You Are Beloved, Overflow

1 John 4:10-12 (MSG) This is how God showed His love for us. God sent His only Son into the world so we might live through Him. This is the kind of love we are talking about – not that we once upon a time loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God. My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and His love becomes complete in us – perfect love!

1 John 4:19 (MSG) We, though, are going to love – love and be loved, First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.

God Is Love!!! There is no way to get around that. You see it all around you, in the beauty surrounding us, in the colors, the sounds of nature, the taste of food, all are meant to draw us in to the greatest love story of all. This beauty is there to woo us into a love story with God. It is not a fairy tale kind of love, but a real, deep, abiding love. God is the place where your soul can rest. When we experience this love, this peace, this rest, we can face things that are too hard to face on our own. There is a lot of dark in this word, but God, He is light. He is the only light that can shine in our deepest, darkest pain.

I know that a lot of people struggle with this concept. If God is so loving, why does He let these ______________ things happen. You can fill in your own blank, everyone has their own questions. Unfortunately there are other forces at work, but we put all that blame on the One who truly is love. He loves like a Father, a friend, a lover and so much more than that. These descriptions of love are such a pale and empty shadow of the love that is incredibly real, life giving, joy bursting, able to face anything kind of love. God can love like no other. He is love, it is His name, His creation, without God there would be nothing, no love. He is the author and creator of love. He is the perfector of love. There is nothing lacking in His love, actually it is too much, too perfect. It is a flood, a storm in it’s intensity. When I have opened my soul up a little to feel His love, I have felt like I am in too deep, like I am in the eye of a hurricane. It is too much for this human heart, but my soul knows this love is good, and craves it. We were made for this kind of love, that is why we search so desperately for it. We won’t find it anywhere else. When I have allowed God to show me His deep love for me, I tremble for the whole day, even when I get a glimpse of it. The intensity, unbelievable!

I have had questions, and felt like I had the right to question God’s goodness. God can see the pain, but He is God, the Creator, He doesn’t have to answer to us. He is the one in authority. We are the creation, not the creator, we are the masterpiece, but we are not the artist. We will never know what God does, we will never see the whole picture. We in our humanness, only see our little bit in the story, in our selfishness, we call God to account for His actions or what seems like inaction. God is patient with us, like a Father is to his child. A child asks a lot of questions, a father answers that child in a way that they can understand. He does not flood a toddler with explainations that are not within their understanding. A good father will expain in a way they can understand, knowing the limitations, and experience that the child has. If he tries to tell the child the answer in a way an adult understands, it is too much and the toddler will not be able to comprehend what is being said to them and become confused. It is the same with God, we are infants in our ability to understand God and His ways and thoughts. If He tried to explain to us our why’s, what if’s, when’s and how’s, we would get lost in His words and thoughts. God knows what we can handle, what we will be able to comprehend. He tries to help us understand, but He doesn’t need to answer to or be held accountable to our accusations. He is God and we are not. We don’t often have the capability to understand, both because we have limited capacity, and also because we are only looking at our piece in the story, we often don’t see much beyond ourselves and those close to us.

I have lost so much, a daughter to SIDS, my dad to Cancer, friends because my pain was just too raw. I have questioned and accused God. I have yelled and ranted at Him. I have hated Him, I have hated what I saw as His inaction. I have blamed Him for my pain, for being far away and not interested. I was so wrong! I discovered within my pain and my questions, that I was not alone, that He wasn’t far away. It was exactly the opposite, I was enveloped in the love and the care and concern of God. I was locked up tight in my pain and self-centered indignation. I couldn’t see beyond myself, not because He wouldn’t let me see Him, but that I didn’t want to or even try to.

Eventually God in His persistant, patient, pervasive love, opened my soul up to experience a love that I had not experienced before. What I had imagined love to be was a farce, it was so empty afer I experienced God’s incredible love. I look back at my empty past life, the life I had before I knew God and shake my head at my stupidity. What was I thinking? Why did I think that what the world offered was good or enough? My limited understanding was so foolish. Why did I think I had the answers? I don’t know. It was like I was blind, or I had severly limited tunnel vision. This the enemy’s doing. God’s enemy wants us to look to ourselves for answers, to ignore God, to deny Him. This is how our enemy plans to destroy us, bringing eternal death. God offers eternal life. When we reach the end of our mortal life we will be able to understand what God sees, we will be able to comprehend what God is trying to say to us, we will be able to see beyond ourselves.

For now though, we need to put our trust in our Heavenly Father, we need to believe that He is incharge, and knows everything. We need to understand that God tries to help us understand but that we have a limited ability to understand, even the smartest/wisest person.When we lay everything in God’s hand, we enter a place of rest, security and incredible love.

In 2003 I was met at a woman’s retreat by my Heavenly Father. I was a mess, full of hatred for myself, washed in self-pity, and horrible self-talk. I hated who I was, I hated the way life had turned out, I was so jealous of others who seemed to have it all together. I had some good in my life, I had a husband who loved me, even if he didn’t show me that the way I needed to be shown. He really tried. I had 4 beautiful daughters. I had more than some had, a house, food, family… Unfortunately often I didn’t see the good. The self-hatred was so overwhelming. I tried to love and couldn’t properly. I didn’t know how. I didn’t love me, I certainly didn’t love God. I obeyed Him or in my limited capacity I tried. I felt hopeless and wrong. God met me in all my glorious mess. He shocked me with His love, He showed me just how lost I was, how locked up I was. He gave me the ability to see beyond my self-pity. He showed me just how loved I was, He showed me that because He thought I was worthy of love, I was loved. God gave a freedom that weekend like I had  never experienced before, I had never known existed or needed before. God became my compass, guiding me out of my mess, He became my anchor in my storm of sorrow of a life lived wrong. My soul woke up. God showed me a new kind of life, a life of love.

During this weekend God gave me a new name, to remind me of His love. It is a name that tells me who God thinks and says that I am. My new name is Beautiful. I always named myself ugly, this was God’s enemy’s name for me. It was a lie. Beautiful was my real name, praise God! I try to remember my real name, sometimes I look back and start calling myself my old name, God then turns my face towards Him and I remember what He has called me, what He says about me.

I know that I am not alone in my quest for understanding who I am. I know that like me, other’s get stuck in the worldly names that they hear and adopt for themselves. I know others are as lost and stuck as I was and my heart breaks for them. I know my Father’s heart breaks for them, for He has given me insight into His heart for those who are broken, those whom He loves, for those who don’t know their real names. God wants all of humanity to hear, understand, and take His names for them. God wants them to live in this life of love, and in turn splash that love over those around them, He will fill you to overflowing, and He wants that overflow to reach others, to show them the love that He has. I don’t understand much when it comes to God, but I trust Him. He has shown me His love, and I want to tell other broken people my story so that they can know, understand and have hope, that God is good and that He loves them and wants to give them a name called in love and a life lived in that love.

Glimpses of Healing

The last time that I wrote on this blog, I felt overwhelmed by sorrow. I was tired, tired of being sick, tired of not being able to do anything, tired of feeling wrong. This week is not like last week. 

