super heroes, and nerdy stuff, but it was especially filled with their love for each other, everything else paled in comparison to their joy in each other. I praise God for their love for each other, it was God wo created their love for each other. It was a gift that He gave to them. They have been married for almost a year now, and it still blows me away to see the depth of their commitment and love for each other! Yay God!! Only God could do this.

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On Saturday August 20, 2016, I witnessed another special wedding. This wedding was for my youngest daughter’s best friend. They have been friends since they were almost 7, that was almost 13 years ago. During that time there were many sleepovers and play dates, and getting to know this young lady really well. We always said that she was another one of the Gray girls. I love this young lady and am so thankful for the friendship that Madison and her shared. Xyla is a beautiful girl, with a beautiful heart. I am so happy that she found the love of her life. I don’t know him as well as I know her, but I trust that she has picked well. He knows that he is a blessed man because of her. He knows that she is someone special, deserving of a great love. I was so blessed to witness their marriage. I saw the way they looked at each other, I saw the tenderness, and the fun that they have together. They are best friends as well as husband and wife and I am so happy for them. I saw them commit a lifetime to each other and I heard their commitment to keep God as the center of their marriage and because of that I know that it will be a blessed one. My daughter was overjoyed for her friend and had a hard time keeping her emotions from spilling out in tears of joy. She is very happy for her friends choice.

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Love is beautiful to see, and when God shines through it, it is stunning!!

 

Weird Things Are Happening.

Let me start by saying that my God is GOOD!

Lately I have shared that I feel lost and broken, basicly a mess. I have been crying out to God for a while and even though I know that God lives within me and is close, I have felt like I was alone. I mistakenly was starting to wonder if He wasn’t listening, or wasn’t going to answer my questions. Of course I know the truth, that He does answer, that He is listening, even if it doesn’t feel like it. I have been in this place many times before, but I have never been to the point of sharing it publicly. I worried about the judgement, the rejection and the anger that could have happened. I live in the what if’s. What if people see what a failure I really am. What if my family gets angry at me for sharing so openly, What if others say I am beyond help or crazy. I have been called crazy by a family member before because I was too emotional. I was told I should get help, maybe check myself in somewhere. These were devastating words. I was defending my right to home school my kids and this person didn’t agree with me and said I was going to ruin my kids and their lives. Of course I would act emotional at that. That did not happen just once either!! Because of those words though, they both strengthened my resolve to homeschooling, and they caused me to doubt myself and my place in this world. I didn’t feel the freedom to share, and it increased my need to stuff my emotions. Lately I have gotten to the point of my seams cracking, and my emotions have spilled all over the place. I am sorry for leaving everything out there for those who would be offended by this display of emotions.

I think that God brought me to this place, this point of breaking. I think He wanted to expose my raw emotions, so that they could be healed by honesty, with those I needed to say the hard words with. It was painful to speak the truth, I so wanted to run away from those words and feelings. It was a struggle within myself to let those emotions go. Funny thing though, the rejection and anger that I was sure was going to happen didn’t. Instead healing is happening. I haven’t felt judged by my friends, and so I feel freer than I have felt in a long time. As a teen, I expressed my emotions all the time, but in that season of my life, I didn’t care what others thought or felt, I was rebellious, and very selfish. I think it has been since I was about 22 since I was so open and raw. So sorry if I am too much right now.

Anyway now I want to tell you about the weird things that are happening to me the last couple of days. I know I alluded to some of it on my Facebook. On Thursday, I went to the Global Leadership Summit put on by Willow Creek, our church was a remote video location. Basically we watched what was going on in Chicago live. It was a great summit, I think I have gone about 4 times, and each time I take away a lot from the speakers, both Christian and secular. On Thursday during our morning break, I took time to reflect on what was happening to me. I was trying to figure out what I could have done differently, asking myself why I had gone “public”. As I was thinking that, I clearly heard God intruding on my thoughts. He agreed that I was a mess. 🙂 However, He told me that that was ok, that He could make my mess beautiful. He said that I don’t have to have it all together for Him to use me. I have used those excuses for so long. God gave me a message in 2006 for His women, and I have stalled, believing that I had to clean myself up emotionally, physically, and spiritually before telling the world what God wants me to say. I figured that nobody wanted to hear this message from someone who was so broken. I never did reach those standards that I had for myself. So that was my excuse to remain quiet. All along though God has been confronting me about my unwillingness to go and do what He wants. Now I see them as ridiculous excuses. I realize now, that if I had measured up to my own standards before reaching out to God’s daughters, most of them would not be able to relate to me. If I got my “act” together, I would become unrelatable.

