Your Dream. Your Anointing.

 
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Dreams. Goals. Whether big or small, we all have them. We dream of financial freedom, breaking professional records, and traveling the globe to see some of the world’s many wonders. Some give their lives to fight for their dream of social justice, whilst some dream of marriage, children, and enough money to buy a house one day. We need our dreams to keep us motivated. We need our goals to give us direction. We need our dreams to focus us in times of adversity.

And whilst I am an advocate for dreaming, we also need to consider how our dreams can become our own worst enemy. We can get so obsessed with our dreams that we can easily miss out on the bigger picture. 

Unbeknownst to us, our dreams can become our identity. And when faced with letting our dreams go, it seems too hard to let go of all that we have invested and all that we have worked towards. In some ways, our Christian experience has not helped. Many of us have been taught that the spiritual life is instantaneous. Many of us learned to, “name it and claim it” and that we, “possess what we confess”. So we fixate on our dreams. We pray for our dreams. We ask God to give us all we need to make our dreams come true. We assume that the things we pray for, the goals we have set for our lives, are going to be given to us miraculously and quickly. And when our dreams don’t come to pass in the expected timing, we shut down and allow disappointment to drown us.

But there is weight given in the wait. There is wisdom, hope, and truth found as we embrace the process.

Look at Joseph. He may have been one of his dad’s favorite kids, but he was pretty much the runt of the family. In an age where the first-born son was given rank and honor, he was son number eleven, and far from the head of the pecking order. So who could blame him for lauding it over his brothers when he had a dream that he would rule over them? And while he had a dream to rule over his brothers, God had actually anointed him to lead, manage, and administrate a nation.

The road to this God-dream was tough. He was betrayed, sold into slavery, falsely accused of rape, and pretty much left to die in prison. But this was not the end for Joseph. When his brothers journeyed to Egypt during the famine, when Joseph’s dream of ruling over his brothers had come to pass, Joseph said to them, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” Genesis 50:20 (NLT) 

Back home in Canaan, I don’t think it ever entered Joseph’s thinking that his dream actually meant that thousands of lives would be spared from famine. I don’t think it had occurred to Joseph that there was a bigger dream, a God-given anointing on his life. And like Joseph, our dreams are never as big as our God-given anointing. Just like Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:20, God is able, “to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” It’s so hard to comprehend, but God can take a slave with a criminal record and turn him into second in command of a powerful nation.

But when a dream has been our motivation, our focus, and our inspiration, it can be too hard to it let go. We have made life-altering decisions for those dreams. For me, I gave up my home country and moved to the USA (a country I had not even visited) for my dream of being a TV and film producer. I removed myself from a career in the PR industry to start at the bottom in the TV industry. So when the time came for me to loosen my grip on my dreams, I fought back HARD. Producing was who I was. Producing was all I had sacrificed and worked for. My ability to shape a story, administrate a video shoot, and lead others was my identity.

I read in Chip and Joanna Gaines’ “The Magnolia Story” that Joanna knows what it is to let go of a dream. Before HGTV’s “Fixer Upper”, before creating a home design empire, before becoming one of America’s most famous interior designers, she owned a small home décor store called, “Magnolia”. She loved her little store and found a way to juggle motherhood and her dreams. But after had her first two children, she felt a nudge from God to shut her store to focus on her family. At first she resisted, but it wasn’t long until she relented and she loosened her grip on her company, “Magnolia”.  

Her story whispers hope to me. The once small store owner now owns one of the biggest home design brands in the USA. Their “Magnolia” empire attracts hundreds and thousands of visitors to Waco, TX and creates millions of dollars. Their show, “Fixer Upper” was one of the most successful on HGTV. And now they are launching their own channel! They’ve published multiple books, opened a big store, managed a successful real estate company, the list goes on and on because Magnolia is HUGE! 

Like Joseph, Joanna Gaines let go. She discovered that God’s dreams, God’s anointing for her was so much bigger than she could have asked or imagined. But the only way to get there was to loosen her grip and trust that as she obeyed God, everything would be OK. 

Sometimes we are holding on so tight that we are choking our destiny. Sometimes we have to get out of the way of ourselves. Sometimes we have to let go of our expectations, hard work, and dreams in order to move forward. My prayer today is that we follow Joseph and Joanna Gaines’ example. May we have the strength to lay down our dreams, to let go of the trajectory of our goals, and follow the One who wants to give us more than we ask or imagine.

Quiet, Trust, and Strength

 
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Happy New Year! I know I am 30 days late, but I’ve not really been online much. January is often a month of fasting or abstaining. Some people cut out meat, some hit the Keto train, while others stop drinking alcohol. As a pregnant woman who is juggling a couple of autoimmune issues, my diet is already all over the place. And so I chose a fast of a different kind. I realized my heart was all over the place. I needed to tune out the loud noises of expectations, false responsibilities, and external pressures. 

 So I decided to cut out social media. No Instagram. No Facebook. No Twitter. Nothing. I needed to quiet my heart, focus on my family, and let go. I can spend hours hooked to my iPhone, starring into an abyss of other people’s profiles, posts, and photographs. I may say I am trying to connect with people, but the truth is that I look at people’s lives and I am often left feeling pretty inadequate. The whispers of insecurity turn into raging screams and let’s be real – I am not alone. Social media is a fantastic way to connect and communicate. But it can also be something that leads to very loud noises of rejection, comparison, and insecurity. 

Within our culture, we find it easier to keep up with the Jones’ than to stop, breathe, and be quiet. Many of us find ourselves on a hamster wheel of family, career, and spirituality, and before we know it, we are caught in a trap of exhaustion. We become burned out and we are left feeling disappointed and discouraged. 

 Isaiah 30:15 says, “in quietness and trust is your strength”. Quiet. According to the Bible, strength can be found, not in ramping up your to-do list, but in quiet. And in our culture, where we’re told that we can have it all, and comparison has become the norm, it takes an active decision and a strong will to find ‘quiet’. 

And so January was a month of quiet for me. Instead of monotonous Facebook scrolling, it was a month of playing with my kids and only surfing the Internet for baby names for our son. It was a month of searching Pinterest for new recipes for my family (gluten-free, dairy-free, and toddler-friendly is not the easiest food category) and calling or texting my loved ones directly. And my heart was stilled. I didn’t miss out on much. I didn’t see the party I wasn’t invited to, or the new car that I couldn’t afford. My heart was focused on the good in my life and I found quiet.  

