Annie’s Brain has Left the Building

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My brain left the building a couple of years ago, friends. And now? The building has since blown up.

I don’t really know what I mean by that statement – it just keeps popping into my head lately (what’s left of it).

I think it means something like this:

Since the brain fog ensued from the double whammy of menopause AND Fibromyalgia, this crazy one has been trying to get her brain back.  I have recuperated some of my brain capacity as I have been working on my health. Yes, SOME of the brain fog has lifted.

But just like with anything else that is lost, as we search to find it again, we sometimes find that we will never get it back quite the same way that it used to be. There’s a grief process involved in that. For me though, the outcome of that mourning has been positive.

In this, has been yet another journey peppered with lesson after lesson in my DEEPLY ingrained need to surrender control. My relentless need to find the line between surrender and acceptance has been etched in front of my face throughout the entire process. My deep-seated need to lean in on my Savior and let Him decide just how much clarity and focus and brain power I will have for the rest of my time here on this earth has been beyond clear.

That is hard. It is hard to face the clear and obvious fact that you are a stubborn control freak who struggles with surrendering everything over to her Savior.

It’s particularly hard in this situation because I still have a keen memory of how my brain used to function. Much of my other memory capacity has diminished, but not that. My brain? It was a great helper to me for decades. At the same time, I realize that it probably hindered me as well.

I had a GREAT brain, friends.

  • It was quick.
  • It was filled with so many great ideas that I couldn’t crank them out fast enough.
  • It processed,  collated, assimilated faster than anything I could even imagine right about now.
  • I was born with it: And yes….because it was my “normal” I took it for granted.

But I also let it rule and reign in my life.

So, as I said, it hindered me in some ways too. I relied upon my quick brain so much that it fed my control issues. Big time.

I could handle it all – so I thought. Actually, I was able to do quite a bit when my brain was functioning optimally. I could take it all on and get it all done. Sometimes I’d go into overload, but I could still do it all.

ME.

MYSELF.

AND I (and my big brain).

I kept finding myself trying to get my brain back over the past couple of years – struggling and straining – taking one step forward and three back – over and over again. I wouldn’t allow myself to enter into the acceptance part of the grief process. I kept fighting.

My brain had left the building. I had been operating under the assumption that all I had to do was get it back inside again.

Then one day recently I realized: I’m spinning what wheels I have left. The building has since blown up.

I have stepped outside along with my brain now and am trying to find out how to live with it. A new place. An unknown environment. Me and what’s left of my brain.

But guess what? Someone else lives there too. I can see Him more clearly now. In the midst of all else that is murky and foggy – He shines through all the more. It’s my Jesus.

  • He is guiding me more now – not my puny little brain.
  • He is shedding light in the darkness – not the clarity of my thought processes or my ability to assimilate and rapid fire all of my thoughts and human conclusions.
  • He is doing it for me ~ lighting the way.
  • And all I have to do is surrender ~ brain and all.

Yes, sometimes  I find myself missing my big brain in the face of how wimpy it is these days. Those are the days in which I realize, if I slow down and  breathe for a moment ~ I am looking for the wrong things to rely upon. Those are the days in which I am lovingly reminded that nothing in this world is more efficient, more right, more wise, more helpful, more loving, and more TRUE ~ than Jesus Christ, our Lord.

The building has blown up. It is gone forevermore. But this girl today ~ today, this girl ~ is so grateful for fresh air.

I can breathe again, friends. I have an Almighty and  All-Powerful Savior walking me through grace after grace, mercy upon mercy, truth after truth, ALL mingled with His unmistakable and divine love, on a daily (sometimes moment-to-moment) basis. Only Jesus could do that.

Only Jesus.

What have you lost that you miss sometimes, friends? Do you miss an aspect of physical or mental vitality that you once had? Do you pine away for it and feel as though some aspect of your life has been crippled? You need search no longer. Jesus can change that story for you. We can stop searching fervently for that which is fleeting and turn our eyes toward the ONE thing that actually matters! He holds our individual journeys right in the palm of His hand anyway.

He is the Author and the Finisher of IT ALL.

We are human, and as humans walking in flesh, it is natural we should miss such things when we lose them. But oh – how GREAT IS OUR GOD! In what we lose here, we find so much more in Him.

  • He makes all things new.
  • He makes everything better.
  • He truly works all things together for our good.
  • And yes….His power is made PERFECT in our weakness.

Won’t you turn it over to Him along with me today, friend? Let’s meet Jesus outside of the building that tries to pretend to offer us comfort and security. Let’s run to Him and frolick in the fresh air of who HE is! Breathe Him in….be fed by Him….revel in Him….and bring Him glory and honor, love and truth, child-like faith and friendship and worship.  AMEN.

I must be honest ~ I often do miss my big brain. But I am still thankful. I am no longer trapped into thinking I can rely upon it. I can still run – straight into my Savior’s arms. I can still see – looking to Him and Him alone. I still have confidence – that He is weaving a beautiful story in my life. And oh ~ oh how my faith in Him has grown!

Friends, I still have joy – joy that comes from knowing that I am HIS. 

I hope that you do too. I pray that you do. In Him, we have gained everything. Please. Don’t forget to remember that. You are HIS. His hands hold you. HE writes your story.

Let’s look to Him together. Him and Him alone.

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12: 1-2

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One Small Thing

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Tonight I ponder the last 24 hours and the way my mind was thrown into a fearful loop of darkness because of one small little thing.

One small thing – a tiny, yet very sharp thorn that prickled and poked at “the fear”. A powerful and relentless prickle which could release torrents of big ugly and horrendous, crashing waves of fear that apparently still reside in a hidden corner of my heart.

Down. Deeeeeep Down.

It was really small – this thing. But small and powerful enough to do potential damage. Yes, I said potential. It’s not even real yet and I fed its power.

One small thing – like a blister on the bottom of your toe that threatens to explode each time you press forward. “Just keep going – it may pop. Then possibly relief will come. Or maybe not. Maybe infection. Maybe gore and blood.”

One small thing that, if left unchecked, has the power to spin me into full-on anxiety, and darkness.

That’s what fear does, doesn’t it? It threatens to take over. Especially if we have allowed a piece of it to stay dug down – keep taking up space inside.

Fear of the unknown. Fear of a possible negative outcome. Fear that even if the ugly thing does happen….what then?

I know what it is for me: I forget.

I forget to remember that even if the horrendous ensues – even if that fear comes to fruition and morphs into what I think could be an abominable reality – even if – my God will take care of me. I forgot to remember.

  • He doesn’t promise it will be easy.
  • He doesn’t promise it will be fun.
  • He doesn’t promise even that it will be void of pain, sorrow, or stretching way beyond what I think are MY limitations.

He only promises to work all things together for my good.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i]have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

What shall we fear then?

  • I should fear nothing but losing faith in my Savior and allow fear to draw me away from Him.
  • I should remember to bring my fears to the foot of the cross and nail them in where they belong.
  • I should not let fear stay for long and use it as a reminder that it’s time to press in – time to crawl up on my Savior’s lap and bask in the glory of Him.

Yes Him. The One who is truly our only armor against such stealers of joy and peace.

Him ~ His Holiness.

Just Him ~ His Goodness.

Him and His Compassion and His Mercy.

Him ~ His Love.

Just Him ~ His Truth.

Him and His Power and His Strength.

The chink in my fleshly armor is a gift. It is a gift given by my merciful Savior to remind me that such things are not protective at all.  They are flawed. They are not of Him. A thorny little present that helps me remember not to forget.

But as cracked as my heart can be and as elusive as feeling secure in this little world of ours can seem, I am kept and cared for by my One and my Only – Jesus Christ.

There is light in my little crevice right now – it has been exposed. I know the tormentor will try to cover up another little cranny from my line of vision  – it’s what he does. But the light and truth and love of my Savior is there.

He will expose all that is dark. And He will purge it.

Flesh-based armor will chink and fray. Oh yes, my friends, it will fail us. But we are already conquerors in Christ Jesus!

That’s  a BIG thing! And, oh yah……………..

Our God NEVER FAILS.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?  Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.  Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[j]

 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8: 31-37

What one small thing threatens you today, dear friend? Is it a fear of something unknown that is causing you to feel anxious? Is it a conflict, a bad news day, or a particular brand of suffering that is making a visit on the doorstep of your heart or mind today? Is a cloud following you around and you are straining to see the light from underneath it? Won’t you join me in laying it at the feet of Jesus? Ask Him to take it from you and help you to surrender it back over (daily) when and if you try to pick it back up again. He is strong enough. He doesn’t need our help. We have only to bring it to Him. He will meet us there, friends. He takes all things – big or small – ugly or not – and makes them into that which is divine and good.

Turn over your one small ugly thing over today to the One who does GREAT things! Then sit back and watch Him work wonders in your life through the beauty of surrender and the glory of just Who He Is!

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The Yucky, Icky, Gooey CRUD!!!

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I feel disgusting – reprehensible – and all around SICK. My throat is coated with junk. So is my tongue. The contents of my stomach are coming up like ravaging mucous monsters – threatening to steal my breath and destroy me. It feels like heaps of CRUD are just sitting in my stomach – it is gurgling and tossing and nothing is coming out in all the right places. (how I wish it just would). TMI? Ha Ha.

It’s seeping….steeping. What’s it making inside of my body? I’m afraid to think about that right now. My skin is shriveling up.  Dehydrated feeling from all the poison inside of me. Walking in a fog – a daze. I was nervous to talk to people on the phones today for fear of what I might blurt out of my mouth in the cloudiness of it all!

I want to recoil  – get into a little ball and wake up tomorrow and it will be gone. The Annie of Wednesday this week would emerge – refreshed, renewed.  This morning I woke up with a TOXIC food headache. Why?

It’s the yucky, icky, gooey, CRUDDY feeling. And I did it to myself on purpose!

