I’m still here…

“The wind of the world will distract you from your purpose, but the wind of God will drive you towards your purpose.”   Sadie Robertson.

I’ve been absent from here for a couple months but if I am truly honest, I have been away for over a year now.

Where have I been?

I have only just recently realized that when this pandemic started I was called into the desert.

And I think I have been called long before that, but the circumstances of the world gave me no choice but to finally face myself and answer that call.

Some may get confused as to what being called into the desert looks like or means?

For me it means facing myself in the mirror…it means confronting things I have avoided for years…

It’s a place God has brought me to eliminate all other distractions, where He can work in me…teaching me some long overdue lessons.

I feel like this whole pandemic has been both difficult for me and fruitful….does that make sense?

God laid it out perfectly for me to understand though…

Growing pains happen…when we’re having the Sovreign reach down inside of us and work within us, it is not always easy to walk through…

When He is stretching us, challenging us to venture outside of our comfort zone, it is not easy what so ever…

…but it is necessary.

And by being obedient and trusting in His will for us, surrendering completely to this difficult process do we then reap the sweet harvest..the beautiful blessings!

So it’s been a bittersweet journey for me thus far…

The growing pains for me have been extremely hard…

But necessary!

One thing I have realized about myself and perhaps others can identify with this? But….

I AM MY OWN WORST ENEMY!

I am constantly getting in my own way, self sabotaging, and placing harsh, heavy expectations onto myself.

No one else has put any expectations on me, in fact my loved ones are incredibly supportive understanding…

But for some reason I apply a ton of pressure on myself…

Sometimes I get worked up, so emotional, tears flow, anxiety runs my mind crazy, and it’s during those moments the Father is trying to teach me the true meaning of Letting go and Letting Him just dwell within me, feel at peace, and to feel content with where I am at.

I have often found myself when talking to others saying…

“This pandemic has actually been good for me.”

To which I get mixed reactions to that statement.

Some inquire further to what I mean,to which I explain my journey and it is a fruitful conversation, and others have scoffed at me in disgust…saying…

…How can a pandemic be good to anyone!

I have learned with God’s help that in that moment it’s not about me or what I said…it’s about their pain, and I understand fully….this pandemic has been horrible on so many, and I recognize that.

Everyone has their own journey…

But for me, in the beginning, God knew where I was and what could happen to me and my mental health if He did not call me into the desert to grow…

He knew it was necessary…to keep me from circling the drain…which is a decision I have to make everyday when I wake up…and once in a while I give in, get in my own way, and I circle that drain…but thankfully even in those dark moments He meets me where I’m at and reaches down as pulls me out!

This past year has been a rollercoaster for me…

Alot of victory has been acheived, and I am not quiet about it and what God has done for and in me…

A friend once commented to to me that…

“You’ve got all your crap together.”

That comment just pierced me and left me upset…

I was speechless, felt like the wind was knocked out of me…and I felt the need to defend myself….

I mean, I have also been through hell this past year at the same time…growing pains can be painful…

But I chose to focus on the blessings, the victories, because if I did the latter…

I could start to circle the drain…and that is not what God wants for me or anyone…that isn’t how we thrive during a storm.

Micah Tyler said it best at the beginning intro to his song Different…

In talking about his hardships he has gone through, he found himself praying…

“Jesus can you change the things that are happening around me…”

But he soon realised Jesus wasn’t ready to change those things at that time…so maybe the prayer wasn’t…

Jesus can you change the things around us, BUT…

“Jesus can you change ME so I can handle the things that you are walking me through.”

And that has been exactly what the Father has been doing with me…

One thing remains…

It was just a regular day…another visit…it was time for me to leave, my eyes met her gaze, she smiled, I leaned in, my face now only inches away from hers so she could see me clearer as her eyesight was failing…

 “I love you…” I said.

Her body looked frail, tired, the dementia was taking its toll on her but her eyes were lit up…

 “I love you too sweetie, more than anything…” She replied as she reached for my face, pulled me in, kissed my cheek.

 As I walked home my heart ached as it always did, her mind was fading away so fast, each visit I feared she would not remember me, and there definitely were times she hesitated at the sight of my face, but even in those moments as she studied my face, wheels turning, her eyes would eventually light up, something within her knew I was familiar, I was safe…because one thing always remains…

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It’s been three months since I’ve last blogged…I have taken time to really focus on myself and my family. This year has definitely been a journey, more like a roller coaster! 

Alot of lessons to be learned, harvests to be reaped….

But for me I have discovered that this past year for myself had a theme…

God was teaching me how to love myself…

In the beginning I rejected his guidance, because of course I loved myself, why did I have to start? I already did…didn’t I?  

The harsh reality was that I had never been fond of myself, let alone 100% wholeheartedly loved myself…

I spent most of my life rejecting who I was, annoyed that I couldn’t be someone different…

In the beginning as I was rejecting the guidance from the Father he began to slowly show me how I was lying to myself….I’d put others constantly before myself, their needs were worth more than mine, I chalked that up to my love for them, my need to not appear selfish, and my relationships around me were not where they should of been…my marriage? my children?

How could I truly love those around me completely like I always claimed when I refused to love myself?

So I got angry with God, I asked him…

“What does loving myself look like then?!”

And in my anguish he met me in that moment, took me by the hand, and told me it was going to be a journey, but he’d be walking beside me the whole time and as long as I trusted him there would be a great harvest!

Another journey? Ok here goes nothing…

Immediately I realized in order to learn to love myself I had to actually start caring…I had to stop dismissing my needs, which meant my health, my happiness, and my spiritual health as well…

It was all a bit daunting to be honest, I had spent over thirty some years putting myself last, on the back burner, and now God was calling me out of that rut and asking me to do what he has always done and never failed to do…he wanted me to love myself as much as a loves me…

For me it started with my health, I needed to love myself enough to stop looking away at my reflection whenever I saw it, to stop rolling my eyes at my doctors advice, and come to gripes with what I had done to my body…

Very harsh truths were delved my way, a difficult pill to swallow, but I was not alone, the Father was there every step of the way…I started slowly, baby steps, and I found as I kept surrendering to his will, trusting in him, that I gained momentum over time….

