Upward Falling

The words to Hillsong United’s song, Touch The Sky, impacted me today.

“Touch The Sky”

What fortune lies beyond the stars
Those dazzling heights too vast to climb
I got so high to fall so far
But I found heaven as love swept low

My heart beating, my soul breathing
I found my life when I laid it down
Upward falling, spirit soaring
I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground

What treasure waits within Your scars
This gift of freedom gold can’t buy
I bought the world and sold my heart
You traded heaven to have me again

My heart beating, my soul breathing
I found my life when I laid it down
Upward falling, spirit soaring
I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground

Find me here at Your feet again
Everything I am, reaching out, I surrender
Come sweep me up in Your love again
And my soul will dance
On the wings of forever

Find me here at Your feet again
Everything I am, reaching out, I surrender
Come sweep me up in Your love again
And my soul will dance
On the wings of forever

My heart beating, my soul breathing
I found my life when I laid it down
Upward falling, spirit soaring
I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground

My heart beating, my soul breathing
I found my life when I laid it down
Upward falling, spirit soaring
I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground

Find me here at Your feet again
Everything I am, reaching out I surrender
Come sweep me up in Your love again
And my soul will dance
On the wings of forever

Upward falling, spirit soaring
I touch the sky
When my knees hit the ground

I love the words upward falling, spirit soaring, I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground. I know in my life, some of my best moments with God are some of the hardest. When I can’t stand because I am weak, when I am aching, when I am desperate for God. God always meets me there. He lifts me up, He turns me around. Instead of falling down, I fall upwards into Him. Upward falling, is falling into the arms of my Maker.

When I am hurting, or desperate for God to show up in a situation, hitting the ground is the best place to be, I can’t fall anymore, not really. There have been many times in my life that I have been begging for God to rescue me from myself, from hard situations that I have put myself in. There have been so many times when I have been desperate for God to reach into my kid’s lives to help them, to change the thoughts that they have about themselves, or to help them make wise life choices. It is so hard to watch my children suffer, especially when I warned them. I watch in agony, I know what they are going through because I made those same mistakes, and hoped that they would not follow in those same steps. Usually in those choices, I can not change anything, I can’t erase the damage that was done, all I can do is hit the floor, and ask God to surround them with His love, His tangible presence, His grace and mercy. This is a hard place for a mother’s heart to live. I have been there many times, for each of my children. I watch, sometimes in a deja vu like state. I feel like I have been there before, and I have. I watch them make life choices that I know put them on a difficult path, not one I would have chosen for them. And yet, I know from experience that God never leaves, that He is the ultimate mountain climber, that there is no treacherous path that He can not go, or that He can not rescue someone from.

When I am praying desperately, God rescues my spirit, His heart beats when mine seems to have stopped, His words breathe life into my soul. My spirit soars as I am in communion with my God. Instead of falling into despair, I fall into hope. I learn to trust as I place my girls into the hands of their Maker. I get the privilege of watching the awesome Abba Father loving my girls, rescuing them, touching their lives and doing far more than I can ever dream for them. My dreams for them are limited. God’s dreams for them are limitless. God uses the good and the bad, the joy and the pain to reach into their souls and make them the beautiful women that they are. When I lose hope, He wakes up my spirit to show me the miracles that He is working in their lives. It is not always easy to let them make hard life choices, or watch when they listen to their enemy’s words for them. It is hard watching them accept less than they deserve from someone else. It is hard to see when they think that they are less than they are. Does God feel like this for me? I think He does.

He wants us to make Him our everything, to follow Him, for He is the One who knows all, who sees all and has created all that there is, ever was, or ever will be. He knows the best paths to walk, and encourages us to walk in them, but He also gave us free will, and so He watches when we make our own paths, when we have to face hard consequences, and live with the choices that we have made. God understands this pain far more than we understand it, He knows how hard it is for us to watch those we love so much hurt. He understands the pain that a parent experiences when we see our kids fall down, but God also knows that He can help them get back up, that these places are where He is, where He is felt most clearly. When our kids fall and hit the ground, with His help they can touch the sky. This is where God has helped me and still helps me to touch the sky. Those times are goosebump worthy, there is nothing like it on this earth. I imagine that this is what Heaven is like all the time. There are no words to describe what this “touching the sky” feels like. You are in a perfect peaceful vortex might be the only way I can describe it.

So I learn to trust God here, in my own weakness, in my own desperation. God has always come through for me, sometimes in unexpected ways, or in ways I would not have chosen, but He always brings us through. Because I have experienced God, and learned to trust Him, I can learn to trust Him with my kids. This has been very hard for me. After Taylor died, I have and still do struggle with trusting God with my children. As they grow up I am learning that I can not control their lives, especially because they are now adults, and so all I can do is fall on my knees and pray. All I can do is fall upwards into my Father’s arms, and touch the heaven’s with my cry. When I am falling upwards, I touch the sky, I touch the heart of God. When my girls succeed in life, when they make good godly decisions I rejoice, In this place, I praise God and again I touch the sky, I run to God in my gratitude. I know that they had help, that God worked through them, even if they don’t see it, I do. I love these times. This is where God shows me that He is trustworthy. Through the bad and the good He teaches me who He is and He IS VERY GOOD all the time!

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Shake The Skies

Psalm 18:1-42 (MSG)                                                                                                                                         1-2 I love you, God
    you make me strong.
God is bedrock under my feet,
    the castle in which I live,
    my rescuing knight.
My God—the high crag
    where I run for dear life,
    hiding behind the boulders,
    safe in the granite hideout.

I sing to God, the Praise-Lofty,
    and find myself safe and saved.

4-5 The hangman’s noose was tight at my throat;
    devil waters rushed over me.
Hell’s ropes cinched me tight;
    death traps barred every exit.

A hostile world! I call to God,
    I cry to God to help me.
From his palace he hears my call;
    my cry brings me right into his presence—
    a private audience!

7-15 Earth wobbles and lurches;
    huge mountains shake like leaves,
Quake like aspen leaves
    because of his rage.
His nostrils flare, bellowing smoke;
    his mouth spits fire.
Tongues of fire dart in and out;
    he lowers the sky.
He steps down;
    under his feet an abyss opens up.
He’s riding a winged creature,
    swift on wind-wings.
Now he’s wrapped himself
    in a trenchcoat of black-cloud darkness.
But his cloud-brightness bursts through,
    spraying hailstones and fireballs.
Then God thundered out of heaven;
    the High God gave a great shout,
    spraying hailstones and fireballs.
God shoots his arrows—pandemonium!
    He hurls his lightnings—a rout!
The secret sources of ocean are exposed,
    the hidden depths of earth lie uncovered
The moment you roar in protest,
    let loose your hurricane anger.

16-19 But me he caught—reached all the way
    from sky to sea; he pulled me out
Of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos,
    the void in which I was drowning.
They hit me when I was down,
    but God stuck by me.
He stood me up on a wide-open field;
    I stood there saved—surprised to be loved!

20-24 God made my life complete
    when I placed all the pieces before him.
When I got my act together,
    he gave me a fresh start.
Now I’m alert to God’s ways;
    I don’t take God for granted.
Every day I review the ways he works;
    I try not to miss a trick.
I feel put back together,
    and I’m watching my step.
God rewrote the text of my life
    when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.

25-27 The good people taste your goodness,
The whole people taste your health,
The true people taste your truth,
The bad ones can’t figure you out.
You take the side of the down-and-out,
But the stuck-up you take down a peg.

28-29 Suddenly, God, you floodlight my life;
    I’m blazing with glory, God’s glory!
I smash the bands of marauders,
    I vault the highest fences.

30 What a God! His road
    stretches straight and smooth.
Every God-direction is road-tested.
    Everyone who runs toward him
Makes it.

31-42 Is there any god like God?
    Are we not at bedrock?
Is not this the God who armed me,
    then aimed me in the right direction?
Now I run like a deer;
    I’m king of the mountain.
He shows me how to fight;
    I can bend a bronze bow!
You protect me with salvation-armor;
    you hold me up with a firm hand,
    caress me with your gentle ways.
You cleared the ground under me
    so my footing was firm.

I love these verses, I have taken them and made them my life verses. When I encounter trouble, when I encounter situations that are completely unfair, or when I feel persecuted, I read these verses and I am encouraged. I see within these verses, that I am loved, and that there is nothing that could stop God from keeping me safe within that love.

