|360 Degrees of Transformation||
I just dropped my baby girl off at a birthday party. I left her there, her first solo birthday party without anyone who knows about her difficulties. I left my phone number, walked out the door, came home and cried.
There is a fear with letting your child spread their wings. I don't doubt that she is capable. Her teachers and I have taught her well. We have taught her how to control her emotions and behaviors. We have given her options and solutions for those difficulties that we all encounter, but which strike her in different ways, and in ways one doesn't expect.
No, my fear comes from the incredible hurt that she has experienced when she is in the middle of her struggles, and when other kids push her to the edge, knowing she will react in an extravagant fashion. While they might get a good show and a scapegoat, Eliska is harmed because these situations further cement in her core that she is a failure, that she is someone who isn't deserving of love and respect.
My fear is not an irrational one. I have seen what other kids do to her. It has taken a lot of work to build my girl back up when kids, who are just being kids, have torn her apart. I'm torn apart right along with her. I can feel my heart crack, and break apart in slivers, when she is sobbing from the fallout of a situation with her peers.
So I have fear, understandably.
Thankfully, I also have trust. I trust that she knows what to do if she is pushed to the edge. While I don't know her friend's mother that well, I know she has spent time with Eliska in shared classrooms over the years, and both her and her daughter seem to really like Eliska. I trust that Eliska does have friends in her peer group who really like her. That was confirmed when I dropped her off with the excited gasps and wide eyes of one of the little girls who saw that she was there. I trust that God has a great plan for Eliska that includes the success of this party. I trust that God has put dreams in Eliska that will keep her pushing towards loving herself, and loving others.
This trust is stronger than the fear today. And while I may come home and cry, I know that in two hours, I will go pick her up and cry because she is such a big girl, and I'm so proud of her. I am proud of all she has accomplished for herself, and I am proud of how far she has come from that tiny, angry, and scared little girl who expressed such deep self-hatred. My daughter born with a broken heart, who God is healing and making new. Thank You Jesus!
Since I was young, the scale was my enemy. Every year, despite the opinions of others, my opinion of myself diminished, until my personal value, my self-esteem, was negative. And after the pregnancy of my first daughter, I never really lost weight. I gained, and gained, and gained.
When you don't see value in your life, what reason do you have to help yourself be healthier?
The lower my self-esteem became, the higher my weight went up. I fed my depression and my anxiety. The beasts were hungry and I was their slave.
Its a battle in my life to be healthy. It is one of my hardest battles.
Food: I hate it, and I love it. What others can accomplish with ease sends me into anxiety. Meal planning, shopping, trying to be creative and healthy. I hate it all. My mind shuts down. I get angry and frustrated. If I am not careful, I can slip and fall. Food shouldn't be a big deal. And most people aren't going to understand. But, sometimes, in my life, food and shame go hand in hand.
Exercise: It sounds so good in theory. I'm great at making plans. But there are many excuses. I'm too tired. I'm too embarrassed. I don't have time. Even if you have done it for a while, it is so easy to get into the mode of not doing it.
Fear: Is anyone else scared of a life out of control? Gaining weight, and the excessive problems that come with that? Death is permanent.
Motivation: What is your motivation for a healthy lifestyle?
You see it everyday on most magazine covers and other media. Standing in the checkout line, all those photo-shopped faces and bodies staring out at you. Skinny models wearing so much make-up that it looks like they are barely wearing anything. Women working out, no hair out of place, sweating just enough to have that glow. You can say in your head all the time that they aren't real, but getting yourself to actually believe that is a struggle. Next to those magazines are the cooking ones. Usually they have beautiful, delicious-looking food that you are probably denying yourself because you want to look like those computerized women. Media shouts out "Here is what you should look like, but you should also be feeding this to your family." "You are doing it wrong." "You are not good enough."
Opinions of others-
Well-meaning comments of people who only have your best interests in mind. Shameful comments designed to encourage you to change. Careless comments that dig in deep like a shard of glass. Pulling it out leaves a trickle of blood and pain. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. LIE. Words are damaging and dangerous.
High cholesterol. High blood sugar. Dehydration. Chest pains. Painful joints. Hurts to walk. Out of breath. Sick all the time. Difficulties recovering from sickness and injury. Depression. Anxiety. Stress. Stress. Stress.