And what about you? What’s happening in your heart? What will help you silence the loud noises of external pressures, false responsibilities, and insecure comparisons?  

It’s good to stop and be quiet. It’s healthy to listen. I was nervous about losing contact with some people, but it was actually encouraging to unplug and focus. And without realizing it, contentment and trust came to me, and the loud noises of lack, inadequacy, and insecurity faded away. 

My New Year wish for you all is that your 2019 may be filled with peace, joy, and your heart’s desires. May this be a year where we listen to what Henri Nouwen called “the inner voice of Love”. May our confidence increase and our love for others grow.

Mess, Dirt, and Finding Beauty

 
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As Andy Williams once sang, it’s the most wonderful time of the year! Our homes are decorated, there are gifts under the tree, our kids are wearing cute outfits, families are coming together, feasts are being prepared, cookies are being baked, and festive drinks are flowing. We spend hours, days, weeks, and even months planning and prepping to make this season the best it can be. We create family traditions and soak up every moment of festive joy. 

But in the beauty of this season, it's all too easy to get caught up in the culture of “perfect”. Or maybe it’s just me, but as I strive to carve out unforgettable family memories, I easily stress over the smallest oversight I may have made. I chastise myself for blemishes in my flawless plans and panic if Christmas doesn’t look like what I want or expected.  

And can’t help feel that I am alone in this. When I talk to friends, when I look on Instagram, everyone seems to be swept up in the festivities. Instead of the season of peace and goodwill it seems like the season of stress, anxiety, and striving.

As a Christian, I believe that this is a time to celebrate the birth of Christ. In the middle of a broken world, the Son of God came to earth as a baby. Majesty, beauty and perfection left the heavens and became Man. 

 And His birth was far from what we would ever have expected.  Luke 2:11-12 says, “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 

Christ the Lord, the Savior, would be found in a manger. A manger is not a crib or a snazzy baby swing, but a structure used to feed animals. It’s something that you add to your Target or Pottery Barn baby registry, lest give to the Son of God!!! But that is where you would have found Jesus. Beauty, Majesty, and Perfection was inside a dark, dirty, messy animal shelter, not a palace or fancy birthing center. 

This blows my mind and challenges the heck out of me, because I don’t want my life to be messy. I want the perfect Christmas with the clean house, the well-behaved kids, and a plethora of presents. I want a home where people come and there’s always food and laughter. I want my life to look like a Hallmark movie, not like the nativity! I don't want to be surrounded by lack. I want beauty. I want plenty. I want perfection. 

Most people would have missed the birth of Jesus. Most people would have expected a palace, top physicians, and most definitely a clean nursery for the newborn king. But the magi and shepherds were looking for something different. They saw through the mess, the dirt, and the mundane.

I want to be like the magi and shepherds. I want to find something Divine even in the imperfections of life. I want to look past what I expect so I can encounter something priceless.

And maybe something so profound is actually happening, but we are fixated on our own version of the palace that we miss it. Maybe we can find beauty in our hearts and homes, no matter how hard we have planned, scrimped, and saved. Maybe we can embrace a glorious reality despite our expectations not being met. 

So this Christmas, let us remember that the King of kings, the ultimate power, authority, and Creator was found in mess. And if that’s good enough for God, perhaps it should be good enough for us too? 

It Takes A Village

 
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Community. We all seem to want it, but at the same time many of us seem to be repelled by it. In my conversations with people, I hear story after story of how they have been rejected or excluded from church and now they refuse to step out to build friendships.  

The Church is flawed. There’s no escaping it. It’s filled with people like you and me, and as much as I tell my husband I am practically perfect in every way, I know that my imperfections hinder, hurt, and frustrate others just as much as the next person. 

But still, no matter how busy we can make ourselves with life, we need people more than the American Dream. We need people to speak life to our hearts. We need people to champion us. We need people to love us, encourage us, and point out our blind spots. We need people to laugh with us, to believe in us, and to cheerlead us.  

Without community, our brokenness will triumph over our hopes and desires. Just look at King Saul and King David. Both were anointed king by God. Both of these men where fit to lead a nation. But both messed up. There were many differences in their leadership, but I have recently been meditating on how David allowed a man of God to speak into his life whilst Saul refused to listen to anyone. 

Like Saul, a lack of community, a lack of wise voices in our lives can ultimately be our downfall. 

But still, many of us choose to remove ourselves from community. After rejections, knock-backs, and let downs, we decide that relationships are “drama” and choose to focus our attention on only a trusted few. Some choose a trusted pastor, their spouse, or maybe a best mate. But the circle is small and it’s safe.

The ancient proverb tells us that, “It takes a village to raise a child”. But I’ve discovered it’s not just about the raising of children – it takes a village PERIOD. It takes a village to build a career. It takes a village to prosper emotionally. It takes a village to have a strong relationship with God. 

 In their best selling book, “Boundaries”, Cloud and Townsend describe;

“We all need more than God and a best friend. We need a group of supportive relationships. The reason is simple: having more than one person in our lives allows our friends to be human. To be busy. To be unavailable at times. To hurt and have problems of their own.  To have time alone. Then, when one person can’t be there for us, there’s another phone number to call. Another person who may have something to offer. And we aren’t enslaved to the schedule conflicts of one person.” (P111)

You see, when we only allow a particular one or two people into our lives, we are placing enormous pressure on them. In our quest to create a comfortable life for ourselves, we are limiting the choices of besties and giving them very limited scope to be human. So when they are unavailable, when they are hurting or needing time alone, we end up feeling rejected, let down, and totally disappointed.  

Jesus was into community. He had the three (James, John, and Peter), then the twelve disciples, and also His larger group of followers. He had pockets of friends like Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. As much as He prayed and spent time alone, people were clearly Jesus’ thing.

In this season of my life, I am discovering community with people that I never expected. It’s easy for me to choose my BFF and my husband, but it’s harder to create a wider circle. It’s scary. It makes me vulnerable. I have to work a little bit.

But my community is gradually becoming rich and varied. Some people in my community can speak to my heart and some to my parenting. Some I laugh with, some I have deep conversations with, some I can do both! Some can offer help with my littles, while others can only pop over for coffee every few months. 