As we live in this hostile world, we have a God who is a safe place to run to. We can dwell within God’s love and protection. These verses show His protectiveness. It shows God’s power and His awesome glory. God will shake the heavens and the earth to come to our rescue. There is nothing that can withstand Him in His plans to rescue you.

David knew this, He had experienced a lot in his life and he knew from first hand experience that God was good to the core. David also knew where to place his trust, he knew the only one worthy of praise. He understood a little bit about God and it was enough to show David that a life lived for God was the only life worth living. David knew that even when he messed up, God would rescue him and put him back together again. Every broken piece, every heartache, every sinful desire, every willful wandering was not enough to keep God from putting him back together and on the right track. God took the time to rewrite his life, to wipe away all sin and unfaithfulness. At the end of himself, God worked miracles and surprised him with His love. God loved him no matter what, God was willing to come and rescue him from his enemies, God was also more than willing to rescue David from himself (David).

I love the verses within this passage: “They hit me when I was down, but God stuck by me. He stood me up on a wide-open field; I stood there saved—surprised to be loved!” When I am persecuted or tormented by those who would hurt me or hurt my feelings, either intentionally or unintentionally, God sticks by me. God’s love is surprising in its intensity. We can not do anything to dampen the incredible love that He has for us. His love is wide open, it is a saving your soul kind of love. It is a bestowing worthiness kind of love. On our own and in our own strength we are not worthy of God’s kind of love. Because of God greatness, His mercy and His grace He says that we are worthy of that kind of love. He loves His own. I am glad that I am one of His own.

I know that I can not rescue myself from anything. I have been stuck in  desperate situations, usually a tar pit of my own making. Without help, I can not get out of a deep tar pit. Believe me, I have tried and each time I try to get myself out of a rough situation, most of the time it gets worse. I can not fix myself, or at least not a lasting change. I can not fix my old nature. I can not stop myself from looking out for number one first. It may look like I do, but I am always waiting for the reward that I expect from putting someone before myself. I can not feel completely fulfilled, because of my own accomplishments. When I reach a goal, the pleasure found in reaching it is momentary, as I discover that this goal is not cracked up to be all I expected or wished. Or what I thought was the pinnacle of success is not, and there is always more on the horizon that I “need” to reach. I want more, there is never a moment where I find that my life is complete or where I feel completely fullfilled. Thank God that I have God. I can not complete my life, but I know that He can.

20-24 God made my life complete
    when I placed all the pieces before him.
When I got my act together,
    he gave me a fresh start.
Now I’m alert to God’s ways;
    I don’t take God for granted.
Every day I review the ways he works;
    I try not to miss a trick.
I feel put back together,
    and I’m watching my step.
God rewrote the text of my life
    when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.

If I take my brokenness and allow God to work with it, He makes something new out of me. I love the fact that throughout my life, within all of my pain, God has been recreating me. I love that He uses that pain that I have experienced for the good of others, He then uses my life to point out how very good He is. People who know me can see the miracle in the making that I am. If they really know me, they see His greatness, because they know that I am not strong enough on my own to survive the pain that I have lived through. I am not strong, but He is. I am not good, but He is. I am not worthy, but He is and He says that I am because of Him. When I look to Him, I see reflected in His eyes, my beauty, my worth, and my strength. God says I deserve the SHAKE THE SKY kind of love that He has for me. He will shake the skies for me, He will shake the earth to rescue me. I am that loved. And guess what you are too.

Trust the God who created all that you see and all that you don’t see. He loves you with the SHAKE THE SKIES kind of love. Allow Him to rewrite the story of your life to reflect that love. Allow Him to take your broken pieces, so that He can mend your soul. You will be surprised by the intensity of His love for you. Believe me, my life is a testament to that. My story is all about Him and that kind of love. It is the way He has written my story. It is a love story. It was a tragedy, and now it is a love story. May God bless you with the life story that He wants to create within you, all you have to do is trust Him and risk your broken pieces. Give them to Him and watch what He does with them. You will be amazed.

Let God shake the skies because of His love for you!

God Deserves far more than Morning Mist or Predawn Dew?

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I just finished a study on the book and the prophet Hosea. What a story. It is not one that I would have expected to find within the bible, never mind in the Old Testament. It is a story that shows the depth of God’s love and the excruciating pain He experiences at the hand of those He has chosen to love. God’s holy people were not faithful, they went to whomever they thought would be the one who would offer the most. They never truly saw God for who He was. He is everything good and remarkable, He is absolute good! God owns everything good. No one or nothing else can offer anything that is not God’s to give. To say that someone or something else has or is more is a twisted hallucination, a child’s imaginary game. It is not truth if anyone says that there is more offered by anything other than God.

The Old Testament book Hosea begins with God asking His prophet Hosea to marry an unfaithful woman, a prostitute. What an unusual request. Why does God want a spokesman of His to do that? It is through this relationship that God shows His people’s unfaithfulness. God used this as an illustration of how  His people acted like prostitutes by turning away from God and worshiped other things, idols.

Many times Hosea’s wife Gomer, went back to the life of prostitution and promiscuity because she thought her other lovers had more to offer her than her husband did. Every time God told Hosea to woo her back, to take her back as his wife. After a little while she would see that her life might be better with Hosea, but then she would forget how good she had it and take off again. God kept telling Hosea to take her back and love her no matter what. Through this relationship, God was teaching Hosea, and ultimately everyone who reads this book, that God always wants to accept us, forgive us and love us anyway. Even if we are unfaithful and selfish.

Children conceived in this marriage had been given names that were hard to bear. Hosea’s first son was named Jezreel (not a bad name to bear), it was a prophesy of destruction and punishment for the reigning king and his dynasty that was the hard part. The name Jezreel means God plants. King Jehu committed many murders at the valley of Jezreel, I believe it was Jehu that killed 70 men from the previous king’s family, these men were beheaded and stacked up in this valley. There was many military battles fought in the Jezreel valley, there was a lot of death dealt in this valley. Hosea’s daughter’s name was Lo-ruhamah which means “not loved”. This name was a way to show that because of the deep pain that God experienced because of the unfaithfulness of His chosen people, He would no longer show them love or forgive them. Hosea’s second son was named Lo-ammi, which meant “not my people”, because they chased after other idols or desires. Luckily God is all about mercy and love, these children who bore these hard names, were eventually given new names. Jezreel, gained a new prophesy, when God said that He would again plant His people in His land. Lo-ruhamah’s name changed to Ruhamah which meant, the ones I love. Lo-ammi’s name was changed to Ammi, which means my people.

God shows us through this family that God wants to love us, He wants to forgive us, He wants to show mercy and grace. It also shows that He is holy. That He cannot accept sin or unfaithfulness, that He deserves far more, He deserves unwavering faithfulness and absolute devotion. It shows that we were created to love Him completely, and to be in an intimate relationship with God.

Hosea 6:1–7:2 (MSG)

1-3 “Come on, let’s go back to God.
    He hurt us, but he’ll heal us.
He hit us hard,
    but he’ll put us right again.
In a couple of days we’ll feel better.
    By the third day he’ll have made us brand-new,
Alive and on our feet,
    fit to face him.
We’re ready to study God,
    eager for God-knowledge.
As sure as dawn breaks,
    so sure is his daily arrival.
He comes as rain comes,
    as spring rain refreshing the ground.”

4-7 “What am I to do with you, Ephraim?
    What do I make of you, Judah?
Your declarations of love last no longer
    than morning mist and predawn dew.
That’s why I use prophets to shake you to attention,
    why my words cut you to the quick:
To wake you up to my judgment
    blazing like light.
I’m after love that lasts, not more religion.
    I want you to know God, not go to more prayer meetings.

God through this story, points out that the love that was given to him, did not last, it was only given to Him on a whim, any breath of wind and it was dried up and gone. God did not trust His people’s love, and He had every reason not to. They proved that He was right, daily. They might turn back to Him, but it would never last. God says that He is after a love that lasts. He doesn’t want religion and rules, but love. He wants to be loved, not because they have been told that they have to love Him and have to perform some rituals to show their love. How would we feel about someone who professed to love us, but it didn’t go deeper than the words spoken, that it was not in the heart of a person, but only in the mind. Would we accept that kind of love, empty, only words? No, it would be awful, especially if your heart was deeply in love with them. It would break your heart every time you looked into the eyes of the one who professes love, but they are only empty words. We can tell when someone is speaking the truth, when we are really loved, and when someone is faking. When someone is saying words because they feel obligated, we know it. Well this was God’s predicament. His people’s words were empty, their hearts were deadened to Him, to His love. God’s heart ached. He wanted to love them, but they rejected His love time after time. God’s people professed their love to manmade gods, and other luxuries and riches. They didn’t see that it was God who was blessing them with those gifts. So God felt He had to withhold those blessings to draw His people back to Him. He wanted His people to see that these other manmade gods had nothing to offer them. That only, He the living God, the only God that was real, their Creator, could give them their needs and desires. It was only He who could fill up their emptiness. God through this story shows how ready He is to restore everything back to His people the moment they turn around to go back to Him.