Truth: Here is the reality. As long as YOU are speaking negatively to yourself, things won't change. Your body listens to your mind. Your heart listens to your mind. And when your heart is hurting, your mind bows down.
Your changes begin today. You start by exercising your right to speak positively about yourself. When negative thoughts enter in, smash them flat. Don't give it a chance to take up space. Immediately fill that spot with a counteractive positive thought.
"I'm a failure." SMASH "I'm successful."
"Ugly" SMASH "Beautiful"
"Unloveable" SMASH "Loved and loving"
ETC.........you get the idea.
The reality is that you are someone pretty special. You will make mistakes, like every human on the earth. Give yourself grace to fall down and get back up. Give yourself grace to learn.
I am still battling, but I know I will win this war. My struggles aren't as intense as they used to be because I had to learn how to talk to myself in a positive way. I have thirty years of garbage that was stored up. It is a difficult process, but gets easier along the way.
How many years of garbage are you hanging onto?
It is time to clean house, my friend.
Start now. You are____________.
What are tears?
Google definition: a drop of clear salty liquid secreted from glands in a person's eye when they cry or when the eye is irritated.
They are more than that. Tears are the tangible evidence of emotion. Tears of happiness, grief, frustration, anger, fear, manipulation, awe, inspiration...the list can be endless.
I was in junior high, I think, when I started to hate myself for crying. I learned that it was a weakness. As I got older, I tried to force myself not to cry, so by the time I was in my late teens, I just didn't. And then it took years before I was able to let myself cry again.
I had heard somewhere that holding tears in can be toxic. I don't know scientifically if that is accurate, but it makes sense. Holding on to my tears certainly didn't make things better for me. What am I going to do with all those tears I kept hidden, anyways? What good are they to me?
Why were tears a weakness to me? Maybe because it was involuntary. It represented a lack of control. It showed my emotion, and showing emotion was a dangerous thing in my life. If you show the weakness of emotion, you will be hunted down and killed. What a lie!
It isn't wrong to cry. It isn't wrong for women, and it isn't wrong for men. God has made us with this ability. Even Jesus cried. John 11:35 If Jesus cried, why do I think I need to be stronger than Him? How can I even attempt to be stronger than Him?
What does God do with our tears?
You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn
through the sleepless nights,
Each tear entered in your ledger,
each ache written in your book.
God sees every tear, and keeps track.
Crying takes courage. It is courageous to share emotions with those around you.
Crying releases control. Unclenching my hands from the reins of my life, and with my mouth telling God to take over has been the best decision I've ever made. It has brought more tears, but these are ones that are healing. Sometimes I'm grabbing back the reins, but the more I remember and give it back, the easier it is to let Him steer. I prefer a life with God in control and not me. When I thought I was in control, I still wasn't. My life was unsafe, I was miserable, and I almost died.
I give control of my life and myself to God. I will wait on His perfect timing. He helps me have the courage to weep, to tell people what I am feeling or struggling with, to ask for help, and to point towards His awesomeness.
Don't hide your tears. They do not make you weak. God counts your tears. You are loved.
My friends, it has been such a long time since I wrote anything. So much has happened.
Monday, my spirit began sliding down a deep, dark hole. I guess I spent a lot of time digging, or wasn't noticing that the enemy was helping me. Monday, I felt depression, despair, a lack of desire for anything. I didn't want to do anything, or be anyone. I wanted to disappear.
Thankfully, the Holy Spirit has taught me what that looks and feels like. I recognized it, gave voice to it, and didn't have to do anything else, because God is faithful. He pulled me back to Him, and reminded me of some promises, and took away the fog. Today, I feel more energized. My eyes are opened again, and I can see the battle going on all around me, in the lives of those whom I love.
So, what has been going on?
So many things.
1) The holidays, which are tough on everyone, in different ways.
2) My beautiful miracle niece, Josephine, who was given a death sentence even before she was born, was our Christmas eve gift. She is amazing, she is so sweet, and she is a child of God. And she is alive, and doing better than the medical staff anticipated. Glory to God!
3) My daughters and I spent most of Christmas break with my family as we tried to support my sister and brother-in-law with Josephine. But the dynamics of the situation were so many, and with my daughter's special needs, it was not smooth, nor peaceful. I left feeling unuseful and unwanted.
4) I hurt my back while down there, and it did not recover like I hoped. Which affected my ability to do my job or live my life like I wanted to.