So try it. Let go of your hurt. Open your heart. Don’t just focus on those who are your “first round pick”. Look beyond your inner circle and cast your net wide! Love people. Remove pressure and expectations, and give them choices. Ask God to be in the process. Ask Him to lead you to your people. Like we read in Matthew 7, if we ask God for bread, He’s not going to give us a stone. So if we ask Him for friendships, He’s not going to give us a bunch of crazies. 

Make community. Build your village. 

 

Hospitality or Entertainment?

 
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Don’t you just love it when you find a book that seems to be written just for you? Well, I’ve found MY book. Shauna Niequest’s, “Bread and Wine” literally changed my life. No lie! In 2013, when the book was newly released, I read the words Niequest penned and I felt like someone had finally put language to my love of food and people. She described how hospitality is not simply filling peoples bellies but also filling their souls, and that when we gather around a table, we are truly encountering a Divine exchange. I am definitely a “table person”. At the table we take some of my greatest loves - food, wine, and people. Sharing a dinner in a restaurant is lovely, but nothing beats a home cooked meal, shared over a family dinner table. There’s just something so rich, so loving, so intimate about the whole experience.

But I have been recently thinking about the difference between opening my home to entertain others, and opening my home to offer hospitality. I must confess, as much as I love to welcome people around my table, it’s all too easy to fall into entertainment. Dictionary.com defines entertainment as, “an act, production, that entertains; a diversion; an amusement”. You see, entertainment implies that we are putting on a performance for others. Sure, as you entertain, your guests may laugh, they might forget their troubles for a few hours, but the whole experience is something different when we practice hospitality. Hospitality makes space for people. Hospitality does not offer perfection. Hospitality is not about impressing people with your beautiful house, Top Chef culinary skills, or witty conversation, and I think that can be a major hurdle for us to overcome.

In life, it’s more convenient to entertain people rather than invite them into your home and heart. It’s much easier to perform a role, fulfill a function, and put on a mask than it is to let people see your imperfections, weaknesses, or struggles. As much as a lifestyle of vulnerability and authenticity seems appealing, the reality is that letting people close to seeing the real you is daunting.

And I am not implying that hospitality looks like a perpetual episode of Dr. Phil where we all spill our guts. Brene Brown writes in Daring Greatly (another GREAT book) that, “…over sharing is not vulnerability. In fact, it often results in disconnection, distrust, and disengagement.” (Pg 159). Hospitality is about creating space for people’s hearts, as well as their bellies. It’s about giving space for connection and cultivating trust.

Jesus was the most hospitable of humans. He could often be found in people’s homes, eating food and connecting heart-to-heart. He loved a good party and happily turned water into wine. And like I mentioned recently, we only have to look at John 11 (when Jesus comes to comfort Mary and Martha after the death of their brother, Lazarus) to see how hearts are more important to Jesus than anything else. Before He performed a miracle, before He changed the situation, Jesus approached both Mary and Martha. He talked with them. He wept with them. Jesus made space in His heart to love people, not just entertain, pacify, or distract them. And like Jesus, our goal should be connecting with people’s hearts, not wowing them or impressing them.

In the season of life I am in, hospitality has been a struggle for me. I am a stay-at-home mum with two kids under two, a third on the way, and a household filled with two dogs and a ridiculous cat.  If I am inviting people in to my home for dinner, guests will be greeted by dog hair, a slew of toys, and a very basic Keurig k-cup coffee. And if I am inviting people into my heart, people will see an exhausted mother who is trying to manage a household on one income, and with very, very limited time to spare. 

But I am learning that my community is worth the real me. I am learning that they don’t need some plastic version of me. They don’t need a millionaire Sarah who has her house professionally cleaned on a daily basis, or who serves only fancy food and drink. My people need the real me as much as I need the real them. My heart yearns for true connection rather than being entertained or pacified. Like Mary and Martha, I am learning that it’s not about Jesus changing the situation, but it’s about letting my heart be heard as well as hearing the hearts of others.

So today, let’s practice hospitality, not entertainment. Let’s create space in our hearts and homes where we can truly connect, trust, and engage. Be vulnerable. Let’s not try to wow people with our skills, but love them with an open heart. Let’s welcome them, not perform for them. It’s not perfect but it’s beautiful! 

 

It's OK to not be OK

Unless I missed it, the song “Everything Is Awesome” from the LEGO movie is no where to be found in scripture. In fact, look at the Psalms and you will read the songs and prayers of a man who knew suffering. King David knew what it was to be misunderstood, betrayed, and left mentally exhausted. And yet, most of the time, put a Christian in a painful situation, and nine times out of ten they will slap a smile on their face and recite a ridiculous number of platitudes. “I’m too blessed to be stressed” or “God’s got me. I’ll be OK” to name but a few.

Funny thing is, nowhere in the bible do we see people speaking in such clichés. Jesus Himself demonstrated that when people were hurting, He hurt too. When Lazarus had died, He didn’t walk in and say, “Hey guys! I’m here. Put a smile on your face and be grateful. I’m about to do something awesome!” No. He talked with Martha and Mary. He heard their hearts. He wept. He felt the pain of those He loved and He grieved (John 11:35).

This has been a hard week. And whilst I seek to encourage people, I have to be honest. The trenches of life, motherhood, and everything in between have been overwhelming. We all have bad days. Sometimes there are bad weeks, months, and even years and it feels like a struggle to stay positive. There are times in our lives when we feel like we are fighting one bad situation after another. And if you are like me, we feel guilty that we are feeling sad, because as a Christian, we should be joyful at all times, right?

But in John 11, Jesus showed us that He prioritized a person’s heart over a result. Before He performed the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead, He felt with, grieved with, and comforted those in pain.  In another passage of scripture, Jesus also said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4). How can you be comforted if you don’t mourn? How can you experience the true impact of the comfort of the Holy Spirit whilst you are masking your pain?

The western Church has become so very fixated with results. Some churches want results seen in healing miracles. Other churches want results in numbers of converts and church growth. And whilst it’s easy to criticize church leaders for thinking about the numbers, we all live our lives looking for results. We have specific ‘results’ that we are asking God for and we ask for them everyday. Have my prayers been answered yet? Do I have the promotion that I have been asking God for? Has that family drama been resolved? Do I have the money to buy a new car? Why am I not married yet? Is the doctor going to call me and tell me that I am healed? Please God, let me go full-term and not miscarry another baby.

