My friend Jessica is recovering from her 2nd heart transplant. As I have been able to join her through the recovery of this 2nd heart I learned a few things about rejection. When her heart went into rejection last week, I thought it was over. I didn’t know a state of rejection could be chronic or treated. I thought rejection was a once time occurrence that destroyed it, I was wrong. It is a state that can be treated. Oh don’t we feel that way sometimes? That rejection is an end all.
When a heart goes into rejection it simply means the body is defending itself against it because it doesn’t recognize it as it’s own. How many times have we had a new heart come into our church body, friends group, social group, or family and we put walls and shields up to defend against what they may bring? Not accepting them immediately but defending against them?
Rejection can be a chronic ongoing state, for like YEARS! The body is fighting against the heart verses accepting it. Goodness gracious! How many times have we done that?
Do you know what happens to heart that is continuously rejected? It hardens. Literally, the muscle has had to defend itself so much against what’s coming against it, it begins to harden, become weak, and eventually stops pumping life through it. There are so many times we feel our hearts are living in a state of rejection, after rejection, after rejection until we finally become hardened, weak, and loose the ability to give and sustain life.
How does a heart live through and come back from rejection? By breaking down the defense system until it is accepted. Normally this defense sysytem is a good thing, we need this. However, there are times it needs to be broken down. When the defense system is broken down this leaves the body vulnerable. For us to help heal rejection in our church body, social networks, families, and culture we must become vulnerable. We must open ourselves up and allow others to connect with us. Allow them to come in, be accepted, and join the body as a part of a living breathing life source.
Can this be dangerous? Of course. When we are breaking internal defenses down we must put external defenses up … boundaries. Boundaries are what keep us safe when we are internally open for connection. My friend Jessica wear a mask everywhere she goes in public. This is to keep any toxic germs that may want to invade her broken down defense system from gaining access and making her ill. That mask is her boundary. Our healthy boundaries are what keep toxic actions and emotions from harming our open vulnerable hearts.
Today I challenge you to look inward. Is your heart in a state of rejection? Has it felt rejection over and over to the point that it is hardening? Trying to defend itself against everything that’s coming close to it? Or maybe you find yourself feeling the need to defend. Defend, shield up so you or those around you won’t get hurt or be effected. The problem with shielding up and defending against a person is they have a heart. They feel that rejection.
Vulnerability and boundaries will save and nurture our hearts as well as other hearts.
As walked in to do our holiday shopping, there she stood with her tiny, frail, hunched over body meticulously and slowly picking up jewelry boxes. I felt a twinge in my heart. Ugh I didn’t need this right now. I was already missing my momma. My daughter leaned over and whispered, “Mom, is that _____’s grandma?” I nodded yes as we passed her by. She didn’t see us because her head was down in what seemed to be the natural frozen position. She could not have be over 100 lbs and wondered if she was even strong enough to look up or move on her own with those tiny little legs.
As we moved past her my daughter said what I was feeling, “Mom she hurts my heart.” I nodded yes. I hate heart hurts. Especially when they are mine. Everything in me wanted to run away from this woman that reminded me so much of my mother.
We shopped and mingled about 10 minutes while this elderly women didn’t move an inch from where she was standing. My heart was in full ache by now and all I wanted to do was leave, but I didn’t. I chose at that moment to press in regardless of the pain and make sure she was doing ok.
I walked over and tapped her on the shoulder. She slowly turn and look up at me with those deep set winkled eyes. I said, “Hi, do you remember me?” She sweetly smiled, “Yes. You’re Diane’s daughter. Dorothy right?” I nodded yes. I began to listen to her about how she was doing. How her children were. How many great grandchildren she had now and so much more. This went on for about 15 minutes and it was obvious to me that she was happy to be seen and heard. Happy that someone took the time to stop, say hello, and actively listen to all that she had to say.
Then she asked me, “How’s your momma doing?”
WOW! I wasn’t expecting that question and it hit me like a gut punch in an already tender heart. I took a deep breathe to hold back the tears and said, “She’s actually doing pretty good. She passed away about a year ago, so I’m pretty sure she’s having a blast in heaven about now.” This sweet old lady was kind, said she didn’t know, and that she was sorry. As I listened to her wrapping her life up in short sentences, I couldn’t help but hope that her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren cherish her and celebrate her 85 years in the right here and now and not wait until after she’s gone.
