A Message From A Midwest White Girl

This message is about how racism has been an issue in my own life. Growing up in a town of 800 people in the middle of the US is enough to explain some. I remember the first time I saw a black person, I was probably 10 years old. I remember being excited, fascinated and was quickly told to ‘stop staring’, yet my innocence meant no harm, I was curious. I over heard different name calling as a child, crude jokes and this ‘difference’, and division started forming in my mind. There was not a black person in our community, until I moved to a larger Midwest community at age 12, and even then there may have been 3 families in a community of 6000 people. I believe fear didn’t come into play until I was a bit older, movies projected some, as well as news.

Being the rebel that I was as a teen, and a curious George type, I wanted to get to know the different culture for myself. I dove into a relationship in college with a black man. It was fun and different, we laughed a lot and the reality of how abnormal it was in the Midwest in the 90’s became very evident. The stares and comments not only from the whites but also the blacks was so uncomfortable. The comments and crude talk came from all angles, including both families. It was hard, and sad, and became too difficult for both of us, and then soon following that relationship the incident happened.

At 20 years old I was sexually assault by 2 black college athletes. And this, this is where fear came in. Every colored man became a threat to me, I was traumatized and I would say racism took a root. I never said much, in-fact not many ever knew, it was my secret and has been to this day. I went down a dark path filled with drugs and alcohol and anything that took me out of reality. For the next 20 years my life was lived out with a lot of fear. Thankfully the Lord delivered me and I began healing by the grace of God and came to peace with my abusers, the incident, and the life I lived at that time. Forgiveness of them, of God and of myself for the choices I made following the trauma was when true peace and healing happen. It took time, it took process and it took a miracle only God could pull off.

3 years ago I was called into the most strange of things, I never saw it coming… missions, in Africa, among a sea of black skin and I was the minority. God healed me there in so many ways. He took my rose colored glasses off and showed me what it is to see people for people, not living in fear because of color. I see hearts and beautiful souls. I see spirits of people and am no longer tainted with the veil of assumptions and fear.

Because of this recent uprise of exposing racism I wanted to share this small town white girl’s experience and let you know black lives DO matter. I don’t see black as a threat anymore and I’ve been working on changing some old ways of thinking and uprooting seeds that were planted long ago. I figure if I can make a change by talking and teaching my children how to love and embrace all colors and differences then maybe their generation will get it right, or more right than mine.

To the black community, I see you, each of you. My abusers could have been any one, any color and I will never hold what they did to me against anyone. You are loved and I pray this country will do better by you.

The thinking has to change, the old patterns have to die. I pray I can start the change in my own home.

May we all look inward and do the hard thing, forgive words and actions, renew our minds, and give our hardened hearts to God, so we can live in peace and true freedom. We can do better, we all can do better.


Peace and Blessings to you.

What in the ‘World’

Well, it’s been long enough I had to ‘login’ and they’ve updated the format for the site….. anyway…

This world right now, I have so many thoughts, so many questions that I honestly don’t know where to even start. So let’s start with Jesus, the author of our faith. Heb 12…. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

So what does Jesus say… I know one thing for sure, He is not surprised by any of ‘it’. Jesus found it all joy set before him in enduring the cross, scorning the cross’s shame and THEN…. to sit at the right hand of the throne of God. Wow, what a journey He went through… all for us. Because He thought we were worth it, because He loved/loves us. So let us fix our eyes on Him.

About this ‘thing’ going on in the world. Who to trust, who is lying, because honestly someone has to be with such opposite ends of the spectrum on this ‘thing’. You either agree 100% with one side or another….. or do we?… I believe many of us are somewhere in the middle… and I do know Jesus tends to meet us in the middle… the middle is where peace is. Go with me for a second… think about Anxiety vs Depression… opposite ends of the spectrum… peace is in the present, not worrying about the future(Anxiety) or dwelling on the past(Depression), but staying present and focusing on what blessings we have right now, this is peace.

For most of us our present moments are bombarded with change, new decisions, input from a million places, mostly being the media world; FB, IG, News channels, YouTube and on and on I could go. Our present is being flooded with ‘futuristic’ thoughts… insert… anxiety.

I’m not writing for a debt, I’m writing because I have the freedom to write…. don’t I? The Lord tells us to be quick to listen, slow to speak… and this goes both ways, it doesn’t matter what you believe or don’t. So I’ve been listening, pondering for over 40 days of this quarantine mess. The few things I have spoken have been nothing more than asking others to ponder, seek out multiple resources and question everything. I think that’s part of the blessing of living in a free country.

Slow to speak…. not DON’T speak.

So I’m going to speak and ask the Lord to guide me through my thoughts…. Here we go.

First off, I’m not a huge TV person. I don’t watch the news much because long have gone the days of Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather, who were NEVER afraid to throw out a hard question. Long gone are the days of Oliver North trials and the government being under investigation.

Insert present: Negativity floods the airwaves more now than ever in our history. The social media world floods us with all this negativity, it is this massive ‘spirit’ of confusion. Yes I said ‘spirit’. If I’ve lost you, it’s ok. I’m not into convincing anyone of anything, nor am I trying to ‘persuade’ you to a side… I don’t really have a side… oh wait… yes I do… Abba Father, and Christ in me(the hope of glory -Col 1:27). Why would you listen to me? I’m just an average person. What I share are my thoughts, the way God designed me is this… process, ponder, process, ponder…. so here I go.

