Refreshing Joy

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“The last time I doubted my calling was … just this past Monday.”

I shared this with the ladies in our Bible Study group. It is a safe place filled with grace, love and encouragement.

I explained that I was in the dumps, exhausted and overwhelmed. I was simply tired.

Tired of waiting.
Tired of hurting.
Tired of hoping.

When I feel worn out, the enemy is not too far away with that mean question ringing loud in my head:

“Who do you think you are?”

Then the dominoes of doubt start to fall onto each other:

“God’s not going to use you.”
“What you have to say is already being said.”
“No one wants to hear it.”
“If it is this hard, why bother?”
“Did God really say….?????”

“Again, who do you think you are?”

When these doubts swirl around me in the pit, I sink.

But, just this morning as I approached my office, there was a gift wrapped in tissue paper by my door. I picked it up and opened it to see a lovely smelling candle. There was no note so I sat it on my desk and went to make coffee.

When I made it back to my desk, I looked up and saw the word JOY in gold on candle.

JOY CANDLE
Your love has impacted me and brings me great joy and encouragement, for the hearts of the believers have been greatly refreshed through you. Philemon 1:7 TPT

My eyes were a little misty. JOY is my word for 2018, and this was such a sweet and timely reminder.

Who in the world left this at my door?

I texted a few friends and they all said it wasn’t them.
So I texted some more. No luck.

As I started to review the scripture verses for our lesson, one the of the ladies shared the song, “Reckless Love” in our group chat.

As I played the song and read the verses, the tears washed away the lies that were suffocating me.

Verses like:

“Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you” Acts 18:9-10

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. Acts 20:24

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts 20:35

The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” Acts 23:11

Oh, to be like Paul. He had plenty of opposition, but he kept running the race. He was able to say, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” Acts 23:1

The struggle is real, but God is bigger than the struggle.

I shared with my sisters in Christ how God refreshed my heart with a surprise candle, the timing of a song, and the truth of His Word.

I was still dying to know who gave me that candle so I could at least thank them! My sweet sisters encouraged me to just receive His love, and ask Him to bless the giver.

The next morning, I found out the candle was a gift from a friend who lives all the way in Indiana.

My heart was FULL.

God delivered true meaning to the song Reckless Love in real time.

He reached down and drew me
from the deep, dark hole where I was stranded, mired in the muck and clay.
With a gentle hand, He pulled me out
To set me down safely on a warm rock;
He held me until I was steady enough to continue the journey again.
Psalm 40:2

Click below to listen to the powerful song Reckless Love by Cory Asbury – where he shares the story behind the song.  As you listen,

  • Think of all the ways He has pursued you.
  • Remember those He sent to encourage you just when you needed it most.
  • Reflect on the times He used you to strengthen and refresh others.
  • Who can you encourage today?

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Fullness of JOY

adobe-spark-postYou will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Psalm 16:11

They say healing from childhood sexual abuse comes in layers.

A new layer has peeled back for me.  My word for 2018 is JOY, and what keeps rolling around in my mind is “fullness of joy.”

In your presence is fullness of Joy.

How do you truly experience the fullness of joy when you have spent much of your life avoiding, ignoring and hiding emotions?

I stuffed the pain away deep inside so that I would no longer feel it.
I glossed over it, excused it, and tried to find the silver lining in the trash heap.
It was hard for me to cry sometimes when I should, and other times the tears rolled off my cheeks when I tried to lock them in.
Smiling was like a habit.  It was normal to pretend like everything was fine.
I slowly constructed walls a mile high to protect heart from any intrusion.

When the ache started to rumble, I would use food or anything I could to stuff the pain deep inside so I would no longer feel.

A way of numbing.
A way of coping.
A way of hiding.
A way of surviving.

And then, I met Jesus in my pain.

As each wall crumbled, He helped me to peel back the layers.

Layers and layers of memories poured out like a fire hydrant.

I thought when I sat in my counselors office and cried every Thursday for three years, I had let it all out.

And then, there was “fullness of joy” and a whole new layer has peeled back.

Those three words, “fullness of joy”… made me think of three other words – “fullness of pain.”

A memory still pops up out of nowhere.
Something seemingly simple can trigger me.
That will likely never stop.

In this fullness of joy season with Jesus… I am sitting with Him and “feeling” the fullness of that pain.

Stuffing is no longer an option.
Donuts are not the solution.
I cry and I don’t have to explain it away, even when it is awkward.

In it all, I sense His presence.

It’s as if He is whispering to the little girl inside of me,

“I’m here and it is okay to cry.
It is okay to grieve all that was lost.
I want you to let it out, safely in my arms.
I am showing you how to feel with me.
Feel it for what it truly was, and let it go.

It’s time.