I attempted to end the conversation a few time but it was obvious she was craving for it to continue, so I stayed listening until she was done. After she said all she had to say we finished our shopping, but it was to late, my heart was already deeply pierced. This season without mom has been tough. My heart has been tender in missing her because she loved Christmas so much and this encounter just did me in. I came home, retreated to my bed, and numbed out with Netflix at my side. I wasn’t ready to feel all that right now.
Sleep sucked. The next morning sucked. This was hard. REAL HARD. I know myself well enough to know that I don’t like to feel sadness or this type of deep pain EVER. I don’t do heartstring pulling, make you cry movies, much less this in real life! I just want to fix it and make it better, but there was no fixing this, simply feeling it. My go to’s are to numb with Netflix, chips and dip, or dive deep into work to not think or feel about the hard heart things. However, I also know it’s vital in my healing and grieving to do just that. SO I chose to feel today.
I chose to sit in the pain and not try to fix it or distract from it.
The encounter with this sweet old lady reminded me of taking my mother Christmas shopping last year just so she could choose gifts for those she loved. She loved Christmas and buying gifts for others.
It reminded me to press past the uncomfortable in me so I can see and celebrate someone else. I remember my mother feeling unwanted, unloved, and invisible because her disabilities. She knew her state made others feel uncomfortable, but instead of them pressing past that, they shielded away from her because of their pain. They would numb the inner pain with busyness or avoidance (me included). I remember how sad that made her, yet there was nothing she could do about it.
This encounter reinforced to me that even if it hurts my heart, that love and showing love is what matters in this life.Saying I see you. I hear you. I will stop and be in the “here and now” for you. I will choose to celebrate life and the people who are in my life. You see, this sweet lady of 85 has 25 great grandchildren and you can tell she is very proud of that! While my mother who passed at 71 will never see my childrens’ children and that makes my heart so sad for them. My grandchildren will never know her over indulgent love and protective spirit.
This stuff is hard. So, I’m leaving space for the hard knowing that hard doesn’t mean overwhelming and overwhelming doesn’t mean overtaken. I can have hard day and have hard things happen but they don’t have to overwhelm me. If they do overwhelm me, that’s ok, they don’t have to overtake me or my day. If they do overtake my day, that’s ok, I have tomorrow.
Can I just say, I LOVE my southern upbringing! LOVE IT! There are a few hard rules that are pressed into you from a young age.
*Be polite. Yes mam / no sir.
*Open the door for others ad hold it if you’re there.
*Don’t impose yourself. I remember as a little girl my mom telling me, “You don’t invite yourself over to your friends house. It’s rude. You wait to be invited.”
Fast Forward 35 years … now I’m at a place that I’m asked to go against all that I was taught of Southern politeness to move forward into RUDE … BOLD … Obedience?
A gathering … one you can only attend by invite. I wasn’t invited. I was ok with that EXCEPT one thing … I felt the Lord pressing on me to be there. “Hmmmm you sure, Lord? Let me pray on that, ok? I mean it’s out of town, you know there’s travel cost, and I wasn’t invited to this closed meeting. So, I think I’ll pray on that.” Isn’t it funny that when we ARE praying and talking to the Lord and the He speaks something to our spirit that we are uncomfortable with, we tell Him we will pray on it? Am I the only one who does that? I’m so glad He’s patient with me.
A month before the event, I was “still praying about it” and instead of the intensity of needing to be there fading…it increased … substantially.
So, I did what I didn’t want to do. I did what I raised NOT to ever do, impose and be rude. I asked my leader in charge of our group going if I could attend. I really had to get over myself for that. I mean who does that? Who invites themselves to a private event they weren’t invited to?! Apparently, I do that, but I knew it wasn’t about me, it was about being obedient.
