Healing. That is a word I am familiar with. As a nurse, it is something I try to do for others every time I work. As a mom, I kiss the bumps and bruises, wipe the tears and counsel broken hearts. As a woman, I knew there were things inside myself that were completely broken and needed healing. Probably. Someday. However, it was not something I ever really considered. Healing was a wonderful, beautiful, possible thing. For others. Just not for me.
One evening, I heard some beautiful ladies praying for the physical healing of their children. In that moment God opened my eyes: I had never asked him to heal my pain, to heal my soul. I had prayed for peace and strength. I had asked the Lord for courage, wisdom, and safety. But, I had NEVER ASKED GOD TO HEAL MY INNERMOST AND SPIRITUAL WOUNDS.
One would assume that with this enlightening revelation I would have gotten down on my knees and asked God to heal me that very moment. Nope. Instead, inside me rose a need to protect the control over these past wounds, even though I knew I could not heal them myself. I could not ask for this healing. Truthfully, I WOULD NOT. It was a choice. One that I deliberately chose because selfishly I wanted to hold onto them. They were so deep and buried that I felt as though they defined me. They were mine. I I wanted to hold onto them. To give all of that to God somehow meant my total surrender, and to one who needed to control my feelings and how I dealt with them, the thought was terrifying. Not only this, but I knew without a doubt that this would mean I would start feeling again. The pain and hurt had been my armor against the world for so long. Tearing down the wall meant vulnerability. A Vulnerability to God, to myself, and to the world. To ask for God's healing meant trading my own armor for God's Holy Armor.
I won't lie. That brought out a struggle in me that had me in tears for weeks. But GOD IS GREAT! He never stopped calling me to Him. When I opened up my bible, I began to look for verses on healing. I heard Him speaking through these beautiful words. I knew he was gently putting these healing prayers right in my hands. And then I began to weep. A lot. I wept like I had never cried before. I had not allowed myself to cry in years, and as I read His word, the flood of tears held in for so long swept over me. I was beginning to feel. Really and truly feel. God was putting the proof of his healing power in front of me and I knew I needed to be obedient. Still, I was a rebellious child and did not pray for my healing.
I began a journal. My healing journal. In this journal, God dangled His sweet peace in front of me, never giving up on me. I wrote down all sorts of things. Verses, quotes, my own thoughts. Everyday I read this journal and the verses within it. I listened to the words God was speaking to me. I read them over and over again. The emotions I experienced were overwhelming but I continued to read the journal daily, as I felt the Holy Spirit encouraging, beckoning me to do so. The existence of healing began to seem so tangible and how I wanted that! More than I had ever realized! An understanding began to flow through me that while I would never forget my past, the things that had happened to me could be used for God's glory someday. I longed to be rid of the anger, shame, and pain. I WANTED TO FEEL all that God designed my human heart to feel.
One morning, I opened my journal and realized I was no longer reading these beautiful verses. I was praying them. I was pouring my heart out to God in them. So I prayed them more fervently. Soon I cried out to the Lord with all my heart to heal my broken soul.
My past still hurt sometimes and it has forever changed me. Allowing myself to feel and be vulnerable is a choice I continue to make with God's grace and strength. But the load is lighter now that Jesus carries it. My anger is gone and I feel things I had not been able to feel since I was girl. God NEVER gave up on my stubborn heart, even though at times I thought he did (and wouldn't have blamed him). He will never give up on you either!!. Tears fill my eyes as I see a part of the girl I once was inside the woman I have become. I am healed more and more everyday.....I am his work in progress.....and IT. FEELS. GOOD.
God's way of dealing with a crisis is not necessarily changing location, but is oftentimes staying the course.
We run....from the world.....from our problems....sometimes we run from God himself. We change "location" when the waters get rough. The change in location is not always a physical one. We change jobs. We change relationships. Sometimes it is our mind that changes its "location". We forget about God, we overlook our responsibilities, we walk away from a problem. How many times do we not stay the course to wait and see what the lesson is we are to learn from it? Do we trust God enough to stay the course and wait for God's plan to come to fruition? As the waves build and we struggle to stay afloat, are we turning toward what we think will be calmer water? Or are we following God's compass of perseverance to stay the course?