This week I am on a journey of healing physically. As I wrote last week, and I saw how hopeless I was, I was able to crawl to the surface of that really deep self-pity pit. I think that writing about my feelings, make me give myself a shake. I think this was a gift from God. I was able to do some research on my symptoms and try to find a solution beyond medication. The medication I was on wasn’t working for me, or just barely. Even after taking all three inhalers to the maximum, it only allowed a slightly easier ability to breathe. So I did research on Asthma, I wanted to see what it was, and what could cause it to flare up. I wanted to know if there was something else I could do, or if there was something I could add to what I was already doing to make it better, so that I could be even a little bit active.

As I was researching, I discovered that Asthma was an inflammatory disease. There was something causing inflammation in my lungs and that it was wreaking havoc in me. I had recently discovered through allergy testing, that I was allergic to; certain tree’s pollen, weed pollen, some molds, and dust mites (those showed up after the doctor’s appointment and lasted 3 days, it didn’t show up in the 1/2 an hour that I was in the doctor’s office, so dust mites are not confirmed by a doctor). That explained some of my symptoms, the tree pollen and weed pollen were the worst, so the doctor and I wondered why the worst of my symptoms usually happened from late fall to early spring (this year the symptoms didn’t abate even in spring). So I knew that allergies were some of what was causing the inflamation in my lungs. I wondered if there could be more, so I dug deeper. I really wanted relief from feeling helpless, this drove my quest for answers. I am still on that quest, I believe that God is with me in this. He knows what is going on and because of my persistence is helping me to see some things that might be affecting me. 

I believe that God is showing me that stress is horrible on my system, that my worrying, the horrible dreaded what if’s, are causing my body to resist healing, so I am trying to relax and through God’s words and His mercy. I am trying to focus on what God says, who God is and who I am because of Him, instead of the thoughts that plague me. I am not hugely successful here yet. I live in stress. I have always said that I work better under pressure, under stress. I am the master of procrastination and laziness. I put myself into extreme stress as I wait to do something until it is imperative to do it. Like cleaning, I usually wait till someone is coming over before I clean. Even if I have 3 weeks notice, I still wait till I have only 2 days, then I work like mad, mad at myself and my family. I do this all the time, I self sabotage myself in this way. I limit my ability to be welcoming and hospitable. I want to be able to have people over, but I can’t because the thought of the stress that I cause myself seems overwhelming. I keep things looking pretty good for a few days, but then I start slacking and it all slips back to the way it was before. It is crazy that I keep repeating this pattern even though I know that I can relax way more in a clean house than in a messy house.

In my research, I have found that diet can sometimes cause inflammation, and can limit the healing that can happen. Garbage in, Garbage out. So I am finally ready to take control of my diet/food choices. I am trying to stay away from foods that have been known to cause inflammation. I am staying away from sugar of all forms, processed foods, fried foods, most dairy, and meat from animals that are raised in commercial feed lots. I will have meat from animal that have been treated the way they were meant to be treated. I am trying to stay to food that is a single ingredient (Apple, instead of apple juice. no preservatives, no high fructose corn syrup…). I can put these single ingredients together into a meal, I just don’t want the extra stuff that comes with pre-processed packaged food. I am also staying away from white potatoes, from rice and from most starches. I have lived without gluten already for over 10 years. I have been doing this since the last post (May 30th). I have slipped a few times, especially with the sugar. I love sugar in all of its forms. Those days I have found set me back a bit. I have found that if I have been able to keep from eating the things mentioned above, I have to use very minimal asthma medication. If I have been good about my diet for a few days in a row, I don’t even have to use any inhalers. I can see some success in a diet change for me. Each time I slip and feel crappy, bolsters my commitment to eat healthy. So in my experience, a diet change is working. This is an area where I have to be careful in, there have been so many “unhealthy” diets to lose weight over the years. I don’t want my motivation to just be about weight, or the way I look. I want this journey to be about health, I don’t want to join a fad, I just want to eliminate those food that cause me inflammation. Not everyone has the same food triggers. I know that sugar is a big one for me. It was especially clear, because for the first week I had migraines, that only went away when I had some sugar, sometimes accidentally and sometimes purposeful. The longer I stayed away from, the better my headaches were getting. I talked to my doctor and he is all for this change of diet and is cheering me on in my quest to discover health. He agrees that I really want to get off some of the meds that I am on. He said I will probably lose a lot of weight as well, lol. This time, this is not my goal, it would be nice of course, but health is my goal. As I have stayed away from these foods, I have felt like myself, I don’t feel trapped by my inability to breathe easier. I am not experiencing pain in my joints, I am finding more energy to get things done. I don’t feel as stuck.

The other day I was thinking about this feeling more like myself, I had waves of grief and relief washing over me. One moment I was crying for lost time, and then I was crying because of my gratefulness and relief of the things that were holding me back. I believe that God is in this with me, I believe that He is helping me discover what is healthy for me and what isn’t. God celebrates my successes and mourns with me the mistakes I make. It is with and through Him I am finding truth, strength and courage to make the changes that I need to make. It is hard, I have lived an unhealthy life for a long time. I have not cared for myself well for a long time, I don’t remember a time when I took care of myself, mind, body and soul at the same time. God wants me to take care of myself so that I have the energy and ability to do the work that He has called me to. I am also a creation of His, and the way I was caring for myself was like smearing dirt on a masterpiece, marring it, and destroying its beauty. This is what I was doing to myself. I didn’t feel like I was worth even the basic care, those were the whispers of my enemy over me. His words were not worth it, ugly, waste of time, unloveable, shameful…, but God’s words have always been; you are worth it (see I sent my Son to rescue you, I wanted a relationship with you), You are beautiful (this is the name I have given you, the name I call you by), you are worth my time and attention, because I have said so, I love you no matter what, I forgive you and will wash you clean of all your shame. (I can and am willing to do this for you).

As I am on this journey, the best and most important part is learning about who God is and who He says I am. I am learning about His greatness, His holiness, His glory. I am discovering that He is the Only One whose opinion matters, He is the Only One who deserves my worship, and my life (my whole life, nothing held back). He has given me everything, He has been merciful to be, He has given me incredible grace and love. His attention on me is not something I could ever, earn or deserve. I am human, full of selfishness, I don’t deserve anything, but God chooses to give me more than I deserve, He chooses to give me Himself, a relationship with Him. A journey together through the good and the bad. He has given me an adventure to go on, and a story to tell. Praise God!! My story is to reflect His glory. He gives this blessing to all of His people, but you need to reach out to Him and take what He offers, die to your own self-centeredness, and chose to go on this journey with Him. Your journey will not look like my journey, each person’s is unique like they are. You probably don’t struggle with exactly what I do, you might need healing in other areas and in different ways. Trust God that He knows you and knows what to do. It may not look like what you want, but that is ok, because God knows best. He sees the big picture, we only see our little piece, He is the artist and we can trust Him.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NLT) Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. Continue reading “Glimpses of Healing”

Sorrow And Joy – Close Relatives

I was thinking the other day  about sorrow and joy, can they coexist?

This question bombarded me when I was in a state of intense sadness. I was in a place of feeling like a failure in everything that I did. I felt like a useless wife, a failure of a mom, a neglectful daughter, and an uninvolved friend. I seemed to be tired all the time, I had no energy to take care of me, never mind taking care of anyone else, and yet I had all these demands on me from external sources, all these things I needed to do, but had absolutely no energy or desire to do so. I just wanted to sit in a puddle and feel sorry for myself.