An argument: Can you imagine how different things would be if the Bible was based on only the knowledge of man(Hence the fall of man was the dang Tree of Knowledge)? Oh friends, imagine if Jesus picked only the men with the most degrees, the most money, the scholars, the leaders of the world, the government officials, the reporters, the MDs, PhDs and the 4.0 Harvard grads?…. He didn’t. He picked misfits, rebels, fishermen, tax collectors, soldiers, brothers, and prostitutes to be his disciples, prophets, writers of the Word of God. HUMMM…..

There is a BIG difference between man’s knowledge and God’s knowledge.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts. -Isaiah 55:8-9

I think some people see Jesus as a gentle man floating through the air, bounding and skipping with flowers in His hair… hardly. The dude was amazing. He knew when to have conflict, He knew when to speak up, even to the highest ranking official. He walked with the broken and He spoke with them, not always sunshine and rainbows, He spoke real…truth. He was loving, caring, righteous and bold. Oh to be all the things; mercy, teacher, prophet, servant, etc… My point, He sees all of ‘this’ and is not surprised by any of it.

How will His people react? Will they lash out in anger among one another? Will they fight for their own agenda? Will they speak truth….. IN LOVE and will they seek truth? I hope we as believers can remember our source when seeking truth, because right now He is the only thing that is true. Though I have a sense even ‘that’ will be questioned soon.

If you don’t believe in the evil forces working among us, boy do I ask you to pray about it. Ask the Lord to reveal truth to you in the coming days. Ask the Holy Spirit to guard your mind in the chaos that is here and the chaos that will come… and it will come…. I have no doubt. We will need to be more grounded than ever in our faith. I don’t say it to cause fear, I say it because He is always the answer in all circumstances. Do you believe that our own faith may be put in the limelight of questioning? Front and center? I believe it will be… I hope you are ready when the questions come, when the doubt of the world will be thrown at us.

Some of the ‘things’ I have a ‘check’ about: Media(all of it), Govt, Chemical Warfare, WHO, OWO, FDA, CDC, SS, CIA, AI, and everything that we have been conditioned to trust. At times, I begin to wonder if our freedom of speech is being eliminated.

Some questions I have: Why were the schools the first thing to shutdown and not open back up at all? Why is it ok to go to Walmart and not church? Why are liquor stores and abortion clinics allowed to stay open? Why does it seem outbreaks of pandemics always happen in election years? Why are the infected/death numbers so inconsistent and why are hospitals being paid for C19 patients? Why are some Drs speaking out and what do they have to GAIN in speaking out? Why are there groups specifically out to expose lies, yet they are considered conspiracy theories? Why have there been TV shows from 17 years ago that depicted a coronavirus outbreak and even had the malaria drug named as the answer?(DeadZone Season 2, Episode 14 from 2003) Why are there ties with Hollywood and the Government? Why is it that so many hospitals are completely empty, and workers have been laid off? Why have we done this all for a 1% death toll on a virus? Cancer/Heart Disease have taken way more lives than this… Why didn’t this happen with our current Influenza, SARS, H1N1? Why are they referencing a pandemic from 1918 for reference, haven’t we come pretty far since then.. or have we? Why is Trump SOOOO attacked? Why a push for a vaccine when we know there are drugs that are working? Why attack THIS drug? It’s been used for years. Why not attack Chemo and Radiation drugs, how many people have they killed? Why can I have the right to have an abortion(my body) but may be forced to take a vaccine(my body too)? Why the push for G5? Why is NO ONE questioning all the satellites going up in space right now? Convenient timing as the airports were shut down… Why are people being arrested for being outside? Sure sounds like Marshall Law in some places…. Why the push for the chip insert?

It just all seems like a big gigantic distraction to me… from what?

I’m sure 50,000 people would give me ‘their’ answers to all of these. I don’t want your immediate answers, I want you to think for yourselves. First ask yourself have your answers come from your own experiences? If so I’d be happy to listen. Everyone’s answers come from someone else’s answers and so on…. Remember that game we use to play when we were kids. Sit in a circle and whisper a sentence in someone’s ear…. go around the circle and it’s completely skewed by the end… not even close to the right sentence. That’s how I feel about all of it. Someone states something…. then someone manipulates it, gives their own version of what they heard and wallah… we have no clue what was actually stated.

An analogy… Remember “It’s a Bugs Life?” I know I know… Disney… blah blah….. We are the ants, and when we stand together we can knockout the bullies and be free from this cloud of confusion. Unity will be our saving grace… if we don’t… I believe we will continue to fall down the rabbit hole, the blue pill/red pill… yada yada.. Heck we’ve probably been fed so much BS we don’t even realize we are in a rabbit hole.

One thing for sure: There is a virus… where or how it got to us… I question. There are many amazing medical people working their butts off to do the best they can with the situation. Do I think any of this is their fault, absolutely not. They are following the oath that the swore to keep. Do I question the CDC, yes, so much money involved. Are we being monitored? I think so and probably have been for quite some time, the whistle blowers within have already exposed that.