5) We came back exhausted from the holidays, and just now I am starting to recover.
6) I am doing terrible refraining from emotional eating, which is affecting my diabetes. I'm so frustrated with myself over that.
7) My house is a mess. It is out of control. I can't get a handle on it.
8) Last weekend I went to a business conference, and while I learned much from it, the social aspect of it caused some PTSD and depression flare-ups.
crushing. emotional. so much to handle.
I haven't been handling it.
Thankfully, God has grace for me. He is guarding me, and not letting me go. Its amazing, because I was looking at the ground, letting the enemy pile on me, and I loosened my grip on God's Hand. Then I slipped, and He tightened His grasp, and pulled me up and away.
What I have experienced in my life is not only trauma, but the effects of that trauma. I could have left it that way, but knowing that it would kill me (and it almost did), I wanted more than that. And God has more for me than that.
Taking all that garbage and trauma, He has opened my eyes, and is transforming me. Where once there was darkness, fog, and uncertainty, there is now a very bright Son, a trail guide, and I can see the end of the road.
I've got my sword in hand, and if I slip or get turned around, I have divine help. I am better equipped to help those that God is calling me to help. I am thankful that the trauma I once lived in is now being used to shout out about the wonders of God.
Maybe, my friends, you are tired of hearing me constantly point to Jesus, to God. But I can't stop. He is my Creator, my Friend, my Father, my Savior, my Love. No thing and no human in my life has changed me so much, nor offered such hope and strength. As a friend of yours, how can I share anything else? How can I keep Him secret? I love you too much to do so.
I get so caught up in what society says I must do and who I must be.
I'm a single parent. My kids have two different fathers. Strike one.
I'm below poverty level, living in low-income housing. Strike two.
I don't get food stamps, so that's a plus for me.
I'm overweight. Strike three.
I am not involved in a sexual relationship. Strike four.
My house is a mess, and I'm disorganized. Strike five.
My child has behavior issues. HUGE strike six.
I rarely cook from scratch, or eat organic. Strike seven.
I get frustrated and angry. Strike eight.
I don't have a great, full time job with benefits. Strike nine.
I have a ton of debt. Strike...oh wait, I guess that's a plus for me in society's standards.
I am a Christian, follower of Jesus. Strike ten.
WHAT A LOSER! I really need to get my life together! If I just worked harder, or if I just...nothing.
I could let you look into my life. My past, and my present. I know where I came from. I know how I used to be unable to get out of bed. I know how I used to cut my wrists, and the only thing that brought relief to my mind was imagining that viciousness. I know how the negative comments and teachings from people in authority over me used to ricochet around my thoughts, my own beliefs right with them.
"You are so stupid, Leah. You are a loser, Leah. Get it together! You are so weak! You will NEVER be more than this. You are worthless. You are a liar, and just looking for attention. You are a terrible mother, and your children would be better off without you. You don't know what you are talking about. You are so ugly. You are unlovable. You are broken, tainted, dirty, disgusting. No one will want you now. You are shameful. You are fat, you are gross, you are despicable! It is all your fault. There is something seriously wrong with you. Get out of my face! Go kill yourself."
Screaming "HELP ME" in my head, where no one could hear me.
How could I be anything more than a failure?
Oh, God, by Your Hand only am I alive. I tried to not be alive in so many ways. Literally beating my head against the wall, trying to run.
Very small, very quiet, a voice consistently spoke these words. "Oh Leah, don't you know who you are? Let me show you."
It took me years to hear that voice, and years to respond. But it only took a couple of years to accept the truth.
My regret is that it took me so many years to hear and respond. So many people are right where I have been. They hear the same things, and they believe the same things.
Unless they have the truth to hang onto, no one can handle the negative. But that doesn't make them weak. It makes them enslaved.
There are many ways to hide from that negative pain. Addiction to drugs and alcohol and food. Lashing out in anger towards people, strangers and loved ones alike. Turning anger inwards towards self. Suicide, cutting, engaging in other acts of self-harm. Searching for worthiness in relationships, work, possessions, status.
It doesn't matter if your chains are gold; they are still chains, and they lead to death.
It was only when I began to speak God's truth about and to myself that my beliefs changed. When I consistently sought Him out and spoke to Him about everything, then my life began to change. Even when I got sucked back into my chains, I called out to Him. I took small steps, big steps, backwards and forwards steps. Slowly, and surely, things changed. It sounds so easy, but it was so hard!