This story is the story of mankind. God loves, but most of us do not love Him in return, or at the very most our love is fickle. Our love is shown and then at the smallest breath of wind, it disappears and we chase something else and we forget God. This is not what God deserves. I know that my heart is like the people about whom this story was told. I am so often distracted from God. I often stray away from the God who loves me and forget to spend time with Him. I profess my love for Him and then I don’t follow it up with a life lived for Him. I live life for myself instead. I live life selfishly. I want to be comfortable, and life lived with God is not always a comfortable life. It is usually a life of risk and sacrifice. Giving up your own selfish desires to meet someone else’s needs. God asks us to be His hands and feet to this hurt and dying world, and that is hard, to take your focus off of yourself and place it on God.

God wants declarations of love that last longer than the moment that they were said. God may ask us to turn away from things that He doesn’t want us to have or do, even things that may seem good, right and innocent. He may want to change our viewpoint and show us the truth from His perspective. Our perspective may be radically different from God’s. That can be hard to accept. He may have other plans for our lives than the plans that we have, they may be completely different. Are we willing to accept that? We have a limited capacity to understand when compared to God’s capacity. He is omniscient and we are not. Are we willing to admit that we might be wrong? This is the love that God deserves. Actually nothing we can do or offer is enough, but this is the very least that He deserves. It is not an easy love, or comfortable way of life. Are we willing? Are we willing to see things God’s way, and admit that we might be wrong? Are we willing to follow God no matter what, and give up, if asked, the plans that we have for ourselves? Are we willing to give up our own comforts for the good of others? This is love, this is how we can show our love for The One who is love. This kind of love is not like the morning mist or predawn dew. This kind of love is not all about feeling, it is intentional. It is the willingness to give up our lives for Him and His purposes.

This kind of love has nothing to do with religion. Religion gets in the way of this kind of love. This kind of love is a way of life, not a bunch or rules or measures to live up to. It is a love that overwhelms and abundant life is found in it. Joy is found in this life, even when circumstances may be devastating. This love deepens as we get to know God, as we love Him and learn about Him, we fall deeper and deeper in love with Him. We swim in His love, it is so much that we cannot reach the bottom, but we can trust this love. God’s love WILL NOT let us down, it will NOT FAIL! It does not disappoint. Human love lets us down often, we can fail at loving each other and even in loving God, but His love does not. Human love is often disappointing, but God’s is so far from that. God wants us to get to know Him. God wants us to study Him, study His ways, to Soak in as much knowledge of Him as we can hold.

God wants us to treat Him like someone you have just fallen in love with, someone who makes your heart skip a beat. Maybe you have experienced this before, with dating, or within the birth of your child. The type of love that I am talking about is exquisite, almost painful in its intensity. It is life-giving and life changing. It is a love that you would give your life for. I have heard it said that in marriage, it takes a lifetime of studying the other half, that you must strive for a doctorate in the other person. It is a lifelong pursuit of knowledge about that other person, that is what love should look like within marriage. It should excite you to discover new things that make them happy, find out what makes them tick, to be able to show them that you are paying attention to them, this is intentional love. The same goes with your child. It is your job to discover who God made them to be and encourage them in that direction, not what you want but what He wants for them. To encourage their bents, even if it is not what you want. It is your job, to gain a PhD on each of your children. This is not easy, but it is so worth it for you and for them. There is great joy in discovering something new about your loved ones. The same goes for God, there is great joy in getting to know your Maker intimately. There is no greater life pursuit. It may be hard, but there is no better life that this. The adventure is real, incredible, beautiful and scary all at the same time. I have had many tastes of these emotions in this life, however, I find that I am like a predawn dew, I have a hard time sustaining a love like this, I get distracted so easily by the newest thing, whatever that may be. I get so lazy, I just want comfort, I don’t really want to put effort into it. Crazy huh, I know the truth and yet, I am like the people who Hosea was to prophesy to.

My whole life will be about striving to love God the way He deserves. I want to love Him like that, but I don’t act like it. God, strengthen my resolve, my faith, my capacity to love, and my knowledge of you. I do love you and I want to love you more. Help me with that. Turn my heart toward you and hedge me in, help me not to stray to the left or to the right. Help me God. I do not want to be a morning mist or predawn dew kind of woman. I don’t want to just go through the motions. I need help and I know it.

What Will You Do With Your Giants?

Good question. What will you do with your giants? What will I do with my giants? What are my giants? What are your giants? These are all great questions to answer. What are “giants”, what does this mean? I am not talking about literal giants, I am talking about things that feel impossible to get over, or do. Fears might be one way to describe a giant that you are facing. Or maybe a situation that you are facing that just seems way too big to overcome.

So what will we do about them? I think first we have to figure out what they are, and why they seem too big. Mine come mostly in the form of fear and anxiety. I am afraid of almost everything. I am afraid of rejection, of being thought of stupid, of death, of financial ruin, of being left alone, of my family splitting up and not getting along. I am afraid of the word cancer and all that comes with that, I am afraid of losing another child, or of Cam leaving me, I am afraid of failure, and of success. I am afraid that people might see whom I think I really am if they get too close. Most of these fears do not really live in reality, they just live in my what ifs. That doesn’t really help them go away though. If I can look at them from a distance, I can see that most of my fears are unfounded, but when I am not careful they creep up on me and they feel very real.

Most of my life I have lived with these giants ruling my life. They have held me back from living life freely. They have kept me locked up inside, prefering to sit in the darkness, afraid of the freedom of the light, afraid to show up. I have been a hidden woman so long. It is comfortable there, I have arranged this prison to my liking, I have padded my prison. It feels like home, this fearful way of thinking and living. This place helps me avoid situations that are too uncomfortable, it keeps me away from sticking up for myself, it is just easier to be a doormat. Now don’t get me wrong, it still feels awful being a doormat, but to me I have lived in this position for so long that it feels wrong to be in any other position (standing up). This expecting to be treated with respect and even valued feels unnatural. I worry that I am putting my needs before someone else, doesn’t God say that I am not supposed to do that? I believe my perspective of this is dead wrong. I don’t believe, from my study, that God asked us to be doormats. If He did, He would treat us a whole lot differently than He does. God gives us value, He treats us with love, grace and mercy, and yet this is not how I treat myself. I treat myself as the worst human being there is, like I don’t matter, like I have nothing to offer, like I am stupid, like I deserve to be alone, like I am a failure. I am my own giants, or a lot of them.

Some of these giants have come at the hands of others, bullies at school, situations where there was intended harm, intended ridicule. They have come from the hands of those I have loved, because of my own refusal to demand respect and acceptance because God says that I should be treated right. God has given me the utmost love and He understands me even more than I understand myself. So when I am telling myself I deserve less, He tells me that I deserve more than I think I do, not because of who I am, but because of who He is. He loves me, and because of that He has given me a value beyond my comprehension. What???? I don’t get it, but He gets me, He gets it.

He calls me a masterpiece. As an artist, I understand that. I see art and I see value in someone else’s work, I can appreciate true masterpieces. Do I appreciate my own art? NO!!! I don’t see any value in it. I see it as nice, but worthless. Take for example my jewelry, others have had to put a value on it. I still feel bad charging for it. As a teen, in school my favorite subject was art. I was successful at it, so because of the way I felt about myself, I didn’t really see as something good. My teacher however saw the value in it and wanted me to sell a picture I had painted to another art teacher who wanted to buy it. I thought it was stupid, so I didn’t. When my dad was in the hospital, fighting cancer, I would bring him a sketch that I had done that day. He valued them, even if I did not. I found out that He would show them off, He would talk about them to visitors, doctors, nurses, and other patients. I am glad he could use them to talk about other things than his illness or how he was feeling. My dad sold some of these pieces to visitors, to doctors, and even to a patient in the bed next to him. I didn’t get it. I was happy for the money, I was happy I could brighten up his day a bit, and it was a tangible way that he showed me how proud he was of me, how valueable he thought I was. I didn’t listen to it of course, he was my dad, he had to say that didn’t he? I have since found out that he didn’t “have” to. He really did feel that way about me. It is funny my girls question the validity of my opinion of them, the value that I see in them, for the same reason, I have to because I am their mother, don’t I. Unfortunately not every child is valued by their parent, so the answer is no I don’t “have to”, it is not mandatory. I do though, everything within me screams their value, I am proud of them and I love them so much my heart aches, not because of what they can offer me, but because of who they are, who God made them to be My girls are loved by God. I love Cam beyond words, I respect him, not because of what he can offer me, but because of who he is, who God made him to be. He is beloved by God, I feel it, and I see it, God placed incredible value on my husband, and who am I to argue. God has given me His eyes for the family that He gave me. So why do I struggle so much in understanding this about me? It has to do with my giants. I have many, and I freeze in fear of them, they feel too big to conquer, they feel so very real and impossible to get rid of.