I know this feeling – my body remembers it well. So sad – so sickeningly familiar – yet laced with the horizon of hope for the non-icky days that lie ahead of me. The days in which the yucky, icky, gooey, CRUD feeling will lift. It will be smashed. Obliterated. Killed and told to run far, far away!

Renewal will ensue. Oh, thank GOD for tomorrow.

Without going into a long story, I shall tell you how the icky entered in today and yesterday. These past two days I have had to “fat load” for a specific eating and nutrition plan phase of my treatment with my fibromyalgia and wellness doctor and the plan he has me on. Over the past three months, I have healed tremendously – PRAISE JESUS! Through prayer, support from family and friends and church family, AND this amazing program this doctor is doing with me, I have finally seen some reprieve from the horrid symptoms that have plagued me for about two years – I was being relentlessly plagued and tortured physically! But I grew much out of that ick.

The yucky, and yes – the oh-so-icky – the gooey and CRUDDY feelings dissipated these last few months. Health and healing began. Energy dared to poke its beautiful and very missed face out from down below the junk. Smiles and laughter returned without being forced. The old Annie that I have always been inside but was hidden for so long, got to come out and play.

I knew this part was coming – the transition into an EVEN CLEANER eating plan. I knew it would be ugly. And I don’t do ugly well – remember?

Honestly, I was already eating mostly (probably 90%) clean. However, it’s time to release (actually do a prison break of sorts) the stored yellow fat that is trapped deep inside from the months and years my body was hoarding it to protect itself. I don’t know what that will look like over the next couple of months, but the first two days are supposedly the hardest part because you must “trick” your body to attack fat – by EATING IT for two days!

You wouldn’t know it’s there so much – the yellow gooey and stored up junk –  but it is. About 30 pounds of it. It’s hidden deep – down in the crevices. It’s hoarding the miniscule amount of estrogen I have left. It’s holding down toxins along with it – coating it in a protective sheath – it’s a poison that thinks it’s there to protect me, friends. I know, I know – it doesn’t make sense, yet it does. Too much to explain here. Just trust me.

I was in fight or flight for a LONG time. Uninterrupted upside down-ness (yes,  I make up my own words). Roller coaster chick right here. (I hate them, by the way) Even when I found ways to hide it or hold it at bay (running all the time when I could), it was only a matter of time before nothing was going to help eliminate the repercussions of extended fight or flight status from taking their full blown toll.

Well, that moment came with a vengeance about two years ago. I have been a mess ever since. Until three months ago! Whoo Hoo.

And now – for a slice of time in my honeymoon period, this girl has been interrupted.

The lovely dream has been interrupted by a temporary, but very yucky nightmare. Yes, the icky. And the gooey… CRUD.

So I fat loaded yesterday and today and it has been U-G-L-Y. I have been primarily juicing prior to this. Most people on this program love these fat load days and hate it when they have to move toward the clean eating after that. I hate the fat loading days and am SO glad I don’t have to do it again! Did I say Hate? Abhor. Despise. Want to slaughter them.

And for that, I am thankful.

I am thankful that this “new” part of the program – the part that will be how I probably end up eating forever, is really not new for me at all. I get to return tomorrow to juice, nuts, minimal starches and sugars (if any), and lean fish and meats. I get to do that while the doctor’s natural drops work their wonders in my fat cells.

Do I have some ugly days ahead? Yep. But I won’t have the compound detox effect I would have if I’d been fat loading daily for the past year. And THAT is GOOD.

I will, however have some detox from the stored stuff that’s being released to be “eaten up” by the magic drops. Will you pray for me these next couple of months friends? More importantly, will you ponder the following rant of mine for a moment with me too?

You see…today I was thinking (oops!) I was thinking about how much this fat loading adventure reminds me of our need to get the junk out daily with Jesus. As we grow closer to him, we can start to think we have pure hearts. We can start to believe that we aren’t sinning all that much anymore, so hey – all is well in the world. It’s good to walk in the victory that He has won for us, so I am not saying we should be depressed or hate ourselves at all.  But I am saying that it really is true that sin and ugly and icky and gooey and yucky stands out more starkly to us when we are removing it daily and not letting it build up inside.

At the same time, even when we are doing that – that daily purging with Jesus – if the ick creeps back in – well, let’s just say it still hurts.

  • It still makes me double over.
  • It still reminds me of ugly and harsh and dark and painful.
  • It reminds me of burdens that weren’t meant to be carried by myself alone.
  • And yes – that yucky, icky CRUD reminds me of the beauty that is found in the removal of it.

It is alien to me now – the ick and the goo. It used to be the other way around. My body rejects it now. I am being completely honest when I say I wasn’t sure I’d make it through these two days.  Eating junk all day? Pouring it into an almost clean system (except for the stored yellow stuff that’s still in there)? This girl didn’t know if she could keep it down! I still have a few hours to go – so I shouldn’t get too cocky here!

But the point is this: I get to rejoice today, friends. Rejoice, I say! I am celebrating the fact that my body sees the bad stuff as an alien invasion. And I get to do the same thing about my sin! Even though it’s in my nature to sin, it’s no longer my desire to let it stay.

And that’s because HE lives there. And he will not co-exist with such unwelcome visitors!!! Now the yucky, icky, gooey, CRUD is the unwelcome one!

  • Reborn
  • Refreshed
  • Repurposed
  • Retrained
  • Revitalized
  • REDEEMED.

And that beautiful hope and glorious redemption? THAT is far more “sticky” than the yucky or the icky or the gooey stuff any day. It will be with me for all eternity.

How about you, dear friend? Is there something yucky ailing you today? What is inside that is foreign to your body, your mind, your heart? Is it something that needs to be removed? Do you fear the hurt that will come about if you pluck it out? Why not ask Jesus for help while the toxins are released?  He can help, you know. We have only to ask. He will draw near to us in our suffering, reveal more of Himself to us in the process, and yes – if it is in His perfect will to remove the affliction, this too, he shall do!

Nail it – nail it there into the cross. If the suffering is staying a while, draw near to Him in the midst of it. If it’s time for him to remove it, allow it and rest in his embrace – especially if it hurts. He has already won the victory against all alien and icky and ugly and yucky and gooey and unwelcome forces. You are His child. Live in the glory of his grace, mercy and beautiful redemption.

Won’t you meet him there?

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“But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners,is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not!  For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.  For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.  I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.  I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes -through the law, then Christ died in vain.” Galatians 2: 17-21

 

Ugly Love

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I don’t need a theme for what I write about, but I have still been thinking about this topic a lot lately. I think about the fact that if I had to boil down what the main thing is that God inspires me to share about when I write ~ if I HAD to nutshell it for someone ~ how would I do that? Is there such a thing?

I don’t write that way, you know. I write what I am led to share after times I have been praying, seeking truth, teaching and wisdom from my Jesus. He always moves me and prods me what to share and when to share it.

But lately I’ve been feeling this sense of discomfort; a nagging little feeling that He is trying to reveal something to me. He is telling me there is a theme. And I hadn’t really realized it until now. I don’t yet know why it’s important. I don’t even know what His purpose is in having me identify it and share it with you, dear friends. I just know that it’s there, it IS important, and I now think I know and understand more as to what it is.

So you ~ you, my dear friends, are coming into this process with me tonight as it is happening and coming to fruition.

Here is what I have concluded so far:

Most of what I write about is about what I am calling Ugly Love.

When I write, it’s actually a process that is going on between myself and God that I am then sharing with you in real time. It’s a form of worship and communion with Jesus and that translates into fellowship and sharing with others. Yes, as the process is unfolding, I am sharing it as I type away in the hopes that you will see a glimpse of how Jesus might be working in your own life in the midst of something icky or ugly that He’s helping me to work through.

Maybe those who read through it are going through a similar process of their own? Maybe they are in a different place in their individual journey regarding similar subject matter, and something of what I share in regard to my own story will help them?

I know that when you write back to me, I learn so very much. I am so very helped and supported. I am loved back in huge ways and my own relationship with Jesus and others that He loves is deepened by the community we have in one another in Jesus Christ.

Ugly Love. Do those two words contradict one another? I don’t think so.

You see, I don’t believe that real love is the kind that always feels great, friends. I don’t think real love can be understood, felt, acted upon, exhibited, grown or shared if we limit it to something that’s just fluffy, pretty and neatly packaged all the time. That’s not what I call love, although that stuff feels good and isn’t always a bad thing.

But neatly packaged feelings are not necessarily truth. Most of the time, they can be deceitful, especially when it all crosses over into “redefining” or distorting our idea of what true love really is.

We become self-centered, and self-seeking when we live by and for that perfect idea of love, or live for comforting feelings alone. Feelings start to rule and reign when we do that, and that is rooted in self.

Self often is deceitful.

Real love is rooted in Jesus, not self. It is marked by choices we make that are in line with His truth, wisdom, model of sacrifice and perseverance, among many other things our Lord Jesus Himself exhibits as He shows us what perfect love really is.

I have a secret to tell you: His love is not the popular kind. And it’s not the easy kind, either. He loves beautifully in the midst of the very, very ugly. Without fail.

Loving in the midst of ugly…

Seeking to love regardless of how we feel about it…

Loving in the depths of heartache, turmoil, pain or discomfort…

Loving in the face of persecution, criticism, or other things that make us feel humiliated and low….

Choosing to love in ways that others don’t perceive as “loving” while still knowing it is the only kind that’s really true…

Loving in complete truth – seeking truth in complete love….

That’s an ugly process much of the time. It’s utterly ugly and oh-so-beautiful at the same time.

Beautiful, Ugly Love.

Part of rejecting Christ is seen in the rejection of real love, because real love often goes against what feels good to self. It often flies in the face of what is conventionally acceptable as “loving behavior.” Jesus clearly shows us this in so many ways. Just look at the cross, friends.

Look at the cross.

Jesus warns us that we will be rejected and hated, as He is Himself.  Why would we think that we wouldn’t be swayed, tempted, even cajoled or strong-armed into exhibiting love that complies with man’s terms, conditions and definitions of what he wants it to look like?

