Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Death, At The Age of 33

As I sat in the bathroom of my parents home at the age of 17, I was day dreaming as I relieved my bladder(because don't we all do our best thinking on the toilet) about who knows what when I looked over at the bathroom counter and saw thread laying mysteriously in shape of two numbers side by side; 33. As I sat there, this strange fear came over me as I felt in that moment that I would somehow die at the age of 33. I began to cry as thoughts filled my head. After I regained composer, I realized was a rediculous, stupid thought that was. God would never show me something like that! I never told anyone about that moment as I feared I would be deemed crazier than I already was. I did my best to push the weird, uncomfortable thoughts to the back of my mind and carry on with life. I went about the rest of high school, college, and first marriage with it creeping in and out of my head. When the thought arose, I would quickly push it to the deepest parts of my heart, continuing to keep it sealed tightly in a little glass box. I figured the glass would be easier to break versus a padded lock if I ever really wanted to get in and deal with the ridiculous thought.

After my 30th birthday, the thought was more prominent as the realization that I was quickly approaching the age of 33. I started wondering more and more if it could possibly be true and then began contemplating all the ways in which I could possibly die. However it would be, I prayed it would be quick and painless(I cried from hang nails). Fear began to start creeping in...did I do enough for you Lord? Am I being punished?  Then came sadness...my sweet girls!! That glass box now had cracks in it and the thoughts more regularly seeped through.

I repeatedly told several close friends how I wanted my funeral to be, in passing and to them to be funny all while in the back of my mind somewhat preparing for D-day. I wanted bright colors, a band, red ranunculus/anemones on my casket, food trucks, confetti, specific songs to be played during the photo montage. I figured it didn't hurt to be prepared and since I am a planner/control freak, I'd just plan my own shin dig so others wouldn't stress over it! 

One night specifically when I was 31, I finally broke the silence about this thought I had had for close to 15 years. I went to music theater with my dear friend Angela and afterwards sat in her driveway talking. Some how I was comfortable enough in her presence to share my dream with her. I wanted to speak it out loud so that if it came to pass, it could in some way be used to glorify Christ. For a second I hesitated wondering if Angela would think I was crazy, but ended up spilled my guts. She didn't think I was crazy, even thought I am sure she was eager to get out of my car! She responded with encouragement and love. I never shared with anyone again until recently. 

That day came to a close like the rest and I truly didn't think too much about it again until I literally turned 33. Little did I know that some of my choices would contribute and lead to the death of a marriage just a few weeks after my 33rd birthday. Two months after the death of my marriage, I hit rock bottom, and died to my pride by going to an anxiety/depression treatment center for a month. Upon my return, I died to  control. Realizing the reigns were never mine to hold onto anyway. I have died to selfishness time and time again. I have died of sheer heart ache like I have never experienced before. I have died to old habits. I have died to loneliness and despair, to perfection and labels. I have died a thousand times and a thousand times again since my 33rd birthday and for that matter my entire life.

Last week and especially this past weekend might have been one of the hardest, most pain-staking yet. I can honestly say that once again I hit rock bottom. I sat in complete silence and tried to tame the gerbil on the wheel. As I sat with tears blurring my eyes, I began to see a ray of light moving slowing into the small dark room I was sitting in. As the sunlight grew brighter, this overwhelming sense of peace came over me. In that moment it all made sense. My death was not in the way I had worried about off and on for over 15 years(Let me just tell you, I thought of all kinds of ways my life would end). It wasn't a physical death I would die, but rather a death to my very own self! This mere surviving I have been doing day in and day out was not going to work for me any longer in that moment of clarity. I wanted nothing more than to stand up and truly LIVE in complete trust and faith. I knew that in order for there to be air in my lungs, I needed to surrender some pretty big strongholds. I had to fully DIE to my selfishness, pride, guilt, shame, body, loneliness, plans, peoples opinions, friendships and the list could go on. The brain is insane people! Retraining it as a 33 year old is proving to be one of the most difficult things I have ever done outside of parenting(scared to screw my kids up...another thing I had to die to).

The concept of “dying to self” is found throughout the New Testament. It expresses the true essence of the Christian life, in which we take up our cross and follow Christ. Dying to self is part of being born again; the old self dies and the new self comes to life (John 3:3–7). Dying to self is both a one-time event and a lifelong process. 

Jesus spoke repeatedly to His disciples about taking up their cross (an instrument of death) and following Him. He made it clear that if any would follow Him, they must deny themselves, which means giving up their lives—spiritually, symbolically, and even physically, if necessary. This was a prerequisite for being a follower of Christ, who proclaimed that trying to save our earthly lives would result in our losing our lives in the kingdom. But those who would give up their lives for His sake would find eternal life (Matthew 16:24–25Mark 8:34–35). Indeed, Jesus even went so far as to say that those who are unwilling to sacrifice their lives for Him cannot be His disciples (Luke 14:27).