And whilst praying for these things is a good thing, becoming fixated on the ‘result’ can be so destructive to our hearts. When circumstances don’t change in accordance with our timeline, disappointment and resentment seeps into our hearts. Before we know it, we are mad at God for forgetting about us but we are simultaneously trying to keep a smile on our faces. 

But like we saw with Lazarus, He walked up to Mary and Martha and loved them BEFORE He gave them a ‘result’. He mourned with them, cried with them, and let them know that He was present. 

So today, whatever you are dealing with, whatever result you are not seeing, whatever grief is gripping your heart, put down the mask and let your heart be seen. Know that your God loves you more than your circumstance. As scripture shows, your pain matters. It’s OK to be in pain. It’s not a sin to grieve. But before He performs a miracle, maybe He wants to come close and comfort you? Maybe He wants to grieve with you and let you know that He is with you? 

It’s OK to not be OK, just keep your heart open to God and let Him come close to you.

One Tiny Step Is All It Takes

Within the Church, the word ‘faith’ is thrown around pretty often. We are told to have faith for provision when we are facing financial pressures. We need faith to be healed when our Oncologist calls with bad news. We need faith that our families will be reconciled after years of brokenness. 

And maybe it’s just me, but I feel this weight of responsibility that if I don’t have faith, then my prayers are not going to be answered. People tell you to have faith because that pleases God (Hebrew 11:6), but how do you have faith when, quite frankly, you’re struggling to trust God?

There are times in our faith journeys when we are holding on to a thread of hope that God is going to answer us. We live in such a broken world surrounded by rejection, death, and disappointment that it can become difficult to believe God will answer us. Honestly, it can get exhausting to muster up any ounce of faith.

I was recently reading Hebrews 11, the chapter of the bible that explores the faith of the Old Testament heroes. Noah had faith to be ridiculed and yet build an ark (v7), Abraham had faith to leave his home (v8), Sarah had faith to birth Isaac when she was in her nineties (v11), and Moses had faith to cross the Red Sea (v29). As you study the lives of these people, they all had moments of disbelief and struggle, but as I read this passage, I initially felt pressure to have some kind of colossal faith. I mean, their faith must have been MASSIVE, like the size of an ocean, to see all that they saw in their lives. And you know what, sometimes my faith seems to be more like the size of a small puddle.

In Matthew 17:20, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” 

Hmmmm, just the faith of a mustard seed? This seems like a stark contrast to what we read in Hebrews 11 because I assume that Noah, Abraham, and Moses had a lot more faith than me!

Matthew 25 gives us another perspective on faith. You may be familiar with the story - Jesus describes three different people who were given a certain number of ‘talents’ by their boss before he went on a journey. One was given five talents, another two talents, and another was given one talent. The five-talent guy went away, took a risk, invested his talents, and made another five talents. Likewise, the two-talent guy went away, took a risk, invested his talents, and made another two talents. But the one-talent guy played it safe, and just buried his talent to make sure he wouldn’t lose what little he had. The first two guys were rewarded and described as, “good and faithful”, but the one-talent guy, who said he was afraid that he would lose his one talent, was punished for being wicked and lazy.

In our messed-up world, too often we behave like the one-talent guy. It’s not that we feel like we are being lazy, but we are paralyzed into self-preservation. To step out, to be vulnerable, to have faith seems too risky. So we bury all that we have in order to play it safe. You were fired, so why have faith that you will have another fulfilling job? Your parents divorced when you were a child, so why trust that God will give to you a faithful spouse? You miscarried multiple children, so why risk believing you can be a mum when you are still grieving the loss of your babies?

As tempting as it is to compare ourselves to spiritual greats, the truth is that God honors our small steps of faith. Yes, Noah, Abraham, and Moses accomplished huge things, but they also wrestled with their own fears. These heroes kept putting one foot in front of another and did not stop trusting God. And God came through for them because He honored that mustard seed faith that seemed almost insignificant. 

God is pleased when we step out just a tiny bit. And for each one of us, the step looks oh so different. For some who have lost jobs, sending out resumes feels like you are baring your soul for all to see. For those feeling lonely and rejected, Facebooking an acquaintance and inviting them for coffee is terrifying. Your step, your faith will be manifested in an unique way, but never discount the courage it has taken for you to get out of your comfort zone and dare to believe that God will come through for you.

You’ve got what it takes. You have the faith of [insert your name here]. And when you choose to step out, when you choose to believe God over your fears, your doubts, and insecurities, you will see that you can move mountains. It just takes one tiny step.

The Real You

We live in a world where words like “authentic” and “transparent” have become oh, so popular. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, I remember power-suits, flashy cars, and huge mobile phones being the status symbols that demanded respect. But these have been traded in, and now we admire the celebrity who confesses weakness. We distrust politicians who have never shown their imperfections, and we value counselors and therapists as much as regular MDs.  

We are hungry for connection. We are crying out for real relationship where there is no transactional exchange, only heart-to-heart communication. We are aching to find a safe place to rest our souls where we are seen, heard, and known.

We are craving love. 

But despite craving love, despite craving authentic, transparent relationships, we still fear people seeing the real us.  And when I mean the real us, I am not just talking about our emotions or likes and dislikes. I am talking about the ‘us ‘that doesn’t quite have it all together. I am referring to the  ‘us’ that lives with older cars, ill-fitting clothes, or a home that is certainly not Pinteresty.

As I mentioned last week, Brene Brown talks about “scarcity” and how we are wired in our culture to be hyperaware of lack, rather than success or plenty. So we look at our homes, and we see what we need to buy in order to make our houses ‘perfect’. Then we look at our cars that don’t have a Bluetooth phone connection and we want to upgrade. Then we look in our closets and we decide to forsake our boots from last winter and buy the new sassy ones we saw in Nordstrom. 

But fixating on our material possessions means we are missing the mark. In our authentic and transparent world, we are truly hungering for something deeper than the latest farmhouse table or a 2019 Honda Odyssey (I am about to be a mum of 3. Yes. I dream of a mini-van!!!) 

And this is not just limited to our material possessions. We treat our own spiritual giftings and anointings in the same way. Instead of sharing honestly about our weaknesses, we like to show people that we are eloquent speakers, musicians, or leaders. We like to inform people that God has gifted us and therefore, they should listen. It’s as though our accomplishments, as well as our possessions, give us authority, worth, and significance.

