Allowing the Wall to Fall

“There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.” – Corrie ten Boom

Having just returned from a retreat weekend I am NOT stuck in a pit but rather experiencing high highs and low lows. My thoughts bounce on a virtual trampoline – up, down and then flipping over. 

One of the things mentioned this weekend is that depression and gratitude can not coexist. I do not like the word depression but rather the concept of an obstacle which removes me from experiencing joy – not happiness, joy. Joy being the foundation of gratitude. On this concept I can agree  – lack of joy and gratitude can not coexist. Those obstacles can be life experiences which hurt us – wound us. Like a healing cut forms a barrier we put barriers around the wounded places of our hearts. 

In God’s plan He gave these experiences to us to strengthen us. Even our most hurtful experiences are His to use. I wrestle with God on this, saying “yes” then turning around and screaming “NO! I can’t! That is too much! Don’t make me go there! It still hurts so much!”

This battle of wills has gone on for over 10 years. God has been calling me to share my life experience with others to bring them healing and comfort in the realization there are others who have felt the same pain and ask the same questions. 

God nudged at me to share my experience this weekend and I said, “Not now”. He pushed me and I fought Him.  He asked me why and said it would be ok. He assured me He had prepared me and stands with me. I said, “Ok, I will try if you give me a sign for the timing”. A sign came up and I trusted and spoke. He said, “Now that wasn’t so hard was it? Do it again. Someone else needs to hear it.” …and I wrestled. How can my pain help someone else? Why do I have to relive it? Why can’t I leave it in yesterday? Don’t make me do this!

The next day something the speaker said spoke to my heart. Speaking of moving from our inward journey to God we get stuck behind a wall. When we surrender and allow God to move us we can remove the bricks letting God show up to do the work through us. When God does the work through us we are free to give ourselves to others and aid them on their journey.

At this point I surrendered for the the day and said “Yes, LORD. I am listening. I will do your will. Give me the sign to speak.”

The light of God came through the wall I had built up and it was warm and radiant and I felt such peace in the light. And I looked for the sign.

The sign came and I shared. And it hurt and it hurts still. And it is who I am and it  is how I came to trust Him. In my brokenness I trusted Him and it is the message I needed to share. Even in the deepest darkest part of the pain He is there. We don’t know the reason for our hurt but somehow in God’s plan it is for the betterment of someone you just meet and they need to hear  – they are NOT alone. Because life is hard and we need each other to be the face of Jesus in our hard spots because we can see be seen and He can not. Because He first loved us and His love needs to come through us!!!

So today I find myself bouncing between great joy and gratitude of making a break through my wall, seeing the light God offers, and hiding behind the bricks remaining obstructing my view.

I don’t want … see I still wrestle…this to be my ministry. But…Yes LORD, speak, your servant is listening.

Learning to see the light

It is still amazing to me how quickly a day can become dark when I fail to seek God in all things.

Today has been a terribly dark day where I felt alone, abandoned, confused, and frightened. Everything got under my skin to irritate me. Nothing went right. Disappointment greeted me around every corner. Essentially I have been bombarded with negative chatter and I let it affect me in the most unglorious way possible. I spent hours having myself my own little pity party fighting back tears or letting them flow freely when no one could see. Instead of turning around and facing the light of God I chose to remain in the dark. Having done an excellent job of wasting the day and therefore wasting a day filled with God’s grace for me.

As late afternoon approaches I finally turned around and looked for courage and strength right where I should have started in the first place, by placing my trust in God and His glorious plan for me.

Clearing out emails I came a upon the two devotionals I received today. The first by Ann Voskamp (http://www.aholyexperience.com  Aug 13th birthday journal entry.) She talks about ”the dark’s got you in a chokehold.” Also, the ”black numbness hardening up on the inside of you and you couldn’t care a rat’s bony hind leg if the sun ever shows its face again or if you eat again, carbs, chocolates, or otherwise.” (Exactly how I felt!) She went on to explain about her G.I.F.T. (Give It Forward Today) intentional acts of kindness birthday.

”The surest way out of your darkness — is to turn on the light for somebody else.

G.I.F.T. Blitz your town. And you defeat your own dark. You defeat a bit more of the dark of the whole world.

And in being the G.I.F.T. —  you feel even the broken being broken and you being fixed.”

This is exactly what worked to break my black mood! I called an elderly friend of mine who I help out. I just called to check in with her and she was so please to hear from me I was lifted up!

The next email I read was from Proverbs 31 Ministries. Lysa TerKuerst talks about ”When my happy gets bumped” http://us2.campaign-archive2.com/?u=f63562b3be485ea0ae33acf18&id=c162aebd4b&e=8c79fce880
By arming myself in the word and turning toward the light I foil the plans of the great deceiver.

While I might not be happy today I am now in a better position to see the gift of this day and give thanks for what I have been given.