And then I realised by taking care of my health, in extension I was not only loving myself, but I was loving my kids, and my husband better.  

Making sure I was in good health would not only better my life but in turn would help me stay around longer to be a wife and mother! Two things I treasure and hold dear in my life.

Once my health began to improve I noticed I was taking more time to be with the Father, meeting him where I was at, and the understanding that I could not do one without the other became understood…

My physical health was improving, and because that was better my mental health was improving, and in turn my relationships were improving, and all of it was because I was waking up every morning and consciously making that decision to love myself…

My obedience was having a ripple effect on my life, loving myself was changing me from the inside out, physicaly, mentally, emotinally, spiritually, and I quickly realised I had been missing out on something special for a long time, and I had to forgive myself for that…

Even then God was so gracious…

I realized then that even though I had accepted Christ into my life a very long time ago, in some ways I had been rejecting his love for me as well…of course I didn’t know it at the time, but I was avoiding it fully because if I had of fully accepted it then the mirror would of been held in front of my face sooner and my lack of acceptance of love would of been clear, thus revealing basically that I did not feel that I was worth it…

…and that couldn’t of been any farther from the truth!

All of this got me really thinking about God’s love, and how it is unfailing…and then I got a song in my head for these past few days….

 “Higher than the mountains that I face, stronger than the power of the grave, constant in the trial and the change…one thing remains…Your love never fails, never gives up, never runs out in me….”

(One thing remains by Jesus Cultuhe sent)

This got me thinking alot about God’s love, and how powerful it is…

God says in 1 Corinthians 13:13…

…and now these remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of all is LOVE.

Isaiah 54:10

Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you WILL NOT be shaken or my covenant of peace removed…

I’ve seen what God’s love can do, what it did to help me, how it helped me take the blinders off to reality and help me love myself…and help me love others, and show Christ’s love through me…

And then just recently God took me back to the moment I shared at the beginning of this blog…

He showed me that even as an illness like dementia can strip away at someone’s brain, character, and life…

One thing remains….love…

It is the greatest gift he has given us, love stands up against this world and is victorious every time!

He wants us to love ourselves completely, he sees our worth, our beauty, he made us out of his love, he sent his son to die for us because he loves us…

Only by accepting his unfailing love for us and in turn living ourselves completely can we be carriers of his love, and spread it like beautiful wildfire!

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That visit was the last one I’d ever have with her where she was coherant, that was a year ago yesterday…

The pandemic started after that and she began to drift away…four and a half months later she faded from this world…
I hold on to that last moment dearly…

…..because one thing remains……….

Unraveling: Don’t Waste Your Pain

“I dare you to move, I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor!”

(Lyrics from Dare you to Move by Switchfoot)

Last year in a blog post titled “12 Letter Word”where I discussed my diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. For some who don’t know what that is:

Fibromyalgia is a disorder of widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, memory, and mood issues.

I’m that post I discussed the challenges in which it had presented in my life daily. I also discussed how God never left my side, and how He helped me navigate through that new normal.

When I was diagnosed over two years ago, I can remember I had alot of hard days in the beginning. I would have no strength in my body to get out of bed, much less lift my head up. I’d lay there, in agony, feeling defeated, but then my youngest would bounce in with a few movies, our portable dvd player, and we’d lay there together watching movies. It definitely helped distract me from the pain. I quickly caught on that this disorder was much like a roller coaster, it had it’s ups and downs, and ‘flare ups’ could occur when I was least expecting. And they did, and at times when they did I would become immobile, and as I said there in immense pain I felt trapped inside my own body, like it was a prison keeping me captive…..those times definitely got dark for me.

There was a moment for me, a turning point of you will about 18 months ago…

I was deep into a flare up, lying in my bed alone, weak, in immense pain, feeling sorry for myself, and the lyrics from Dare you to Move by Switchfoot started to run through my head…

“I DARE YOU to MOVE, I DARE YOU to LIFT YOURSELF UP off the floor! “

At first I was annoyed, an earworm stuck in my mind, but I quickly realised it was the Father, He was asking me to “rise up and walk!”. I was baffled, I remember telling him I couldn’t, that it was impossible, that I just didn’t have the strength…And He was quick to scold me lovingly, and remind me in Whom I can receive my strength!

So I surrendered…

And with His help, His strength, I got up out of bed, had a shower, got dressed, and faced the day.

Did He heal me in that moment?

No, but it is not in His plan for me at this time, and I have accepted that wholeheartedly, because there is a purpose for everything.

What He did in that moment was remind me in Whom I can reach to for strength when I feel defeated and at my most weakest.

He was teaching me how to navigate my new normal, preparing me, showing me the path He intended for me…

I am still navigating that new normal today, my 12 letter word still creeps up and bears its teeth every so often.

BUT now I know in Whom brings me strength when I am lacking.

Recently I have found myself drawing on that strength…

10 months ago I noticed something troubling my legs/feet…

I was having sharp agonizing pain shoot up my legs, my feet would burn with pain at times, my feet while bare when touched would feel like there was a thin layer between my hand and my foot, and I wasn’t sleeping well at all. I was lost, I didn’t know what was happening? Was it a flare up? My 12 letter word throwing a tantrum?

My endocrinologist had been checking my feet, especially after I would inquire to this ‘thin layer in between feeling’ and all was well there…or was it?

I’m February I finally went in to bring this to my Doctor’s attention, and this began months of tests.

I think I had a sinking feeling the whole time what was wrong with me, but I refused to acknowledge it…

I went for an MRI, bloodwork, and nerve tests…

While at the Nerve Test Appointment I remember laying on the examine table and just knowing what was wrong…there was a heaviness on my heart, and God spoke boldly to me…

He told me I needed to stop avoiding the truth, and face myself…

After it was done I had to get dressed and go and meet back up with my best friend who had driven me there and was waiting for me (pandemic restrictions).

