Not to be Cliche’

Not to be Cliche’

Not to be cliché, but love is in the air! Valentine’s Day, a day for couples to reminisce on their love story. And then there’s the other percentage of the population being reminded of how single you are. I get it! Kinda. (I’m 18, no one takes an 18-year-old seriously when they complain about being single!)

But today, when I woke up, I had a choice. Either I could complain and think about what I don’t have today…a boo…a date…ect. If I continued on that path I could go easily go down a deep dark road of lies about myself and my life. OR I could make the choice to wake up and focus on the love I DO have in my life. Family, friends and don’t forget, my forever lover, Jesus!

Not to be cliché, but today is the PERFECT day to remember your love story with the Lord. What is your secret history with God? Those moments he sweeps you of your feet and shows you what true, authentic, full love is.

The moments in your darkest shame, and worry that he shows you this supernatural grace and peace. I remember a couple of moments.

Specifically, in July of 2017. Jesus Swept me off my feet in such a beautiful, yet completely normal way! In the picture above, in the crack of my bible, on page 263 there is what appears to be something dirty. But that was the day I sat on the top of a hill, in Redding, California, just me, and God. I opened to this book (one of my favorites) just to read it again. I had an “ahh hah” moment when I realized I was all alone for the first time. Like all alone. Me and God. I was thousands of miles away from my parents, family, church, and ultimately what I knew to be as my life. I wasn’t worried, anxious, or scared. I was experiencing, for the first time, solitude with God. Such a sweet, humbling moment. No joke, as soon as I thought and smiled about being alone with God, the flowers from the tree above me began to fall.

That “dirt” within my bible, are those flowers. It was like a real life romance scene from the movies. Beautiful weather, alone under a tree, sweet peace, and flowers gently falling from the tree into my lap. What a wonderful way to remember you are loved?

Not to be cliché, but because of Gods love, I see love in every detail of my day. I see love in a friend leaving a rose on my desk for Valentine’s Day. I find love in a friend being there for me. I find love in an almost stranger giving me a small gift, just because she knew it would remind me of the Lord when I saw it. I see love in the tough process I’m walking out.

When you focus on the love of God in your day to day, the small moments, you realize the world around you is so much more colorful than before and your satisfaction of moment by moment becomes unwavering.

Not to be cliché, but I’m in a relationship with God, and I choose, and daily will choose, for it to be enough for me. I choose to know that His arms are enough, and they steady me until my season of singleness is over. I trust that He goes before me and is preparing my future. Of course, I look forward to finding someone, and honestly, I do get impatient sometimes. But that’s just the perfect opportunity for Him to remind me, yet again, how much He means to me and that He is simply teaching me how my soon to be husband should love me.

Preserving Beauty….even unto Death-pt.2

Preserving Beauty….even unto Death-pt.2

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.

Boundaries 

The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, and Rising Strong by Brene’ Brown (yes it took all of them lol)

More information about enmeshment

What a modern day miracle of resurrection looks like

What a modern day miracle of resurrection looks like

There is nothing like a full scale physical, mental, and spiritual breakdown to bring you a new perspective. Since my post “When Church Covenant’s don’t cut it” so much has changed. My slow recovery was hit with a spiritual Mac truck dose of God antibiotic called love.

A friend and I went to a women’s conference held close to our home where Luke Holter was speaking. Luke is a prophet that frequents our church, so we love and support his ministry anytime we can. I went hoping to receive but was not sure what or if I would. My expectations were there, yet I didn’t know what to expect. I should have known it was a God set up when I went online to get a “ticket” and the conference was listed as sold out, yet my friend “just happened” to receive a phone call from them that morning about it and was told I already had a spot! Yeah, who actually phone calls anymore? lol

I can honestly say I walked into that place one way and walked out another. A better description would probably be I was rolled in on a stretcher and walked out a new creature. Not only did my whole heart change, my thought process, my demeanor, and my walk, and my worship.