So, even though I still have a ways to go before I turn 34...ahhh!!! get here quick...I see that most likely death at 33 is not going to be caused by a physical act or illness, but rather the realization that I MUST continue to die to myself and surrender to Christ whole heartedly. This will no doubt be a life time process, that will eventually lead me closer to the heart of God each step and each surrender I give. When I do take my final breath; however that may be, I know I will have eternity with Christ, waiting for me with big open arms saying, well done. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

So many people have asked, many have made assumptions and questioned my heart and motives over the last few months. While I truly am working hard to not put stock in what other people think or say, I do believe that clarity, truth and understanding is important. We are always quick to believe all we hear and have little desire most often to seek out the truth in its entirety. Perception is not reality and I believe that we should always dig a little deeper into the lives of those around us rather than listen to what others may be saying even though some of it may be true. Overhearing conversations in a target aisle can completely throw a broken girl into more brokenness. I've been ignored, eye rolled and hated by people I thought were friends. We justify gossip in the name of Jesus and throw in that Christian lingo to draw conclusions about people we know not much about. We don’t know the hurt and struggle that each of us is internally dealing with because many of us hide it so well and do not speak of it. I may get in trouble for saying this, but I think Christians are the worst at drawing conclusions in the name of Jesus. We; including myself hide behind God and put on the face of perfection and yet the reality of that looks more like loneliness, despair, shattered dreams, rejection, shame and fear.

This journey of brokenness in my own life I want to share so that in TRUTH you see my heart and life through eyes of grace and love; through the eyes of Christ. I believe as God is doing a work in us; he still used us in our brokenness to share His truth and the ways He has restored and given us freedom in dying to everything else around us but Him. 2 Timothy 1:8 says-Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, but share in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. 

With that being said, I can say that I am a sinner, bound by the desires of the world, quick fixes and opinions of others. I have struggled with depression, immense anxiety, rejection, fear, extreme loneliness and a multitude of other things over the years. Unfortunately, I have distracted myself, kept myself so busy so I wouldn’t have to deal with any emotion that was less than joyful. I have not always sought the most appropriate ways of dealing with those things and allowed my self to push aside what was right to get what I felt I deserved or would ease my pain quickly. I have set God aside so many times to meet my own needs. At some point, none of my self soothing tactics worked any more and I was left in a position I never dreamed and had judged others for doing. I fell on my knees knowing that was all I had left...to surrender my brokenness to God. This instance required great faith and trust in my God I struggled to believe loved me extravagantly after all my sin and rebellion against Him. If I was going to survive I had to be willing to give up all of me. Up to that point in my life, most of my actions did not line up with my words. 

In December, I spent 3 weeks in Seattle at a "retreat Center”. This is what I told people because I was embarrassed that I was going to a “treatment facility” for anxiety and depression. As I pushed aside those feelings of shame the best I could, I tried to focus on my ultimate goals while attending A Place of Hope. They were to grow closer to the Lord so that the other areas of my heaped up heart were supported and easier to deal with. I needed to gain understanding about life as to why I was acting and reacting in negative ways and figuring out better ways of functioning as a woman with high anxiety and stress. I needed to learn better ways of managing my time to be more effective as a momma, friend, a future spouse and as a business owner. My heart longed to learn how to be “present” and content, to be still and to not be constantly looking for the next best thing. I have to say that the morning my dear friend dropped me off was one of the lowest points in my life. An overwhelming amount of fear and shame washed over me as I stepped foot into the treatment center. This loneliness like I have never experienced before left me paralyzed from even speaking for the first few days I was there. 
I prayed before I went that I would not have a crazy room mate, and that she would either not say a word or be really encouraging. Well, God’s hand was all over it because I ended up with a roommate who made me laugh more than I had in a really long time. If you know me, you know I LOVE laughing. By the fourth night my fears died down and I began to relax and eat up all the information I could! I got I got spend so much time outside, journaling and listening to music. All of theses things I enjoy but put on the back burner. My heart left renewed, and ready to conquer.
To explain in a little more detail, let me go back a few years….

As a young child I experienced great fear, rejection, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, shame and neglect. At the age of seven I was adopted but prior to my adoption the life l lived consisted of undisciplined parenting by my grandparents, abuse from my mother and her boyfriends, an absent father who was in and out of jail and abusive in between stints. This set the foundation in my young heart for how I would view myself as an adult. “I am worthless, I am unloveable, I am bad, I am unworthy, I am unwanted, I am not worthy of God’s love.” Throughout the years, these things became wired into my brain as truth. Trying to retrain the brain as a 33 year old is hopelessly impossible. I never trusted really anyone and tried my my hardest to push people’s button to test them and see if they would too give me away or prove my theories right on love and acceptance. I did I a lll I could to push people away before they push me away first. It became my defense over the years. I lived in constant fear of rejection. I thought it would hurt less if I had the control. So I thought…..

