A Diamond in the Rough

A non-Christmas related post… or maybe it is… He is my salvation, my Savior, He came to set the captives free… He is the HOPE for all of us…

Process… process… process… It’s daily, it’s moment to moment… It’s renewal, reset… freedom of the mind is hard work… yet freedom… is worth it!

and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. Is 61:3

It’s a statement I’ve heard a million times… a diamond in the rough… I thought of it as beauty found in darkness or ugliness. The Lord keeps revealing to me more and more about diamonds… and understanding what they symbolize.

It takes 725,000 lbs of pressure per square inch to make a diamond. They are the hardest natural material in the world. The can be crushed by a hydraulic press, they can get lost, and they can be shattered, but they are NOT easily broken. So what does all of this mean….

I’m going to talk to you about something very hard. Infact I’ve never written about it…. It’s been over 20 years, yet it still affects my life. To stay silent many times is good, but to be silent can also destroy you from the inside out.  I knew I had some “issues” that were hard, mostly trust issues. My husband has been a patient man in my emotional rollercoaster of life. You see, this one event has left me with one thing I haven’t been able to get past yet…. yet…. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from a sexual assault. My triggers are far and few between which is a good thing… but when it happens, I make no sense, I accuse people I love of trying to destroy me and anyone I love. It’s an ugly reaction that as soon as I feel it boiling up inside of me, I know it’s not normal, that it’s not right, that I hit an emotional level that many would not put up with. I’ve always wondered why God managed to pair my husband and I up, but I know why, he knows this man’s patience. I’ve gotten better, but not all better. I really don’t know that all better is an option and I have to be ok with that. We are learning the triggers and this last one was a doozy. I’ve been crying like crazy to think that this “event” is still affecting me, that I still have fears and trust issues after 20 years even though I have this amazing man and kids in my life.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Rms 8:18

I’m sure over the years my children have wondered what was wrong with me, why I’d fly off the handle at the weirdest things and that something as simple as hearing someone say “NO” multiple times could throw me into an emotional rage. For many don’t consider that we all function in life looking through our own lenses, “experience lenses”, and my lenses need to be replaced. They are broken and scratched and scared and I can’t see clearly. So I asked God to get rid of my glasses. I don’t want to see with damaged lenses anymore. I want to love how I should and stop living in fear of “what if”…

I share for one reason only, I want others to know you are not alone. I want you to know that when you get emotionally unstable that there is an amazing God to turn to and He can help you heal, one episode at a time. It’s a slow process, I truly believe essential oils have helped along with many prayers, the pleading prayers to not feel like this anymore. (The limbic system of our brain hold our emotional library… it can only be accessed and opened for release through the sense of smell(Olfactory bulb)… it’s an amazing thing God created.. I’m thankful for learning this!) I don’t want to lash out anymore out of fear. I don’t want to rage anymore because of fear. I just want to love and trust that this life I have has a purpose and that with Christ I can be free, as anyone can be freed.

So beauty found in darkness or ugliness. The 725,000 lbs of pressure per square inch to make a diamond. We are strong in this world, with Christ as our strength. We can be crushed at time, become lost at times, but WE are NOT easily broken.  I pray for you, we are diamonds in the rough and we are being made into a beautiful creation.

One of the hardest thoughts throughout my life has been grasping the fact that God didn’t stop it. What I know is this, He was with me in my suffering, He suffered along with me and He hurts that I hurt. I survived, I am here today, I am no longer trapped in that moment, and I tell myself this frequently. We live in a fallen world friends and evil is after every one of us. We have to know that if we stand together and help others to find emotional and spiritual healing that many will be free. My suffering will help someone. Your suffering will help someone and someday we will suffer no more. Stay strong and know that you are loved.

But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction. Job 36:15

 

Notice is says delivers “IN” not from…. We are being delivered… be willing.

Blessings.

Totality

What a bunch of HYPE over this crazy eclipse! Ugh… what a battle I had internally as to go or not go. The path of totality was 2 hours from my home. Do I dare take the drive through insanity to be a spectator like everyone else? It reminds me of going to a World Series game. People just kind of go a bit crazy.

My largest battle was my spiritual inner turmoil. As a photographer I wanted to go ‘capture’ it, as a believer I wanted to go ‘experience’ it. My inner dialog went something like this…. “GO!!” Then “Don’t, just stay home.” and back and forth and back and forth. This went on for months. As my friends were encouraging me to go, and I was a bit resistant, only out of ‘fear’ of getting caught up in the HYPE instead of the glory of God’s beauty, I struggled. I did not plan to go and decided I would make up my mind when I made up my mind… I’ve been known to do things last-minute…

August 21st arrived and around 6:10am I saw out my bedroom window the cloud formations which I knew would be spectacular lighting for a sunrise, so I jumped in the jeep and drove down the road about 1/2 a mile and snapped a few shots. God’s glory was shining bright in Kansas!! His presence was felt!!