2 of man’s biggest down falls: Power, Money. Man wants to play god. But man really sucks at it.

And what does Jesus say about all this? “Girl, I got you!” I’ve never been so sure of one thing in my life; my faith and my spirit is alive and well…. I will leave this planet in death someday, but my spirit/soul is signed sealed and delivered! My suggestions: Pray. Pray for unity, guarded minds, and against the spirit of confusion and chaos. Give Thanks. Repent. Renew your minds. Repeat.

I don’t have the answers, I won’t even leave you with my own theory, but I will tell you this… do not become so distracted by the possibilities of what is that we miss what we are blessed with right now. Stay alert, not consumed. Pray.

Thanks for letting me process out loud. Go Freedom of Speech!

When to Stop Seeking Freedom

It’s a strange statement. Coming from someone who resides in a country battling for every kind of freedom you can imagine. What I’m referring to is the personal journey to freedom. Ya know, the “God here’s what’s wrong with me, here’s what happened to me, now help me get freed from it”, the wrong thinking, the old memories, the wrong actions, the hardened heart, and on and on we go. I’ve been seeking freedom for nearly 10+ years. Constantly awaiting another revelation that will guide me to a better version of myself. I’m all for becoming better people, believe me, you wouldn’t like me in my 20’s, yet I probably wouldn’t have even tried to get to know anyone, as the tower walls were SOOO high, no one in, and no one out. I digress.

So freedom. Here’s the truth bomb that has been dropped on me this week. When will I stop seeking freedom and start living free? Seriously, boom.

I’m grateful for a God who encompasses perfect patience, for I would have given up on me by now. I’ve sought out every flaw you can possibly fathom, I’ve prayed out, journalized out, painted out, talked out every possible angle of my past and my current situation that I’ve literally analyzed my own life to death. My intentions were good. I just wanted to get my stuff and myself out of the way so Jesus could flow more freely from me.

Who am I to think Jesus needs my help? He doesn’t need my help. He can use whoever He wants regardless of their condition, faith, and Christian ‘rank’. Oh to be set free from preforming for God. He doesn’t desire it nor does it please him. My doing doesn’t please Him, my focus on Him pleases Him. So my attempts to “be” whatever I think God wants me to be is irrelevant. I get to be me. Just me and He will work through me just as I am.

Jesus didn’t die on the cross and say, “it is finished”, to give us a check off list of things we need to complete following “it is finished”. Here’s what I imagine we think:

“Now I need you all to go to church every day and I need you to deal with all of your past problems, reconcile everything and then you need to volunteer for everything good and then after that you need to be in bible study after bible study and then go to some retreats and get “right” with Me…. THEN, I think you’re good to go. But that may depend on your behavior between now and the end. So yeah, “It is finished” except you need to get your act together first.”

NOPE, NOPE, NOPE.

Stop the performing. Stop the seeking to be freed.

Live free.

Embrace the life God has given you. Let the Word of God renew your mind and walk this life full of the goodness that has always been there. The joy, the love, the kindness, the faithfulness, and all the fruit that is readily available 24/7. ALL of them. You don’t get just 1 or 2, you HAVE all of them within you now. (Gal 5:22-23) Go to church because you want to. Do a study because you want to. Stay home and enjoy the blessings God has given because you want to. When your want becomes focused on God’s want then it really becomes an easy choice.

What does God want from you? Time? Attention? Focus? Opportunity?

If you are a believer, your Spirit is signed sealed and delivered. It is one with the Holy Spirit. Our biggest battles will always be within our minds and this is the battle ground of will, of emotions, of thoughts.

Know who you are fighting and know who commands the army on your side. Stop living in fear and live a life free, free from past, free from future, free from present stresses. Can we surrender and trust that God really cares about us and everything that we care about? He understands all that you have been through, all that you will go through and He has a plan for all suffering, all trials, all struggle. Do you believe that? If not, I challenge you to think for a minute. Every person who has inspired you in your life has fought a battle and I bet that their journey through the battle is what drew you to them. Why can’t the same be said for your battle? God uses all for His glory, if we would just stop focusing on the hard and focus on the life and freedom that our ‘hard stuff’ offers others.

So stop seeking freedom. LIVE IT.

An Untypically Bad Day

I am fully aware that we all have bad days. Days that just are stressful, a struggle and frankly we are glad with the sun goes down on them. For tomorrow, we can start again. Yesterday was not that bad day. It was an unearthing day, a day that hit me like a 2×4 and what was really weird, it wasn’t from devastating news, it was an internal mind battle.

A few days ago my husband and I got into a confrontation over something I had said awhile ago. To me it didn’t seem like that big of a deal, to him it was something that needed to be address. And the wise man that he is, is smart enough to wait, think on it and come up with a way to have a conversation about the moment. It’s a part of him I struggle with understanding. I’m the ‘call it out’, ‘let’s fix it now’ person. For him it take a lot of courage to speak out. He’s got more grace than any person I know and sometimes his massive grace keeps him silent when someone is in the wrong. But when he chooses to speak, it always throws me for a loop as it rarely happens.