I am like the fearful men that Moses sent over the Jordan river to scout out the land that God was about to give them. Moses gave them instructions to seek answers to the questions that he had. After careful observation they were to come back with the answers to his questions. God sent them on this mission. I wonder why? Why didn’t He just choose to tell them to cross and get ready to fight without knowing what was ahead? God was enough to get rid of anything in their paths, maybe God wanted them to see what He was about to do for them. Would they trust Him enough? The men that went were respected leaders.

Numbers 13:17-20 (MSG)                                                                                                                                             When Moses sent them off to scout out Canaan, he said, “Go up through the Negev and then into the hill country. Look the land over, see what it is like. Assess the people: Are they strong or weak? Are there few or many? Observe the land: Is it pleasant or harsh? Describe the towns where they live: Are they open camps or fortified with walls? And the soil: Is it fertile or barren? Are there forests? And try to bring back a sample of the produce that grows there—this is the season for the first ripe grapes.”

What they found was everything that God had promised, a land flowing with milk and honey, a land overflowing with blessing. They also found giants, literally and figuratively. They didn’t see that to God these giants were like ants, or smaller. They didn’t see who God was, they didn’t trust Him. They trusted their own hands instead and found themselves severely lacking.

Numbers 13:26-33 (MSG)   They presented themselves before Moses and Aaron and the whole congregation of the People of Israel in the Wilderness of Paran at Kadesh. They reported to the whole congregation and showed them the fruit of the land. Then they told the story of their trip: “We went to the land to which you sent us and, oh! It does flow with milk and honey! Just look at this fruit! The only thing is that the people who live there are fierce, their cities are huge and well fortified. Worse yet, we saw descendants of the giant Anak. Amalekites are spread out in the Negev; Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites hold the hill country; and the Canaanites are established on the Mediterranean Sea and along the Jordan.” Caleb interrupted, called for silence before Moses and said, “Let’s go up and take the land—now. We can do it.” But the others said, “We can’t attack those people; they’re way stronger than we are.” They spread scary rumors among the People of Israel. They said, “We scouted out the land from one end to the other—it’s a land that swallows people whole. Everybody we saw was huge. Why, we even saw the Nephilim giants (the Anak giants come from the Nephilim). Alongside them we felt like grasshoppers. And they looked down on us as if we were grasshoppers.”

There were two men who saw God for who He really is, they trusted Him above their own strength and because of they had no fear. They understood that if they were to fear anyone or anything, it would be God, hands down. The Israelites decided that they were too scared to go over and let God win the battle. Their lack of trust in God was overwhelming and so they stayed in the desert, wandering for 40 years.Eventually everyone besides these two men, Joshua and Caleb, died in the desert, never entering the land that God promised them. They did not have enough trust in their Maker. Their understanding of God failed them. I am like the other people, I question God’s ability to kill my giants and I think that it is by my own hands that they will have to fall, and so I stay stuck in this desert of fear. I am starting to see beyond the wall of my prison of fear. I am starting to see that God has the ability to kill my giants, I just need to place my trust in Him, and not in myself. Another place we see giants in the bible is in the story of David and Goliath. This is a story of ultimate trust in God.

1 Samuel 17 (MSG)                                                                                                                                  Goliath                                                                                                                                                                17 1-3 The Philistines drew up their troops for battle. They deployed them at Socoh in Judah, and set up camp between Socoh and Azekah at Ephes Dammim. Saul and the Israelites came together, camped at Oak Valley, and spread out their troops in battle readiness for the Philistines. The Philistines were on one hill, the Israelites on the opposing hill, with the valley between them.                                                                                       4-7 A giant nearly ten feet tall stepped out from the Philistine line into the open, Goliath from Gath. He had a bronze helmet on his head and was dressed in armor—126 pounds of it! He wore bronze shin guards and carried a bronze sword. His spear was like a fence rail—the spear tip alone weighed over fifteen pounds. His shield bearer walked ahead of him.   8-10 Goliath stood there and called out to the Israelite troops, “Why bother using your whole army? Am I not Philistine enough for you? And you’re all committed to Saul, aren’t you? So pick your best fighter and pit him against me. If he gets the upper hand and kills me, the Philistines will all become your slaves. But if I get the upper hand and kill him, you’ll all become our slaves and serve us. I challenge the troops of Israel this day. Give me a man. Let us fight it out together!” 11 When Saul and his troops heard the Philistine’s challenge, they were terrified and lost all hope.                                                                                 12-15 Enter David. He was the son of Jesse the Ephrathite from Bethlehem in Judah. Jesse, the father of eight sons, was himself too old to join Saul’s army. Jesse’s three oldest sons had followed Saul to war. The names of the three sons who had joined up with Saul were Eliab, the firstborn; next, Abinadab; and third, Shammah. David was the youngest son. While his three oldest brothers went to war with Saul, David went back and forth from attending to Saul to tending his father’s sheep in Bethlehem.                                             16 Each morning and evening for forty days, Goliath took his stand and made his speech.     17-19 One day, Jesse told David his son, “Take this sack of cracked wheat and these ten loaves of bread and run them down to your brothers in the camp. And take these ten wedges of cheese to the captain of their division. Check in on your brothers to see whether they are getting along all right, and let me know how they’re doing—Saul and your brothers, and all the Israelites in their war with the Philistines in the Oak Valley.”            20-23 David was up at the crack of dawn and, having arranged for someone to tend his flock,  took the food and was on his way just as Jesse had directed him. He arrived at the camp just as the army was moving into battle formation, shouting the war cry. Israel and the Philistines moved into position, facing each other, battle-ready. David left his bundles of food in the care of a sentry, ran to the troops who were deployed, and greeted his brothers. While they were talking together, the Philistine champion, Goliath of Gath, stepped out from the front lines of the Philistines, and gave his usual challenge. David heard him.                                                                                                                                                       24-25 The Israelites, to a man, fell back the moment they saw the giant—totally frightened. The talk among the troops was, “Have you ever seen anything like this, this man openly and defiantly challenging Israel? The man who kills the giant will have it made. The king will give him a huge reward, offer his daughter as a bride, and give his entire family a free ride.”                                                                                                                          Five Smooth Stones                                                                                                                                    26 David, who was talking to the men standing around him, asked, “What’s in it for the man who kills that Philistine and gets rid of this ugly blot on Israel’s honor? Who does he think he is, anyway, this uncircumcised Philistine, taunting the armies of God-Alive?”          27 They told him what everyone was saying about what the king would do for the man who killed the Philistine.                                                                                                                                28 Eliab, his older brother, heard David fraternizing with the men and lost his temper: “What are you doing here! Why aren’t you minding your own business, tending that scrawny flock of sheep? I know what you’re up to. You’ve come down here to see the sights, hoping for a ringside seat at a bloody battle!”                                                                      29-30 “What is it with you?” replied David. “All I did was ask a question.” Ignoring his brother, he turned to someone else, asked the same question, and got the same answer as before.                                                                                                                                                         31 The things David was saying were picked up and reported to Saul. Saul sent for him. 32 “Master,” said David, “don’t give up hope. I’m ready to go and fight this Philistine.” 33 Saul answered David, “You can’t go and fight this Philistine. You’re too young and inexperienced—and he’s been at this fighting business since before you were born.”                                                                                                                                                               34-37 David said, “I’ve been a shepherd, tending sheep for my father. Whenever a lion or bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I’d go after it, knock it down, and rescue the lamb. If it turned on me, I’d grab it by the throat, wring its neck, and kill it. Lion or bear, it made no difference—I killed it. And I’ll do the same to this Philistine pig who is taunting the troops of God-Alive. God, who delivered me from the teeth of the lion and the claws of the bear, will deliver me from this Philistine.” Saul said, “Go. And God help you!” 38-39 Then Saul outfitted David as a soldier in armor. He put his bronze helmet on his head and belted his sword on him over the armor. David tried to walk but he could hardly budge. David told Saul, “I can’t even move with all this stuff on me. I’m not used to this.” And he took it all off.                                                                                                                             40 Then David took his shepherd’s staff, selected five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the pocket of his shepherd’s pack, and with his sling in his hand approached Goliath.                                                                                                                                                             41-42 As the Philistine paced back and forth, his shield bearer in front of him, he noticed David. He took one look down on him and sneered—a mere youngster, apple-cheeked and peach-fuzzed.                                                                                                                                           43 The Philistine ridiculed David. “Am I a dog that you come after me with a stick?” And he cursed him by his gods. 44 “Come on,” said the Philistine. “I’ll make roadkill of you for the buzzards. I’ll turn you into a tasty morsel for the field mice.”                                                      45-47 David answered, “You come at me with sword and spear and battle-ax. I come at you in the name of God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel’s troops, whom you curse and mock. This very day God is handing you over to me. I’m about to kill you, cut off your head, and serve up your body and the bodies of your Philistine buddies to the crows and coyotes. The whole earth will know that there’s an extraordinary God in Israel. And everyone gathered here will learn that God doesn’t save by means of sword or spear. The battle belongs to God—he’s handing you to us on a platter!”                                                                   48-49 That roused the Philistine, and he started toward David. David took off from the front line, running toward the Philistine. David reached into his pocket for a stone, slung it, and hit the Philistine hard in the forehead, embedding the stone deeply. The Philistine crashed, facedown in the dirt. 50 That’s how David beat the Philistine—with a sling and a stone. He hit him and killed him. No sword for David!                                                                    51 Then David ran up to the Philistine and stood over him, pulled the giant’s sword from its sheath, and finished the job by cutting off his head. When the Philistines saw that their great champion was dead, they scattered, running for their lives. 52-54 The men of Israel and Judah were up on their feet, shouting! They chased the Philistines all the way to the outskirts of Gath and the gates of Ekron. Wounded Philistines were strewn along the Shaaraim road all the way to Gath and Ekron. After chasing the Philistines, the Israelites came back and looted their camp. David took the Philistine’s head and brought it to Jerusalem. But the giant’s weapons he placed in his own tent.                                             55 When Saul saw David go out to meet the Philistine, he said to Abner, commander of the army, “Tell me about this young man’s family.”