After this collision with Jesus, I had clean up to do. You see I had allowed the enemy for FAR TO LONG to lie to me. I knew they were lies! KNEW IT! Yet, I allowed those lies to hinder the fullness of my walk and obedience. So, let me tell you what some of those lies sounded like. I would hear the Holy Spirit wanting to say or release something in our church, yet I wouldn’t take it to pastor or leadership because I wasn’t sure if they would receive it or feel it was from a “valid source”.. I knew this was not true! The source is the Holy Spirit not me. I knew that the word wasn’t mine and that it was meant to strengthen the body. I KNEW that if they didn’t receive it, I was not held accountable for it. I knew the lies, yet my heart gave into self doubt and questioned even the slightest validity of the lies, so I held back. After repenting…I said NO MAS! (that means no more in Spanish… it’s the only Spanish I know lol). My voice would no longer be silenced by the enemy again…period! I went to every leader that I knew the enemy had used in my mind as a tool for the lies and apologized. I exposed to them the lies that the enemy had been using and ask for their forgiveness. Once you expose the enemy’s lies he can NO LONGER use them against you. The public declaration made them invalid and allowed TRUTH to reign. There was NO WAY I was giving the enemy access to any portion of my mind or heart again.

So when you see me… you will see a new and powerful me. If you go to church with me, you will see me worship like a mad woman. Why? Because I have literally… again… been resurrected and brought back to life! How can you NOT worship with an overflowing heart of thankfulness for that? Your worship should not look like it did before. You have to understand what I have battled, lost, and been rescued from to understand my grateful heart. This wasn’t my just my “salvation” I was worshipping from. I was already “saved”, this was my resurrection! Proving that He will save me again and again and again! He will alway have me, always hold me, and alway WANT me. My radical, insane worship comes from a place of nothingness to a place of fullness.

If I am honest, I didn’t expect Him to save me when I jumped off the cliff; yet He did. I definitely didn’t expect an encounter of instant wholeness… I thought is would be a very slow recovery; yet He performed a miracle. He went ABOVE and BEYOND and did the miraculous for one simple reason….because HE WANTED TO! Because He loves me. So my worship is the only way I know to show Him how thankful I am for the unmerited, unexpected, and extravagant love He has shown me. Step into THAT and tell me how you worship!

I challenge you today, take an account of what the Lord has done for you and in you. DAILY let that stir… and see if your worship doesn’t look a little different then it did.

When you wish…

When you wish…

Our pastor has been doing a series on John 15 and I had a friend casually make a comment (in the middle of church service by the way) about how rich it was, so I added it to my reminder list to read. This morning I was awoken around 2:45 am, with that on my heart. So I started reading. If you want to hear some deep teachings out of this book and not just what is highlighted to me, go listen to this series “Get Connected”. Y’all! It’s SO GOOD!

Anyway, I am sharing this one verse in hopes that it will awaken some things in you. John 15:7 stood out so strong to me. Now, I am sure most church goers have heard and read this verse many time, as I have; however, I’m not sure I have ever really allowed the weight of this promise to come to life in my heart. This verse gives a promise that God guarantees He will do. GUARANTEES! because all of His promises are yes and amen!

 “If you abide in me and my words in you”abide here means… not to part from, to continue to be present, TO BE HELD CONTINUALLY. It also means…. to continue to be, not perish, to last and endure. The finally portion of the meaning… to remain as one, to wait for. WOW! The only thing the Lord wants from you is you. He wants you to be present in a relationship WITH HIM. He wants to hold you continually and for YOU to Hold onto to HIM. He wants you to last and endure WITH HIM through this life. And He wants to remain ONE with YOU! Isn’t that SOOO GOOD! However, that’s not what screamed at me! I know God wants an intimate relationship with me, and I want and pursue that with Him for sure!! So for me, I know I must be with Him and present in the relationship for to live.

“Ask what you wish”… This was the meat for me.
Wish

How many of us allow ourself to wish about what we want? After this last season of my life, I’m pretty sure I had no wishes or dreams left. I was just doing and being what I felt God wanted me to do. However… right here… He says WISH! Wish here means… to will, to be determined, to purpose (that i do pretty well). It also means… to desire, to like to do a thing, to be fond of doing, to take delight in, HAVE PLEASURE. Somewhere in life, I stopped wishing for the pleasures. Either thinking it was childish, selfish, or unnecessary. Probably all of the above. I allowed my wishes and dreams to determined and altered by others, disappointments, insecurities, and hurts; instead of by God. I had stopped taking delight and having pleasure in what I was doing, actually If we are being honest; I think I was scared to. But GOD WANTS US TO! this is why He says His burden is easy! He wants us to have a desire, to do things we delight in, have things we wish for. He says, when we are in Him and His WORD in us we should WISH and He promises to give it us. We have to give ourselves permission to wish again.