I have been sick for a while, with no diagnosis, been on so many medications, so many trips to emergency, and every time sent home or took pills with no improvement or answers. I was overwhelmed with hopelessness. I felt out of control, I still feel this way health-wise. Doctors can’t seem to tell me why I have these severe asthma type symptoms, when I don’t have asthma. I have had this for a few years already, but this year has been worse. I have to take prednisone often as well as three inhalers, just to be able to breathe easier. It doesn’t work completely either. I have been on so many antibiotics since the end of  October 2016 (it is now end of May 2017) I have had a few bouts of pneumonia. I have been on an anti seizure medication since late 2012 (I had 2 seizures in November 2012 in my sleep, never any other time), doctors can’t tell me why I have had night-time seizures, just that I have had them and that I need to stay on Lamotrigine for the rest of my life, “because it doesn’t hurt me to stay on them”, just in case. I am experiencing pain and swelling in my right knee and lower back, so that along with asthma limits my ability to be active. I have been overweight for most of my adult life, and I have tried many things to lose that weight, but results have been minimal, and I give up. I am sorry for whining, there are so many who have it so much worse than me and I know it, in this head space all of this looks daunting.

I feel like I am stuck in a rut of physical, emotional and even spiritual pain. I feel like I am on the verge of tears at any moment. My house is a disaster, it reflects how I feel, and like I said before I have no energy or desire to clean and organize beyond the very basics. I do the least amount of work that I can get away with. Unfortunately this reflects in the rest of the family that live with me. I am one of those people who cleans like mad when someone comes over and freaks out if someone comes over unannounced. Usually I go hide, so that I don’t face the judgement I feel, whether real or imagined. I don’t do anything creative right now even though I know that feeds me, because I feel like I need the house to be in order before I can do the things I enjoy, so I sit on my phone or computer, looking at Facebook and reading about others achievements or their seemingly perfect lives. I quite often lie on Facebook, by only sharing the good things and hiding the crappy stuff. I don’t want judgement, or pity, I don’t want to embarrass my family and so I stay silent, I stuff the emotions inside of me, and only cry out in private. This is so hard to write. I feel like a failure and feel like I have done it to myself and deserve it. When I pull myself to the surface of this ocean of sorrow or self-pity, I look at my mess, feel overwhelmed and sink back into again. I am even having a hard time crying out to God, I feel unworthy of His attention, I feel like He looks at me, and shakes His head, agreeing with my feelings of failure. I do not sit at His feet often and then get even further stuck in this place of sorrow.

The other day, maybe a month ago, I was sitting on my front porch, crying. Not exactly sure why I felt so overwhelmed. I felt like I was wrong in so many ways, I have let myself be made into people’s emotional punching bags. I have allowed people to treat me disrespectfully most of my life, afraid of rejection, afraid of conflict. I have lived so long with this, I can’t remember a time where I didn’t, whether that was with the kids at school (kindergarten and up), friends, family, and others who just need a place to lash out at. I have allowed it, I have sucked it up, believing that is easier than the fight that standing up for myself would take. I have not allowed very many people into this intimate space of seeing how very messed up I feel, I am so scared of what people will think of me, I am afraid of the judgement, of someone agreeing with me that I am a failure, and so I stay silent. I stay hidden. God knows even more than I do what is going on in my head and my soul. He sees all the damage that I have done to the core of me, and to the relationships with those around me. He sees the mess that I am.

During this time on my front porch crying, I questioned God, when will I feel the joy that I have experienced before? Why could I not just get over these negative emotions, why could I not just forgive and move on, why could I not stick up for myself, and demand better from those around me, why could I not be positive and see the good things I had, the good in me and the good in others around me. I begged to be rescued from my rut of sorrow, and find my joy again. He whispered that I could, that it wasn’t far from me, that joy and sorrow are close relatives. Both are heightened emotions and are often on the heels of the other one. He whispered that I could feel joy even when I felt sorrow. He reminded me that He was the source of all joy, of my joy. Joy was right beside me and living within me, I just needed to be overwhelmed by His presence. At that moment I felt a glimpse of it, and then it shut down. I know now that it is there, I know who to turn to for it. I know that when I reach out for it, the floodgates will open, and I know that the joy will be overwhelming. God showed me that joy can be found even in my ruts, and my sadness. I can’t make this joy on my own, it is an impossible, unexplainable thing, it doesn’t make sense, and so right now while I am feeling raw, I have put a damper on it, the intensity scares me. I am slowly opening up the dam to this feeling. Within this joy is an all-encompassing love, I feel the intensity of it, even as I am only allowing a little in at a time. It is so intense it almost burns. I know I need to open these floodgates and allow this searing love to cauterize the leaking, oozing, life draining wounds that I have. I know I need God to sweep out the cobwebs of lethargy and voices of self loathing. I know that I won’t heal until I allow God to start my healing from the inside of me. He is willing, He even wants to do that for me. I am grateful and a little terrified of what He may need to pull out of me, of what He needs to help me face. Do I trust Him, I try to and yes is my answer. It is hard sometimes, and yet I have known His trustworthiness before. I think it is more about not trusting myself, or that God might not trust me. He doesn’t need to trust me, only He is trustworthy enough to be that for the both of us. I need to trust Him, I need to move where He moves, go where He wants me to go, and face with Him beside me that things that He needs me to face, even if it means encountering conflict or looking at the tough stuff that I have stuffed deep inside me from past pain. Even if He wants me to stand up for myself, He has never wanted me to be a doormat, He didn’t create me to be timid, He wants to give me courage and fearlessness, because nothing should make me scared when God is with me. He wants to do this with me so He can draw me closer, so that I can see His greatness, to feel His searing love and feel not pain, but joy in it, no matter what. He wants to do this so that my worship of Him becomes more than rote, because honestly that is how it has been lately. He wants my worship of Him to become an integral part of me, that it is not based on my emotions, but an overwhelming attitude of gratefulness.

So the answer to my question “Can joy and sorrow coexist?” I believe that God answered that with a resounding yes. I have experienced it before, I felt His peace in the most horrible time in my life, the death of my daughter Taylor. Within this horrifying, life altering experience, there was a calmness, a peace. Within that peace was the unexplainable joy of the Lord. That does not nessisarily mean laughing, although it can be, or silliness, or happiness. God Joy is different, it is a sense of gratefulness when things feel so wrong, a sense of unexplainable peace even during unbearable sorrow, it is the ability to trust even in a place of terrible trials and your whole life being turned upside down and inside out, and in the intimidating unknown. So yes, even I can say yes, these seemingly polar opposite emotions can coexist, the joy feels richer and more real within sorrow and uncertainty. I think it is because it feels like the impossible is happening. It is, because with God nothing is impossible, you can not feel the joy in the sorrow without Him, therein lies the impossibility. It is impossible to live within these two powerful emotions at the same time without God’s strength and glory residing within you. This can not happen within our own human strength, it is impossible, we will never be strong enough to achieve this impossible feat on our own, it is humanly impossible, and nobody can give it to you either, only God.