I figured that if I just ignored the pain, pushed it so deep down I couldn’t reach it that it would eventually go away. This is further from the truth. Our unwillingness to let go of pain and lay it at the feet of Christ will eventually manifest in ways that are far from healthy. Unknowingly it begins to effect our friendships, parenting and marriages to the point that it destroys them. I got to this point in many areas of my life and in an hour of great desperation late November, I knew that I needed in-depth, undistracted(by phone, social media, emails…etc)professional counseling and therapy to heal from some pretty deep wounds I never wanted to deal with through out life and the last 10 years . I needed professional help to discover my purpose and worth. I would say “again”, but the naked truth is; I’ve never believed that I was worthy or made for Great purpose or capable of being genuinely loved. 
So what did I do for three weeks you ask other than sit in class, therapy, dr. appointments, fighting with God, eating more health nut food than I cared to, exercise and journaling from 8am-10pm? I learned that genuinely loving others starts by loving myself. If you think about it, you can not ride a bike without someone showing you how to do it. In just the same way, you can not truly love unless you are shown how. As a child this was not something I feel was adequately displayed until the age of seven. I learned to forgive and give up control, to peel back the layers of pain, and that it didn’t have to be all at once. I learned that I could focus on one thing at a time. Part of my struggle in my selfishness was putting my needs before my girls. This is humbling and hard to admit. I had not been actively doing that even though I know I love them with all my being. Most of all, I learned that I am not defined by my depression,  shame, anxiety, divorce, and other short comings that have led me into darkness. I learned that I am indeed worthy, not because of others opinions and acceptance of who I am inside and out, but because GOD SAYS: YOU ARE MY CHILD. Isaiah 40:31-“But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
God has spoken to me several times through out the last few months to die to myself, so I can live with Him and in His truth. To know that I am ENOUGH because of who I am in His grace and love. I am not made enough by mere actions, appearance, acceptance by men or others, but by the sacrifice Christ made by dying on the cross for my sins! The verse John 16:14 says “You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name and you will receive and you will have abundant joy.” I finally asked Him for help. I finally surrendered my will to allow the blessings of His to bring the spirit of truth. When we take a minute have a conversation with God, it changes us and it began a change in me.
The people He has brought into my life during this season of life have spoken truth but with love and great discernment. Being home from Seattle has been a great challenge as I fall into old habits and desires. I can honestly say that surrounding myself with people who are going to hold me when I am breaking and who will listen when they ask me how I’m really doing and want the real response. I have had friends randomly drop by to just give me a hug, ask to pray with me during lunch, drop off food, gifts of encouragement and those who text daily words of accountability to be in the word. More so, my dear momma and daddy have held me up on the worst of days and has supported and loved me through my sin, and struggle. My brother and I have grown closer, and my dear sisters and I have been able to fight our struggles together. Satan knows what I am capable of and wants nothing more to destroy me and has flung one hurdle after another in my way. 
A good friend shared a vision she was given….”In order for an arrow to be launched you have to pull back on the bow”. Much like life, in order for their to be positive change we have to allow God to pull us back. To remind us of who we are, to remind us where we are and that He is in control not because we are his puppets, but because He truly desires for us to live in complete joy and freedom. “He is our gift and He is our guide, in Him we can abide”. 

I share all of this not for sympathy but as part of my healing process. To say openly that I am broken, a sinner looking for quick fixes, selfish, and someone who has hidden behind the face of God. I share this to say that I am a good person who makes bad choices. That I am worthy, forgiven, accepted and loved by a God who has forgiven me and wants nothing more than to be in a close relationship with me. In spite of my mistakes, they do not define me. Even though I have deeply hurt others, if I seek forgiveness, there is freedom. I am constantly being molded and refined, distracted and needing to be reminded to stay on the right track. I am constantly having to die to myself in order to see God’s face and quite frank it HURTS and royally sucks! I am finding new freedoms daily and look forward to living in peace and contentment as God continues to define my purpose. While I have a mountain to still climb, it isn't as steep. God is good and my life is because of HIM. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Royal Family Kids-You Are Worthy and Chosen Child