I am still what society deems unacceptable, but the difference is that I don't care what society says. I don't care because I know where I am going. I know who I am. I know what I need to be doing. I know that my worth is what God says it is, and not what society screams at me from every angle. This is why I do my best to keep my eyes on God, and point towards Him.
Money, power, relationships, family, education, success, opinions of others...I could never find my worth in any of these things. I tried very hard. I failed every single time. Why did I fail? Because my worth is in the Eye of the Artist Who created me, and not in what society lies about. I am not worthy because of what I do or what I own. I am worthy because of Who I know. I am worthy because God says I am.
I am no longer a slave. I am free.
Confession time: I've been struggling. I reached a place of apathy. The struggles of being a single parent got to me. The struggles of my special needs daughter got to me. The struggles of finances got to me. The frustration and anger of feeling stuck got to me. I was so tired and overwhelmed that I didn't care anymore about anything. What a dangerous place to be. I was retreating backwards, not to the safety of my God's arms, but to the survival mode that I've spent most of my life in. Survival mode is a hard habit to break.
You hear it all the time. 21 days to form a habit. It takes longer, however, if you have spent most of your life in the wrong habit. 21 days is a good start, but if you don't pay attention to what is happening around you, you will fail. Pay attention to what is going on in your life. Pay attention to what you are feeling. Pay attention to what is taking up your time, and what is taking your time away from the things that are important for you, but not necessarily what the world deems important.
Here are three important things to put into your life:
1. daily conversations with God
2. a group of God-lovers who follow Jesus' command to love
3. unstoppable truth
We live in this world, but it is not meant to live in us. If you find that you have been letting the world control your life, you need to change things fast! The world will use you, and throw you away. We are created by God, designed with a spot inside us where the Holy Spirit resides. When we reject the Holy Spirit, or neglect to spend time filling up with His Presence, then we begin filling that hole up with the world's activities. The more of the world we fill up with, the more our senses are numbed. Do you want to really feel alive, to feel a rush? Chase after God, let Him fill you up, and you will experience something you have never experienced before. Experiencing God requires a commitment. Not only does He chase us, but He expects that we make time to come meet with Him. That time includes a quiet time spent talking with Him, listening, reading His Words. EVERY DAY! Your daily, life-sustaining bread.
Consider the life of Jesus. What did He do before He laid Himself down as a sacrifice for you? He loved the unloved. The people who were considered unworthy and unclean by the experts of the religious law were the ones who Jesus sought. The ones who knew what they had done.
Jesus said, "Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence. This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: Love others as well as you love yourself. These two commands are pegs; everything in God's Law and the Prophets hangs from them." Matthew 22:37-40 The Message.
If you do not love yourself, if you are kicking yourself for picking up the world's habits, for filling up that hole with the offerings of the world, consider Jesus' life, and what He has to offer you. Even if you have slipped away, ran away, fallen away, whatever, God doesn't hold that against you. Even my simple human mind cannot completely understand the depth of the love God has for me and for other people. I know that by the world's standards I am unworthy, unimportant, unloveable, insignificant, guilty. Gratefully, I don't live by the world's standards. I live by God's standard of grace. God's opinion is the one that matters. He says I am worthy, I am important, I am loveable, I am significant, and I am innocent. And as much as He says I am all these things and more, He also says you are just as much. You and I are equal in our deserving of love. What do you think about that?
When you are stuck in apathy, stuck on the hamster wheel of the world, just stuck and can't get out, start chasing God. If you haven't gotten into the habit of it, it will seem weird and strange and awkward. I have felt it too, but keep doing it. If there is anything you need to persevere in, it is your pursuit of God. Your relationship with God is what everything else in your life flows from. We can't do this on our own. We have tried, and we have failed. And no matter how many times we try, it will never work because it isn't possible on our own.