What a story! There is a great deal that we can learn from the young man David. David wasn’t always like this, he was human and flawed like we are.

The warriors of Isreal and Judah were afraid of Goliath, they even described him, they listed why they were afraid of him. 9 feet tall, strong armor, his weapons. It talks about Goliath’s taunting and ridiculing of the people of God. Again a fear tactic. Goliath was willing to fight ONE man from the Isrealite army, assured of his success, notice Goliath didn’t say that he would take on the whole army, just one man. Goliath trusted that he would defeat that opponent. But I’m sure that he knew he wasn’t good enough to take on the whole army of his enemy. So to challenge in this way, really shows me that Goliath only had limited confidence, because he placed that on himself. The enemy is like that, he challenges us when we are weak, but he won’t challenge God, so when we are close to God, strong in the Lord, he leaves us alone. Our enemy also understands that he can not take on God, he realizes that he has limited power, although he likes to look like he has all power, he likes to terrify us, to shake our confidence in God, there is nothing he can do against God.

David was a young man, he wasn’t old enough yet to join the king’s army, so he took care of his father’s sheep. David had some older brothers who were in the army and that is why David was there and heard Goliath’s pathetic challenge. He came to bring them something from their father. This challenge of Goliath happened everyday and had been already for the last forty days, and no one from the Isrealite army stepped up to take on the challenge, they all listened in fear and even ran to hide. Isn’t this like us? We hear the challenge of our enemy and we are afraid that his lies might be true, so we hide from them and we don’t challenge him. When David hears the challenge and sees his peoples reaction he is disgusted with them. As he was trying to find out what was going on, his brother came up to him and gave him heck for asking questions about it. His brother was angry at him, and tells him to go back to his job of tending the sheep. David’s brother basically told him that he was stupid to think that he might be able to do something about Goliath, he accused David about being prideful and that he had just come to see the battle. David didn’t pay any attention to his brother’s accusations, I think he understood where the anger was coming from. It was coming from fear and from the lack of the strength that his little brother was showing. It made him look weak. David went to the king and asked him why no one had gone to meet the challenge, He couldn’t understand the fear. God had shown David through smaller things like killing a bear and a lion when they went after his father’s flock of sheep. David knew that those beasts were killed because of God not him. In these situation David didn’t run away and hide, he had faith that his God would rescue him, that God had ultimate power, and would use it to rescue him.

Saul allowed David to meet the challenge, if David was defeated the Isrealites would be slaves to the Philistines. Saul tried to put his armor on David. I guess he thought that David needed the armor, I am not sure what kind of protection this armor would have been against Goliath and his weapons if David went in his own strength. David told King Saul that he couldn’t fight Goliath in the man-made armor. How much like Saul are we, trusting in ourselves or human strength, not in God’s strength, so we feel like we have to put on our own defenses. David knew the truth, he knew that nothing he wore was going to guarantee success in battle. David knew not to trust in his own strength, his prowess. David went to meet Goliath in battle, not in man-made armor, but in God’s strength and protection. David had learned to trust God in the small stuff, God had never let him down, and so he was confident that God was with him in the big stuff. David went to be an instrument of God, to be used by God to show God’s people that God was worthy of worship, of complete trust and love. If David had worn man-made armor, the Isrealites may have attributed David’s strength with the armor. God proved himself in this battle because David was willing to put himself at risk, trusting God completely, completely at the mercy of God. David faced this scary giant, that everyone else ran from and because of God, killed this giant with a stone and a sling, not a sword and shield, but with the least of weapons. There is no way this small smooth stone could have killed the giant. This was proof of God’s supernatural power. There was no other way that the stone David threw could have killed this giant covered with incredibly stong armor.

As David went out on the field Goliath ridiculed him, and threatened him. David ignored all the name calling and threats because he KNEW God, he trusted God with his life. How often do we listen to the enemy’s ridicule and believe it, how often do we listen to the threats of our enemy and run and hide? I know that in my life, I was like the Isrealite army, I didn’t trust God farther than I could throw a stick, which isn’t very far. David countered Goliath’s words with words of how great God was, how powerful He was, how God would prove Himself to His people through Goliath’s death. He told the giant that the battle was the Lord’s and that God would win. David was right. God was the winner. David then went over to the body of Goliath and took Goliath’s sword and cut off his head. I have always thought that was overkill, but now I think I see it’s purpose. I think that it was a way to show God’s people that there was really nothing to be afraid of, that that fear was a lie, God was all powerful and the threat was not real. I think that it was a way to say that you don’t have to fear anymore, there was no way that Goliath could come back from the dead. David cut off any possibility of the threats, and it proved to the Philistines that the only real threat was aimed at them from the real God of the Isrealites. It proved just how real God is. David was unknown to the king before this, even David’s family was not known. After this David was known throughout the land. David became a hero, because He trusted God and let God do His work through him.

So am I willing to trust God, and trust who He says that He is? Am I willing to get to know Him, and let Him prove to me who He is? Am I willing to place my life, place my very identity in His hands and believe Him, when He speaks truth and love over me? Am I willing to go out to meet the giants that I am afraid of and with God fighting for me, slay them. Am I willing to speak the truth out loud against the lies of the enemy, and am I willing to follow through and believe the truth. With God I can fight the enemy, without God all I can do is cower in fear. The enemy knows this and so tries with all his strength to keep me weak. He knows that if I listen to the One who is truth and love, there is nothing that I can’t do. The enemy is terrified of God and my strength, our strength through Him. His best defense in a battle against God is to keep us afraid, keep us small, keep us relying on our own strength to get through life. What a lie. Why we believe it, I don’t know. I think we just get used to the lies, they pierce us to our very soul, they feel natural, they feel right. We need to put our trust in God, no matter how small, and let God work, let Him grow our faith through His faithfulness. He is GOOD, He is TRUTH, He is LIFE, He RESCUES, believe it. We are loved, we have been given the gift  of forgiveness, of a new life, abundant life, live it. Trust God and live it. You can’t defeat your giants by yourself, don’t even try to do it yourself. Trust God He can and will if you are willing to trust Him and let Him. So what are you going to do, who are you going to believe? I want to believe like David, no wavering in my trust. I want to know God so well, that there is no room for fear. I will start facing my giants, knowing that God is with me, He is in front of me, behind me, beside me and inside of me. I am surrounded by Him and His love. I have nothing to fear. I am human, and I forget sometimes, but as I learn who God is, as I learn to put my trust in the only One who is trustworthy the battle against my giants will be won. Join me on this journey of trust. God is trustworthy, now lets learn what that looks like in our lives. Let’s trust completely. God is our strength and protector. We are warrior women of God, lets ACT like it. Jumpinto this new life, God will catch us. Blessings on you. Praise GOD for HIS GOODNESS!!!!