But the Bible says something quite different. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul explains that, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, NIV, emphasis mine)

So basically, no matter how talented you are, no matter how well you can hear God, or how amazingly you move in powerful miracles, IF YOU DO NOT LOVE, YOU ARE NOTHING. If you have a massive house, a brand-new car, and a closet full of gorgeous clothes, but you don’t love, you are nothing. If you have the ‘perfect’ life, but loving people is not your thing, you are nothing but a loud, annoying cymbal.

So what is love? Love is taking off the mask of perfection and inviting people to gather around your table. Love is letting go of your fixation with your lack and allowing people close, even if they see the dirt on your kitchen cabinets. Love is saying, “You are worth the real me, not the fake, plastic version of myself”. That is love. 

Just as Paul wrote, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”. (1 Corinthians 13:4 NIV, emphasis mine) 

So today, embrace your life. Whether you are rich or poor, leading in your dream career or following a boss in a dead-end job, may you love those around you. Don’t boast, don’t be proud, don’t seek to look perfect - just love. Take off the mask, let people see your home with the broken chairs, let people come close. Because people don’t want plastic, they want you, the real you.

Nothing Missing Nothing Lacking

It’s kinda cute when you watch those videos on YouTube of kids talking about what they want to be when they grow up. If you would have asked a five-year-old me, my profession of choice ranged from doctor to princess (married to Princes William or Harry of course). But our ambitions soon evolve from cute dreams to real-life goals. We figure out our strengths and weaknesses. I struggled with science in school and after confusing the word feces and fetus I finally realized my medical ambitions were over! We make career goals, which ebb and flow with our personal goals. We want to find our soul mate, whilst having financial stability and a fulfilling career. Maybe add a nice house, a good car, some little kiddos, and a strong community around us.

But many of us struggle to keep up with the timeline of our dreams. By the time we hit our late twenties and then into our thirties and forties, some are stuck in dead end jobs, some are longing for marriage, and others are dealing with bankruptcy. It’s so easy to feel like we are in lack and that our lives look nothing like what we had hoped or imagined.

In her book, Daring Greatly, Brene Brown writes about the concept of “scarcity”. She describes how we live in a culture of “never enough”. From the moment we wake up in the morning, we immediately tell ourselves that we did not get enough sleep, which soon slips into believing that we do not have enough time to get things done. “Scarcity thrives in a culture where everyone is hyperaware of lack. Everything from safety and love to money and resources feels restricted or lacking.” (Page 26)

Brene is right – scarcity is so embedded into our thinking that it is a discipline to consider that we are actually living in success and plenty.

2 Peter 1:3 says that God’s “divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.” The Bible is not saying that we are in lack, but in fact God has given us everything we need for life (money, skills, resources, housing, food, toys for the kids etc.) and godliness (the spiritual stuff so we can actually have a relationship with God and grow as spiritual beings). Everything. Nothing missing. Nothing lacking. We have everything we need.

And please note, the Bible is not saying that God has given us all we need to keep up with the Jones’, or even our projected life-plan. Yes, the Jones’ seem to have their life on track with their dreams; they have the money, the career, and the seemingly well-behaved kids, but maybe it’s time to let go of the expectations we have put on ourselves? For the sake of our sanity, maybe we need to let go of the time-sensitive agenda and be content with our little houses, or our frugal budgets that mean we can’t always buy organic produce? Maybe it’s time to surrender the dreams of annual family vacations and be happy with taking day trips to the beach or the mountains, and packing homemade sandwiches?

And as we shift our perspective, may we see that a lack of money, relationships, or career doesn’t mean we have failed or that we are inferior to others. Sometimes the seasons of tight finances, tough work environments, or pressured family relationships are about us recalibrating our hearts. It’s not that we deny the lack, but we surrender the shortfalls and choose to believe that our story is not over. We have been given everything we need to get through today and the next season is not too far away

So today, my prayer for us all surrender scarcity and embrace contentment. Our current situations are not forever. As we press forward, our lives will look oh so different in one year, five years, and ten years. Let us not look at what others are doing, let us not compare. Let us forgo our own expectations of our lives and let us look at the good, cherish the gifts, and let go of the pressure to have more. Let’s be a people who engage our hearts in the present rather than self-medicate on fantasies of what the future could bring. 

May we see that God has given us all we need for life and godliness! But may we also have the grace to accept that it might not be enough to keep up with the Jones’, or even our own expectations.

A Longing Fulfilled

I talk to a lot of people who would describe themselves as being in a time of “waiting”. It can be a hard season, where you struggle to accept the longings of your heart and it’s too easy to fall into comparison and disappointment. Some people are waiting for their bodies to be healed, some are waiting to meet their spouse, some are waiting to be free from the label ‘infertile’, some are waiting for family drama to subside, while some are waiting for their finances to increase. The list is endless but the frustration in that time is real. 

This season is not unfamiliar territory for me. I didn’t get married until I was 32 (and I wanted to marry from the moment I was born!!). After that, my husband and I walked through two years of recurrent miscarriages. And on top of that, my husband’s career experienced many bumps in the road! No matter what I was “waiting” for, whether marriage, children, or financial stability, people would try and encourage me to not give up on God. I was confused, disheartened, and sometimes angry. And a common piece of advice I’d receive was, “God will give you what you want when you’re not looking for it”. These people were well meaning, but instead of feeling encouraged or empowered, I felt like their words punished me for having dreams and heart’s desires.  

I understand that for some, their heart’s desires become an obsession. But a big indicator of the health of dreams is how they are affecting our behavior. Are you stabbing coworkers in the back to climb the corporate ladder? Are you embezzling money to build your business? Are you abandoning your own beliefs in order to find or keep a date? If the answers to these questions are ‘no’, then you can be confident that you are not dominated by your heart’s desires. Your prayers, your wants are not destroying you – in fact they may have been given to you by God so that He can lead you in the path that He has for you! Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33, NKJV). This is incredibly practical advice! He’s saying that as long as you are putting God first (His values, His love for you, His love for others), everything will be given to you. Heck, HE WANTS TO GIVE IT TO YOU! 

In the book of Proverbs, it is written, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12, NKJV). Hmmm…. That’s interesting. It doesn’t say, “Stop desiring, stop hoping, stop longing, because only then can you be given what you want.” No! The Bible actually acknowledges that delayed hope, delayed dreams make your heart suffer. BUT WHEN IT COMES, IT WILL BE A TREE OF LIFE. 

