Get in the Boat

I’m not really sure how to start this blog.  It’s been heavy on my heart the past week to share what God has been showing me.  If anything, this post is for myself, but I can’t help but know that someone out there needs to be encouraged.  So, here it goes (I’m literally shaking as I type this)…

On March 23rd, Ben and I received the best news…we were pregnant.  This was a miracle in itself since we had been given a 1% chance to conceive naturally, anyway.  We were blown away, excited and loved sharing the news with our family and close friends.  Many had been standing in faith for us and praying for this miracle for over a year.  On April 3rd, we found ourselves in the ER, with the beginning symptoms of a miscarriage.  Our hearts were broken.  We didn’t understand and to make matters worse, we were traveling to Nashville to complete our record in the next couple of days.  My world came to a screeching halt.  I’ve never been so confused, embarrassed and felt like a failure.  I so desperately wanted to make Ben a father and give this child the life of a miracle destiny.  We came home from the hospital greeted with previous balloons and flowers…celebratory notes and I had to put them away immediately.  As I type this, all the emotions and memories are flooding my heart, bringing me to tears.

I’m the type that pretty much makes herself so busy, it’s easy to ignore my heart, especially when I’ve been hurt.  That’s just what I did.  I would have pauses in my day, that I would think of my precious one and quickly move on.  I didn’t want to hear any encouragement.  When people asked how I was I quickly said I’m good and said all the right things to keep people moving, but the truth was, I was drowning in confusion and pain.  I felt God but I even had mixed emotions about Him.

Bottom line, crappy things happen to good people.  There are many out there begging for a child of their own and it hasn’t happened and then there are people who they cough and they get pregnant (or so it seems :))  I rejoiced with so many around me when they would get pregnant, but it was just getting harder and harder.  The biggest dream of my heart is to be a mother.

The next Sunday, after our miscarriage, Pastor Ed spoke on the power of lament (http://www.salttribe.org/?blog=656) I highly recommend watching this.  It changed our lives.  Ben and I wept through the entire message.  It gave our breaking hearts a voice.  It reminded us that in order to be comforted by the great comforter, we have to go to the place He can comfort us.  I guess I didn’t want to be comforted because it would make the pain real.  I didn’t want to give my pain a voice, but the truth is/was, it wasn’t until then I started working through it.  I felt a release after that service.  It really was healing for us.  Then I went back to the busy part and moved on.  I would have my moments.  My sweet friend, Shelly, helped me be okay with having full on meltdowns at lunch 🙂 then I would get up, move on, and pretend it didn’t happen.

Last Sunday was Mother’s Day.  It sucked. I had a very hard time with it.  Pastor Ed was giving a great message and it was during that message, I saw myself sitting on the shore of the ocean.  I could see this oasis of land behind the ocean.  But the ocean was raging with stormy waters.  It was dark, cold and lots of noise and lightning.  There I sat, watching it.  There sat Jesus in this boat, just talking to me.  It was so precious.  He didn’t push me.  He just sat there and said, it’s time to get in the boat.  It was a clear vision that my oasis of freedom of true joy couldn’t come unless I went through the storm.  I have a bad habit of thinking I can go around the pain or pretending it’s not there…doesn’t work.  I felt the nudge of the Holy Spirit saying, “we can do this.”  This precious God of mine, gave me a gift that day.  He acknowledged the pain.  He knew it was real and He met me there.  I truly believe He would sit there as long as it took.  He’s patient and kind like that.

And so I’ve come to this new journey of trusting God through the storm.  To get in the boat, trust Him and take every bump and jolt.  I am probably going to fall in the water and feel like I’m drowning, but He’s there.  He never leaves my side.  My encouragement to you, is to get in the boat.  He promises to never leave you or forsake you.  He’s here to walk every step with you.  We think pain will kill us so we avoid it, but then it never heals the right way.

He is my joy and He is my strength.  One day we will have a child and one day I will meet this sweet one.  Until then, I face what is ahead and dream of the oasis that is waiting for me on the other side…join me.

I Need a Savior

I’ve been reading the book “The Prodigal God” by Timothy Keller.  It’s been out for a while now, but after having a conversation with my sister about it, I had to find out for myself.  I was not but several pages in, that my world was changed.  I’ve never heard the story of the prodigal son broken down the way Timothy Keller describes it.  I think so often we see this as a story of the lost coming home.  The wayward, partier son takes off with his heritage, spoils it on himself, comes home and begs for a seat at the table of his fathers, not as his son, but as a servant.  Although that is part of it, Timothy Keller focuses just as much on the other son.  He points out that the parable wasn’t told for the lost, but told for the Pharisees.  It’s a story of grace, of finding God and loving Him for who He is, and not what He gives us.  That’s not relationship.  Here is a quote that I have been wrestling with…

“If like the elder brother, you believe that God ought to bless you and help you because you have worked so hard to obey Him and be a good person,  then Jesus may be your helper, your example, even your inspiration, but He is not your Savior.  You are serving as your own Savior.”

