Test Driving Your Faith

As a nursing student I always wanted to go where there was a desperate need for services. Somewhere I could be really useful- make an difference. Unsure and unable to leave the region because of my son I told myself that the trenches were all around me. I didn’t need to go far to find someone in need. When I gave my heart to Jesus the thought of going on a mission trip appealed to me very much. The thought of sharing God’s love with people -being His hands and feet, stirred a passion in me I never expressed out loud. Always holding myself back with the question “Who are you to speak the truth? Look at all your failures and mistakes”. But still I said the timid prayer “use me God, I want to serve you”. Hoping that someday, some how I could make an impact in His name. Having the perfect picture in my mind of myself in scrubs assisting during a surgery in a tent at a remote location. Or doing rounds with a doctor, taking supplies to the homeless. I wanted to be useful, on the go, meeting the needs of others. That’s what my “use me God” prayer looked like to me.
The meaning of the phrase “If you want to make God laugh tell Him your plans” has become more clear to me in this stage of my life. God is answering my prayer as you read this, but it is definitely not what I thought I was asking for. I was right in my thinking that the trenches are all around me all those years ago. But it didn’t really hit me until today that I’m actually in them. Instead of me helping others in the trenches, it is me, the lost lonely soul in the trench. Just me and my rescuer Jesus. He is my friend and my companion. He is the kind of friend that puts up with temper tantrums, crying and complaining and my angry shaking fist. And my screaming and yelling “Its not supposed to be like this!”. I was healthy and mobile and now I am not. I had a sense of confidence and the illusion of control. And He took it from me. I feel stripped bare and most days my vision is obstructed by the obstacles in my view.
I ask God on the days I can barely lift my head “how is this fair? How can I be useful to you like this?”. I didn’t know Jesus or anything but lies about Him until I was thirty. Thirty years is a long time to have lies driven into your psyche. I had developed harmful coping mechanisms to deal with the abuse and self-hatred I had been through. Healing seemed an insurmountable task then, and still, most days feels that way. But I have something now that I didn’t have then. Hope outside myself and a relationship with a loving God. Who despite my screaming fits and poor attitude towards Him, never leaves me. What I see as naked and stripped bare of who I once was is seen differently from God’s view. He sees a clean slate. A fresh block of clay for molding, a way to make me fully dependent on Him.
At first the idea of Faith in an deity I couldn’t see seemed ridiculous to me. Faith itself might as well have been defined in a foreign language. The bible says “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). Which is all well and good until you dare to test drive it on uncharted territory. I thought I would be encouraging others from my comfortable throne as God’s daughter. Even though I had suffered emotional and verbal abuse from my son’s father for over half a decade, I had become desensitized to it while it was on-going. When my physical health was affected by the stress my daily life changed. My vision of being the hero in scrubs on the mission field was no longer within my reach. I found that my faith journey had taken a drastic turn onto a bumpy path with a whole new set of obstacles. Some from the fatigue and physical pain and some from the accommodations that I now require. But mostly from changes in my relationships. No longer able to do the fun things we used to enjoy together, many friendships withered. Many caring souls came to my aide at first, then slowly over time, for whatever reason, friendships disintegrated. People had their lives to go back to. When I reached out too often I was met with some of the most painful words I had ever heard “You don’t really want to get better”. I didn’t “trusting God” because I was still fearful of my ex (even though I was still receiving threats) and the worst one was always “you lack faith” even though I was putting my best efforts in. I felt like a lost cause. All the messages say the same thing “it’s your fault”.
Its true that most people don’t understand trauma and illness until they experience it. It’s a blessing for those who don’t. But it doesn’t stop them from saying those hurtful things. From their perspective God’s truths make perfect sense. They read it and they believe it. Everything looks pretty from the outside, until they end up in the trench, wherever that may be. More so now with my physical illness then with my emotional struggles do I find myself test driving these truths over enormous faith obstacles. But if I hadn’t been here I wouldn’t have known how true and faithful God’s love is. I wouldn’t need Him close to me like I need air to breathe. I wouldn’t be shouting from the trenches the goodness of God. God knew I would need Him, so he put me in the perfect spot to find Him.
Summoning grace for the people who came to their faith in a less arduous manner, especially those who speak into a situation they have not lived themselves, requires patience and a tolerance I hadn’t expected. But somehow its typical of my faith journey thus far. For each obstacle that lays in my path there is a miracle waiting to be found at just the right time. Anyone can have a messy life, its how you act when you’re in it that counts. We are all just test-driving our way through this life. Through the ups and downs of our faith. I am more and more grateful each time I crash that I’m not living for this life alone, but for the promise of eternity.
If this has touched you in some way I want to encourage you that your faith is not inferior because your journey is bumpy. God didn’t give me this comfort so it could end with me. He gave it to me that I might share it with you. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Cor. 1:3). Through every pothole, pit and patch of quick sand God has been with me, His comfort never further than the whisper of His name away. When I step back and look closely I can count a miracle for every struggle that seemed impossible while I was in it. I take comfort that “with men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matt 19:26)
A shout out and thank you to Pastor Matt Tapley, whose recent sermon(s) inspired me to step away from a lie; dig this piece out of the trash bin and put the polishing touches on it.
I pray it blesses you, Tracy xo

