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I release you!

white and red plastic heart balloon on sky during daytime

In the last couple of weeks I have jokingly called myself the “Pied Piper” of anxiety. I’ve had countless students and parents in my office and do you know what always comes up…..anxiety. Dark….smelly……dirty…..ANXIETY! I decided a couple of years ago that I refused to hide in the dark and that I would use my anxiety for GREATNESS! You heard me…..GREATNESS! I would overcome, I would defeat and I would share my story with others.  No longer would I hide in shame about my anxiety! No longer would I minimize  it! I’m not going to lie….when I decided to do this my anxiety actually got worse.  It did not want to let go! It had made it’s home and I would have to fight to get out from it’s grasp.

For so long I had told myself, I have anxiety and anxiety defined who I was.  I was no longer a person, I was a person with anxiety. It was my persona and often even my excuse.  It wrapped itself around me and became infused and charred in my DNA.  I never thought I could break myself free of it, but just exist, hide and control it.  Do you have something you like to control? Maybe it’s not anxiety.  Maybe it’s depression or some kind of dependency.  You try to control every aspect of it, but the truth is….if you don’t bring it into the light (and continue to hide it in shame and darkness), it is actually controlling you.  You think that you have the upper hand, but in reality it is pressing down on you and controlling your every breath.

So what do you do?   How do you move on from a life that has consumed you for so long and has become who you are? Maybe you just say goodbye…that’s what I did.  No really! I wrote my old self a goodbye letter and gave it permission to move on, because I did not need it anymore.  You see, the self we release served a purpose somewhere down the line.  Maybe it was for self preservation, the result of trauma or wall we built up for protection.  Whatever it’s purpose, it can still be released!

My Letter to Myself:

Dear Capable Jen,

I want to thank you for all that you’ve done for me and I want to say sorry for everything you had to endure.  You had to learn to be strong and hold in your emotions in order to survive.  You had to endure a childhood that lacked the nurture that you craved and that left you feeling abandoned and sad.  You were taught ideals that were not true and you learned things by watching those around you.  Many of which, were lies.  You put on a smile and sucked up your way through life. 

You were strong when you heard the pooping of the alcohol in the morning, when your mom wouldn’t play with you, when she didn’t want to spend time with you, watch you play or just connect with you.  You were strong, as you watcher her hallucinate and come to her worst.  You dealt with a verbally abusive father, who filled your head with lies and tried to control you with his fears.  You took care of yourself when they abandoned you and did everything an adult would do, when you were still a child. 

You smiled as you were made fun of, teased and tried to fit in and were lost.  You worked hard at school and were always the optimal employee.  You strived for the attention of men and the praise from those around you.  You held strong through a verbally and emotionally abusive marriage, that left you abandoned again. 

You have endured so much and I wouldn’t be where I am without you.  However, it’s time to let you go.  I’m safe now.  I have people who love me for me, an amazing family, have forgiven my parents and have a deeper relationship with God.  It’s time for you to leave and let amazing, beautiful,, funny, and caring Jen move into and fulfill the destiny God has for her.  I’m fine now.  I need you to leave my backpack, because it’ time to give you up as I walk up the mountain.  I need to finish this journey as Jen.  The new Jen.  The Jen who loves herself and who is ENOUGH!.  Who doesn’t have guilt, to please people, and who strives for the glory of God.  The Jen who is kind to herself because she has done nothing wrong. 

Father God, I ask that you take capable Jen by the hand and cover her with your feathers.  Give her the love she so desperately needed all these years and take her hand.  Fly her into heaven.  Take good care of her, because she has endured so much! Capable Jen, go and be free! Don’t worry about me.  You have done your job and now it’s time to fly home.  To a home you always longed for and never got.  Father God, I release capable Jen to you and ask that you take all of her with you!  

Now here’s the hard part.  After you say goodbye….it’s time to forgive! To forgive those who have hurt you, to forgive yourself and maybe even forgive God.  Because it’s when we forgive, that we encounter true freedom! Freedom from our oppressors and freedom from ourselves!