I lingered for a moment in that change room, tears filled my eyes, my heart heavy.

How could I face her? My Husband? My Kids? Or anyone? How could I possibly admit the truth to anyone? Especially myself?

The truth that was spoken to me late September over a follow up appointment by my Doctor was a 10 letter word…

Neuropathy

It had been discovered that I have moderate Neuropathy in my feet.

Neuropathy is damage of nerves outside of the brain, it can cause numbness, weakness, and sharp pain.

Diabetes can succumb to this, most people with Diabetes that get this is a result from not taking care of themselves….

From not taking care of themselves….

This is what I did not want to face, the truth, my truth, my fault…

I was crushed, struck with guilt, panic, I was devastated!

My Doctor told me not to be hard on myself, that I have made excellent progress the last two years with my health, and it was not all for not, that I can now prevent it from getting worse and there are ways to manage it, to treat it, and I was in the right path already.

I heard her, I heard my Husband’s encouragement, I heard my best friend’s words of love, but the one voice louder than all the rest was my own, and it wasn’t kind. I am often told I am too hard on myself, perhaps I am, but I should of known better!

God didn’t let me dwell in a self hatred lull for long…

He presented a challenge to me…

He asked me to forgive myself…

I was in disbelief…how could I?

Then He reminded me of the day on Calvary when He hung on the Cross to forgive much worse from the world…and immediately I was humbled, and overcome with emotion, tears, and it all led me to letting it go…and I forgave myself.

So in this new territory I still found myself struggling with complete acceptance of things happening to me concerning my health, but then I fell upon Micah Tyler’s song called Different.

Micah begins his song talking at first, He talks about the hardships him and his family are walking through, and how He would pray and ask God to change the things that are going on around him, to stop these storms in his life, but he recognized that Jesus had decided to not do that just yet.

Micah realized that the best question to ask Jesus was not…

Jesus can you change these things?

BUT

God can you change ME so I can handle the things that your walking me through?

This perspective completely helped open my eyes to what I needed to do next…

I needed to ask God that question…

I needed Him to make me different, to change me from the inside out, so I could now handle what He was walking me through.

And when I asked, He answered…the complete acceptance came right away.

I accept that Depression, Diabetes, Fibromyalgia, and Neuropathy are apart of my life, and apart of me…

BUT they do not define me!

Knowing my Identity in Christ has been my anchor, my saving grace.

So when any dark clouds roll in, I hit a wall, when I want to run away into the wilderness, when I’m having a flare up and I feel caged within my body, when I’m on walk and sharp pain shoots up from my feet…

I hear the Father clearly, and I ‘lift myself up off the floor! ‘

“I can’t waste a day, and I can’t stay the same…I want to be different,

I want to be changed, until all of me is gone, and all that remains is a

fire so bright the whole world can see, that there’s something

different, so come and be different…in me! “

(Lyrics from Micah Tyler’s song Different)

Unraveling : Wilderness

” You say there’s a treasure, and you look til you find it….you search….to find me. “

(Lyrics from Love Like This by Lauren Daigle)

13 years ago I sat in my Doctor’s Office, my toddler playing on my lap, my 3 month old asleep in his stroller, and my Doctor delivered me some life changing news…

She told me I was Type 2 Diabetic…she then proceeded to tell me I would probably be this way for the rest of my life….

For me that day will always be kind of a blur…

I had two small kids, my husband at the time was bound to a wheelchair, and now it seemed like the walls were closing in on me, I mean everyone depended on me, I didn’t have time to worry about myself.

“for the rest of your life”

Those words echoed in my mind daily…but I struggled to really acknowledge the diagnosis at first, because in my mind I just couldn’t handle it at the time, but still I received the required meds and tried my best to start navigating this new terrain…

Immediately the oral meds made me violently ill, and the Doctor prescribed me insulin instead, and she informed me that…

“you’ll be on insulin now for the rest of your life”.

The rest of my life?…

Wow!

It is safe to say this did a number on my anxiety.

So this is the part where I would love to tell you I got my act together and took care of myself but I can’t…

I kind of reacted like Jonah did when God called him to Ninevah.

I ran like hell far into the wilderness away from this new reality presented to me.

I spent the next 10 years on a self made roller coaster.

I would take care of myself for a while, and then life would get hard and I would just give up on myself…

I would constantly rationalize it by trying to convince myself that it wasn’t worth it, I was going to have it for the rest of my life anyway so what was the point….

I would continue to believe this lie for so long.

I spent 10 years feeling ashamed of myself, guilt was always looming over me, friends would cast judgements about what they thought I should be doing, and at times even though I know they did it out love it was too much for me to cope with, because I was already super hard on myself, and in those moments the darkness was so heavy I just wanted to fade away.

So just over 2 years ago now life got real for me, a bit too real, a wake up call if you will…

I ended up in the hospital with what we thought was the on comings of a heart attack, very scary, but it turned out I had gastritis…and the attending Doctor brought up a harsh truth to me, my A1C was 12.8, that for those who don’t understand that is a horrific number, normal is between 6.5-7.5…

I was sent home with instructions on change of diet to aid with the gastritis and a referral to head back to the Diabetes Education Centre.

I was at a fork in the road….

Stop running from God, and let Him do what He does which is be Sovereign over my life, or keep running and run myself right into an early grave?

In that moment sitting on my bed, faced with that decision, that harsh truth, fists clenched, heart heavy, I surrendered completely!

And He met me right there, my fists loosened, tears flowed, and I handed my health completely over to Him, and I remember as I prayed I said to Him this…

” You have always taken the impossible and made it possible, can you please take the world’s impossibles that have been spoken over me and work in me and make it possible. “

I realized I had been wandering in the wilderness for so long, too long…

Once I submitted fully to His will for my health, He began to strip all the lies away that had be spoken over my life…and with that the shame faded, the guilt, the sadness, the feelings of defeat, and what came next was a surge of new found energy that I can only describe in one word…Hope!