So I am on a journey, a journey of health and healing, in my emotion self, my physical self and my spiritual self. I can’t wait to see what God will do with me. Am I scared of it? Absolutely! Am I excited? Not sure?? Am I willing, yes, God help me with this willingness, increase my faith. I think that this is the point, I think I am on a faith journey. To find the faith that is lacking in me. I need fresh faith in Him, in His ability to heal all of me in the way that He sees fit. This life is not about me, but about Him, it has always been that way from the beginning of time, I just rarely choose to see it.

If you are willing, I would like to share some of what I will be going through with you. I need people to be witnesses of God’s goodness, and as an accountability to those who would choose to walk with me in this, those who would be encouragers, those who would remind me of who God is, and His greatness, and turn my head to see Him, when I look away. Because I am human, I need others to hold me accountable for my weaknesses and the falls that will happen because of humanity. This is my desire and the reason that I am willing to let you see underneath the surface of the facade that I have carefully crafted over years of hiding myself, the real me. I no longer want this handmade, horrifically beautiful, carefully crafted mask. As God slowly removes it and reveals who I really am, I hope I am worthy of His love and the work He will do in me. I praise God for His yes, for His “I am willing”, and His message of “I have created you and because of that you are you worth it”. In turn I would like to be for you a witness of God’s greatness in your life, I would like to help you to see Him when you lose heart, and I would feel honored to be allowed to encourage and cheer you on in your journey. I am excited to get to know you as you let me. God is good, all the time.

Feel free to comment, to let me into your story so that we can journey together toward real and lasting healing and wholeness. I think that God will bring me on a journey toward physical heath, mental health and especially spiritual health. The spiritual part of me is the part that gets to live forever with Him. I would love to be able to journey alongside others who are willing to let God bring them on a journey of complete health, complete wholeness.

I will not allow comments designed to intentionally hurt here, or be criticizing without being constructive as well, there is no healing or value in unconstructive criticism. Criticism said in love and a desire to be helpful, is welcomed, but comments that are hurtful just to be hurtful are unwelcome and will be removed. I want this to be a safe community for people who are on a journey of healing with their Creator, with their Abba Father and with His Son, the rescuer of their soul, and for those who desire to listen to the whispers of His Holy Spirit.

Holiness and Wholeness

What does it mean to be holy? We as Christians are called to be holy, but as I understand this word, it is an impossible task.

Holy – to be consecrated, set apart, devout, pure, dedicated to the service of the Lord.

As a church we are reading through Exodus through Lent. Lent is a practice that asks you to give something up for a set period of time, so that you can use that craving to remember to turn to God for the satisfaction that whatever you gave up caused. As a church we have not done this before. We are also cooperately reading a chapter of Exodus daily. It has been an interesting few weeks so far. Exodus is the story of the journey of the Israelites from slaves to freedom. God shows His incredible power in the rescuing of His chosen people. He is undeniable. He shows up in incredible, fear inspiring ways. God proves His love and the lengths that He will go to rescue them. From the plagues, to parting the Red Sea. God destroys the people who enslaved them. God brings them through the waters of the Red Sea to freedom. It is like He passes them through the water to wash the grime of slavery off of them consecrating them, setting them apart for Himself. He calls them to be a holy people.

Many times the people of Israel disappoint God. I wonder why? Didn’t they just see God, His power, and His great love? Early on they felt the need to build themselves an idol out of gold to worship. What?? Didn’t they already have The One who is worthy of all worship and devotion? How were they so easily fooled that they needed something else? Moses, God’s appointed leader was in communion with God up on a mountain, and was unaware of what was going on at the foot of the mountain. God wanted to destroy them, but heeded Moses’ pleas to save the people of Isreal. God had mercy. As I have read through these chapters, I have had a few revelations that might explain the people’s actions. In Egypt they didn’t worship only one god, they has many god’s, depending on the season, or the desire or need that they had. The Israelites had been slaves for 400 years, they had many generations of God’s silence. So as will happen, the people got used to the Egyptian’s polytheism practices. There are over 2000 names of Egyptian gods, each with rituals, altars and idols. This is what the Israelites knew. The ones who had been in intimate relationship with God had  died long ago, and even though they had been told all the stories of God and they kept a belief that He was real, they watched what the Egyptians did. I am sure it made their lives easier to just go along with the “status quo”. So when we look at the folly of the people of God, we need to keep this in mind. Building an idol was normal, it is what you did to worship a god in their experience. It wasn’t an excuse though. God was bigger than anything that the Eygyptians worshipped. The plagues were meant to show that to His people. It was meant to show them that there was nothing that could even come close to His greatness, His holiness. And yet it seemed that without Moses they forgot that. Maybe they just didn’t understand, the one who spoke to them for God had been away for a long time, and they needed to reassure themselves that they had followed The God of everything. Maybe they thought that God would like the sacrifices and rituals that they would do for Him. They were dead wrong. God did not want to be treated as the other “gods” were treated. That would be too casual a worship for Him. He was worthy of all worship and so much more. He deserved their lives, all of it. Moses knew this and it often infuriated him to see God’s people so callous, so indifferent, so winey.

Are we any different? Don’t we set up other things as our “god’s”? Don’t we have other things that take our attention away from the only one that our heart should be set on. This is what Lent is all about. It is about discovering what we hold above God and giving that up. This causes us to remember God in our need and in our desires. It is hard to do. I have given up “free time” “”alone time”, I haven’t been very good at it though. I often find myself distracted by the things I am trying to give up, games on my phone, books that are just fluff, fun to read, but not much more, useless tv shows, social media. I don’t even notice sometimes that I am doing what I wanted to give up. I kick myself often. As I am reading Exodus while doing Lent, I can understand a bit more of what the Israelites are going through. They are just acting “normal”, they are doing what they had always done.

God came to rescue His people from their “normal”. He knew that their lives were meaningless without Him. God knew the absolute truth, He saw their brokeness, He saw the callous that had grown over their hearts, He saw their empty lives and set out to make them whole and holy again. His intent was to heal His people.

God still does this, He still wades in and rescues us from our “normal” no matter how messed up that “normal” is. Each of us has our own “normal”, a place that feels hard to change. God is in the business of rescue and healing. He is set on making you whole and holy, He is set on making you His. How great is that? He knows you and wants to set you apart for Himself. He wants you to be His child, He wants to care for you like only He can.

Later on in Exodus, God gives instructions for holy days and festivals that they were meant to celebrate, these were all about remembering who God is and what He did for them. He also asks Moses to build His house, His tabernacle, a place where His people could come together and worship Him. The instructions that God gives Moses on the details of structure of the tent, the altar, the implements, the robes of the priests are incredibly detailed and precise. Everything is grandeous. The craftsmanship that is required is so overwhelming. I think that is the point, it is so wonderful because God is even more wonderful. God wanted to show His people in a way that they understood, just how Great, Awesome, Powerful and Worthy of their lives and their worship He was. With so much precision and luxury they couldn’t deny the Greatness of God. In their minds if He demanded so much He deserved that much.

