When Mother’s Day Hurts

I let go of my expectations of Mother’s Day a long time ago.

That’s not to say I never had any, I did and lots of them. There was a small wrinkle in our life that never seemed to iron itself out. Mother’s Day is always on a Sunday and that is a full-on working day for my husband. When I said I do, I married a man who had committed his life to working on Sundays forever with The Bride of Christ, the church.

He is a pastor and when our children were younger we were involved in a dynamic large church. Bless his heart, he tried really hard to meet my unspoken and of course out-loud expectations, but year after year it just didn’t really work out. One year I remember that he had put our teenage son Jeremy, in charge of finishing up the meal for us after church. It turned out pretty well until we sat around the table and saw that we were missing one of our kids. Kevin had accidentally forgot to bring our middle son home. I thought he was bringing Jordan home that day but apparently we miscommunicated. It happens when you are a two car go-to-church family. It wouldn’t be the last time that one of us thought we had all the kids. I finally decided that it was okay and I knew that I was loved and celebrated other days of the year.

I’ve been reading some really good blogs this past week on this very topic about Mother’s Day and expectations and I’ve come to a conclusion.

Sometimes Mother’s Day doesn’t work out the way it is advertised incessantly in the media of seeing every store lined with flowers, chocolate and the perfect gift to get Mom.

Hallmark kind of commercials and happy faces don’t always materialize on that day.

Sometimes, Mother’s Day just plain hurts.

I have women in my world who wish they could be mothers and aren’t. I have friends who have lost their mothers to heaven too young and others who have watched their Mom wither away in a nursing home helpless to ease those last days. I have friends whose mother’s just don’t get them and they long for approval and acceptance. I know of women who stay home from church on that day because it doesn’t seem to address all women and the vast delicate emotions that can haunt the day.

It hurts. It’s painful. It’s not a picture perfect day.

What do we do then when Mother’s Day hurts? Let’s keep it as upbeat as we can for those who actually enjoy the day and the rest of us can just tough it out for the day. NOT!! When I was younger and not very wise, I had that very opinion, why does it have to be so hard for everyone? After all, good grief, it’s only one day!

The key word in that sentence is “grief.” Mother’s Day can bring grief, incalculable grief for many. Unmet expectations and scratching off scabs that we just try to let go and forget the other 364 days of the year.

The truth is, it can feel absolutely crushing for some and others it brings great joy and elation. What do we do then?

This is a blog and of course it is my opinion, but I think the answer is simply this…

Let’s give room to all women to be who they are on that day.

Let’s each decide how to either celebrate or grieve and give a wide-open space and abundant grace to each other.

Let’s pray for the women in our world who struggle and not add to their pain by placing our own judgments and expectations.

Let’s not add to the message that gets shouted at us by commercialism and try to put all women in that narrow box.

Let it be and let’s choose to celebrate all women as they are and wherever they might find themselves in the present.

To all my sisters who find this day beyond difficult, I pray your heart will be comforted by the great comforter, the Holy Spirit and you would know that,

The Lord is close to the broken hearted and rescues those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

 

 

When You Can’t Let Go

Today I am wrestling.

Dark thoughts.

Hard stuff.

Disappointments.

Yesterday, I listened to my two of my grandchildren sing along with that infamous tune, Let it Go, from the movie Frozen. So innocent, so sweet, and unassuming of what that phrase truly means.

To tell the truth, I am not sure, I fully understand what it really means myself!

And yet, it resonates over and over with the pile that has been amassing in my heart of past hurts and disappointments. There are certain dates and times of events and encounters that sneak into my heart reminding me, “This time, last year, or five years ago, or ten, this happened and this is what was said or done.”

I am a master at rehearsing and it can ruin my day, corrupt my attitude and make my soul sick unless I “Bring every thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ.” as 2 Corinthians instructs us to follow. But even as I attempt to do that, and ask Jesus over and over again to help me, I still can get stuck and I don’t like that and that’s when I have to go outside of myself and ask others for some help. Some encounters are easier to let go of, ones that have worked out. But others linger like garbage smelling up everything because I’ve worked so hard to get rid of it, but the lack of mutual resolution keeps it alive.