I was unsure WHY I was being drawn to this event but that really didn’t matter I told myself. It seemed easier to walk in blind obedience since I felt I had heard from the Lord. Shortly, after getting the A-ok to go I found out that they were filming several TV segments. I was like …ahah…I see what your doing here, Lord. That’s when I knew, I was being assigned to this event to serve in one of my callings.You see I’ve been given a great hidden platform to serve others that are in the public eye by doing makeup for film and television. This also gives me the opportunity to pray for them, all that they say while filming, and for all those that hear it. 😆 One of my favorite things to do is to pray and cover speakers/leaders as they do their thing, even when they don’t know I am doing it.
Arrangements were made. Flights booked, rooms saved, rides set up. I wish I could tell you it was seemless and easy breezy, but it wasn’t. When you are sent on an assignment the enemy will come at you any way he can to stop you. AND HE DID.
I must say this was probably one the most effective tactics he’s attempted in awhile.
It was sly, it was subtle, it was PERSONAL.It was me.
My thoughts and FEELINGS started in on an overload assault on my soul. This was not, let’s take a thought captive thing…this was a mass arial assault like Texas size mosquitoes in the middle of summer kinda thing! I could swat all day long but was bit by a dozen while knocking that one down.
By nature I’m not insecure. I don’t have an issue flying solo into something or navigating the uncomfortable. BUT THIS was way different and AWFUL. I was in a constant battle with me, with my thoughts, my mind, my emotions, what people would think, and on and on. But I knew, it wasn’t about me, it was about what He had for me to do.
If the enemy can get you to withdraw and overtake your mind and emotions, then he has won that battle by default. Press into the Lord’s presence because that changes everything.
I had not been asked to do makeup, but I brought a kit anyway.
I had not been asked to pray, but I prayed anyway.
I had not been invited but I knew was assigned. I’ll be ready.
Once at the event it became increasingly clear (to me at least) that I was separate from the group. Now mind you it wasn’t them, it was me. They were very accommodating, accepting, and made every effort to include me in everything. I mean I know these people. I am friends with them and comfortable with them, but because of me not being booked with the group the seating and lodging arrangements left me solo at times.
This closed, invite only meeting (that I had asked to come to), was happening while my leaders were filming. I thought for sure I was there to be with my leaders during filming. This was my “assignment”! It’s what I am here for! but I wasn’t with them, I was in the meeting.
“Did I hear you wrong, Lord? I mean, I’m pretty sure I heard you right but NOTHING is happening! And for real if this is where you want me I’m gonna be miserable. Just sayin.” Ever had that conversation? Then it hit me. The question isn’t, did I hear Him correctly? The question is, does it matter?
Does it matter?! WHAT?! What do you mean does it matter if I heard Him correctly or not?Of course it matters! Regardless of what I thought I was there for, was I willing to let go of it for what He had for me? Could I (once again) get over me, my onslaught of thoughts, and emotional uproar of what all I THOUGHT I heard and was being obedient too for what He has for me now? Comfortable or not? Imposing or not? Feeling separate or not? Doing “my assignment” or not? Because as much as this wasn’t about me … this time … this moment … was about me. It was about how I would respond to Him.
I sat alone among strangers and told the Lord, “I’m here. I’ve traveled to a different state, obeyed, and am showing up FOR YOU. Not for what I think you have for me to do, but FOR YOU and your will, not mine. No plans, no emotions, no insecurities, no loneliness, NOTHING is standing between you and me. I surrender and set aside all I thought I heard you say for YOU. Right here, right now.”
I DID hear the Lord correctly. However, there was delay and I didn’t see it unfolding in the time I thought I was going to. I mean LITERALLY there was a time stamp on this, it was happening in real time, they were filing RIGHT NOW. So the delay felt like a passing over and that I missing out on the purpose that I was there for.
It felt like I had stepped out in rude, bold obedience for nothing. I had fought all those mind assaults for nothing.
I had to fight discouragement and the questioning of me hearing Him correctly. I had to fight me. I had to set my “assignment” and “obedience” aside to let the Lord know He was more important to me, than what He had called me to do.
Sometimes you have to choose to engage where you are and not where you think you are suppose to be.
Literally minutes after that, one my leaders came to get me to help in the filming. They encountered an issue that they knew I could help with on set and from then on out I stayed with them. I did my makeup job, covered the speakers in prayer, and prayed for the people who would hear their words.