IMG_8640

So August 21st at 9:30am after my morning walk with my dear friend I decided to go to the blackout zone, knowing full well the clouds were out and I may see nothing, which in turn took my mind from ‘capture’ to ‘experience’. I wasn’t planning on seeing the total eclipse because of the clouds, I was more excited about feeling and experiencing the environment around me during totality. I also thought this would be a great experience for my son. I asked him if he could get ready in 20 minutes and if he’d like to experience this eclipse with me.

IMG_8651

My son and I left for Nebraska and took the “road less traveled”, it went straight up from Kansas to a small town NOT on the NASA website map. The roads were not bad at all and we made pretty good time. The eclipse had already started when we arrived in the totality zone. There were a few “parties” going on in Fairbury, and we decided to keep on driving towards Western, NE. I chose to turn on a dirt road about 5 miles out of Fairbury and travel east. NOT A SOUL IN SIGHT! So we pulled off along the dirt road and got out to see what we could see. This is what we saw.

As beautiful as this storm was, after about 20 minutes we realized the storm was moving towards us. We jumped in the jeep and headed back south on the dirt road trying to escape the rain.

About 2 miles south we stopped again and looked around on the muddy sand road. I gazed down the road looking for a sign of light peeking through the clouds and my son and I realized we were about 15 minutes from totality. I saw a field about 1/2 a mile south that looked as if it was lit up. So we jumped in the vehicle and drove. As we approached the ‘spot’, to the east was corn, to the west was a beautiful pond/lake. We decided to get out and make this our observation spot. Regardless if we saw the sun or not it was a beautiful spot! The boy of course has to go explore the corn, to see if it was ready, and within the next 5 minutes the skies began to change. The clouds cleared enough to see the sun. My son grabs his glasses and says, “MOM, it’s almost totality!” We notice the rainbow ring around the sun and the colors began to change.

IMG_8658IMG_8675

The process through those SECONDS was amazing… I took a few photos during the eclipse(a total of 101 for the whole time.. that’s not many for me!) The horizon lit up like a sunset at 360 degrees. Bursting orange and yellow up to the darkness. The one thing I didn’t anticipate was the wind gust. When it went dark, like someone switched off a light, the wind blew and it wasn’t a light wind, it was a GUST! It took my breath away. If you research the word “Spirit” in the hebrew and greek language many times it is referred to as ‘wind’…. friends…. it was something I’ve never experienced before. The sheer beauty around us of the skies, the eclipse, the temperature, the sounds, the feeling was unbelievable. Peace be still.

To stand in the awe of something so unique and God divine made me wonder how the world can question His existence and authority. The one resounding thought I’ve had the last few days is the importance of understanding His authority and the importance of renewing our minds each day.

 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2 

Read, Repent, Renew, Repeat.

IMG_8696IMG_8695IMG_8709

I grabbed my other camera and lens, the cheaper one with the most zoom, to see if I could possibly get a photo of the eclipse up close. I took 8 photos and put it down. I figured if I got it great, if not I need to SEE THIS MYSELF and absorb the amazing environment around me. Much to my surprise once totality had passed and I looked at my camera screen, this was on it(see below). God opened a door for us to see.

“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

IMG_8703-3

So all of this to share with you my takeaway:

#1 The importance of respecting our Creator.

#2 Do not put Him in a box, He has the ability to bring us amazing opportunities, even if we don’t plan it.

#3 Lastly, the sheer amazement of God our Father who is authority over ALL, who is Creator of all, who is the One that let His Son die for US. When Christ died He took on the weight of the world’s sins, HE took our sins and placed them upon Himself so WE could be saved.

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24

The eclipse was a great perspective reminder of how BIG our God is and how WE must submit to His will and authority.

totality

I challenge you to find Totality:

A totality in seeking Him in His Word, a totality in loving as He loves, a totality in repentance, a totality in renewal, a totality in freedom in Christ.

To GOD be the GLORY.

Blessings.

BE “YOU” TY

This one’s for you mom.  I love you.

Where do I start?  Such a hard thing to talk about…. Beauty.

Beauty is in the bible.  It talks of beautiful people who did great things.  I think of Esther, she was beautiful and risked her life to save her people(Learn more about Esther in the Book of Esther) and David was a man after God’s own heart(Learn more about David in 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 Kings and 1 Chronicles).  These two were beautiful inside and out.  It also speaks of beautiful people who were hurt, died, abused and how beauty can be used in negative ways.

Such a complicated thing beauty is.  It can be such a wonderful thing, such a blessing, but it can also be used to hurt people by manipulation and control.  It can also become an obsession.

