Friday, December 20, 2013 this thing on?

John 10:27-28 (NIV)

 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.

My husband, used to our poor cell service, usually starts a static filled call with the words: this thing on?

Those words often make me smile. But today reading Jo Ann's post about Listening for God's Voice it has a bit of new angle.

We often wonder, and are asked, Are you SURE you can hear God? Are you SURE you are doing HIS will? And how do we answer when doing His will turns out unexpectedly for us?

A friend of ours asks if we are missing God's voice. I'm pretty sure that is what the enemy wants us to do - be busy. Be DOING stuff so that being STILL and hearing God is just not possible.  The world doesn't want us to be still. Be busy. Do something. Anything. Just don't be STILL!

    Psalm 46:10
    He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” 
Be still. Oh how hard is THAT?

The enemy wishes for it to be impossible. Impossible!  The enemy wants us busy, accessible, loud, unfocussed and running about. He would love for us to be running, yelling over our shoulders, Lord why aren't you leading me?

Why?  Because when he steals our ability to be still, he has stolen our focus. Our ability to BE.  He wants us doing. He wants us busy. A distracted Christian is so valuable to him. 

When we are NOT STILL we are not praying, we are not caring, we are not hearing, we certainly are NOT listening. To anyone. Or anything. 

This is so apparent to me at Christmas. We have had our Christmas stolen, and sometimes we eagerly give it away to the false god of busy. 

Jesus was born in a stable. I wrote a bit about Expectations and Standards and about the importance of that humble stable.  Another thing about a barn, at night, it is quiet. The animals are resting. They are still.  

Our Savior was born at night in a stable.  His mother tucked away things in her heart, she pondered them. Silent adoration. Still in awe and love.

We can hear God all around us. In the trees, in the bird song, in the crunch of snow and fall leaves. We can hear God in the wisdom of a child. We can hear God in the sign of a panhandler. WE CAN. But do we?  God lets us choose.

>>>>>  think on that for a second - God lets us choose.

We can choose to listen for Him. We can choose to let the world distract us. We can choose to hear Him. We can choose to let the world steal our still.

Have you ever used a two-way radio?  There are three key things to using them!  

1) Choose the right channel. Are you on the channel of the King? 

2) Push in the button to talk. Prayer and time in the word is our button. 

3) Release button to hear what is being said. You can't hear if you don't stop talking. Let the button go!

Channel. Push to talk. Release to hear. 

We are often running on 2 outta 3! The third step is the most important one! And we miss it. We miss it!

Instead of shouting, GOD WHERE ARE YOU? WHY CAN'T I HEAR YOU? could we try being still.

1 Kings 19:11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (emphasis mine)

Elijah had huge faith. And huge courage. And he knew that God wasn't in the loud. But in the whisper. The quiet. The STILL!

What if we were able to stand the still long enough to hear God?  Pass through the storms, and the distractions, to find Him?

We don't distract God. We become distracted from God. He longs for us to be present, to be attentive to Him. But He won't force us. Worship is an act of love, not an obligation.

We are so trained, over trained, to be busy. To appear important is to be busy. To appear valuable is to be busy. To have worth is to be busy. It is a lie! It is a TRAP of the slickest kind.

Sisters, and brothers - BE STILL!  He waits to speak to us. And He will!

Linking up today with the amazing and lovely #VoiceBloggers!

Join us won't you?  Link up your own blog, share in the comments and leave love. Always leave love!  And pray for one another.

Jo Ann Fore

Thursday, December 5, 2013

connection lost please try again





What is it about the holidays that makes us want to connect with people?  Are we feeling nostalgic in the face of all the Christmas specials that make even a fictional imperfect family seem perfect?  Or do we long for the neighborhood where you just pop over for a visit and find a full blown holiday festival in the living room?

What is it about the holidays that makes us want to disconnect with people? To step away, back way. Run away? To get away from the cost of social obligations. The pain of smiling from the sidelines. The alone in the middle of a crowd?  The stress, the mess and the fuss.

When my husband and I talk about the holidays, any holiday, and our traditions we find some stark differences and some comforting familiar ground. To quote Christian comedian Mike Warnke, "It's a strange place this place."

It is strange. This time of year. And our need to connect. And it goes back so far. Further back than even the birth of Christ. Everyone wants to be a part of something bigger than them. Even Herod. The wise men. Some for good, some for ill. Connections with people are the same way.

We need to connect in healthy ways. In ways that fill us with the fruits of the spirit. Ways that are counter to most of our culture. But sometimes we can't make it happen. Sometimes it isn't God's will to happen.

Have you ever lost your internet connection, and even though you have done everything on your end right it is still gone?  It is out of your hands. Clicking your mouse repeatedly won't work. Shouting won't work. Plugging and unplugging hasn't helped. The troubleshooter is out of ideas.

That is when you know the problem isn't with you.

Connecting with people, making connections, is no different!

Sometimes, despite our best and most prayerful efforts nothing works the way WE WANT IT TO.

Rest assured, it ALWAYS works the way God wants it to!

So sometimes the best way to find good connections is to recognize the bad ones. Like being able to tell counterfeit money by being completely familiar with the real currency - we can learn to detect wrong, faulty or false connections.  And we can rewire them, leave them with our Holy Provider or we can disconnect.

We can miss some incredible connections with people when we are spending our time trying to connect where God doesn't intend us to. It's hard. So hard. I WANT to reach out again, break my own boundaries. To see if they have changed. Stay my hand Lord. Steady my soul. 