 

Why Does God Weep?

Why does God weep? I am sure that when He looks at His messed up world and His hurting creation He weeps. He sees it all, all the pain, all the destruction, all the hurt, all the violence, everything. He also sees everything that is good, love, caring, friendship, generousity to those in need, those fighting for justice. He sees everything. He weeps over those things that are destroying His creation, and He is happy for the good things that happen. God sees everything and He is walking through life with  those who are His. Our world is a damaged place, damaged by our human nature, and our selfish wills. God created all that was good, but He gave us free will, so that when we choose to love Him it is because WE choose to. He doesn’t want robots, He wants genuine relationships. There is another player in this story, it is our enemy, Satan, the one who comes to kill, steal and destroy. The bible says that our enemy is like a roaring prowling lion, just  waiting to devour us. If there was no struggle, no bad, we wouldn’t understand good. God is ultimately in control, however, He is not a dictator. He doesn’t leave us to fight by ourselves, He joins us in the battle if we ask for His help. We wouldn’t want to be forced to do anything, or to stop doing something and He knows that so He waits for us to make a choice. His desire is for us to love and follow Him, but He won’t force it. If we chose to sin, He won’t stop us, not because He can’t but because He gave us free will, the ability to choose for ourselves. He hopes that we choose Him and His ways, He knows that that will not always be the case. He waits for us to turn to Him. He stays with us always, He will never leave us or forsake us if we choose Him.

One of the things I know personally that causes God to weep is someone who lives within the pain that comes from believing lies about themselves, locked up and never gaining freedom. God has broken my heart for women who believe that they are unlovable, unworthy, those who live in the shadow of lies spoken by the enemy, an enemy who’s whole goal is destruction. The enemy hates what God loves, he is the embodiment of hate. God loves us unconditionally, and because of that Satan has focused his sights on us as targets of his hatred.

There is no woman who has escaped the enemy’s lies completely unscathed. I have shared my story with many women, many groups of women, and always I hear from these women stories of pain, stories of unworthiness, stories of self loathing. These are painful stories to hear. Most women do not believe that they are beautiful, and I have discovered by talking to these women that even those who would measure up to the worlds standard of beauty think that they are not beautiful, that they don’t measure up in some way. Or if they believe that they are beautiful, they believe that all they have to offer is their beauty. This is so sad, it breaks my heart to see so much hurt and self loathing. Why? Because I have been there. My whole world was viewed through the lies swirling around me. It was a tornado of lies, a tornado of self hatred and ugliness. This was me, this is how I identified myself. My whole identity was wrapped up in the word ugly. I could not see beyond that. I felt like I was damaged, too much wrong with me to love. I was so broken, and so lost. I couldn’t reach out, I didn’t have any strength left to do that. I just sat in this life sucking hole of self loathing.

I know this place well. It was my jail cell, the place where I marked the walls with the tick marks of the days spent there, never seeing a way out. It is a place I see so many women dwelling in. Locked up in a prison of hurt, pain, and believing the lies spoken over them by their enemy. Some women spend multiple life sentences within this prison, and that is what it feels like, never knowing if they will be paroled, hoping that they will be set free for good behaviour, but never believing that it will happen to them. These thoughts are most often secret. For some reason we seem to want to show the world that we have everything together, even when our whole world is falling apart. We have a warped belief system. We listen to the one who hates us and ignore the ONE who loves us, and sees our beauty.

I have been rescued from this dungeon, and at times, I need to be set free again, as I start to believe my enemy again. I know the truth, I know freedom, I know love and the truth that I am loved far more than any created being can love me. This world and the love found within it pales in comparison to the Agape love that God exudes for us. When we get close to our Creator, the hurricane of His love overwhelms us and drowns out the lies, and pours into us His love, His incredible, breathtaking extravagant love. Within this hurricane is where I want to stay, it feels dangerous but wonderful, it feels like one of those scary rollercoasters, the kind that makes your stomach flip, and leaves you shakey. It is the most wonderful thrill ride, this adventure into God’s love.

Because I know that this love hurricane is my true home, that I can live in the eye of the storm, and feel safe, loved and known, I wonder why I don’t stay there. Why do I get restless, why do I leave? I do not fully understand this phenomenom. If I was to make a hypothesis, I would say that I am more at home within the tornado of hate and lies. Weird huh? For so long I listened the lies and let them destroy me, I believed them, and I let it wash over me. I grew comfortable in an uncomfortable place, a place of death and destruction. I made this terrifying place my home.

Some of the thoughts that swirled around in my head was what I percieved was my ugliness, my legs were too big, my nose too flat, I was too short, too fat, to flat a face, that list could go on. I believed that I was unwanted, that I didn’t fit in, that I was boring and shy. I believed that I had nothing that mattered to offer the world. Art was stupid and could not impact the world the way intelligence and beauty could. I thought I was stupid because math was hard for me, but I didn’t put any effort into learning it after I became discouraged. After I became a Christian, I saw absolutely no value in my creativity, just an oh that is nice response. A you should serve in the kid zone or nursery or  care ministry or food bank, those are where you could make an impact. Those were important jobs that I could do, creativity was fun, not a real job and it was not really productive. I believed that I had nothing more than creativity to offer the world around me and it didn’t matter. I was stuck there. I never graduated, I got really close 2 credits away, but I gave up. I never went for secondary education because I thought I was stupid, and that it would be too hard for me. I didn’t go because what I would have liked as a career was slowly being shelved in the school system, because it was not as important as the core subjects, it was really only an extra easy credit towards a diploma, a rubber course. I had thought about being an art teacher. That is the only place that I felt I had success, the only thing I was good at, so I didn’t even try, afraid of failure. I believed I was a failure anyway. The me that God made me to be was lost, almost nonexistant. I would get jealous if anyone else sketched better than me, painted better… and I would give up, thinking that what I thought I could do, I couldn’t.

I believed as I grew older, that I was undesirable and so I accepted inappropriate, unwanted behaviour from guys, thinking that was what love looked like. I was enticed into sexual relationships because I was afraid that if I didn’t, guys would get bored of me. I was raped at 17 and after that I didn’t care about keeping myself for marriage, I was damaged goods anyway, right? All this time I thought that to just end my life would be a good thing, life just felt too painful, that I was not needed. I tried a few times, but only half heartedly, again it reinforced my thoughts of my uselessness, a failure in a really sick way. My head was not thinking clearly, my thoughts were totally screwed up and I couldn’t escape them for very long. My beliefs about myself seemed right and sound in this prison of hate. I look back on that time and I see how very messed up I was, how lost I was. I am grateful that I failed in my suicide attempts, life on the otherside of those thoughts has been worth living. My beliefs about myself are still a little messed up, but they are way more true than they used to be.

The truth that I discovered after I was given my new name was the polar opposite of what I had thought about me. I discovered that God thought I was beautiful, that I was captivating. I discovered that I was not stupid, but that I was not made to be an academic person and that was ok. I discovered that I was a creative person, that God built that into me for a reason. I found out that God wanted to use the creative skills that He gave me to impact the world around me. God could use what I thought was not really important, a useless skill. He even gave me a creative ministry. For every lie that I had believed, God showed me the real truth. I discovered God’s love as He drew me in. I discovered that God doesn’t make junk, and that I insulted His creativity if I thought that I was junk, a mistake. The truth I found during this healing of my soul, is that I was loved, I was an original, and that I was a masterpiece. And within this healing, I couldn’t find a way to argue with God. If He thought I was good, than who was I to argue. God who had made the wondrous heavens, thought that I was even better than the stars and galaxies. He came to have a relationship with me His daughter, not the heaven, not the earth, but me, with mankind. I found an unexplainable joy and peace within those truths. He is using my experiences in the past to help others to find their intrinsic value. To see a light at the edge of the walls of the prison they reside in.

