Working For It!

I have to be honest for a moment. There are so many things that I want to write about but I am hesitant to because there are some things better kept quiet for this season. Eventually there will be a time when I can write about all sorts of triumphs & victories after mighty battles. If you sense that I am being vague, it is to honor certain people I hold dear as well as protect those that are innocent. Our words can cause so much pain even if the truth is being told. I want to write words that speak life, and encourage readers in times of great struggles yet address great difficulties at the right time.

In church today I realized how much my mind is changing. Getting rid of toxic thoughts and surrounding myself with non-toxic people have led me to a place of such joy & freedom. I still have a lot of work to do but I can honestly say that I have noticed a change in my life. Praise is on my lips even amidst trials. Truth is in the front of my mind rather than lies. Because I know whose I am and He is good & mighty & powerfully loving, not wanting any sin to taint me, or someone to mess with me, I am able to rest. No matter what happens I rest without fear of tomorrow.

Life can be hard but my joy does not depend on my circumstances. My joy comes from the One that never changes. He is always faithful, is always good & never gives up on me. He is my constant one. He is the only one I need to look to for my worth. He is always there when I am alone. He understands every tear & speaks life into my identity so that I can slay the enemy once my feet hit the ground every morning. 

Grace is extended during imperfect moments when my emotions are on overload & pain is expressed outwardly. Every time I invite him into the mess, healing occurs.  A new level of confidence grows and new levels of joy flood my soul after failure or heartache is turned to victory.

Surrender and healing is worth the hard work. Just like others work hard for that hot body, I am working on my soul. 

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Waterfall

When you have hiked the trails to a big waterfall have you just stood there and marveled at its beauty? 

I love the smell of the water in the air. Even if I stand a fair distance away I can even feel the mist upon my face. It makes me feel close to the Creator. I long for closeness. It is what drives me everyday.

Life right now reminds me of a waterfall and I am standing in awe. Many circumstances that often cause an ache in my heart still remain the same. I have much hope that these things will turn into good. Why? Because God has literally made impossible things possible.

For so many years whenever something good started to occur an intense season soon followed. It occurred like this so often that I used to live my life flinching, waiting for the next negative and hurtful thing to happen. Instead of enjoying the waterfall up close I was content just feeling the mist on my face. 

I have chosen to live differently. Fear is gone and I am getting drenched under the waterfall.

This Joyful Journey

Lies are falling to the floor. Like drops of rain lies hit the ground with a gentle splash. I stomp over every single one. Joy rolls out from deep within me.

Laughter fills my belly. New wrinkles appear on my face from joy filling up my face.

My new declaration has been,

“Thank you Lord for the lies that are crumbling and falling to the ground. Thank you for filling the gaps with your truth.” 

Everyday I say this declaration. I say it even if nothing has occurred. I say it when I feel defeated or lonely. I say it after having conquered and won. I say it believing every word. 

This journey is like dancing in the rain and sleet. It is not an easy task but it is a joyful one. 

I know who my God is. He is mighty. He is powerful. He breathes life into my lungs. He is joy. He is love. I would not trade this life with him for anything else. Freedom feels good; it feels like the wind against my face running in fields of wildflowers. The sweet scent drifting up from the petals reaching towards the son fill my lungs and heal deep wounds that once made it hard to breathe. Now I breathe holy fire as if nothing had ever happened.

God is good.

He is my one-and-only. 

WOW!

“Why are you stuck in how you have always known it when I have set you free? Just walk in my freedom! Dance in my freedom. Joy is yours. Pick it up and live the way that I intended for you.”

2017 has been described to me as my “Wow” year.

Since January 2017 I have stepped foot from one victory to another. For the first time in a very long time my mind feels like it has been set free from cobwebs and tight fascia that once felt like it restricted freedom, joy and truth to reign. It is the reason for my lack in writing on this blog.

Perhaps I should not have kept my journey to myself? The reason why I question my silence is because God has literally done so much the past several months. I did not realize how long time had gone by since I last posted in any format. For this I am sorry because I am a writer and intend to share in order to encourage and help others.

There have been many freedom moments or “aha” moments since January. I found myself one day realizing that God had set me free and I did not change my thought process or habit. How often do we do this? We scream or yell, “I want to be free!” and instantly forget that God just walked us into victory. We have never needed to fight for it because it was already given to us.

Lies have been crumbling, and dropping to the floor like rain drops. In place of those lies God’s truth has filled in all of the gaps and holes. As this continues to take place on a weekly basis, toxic thoughts continue to die and a beautiful tree full of gorgeous blooms grows in its place. Freedom from bondage and heartache from holding on for too long is truly enabling me to soak up revelation of the truth that has always been right before me. It is a fun adventure!