Dang.  Wow.  Dang…

Because of the society we live in, you are rewarded for good and punished for bad.  It’s a system that somewhat has to be in place to create order in our world.  How often I have found myself asking God to move in my favor, thinking that my discipline of saying no to wrong things and yes to the right, earns me that reward.  It’s so easy to think God works in a performance mindset when it comes to us, but here, in this parable, He proves it has nothing to do with that.  It’s this inner fight, this struggle I have inside of me that although there is blessing with obedience, there’s so much more to a relationship with God than obeying and getting His favor for your life.  If you base your life on that alone, you will come up shorthanded.  Life isn’t perfect and tough stuff happens to even the most “obedient” people.  If you base your life on how many times God answers your prayers, then you will be disappointed.  BUT…

Trusting Him as your Savior will never disappoint.  You see, you get to know God for who He is, not what He can do for you.  Timothy Keller points out that both sons are guilty of wanting their father’s things, but without the relationship.  As a church we have been so guilty of this.  We teach on God’s rewards, favor, the things He does for us, but miss out on getting to know Him.  Those things are important and such a wonderful part of God, but that’s not who He is.  He’s your Savior…the one who brings salvation.  If we don’t keep ourselves at a place of needing a Savior, we are in a dangerous position.  It’s through having a relationship with Him, that you want to do what He asks of you.  You want to obey what His Word says.  You want to say no to the wrong and yes to the right.  That’s all very important, but just like in the quote above, you’re missing out on knowing Him as your Savior.

One more quote from the book

“When a newspaper posed the question, ‘what is wrong with the world?’ The Catholic thinking G.K. Chesterson reputedly wrote a brief letter in response: ‘Dear Sirs, I am.Sincerely Yours, G.K. Chesterson.’  That is the attitude of someone who has grasped the message of Jesus.”

How often we find fault in the world without looking at ourselves.  We are nothing without Him.  Pride has a funny way of peaking out amongst us.  This has humbled me to no end. I need a Savior.  Jesus, be mine.

Clinging…

This blog is way late.  I got the inspiration back at a service we were in close to Christmas time.  It was a sweet time of worship, with Scripture reading between songs.  When I heard this passage, tears filled my eyes.  I couldn’t help but feel the power behind this promise.

Luke 1:37 (Amplified)

“For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment.”

It was spoken to Mary from an angel of God.  The angel was reminding Mary of her barren and fairly old cousin, Elizabeth’s pregnancy and it was through the power of God and the faithfulness of His promises, that captured Mary’s heart and peace reigned.

Her response: vs. 38

“Then Mary said, Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let it be done to me according to what you have said. And the angel left her.”

I’ve always been enamored with Mary and often thought what it would be like for God to choose you to be the mother of His son…it baffles me.  What an incredible honor that He would trust you with His Son…the Savior of the world.  That’s a side note, not exactly the point of this blog.

What compelled me about this passage, was the peace portrayed through Mary’s obedience, once the angel reminded her of God’s promises and that nothing’s impossible.  It left me thinking, if Mary, who was visited by angels and was suddenly pregnant with the Son of God, can be okay, and walk in the destiny before her, totally trusting in God’s goodness…what’s my excuse?  That’s one of the craziest things anyone could think up.  “Hello, I’m an angel from God.  You’re pregnant with His Son, and He will save the world.  He’s the one everyone has been waiting for.”  To be in that moment, scared, but suddenly reminded of who God was, and then accepting this huge, difficult job, humbles me.  Who am I to not to question His faithfulness?

Elizabeth was old and barren.  She desired children and couldn’t have them.  Through the miracle of Jesus, this woman, who would never in a million years be pregnant, was carrying John the Baptist.  Miracles and miracles kept happening in the very beginning at just the whisper and knowledge that Jesus was coming.  God’s in the business of doing the impossible and fulfilling His Word.  He promises to never leave us or forsake us.  It’s a promise…no matter what we are walking through, where we are, following Him or not following Him, He promised.  I have to go back to that.  You have to go back to that place of clinging to His promises.  That’s what’s so vital about God’s Word.  It’s life to us.