The Cost of Hope

I sometimes take for granted the grandeur of our creation. The simplicity of the wording, some how makes these words common place. “the earth was a void; and darkness was on the face of the deep…” (Gen 1:2). Maybe because they have become just words on a page, over heard and over used. But never really understood. To me this word picture is clear and somehow I see it reflected in my own life. Pain creates a void and the darkness we see and experience through life’s trials is only a cover for the depth of pain that can’t be put into words. Sometimes I feel my life and existence as I know it is a void and I carry an emptiness with me. The kind that will suck the air from my lungs, if I let it be my focus. “And the spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said let there be light…and God divided the light from the darkness” (Gen 1:4) And just like that “The Lord establishes His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all.” (Psalm 103:19) ALL! All darkness, all sickness, all sin and all pain.
God gave us a way to connect and access His light when He gave us Jesus. It is through Jesus we are granted forgiveness and we are made children of God. Jesus is the light of the world, and that light is made palpable to me through my belief in Him. Choosing Jesus is not the easy path, He himself told us “enter through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction…narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life” (Matthew 7:13-14). My life has not been easy, I have lived through abuse, rejection, trauma, chronic pain, I’ve been addicted to self-hatred and experienced the kind of fear that shakes foundations. But I am sure, because I have seen it, that there are no substitutions for the gift God gave us in His son. I can be angry about what I have been through and rebel against what I know is best for myself. I can be angry with God because I can’t understand why or I can try other methods to ease my pain. But the truth doesn’t change. Ever. If I had listened to my doubts, and the reasoning that God is just a crutch that religious people use or that nothing could possibly be that good, to love someone so unlovable as me I would have been side-tracked and derailed a thousand times.
But the truth is that “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 138:14) by the same creator that snuffed out the darkness. “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:4). In me lives that same light, and therefore hope. Most days I don’t believe it, I have little hope that things will ever change or I will heal. That’s the ugly truth. But faith is the ability to know something is true, even when you don’t believe it. I know Jesus loves me, and the only reason I am still here is not because I believe in miracles everyday, (sorry I wish I could say differently) but because I know that I know Jesus’ love to be true and unchanging. When I feel hopeless, he still loves me. When things don’t make sense, he still loves me. When I hate myself, he loves me enough for the both of us. I have to remind myself when I feel helpless and I have lost hope that it won’t always be this way, and I won’t feel like this indefinitely. The only thing that never changes is how God feels about me “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name, You are Mine…Since you were precious in my sight, you have been honored, and I have loved you; therefore I will give men for you, And people for your life.” (Isaiah 43:1 and 4).
Reminding myself how small I am and how feeble my struggles are by comparison to the God who created the world, the God that is on my side, helps me put things into perspective. He is the same God who loves me with an everlasting love and he never falls off of His throne. In the grand scheme of things my life and suffering is the mere blink of an eye by comparison to the eternity He has promised to spend with me. In fact, He sacrificed his only son because He couldn’t imagine eternity without me. Hope and love cost only the curiosity to seek Him and wanting to believe He loves you, slightly more than you doubt.

No longer the warrior

When chronic illness becomes a reality, a mourning process begins. The loss of the old self, the illusion of strength and being certain of ones abilities is suddenly taken away without warning. Something you didn’t know you once had is now gone. To cope with an ongoing affliction is a full-time job, one completely separate from the burden of mourning the loss of the old self. In order to cope daily one must learn new skills, along with pacing and the balance of energy. An enormous task to do while mourning. But in order to move forward and have any quality of life one must grieve and then let go. I must let go of the old me to make room for the new me to thrive. The identity I once put stock in is no longer how I define myself. I am still fighting but the battlefield is different. I am not in a court house fighting to keep my son safe all the time. I am in my apartment fighting to find the energy to put the groceries away before the ice cream melts. Where I focus and use my energy is different, but it is a fight just the same. I am coming to realize now is that if I can let go of the dreams I had for my old self it will be one less burden to carry. After all the bible tells us to “Cast your burden upon the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22 ESV). The effort and strength I have to fight is not mine, it comes from God. I accepted Jesus’ invitation “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28 NKJV). God does my heavy lifting, but I must make every effort to let go of what I can. The Poem below, entitled “No longer the warrior” came to me when I discovered this. I pray that you are blessed by it. Tracy

No Longer the Warrior Written July 10, 2018

No longer the Warrior
The fight is over
I have done all I can

I am broken from battle
From every angle there is a sharp edge

I take off my armor
It falls heavily at my feet
I look in the mirror and don’t recognize who I see

I’m not who I was
I am no longer the warrior
My identity is not in my strength

I must learn to carry my dignity while weak.
Who is this person I see looking back at me?
Where will she go and what will she be?