2017 is my “Wow” year and I continue to walk in miracles and joy! I look forward to sharing more with you soon.

I am back! 😉

 

Working Through Scar Tissue

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(Hannah Hope Photography)

Last week I tore some scar tissue in my wrist from an injury dating back to middle school. I heard a pop and had immediate pain. Like many times in the past where I had inflamed the same injury I instantly was worried. I soon realized that this pain was different and minor soreness occurred. I now have better movement and range of motion than I have ever had in years.

When God is allowed into our lives deeper and deeper, he starts to break up our scar tissue.

Scar tissue is an amazing thing as it is our body’s way of repairing and protecting the damaged area. Sometimes it can build up too much and we need it to be worked out in order for proper blood flow to return to the area and life can return back as it should be.

Our hearts, minds, and souls are very much the same. We do things to repair and protect ourselves when we have been hurt. But too often we can either run or see it as a bad thing when our inner scar tissue begins to break up and be worked out. It feels uncomfortable. It can be extremely painful at the time. It leaves us feeling vulnerable. Sometimes it can even feel too intrusive. This is a good thing!

I have seen too many people in my life run from these moments. Just when God is getting to the root of the cause of so much of our pain, we run. Just when God is getting to the root of our sin issue, we run. No one really likes pain but when there is pain with a purpose, a purpose to bring healing and life back so that we can be free, that is pain well worth experiencing.

Too many times I have seen people decide to run away from this process when the purpose is to bring them into a greater level of freedom and joy.

I will be blunt honest on here this time. I am tired of seeing so many people who were once on fire with passion for God slowly fade into the background when things got too intense inside of them and when the painful process of working out scar tissue didn’t feel good. It got too uncomfortable for them.

What is the point of having a relationship with a loving, all knowing, faithful God when we are only willing to give him our scraps or a piece of our heart?  When he desires more of us, some just sit back allowing themselves to turn into an apathetic Sunday or once a month Christian. If my husband did that to me, we would have major issues. I would know that he had lost interest in loving me and might even be hiding something from me. I am no longer friends with people who have treated me in similar ways because there was no longer a healthy relationship that was growing.

God knows all of our junk. He knows all of our secrets. He knows that what we go to often creates more agony and pain. His ways are always best because he is good. He is love.

Let him work through the scar tissue.

It is worth it.

Freedom. Overflowing joy. Love reigns where fear once had a stronghold. Addictions are gone. Trauma is healed. Life in Christ is a life lived from victory!

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Favorite Things

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(photo: Hannah Hope Photography)

The year two wave of grief hit and it caught me a bit off guard. I found myself crying more than I had intended. The intense heartache returned with a vengeance.

Grief is never an enjoyable experience but it does change. The heartache did not last as long this time but it reminded me how long I had lived feeling that way every day, all day for months. If you are still going through that cycle of grief, please know that it does lesson ever so slowly.

Just the other day, I had been weeping over so many different things that made my heart ache. I was struggling with not only my Mom but also so many family details and seeing the solution without any way of being able to change one thing. So much of being a Step Mom has shown me how true love is a love that has grit. I want to be a woman that has grit but the process hurts!

As I was weeping I opened my Bible to Luke 19 and read verse 41, “And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it”.

This post is by no means an exegetical description of this chapter. But this spoke volumes to me that Jesus wept over the hearts of people in the city of Jerusalem. He knew the answer to all of their heart issues. He knew everything about them, their pain, and the depravity of their hearts. Jesus wept. Jesus knew grief.

As I listened in the quiet, allowing tears to fall rather than get stuck, God spoke such tender words. He said, “My own Son felt strongly. He wept. He loved deeply. Why should you feel wrong for feeling so strongly for people, for weeping? This is one of my favorite things about you. I made you this way!”

In that moment, in the acceptance of my Lord, I experienced healing. Inner turmoil I experienced for years for feeling wrong for how I felt so deeply and often ached for others began to release. Did you know that the very things that you may dislike about yourself could very well be Gods favorite things about you? When you realize this truth you will find yourself closer to Father God. You will realize that you do not need to do things to protect yourself from getting hurt because you will realize that God continually heals your heart and soul. God desires freedom for you. He wants to help you conquer everything that distances you from him. He loves you!

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(Hannah Hope Photography)

The White Flowers

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This week I was reminded by my husband  about how much I have changed from a year ago. A lot of healing has taken place in the past year. A lot of encouragement and building up has occurred by great leaders around me. I am beyond grateful!