So I was sitting there pondering, and listening to God, and realizing how wrong I had been to hold back the message from those God wanted me to reach. He clearly said that my life was a mess, and that He would make it a beautiful mess. During the afternoon break I went to the resource tables and a book caught my eyes, it was titled A Beautiful Mess, by Danielle Strikland. I figured I should buy it, and went to see what the Kindle price was, it was cheaper, so I thought I would buy it Friday after the conference was over. Friday was payday. Her talk was close to the end of the day on Friday, and I loved her stories, she was really good. Anyway to make a long story short, Friday just before the last speaker came on our pastor got on stage with the book, A Beautiful Mess. He had no idea what had happened between me and God and still doesn’t, I haven’t told him yet. Anyway he asked the question is there anybody who feels like a mess right now. I put up my hand and so did Cam. I am not sure if anyone else did too, but he threw the book towards us, and when Cam fumbled it 🙂 our pastor said that is for Tanis and Cam. That was out of character for him I thought. I felt like God threw me the book. Isn’t God amazing??? He knew that I needed that affirmation, and He gave me that book. This is why I never doubt that God is real or intimately involved with His kids. He has done stuff like this too often to be just coincidence. I love Him!! and I praise God that He can use my mess and turn it into something beautiful. I want to remain in this honest, don’t stuff it mode, it is freeing and scary all at the same time. Thanks for listening to me. This is the book. Can’t wait to read it. Thank you Daddy God. 🙂

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Do Hard Stuff

I few weeks ago my pastor preached a sermon, it was really good, but one point has stuck in my brain. “do hard stuff”. He was talking about walking into the mess of you instead of running away from it, Jesus walks into the mess with us, and in His mercy helps us to clean it up.                                                                                                                                                      Running away from the mess doesn’t make it disappear. When your house is a mess and you leave it that way, it does not clean itself up. You have to do it and it can be a lot of hard work. My house right now is in the same state that my soul was in and I have a lot of hard work to do. Running away only makes things worse. If you try to ignore a person’s bad behavior pattern towards you, they think it is okay to treat you wrong, or disrespectfully. Often they are oblivious to their behavior, and the hurt that it causes. This is my mess. I have run away from it for so long, I stuffed it, I hurt every time I was disrespected, and each time it happened, it hurt more, but I did nothing to stop it. I expected that eventually it wouldn’t hurt so much. I guess I expected to become calloused to the painful words. I never did build up the callous that I thought I would. Instead I built up scar tissue. It was fragile and painful, it ripped open and was raw and bleeding every time the harsh words came at me.As time went on, even the slightest possible disrespect was almost unbearable. I knew that a lot of those words were unintentional, they were said out of someone else’s pain, and so instead of pointing out the pain they were causing me, I stuffed it. I didn’t want to hurt anyone else. I also thought that if I pointed out what was happening to me I would be rejected, that I would become too much hard work and not enough to keep a relationship with.                                                                                                             As my pastor was speaking, God was speaking to my soul. God was whispering that now was the time to do the hard stuff. It was time to tell those that were hurting me what they were doing to me. It was time to take a stand for myself. He let me know that I was not treating myself respectfully either. He was explaining to my soul that as His daughter, I deserved better. Others were supposed to treat me with the love and respect that He treated me with. This was a shock to my system. I thought that as a good Christian woman, I was supposed to be turning my cheek every time. God told me that that wasn’t acceptable. I was broken, I was like shattered glass, extremely fragile, and that was not what God had planned for me. He wanted me to fight for myself, to push forward into my mess and deal with it. Thankfully He is not letting me walk into it alone.                                All this came to a head in the last couple weeks, I have started to work on my relationships, I am trying to see that I am worth it. That I am valuable. It is a new way of talking, a new way of thinking, a new way of expecting better. I am just at the very beginning of this, but I am here now. It is painful to speak truth, when you expect rejection. I have said things that needed to be said for so long, but have been locked up in my soul and rotting. The stink was overwhelming, overpowering and unbearable already. It was already crashing in on me, I was starting to wonder if life was just too much. I couldn’t see my way through my mess. I felt trapped within my own putrid thoughts and feelings, and just wanted to run away. I think I had already been trying to run away. I closed up my heart, my mind, and I lived instead in this desperate fear of rejection, doing whatever I could to hold on to relationships, even unhealthy ones. I was running, but it was like I was on a treadmill, I was running, but not getting anywhere.                                         Don’t get me wrong, this person that I have started with had no idea how much pain I was experiencing, I was really good at hiding my pain. This person didn’t understand the pain that the words that were said caused. We are working on a new way of communicating. This person is also opening up to me, telling me the pain that they are experiencing, and I am understanding that the behavior is because of other stuff going on in that person, and really has nothing to do with me, or at least not to the extreme that is being done with. We are experiencing a new, better relationship. I know that it won’t always be as easy as this feels right now, because this is so new. I feel like I am valued, that my opinion matters right now, and that is how it should be.                                                                                                      I still have a lot of hard work to do, a lot of people to talk to. I am growing a backbone. This fear of rejection is still prevalent, it is lurking just under the surface of my emotions. I am in a hard place emotionally. I feel worn out, ragged, with torn edges. I feel translucent, I feel like a fragile mess, ready to shatter into a million pieces at the whiff of hard emotions. I am, with God’s help, walking into the mess that I have made of my life, willing to do the hard stuff, the hard work of healing myself and the healing of important relationships. I am so glad that I don’t have to do this alone, that even if I am rejected, I have not been rejected by the one who matters most, my Creator, my Heavenly Father, my God. He sent His Son to pay the price of my own bad behavior. I have rejected God, I have turned away from Him. I do not often accept the help that He offers me. I keep trying to do this life on my own, even though I know it is impossible without Him. My most important relationship, with God, has been damaged, I am the one who causes God pain, when I reject Him. The really good thing is that He never turns away from me, He never rejects me even though I reject Him. He finds me to be worth it, worth all the hard stuff. So if He thinks that about me, I will try to believe it, and treat myself accordingly. I will not accept what I have accepted in the past. I am tired of living in the old me. I am learning to live in the new me. I can breathe in this new place. I can heal here. Isaiah 61:1-4 (NLT) says this about His Son, before Jesus came to earth, this is what Jesus came to do… “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for His glory. They will rebuild the ancient ruins, repairing cities destroyed long ago. They will revive them, though they have been deserted for many generations.”                                                                                                                                               This is what He is doing in me, He is my good news, He is my comfort, He has set me free to be the new me. He has given me a new, fresh beauty. He is causing me to praise Him because He loves me. He is rebuilding me, He is reviving my soul. Praise God!! This will take work, I also have to change my attitude, I will have to open up my raw painful places. I will have to change my view of things in the light of God’s mercy to me. I will have to give grace and mercy to those around me, and allow God to do the hard within them. I will not be perfect, and neither will they. However, now I know I am wrong when I stuff my pain and emotions inside my soul, eventually it leaks, or bursts open tearing up my heart. I want to say that I will remember this and live in this new me without turning back, I wish this to be true, but I also know me, and I will struggle with my old me, I was used to my old place, it was not always comfortable, but it was familiar. It is a little scary to walk away from what I know, from who I thought I was. I was aware of God’s greatness, but now He has added a whole new level to my awareness of just how great He is. I am grateful. Pray for me as I do this hard stuff and I will pray for you as well. We all have hard stuff in this life, hard things we have to face. Life is tough, but God is good, and you are worth it. 🙂