I started slowly…changed what I was eating, started to exercise, invited God into my day by spending time with Him, and just held on to His promises.

Over time I gained momentum, it started to become easier to change because I was first and foremost allowing God to direct my life.

My first A1C check after that dark day at the hospital came and I went from 12.8 to 7.2!

I was overjoyed, I cried with joy, and I overflowed with thanksgiving for the Lord! This all added to my drive, and I kept pushing on, always acknowledging who was in control over my health, over my life.

I was feeling so good about myself, my A1C kept dropping, and with the Father’s help I kept working hard…..did I ever hit a wall? Yes! Absolutely! But God always met me wherever I was at, He’d pick me back up and I kept going.

There have been times I’d hit a wall, and I would cry and cry….and through my tears I would still say “I know I’m upset right now Lord but I’m not giving up .”

And I haven’t yet, because somewhere in the beginning of all this I realized that God has never given up on me, He has always pursued me, I was off in the wilderness, running scared, and He was patiently pursuing me…like any Father would search out His child if they are lost….

Present Day…

I have not stopped working hard, 25 months later I am still walking alongside God and I am harvesting daily the fruit of His work!

I am now Pre Diabetic!

A1C is 6.2!

It is projected to drop again by my next A1C check to the ‘at risk’ category!

I am officially OFF insulin!

God took what the world said was impossible over my life and He made it possible!

And all it took was for me to come face to face with myself, to stop running away into the wilderness, and to surrender to the God that created the heavens, the earth, and most importantly……..me!

I still have a road ahead of me, God’s not done with me yet…

With each step I take He is with me, guiding me, loving me…

Will the road get rough?

Yes..probably…but it’s through difficulty, and leaning into the Father that strengthens you for the journey ahead and from it blossoms Hope!

What lies are you believing about yourself?

What impossibles has the world spoken over you?

And when the time comes will you let the Lord who is Sovereign over all take back control and make those impossibles possible?

Aren’t you tired of running away into the wilderness?

“When I am the desert, You are the river…that turns…to find me! “

(Lyrics from Love Like This by Lauren Daigle)

Unraveling : Dark Clouds

“I’m coming apart at the seams, and everyone’s pulling at me, and I am unraveling…”. Lyrics from Unraveling by Cory Asbury.

A while back I wrote a blog post called ‘Thorn in my Flesh’and it discussed a challenge that I had dealt with since I was a young child…depression.

Something I still cope with today…

I want to discuss how those dark clouds still roll in at times now, and how God is continuing to unravel me, reshape me, and meeting me wherever I am at.

But first here is a little background information…

I have dealt with this thorn for as long as I can remember. It only became obvious to my parents when I was a tween, and then I was abruptly out on anti-depressants, and nothing was explained to me, I was confused, and frustrated that I felt so intensely about things…I was scared, felt alone, and extremely sad, but no one sat me down and addressed the issue, no reassurance was given, I simply felt like I was wrong as a person, that somehow I was just broken, and that was that.

That all led me to cutting myself, self hatred, suicide attempts. I just spiralled into a dark scary mental place…

Of course there was alot of abuse and trauma happening to me that only added to my misery, but I was lost in the darkness…

If you know my story then you know that eventually God found me and breathed new life into me, He delivered me away from the abuse, and I have me so many priceless blessings! In my post ‘Thorn in my Flesh’ I also discussed how even after giving my life over to the Lord that I still struggled with an inner battle, a sadness at times that I simply could not shake. And eventually I was given six beautiful words right from the Lord….

“It’s okay to not be okay. “

I find myself recently re visiting those words…this year has been a hard one, for everybody, and especially for anyone suffering from any form of mental illness…

I have found myself clenching my fists in anguish in one moment, and then surrendering wholeheartedly, hands raised, and leaning into His will the next.

I have hit ‘walls’, life gets a bit dark, the ‘Thorn in my Flesh’ screams out, all I want to do is curl up in my bed, ignore the world, ignore life, ignore my family, even ignore God….

But there is no ignoring the one who is Sovereign over your life.

Like the one sheep who strays away from the other 99, He pursues us, searches us out, He shines light upon us in the darkness, and picks us up, places us upon His shoulders, and brings us home.

At the beginning of this pandemic I hit my first ‘wall’ and I got dark for a minute…

God met me where I was at..reassured me that ‘it was okay not to be okay’…

But He urged me not to dwell there too long, because this was a time for Him to unravel me, work in me, and for me to thrive like I have never before in my life…

At first I was in disbelief, thrive like never before? How could that happen? I was so sad, I missed everyone so terribly, I missed my church community, I missed my life….

The dark clouds hung over me so heavily…

He was asking me to trust Him, to walk through fire, to be refined, reshaped, it was going to be painful, but necessary…

So I surrendered to His will…

And He gave me strength to get back up, as He has many times in my life…

I began to walk daily, going farther each day. I was joined by my eldest son eventually, and it transformed into a beautiful bonding time, he asked questions about life, and God. Moments I will treasure for years to come.

I was getting out in the sunshine everyday, working out, eating healthy, and making a daily effort to be open to whatever He wanted for me.

In doing that I was bonding with Him more, and I slowly started to feel myself inwardly changing…

Situations would throw wrenches into my life and my reaction would be contrary to how I would react before.

A calmness was over me, unlike anything I have known before, and it was God’s Peace.

His Peace was transforming me from the inside out…

Time went on, and I would hit my next ‘wall’…

But I was better equipped this time around. I allowed myself to feel it, to walk through it, because I knew I didn’t walk alone, He was with me, He was using it to transform me, once again I was unravelling, crying out to Him, but it was necessary for Him to work in me.

Has it been a painful process?

YES!

But sometimes the things that are the most difficult, the most painful, reap the best harvest!

I just have to remind myself to lean into Him in those difficult times instead of hiding away.

Is He done with me?

Absolutely not! I hope He never is!