Trial by Fire

firewoods on fire

Often we find ourselves on the brink of disaster and ruin, but we trudge through the muck and keep going.  Why? What keeps us going? Is it the belief that it is for the greater good? That our struggles make us stronger? That we need to keep walking and the journey will get easier along the way? I think it’s all of the above.

As we walk or trudge along on this journey called life, we can choose to complain about our sore feet or we can choose to dance as we climb.  Often I dance through life with a song in my head that only I know the beat to and no words exist to go along with the melody.  It’s just my song and it’s there for just me.  That’s how our journey is sometimes. It’s meant for just us, but that does not mean it cannot change your family or make generational changes.  When I first started this journey God promised me that he would make a generational change and that the dark seed of anxiety would stop with me.  So when I stood alone in the darkness and my feet did not want to carry me any further, I often would look inside and keep walking for those that will come after me. I refused and still refuse to pass this down to my children! It has and will stop with me!

My husband and I decided awhile ago that we wanted to make generational changes in our children.  We love our families, our beliefs and our traditions, but we wanted to parent differently. And that’s OK! It’s OK to be the barrier breakers, the change makers and it’s even OK to stir the pot once in awhile (I give you permission).  Just because it has always been, does not mean it has to persist! I refuse to be told that my anxiety is generational and I will not let it be an excuse for what I do or do not do! It will not be my crutch, my band-aide or my shackle.  It actually is what catapulted me into my journey to freedom.

How can this be? How can a positive come out of something that is so negative? Anxiety has been that nag, that dull ache that we often notice.  It goes away and comes back, but it’s never that bad…so we just go on with it.  We don’t realize that it’s building up inside of us.  We think that we are controlling it, but really it is the one controlling us.  Piece by piece it breaks us down and piece by piece we loose ourselves.  Until we get to a point where our foundation is unsteady and it only takes a small wave to send us out to sea.  That is what happens when we rest our foundations on shaky ground and never take the time to repair them.  Sometimes we need to come to the end of ourselves to find ourselves and this is not necessarily a bad thing.  It’s a BLESSING! A blessing that we never would have arrived at, if we did not have to be rebuilt.

Being rebuilt is a slow, agonizing and often painful process.  But it’s also so BEAUTIFUL! You get to decide what you will look like, who will be a part of your process and how you will unveil the newest masterpiece. Being sent into the fire is a GIFT, even though we will get scorched and burnt because we were meant to rise from the ashes.  We were meant to be reborn and to evolve.  Did you ever think that tragedy was meant to TRANSFORM us and allow us to rebuild.  To rebuild our hearts, our minds and maybe even our bodies.

Are your feet feeling hot because the fire of life is burning beneath? Take a deep breath, look to the heavens, smile and keep walking! Yes, it might hurt! Yes, you will have to work for it! Yes, it might me agonizing! But if you never experienced tragedy, you would not know the sweet taste of victory, love, and grace!

Remember you are LOVE! You are LOVED and are meant to LOVE! However, you cannot love, if you don’t love yourself first! Every dirty, singed and ash ridden piece. Each piece serves a purpose and each piece is part of the beautiful MOSAIC called YOU!

Freedom does not come FREE!

low section of man against sky

Did you know that you were born free? That you were not created to be bound by your hands, your feet nor your mouth! You were created to fly high and soar over mountains! You were created to stand out! To Shine! And most importantly to GLITTER! What do all of these things have in common? They are things that should not be hidden in the dark. They should be set out for all those to see and for the world to appreciate.  Why then do people lose their sparkle? Why do nuggets of gold grow tarnished and are thrown to the side in reckless abandonment?

So many things in life cause our souls to tarnish and our hearts to grow hard.  Many are caused by the circumstances of life, the pain inflicted by others and the pain we continue to cause to ourselves. We cause ourselves PAIN? YES! ABSOLUTELY! We cause ourselves pain when we choose to not move on, to take ourselves out of a bad situation, when we don’t listen to that small still voice inside of our heads and when we don’t listen to the wise counsel of others.  Pride often gets in our way and hinders our advancement to the mountaintops.  What then shall we do?  In order to break the chains of circumstance, betrayal, lies, deceit and misery, we need to look inwards to see what we need to do in order to be the catalyst to be our own fire that will melt that chains that entrap us.  WE can be our own blacksmith and WE can hammer away at the iron that holds us down and prevents us flying like HE created us to. You were meant to soar, not slither nor glide.  Soaring takes accuracy, wind, speed and endurance. Most of these things you need to be able to do on your own and the rest comes from HIM.

