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.
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.
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.
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 KNEWthat 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 saidNO 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.
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.
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?