In just two weeks I will leave my girlies and hubby to go and love on kiddos have been abused in every way possible and who have not many, if anyone, to call their own. I want to share my story to give you a better understanding of my passion for abused and neglected foster kids and orphans. I have shared this before but wanted to share it again as I prepare for Royal Family Kids. My heart is overwhelmed with many emotions as I prepare to go and share of the healing and love only God can unconditionally give. I am in awe of God's plan and HIS provision.
Here is a link for more information about RFK: http://royalfamilykids.org
My story started with a deep rooted cycle of disobedience. Stagnation if you will.  A life full of hope, yet so filled with chaos, pain, and tough decisions. The month of November is Adoption Awareness month. Each year, this month for many brings back memories of what was, what could have been, and what is to be. It holds a special place in my heart as I remember, hear and see the hope that is given to those cast aside. The very notion that a child could not be loved, is sickening, but real. In my case, I was given a second chance to make a positive difference. While there have been many challenges; some still remain, I know that one thing is true: Obedience will get us to places we never imagined. 
This leads me to the an acronym.....
Obedience: Obedience; or disobedience, can have a rippling effect. With that being said, I would not be where I am without the disobedience of my Biological parents, and without the obedience of my adoptive parents. They had a desire to have another child, their obedience to be still and listen, and then act on what they were called to do changed my life forever. My Adoptive mom has told me that Daddy fell in love with me the first time he met me. You see, had they not obeyed, I can not imagine where I would be. Obedience leads to great things, and in my case a heart full.
Believing: Believing that God knows best without our grubby hands is so important. We may not always understand the why’s or how comes, but if we choose to believe in HIS plan and not take hold of the reigns of our own life and understand Jeremiah 29:11….For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and to not harm you….Once we will truly believe this, we will be in a place where we can just stand in AWE of our Savior! Sometimes I want to climb to the tallest mountain and scream at the top of my lungs in complete reverence to HIM! In HIS presence is fullness of joy!!!!
Encouragement: It has been 23 years since I have been adopted and a huge part of my healing has come through the encouragement, and prayers for not only myself but from my adoptive parents, close friends and my adoptive family. Whether it be a note, a friend who calls to pray with you on the phone, or a counselor, you will be surprised at how timely those notes, calls or sessions can be. God has given some people the ability to listen and help dissect and guide you through the things that are hard to understand and to even climb out of the pit. I am a stuffer and so just in the last few years I have started to seek Godly counsel and allow different people to tell me how it is without the jargon and sugar coated answers. I have a feeling it will be a layer at a time, and possibly for the rest of my earthly life, and while it is challenging, it is refreshing and necessary in the healing process.  
Dreams: Have realistic dreams. I dreamed for so long that I would have a normal family life. Mom, would remind me that if I had the “normal” family, I wouldn’t be where I was. Well, the reality of normal, that is, if we all take off our masks, is not really anywhere. I do not think it was wrong for me to dream; for what in my head seemed normal, however for sometime, I would compare myself to others and what they had. On the flip side, I think it caused this immediate desire to fight for something different in my own life. If I knew one thing only, it was that I never wanted to relive or raise a family in the chaos I came from. I had the dream of one day breaking my biological family cycles.  
Importance of Forgiveness: Luke 6:37 (NIV) "...Forgive, and you will be forgiven. What is natural to "the flesh" when we have been hurt, abused or insulted is to strike back, to plot revenge, or to simmer in bitterness. This is "only human". But God requires forgiveness. If we are unwilling--or unable--to forgive, then there is no use asking God for what He has promised us, He will not give. For believers, dealing with the sin of un-forgiveness is first priority. Without forgiveness it is obviously does not allow complete healing. For many years I thought I had forgiven my biological mom, but when I came in contact with her just recently, I felt literal heat rise and anger towards her again. I then put myself in her shoes.  I looked at her and this sadness came over me. What had occurred in her own life? Did some one hurt her deeply? Did anyone show her the truth? Did she even know the love of a forgiving Savior? As crazy as it sounds, once these thoughts came over me, I felt a sense of true forgiveness and freedom from family bondage, self inflicted guilt and hatred.

Enjoy what God has given you and the life he has allowed you to have. Like I said before, I think it is easy to compare ourselves to others, but we as a nation are blessed, as a people are given so many chances, and for the most part have what we need. There is always someone worse off than yourself, but remember that God has you where He has you for a reason. Enjoy the gifts and talents that He has given to those around us. MUSIC has played a key role in my determination to succeed in life. Worshiping my God in song has brought me into a closer relationship with Him, and has given me the strength to get out of bed, to cry, laugh, and sometimes just fall completely on my knees in reverence to HIM!
Needs: We all have love languages and ways we like to be "loved". I have the biggest fear of rejection and while I am genuinely passionate about other people, I struggle with people pleasing. This has caused me to stop enjoying the life God has given in order to ensure that everybody else had a great life. This doesn’t work people. Frankly we become miserable, mask our own issues that just continue to build and we become weary. When our needs are not not reciprocated in the way we see fit, we feel rejected and set ourselves up for disappointments all over again. I feel, regardless of our situations in life, most women struggle with this to a point, but “Jesus NEVER rejects us, He ALWAYS loves. He is not looking for performance, just our worship and love. Then we are truly free to serve where called.”
Caring: Caring about others and their hearts/well-being should be something we are aware of. We have all gone through things that give us the ability to relate to others. God can use us to encourage and give hope to those people. For me, I am passionate about orphans and foster children. My desire to serve them, love them and show them the hope of Jesus has been a huge part of my ministry here on earth. We are all called to something....allow yourself to be the hands and feet and allow God to be the mastermind so that He is truly working through us and is SEEN. "Be the Hands and Feet of Jesus." Philippians 2:3-7- Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
Envelope: Envelope yourself and others in prayer! Pray for God’s strength and direction in your own life, but also in the lives of the people who have hurt you. You may not always get the chance to see how your prayers may be effecting that person’s life, but it is so important and obviously needed. It can be so easy to put those people in the past and come up with all kinds of excuses as to why we shouldn’t care for them or pray for them. It is in these moments we should remember our own muck that our forgiving Father pulled us out of.  I BELIEVE HE can move mountains so I am convinced that HE can change the hearts of people.
Tatum has been on my heart a lot lately. She will be turning 7 in January. I was almost 7 years old when my biological parents signed their rights away. Although my heart is filled with gratefulness and joy for my adoption, I can't help but feel completely perplexed and sad. I love Tatum with my whole heart and the very thought that I could just give her away because things got too hard or because I possibly chose to live selfishly, is almost more than my heart can bear. I will love her bigger and stronger, in the good and the bad. 