So often we feel guilty about asking God for the desires of our heart, thinking we don’t want to “burden Him” with that frivolousness. Seriously? Burden God? lol He wants us to dream, wish, and desire! AND He wants us to ASK for those dreams, wishes, and desires! He didn’t say just wish upon a star and hope it comes true! He said stay with me, allow me in you, and then let ME DELIGHT in giving you the desires of your heart.

So, I challenge you today… think about your desire, your BIG DREAMS, and start to wish and ASKING again!  Because the next verse says that by doing these things you are Glorifying God… and isn’t that what we all really want do? 

When church covenants don’t cut it

When church covenants don’t cut it

I had laid in bed sobbing uncontrollably, to the point I was barely able to stifle back the sound or even breathe. I had wrestled all night with the thoughts of quitting….EVERYTHING. I would not just instantly make an emotionally decision. No, it would be intentional because that is how I have chosen to live my life now. What would that look like? How would that effect things? Or would it? Can I walk away? From ministry? Work? Church? I wanted to just hide and become self-involved because well, it’s easier and safer, than living outside of me. Mediocracy looked more appealing then ever.

In those early morning hours, as the last tear left my heart, I resigned to walking away. I had chosen to JUMP off the mountain side and was allowing the gravity of life to pull me back into me. I had chosen to give into what I can only describe now as spiritual suicide. I reasoned that I will still love and serve my God but that I was going to walk an easier road. HA! Isn’t that what Peter did when he denied Christ? The illusion that I would still love and serve Him but walk away from all that I was serving Him through. If that’s not denying I don’t know what is.

But God.

So what does this have to do with covenant and church?

I have grown up in church and under sound biblical teachings. Throughout this time somewhere in my upbringing (physically and spiritually) I had made the theology that I was to be in covenant with select safe people. I have always heard to be careful who you are in covenant with because that’s a bond that cannot and should not be broken, so I was careful. I’ve been taught, make connections with people because you need them, and they need you. Build relationships because people are what matter and stay committed to the path because finishing well is the goal. All of this is true. However, in this midnight hour of my life, the Lord clarified His teachings into a deeper sense of understanding.

You see, I had jumped….walked away… but HE did not. I was looking for a person that I was in covenant with to be there in my darkest time, I mean isn’t that a part of building relationships? When you are committed to the same God, same service? Shouldn’t those people be there in times like this? My expectations of the relationships and commitments to do life with people, had failed me completely. Not the people, my expectations. Maybe these people were busy doing life themselves? Maybe they were going through their own dark times?

Relationships can be withdrawn from.. can change… will change. Commitments come and go. New ones added, old ones put away. Covenants made with people… by people… broken.

At the moment I had resigned to walk away from it all, I received a text from an old friend, Elise. A friend that if you had asked me if I was in covenant with her, I would have hesitated to answer. Yes, we were close friends over time but I hadn’t necessarily done life with her like I had others, the ones I felt I was in covenant with. She was simply reaching out and sending me some encouraging kind words, not even really know knowing what was fully going on inside me. Then the Holy Spirit showed me this picture.

This time a new stream of tears flowed. Tears of thankfulness that He didn’t let me continue to fall. Thankfulness that He brought the right person there that I would allow in to help draw me back to Him through covenant. The rope in the picture IS HIS COVENANT that He made with me and I with Him. The reason Elise was on the other end? Because she had made the same covenant with HIM. It’s not the people that keep you connected, it’s the covenant. Just as he has saved me when I was a sinner and living a life of hell, His love covenant saved me again, differently. Even though people may walk away from relationships, commitments, and covenants made (like I did in this moment), Jesus WILL NOT and DID NOT.

For His LOVE covenant securely wrapped me up and held me from death. It was strong and unfailing even when I was weak and fallen. 

Over the next week Elise helped slowly, and gently draw me closer to safety. I sent her this pic jokingly, little did I know how true it really was. You see her help didn’t come from a platform, it was personal (even though a platform has helped many other times). The connection and relationship was there and built. The commitment made by her was to GOD not to me. That’s why we make connections, build relationships and commit to the walk. Because at some point during this faith walk you will find yourself at one end of the rope or the other and the only thing holding is the covenant Christ made with you and for you.

