2019 Journey to Making All Things New

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking through 2019, what was going on in my life a year ago, and all that I have learned throughout this year. And, because I love all things year end reviews, song compilations, top pictures, all of it because it is specific reminders of a full year, not just the most recent life events… And let’s be honest, we are all prone to forgetting how we felt or what the journey was like.

Going into 2019, like many years previously, I had a theme.. Unlike many people I know who have a single word, apparently picking *A* word is not my jam, because I tend towards phrases, multiple words that fold into one another, or in the case of 2019, I had two: Redefine and Reshape. I wasn’t totally sold on redefine and reshape as my theme, I was still so hurt and angry that I really didn’t trust my gut a year ago to be an accurate reflection of where the Holy Spirit was leading… but I also could not let the two words go, so I went with it… If it was wrong, such is life, I had gotten much worse wrong so it wouldn’t hurt anything. My words seemed fine but I felt very hands off and kinda ambivalent about them.

I felt very much like I was going to sit back and that GOD was going to be doing the work of redefining and reshaping.. Partially because I was still struggling so badly, and I knew without a doubt that I had no way of forcing or creating healing within myself… it was only the Lord that could restore all that had been broken in 2018.

So, with that perspective in mind, here’s my year in review.

In January my best friend and I officially launched our business full-time and not as a side gig. We spent an absurd number of hours working on business planning, website designing, social media setting up, etc.. etc.. Plus, figuring out how and where to get business, and then of course actually do the projects that pulled in money.

Being all in with our own business was freeing, exciting, and it was so overwhelming that I actually don’t remember a whole lot about that that month in terms of what happened day in and day out.

I read It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way by Lysa Terkheurst, and it felt like someone else had put to paper the struggle within me towards God. I was so hurt, I felt totally betrayed by him, and I was entirely absent of answers or understanding… And yet, I *knew* in my head that He had been faithful before, and He never changes, so therefore He would continue to be even when I didn’t see why… And yet, with this book, someone else understood and had written it down. – It felt like the first glimmer of hope pointing to the fact that one day, it was going to be ok again, and God would heal me, and I would see His love and faithfulness throughout it all.. One day.

Also, I turned 34.

February was maybe even more of a blur, and in a matter of weeks with our business we were navigating over 40 clients somewhere from inquiry to completion… Which meant that we were also trying to create and learn the best way to manage every step of our project process. I don’t remember, but I’m fairly confident my best friend and I both melted down and had many arguments all because of the stress, anxiety, and learning how to communicate in a new way with one another.

AND to top it all off, somehow through me filling out a survey we got noticed and interviewed by Square, and they shared our story with NowThis, and it BLEW UP. If I’m being honest, I panicked and kept telling my best friend, “We’re not ready for this!!” And honestly, we weren’t, but it was amazing and super encouraging regardless.

We (my roommates and I) also tried returning to church a few times, but ultimately decided that we weren’t ready to engage in a church community just yet, and needed more time… Plus, we were very much enjoying our slow Sunday mornings with Jesus in our living room.

If you’re unaware, March is National Women’s Month, and it was such a fun month for us as a business! We were featured on the local news because Square also shared our story with the local news!.. Business continued to be equal parts insane and really exhausting, but there was no doubting at this point that we were making it work!

While I had been dabbling in online dating for a few months, I started actively engaging in online dating again. I wasn’t sure how to put my heart out there again, but I finally decided I also needed to start practicing dating and purposefully taking steps to put myself out there, but realistically I didn’t end up going on any dates.

April was an interesting shift because we were every bit of working insane hours to keep our business going and as productive as possible, and I found myself having the emotions of gratitude about how the Lord was blessing our business and showing us favor that I was keenly aware we did not deserve and should not actually be happening… But I still felt largely numb and disconnected from my sweet savior.

I ended up going to an 8 hours intense Bible study that focused on prayer and fasting throughout scripture. It was insane and amazing because for the first time in eight months I had an immense amount of awe for the Lord once more. I found myself wanting to engage with the Lord again, but I was also aware that I was not suddenly better… I still felt that God had broken my heart, and I expected Him to fix it, heal it, restore it, and that none of those things had happened yet.

Also, adding to the stress, my dog (and my bestie/roommate’s dog) got poisoned, by a chemically contaminated raw-hide, and began getting really sick… As in explosive uncontrollable diarrhea all over the house for almost two months. It took us a couple weeks to figure out what happened many rounds of meds and probiotics and special food.

It is always interesting looking back at things, because May was equal parts SO much fun, and really challenging.

At this point I was a couple months into focusing on fitness and getting back into fitness after allowing work to just take over. We were training for another year of Trifecta Spartan races, and I was stoked because my goal was to finish in the top 10%. Plus, some friends and I planned a trip for July to go to Jamaica… We all knew we needed dedicated time for rest and fun… If only I knew what was coming in a just a couple weeks…

I also began actually investing and praying regularly again… I felt like I started to have things to pray not just for others but for myself as well. Up until this point most of the time I prayed it was thanking God for how well our business was doing, my friends and family… and then telling Him I needed Him to heal me because I had said everything that I had to say, it was His turn.

Heading into June, I really had no clear sense of where or how things in my life were getting redefined and reshaped. I didn’t really see anything markedly different, I largely didn’t feel anything had changed. – When asked, I just sort of felt this internal shrug, I don’t know.

And then my insanely painful and life altering accident happened, and suddenly nothing in my life was the same.. nor would it ever be the same honestly. – Even miraculously keeping ALL three of my fingers, they will never be as they were before the accident again..

The first week in June I almost entirely cut off three fingers, and yet, with so much pain, surgery, pins sticking out everywhere, ridiculous numbers of doctors visits, and countless numbers of meds and supplements… I found myself equal parts insanely grateful, surrounded by so much support and care, and struggling with so much internal fear and frustration.

I don’t do well being unable to take care of myself and not being capable… And yet, here I was with nothing else to do but allow others to love and care for me.

And this traumatic event is when it seems as though God began to implement His Redefining and Reshaping of me, my heart, our relationship, how I see the world, and my perspective on literally everything. It is one of the worst ways to find healing, but six months later I just cannot find anything but gratefulness for how God has worked in my life.

The rest of June, and JulyAugust, found me pretty much sitting on my front porch, going to PT appointments twice a week, online dating, and doing whatever one-handed typing I could to create proposals for clients while my best friend LITERALLY became a one-woman show and kept us afloat!

We went to Jamaica in July, I had pins sticking out of my fingers, and I was unable to get my hand wet, but we had an incredible time anyway. The ocean and sunshine are always the best places for God to touch my heart with peace and rest. While there I read a book about 7 women who God used to change the world uniquely in a way that men never could because they are women. I returned from that trip so encouraged.

In June I had basically decided that since I had little to do, I started actively trying to go on dates. So, surprisingly, damaged fingers and all, I went on a lot of dates, talked to an insane number of men, had a lot of monotonous conversations, and I even dated a guy for a couple months. While he was fun, it was not ultimately a relationship that had the type of future that I wanted, so it ended.

In September my whole house did our annual “sucky sober september” health reset; which sounds much more focused on not drinking alcohol than it actually is (it’s actually connected to a story about a friend almost dying from Anemia)… We do a complete health reset, food, exercising, as well as spiritual shifts. Any and everything we can do to make healthy choices. Along with pursuing all things health, my roommates and I decided it was time to return to a church community, and we took the month to visit a few churches to see where felt like home.

I also had my second surgery on my fingers to give me the best possible chance for fully functional fingers.

In October, we settled on a church that after visiting several places it just felt the most like home, it was also the a location of the church I had gone to the 8 hour bible study, so we were very much drawn to it because of the teaching. – It is the bring your Bible, take notes, and let’s work our way through scripture type, and felt a lot like honey to my soul. Honestly though, while I’m not yet comfortable in the church setting as a whole again, this particular church feels like a place where I can continue to heal, and one day be ready to step into being involved once more. But for now, I can go and learn, grow, be around other believers, take communion, sing worship songs, and be poured into.