I share all this to ask that you partner with me to help raise $800 to pay for the bus that will take the kids to and from camp. This week could be a life changing week for one of these kids. I am not out to save them all or even the world, but I am out to at least plant a seed of hope in them and to show them that they are WORTHY and that they are CHOSEN, by a God who created them. 

If you are willing to give, please know that it will be worth every penny. You can send a check to:

7000 N. Seneca
Wichita, KS 67204

Written to:
Pathway Church

Thank you for considering and for your willingness to help! 






Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Gerbil on a Wheel

Sometimes I find myself like a gerbil on a wheel....so many emotions and thoughts in my head and all I can seem to do it go round and round until I am so worn down, I trip and fall. It is in these moments that I am grounded, forced to lay still, and trust that God has it all under control.

My tendencies to worry are like a slap in the face to the ONE I surrendered my life to so many years ago. My quick temper is a desperate attempt to be heard and the guilt....oh the guilt from the things I've done and have said.

I torture myself with murmurs of worthlessness and defeat and after so long, begin to believe just that. What will it take for me to understand that I can do nothing by my own strength?? When will I stop caring what others think and stand boldly proclaiming truth? When will I allow myself to trust people genuinely with my heart or should I?

I'm tired. Weary. Constantly battling with myself. I wonder how many more of us feel this way and are terrified to reach out for help, prayer...for fear that we will not be seen as holy, perfect and put together. For fear that we will be rejected. If we as the body of Christ have scared people into believing the lies of perfection and the standards of "Godliness" we place on each other, what have we learned and chosen to believe about being the hands and feet of Jesus?

Let's break the mold of Christianity and open our eyes to the standards that our Savior has set and not on the unattainable standards the world has set.






Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sweet Release

Ivan has been a part of the symphony in the Flint hills for sometime now. I took myself and my friend Jessica to attend the event as guests….it felt strange to not have to coordinate, set up or stress about any logistics changing caused by the massive wind gusts. I napped in the tall grass, rode on a covered wagon, drank some wine, and enjoyed watching my man run around like a chicken with his head cut off. I think he may respect my job just a little bit more after the chaos he encountered. 

Jessica and I got a bit tired from the continuous wind...we went prairie mad and decided to head home. On the way to the Symphony, I showed Jess the area that my biological grandparents lived in. I got a strong urge to pay visit to the home that held some great memories and other memories I would just assume be forgotten forever. The joy, the pain, the anger and sadness that came out of the home has been something I have not revisited for years. 

Before going on, I want to stress the importance of true, genuine friendship. The kind where you can stand before each other in complete nakedness to shame, sin and pain. The kind where you can laugh in complete joy one minute and bawl in the next. I have been blessed by several of these ladies, but in this instance this weekend, one in particular became a rock, a shoulder, and a dependance I have never known before. 

We arrived at the wee little home that I expected to be covered in weeds and abandoned. To my surprise it was well kept, and someone was in deed living there. As we approached, an older woman and her husband came out to greet us, weary of our presence. I got out of the car and introduced myself and told her that I had lived in the tiny house with my grandparents, aunt, sisters and whoever else was around. I shared several memories of the creek at the back of the property and the barn where we would place a piece of wood on a big rock that stuck out of the ground and would pretend to surf while singing songs from the Beach Boys. Sadly, she seemed less than interested in letting us explore and in that instance I was extremely disappointed. 


As we got in the car I took one last look around, taking in the sights, smells and sounds that surrounded the house. Tears began to well, and tears became silent crying as I tried to hold it all in. As we drove off….almost hitting a tree on the way out due to teary eyes…..my dear Jess turned on a song by Miranda Lambert-The House That Built Me. This part of the song got me and got me good……
I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
This brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here it's like I'm someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself

As we drove somewhat slowly through the now, flood of tears, I knew that it was time. Time to search for true healing from a past that has in some ways held me in bondage. As we drove through good ol’ Eldorado, we came up on a carnival….looking at each other through tears, Jess asked what I was thinking; “Do you want to ride the Ferris Wheel?”
Of course I said yes, and we parked. As we walked towards the entrance, a lady that was leaving handed us her bracelet for an “all you can ride” pass. I shouldn’t expect anything different, but it amazes me how God is before us and our needs. He loves us and shows us in the smallest little ways. Needless to say, this gave us a little extra skip in our step and allowed us some time to clear our heads and breath, just breath. 

For as long as I have known better, I have walked around feeling rejected by those that were to suppose to love me. I have done what I could to push buttons to see if friends and other people would reject me too….some leaving due to my own doing and others staying, figuring me out and putting me in my place. The problem with all of this is I have never allowed myself the opportunity to truly find healing from the rejection mindset. I stuff all feelings of fear, hurt and anger as far down as it will go so that I do not feel any pain or sadness, but lately, I have been experiencing vivid dreams of my grandmother causing me to wonder if it is time to allow the pain to surface and allow the truth to rear its ugly head. 