As I have been walking on this journey, I learned so many things about myself and realized I had so much to unearth! I had been underground for 36 years and it was going to take some effort to be fertilized and grow.  It was not going to happen overnight, but it was going to be a process.  A process of reflection, insight and hard work.  I was going to have to dig down deep, if I wanted to reap the rewards.  Do you have to work hard? NOPE…not at all…..not if you want to keep doing the same thing over and over again….expecting the same result (see what I did there).  Did you read the title? Freedom does not come free! It comes at a cost and often it costs us our pride and the things that we thought were most crucial to our existence.  Once all of those have been stripped down and washed away…then and only then can we truly be free.

Freedom has to be constantly worked on, you cannot become free and just leave it at that.  You have to constantly turn inward and ask yourself if you are becoming bound to someone or something.  You have to be honest with yourself and honest with others.  Freedom can be a dirty business and often we need the help of others to get clean.

I know that for some people the unspeakable has happened to them. That they have fallen to the hands of abuse (physical and mental), lies, corruption, torment and pain.  However, you can still be FREE! Who the son sets free is free indeed! You can choose to take that initial step into freedom! Come join me on the journey to freedom! Will it be easy? Nope…but it’s so worth it.  To see a world that glitters in gold and when you can find the gold dust amongst our fellow weary travelers is an amazing sight to see. I am a firm believer that our journey is not in vain and that it gives us authority to speak to others who have been or who are on the path that we are or have traveled.  Your journey is not in VAIN! It’s the roadmap that others need, in order to find their way to the top of the mountain.  You hold the key! Will you choose to turn it or will you wear it around your neck as adornment and use it as an excuse that you rings in the ears of all those around you? It’s your choice! You can either choose freedom or choose to stay shackled! What will it be? What will be your freedom’s song? What will you sing from the mountaintop? It doesn’t matter what tune! Because not matter what, it will still be a beautiful melody that calls those around you home.

Sing with me! I AM FREE…..but the question lies in whether you will choose to be!

Darkness does not stand a chance…if you have light.

This weekend represented so much to my husband and me. It was some much needed time together and it also represented VICTORY! Many times as I laid in a heap of tears, anger, fear and confusion, I wondered if my life would ever be the same again and if my marriage would survive this wrecking ball because you have to be destroyed in order to be rebuilt.

My husband often asked if we would ever be able to go out again, plan, have adventures and travel. The truth was I didn’t know. I had no idea how I would come out of this, but God promised me I would and I held onto that promise. Because that promise was the only thing that kept me going and that promise extinguished the flames of darkness that smoldered in my brain every minute of the day. Some days I had to remind myself of that promise every minute, every hour and sometimes every second. I had to hold onto it because I was afraid if I let go, I would fall deeper into the abyss of nothingness and despair.

My husband would occasionally speak his fear because he too was afraid of me letting go and watching me fall down the rabbit hole. Even if he didn’t speak it, the fear and worry was written all over his face. He had to stay strong, but his body often gave him away. Fear engulfs everyone around you like a title wave, but the beauty of the wave is that it takes everything with it out to sea. You can either choose to get lost in the ocean or let it strip you clean of everything. Shame, humility, fear and embarrassment. It will either bring you to your knees or sweep the grains of sand right from beneath your feet.

The absence of fear never really exists because fear does serve an intended purpose….if we let it. It stains all the areas of weakness that are present and allows us to see where it’s creeping in and how we need to stop it in its path.

For me control was the big catalyst of my fear and the fear of losing control stoked my anxiety.

I heard God telling me that I was trying to control things that were beyond my control. He controlled the wind, the waves and the seas. I could not control everything. He told me that giving up control was my biggest vice and it would be my greatest victory. I could not control the sun or the moon..only he could. The earth rotates because He told it to. Life was not up to me and not everything could be planned. It had served me well, but it was time to let it go.