When he brought the situation to my attention I was confused and immediately began defending my word choices for that day. I went on and on, and my voice got louder and louder and when he asked me why I was getting so aggressive with my tone, I flipped. Have you ever flipped? The switch just goes off and it’s real hard to dial anything back in. I ended the conversation, and it hurt him. For the next day I reeled over my ‘valid’ reactions, my ‘valid’ responses and then this horrible darkness fell over me. I must be worthless. I must be unwanted. I’m unlovable.

The thoughts that flooded into my mind the next day were somewhere I hadn’t been in over 20 years. The darkness of self loathing, self pity, shame, guilt and all the ugly that goes with it. I contemplated leaving, as I figured no one would miss me anyway, I contemplated a life of divorce, a life secluded, a life with my children taken from me, a life of being hated, unloved, I contemplated suicide for the first time in 20 years . Like I said, it was dark, ugly and felt like I was being pushed down in a black hole by a 400 lb weight.

For the past 2-3 weeks I’ve been working on a new way to study the Bible. It’s called Inductive Bible studying. It’s deep and dives into understanding the character of God and the specifics of; who, what, when, where, how and why. I have loved it and God has been faithful in revealing much through the first 17 books of Genesis. I’ve also been praying daily for my children, for God to do an amazing work in them. I’ve been journalizing the Word of God faithfully. I’ve been diving in, seeking to know Him more.

At one point in my black hole, I began contemplating running away, and I started packing my bag. As I was packing it up, I felt a whisper, “Your called to stay Emily.” So I began putting my things back, a bit forcefully and with a fair amount of attitude. I decided through the tears of the day that something deeper was happening here and I just stated, “My God is bigger than this!” and I said it quite a few times. I got in my jeep and decided maybe going for a drive might calm my mind, I’d put some worship music on and see what happens. I just started going east. Because east is good, right?! As I drove I felt a nudge to go to my home town as a child. This is where my dad is buried. For the remainder of the hour and a half drive and cried through the music and had so many memories flood back. This wasn’t running away, this was going back. As I approached the cemetery, (by the way, I’m NOT a cemetery person. I rarely go because they aren’t really there. Just their body, their spirit has gone on.) There wasn’t a person in sight. It was cloudy, chilly and it was just me and my tears. As I processed through the time there, I said things that needed to be said to my dad, my brother, my grandparents. And I came to a grand realization, cemeteries are NOT for the dead, they are for the living. I expressed my frustrations to my dad, to my brother and to my grandparents and it was so different this time. I felt them there, I felt their understanding and I felt their peace. You see THEY are no longer battling like I am. They are free from all this junk that I’m fighting, yet some of the junk I’m fighting I believe was passed from them, on down the line, the generational junk that we all have a choice to either let it consume us or we choose to give it to God and put it to an end, and that my friends it what I did in that historical beginning for me, but not the end of me.

I got in my car, and drove back home. When I got home my husband and I were able to talk this junk out. I was also able to actually listen to him, hear his heart and have peace in knowing he wasn’t trying to make me feel unwanted, he was challenging me to become a better person. For that I am grateful. After our conversation the blackness was gone. Peace settled in and the rush of the battle was dust in the wind.

A dear friend of mine made a statement to me this morning that has rattled me, it’s giving me quite a new perspective on battles. When I told her of my horrible day, she said she was excited, because she knew REDEMPTION was coming for me. So these bad days we have, really bad, unearthing bad days are signs of tides are about to change. When the waters are rough, when we are called to get out of the boat and walk on water, as Peter did, we must remember that our God is not only going to provide the way, He is the Creator of the water, the boat, the person walking and the Protector and Guide of it all.

Be brave friends.

Blessings.

Why Go.

This past month I made my second trip to Uganda with The ManUp and Go Organization. What a blessed time it was. The overwhelming sense of love and surrender was heavy. Here’s my story.

I had originally planned to go from the get go, in fact I may have even called and started the conversation to get the ball rolling for us to return to the Women’s Conference. The call to go was huge, I couldn’t shake it. It really made no sense to me why my heart’s desire was so on fire to go back, because frankly, it’s not an easy trip. Last years experience was wonderfully hard. Wonderful in what God did through us, hard in my flesh being this crazy American put so far out of my comfort zone. So why go back? I really didn’t know why, I just knew I was suppose to go.

Fast forward a month into planning, and I discovered a schedule conflict with the trip. I was devastated and so conflicted with what to do. My daughter was going to be graduating high school and the week we would be gone would be during drop off time at college. How can I miss that? What does that say to her? As a friend told me, “God will never ask you to sacrifice your family for ministry.”

I battled. I really battled. My heart still felt called to GO, yet my brain and all my mother instincts said STAY. After much prayer and council, I decide to stay. Oh how hard it was to say, “I’m not going”.

Over the next few months I focused on my daughters accomplishments and embrace this big milestone that was upon us. I put the trip to rest in my mind and got back to living in the present. I never told her about the conflict nor did I feel it was something she needed to know about.