What has today’s world done to pure beauty, inner and outer beauty?  Innocent beauty.  Do we even know what that is?

IMG_6346

About 2 months ago my mother was diagnosed with skin cancer.  Most would roll their eyes and say, “It’s just skin cancer, it’s not like you’re going to die.”  And they’re correct, only a very tiny percent of  severe cases would risk death.  Most skin cancer is removed with a simple procedure and some basic stitching and a little time and all is back to normal.

My mom went in for her second biopsy after the initial discovery of cancer.  At this point they were to remove the remaining cancer cells and stitch her up and be done.  That didn’t happen.  The doctor stopped after taking almost 1/2 of her nose and wanted a second opinion before going any further.  My mom was sent home with an unfinished procedure.  Can you imagine, and not just for a day, for a few days?  Finally the doctor had his second opinion and had discovered the cancer was MUCH more aggressive than they originally thought.  She was devastated.  How could a person not be?  You go in for a simple procedure and come out with 1/2 your nose gone and at that moment you know that you most likely will never look quite the same. One procedure turned into 4 procedures.  I prayed for my momma, I worried about her mind, her heart, her spirit.  You see,  my mother has always taken good care of her skin and all of herself.  She is a beautiful woman.  I’ve had a gazillion people tell me over the years that I look like my mom…. that is such a compliment.

As I was worrying about my mom, wondering if she would ever be the same (not worrying about the outside but the inside) this is what she told me.  “The cancer is gone, they got all the cancer out and that’s what matters.”  It was at that moment I could see my moms true inner beauty.  She doesn’t have to have a perfect nose or perfect hair, or perfect anything, she is a beautiful person for the person she is.

Following the final removal of cancer she was then set up for plastic surgery.  When I use to hear “plastic surgery” the first thing that came to mind was a breast enlargement, a face lift or a tummy tuck.  Not anymore.  For my mother it was not a choice, it had to be done.  They had to make her a nose, recreate something that had been taken away, because of cancer.  This is where my anger kicked in and the rant in my mind began.  Was it right?  No.  Am I being honest? Yes.  These were my thoughts that I struggled through,

How have we become so vain?  How do we desire to alter what God has given us?  How are we not grateful for the bodies we have been given?  Are we not insulting God when we choose to be God ourselves?  There are people who are disfigured, that are burn victims, that have to have plastic surgery to some how live as normal life as possible.

In my anger for what my mom had been through these were my thoughts and my judgments, which I know better, who am I to judge?  Not my job, that’s God’s job.  After seeing what my mom has went through it’s hard not to see things differently though.  I realize some people have plastic surgery for self-esteem, others it signifies change, others it’s for medical reasons and many other reasons.

My heart screams for us to see each other the way God sees us.  He sees us for who we truly are in our hearts, in our spirits.  I guess we can’t see each other the way God sees us, because we are not God.  But I try to imagine it; sin free, flaw free, in our perfect form……

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:18

So this beauty thing, this beauty plastered on a billboard and perfection created by Photoshop and movies portraying perfect bodies and perfect faces that stress out almost every 12-90 year old woman I know….. It bothers me.

My own vanity is brought to the forefront as I think of the time and money I spend on makeup, hair products, gym memberships, clothes, etc.  Am I telling you to stop using all of that, No.  I’m just letting you know thoughts in my head, struggles I’m dealing with.  I can’t imagine I will stop wearing make up or stop taking care of my hair.  But maybe I won’t be so critical of myself, maybe I’ll give myself a break and be thankful and spend a few more minutes smiling instead of stressing out that my hair is looking flat today.  We get so wrapped up in exterior beauty that we can’t see, nor do we take time to see, inner beauty in others or in ourselves.  There has to be a balance between taking care of the one body we are given and not obsessing about it.

Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.  Romans 12:1

The one thing that gave me hope for our future, for our kids generation was how my 17-year-old son handled seeing his grandma during probably the hardest time of the healing, when she was “unfinished” and still had the final procedure to go.  She was disfigured and looked so different from the person I or my children had ever seen.  When she came over to our house she didn’t expect the kids to be there. they had the day off from school.  As soon as she saw my kids she covered her face with her hand and looked away.  My 17-year-old son said this:

“Stop it grandma and come give me a hug.  I don’t care what you look like.”

And he grabbed her and wrapped her up in his arms and just like that my hope was restored in a simple sentence and act of kindness.

My challenge to you is this; look at hearts, not at faces and bodies.  See others for who they are not how they look.  Give yourself a break, be thankful for what God has given you and take care of your temple.

Love with blind eyes and ever seeing hearts.

I will never look at a scar or a disfigure the same again, for I ask God to let me see through the outside and to the inner beauty of a person.  I will spend a few less minutes critiquing myself and a few more minutes being renewed in my mind.

God loves you, just as you are.

“Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:16

Blessings!