I have accepted that I may have to cope wih depression for the rest of my life, this is my ‘Thorn in my Flesh ‘, and I know God will use it to help others. I also know that although the dark clouds may roll in, and weigh heavily upon me, that God walks alongside me for I am never alone.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you. ” 1Peter 5: 6-7

I find that I am more at Peace with who I am, and with my life than I have ever been before….I am thriving…

“I’m coming apart at the seams, it’s worse than I thought it would be…

but I’ve never been happier…”

Lyrics from Unraveling by Cory Asbury.

Surviving? or Thriving?

“I was sure by now,
God, you would have reached down and wiped our tears away,
Stepped in and saved the day,
But once again, I say “Amen,” and it’s still raining…

As the thunder rolls I barely hear your whisper through the rain…
“I’m with you”
And as your mercy falls I raise my hands and praise the God who gives and takes away!”

(Lyrics from ‘Praise you in this Storm’ by Casting Crowns)

2020 to me feels like a great big unstoppable storm…

When this pandemic started I was barely hanging on, I even admitted to hitting a wall, where I got downright angry, refused to get out of bed, I was done, life for me went dark, and in that darkness the Father met me, affirmed me, validated for me it was okay to feel my feelings, but heeded me to not dwell there long…And slowly but surely I picked myself back up and I didn’t realize it until recently, but in that moment I made a decision…

I decided to step out of survival mode and to start thriving instead…

…despite the ‘ unstoppable storm’ that was swirling around me…

I read this recently…

Did you know that an eagle knows when a storm is approaching long before it breaks?

The eagle will fly to some high spot and wait for the winds to come.

When the storm hits, it sets its wings so that the wind will pick it up and

lift it above the storm.

While the storm rages below, the eagle is soaring above it.

The eagle does not escape the storm.

It simply uses the storm to lift it higher.

It rises on the winds that bring the storm.

When the storms of life come upon us–and all of us will experience them–we can rise above them by setting our minds and our belief toward God

The storms do not have to overcome us. We can allow God’s power to lift us above them.

God enables us to ride the winds of the storm that bring sickness, tragedy, failure and disappointment in our lives. We can soar above the storm.

Remember, it is not the burdens of life that weigh us down, it is how we handle them.

Reading this really opened my eyes to the depth of what my decision 6 months ago meant…

During this time I have come to realize alot about myself…

The one thing that has been the stand out to me is how I use to handle life’s storms before this pandemic as appose to now.

Let me explain…

Before this pandemic when challenges would arise, although I understand who is Sovereign in my life, I would FIRST go to a few of my close christian sisters/mentor for advice. Then I would have the same dialogue I had with them with my Husband, all ‘advice’ would point UP…

Meaning go to the Father, He has you, He has always had you, He’s got this!

And I would find myself there in prayer and submission, but most of the time there was a journey prior to getting to that point…I took the long way round my Husband would say 🙂

My faith was there, but was it as strong and steadfast as it should of been?

No…Not where God wanted it to be…but I was being called out to be refined once more…

God took this particular ‘storm’ and decided to put the ‘mirror’ in front of me and have me take a long look at myself.

With this pandemic I had no where to run to, or be distracted away from seeing that my Father was right there waiting for me to eventually get to Him…instead He lovingly made me aware of what needed to change in order to get through this particular ‘storm’.

He used this time to meet me where I was at, and He began to slowly refine me again.

It was just me and Him, the ‘storm’ raging around me, and He was showing me how to ride the winds and rise above it all.

He just keep telling me over and over again that He wanted me to THRIVE, not to simply SURVIVE…

He didn’t want me to stop and get stuck in the darkness of what this world is currently going through, fruit was not being harvested from my ‘survival’ mentality, there was no thriving, no growth.

Should we be ‘wise’ during this time? Absolutely!

BUT! we need to be conscious of where that line is drawn between wisdom and worry.

We also to be aware of who is looking to our example, our reaction to the world’s current challenges, and for me that is always my children.

In the beginning I use to think this pandemic stripped everything away from me…

But this pandemic has allowed for me to slow down, surrender once again, and allow the Potter to rework me in His hands. Because the Father is never done transforming us. There is no room for growth or glory for His Kingdom if we all just stay the same.

So now when life’s storms arise I am not running for shelter, I am not taking the long way round, I run right into the heart of it, hands risen, praising the One who gives and takes away!

With my arms outstretched I will let those winds lift me up! I will rise above!

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles.” Isaiah 40:31

I know His promises, He will show them through this time, because after all at the end of a ‘storm’ comes a Rainbow…

“Just to know You and to make You known, we lift Your name on High!

Shine like the sun make darkness run and hide,

We know we were made for so much more than ordinary lives!

It’s time for us to do more than just survive! We were made to thrive!”

(Lyrics from ‘Thrive’ by Casting Crowns)

Rain

I’ve been strong and I’ve been broken within a moment,
I’ve been faithful and I’ve been reckless at every bend,
I’ve held everything together and watched it shatter,
I’ve stood tall and I have crumbled in the same breath,

I have wrestled and I have trembled toward surrender,
Chased my heart adrift and drifted home again,
Plundered blessing till I’ve been desperate to find redemption,
And every time I turn around Lord YOU’RE STILL THERE!…

(lyrics from the song ‘As you find me’ by Hillsong United)

The above lyrics best describe what I have been through in the last 4 months of my absence from my blog.

As I sit here, I feel weathered, worn, and a bit tired…

BUT! 

God is Good!

He has met me in the midst of the raging storm, and never left my side…

Let me share…

Just after my last blog entry life as I say ‘got real’ real fast…

My therapy had come to an end, and alot of amazing healing had been achieved.

I was ready……but for what? 

I had no idea what was coming around the corner, how could I? 

But the Father did…and He had been preparing me

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

In order for you to completely understand what I want to tell you now I need to first take you back in time a bit…

When I met my husband he came from alot of brokenness.  He was raised by his Mother and his Grandmother his whole life.  He would travel back and forth between them. 