When Naomi, her husband, and sons left Bethlehem to go to Moab, they believed leaving a land of famine would improve their situation. However, changing their location didn't prevent Naomi's husband and sons from dying in a land they thought would save them. (Ruth 1:1-5) Instead, Naomi became a widow and a grieving mother. Besides her daughter-in-laws, Naomi was alone. Alone in a destitute land. Alone in a foreign land. Alone. With no friends. No family. No comfort. Naomi realizes how blessed she was in Bethlehem. Despite the trials of famine and poverty, she had a family. A treasure she did not fully appreciate until they were gone. (Ruth 1:21).
"Changing your location" may seem like it will solve your crisis for the moment. But it does not always improve your situation. Trust that the Lord will give you what you need to get through whatever trial you are facing.
"Trust the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."
In crisis there are lessons to learn from, there is the opportunity to strength your faith, and to grow in ways we never dreamed of. There are blessings to be found in the rough waters if you seek to find them. . In changing our location we lose the opportunity to find the hidden treasures "right here". There is a story being written through every crisis. Your story to share with others, a plan unfolding that we cannot begin to understand.
The next time you find yourself in a situation that makes you want to change location.....STOP. Run to Him. Dig your heels into the ground, put on the ARMOUR of GOD and stay the course. Trust in HIS plan instead of YOURS. And know that God does not want you to run from this crisis, but rather run to him in order to face it. Then, if He leads you to pull up those roots and change that location, you will do so with greater strength, greater faith, and the knowledge that He is making your path straight.
I would love to hear how God has worked in your life when you have stayed the course!
In honor of Father's Day, I thought I would let my husband Marcus write this blog post instead of me. I am amazed to see God working in his life and so blessed to be sharing this life journey with him! Happy Father's Day!
In the last few days I’ve been taking care of a couple repair/maintenance odds and ends around the house like replacing our garbage disposal and trying to get the riding lawnmower back to great cutting form. As I’ve been working on these things, I couldn’t help but notice how my youngest boys were watching me. Both boys asked on separate tasks “Daddy, are you really going to fix that?” And as I answered with a “Yes”, it seemed to me like they were amazed. They couldn’t take their eyes off what I was doing! It got me thinking of a couple different things:
The first thing I thought of was my Dad and Grandpas. With Father’s Day being this weekend, it was so nice to think back to how many times I watched one of them do something as a young boy and remember that same feeling of being so amazed by what they did. They were incredible. At times they were like super-heroes with all of the things they made, fixed, etc. Then I remember growing older and losing that feeling and not appreciating those things nearly as much until 20 some years later, being a dad myself. I never thanked them enough and truthfully I should have paid more attention when they were teaching me.
"Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck." (Proverbs 1:8-9)
The next series of thoughts that came to me were along similar lines but they were all focused on my Heavenly Father. It made me think of where I am with God. Am I that enthusiastic child in awe of everything He has done? Or, am I kind of like that teenager that has started taking things for granted and stops wanting to be impressed by anyone other than myself or something of this world? Have I gotten to a point where I don’t think that my Father can impress me? Thankfully, I haven’t gotten to that point but, I know that there are times when I feel that I have all the answers; that I know it all; I don’t need my Father; He doesn’t know me or understand me! Sadly, I’ve thought all of those thoughts about my dad and my Father. God does know me. He knows you. He knows us like he knew Jeremiah when He said “Before I formed you in your mother’s womb I knew you.” (Jeremiah 1:5). I do need my Father. Always.
So where am I going with this? Be like a child for God. Have that youthful passion and exuberance and always be amazed by what God is doing in your life. I understand that as Christians we are supposed to mature and not be like infants but I started to think about what Jesus was saying in the gospel of Mark.
He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. (Mark 10:14-16)
Remember what it is like to have your children run into your arms when you get home from work, or a long trip, or, in my lovely bride’s case, a trip out to the car in the driveway. Or maybe think back to when you were the one running to a parent’s arms and how great it felt when they picked you up and held you in their arms. And know that God is waiting for us to run into His arms with a love that we can’t possibly imagine. I have a Father that has separated me from my sins, as far as the east is from the west. He did that for me through Jesus. So maybe I have to get over myself, my pride, my regrets, my past and run to Him. He knows me and despite all of my shortcomings, He loves me anyway.