As I read these chapters this time, it made me awestruck. I didn’t see it as some chapters with useless details. God is showing us through this just how holy and set apart He is. He is showing us that there is no one greater or worthy of more worship. He is reminding us of who He is. He is the Great I Am, The Creator, The Alpha and Omega, and so much more than words can describe. Through Jesus He has rescued us from ritual, Jesus became the sacrifice that met all of God’s requirements. Through Jesus we become holy. There is no other way that it is possible. It is not humanly possible. We can not make ourselves holy. We are not holy on our own. Our humanity and selfishness prevents that. We need Jesus’ atoning blood and sacrifice to gain holiness. Without it we are broken, bewildered and lost.

God wants His children to be set apart, He desires our holiness, this is why He sent Jesus to pay for our humanness, our selfish and sinful ways. He needs us to be holy to be able to have a relationship with us. God knows that this is not possible on our own. He knew the sacrifice that was required and in His grace and mercy provided it through His Son. Thankfully Jesus agreed and was willing and paid the price to give us the ability to gain holiness through Him. Jesus gives us His holiness, through the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus makes us right with God. Jesus is the only way, He is the only truth, and the only life that leads to God, His Father. When we believe in Jesus we gain the title, Child of God. Jesus gives us His holiness and His wholeness. Both are free for the taking. Belief is the cost. If you do not believe why would you want it? how would you know about them? Without belief you will not gain holiness and you will remain broken. There is no other way, believe me I have tried, everything else is empty, hollow, bitterness, pain, and meaningless. It may feel good and right for a while, but eventually it lets you down. If you are really honest with yourself you know this.

Jesus offers wholeness and holiness, will you take it?

Raku

My favorite way to fire my Broken Clay jewelry is called Raku. Raku is an ancient, Japanese, way of firing, we have changed it a bit here in North America over the centuries. It’s results are unpredictable, and they are far more immediate than a regular firing done in my electric kiln. You can get some exceptionally, wildly beautiful pieces, and you can get what I call burnt cookies. It is worth it to me even if I get a couple of pieces of the wildly beautiful ones. There are many factors that lend themselves to the final results. It depends on the type of clay, the glaze used, the temperature, the reduction of oxygen environment, the fire that envelopes the piece, and probably more variables that I am not aware of. I can do exactly the same process each time and every time there is always a different result. I am new to this type of firing, so maybe I will be able to repeat the results that I want over and over again, eventually. I don’t fire this way often but when I plan to raku again I can’t wait to see what will happen, since it is so unpredictable, so raw and wild.

Raku is a fast firing, using a tiger torch. My raku kiln is a wire mesh barrel lined inside with a fire blanket. There is a hole cut into the bottom of the kiln, where the tiger torch goes. I load my glazed pieces on an expanded stainless steel tray, place them in the kiln, and then light the torch and fire to 1860 F. It is at this point that the glaze melts and bonds with the piece. Within a couple of minutes, my husband and I will open the kiln and take out the trays of red-hot jewelry and place them into a container prepared with sand and either paper or sawdust. When the sawdust or paper ignites, we place a lid on top and seal it so that the air is used up by the fire, this is what is called a reduction firing. After the jewelry have been covered for a few minutes, we remove the trays and dunk the pieces into cold water to set the color. When I take the pieces out of the water I get to see the color of my jewelry. This whole process is exciting, a little dangerous, and I love that I have to fire outdoors. There is a sense of freedom in this. In a way I feel like it is God and I together working on the jewelry. I do as much as I can, and He takes care of the wild, raw and chaotic part of it.

It is funny how often what I see is burnt cookies, others see them as unique and beautiful. My husband has to remind me that even if I don’t appreciate the pieces someone else will. They have a beauty all their own.

 

Hidden

What does it mean to be hidden in Christ?

Lately the word hidden repeats over and over in my head as I think about what He wants me to write. I am not really sure where God wants me to take this.

There are a few verses in the Psalms that talk about hiding in God. There is also a verse in Matthew that talks about God’s hidden treasure.

Psalms 31:1-5 (MSG) A David Psalm                                                                                                      31 1-2 I run to you, God; I run for dear life.                                                                                      Don’t let me down!                                                                                                                                  Take me seriously this time!                                                                                                                  Get down on my level and listen,                                                                                                          and please—no procrastination!                                                                                                        Your granite cave a hiding place,                                                                                                         your high cliff aerie a place of safety.                                                                                                     3-5 You’re my cave to hide in,                                                                                                                  my cliff to climb.                                                                                                                                          Be my safe leader,                                                                                                                                          be my true mountain guide.                                                                                                                     Free me from hidden traps;                                                                                                                          I want to hide in you.                                                                                                                               I’ve put my life in your hands.                                                                                                              You won’t drop me, you’ll never let me down.

In these verses it talks about a time in the author’s life, where he feels like he is in trouble and needs God’s help. He runs to the safety of God. David the author of this Psalm had many experiences of danger in his life, he through these times  experienced God’s love, protection and dependability. David had been hunted by his enemies, and always God came through for him. I love how David lays everything out for us to read. We see his fear, his sorrow, his depression, and his joy and celebration. This gives me the ability to breathe and not keep all my emotions bottled up. Emotions can be expressed, and God listens. He won’t reject you or strike you down if you have questions for Him to answer. He may call you to the carpet and give you a piece of His mind. He will show you His authority, but God is big enough for our questions and our emotions. God is the one who we should bring them to. He will give us honest answers and the strength to control raw emotions. It is ok to express your emotions, but they need to be under control or you will do damage to someone else.

David knows where his safety lies. He knows who is aware of everything and loves him completely. David knows that there is no better one to hide in than God. David knows that God’s power and love will envelope him and provide solace and protection. David, in these verses doesn’t just go to God, He runs!!, he runs for his life. David hides himself within God. His relationship with God is strong, it is intimate, it is one that grew out of time and experience. David, throughout his life had many times where he NEEDED God, where nothing and no one else was big enough to save him, only God. God was the one to grow this relationship, by being the one who is completely dependable and trustworthy, by being The Author and Creator of love. All David was responsible for in the relationship was belief, trust in God.

Psalms 91:1-3 (MSG) 1-13 You who sit down in the High God’s presence,

    spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow,

Say this: “God, you’re my refuge.

    I trust in you and I’m safe!”

That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps,

    shields you from deadly hazards.

His huge outstretched arms protect you—

    under them you’re perfectly safe;

    his arms fend off all harm.

Fear nothing—

These verses again talk about hiding in God. Here, though, we see hiding as sitting in God’s presence, resting in His shadow, taking refuge in Him. It sounds like a place of peace. It says fear nothing! In the bible it says that perfect love chases out all fear. To be hidden in God, is to be in a place where there is no fear. You don’t have to hide from scary stuff, when you are hidden in God, you can face what ever life throws at you. To be hidden in God is a space in your soul where you commune with the Holy Spirit, you allow intimate conversation with your Maker, where He reassures you, where you have incredible, very real peace like no other you experience outside of God. Complete trust creates complete peace. Hiding in God is where your relationship with God grows and thrives. It is a place of knowing God, increasing in knowledge of God’s love and care. You discover who He is, and then who you are to Him. You will be amazed at His thoughts towards you. LOVE, LOVE and MORE LOVE!!!