Both of these women were polar opposites.  His Mother was a carefree, goes to the beat of her own drum kind of woman, and yes sometimes careless…

His Grandmother was a prime and proper socialite, and alcoholic. 

It is safe to say that when I met his Grandmother she literally looked right through me, I was nothing to her, and certainly not good enough by far for her Grandson, and she had no problem telling me any chance she had.  It to say the least was quite difficult at times for me, after all I had had a very kind and loving Nan my whole life, and it took me by surprise to meet her opposite in my husbands Grandmother.

Over the years she was mean, unkind, often drunk when we visited, and very cruel.  She would even go as far to suggest that my children were not my husbands in one breath, and int he next she would suggest she loved me as if I was her own Granddaughter…

A few months before God called my family to move away long distance she suffered a stroke…it was hard for her, and even with the way she treated us we felt bad for her…

But we moved forward with moving away, she still had her Son to help her. 

8 months later she found herself selling her home of over 25 years and she followed us here, I was apprehensive, but I had noticed that she had started to change a bit…

Turns out the change was Dementia…The Stroke being the catalyst, not to mention the alcoholism…

Daunting as it may to hear that diagnosis, God took that and did something miraculous!

He first started to work on my heart, as I will admit it had hardened a bit towards her.  Then the dementia starting to change her, with God’s hand upon it all working within her…

She became kind, caring, and downright compassionate…

This woman before me that I refused to call my Grandmother was becoming what I had been longing for for years…And yes her health was failing, but God was using it to bring her and I close together…

I finally sat down with her, and I opened up to her…this is what I said:

You know when we first met it really hurt me when you looked through me, and you have not always been kind to me…and I refused to call you my Grandmother before…But I need for you to know now, before this illness takes your mind completely, that I am proud now to call you MY Grandmother, and I am so thankful that God has brought us so close together now…

She smiled, and she apologized for the past, and then she said the words that I can still hear now:

I love you so much sweetie!

And for the first time I knew it, I believed her, and a void was filled…

Now let’s bring you back to 4 months ago…

Therapy was over, and I had not seen my Grandmother since the beginning of March.

It worried me, I had been her main caregiver for the past 4 years, seeing her twice a week at the Assistive Living Home where she lived.  I was concerned about her health, mental well being, and honestly if she would even know who I was by the time I could see her again.

Then we got word 2 months ago that there was an opening at a Long Term Care Facility in another city about 7 hours away where her Son lives.  We knew this was coming, but were not ready for it to be that soon.  But she was deteriorating fast, and we knew this was what was best for her. 

I struggled so much emotionally, not knowing if I was going to be able to see her or say goodbye…I was angry a bit with God asking Him why would He give me this gift and then to take it away…it is safe to say I was a mess…

But God heard the cries of my heart…

I got a call from her Son, asking if I would be able to go in and pack her up some things, and of course I accepted.  Of course with everything going on with the pandemic extreme caution needed to be taken.

When I got there she was asleep, and she looked so peaceful

I had a choice, I could of woken her up, and I wanted to, but I knew it would just confuse her, so I quietly packed her things, all the while glancing at her from time to time, and just thanking God that I could see her at peace.

When I was done, I stood before her, she still asleep, I spoke to her, hoping her spirit would hear me…I told her this:

I love you so much, and I am so thankful that God brought us together the way He did.  Thank you for the gift that you have been, you have forever changed me, and I have been made better for it.

As I left, crying, walking over to my best friend’s van it started to rain, I opened the side door, and just stood there, sobbing, rain pouring down on me, my heart ached, I wanted to clench my fists in anger at God, and then I remembered this:

When I was a little girl I would always love playing in the rain, I would often stand, eyes closed and just be in that moment.  On one occasion my Nan saw me doing this and without my knowing she walked up beside me, and grabbed my hand…I startled opened my eyes and looked up at her, and she said this:

There are going to be storms in your life, but I want you to know it is in those moments especially that you are never alone!…..

In remembering that moment, and knowing exactly what she meant, I found myself opening my hands from clenched fists, and completely surrendering to God, and I knew He was with me.

My Grandmother had been moved for a just over two weeks when we received a devastating call that she was as they call it ‘end of life’.  They gave her 48 hrs. 

I felt powerless, helpless…then I looked outside, dark clouds were rolling in…

At that point I just said ‘okay I get it’, and I put my shoes on and went outside…

As I stepped out on to the lawn the rain began to pick up, and I cried out to God

All He said was this:

She has until the rain ends, I am with you.

Then as the rain was pouring down hard on me I raised my hands up to Him…

I surrendered completely, and I said:

 “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, Blessed be the name of the Lord!”

The rain continued until the next day, it was just before dinner that it had stopped, and my eldest and I went for our evening walk.  As we turned the corner to come down our street my husband was standing on our front lawn waiting for us, and I knew before he could say a word, she was gone…and I said it again…

“The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, Blessed be the name of the Lord!”

She has been gone now for just a month and a half, I have had my moments of grief, complete sadness, but I have felt more thankfulness than anything else…

That I have a Father in heaven loves me so much, He knows the path before me and He prepared me….

From start to finish He was all over it, from bringing me my Nan on that rainy day when I was a little girl to meeting me in the parking lot 2 months ago…

He made what I thought would be impossible, possible

He not only changed her heart, but softened mine, and in turn gave me an amazing gift!

I had always wondered if in my lifetime would I ever see or experience miracle…

I would of never thought I would be apart of one…

God is Good!

I Still Believe

Scattered words and empty thoughts,
Seem to pour from my heart,
I’ve never felt so torn before…
Seems I don’t know where to start…
But it’s now that I feel Your grace fall like rain!

The above verse from one of my favorite songs, I still believe by Jeremy Camp

It perfectly explains how I have felt during this pandemic that began a month and a half ago.

To be honest I have hesitated writing a blog this month because I did not want to talk about this pandemic at all, but the God quickly reminded me that this blog is an outlet for me.  Even in a time such as this I need to be able to pour my heart out in order to maintain my sanity.

