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Summer Reflection:2017

There have been a lot of changes for me this year.  I posted a collage of pictures from the summer with the title: “What a great summer!” My friend/old roommate commented, “Was it really a great summer?!” 😳 She reminded me that we moved out of our old home this summer and we submitted to the move, both resigned 😑 .  “Oh yea, I forgot about that,” I said, but went on to explain that I was only thinking about the highlights.
Contentment is a difficult thing to practice and I have had my bouts with it.  God has put me through certain spiritual obstacle courses to develop me in this area but it seems like my humanity continues to oppose that particular fruit of the Spirit.  It takes some real effort to focus on the positive when the negative is still present.  I think even though social media can be abused/misused it does allow for us to celebrate the positives and the highlights of life.  I can honestly say that even though I find this season very difficult with its changes (and with its lack of change), God has given me many desires of my heart.  


And even when I have thwarted his gifts and misused his presents He replaced them with more gifts.  More presents.  The love He demonstrates is a love I do not understand.  I simply can’t fathom His mercy and grace and love but I have glimpsed it so much in this season that I feel I’m gaining some knowledge.

This weekend I’ll get to promote the books He gave me.  Writings that show how He used very difficult times and made purpose out of them.  I’ll also get to visit with some dear sisters who I have been on this journey with for 15 years now.  I’ll have more opportunities to experience His love and goodness in the form of community and social events.  These are things I have desired but did not know that He would so frequently lavish them upon me.


Even in the midst of heartbreak, pain, and suffering, there is His hand.  Leading me and guiding me and ordering steps that have been difficult to take.  My own testimony shows His faithfulness and how when we are weak, truly He is strong.

Happy Rosh Hashanah!

SHALOM

 

 

 

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The Path


My old roommate and I took a bike ride in Peninsula last week.  For the uninformed Peninsula is about 20 minutes south of Cleveland.  I had never visited there prior to and it was cool to do a little road trip in the middle of the week.  We intended on renting bikes and catching the train back but the next stop for the train proved to be further than anticipated and we didn’t make it in time.  Instead of cutting our ride short we opted to go the distance and ended up biking over 10 miles!  Not too shabby for a couple of folks who hadn’t biked in years! 😊😏 As soon as my feet hit the pedals the serenity of nature engulfed me and I was overwhelmed by God’s goodness.  I know my friend felt the same and we peddled forward with grace and peace.

At one point we stopped for directions and were told that if we kept along the path the next train stop would be about 7 miles out.  We kept that goal in mind but as I shared earlier, we didn’t make it.  Still, I watched as we passed sign after sign, paying attention to the names of the paths.  There were so many!  It was clear to me that we needed to stay on our path in order to get to where we were going.  It was also clear God was giving me a picture of this spiritual race.

There are so many paths in this life.  There are so many arrows pointing this way and that way.  Some look appealing and inviting but not all will get you to where you need to be.

In this instance we stuck with our path and we made it back safely.  Sometimes sticking to the same path can get boring, especially when you are called to go the distance.  It can feel like you are missing out.  You can even get weary.  But every time I get off the path I end up in pain.  I end up functioning as a lesser version of myself and experiencing a shame I know my Father never desired for me.

One thing I’m grateful for is His grace to get back on the right path and to have a friend (or several) to ride it out with.

Thank You Lord for bringing me Lianna and so many who stick closer to me than a brother.  Your grace is sufficient and I am not deserving.


SHALOM

Getting Aqcuainted With Grace

One would think grace would be something to be received and understood at the onset of Christianity.  If only it were a class you took at the beginning of your enrollment on the path of truth.  I would have surely signed up, checked off my checklist and aimed for the A that decorated my academic career (prior to college that is). But there was no class and after 15 years on this journey, I’m led to believe, grace is ever unfolding. 

As a recovering perfectionist (recovering because I am at least aware which is the first step to truly recovering) I have spent most of my journey trying and doing and accomplishing.  If I don’t do it who will? But what I’m learning is that God will.

God still will. Somehow, someway, even when I fall short and miss the mark and send the text when I shouldn’t, His promises still stand.

He still stands.

I went running this summer and I paced myself up a steep hill.  It was hot that day. Too hot for a run but I was determined. Funny thing was that when I got to the hill the sun was no longer my enemy and shade became my friend. Shade kissed me with each step forward and offered a relief to my burning skin as my thigh muscles flexed and thrived. It was in that moment that I had a picture of grace.  Grace does not remove the obstacle you are called to overcome, instead it offers the ability to overcome it. It travels with you during the hard parts of life and manifests in a breeze or a cool shade on a hot summer day.


A friend sent me a message from Graham Cooke and I think he had a great revelation on grace. “Grace reminds you of who you are”, he said. That is the training I have received and continue to receive: identity. 

Who am I? 

Who are you?

Often our behavior reflects our perception of identity. I asked God recently, “Why does this (insert your this) have to be a big deal?” I have asked this question numerous times but this was the first time I had received an answer. “Because you are a big deal”, He said.