Man hates most anything that goes against self.

18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.” John 15: 18-21

Ugly love involves diving deep and trusting Him to keep us from drowning. If we do not dig down with Jesus on a daily basis into the dark and hidden crevices of our own hearts, we will never be able to do it. We have to get the junk out, so He can fill us with Himself. Then the real love and the real truth will spill over.

Then and only then can it be the real thing. Of Jesus.

Daily purging.

Daily twisting and turning and handing over that heart that’s beginning to re-harden itself unto God.

Allowing the molding to happen. Pruning is sharp and uncomfortable.

Praying for strength and grace and mercy to persevere.

Knowing, in faith, that He  has wonderful things in store for us as we yield to Him.

Resting on the promise that Ugly Love is actually a very beautiful thing.

I don’t know about you, but my heart’s muscle memory stinks. Actually, that’s not true at all ~ my heart’s muscle memory is really quite excellent!

The problem lies in the fact that it’s go-to is not purity. It’s baseline is rooted in sin, darkness and self.  There are deeply rooted and deceitful hidden corners of dark and ugly in there. Just when I think I’ve exposed them, they “grow” back again.

I have never shared this before, but before I began to write down what I work on with my Jesus on this particular blog site, I had made a half-hearted endeavor at it a few years before that. The name of that blog was going to be “Heart Checks.”

That is what the theme really is of what I write about: Doing daily heart checks with Jesus so as to draw closer to Him, learn more about Him, try to become more like Him, and share the truth and love that He continually reveals to me in that process with others.

So very often, I find that this comes out of realizing that I don’t love ugly very well. I don’t love ugly and I’m a poor lover of souls. (That’s the nicest way that I can say it).

But Jesus does. He loves ugly. And He makes beauty out of that very ugly as well!

We don’t have to be beautiful and perfect and “ready” to come to His feet in worship and adoration before He will give us His time. We don’t have to become respectable and lovely and freshly pressed before we can come to sit on His lap and take shelter under His wing.

He loves us as we are. And I, for one, am NOT PRETTY inside.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Oh, how unlike my Jesus my own heart is, my friends. Oh, how sad a state I would be in without His grace and love and truth and mercy and compassion and wisdom and fellowship and salvation and communion and friendship and divine and perfect love!!!

He loves this ugly duckling so beautiful, so divine and oh, so perfectly. He graciously and compassionately shows me every single day how short I fall when I endeavor on my own to be the greatest lover of His people.

But He also shows me how beautifully I can love in the middle of my own very ugly if I allow Him to love through me instead.

If only I will let HIM love through me I can love the ugly in the most beautiful way!

Annie, by herself? I love when it’s easy to do so.

Annie, by herself? I love when it’s convenient for me a lot of the time.

Annie, by herself? I struggle with loving when it makes me have to deal with ugly stuff – like conflict, bitterness, insults, negative feelings, the list goes on and on.

Yes, I struggle and I resist when it comes to the tormenting, difficult, hard, and oh-so-ugly love.

I want pretty love, friends. I  want hearts and flowers. I so often find myself wanting to make my own efforts to love in the kind of truth that works for ME ~ the partial truth that suits me.

And that is deceitful love. Because we all know that full truth involves ugly, friends. And I have to admit it, or I would be a liar: I don’t like the ugly.

This is the truth of my heart. This is why I know I need Jesus. I don’t love people enough. I don’t love them the way that He loves me. I fall so very short. I can’t do it. Only He can do it through me, and thanks be to God that I know this. It doesn’t stop me from messing up frequently, (most of the time, actually) but I am so grateful that I know this about myself! I am grateful that the Lord is revealing it to me. I am thankful that another theme of the story he is writing in me is about surrender. Because this girl is stubborn to boot.

And sometimes ~ just sometimes, it begins to happen ~ me seeing Jesus beautifully loving through me even when it gets really ugly ~ and then my dark heart takes over again.

The only thing I can say for that is that it helps to keep me on my toes. It helps me not forget to remember that I need my Jesus.

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

Friends, is your takeaway from what I share today simply that I am being self-deprecating? Are you feeling that I am living in condemnation, and that if you experience the same thing when you examine your own heart, that you ought to be thrown into the pit of hell along with me?

If so, then please hear me on this: This is a liberating thing!!! (although it is ugly to look at)

If we take a hard look at our need for our Savior and the fact that our fleshly minds and hearts can be deceiving, only then can we truly understand why we must continue to rely upon Jesus daily.

This is great news!!!

It is wonderful to be loosened from the shackles of deceit and be able to look truth squarely in the face. As ugly as it may be, it is necessary if we are to live in the light and blessed hope that ONLY CHRIST JESUS can offer us!

Our hope and power come only from the salvation that Christ has provided to us. Thank HIM that it does not rest on the condition of our hearts!

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Romans 5:8

Oh how I pray for ugly love! How I pray I can love others the way that Jesus loves me in my own horrendous ugly. How I pray that He can fill me with His grace, His mercy, His desire for truth in love and heart and surrender so as to love others better!

How I pray, most of all, to love Him better!

Of course, in loving Him, I have no ugly to have to love. He is perfectly beautiful. There is no ugly in Him.

But I have to move past my own ugly in order to do that. Thank God that He can and will help me.

Ugly love is beautiful love. Whenever you may find yourself doubting that fact, if you are like me at all, you need the picture painted for you.

Don’t forget. Don’t forget to remember….

He loves US in our Ugly!

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 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:9-11

 

 

 

 

One

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The one thing I can say about the dark, is that light is very obvious in the midst of it.

The one thing I can say about the dirty, is being washed clean makes redemption hit home harder.

The one thing I can say about intolerance, is when compassion shows up, it feels so much sweeter.

The one thing I can say – I can say and shout and scream with joy – is that to me, Jesus is ALL!!!

He is ALL things good.

He is ALL things true.

He is ALL things lovely.

Jesus IS. He is ALL to me!

He IS my One and Only – the One who never changes.

He is the ONE who is not just ONE thing.

He IS.

Jesus: He IS The Great I AM!

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:17

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‪#‎thanksbetoJesus‬‪#‎thisloveiknow‬ ‪#‎Hisgraceabounds‬

Do You?

via Thomas Roberts creationswap.com

via Thomas Roberts creationswap.com

Do you see Him? ‘Cause He is coming….
In all His glory, power and might.
Oh, do you see Him? He’s almost ready….
To collect His bride, His loves, it’s getting bright.

Do you feel Him? His approach, I know
I hear the rumble of footsteps, oh so divine.
Do you feel Him? He’s drawing near…
He’s coming for us, all of those that He calls “mine.”

Friend, Do you hear Him? His eternal voice…
Calling out your name…. in the book of life?
Oh, do you hear Him? That sweet, sweet sound…
Just listen for His peace, His joy; absence of strife.

Do you know Him? ‘Cause He wants you to…
He longs for you to enter in love with Him.
Do you know Him? It’s not too late!!!
He already paid for it; the price for all our sin!

Oh, are you ready? To meet Him now?
Time’s almost lost, yes, He approaches fast!
Are you ready?! Please choose Him, friend.
Forget inadequacy, perfection, or your sins from the past.

Please don’t tary. ‘Cause He is not…
He’s coming friends, and very soon it shall be.
Oh, please don’t tary! Choose Him today
All knees will bow, and every eye shall see!

Oh my Jesus. Please melt our hearts.
Help us to look and listen; feel you drawing near.
We know you’re coming. And we can’t wait!
To meet you forever…where you’ll hold us, tight and dear.

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You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Luke 12:40)

Always Looking Up

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I always knew what the mountain top looked like – felt  like. Even when I wasn’t there, it was ingrained in my memory banks. I knew it when I stood upon it, and I was grateful for the view from there when I had the chance to savor it and revel in it. And I remember it oh, so sweetly when I am in the valley…wishing I were not down below….gazing upward and waiting, waiting for  my time to be on the mountain top again..

I have to be honest ~ I don’t really like the valley so much. I enjoy the freedom that comes from being on top of the world. I like the panoramic views…the sense of being weightless. I like the feeling of power.
 
But it has been less tempting to look to myself and revel in that “power” from the valley. I’ve been in the valley for a while, friends. These past couple of weeks I am  feeling better – much better. Kinda like I might be turning a corner in regard to these health issues I have been facing and fighting. And I see the mountain top as a place I may be again one day soon.What will happen then?
 
Yes, I can see the mountaintop again and am climbing it as we speak. I will be on top of it looking around again – soon. Very soon. 
 
Lord…will I remember that even when I get to receive this new season of being on the top of the world, that there’s still plenty of need to look up?  Or will  I forget…forget to give you the glory, the honor, the gratitude for all the seasons I have been in throughout my life? I have learned so much in the valley. I have known you in new ways I never could have known about if I stayed on the mountain top all along. You met me here – in this valley. You told me you understood the suffering to a degree that I cannot express in words, but know now that you revealed yourself to me in this way. Do I have cause to be afraid? Shall I fear falling into the hands of the devil if I move out of the needy valley and  up onto the top of the world?
 
No…I will not fear climbing the mountain. I will not fear that I will lose this intimacy with you once I move upward. I will not be afraid of goodness, health, happiness, and seasons of prosperity, or absence  of trouble.
 
Trouble has not become my idol. Success and coming through the other side of those challenges  will not be  either. If I fall into self-sufficiency you are faithful…you are as faithful to rein us in during our needy valley experiences as well as when our heads and hearts get too full of self. You are faithful in all seasons. 
 
I plan to enjoy the view from wherever I may be. Always looking up. But if for any reason my eyes get too full of the grandeur of living to the fullest during times of health and prosperity, I trust my Jesus to show me. 
 
Climbing is hard. But at least I am moving. Moving is so much better than being stagnant. And I know just which way to go…..
 
Straight Up.
 
“So you shall observe to do just as the LORD your God has commanded you; you shall not turn aside to the right or to the left. “You shall walk in all the way which the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you will possess. Deuteronomy 10:12-13
 
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Because He Already IS.