At this point, I bounced back and forth between actively online dating and pausing my accounts for a week at a time to take a break. Online dating takes so much intentional work, and I was very discouraged, yet continued to feel like I should keep pursuing and practicing dating.

And, of course, at this point nothing in my life is ever absent of intentional finger healing, so of course I had stitches removed, daily stretches and exercises, and continuing to go to PT twice a week throughout everything…

November felt like such an interesting shift towards contentment and as though God was changing seasons for me or as though dawn was starting to arrive. When I look back at November, it feels like the Lord has put people, sermons, even instagram posts, and allowed me to have experiences that point towards hope being restored… It also probably helps that I made the decision that it was my turn to just “do the hard work” and spend daily time with Jesus in Scripture again rather than sporadically… For the first time in a little over a year I decided that no matter how I felt or how late I crawled into bed, I was spending time in His Word. It was time.

Also, one of the absolute biggest highlights from this month was that one of my closest friends in DC moved into our house, so now all of my best girl friends in DC live with me. It literally feels like our home is covered in peace, healing, laughter, and challenging authenticity.

December is always a fun change, and while it gets dark so early and begins to get cold, it is also such a beautiful time full of lights and fun outtings with people I love!

I’ve also found a unique level of peace and contentment in the unknown that I have not experienced in years. While I do not know what is to come and more heartache is possible, I also feel an unusual level of safety. There’s this still small voice inside sweetly reminding me that I can trust God to lead my heart once again. He loves me, He has changed me forever, and following Him will never be without unfair heartache, but obedience to Him means being fully his even when I don’t understand and it tears me apart… I have learned so much about the sweet tenderness of how Jesus heals us always. I do not yet have a clear yes or no with things, but what I do have right now is the beginning feelings of hope and a returned settling that the Lord makes all things new.

Fully Engaged Healing

Healing is a process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


(Two weeks after my surgery, when my stitches were going to come out)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


(Pins stabilizing my bones, and when the pins got pulled 6 weeks after surgery)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


(Before and after the Steri-Strips and scabs came off)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


(My second Surgery)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


(The day my stitches from my second Surgery were coming off)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


(As the scabs were healing from my second Surgery)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


(The straightening brace I’ve had to wear for a while, and my scar-healed fingers)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It has been a little over 6 months since my accident where I almost entirely cut off three fingers (everything except some skin/tissue). While I’ve had some decent injuries before, broken bones, dislocated hip with torn ligaments, car accident injuries, and endless number of minor dislocations or injuries; I have never had such a severe, traumatic or long-healing type injury with a huge level of uncertainty on the other side. As my Physical Therapist told me for weeks every time I asked if something was normal or to be expected, “Krista, nothing about this is normal.”

Literally half of 2019 for me has been entirely consumed with both pain and healing of equal measures.. But, the physical healing is coming on the heals of an all encompassing painful internal process to healing in 2018.

I have learned so much about healing from my accident, it weirdly has brought a lot of peace, and also so much clarity on my relationship with God… and with others.

2018 was painful, but the most prevalent element was the complete feeling of betrayal and abandonment by God. As though He had orchestrated it all, and then left me to wither away and die in the desert exactly like I had told Him I feared all along. – How do you pick up and continue to love and serve a God after that? I didn’t know, and honestly I don’t know that I have a clear answer even still, but what I do know is, my hand has been a painful miracle in every way. My accident has taught me more than I ever have cared to know about the nature of any type of healing and allowed me to see my process with God with more clarity.

So, here are a few things I have learned about healing, mostly this is for myself, but hopefully you find some encouragement from it!
These things are not in order of importance, just how I process.

“It Takes Time”
This is infuriating and at the beginning of healing I was just angry every time someone told me that it takes time to heal. I would angrily vent in my head about how time does not magically remove the pain, time cannot solve every wound… However, they also aren’t wrong, while time is not the only element in the healing equation, it is absolutely the foundation of healing. You simply cannot heal in any way without the gift of time.

And, in the midst of healing, time seems like anything but a gift because it means living through the painful slow moments, and sometimes it just feels like it is all too much. However, we don’t have to make it to six months from now, we have to make it through right this moment. God doesn’t ask us to have enough strength to survive for months from now, not even tomorrow, literally He just asks us to trust Him with the now, and to allow Him to take us to the next moment.

Grief takes time, your heart takes time to heal, injuries take time, emotions take time, perspective takes time, growth takes time, rest takes time… Everything takes time in order to become healthy.

When I cut through every bone, ligament, tendon, nerve, and muscle (all except for a little skin) on three fingers of my dominant hand, and once surgery was done to repair what was possible, from there it just takes time to heal. I literally had no option but to give my fingers time.

God chooses to take time, and to use the gift of time in creating a healthy “us” on the other side. It is not quick, it is not pain-free, and it cannot be avoided. – It is that simple.

The foundation of healing is that it takes time; and, I impatiently hate that, but we can’t get around it.

“You Must Do the Hard Work”
Second to time, is that there is actual hard work involved in healing. There is nothing that can substitute for hard work.

And while doing the hard work is not always the literal second step, because depending on the situation, sometimes the second step to heal properly is simply rest, or medication, or who knows what… but in terms of the longevity to healing, and in terms of importance, you must do the hard work involved if you actually want to get better.

There will inevitably come a moment when it is time to do the hard work. Sometimes that involves a therapist… or in my finger’s case, it meant a physical therapist. In other situations it involves taking a really hard look at your own mistakes and processing, in some instances it means addressing your own broken and toxic traits, and then doing the hard work to root out the problems in our own mind and heart that has created or holds us in unhealthy situations. Many times this step involves a lot of God time. And, unfortunately, the longer we put off the hard work of facing the pain involved in healing, the more painful and longer the healing will take.

The reality is that healing is more painful in every way than we ever expect, but it also must be faced head on and dealt with. We cannot sidestep or blame or point fingers or play any sort of avoidance game. – We just inevitably have to do the hard work of facing our own brokenness and limitations and put in whatever is required in order to heal.

My fingers needed twice a week Physical Therapy (from someone who I’m convinced is the best PT in the whole area!), but I also had HOURLY exercises, stretches and activities I had to do for months…. MONTHS (and continue to have to do for many more months to come). It has been so frustrating to feel like everything I did or do is followed up with finger exercises.

Shower and get ready to go somewhere – Exercise the fingers.
Go for a run – Exercise the fingers.
Go out to dinner with friends – Exercise the fingers.
Send work proposals – Exercise the fingers.
Watch a tv show – Exercise the fingers.
Make dinner – Exercise the fingers.
Wake up in the morning – Exercise the fingers.
Get ready for bed – Exercise the fingers.

Exhausting.

The level of intentionality is absurd, but it has also caused me to realize that the reality is, this IS the hard work of healing. – It is not fun, it is frustrating, annoying, exhausting, and most of the time I just simply don’t want to do the work. But, it has also sparked this idea; what if we took this same approach to internal or heart healing? Grief healing? Relationship healing? Anxiety healing?

What if after literally everything we did we took 5-15 minutes to stop, pray, and focus on doing whatever hard work is needed so that we can heal as totally and completely as possible? It would be a life changer.. And one I’m honestly not totally ready to take on and do in many areas of my life! haha (just being transparent)

But, let’s not forget, while doing whatever hard work is needed to heal is actually really painful, there is an emotional toll that doing the hard work takes on you too. We must face straight on the emotional toll and pain or we risk making it worse for much longer.

“These Emotions Won’t Last Forever”
One of the biggest things I have learned in this whole healing process is that just because I have a STRONG or visceral emotional reaction right now, does not mean that’s how I will feel in two minutes… or tomorrow. And, if my emotions can change so quickly, it probably shouldn’t be allowed to guide me, but must also be acknowledged.