This past month has been unpredictable and a little testier for my soul. January felt new and fresh and I made plans on how to embrace my one word for 2016 LIVE BOLD. Then February slammed in with an assortment of disappointments and it hasn’t quit. Did you notice I didn’t post a single blog in February? UGH! More disappointment and guilt.

What do we do then when we can’t let go?

Get back under the covers and hide? It’s tempting, let me tell you.

What do we do when most of life is par excellent but the lingering pieces threaten to capsize the rest?

For me the guilt piles on because I have an infinite amount of things to be grateful for in my life.

Here are seven things of what I am learning lately that are helping me to put it all in perspective and I am hoping it will help you if you are in this place. They aren’t rocket science and pretty simplistic but sometimes you just need simple.

  1. Life will never be exactly what I hope it will be. Life brings both disappointments and times that are exhilarating and purposeful making us smile large. This life on earth is temporary. Readjust and place HOPE in a person, Jesus, rather than people or situations.
  2. People are unpredictable and can change. Give grace. Love them where they are at and adjust the relationship (i.e. how much you invest, spend time with them, etc.) if necessary in order to move forward.
  3. Don’t live with a disguise. Many of us learn to live with disguises, as I just heard from a guest speaker at our church this past Sunday. Don’t be one of them. Continue to be authentic even if it is uncomfortable for others. Telling the truth is always best. We can’t control outcomes or responses of our truth-telling.
  4. Practice gratitude continually. Every night I try to list at least three things I can be thankful for the past hours of my day. It helps to overcome my dark thoughts and is the best sleeping aid ever.
  5. Pray always and keep alert with perseverance. (Ephesians 6:18) I mean really, Cynthia, do you pray always? All through the day? I am such a wimp and desiring to be better at this. Some mornings I just sit in front of my prayer wall and say, “God, here I am, help me because I’m not very good at this prayer thing sometimes.” He meets me right there as I sit, sometimes for just five minutes, sometimes much longer, but the point is, He meets me where I am at and honors my efforts.
  6. Laugh. Invest in things that give joy and renew the weariness of the soul. For me, it is creating whether writing, drawing, sewing or working on a project. It gives life.
  7. Reach out and bless someone else who is facing struggle and disappointment. And writing a quick note on FB or pushing a heart LIKE on someone’s post doesn’t count. Social media has lured us into the false reality that we are connecting with each other in community online. It just isn’t true and doesn’t mean as much. A handwritten card sent in the mail, taking someone out for coffee or tea, taking a walk with a friend with face to face human contact conveys true and meaningful relationship. Don’t hide behind social media, it is isolating and isn’t authentic community.

The answer to the question for me of why it is harder to let go sometimes is because I lose perspective. I am short-sighted, I have good intentions but can get mixed up. I want to frame life differently so I can embrace this gift of life rather than stay stuck in the disappointments.

So here’s to singing….LET IT GO, LET IT GO, LET IT GO!

Why You Can’t Rush the Healing of a Broken Heart

Today is a quiet day. Everything I had planned on my agenda, God wiped away and left me with a clutter free day. This Monday was supposed to be full with a car oil change, holding my sweet granddaughter and a salon appointment. One by one circumstances changed and the cancellations came in. My heart took notice and as I was sitting, resting and watching the softness in the sky of a cloudy day, God surprised me. I clicked on a link to hear a song, Clean by Natalie Grant. It’s a new song about being made clean by the maker of our heart and soul. I listened to it probably 10 times and let the truth of the lyrics take hold.

I’ve spent the last two weekends sharing with hundreds of women part of my healing journey and restoration the past few years. Those close in my world, know that my marriage was in serious trouble several years ago and I thought we weren’t going to make it. I was broken, shattered and couldn’t see any hope in the storm.