Gather around yourself a group of people who seek God and express His love like Jesus commands. Then when you fall down, or get stuck, they can help you up and back to chasing after God. If you don't have the right group of people as your support, they just might use you as a step to keep from muddying their feet when you are stuck. Imagine yourself stuck, unable to move, feeling desperate, sad, alone, apathetic. Do you want people who will support and help you, or do you want someone who scoffs at your trouble? I recently made an appointment with a friend, because I knew I was stuck and needed help out. I knew she would help me out, supporting me, tough loving me, whatever it was I needed to get unstuck. But I had to ask her, even though I knew the process would be uncomfortable and painful. The discomfort and pain from that process, though, is a lot better than the pain and discomfort that I know I live in when I'm in survival mode, and when I'm relying on myself.
This brings me to truth. I have been looking at my past. Where I came from. What I have done and what has been done to me have caused much pain, anger, frustration, and hurt. I've been sliced to pieces. I've been used and discarded like trash. It has affected my emotions, my ability to form relationships, my social skills, my memory, my day-to-day life. I have gotten to a place where daily I struggle to be out in the world and live. Some days its easier than others. Some days I miss my time with God. Sometimes I don't, but it isn't as life-filling as I would like. And sometimes I do have my time with God, and the experience is supernatural. Sometimes I go out in the world and I am hurt again. Sometimes my trust is shaken, and sometimes I slip back into survival mode.
The point of truth is to look at everything that you have been through and where you are going, and apply the truth to that. What are the results of your actions, and what are the results of the actions against you? What can you do to move forward? Going even deeper are the truths of how you see yourself, your limitations, your weaknesses, how you respond to certain situations and what you need to keep from drowning. What do you need to pull you back to chasing God? Look at what you think about yourself, then apply God's truth to that. This is hard work, and it won't be easy. It will be painful, but only so much pain as it takes to be healed and whole. Which pain is worse? The pain of survival, that ends in death? Or the pain of healing, resulting in life? Consider it.
The truth is that life is messy. People hurt us, people love us. Relationships are difficult and require sacrifice, time, and energy. We make mistakes, and our actions have consequences, good and bad. But the ultimate truth which is the filter for everything is God's truth about us, and what He offers us.
Please consider letting me walk with you. Let me know if you have trouble understanding what you have read. My intent is to help, not hinder.
I love you.
Why are you so angry?
Sitting in your car, honking at the person in front of you who cut you off. Hoping they get pulled over for some other stupidity. Now your stomach is in knots, and the bit of peace you had this morning has fled.
Why are you so angry?
Glaring and making rude comments in your head to the person who is blocking your way, and won't pay attention because they are talking on their cell phone. You hate cell phones. They've turned everyone into jerks.
Why are you so angry?
Dragging your feet going to work, wishing people would just stop talking to you. You don't want to hear their annoying excuses or justifications or lies about why they decided to do what they did. Hating that you have to work at a job you don't like because you need money.
Why are you so angry?
Kids get home, and they immediately begin pushing your buttons, testing their limits. You have a headache, why can't they just do what they're told! Why are they fighting, banging around, making a mess and a ton of noise!
Why are you so angry?
Why is that person so angry?
Honking at me, I don't know what I did...I'm distracted, thinking about my wife who is so sick, medical bills piling up, and I'm late for work. I feel scared, and weighed down. I'm sorry...
Why is that person so angry?
I'm standing here, arguing with my ex over custody, again. And she is calling me names, breaking my heart all over again. I don't know why that person is glaring at me. I feel so sad and hurt. I'm sorry...
Why is that person so angry?
My co-worker rolling their eyes at me. I'm wishing I had the confidence to make a decision and be comfortable with it. Wishing I knew what to do in this situation. Wishing someone would acknowledge my feelings. I feel so alone and confused. I'm sorry...
Why is that person so angry?
Tired today, and school was hard. Oh no, mom has a headache again. I'm tip-toeing around, trying not to disturb her. I'm so focused on trying to watch my step that I don't hear what she said. I'm trying to stay away, but I'm on edge. My sister called me a mean name, so I hit her. Now she's chasing me around, and mom is yelling at us. I feel sad and unforgivable. I'm sorry...
Why am I so angry?
When that person cut me off, I felt disrespected, and invisible.
Why am I so angry?
When that person wouldn't move, I felt disrespected and invisible.
Why am I so angry?
When my co-worker was trying to lie and justify bad decisions, I felt like they thought I was stupid. I can't say anything because it might turn into a fight, and I hate fighting. I feel helpless.
Why am I so angry?
When my kids don't listen to me, I feel disrespected. I feel alone. I feel tired. I feel frustrated. I feel helpless. I feel overwhelmed.