Jessica offered to make a gorgeous flower arrangement to take to my grandma’s grave and spend time just talking to her like I did right after she died. I have so many questions, things that I have wondered all my life and the only one I feel who could give me the answers that I feel would suffice. She was my best friend and the one that loved me unconditionally and yet she was not longer around to sit with me to hear truth, cry over things lost and laugh over silly moments shared together. 

Well, after this weekend and yesterday processing all my thoughts and feelings, I met with my dear friend Tracy today, who is very intuitive and exceptional wise. As we spoke I shared with her my experience over the last few days. One thing I took from our time together was all too simple. Something I had never thought of……”You were not REJECTED, you were RELEASED!” Wow, this thought was powerful. I was released to a better future, a better friendship, a better way of dealing, a better way of finding compassion and love for others. I was RELEASED into a family who showed me a love that was not shown to me in any other way before. 

I am overwhelmed by God’s timing and His ability to RELEASE us from the burdens of our sins and release us from carrying the burdens of other peoples sin. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. My focus is not on a negative rejected feeling,  but rather on a positive release of the reigns I have held on my life with my white knuckled grip. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Friendship-The Naked Truth
By Ashley Moore
 
During my recent trip to the gorgeous beaches of Mexico, I had lots of time to reflect on the people who have come and those who have gone in my life. I have always considered my friends as part of my family...many of the people in my life have been there through thick and thin, but there are people who have gone and  I don't know what happened, or those relationships that ended ugly.
 
I love people and more so those that are closest to me. However, I have been at times one of the worst, selfish friends to those who I have considered to be my best of friends. This makes me feel remorseful, embarrassed, unworthy and often full of anxiety. I have hurt people I care for most, sometimes unintentionally and other times out of anger or frustration. I have asked for genuine forgiveness and all I can do is wait now.
 
I am continually amazed by the way that women think and the way we are hypocritical and just as disrespectful as the person we may be talking about. We want others to be quick to forgive us and yet, when we have been hurt, we refuse to accept the apology or ignore the situation all together. We break each others trust and may even use "words" to say that we have forgiven those that have hurt us, but our actions still speak louder than words and the grudges we hold only make us more bitter and less able to truly forgive and let go.
 
I sat thinking about my own issues I've experienced and then got to thinking of other possible  reasons that there are issues in friendships and the bottom line and the NAKED TRUTH is:  INSECURITY!!! While I may have great poise, I have the worst insecurity! My mom used to tell me that I pushed people's buttons to test them and see if they would stick around no matter what. This I know as an adult and have been more aware of that truth and have been in tune to my actions the last year; although a gradual process. We all struggle with insecurity to some extent...it just may show it's ugly head in different ways. I recently started reading the book:
 
"So Long, Insecurity" By Beth Moore
" An unhealed heart grows hard...."
"To be SECURE, we have to know that that there is one person who will always be there...."
"Accepting the forgiveness that Jesus has given...ONCE AND FOR ALL....and then we don't have to take offense at every little thing.
 
Just a few things I have taken away from this book so far.
 
How do we find genuine friendships?
 
"How can we find true friendship in this often phony, temporary world? Friendship involves recognition or familiarity with another's personality. Friends often share likes and dislikes, interests, pursuits, and passion."

"How can we recognize potential friendship? Signs include a mutual desire for companionship and perhaps a common bond of some kind. Beyond that, genuine friendship involves a shared sense of caring and concern, a desire to see one another grow and develop, and a hope for each other to succeed in all aspects of life. True friendship involves action: doing something for someone else while expecting nothing in return; sharing thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment or negative criticism."


Real and true friendship involves freedom of choice, accountability, truth, and forgiveness. Peter and Jesus give us this example: Peter, afraid for his life after Jesus is led away from the Garden of Gethsemane, denies knowing Jesus (John 18). As He is led away by His accusers, Jesus casts a look toward Peter that says, "I knew you would deny Me, and I forgive you" (John 21).

Real friendship looks at the heart, not just the "packaging." Genuine friendship loves for love's sake, not just for what it can get in return. True friendship is both challenging and exciting. It risks, it overlooks faults, and it loves unconditionally, but it also involves being truthful, even though it may hurt. Genuine friendship, also called "agape" love, comes from the Lord. The Lord Jesus calls us His friends and He laid down His life for us (John 15).

Relationships in real life involve different levels of friendships, and that's okay. But humans are designed by God for lasting relationships. Often our isolationist society offers only vague, empty relationships. God wants us to have friends here on earth. Most of all, He wants us to be friends with Him!

God's Word tells us that a friend sticks closer than a brother, and that in order for one to be a friend, one must show themselves friendly (Proverbs 18:24). The question is: what type of friend do you desire to be?