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I dreamed I met my Jesus – face to face. He came toward me and the light that came out of Him extended all the way through me as he approached. When He arrived, it was as though I disappeared into Him, but in the best way imaginable. I had become a part of  Him.

I guess that’s how it really already is now, isn’t it? He lives inside of me. I just don’t get the sensation all the time of being filled with light ~ pure and holy light ~  from the inside out.

Life likes to get in the way. Fleshly sensations and distractions; all the going and the busy. All the sin and the selfishness ~ it all gets in the way. It’s because I let it.

Today I shall focus – truly focus on the light of my Jesus that already lives inside of me ~ and I shall be thankful. Thankful that He is stronger than the layers of dark that try to crush and surround and sabotage. Thankful that He is stronger.

Thankful that I am His child ~ that He lives in me and I am already a part of Him. He is my Jesus. He is my one true love.

He IS ~ The Great and Mighty I AM.

“Jesus said, ‘Remain in me, and I will remain in you.'” (John 15:4)

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Wringing It Out Hurts

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And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10

Have you ever found yourself hating how much it hurts to wring something out that doesn’t belong inside of you? I’m talking about all the stuff that comes at us and then “fills” us in ways that make us feel polluted, tainted, and just plain…changed.

Yes, it’s the stuff that comes from the outside in, but tries to fake us out ~ trick us into believing it is what we are really made of. It takes up residence inside of us and makes us feel it is who we really are inside. It wants to become us. It declares dictatorship and “convert or die.” It’s gotten in – on the inside – and it seems to be taking over. It makes itself comfortable, and creates a panic of sorts about the prospect of the wringing it would take to eradicate it completely.

But this is all a lie.

I’ve experienced this in many ways and on many levels, friends. I’m sure you have too. Every time it happens, I find myself buying in somewhat to the false truth it portends. I find myself thinking “this is what makes me up as a person” or “this is just who I am, I guess” even though I know that it is false. I find myself fearing the wringing process that will be necessary if I wish to continue to fight – to live in truth and love, and all of the discomfort that entails.

  • Sickness or poor health ravaging our bodies – taking over and wreaking havoc from what seems to be the inside out.
  • Sin – bitterness, lack of love, self-reliance, idols – filling up the crevices of our hearts and minds and threatening to spread and take over. Sneaking in – stealing – enveloping and overtaking.
  • The Busy ~ the movement through this life, all the errands, responsibilities, things to check off our list (even when done so under the guise of good intentions and motivations). The busy which threatens to make up the whole, or the majority of our existence.  Severing time to soak up grace, love, time spent with Jesus and others – our loved ones – our dears – becoming us instead of being an outpouring of what God has laid in front of us this day and this day alone.
  • Weariness- the constant uphill battle it seems to be in order to just “make it” through the hardship parts this life involves.

Getting inside. Taking up space. Making its best effort to define us, to own us. From the inside out. And it breeds when  left alone. It breeds.

There’s no room for that, friends. There’s no room to allow darkness to take up residence and take over. This is because Jesus lives there.  Jesus lives inside. Jesus fills us with His light, His love, His truth, His compassion, grace, and mercy. He is the inside. And sometimes, He must wring out the darkness and the ugly and the evil.

Yes, wringing hurts, but it’s necessary at times. Even with the divine molding and twisting that our Savior lovingly performs in our lives (when we move out of the way and brace ourselves for the pain that is good for us), some residue of dark can still remain – especially if it’s due to sickness. But the more wringing we allow Him to do, the more we are reminded that He is what defines us. He is cleaning the crevices for us on a daily basis if we come to Him and ask Him to do His work inside.

He defines us on the inside, even when what’s coming from the outside threatens us. He reigns, friends. He reigns!

Moving the ugly to the outside – daily – well, it hurts. But it’s necessary as long as we walk in these fleshly bodies.  It’s necessary as long as the enemy tries to sabotage us.  It’s necessary if we wish to grow, be pruned, yield fruit. The cup of ugly and pain may not be removed from us, but there is triumph there, nonetheless, if we live and walk in the light of Christ Jesus. HE IS OUR KING!

Wringing: It’s a necessary grace that’s painful to receive, but rewarding beyond what we could ever imagine.

I want to be a beautiful vine filled with lush and lovely fruit that screams Jesus! I’m all-too-aware that doesn’t come easy, friends. The worms try to come inside. The toxins try to pollute. But I always have to remind myself: They are coming from the outside in. And they will meet a formidable enemy upon entry. The light and endless and glorious power of the Lord Jesus Christ!

  • He says: “She is mine.”
  • He says: “You don’t belong here and you will not be keeping her.”
  • He says: “She knows the truth, and I am that truth – not you.”
  • He declares: “Your “power” is temporary, and just an illusion – I will make certain she knows this without question.”

And when the worms and the poison threaten to take up residence permanently, our Jesus will wring us out in His own divine and all-knowing way. One day He will decide it’s the time that we go home to live with Him forever – outside of this cocoon that has become polluted. It will be the day that the wringing has become enough. It will be the day that HE decides it is time  for us to break out…truly break out of the cocoon that we have struggled to protect and wring out – struggled to make last for so very long.

That day ~ it will be the day that our Savior deems to be the day of all days for us ~ the day in which it is finally time to fly. It is the day that this vessel has been deemed to no longer be fit for a King.

Oh what a day! But until then, the wringing – the glorious and pain-filled wringing – it must continue.

There is a beauty I can’t even put into words to be found in the grace that Jesus bestows upon us as He wrings out the ugly trying to come inside and define us. There is a mercy that is severe and seemingly twisted, yet a gift to be treasured all at the same time. He knows our plight – He knows our suffering. And He will make all things work together (truly, He will) for our GOOD.

Thanks be to HIM. The hurt is well worth it.

In this I trust. Completely.

Romans 12:2   Allow God to transform you. He will mold you and renew your mind as He changes your way of thinking. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Then you will always be able to decide what God’s will for you which is good, pleasing, and perfect.

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Neither Please Nor Appease!

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Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. Colossians 3:23

I think I was either born a people-pleaser, or I became one very quickly after I entered this world. For a very long time, the world told me that was just “who I am” and that I should embrace it and be true to myself. I can see why – it benefits quite a few people to have a lot of people pleasers around them.

But does it benefit that person or their relationship with God? Does it really even benefit those they are seeking to please or appease? 

Everyone is different when it comes to their makeup – their motivations and intentions can vary at different times and in regard to different things. So make no mistake: I am not suggesting that serving or encouraging others is always rooted in something self-serving instead.

But I have found myself many times over the years struggling with what you might call a checks and balances of sorts, in regard to whether I am encouraging someone because of true and right motives that would bring glory to God, or stepping over the line back into self-driven people pleasing behavior. It’s another fine line that I struggle with, friends. I have lots of those.

I still haven’t figured out if my people-pleasing tendencies came from one thing that was the driving force behind my need to please others, or a multitude of things. I may never really pinpoint that. I can say, however, much of it has seemed to have been due to a mixture of things – and over time, they became scary and dangerous things.

They drove me into a place of need and reliance – slavery to the wrong thing, really. I still go there sometimes.

It can be dangerous to my relationship and reliance upon God ~ and Him alone.

It’s detrimental when I cross that line to my own family and close friends.

It is most certainly and undoubtedly, dangerous to myself. Health-wise, emotional-wise, and spiritually too.

But I have learned so much and grown so much ever since God opened my eyes to this problem area in my life. The greatest thing I have learned is that I will always have to turn to him in this area….”balance” is not a reality in my life when it comes to this. I always run the risk of crossing back over that line, and I have to do heart checks with the Lord over this constantly. It is a battle I cannot wage alone.

A couple of gifts I feel the Lord has given me surround discernment, and a particular and  unique brand of encouragement for others through an understanding that comes out of that discerning nature. Most who are very discerning have empathy for others, or at the very least, truly can put themselves in the shoes of others when picking up on feelings and root causes and in turn, trying to be there for those folks.

This can be a blessing, and at times, can seem like a curse. 

What I have come to believe, is that any blessing or gift from God can become something that is not glorifying to Him if we aren’t cautious to keep turning it back over to Him. Again and again and again. We taint things when we take the reins.

“Remember where your place is, Annie. Remember who gave you these gifts. Remember who they are for. And remember who comes first.”

He, in contrast, cleanses. We have only to surrender.

The easy way out would be to either use the gift for self and just go with it, or turn our backs on it entirely. Neither of those are the way Jesus does things in and through us if we are truly following after Him and His will.

I have been really moved to study the life of Jesus in a focused way over the last couple of months, and I expect this to be a central point my attention will be given to for quite some time to come. When checking on things, I am going to the words that Jesus Himself spoke. I am also looking at how He lived his life while here on earth.

We always think we are doing that – as true followers after Jesus (looking at His life). But I feel the Lord is guiding me to really take a hard and intent look….really focused!

And truly FOLLOW.

Imagine myself being there – watching Him.

Following Him.

Observing and learning from Him.

Asking for help to become more like Him.

And there’s no easy way in our out when it comes to that. It’s hard. We cannot do it in our own power. 

Jesus is the ultimate giver – the One who made the greatest sacrifice of all. But Jesus was not a people pleaser. I am learning much about how He might have me use the gifts he has given me in a more glorifying way – one in which I can still seek to understand others and be there for them, yet not take away from caring for myself and what I am called to do to protect my relationship with the Father and my family.

I can’t say it enough: this is a monumental task, and one I cannot do alone.

I have prayed for and taken steps in this area with God for a long time, dear friends. I do not feel called in any way to stop encouraging others. I DO feel called to figure out how to take care of myself, and retreat for daily replenishment and time with the Father before I get burned out. And I want to spend quality time with Him. I struggle to do that in my day to day life.

That’s what Jesus did, and that’s what I need to do. This girl doesn’t know how. This girl is weak. This girl struggles in so many ways.

