Wednesday, October 30, 2013

oh my heart

Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.

A confident heart. A healthy heart. A healed heart. A heart that trusts God.  That is what I seek to have.  It only comes by surrendering your heart to God.

Do you know why the little orange kitten, Cutie, is so bold?  She has someone who interceded for her with the big white Pyr.  Her mother taught the dog to honour her baby. The dog knows the rules. The kitten does not fear this dog whose foot weighs more than her entire body because someone already won the battle for her.

She can be confident. She can have a strong heart. A bold heart.

We can too!  My heart is a fickle thing. It and my mind argue - a lot!  They seem to forget that they both surrender to the same Lord. Jesus.

I've been besieged. So have you!  You've found that when you surrender to God your heart is strong. You are confident. 

But our world doesn't like surrender. Doesn't like submission. Doesn't like leaning on Someone. Anyone. Ever.  It makes you weak, undesirable. Incapable. Lies! Lies! Lies!

The strongest hearts know they can't do it alone. The most confident voice may be the only voice, but it is not a lonely voice.

God fights our battles - when we let Him.  

The mama cat, Spooky, will fight the battle for Cutie. But she needs the baby out of the way to do it.  God tells us to be still. To trust. To let Him. 

We talked last week about raw emotions. Raw and not pretty. Surrender may look nice but it isn't always easy to feel our way through.  Today I had a situation that I did not like!  Not at all. But I also felt in my heart that it was God's will. 

I cried. I stomped my foot. I squinted. I ached. And I surrendered.

Your will, Lord, and not my own.  And my heart eased. My confidence increased because I was able to give to Him what is His - ME!  My all. Holding nothing back. Because when we give it all to Him, He gives it back in ways we never imagined!

I wrote a poem about how someone's value is more than the world would measure them by. You can read it here: Buck Twenty

Luke 12:34
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Where is your heart?  Is it still gathering broken pieces or is it surrendering them to the Son for His healing touch?  Where is your confidence?  Is it resting on the nod from another person, or is it resting in the Gospel?

I am honoured to once again be linking up with Jo Ann as we discover what can happen When A Woman Finds Her Voice!  It is launch week and there are so many amazing things going on. Join us for the Facebook party, get some freebies, join in the online study and please go to the link up.  Read some posts, share your own, and use that wonderful voice God blessed you with!

Jo Ann Fore

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Rebuilding walls

Nehemiah 4:6
So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart. 

Men. Women. Children. They all worked, with all their heart, to rebuild the walls. And they did it together. God blessed their work. God blessed their hearts.

Many enemies were busy working, trying to make it so those walls would never stand again. 

The same author of lies, our enemy, wants our emotional walls to be under constant attack as well!

Luke 12:34
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

My heart. My treasure. Under attack.

I often joke that I can handle almost any BIG crisis, it is the little things that get to me.  It isn't really a joke. It is a truth.  Fire, flood, blood - I'm good. Trained and prepared. The smaller stuff. The irritating things. They attack my walls like a swarm of ants.

It is a process. Being blamed for having feelings. Being judged for feeling the wrong things. Being told you were just not right in the head for caring, being upset or scared. It was a conditioning that had me suppressing my feelings for years.  It was never safe to be me. Or feel how I felt. It was all a lie.

Then I did find a safe place. And I lost my way again!  I could not tell when it was an actual attack and when it was just people being people. My feelings and emotions were always so close to the surface. My husband says it was like living on a live volcano.  You knew there would be eruptions, destruction and then calm would come again.  Surviving the warning signs was key!

How I longed for someone to acknowledge it was okay to be angry, excited, sad, indignant, frustrated or scared.  And the more I stifled my voice, the further I pulled away from God, the more it built up.  I wanted to scream - and sometimes I did.  (not a pretty sight).

I wanted something genuine. Something that didn't require a 'stiff upper lip' and for me to 'stop crying and fix your make-up'.  Something that let me feel the emotions and recognize them without letting them tear down the fragile walls of my relationships. My life.

It isn't all that different than working with horses - I had two modes. Fight or flight.  And in either mode I was on uneven ground emotionally.  I always thought walking away was more noble, but it was harming me. Just as much as fighting the wrong fight was harming me.

I had to stop running. I had to stop fighting. I had to do what Jesus asked me to do first - TRUST HIM.  Pat Parelli, a renowned horse trainer, has an exercise where you close and open your fist. You close your fist slowly. One finger at a time. And release quickly. 

This is hard when you are upset. And when I say upset I am really saying blood boiling, red-head redlined, gonna snap upset. One finger at a time. Each one for what is really getting to you. SLOWLY. S L O W L Y

Then, a prayer, and open. Release. Quickly! 

It isn't about horses. It's about riding your own ride, you and God.
No one else can do it for you.  

My son, a sweet boy, taught me a very important lesson. It is very hard to be angry or frustrated when you are keeping your voice soft and your face smiling 'in love'.  It is his expert way to diffuse things - Soft voice, Mama. Soft smile. Love you Mama.