But as I shared with a crowd of women on Saturday,

Hope isn’t just an expectation, it is a person, Jesus.

He is the healer of all things broken, all things shattered when life is messy and it doesn’t make sense.

When the pain breaks you to the point of despair it’s hard to believe in the moment that you will ever be whole again.

That you will ever dream again.

That life will ever smile on you again.

I had many weeks, days and even months feeling like that. But as I chose to ride out the storm in the boat with a heart broken and shattered, Jesus made a way and gave me peace. It was hard, it was complicated, it was messy and sometimes ugly. I struggled with believing, I struggled surrendering my feelings, but out of desperation I obeyed that small still voice that said, “Trust me.” Sometimes I had to do it several times a day, hour by hour and minute by minute.

It’s so ridiculously easy to slap a spiritual bandaid on our pain, trying to move on and pretend everything is okay when inside we are unraveling. We pressure ourselves to put that mask on especially it seems in the church. And to put a Romans 8:28 (All things work together for good…) anecdote on our pain instead of just letting our reality match God’s truth without pretense.

It’s much easier to try and fake it and not deal with crushing realization of a life that isn’t working. Why do we do that as people who confess to love Jesus? Why? Honestly, it can drive me to insanity, and I know I have been a guilty party. It limits how I grieve, how I heal, how I relate, how I process and move through the pain.

I believe you can’t rush the process of healing.

I wanted to.

I wanted badly to move forward.

Others wanted me to, begged me to and I wanted with all my might to wake up and be all better right now, but I wasn’t! God gently reminded me AGAIN, Trust me, trust the process. I still want to, and yet there are remnants and pieces that are healing and I’ve come to terms, that it is okay. I can’t rush the process of what my heart is whispering to me.

This brilliant song by Natalie Grant reminded me today that the beauty of healing comes piece by piece. Not in one beautiful miraculous chunk, although I am sure God is quite capable of doing that. But I think he prefers to do it piece by piece and in His good, loving timing. Why? So I will trust him intimately with new depth in my soul.

I resonate with the line in the song, I am coming alive with joy and destiny, because you are restoring me piece by piece. That is why you can’t rush healing, it isn’t in our control, it comes in pieces. There is a purpose in the pain you and I have experienced and unless I submit to walking through it all the way piece by piece, I will miss the journey. I will miss Jesus making me fully whole and fully alive in Him.

Psalm 84:5 is one of my most treasured verses for the longest time. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of springs where pools of blessing and refreshment collect after rains!

When I was a kid I loved to jump in rain puddles. That is the point. There are no puddles, no pools without the rain, without the rainy, nasty thunder storm there is no pool of blessing. If you are wrestling today with where you are at and feel like it’s taking so long to get through the storm, remember as Natalie Grant sings in her song that he is restoring you piece by piece because that is God’s way of making us whole because He loves us
completely.

 

Do You Think They Will Notice?

photo 1 photo 2I have a tray that sits on top of my fridge. It’s a favorite of mine to use in the summer on the deck. It’s a stark black and white print. During the off season my husband uses it with a placemat on top when he is alone to eat his dinner and watch the news or sports in front of the TV. He’s converted my favorite tray into a portable TV tray. Remember those? (Only for those of us old enough when they were invented)

The other night when I opened the fridge it slightly fell over the opening of the fridge, so I had to catch it before it hit me squarely in the face.

I noticed some extra decorating on my favorite tray.

DUCT TAPE!!

Which was nicely covered up by the placemat. Did he think I wouldn’t notice? It had obviously been involved in some sort of an accident, although not sure how it happened, so now it was cracked and my sweet man tried to repair it. When I asked him (nicely of course) about it, (at least I tried to ask nicely) he said, “No, he wasn’t trying to keep it from me, but that it just happened” and he fixed it for me. SIGH…..How do you get mad at that answer? He was trying to fix it for me!