At the time I took the pictures shown above, I was not yet ready to share with the world why these flowers were so important to me. I had already been given enough advice on how to grieve, how not to grieve and I was tired of being told that I should be over it. God has done so much within my heart since then.

The flowers in the pictures represent love from Father God. If you are on a path of grieving let me be the first to tell you that God understands and that he holds you, weeps with you and sees every tear. You matter. Your grieving heart matters. You are not alone. You have loved much and that is something very beautiful.

One Saturday night I had a dream with my Mom in it. She had some white flowers she had been watering and she told me that she had asked God if she could give me some white flowers. She also said that she wanted me to tell my Dad that “it is okay and that she understood.” At the time I did not know the significance of what she said. But I do remember waking up weeping because she had been so real in my dream. All I longed for was to have more moments with her where she was not in pain.

Crying in the mornings by that time had become a regular occurrence. Fatigue was also something I was unable to overcome. I did my best to cry as much as possible before getting into church mode so that I could tend to my sweet kids and their family well that Sunday. As we drove back home after a good church service, I was beyond exhausted so I sunk deep into the passenger seat. My husband slowly turned into our driveway and my eyes caught a glimpse of white in the flowerbeds below our front window.

It could not be! I jumped up and quickly walked over to investigate the flowerbed, which I had not planted anything in, watered, or tended to the entire year. To my sweet surprise there were white flowers, just like the ones my Mom had been watering in my dream the previous night. I could hardly believe it! Tears welled up as I realized how much my Mom loved me. Even more so I realized how much my Father God loved my Mom and loved me. It was like a sweet balm to my aching and bruised heart at the time. It was confirmation that God was giving me permission to love, let go of the pain and grieve rather than feel guilty for it. It was a realization that grieving was allowing God to heal the pain of separation rather than having to lose someone so close to me. I had not lost her at all. It would simply just be a little longer before we could hug each other, plant our own garden again and sip some coffee while laughing.

I still have days where the separation seems too far and my heart is hit with an ache so deep that tears well up. But I have never lost the hope and the ever-increasing joy that Heaven is waiting for us. God does not like separation either. It is why he sent Jesus. Heaven is our hope. He is our joy. And until that day, I choose him.

Besides, you never know when God will send you flowers.

 

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My Heart

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I want to take a moment to express what is on my heart right now. It is not very often that I talk about the dynamics of my family of 3 since I originally started this blog to document the journey of grieving through my Mom’s death. As life continues to flourish and the sneaker waves of grief become less powerful, other things are written on my heart that I want to share.

Did you all know that I have an adorable daughter who is 7? She is quite brilliant, has the best laugh and her smile lights up a room. She also has the best Daddy in the entire world! They are so much alike. Do you also know that I chose her? When I married my husband it was also the day that I chose to be who she needed me to be whether it was Mom, friend, counselor, or just a bonus.

The journey has not been easy. It has been full of heartache and tears but we have always chosen to persevere, and laugh along the way. She has been worth it!

But let me highlight the man in our life a little bit more. He has faced these giant mountains in his life. Together as husband and wife we have faced them together, praying that God would move them on our behalf and on the behalf of our daughter. He has had to fight many battles for us to be a family of 3. And I must say how very proud of him that I am.

He has chosen love and mercy. In the process he never once lost sight of his daughter and he never once lost sight of me. He is honest to the core of who he is. He is the most faithful man that I know and has had moments where he could have easily justified giving up at any moment. But he has such incredible integrity and faith. He perseveres. When he is struggling he still comes to comfort me in my time of incredible grief. He loves me, cares for me, tends to my aching heart and serves me with his whole heart. He has shown me what the scriptures instructs a husband to do, to lay down his life.

He loves Jesus with everything he has.

It is because of Jesus that we are where we are today. Together we are mighty!

“Your praise will ever be on my lips!”

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The Treasure

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The past several weeks have not at all gone as I had originally planned. But I guess that is life, right? I am writing this with a smirk because I have begun to find joy in these simple hiccups in plans. God has little blessings and treasures even amidst those times as long as you are able to stop focusing so much on what did not happen!

The fatigue and health issues that I have been having, which I thought were simply from stress and grieving were indeed more than just that. Unbeknownst to me, I have actually had mono. The mono then led to a flare up of tonsillitis.  Because of my diagnosis, I realized just how much I needed to slow down, and not put such high expectations on myself to do everything that I wanted to do. This meant that I did not hand out any Christmas goodies or cards to many people that I originally planned on (sorry everyone). It also meant that I have been learning the art of pacing myself while enjoying every single moment possible to the fullest measure. When one’s energy is low and food puts pressure on an inflamed and swollen spleen, you learn to enjoy every bite because it could be your last for a couple of hours.