So now I sit in my new comfy new anti-gravity lawn chair (bought for 85% off!) contemplating the next chapter of life. I still have much angst in my heart but I know it is really just the beginning of a new adventure. Change is inevitable and there is nothing I can do to change this fact! So accept it I must.

Another thought I took away from my summer  reading is regarding the shadow of self doubt. Essentially the only way we can see a shadow is if we turn AWAY FROM THE LIGHT!

I will stop looking in the shadows, beyond the opinion of others, above the walls of my limitations, and around the giants of insecurity and fear to stand firmly in the light of Gods glorious love. I will give thanks for the good gifts I gave been given. Even the gifts that are hard to accept.

Thank you Lord for sending messages to my inbox that are always so timely. Help me to find acceptance in my heart for all of the change you have brought to me. Change is just part of life. Help me to grow according to Your plan seeing and understanding Your vision. Here I am Lord. I’ve come to do Your will.

…as I finish typing this post my favorite song comes on the radio. RISE by Shawn MacDonald. “I will rise out of these ashes rise!” Thank you Lord for reminding me of Your presence within me. I will trust in You as I journey forward in the adventures of life.

Change = Growth Opportunity

Each year June arrives with it’s “sprint to the finish” pace to end the school year. Each June we spend the weeks on the ball field. Each baseball season we anticipate the finish as it signals the true beginning of our summer and our departure to the lake. It is more than just a vacation at the lake. Like jumping into the water on a hot summer day our time spent at the lake is a time of peaceful reflection and quiet solitude where we can leave our cares at home and experience the beauty of just living life. What is our plan for the summer? The plan is always the same every summer – NO PLAN! It is a time to recharge and renew.

This year my plan is to fully follow God’s plan. In the world around me I will look around and see the wonders and good gifts He sends. To seek joy in the small things and let go of the burdens I create when I listen to the noise and negative chatter in my head.

Today’s Joy Dare Challenge: Joy in 3 things difficult.

1. What to do with an elderly friend?

2. Packing to leave for the summer.

3. Accepting inevitable change.

While none of those sounds very joyful on the surface putting my hope in Christ makes it possible.

My Friend – This is the most difficult one because my friend’s situation comes directly up against my own family’s needs. I have to trust God will provide for her as he has done for the many years before I meet her. I find joy because I have been given the opportunity to make a difference for her and she is thankful.

Packing – always a stressful situation – this year I am going to keep it simple. If I don’t have it I don’t need it! I am letting go of the “stuff” I feel I need to make me whole. I will find the joy God chooses to send m

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y way and allow it to fill me instead.

Change – ok, maybe THIS is the most difficult one! Change is difficult! I Like things nice and order

ly! No surprises! No ripples in the water and please don’t rock my boat!! A new school, leaving a comfortab

ding on the diving board and the changes shake me. Finding joy? To focus on the change as opportunities for growth! What gifts might I miss if I refuse to le social community. and a new age (don’t ask!) are looming on the horizon. Once I am in the situation I will jump in eagerly but right now I am still stan

look for them in unexpected places?

As I sat down to clear my head and write out my random thoughts I felt a lot like today’s weather – mostly cloudy with threatening rain. As I look out now I can tell the rain has ended and it has brightened. So too has my “forecast” brightened. I need only to remember the joys I have experienced this week alone and fully recognize they are only possible from a God who truly loves me! He loves me just as I am and always stands by my side.

Unexpected, unwanted and unlikely

Waking with a sinus/migraine headache and being prompted to find joy in 3 things unexpected, unwanted & unlikely brought my already scattered and disjointed thoughts into complete rebellion.

The thing I have discovered about migraines is the huge effect they have on the intensity and magnification of physical, mental, and emotional stimulus on my mind. Today every point of sorrow and disappointment I have ever experienced cycled through my thoughts as if watching a strangely edited film of my life. While still possessing a very logical mind in the midst of a highly illogical experience my thoughts began with childhood and continued to the present. At first attempting to find joy in each experience was like trying to extinguish a forest fire with a watering can; impossible and with great threat of pain.

Already experiencing physical pain the emotional pain reached great intensity until I was able to see those events with a new perspective. They do not label and define me yet have formed and molded me. They don’t make me WHAT I am. They make WHO I am.

I have compassion because I have experienced great loss.

I am a trustworthy and loyal friend because I have been hurt by others.

I am humble because I have suffered humiliation.

I show others how to persevere and have hope because I have known defeat.

I can lead others to peace and calm because I have lived through terror and anxiety.

Of course there are the negative traits I would care to be rid of. I am distrustful of others, insecure, shy, a people pleaser, and can not say no to more ”projects and committees”.

The physical pain has diminished. The emotional pain has calmed. Had I not experienced the things I have-good, bad & ugly-I would not be experiencing the joy I have in life today.

Isn’t this what life is really all about? Not what cards we get but how we play them? Not our joys verses sorrows but how we turn our sorrow into joy?

In the end I have indeed extinguished the emotional flames of pain which earlier burned in my heart and have discovered joy in things unexpected, unwanted and unlikely.