Control would will strangle you like a serpent and leave you dead in its wake. You cannot control people, you cannot control things and I could not control Him. He had a plan and a purpose, but I just hadn’t seen it. He created the heavens and the earth with a purpose and did the same with you and me. Victory would be mine, but patience was key.

I needed to delight in the small victories and the miracles that had been happening around me. They were not in vain, but were there to lead me to victory.

I needed to lean on those around me because my weakness gave them strength. Strength to falter, strength to make mistakes and strength to ask for help. He was glorified through my weakness because he sent people to help me. I needed to open my eyes and heart and..shut my mind off. My mind is an amazing tool, but it was destroying me at that moment. My heart needed to lead the way and the door needed to be opened.

There would be no more have tos or obligations…only joy. He did not create me with guilt..only love. I had shut love off a long time ago because it was easier then getting hurt. I need to love with my whole heart and not just part of it. Love was a gift and a great power. When I truly love it emanates from my body and the people around me feel it. That’s true love. Sustaining love. Soul quenching love. I needed to go out and love out of joy and not obligation. Love is not forced. It is the holiest of gifts. A gift not everyone deserves to the fullest extent. It was time to change my mental framework and view myself like He did. Like my husband did. He created me and he did not create a mistake. I was to love myself, like I loved others. I was to choose joy because heavens gates are opened with love and so are our spirits.

When you love out of joy, that shows your true leadership. A forced love never shines. It was time to shine my light and let my heart lead the way. Darkness does not stand a chance in the light of love. It slithers and hides because it’s blinded by the glory.

Heaven was not formed out of guilt, but out of His love for mankind. A father loves his children like no other and I would feel this love again. He promised me that I would twirl and dance and laugh until my sides hurt because it was music to a father’s ears

He delighted in my joy, my happiness and splendor. Love would grow like a fire being stoked by the wind. I just needed to take down the barriers that were blocking it. Once I did this I would see His glory.

Glory was not meant for heaven alone, but the people on earth. My family had taught me obligation and guilt. I needed to unlearn it. I needed to learn to love myself without guilt or condemnation because I was teaching my children to love themselves. My children could not do this if I did not love and nurture myself. Mind, body and spirit.

I had abused my body no longer. It could not go on. I needed to heal in order to love again, but healing would come from the inside. I needed to love myself like he loved me, not because He has to but because I bring Him great joy! Not for what I do, but because of the person He created me to be. I needed to love others in the same way.

  • Choose truth instead of guilt, shame and condemnation.
  • Release my old self and look towards my new self.
  • Sever soul ties with people and events.
  • Picture guilt, shame and condemnation and handing them over to God. Asking God what he wanted to replace them with.

The Wilderness is a GIFT from God

creek in a forest

The wilderness is not meant to kill you, but challenge your beliefs, your lies and your faith.  The wilderness provides a nurturing environment for those that inhabit it, but it can also be our worst nightmare.  The harder we hold on, the harder it is to make it out.  The wilderness provides a platform for miracles and if we don’t stop to appreciate them, they will extinguish like the light from a fire fly.  Miracles happen all around us and everyday we miss them, because we are too busy with the “what next” and don’t appreciate the “here” and “now.”

Miracles are meant to be shared to give HOPE to the HOPELESS and belief to the nonbelievers.  For God is the fisher or men.  Those who walk in faith will witness his miracles and revel in their beauty.

Life is full of miracles, but we need to take the time to see every flower He has created,  bird that flies and creatures under the sea.  Everything serves a purpose and was not created in vain.  He has a plan for the creatures of the world, just like he has a plan for our lives.  A plan for prosperity and abundance.

Often you need to lose yourself, in order to find it.  I have been lost for a long time and I have finally made my way back home.  Father God has been patiently waiting for me.  Patience is a gift a parent has, but its not easy when our children struggle, but its in their struggles that they become STRONG.  STRONG of heart, STRONG of mind and STRONG of faith.

Life has a purpose and a plan.  The heavens are open and are waiting to delight in your splendor. For YOU are HIS greatest treasure.  You have been crafted out of the finest wood.  Meant to weather the storm and for people to marvel at HIS creation.