Why am I so angry?
I feel like a failure.
I know what I say about me, and I think I know what others say about me, but what does God say about me?
Who I Am In Christ (Living Free in Christ, Neil Anderson)
I am accepted:
I am God's child (John 1:12)
I am Christ's friend (John 15:15)
I am justified (Romans 5:1)
I am united with God (1 Corinthians 6:17)
I am chosen by God and adopted as His child (Ephesians 1:3-8)
I have direct access to God through the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:18)
I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins (Colossians 1:13-14)
I am secure:
I am free from condemnation (Romans 8:1-2)
I am assured that God works for my good in all circumstances. (Romans 8:28)
I am not separated from the love of God (Romans 8:35-30)
I have been given a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)
I can find grace and mercy in time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16)
I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me (1 John 5:18)
I am significant:
I am a personal witness of Christ's (Acts 1:8)
I am God's coworker (1 Corinthians 3:9)
I am God's temple (1 Corinthians 3:16)
I am God's workmanship (Ephesians 2:10)
I may approach God with freedom and confidence (Ephesians 3:12)
I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13)
When we can take all the truth God says about us, and replace those lies, transformation happens.
Why are you so happy?
I have peace. I know where I can turn for help. I know I don't have to do this on my own. I have support, I have comfort, and I have real joy down in my being. I know who I am, I know where I came from, and I know where I am going. I can rejoice.
Yesterday was a day of greatness and hope. Early in the morning, the Holy Spirit was nudging me get down on my knees. I'm not sure how long, but while the girls and the dog were sleeping, I was in my bedroom on my knees in the dark with my head bowed, praying circles.
I've been reading a book, The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. It talks about circling our biggest dreams and biggest fears in prayer, and not limiting God to our small box of human misunderstanding. God is the Creator, of course He doesn't work in our ways! He can do so much more than we could ever comprehend. I don't want to limit Him to what I think is possible. What I want to do is step out with complete trust that He has already answered my huge impossible-to-me prayers. If my prayers are things that I can do on my own, then how can I ever see how awesome God is?
Yesterday morning I was on my knees circling one thing in prayer. Or rather, a person. A child that I love, not born yet, has already been classified by the doctors as one who is not compatible with life. I know that most people have difficulty hoping for more, but I have seen God work miracles in my life. I know some of what He is capable of. I have enough prayers to share. In all the biggest dreams that I have in my heart, that this beautiful baby is born whole and healed is the biggest and most important right now. I would say that I have just a couple more months until I see this miracle, but I don't want to step on God's toes. He might take longer than what I expect. So, until I see a miracle for this baby, I will circle her in prayer. God is the final authority on who or what is compatible with life.
After circling, the girls and I got ready for school. I had to work, and my work day was amazing! I had such incredible patience and amazing joy! The work I do is hard for me. Working with the public is not an easy job for me, especially when so many hurting people are walking around. My co-workers are some fantastic people. One of them brought me a treat. Then the bus dropped my girls off to me, and even though we had some difficulties, we were able to work through them. Then it was off to pick up the dog from daycare.
There is a bit of a story behind this daycare. The woman who owns and runs this daycare is one of the most special and fantastic people I have in my life. She is constantly supporting our family, especially through Eliska's difficulties. She watches my dog for free while I work, and tells me that if I need to go overnight somewhere and can't take him that she will care for him. She has two dogs, and all three get along so well. I have been trying to think of ways to show her I appreciate all she has done. God sent that opportunity. She offered to pay me for taking care of her dogs while she is gone, but no way! What an honor to be able to do something for her!
We are also taking care of a friend's cats while she is gone. When we went up there, she had three little Halloween goody bags with fun stuff inside. One for each of us. This friend's house is right near the entrance to a trail that leads to the small lake in the middle of the city. While we were waiting for the mail truck, we took the dog for a walk. The girls had so much fun, and I got some cardio workout in! It was a very blessed day, and it started with listening to the Holy Spirit!
God also gave me this song below, for yesterday. Most people believe that God has redeemed us, but they don't really understand it fully. I can't even fully understand it either, but because He has never let me down, I am going to trust that what He says is truth. Its not always easy trusting, and hoping. When the world starts pressing in, pushing down on you, its hard not to give in. Our human bodies can't take that kind of pressure. But for those of us who have accepted God's gift, He is living inside, and He transforms our understanding if we let Him. "Greater is the one living inside of me, then he who is living in the world."
