2016 Heart Word and Heartfelt Goodbye

WE DID IT!!

Another year lived.

Another year learned.

Another year to watch the peeps grow ridiculous right before my eyes.

Another year of beauty and ashes, joys and sorrows, victory and defeat…

Breathe out all that got trapped in the holding.on.for.dear.life. breath!!

AHHHHHHHH!!

God is good.

God is faithful.

God is worth living into the next year because He gives us enough to carry on…

to enjoy, to fight, to endure, to succeed, to encourage, to teach, to learn!!

I prayed tearful over the hard of the last year. Words can not even express the painful. It has been too intimate to write and to tender to expose.

Pressed but not crushed.

Persecuted not abandoned.

Stuck down but not destroyed!!

I wondered if I could just keep my heart word of this past year, community, and still hope it be birthed in the next months…I am not sure but I had to plant it like a seed in soil prepared and open my hands for the next.

Almost to weary for more lessons. More fighting the good fight. More reading…learning…pleading before the throne of grace…bone tired…I held up hands to receive.

But let your adorning be the hidden person of the HEART with the imperishable beauty of a GENTLE and QUIET spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. (I Peter 3:4)

That is more than one word…and I knew deep that I had to let each.word.soak.in.

Days passed and I read words over and over waiting.

Pouring over this very blog from the beginning archiving my words of the past four years. I realized some things. I needed so desperately to be heard!! To find my voice and spirit giving words for them to anchor my soul. I needed to shout and express all that I was healing, learning, experiencing as if they would be lost if not published on public pages.

It was healing. It was necessary. It was a season.

With a joyful heart, just last night I realized, I no longer NEED to be heard!! I have found MY VOICE! I am being led beyond blogging my very heart to something more.

This years word is….

LISTEN

I need to cultivate the HIDDEN person of my heart.

LISTEN…to God. to others. to my husband. to my children. to my body and spirit. to my surroundings. to nature. to lessons. to worship.

Truly LISTEN.

So I will be letting BCP go by the end of January. Because, PRAISE JESUS, I no longer need it.

 

When God Gifts You the Opposite

This time of year is usually my most favorite. All the celebrating, the togetherness, the cheer and the beauty.  Each year for many past, I have had a wrestling some with God. With eyes to see all the good and beauty along with all the evil and decay…is conflicting. I want to hold on and savor, enjoy and be thankful for all the gifts. Yet at the same time I feel as though I must keep my armor on and not let down my guard. The tears are right behind the eyes and if you tried even a little to connect with me, they would flow.

Knowing that I have to lay the burden I carry and not allow myself to be the victim because Christ became that for me…I come to these pages to lay.it.down. So for what it is worth, and I know the worth is only what it does to relieve the ache in my heart, here is the wrestling, the tossing about in my mind. I need to stop the flailing about and rest on the hard ground before the gateway to heaven. To wait on Him.

To lay it down completely I need to start with this time last year, because that is part of the holding-on. Each year God lays a word on my heart and throughout that year and the years next, He teaches me what that word means to Him and to me. In my post two years ago Heart Word, I wrote

Every year the Lord lays a word on my heart that surfaces time and time again as though He is patiently weaving Himself one solid thread  at a time creating a tapestry of beauty into the fabric of my person. It seems to just be one thread at a time because I am impatient and easily distracted trying in my own striving to create beauty within only to end up a heap of weary at His feet surrendering.”

That year the word laid continuous was joy. How fun is that!! It has been a common thread since and I have yet to see its entire working. Just last year the word was Community. This word was hard for me to swallow, I did not even tell but one person in fear that others would not understand. I have LONGED for community for years. The kind that is life-giving, truth searching, edifying, vulnerable, intimate, with humble leaders, wise mentors and exploding with the pure fruit of the Spirit!! No competing, no pride, no judgement…A people to journey with into a new horizon of God’s Glory.

I know, I know…does it even exist since we all are so broken and full of ourselves? I see it from a distance that others paint a picture that resembles it…It is the promise land of potential for God’s Body.  I only see a glimpse in a foggy mirror so IMAGINE what it could really look like!!

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In that place last year, I saw the seeds of potential in the people and the church that we were attending. I wanted to start planting, cultivating and was so excited to see it all GROW. Then it happened, God led us away. My ideals for God’s working were crushed and what came next caught me completely off guard.

I felt alone.

Very alone.

In a new land where people already have their people, their belonging. It pierced deep and I had to look in the face of loneliness and accept that being perfectly in God’s plan does not always work out perfectly. It turns out God did not want to show me what community looked like in all His Glory, He wanted me to experience the total lack of it. 

Please do not mistake my wrestling as though I am bitter or complaining. I desire to be in the bosom of God’s will more than I desire my own comfort and happiness. Because although I am uncomfortable and hurting, there is still JOY and PEACE.

In letting go I have let my ideal of community go…it has been hard because I want to HOPE for things how God intended. The reality is, I live where I am and can only experience this moment…to long or strive for anything more I just may miss out on the GLORY God has for me in the broken!!

Faithful, He laid a new word to work on my heart this next year! I thought last years word was hard…I will leave that for my next post…my last post!!