Thank God for His strength and power and wisdom. Thank God!

I will be writing several times over the next few posts about what I am learning in this area. The first, is the need to set boundaries – particularly the ones that are really, really hard to set. You know…the ones that people like me have ingrained in our hearts and minds that end up translating to what we think or fear is “selfish” but aren’t really selfish at all. The ones that cause conflict, or the uncomfortable feelings of letting other people down.

I have found that it is me – ME – who needs to be “okay with that” – so much more than others around me.

I have to work with the Lord on getting myself off the hook in the areas that are holding me back from the freedom He wants me to have where I feel he is calling me to be ON the hook.

Oh, what a long road it seems in front of me in this area that is certainly not new to me – what a long journey. I am so grateful He is there with me – guiding me – reeling me back in when I veer too far off the road.

This brings out the ugly in anyone, I can assure you. But that ugly will eventually be replaced with beauty, revitalization, a different kind of joy and peace, and effectiveness.

Bring it on.

Step 1: Basic Needs – I have already started this process and I must say, my husband has been a great help to me. Unfortunately, I waited far too long and burned completely out before I sought help. So this is a major process that isn’t going to happen overnight. Then, I have to learn what the new boundaries will be – once I am healed. That will be another process.

Jesus never apologized for taking care of himself so that he would avoid burnout and serving more than one master. He never apologized for seeking prayer, support, time away with the Father, rest, and striving for a pace of life that is glorifying to the Father (and far more effective than one entailed with rushing and running all the time).

If you, like me, have a great sense of responsibility, but tend to put taking care of yourself on the back burner, it is a disservice to God, and I welcome you to join me.  Habits are hard to break – for the person trying to change and for those around them who have gotten used to the way things were.

But with God’s help – we can do this. 

We can do this and still encourage others in the name of Jesus – we just have to find new ways to do so.

We will draw closer to God as we replenish and the fruit of what he brings about will just naturally flow from us, rather than being a burden and over-exertion.

God may teach others about some areas in which He’d like to see them grow as a result of the changes our own lives are creating in their own.

The beautiful and divine balance of truth AND love will be much easier to be seen if we take care of ourselves and others in the name of Jesus!

I can’t wait to hear what you are learning as well as what you may be struggling with as you seek His grace in your own endeavors.

Do you find yourself not liking the pace you are keeping in life? Do you feel like a slave to something that shouldn’t have such a grip on you? Are you finding yourself at war within regarding all of your priorities and responsibilities? Do you cry out to God and ask Him to fix it? Have you shared with Him that you want to get better and live life the way Jesus did? What are you willing to surrender to him in order to let him help you today? What can we do today to take care of ourselves better and our relationship with Christ so we can actually truly be there for others instead of simply pleasing them?

Won’t you join me, friends? Won’t you join me in the beautiful process of allowing Christ to set our priorities in line with HIS? Let’s take the first step into this aspect of freedom we have in Him together, shall we?

 “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Luke 16:13

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When Wonder Becomes Wonderful!

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I wonder what it’s like?
To see all of us fight
After all He’s done for us
Walking in darkness versus light?

I wonder what it’s like?
Remaining patient for so long
Giving time for hearts to change
Hoping to Him, we’ll sing our song.

I wonder what it’s like?
Just longing to talk and meet
With His children who are stubborn
Running away, not toward his feet.

I wonder what it’s like?
To know some will not come home
Longing for them to choose Him
Waiting for all, and not just some.

I wonder what it will be like?
That glorious day He comes
To take us to his bosom
Because of Christ and all he’s done.

I wonder what it will be like?
To bow down right at His throne
Able to gaze upon His face
In our real and forever home?

I wonder what it will be like?
Forever light and no more sin
Basking in His love and glory
No longer mortal, flesh-bound men.

He tells us what it’s like
We don’t have to be scared
For there is plenty of room for us
The mansions He has prepared.

John 14:2In my Father’s house are many mansions: if [it were] not [so], I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

I’m so excited for that day
When I’ll no longer have to wonder
Just when He’s coming for us.
What a marvelous hope! Such awe and wonder!

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It’s Not About What I CAN See, Anyway!

 

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For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18

The other day I shared how shattered my heart gets at times ~ especially lately. The way it twists and turns and then sinks to the pit of my stomach is becoming all-too-familiar of a feeling when I look upon the headlines, immerse myself (rather than glaze over) in the agony others in our world are facing, and continue to watch things as they seem to keep unraveling in this world we live in.

I shared with you my feelings about the bubbles we find ourselves nesting in at times – the ones that provide a false sense of comfort, peace, love, and even joy. I shared my hatred of the bubble, yet the equal disdain I feel when I am faced with the discomfort our present reality offers upon popping it and moving to the outside of the falsity of that womb-like environment.

But a friend reminded me of something extremely important, that I don’t think I emphasized enough in my last post.

Here it is:

It’s easy to find ourselves ~ in the endeavor not to live in the bubble ~ in the commitment to keep our eyes wide open to seeing and discerning the truth rather than operating under the illusions offered by “feelings” ~ to start looking at the world and what’s going on (the evil, the ugly, the dark) for what it is, but forget that our focus needs to be on Jesus and the way that HE looks upon the world.

Jesus and His victory.

The victory we already have in Jesus.

JESUS.

HIS power. HIS grace.

HIS comfort, peace and joy.

And yes….seeing sin and evil for what it is comes with that as well. But we always need to emphasize that He’s already won the battle ~ many just don’t realize it yet.

We must emphasize that He has won!

You know, the death of my mother helps me….even today… to see that being grief-stricken and rocked to the core by all that seems wrong, unfair, or filled with sorrow can be met with a peace and a joy that surpasses all of that. Yes, we CAN feel terrible, be in agony, pain, at the end of all that seems even humane, while SIMULTANEOUSLY knowing the joy and peace and comfort of a God who knows the end of the story.

Our God – He has written the ending of the story already!

And He’s here with us through it all.

I walked around filled with a grief and a dark pain after mama died that I can’t fully express in words. At the very same time, I was filled with the love and hope and peace of Jesus. I had His joy to sustain me. I may not have been laughing – but I had his joy. Until you’ve experienced that, it’s hard to fully grasp it. But that’s the stuff of life, friends. THAT is the kind of stuff only Jesus can provide us with to sustain us and make us thrive. Regardless of circumstances, this is how “our rock” carries us, molds, us, teaches us, and conforms us into HIS likeness, not that of the world.

I’m all for laughter and happiness. But if I had to choose, I’d take that Jesus joy any day over all of that other stuff. Sometimes, we get to have both, and that’s a special blessing for a time. But these days ~ these recent days in which I find myself sad about the heartache out there…sad about the struggles and the pure evil – these days, the joy of Jesus is what sustains me.

He delivers us from darkness. How would we know that if we never experienced the cold and the black in the first place?
He comforts us when nothing else can – when we feel we can’t put one foot in front of the other or stand a minute longer of the torment.
He loves us in the midst of the truth – all of it – the good truth, the ugly and hard truth – the edges of utter despair.

And he lifts us up – on wings like eagles, friends.

He lifts us UP.

I haven’t found the secret yet, if there even is one, of how to stay out of the bubble and look at what is happening around me (and even in my own little dark crevices of my sinful heart) – as to how to do so without ever slipping into the abyss of gloom and doom. Sometimes my toe crosses over that line and God faithfully draws me back in to Himself.

He knows just when to pull me back, and I learn something beautiful in that process every time.

This is the stuff we can’t see with our eyes.

Jesus. Faith in Him.

His divine intervention.

His love – His triumph over the grave. His grace and His mercy.

But I beg anyone to try to even think about convincing me that we can’t know it – that we can’t feel it in the most deep way (in the Spirit).

That goes beyond any feelings I could ever experience in this world. It goes beyond any knowledge my finite mind could ever grasp. It is the truth and love of God all permeating every aspect of my being that screams at me “Now you really have your eyes wide open!!!”

It’s when I close my eyes and look for HIM that I really get true sight. You could poke my eyes out, take away my sense of smell, feeling, even hearing. But nothing can take away my communion with Jesus Christ.

Not ever.

So as I find myself wanting to shut my eyes, I will remember. I will remember what my friends Heather and Chuck both reminded me not to forget:

That I am to speak the truth in love the way God leads me to do, and that we are meant to look for Jesus in everything (even if we have to close our eyes to see him better).

It’s Jesus who holds the power. The enemy will do his best to knock us down, but he will not prevail. It may seem that way at times, and yes, this will make us sad. But we are already conquerors in Christ.

This girl is continuing to open her eyes when she’s supposed to, and close them and look for Jesus when that’s what He calls her to do and she’s getting distracting or pulled off of His path.

I just pray for the wisdom to know the difference. I pray for none of us to be deceived, and even if we are, that the Lord will pull us back. He uses friends to help us with that, you know. He gave us the Holy Spirit to whisper and nudge us when we go astray.

May we all stand firm in the knowledge that He has us in the palm of His hand. If you really listen and really seek Him, you’ll know you’re there (and you won’t need to be able to “see” a single thing to know it).

Thanks Chuck. Thanks Heather. I love you both ~

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,  while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4: 16-18

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I Want to Shut My Eyes

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This last couple of weeks I have been struggling – deep, deep heart struggle. I can’t stand what I am seeing in the world, my friends. It wrecks my heart to the core. The cynics say many things that make my heart hurt even worse.

**Suffering has gone on in the world for millenia – why does this bother you so much more than other stuff?
**It’s none of our business – we need to stop meddling.
**What about our people here in our own country? Things are just as bad here and we don’t seem so sad about that.

I get it…what the cynics say. I understand the thought process. And that crushes my heart, because it is so very deceitful. They are being deceived with such thinking – I know, I have been there. I still find myself there at times.

See, it’s not either/or when it comes to this kind of stuff, friends ~ Our conviction about the sin and suffering we see in the world is not limited to either/or.