I have dreams. I dream impossible dreams. The bigger and more impossible, the better. Experience tells me I will always be single. My impossible dream tells me there is the perfect Godly man out there for me. Experience tells me that I will always be struggling financially, always using the last penny, and still never having enough. My impossible dream tells me I will work part-time and earn a full-time income. My experience tells me that I will never be able to own my own house. My impossible dream tells me that not only will I own it, but I will build it, and it will be awesome! My experience tells me that I will never get that book finished, or this book published. My impossible dream says I will write more books, and they will be best-sellers. My experience tells me that I will always reside in Washington state. My impossible dream tells me I will travel all over the world.
My experiences are my limitations. I know I can never do all that stuff. And that is okay. But my dreams belong to God. He put them into my heart. He kept the ember burning, throughout the times I was sinking in the deep end. He taught me to swim, and kept that ember burning.
Now that ember is flaming! I am learning to dream the impossible dreams, and know that they will come to pass. I have learned that I cannot attain the impossible dream, but that God can.
Impossible dream+me=impossible dream.
Impossible dream+God=possible dream.
God doesn't live far above us, passing judgement on our every move. He isn't an ambivalent Creator, viewing us as insignificant screw-ups. He lives in each of us that makes the choice to invite Him in. Did you get that? He lives on the INSIDE! I invited Him in, and for years, because I didn't understand His truth, I dreamed impossible dreams, while He kept that ember burning.
After many years, I learned the truth. The truth is that God waited for me, speaking quietly and lovingly to His girl who was broken and cut wide open. He stayed with me, never leaving, knowing that I couldn't hear Him, that the world spoke louder, but also knowing that in the future I would start to hear Him again. He stayed with me while I began to learn about His truth. He stayed with me when I surrendered to His perfect plan. He is still with me while I continue to learn His truth, and that fire is blazing in my heart.
I am going through a transformation journey, and it is nothing like I've ever done before. It is only through the surrender of my flawed plan and my weak will that He can come in and start binding my cuts together, healing them so they are new. No scars. No tape. No glue. Brand-new. And because I've been on this transformation journey, I have discovered that my impossible dreams are God-possible. Only He can make them come true, and He will, because He gave them to me.
God is amazing! In ways that we as humans cannot even comprehend! He doesn't work on our level. He works on the supernatural level. He wants us to dream those big impossible dreams because then He can show us His supernatural and amazing work. He can show the world how tremendous He is. I am a part of that and I'm thrilled! No more weak little dreams that I can do on my own. I'm throwing those down and I'm taking up the banner of God, thanking Him for the dreams that will become a reality because HE SAID SO! Why don't I see miracles around me today? Big, impossible miracles? Because I've limited my acceptance of God's works by what the world says is possible. But the world is not the authority.
I'm charging forward, and dreaming big. Want to join me? What is your impossible dream? And are you going to let God transform you and fan that little smoldering ember into a blazing bonfire?
You are lovable. You are valuable. You are worth the sacrifice of Jesus. God says so.
I spent this past weekend at my Gramma's house...for the last time. Saturday was her memorial, and also her 91st birthday, and my family came together to celebrate and mourn a precious woman. I couldn't have even begun to fathom how precious until after she had died, and I began hearing the memories of the others in her life.
As my family came together and reminisced, I felt inadequate compared to Gramma. She made love look so effortless and perfect. I cannot recall even one harsh word spoken from her. I cannot recall any discipline from her hand towards me or anyone else. I remember patience, grace, mercy, joy, and love. My sister remembers Gramma's patience as well. She spoke of Gramma telling us sweetly to turn off our wanter button, and creating games such as, Who Can Be the Quietest the Longest?
When I was in the first grade, my mom, sisters, and I lived with Gramma for the year. My memories of her included watching her shows, "The Young and Restless" during the day, and "Jeopardy" at night, while I laid my head in her lap and she scratched my back. At bedtime, she made sure to have us all partake in a before-bed snack, usually a cookie or cereal. I recall watching her sitting on her side of the couch, reading her Bible. At bathtime, I would sit in the bathtub and Gramma would rinse my hair with the perfect temperature of water.