 

 

 

Taking Christmas

Three years have passed. We have all grown leaps and bounds. Christmas is still more about presence than presents for us, yet the very nature of depravity tries to distract and destroy. Praying over cultivating His presence as the greatest gift to my family this year! Joy to you and yours this Christmas!!

Beyond Christian Platitudes

This morning I am overwhelmed and under energized. I spent the week cleaning for clients and had to leave my house for last. As I made my last minute “running” list and the long list of “to do”…I prayed. Christmas’ past I would get nervy and impatient as I scrambled to get everything perfect for our family and guests. All the cleaning, cooking and wrapping. The kids excitement would pierce painful as my body groans with each movement of overdoing. But I have worked too hard and God has done too much through this last year for me to let fear, greed and expectations take Christmas from me and my loves!!

This quote is ever fresh on my mind, ” To love a child is merely to be present with her, to not be thinking about  work, chores, or the day’s duties, but rather to be present, attuned, and in…

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Praying Mondays: Not Knowing

I contemplated buying flowers in the morning, well later this morning. Ones with sunflowers in them, it seemed fitting. After all what is burial without proper flowers? My grieving has taken months and it is time to take off the black cloak, shovel dirt and try as I may to move on….

I was sad after the novelty of the idea of adventure wore off. I was sad packing all our things. I was sad the last, well everything. I was sad the first two weeks unpacking. I was sad when each of the six summer visits were over. I was sad searching for a new church. I was sad when my brother got really really sick and when my visit to Altoona went from a week visit to just three days. I was sad when we left a seemingly healthy eating pooping cat for two hours and came home to him just dead…(that really happened and while I was holding my sobbing child I did glance up and whisper “SERIOUSLY!?!”)

Yesterday I put my “Altoona life” to rest, and also my summer because I start classes in a few hours…hopefully after at least seven hours of sleep. So the grieving is over and I will get flowers to honor the beauty. Something else that I am laying to rest is “knowing”.

You see, I am a ‘need to know’ BIG picture kinda girl. I play out all possibilities in my head as if to prepare…for what? For everything, anything and nothing…prepared. Well I don’t have to spell out how that has panned out in my life. It hasn’t. If it had, if I had known would I still be on this path? If I would have known the great sorrows woven with the great joys? Would I have risked loving all the same people? No. Because I am not that brave.

I do NOT know.

I have NO idea how life will work out in details even with the best laid plans. I do NOT know how my kids will turn out. I do not know how I will do this semester and next, or if there will be a next. I don’t know how to apply ALL the things I DO know, let alone the unknown. Are you still with me, I should probably go to bed now. So that is why I had to put my ‘need to know’ to rest in peace. Guess what…there is peace. I feel relief, that I do not need to know. Life is no less terrifying but there is peace. There are no guarantees…but there IS peace.

This verse sits seeded in shoveled ground to grow anew in me!

Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.…” Proverbs 3:5-6

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Quiet Days In Questions

It is here. The days I longed for in the heat of the battle and the chaos of busy.

Quiet.

Peace.

I have packed, with my Mother faithful and hardworking. We packed all the tiny bits that make up our lives lived of 16 years…I am not entirely sure how but we did it. Friends and family stood at the curb waving tearful goodbyes and we were off on our new journey.

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Now just a week later, I sit in the pain of a migraine that i know would come. Yet I sit in peace…drinking my hot coffee from my friend mug and embracing the quiet. I have enjoyed unpacking with no place to go, no calls to make and no deadlines. If we want to go explore we pack a day bag and go. It is the sweetest. Selfishly I am in no hurry to leave this existence, yet I know we must at SOME point…and if it were up to me that moment in time would be weeks, months maybe.

Still our first Sunday came just yesterday. I forced myself to rally enough to go to a church. Don’t get me wrong, I know in my depth that we as a  family NEED the Body of Christ, and they need us. As a family we NEED to worship with others. So we went to a sweet church just two miles away from our new home. The people were very nice. The worship was great. The kids loved it. We even stayed for a informational with the staff over lunch following the service….

BUT…there is always a BUT.

The  staff wanted to know who we are and how we forsee fitting into their church. My hands held the pen paralyzed and my mind raced. Of course we have SO much to offer…we are gifted…we are loving…yet I can not escape the weary that still lies within my spirit.

I left boxes unchecked.

The pastor freed us up to just freeload until ready. He sat at our table and talked with us for some time….that was sweet. I could not tell him why I was not ready…what the wound was deep. He was gracious anyway and was open about his journey and hardship in ministry.

We came home and my head pierced fierce with nauseating pain. I want to love in pouring out myself for others. But I still long for more quiet days resting with God and pouring over His word.

In this new journey where do I fit? Where do we fit?

What do I offer within His will for US?

How long do I wait?

My Father holds the answers and I am content to remain in His presence and REST. There is no shame in my curious questions…there is no doubt in my gifting…there is a deep peace that ONLY comes from the Giver of Life. The only thing that stirs my mind curious is when and how….but I must wait.

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Have you ever been weary from service?

Have you ever been wounded by the ones you serve?

Have you been able to rest?