In this process of healing, I have had to learn how to pause, acknowledge and create space for my emotions to be whatever they are right now, and be ok with that… Even, and maybe especially all of the really dark and negative emotions that are every bit of the process. The emotions need to be allowed to be, but also they must be controlled, and emotions are not meant as sole guides to what is true or false. I have also realized just how much my outward reactions to my emotions must be intentionally and appropriately communicated to those around me.

My emotions have honestly rarely accurately reflected the true situation in front of me. However, my emotions are an important part of the situation in front of me, they can even be helpful, but they just are not the sum total.

For example, the movements, things and places that caused me extreme anxiety when my accident first happened (for good reason) now almost six months later have become movements and place of joy and progress in my healing.

I have begun to practice mentally choosing to put a “pause” on reacting to or with my emotions. Instead I have actively decided much of the time not to engage or outwardly take the actions my emotions want until tomorrow, and then, if I still feel just as strongly the next day, then I allow myself the freedom to respond or take action.

More often than not, simply giving my emotions time (back to that time thing) helps me to gain perspective, and also not be a crazy person tossed about by every fleeting emotion in the healing process.

“Attitude Makes All the Difference”
We choose our attitudes, they actually do not control us. Just because you or I feel a particular emotion or allow an attitude to be expressed to everyone around us, does not actually serve as any clear indication of what is good and healthy.

No matter what, it is our choice. Our choice matters, especially when our emotions or attitude are negative, we have the literal ability to pause and choose. Feeling and acknowledging emotions does not mean giving them the power of control over you, you can tell people what is going on without giving into the chaos of the attitude.

When things are difficult, and we can decide to see the ridiculousness, absurdity, frustration, pain, and every other emotion with an appropriateness fit for the situation. Choosing your attitude truly makes ALL of the difference.

I have found that I can better let people into my feelings and situation when I communicate the fullness of it all, but also to choose to communicate the negatives accurately, and pair them with the positives and realism accurately. – Not allowing an attitude to control you/me/us takes the worst situations, and it creates spaces for so much laughter, so much support, and so many stories and memories that will never be forgotten because I choosing the correct attitude.

“Words Matter Inside Your Head”
Self-talk is one of the most important things while healing from anything.. Like literally talking to yourself in your head actually matters. And, I don’t mean fake fluffy nonsense, I am talking about calling out your own bull$h!t in your head, and correcting the falseness and lies when your own thoughts throw pity parties.

I cannot count the number of times my mental state has spiraled in the last year and a half, but especially the last six months.

No one knew what was going on in my head because it was often when I was alone, late at night, during a particularly intense and painful period of time with no immediate solution, and sometimes it was when someone would say something insensitive or that I didn’t understand, and I would spiral mentally.

It would go something along these lines:
“I can’t stand this (insert whatever emotion/person/frustration/pain), this is the worst. Why does this only happen to me? Other people have it so great, it’s never going to get better, this is going to be forever, how am I going to….” and then it would hit me how short sighted and shallow/immature I was allowing myself to be with this line of thought…

I would literally make the choice to change and pep-talk myself in my own head (I’m not someone who talks out-loud to myself):
“No, that’s not true. Right now DOES suck and it might actually just be the worst thing. And, it is true, other people have been BLESSED, but would I wish this terrible thing on them? No! I would not! But also, the reality is, this probably isn’t actually the worst. I’m just having a pity party. What I do know to be true is that this will also change. Life promises to never stop changing, and God even says that the seasons change and there is a time for everything. So, this is a time that sucks and hurts, but it won’t be forever, it’s just right now. Tomorrow will be different. I can do this.”

Or, I would be angry/frustrated/in pain:
“I can’t handle this, this is too much, I shouldn’t have to do this or deal with this.”

And I would realize that my selfish and self-centered game was ON POINT, and it was time to hit the reboot:
“I actually CAN handle this, it is not too much, and I’m strong. I will be strong, and I will make it through this, I just have to focus on right now.”

Even if I didn’t know that I actually believed it in the moment, I chose to say and decide these things. My inner dialogue game was strong, and I had a severe back and forth situation, but it was important to counter my own lies and actually choose not to believe everything I thought.

“Use All of Your Words”
I have spent SO MUCH TIME the last six months using all of my words to not only communicate needs and wishes, but also to communicate how I feel, how I’m choosing to engage in healing, and to give lots of updates on where my healing is at in the process.. But, by far, mostly I have used all of my words to just share my story. The level of love, care, support, encouragement, laughter, questions, and honestly just the vast far reaching community of people invested (so many people sending food or money) in my healing has been *hands down* ūüėČ the best part!

Vulnerability is never easy, and it’s certainly not easier for me. I just choose to use all of my words regardless of how I’m feeling, and not expect people to just know or assume what is best for me.

I still regularly get people messaging me to check in and wanting updates or to share a tip they know about healing. I love everything about sharing my healing story with other people because it always reminds me I’m not alone, and because it makes it much more fun and enjoyable! Sharing with others openly totally changes what is literally a traumatic and worst nightmare type situation into the least likely and yet really great connection with others.

So, use all of your words to share even the lowest worst parts because people connect with pain and brokenness and we heal better together. Don’t be a jerk with your words, don’t allow your emotions to cause harm to others, but share your experience and process.

“Take Your Medicine and Vitamins”
But for real, take your medicine as prescribed or take the medicine, even if it simply will help you sleep better. And also, vitamins have played a huge part in my healing process, even if it means going to the doctor to get blood work and see where you’re deficient, do it! Why not do everything possible to give ourselves THE BEST POSSIBLE CHANCE?!

I am 100% no longer the “I don’t like to take any medicines” person, and instead I am the “If I am not ok, I will take whatever I’m supposed to in order to be ok again.” person. – All it took was one night of running out of medicine several days early than my body was ready for to realize that my body cannot do the hard work of healing itself if I am not taking the appropriate medicine that allowed me to manage pain and sleep well.

Playing catchup with pain is no joke and honestly it is just dumb. – Follow your doctor’s orders.

Let’s all agree that allowing ego to get in the way is not a good idea no matter what…
Let’s also collectively give grace and celebrate with to those who have experienced healing in the power of Jesus name alone to praise the Lord for that healing; and those of us who need medicine in order to experience healing too, we also praise Jesus’ name for providing for us.

“We Need Other’s”
Over all, I have realized that healing of any kind has so many elements involved in the process, but it is not possible without intentionally being invested and allowing other’s to help and be a part as well.

Unfortunately, it is easy to get stuck and focus on one part of healing or worse, one part of the brokenness, but we need other people to keep us oriented towards Jesus and prevent us from staying where we are. I cannot stress it enough that we need other people around us while we heal.

“It Doesn’t Simply End”
There is no clear simple ending. When we are healing, we just aren’t suddenly better like a flipped switch. Healing looks like slowly tapering and moments of “oh, I’m no longer where I was” beautiful revelations!

I am not done healing at all, and I will continue to learn more about what this process looks like… But, I do know at this point that I have no option but to be fulled engaged in my healing so that on the other side of this, whether we’re talking about my fingers or my heart, I will be the best possible and healed version of myself.

The 8 of 2018

I’ve been putting off this blog post for a while now, mostly because it feels so much more real and vulnerable than some of the others I have written lately. Even though this whole fall has been incredibly intense and personal in general, I have purposefully written my blogs in a way that creates enough space for anyone reading it to connect it to themselves.

This blog post is just me, it is my story.

Every year, our pastor chooses a word or theme, and challenges us to do the same for the coming year. A couple of years ago, my theme was Never Dull, which you can read about here and was very much re-teaching me how beautiful and full life was in all moments. Life is Never Dull.