God weeps for us when we are in a prison of self hate. He walks with us, hoping that we turn to Him for the truth, His truth. God has burdened my heart so deeply for women living where I did, in deep soul pain. There are many times that I have weeped over the pain that I remember. I see the hurt, I see the hopelessness. I know that this is a God thing, I know it is what God feels, and He has given me the heart to see it. He has shown me His heart, His sorrow over the pain of the ones He loves. It is real, it is very real. If you don’t believe that this is true, I pray that God makes it evident to you, that He breaks through the walls of your prison and allows His light to shine on you, so that you can see the lies for what they really are, lies, intended harm. Today is one of those days that I can feel God weeping, if you are stuck in this vortex of hatred, know that He is weeping for you. He wants to show you who you really are, let Him, it changes you. It is a really good change. Know that I will pray that God reaches His daughters with His truth, and I won’t quit praying for that, and I won’t quit telling my story, God’s story, the piece of His story that I am.

God loves you no matter what your past or present says about you, what you have done or believed. He can forgive anything, except unbelief in Him and His Son Jesus. Believe this truth, that you are loved, hold onto that, it is your life line. I know, I’ve been there. May God bless you with the truth of who you are, and more importantly who He is. If you know who He is, you won’t be able to argue with Him or dismiss the evidence that He has about His love for you. May God bless you, may He make His face shine upon you, chasing your darkness away. He loves you, and that is the real truth, and that makes you loveable, it makes you beloved. Praise God!!

Thankful!!!

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No matter where our feet rest we are still standing in the field of God’s provision.

Yesterday was the Canadian Thanksgiving. A time to think about the past year and be thankful for it. Sometimes it is hard to see anything to be thankful for but there is always something to be thankful for. At the very basic level, oxygen is a good reason to be thankful. Some days that seems to be all there is. Sometimes the year, when you look back, holds many blessings, even when the year has been incredibly hard. Maybe today feels like everything is falling apart, but when you look back over the year it looks much brighter, you can see the blessings and the lessons learned.

Yesterday was a day of remembering and being thankful. This year has been a hard one for me emotionally, one of growth because of the pain. I have learned a lot. I have learned how to speak up for myself, I have discovered in a very real way that I am worthy of love and respect. I have learned about requiring respect, forgiveness and love, because of what God says about me, because that is how God treats me. I thought that I had learned that in 2003, when God blessed me with the name Beautiful. I think I had the head knowledge, but I didn’t want to do the hard work of changing others attitudes towards me, it was hard work emotionally learning what standing up for myself was like. Even though I knew that I was worthy of love, because God thought so, I didn’t take it to heart. I let it stay in my mind, but obviously didn’t trust it enough to allow it to sink into my heart. Well, this year, because of the despair I was feeling, I couldn’t stay there. I felt lost, those old voices of self loathing were getting louder, the sense of my unworthiness was overwhelming, I was swimming in a sea of depression. I go there from time to time. Sometimes, I just dip my toes into that sea, and sometimes, the tsunami overwhelms me and draws me ever deeper, drowning me, drowning my joy, and life looks bleak and empty. It feels like an incredibly thick fog surrounding me, so that I cannot see out past my nose. This year, it felt like a tsunami. I have been there before, as a teen, I was looking for a way out, and it seemed like the only way out was by ending my life. After Taylor died, I lived within that tsunami again, and it would have been so easy to die, or least that was how it felt, and if I hadn’t had Stephanie, I probably would have, grief engulfed me. Those years were hard years, and back then even at the end of the year, there was not much I felt thankful for. Those were the years where it felt like the only thing to be thankful for was the oxygen, and even then I wasn’t sure that I could be thankful for that.

This year, life has been hard emotionally, and really hard financially. The combination of the two seemed to make it seem even worse than it might have been if it had been just one of those. There was no retail therapy to sooth my pain away, or to help me focus on something else. Looking back, I see some of the lessons that I have had to learn have been really important ones, ones that will impact my whole life and those around me. To understand that you are worthy just because your Maker says so is an incredible blessing. Within it you learn about your Maker at a whole new level. You learn to place your trust in the only One who is trustworthy. Confidence comes from knowing that you are loved, just because. Real confidence knows that it doesn’t depend on anything you do, or if you are successful. It doesn’t depend on how you look, or on someone else’s opinion of you, or whether you measure up to your own standards of beauty. We all have these standards that we are trying to reach, the only problem is that these standards are not static. They change, they are almost always impossible to reach. I don’t know what it feels like to reach them. Your worthiness is not determined by what you have to offer to the world. Your worthiness is imparted to you because of the love of God, nothing else matters. This is what I have learned. I have not learned these perfectly yet however, but I have started to allow them to sink into my heart. These thoughts and truths are making the very short, but very difficult pathway from the head to the heart. This year has been really hard, but incredibly blessed.

Cam and I have had to learn the hard way, just how far $50 can take you in a week to a week and a half. It felt impossible in the beginning, but now it doesn’t scare me, because we have done it before, usually every week, and even though it is tight, we make it, we have food to eat, and a place to live, and people to love and who love us. I know that even in this we are incredibly blessed. There are those who live around us who don’t have that much, or that are missing loved ones. I think that would be too hard to live without. I am blessed with family and friends. God has always provided just enough for us. I know that He is the one who takes care of us. When it seems like we won’t make it financially, He always comes through for us and so we have our necessities taken care of. Our view of necessities has changed, it is much less than it used to be, but that is good. Where haircuts were an expected expense, they became a luxury for example. I have waited for 5 months for a haircut. I got a haircut on Saturday and I feel really blessed. 🙂 funny how view points change, how your sense of entitlement can change with a smaller cash flow.

Cam and I got ourselves into a financial crisis, because we were living at a level of income that we could not sustain. We were used to being $600 richer every month, because our girls were paying rent, so we got used to it and we lived at that level for a couple of years already. We borrowed more, because with their rent we could afford it. Then Steph went to school and our deal was always free room and board if you are going to school full time. Jaydyn lost her job and struggled to find a job for 7 months, so we got farther and farther behind on payments towards our debt load, and once you are behind it is really hard to catch up. This was not anybody’s fault but our own, so if my girls are reading this don’t take this on as your fault, it is our fault. Right now we are close to a year towards catching up, and I can see a light down at the end of this very dark tunnel. The problem was real, but it was also our fault. It is hard giving up some of the luxuries that we felt entitled to, but we have learned that we can be happy with less, we don’t NEED more. As much as the advertising around us says we need more, we don’t!

So this year my outlook has changed, both personally and financially.

I am thankful for my change of perspective

I am thankful for the hard lessons that I have learned, my worthiness, and lowered sense of entitlement and an understanding of what our needs really are.

I am thankful for my family, for their love, that they chose to put up with me, and encourage me. Sometimes they also challenged me, which was also a blessing. It helped me get up out of the darkness that I was in.

I am thankful that God always meets our needs, even if we feel like He doesn’t.

I am thankful that my Creator loves me and has chosen to impart to me worthiness, because He says so and that is all that is important. completely

I am blessed and I have no doubt about that, I am so thankful! Praise God!

What are you thankful for?? I would love to hear it.

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A Wide Open Field-Expanse-Wildflowers

Many years ago, I was told a story of how my jewelry Broken Clay impacted someone. I was given a vision for Broken Clay in that moment, Beautiful in particular. I had been at a ladies retreat and I had donated a piece of Beautiful for every woman there. All the women were grateful, and some of them came up to me to tell me that the flower imprinted on it was their favorite or it was their favorite color, or how God put the message of His love for them and the piece of jewelry together in a powerful way. I  was grateful that God would take my paltry offering and use it to impact these women that He loved. This in and of itself would cause me to give these away to those I thought needed a reminder of God’s love for them. I sold pieces only to be able to fund the making of more to give away. Gratefully God always met the costs to make the pieces, and I kept making them.

Beautiful was the first one that I designed. This is the first one that God gave me a picture of. The name Beautiful is a large part of the transformation that God is working in me. I used to hate myself, I heard and saw everything that I did or was said about me through that filter of ugliness, hatred and worthlessness.