“For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment.”  Think on that for a minute, for an hour, for the rest of your life 🙂

“For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment.”

I  have to believe that my relationships with God has to be built on who God says He is and not what’s going on around me.  He was born in the midst of doubt and unheard circumstances.  If He’s promised something to you, in those sweet, quiet moments with Him, He’ll fulfill His promise.  It may not be on our schedule, but if He promises, it will happen.  It’s not about getting things from God.  I think to often, people use that excuse for getting materialistic things.

I think the way He chose to introduce the world to Jesus, His Son, was and is SO important.  He was born in the midst of chaos and dirty, gross straw.  His mother was a young teenager, a nobody.  Be encouraged to see the miracles taking place around you daily.  May His promises be your peace.  If Mary and Joseph and Elizabeth can do it, so can we.

 

Be Careful Little Eyes What You See

So I’m just giving this post a little warning. This is not a judgmental blog, and it’s only my personal conviction. I’m just hoping to make people think about that we are promoting as a society. With that being said, here I go….

Lately, I’ve been overwhelmed with educating myself on child trafficking. I watched a special on MSNBC and was broken for so many children/women, caught in this terrible industry, against their own will. I’ve watched “To Catch a Predator” and then, I’m facinated by shows like, “Celebrity Rehab” and “Intervention.” The resounding theme of most of these people with addictions, seem to have this pain they are trying to escape from childhood…many, escaping sexual abuse as a child. I can’t help but ask myself these questions:

1. Why is it such a problem, now more than ever?

2. How has our society become okay with perverting children and their innocence?

3. How did we become so obsessed with sex in general?

I then discovered within myself this ongoing numbness I’ve had to sexual things in television shows, movies, music, articles, conversations…it’s everywhere you turn and the more you are okay with it, the worse it will get. There are countdowns on websites when certain child celebrities become legal…seriously? We are excusing this lust for young women and then get upset with the men and women who become caught up in it. We say it’s okay and put it out there for everyone to see and feed this lust in men and women and then are shocked when we have problems like the ones we have. We’ve gone so far and it just seems impossible to back pedal. Pornography is easier and easier to access. Things like iPads and cell phones, make it so easy to feed those addictions with more privacy than ever.

We really enjoy some series on HBO and random boob shots would happen. We would be in shock and look away, but continue to watch because the story was so fascinating. That’s embarrassing to say, but I realized I was becoming numb to inappropriate things and subject matters. It started to effect my self esteem. You see, images that are put before us, as women, of what we are supposed to look like, destroy us as women, and destroy men’s healthy images of women. We all lose. Then I started thinking about those who struggle with such images. We’ve made it easier and easier as a society to feed grossness in us. The more you excuse it, the easier it creeps in and then it becomes a big problem. Pornography ruins people, marriages, families and respect for men and women. There are some television, movies, music, articles, that are borderline soft porn. Simple little things like that, strikes a curiosity in the most unhealthy ways. It’s almost impossible to escape.

I say all of this because I feel like we keep building and building on this society of sex. Sex sells and that’s only proven by it’s consumers. You might think you can’t do anything about it, but you can. We’ve stopped watching such shows, listening to certain music, anything that discriminates against men and women. There are precious little ones that are in danger. There are people out there with serious problems and these things we are accepting as normal in our society, are threatening our kids safety and destroying marriages and families. You can change things. It is rewarding within your own life.

What you do is your business and I’m not judging anyone in any way. I was/am guilty of becoming numb and okay with this crazy world of ours. Anyway, it’s just a challenge to protect kids, our families, marriages and futures. Child trafficking is bigger than ever, with one of the biggest locations in Oklahoma City at a truck shop outside of the city. It’s real and it’s not just in other countries. I just think there are things we can do to stop it and one huge one is making it not okay in our social media.

Just a thought…no pressure…actually, a lot of pressure. I love kids too much to not say or do anything about it.

Get Back on the Horse…but wait…

Ben is off writing in Amarillo with my brother, Teel, this week.  I mention this only because I hate when he’s gone, but the silver lining is the fact that I get to watch some girly stuff or pointless gibberish.  So while flipping through the channels, I stopped on the show Guiliana and Bill.  I’ve never seen the show, but hey had recently experienced a miscarriage.  You saw this turmoil of struggling to deal with what’s before them, but also moving forward.  A friend recommended that Guiliana go see a counselor to talk things through.  She explained to the counselor her pain, but was also confused about what to do next.  She told her that her husband, Bill, was a sports guy, so he kept encouraging her to “get back on the horse and try again.”  She wasn’t talking bad about him, just simply explaining where they both were.  The counselor turned to her and said “It’s important to get back up, but not while you’re still hurting from the fall.”