The wilderness provides so much beauty and so much strength.  If you can make it through the wilderness, you can make it through anything.  Everything has a purpose and every person serves a greater plan.  A plan for greatness and gratitude.  He has loved you from the day you were born and he will love you all the days of your life.  For you are special and created to do great things.

Accept your destiny and listen to His words.  Be deaf no longer.  For the kingdom of heaven awaits, as it meets earth.

Trials are not meant to break you, but to make you WHOLE again and bring you back HOME.  Where you were always meant to be.  Be deaf no longer….be blind no longer!  Open your heart to the  heavens, because heaven has been waiting for you.  You were lost, but now are found.  Were blind, but now see.

Live with your eyes wide open and see the splendor of His majesty.  For He is the Lord your God.  Your Father, your Redeemer and your true Love.  He will not leave you lost, but you need to look inside yourself in order to be found.  He can only guide you! You need to finish the journey on your OWN!

The landscape has been harsh, but you WILL SUCCEED! Climb on out of the wilderness and marvel at where you came from and where you are meant to be.

Because it is on the mountaintop that we can see how far we’ve come and what lays before us.  The wilderness isn’t so dark, once we learn to climb towards the LIGHT.  The eternal light.  The light that has been glowing in US all along! It has flickered for awhile, but the wind has died down and now it’s glowing strong! Strong enough to light the way and to help others see the path.

KEEP your light burning strong and stoke the flame with HIS wood.  For He is the way . the truth and the light.  He will always guide you home!

Are you in a wilderness season right now? Have you ever thought that the wilderness can actually be a blessing in disguise? It is when we are weak, that we are made strong! 

The hardest part about walking through the wilderness is that life is still going on around you .  You are lost in the forest and you feel like life is passing you by.  Rest assured you are meant to be where you are and you just need to follow the path back home. You may stumble! You may fall! However, HE will be there to catch you and be your guiding light back home.  

Often during trials and tribulations we question, curse and blame God.  We don’t want to walk through the wilderness because it’s dirty, ugly, smelly and dark.  However, those are the reasons we NEED to walk through the wilderness.  You heard me NEED! Life is not about comfort and making things easy! That’s a LIE! Yes He is here to bless you, but it’s when We are lost..that we are truly found again. 

If you are living a fruitful life there will be many wilderness seasons and that is ok! Because that means you are alive! You are GROWING! You are not just EXISTING, like so many people do because they do not want to feel pain! Pain has a PURPOSE and it’s purpose is to keep our feet moving, so we don’t settle down and stay awhile.  Keep walking up that mountain and see the splendor from the mountaintop! You won’t regret it! 

My Favorite Color is Polka Dot

Today, I was reminded how important struggle is and why we must face it head on.  I was on a mountain bike “date day” with my husband and my body was tired from the week and when my body gets tired, my brain takes over.  It tells me things like….you can’t do this…you aren’t good enough…just quit….everyone is looking at you! I started to succumb to these thoughts and the ride just got harder.

As I rode along I started to curse in my head and second guessed every move that my body already knew how to make.  I started making mistakes, picked bad lines and became frustrated.  I kept looking down as I rode and as in life where you look, is where you go.  So if you look down, you go down and if you look ahead, you continue to go forward.  However, I kept looking down.  Cursing…hitting rocks and sliding.

I just wanted the ride to be over, I did not want to deal with the suck.  That’s right I said it…SUCK! Sometimes life sucks, just like a bad ride! As I swirled deeper into my pit of despair in my head, so did my ride.

At one point I heard God say, “run the race set out before YOU (Hebrews 12:1)!”  How many times I have heard him utter these words.  Why do we as humans put ourselves down? Why do we compare ourselves to everyone around us? Why don’t we give ourselves grace? Why don’t we realize that what we see is facade and everyone around us is running their own race.  I heard God say, “concentrate on your race”…….”your achievements”……”no matter how small.”  As I listened to these words, my body began to intrinsically takeover and my mind took a back seat.  I listened to God, I didn’t take my own path and I began to enjoy what I was doing.  So WHAT if I had to get off my bike and walk….so what if I didn’t hit every line the right way….so Fing WHAT?! That’s right I said…Fing because sometimes it’s not all butterflies and glitter in my head!