I found myself thinking as I removed the placemat how in my own life I try to cover up my brokenness and wounds sometimes.

I consider myself fairly authentic but there are times I want to camouflage with duct tape, hoping no one will notice.

It doesn’t work very well because the fact is, we are all broken.

We have scars, we have wounds, we have trauma, anxiety, hurts and difficult challenges. Such is life. I once heard a song years ago, Life is Hard, but God is Good. Yes, God is always good but the fact remains, life is just plain hard and that’s why we need Him.

This weekend I am heading out to engage with a few hundred women and hopefully bring them a message of hope and remind them that our influence is powerful and strong in Jesus. But I will have to lift off the placemat in places of my life and expose the brokenness and wounds in order to be an effective leader and teacher this weekend.

I am riveting with excitement this morning as I have prepared for weeks and months and believe this is my God assignment. But I have struggled this week in wanting to keep the placemat of my life on that tray and give a little too perfect appearance. I didn’t even notice it creeping in. It was subtle, it was sly, slithering in and around the message God has put on my heart from His Word. It crept in, my anxiety, insecurity and the lie that God can’t use me fully unless I appear to have it all together. No duct tape, just a lovely black and white tray to serve others with.

As I’m typing, I just realized, my favorite tray can’t serve anyone unless it is carried. It doesn’t serve itself.

Thank you Jesus, it is you who carries my imperfect life and offers the heart of your message to serve others.

Where do you need to have God carry you today? I am reminding both of us what the writer in 2 Corinthians 12:9,10 says when he was asking God to take away his weakness,

My grace is enough to cover and sustain you. My power is made perfect in weakness. So ask me about my thorn, inquire about my weaknesses, and I will gladly go on and on. I would rather stake my claim in these and have the power of the Anointed One at home within me. I am at peace and even take pleasure in any weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and afflictions for the sake of the Anointed because when I am at my weakest, He makes me strong.

So go ahead! Ask me to remove that placemat on the tray of my life, because I want to bless and serve others today and everyday and I believe you do too!

When the Waiting Room and Faith Collide

A few weeks back I sat in the surgical waiting room at a hospital in San Diego waiting for news about my Dad.

I came prepared to wait.

I had my books and computer, a mini office of sorts.

As hour after hour went by, I watched as people waited, some chatting quietly, others watching mindless shows on the overhead television flatscreen and others staring numbly wondering what the next moments would bring for their loved ones. Then a doctor would come in searching for the family, usher them gently out into the hallway and deliver their news either good or bad. It was sobering to say the least.

We had just recently found out that my Dad had a large cancerous melanoma tumor and the initial report prepared us to expect the worst. So I waited for weeks before the surgery holding my breath and then in the waiting room while my Mom sat by my Dad’s side as they prepped him for surgery.

We were one of the those later in the day who received good news from the surgeon that gave us hope but we still had to wait for the pathology report. I think that wait was more difficult than waiting in the waiting room. Days went by and then on the plane ride home, after I couldn’t stand it any longer, I bought 30 minutes of internet to tap into the outside world.

I received the text. “100% clean, no cancer, no further treatment.”

I cried.

Weeks of holding my breath let loose a dam of pent up emotions.

It wasn’t what we were told by the surgeon at first. We were bracing ourselves for the worst. As I got off the plane and called my husband and my sister and friends telling them the good news, my words came half broken through relief of tears and emotion.

I realize as I write this that not everyone gets this kind of report after waiting and pounding the doors of heaven. My heart grieves with those that get slammed with hard news and it is frightening. As my Dad went into his surgery, he had said earlier that he knew he had lived a good long life and was ready, but he was still scared. Of course, who wouldn’t be! I pleaded with God and begged to have at least five more good years with the first man I have ever loved.

God answered. He always answers, maybe not in the way that we hope for. This time He answered and spared my Dad from further surgery and treatment. Why? I don’t know because life doesn’t always make sense and I don’t have the mind of God. I heard people say after we shared the good news, “God is so faithful and so good to have answered.” But then I think, He doesn’t change, He is always good and always faithful even when the outcome isn’t what we hope for.