The battle had been won, not by me or my assignment but by the Lord. The rest of the time there was smooth internally and externally. NO emotional turmoil, NO mental assaults, NO bloodsucking attacks. It’s as though when I pressed into the Lord He covered me with a spiritual DEEP woods OFF. A protection and covering my swatting away could no compare to. Why? Because…
The Lord cares more about you wanting Him, then you fulfilling His assignment.
Hear, Obey, Prepare and Surrender. It’s not easy but it’s worth it.
When I train communities, parents, and youth about the dangers of human trafficking, the one thing I have to address is sex. Sex trafficking here in the US looks very different then it does internationally and in third world countries. The tactics are different, the culture is different, even the grooming process is different. It is not even close to what you see in the movie Taken. Just like most dads don’t have his “particular set of skills”.
If we are going to empower and educate our youth against the manipulation tactics that traffickers use to lure our youth in, this topic is a must. In trafficking not all prostitution is sex trafficking but the majority of all sex trafficking is through some form of prostitution. Therefore, in this series about how to recapture the heart of our youth and learn how to become the biggest influence in their life, we will also be talking about how to safeguard and educate our youth in the area of sex trafficking. We must talk about the uncomfortable. We must address the elephant in the room. SEX.
So, here we go… let’s talk about sex!
Why is it we rarely talk about sex? Is it a “taboo” topic of conversation in our homes? In my experience we either do not discuss it or we teach our children not to have sex before marriage, and that’s it! No deeper conversations or education other then that. We either think our kids aren’t old enough or that they will just automatically pick up what they need to know. I will admit, talking to your kids about sex can be a very uncomfortable. What I have discovered is that what you don’t talk about can become the most dangerous paths and can cause the most damage. Ignorance is not bliss, it is dangerous.
Let’s talk about “not talking”. Ignorance is one of satan’s greatest tools to steal, kill, and destroy. If you don’t know about something; well, then you just don’t know. Whomever is the first to teach you or shine the light on the subject (whether the information is good or bad, correct or not) usually makes the biggest impact. By not teaching our children that sex is a good healthy part of life and is given it to us by God we are in essence relaying the unspoken message that sex is “dirty”, “wrong”, or “just for fun” depending upon how it is viewed in their immediate sphere of influence. God made us to be sexual creatures, with physical sexual feelings and everything God made is good! Satan has had the ability to twist and corrupt sex to be viewed in every way except that. He has taken something beautiful that God has given and attempted to distort it. How will our kids know what sex is? What it was meant to be? When to expect it? What to do or not do?
If we don’t share with them and teach them about sex and their bodies, someone will.
I’m not saying they need to know the intimate details of your sex life, but they do need to know the biblical truths about marriage, and physical facts about sex. Do you think they aren’t being told what marriage/sex is daily in our society? By friends? Books? The internet? Satan has skewed and warped images of marriage, sex, and family all around to try and steer us into sin, dysfunction, and death. If we don’t set the example and communicate truth and God’s good intention for sex with our children then how will they know? Or learn?
Ignorance and not talking about sex, hiding in shame or embarrassment because of our past is just as dangerous as the enemy framing sex to be a free for all in a Fifty Shades of Gray kind of “freedom”. Sex is going to happen. Your kids are going to have sex. Why are we not preparing them for it? Why are we not helping them manage the natural feelings and molding their hopefulness of fulfillment in that area for when the time is right? Why are we not helping them understand what physically happens to our bodies, emotionally happens with our hearts, and spiritually happens in our souls during sex? By doing this we gain the ability to advise them on the right time for sex and correct context of sex.
If you are not sure what to say, or are just reverting back to your experiences, what you were told at home or through the church, it may be time for you to do your homework on this subject. There are physical, scientific reasons God told us His design is for us to experience sex only within marriage. If we don’t educate ourselves about sex then we are setting ourselves and our kids up for the pendulum swing of hyper sexuality to shameful prudeness or visa-versa.