One month before we were to drop her off she received a letter from the University inviting her to go to Golden Days. It is a program they had just started this year. It was a program for new incoming students so they could get settled before all the other students arrive. She now had an option to go early, and that was before the team would leave for Africa. My heart jumped and I thought to myself, “Lord, do you really want me to go to Africa? How in the world am I going to raise enough money to go in less than one month? Will I even be able to find a plane ticket with my team, and how expensive is that going to be, will they let me go this late?!”

Over the next week I prayed about it and I reached out to my team leader and a few friends asking for prayers as well.

After I discussed with my daughter about going early to school, we decided this would be a great opportunity to meet new people outside of just her roommate, and get involved and comfortable with the change.

I decided I would try ‘my best’ to raise the money and if I didn’t have it all within two weeks then it just wasn’t meant to be. Over the next two weeks I reached out to a few groups of people and also did some public posts on Facebook for friends and family to donate. I needed to raise almost $4000 in two weeks. My plane tickets were going to be $700 more than the teams. I’m going to be real honest here, I really don’t like asking people for money. It is something that makes me feel so uncomfortable. But I did it and I waited. After the two weeks were up, I had not even raised $1000.

I was completely broken, devastated and wondered if I didn’t hear the call at all! Was I even hearing God? Was this desire not His but for my own selfish reasons?

In my desperation and cries, I pleaded to God to forgive me if I was being selfish. I asked Him to bless the team and protect them on their journey whether I was a part of it or not. I cried and cried, shouting out to the Lord my surrender of this desire. At the end of my prayer my phone notifications started going off. By the time my prayer was done, I had over half the money needed for the trip in my account. Okay God, I’m listening!

That afternoon my husband came home and handed me an envelope. He donated a 1/4 of the trip funds from his business. My husband! Who’s husband does that?! Many struggle supporting these trips as there is risks involved. I cried and cried. He did what God asked him to do. He knew the desire in my heart was not my own.

I only needed enough money to cover the extra part for the plane ticket. In the next week all the funds came in, in fact, more came in than was needed and it helped cover my Visa cost too.

So THIS is “Why I went.” A desire, planted by the Almighty. He knew from the beginning that there never was a schedule conflict. He also waited for me to surrender ‘my doing’ things in ‘my own’ power. He waited for me to fix my eyes on Him and keep them fixed on Him.

My lesson in all of this is wrapped up in this one statement:

Faith requires FULL SURRENDER.

Ironically the word surrender has been a large part of personal revelations this year. The Lord showed me what happens when we fully surrender our own thoughts, expectations, desires and plans. He supplied me with almost $4000 in 14 days, so I could GO and share his love and encouragement with Uganda. Every moment of this trip was love poured out to those kids, ministry leaders, and women and men we spoke with. It was not my ability to love that big, it was God’s ability to love through a surrendered vessel.

I surrendered over and over on the trip, through emotional battles, mental battles, physical battles, and over and over He supplied what I needed and more, the ability to love and encourage and serve. Only God can do that.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4: 6-7

He is so good. Be encouraged today that He has a great plan for your life. I challenge you to surrender your own plans and agendas, and have hope in a God that has an even better plan.

To each and everyone of you who partnered with me through prayers and funds, Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for listening to the call as well. Going is a joint effort. Without you, it’s not possible. Thank you, and may God abundantly bless you for your generosity.

Blessings.

Broken Examples=HOPE

I’ve thought over the years about my journey, this crazy roller coaster of a ride, with definite highs and ridiculous lows. When I was younger, in the core of my lows(drugs, alcohol, sex, lying, stealing), I struggled seeing hope, feeling hope, desiring hope, and even know what I would do with it if it found it’s way to me. At one of my lowest points in my life I recall being drawn to the Word of God. It made no sense. This broken hot mess who was making one bad choice after the other, and really was less than impressed with the church, felt compelled to open a Bible in which I had very little understanding about. It just didn’t make sense. What I can tell you is this: Over the years this book has unveiled misunderstanding after misunderstanding about my own beliefs of God and who He is.

I always thought it was a story about a bunch of perfect people. How could “I” relate to any of that… That’s when the transition started. It wasn’t about perfect people, it was about misfits, broken hearts, sinners, people who made a million mistakes and yet God loved them still. Why? How? They were horrible! The old testament was the one I struggled to connect with the most, until recent years. War, killings, murderers, betrayal, wiping out nations and tribes, these crazy rules that we could never keep… all pointing to one thing… we needed what was coming, a Savior. We couldn’t follow the rules, they were meant as a guide, we struggled in this fallen world seeking approval of man and acceptance in our stupidity. Yet God still offered us hope.

You see caricatures like David and Daniel, who were not caricatures but real people, showed us broken hearts, sacrifice, risking everything, loyalty, how a broken choice can be redeemed, how a situation as crazy as you could imagine was an opportunity to trust. It’s all so relevant, it’s been relevant from the beginning. Testimonies shared bring hope. David shared his heart, his betrayal, his broken pieces, his dumb choices all to cry out to a God who could heal his broken heart(Psalm 51 is my favorite). This book is a guide, something that lets us know that life is no black and white story. That we all have stuff and we all have an opportunity to make peace with our stuff. These people show us how real life is and how brokenness can be used to help others, and how life is about so much more than us, our situation, our hurt.