I hid! I hid from everything. I was shy, only because of the hatred I had for myself. I now call myself quiet. I put on a shell of who I thought I was supposed to be, the me that was “acceptable”. It is within this empty shell that I lived my life, never really experiencing a whole and full life, always living within a half-life. I lived for others, not for me and certainly not for God. I lived for my kids, and sometimes I lived for Cam (not often). I tried to be perfect in my own strength. I was not strong. Anyway, I went through most of my life within this ever hardening shell. From 10 to 35. It started with being molested as a child by an older girl in my neighborhood (she was only a year or two older) and continued through the awful bullying and rejection in childhood, mostly by peers. It continued through many, many wrong choices that I made because of this overwhelming hurt. The name I called myself was ugly. My parents never knew this, they just watched their little girl go from a happy child to an angry preteen, not really understanding what was going on or how to help me, they tried though, so I lived this way till 2003.

It was within a retreat in 2003 that God changed the trajectory of my life. I had hit a wall, and God was waiting there to change the course of my life. It was at that wall that God gave me a new name, and a very clear undeniable picture of who I was because I was loved by Him. I wasn’t this name because anything I did in my own strength. This new name was given to me because of who He is and what He thought of me and who He created me to be. I praise Him because of His great love, and the restoration and transformation that took place on that day, and that is still continuing in every breath that I take, every beat of my heart, and in every beat of The Heart Who loves me unconditionally. It was on that day April 26th, that I received the message meant for my heart, God’s life giving message to me. It was on that day that God caused me to look up, to see beyond my self loathing. This is where God stood me up in the wide open space of His love. That incredible love took my breath away. His beauty was breath-taking!! There had never been a day that I had ever experienced love like that. It made me change my opinion of myself immediately, since then He has affirmed that name, and has helped me learn to comprehend what that means and the depth of that meaning and the gift that it is to know it. It is one that I have a hard time understanding, and I am sure that God will have to continually remind me of it until the day I die. This is part of the reason for my jewelry, to be a physical reminder that helps to remind us of the truth, God’s truth. The name that God gave me, hit me with is the name Beautiful. In that intense meeting with God’s very real presence, I came to see how He saw me. God, knowing me intimately knew that I saw better in pictures, that my ears were too full of the words of hurt and self loathing, and so I needed to be given a clear vision of His new name for me. The picture He showed me was one of a flower. It was a cross between a beautiful rose, and a childlike drawing of a daisy. It is really hard to explain, only God could make that picture make sense. 🙂 within that picture, I saw beauty, and a child. He was affirming with that picture that I was His child and that He saw me as beautiful. It was almost too hard to take in, too painful in its purity and glory. The love was so intense, that I shook for the rest of that weekend and when Cam saw me after the weekend, he knew something was different, that I was somehow different.bout it the moment he saw me. He said that it was like I was shining, I had my head lifted. After that for the next few months, people who had known me before, said I don’t know what it is that is different about you, but you are really beautiful. Strangers would call me beautiful. I am not by any standards of this world beautiful, but God in His mercy and love, told me I was beautiful through others, He even used strangers. Incredible!! He still whispers that name to my soul when I start to doubt.

It was in 2006 that I was first asked to tell my story to a group of young teen moms. I was floored to be asked. I was still incredibly shy, unsure of myself. I had lived life quiet for so long, so to be asked to live out loud, to bare my soul, and risk rejection was beyond the scope of my vision. I didn’t mind telling someone, one on one, or to a few women at a time, but to speak to 30 at a time, I didn’t believe that I could do it, and yet for someone reason I said yes. It was during my preparation to speak to these young women, praying for them and asking for a way to make clear the love that God had for them. This message of beauty and love is not mine alone, He speaks it clearly over those that He loves and He loves mankind. It was during a time that I was with a friend, she was a potter, and I was at her house learning the skill of hand building from her, that God gave me the vision of Broken Clay, and Beautiful in particular. God gave me a picture, because He knows I get it better when He does that, and because He made me, He gets that about me. He gave me a picture of a piece of a piece of broken clay with a picture of a flower on it, again it was the picture He gave me when He called me Beautiful. I also knew the name for it at that moment and the message that it contained. Clay because Adam was created from clay, broken, because we are all broken (because of life circumstances), and the flower to symbolize His picture of us, to remind us of His name for us, Beautiful. In the picture it was a necklace, because it rested close to the heart, He wanted this message to penetrate the wearer’s heart. So I set about making these with my friends help. As I was making these, I got other messages, and other pictures of those messages and so I made those as well. There were other messages that God wanted to speak over these young women.  I had a lot extra, so that each woman could choose the one that she wanted. These young women came afterwards and asked to buy them for their friends who needed to hear this message. I think I gave most of the extra away as well. I sold a few to those who insisted on paying me.

At the retreat after I told my story, the jewelry was given out. They were told that if the piece that they received was not the one they wanted, they could exchange it for another one that spoke to them. Very few (maybe one or two) exchanged their pieces. Most of the young women, got the one that impacted them, and seemed to be made just for them. As I made them, I prayed for these women, and for God to impact them in a way that was undeniable. I knew that these were very busy women, most of them single moms. They would need reminders of His love for them. Often their stories carried a lot of pain and rejection, so they needed a reminder that the God of the heavens did not reject them, that He loved no matter what they had done, or what other’s had done to them. after this retreat I spoke to other groups of women, young and old, all of them needing to hear this message of beauty and love. I discovered that almost every woman questions her worth, her value, even those women who measured up to the world’s idea of beauty. It didn’t matter what the age was, their view of themselves was very wrong. There were very few women who were truly confident in their value. I was floored by this. Those women who I thought had it all together were struggling, those who I wished that I could be had painful arrows in their souls too. What was happening, where was this coming from and why didn’t God rescue them like He did me? Later I realized that God would use me and my story to rescue them as well. Crazy huh!

One of these groups of women who received beautiful were at that ladies retreat I was talking about at the beginning of this post. One of the women attending the conference there, went home with her piece, really happy to receive it. Later that day or the next, she went to visit her sister in the hospital. Her sister was in palliative care, she was battling cancer, she was in the later stage of cancer. It wasn’t very long afterwards that she died and went to be with her Savior. When this woman who was ill saw her sister she saw the piece of broken clay that she had recieved at the retreat and lit up. She asked if this was the flower that Jesus picked for her. She went on to tell her that she saw Jesus in a field of flowers, each one unique and beautiful. She said as Jesus walked with each woman He picked a flower for them. She was wondering if this was the one that Jesus picked for her. This lady gave her piece to her sister and came to ask if she could purchace another one for herself. She relayed this story and it hit me so hard, it almost knocked me down. I had goosebumps. This woman had no idea that these women would get a piece of jewelry, nevermind this design and message of Broken Clay. This jewelry and it’s message truly was God’s, It is His message to His women. This was clearly showed to me within this story. This jewelry is not mine, it is God’s.

God calls you Beautiful, His love for you is very real, and what He sees when He looks at you is beauty. God gave me a verse when He called me Beautiful, it was Psalm 45:11, Let the King be enthralled by your beauty; honor Him for He is your Lord. The capital letters are mine, because to me it is God speaking to me. This verse is about a bride and groom, a king and his newly wed bride, now a queen. God gave me this verse when He gave me my new name, He loves me and is enthralled by the beauty He sees in me. Who am I to say He is wrong? He is never wrong, it is just my job to accept that, and to change how I look at myself and how I treat myself. I need to stop beating myself up and love who God created me to be, love the woman who He sees.

Jesus has walked in that wide open field with me, with those wildflowers, He has picked one for me and told me that I am beautiful, that I am unique, and perfectly loved. I am loved with a holy love, a pure love that expects nothing even remotely close to it in return except a pale imitation of that love. It is a gift. This is also offered to you. All you have to do is accept it. This message is for every woman who will accept it.

Psalm 18:16-24 (MSG)                                                                                                                                       16-19 But me he caught—reached all the way                                                                                           from sky to sea; he pulled me out                                                                                                            Of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos,                                                                                           the void in which I was drowning.                                                                                                         They hit me when I was down,                                                                                                               but God stuck by me.                                                                                                                                   He stood me up on a wide-open field;                                                                                                     I stood there saved—surprised to be loved!                                                                                        20-24 God made my life complete                                                                                                       when I placed all the pieces before him.                                                                                                 When I got my act together,                                                                                                                           he gave me a fresh start.                                                                                                                                Now I’m alert to God’s ways;                                                                                                                        I don’t take God for granted.                                                                                                                    Every day I review the ways he works;                                                                                                      I try not to miss a trick.                                                                                                                                  I feel put back together,                                                                                                                              and I’m watching my step.                                                                                                                             God rewrote the text of my life                                                                                                            when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.

 If this message has spoken to you, can you let me know so that I can pray for you and praise God for you. God loves you and because of that so do I. Blessings.