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1)
Is there something holding you back from running to God? Have you become “too old” to act like a child and be amazed by your Father? Do you need to feel that comforting love that only He can give? Run to Him! He is waiting…
My son has a favorite stuffed animal. It goes everywhere with him. In the car. To the store, the park, to Grandma's house. When he is scared or scrapes his knee, that stuffed animal is there to comfort him. He may need me too, but that little animal is what calms and soothes him. One look at this bedraggled stuffed animal and you know it is well loved; precious in the eyes of my little boy.
When my son fell the other day and hurt his arm, he reached for that animal, and it got me thinking. As adults, we don't have a favorite stuffed animal to comfort us (at least most of us don't-if you do, its ok! no judging here!). So, if not a stuffed animal, what do we cling to when we are scared or hurt? What do we reach for in the dark and lonely places? When everything around us seems foreign and chaotic, where do we turn?
Do we turn to worldly things? Or is Jesus our safe haven in the storm? And if in our fear, and in our tears, we turn to Him, what is it that we are looking for? Are we looking for peace, and comfort? Consider how a child chooses one stuffed animal they love above the rest. One they take with them EVERYWHERE and sleep with EVERY night, while many of their other stuffed animals are kept on the shelf or in a bin, brought out only once in a while. If I had given my son one of those other stuffed animals when he hurt his arm, would it have comforted him the same as his favorite one? No, it would not have. We make a similar choice with Jesus. Do we only take Him off the shelf on special days? Do we only want to admire Him from afar? Do we not want to "dirty" Him? We can then ask ourselves if we would find more comfort in a unknown or a known God? A known God of course! But in order to know God, we must have a relationship with Him! Luckily, Jesus is waiting for just that! He wants us to cling to Him in ALL moments. He wants to get dirty. He is ok with being pulled through the mud of our lives. He desires to be that "stuffed animal" we reach for in the dark. He wants to sit next to us while we expierence life's blessings, and then be there to provide peace when we need reassurance.
When we build a relationship with Him, what greater joy we will find in his embrace! How can we receive all He has to give us if we haven't built a relationship with Him to know what it is He is offering us?
So hold him tight. EVERYDAY. Through EVERYTHING. Put Him next to you in the car. Take Him to the store. Celebrate with Him. Cry with Him. Talk to Him and listen to Him. Grab Him in your fear. He CAN handle it.
Whatever is happening in your life, he can get you through it. You just need to take him off the shelf. Get Him a little dirty. He is longing be loved by you; tattered in your need for Him, matted in your trust. The comfort you will find will be far greater than that of anything in this world. And will be far grander than if you had kept him on that shelf.
"I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me." Proverbs 8:17
I would love to hear how you seek to keep Jesus close!!
From across the room, I watched my daughter paint. I observed the way in which she steadily and intentionally placed the brush on the canvas. Some strokes were harsh and jagged, creating sharp angles. Other times the strokes were soft and yielding causing gentle curves. Intricately woven, the two patterns blended into a beautiful piece of art. Alone, the soft lines would never have created this dynamic beauty.
So it is with our lives, too. God is the painter. Creator. The artist. And we are the canvas. He designs our lives with a purpose. As the harsh lines are being painted, we can not comprehend or envision the final piece. However, as He begins to brush onto our canvas the lovely, gentle curves, the pattern emerges. We begin to see that together, the design is beautiful. The realization unfolds that the patterns lead us in directions, and then we understand why the harsh lines needed to be painted along with the soft. For it is in this contrast that we see the magnificence of his plan and how alone, the soft lines would never have been quite so stunning. In His intricate detail of our lives, His work is beautiful; perfectly crafted..
Lord, I am your canvas. Let me trust your plan. Help me to accept the harsh lines that come into my life, knowing that there are lessons in them I need to learn. Help me to remember that there will be soft lines to follow and together they will glorify your name and bring to fruition your purpose.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called to his purpose." Romans 8:28
Wife. Mother. Writer. Photographer. Child of God. Encouraging others in faith through a lens of grace and seeing beauty in the ashes.
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