So I was drawn into the Word to heal. At the time I didn’t always understand what I was reading, and sometimes I became mad at what I was reading, frustrated with God and frustrated with people. It wasn’t until I realized that God loved me in my worst the same as in my best, that I decided this God was worth pursuing. Because frankly my worst days were embarrassing and humiliating, yet He still loved me.

I searched for love and acceptance from many people in my life, I felt judged and ashamed for a good part of my life. Afraid of my skeletons showing up when I least expected them. I started facing my choices and owning the lesson, not fixating on the choice. I started seeing my life as an opportunity to relate to others’ pain, brokenness and helping them find peace in those areas through nothing more than sharing where I was, and where I am, carrying hope within me. If all I have went through is never used to help another then what is the point of hard stuff? God is close to the brokenhearted, he wants to heal all brokenness within us, whether it was my choices or someones else’s choices that hurt me.

Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit”

So this Jesus guy, do I believe?… Yes, yes I do. God loved each and everyone of us knowing full well what we would do in our lives, and He thought we were still worth saving. THAT is love. God coming down in man form to live a limited life in flesh with us. It sounds far fetch doesn’t it? We’ve all heard about the parting seas, the ark, crumbling cities with music, and one man dying and coming alive again to save us all. You see faith is no easy thing, for it is believing the unbelievable, believing in something we do not see… or do we? I think about my life and the many times I should have died, I should have never made it through, I should have ended up less than who I am today due to circumstances. The miracles of our child born with abnormal kidneys and at 12 years old they were perfect. The child with a broken foot that 2 weeks later was no longer broken, the ‘hunch’ I had that something just wasn’t right and I drove my car to be looked at only to discover the radiator had broken, the daughter that was in a car wreck and a police officer that tells me with a pale white face, “She shouldn’t be alive.” I could go on and on over the things that are impossible in my life that God made possible. There is no dismissing miracles when you experience them yourself.

I was delivered, I was redeemed, I was brought out of a dark place. A story of attempted suicide, saved by a phone call from a stranger. I story of a drug house I should have never gotten out of, a story of violation, of betrayal, and a broken heart that learned to love again. It’s my story, my journey and only by the grace of God have I came out of any of it. It’s really a redemptive story.. a relatable story, a God story. God did this amazing thing, He gave me peace over my life. My story has allowed me ample opportunities to share hope, some parts harder than others, yet the end result is always, He brings peace, love and hope to press on.

I have limited days, as we all do. Goodness and love are hard to come by these days and even as I sit in this little office, in my home in the middle of the Midwest in a small town of 6000 people I know this is where I’m to be now. It’s my healing place, it’s where I’ve made peace with my past, and what God does next I have no idea. I trust, I wait, and when it’s time to move on I will be open to whatever that looks like. He’s used me to help people heal broken parts of their lives, to bring hope, to encourage people and most importantly, shine His light to others. That’s my call. The concern of what others ‘think’ of my past plagues me no more. I am who I am and my journey is my journey.

Some days I think, “Am I doing enough, am I working enough, am I really in the right place?” Then I remember as scripture shows, God is specific. He gives instructions to those who seek Him. David was called on because of his music and in turn he became a King, He didn’t seek it out, he trusted in the process, jail and all. Peter was called to leave everything behind Him, he wasn’t asked to go get a 40 hr a week job and make lots of money. He was called to disciple people, but only after he himself was taught. Broken people called to do great things in God’s timing. How relatable would David and Peter be had they not made any mistakes?

So I ask you, what are you being called to and what are you avoiding because of your past? May you have ears to hear the direction God is leading you into or away from. All I know is our brokenness is for a reason and that reason is to help others find hope.

Blessings.

ARTIST

The value of art.

In the beginning it was talent, recognition and the ability to do something others couldn’t easily do. It was about making what I saw and putting it to paper. A realist to the max. I started still life drawings at age 10, flowers in vases, barbie horses or perfectly colored pages. Every year I was developing my talent more and more. Always copying what I saw, or copying someone’s idea. I was always striving to be better at it than another, and I missed the boat. Art was never about being good at what I drew, it was about expression. All I was expressing was others ideas or documenting something I saw to the letter. I remember my college professors pushing technique and details. I remember them dawdling over other kids talents, so I tried to be like them, I tried to draw, paint, design and create like them. But I never found my own ‘style’. My senior year at college I remember a professor telling me, “You are a much better illustrator than graphic designer.” My degree was mainly in Graphic Design, which by the way I hated, but my brain told me it would make me more money.

My art was never about heart expression, although glimpses would creep in, a flowing line in a still life that didn’t belong… I’d erase it, or a splash of color that didn’t belong… I’d cover it up, or a bold black showing emotion of the day, and I’d lighten it making all things uniform and perfect for the normal eye.

I just wasn’t ready to be vulnerable with my art, I didn’t know how, I didn’t want to deal with my emotions, for goodness sake I was a single mom, going to school full time and working night shift. I was surviving. Who has time for self improvement or reflection when you are just trying to survive?

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20 years later, art has finally came full circle for me and what it is truly about. 3 years ago, after a hard situation at home, I had the desire to paint with nothing to look at, no details just expressing emotion, because frankly, I was pissed.  I needed an outlet and color was screaming at me in my head. My dark reds and blacks filled the canvas with a hint of yellow. And I felt so much better after I did it. It was the first time I had cried through painting my feelings out. Expression painting, it’s funny, I was always drawn to Expressionists, I just didn’t see myself as one.

