Walking Through the Fire

What do we do when confusion sets in and we don’t know which way is up? When we are gasping for air and feel like we are going to combust? Who do we turn to? Who do we believe? Do we listen to the words of man or to the words that God speaks to our heart. Do we tremble in fear or stay steadfast in the face of the storm? Do we choose to dance in his grace or join the melancholy anguish of those around us?

Those are the questions that I’ve been pondering lately and that lay anchored to my soul. I have entered a season of questioning, grieving and stress. But in spite of all of this I have found moments of peace, love and even joy. I have no doubt that all of these emotions are a gift from heaven. How could they be not? There is no question. Why then, do I feel guilt? Guilt for having a joyful heart, as the world crumbles around me. Guilt does not come from the Lord. It is a poison for our soul and only comes from one place. Having joy in times of adversity is something that makes the enemy quake in his loins. He knows that people are watching around us and he wants us to curse His name and show our angst against the Lord. So I choose joy. I choose to dance in the thunder and lighting. I choose to listen to his words. I choose HIM. I choose to walk through the flames of disaster and let HIM put them out and cover me in shelter with his wings of golden feathers.

Mama, I know He has you. I know He will protect you. I know He will get us through this. I know He has a plan. I know He loves us and will not forsake us. I know because he is who he says he is and he’s the God of promises and hope.

The Armor of God

 

Depression. What does it feel like? What is it? I always describe it as a dark abyss….a sea of nothingness.  Where you are aware of everything around you and nothing at all. Where you feel the earth pressing down on you, but you feel so empty. When you can’t differentiate up from down or left from right.  It just happens…sets in and makes a home.  But Why? Why does it find it’s way into our hearts and why do we give it a space to call home? I’ll tell you why, because it’s finds a crack….a hole…a chink in our armor and let’s itself in.  We let our defenses down and in it comes.  So what do we do? In the darkest of dark I would pray Ephesians 6:17 over and over again. I would imagine myself putting on my armor and getting ready for battle. It would try and cover myself in so much holy spirit, that hopefully nothing else would get in. The truth is…sometimes it does get in.  Does this mean that we are not full enough of God and we have room left in our hearts? Absolutely not! Often in warfare the battle wages in waves of wins and losses.  It doesn’t always have an epic finale when we want it to.  Often, we are at war for a reason and sometimes the war is getting us ready for a revolution.  The revolution of ourselves, our families and life yet to come.  So why do we often wave the white flag and give up? I’ll tell you why.  I have stood with my toes on the edge of insanity….wiggling….face looking over into the abyss and thinking that I had come to the end.  I’ve been there! I have walked through the valley and I hate to tell you this….I’ve walked through it more then once.

In my darkest times I prayed for instant healing! To be one of those that God miraculously touches instantly.  I wasn’t though and I’m still not.  I still have a revolution going on inside of me and I know the battle isn’t over yet.  I have a call to rally those around me to pick up their swords and fight the battle that wages in the depths of their souls. To unite our inequities and fight together for the peace of our souls.  TO NOT hide within the shadows in fear and shame, but to stand proud and united in HIM.  To not lower our heads in embarrassment, but to stand proud and declare that I am WONDERFULLY and BEAUTIFULLY MADE! So are you! You are not defected or broken…you are just a mosaic of beautifully shining broken glass.  The TRUE artist knows what you are supposed to look like, but to the human eye you look broken, ugly, torn and bedraggled.  HE however did not create you to look this way, HE created you for great and mighty things. To declare your battle cry and trample over the lies that enemy has fostered in your heart for TOO long! Don’t let him make a home in the shallows of the abyss because though you feel alone, he is waiting to take up partnership with you.  He is waiting for you to bring down the castle drawbridge and lower your gates.