I am no longer the warrior
fighting fear on the battlefield

The scars are left waiting to heal
The fear in my head is very real

The fight is over
I am no longer the warrior
The war is on-going
But I don’t carry a sword

To win now I must give up the illusion of strength
And surrender to change

I trade in my armor for rags
Try to hold my head high
And wear them with grace

I am no longer the warrior
Grateful for change
Rags or no rags I must begin again

The war is not over
But the victory is coming
Letting go of the armor is just step one

…soon I will have a new name.

Powder Heart

I for one am glad that the pains of my soul can’t be seen from the outside. Although my body is broken with sickness and stress it is not visibly noticeable from a distance. Children point and say “Mommy she is tall!” I’m not sure I could handle someone pointing at me and declaring “Look how broken her heart is”. Sometimes I feel as though it is so broken there is nothing left but a fine powder. I drag it behind me like a heavy weight in a netted sack and some spills out here or there, stepped on by people as they pass me by. Some days I think I would be lighter if I didn’t have to carry this broken heart, just better off without it. But I would literally be leaving a piece of myself behind. On those days I wonder it if is worth it to be sensitive, to allow myself to be vulnerable. It seems counter productive from my perspective right now, if I hadn’t trusted I couldn’t have been betrayed. Is the old phrase true “its better to have loved and lost then to have never loved at all”? With a long line of similar hurts in my past it makes me wonder: is it me? I have been told that I am a good friend, but what I am learning is that to expect the same in return is unrealistic and some days I might even say foolish. Now I must suffer through the transition that loss brings, remembering at every turn, good or bad, that my “friend” is not there to share it with me. It feels like a new betrayal every time. And I wonder again did I do something to deserve this? Am I that hard to love? Jesus doesn’t think so.
I will admit that wasn’t my first conclusion. I fed that lie and it took me for a ride. I let myself believe that I am not worth loving or being friends with. That I take too much effort and no one wants to be bothered. Which raises more questions in turn, can I trust anyone now? If I can’t trust does that mean I lack faith? Am I a crappy Christian? But God knew I would have doubts, he knew there would be peaks and valley’s in my faith. It brings me comfort that although I am tossed about the waves and my feelings change with the wind that He is always the same. He never gets tired of fighting for me. “The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.” (Isaiah 40: 28b-29 NKJV)
God’s love gives me confidence and strength that even if the love I give to others is not reciprocated, then I will not be left destitute. He loves me enough to make up for what I may lack. He says “Since you were precious in My sight, you have been honored, and I have loved you; Therefore I will give men for you, and people for your life. Fear not, for I am with you” (Isaiah 43:4-5 NKJV). If I have that much value to God then allowing the opinions and actions of mere people to carry weight in my life seems to be a set up for disappointment. I would like to one day say that I can love others independent of their love for me. How much would my view of the world around me change if one wasn’t dependent on the other? That is how God operates after all, we don’t have to love Him for Him to love us. “We love Him because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19 NKJV) He wants us to choose to love him, but He won’t change His mind about us if we don’t.
I pray that some day the powder my heart has been refined into will be a source of light for someone some where. That my pain has a purpose and in it I used my gifts to glorify God. Recently, my Dad explained to me why the water in Lake Louise looks different than of other bodies of water. When a glacier pushes its way through the mountain rock, it slowly over thousands of years, grinds the rock into a fine powder. The powder is then trapped in the ice, once it melts and becomes a lake, the powder remains in the water. The sunlight reflects off of the tiny flecks of rock making the water seem as if it is glowing, the most brilliant greens and blues. I hope that one day I will see it in person to take in the full grandeur of God’s handiwork. But if I don’t, just like the powder that is left of my heart, I may not see the extent or impact that my suffering and growth here on earth has had on others. But I believe, from past experience, that God has beautiful plans for this unfinished work. His word says that he will finish what he started: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6 NIV). Just as a crushed mountain side becomes a beautiful lake, God will turn my heartache into something that brings healing and hope to others when they need it the most. “He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted…comfort all who mourn…to give them beauty for ashes” (Isaiah 61:1-3 NKJV)