It’s ALL OF IT.

It’s the increase of it. It’s the callousness of it. It’s the intensity and frequency of it. It’s the in-your-face aspect of it. It’s the almost celebratory “look at what I can get away with” of it all – and most of all – it’s the shutting of our eyes to protect ourselves part of it that gets my stomach turning and twisted in knots. It’s not the horrible photos. It’s not that at all. It’s the facing – the IN YOUR FACE facing up to the truth and reality and the way that we coldly stand back and do nothing (not even really pray that much) of it that makes me feel sick. Yet we get our panties in a bunch if the Starbucks guy looks at us sideways (must be because I’m gay, a Christian, a democrat, or whatever) junk that we focus upon instead!

Yes, it’s always been present – evil and twisted sin. Yes, it’s part of the human sin nature – cruelty, lies, murder, terror, and apathy. But I see it increasing. And no – it’s not only due to the fact that we have practically real-time news flashes at our fingertips. It’s an overall change in the way sin is see in our world coupled with the increase in intensity that is present.

I feel it in my soul. I know it is real…this change. Satan knows the end is near and he’s ramping up his games.

Matthew 24:12 ~ Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.

We are cold – indifferent – consumed with something as stupid as the fact that our neighbor looked at us funny and we think that spells discrimination. Simultaneously, we turn a blind eye to the really wicked stuff that’s going on around us all in the name of “mind your own business.” It’s crap. All of that justification we provide for ourselves so we don’t have to act…care….be deeply disturbed.

We don’t want to burst the bubble or anything like that, do we?

I’m sick about it. That bubble is such a liar. It makes us feel warm and protected. But nothing real gets inside. So it’s all false – all deceit. All an illusion. It’s a scheme of the devil, there’s no other way to explain it!

It is inside of these bubbles that our love will grow cold. But we won’t even know it’s happening, because we feel so warm and pretty. And lest you think I am spewing judgement out upon the world without looking hard at my little self, you are mistaken.

How did I title this blog post? It’s the opposite of the title of the entire blog. I titled my entire blog site Eyes Wide Open for a reason – a personal reason, friends. It’s because I like the bubble vision too much. I like it very much to close my eyes (and my heart) to the reality of what is going on, whether it’s something horrific in the world or something even worse inside of my own heart. So I put myself on the hook by naming it that way. I am on the hook with Jesus to let Him search my heart and open my eyes (heart) to the truth….even when it’s very, very ugly.

See…he does great things when we are willing to take a look at the ugly along with Him. If we are willing to see it, let it twist our stomachs up for a moment, let it pierce our hearts and prod us and twist us until we wonder if we will ever “feel” comfort again, we get to then turn it over to Him and experience true comfort and peace. That is not the stuff of feelings at all, a lot of the time – rather it is this God thing that surpasses mere feelings. It is better.

But the flesh still battles hard. It battles for the feelings part of it all – it wants comfort. It likes the bubble.

I want to shut my eyes to what I see growing increasingly wicked by the day in our world because it reminds me of just how dark our human hearts can be if we turn away from the Lord. I want to shut my eyes and not be reminded of the horrible things that man can do to one another when he seeks his own way instead of following afer Jesus. I want to shut my eyes when I can’t do anything much to help others that are suffering unimaginable things at the hands of the evil one. I want to crawl in my bubble and shut my eyes. Seal them. Hibernate in my own little happy world.

And this last couple of weeks, I find myself unable to do that. And that is GOOD. It’s a bad feeling kind of good to have my eyes wide open lately.

Matthew 24: 6-8 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all[a] these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences,[b] and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.

Do not be troubled? I don’t know what the original greek or hebrew word for that translates to, but I don’t think it means what it would to us today at first glance, because later Jesus says “these are the beginning of sorrows.”

I think Jesus means that we can have confidence in the FACE OF THESE SORROWS that He IS going to come back and all of this evil will be put to an end. It will be done, over, finished forever. He has already paid the price for us on the cross. That part is already finished if we have accepted Him as Lord and Savior. But we will get to go home and live with Him one day in a place where there is no evil. We will be in a place where feelings meet truth and it is a whole new way of living. The real life begins in this place.

Revelation 21:4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

In the meantime, morbid as many may think that I am, I am not going to shut my eyes. I am going to look in the face of the evil that is happening and remember Jesus’ words to us. “This is the beginning of sorrows.”

Only He can heal.

While we stare in the face of love growing cold, do we stand strong and firm and rooted in the love of Jesus anyway? What is it today that may be stopping you from loving others as He first loved us? Are you afraid to come out of the bubble for fear of being troubled? Are you turning to Him in the midst of the sorrows and allowing His peace, His comfort, His joy to weigh heavier than the light and airy feel-good stuff the bubble provides? Do you want to shut your eyes to something today that you know you are supposed to see, even if it’s ugly, life changing, and scary? You are not alone, friend. You are NOT alone.

He tells us to watch many times – there’s a reason for that, my friends. Please watch. Look and watch for Jesus in all that you do. It may seem sometimes like all you see is evil in the world as you open your eyes and peer outside the bubble. But do not be deceived. God is at work. Do not be deceived into being lulled to sleep. Watch for Him, friends. Find Him where you are and watch for His return. I highly urge you to immerse yourself in Jesus’ own words about watching for His return. To me, if Christ Himself emphasizes something over and over again, it warrants considering it and pondering it and immersing ourselves in it deeply. You can find what Jesus says about this in many places, but Matthew 24 is a great place to start.

Study it…ponder it. Look with a discerning eye as to what Jesus is saying. Don’t be the virgin with the lamp that ran out of oil. Don’t be the servant who partied at home while waiting for His master to return. Be ready. He is coming.

And I must say, if I make some people angry or uncomfortable with this brazen blog post today, please know I speak only out of love. It can’t be all hearts and flowers when it comes to getting our attention fixed upon Christ in the midst of a very distracting and very cold world. It just can’t. This is my attempt at helping us to remain vigilant and STAY AWAKE. I feel Jesus urging me to become even more bold for Him. So, if I made you uncomfortable today, I think that’s a good thing. Please send me a note in the comments below if you feel you need to talk more with me. I will get your contact information and we can chat.

Our pastor reminded us last night of something very significant: The Bible ends with an exclamation point. Embedded within that – all wrapped up in the end of God’s word – is this:

He is coming back soon and we are to look forward to it.

To do that, we must watch.

Revelation 22:20
He who testifies to these things says, “surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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Fibromyalgia: Accepting while still Fighting

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How does a person accept something that is beyond difficult to live with without just giving up all at the same time? How does one walk right up to the line that spells acceptance, without dipping their toe over or crossing completely to the other side of that line? The other side of that line, to me, is resignation. That spells giving up in my little mind. And quite frankly folks, I’m having trouble wrapping that puny mind of mine around that idea.

To clarify, I will quote Michael J. Fox here:

“Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there’s got to be a way through it.”

I’m having trouble with where my toes should be planted – firmly. I don’t yet know how to accept, yet still fight. Will I ever understand this? Maybe that’s part of the whole thing. I’m asking God to show me. He’s revealed many things to me, yet I feel there’s something I am not seeing or hearing yet. I need to be a better listener.

For months and months now, I have been pretty certain that what is ravaging my body is Fibromyalgia, but we had to be sure and rule other things out before concluding that (the doctors and me). Now we are quite certain that I do have this F Beast along with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and, like so many other things in my life over the past several  years, I am struggling with the line mentioned above (again).

I have a black and white mind when it comes to fight or flight…and that may be yet another reason Fibromyalgia has been able to run a marathon within my body. Make no mistake, there are clear cut physiological reasons why this happens to people, but working on the mind, stress, and a multitude of other things will only serve to help people who suffer from it.

Working at something usually spells “fight” to me, not “flight.”

Sometimes though, I think I am wrong about that. In fact, I’m sure I am often wrong about it. Sometimes, you gotta just let go. I have always equated that to giving up, but surrender is a form of fighting/battling all its own, it seems.

I seem to need a very good lesson in that arena.

Here’s the kicker: This Fibro/Fatigue stuff is not clear-cut… as in, you figure it out and how to manage it and you’re all good as long as you stay on track. Fibromyalgia is a BEAST of an illness to live with, manage, or even just merely endure. And this girl doesn’t want to simply cope, either. I could write a book or a volume of them about this illness, and maybe I will one day, but for now, it’s about that stupid line thing I mentioned earlier. (have I told you I hate the line yet?)

So….I have come to the conclusion that I need to accept this “diagnosis”, this illness. Let’s just call it what it is: ILLNESS. Ug.

And I am bummed out tonight friends, because I just don’t know how. I truly mean it when I say that I am certain I just have to pray for it ~ this acceptance. Acceptance of this illness that has no cure. Acceptance that there are more bad days than good ones. Acceptance that I have a butt load of work in store for myself just to be able to manage. Acceptance that I will probably never be the same again. Acceptance of day to day, and minute by minute change. (Have I told you I hate change unless I choose it for myself?)

Acceptance, acceptance, acceptance of things that my entire being screams against and wants to conquer, crush, obliterate, and fight to the end over!

But I know it’s key…this acceptance thing. I just know it. Somehow, fighting (not giving up) is a key player too. But I have to tell you a secret about that: They don’t get along. They don’t like to be on the same team. At least, not in this chick’s head.

And that’s gotta change.

So back to my question: How does one accept something, yet fight (which you HAVE to do with this illness if you want to have any quality of life at all) at the same time? If you have the answer, oh please, dear one….please share.

I know people who had or have cancer or other illnesses- received their diagnoses, course of treatment, and fought the good fight. They had to accept they had cancer, MS, RA, Lupus. They had the choice to fight or not to fight. They had the choice (hard one, as it was or is) to accept or become bitter and stubborn. Some were cured, and some weren’t, but all that I know personally fought. ALL.

So why do I feel so badly when there is honestly a part of me that doesn’t want to fight? I know that part of the answer is that somehow, I feel guilty because my illness isn’t “as bad” as some of the other ones out there, yet I want to give up.