My husband loves trees. He always notices them wherever we go. Whilst I am glued to the GPS on my iPhone, he’s taking in the clouds in the sky and the trees that surround us. He often tells me that trees are a firm part of our landscape. Trees don’t just come and go like little plants, they grow over years and decades, and remain for centuries. And trees don’t need much care. They soak up the sun, absorb the rain, and do what they do during all four seasons. And they are a shelter. You can hide under a tree and find shade. I should probably pay more attention because my husband’s right - trees are awesome!

And we rarely consider how long it takes to grow a tree. They slowly grow roots into the earth and with equal speed, grow upwards. It takes decades for a tree to be established. And the answers to our prayers can often come at the same pace.  

But despite their tarried arrival, when our heart’s desires arrive, the things we have longed for, they will be a longstanding shelter and shade in our lives. They won’t be high-maintenance areas of our lives that constantly need tending. Our heart’s desires will be a place of rest, a place of peace. They will be a tree of life! 

So don’t fight your dreams. Stop feeling guilty that you want marriage, children, a career, family reconciliation, or financial gain. These are all good things. Just seek God first and let everything else be added, because when they come, they will be a tree of life.

The Weight In The Wait

There’s an epidemic sweeping across the homes of America. As I spend my time talking with people, there are many who struggle with the same issue. 

Invisibility. Many of us feel unseen. Many of us feel like we are consumed in the grind of the day, whether it’s raising little kids, building a career, or caring for elderly family. We are caught in an avalanche of tasks, paying bills, and satisfying needy people, and it seems like “self-care” is a million miles away. 

And social media only tells us how much other people have got their stuff together, how friends are killing their career goals, and how others are spending cash that can only be sourced from some secret benefactor. Seriously. We look at others and it’s too easy to slip down a spiral of self-criticism, comparison, and even regret. We start to second-guess the choices we have made and we wonder why we are so tired, so drained, and so depleted. And it feels like no one else notices. Or at least, you are the lone sailor on the ship of obscurity. 

In the midst of it all, God has something to say to our loneliness and exhaustion. He doesn’t say we have missed it. He doesn’t say we should regret the choices we have made. In fact He promises to make all things beautiful (Ecclesiastes 3:11). God doesn’t say that we are not enough; He says we have everything we need for everyday life and spirituality (2 Peter 1:3). He says He sees us, He knows us, and He values us (Psalm 139). 

But it doesn't feel like that. We feel forgotten. We feel far away from our dreams. We feel stuck in a life full of responsibilities and wonder if we will ever see our prayers answered. 

Like most of America, I have been enthralled by the rise of Michael Ketterer. If you have not heard of him, he’s a worship leader with United Pursuit who recently tried out for America’s Got Talent. He’s struck gold and the video of his audition has been viewed over 12 million times on YouTube (if you’ve not seen it, give it a quick Google). We all know worship leaders who have longed, or are still longing to be “discovered”. They know they have skills and abilities and yet they feel unseen to the rest of the world. But Michael Ketterer didn’t just sit and wait to be discovered. He worked faithfully as a Pediatric nurse. He served kids in his city and provided for his family. He adopted 5 children from the foster care system. He got on with the day-to-day of life and loved his family well. 

And when Michael walked on that America’s Got Talent stage to share his song and his story, America listened. There was weight. As Simon Cowell said, there was something special about him.

Look at Candace Payne, the Chewbacca-Mask Mom. As a young twenty-something, she was building a career as a comedian. But she realized her jokes were cynical about the church. She knew that if she continued to walk down the comedy path, she wasn’t going to give glory to God, but in fact dishonor Him. So she gave it up. Then she married and had kids, and they became her world. She led worship in her church. She was not working towards a book deal or a predominant career. Then one day, she took some things back to Kohl’s and picked up a Chewbacca mask in the clearance section. With excitement, she ran back to her car and made a quick Facebook Live video showing off the mask. Her video was so popular, that the unknown housewife broke Facebook! Within a week, her Chewbacca mask video had been viewed 140 million times, making it most viewed Facebook Live video of all time. Candace now has a flourishing career as an author and comedian. She has book deals, live tours, and an insane number of followers on social media. 

Neither of these people were on a track for fame or success. They were loving and serving the people right in front of them. They were working hard to provide. They were giving to people. And when the time was right, they were propelled towards their dreams.

Contrary to what we hear in our dog-eat-dog world, WEIGHT is given in the WAIT.  

Many of us have been given gifts and anointings from heaven. Some are musicians, some are business leaders, some are Christian leaders. But we can get disheartened as the minutia of life overwhelms us. Your kids need their diapers changed. Your boss has brought your deadline forward. An elderly neighbor needs help with some errands. 

And the dreams that once sparked inside our hearts seem to fizzle out. 

King David was anointed king but it took another twenty years for him to be appointed king. And during those years, he was being fashioned into a person of compassion, humility, and emotional freedom. He had his flaws, but he was a king who went down in history as being a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). 

But there have been too many servants of God who have been crushed by their anointings. We know who they are. We read the headlines and see their falls from grace. Like King Saul, David’s predecessor, their own insecurities triumphed over their anointings. Some embezzled money, some abused, whilst others slept around. Their gifts crushed them.

But in the wait, as your weight grows, you will not be crushed by your anointing. Instead, your anointing will serve you as you are appointed. Your spirit, soul, and body will work in synergy rather than in opposition to one another.

So today, know you are seen. Know you are loved. Know you are heard. Know that God wants you to thrive and not be crushed. Know that your wait is giving space for weight.

  

 

Complaining, moaning, and having a good grumble (Promises Part 4)

Many if us say we want to live with a real and honest faith. We say we are tired of the “fake it till you make it” mentality, so we can often pendulum into extreme negativity. We assume that by venting our frustrations we are living authentically. 

However, I have found that real and honest truth is not found in the midst of my circumstances. My circumstances often speak of my lack, insecurities, and fears. Everything on earth will chop and change. My emotions change. My bank balance fluctuates. My relationships ebb and flow. But God is my constant. God is faithful. My spiritual perspective speaks of hope, victory, and freedom.

So there’s something powerful about lifting our eyes up to God. There’s something life changing about tuning into God rather than allowing the wavelength of our circumstances to scream out. 