When a person lives within this love and peace, they create a place of safety around them, a place of peace. They are not afraid and that exudes out of their being, because God has so filled them with his peace, His love, of Himself and that transfers to the space around them. I have lived there occasionally, it is a beautiful place, almost too much. If you think there is any beauty in this life, it all pales in comparison to a life hidden in God. It is a place ripe with grace and mercy, soothing to the soul. It is a place of abundant joy, no matter what you are facing.

To be hidden in God is not about hiding from the world, hiding under the bed or behind locked doors. Hiding in God is about placing your life in God’s capable hands, trusting that He has got you, that He is always with you. To be hidden in God can mean bravery, courage to face the world. When you live hidden in God you can do the things He asks you to do, even if you are afraid. Courage is not doing something the world judges as “brave”, unafraid. Real courage is doing something even when you are shaking in your boots, doing something afraid. This is something that I experience when I go and do whatever God wants me to do. Naturally I am a fearful person, I am usually afraid when I try to do something in my own strength. Often what God wants me to do is to open up my life, being vulnerable and exposing my story, allowing others to judge me, to see if I am worthy. I have learned to take that need, to be worthy, to God, He satisfies that for me. He tells me that He found me worthy of: being created, of a relationship with Him, and the death and resurrection of His Son. So to God I am worthy, so what can someone else say that is more truth than God’s truth. Nothing!! Anyone who says contrary to what God says is lying!! I know the truth, and I am learning to accept it, and allowing it wash over me, washing the grime of the world’s opinions off of me. Praise God! This is why I love my Maker, He loves me, and has rescued me from myself.

It is good to hide away with God in seclusion for a time, but we cannot remain there forever, God wants us to touch others who need to know God, and need to be shown what a life lived within God looks like.

Matthew 13:44-46 (MSG)  44 “God’s kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field for years and then accidentally found by a trespasser. The finder is ecstatic—what a find!—and proceeds to sell everything he owns to raise money and buy that field. 45-46 “Or, God’s kingdom is like a jewel merchant on the hunt for excellent pearls. Finding one that is flawless, he immediately sells everything and buys it.

This life lived hidden, and the message of Jesus’s sacrifice and overwhelming love is TREASURE! It is worth everything! There is nothing that even compares to the love, joy and peace, found within God’s wings, within His love and protection.

I have not done this subject justice! It is a hard concept to explain. You know it when you live it, otherwise words do not express it clearly enough. There are no words in our vocabulary that explain it to the full extent. Everything in me hopes that these words that I have said cause you to take a chance and run to God for dear life, and learn to live a life hidden in God. You are His beloved. Go!!

Warrior God

​Today, I was reminded about who God is, He is good, He is love and He is a Warrior, fighting for those who love Him and have placed their lives in His hands. He is not aloof, He is intimate. He is not weak because He is love, He is strong and fights for us because of the strength of His love. He is shining glory. Right now we are in the midst of the Christmas season, only a few days from Christmas. As I look around there are many lights, lots of sparkle, but none of it compares to the brightness of God’s glory. God has asked me to write about His goodness towards us and His beautiful glory, I am amazed to see  what God can do with someone who is broken, me. I wanted to share some of what God has taught me through my life and reminded me about today. It is long, be warned. 🙂 Be blessed

Exodus 15:1-6 &  (MSG)

      I’m singing my heart out to God—what a victory!  He pitched horse and rider into the sea.God is my strength, God is my song, and, yes! God is my salvation. This is the kind of God I have and I’m telling the world! This is the God of my father— I’m spreading the news far and wide! God is a fighter, pure God, through and through. Pharaoh’s chariots and army  he dumped in the sea, The elite of his officers he drowned in the Red Sea. Wild ocean waters poured over them; they sank like a rock in the deep blue sea. Your strong right hand, God, shimmers with power; your strong right hand shatters the enemy. In your mighty majesty you smash your upstart enemies, You let loose your hot anger and burn them to a crisp.  You stretched out your right hand and the Earth swallowed them up. But the people you redeemed, you led in merciful love; You guided them under your protection to your holy pasture.

I love the words used to describe God in these verses, God is a fighter, pure God through and through, your strong right hand God shimmers with power. I can just imagine God fighting, and His power shimmering through His purity. God is more wonderful than our imagination can come up with. I love the word used to describe His power, shimmering. That makes me smile, what an artist.
Some of the synonyms that I have found for shimmer are coruscate, flame, and scintillate. Coruscate means to give off or reflect light in bright beams or flashes, and/or to be brilliant or showy in technique or style. Scintillate means to emit sparks, to emit quick flashes as if throwing off sparks. Flame means exactly what it says, firey flame, however it also means to feel or express strong, passionate, and/ or angry emotion. It also means to shine brightly.

All of those definitions give us a glimpse into God’s mighty power, that which He uses to rescue us. Shimmering need not mean something weak and fluffy, like glitter. It is also a powerful word meaning light, brilliance in technique, strong passionate emotions, it means to shine brightly. This is what our Knight looks like. He is our Knight in shining armor, riding the white horse of purity. What a picture. We need to bring this to the forefront of our memories when we are in need of rescuing.

Exodus 23:22 (MSG)

But if you obey him and do everything I tell you, I’ll be an enemy to your enemies, I’ll fight those who fight you

We are not supposed to be these weak, frail, cowardly, faint at everything women, waiting till someone does everything for us. There are things that we must do ourselves. We are told to obey God and do what He tells you to do. He will fight for us, but we need to do our part. Often the things God tells us to do takes great courage and faith. When we step out of our “safe” “protective” shells (a false sense of security), often we do this with trembling hearts. When we step out and show that we will risk ourselves to do as God wills, He shows up in great shimmering power. When this happens we realize, the safety that we thought we had, was not real, actually it was so far from safe it is ridiculous. It is in our risk and God’s power that we are truly rescued. God never promised safety, He promised love, beauty, blessings, and a place we can run to for shelter from the storms of life, and enemy attacks. This place is within God’s heart, His loving arms, and in His strength.

This sounds wrong, doesn’t being a Christian mean you are safe. Yes in the sense of eternal life after death. We are guaranteed safety knowing that because we have loved God in life, that we will be given eternal life with God, whom we have loved in our earthly life. We are safe in the knowing that God’s love will never fail us. There are many of God’s children that never knew safety beyond God’s love. Sometimes their only hope was that God had not abandoned them, that He was fighting right alongside them, that His purposes were much greater than a comfortable, safe, boring life. If there is no risk, there is no need of God and His strength. Without struggle, hate, and enemies there is nothing for us to compare to God’s unbelieveable love and promises. Without struggle we would never know what it means to be resting in the love of God, never having to strive to please Him. Without hate, we would not understand or feel love. Without enemies, we wouldn’t understand and cherish friendships. There are lessons to be learned even in pain and brokenness, but we were never meant to go through them alone. We are never alone when we are God’s. Praise God.

Beauty In The Broken

Broken, I have felt broken.

Broken Clay is who I was. I am now a mosaic of beauty. God has made my brokenness beautiful. He continually places the pieces of my life into a beautiful picture. He is making art from my life. He is allowing this art that He is making to impact others. He is using the brokenness in my life to change people, to help others who are broken like I was to see what He can do. They can see within the picture of my life what glory God imparts to someone who is willing to allow Him to have the pieces of their lives, the good and the bad, to work with.