I kept thinking about all the times I would compare myself to others and how I was embarrassed to show my true self.  I didn’t think that my two selves could coexist and that people would accept me.  My whole life I have been a split personality between a girl who loves to get dirty, ride bikes and find frogs… to a girl who loves tulle, polka dots and a good glittery twirly dress.  It took me years to realize that both these girls can coexist in the same body and I say “girls” because I think it’s so important that we never lose our inner child.

My husband once  asked me what my favorite color was and I told him that I didn’t have one.  He said that’s not possible! Everyone has to have a favorite color! I told him that I liked polka dots, so polka dots and glitter were my favorite colors.  He told me polka dots were not a color and I said…WHY NOT?! Why can’t they be a color? Why do we let people tell us what things are and what they are not? Why do we let people tell us who we are and what we won’t or will become? Repeat after me! NO MORE! No more will I listen to the world’s ideals and stop my inner girl from twirling in her bright, sparkly and tulle filled dress…as she smiles and looks toward the sun (without shoes of course)!

As I ended my ride I continued to push myself and I  thought….we tell ourselves that life is supposed to be comfortable, but I believe that is a lie that the enemy wants us to believe, so we don’t reach our full potential.  For it’s in our uncomfortability that we grow.  The enemy is afraid of our strength and true power. We get so stuck in our well worn rut, that we can’t grow and become paralyzed.  Paralyzed to what we can become and paralyzed to what we can be.  Don’t get me wrong…getting out of the rut is Fing hard, but so worth it! It might be the greatest ride, that you will ever have…until the next adventure!

God is always acting like a loving father in our hardships.  Teaching us to persevere and trust in him.  He is teaching us discipline.  A loving father wants what is best for his children and often he needs to rebuke them.  For a stone does not stand a chance against the rough waters because it eventually will grow smooth.  We are being shaped by our heavenly father and often it is in our uncomfortability, where the biggest change is taking place.

During this past year I kept hearing God say that I needed to start embracing the miracles laid out before me! That it was time to start embracing my destiny.  He would never let me fall backward, but only forward.  Everything that is worth something is hard and sometimes you need to embrace the SUCK in order to get to the finish.

What rut are you currently in and how will you get out? Sometimes we can do it on our own (with God’s help) and sometimes we need someone to help us! Remember everyone is running their own race right next to you! Don’t look left, don’t look right, don’t look down, but straight ahead.

What SUCK do you need to embrace and how will you get to the finish line?

The Mile of Glory

woman girl silhouette jogger

 

The mile of glory is the last mile of the race.  It’s the time where we thank God for all that he has given us and for everything yet to come.  It’s the hardest part of the race because you can feel the finish line and you are exhausted and tired.  It’s the final push and often it’s when we have to overcome our biggest obstacle…ourselves.

Our mind is telling us to quit, but our heart says to keep going.  Its our heart that gets us through the race and the spirit of God speaks to it.  Telling us to enjoy the moment, revel in the accomplishment, praise and acknowledge the hardships.

The mile of glory is not meant for us alone, but for our redeemer and heavenly father.  Who has been with every agonizing step along the way.  He never left us or forsake us, but was with us every step of the way.  He was the gentle wind when we were hot, the downhill draft when we were tired and the cloud cover we so desperately needed.

He is our biggest cheerleader and he does it the entire race.  He tells us to run the race set before us with grace and perseverance because this race was meant for you alone and no one else.

It is your race, your challenge, your heartbreak, you soul changing moment.  It’s your moment to share with him and glorify all that he is and all that he will be.  When the race is finished you will thank him again for all that you accomplished because you will look back at all the struggle and have confidence that with him you can do anything because he calms the stormy seas and brings peace to those around him.

Your mile of glory does not have to be an actual race! For me it was both! In order to cross the finish line you have to bear down and charge forward.  You might stumble, you might fall down and you might even throw up! But guess what?! You are building character along the way! 

The starting gun has fired! Now it’s time to run…..and run the race that has been set before you! Not someone else’s race, but yours alone! Be steady, be nimble and always get back up! For it is the things that are the hardest, that make us stronger!