We are a big deal. Whether we want to be or not. We are because we are made in His image and He is a pretty big deal.

SHALOM

The Trade (Poem)

Can I trust you with my mess?

The bruised brokenness of smelly sweat?

The scarred woundedness that oozes green gross disgusting stuff?

The pores on my skin open with it and no matter how many bandages I try to cover them with, there just never seem to be enough

Enough

I’ve had–enough

I’ve come–to the end

And hang on this rope by a thread

I loosely dangle over a pool of grace

But I am afraid

If I fully let go You’ll flee from me

The blood and gook and ooze will be too much for You

My lust

My shame

My feelings of inadequacy caused me to hide in the comfort of another

Lose my sanity for a while

Even all the while–You were there

My blood

My sweat

My tears

You traded them for peace

You nailed them to a cross and they oozed out of Your feet

Your hands

Your sides

You became my mess

A bloody mess

On a cross not fit for a King

And now I am a Queen

Beauty is more than skin deep

And still you made this brown skin beautiful

And still you clothed me in royal clothes

Still You attracted me to an attraction that was more than just physical

Intimacy is more than just physical

And now I know, because it never sustained me

And now I know, only You can sustain me

Me and my mess

You are my mess

And I am your Queen

Beginning to Bloom

Tis the season for transition.  For moving.  For meeting new people.  God is opening my heart.  He is opening me like a flower that is blooming.  The season is changing.  There are lots of prophecies coming forth.  Lots of confirming words.  Lots of things to look forward to.  I share my struggles with my sisters.  With my roommate.  With our cat.  I’m going to miss him when I leave, but I’m grateful they will not be too far way.

After five years I’ll be saying goodbye to my landlords.  The same ones who came to my 30th Zumba party and my first book release party and gave me a job when I was laid off.  Such love.  Such favor.  Such family.

I’ll be saying hello to the woman who raised me.  The woman who needs me in this hour.  The tables have turned.  I am honored to be there for her.  I recognize the sacrifice that is shown on my part.

Sacrifice displays love.

There is a sacrifice of another sort in my belly.  It has been there for quite a while.  He has been there for quite a while.  And even in the messy way I have responded to the sacrifice, He, like a loving Father moves towards and not away.

At His nudging, I practice opening my heart.  I practice having conversations and being open and letting new people in.  I do this because I realize the only way we can receive a gift is to open our hands to receive it.  Open our hearts to receive it.

Hoster-Flower_Blooming

It is almost June.  It is almost summer.  The season for blooming is here…

Father give us grace and courage to be open.  Give us grace to bloom.

SHALOM

After The Storm

There is a quiet these days.  Each morning I wake up and its not like the mornings of years past but its not like the mornings of months past either.  Instead of feeling overwhelmed with the Father’s love, or being tormented with fear (which has been the case), I feel–quiet.  I feel stillness.  I feel a victory from overcoming this season and an encouragement to keep moving forward.

I’ve been writing a lot lately.  Not on this here blog, but on my laptop, with the cat, under my fleece.  My roommate has been so gracious to listen each evening as I share the short story I’ve been working on.  She is so affirming.  A fellow writer and with much more experience, her compliments and feedback hold even greater weight.  This story I’m writing (which is actually almost complete) brings me such joy.  There are some prophetic elements to it as well which has been very interesting.  Hopefully I’ll be able to share more on that in the future.  I’m reminded that a while back Jesus told me to fight for joy.  He said, You need to find things in life that give you joy.  A naturally melancholic personality, this didn’t come easy.  But we can do all things through Christ and I have learned (am still learning) the art of joy. 

Writing brings me joy.

My bestie visited me recently and we stayed up ’til 4am.  I haven’t done that in YEARS.  We reminisced on college days, when we were just teenagers and in love with Jesus.  Now we are in our 30s.  She’s a mom and a divorcée.  I’m an author, still single with no children.  We have come a long way.  “We are the best of the best” I told her.  And I meant it.  I believe God desires His best to be manifested in our lives.  And I believe that best can only be manifested if we stick with the path He created for each of us.

She and I have stuck with that path.

It has not been easy.  Anyone reading this blog sees clearly my ups and downs, but always He sustains me.

Writing my short story shows me how the author uses circumstances and people  to get the protagonist to where she is going.  I’m sure that’s how the Father is when He writes our story.  He puts people and situations in our lives, ultimately to bring out the person He created before the fall.  Before the womb.  Before the dysfunction.

There was a period of time where I was shocked by the storm.  Shocked by the darkness.  Now looking back, I can see that it was just a shadow, it was not death itself.  If it were death it would have taken me out.  I thought it almost did, and maybe it almost did but I know to Him, it was just a shadow.

Now that I’m on the other side (still fighting of course) I can see I was bigger than that storm.

And I wouldn’t be a better version of myself had I not gone through it.

I pray the same for you.

A few things that bring me joy…


SHALOM