A letter to a broken Christian (aka: me) about integrity

When a sucker punch comes from the left and knocks the wind out of you. When someone on the very tiny list of people you trust has kicked you when you were down. When you thought you couldn’t possibly hurt more than before, but now your gapping wounds are bleeding and you don’t have the wherewithal to try and stop it. Stop and Breathe. Remember where you have come from and how much you have grown on your journey. Remember that people are just people who happen to be in your proximity. They are just the same as the people, that you once judged together, as being hurt and lost.
In a poem I wrote recently about integrity and how suffocating it can be to do the right thing. How burdensome it can seem to forgive and extend grace when you have nothing left. It is a sacrifice. To have an expectation of help or support, say from a pastor or close confidant, and to be handed the extreme opposite of help when you cried out. A guest pastor spoke a few weeks ago on the essentials of being a Christian using a verse from Hebrews as one of the essentials. “Make every effort to stay out of quarrels, and seek to live a clean and holy life, for one who is not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that not one of you will fail to find God’s best blessings. Watch out that no bitterness takes root among you, for as it springs up it causes deep trouble, hurting many in their spiritual lives” (Hebrews 12:14-15 LBT)
When I feel as though integrity is suffocating me I need to change my focus. Because the truth is that I am not suffocating, it feels that way when I look at my wounds all at once. It becomes overwhelming to pile one affliction on top of the next and let pain compile itself until it is exponentially larger than a single wound alone. The weight becomes too heavy and then I declare “I’m broken”, I lay down in my puddle of tears and take every paper cut like a stabbing through the heart. But integrity doesn’t have to be suffocating, it is a hard daunting task to pile the hurts and say “I forgive them all” and do it all at once. When I think about integrity now, after being sucker punched this morning, I can see with some clarity where my integrity has gotten me thus far. When I say integrity I mean my behavior, doing the right thing, the Godly thing. Choosing to extend the grace card, to live in peace, not because the person on the receiving end deserves it but because God loves me and being right with Him is more important.
By integrity I choose not to give up my dignity. Michael J Fox once said “One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered.”. I chose not to let others opinions of me, however misguided, become my truth. Jesus gave me my truth, my worth was decided on the cross.
By integrity I chose to separate God’s love from the people who claim to represent Him. So many people are broken and hurting as Christians. So hurt by other Christians, they confuse people’s love for God’s love. They think that God is mean, vengeful, unforgiving or unloving. This is a lie I chose not to believe as a new Christian. Maybe for me I was just so desperate for his promises to be real, in such dire straights, that it was a matter of either: God loves me or I will just roll over and die. I didn’t really see it as a choice. If I was to survive, I had to find out who God is and how He really sees me and know it to my core. I chose to read the word and know it for myself. So many preachers, pastors and evangelists preach persuasive messages about what it means to be Christian. They sing beautiful songs that tug at the heart and their momentum can be contagious. But if a person doesn’t know the truth for reading it themselves from the source that God himself gave us, it is easy to be mislead. The enemy knows this, we are his biggest target because we stand for truth. I chose to study and learn the truth for myself so I can spot a lie and walk away. This choice made in faith, saved my life; more than once.
Another choice I made with integrity was to walk away from an addiction. It is so tempting everyday to go back to that sweet instant satisfaction, distraction and false comfort. Yet I don’t. Just as Jesus met the travellers on the road to Emmaus in their doubt “But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke24:21), he was right under their noses, but they couldn’t see it. I know the same to be true for me, if I feel that God is not near than I have must have turned my head away somehow. The truth is that he is so near that, as Corrie Ten Boom once said, that the darkness I must be seeing can only be His shadow. I choose not to be go back to my addiction not because it doesn’t feel good, but because I know in my heart that God loves me enough for the both of us. That every door I open for comfort that is not Him becomes a step further away from Him. In His strength, holding my hand everyday, I can say no to hating myself and say yes to His love, because it is enough. More than enough. Its easy to get lost on the search for comfort, so many things look promising, but I can say with my integrity intact that Jesus is the only answer that satisfies.
One of my greatest fears is to not be heard. To feel as if others don’t believe me or my story. I have poured all my energy and everything I have into my healing. It is a full time job when you are dealing with enormous physical, emotional and spiritual wounds, just to function everyday in some capacity. People have different wounds and deal with all things differently. There is no textbook on healing that is cut and dry for everyone. The hard part for me is when other people, even those who are close to me and have watched me struggle and have seen my efforts, choose to say that I am not trying hard enough or doing the right things to heal because it is not how they would do it. It could be also a healing timeline that I didn’t fit into. Everyone’s wounds are different. Integrity in this case means to “make every effort to stay out of quarrels, and seek to live a clean and holy life” by doing this I make the choice again to remember God’s truth about myself and how He sees me. He knows my efforts and sees my heart is honest. By choosing not to forgive I drink the poison that will render me bitter and broken. In turn, hurting those around me on their spiritual journey. It is God’s best for us to forgive as He forgave us “…for one who is not holy will not see the Lord”. By doing this I am not saying it hurt any less, the pain and shock took my breath away, and still does. But I am not broken and I am not alone in my pain. Jesus sees me and comforts me, and I am grateful. Everyday I must choose him and not my pain, because if I had chosen pain in the past I would be dead. No exaggeration. This situation is different, my pain and wounds are different. But my choice is the same because God never changes, he still loves me and I am still his child.
Thank you Jesus, I love you too.