This stuck with me.  I know everyone’s situation and circumstances are different and it is important to get up and try again after you have fallen, but I think it’s just as important to take the time to deal with what you’ve just walked through.  Pain is an indicator of hurt, of something not quite right within us.  It’s a natural thing God has put in us.  In sports, when an athlete gets injured, he stays on the “injured” list until he gets released to play again.  Healing is vital…it’s important, and it’s the only thing that can make us healthy again.  In my personal life, it’s easy to pretend like nothing happened.  If I ignore how I feel, it will just go away.  The crummy thing about that, is it all starts piling up until one day, you’re reacting to things in ways that are even shocking you.  I’m not saying to wallow in your pain, or to stay there, but I am saying, ACKNOWLEDGE IT!!!  It’s okay.  It doesn’t mean you are weak or a coward or a winey baby.  It means you are human and if we don’t acknowledge hurt and deal with it in a healthy way, then we are in trouble and so is everyone else in our world.

You hear all these stories of people killing one another or making terrible decisions or ending their own life and after peeling back all the layers, most, if not all, had been hurt in various ways, and never dealt with it.  Nobody had a clue what they had been feeling.  I have to wonder if the results would be different.  I know they would.  It’s my heart for people to  move towards God’s healing.  He is the ultimate healer…of emotions, physical ailments, anything,  and He longs to spend time with you.  I have found that spending time with God, whether it’s surrounding myself with worship music or good teaching or even just a nice walk, that in those moments, God heals me.  He’s bigger than your anger, you don’t scare Him.  He’s not shocked by what you’ve done…so kick and scream and tell Him everything.  It’s in those moments, that He wants to hold you, tell you it’s okay and the funny thing is, I don’t think He’s saying, “get back on that horse again.”  I think He’s there the second you hit the ground, lays there with you, sees all the wounds, gently patches you up, and then if you want and if you ask Him to, He climbs on that horse with you and you ride together, this time with more stability.  Will you fall again, probably.  Will you get hurt again, probably.  And EVERYTIME, He’s there with you.  You don’t have to walk around defeated.  You can be strong and will be strong, but not unless you deal.

I’m a big advocate of having a safe place to talk, whether that’s a counselor, a pastor, a friend…allow yourself to have an outlet and talk through stuff.  We are surrounded by humans, which means we are going to fail and hurt one another…it’s just gonna happen.  You can pretend that you are a repeller of all evil, but under that dent in your armor is a little bruise.  I’m sure there are some that disagree with this and that’s totally fine.  I just know from my personal experience and walking with others through difficult times of hurt, the second you acknowledge the hurt, the healing begins.

Waiting Game

Lately Ben and I have been dealing with the whole “waiting game” of life.  I think all of us have and still find ourselves in this position…of waiting.  We keep asking ourselves when things will change, have our pity parties, and then find contentment in where God has us…all to do it over again the next week 🙂

I was listening to Shane and Shane’s song “Waiting Room” this morning and found such truth in the lyrics.

“i will run when i cannot walk
i will sing when there is no song
i will pray when there is no prayer
i will listen when i cannot hear

sitting in the waiting room of silence
waiting for that still soft voice i know
offering my words up to the rooftop to Your heart
trusting that this closet’s where You are

Lord i know if i change my mind
You will change my heart in time
Sovereign Lord this time’s from You
so i sit in the waiting room of silence
cause its all about You

i will fight when i cannot feel
i will trust when You dont seem real
i will tell when i cannot speak
i will step when i cannot see”

The chorus “Lord i know if i change my mind, You will change my heart in time. Sovereign Lord this time’s from You, so i sit in the waiting room of silence, cause its all about You” puts things in perspective for me.  Our pastor, Ed Gungor, not too long ago spoke to Ben and I about God using the time of waiting, to really pay attention to what God is trying to show us about ourselves.  He used the example of a baby chick about to hatch.  The chick pecks on the shell until they crack it open.  If you try to help the chick with breaking the egg, they will die.  It’s in the struggle that you get stronger and ready for that time of so-called new birth. This was encouragement for us, but then again, after the encouragement wore off a little, we found ourselves in that same exact place of just wondering when we would receive breakthrough.  You hear people saying that they are just waiting for God to answer their prayer…there’s always an answer…just sometimes we don’t want to hear it.  Mark Gungor spoke on it this past Sunday…”NO” is an answer.  That’s when trust comes into play.