Often, our gates get lowered by life. What does that even mean? We get so caught up in the hustle and bustle that we lose sight of US and of HIM.  That’s why in battle we often have to lose ourselves, in order to find ourselves.  We have to be beaten and bedraggled…in order to be reborn and remade.  Battle wasn’t meant to be easy, but it is what wins wars.  So don’t stand behind the castle walls waiting for the battle to stop…it’s time to take up arms and fight.  Take up your sword, put on your helmet, and hold up your shield.  This battle does not determine who is going to win the war, but who will win the revolution for your soul.  Don’t lose sight of your fellow comrades that are fighting along side of you, because everyone has a battle that they are waging.  Stand side by side with them, because two swords are better then one.  “If you want to run fast, run alone.  If you want to run far, run together (African proverb).”

Who will you take up arms with? Who will you stop to pick up? Who will you save from the depths of Hell? Now as I am writing this, I know that some of you are in a time of pause or rest.  You aren’t meant to gather the troops yet, because you are still working on your armor.  You are crafting your sword and making it from the strongest metal.  You are not ready for a revolution because your battle has not begun. You have not gathered your quiver of arrows for battle! BUT! For those of us who are ready…we MUST fight together! WE MUST trust in our fellow comrades and WE MUST not fight alone! When an animal hunts it singles out the weakest of the herd and tries to get it away from it’s protection.  Let that not be you! Don’t single yourself out and run from your protection! Clasp together and form a bond that cannot be broken! “For two are better then one!”

 

Getting Rid of the “Shoulds”

Image result for seize the day dead poets society quote

 

 

As I sit here I am squished between a toddler and a hesitant dachshund.  It makes me realize how important it is to appreciate the moments we have in life and not look towards the next best thing.  Often we get caught in the if only, next time and the I will do this when moments in life.  We don’t realize that in order to live our best life, we need to do it right now. We cannot wait for the next chapter to turn, because each page of a book makes it worth reading.  We need to harness the hear and now…..not the I can’t wait until when.

The above has been me for the last thirty-seven years of my existence.  I am always looking towards tomorrow and never do I appreciate today.  I look towards the future and neglect the hear and now.  I always live my life in a forward motion, but don’t appreciate things until they are over.  I recently celebrated my thirty seventh revolution around the sun. A good friend asked me what I wanted in this next year and what I hoped for.  I thought what do I want?!  I have no idea! What should I want? What should I plan for? What should I want to want? Do you see the commonality in those sentences? The word is “should.” My whole life has evolved around that very word…how should I look, what should I wear, how should I act, what should I say..etc..etc.etc. You get the point.  It might appear that the last thirty seven years have been a farce, because in reality I have been doing everything the world said I “should” do.

What if we took out the “shoulds.” This last year has by far been the hardest, most challenging and earth shattering year of my life.  I had to take out the future and only live in the here and now.  My world came crashing down and I couldn’t live in the when, but only the minute, the hour or the day( if was feeling really good).  My most cherished sister friend told me one day, what if you take out the “shoulds.” What if you live each day in the present and only do things that bring you joy.  What if you took a pause from the “have to” and only do what sparks love in your heart.  I was perplexed and aghast.

So what if we raised our children this way? What if we told them that we don’t always have to do what the world says we “should” do. What if we taught them to appreciate the here and now.  What if we taught them to do the things that spark joy in their hearts.  What if we taught them to think with their hearts more often then their heads.  Would the world fall apart? What would happen? Would society end as we know it? I don’t think so. I am a firm believer that we all have joy in our hearts.  That we all have an inherit passion to love, help, and show grace. It just gets lost in the “shoulds.” Because when you “should” do it, is so much different then when you want to do it.

How do you teach little ones? How do you pass this wisdom down to their little hearts? You already are.  They are watching you under the microscope of life, but unfortunately we are so busy with the “shoulds” that they can only see us using a telescope because we are so far away from the present.

This is my challenge to you.  Take the “shoulds” out for one day. Just one. And see how your life changes. How does your heart feel? Mother Theresea once said, “if you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” My theory is this: if you love your family by taking out the “shoulds” you will find the passion that lies within each one of them, the innate love that exists within and the joy that is bursting at the seems to get out.  I challenge you to PAUSE….look down and see all that God has created.  Stop living for future and appreciate today.  PAUSE…REFLECT…..AND BREATHE.

I would love to know if you decide to take this challenge on and how it changed you? Let go…Carpe Diem!