1. Gain from my loss.

2. Hope in my defeat.

3. Strength from my weakness.

Finding Joy in Unexpected Places

The school year is in the homestretch and I should be busy doing something, anything to prepare for graduation and entry into summer. I can’t. I’m stuck. I’m denying the reality of it.

Next week my youngest child will graduate elementary/middle school and beginning high school in the fall. After 15 years as parents at the same school what I thought would be a welcome change is beginning to develop into a full out emotional roller coaster.

Today was the first “last thing”. It was the last time I would work as a volunteer at school. Over the years I have had differing levels of commitment ranging from a few hours a week to over 10 hours as the treasurer. Numerous meetings when the kids were little and I just needed to get out of the house for awhile. Long nights working the annual fundraiser. Emotional standoffs with administration when changes were implemented which I disagreed with. Yet always it has been a community in which I felt welcomed, included and could call my own.

I believe those classmate’s parents with whom I have become friends will remain friends if we are truly friends. Today I realized how much I will miss those who I am NOT exactly friends with. Those I have worked with over the years who’s paths I only occasionally cross. It is these people, the ones who bring unexpected joy, I will miss the most.

The bible study I am involved with (http://stringingpearlsbiblestudy.wordpress.com) recently started a summer devotional project – PURE JOY! We are using Ann Voskamp’s The Joy Dare which can be found at: http://www.aholyexperience.com/.

Everyday we are challenged to look for three things which bring us joy. Yesterday our prompt was to find 3 things found in community.  I choose my faith, my family and my art. If this was the suggestion for today I would have chosen my children’s school community as a subcategory of my faith.  Much joy is found there.

As the events of next week hurl us towards unavoidable change I will continue to use the JOY DARE to fully appreciate new joys, to acknowledge past joys and to anticipate the  potential of future joys.

The realization of the endless joy which surrounds me and acknowledging all good things come from God comforts and gives me hope. Tomorrow is a new day. With it comes  a new challenge to seek and embrace JOY in the everydayness of lift.

Today’s Dare: Joy in a plate, pot, package

 

Aside

Endings….Beginnings

Tears sting threatening to over flow and cascade down my face.Jonquil More

From Doubt to Gentle Fields of Peace

Feeling a bit down today…this week… overwhelmed and struggling to keep my head above water.

What do I fill myself up with? I believe I fill myself up with following Jesus. Looking for and listening for signs of His love for me. He is there always, I know it and I believe it, but sometimes the doubt creeps in too strongly and I find myself asking the “Why” questions instead of “What am I supposed do now?” Sometimes I just want life to be a little more equal. I want to be a little better understood. I want it to hurt a little less every time I write a check for another school fundraiser. I want to have a social calendar that doesn’t revolve around my kids. I want to be able to buy a new outfit without feeling guilty.  Sometimes I just want to be a little narcissistic and be taken care of!!! Sometimes I just want to wave the white flag and surrender to the pressures of society.  Sometimes I just want to let loose and not do the right thing. Sometimes I just want to be a little bad!!!

Instead of giving in to these primitive human thoughts I need to understand what is behind them. EVERYTIME it is because my focus has changed. I stop looking to HIM and start looking inward. When I look inward my vision becomes  skewed, and I return to seeing things through the lenses of doubt and comparison. I look at the people, places and things around me and allow them to define who I should be, where I should be, and what I should have. I turn away from seeing God’s plan for my life and try to reinvent it according to my desires. I lapse back into falsely thinking I could paint a better picture for my life. A life of sunshine and daisies and endless white sand beaches. Unfortunately life is just not that simple. There is pain and darkness in life. From it we grow and become who He wants us to be according to His plan.

As I sit at home on a Saturday night trying to refocus my vision to see His plan for me, God sends me a message. My collage age child calls to say she is back to the dorm after attending a fancy Gala to raise money for others in need. It breaks the icy crust of my weary heart to know God had such faith in ME to allow me to raise a child who loves others so fully.

Turning my sight back to the one who loves me completely and fills every niche of my soul with what is right for my life I can let go of my insecurities and rest in the assurance of His love. If ALL I have is God filling me and giving me hope what more could I want?

The truth is I have an average life. I have an average house, average car, and an average income when measured on a worldly scale. Life is not perfect. No one said it had to be fair but every day I have a choice to be satisfied with what God has given me and look forward in hope to the good gifts His has planned for me. I guess average is an OK place to be right now if it is where He wants me to be.

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all out days.” Psalm 90:14

This morning at church I prayed to my faithful God to shepherd my loved ones, and those of my friends, to the gentle fields where His mercy and healing can be found. ….. The next song they sang?…. Psalm 23!

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While life remains messy and seems unfair I think will go for a walk with Jesus, hoping He will lead me to find a gentle field of my own in which to sit, reflect, discover God’s beauty around me, and find healing for my own soul!

Happy Sunday. May your day be filled with sunshine and beauty.

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