Last year, I had TEN words; It was ridiculous… Actually, in all honesty, I forgot about them a couple of months into the year. The chaos of the year overtook me, and it wasn’t until a friend mentioned them in a conversation sometime in October or so that I went back to my prayer journals to look them up again. – I was blown away to see that every single one of those words is what God was working on in me throughout 2017… Whether I remembered them or not didn’t actually change the fact that God worked on them in me despite what the year threw at me… The year was anything but peaceful, calm, tranquil, still etc…

I began praying about 2018 in October.

I started praying about it because I was feeling overwhelmed, fear-filled, and realizing that my heart didn’t trust God in a pretty substantial area.
I knew I needed to press in even more and let God work in and through me.
I knew that God had been speaking to me to “Hold Steadfast, Persevere, be Obedient.” But, I didn’t quite feel like these were the words or theme for 2018. And then November 2nd (a day when I was fasting), I felt like God clearly spoke to me “Love is patient“. And that has been rolling around in my head and heart since. The last six months has been one thing to the next that God is working on in me to rebuild and restore the trust that He didn’t damage. – But, even still, these are not the words or themes for 2018.

So, without even intending to, the word “Change” popped into my head out of nowhere as I drove back to DC from Atlanta. I was returning home after visiting my brother and his family for Thanksgiving; and road trips, along with the ocean seem to create space for my brain to think, process, and almost breathe deeply. However, because I always process and mull over things intensely, I began to think through how change was probably more my own self, and not from God. You see, not only am I accustomed to change, I love it (see all my random hair changes). I am used to major life change happening every couple of years, so I wasn’t confident that the word wasn’t just constructed by me. Yet, as I prayed over change, it seemed less of a tangible change (like previously it was new jobs, moving, etc..), and more of this feeling to “Watch and See the change around you. Change that I Am is going to do before your eyes without you controlling it.” – Yet, change just felt like my comfort zone word. So, after a week or so of praying over it, I decided to reach out to three girlfriends, and I asked them to pray for me/over me for my word or theme for 2018. I explained to them that I maybe had the word, but I was really uncertain, so without telling them my word, I wanted them to pray and come back to me and let me know what God spoke to them.

For the record… I very much love this accidental practice of asking other people to pray over/for you for your word/theme for the coming year; I will probably continue it in the future.

Four days later, the first girlfriend, in the middle of a conversation talking about something totally different, suddenly stopped and said, “Ok, the Lord told me that I have to share this word with you. I had that sudden check in my spirit and pit in my stomach.. So I have to tell you the word…” She had been praying for days and felt like she had a word, but also didn’t think it made sense and kept trying to pray for a different word; but in that moment, she was confident that the Holy Spirit wanted her to share it.

Watch. As in, step back and watch, observe and see all that God is going to do with anticipation.

Instantly, I knew that both Change and Watch were so interconnected that they were accurate. Confirmation. The feel descriptions that came with both words rolled one to the other exactly right and I knew that these two words had settled for 2018.

About a day later, the second girlfriend came and said, “I have three words.” (oh gosh)

The first is Re-Make. As in, let God remake you, remake and cultivate your foundation, changing who you are. Which you and He are already doing, but will continue and look different in 2018.
The second is Anticipant. – I don’t know that I’ve ever said the word Anticipant in my whole life. But, you need to be anticipant of what the Lord is going to do. Which leads to the third word, I think both of these words are going to restore Hope in you.
So, the third is Hope. God is going to remake your Hope, and you need to be open and anticipant of what He’s doing.

Change. Watch. Remake. Anticipant. Hope.

Are you noticing a theme?

The next day, the third girlfriend came and said, “I have two words.” (And then the next day said, “Actually, I have a third word, but I didn’t want to tell you the last one and wasn’t sure about it, so I needed to pray over it some more.“)

Open. Open-minded, Open-hearted, Open-handed. All three require dependence on him, abiding in following, and humility/soft heart. Which you’ve been doing, and I’ve seen start being more of a consistent trait in you.
Cultivate. Similar to open in that God has been helping you cultivate a bridge between your head and your heart. But it’s also a 2.0 feeling of cultivating new: community, career, you’re own voice, how you follow Him, hear His voice, and your character.
Pruning. One of my favorite explanations of pruning is that it doesn’t have anything to do with cutting or getting rid of what’s dead or not growing. Pruning has to do with there’s a limited amount of healthy supply and nutrients a plant can divide up. So pruning is all about prioritizing what is healthy and what/who gets your resources to remain healthy and balanced. Maintaining that balance takes cultivating.

In all honesty, the word Pruning gave me a little bit of ptsd from the end of 2013, and the entire year of 2014. Easily the hardest year and a half of my life, and one that took me almost all of 2015 to heal and recover from. Yet, after talking through it, it would seem that this pruning is more about creating space for God to do and move the way He wants to, creating a more healthy me in the process… Not so much the pain involved in severe pruning like 2014 was for me.

Change. Watch. Remake. Anticipant. Hope. Open. Cultivate. Pruning.

One of the things that is I think the most unusual thing about this whole process and these words, is that with each word and the description of the feelings behind them rolled right into each of the next words. I talked more about these words with the three of my girlfriends together after I had all of the words, and it seems pretty clear that this year will be So intense. So challenging. РBut not painful in an injury way.

Like, the difference between something being difficult and getting hurt vs being difficult and getting injured. Maybe a better way to say is it will be the type of pain involved when you exercise; you are breaking down muscles, making them sore and tired, but ultimately building them up and becoming stronger with more endurance in the process.

I believe very much that 2018 will be challenging, and full of intense growth, but that it will not be the type of painful that injures me; instead, I think this year will be the type of pain that comes with exercising.

I have passages of scripture for six of the eight the words for 2018:

Change – Romans 11:29 (ISV), 1 Samuel 10:6
Watch – Micah 7:7
Remake – Colossians 3:10
Anticipant – Psalm 40:1
Hope – Romans 4:18
Open
Cultivate – Psalm 90:12, 37:3
Pruning

                       The 8 of 2018.

I cannot even begin to pretend like I know all (or any) of what the Lord will do this year. I wish so much that I could have specifics, know exactly what I’m working towards.

Because I am who I am,
I want to grow faster and do better in this process.

But, that’s actually the point… growing faster and doing better¬†isn’t at all what 2018 is going to be about.

What I do know, is that these eight words are the areas that God is going to work on in me and through me.
He has every intention of rebuilding the areas of my heart where Trust in Him and His faithfulness is broken or simply not there.
He plans to use 2018 to completely change me, and make me more into the woman that He has intended for me to be all along.
He plans to use this year as a banner year to look back on, point to all the things that He did, and because of 2018, I will better be able to give Him honor and glory.
This year, I also have no doubt that I will learn how to hear Him and follow Him better.

But mostly, this year I will learn to Trust Him and believe in His complete Faithfulness.

Therefore¬†humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,¬†casting all your¬†anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.¬†Be of sober¬†spirit,¬†be on the alert. Your adversary,¬†the devil, prowls around like a roaring¬†lion, seeking someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:6-8

For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent¬†promises, so that by them you may become¬†partakers of¬†the¬†divine nature, having¬†escaped the¬†corruption that is in¬†the world by lust.¬†Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith¬†supply¬†moral¬†excellence, and in¬†your¬†moral excellence,¬†knowledge,¬†and in¬†your¬†knowledge,¬†self-control, and in¬†your¬†self-control,¬†perseverance, and in¬†your¬†perseverance,¬†godliness,¬†¬†and in¬†your¬†godliness,¬†brotherly kindness, and in¬†your¬†brotherly kindness, love.¬†For if these¬†qualities¬†are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor¬†unfruitful in the true¬†knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 2 Peter 1:4-8

 

Changing Slowly…

Lately I have been taking time to reflect on where I am internally compared to where I was almost five months ago.