I think also, that some of my own struggle is that there’s nothing that seems concrete to fight this thing with – one has to approach it holistically and hope for the best. But I guess that’s pretty much how it is with anything of this nature, isn’t it? Fibromyalgia may be more obtuse than other things, but it’s apparently not going to take my life.

Or is it?

See, you don’t die from Fibromyalgia. But it does eat away at your body, your mind and your soul. Chronic pain wears you down, yo. It’s literally a full time job to manage it. Just manage it. I already have a full time job, and a family to support. How can I keep this up? It’s wearing me down and I must admit, I just want to go to bed sometimes and not have to get up and keep going.

And I find myself still hoping – still hoping I will somehow come out the other side of this thing even though pretty much the one thing that IS conclusive about it, is that there is no cure.

God can do anything and I know it. But I’m just not of those kids who tells their Father to give them everything they want. I believe He will heal me fully if it is His will. He knows I believe it. And yes I do pray about it. But mostly, I pray that unless or until he does remove this from me, He show me more of Himself while teaching me how to live in the process and the part of this story I’m in right now.

So in a way, that part I have accepted ~ and that’s big. I have accepted that God’s will is going to be done, no matter what I do or don’t do.

It’s the physical limitations I am struggling with badly. And the full time job(s).

See, when you have this problem, no one tells you:

  • Hey, you can do exactly this much and you’ll be better (or able to cope)
  • You can walk but not run.
  • You can do situps but not weights.
  • You can eat only veggies or you can be overall healthy with your diet.

It’s all just a mushy mixed bag of “try this, try that” and maybe it will or won’t help you.

The whole thing is so confusing it can drive you nuts, which then puts the sympathetic nerves into even more overdrive, if that’s possible. And if you have the F Beast,  it’s probably possible, believe me.

I don’t know the answers, but I do know there are positive things about this too. I have mentioned them in previous blog posts, but I have more empathy for others than I had before. I have a greater understanding of chronic pain now. I just don’t get to do a lot about it, because I don’t have the energy – ha ha. (Is that funny? I don’t know – kinda a half joke, I guess).

So is it really just about learning about that stupid line of M Fox’s….the line between acceptance and resignation? The line upon which I stand and accept something crappy, yet decide daily to fight according to what lies right in front of me. Some days it’s about fighting really hard, and other days, the fight shows up in resting, surrender, and doing nothing – just coping. I guess that will have to be “what it is” for now.

But I know the answer to that ~ it’s not about just that line, friends. That line does not define me or offer a magic answer that if only I find it, will solve all of my problems. Only God can do that.

Lines can be erased. But God is my Rock.

There is someone who knows even more about suffering than all of us put together – who knows everything about it, really. Someone who understands, who cares, and who has the answer about that dumb old line and then some! Someone who offers a far greater hope for us than figuring out this riddle and simultaneously being able to do two opposite-type things. Someone who is far greater and far more vast than any disease, limitation, sorrow or syndrome.

That someone tells us:

I AM.

I am the Bread of Life….

I am the Light of the World…

I am the Gate….

I am the Good Shepherd…

I am the Resurrection and the Life…

I am the Way, the Truth and the Life….

I am the Vine…

I am from Above…

I AM.

I can accept that fully. Him ~ Jesus ~ The Great I AM.

I can and I do.

And I can fight for that fully. Him ~ Jesus….

I can and I do.

Yah….I’m moving past the line, but not into a place of resignation. The Rock just took its place instead.

They may not be pretty, but my feet feel better already.

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What lies in the Fringes?

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Is there something bothering you today that you cannot quite put your finger on, but is looming, hovering or threatening to consume you? Or maybe there’s something that you DO know and recognize all too well for exactly what it is and that thing seems to be a shadow you wish to shake off, or maybe even stomp upon until it’s DEAD!

Is there a memory there ~ something of a nightmare ~ that evokes fear and sadness and overwhelming desperation in your heart, mind, and soul? Something that makes you thrash and cringe as it encroaches upon your moments throughout your day? Is it creating a battle within your soul? Do you feel like you may be ambushed at any given moment?

Is that recollection of the pain, the angst, the possible enemy forces getting ready to pounce upon you, aiming arrows at your spirit? Or do you find yourself in a moment of peace today as you focus more upon the liberating and sweet feeling of having overcome ~ having come out the other side of something that felt so heavy at one time in your life? I must admit, I go back and forth between these two states sometimes. Just call me pendulum Annie.

We vacillate, friends. When we recollect those things which are very unpleasant, we can have days in which we feel such freedom now that it is not a part of our day to day anymore and then at other times we find ourselves enveloped in fear that some other form of that kind of pain we experienced will rear its ugly head once again.

What if it gets me and eats me up this time?

And it’s a part of human nature to do so…especially when it comes to things of the past that we hope to never have to experience again as long as air fills our lungs. But the enemy likes to feed off of human nature, doesn’t he? And he loves fear.

When you remember – look back to the hard of that time – how do you see that journey and how it helped your story evolve to where it is today? Was it a trek that you weren’t sure you could endure which resulted in something more beautiful, (maybe more tattered), but in some strange way, made you more whole than you were before? Is it something you hope to never have to repeat again, but that you can still stand in that same moment and realize some part of your character was strengthened from having gone through it?

And like me, do you find yourself hoping that it is finished? Once and for all, that the pain might be over? Are you succumbing to the illusion or the false sense of security that the temporal offers to you?

I do. I do it all the time.

But there’s a kind of beauty in that as well. As long as we are still growing, reaching, stretching and learning ~ there is beauty in having a hope for a bright tomorrow. There is beauty, also, to be found in basking in the goodness of today.

So, when we are in a good or better place than we used to be, we can fear returning to a bad place again, can’t we?

I do.

I fear grief. I fear more death. I fear instability, hardship, more pain, debilitation. I fear paralyzation.

I find myself at times entertaining the fear of what lies in the fringes.

When I fear, I find that I am judging good and bad based upon what the flesh tells me those things are. But the glorious – oh, the GLORIOUS work that the Lord works within us is not dependent upon our human limitations or notions of what is good or not good. Thanks be to Him. He is the truth, not my own notions. He is the constant, not what may lie ahead for me in this world. But my flesh….oh my stubborn flesh!

Is He being magnified within me even through the dark and difficult times? Are there things that are residing in the fringes of my life threatening to move front and center and replace Him?

It’s easy to have that happen if we aren’t on guard – far too easy.

And as I think about all of this, I ask myself: What about in the good times, Annie? The times I label as good (i.e. less hardship) ~ is He still front and center, or am I relegating HIM to the fringes?

In the times in which I perceive my need is not as great, do I truly press in to Him and His strength? Do I forget my need for my Savior?

Which is more to be feared ~ hardship in which I am beyond vulnerable and rely upon the Lord all the more, or self-sufficiency? I know all too well the answer to that question, and at times I need reminding. It can all be so utterly deceiving.

Who do you find yourself relating to better now that you have experienced darker times, friends? Times in which every nook and cranny of your life seemed consumed by something threatening or dark, but in which the Lord filled you with His love, His peace, His light, His comfort and yes, His joy, and lifted you up higher than you had ever been in spite of the sorrow and pain?

Do you understand others in a way you may not have been able to before? Are you able to show them the truth and love of Jesus – the truth about our Savior – in a way that seemed impossible before the nooks and crannies of your life were threatened?

Is there someone whose kind of suffering you scoffed at before you went through the hard that made you who you are today, magnified Jesus in your life, and moved Him from the fringes to the center?

I must admit, I find myself in that place at times, and with each new difficulty, I feel conviction. But then liberation ensues! Because God shows me something new about Himself and gives me an empathy and a drive and a kind of compassion for others I didn’t have before. The Jesus kind!

It’s all Him. This is one of the ways that He does his divine and beautiful will within each and every one of us. If we allow Him to work, great things will happen no matter what we go through in this life. Some of them, we will get to see come to fruition. Others? Well, that is for God to know about and we have to trust in Him that He is working. Magnificently and gloriously, He is working!

I often find myself uneasy during good times or circumstances. I find now it’s a mixture of fear to go through discomfort or pain again, (when Annie is taking over the wheels of her own mind and heart) and at other times it’s about not wanting to become complacent, desensitized, or over confident and begin living for the things I think that I can control (again).

Is it possible for us to enjoy the less challenging times without caving in to living for such things again? Can we truly rely in full upon our Savior without being greatly challenged? Do those two things actually co-exist?

Oh, Lord help us not to be sucked in – sucked in to living for anything other than You and what is near and dear to You. Oh, to live to the fullest as You intend, but not be chained to this world, it’s fears, it’s enticements, or it’s dark fringes. Oh, to enjoy life, family, friends and the blessings You bestow upon us without letting anything become more important than You. Oh, to lean into YOU, no matter what the situation or circumstance – because You are here – right in the center of it all.

To love and to laugh and to sing and to dance and to cry and to break and to moan and to sleep ~ all with Him at the center -

Not in the fringes.

Like babies – moment by moment, yet with eternity in our sights all at the same time. Is it possible?

  • Blur out assumed or presumed knowledge…
  • Blur out concerns, anxiety, and our busy moving and shaking…
  • Blur out all but this moment – this moment that is part of the ultimate moment ~ leading us up to that blessed time in which our real lives begin.
  • Blur out all that is anything other than being filled with Him His love for people.
  • Stepping into the fullness of what He has in store for us and starting now.
  • To put asunder notions, judgements, coveting, performance, success, failure, hurts, disappointments, fears.
  • To stand strong and courageous – not our kind of strong -but HIS.

Oh how wonderful it is to know that He will never leave us! He rescues us each and every day.

From hard and from easy, he rescues us.

From pain and challenge or complacency, he rescues us.

From the gray – oh the ugly gray! He rescues us!!!

Do you hear Him? He is calling His sheep.