I have memories of walking with Gramma and sometimes a friend of hers in the evenings, riding the bus to the mall and riding the escalators. Picking raspberries in the backyard and then later have raspberries and Mocha Mix for a snack or dessert. Before sitting down to eat, she would direct us to wash our hands and then we would pray.
Gramma's house was fabulous in my mind. My entire life, that is where she lived. For fifty years, she lived in the same house. When she and my Grampa divorced, she paid off the mortgage with a part-time job. Right after she died, my sisters and I drove to be with our mom at Gramma's house. We went through most everything, and separated items out, depending on who wanted what. We walked through and remembered things.
Sometimes memories hurt, a slice of sharp, intense pain through your heart that leaves it pounding, as tears rush to your eyes and you gasp for breath. For 31 years I've always known that house as Gramma's house. She was there when I came in the door, every time, ready with a hug and kiss and a smile. Usually she would try to make us food as soon as we came in the door. Down the hall we had our own rooms, where she had changed the sheets before a visit. In the bathroom was the laundry chute that we loved to throw dirty laundry down, and I remember her laughing hysterically over a joke involving that chute. In Gramma's room, the closet doors were made of glass mirrors, so we would play vertically straddling the mirror, and looking at the silly symmetrical reflections of ourselves. At the end of the hall was cupboards and drawers filled with all sorts of things. little random toys, books, papers and crafts. Gramma's kitchen had a lazy Susan, and I loved to play with that, wondering why she called it that. Downstairs at Gramma's was a full basement, wonderfully cool in the hot summer. My sisters and spent a lot of time down there playing with the trolls and toys of our mother's youth. I now have those trolls in my own home. The walls in Gramma's house were decorated with many of my uncle's paintings. He is a magnificent artist, and I have always been proud of his ability. Gramma also was a great artist, painting and writing, although I don't seem to recall seeing her paintings hanging up, but after going through the house, I was able to take a few of them. I was also blessed with her writings. I can't wait to go through the box that my mom packed for me. In one of them was a story that she wrote, and submitted to a children's magazine. It was a story about a magic watermelon pill, and my inventive Gramma let us experience that as children.
Outside, Gramma had a beautiful garden, which, over the years, grew apples, raspberries, rhubarb, and plums. We spent much time jumping on the trampoline, or playing Croquet, and sometimes we would help Gramma hang up the laundry to dry. Inside the garage there was a huge freezer. During hot summer days, Gramma stocked it with Schwann's food, specifically ice cream. When I was older I would joke with my Gramma about having an affair with the Schwann's man because he was there so often. Gramma LOVED ice cream. We always had it. One of the greatest things was going into that huge freezer , lifting up the lid, which squealed, and then digging through to find whatever treat we wanted, while frozen air swirled around. Just hearing that the sound of opening that lid could almost make you salivate, like Pavlov's dogs.
When we left after a visit, Gramma loaded us up with food, a gorgeous bouquet if flowers from the garden, and many hugs and kisses. She would slip a check to one of us girls, saying, "Give that to your mom after you leave." This is a tradition that my sisters and I carry on with our mother as well. We learned from the best. On our way out the driveway, mom would honk, and Gramma would stand in front of her house, waving and wiping away tears.
The memories from my Gramma are ones I will have forever. I consider it a blessing and an honor to be her granddaughter. I feel even more blessed that she was able to know and love on my children. They have some memories of her as well, and I am very happy about that. My Gramma had a wonderful sense of humor, and one of the things I will miss about her is her laugh, which she gave freely. I will remember the touch of her hands, and her loving spirit. The last time I saw her, less than a month before her death, I was holding her hands, telling her how soft and warm they were. Even then, she had love in her. God was gracious to me, and on my way out the door for that last visit, I suspected that might be the last time I would see her. So I got to give her some extra hugs and kisses, and tell her how much I loved her, and how precious she was to me. And God is so gracious because He created a way for my Gramma and I to meet again, this time without goodbyes. My Gramma is with God right now, happier than ever, and I know He is telling her "Good job, my faithful servant." My Gramma didn't travel the world to tell people about Jesus or help build up communities in third-world countries, but she did show her family exactly how Jesus loves us, and how we need to love others. My Gramma was amazing, and I love her.
I will see you again, Gramma. Thank you.
1 Corinthians 13
The Way of Love
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.
When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.
We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.
We might be in different places, but all of us are on a journey.
Leah's Life Verses