Throughout each year, there are markers that serve as points to pause, reflect and compare to a year ago… Yet, this time, rather than reflecting on a year ago, I¬†find myself processing how much has happened inside of me since July of this year. I went into Uganda struggling very much internally, but not even really in a place to recognize it because of how hard and hectic May and June had been in every regard.

Before we left, I had begun asking God to reveal the lies I had been believing, and to restore hope where I had lost it… Then I closed that box of my heart, and got on a plane and launched myself to another continent.

Twice on the flight over I was asked how my heart was doing because people who know me, are aware of how much I struggle and have to actively work to link my head and heart well. I have had a habit of locking my heart up and setting it aside, especially if I am uncertain or overwhelmed by what I’m feeling.

Perfectly timed, around that same time before we left for Uganda, I also began asking God to help me navigate my head and heart well together. I had started to realize that Grace and Truth as well as Head and Heart are the balance of the Holy Spirit. God is perfectly both sides in unison, and in order to be more like Him, and more sensitive to His guidance, I too needed to start learning how to balance these things rather than setting one aside.

I was not prepared for the answer God was going to give me, nor the longevity of what it would mean to get the answers to these prayers.

I actually think if I had known how long and hard this all would be, I would have peaced out and quit right from the beginning. I am fairly confident I¬† would have shut my heart down and opted out of the process to protect my heart had I known the pain and struggle involved. Yet, one of the many graces in this whole journey has actually been my lack of knowing God’s timing. – I struggle with it all the time (as in allllll the time), but not knowing has also created a reliance on Him that I simply did not have before. Not knowing God’s timing has been so good too because I was unaware of the depths of intensity it would take to fix and heal certain areas of my heart, and just what it would mean to restore the trust and hope in God that I had lost. – Back in July it was as though my prayer for help balancing my head and heart caused God to lock my heart in the open position; it has been exhausting and overwhelming almost every single day since.

Even still, almost five months later, I regularly feel overwhelmed by how I am feeling, the ways I am changing, and how far I still have to grow. About once a week I have a late night meltdown over how exhausted and weary I feel internally due to actively processing every day. I am given the option to choose to grow and learn more about who I am supposed to be in Christ, and to face the ways in which I lack in trust/faith/fruit of the spirit (throw a dart at some character trait and I’m probably working on that too)… I assure you, it is Not. Easy. Nor. Fun.

But, God does not force me, He allows me the freedom to choose to face these things or quit… However, because of who God has made me, I will not give up, and I will choose to daily engage in this process of growth and change.

My journal of prayers is getting record use (literally). The current one (each one is 40 sheets/80 pages) is my 4th one in just about four months…

But so that there is no patting me on the back with congratulations: My prayer journal just makes me look like a crazy person.

Seriously, going back and reading the day-to-day prayers, they just swing widely back and forth, it’s embarrassing, but also they are incredibly intimate and real. These prayers reflect my struggle, my anxiety, my fears, my heart wide open and effort that it all takes, but also the ever so slow changes that are taking place, and just about every emotion possible finds its way into my prayers.

These journals are very how I am choosing to press closer to God and processing all of my tension, thoughts, and emotions.. But, in all honesty, they just really make me look like a wackadoodle. I wish I could share about how sweet the prayers are, but no. The sheer level of back and forth my prayers exhibit is ridiculous; the overwhelming emotions, the joy, thankfulness, the over analyzing things, the confusion and uncertainty, the copied scripture trying to help me grasp onto solid truth amidst the chaos of feelings, the waffling ebb and flow with how I feel vs what my head knows… EXHAUSTING.

Yet, I am also currently reading through the book of Psalms: I feel like my journal looks a bit like David’s prayers and hymns.

Some are so sweet, loving, encouraging, full of thanksgiving, while others are all raging and demanding that God do something (usually an overreaction to an emotion or situation). Some are declarations of praise, faith, love, and hope, while others are full of anger, sorrow, and despair. – This could literally be the description of my prayer journals AND the book of Psalms… So, I guess that is comforting?

At the end of every journal (about every six weeks currently), I go back and review it. I re-read things I have prayed for, asked God about, passages of scripture I copied, and then compare them to my calendar and remember what was going on that day. Every few weeks I am amazed at all that the Lord has done, how I feel about those days after the fact or in light of things that happened a few days later. I marvel and thank God again for answers to prayers, and for His continued patience, grace, and tenderness as I try to press in, learn, and grow.

But, let’s be honest: It. Is. So. Hard.

Several months ago I felt like God told me three things:
Hold Steadfast.
Persevere.
Be Obedient.

Then about a month ago I felt like God added Faith, Hope, Love.

As I review my journals, I am amazed at what it looks like to hold steadfast, persevere, and be obedient, and how these three things play out (and don’t). Previously I never would have been able to accurately identify what it truly looks like to hold steadfast and persevere, because I struggle each day with them. – Before all of this, I would have felt as though the level of my struggle daily would clearly indicate I was not in fact holding steadfast; yet as I go back over my prayer journals, I realize in the long haul it absolutely does. Holding steadfast and persevering doesn’t mean a lack of experiencing emotions or struggle, it means turning to God with every single little bit of it, and remaining there with Him.

I have learned that holding steadfast and persevering throughout scripture leads to faith, hope and love… but also proven character. It is in the journey, the long haul, the process that we refine, create, and prove who we are at our foundational core. But, let’s not dismiss how much proving character takes time, and is incredibly difficult and oh so awkward of an imperfect process.

In the last couple of months I have begun to see the transformation, and just how much I am changed forever because of the time pressing into the Holy Spirit and expressing all the things to God. Choosing to return back to Him with every little thing has changed the way in which I handle joy, hope, failures or despair on a daily basis. Because of the difficulty of modifying who I am on the inside, there has been an increase in desire to spend dedicated time every day with God; I am not entirely sure I can name any period of time in my entire life that I felt this way for months on end… I am so incredibly grateful (and hope it continues, recognizing seasons of life and all).

I long for connection with God, I need time to tell Him how I am, ask for what I want, and process everything that I’m struggling with. Every day there is a nuance to the areas He is work on growing in me, and whatever is heavy on my heart or mulling around in my head that day also gets some much-needed time laid before Him.

Now months into this whole process, I realized this week, on one particularly intense and emotional day full of stress, frustration, anxiety etc.. I still had the clarity and presence of mind to actively choose my responses. I was not swept away in any explosion of emotion and even the intensity with which I experienced my feelings was still there just like before, but despite it all, I found myself able to actively chose grace and patience. – Well that’s new…¬†and not easy.

I have started to realize over the last couple of weeks that the force with which I feel and experience my emotions has not changed at all. God has not lessened who I am or the passion and intensity that I process, feel or express things; instead, He has changed my ability to see perspective, have understanding, and respond in grace and love. It is as though the spring that feeds into my heart-well is different, and therefore what is coming out is also distinctively changed, but that I am who I have always been in many ways, just a better version of that person.

A couple small excerpts from one of my prayers at the end of a particularly difficult day recently:
Thank you for being with me and giving me the extra measure of grace, patience, and presence of mind to choose my responses…
Help me to follow your leading better tomorrow. Give me more wisdom and understanding, and bless me with a greater capacity to love well…
Forgive me for the things I said and did today that did not line up with you. Forgive me for the things I missed…
Show me how to trust you more and be confident in your faithfulness more…

It has been an interesting experience reading through my prayers over the last few months,¬†I would never have chosen this ahead of time had I known how hard it would be. I also have realized that I would never have been able to predict beforehand the ways in which I would respond (good or bad) to how God would grow and make me new. Yet, through it all, I am starting to recognize the small ways He has shown up and proven Himself trustworthy and faithful. But, above all, recognizing this gaining familiarity with Him as I spend more time communicating with Him. His presence and “voice” feel different to me now than they did in July (or previous to that).