One of the sweetest moments came the next day when my Dad shared with me how he had prayed and prayed for strength and courage. He let me know that the morning of the surgery he woke up and felt such an overwhelming presence like God was right next to Him, reassuring him he would be okay. I remember my Dad saying to me timidly, that I might find that weird. I told him, of course not! God can reveal Himself in anyway He chooses to us, even giving us a tangible physical sense of closeness when we are afraid.

My father has a pure faith and I believe that because of his faithfulness that God revealed Himself to him in this way because he truly asked for it with shaking faith, but he asked and made a choice to believe. 2 Samuel 22:26 says, To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless. Not matter the outcome that day, God showed Himself faithful. Either way, no matter the news, my Dad knew that He was not alone.

There are other areas of my life that I pound heaven’s door for, and I am still waiting for a hopeful answer. There are areas of silence and I am still pleading and waiting. That’s hard to grasp when life gets hard. But today, I choose to trust and believe that, The word of the LORD is right and true: he is faithful in all he does. Psalm 33:4.

So I will keep pounding, I will keep asking, I will keep waiting on a God that doesn’t disappoint and who demonstrates Himself to ALWAYS be faithful.

Treasures in the Dirt

photoWARNING!

This is going to be a more frivolous post.

I believe that God even cares about the little things in life. Even silly things like my fav’s.

A few weeks ago I lost one of my best earrings. They were gifted to me by a friend, These earrings are simply designed in a scroll pattern made by Brighton. They were my ‘go to’ on a jean and casual day.

I sighed one morning when I couldn’t find the other one.

I ranted.

I pouted.

I yelled at myself because this is probably at least 3 earrings I have lost this year. And they are all my favorites!

How does this happen? I now have a special section in my organized case of ‘one-of-a-pair.’ I guess I could start a new trend and wear a mismatched set once in a while.

But then the unthinkable happened, while I was digging around in the dirt in my front yard, I spotted something silver, glimmering and shiny. It was the other earring that I had just lost a few weeks ago.

YIPPEE! I have absolutely NO idea how it landed in the dirt by my front walk. It was simply too far from the steps and the driveway. Did it fly out of my ear one day? Who knows! It’s unexplainable.

I did a happy dance with dirt flying from my gardening gloves.

I said thank you loud enough for my neighbor to hear and I didn’t care. I considered it a gift from God, my treasure in the dirt that day.

Is that silly? Wait, let me answer that. I don’t think so.

I’ve been burdened recently with all the chaos in the world and some of my own challenges facing me this week. Digging around in the dirt is cathartic for me, and Monday I decided I needed to get down and dirty. I had just bought some decorative kale to replace my raggy summer petunias.

When my hands are mucked up with the earth and my head is bowing low to the ground planting, weeding and digging, I can hear God whisper sweet words of calm to my heart. Maybe it’s the sense of touching creation and watching with wonder how a seed turns into beauty or finding a bird’s nest intricately constructed in one of my front pots. Never the less, I hear God in my garden.

Isaiah 45:3 reminds me that in all parts of life God will give me hidden treasures as I seek Him. I wasn’t expecting anything that day, but God gave me a little surprise to hold onto in the midst of my chaotic heart and remind me that He’s got this. I needed it desperately and am incredibly grateful that He loves me enough to tangibly show me.

And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness—secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name. Isaiah 45:3

 

 

Why I’m Learning to Breathe in 2015

photo

I’ve been holding my breath for the past several years.

I realize that tonight, just minutes away from the clock pushing us forward into 2015, that I haven’t been breathing very well, spiritually and emotionally for a long time.

It’s left me feeling a bit dry and depleted and looking pale figuratively speaking of course.  And as I’ve been contemplating what my ONE WORD for 2015 should be, I’ve decided, it will be BREATHE.