Patience

April 24, 2018
Its amazing what you notice when you slow things down. In my previous life, before I fell ill, I ran on high speed all the time. I went from one thing to the next without stopping. If I wasn’t sleeping I was running and while I was running I was planning my next task. Whether I was taking my son to an after school program, packing lunches and planning meals. Or I was preparing affidavits in my head and planning for court dates along with dealing with the constant onslaught of emotional and verbal abuse coming from my ex. And lets not forget working full-time night shifts. I never stopped. I simply didn’t have time if everything was going to get done.
I am coming to understand that human beings aren’t meant to live this way. The human body is an amazing God-built machine, so complex in its ability to cope and manage under enormous amounts of pressure. My lifestyle’s fast pace created an illusion of control, that if I just could get things done to my satisfaction everything would be okay. I am beginning to grasp that my running only accomplished one thing…it made me good at running. It was nothing but a one-way ticket, at a fast pace, to nowhere. I believed that if I just did this or got that done then I would earn my rest. But if I did try to rest I was never comfortable, there was always something else to be done. Something else I felt too guilty about to let slide. I thought if I kept running I could stay ahead of my thoughts and feelings. The things I lacked and the overwhelming feelings were just one more thing on my list, the very bottom of my list. I would just deal with them later, when I was stronger. I would tell myself “I’ll take care of that when things calm down”. But there is never calm, even when standing still or “taking a break” when the true ciaos is your head.
For almost nine months now I have been experiencing chronic fatigue and constant pain. After two major things were taken care of, getting a restraining order and speaking to the police God knocked my pace down a few notches and set me at a crawl. It was his way of telling me that I needed real rest. I fought hard against it, looking for a diagnosis to explain it, a solution to fix it and any way possible to speed the healing process up. Looking for any way to get back to “my life” and quick!! I spent my time angry with God, feeling useless and helpless. Thinking if I could just walk or be alert long enough to drive my car I would be out of here so fast! I would run away again. I realize now that my biggest fear is stopping. If I stop then I have to feel. And I am more afraid of feeling my pain then I have ever been fearful of anything in my life. It seems to have no beginning and no end. Like a taught ball of rubber bands, there are layers of lies that have been stretched to fit over more lies. There are secret hiding places that I know nothing of, that I couldn’t begin to unlock even if I wanted to. When the ball of bands got too big for my brain to comprehend it flipped a switch and transferred the weighted ball to my body. Which is now processed as unrelenting physical pain and fatigue. My only problem now is that to stop the physical pain I must start to unravel that mountain-sized rubber band ball. God knew that if left to my own devices I would have continued to run, with this huge rubber band ball gaining momentum behind me. But running isn’t what God created me to do. I can’t be whole on the run. So hypothetically speaking God cut me off at the knees, not only because being on my knees before him is a healing posture, but so l learn to be patient and love the people who tell me to “walk it off”!
In fleeting moments of peace I could look at this season of my life as a vacation with God because it is the first real break I have ever had. The rest of the time however, I spent wiggling in my chair, restless to get up and go. Angry with the people in my life because they get to leave after a visit and go back to their lives. I know now that when I leave this season my life will be completely different in structure and perspective. The things I learn during this time can’t be unlearned. The value of time for example, even in the simple things like going for a walk. With my long legs I was used to walking at a fast clip and didn’t think twice about stepping over old ladies that hogged the sidewalk. Now I am winded and tire so easily that if I don’t pace myself I wouldn’t be able to go half a block without needed a ride home. So I have no choice but to pace myself and purposefully put one foot in front of the other. To take deep breaths and look around. I am starting to enjoy and appreciate things like to colour of the sky against the contrast of the mid-day moon, the sound of birds chirping and the smell of a rain storm coming. I am starting to see all the things I took for granted and the grandeur of God’s creations.
When it boils right down to it impatience is a lack of trust. I didn’t have patience before because I simply didn’t have time to! I didn’t have time to trust God or listen to the Holy spirit because I was trying to fix everything myself. But only half of those things are in my purview. I can’t fix my situation or heal my body without God’s help. I must want it, seek Him and be obedient but He does all the heavy lifting.
God loves me as I am, I don’t have to earn his love, it’s a gift. He loves me so much that he doesn’t want me to stay this way. Jesus meets me in my brokenness and walks with me into healing. Promising never to leave nor forsake me. His love says its okay to be broken. But it is also the path to healing. We are broken and have been from the start when Adam and Eve chose not to trust God’s instruction and ate the forbidden fruit. They stepped out of the security of the garden because they thought they knew better. God loves me enough to help me walk away from my brokenness, to go back to the whole person I was created to be. But I can’t do that if I am running. You can’t hear that small still voice unless you are still. “Be still and know…” (Psalm 46:10 NIV). Know that he is God (not me!), trust that his timing is perfect. There is a real peace in being okay where you are, and with who you are, its not until then you become the proud owner of everything that can’t be bought (Paraphrase Matthew 5:5 the MSG)
So I must trust that God has me hemmed in. He knows my needs, He knows the right people to meet them and He will bring them. He has the keys to unlock and unwind my rubber band ball of pain. Its hard not to fear but I need to remember that he will do it at a pace I can handle and be with me every step of the way. He will bring comfort and fill in my gaps of confusion. Above all I must be patient and trust the process of healing, trust God’s way is better than mine and allow myself to submit to it. Only then can I be at peace with the direction I am heading and know it is the one God has designed for me.