My daily struggle to hold steadfast, persevere, and be obedient is still going strong.
Learning how to love well is not easy.
Finding and growing my faith and hope feels ambiguous, but slowly I am realizing that it is creating a foundation I did not have previously.
Making decisions against my own insecurities, and choosing to share my heart rather than shut it down and set it aside is still incredibly hard.

I am not the same person I was a few months ago.
My heart has changed. I have changed.

It has been a slow sometimes arduous process, and it certainly is nowhere near complete, but I am also incredibly grateful… and exhausted.

I am learning that the process and journey is full of challenges and pain (there are good and joyful times too, but let’s be honest, we don’t need people to identify with our good times as much), but it is worth it to become more of who God intends for you to be.

Choose to face it all head on, experience every emotion, and sift through them with the creator of your heart; it will change you forever and it will be so good.

Getting Your Want Back…

A while ago I posted about the intense and intimate season God and I are in… I have had several people ask me what I’ve done to “get” that…

The honest answer: Go through a hard season and press into Jesus at the same time.

I’ve been through rough seasons before… Some way worse and others not as bad. Some I started in a super healthy place, and others I felt like I was dragging and clawing my way into the desert season already starving and dying.

Maybe you feel like you’re in pain and He’s absent or silent.
The passion has turned mundane or boring and bland.
The overwhelming feelings are negative… or maybe just a deep feeling of ambivalence.
Praying is more rote than meaningful.

Let’s be honest here, going through the motions suck (I would venture to use other descriptive words too.. but you get the idea), but when you don’t know what else to do… you sort of just keep plugging forward hoping something eventually gives or sticks and makes you feel differently. (Or maybe that’s just me)

It was probably 4-5 years that I ebbed and flowed between feeling nothing particularly interesting in my spiritual walk, a few moments of connection with the Lord, a few seasons of intense pain and struggling, and then grateful to feel pretty much just “ok” about God and I… But, honestly, nothing particularly fulfilling or satisfying, much less internally all-encompassing and changing.

My heart and soul were definitely in a drought season… and it was sprinkled with some rains to keep the well surviving, but definitely not life abundantly.

Don’t get me wrong, life had these amazing moments, incredibly fun weeks full of laughter and satisfaction; but, deep down, there was no deep and moving elements impacting my relationship with God… It just sorta, was there; plugging along like normal, mostly mundane and comfortably boring, but it was dedicated and persevering none the less.

I hated that.

I was also coming off of an intensely painful season of life, and it took me a long (long) time to find my way back to healthy. – Then it took me an even longer time (almost a full year) to desire to wrestle through how I felt about the idea that “The Best is Yet to Come” or that God wanted me to live a life of abundance that is full of joy… I really had totally forgotten what it felt like to feel overwhelming joy and peace that could only come from the Lord anyway.

Slowly, over the course of about a year and a half (2016 and into the beginning or 2017), I started desiring God again. I wanted to want a close intimate relationship with him again…

Here is where I’m supposed to actually tell you how to get your “want” back with the Lord… How to turn around from your struggles of connecting, to suddenly (realistically slowly) begin to rebuild and make it all better… To find that meaningful connection with God.

But, let’s be honest, as much as I wish I had a three-step process for you or a formula that is simple, the reality is, it just isn’t simple.
My journey isn’t yours.
My season isn’t where you find yourself.
My struggles are not where you are.
What worked for me isn’t a three-step process… It was much more all-encompassing.
The only thing I know is that I had to choose to press into the Lord no matter how I feel. – That was the biggest shift.

I had decided that no matter the time it took me each day, I needed God’s face in mine to deal with this season I was/am in.

Our heart, and our journey is complex; it’s hard and complicated, sometimes overwhelming, and full of sorrows. But, when it all boils down to it, when you’re ready, you have to desire a healthy relationship with our Lord more than you desire Netflix, dinner with friends, or any other activity or distraction. It takes determination, but mostly it takes setting aside of your pride and own selfishness.

If you have decided that in your pain, sorrow or struggle and with all of your feelings that you won’t turn to God and force it all onto Him… Then your pride is still in your way. What have I learned and continued to fight for? God to speak to me. Each day it looks more like an emotional, mental, physical $h!tshow that really isn’t pretty, but over time God is changing me, changing our communication, He is healing and slowly restoring what was broken and hurt.

So, no matter how you feel: You. Need. God. To. Fix. It.

How do you get your want back?
I don’t know, but I can share what I am doing now,¬†and what I have been doing the last few months that HAS actually helped me get my want and desire back from the Lord.

God is speaking to me more in the last few months than He has maybe ever in my entire life. – But, I am also trying to connect with Him each day.

Music.

Sometimes. Eh, no, actually probably most of the time, worship music gives my heart, soul and spirit words to connect my emotions to my Sweet Savior that I just do not have on my own. I feel like in the dark and hard times of life, in the grateful, overwhelmed, and everything in between, worship music fills the air with the spirit and presence of God. When I’m hurting the most, I likely do not have the words to speak, but my emotions need to express anyway, and music creates a way to do that.

I believe that the Holy Spirit meets us in those moments and spaces where life just is hard and hurts… Or maybe we are longing and struggling. When we are trying to press into the Lord more, but just feel lost, abandoned, or maybe just too numb to feel Him there at all. – I think worship music creates a safe place for rest and is a salve to our raw hearts.

Recently I have found that my heart is struggling to choose Faith, Hope, and Love… and peace over anxiety and fear. The most tangible way I have found to calm the fear and anxiety is by playing worship music; when it is playing, my mind is paying attention and reciting the words, and subsequently, I’m not paying attention to the struggling, but rather speaking life into my own mind. It feels a bit like the words are washing over and through me.

So, find new worship music for whatever season you find yourself in, and let it wash over you and speak for your heart. – Ask me if you need some fresh recommendations.

Journaling.

The church I attend, is huge on journaling, taking notes, listing gratitudes, and writing down prayers. – I journal prayers.

Why?: Because we often forget our prayers, and then later lose track of being able to thank God for what He has done, and we are unable to give Him honor and glory later or point to the journey, process and miracles He did along the way.

Journaling prayers also makes me feel less crazy… And my prayers are more focused.

I have realized in the last year alone that I have written prayers on specific days or long forgotten prayers that the Lord amazingly showed up; He answered, He proved Himself faithful, He was present and He carried me through. And yet, I had forgotten all about the prayers and would never again remember them if I hadn’t written them down. Going back and re-reading them, I also didn’t realize I was lining my prayers up ahead of time for a specific reason or season… The level of awe and honor that God got and gets for how He worked in those seasons simply wouldn’t be possible without having written them down.

On the flip side, one of my absolute biggest regrets from the most painful season of my life (so far) was that I did not journal my prayers. I have no record of the nuances of ways that the Lord showed up and was present in my suffering. I cannot tell you the little ways that my Sweet Savior carried me when I was too numb to notice. I actually had to go back and spend some time apologizing to God for this, and now I tell everyone to journal prayers no matter how they feel! – God deserves the credit, but you’ll never see it in the midst of the pain, only afterwards will you find yourself blown away and grateful for what He did and how He showed up.

Praying.

Sounds simple, but prayer matters.. and not just prayer, but prayer on behalf of others, prayer every day for the same thing; repeatedly going to God over and over. Absolutely pray for yourself, but don’t forget petition for others, like pray as if their life depended on it (because it might).

There is just something about the needs and urgency of praying for and over other people that will put a bit more weight behind my prayers. More yearning and desiring for the Lord to answer and His faithfulness to shine through.

Read Yo Bible.

Yes, I know, seems obvious and maybe clich√©, and you’re probably doing that already. – Unless you’re in a season like I was a few years ago, and I just Could. Not. Read. My. Bible.

But truly, find a topic, press in.
Find a book and begin – Psalms, Isaiah, Timothy, Ephesians, Philippians, John.. Somewhere, just start.