Breathing is an automatic response that we rarely think about.

Each breath is a reminder that we are alive.

Each breath is a sign that life moves forward whether we will it or not.

There is pain so tumultuous at times that it feels as though we can barely take a breath. And that certainly has been me holding my breath through the uncertainties and winding roads of life instead of releasing and resting. To my detriment, my melancholy temperament kicks in and it keeps me from breathing.

I’ve had moments when I’ve taken some deep breaths along the journey and exhaled, but for the most part the ruts and rough places on the path have caught my breath so much so that I forgot how to breathe. You know that feeling when something catches you by surprise and you take a sharp breath in and then let out a panicky scream? It’s a reaction with a rush of adrenaline, like having to come to a screeching stop because I’ve almost hit someone in a parking lot or watching a movie and a scary part jumps across the screen. But after an episode of holding your breath, we are supposed to keep breathing, not holding it in. Try it the next time and see how long it takes you to actually breathe normally again.

The past few years as I’ve found myself climbing up craggy hillsides and facing fierce storms, at times I’ve forgotten to breathe, I’ve just held it in until I’m blue. Yes, blue spiritually and emotionally from holding on too long. I am reluctant to say, but have to confess, it has set me back and eroded my ability to trust in the one who gives me breath. God. My Jesus, the one I’ve loved since I was a small child. Life has just seemed to pile up in heaps and I am out of practice exhaling and letting go consistently. I think another word for letting go is surrender. Ouch!

God reminded me of it this past summer when I spent time alone with him for several days. He whispered, “Let it go, so you can grow.” The “it” was the things I was trying to fix and was failing miserably because I forgot something very important. I am not God, it’s not my job to fix, only to be faithful and follow.

As I walk into a New Year in just a matter of minutes I am reminding myself of something I recently wrote in my book, Unlocked with a quote from C.S. Lewis, ‘Pain is God’s megaphone to the world.’ Through my pain, I know God wants to speak to me. It is in the exhalation that the hurt, wound, and problems get released.” In other words, when I hold my breath, I black out spiritually and emotionally. I need to breathe.

I was reflecting tonight on the past year and I had an epiphany; letting go and stop trying to fix everything is really learning how to breathe consistently and leaving the rest up to God. The irony of it is that this whole past year I’ve had in my bathroom this picture I’ve posted with the verse: You can be saved by returning to me. You can have rest. You can be strong by being quiet and by trusting me. Isaiah 30:15. I think it’s going to stay put for 2015.

I think I am starting to get it, and I am going to practice my breathing in 2015. So if you see me turning blue please remind me to   breathe!

 

 

The Truth of Where I Belong

Picture 327Even the wife of a pastor can at times feel lost and struggle with what it means to belong even in her own church. Does that surprise you? I was talking with a friend today and she affirmed to me that it was okay to just be myself. What a relief! I am opening up the vault of vulnerability to say that even leaders can’t live up to their own expectations and at times can feel displaced, not enough, and wonder how they fit, especially after a wilderness season.

I shared in my last blog I’ve been ruminating and reflecting a bit more lately and so bear with me as I continue with this theme. As I went to sleep last night and confessed my jumbled emotions to God, I asked him to sort them out for me because I can’t. I learned a long time ago that my emotions unlike my heart can’t be trusted. They seek to lead me astray with lies and can cause me to slip into a state that doesn’t choose to trust and believe God.

This morning I carried this baggage into church with me stuffing the lies and overriding my hidden emotions with a smile. That’s what leaders do isn’t it? I am not saying that I was faking it 100% but I was determined to practice what I had surrendered the night before hoping that my tattered emotions would follow my obedience. And God surprised me this morning in a way I didn’t expect.

But isn’t that just like him?

We surrender.

We trust.

We believe.

And He surprises us again with His extravagant love.