In the early chapters of Joshua we read the story of Jericho. This was the first city that the Hebrews were taking in their Promised Land. After centuries of slavery, and then decades of wondering in the desert, finally the Promise of God was here! 

But they still had to fight for the land. There was still going to be an invasion. There was still going to be battle. And as much as the Canaanites of Jericho were melting in fear (Joshua 2:24), there was still a risk that the Hebrews would lose. I mean, after all, they were a people accustomed to slavery and the wilderness. Victory would have been unusual.  

But instead of relying on their past behaviors, like stewing in disappointment, complaining, or building idols, the Hebrews did something unique; they tuned into God’s voice, listened to what He said, and they marched around the city in silence six times before raising their voices in a cry of victory. Instead of moaning, instead of succumbing to pessimism, instead of losing heart, the Hebrews obeyed God’s seemingly strange instruction to take the land. They decided to trust God. They took courage and chose to believe that God was leading them and that He was not going to give them over to defeat. 

And on the seventh day, the walls came toppling down and Jericho was won.

How many of us can learn from the Hebrews example? How many of us need to align our hearts with the Truth that God will never leave us or forsake us? How many of us need to overcome our own insecurities and listen to what God is leading us to do? How many of us need to raise our voice in praise and thanksgiving, rather than moaning and complaining?

As much as grumbling feels good, it hinders us from advancing forward. Trust and praise are keys to unlocking victory but negativity keeps us on an endless road of defeat. Our complaining prolongs God’s Promises but our praise releases His victory.

In the midst of the storm, we need to acknowledge who God is. We need to speak it out. We need to sing worship songs and lift our eyes to Jesus.  It’s not faking it because we are acknowledging the truth of who He is and who He has made us to be. 

So lift up your eyes. Look to the One who fights for you and is changing you from glory to glory. Look to the One who loves and empowers you. And watch as the walls that surround your Promise come tumbling down. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Unexpected Direction (Promises Part 3)

I’m sure I’m not alone if I say I often feel like I am walking along the road less travelled. And sometimes the hardest thing to do is to let go of the plan I have set out for my life and allow God to navigate me. When I see what I think is the quickest way to get to my promises, surrendering to Him is the last thing I want to do. 

We all get tired of the wait. We all get frustrated, exhausted, and disappointed. We want results and we want them right now!

But what if God is leading us on a safer road? Rather than exposing us to disaster, what if this road protects us from attack or intimidation? What if God knows the things that will terrify us and He wants to shelter us? What if this crazy long path we are currently treading is actually the most successful road to our dreams?

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NOT WHAT WE EXPECT - PROMISES (PART 2)

When it comes to our ‘promises’, we don’t expect to have to work hard or fight. Whether spirit, soul, or body, we think God has assured us that He is giving something to us, and therefore it’s going to be easy. And then the tension rises. We realize we are going to have to fight for our marriages, our families, and our careers. We see that the desires of our hearts don’t just fall into our laps, but there are ‘giants’ in the way. Then we crumble. We question ourselves and doubt God. We don’t want to fight. We don’t want to have to work for it. And it’s not because we are lazy, but it’s because we FEAR.

 

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Good Friday - It is not the end

Good Friday is an awkward day in the Christian calendar. Typically, Holidays are times of celebration, freedom, and joy. But not Good Friday. It’s a day to remember that disappointment, grief, and pain are all a part of faith. We remember that Jesus wept so hard he sweated blood. We remember that He begged in prayer, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.” And yet He yielded His heart to God’s plan and He surrendered Himself over to the authorities. (Matt 26:39). We remember that the disciples were utterly confused as to what was going on. We remember that Peter cut off one of the soldiers ears, and promised to never deny Jesus only to deny Him hours later. We remember that this band of misfits who loved and followed Jesus watched him die a torturous criminal’s death.

Nothing made sense on Good Friday. Years of following Jesus seemed wasted. There was only death. Death of hopes and dreams. Death of a teacher, friend, and savior. Death.

But it wasn’t the end. Guys, we know that only three days later they would discover the tomb was empty. But a couple of millennium ago, they had no idea what the future would hold.

For many of us, we have experienced an anesthetized Christian faith where we have had little permission to feel pain, loss, or anger. There’s almost a guilt attached to negative emotions like we are failing at the Christian faith if we are not joyful at all times. 

But remember Good Friday. Remember the day when the followers of Jesus only knew sorrow and heartache. Remember no matter how far they ran, doubted, or hid, Jesus came through for them. Remember that they didn't have to "get it right", or even understand what was going on, because resurrection was only three days away.

No. Good Friday was not the end. 

The Best Wine

"I am the Vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit” (John 15:5)

You don’t have to be a horticultural expert to know that a branch cut from the vine will die. The vine gives life to the branches enabling them to grow.

As Christians, we are happy to remain connected to our Vine, God, when life is going well. We have the job we want, the spouse we love, and the finances we desire. We praise Him. We go to church with smiles on our faces and thankfulness in our hearts.

But when we are in pain, when we are disappointed or depressed, we tend to back away from God. We try to hide or suppress our hurt from Him as if we are only acceptable when life is great. We try to fake it because we tell ourselves that we need the happy feelings to succeed at the Christian life. And, somehow, without the happy feels, we are failing. So we lose connection.

But you don’t have to be OK. You don’t have to mask your true self. You don’t have to bury pain in order to be acceptable. Honestly – God wants all of you. Good. Bad. High. Low. Quiet. Loud. He wants it all. Just remain in Him. Keep connected to Him. Pray. Cry. Yell. Just stay connected.

In the world of Sommeliers, it is commonly known that wine made from vines that have suffered make the best wine. Through storms and droughts the roots have gone deep into the ground and the grapes produced give a rich, creative, flavor-filled wine. These vines and branches have been tried and tested, and refused to die. And the fruit they produce are distinctive and are very much sought after. These are the wines that are some of the rarest and most expensive you can find.

As we suffer, don’t shut down our hearts. The Vine Himself is suffering with us. He is digging deep wells in the spirit to sustain and nourish us. He is making us exceptional. And the fruit we produce together is going to be rich, outstanding, and priceless.

Remain in Him and you will bear much fruit. And not just OK fruit, but the best, most excellent fruit.

Just remain.