OR… Find themes/topics and research them.

The last couple of months for me has looked like this:
Find a word/theme,
Look up the definition for the word, then write down all the synonyms,
Biblegateway.com the word – usually in multiple version of the Bible,
Read through ALL of the different passages that have that word in it,
Expand some of the verses to get context or read the whole chapter,
Then, copy the pertinent verses into my journal…
Sometimes copy the passage in my journal in a couple different versions

It takes a long time. It’s worth it.

Fast.

Listen, I. Am. Bad. At. Fasting.

Actually, I’m pretty much just bad at fasting food… Everything else is pretty easy; which means I need to continue to fast food. *facepalm*

Like seriously, I’ve been legit practicing fasting over the last year or so… Thankfully, I’ve gotten significantly better, but dag yo, it’s hard. I’ve had to make clear rules and guidelines for myself to help me learn how to do it better. I’ve done just about everything wrong as I learn how to fast, including the “I actually just starved myself today because I forgot to pray or read my Bible while I fasted.” – Terrible.

It’s called a spiritual practice for a reason… You have to practice it in order to perfect it and get good.

Also, know SPECIFICALLY what you are fasting for. Unless you are an expert at fasting, you need something to focus all your prayers towards.

Have a plan. Set reminders, spend your lunch walking and praying… Make decisions ahead of time to help you succeed on this day of fasting!

Also, it’s helpful to know, often my fasting days are really hard and frustrating days. I get annoyed very easily. – Neat.

Find a Study or Book.

Sometimes, when you just cannot pull it together in your head, finding a study helps. A book or study that someone else has done all the research and reading to craft and create for you on a topic or need. Dig in.

Listen to Sermons.

I happen to think my church has some amazing sermons, on a plethora of topics (no really, you can go back YEARS and look for series’ that sound interesting or speak to your season.)
But, so does Northpoint, Elevation, LifeChurch, Crosspoint, Newspring etc..

Find Community.

Genuine and authentic community makes all the difference. Choose some people and don’t do this alone.

Don’t let your own struggle and pride be what keeps you in this season any longer than you’re supposed to be.

Some of the most healing, restoring, encouraging, and challenging things for me are found sitting around a table with food, drinks and talking through hard, authentic, and complex life things with people I trust and love. It takes vulnerability and it takes courage, but it is worth it. – If you do not have people in your life who can do this or be this for you, let’s talk.

Change Up Your Routine.

Changing the timing of what I do, the place I do things, the cadence to my time with Jesus has also been a huge help. My pastor Mark Batterson always says “Change of pace, plus change of place, equals change of perspective.” – It has absolutely been true for me in this season of learning how to press in each day no matter how I’m feeling.

Find your grit to get back to the Lord.
He will meet you there.

Also, I want you to know, none of these things I list mean that each day hasn’t been hard… Different types of challenges, new graces, new words, emotions and tears.. But, you must find your perseverance and determination to dig in and grip with everything you are to our Lord. Decide you won’t let go until God speaks to you and meets you there. He will meet you there, but never when or how you expect Him to.

Prove your grit and character; you can do it and He is faithful.

While I cannot say with absolute certainty that these methods that sparked my own “want to get closer to God” again will work for you, I’m also willing to bet that you might be stubborn enough to try it for three or four months… And if that is the case, I’m actually confident that your spiritual life will never look the same.

Learn everything you can, steward this time and season well.
Don’t let what you are going through go to waste or be for naught.
Don’t be prideful enough not to need God or anyone else to get through this.
Don’t blame anyone else, even if your situation is someone else’s fault, it is up to you and God to dig in and do the work to get through this season and heal.
Don’t let where you are now prevent you from going to God in all the rawness and authenticity.

Also, for the record, this list of things doesn’t mean that it won’t also be a $h!tshow. – It is likely to still be hard and painful, exhausting, overwhelming, but also full of peace and love. It may be the hardest season of life you have ever fully engaged in… It will be all of the things as you work out your faith and salvation with love, fear and trembling.

For I am about to do something new.
    See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
¬†¬†¬†¬†I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”
– Isaiah 43:19

Just Enough Grace…

Sufficient.

This is the word that has been bouncing around in my head, poking holes in my fears and anxieties as I work to clean out the damaged parts of my heart and replace them with more of my Sweet Savior.

IMG_4872

suf¬∑fi¬∑cient: /s…ôňąfiSH…ônt/:¬†adjective & determiner:¬†enough; adequate.

Synonyms include:
Plenty of, ample, just right.

Compound Sufficient with Grace.

grace: /…°rńĀs/:¬†noun:¬†the condition or fact of being favored by someone. a divinely given talent or blessing.¬†simple elegance or refinement of movement.

“My Grace is Sufficient.”

I have been processing different facets of what and where my fears and anxieties come from. I want to understand myself, my heart and mind, and I want to see the flaws clearly.
The simple answer: My fear and anxiety is from insecurities, lack of trust in God, and feeling out of control… But, ultimately it has been born out of previous pain and hurt projecting into the future. – Neat.

The last few days I have found myself praying:
“Your Grace is Sufficient. Your Grace is just right for ______.”¬† – Insert myself, another person or situation… And then, just repeat a bit obsessively and you’ll get an idea of how some of my prayers sound.

And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for¬†power is perfected in weakness.’¬†Most gladly, therefore, I will rather¬†boast¬†about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.¬†Therefore¬†I am well content with weaknesses, with¬†insults, with¬†distresses, with¬†persecutions, with¬†difficulties,¬†for Christ‚Äôs sake; for¬†when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

In the NLT version it reads: “…’My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’…”

Three alternate word choices:
There is plenty of my grace for you.
My grace is just right for you.
The fact of my favor and blessing is exactly enough for you.

I have not quite reached the level of boasting in my weaknesses, insults, distresses or difficulties. (Anyone else?)
A more authentic description would be: I still very much wrestle with giving God unmitigated control of a situation; EVEN IF I know that I only have perceived control.

On one hand, I very much pray through things, pray about them, over them, for them… I try to press into my Sweet Savior for all things and in all situations. – “Try” being the key word here.
Yet, on the other hand, there is a side of me that cannot seem to let go without a struggle. So, I end up with one hand on the thing I’m praying for or over and one hand gripped onto Jesus. – Let me assure you, there’s an intense and often intimate conflict within me until one hand releases… And, the only thing that ushers in peace is when both hands grasp onto Christ.

In Matthew we are told not to worry about tomorrow. – It sounds nice and like a solid peace of advice, until you realize that it is actually necessary to abide by this rule. Over the last couple weeks I have realized that if I begin to think about, plan for or rehearse things in my head looking forward beyond today:

Instant stress, fear and anxiety struggle within me.

In fact, the enemy of my soul knows how easily “thinking about things in the future” is a spot he can scheme against me. So, because he’s been studying me and knows when and how to attack, for me it is as I go through my bedtime routine (usually about when I’m brushing my teeth). I will often suddenly find myself thinking about future things, and my mind takes off at 100mph with fake scenarios and conversations under the guise of “processing all possible outcomes” and then, getting it all to shut down so I can sleep becomes virtually impossible.

The enemy of my soul is an @$$hole.

“‚ÄėDo not¬†fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous¬†right hand.‚Äô” – Isaiah 41:10

A couple of nights ago the stress was palpable. I could feel it within me as I climbed into bed and found myself totally not ready to sleep. I was exhausted, feeling weary and overwhelmed from the day and what was to come. I uttered a few weak little prayers in my head for help, and then decided I would start at the beginning of the Psalms, maybe there was something there for me. (Imagine me saying that with a nonchalant shoulder shrug.)

So, I read the first four chapters of the Psalms, but decided to share with you the portions that screamed for my attention and why.