I was standing and chatting with another woman when one of our staff joined the conversation. With a big smile he asked us to give him a word, any word. At first, I wanted to laugh because it reminded me of the father in the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding who claims he can trace any word you could give him to Greek origin, of which he was of course proudly Greek! I thought for a moment and blurted out the word believe. After my heart-felt conversation with God last night, it was the first word that popped into my brain.

He proceeded to hand me an enormous bar of chocolate, the kind that comes in a brick and looks like an oversized postcard. On the wrapper it had a warm cozy picture of a room with a fireplace. It actually said, Merry Christmas! In his broken English (it is his second language) he told me with enthusiasm that the word believe meant that I was to be a light, just like the fire in the picture that was lighting up the room. I am not sure all the way of the connection between the word believe and the light, as I was trying to follow him as he excitedly shared with me. He was determined to help me understand that he wanted me to hear that I was to “be a light” as he repeatedly pointed to the fireplace in the picture.

I do know that God was speaking to me directly in that shared encounter. It was a link of something that happened last month around the word “light” when I was at a retreat. God reminded me in a room full of women standing in a circle with candles lit that despite the dark wilderness that I have found myself in at times over the past few years, his plan for me is to not forget that he has called me to be a light. He is the reason that I have life and light and His desire is for me to live out what I told this man this morning, that the origin of my name Cynthia, actually means, reflector of light.

It may sound simple, but it was profound to me and resonated in my weary soul. God gently reminded me through an act of kindness that whenever I feel displaced or not enough, His love is my home. His love is where I belong no matter what’s happening in the back story of my life. It is His love that keeps me sheltered and because of that I choose to believe, I can trust and I can be His light to the world.

Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16 (Message Bible)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you Tethered to Your Pain?

Heating padI am really frustrated today.

I dislike being incapacitated. I’m a doer.

I still have pain (sore back) and it is immobilizing, keeping me from being productive this week.

When I showed up at the pharmacy the other day they promptly told me that they couldn’t fill my prescription because they didn’t have enough meds. LIke a wild-eyed woman I leaned over and said, “Give me what you have, I HAVE TO HAVE SOMETHING TODAY!”  At that moment I thought, “What will they think? I have an addiction to pain meds or what?” The people around me probably thought I was nuts, but when you are in pain, the whole world seems very small around your personal space and it was enough that I was able to drive myself to the pharmacy.

It’s been a few days now, and although the meds have taken the edge off, this is getting really old. It is the order of the day and of which I have no choice but to submit to the pain and process of a slow heal. YUCK!

Can I get some empathy?

I am on the verge of having my very own pity-party complete with loathing thoughts and actions that wouldn’t be too becoming a a God-fearing woman.

Today, I discovered a way to be able to do more instead of just sitting around burning my bum with a heating pad. I have been walking around the house on a leash, okay, it’s not a leash but rather my heating pad with a very long extension cord. I am tethered to my heating pad to ward off the waves of pain. It looks ridiculous and a few times I’ve caught myself on handles and doorknobs becoming a human bungi cord which of course doesn’t help my condition. It brought back a fresh reminder of how much I am not only tethered to the heating pad cords but also to the pain.

I am not sure why I get these ephiphany’s when I’m minding my own business and God uses the most frustrating moments to get through to me about issues he wants me to pay attention to. I’ve downloaded more whisperings from God today then I did on my “be still” weekend I had recently.

So let me share one of the downloads God spoke to me about. I was reminded of what C.S. Lewis said, “Pain is God’s megaphone to the world.” God uses pain to get our attention. Whether we invited the pain or fell into it head first, God uses it to speak to us, if we will listen. In my case, the message in the pain that I am having to give attention to has to do with what I wrote about last month. Letting go. It’s evident I needed another lesson.

Letting go, is so exasperatingly hard. (Is that a word?). It is difficult for me because I think I can control my circumstances and outcomes but I can’t and I am not called to do that. How old will I have to be for me to really get that I am not in control? As I was walking around my house it was the perfect picture of how our pain can keep us tethered from moving forward and keep us stuck.