Proverbs 18:19 in the New Living Translation says: "It's harder to make amends with an offended friend than to capture a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with iron bars." When we've offended a true friend - whether by breaking a trust or by speaking the truth with love - we risk losing that friendship. We must be careful not to break the trust. But when not speaking the truth will cause greater hurt in our friend's life, we must be willing to sacrifice our needs for those of our friend. That is true friendship.

If we sometimes offend a friend without meaning to, God's Word offers a solution. It's called forgiveness. There is no greater example than the love of God for us. It is so great that He gave His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, in order that our friendship with God might be restored. He did that in spite of the fact that we have offended Him deeply. We have disobeyed His commands, turned our backs on Him, and followed our own path. So the question remains: What type of friend do you want to be? True Christian friendship forgives.

How do we seek forgiveness
from those that we have deeply hurt?
I could not have said it better than Dr. Don Dunlap
Click here for his words of wisdom!

I have really had to search my heart and see what I did to contribute to certain issues with friends I've hurt. Reaching out is the first thing I have done after seeking forgiveness from my heavenly father. That is all we can do at that point. Admit where you were wrong, apologize and pray that their hearts are opened. My heart aches for those that I've lost due to my own doing or to their doing. I choose to live in peace and freedom knowing that I have been forgiven by my heavenly Father.
 
When is it ok to let people go?
This question has always been difficult for me. I do NOT let people go without a easily and generally not without putting up a good fight first. I have learned though, it is ok and healthy to do so.
Reason, Season or a Lifetime
People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
When you figure out which one it is,
you will know what to do for each person.
When someone is in your life for a REASON,
it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.
They have come to assist you through a difficulty;
to provide you with guidance and support;
to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually.
They may seem like a godsend, and they are.
They are there for the reason you need them to be.
Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time,
this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.
Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away.
Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.
What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done.
The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.
Some people come into your life for a SEASON,
because your turn has come to share, grow or learn.
They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.
Believe it. It is real. But only for a season.
LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons;
things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.
Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person,
and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.
It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

— Unknown

 Ways that will build strong, lasting friendships
 I could not be more thankful for the people in my life who have forgiven, continue to love and encourage me despite my mistakes and ugly human tendencies! You know who you are!! I HAVE SO MUCH to learn regarding what it takes be a "true" Friend to those in my life and around me!

Ways that will build strong, lasting friendships:
1. Always be there, even in silence.
2. Be kind and listen. Be fun and light. Be serious when needed, love extensively, and forgive always.
3. Don’t be scared to tell each other the truth no matter how difficult it may be.
4. Guide each other in times of need with your honest opinions.
5. A true friend is someone who always listens and is genuinely interested in the good and bad, and someone who calls or writes just to say hello.
6. Be loyal in confidence and character, always open and inviting to share concerns, always honest even if you disagree.
7. A true friend tries his best to cheer you up when you are upset and makes you feel special.
8. Try and improve their life though your friendship.
9. Be who you truly are—be that vulnerable–and provide the other person the space, safety and choice to do the same.
10. Be genuinely happy when they get, receive, or achieve something you truly desire.
11. Share the truth in your heart, without the fear of misunderstandings.
12. Be loyal and forgive but above all: love and respect.
13. Accept the person as they are, as an individual, without conditions. Also, as important as it is for you to be there for them, sometimes you have to be willing to let them be there for you.
14. Remain friends despite a person’s choices in life and don’t bail on them when they aren’t who you want them to be.
15. A true friend always supports the person but doesn’t feel compelled to support the situation. A true friend knows how and when to say the firm, “No.”
16. Help yourself and those closest to you grow. To live means to grow, and a true friend is someone that you can honestly say has helped define you as an individual.
17. Celebrate the wins and being there to support the losses. Keep your word and acknowledge it when you don’t.
18. Walk in to a friend’s aid when others are walking out.
20. Show up! You can pretend to care but you cannot pretend to show up.
21. A true friend is someone you feel as comfortable with as you do when you are by yourself. No illusions, no holding back.
22. Be there for the other person in the same way you would be there for yourself. Granted, if you can’t be there for yourself, that’s probably something you should address first.
23. Don’t let your own stuff get in the way. The ego is powerful.
24. Know someone’s least admirable characteristics and still love and support them.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Obedience