Over the past 3 years I have painted from the heart, not details and realism, still life’s or technique. I’ve painted to heal some broken parts in my life, to help me on my journey. It wasn’t for money, it was for healing and it feels really good to finally get here. It isn’t about approval or accolades, it’a about expressing my heart and it’s part of healing.

And then God threw me a curve ball.  It’s my “sweet spot”, as my sister said. It’s the thing I don’t want to put a price on or do for praise, it’s what my talent was all about from the beginning. A journey of expression and healing. A way to get emotions out, a way to release my hurt or my joy. It is art therapy, I just didn’t know it.

So now I’m on a new journey and wondering what God will do with this desire He has planted in me. Not keeping it to myself, but to teach others, guide others on their emotional healing and help them do what I have done, heal with art.

God has a funny way of patiently waiting for us to see the talent He has given us and how it is meant for His glory, for good for others. I never saw art as something to use for healing, I only saw it as a raw talent that somehow was only selfishly for me. It’s not, it’s really not.

So my question to you is this: What’s your talent? What are you willing to surrender so God might breathe a new perspective into it, and what might He have in store for your talent?

I’ve been on quite a journey in self discovery. As my children grow and I search to find my identity separate from them. Seeing and expressing my value in this world apart from title: mom, wife, daughter, friend… And then I see artist. Not artist in self, artist in helping others heal. Healing arts for healing hearts. Only God can do that. May I be a vessel worthy of such a call. Yet the only title that carries any true weight is child of God, Princess of the King of Kings. So I wait for the next step from the King of Kings.

I’m excited about this next chapter in my story. How about you?

Blessings.

Let GO(D)…

We all have things that we need to let go of. Some easier than others.

Maybe it’s drinking too much soda or letting go of an idea of a perfect person, or maybe it’s letting go of a dream, or maybe it’s letting go of a loved one.

Letting go is an easy 2 word combo “LET GO”. Seems simple, yet so complex and wrapped up in emotional ties, work, expectations, relationships, etc…

My current “let go” is a soon to graduate senior daughter of mine. 18 years of mentoring, teaching, loving, disciplining, encouraging…. and now…. let go. How a mother bird can push her baby out of the nest to fly is beyond me. The PROTECTOR in me gets in the way, my internal “don’t let anything happen to your kid or you’re a bad person” protector. Anyone have that? If not, good for you. If so, I feel you. It’s a tug of war like none other. This is where the “I care about what people think of ME” comes into play. Oh if I could bury this thing and be done with it. Why do I care so much about what other parents think of me? It’s ridiculous. I’m sure it stems from the beginning of parenting…

I started out my parenting journey as a “single mom”. I felt the judgement of the world on my shoulders in the 90s. Goodness there were Dateline shows and 60 Minute specials on the “single mom” epidemic. You would have thought I was a virus. So the judgement hung over my head and apparently still does, even though I’ve been married for 20 years and have 3 kids and should be sooooo past this.

So what do I really need to let go of? My daughter or my idea of being a perfect mom? Maybe I hit a cord as my eyes are welling up a bit.  Will she be ok without me protecting her? There really is no guarantee. But I wonder…. this “perfect mom syndrome”… it sure might be getting in the way of her flying. So if letting go can be seen differently… seen as a releasing her to be who God created her to be, then maybe perfect mom syndrome can be done and be healed, so I can just be a mom.

Step 1: Admit I am not a perfect mom and be ok with failing my kids at times.

Step 2: Forgive myself for all the mistakes I’ve made over the last 22 years of motherhood.

Step 3: See my kids as separate people from me.

Step 4: One finger at a time… start letting go.

Step 5: Hold tight to this: God knew her before I did. He is never letting her go(even if she leaves this earth, He is not letting go of her). He is her protector and He does not fail her. Her will is in His hands, not mine and if something does happen, as hard as it may be, I have to trust God’s plan, His ways, His will… That’s easy to type, not easy to live. The one thing we can hold tight to and never let go of is Him.

Step 6: Realize I am not a good God, and let God do His job.

Step 7: Accept that she will go through struggles, just like everyone else. It is part of her story, her God story.

Step 8: Repeat step 1-8.

This is hard, I know it seems impossible. The risk is great, yet the risk is greater if I don’t let go… how long will I battle and hold her down. NO, I will not, NO I will NOT.

Regardless of what you’re working on letting go of, I want you to know this, if we don’t let go of our dream, our idea, our expectation, or whatever it might be, how will we ever know what might be re-birthed in our life? What might God have for us that is being reborn in our own journey? For me I have to realize that God has plans for my daughter, yet I believe he also had plans for me. How might I ever see the new plan if I can’t let go of what needs to be let go of? So I encourage you to hope for what is next. Trust that the a dying dream just might be reborn into an even better one.

To the moms and dads out there… regardless of WHAT you are letting go of… take off one finger at a time, little by little, step by step, know that the risk of holding on is greater than the risk of letting go. Trust the God of everything, He gave up His own son, He knows what it’s like to let go, and His letting go saved you and me.