When God Speaks

I sat down to write out some of my negative observations about my current circumstances. What I thought was going to be just ugly words on a page turned into a poem. I wasn’t thinking in positive tones, nor did I expect that the holy spirit would intervene. For every impossible situation I encountered the Holy spirit infused it with hope. I pray that it comforts you, as it did for me, Tracy xo

When God Speaks

When your silence isn’t quiet
When you are sinking but can still breathe
When your world is reduced to the lies in your head

You still have all you will ever need in me.

When you feel the crushing sadness in your chest
When your cries fail to escape your throat
When the void is so deep all you know to do is
Breathe in, breathe out

You can turn to me, I saw this moment coming
I will carry you through.

When your spirit is reduced to ashes, trampled underfoot
When you cease to feel, choosing numbness instead
When you are desperate for relief but you can’t pin point what from

You are still within my sights
I still love you.

When your voice is meek and others misunderstand
When your body fails you and your needs aren’t met
When the end of your rope seems long gone

I am near, I will pick up your slack.
I will make up for what you lack.

When the pieces of your heart have scattered
When you are too heavy to go on and your will falters
When hope seems to be a distant dream

My peace will be your comfort.
My grace will find you…
For I am your God.

When the albatross is around your neck
And your shame is knee deep
When you have guilt you can’t explain
And webs of feelings to untangle
When the urge to turn and run is powerful
And you want to give in

I will be your guide.
My truth will be your life preserver.
I am strongest at your weakest.
I AM your God.
My sacrifice will always be enough to make you whole.

Believe…and get out of the way!

April 2, 2018

In a recent trip down to the deep ugly pit of depression, a place I have been several times before and always fear, I learned that I am trying to do work that isn’t mine. Under the weight of sadness the world seems to be sinking in around me. I feel I am grasping at any foothold, any straw I can get my hands on to keep myself up just to breathe. The enemy wants me to think that it will always be this way, that my submersion and suffocation is inevitable, so why should I bother to struggle against it? That I can never recover and will never be whole. These thoughts fester in my head, they over take the garden of peace Jesus planted in my heart, and seem to snuff out any remnants of truth that were previously planted. The devil comes into my garden and at first he seems harmless, one little stock of climbing mint. If I don’t rip him out by the roots instantly, rather just let him soak in a little of my sunshine his roots proliferate unseen. Before long new stocks of climbing mint are shooting up in my garden like the invasive species that it is. Everyone has weeds in their garden, when given room to grow they cheerfully dance around your garden, until the peace is covered and seemingly gone for good. Weeds go by many names: doubt, fear, unbelief, worry, pride and a sense of entitlement that manifests as anger. A wise woman of God has told me several times (more like brow beat me with) the truth that “What you feed GROWS!”. But this last time in the pit has shown me that I am not the gardener, my father in heaven has that title. Jesus makes it clear “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:1-2 NIV
Though my life seems to have fallen apart, everything I once took stock in is no longer there, my career, my health, my direction and goals, all of which ultimately leaves me questioning my identity. I seemingly have been stripped of what I knew to be for certain. What I now understand is that those things clearly don’t fit into the purpose God has for me and he is pruning them away. The whole person I am to become needs nothing outside of God’s love and grace. The things I clung to were of this world and I must learn to function as a child of god, because I am no longer of this world, but a daughter of the king. “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.” John 15:19 NIV
Instead of mourning the loss of my old life and spending my time letting the weeds grow under my feet, I need to recognize the requirements in my job description and do two things. Number one is believe. Believe that what God has promised me is mine and thank him for it in anticipation everyday. Believe in my heart that his miracles are for me too!!! This is a big one for me, there is always that voice that says that its fine for someone else but it will never happen for me. This is a weed that I have given too much room to grow. I must believe that I am worthy to receive his gifts, and thank him in anticipation of their arrival. I need to believe that where I am is never too far. Even though I can not see my way out yet, my heart is humble and ready to repent God sees it and that is all he has ever asked of me. I must believe that I am loved and cared for even in my darkest moments when the pruning is painful he is there to comfort me if I seek him wholeheartedly. I must believe that with his provision I can recover, not in my strength but in his.
Job description number two seems just as agonizingly simple: Get out of God’s way! Letting the pruning happen isn’t easy. I fight and have fought hard to hold onto what I thought I was entitled to. By acting like an angry toddler throwing a tantrum!! No God I don’t wanna do that! Please don’t take my toys and little comforts away from me! That goes especially for feelings like anger that I feel I am entitled to. I must get out of his way by letting go so he can fight on my behalf. Inevitably as any good parent who knows what’s best and sees the bigger picture cares enough to do, I am pruned of what I thought I couldn’t live without. After I have finished kicking and screaming I take a breath and look around I see that I still have all I will ever need in him.
It is by God’s grace that damage control from overgrowth is not in my job description! He corrals the roots and the weeds die off when I trust him. Doubt creates growth of weeds, trust naturally kills them off with a lack of nourishment. Although I can’t see the new growth God has for my life, I must trust that the roots of his truth are still there under the surface. The more I trust the more nourishment I give to them. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” Proverbs 3:5 NIV. The best way to trust is to give everything over to him in prayer, just drop it at the foot of the cross. I can’t lay claim to my hurts, struggles and suffering. I must endure them, but they do not define me. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NIV. If I claim them as mine I give nourishment to the weeds and step outside my job description. I am grateful that as a human and disciple of Jesus he has graciously given me the title of “trainee” and forgives me when I overlook his great love and guidance. But instead gently reminds me “submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”. The bigger picture is hard to focus on when stuck in the “pit” that is why Paul tells us plainly “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17‭-‬18 NIV. Praise God that his love and grace never change and never cease!