Let us not, oh God relegate You to the fringes. Let us keep You front and center through the good, and through the hard times, through the fear, and through the peace, through the joy and through the sorrow, through the weakness and through the confidence – through it ALL – be the center.

And if anything is to be blurred – oh Lord…let it be the enemy and all of his trappings – relegate them to the fringes forever more.

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. John 10:27

Friends, if you feel this way sometimes, just close your eyes for a moment. Just listen. He is calling your name. Do not fear. You are HIS.

This song reminds me so much of my need for my Savior and my own need to listen for His voice. I listen to it with my eyes closed frequently. I hope you enjoy it if you have a few moments to listen. May you be blessed as you relegate the ugly to the fringes and let the Spirit of the Lord fill you from the inside out.

 

 

What Is Not Heard In the Silence

Annie B:

Whether you have a chronic illness, disease, or a seemingly never-ending trial you face today…this is a beautiful and encouraging post from my dear Heather. Check out her site after reading and let her know you support her as she encourages others through the pain!

Originally posted on 40YearWanderer ~ ~ ~ Heather Mertens:

In the silence…
The pain is deafening.
The exhaustion is overwhelming.
The fatigue is crushing.
The foggy brain is scary beyond words… because words literally can’t be found.
The all over body symptoms are relentless.
The feeling of defeat is real. REAL. REAL.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about my Conversations With the Enemy. I let you in those moments. They are heart and soul crushing, but, as God is God, He provides the healing my heart and soul need in those moments. It’s just that those moments are happening more and more often.

Fibromyalgia, Myofascial Pain Syndrome, Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome ~ whatever your silent pain… I know it is REAL. I’m there with you. You are not alone. I know… it is a lonely feeling we get.

What will our future be like?

Chronic illness. Real. REAL.REAL.

These seem silent … like silent health…

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Grace Conquers Grief

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I thought grief was something I’d have a reprieve from after mama died about four years ago. I knew it would come back in new and even more twisted ways as life went onward, but I thought what I thought anyway.

I knew the grief of losing mama was not something to be dealt with and that it would then be over for once and for all. God made me fully aware of this fact when I experienced it with my father’s death decades ago.

So WHAT IS IT that I did NOT know that has thrown me for such a loop over the last year or two? A lot, friends. A whole lot. I was mistaken in thinking I had experienced “my share” of grief.

Grief shows up in so many ways that we don’t expect – new ways we aren’t familiar with and in times we may not expect it to darken our doorstep at all. When that happens, what we thought we understood or knew about grief goes right out the window and splats into a million pieces down below.

Since mama died, more deaths have occurred, more friends and family have gone through trials and sorrows that I can count, more heart-wrenching changes that, even in the midst of them, we knew God would work together for our good, have happened too. (Plus, have you noticed? The world is a mess!!!)

But presently  – this now that I am in – grief wants to take me,friends. The shards down below the window it splatted and catapulted out of have morphed and grown into something bigger, scarier, and more seemingly powerful than I had thought I’d experience at this time in my life.

Grief wants to own me, put its name upon me and seal it that way forever. Grief wants to make grace become second fiddle without question. Grief wants to define me, torment me, smash me and then overtake me.

Grief wants to eat me alive.

Guess what else I am learning that I hadn’t recognized about this greedy grief before? It’s that it has many friends. It’s many little minion-like friends do a tortuous form of damage all on their own. They serve multiple purposes, not the least of which, is to compound the master that they serve – this is how grief breeds and grows.

  • Guilt.
  • Negative mind chatter (why can’t you just look at the bright side?)
  • Pain.
  • Depression.
  • Bitterness.
  • Anger.
  • Sorrow.
  • Anxiety.
  • Self Pity.
  • Relational Strife and Conflict.

The list goes on and on, but I can’t write it all out because I’m already crying at this point. (Sorry, but I am).

Here’s the thing friends: I know what I know what I know.  I just don’t feel it sometimes. That hurts and it hurts a lot (hence, more grief).

  • I know that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.
  • I know that the present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
  • I know we have been crucified in Christ and it is no longer “I who lives, but Christ who lives in me.”

Yes, this list goes on and on too – and it comforts me so greatly that it does. It’s found in His Word – His truth – His promises to us. And for that, I can’t even begin to express how thankful I am.

But I don’t always feel good about it. Sad to say, but true. I am a mere little human whose flesh tries to take her eye off of God’s promises.

So today my heart grieves, even though my head knows the truth of His grace. Today, I struggle to find how to let the grace that He promises me weigh more than the feelings I am experiencing and meet me in the midst of it. Writing these things down today after a time of prayer is my way of reveling in His grace in the midst of the grief. God put it in my heart that maybe some of you feel this way too today.

Yes, until now, I was minimizing grace today and allowing grief to be magnified instead. And I HATE that.

How do you allow yourself to embrace the “bad” feelings that you may have and not beat yourself up about it?

Did you hear what I said? Not “live by” or “focus solely upon” but acknowledge and embrace and move through them!

How do you allow yourself to rest in His grace, but not pretend that grief isn’t present as well? (Instead of sucking it up, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, thinking of others instead and pretending your are just fine?)

How do you reach a point where you press into God and His strength and His comfort, (while in the midst of suffering), but not feel badly that you are sad in the first place?

Here’s what I do all the time on days like this – this is a snippet of my crappy mind chatter that I have to cry out to God about – ask Him to remove – obliterate – conquer.

  • “You can’t possibly be focusing upon the negative of this fibromyalgia again, can you? There are people out there way worse off than you. You need to focus upon all that you DO have.”
  • “You are dragging other people down with the vibes  you give off on these (more often than not) heavy pain days. Even when you don’t talk about it, they sense it. You need to have a different mindset and think more of others around you.”
  • “You know that people think you are making this up, right? You realize that people are starting to see you as someone who either is pretending they have this illness to get attention or get out of doing for others.”

I know this is negative, friends. But I have something positive to share with you about all of it. You can’t see the positive in full and give it the credit it deserves if you don’t journey through the ugly first. At least, that’s what I’ve found. You can pretend, but it doesn’t really work that way.

Did you hear what I just said? THAT is the positive in this. Not just this blog post, but this journey we are on if we are experiencing chronic illness, suffering, sorrow or trial of any kind. It’s part of how the Lord reveals Himself and His power in ways to us we never “knew” before.

By allowing the season of sorrow to be magnified – overtaking us almost (seemingly), if we are searching for Him and His grace, we “feel” what we “know” about Him in a way we never could before.

This I know. This I cling to.

Him.

In the midst of my new and unexpected season of grief.

What’s my grief about today? I miss who I once was – vibrant, energetic, enthusiastic, healthy, optimistic, driven, rested. Happy. This is what I thought was the essence of me. I am learning that means just what it means…

It. Was. Still. ME.

What’s His grace about today? In the sorrow and the suffering, a part of “self” is being crucified and WILL be filled with HIM in ways it never could be before!

You gotta empty the WHOLE vessel before you can fill it with ALL good stuff.

That means…. dump time. All that seems to be “good” has to be dumped out along with the “bad”.

We cling, friends. I admit to you today, I am clinging to the parts of Annie I wanted to keep. The beautiful parts I didn’t want dumped out with the ugly. But I know that these are the parts, that if I did keep them, would have been residing in the crevices of the potter’s jar and taking up space that He wants to fill with Himself.

I wanted to keep them.

But I know something awesome – (because He tells me it’s so). Those good parts of Annie I am clinging to and grieving over today? They are CRUD compared to what He is going to replace them with.

Absolute DIRT.

So yes, there’s a time to grieve. But there’s a time also to know in the midst of the grief that His grace is already here, and that He is doing something magnificent right now, and that He understands that it hurts a bit. Maybe even more than a bit.

No matter what the season, the one thing that never has to change, is that HE IS ALWAYS HERE.

I am being reborn in Him every single day. How about you? Some days it’s harder than others. Do you feel that too in your own life?

Do you know that birth is a wonderful event, yet a traumatic one as well? We like to focus upon all the feel-good stuff when it comes to a new birth, but we so often forget about what happened in the journey and the adjustment periods. All you have to do is really think about it for a moment – a newborn baby – the birth process – the sleepless nights – the terrible twos – it’s not something that is always a pretty picture.

But one thing’s for sure: No matter how fussy a baby is, or how fitful a toddler might be, it always seems to help when they surrender fully and allow their parent to soothe them.

Soothing in every season – surrender in every season – for me, that’s where it has to be. Won’t you join me if you feel the same way today? Join me in the lap of our Almighty Father. The parent of all parents. The One who never changes.

The One whose grace WILL conquer our grief.

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Ecclesiastes 3

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?

10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.

11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.

13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.

14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.

15 That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.

 

Cutting It Right Down the Middle ~ 30 Days of Godly Wisdom

So, God is giving me a nudge….He has His reasons. He will reveal them to me. His timing is always perfect. He’s knocking. He’s telling me to take a break – from a lot of things. He’s telling me to step away with Him for a while….to a different place. Oh, how hard it is to let go.

Wisdom given ~ revelations and guidance to be received.

Healing.

Focus.

Basics.

Milk. Survival.

Listening.

Input from HIM.

Yes, I will cut the 30 Days of Godly Widsom blog series short…it will be finished, but not until I get God’s green light.

This is a new thing for me ` To stop something in the middle. Oh, the disorganization of it all!

To leave something unfinished? To stop short?

Yes…oh yes, friends. I gotta take a break right in the middle of it all.

Because His timing is perfect.

He tells me to wait. To listen. To pray in a more focused way.

Eleven left. Eleven left to complete the 30 days series.

It’s not even an even number, Lord!

What will He reveal during this gap? What will He fill the space I make here with? Something of Himself and His wisdom, I am sure. Something of His glory.

What shall He reveal to me during this time of healing and listening?

I will be praying for you, dear friends. I will be reading what you share as you write and I break for a while.

Know that I am praying and this is part of HIS timing.

I can’t wait to find out what’s in store.

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