Here’s how our “conversation” went as I laid in bed:

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And¬†in whatever he does,¬†he prospers.” – Psalm 1:3

Conveniently this was my ‘take note’ memo because I have a vast tree tattooed on my side… Ok, maybe the Lord did have something for me tonight.

But You, O Lord, are a shield about me,
My glory, and the One who lifts my head.
I was crying to the Lord with my voice,
And He answered me from His holy mountain. Selah.
I lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the¬†Lord¬†sustains me.” – Psalm 3:3-5

This is when I realized that God and I were actually having a moment; I was struggling and crying out to Him, I was laying down to sleep! РHe was answering me and His plan was to sustain me.

Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have relieved me in my distress;
Be¬†gracious to me and¬†hear my prayer…
But know that the Lord has set apart the godly man for Himself;
The Lord hears when I call to Him.
Tremble, and do not sin;
Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
Offer the sacrifices of righteousness,
And trust in the Lord
You have put gladness in my heart,
More than when their grain and new wine abound.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep,
For You alone, O¬†Lord, make me to¬†dwell in safety.” – Psalm 4:1, 3-5, 7-8

God gives peace and relieves distress. He is gracious and hears when I am calling, I do not call out in vain when I am laying on my bed – like actually literally laying on my bed and being still.¬†I will trust, even if it looks more like convincing myself because I’m struggling… But, I will sleep in peace because the Lord makes me to live in a settled state of safety in Him.

That night, I slept well.

His Grace is sufficient.
His Grace is just right for me as I lay down to sleep with a mind dabbling on the edge of overcome with stress about whatever is to come; He is there and I am safe.

His Grace is sufficient.

Synonym meaning:
His simple elegance and refinement of my movement is just right for me.

Cultivating Patient Endurance…

I have always said “I am not known for my patience…”

I don’t recommend identifying yourself as even a simple thing that is not from the Lord.

I naturally tend towards the side of being a bit of a whirlwind, charge ahead, figure it out as I go, and fly by the seat of my pants type person. I like to keep moving, feeling progress, and feeling stuck or stagnant feels more like jail than anything else. Can you imagine how I feel when God forces me to stop, pause, dwell, abide, and wait on Him?

Struggle.

On one hand, I desperately want to be obedient. But, on the other it is fighting my natural instincts. I feel a bit like a caged horse just anxious to move, to do something, to go, to take off and make progress.

Ahhh, but you see, patience is essential. Patient endurance is actually key to life with the Lord. – Crap.

I have been learning so much over the last couple of months, my themes get progressively harder and more nuanced. Each theme takes on a compounding weight with the previous themes…

But, true to form, here I am to share some of what I am learning.

Patient Endurance РIt means the tolerant and even-tempered perseverance. It is the capacity or state of withstanding a hardship or stress, the act of persevering. The fact or power of bearing pain, hardship, or adversity.

If you have not, you may want to go read more about what I have been learning about Perseverance and Grit, or just a few of the themes God has given me to process.

For the longest time (aka pretty much my entire life) I have sorta separated out the Fruit of the Spirit. I have split them into two categories: the ones I am good at, and the ones I’m bad at. Naturally a lot of my life and actions are done through the lens of Kindness (pre-meditated thoughtfulness, consideration, and care for those around me)… Every single day, I am typically keenly aware of how what I do impacts those around me (sometimes for the worse, but also for the better).

Because honesty matters; what Fruit of the Spirit am I naturally bad at? Gentleness and Patience. – Shocked is no one ever.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, depending on the day, if I’m in a particularly unhealthy place, I’m bad at most of the Fruit of the Spirit!.. But, overall, on average, Gentleness and Patience are the struggles.

(A couple of years ago, my church did an “Elements” series. It was awesome, and I highly recommend checking it out to give you a good starting place too!)

So, I keep coming back to this:

“If we live by the Spirit, let us also¬†walk¬†by the Spirit.”
– Galatians 5:25

When we are in-tune with the Holy Spirit, the evidence of that is each and every one of these descriptors:
Love,
Joy,
Peace,
Patience,
Kindness,
Goodness,
Faithfulness,

Gentleness,
and Self-control

Yet, throughout scripture I’m realizing that these qualities are not all equal. Some Fruit of the Spirit are gifted, others you actually have to work towards diligently, still others are primarily an overflow of time abiding with God, unfortunately some are straight up a willful decision in moments and situations, and then some are just cultivated over time.

Awesome. Not easy.

Self-control is cultivated.
Gentleness is a choice response; usually after wisdom and compassion have had a chance to work in and through us.
Patience, oh sweet dear patience is cultivated through difficulties. Repeatedly throughout scripture patience is linked to humility, gentleness, kindness, tribulations, proven character, hope, faith and love. – Ouch. There’s really no great and wonderful rainbows and butterflies; this one is a matter of grit.

Patience is cultivated.
Patience is learned and created through difficult situations, learning, growing and choosing the response.
Patience is born out of some of the worst seasons of our life that create compassion and love for others.

Also, just so we are clear, there is a huge element of patience that is connected to pressing into the presence of God. I have started to actually see the shift and change within me as I continue to spend more time abiding, dwelling, and going to God open-handed with every bit of who I am with the situations I am facing.

Here are a few things about patience that I am learning about in this accidental growth in patience processing season:

Patience cultivation is so freaking hard. – Like truly, learning patience means being aware of your mindset, your heart, the stress and situations you are facing, and being aware enough to know how to respond well… Even if that means actually not responding at all.

Patience is equated with perseverance, which means there is a longevity associated with it. There is nothing quick about patience cultivation.

Patience is a process. As in, I have realized that as I respond poorly in situations with little or no patience, I absolutely must spend some time processing what and why I didn’t have patience and learn from it.

I have realized that when I do not have capacity for patience, I am stress and overwhelmed, and likely tapped out. My only option and saving grace is for me to force space for myself to spend some time with God. – Over the last couple months, I have come to realize, no matter how busy I am or how pressed I feel, if I do not create daily time and space with God, patience is going to dwindle alarmingly quickly for me.

God is continuing to tell me to hold steadfast, to persevere, and then issuing the challenge of “are you going to be obedient?”… Only, the challenge has shifted slightly to “do you have the patient endurance to persevere through the process?”

What process?

This process; the re-shaping, learning, growing, and creating a new foundation within me.
This process is changing me intensely and incredibly from the core of who I am outward.
God has changed the game, He has adjusted the way He and I communicate, and He is teaching me about patient endurance day by day.
A huge part of this process has been God restoring the credibility I didn’t know had been damaged. I have started learning how to recognize my need for time with Him first before reaching out to someone else for comfort… It’s a huge step for me.

Each day, I feel as though I am living out and learning that in order to actually have patient endurance, I have no choice but to live by the, “So do not¬†worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will¬†care for itself.¬†Each day has enough trouble of its own.” command in Matthew 6.

What’s coming soon, the stress of tomorrow or two weeks from now, it is literally too much to handle and it sends my fear, stress and anxiety over the edge… And graciously, lovingly with more tenderness than I realize, the Lord calls me back to today, to this moment, to Him, and asks me to Trust Him. – Allow Him to navigate the process and restore my faith and His credibility as I learn patient endurance. Some days, I easily do this with the feeling of contentment and grace, other days I am a waffling crazy person in my head and heart…. Who’s to say which way I will go each day!

Patient Endurance is intensely difficult because there’s a decision to choose steadiness that requires me to resolutely and dutifully hold firm and unwavering regardless of how I feel or see before me.

Patient Endurance begins to create a peace within your soul because of the time needed in abiding and dwelling with my Sweet Savior.

Patient Endurance forces me to confront my fears and the things I do not have control over and hand them over to the Lord trusting that His timing is better.

Patient Endurance changes you and slowly creates a calm confidence that God can be trusted.

God can be trusted. His timing is better than mine.

It will all be worth it in the end.