Broken Clay? Beautiful Clay?

I have discovered during my life (48 years so far) that all people are broken when trying to do life on their own and in their own strength. Some of us just hide it better. If we think it is hidden, we are mistaken, people close to us can see it. We may fool our acquaintances, we may even fool ourselves, but the ones who live with us or do life with us are not fooled, even if we think they are. Life was not meant to be lived alone. We have a Creator who is aware of us, and willingly walks with us through life, if we ask Him to. He gets us, He knows our every thought, our every fear, our every action and still loves us. I often shake my head when I try to pretend I’m ok, when I am not, hoping that no one sees. God sees, and I am not fooling Him. I am a fool for even trying.                                                                       In our brokenness our thought processes are wrong. Often they are filled with shame or pride, and we act out of that. If we act out of shame, we doubt, we hide, often getting into the unhealthy habit of self-loathing. This is where my thoughts often hang out. If we act out in pride, we refuse to acknowledge that we could be wrong, we fight to save ourselves from embarrassment, we make others feel small, we bully, we turn the focus away from ourselves and onto someone else, just to be right. After we act out in pride, most of us go into the thought process of shame, then we get angry and that begins a whole new level of pride and feeling justified for the anger. These thought processes and coping mechanisms are deadly to our souls often killing our hearts, making them bleed with despair. This is the human condition that came with the original sin. Brokenness comes out of this. Whether it is because of someone elses actions towards you or because of our own pride or shame, or a poisonous concoction of the two, or whether it is self-inflicted, it causes the broken hearts and souls that we live with. This is where it gets hard within marriages or families or even friends, everyone is a mess of the pain and emotions of our inner turmoil. All of us are just trying to survive our own pain, most often very self focused. There is only one way out!! God is the only one with power enough to release us from our broken thought processes. We can cope for a while, we may even think that we have saved ourselves, but eventually we realize that we haven’t saved ourselves, we just sucked it up and moved on. This just causes a huge pressure cooker within us, eventually we leak or we explode or some combination of the two. This is where I am. I am leaking badly, I can’t contain the pain anymore. I can’t pretend to be alright, I know without a doubt that I am a mess, that I am broken. I have been here before. God has stepped into my mess before and pulled me out of the despair that has overwhelmed me before. I know that He is good and that He will do it again. Each time He reaches out to me, He puts another piece of me back together. This is a journey, this is Him creating a masterpiece out of me. This is where He turns this broken clay into something beautiful. I know it to be true. I also know that it requires me to do the hard work of trusting Him, the continually offering Him my broken pieces. I know He can do it, I know He wants to and I know that He is the only way out. It is not easy, I cannot coast through this, this trusting thing is hard (you’d think it would get easier, it hasn’t gotten much easier for me). It takes all my strength and energy to resist trying to do this on my own. However when I do the hard work, I find the joy in it, in my Savior. I find that because I am loved, I can open up and love again. I know this to be true, so I am waiting in expectation of His miracles in my life. I am praising God in this storm, knowing that He is good and works out everything for His glory and my good.

And I am lucky enough to go through this with my God who loves me even when I don’t deserve it, even when I have run away from Him or pushed Him away. He always draws me back. Thank you Jesus.