Fear is a lie

God comes to overwhelm the things that overwhelm me. He takes the very things meant to destroy me and writes his glory all over it in permanent marker. To deliver me from my fears. Yesterday I went to court and faced my abusive ex. Every fiber of in my body screams run, my heart pounds so loudly I strain to hear the judge speak. Sometimes to be still is the hardest thing. But those are God’s exact instructions “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today…The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:13-14)
When my son’s newly appointed lawyer stood up to speak I recognized him immediately. Although I had seen a picture, I hadn’t previously placed how I knew him. Last September as part of the settlement process we stood before the DOJ, who is a lawyer that attempts to help parties mediate and settle their differences before presiding in front of a judge. At this meeting my ex very boldly and loudly told the DOJ and the rest of the court room that he would go to jail before paying anyone (including me) any money. That he doesn’t respect lawyers, judges or the legal system. The appointed DOJ that day is my son’s new lawyer. The “Office of the Children’s Lawyer” appointed him to Ethan, it was not a choice myself or my ex had any say in. This is just a small piece of the intricate tapestry that God is weaving to bring justice to this case. To show his glory. He is using a situation that was overwhelming, to overwhelm the big picture with his presence. God has his hand all over this situation and his every move confirms his love for me. Despite the unsettling and irrational circumstances that have taken place, he anchors me in the truth that He is in charge. I have prayed that this will come to an end, because I have been at my wits end so many times. For 8 years this has been dragging out like torture. But so much of it has changed me, refined me. The way a diamond must be cut just so, to shine its best. Corrie Ten Boom once said “I know the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do.” This gives me hope that he has a specific plan for me, he is systematically cutting off every branch that doesn’t bare fruit. So now my prayer has become “God teach me what I need to know, prune away what doesn’t work. So that I may share with the world your definition of justice and bring the glory to your name it deserves”. One by one, court date by court date I trust more and fear less.
I can’t choose how others treat me. Committed as some seem to sin against me. I still have the choice not to let their sin create sin within me. I can choose how I treat myself. To respect the temple of the holy spirit and the King that lives within me. If I am to be used by God and his love and true nature shown through me, I must be the best version of myself. To shine His light brilliantly. Even if that means I have to make adjustments to the boundaries I set and how I let others talk to me. A high school teacher of mine used to tell me “you teach others how to treat you”. In this case the best way for me to show my ex how I deserve to be treated is to truly not fear him. Jesus said “it is finished” with him I am a victor not a victim. I must choose to treat myself as the daughter my King died for. The only way I can be rid of my fear is to replace it. With trust. Trust in the God who repeatedly saves me. He saves me from falling into the trap that fear can win. That fear has power at all is a lie, believed by too many. A friend once told me that fear is an acronym -False, Evidence, Appearing, Real. One I refuse to believe any longer. If I take out fear then what leverage does the enemy have over me? He has no ammo. If I don’t believe his lies he has only blanks to shoot at me. Under the armor of God he merely becomes a noise-maker, someone who can inflict no damage.
As Paul pointed out in 2 Corinthians there is a difference between being persecuted and being forsaken. Hard pressed but not crushed, knocked down but not destroyed. Understanding these differences has been crucial in my faith walk. We all fight battles, some we win, some we loose. But when we set our eyes on God’s truth we remember that the war has already been won. As believers we have been bought and paid for, I have a room in God’s kingdom. It’s mine for eternity. Only God can decide when I get to see it. If I am meant to see Him tomorrow I will whether I’m ready or not. God is with me so what do I need to fear? Nothing. Perfect love casts out fear, and my Father in heaven loves me perfectly.