God has had a lot of brokenness to work with in me. My story shows the artistry of God. It proves that He is The Master of creativity and art. I see it so well within my life and maybe it strikes me so deeply because art is a language that I speak. I believe that God gave me that language first, that art is my first language. It is the one that I speak most clearly in the presence of God. God knows that I hear best when He shows me pictures of His love for me and His love for others. He knows that I hear the best when He sings over me words of encouragement, words of strength, words of redemption and grace. I feel His grace within the touch of His hands shaping this clay vessel. I feel in His hands the joy that He takes in His creation. I am stunned that this Almighty being, The Alpha and The Omega, he Beginning and The End, takes delight in me, a flawed and broken woman. I am overwhelmed by the careful care and concern that He has for me. I turned away from Him more than once in my life to follow my own pursuits, ones that I knew were wrong, and found that when I realized that those ways led to a dead and empty end, He was always there waiting for me. He followed me through hell and back. Yet He still pursued me, He still loved me no matter what. He could have just let me go, abandoned me, and He has every right to do that, but He is merciful. He knew that I would encounter emptiness without Him, that life without Him has no real color. God’s color is incredibly vibrant and alive. Every other color, everything in life without God also paints a picture and that picture and the colors within it are pale, dull and lifeless. Just a form of black and white, artificial color, artificial joy, artificial love.

I know a lot of people who would argue the statement above, but those people have not tasted and seen that God is GOOD. They think that they have felt true love, true joy and true color, but if all they have to compare those to are dull and lifeless, then I can see why. I used to live with color blinders on, and so I based my opinions on what I knew, what I saw. What I saw as beautiful and desirable then, I see as worthless, lifeless, and draining now. I used to think that partying with friends was fun, that drugs were exciting, that drinking just enhanced the fun, but now, I know the truth, it was just a way to disguise the truth. The truth that life lived apart from God is empty.

All addiction comes from trying to do life without God, trying to hide from God and from the pain experienced in the emptiness. Your soul desires God, you were made for the sole purpose of being in relationship with God. Your soul was made to be able to be filled up with the glory and love of God. Anything else that you try to stuff in there other than God creates a sickness, a desperation, a need that can never be quenched. And so you end up chasing emptiness. Life becomes dull and lifeless, eventually, this thing that we are chasing starts running our lives and it feels like an endless ache. The only cure is the filling of that hollow, always empty space called your soul with The One who created you, The Most Holy of Holies, The God of the heavenly armies. You were created by Him for Him. There are those who would argue that this belief that I have is a fairy tale. What you don’t understand is that I also at one time used to believe that too. I chased after all the emptiness of life too. I practiced new age religion, I denied the validity of a Supernatural God, I lived life for myself, trying desperately to fill my soul up with whatever I could find, and it all ended up to be emptiness, dull and lifeless. And if you are honest, you will admit that too. You know that there has to be more to life than to live it selfishly, always hungering for something more, never completely satisfied. Addiction feels that way. We  were meant to be addicted to God, that is the healthy way to live, but if He is not your addiction, if it is anything else, it will always feel empty, eventually it catches up with you. It will feel exciting to begin with, but it will never satisfy you completely and always. It doesn’t last, you will always seek out more, expect more, need more.

Addiction can also be in relationships with significant others in your life. If you have a marriage, or children or other family or friends in your life, they can’t meet all your needs, and people fail. We as human beings are not perfect, we never will be. We fail, we can not always meet someones expectations of us, and so we let them down, and they let us down as well. If we chase after love in another person, it will never fill us completely, in the beginning it will feel like it does, but we eventually discover that relationships aren’t always butterflies and sunshine. There are times of pain and hurt as well, even in the healthiest relationships. Anyone who tells you something different is not being completely honest. Relationships are messy. Love is messy.

Cam and I’s story is messy, it has incredible joy, and it also has incredible darkness. I am in love with a good man, one who loves me and tries to put me and our daughters before himself, he is not always successful, but he tries and that is a gift in itself. He is in love with a good woman, but I can not be everything to him either. I am a flawed woman, I do not always act or love perfectly, only God has the ability to live that way. Human nature is a broken thing. I love Cam in spite of his brokenness, God has given me the ability to do this, and God in His mercy has allowed Cam to do the same for me. I bring my own mess into our relationship. I am not and have not always been a good wife or a good mom, and my daughters have not always been good either. However even in spite of the mess, the relationships are worth it. I am grateful for each one of my family members. We do not always see eye to eye, but our hearts are connected by the bond of love.

My church is going through a series called “The Art of Relationships”. This series speaks to my soul in ways that only God knows how to speak to me. It speaks of creativity as a good thing, as a hard thing. They are speaking about some of the proverbs of the Bible. Proverbs was written by King Solomon, know as the wisest king of the Bible. Every week they interview an artist in the church, highlighting a theme in their life, I was chosen for one of the videos (wow, I was honored! Only because of God was this possible for many reasons) The topic of study for that week was loyalty. Loyalty in relationships. My story focused on the loyalty that I chose in spite of the pain I was feeling. I was betrayed in the most important relationship in my life after my relationship with God. I spoke about a hard place that our marriage went through, and God’s grace within that pain.

Hopefully this link works to the video that they filmed.

Addiction comes in many forms, in this case it was in the form of pornography. It is a cheating in the mind and heart. It is an addiction to the fantasy life. It is a destroyer of intimacy within a real relationship. Fantasy love always feels better than reality. Reality is messy and painful at times, a fantasy life feels good all the time, because if it doesn’t you can just change the story or “change the channel”. You escape reality. Addiction is always about covering up or hiding from what is really going on. For me overeating is my addiction. Often I choose to eat, not because I am hungry, but because I am hurt, and I need comfort, or I am bored, and for some reason I think that eating chips or chocolate will satisfy that pain or boredom (I am shaking my head as I write this). I know this will never satisfy, but I try anyway. Going to anything else but God for those things end up empty, you will need more, because it is only God who can fill up that emptiness, who can comfort, who can heal.

Luckily within our story God had already helped me see His opinion of me, He had already given me the name Beautiful, and so I knew that Cam wasn’t trustworthy in that regard. His addiction destroyed any thought that I had that I was beautiful in his eyes. I knew that I could never measure up to the images that he looked at, the images that he sought out. Only listening to God’s opinion of me healed the pain that Cam’s addiction caused me.

Only God could give me the strength to pursue a relationship with Cam, God’s opinion mattered not Cam’s. Cam never said that I wasn’t beautiful, but his actions said that to me. I now know that it is not about the look of the beautiful woman, but about the intimacy, the always being wanted, the fantasy. God gave me the ability to see Cam within his addiction. God showed me that he was stuck. God showed me through a picture He painted of a stuck hurting little boy. This is what I saw instead of someone choosing to go to the images just because of his own selfishness. I saw it as a kind of prison, more like a tar pit that he couldn’t get out of. It was hurting him, slowly suffocating out his joy, his reality, his life. He felt like he had to go into his fantasy life to escape his reality. It was robbing us of Cam, our family suffered because of his addiction, and yet God gave me the strength to get into the mess of Cam’s addiction with him, God used me to help Him rescue Cam. I didn’t ignore what was going on, I was a bulldog and would confront him, even though I was worried that he would not see me as enough or worth it. God said I was worth it, and so I chose to believe God and not myself, not the world’s opinion. Because of this I continued to live in a messy relationship and not give up. I chose to be loyal in spite of his choice to not be loyal to me in his mind or in his heart. I persevered and because of God and His ability to lend me His strength, I was able to walk with Cam through the mess of addiction.