God formed sex as an intimate physical, emotion, and spiritual exchange between a man and a woman. Many of us want to think that we can just have sex without having the trust, the mental/emotional connection, and the spiritual fusion it was meant to have. This is why people tend to say we are just “having sex” not “making love”. This is not the case. Sex can be looked upon as just an act, but it was meant to be an encounter. There are physiological responses that happen during sex (different for women and men) that chemically connect our hearts and souls to that person. You have no control over this, as much as you want to think you do. The body releases oxytocin during sex which is called, “the love hormone” and it is automatic. You can’t just say: “Body – don’t release that hormone”. It doesn’t work that way. This is a great area to research and understand how God made your body in regards to sex and marriage. Was it meant for reproduction, yes, but not just that! Sex is how we express our intimate divine connection that is already made with your mate. Not what we use in an attempt to get that connection!
So what am I saying in a nutshell? Don’t allow satan to steal the joy of sex because it is a gift that God has given us. Don’t allow satan to deceive us into to being ashamed of it, pretending it shouldn’t and doesn’t happen, or allowing ignorance to open the door for the enemy to have access to your kids.
Don’t allow him to deceive us into thinking that sex is a tool to gain intimacy and control. Don’t allow him to deceive us into thinking that being “free” in our sexuality is actually freedom. Doing what we want, with whomever we want, whenever we want, and however we want brings us different kinds of bondage. Not freedom. Let God define sex through the Bible and research how God made your body to physically and hormonally respond to sex. Then let’s train up our children in the way that they should go in this area. If we don’t educate and empower our youth about sex, then predators are given a wide opening to take advantage of their ignorance and manipulate sex into what they want it to be. Let’s recapture the hearts of our youth and empower them with one love-wrapped conversation at a time.
Today will mark eleven days that I have laid my beautiful mother to rest. So, I figured it may be time to do part 2…even unto Death (click here if you need to read part 1). I wish I could tell you it was painless, it was not.I wish I could tell you I didn’t feel the sting of death or shed tears,but I did. However, I can tell you, it did not crush me.
My grief did not overtake my joy, my mourning did not overtake my hope, and my loss did not overtake her gain. I’m not here to tell you about her death, but I am here to share what I have learned over the last few years. As I have walked and am walking through this grief, I have learned some life lessons that I feel mom would be proud of and would have wanted me to share with others… the process.
Processes aren’t easy. They take time, intentionality, patience and grace; and those are the things you will be required to give to yourself before you can even think about giving them to others. I had to learn how to acknowledge and take care of my emotions and strength. I had to first practice on me, so that I would have it right for them. I had to learn about boundaries and that they are good. You see in my family we didn’t have boundaries…we had walls. Walls that would “protect us” from hurt and from the outside. However, these same walls also kept us isolated … isolated from each other.
I had to learn about healthy boundaries. What was ok to say yes or no to, because yes was my default for family and no was the default for all others. How can I love someone for all that they are, the way they are if I don’t let them past the wall?... the wall that was “safe”. I learned that boundaries are safe zones. They protect me so that I can let people in and allow my love touch them. So that I am not hidden or isolated behind a wall but safe and open to connect and care. I also had to learn how not to be enmeshed with my mother. I didn’t know this was a thing or even what it was, but it was the healthiest change I implemented for me and for her. This gave us the opportunity to remain close while still allowing growth and love to happen.
I have learned over the past few years to view the beauty in all situations. Even the worst of the worst, there is beauty in it. When Harvey came through and wiped my mother’s apartment out, taking everything she owned, it can be hard to see the beauty in that. However, it gave me a month of close time with her living in our home. A time of cracking her corny jokes with her tooth gapped mischievous tilted grin, and waving her strong right hand in the air if we didn’t walk the straight and narrow like she thought we should. Beautiful memories.
Embracing the understanding that grief is a process and not a quick come and go emotion, or a life-long sentence, allowed me to to step into her final days with grace. The practice of choosing beauty and being present before her death allowed me to
focus on her legacy instead of my loss,
her life power instead of her weakness,
and her legacy of humor to be passed down and celebrated instead of only tears.
Tears cleanse the soul but laughter heals it.
So those roses that were so carefully handled and preserved so many years ago are now protected on display as a beautiful memory of what was, and what she has left us to become. Her Legacy is remembered, honored, and continues. There is not a loss of her, only a remembrance of the things that matter.
Here are links to some of the helpful books and reads that walked me through this process, allowing her legacy to out live my loss. Teaching me how to grieve, love, and become an unwalled vessel in life.