I am grateful for everyone who has put in extra effort to help carry loads for me since I am ordered not to do so for at least a month. I am grateful for a husband who helps do laundry, pick up the house, and cook for me while I lay down on the couch. For those who know me well, I am much like my Mom…  a stubborn go-getter, never letting pain and fatigue stop me from living. This is how I have been living my life. I did not realize how serious it was until my spleen was at risk of rupturing. I am thankful that God was protecting me and intervened through the prayers of my husband and my daughter.

Despite all of the physical disruptions to my plans, Christmas has been very full of blessings, sweet surprises, and moments filled with tears as well as laughter. The art of choosing joy is the best way to live life. Cherishing every moment and not getting hung up on how things are so painfully different is also important. What will your focus be on? I choose the positive things. Those people who are right in front of me. A daughter that needs me and wants to be a part of everything even if I am so tired that I feel like the couch is enveloping me.  My husband that chooses to work hard, provide, take care, encourage, and love me as well as our daughter with every fiber in his being blesses me daily. What greater treasure is there than that of the people whom love you and you love?

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Those people are my God given treasure. They remind me just how much God loves me.

I could have chosen the other route. It would have been easy to sink into the misery of what my body has been feeling for over a month and allow that to overtake my thoughts and feelings. I am stubborn.

I choose joy. I choose to be thankful. I want to be the type of woman that has grit! I want to be tough as well as sweet and gracious. I want to be like Jesus whose life was not always full of great circumstances yet he knew whom his Father was and why he needed to choose his ways. Life is not about us. Life is about love and choosing that love above all else. Life is about pointing others to the source of our joy. Life is showing others why we choose the way of living lovingly and joyfully. Life is full of twists and turns with blessings and treasures at every single one of them if we take the time to see them.

Life is beautiful!

God is the source and he is good.

 

 

I Will Exalt You

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Here I am going into the second year of holidays without one of my best friends, my Mom. This time last year I was doing my best to walk the journey day by day uncertain of how the waves of grief might hit me as important traditions ceased and days trailed off. I was not anticipating the grief to take a different face yet have such similar affects on my body as last year. Once again I cannot seem to remember things like I used to, my appetite is either none to completely ravenous, and I am very emotional. To be perfectly honest, this makes me feel a bit angry because I do not like this affect on my body.

Despite all of this, there is a difference. Laughter fills my body clear to my bones. Each day I choose joy and choose love. Letting go has come much easier. The ache still lingers. Tears still fall. Last year I was mourning Mom and continue to miss her each day. But this year I am mourning family as well. It has felt like we have taken hits to our family in all ways after having to fight a battle for our own little one recently. Everything seemed to hit all at once. That alone is exhausting!

Even amidst the issues God has given us victory. He has provided for us like only he can. He has drawn us closer to him. He has drawn us closer as husband and wife. If there is any purpose for the pain in the journey, being intertwined closer with him and with my husband makes it all worth it! That alone gives me a reason to sing. That alone gives me a reason to smile through the tears.

I want to know him more! I want to move in his love and power effortlessly and fully surrendered to him. I want to sing and dance. I want his joy to bubble over onto others. I have known many joyful people that I have wanted to be like. Their joy seemed so contagious. You know the ones I am talking about. They can often be labeled as, “those annoying super positive people out of touch with reality”. I now understand why they always have a positive response. When you spend more time with God and choose his joy, it penetrates every part of your being. You have a reason to be so positive. No Eeyore over here!

He is the source of my strength. He is the source of my joy. He is joy! Because he has won the victory we can persevere with joy through anything. Because he was and is stronger than anything that could come up against him, we have a reason to be full to the point of overflowing with joy!

My heart overflows.

Joy is Jesus.

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The lowly manger scene reveals our source of joy. When God brought the greatest gift to come save us and make a way for us, joy entered our lives. Holy Spirit within us is a reflection of that day, the only virgin birth known in history, and a family knit together by God. The furious love of the King of Kings coming to save the day in the most unlikely way was also anxiously awaited by so many. It was scandalous for the time period. But Mary and Joseph chose to obey. Because of their obedience and God’s perfect timing, joy was sent to all people.

This is the reason I sing. This is the reason I can laugh in the face of grief. This is the reason I love like every second counts. It is why I live.

Jesus.

“I will exalt you; I will praise your name”.