Cam has been free of the strong bonds of a pornography addiction for more than 10 years now. Cam knows that like any addiction, it would not be hard to fall into it again, but He relies on God to give him the strength to continue to resist the pull. Cam has learned that the only addiction that is good, is the addiction to God’s love and grace. He has tasted God’s love and grace and knows true forgiveness and chooses to daily renew that bond with God. So my job in this part of our relationship is to encourage, to remind Cam of God’s love, to create a stumbling block in the face of his addiction, to point him to God when he is struggling with the temptation, but I count it a joy that we are past the desperate addiction.

God has been good to us. Of course there are many other areas that we are still working on, but I don’t think that work within relationships ever ends, it just gets better as you work and persevere through the mess. We were made for relationships, first, and most importantly with God, and then with those God has placed you beside in this life. When we get that order right, it is easier to persevere through the good and the bad of life. A life lived with God is a much more beautiful and colorful life. I would have it no other way. I have experienced life without God and with God, and there is no comparison now that I look back. Life without God is empty selfishness, trying to get all you can out of that life. Life with God is living within incredible rainbow love, trying to love others like God does. Not for yourself, but because of the love of God. God fills up the empty space and we overflow love, we can’t contain it all, we just can’t, that is where the joy is found. It is within that love where we can find our joy, even when life is hard. This is where we find the beauty in the broken. Brokenness bound back together with the love of God is like gold holding together pieces of shattered clay. It is the mundane held together by light. This is where the glory is found, where God’s light shines through. This is real beauty. I praise God that He has chosen to make me beautiful and call me by that name! God chooses to carefully put my pieces together and make me even more beautiful because of His love. I have discover the beauty in my brokenness, and discovered the love of the incredible love of The Master Artist, The Creator of all we see and don’t see, and I am incredibly grateful that He sses me as worthy of His love. I am worthy only because He chooses to make me worthy. He wants to give that gift to anyone who wants it, to any who chose to follow Him and those who offer Him their brokenness to work with. He chooses to paint with your life, with your broken pieces. It is Good, for He is GOOD. You can trust Him in a world of untrustworthy people, He is the ONLY ONE who you can trust completely. Try it offer yourself to your Maker, you won’t regret it. I only regret the wasted years that I followed my own paths. However then I couldn’t see all the redemption that I have received because of the life I lived. God would not be able to use me like He can now. I have been in a lot of darkness, a lot of empty, hard places, and so I can empathize with those who still live there. I can reach out to those who are still stuck and that is because of where I was broken. God’s light can shine into those places because of those broken pieces. His light is the gold that holds my pieces together. Yay God!! His glory, shining, it is incredible, so colorful and dazzling bright. I am blessed because of it, and within it.

Kintsugi – Mended

Kintsugi (or kintsukuroi) is a Japanese method for repairing broken ceramics with a special lacquer mixed with gold, silver, or platinum. The philosophy behind the technique is to recognize the history of the object and to visibly incorporate the repair into the new piece instead of disguising it. The process usually results in something more beautiful than the original.kintsugi-4

Romans 8:29-30 (MSG) 29-30 God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.

God also makes what we think is broken or a mistake, beautiful. He takes what is broken in us, what we see as mistakes, as shameful, and as ugly, and gives it beauty and purpose. When we allow Him to mend it, to work His miracles and to use it, He uses it for showing off His glory. There are many things which I thought were ugly mars in my life, that made me feel broken and worthless. Most of my life I couldn’t see past the damage, and love myself in spite of it. I couldn’t see that I was lovable or worth loving. God, though, saw me and chose to love me, He thought I was lovable, He took all that I gave Him, every broken piece of me of my life and turned it all around, 180 degrees, and made those the things, ways that He could use to reach those who would have been hard to reach had I not had that brokenness. People open up a whole lot more when they find someone who gets it, gets them. People feel safe when opening up with someone who understands and so God reaches into them through our brokenness. God is amazing! He is a Kintsugi artist, working with real human brokenness. He repairs using His own glory, His light, His power. We shine because of it if we accept it.

We are mended as we let go and let God. Anger and bitterness at life and those circumstances or people, that hurt us, broke us, gave us pain becomes ugly and raw if left in need of repair. If we try to repair the damage on our own, it will emphasize the ugliness. The Kintsugi process was created because normally when someone tried to repair a precious piece of pottery it would always look worse, it was no longer precious, and often was discarded. Someone at sometime, saw the object they were repairing as valuable, worth saving and because of that wanted to enhance the beauty of the original unbroken piece. The gold in the cracks enhances the pottery. God’s power and glory shining through our cracks does the same thing to a greater level. He  enhances our beauty with His “gold”. When we crack through the stress of life or someone’s carelessness, count it as gold, learn to go to God with your pain quickly. Don’t allow yourself to stew in anger or bitterness, because then all you are is broken pieces. A mess scattered all over the floor.

When we are broken and scattered we leave shards all over the place that hurt others. Our tongues or words, our actions or our in actions, cause pain to others if we are not careful and done in anger or bitterness. They cause distance between us and others, they cause protective barriers to go up. There is never the freedom to be ourselves when someone is broken and like a thousand shards of glass, when they leave, ignore it or try to fix themselves. To fix yourself causes more damage to be done. You cannot do it on your own. I tried and I failed. My life is better because I gave up trying to fix it myself, and gave it all to God. When I let go of my pain, God set right out to mend me, mend my soul. I don’t know why II waited so long, but I am grateful that He saw that I was worth fixing. 🙂

Be careful of the broken places in your life, be careful to pick them all up and give them to God. Don’t throw them out, give them to The One who will put them back together, The One who will add His beauty to the broken pieces, The One who will shine His glory through you. We become Kintsugi as we allow God to pieces us back together. We become beautiful, and our brokenness becomes a beautiful story of God’s greatness.

 

kintsugi-2   

  “Mended”  by Matthew West                                                                                                              When you see broken beyond repair
I see healing beyond belief
When you see too far gone
I see one step away from home

How many times can one heart break?
It was never supposed to be this way
Look in the mirror, but you find someone you never thought you’d be

Oh, but I can still recognize
The one I love in your tear stained eyes
I know you might not see him now, so lift your eyes to me

(chorus) When you see broken beyond repair
I see healing beyond belief
When you see too far gone
I see one step away from home                                                                                                                     When you see nothing but damaged goods
I see something good in the making
I’m not finished yet
When you see wounded, I see mended

You see your worst mistake
But I see the price I paid
And there’s nothing you could ever do, to lose what grace has won

So hold on, it’s not the end
No, this is where love’s work begins
I’m making all things new
And I will make a miracle of you

I see my child, my beloved
The new creation you’re becoming
You see the scars from when you fell
But I see the stories they will tell

You see worthless, I see priceless
You see pain, but I see a purpose
You see unworthy, undeserving
But I see you through eyes of mercy

 

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!