At the beginning of the pandemic I was without words, I was not sure what to make of anything, it seemed surreal that something like this would happen in my lifetime.

As a Mom I immediately went into a mode where you want to keep everyone from ‘drowning’, and I forgot one important thing…

I was keeping everyone afloat, but I was sinking beneath them. 

Each day as the pandemic went on in the beginning I did this, trying to keep normalcy, trying to maintain harmony within the family, in my mind this wasn’t gonna touch us.

Boy was I in denial!

Well my ‘heroics’ did not last long, because as each day passed, and the government put more restrictions down, I found myself sinking deeper than ever.

This made me angry, I was suppose to keep it together, my family needed me to do that…

… did they though?

After the first couple weeks I hit a wall, as I candidly say ‘I went dark’

It is not as scary as I make it sound…

I simply decided I wasn’t getting out of bed.

Dvd’s/Pj’s and eating whatever I wanted was on the agenda…

And the world, well I was angry at it so I didn’t care much about it that day…

So I had my dark day, I cried, I was angry, and in the middle of all of that I realized it was okay to feel that way.

I had always denied the feeling of anger in my life in the past, but in my darkest moment that day, God showed me there is a healthy way to feel that anger.

I simply heard him say “walk through it, feel it, but don’t dwell there forever”.

Those words would revisit me later, but not for me

Even when answers slowly unwind…
It’s my heart I see You prepare!

After that day, God gave me a new perspective on everything.

This pandemic was not going to be a negative thing anymore in my household.

So for me Pandemic = Opportunities = Blessings Beyond Measure!

More time on our hands meant…

-more quality time with my family

-taking care of my health even more and walking 3.5 km/day with my eldest son

-and with those walks would bring amazing conversations about life and faith

‘dates’ with each of my sons, watching a movie or playing a game with them, bonding on a different 1 to 1 levelthis one is especially precious to me, because my boys are growing so fast, my oldest is almost 16, and before all of this, this Momma’s heart was struggling with thoughts of him leaving the nest in a few years…

-bonding more with my husband, him joining me in my kitchen helping me make healthy meals for our family, in depth conversations at night when the boys are in bed

-and the newest thing for me is I am actually reading more, mostly my bible, and I am also doing a few devotionals, even a few with friends online

After I began this new outlook it was there that I realized that before I was going through the 5 stages of grief, and I had finally found myself at Acceptance.

With my Acceptance, came this proclamation:

I still believe in Your Faithfulness!
I still believe in Your Truth!
I still believe in Your Holy Word!
Even when I don’t see, I still BELIEVE!

With my newfound perspective I became more aware of how my children were coping with everything, especially my eldest.

He was not doing well.

Each day we would go on our walks and the first thing he would do would complain about everything, which is fine, I wanted him to let it all out.

And after that he would say to me:

“as long as our mission trip doesn’t get cancelled in July I will be okay”

I kept telling him we needed to be positive during this time, but I also advised him to prepare his heart ‘just in case’ because God has a plan in all of this and He could have something else in store for him.

Surely the day came for a Zoom Meeting with everyone on the Mission’s Team, and right away it was addressed…the trip was cancelled…my son shut down completely…

He is never quick to be upset about anything, crying for him is super rare, when he is sad he takes after his mother, he shuts down, headphones go on, and he blasts christian music.

Anger … atleast outwardly is the only emotion visible.

Quickly those words came back to me from the Father:

“walk through it, feel it, but don’t dwell there forever”

I had walked through this…

Even when answers slowly unwind…
It’s my heart I see You prepare!

Those moments…sigh…when you realize God has prepared you for a time such as this

To be there for your child…

When you become aware that your pain can be transformed into a instrument used by the Father to help someone

It is intense, it is special, it is a blessing, and it is an honor to be loved so deeply by the Father like that!

My son is doing much better now with everything, I wouldn’t say he is 100%, but God is Good.  My son and I have had discussions about it, and those words have resonated within him. 

The only place I can go is into your arms,
Where I throw to you my feeble Prayers,
In Brokenness I can see that this was Your Will for Me!

He is leaning on God more than ever now, and it blesses me to witness this growth.

I don’t know what is to come next with this whole pandemic, but the one thing I know is that I will be here counting my blessings as God unfolds them…

…it’s now that I feel Your Grace fall like rain!

 

 

 

Identity

I have always told people that I didn’t really start to understand who I was until I hit my 30’s.  But if I am to be truly honest here, and with myself…it has only been in the last 8 months that I have been able to finally understand who I am.

From an early age I can remember my mother dressing me like her.  As I got older she would dictate to me what to say to people, and how to say it.  She would instruct me on who to make friends with, and how to be their friend.  She even dictated to me what to eat, and would insist certain types of foods were my favorite, because they were her favorites.

So, I found myself on auto pilot through a  sea of abuse as I grew up.  I would second guess myself all the time, and in the end I would turn to her to tell me how to function.

There were brief fleeting moments when my Nan would be around and she would ask me what I liked? or what I wanted?  Those moments were super awkward for me, and you could tell my Nan knew more than she let on.

When I gave my life to the Lord I remember calling her terrified, worried she wouldn’t be okay with it, and as the phone rang I remember thinking ‘I hope she will be okay with it?”.  She didn’t even care, she was indifferent, but there I was on the phone with her hoping she would okay my decision.  What would I of done if she hadn’t been?

When my Mom met my now husband for the first time, she went on and on about me and all the things I was into…..horror films, ice cream binges etc etc…

It just brought confusion to my now husband, he would comment on how she didn’t have any idea who I was because when I was not around her I was totally different…

But did I really even know who I was at that point?

After I became a Mom I remember visiting her and immediately she would tell me how to be a Mom, and the pattern would just cycle again.  And the sad thing was I let her.

I had no identity.

Even though I was a Christian, and God was very clear on who He claimed me to be, I had no idea who I was.  I lived in constant doubt.

When I had to finally walk away from all of that I found myself with no identity anymore.  And those were some very difficult few years for me.

I went from someone always telling me how to be, to having to figure out what I wanted.