I pray you will enter into His rest and accept His peace in waiting!!

At the Top for TEN seconds…

I DID IT!!

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With the Deans List letter that proves it, I stand victorious on the top of this semester mountain…I did it. As I glance behind the road up to this summit was dark and hard. I not only had to climb, I had to fight a fierce battle. I can not share it in actual words but it was so devastating and wearying that I can barely think of it. I just want to stand on this mountain top and stare into the sun, forever. Yet in just seconds I am shoved tumbling down the other side into another valley, tripping over years of clutter and consequence. My seconds of victory gone without but a glance from others. I am tempted fierce into self-pity and with tears sit paralyzed by the work that lies in the valley below and the climb that awaits to another peak.

Closing my eyes I want to savor the letters A and B alongside the flowers a caring observer sent knowing the hard I have had to endure. I want them to be enough to fill the void that the climbing and fighting created. How can I go on. My pride has suffered much and now I have to face the mess of the TOO much stuff life we try to live. Sorting and choosing and organizing and cleaning and packing…seems empty and I am dreading it.

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Breathe

There is that whisper.

Just Breathe Beloved.

I do not feel beloved and I feel like hyperventilating.

You are loved.

Let that be enough, Lord, to fill the void and give strength enough for today.

I lift my eyes up, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord…the maker of the mountains and the heavens. ENOUGH.

In my weak and weary. Enough.

I will just sit here and wait for ten more seconds and rise once again in grace taking steps in FAITH that He will be enough with hope that I will feel love again. In the work and weary I am expecting to find JOY. That will be the true miracle…to let loose the idea of summer ‘vacation’ and find joy in the work of moving my family to another state to begin a new chapter of our lives…JOY in the suffering and letting go. I have to endure and I want JOY in it.

Please. Lord, I long for Your joy and peace in all of this grief and mess…I expect it…I am letting go of my idea of what would fill and give me rest…for your JOY.

So friend that reads my heart words on virtual pages. May God be enough for your mountain…going up…at the summit…or in the valley low. Blessings to you and you take steps in faith.

Praying Mondays: Feeling Loved

I woke up to the sound of the garbage truck at five a.m. knowing our cans were not at the curb. Trying to push back annoyance and sleep the last few minutes of desperately needed rest, I settled into a dream that has been reoccurring for me. It is a dream that I am just sobbing because I missed going to the Sweet Valley Cottages. Everyone is going but I have to stay here. We did not go this September and that sweet place for me is a quiet peaceful retreat that I LONG for. I must long for that kind of pushing back all the bad news, busy schedules, looming deadlines, messy house, meal times, bills and homework kind of PEACE.

That.kind.of.nothing.but quiet.for.four.days.peace.

The alarm went off. I had already heard the dogs waking and coming, they know it is time and they are bedside the moment before the beeping starts. I have to practically leap over 170 lbs of dog to start my day. This day, with a migraine, a full schedule and weary to start kinda day with a longing that played out in my dreams now lingering deep in my spirit. HOW.DO.THEY.DO.IT?? How do all the others manage to keep pushing on and on and stay rested and at peace? I stopped questions running in my head, gripped my stiff fingers around my hot cup and cried from the inside out.

“Father, I just need a hug”

“I just need you, some how in all this, Your presence. Your Peace.”

I opened up my Blessing book to the day I that came next…Day 36 Love. The tears ran real softly over dark circles and that longing burst into desperation. YES. I need to “FEEL” loved. IN this day…all day…and tomorrow too…Loved.

Stephanie, your Father made you beautiful and beloved. I bless you with receiving the Father-heart of God His matchless love for you. His love revealed in you is a gold mine of identity and legitimacy from which to live out your birthright confidently and purposefully. I bless you with the belonging, inclusion,  and worth that His love nurtures in you. I bless you with being convinced deep in your spirit that nothing in heaven, earth, or hell can separate you from your Father’s love. I bless you with knowing that nothing in your past, present, or future can take His love from you. I bless you with being sure of His love in your fears and worries, in your problems and pain, in good times and bad. He promises that because of His love, His power, and His blessing upon you, He causes pain and negative things to be transformed into good, and I bless you with deeply abiding in that truth. (Gunter pp94)

So breathe deep friend. Inhale love so you can exhale joy.

        As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love… These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:9,11 ESV)

Abide in HIS love…JOY may be FULL.

I want to feel this. Not just know it in my head but feel in deeply and STAY there. The longing to be filled and I get to know JOY. In all of this JOY.

Jesus, I come to you fumbling with this precious promise of Joy and Love not knowing how to abide. Teach me. I confess that I am willful of self and try to hang on to survive, when letting go is really this only way to LIVE. Help me let go. Help me know and feel you in me…The Father’s LOVE in me. Until I feel, let me simple believe. Because with Faith, I have Hope and with Hope there is Love. Break down all the self protecting walls and help me feel. Even if I have to know grief of loss before love. I want You. I know and believe that You are faithful and hear my cry…my longing after You. Thank you…is not enough. May today be a song of worship pleasing to your ears…All because Jesus made a way to You!! In Jesus’ Name. Amen

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