Emotions are a gift from me.
We will untangle yours, together.
You don’t have to hide anymore.
You don’t have to stuff anymore.
No barriers, no walls.

You are safe.

This fullness of pain is emptying out the deep recesses in your heart.
I will not leave you empty… I am replenishing you with the fullness of joy.

Joy in my presence. Joy with me.”

If I am not able to truly feel the fullness of the pain, how will I ever truly feel the fullness of His joy?

The pain may never completely go away, but there will always be HOPE.

Hope doesn’t require a carb overload.
Hope is not denial or minimizing the reality of the horrific experiences and the aftermath.
Hope is not pretending it wasn’t that bad, and maybe the good outweighed the awful.
Hope is not isolation.
Hope is not forgetting about it and moving on.

Hope is when the light shines in the darkest places.

Those places can be incredibly painful, but there is always hope. Hope is when His light shines in the darkness. His hope brings the light, and with the light comes the fullness of joy.

Psalm 30:10-12 VOICE

Hear me, Eternal Lord—please help me,
    Eternal One—be merciful!

You did it: You turned my deepest pains into joyful dancing;
    You stripped off my dark clothing
    and covered me with joyful light.
You have restored my honor. My heart is ready to explode, erupt in new songs!
    It’s impossible to keep quiet!
    Eternal One, my God, my Life-Giver, I will thank You forever.

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Overcoming Fear by Trusting in Jesus

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3 NIV

Fear has always been my constant companion. It doesn’t take much to trigger fear in me. I’m often afraid of something. In fact when I’m not afraid, I worry about what will happen next and the cycle of fear continues.

When I finally realized why I was so scared and that I didn’t have to live afraid anymore, then fear lost its grip on me.

Fear still visits me more than I’d like to admit, but when it shows up now, I’m armed and ready.

Are you ready to say, #ByeByeFear?

Click below to watch as I share my story of “Overcoming Fear by Trusting in Jesus” at the Hope Restored Women’s Conference.

Additional Resources:

Fight F. E. A. R. by…

F – Fixing your eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2-3)
E – Engaging with safe community (Hebrews 10:23-25)
A – Admitting you’re struggling with fear (Psalm 34:17-18)
R – Releasing it, and replacing it with God’s promises (Psalm 56:3)

Questions for Personal Reflection:  

  1. What fears are holding you back?
  2. What lies were whispered to you that make you feel unworthy, unloved and insecure?
  3. Have you given Him full access to your story?

Key Verses:  

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My King, My Redeemer

He reaches deep into the pit to deliver you from death. He crowns you with unfailing love and compassion like a king. Psalm 103:4 VOICE

I was in a pit.

Discouragement blew in like a tornado and I started to sink.

It was a slow and steady decline.

There was so much noise in my mind, and everything felt intense.

Glancing at social media made me feel inadequate, insecure, and intimidated like I was in junior high again.

The darkness was so loud.

So many “too’s”.  #metoo #themtoo #churchtoo

Words echoed all of the aches and pain.

Comments made me nauseous.

Hypersenstive and full of doubt, I felt like I was whining as I prayed that morning, “God, what is wrong with me? Help!”

As I stepped out of the shower, a song was playing on Pandora called “I Won’t Go Back” by William McDowell.

I wasn’t feeling it, but I was singing it. I was declaring it with him, “I won’t go back, I can’t go back, to the way it used to be. Before your presence came and changed me.”

And then the very next song that played was “Take Me To The King” by Tamela Mann and I was immediately reminded of how far God has brought me and how He has delivered me! That was the song of my heart years ago when I began my journey to heal from Childhood Sexual Abuse. It helped me to see Him as my King, and reminded me that I was His Daughter, His Princess.

How in the world did I find myself in the pit – again? Was I pushed or did I just slip in slowly? I honestly didn’t know the answer, but I knew without a doubt that the dark, hopeless pit was no longer my address.

I don’t live there anymore, and I won’t go back!

My Redeemer has delivered me.  He has already brought me out.

I immediately started to praise Him for what He has delivered me from, for where He has brought me, and for all He has done for me.

My King is faithful.  

Maybe like me, you have landed in the pit, again?  The enemy likes to make the pit seem nice and cozy, as if it is our home sweet home. When the walls of that pit are staring back at you, look up and let the One who lifts your head bring you back with a grateful heart of praise – for He is our rock and our redeemer! That pit is no longer our address. We don’t live there anymore and we are not going back.

We have been redeemed.  Let’s declare it together:

Praise the Lord, my soul;

    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

Praise the Lord, my soul,

    and forget not all his benefits—

who forgives all your sins

    and heals all your diseases,

who redeems your life from the pit

    and crowns you with love and compassion, 

who satisfies your desires with good things

    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Psalm 103:1-5 NIV