No one wants to stay stuck, but sometimes our pain can keep us in that place.

It’s familiar. It’s comfortable and becomes a sort of heating pad that covers up the need for us to move on. The pain can drive us to make a choice to stay stuck instead of trying to learn from it all we can in the moment.

It’s what I’ve written recently in my new book Unlocked: 5 Myths Holding Your Influence Captive.

“I have discovered that there is purpose in pain. There may not be clarity in the pain, but I choose to believe that God is still God. He sits on the throne of heaven underscoring every single detail of my life. The lessons of pain from my past free me to breathe hope to others. It grants me the tremendous privilege to empower another tired desperate soul toward seeing a glimpse of God’s perspective on what they are experiencing.”

Notice I didn’t say that the pain necessarily goes away, it provides an opportunity to not waste the moment. Yes, it hurts, it sucks, it stinks, but when I lean in, God’s grace floods over the hurt and gives me what I need to take the first steps of letting go so that he can turn that pain into purpose.

It’s now the end of the day and I still have a white cord hanging down and plugged into the electrical outlet. If I want to move and go to the other end of the house to get where I need to go, I have to unplug it, which means I lose the comfort of the heat. The same applies in my life. The pain may follow me as I let go. It might even hurt more, but if I push through it beyond nurturing it and holding on, freedom will come and new change and seasons will follow.

This gives me courage to listen and be obedient to God’s whispers, I pray it will help you to let go too.

But forget all that—
it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.                                                                     For I am about to do something new.                                                                                        See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?                                                                                 I will make a pathway through the wilderness,                                                                                I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. Isaiah 43:18,19 NLT

 

 

My “Word” for June

I love writing, its cathartic for me but when you have a blog I feel like somedays, what should I write about that matters today? I don’t want to just throw stuff out into cyberspace about my reflections on life that are random. I want them to make a difference. I want to encourage and inspire people to flourish and live life brilliantly the way God designed them to. So, as I was thinking about it. I am kind of a structured kind of girl. Not too structured, but enough to keep me moving forward. Too much random chaos sends me over the edge. I can handle it in small doses but for the most part, I yell inside my head, “Okay time to bring this into order.”

So now where am I going with these random thoughts? I thought I might experiment in my blog with every month choosing a word and then writing about it. I am going to give it a try at least for 3 months. That’s my go to–try anything for three months and see if it sticks. For June, the word WORSHIP has captured me like a sticky note reminder on my fridge.

So here goes…it will be short and sweet for today. Yesterday, it was an amazingly gorgeous June day. I was driving in the country, worship music blaring and just observing all that God had set before me. Don’t worry, I was watching the other traffic, tractors and all. I had a panoramic view because I have a fun car, okay I have a Mustang convertible that my husband bought me for a “big” birthday several years ago! On days like today and yesterday there is something wonderful and refreshing about driving in the country, convertible top down, worship music blaring and the wind blowing through my hair and touching my face. It is like a kiss from heaven! I can see everything from a different perspective and it changes my viewpoint of the day.

Now I have a confession, yesterday, I was so overwhelmed and anxious. I was having trouble settling down, I could almost feel myself want to crawl out of my skin. I tried alot of things, but the one thing that works for me is cranking up the tunes and singing at the top of my lungs. Can you picture it? Blue mustang convertible screaming down a country road, Grandma driving like a teenager (I have 2 darlin’s and 2 more on the way) in the driver’s seat, singing at the top of her lungs like a crazy person with one hand up in the air resting on the top of the windshield. It was like being on a roller coaster and doing the wave, one handed mind you, but nearly the same. it did the trick. By focusing on Almighty God, my rock, my refuge, my very present help in time of trouble, but in this instance feeling overwhelmed and anxious, it cured me of my anxiety and heart sickness. Before I knew it, I felt the freedom in my heart and spirit, and I was grateful. That is what worship did for me yesterday. How about you? What does worship look like for you?