My story started with a deep rooted cycle of disobedience. Stagnation if you will.  A life full of hope, yet so filled with chaos, pain, and tough decisions. The month of November is Adoption Awareness month. Each year, this month for many brings back memories of what was, what could have been, and what is to be. It holds a special place in my heart as I remember, hear and see the hope that is given to those cast aside. The very notion that a child could not be loved, is sickening, but real. In my case, I was given a second chance to make a positive difference. While there have been many challenges; some still remain, I know that one thing is true: Obedience will get us to places we never imagined. 
This leads me to the an acronym.....
Obedience: Obedience; or disobedience, can have a rippling effect. With that being said, I would not be where I am without the disobedience of my Biological parents, and without the obedience of my adoptive parents. They had a desire to have another child, their obedience to be still and listen, and then act on what they were called to do changed my life forever. My Adoptive mom has told me that Daddy fell in love with me the first time he met me. You see, had they not obeyed, I can not imagine where I would be. Obedience leads to great things, and in my case a heart full.
Believing: Believing that God knows best without our grubby hands is so important. We may not always understand the why’s or how comes, but if we choose to believe in HIS plan and not take hold of the reigns of our own life and understand Jeremiah 29:11….For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and to not harm you….Once we will truly believe this, we will be in a place where we can just stand in AWE of our Savior! Sometimes I want to climb to the tallest mountain and scream at the top of my lungs in complete reverence to HIM! In HIS presence is fullness of joy!!!!
Encouragement: It has been 23 years since I have been adopted and a huge part of my healing has come through the encouragement, and prayers for not only myself but from my adoptive parents, close friends and my adoptive family. Whether it be a note, a friend who calls to pray with you on the phone, or a counselor, you will be surprised at how timely those notes, calls or sessions can be. God has given some people the ability to listen and help dissect and guide you through the things that are hard to understand and to even climb out of the pit. I am a stuffer and so just in the last few years I have started to seek Godly counsel and allow different people to tell me how it is without the jargon and sugar coated answers. I have a feeling it will be a layer at a time, and possibly for the rest of my earthly life, and while it is challenging, it is refreshing and necessary in the healing process.  
Dreams: Have realistic dreams. I dreamed for so long that I would have a normal family life. Mom, would remind me that if I had the “normal” family, I wouldn’t be where I was. Well, the reality of normal, that is, if we all take off our masks, is not really anywhere. I do not think it was wrong for me to dream; for what in my head seemed normal, however for sometime, I would compare myself to others and what they had. On the flip side, I think it caused this immediate desire to fight for something different in my own life. If I knew one thing only, it was that I never wanted to relive or raise a family in the chaos I came from. I had the dream of one day breaking my biological family cycles.  
Importance of Forgiveness: Luke 6:37 (NIV) "...Forgive, and you will be forgiven. What is natural to "the flesh" when we have been hurt, abused or insulted is to strike back, to plot revenge, or to simmer in bitterness. This is "only human". But God requires forgiveness. If we are unwilling--or unable--to forgive, then there is no use asking God for what He has promised us, He will not give. For believers, dealing with the sin of un-forgiveness is first priority. Without forgiveness it is obviously does not allow complete healing. For many years I thought I had forgiven my biological mom, but when I came in contact with her just recently, I felt literal heat rise and anger towards her again. I then put myself in her shoes.  I looked at her and this sadness came over me. What had occurred in her own life? Did some one hurt her deeply? Did anyone show her the truth? Did she even know the love of a forgiving Savior? As crazy as it sounds, once these thoughts came over me, I felt a sense of true forgiveness and freedom from family bondage, self inflicted guilt and hatred.

Enjoy what God has given you and the life he has allowed you to have. Like I said before, I think it is easy to compare ourselves to others, but we as a nation are blessed, as a people are given so many chances, and for the most part have what we need. There is always someone worse off than yourself, but remember that God has you where He has you for a reason. Enjoy the gifts and talents that He has given to those around us. MUSIC has played a key role in my determination to succeed in life. Worshiping my God in song has brought me into a closer relationship with Him, and has given me the strength to get out of bed, to cry, laugh, and sometimes just fall completely on my knees in reverence to HIM!
Needs: We all have love languages and ways we like to be "loved". I have the biggest fear of rejection and while I am genuinely passionate about other people, I struggle with people pleasing. This has caused me to stop enjoying the life God has given in order to ensure that everybody else had a great life. This doesn’t work people. Frankly we become miserable, mask our own issues that just continue to build and we become weary. When our needs are not not reciprocated in the way we see fit, we feel rejected and set ourselves up for disappointments all over again. I feel, regardless of our situations in life, most women struggle with this to a point, but “Jesus NEVER rejects us, He ALWAYS loves. He is not looking for performance, just our worship and love. Then we are truly free to serve where called.”
Caring: Caring about others and their hearts/well-being should be something we are aware of. We have all gone through things that give us the ability to relate to others. God can use us to encourage and give hope to those people. For me, I am passionate about orphans and foster children. My desire to serve them, love them and show them the hope of Jesus has been a huge part of my ministry here on earth. We are all called to something....allow yourself to be the hands and feet and allow God to be the mastermind so that He is truly working through us and is SEEN. "Be the Hands and Feet of Jesus." Philippians 2:3-7- Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
Envelope: Envelope yourself and others in prayer! Pray for God’s strength and direction in your own life, but also in the lives of the people who have hurt you. You may not always get the chance to see how your prayers may be effecting that person’s life, but it is so important and obviously needed. It can be so easy to put those people in the past and come up with all kinds of excuses as to why we shouldn’t care for them or pray for them. It is in these moments we should remember our own muck that our forgiving Father pulled us out of.  I BELIEVE HE can move mountains so I am convinced that HE can change the hearts of people.
 
This song by Hillsong United speaks volumes to me.....

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger


To listen to the entire song click here.