Be blessed.

Holey Weak

Yep, I spelled that wrong on purpose.

This week has been a doozy. I’ve yelled at my husband more than I’d care to admit, my daughters car had flat tire repairs numerous times, we gave the government a LOT of money this week(the joy of entrepreneurship)… yay April 15(imagine my eyes rolling), and I have just struggled getting anything completed. It’s been annoyances and distractions more than anything. In the grand scheme of things, it’s really not been that bad. I’ve been letting unrealistic expectations get the best of me. Some moments feel like I’m just trying not to loose my s^@t verses seeing a blessing in the chaos. I have felt weak, I have felt off, my schedule has felt like a piece of Swiss cheese, it’s just got a lot of holes in it.

So this Holy Week thing has me thinking. Makes sense, in the spiritual realm, that things would be chaotic. I mean it’s only the most important week in all of Christianity. It’s the fulfillment of prophecy, it’s the key to unlocking the Old Law and freeing us with the New Law. The veil is torn, the Holy of Holies is now open to everyone. It’s a pretty big deal. Jesus death is vitally important to our salvation. He suffered betrayal, physical abuse, mental abuse, was beaten so badly and then brutally nailed to a cross. At any time He could have called out to God and said, “NOPE, NOT DOING IT! THEY AREN’T WORTH IT!!” But He didn’t, because to Him(God in human form) We were worth it, we are worth it.

I use to struggle with Jesus. I doubted His part in the big plan. I questioned whether He was REALLY God’s son, and also God Himself. The trinity perplexed me, the far-fetched historical references of conception and miracles made it a hard ‘sell’ for me. It wasn’t until I discovered my Jewish roots that it all started making sense why I doubted Christ. My great great great etc… grandfather was a Rabbi for goodness sake. The family line, the generational stronghold of questioning if Jesus was the fulfillment of prophecy was ‘gifted’ to me on down the line. The Wittenberg spiritual genes were causing a bit of a riff in my belief system. I never doubted that there was a God. Always knew there was definitely a bigger power in charge. For me it took nothing but a sunrise or sunset to believe that.  But this Jesus person… I struggled. So holes in my belief system and doubt sure didn’t make my faith journey easy.

So all this suffering Christ went through, it just didn’t make sense to me WHY would he do that? Why go through the agony of suffering when your DAD is GOD!? That’s what got me every time. God loved us that much. To take it all upon Himself in human form so we could have a personal relationship with Him, with Christ and gift us the Holy Spirit. To live this life not just WITH God, but with God WITHIN us. *Mind blown*

When I watched the movie, The Case for Christ, for the first time it was very eye opening in my doubting Thomas scientific mind(I admit, I’ve watched it several times). The scientific documentation on the amount of people that witnessed not only His death but also saw Him after He had died was enough to cut the doubt tie for me. So many accounts for Him as a risen Savior. So many copies of the manuscripts over and over accounting the same thing. All the “he said she said” went out the door when I discovered so many people said the same thing, like 500 plus accounting the events happening at that time, they were there!!

I want you to know it’s ok to battle this faith out. It’s ok to ask questions, it causes us to dig in deeper. THAT is how a relationship is developed and THAT is what Christ wants, a relationship, not head knowledge… a relationship. The closer you get to Him the easier it is to make those right choices, to fight for your peace, to repent, reset, renew, repeat.

So back to my craptastic week…

It has felt yucky, disconnected, chaotic and my moods have been all over the place. But I’ve battled, I’ve fought to get to peace, and by fight I mean surrender it to God. I’ve taken my crappy mood and told God, “Dude, I’m sorry, I’m just struggling.” He knows, he knows, and I think to myself, Jesus had a pretty rough Holy week too!(Read Luke 22!) Imagine what Jesus went though during holy week. One day everyone is waving palm branches at you and singing Hosanna, and then a few days later one of your own closest to you betrays you… for money!! And another denies you, and then the cross. All for this… Fulfillment of prophecy. It had to happen and He knew it was going to happen. The suffering had to happen, so we could be saved from ourselves. You are saved because of Him, not because of yourself and your own doing. His brutal beating, betrayal, death and all …. for you, He is in the business of saving souls.

Now we get to choose.

Do we believe that this man is God, and that this Jesus is also the Son of God? Do we believe not only IN Him, but BELIEVE HIM? Even though we don’t know everything, or understand everything, (for who can understand the full mind and ways of Christ?) can we believe and leave our understanding to Him? Can you be all-in to a God that gave up His own Son? Can you be all-in to a God that loves you so much and KNOWS your suffering, for HE HIMSELF suffered for you? Can you be all-in when life seems full of holes and you seem just TOO weak to get through this week?

I challenge you to receive the gift of Christ this Holy Week. No performance can make you worthy of it. Accept that He did it for you and expects nothing in payment. He is the payment. And now, we get to live as a receivers of Christ, and do this: Let love flow to us, and through us. Live in the Spirit, love in the Spirit and let the Spirit flow in and through you. And maybe those holes can be filled with God’s light and maybe in our weakness we can truly let Him be strong.

I hope you have a blessed Holy Week.

Let Him Shine.