Not admitting weakness has gotten me in a lot of trouble in the past.  It’s a pride thing.  This is me admitting I’m not as strong as I would like.  I’m tired and weary at times.  I see the dreams of my sweet husband’s heart being at a standstill and we  can’t do anything about it.  It’s out of our hands.  That place of desperation is great, but oh, so hard, especially to watch someone you love in the struggle.  I also see the dreams of my heart and Ben’s heart of a having a child, taking longer than we would like…but it’s out of our control.  So what do you do in the meantime?  I know to be still and wait, but I also know that God has put many wonderful things in front of me to be involved in and to not sit around doing nothing waiting for my turn.  I think sometimes during the waiting period, we become selfish. I know I have…I think we all have.

Waiting isn’t punishment.  God doesn’t punish us.  He loves us and longs to give us the desire’s of our hearts. I’m learning to lean into Him. When you lean on something, you depend on whatever you are leaning against to hold you…He’s holding me and in those arms, I find a home, a secure place to tell him all about it. It’s a place of trust and safety.

Lean into Him today…trust His timing and put your hands to what God’s put before you now…every dream has a journey.

Identity

This whole blog site thingy is new to me, but I know I love to write, and feel it’s my best outlet.  There will many times you will read this blog and it’s purely for me…sorry about that.  My hope and prayer is that when you read these blogs, you’ll feel loved and encouraged.

Just to give you a little history and background of myself, I grew up in a wonderful, loving family, centered in a belief in God.  My family was known in our little town and I carried many identities.  Most of them were natural…like a daughter, friend, sister, leader, singer…the ones we all carry from the time of birth.  Naturally, because of my love for music and creative outlets, performing was very natural for me.  I think there is such a thing as healthy performance that comes in the package of accountability.  It was my privilege and honor to bless my parents with the decisions I made.  There was an expectation on my behavior, and it was a good thing.  Many expectations were put on me, some healthy, some not so healthy…at no fault of anyone, but my own.  It’s who I became.  I became this girl who loved people and loved God and just longed to be accepted by everyone.  I think all of us feel that way sometime or another.  I hated feeling that someone was disappointed in me.  I hated knowing that I had let someone down, so I ran around just trying to make everyone happy with me.

When I moved to Tulsa to go to ORU, I came to the realization that nobody knew me.  Nobody knew my family, or what I was good at…it was a fresh and clean start.  I remember just begging God to make me something new…something He would be proud of and someone I could be proud of.  So I did a lot of things.  I made a lot of good decisions, which was great, but it quickly became an identity and this offering I would give to God…like, “here you go, I’ve done what I’m supposed to do, please be proud of me.”  That’s how the world works, right?  We do what were supposed to and then there is reward.  I did it right.  I did the right things, so naturally I felt God’s love and acceptance…like He was proud of me.  I found satisfaction in doing the things of God, behaving in all the right ways.  It made me feel validated and worthy of God’s love.

But what happens when you don’t do the right thing, and you aren’t proud of yourself? All the guilt and condemnation from the enemy and people who are hurt, become this identity you strap on.  The shame, the doubt in yourself and most importantly in the love of God.  All I believed of God came to a screeching hault when I had nothing to offer Him, but me…no good thing, no right decision, nothing but little ole me, totally ripped apart.  It was there that I found God.  I was stripped of everything, good and bad, that I had accepted as myself, all of it was gone.  I was left staring at this God I had claimed as the love of my life, hanging my head in shame, begging Him to love me again…to be proud of me again.  All the while, He never loved me for what I did or what I had to offer, He just loved me.  I’m moved to tears every time I think about His love that has no conditions.

I’ve slowly moved back into a place of leadership and singing again, and the desire’s of my heart have changed.  It’s not longer about me, in fact I’m scared to death to think about me…all I want to stay in tact is my identity of being HIS.  That may sound cliche, but think of who you are and what your represent and if EVERYTHING was stripped away from you, could you cling on and survive with the simple, precious gift of being His.  That’s all that matters.  It’s taken me a while, but I’m proud of who I am…but none of it compares to His love.  He pointed me out and still claimed me as His, when many couldn’t and shouldn’t have.

I guess I just want you to feel encouraged and even challenged, to simply get to know your God.  He longs to love on you, for you and nothing you have to offer.  He’ll slowly start building your identity up in healthy, wonderful ways.  It’s so easy to grasp for dear life for the things that make us feel good, that help us escape, that feed those gross parts of our flesh.  Let those things go…rejoice in the fact that you’re HIS and that’s all that matters.