Elise moved at a Spirit-led pace, and was truly a Faith coach to me during this time. She didn’t hold onto me, she held onto to HIM, while HE held me. Then when the time was right, she helped bring me safely back on the solid rock I had jumped from.

I told Elise the other day, this post would be tough. Is it wrong that I secretly hope no one reads it? The openness and transparency right now feels dangerous to me. If it were about me, my weaknesses, or failures it would be. But it’s not. This post is about Him and His greatness. Proof that HIS COVENANT with us reaches us and saves us when no one else can! Elise could not have reached me (I was too far gone), but the covenant I had made with Christ and that He made for me is limitless and unbreakable. It is His covenant that saves us over and over. My theology on church covenants, relationships, and commitments were shallow in thinking because they were connected to people. When the truth is…

The covenant Christ made with you through His blood is the only one that can never be broken and can always reach you. You may walk away, but He never will. He will always provide a safeline to draw you back to Him.

When there is nothing left but…now what?

When there is nothing left but…now what?

This season has been the hardest yet. It seems that I have lost so much, made so many mistakes, hurt so much, and am looking at what appears to be not much left at all.

You don’t realize what it takes to walk this faith road until you are stopped in your tracks. If you would have asked me anytime before the last two weeks, do you have faith? Or is your faith strong? ABSOLUTELY! would have been my answer. I love my God above all things. All I want is to do what He has for me to do. I have come to learn: that.. is.. not.. faith. When your faith is put to the test and challenged… what it is rooted in will show it’s strengths and weaknesses.

I have learned faith is not my love for God. It is also not about my obedience. You see, just because I love God and obey Him may not mean I trust Him confidently. If you had asked me if I trusted God I would have immediately answered, Yes 100% but how do you know until it’s tested with action and not just words? And how deeply does it run?

Faith comes down to this: how do you relate with God when you feel like you have lost everything? everyone? Do you believe or trust that He is there with you in it all and through it all? Can you or WILL you rely on him in those times? Or just lie in your place of darkness? Stuck in the mess that you can’t get yourself out of?

Our faith must be tested for it to grow. The root of where MY faith lies must be tested to be strengthened.

When it all comes down to the nitty gritty…. after I weeded through all the limbs that had been cut off or blown down… sitting lifelessly at my feet… in the midst of all that appeared loss… I had ask… now what?

All this appears to be and FEELS like death. I would be lying if the thought of walking away didn’t cross my mind. Actually the thought didn’t just cross my mind, it camped out a little while and stayed for a short vacation. Looking at the wreckage piled at my feet I said to myself, it’s too much…I just can’t, and I’m not even sure if I want to. So now what? 

Now what? …when I asked HIM... was followed by such a sweet peace kind of answers.

Lord, I know you forgive me, but what if they won’t? They will because they love Me… 

Lord, I am hurting and can’t make it stop. I have hurt relationships and can’t fix it…  Now what? I can, if you will let Me? Trust Me with them.

….but Lord, I don’t trust them. Do you trust Me? 

Did I really trust Him? Did I have faith that believes He holds it all, sees it all, and wants to make the best of it all? …In the middle of all the PAIN … FOR ME? Like right now…in this situation…do I trust that HE WANTS to do this for me and WITHOUT ME? Does my belief in HIM withstand the pain I am in? And the pain that I have caused? Do I trust and believe that He is faithful and just in it all? And for ALL THOSE INVOLVED?

You see, it wasn’t my LOVE or OBEDIENCE that was tested.

It was my BELIEF and TRUST in HIM towards ME that was being tested!

My belief that HE WILL do what HE said He would do, even when I am unworthy and have made a mess. MY trust that HE would WANT to lift me up out of the miry clay I was stuck in and WANT to set me feet on His solid rock. My belief that He is who He said He is…and would do what He said he would FOR ME and in spite of me.

For FAITH is the confidence…the foundation….the actual existence of something or someone being real in your life and circumstances. Are you allowing Him to be real in your life and circumstances? Faith is the steadfastness of mind, courage and resolution of firm trust and confidence IN HIM.

Confidence that says, He is in it all, and wants to be. I didn’t drag Him in or beg Him in. He is here because He wants to be. He loves me because of who I am, not because of what I have done.

This is my now what… My Faith.