He is wise beyond his years. And it works. A soft voice, like a soft answer, can turn away even your own wrath.  A smile, 'in love', can remind you that the author of lies wants you off balance, up set and out of love.  He wants those walls you built with your heart torn down.

Truth time - I still get the acid burn of anger. I still shake with frustration. I still feel a fool for caring as much as I do. I still get hurt.  But I don't let that rule or ruin me. I close my fist slowly and release it quickly to God. He guards my heart. And He NEVER has let me down. Or you. Or anyone. EVER.

He guards our hearts like treasure, for His heart is with us, we are His treasure!  Beloved, we are the only ones who see the dents, the dust, the tarnish, the scorch marks. He does not. Praise God, He does not!

Jo Ann has us thinking about taming unhealthy emotions this week, and I am an emotional person. I live pretty close to the surface of my feelings.  I am learning to keep them in a healthy place though, and that has taken years of prayer, grace, tears and healing.  If you feel something - and you know it is a genuine feeling - you can acknowledge and honour it without having it take the driver's seat.  Feelings, for me, are often how the Holy Spirit shows me things I need to know.  And how the Holy Spirit warns me.  My lessons from life - family, friends, school, stuff - taught me wrongly about emotions.  Relearning is a process and I am thankful for the group of women I am on this journey with in finding our voices.  Join us at #WhenAWomanFindsHerVoice, link-up with Jo Ann and share. 

Jo Ann Fore

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

My tattoo and God's plan

There is a purpose to pain. Pain can be so many things, some of them even good.

Pain, like fear, can give you a jolt of adrenalin to get you through danger.

Pain, like a warning, can let you know something is wrong.

Pain, like birthing, lets you know new life has grown and is arriving!

Pain, in a wounding, lets you know you are alive. The dead can't feel. As long as you live there is hope.  

Pain, in healing, lets you know that you are on the other side of the wounding.

I was wondering about things the other night, and my most recent tattoo came to mind.  I can withstand the pain of the tattoo for literally hours knowing something amazing will come of it.  The pain is an investment in me. In an expression of my faith.

Take that to a spiritual and whole life level - the pain I have gone through, and that you have gone through, led to something amazing.   It let us to who we are today, and I will be the first to tell you this: I like me.

The tempering, the wounding, the scarring, the healing, the laughter and tears have wrought a woman who has more empathy and wisdom than the one she was before.  (Don't get me wrong, I would NOT get in line to repeat most of those 'tempering' experiences BUT they did make me who I am today.)

God let His people wander and be tempered for 40 years in the desert.  Nehemiah had to beg to come back to build the wall for his people.  And they guarded the progress against those who would destroy them. They were stronger for it.  For the pain. The blisters. The fear. The STUFF!

The stuff. The big stuff. The little stuff. The stuff that picks at you. The stuff that drives you to your knees. THAT STUFF. THAT STUFF! We know that stuff. Sometimes too well. And sometimes too often. Many times the same pain relived as we heal, and sometimes new pain as we find our voices and come to understand that not everyone is happy that we have.

Pain. And stuff. And most importantly God is with us. We are never, ever alone in this. 

God does not give us pain, that belongs to us as humans.  God can, however, make something amazing from our pain. I look at my tattoos, each one with a symbol of my faith, and I understand a bit more about pain.  I look at my c-section scar that saved two lives. And I understand a bit more about pain. I see some of my scars, and I have to laugh. Barbed wire NEVER loses when it fights flesh. But do you know who will always win? Jesus! He already has! 

Growing comes with pain. So does change.  Seeds, butterflies and seasons all change. So do women. Sometimes we change and find our voices - celebrate finding your voice with us by posting on the link up over at Jo Ann's website.  Celebrate in the comments if you don't blog.  And know that you are not alone. You are beautiful. You are a cherished child of a loving God.

Jo Ann Fore

Friday, October 11, 2013

Peace or security

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared. It is itself the great venture and can never be safe. Peace is the opposite of security. To demand guarantees is to want to protect oneself. Peace means giving oneself completely to God's commandment. Wanting no security, but in faith and obedience laying the destiny of the nations in the hand of almighty God. Not trying to direct it for selfish purposes. Battles are won not with weapons, but with God. They are won when the way leads to the cross."

― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Security. Stability. Safety.  We are supposed to keep ourselves safe. This is true. But this isn't about that.

Security. Stability. Safety. This is not the way to peace. You can't have it both ways.

This week I have been leaning hard on God. And on the Word. And going deep in my Bonhoeffer devotional.  And I'm in one of those wondrous Wow! places. So many things I've been praying about are clicking into place. The unclear is becoming very clear. As Blackbeard said in Pirates of the Caribbean  "I find myself in a bewilderment."

I have been struggling. How can this chaos, this uncertainty, be so peaceful?  