Talk about your Growing Pains!

God started to slowly ‘grow’ me then, and has been doing so ever since.

I did start to slowly get to know myself when I hit my 30’s.

I discovered what made me ‘tick’, what brought me Joy, and what my interests were.

But 8 months ago God sent me on a journey to start really looking at myself more closely, and ask myself that one question of who I was?

During these past 8 months of Therapy God has been patching me up, healing the scars of trauma from years past.

And as I am healing, other things come up to gain perspective on, to work through…

Recently I have been faced with some health issues, and as someone who has PTSD it has triggered me a bit…and I found myself spiraling emotionally, and the one thing driving that spiral was the one thought that I would become like my mother…

When she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis her already abusive mind/manner intensified and she became incredibly crude and super reliant on me at a young age to be her caregiver.

When I went to therapy after this spiral had hit my therapist called me out so to speak…

She asked me who I was? what was my identity?

The first thing out of my mouth was ‘well God is at the core of my identity‘…

Although true and most important, she encouraged me to dig a little deeper.

It made me uncomfortable at first, my thoughts raced with trying to find the ‘right’ answer…

But as He has before, God met me in that office, and such Peace washed over me, and for the first time in my life I saw things with such clarity

Scripture found it’s way into my mind…

I am God’s child.  John 1:12

I am free from condemnation. Romans 8:1-2

I have been established, anointed, and sealed by God. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22

I can find grace and mercy in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

It brought me instant joy, and He spoke:

You are set apart from your mother.

It was an intense feeling, I can not describe it, but He spoke it, and my heart accepted it without hesitation. 

In that moment I felt lighter.

It was freeing.

So often in this world we allow others to define us, in doing so we lose sight of our identity, we miss out on knowing who we are, and who God intends us to be.

I am looking forward to who God intends me to be, now that I am being freed from such bondage.

In the meantime, I have many unknowns that are before me…

But I find myself more at Peace than ever in my life.

It is as if a storm is swirling around me, but I haven’t really noticed much because I am sitting in the middle of it calmly, knowing that my God goes before me, and through Him, He will give me the strength I will need to endure anything!

God Is Good.

 

 

 

19

19 years ago I was sitting in a dorm room with my boyfriend (now husband of 17 years…) and we had just watched the movie Stigmata…

As I sat there while the credits rolled I began to ask questions…

“I wonder what it would be like t walk where Jesus walked?…”

“I bet it would be awesome to step foot in the Jordan River…”

Something within me was stirring…

My boyfriend ( a believer for 5 months at that point) just answered my questions, he allowed the Father to be ever present, just us, his bible, and the Holy Spirit moving.

Then the words flowed easily from my lips, ” I want to accept Jesus into my life!”

In that instant the Lord breathed new life in me…

_______________________________________________________________________________

Earlier that evening I was at a Christian Fellowship Group with my boyfriend.  I had begrudgingly started to go just to be with him, and to not feel so alone.  That particular evening I found myself opening up to one of the Pastors there, and I told him:

” my life can’t get any lower right now, I am at the bottom of the barrel…”

My life at that point was pretty grey, meaning I was really depressed.  I questioned my worth constantly, I had grown up with alot of abuse, I viewed myself as a mistake, broken, unwanted, and I had no hope for my future.  I didn’t even think I deserved one if I am being honest.  I was going through the motions, my Soul was constantly crying out, but my mouth never made a sound.

My Nan had always tried to teach me about God, if not by her words, she would show in her example, and how she showed me constant unconditional love.  She planted seeds.

When my boyfriend became a Christian (we were only friends then), and I immediately didn’t want to be around him, I ran away…

When your living in such darkness, and all you have ever known is darkness, God’s Light can scare you at first, and that is why I ran…

Just like I had been running from God all my life…

And what happened? I got violently ill.  I was in and out of the hospital, and the Doctors had no answers, all I knew is I was terrified, alone, and helpless.

I have come to realize since then that it was obvious what was happening to me…

The enemy knew what was coming, my friend was separated from me but told by the Father to pray for me, to be patient, and he would show him when to come to me…

My Soul was crying out so much it manifested into illness, I was being brought to my knees literally…

God finally told my friend to come to me.  He spent every night on a bed on my floor in my dorm room.  There were countless nights of me throwing up and he never left my side.

God made sure I wasn’t alone, and I didn’t realize it until later but He was using my friend to show me unconditional love, a Christ like love that He knew my Soul was longing for, but my head was too stubborn to get the hint!

Over time I got semi better, and my friend and I started dating.  Little did I know I was his mission field.  He never pushed me into anything ever, patience was his middle name, still is…

_______________________________________________________________________________

That night when I accepted Christ as my Savior, in that moment I felt the Father breathe new life into me, and my Soul felt complete Peace.

I truly had not lived until that day. 

Not long after that the Lord gave me this scripture:

He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.  

Psalm 40:2

Each word has rung so true with the path that I had walked down before, and what took place that night 19 years ago

I was 19 when I accepted the Lord into my life, and I am 38 now.  I have been in a loving relationship with the Father in Heaven for half my life, and what a Blessed life it has been!

The Lord loved me so much that He waited for me, had patience for me, planted ‘seeds’ in me, and sent a physical man to show me a Christ like love.

He is constantly working within me, and reforming me.

He is never done with me, and that makes my heart so full!

_______________________________________________________________________________

If you find yourself now in the same situation as I was in 19 years ago, know you are not alone, you are worthy of the love that God has for you.  There is hope, hope in the form of God the Father who reigns in Heaven, who is Sovereign over all.

He is waiting for you, patiently, lovingly, with arms wide open to welcome you home!

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I discovered the song ‘Rescue’ by Lauren Daigle, and she sings from the Father’s perspective and this verse seems fitting:

I will send out an army to find you,
In the middle of the darkest night,
It’s true, I will rescue you!
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The shepherd never abandons His sheep, even if one is lost He will go out and seek it.  No matter what, He will not rest until He has brought His lost sheep home.