God’s Anthem

Feb. 28, 2018
Today was rough. Last night I had a few hours of good sleep, I woke up at 1am. After that I was unable to find peace. I went in and out of sleep, so restless, dreaming as usual that I was in trouble and couldn’t escape. The little sleep I used to live on before falling ill is the amount I worry about getting now. Hard to imagine that I could work a full night shift, cook for others, do yoga and help my son with his homework then tuck him in all on 5 hours of fit-full sleep. Now only 5 hours leaves me in bed in pain for most of the day. Today was one of those days, I had a sozo this morning to help me release some of my fears. It was an exhausting blur, that’s all I really remember of it. Except that we prayed I would hear from God and my ability to write freely would be restored and here I am. Too wound up to sleep, to tired to read. Something about being up when I should be sleeping helps me write.
So many things rolling around in my head, but my body feels the same as it has all day. Pain from head to toes. But today for the first time in a long time I had gaps in time that were peaceful. Moments I knew God was there with me. Many times we are so busy that those moments so easily pass us by unnoticed. I have felt so off kilter lately, unable to find my footing. I have a good sense when there are lies running loose in my head and can shut them down quite deliberately. But of late I have not been able to stop then even when I notice. As if they have a life of their own. Simple things, little things that easily fester forgetting to put something on the grocery list and calling myself stupid for it. Those things add up after a while, until I don’t need to forget something to call myself stupid. Fiction said in passing becomes fact if left alone to ruminate. Of course there are still the big things that take up valuable real estate in my head. Things I can do nothing about, that can only be released to God for resolution. Why does it take so much effort to give something up we never had control over in the first place? Control is an awful tease. Like a mirage in the desert when your thirsty. Its not really there, it never was. We chase it as if we could really catch it and eventually it chases us…into believing a lie.
But God still shows up in the middle of those lies. If my heart is open I can spot them like a teenager can find a fresh blemish on picture day. Out of character for me I asked for help, a tactic that I reserve for emergencies only, for fear of being hurt. And several people stepped up to show me love in their own way. My son was so sweetly holding my hand as we walked home from school, said “I will help you Mom, you just need rest. And I will get you some water and you will feel super better!”. My heart melted I had to stop on the sidewalk and thank Jesus for sending such a cute messenger for his love. Later a friend stopped by with some food she had made and some thoughtful treats. This sister in Christ and I hardly know each other, but her heart is so clearly seen, I feel like I have known her a life time. God truly knows the people we need when we need them, too often I am quick to be angry instead of trusting that God has a better plan. It wasn’t until she was on her way out the door I realized why God had sent her specifically. Just before she shut the door she said “did anyone tell you they love you today?” And without waiting for an answer she said “I love you”. I was so touched I don’t even think I said it back. The answer to her question was no. I doubled over in tears after she shut the door. When I could breathe I said aloud “thank you Jesus, I love you too”. Just when I thought that I wasn’t hearing from God, on what seemed to be a desperate roller coaster the truth of God’s love helps me find my footing. I start to remember that He never changes, and neither does the way He feels about me.
My son and I often have this cute argument who loves who more. But he always looses when I change my argument to “But I loved you first”. I think God used that same argument “You have loved me before the foundations of the cosmos were laid” (John 17:24b – the voice). If I let go of my fear (and ask for help), I can release my grip on the illusion of control and get out of God’s way. For some reason the big things are so much easier to relinquish, our inability to control them is obvious. I gave my control over to God about my on-going custody case and he has shown his face so plainly. Yet the little things aren’t so obvious, so I do my best to wrestle with what little control I think I have over them. In the moments today when I caught myself wrestling, as usual I was able to stop and pause. The few seconds of silence in between redirecting my focus the same song would be playing in the back of my mind. As if it had been playing all day long, only to be heard during peaceful moments, when I stopped thinking long enough to breathe. Just one line from the song “King of my heart” by bethel played on repeat “You are good, you’re good Ohhh”. The ups and downs I felt today were also an illusion. The steady rhythm of God’s goodness was like a loving ambiance, only noticeable when its sought after with purpose. I was always anchored by the truth in my heart. He is good, so good. An anthem I must choose to live by, if I am not to be swallowed up by anger when clutching my illusion of control. Just let God be God. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Eternal , “plans for peace not evil, to give you a hope and a future-never forget that. At that time you will call out for Me , and I will hear. You will pray, and I will listen. You will look for me intently, and you will find Me. “ (Jeremiah 29:11-13 The Voice) A much needed lesson for my third birthday as new creation in Christ. He is good. So good.