Not sure of where God is sending us. Okay! We'll go where you send us. Wait? Okay! We'll wait.

Praying for my husband as he works hard, finding where God wants him to be. Yep. We're good. Better than we have ever been. We are close to each other and closer to God. 

Jude 1:2
Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.

I'm no theologian. But I've listened to some amazing ones. And read them. And I've read God's word. So far I have not found where Jesus lived contrary to His teachings of peace. That being said, I don't recall a lot of Home Sweet Home time for Jesus while He was walking the earth either.

His disciples came from secure worlds. Safe worlds. Relatively stable worlds.  He asked for them to take nothing but what they wore to go and preach the gospel.  He asked them to leave their lives behind to follow Him. That security? That stability?  That safety?  In walking in faith it is a worldly construct. A safety net that is sticky. A web of human expectations for low risk faith.

Go boldly. Go with love. Be humble. Be wise. 

So here I am - and this is my struggle. This my voice challenge.  I hear my Lord, my Savior, telling me to trust Him. And I hear the world saying, Well are you SURE?

I hear my Lord saying, Do not doubt. 

So many times I've been talked out of my confidence in my faith for the reasons of security, stability, safety.  And so many times I've faced anger and fear when I did step out in faith. In small things and large. 

William G.T. Shedd

“A ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for.”

― William G.T. Shedd

So the harbor - the assumed safety, security, stability - is not what we are for.  We are for grand adventures on the wild open seas of life!  We are for setting our course on Jesus and sailing where His wind sends us!

Jo Ann asked us to think about God's voice in our lives.  I am usually ready with a post before the link is live.  I have been working on these thoughts all week!  I've been praying. And finding myself at odds with those who are tempted by the false stability of low risk faith.  I'm tired of the harbor!  

When you find your voice you will discover two things.  One is that some people who liked you silent will be angry. Two the ones who longed for your voice will be nothing less than encouraging to hear it again!  The latter are the ones who will be with you in peace.

Join us over at for the link-up with your own blog post, your thoughts in the comment section or just by sharing.  I would love to hear your voice!

Jo Ann Fore

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Forgiveness is free

The biggest thing about being hurt is getting through to the healing.  Finding your way again.  When silenced recovering your voice.  It means forgiving.  And forgiveness was given freely to us, wasn't it? On that bloody cross so long ago.

So forgive freely.  Well just ask me to empty the ocean one bucket at a time why don't ya?

Let it go. Really? While they walk around, without remorse or a thought about MY hurt?

yes. yes. yes. YES!

Forgiveness is given freely, trust needs to be earned again.  Or not at all. 

Forgiving was hard for me. I had fallen for a lie about it. That forgiving someone meant I needed, wanted or should want a relationship with them.  I can forgive someone, freely and with grace, and not seek, desire or feel a need to have a relationship with them.

Then forgiveness becomes easier because it is our giving them up to God.  For God to deal with. As God should be. As is His right. And honour. And we are not less for it. We are more! So much more!

Think about it this way - our hurt is a pile of rocks. Someone threw them at us. They wounded us. Landed at our feet.  We look at those rocks. We feel them. We carry them around. They are SO HEAVY!

Instead of carrying around those rocks, we can leave them at the foot of the cross. For Jesus to take care of. Each stone, each hurt, each memory surrendered in love to the One who can heal us and restore us!

And when we leave them there we weigh less in spirit. We are not carrying around things that are not ours. Never were ours. Do not belong to us. Forgiveness is for us!  Repeat that, forgiveness is for us!

We are forgiven. And we can forgive. Both are free. And both are freeing.

Trust is earned. Trust is something we can choose to work on, or to let be.

God blessed me by freeing me from a family who had strong beliefs and traditions about revenge and holding grudges. Generational grudges. Generational revenge.  I can surrender them to God. Often many times they are freely surrendered to God as I work on my own heart. My own voice.

It is easy to say, "I forgive you." when you know that you do not need to assume a relationship, unless it is something God wills.  It is easier to say, "Go with God." when you know you don't have to walk their path. It is their path, after all. Just as your path belongs to you.

Your voice, your lovely amazing voice is something that is so much more beautiful when it is honeyed with forgiveness and grace.  Especially when you are using that voice speaking to yourself and to God!

God loves you. He loves your voice. He loves every piece of you that He wove together. Trust that.

Do not be afraid, but speak, 
and do not keep silent. 

 Acts 18:9
I wrote a poem about forgiveness on one of my blogs, you can read it here: Forgiveness Poem

Linking up with Jo Ann Fore and the lovely ladies celebrating Our Voices!

We have taken The Pledge, and invite you to join us!

We are reading the book, and can't wait for you to join us on October 8!

We are supporting, hearing and sharing our voices, join us won't you?

The celebrations will be on Facebook and you can search for it with this hashtag: #WhenAWomanFindsHerVoice on both Twitter and Facebook!
Jo Ann Fore