 

THE WHOLE HEART

A dear friend of mine is walking through some deep healing. I love this person fiercely and I know that the pain she has endured has been debilitating. She is a brave soul. She could have chosen to bury her grief and “get over it”, but for the health of her marriage and parenting, she’s not hiding from her heart.

In my experience, she is exceptional. Most of us are not that courageous. We fear addressing our brokenness. And counseling or therapy are like cuss words that are not suitable for polite conversation. Or perhaps a secret disease that we shouldn’t talk about in public. Like catching herpes or something, we don’t feel we can talk openly about needing help emotionally. It’s as though there’s a shame attached to it. We don't want others to see that we don't have our stuff together. And particularly in the Church, we can feel a pressure to communicate to others that we are OK. We even hide from God. We sing praises to him and give Him all the good things, but we hold back the deep and ugly places of our hearts. We don't want anyone, including God, to think that we lack faith or that we are simply crazy. So we bury our pain in hopes that it will go away. But the wounds linger in the depths of our hearts.

We don’t fault a person for needing physical therapy after they have a car accident, so why do we feel like we have failed when we need help after an emotional trauma? Divorce. Miscarriage. Job loss. Rejection. Abuse. Robbery. Assault. These are all traumas to the soul, and yet we quick to tell ourselves that we should pull ourselves together and "get over it".

The Bible says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs‬ ‭4:23‬ ‭NIV‬‬) Wow. Everything we do - work, rest, and play, all comes from our hearts. The heart is the rudder that will change the course and direction of our lives. But if a heart has experienced a trauma, and it has never healed, how can anything in life thrive? How can our relationships, careers, and faith journeys grow in a positive way? How can our lives reflect Jesus when we shut our hearts down and bury our injuries?

We see the dangers of not dealing with our wounds in the life of King Saul. Both Saul and David were chosen by God to be king. They both had their strengths, they both led Israel to military victories, and both had every earthly possession they could want. And while David is known as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), Saul is known as a jealous king who spent most of his reign hunting David down.

Jealousy is not born out of a whole, emotionally healthy heart. Jealousy arises from our insecurities. We look at another person and we want what they have. Like King Saul, we might possess all the wealth we could want, have all the power and autonomy we could dream of, and have succeeded in our chosen careers, but still, someone can come along and their very presence brings out our ugly emotions. David was just a shepherd who knew how to play an instrument, but after Goliath’s defeat, Saul was consumed with jealousy. David received the highest praise of Israel and this paralyzed Saul. His ugly emotions surfaced and he was powerless to control them. His crazy drove him to hunt David down. It didn’t matter what he owned or achieved, he wanted David dead.

David messed up in his life too. Like Saul, David wanted something that belonged to another. He wanted Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba. He wanted her so badly that he sent Uriah to the front line so he would be killed. At this point in his career he could have had any woman he wanted (he was the king!) but his ugly emotions caused him to murder another man just so he could marry Bathsheba.

BUT…when David saw the error of his ways (2 Samuel 12), he was humble enough to confess and repent. His jealousy did not drive him. Instead his humility led him to repentance. I often wonder what David did for all those years as a shepherd. He would have been alone for hours and hours. He was known as a talented musician (1 Samuel 16:18) so perhaps he sat in the fields, playing and singing? Maybe he was talking with God about life? Maybe he was addressing his own hurts and disappointments with God? Maybe he was processing his frustrations and pain? And even though I am not sure what David did in the fields, it certainly appears that he did the work that was needed to become emotionally healthy. Despite setbacks in life (his brothers didn’t think much of him, he had to wait years to become king, and the king wanted him dead), David’s insecurities did not govern him.

Saul, on the other hand, became consumed with pride and jealousy. He was determined to kill David. He was so broken that this unhealthy obsession took over his life and he would not stop until David was dead.

One king had dealt with their emotional traumas, while the other did not. One became a king “after God’s own heart”, the other was rejected by God. Both had issues, but only one was brave enough to deal with them.

When God is leading you to address your brokenness, it’s not because you are crazy, it’s because He wants you to succeed in life. Like David, you may have sat on the sidelines for years. You may have been misunderstood by your siblings (1 Samuel 17:28), you may have been continually rejected by your leader, but choosing to operate out of emotional wholeness is the key to your success. Opening your heart to God and others is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. Like my friend, you are the brave ones who are being prepared for success. You can be the king of one of the most powerful nations on the planet, but if you have not dealt with your past, your past will dominate you. You will be driven by insecurity.

Your heart is precious. Your heart is loved. And your heart will determine your future. God wants to give you success. Let Him have access to your heart. Let Him make the broken places beautiful! Let God’s truth soothe the torment in your soul. Grieve. Process. Embrace the pain so that healing can embrace you.



 

I Will Rise - Poem

Sometimes we writers get a little writers block. We blame our demanding schedules, messy homes and family commitments, but sometimes we just need to get around like-minded people to bring out the nuggets of creativity.

My church, Big House, has a Creative Writing Group. After months of distractions, procrastination and excuses, I started to attend the group and I love it! We are real, raw and creative. We share our writing, cheerlead one another and discuss finding the Creator in the midst of our jumbled emotions. 

But we get out of our comfort zones! We were recently set the task of finding a Pablo Neruda poem and, by imitating its form, writing our own poem. My first contribution to the group was a poem called, I Will Rise. It felt like therapy penning the words, so I didn't expect anyone to like my poem. However, I read it during our Sunday service last week and I was surprised by people's positive reactions. I was even asked by a few people for a copy, so here it is. I hope you enjoy too!


I WILL RISE

Should you choose to leave me,

Should you choose to give up,

I will die, then I will rise.

 

I thought you were a part of me,

I thought you defined me,

I was wrong.

 

I will rise.

 

With my marooned soul,

It was there I was found.

 

Where hunger reigns,

And thirst wrings my mind,

Where blazing sun slaughters life,

I will not die.

 

Victory is not mine to take,

But it’s a gift I have been given,

I find shelter.

Even though I am down,

I hear the ticking clock,

And rise by “ten”.

 

No. You think you’ve won.

You think it’s a knockout.

But if you my light, my sun,

If you refuse to shine,

Darkness will consume my soul,

Music will be mute,

Beauty will be but a blur,

My limp and maimed soul will fight on,

I will want to die,

But I shall breathe.

You shaped this heart,

And you know my strength.

Even when I lose hope,

Hope finds its way home.