Connections are made to be tested. To be rewired. Re-written. Written over. Corrected, maintained or abandoned. They are fragile and need to be handled with prayer.

Connections are so important, and in our overly-connected world we sometimes miss what they are meant to be. God wants us to be connected as a community. People loving on each other, praying for each other and going out and doing the same for others.  We need deep connections, ones that nurture roots. Ones that help us grow. And ones that prune us, too.

How do you test your connections?  Do you test them?  I would love to discuss in the comments with you!

Linking up today as one of the #VoiceBloggers at Jo Ann Fore's page. Come by and join in. Share in the comments, add a blog post to the link up or join our book group. Everyone is welcome!

Jo Ann Fore

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Drop the bootstraps

The holiday season. Holy days. Days of spending time thinking of holy things. eh not so much.

We live in a world of great expectations and judgement. Don't believe me?  Next time someone asks, "How are you doing? Respond honestly - I hurt. I'm alone. I'm scared. I think I want to die. No one cares.

Don't answer - Keeping busy. Doing good. Same ol, same ol.

And watch the response. Watch kindly, and watch prayerfully.

Now try this. Ask someone how they are, and don't accept a pat answer.  Gently, and in love, say, "No, really how are you doing? How is your heart, your faith, your hope, your family?"

Then listen. Then pray. And be there fully.  See the hurt in their heart. See the joy too. The hope.

In our busy world we forget that we are not HUMAN DOINGS but we are HUMAN BEINGS.

And the being is what Jesus cares about. And what we need to care about.

The importance of our story is vital. The value of our scars incalculable. The power of prayer and love enormous.  And on the flip side - our silence is costly. Our hiding away in the busy is brutal. Our reliance on self so destructive.

So many people feel utterly alone. And we let them!  They feel their pain in isolation because we fear sharing our story. We fear speaking the hurt. We fear opening up and saying, I know pain like this. You are not alone.

The monsters lurk behind the glitter of the holiday season.  We can out them. Drag them into the light.  We can, and should.  Drag them out and name them. Pull their teeth. Say what they are - lies. Shadows.

We need to drop the bootstraps, you can't use them to pull yourself up.  We need to set aside the grindstone, it only grinds us down. We need to embrace community. We need to wipe away tears. We need to clean wounds. We need to acknowledge scars.

There are a lot of emotional traps during the holidays for me. The illusion of the perfect family.  The reality of being unwanted. And the utter stress of wanting to be included and feeling like I should stay silent, invisible.  I fall into them less easily than I used to. I dropped the bootstraps. And the expectations that somehow I was responsible for everyone's happiness (or for their angst).  

I'm not responsible for them. Or you. But for me. And knowing that changes everything!  When I rest on Jesus. When I hold them up in prayer, and I surrender expectations to Him - I find peace. When I embrace healthy community I am no longer as alone.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35-35

Find that community. Be that community. Reach out. Be ready for tears instead of false joy. Be ready for dirty instead of surface clean. Be ready for open hearts instead of fictional busy. Be ready for something amazing.

Linking up with the #VoiceBloggers as we work our way through When A Woman Finds Her Voice book study with Jo Ann Fore.  Join us, won't you?  Link up your posts, share in the comments here and at Jo Ann's page. And read posts. Leave love.

Jo Ann Fore

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Sisterhood of the Scar Clan

If you have lived at all you have scars. You've had wounds. You've been wounded.

The cool thing about scars is that they are wounds that healed and are a sign that we lived to tell the tale!  Or lived to keep the secret. But we lived!

So now what?  How do we use those scars for the glory of God?  How do our old wounds become encouragement for those who are still freshly wounded? Or are still wounding?

I don't really share so much of my story. I tried that earlier this year. It did not go well. I think for all their intentions it was too much.  I get that. A lot. You are too _________! Can't you be a bit less ______________? 

I have to laugh. Don't they think I've tried?  And then I wonder at why God wouldn't change that.  Those stripes that seem so loud in a tame garden or living room are actually perfect in the wilds of my life. They helped me survive.  They still do. But in a different way.

There is one important thing about my story, about your story, that needs to never be forgotten. You ready? Really ready?

You made it through. God brought you through. You are beautiful. 

Yes you. Even you. Especially you.

I don't care if you walked, crawled, snuck out in the shadows, swam down a river of tears - the scars say you didn't quit. You could have. I could have.  God kept His promise.


Sister, in your wounds be encouraged.  Still feeling pain means you are alive.

Sister, in your scars be encouraged. They mean you are healing. Aching reminders of getting through.

Why do you think Jesus showed us His scars after the Resurrection?  To show He made it through. He won. He bore it all for us, and conquered.  Thomas doubted, and put his hands into the wounds. Others saw the scars with their own eyes. And those who never saw them believed.

Scars can have a high price. They cost us in pain, in blood and in the original wounding. Denying them, covering them up with clothes or makeup doesn't erase them.  Scars show a victory that, if we choose it, can glorify our God.

Some days I look at the scars on my body - two saved my life, and were enormous blessings. The others sometimes ache in the damp or cold. They are not pretty. But they are mine.

And I can say to a hurting sister - see these?  I made it through. I'll stand by you in prayer. I'll stand shoulder to shoulder in silence. I'll interceed on my knees. You are not alone.

Sometimes I think about the scars inside, the ones no one sees but me. They are the hardest because no one sees them unless I speak about them. And then how do I share the darkness in such a way as to point towards the Light?

Sisters, and brothers - we all bear the scars inside and out. My scars are here to let you know I can bear to hear your story. You are not too wounded, too bloody, too betrayed or too ANYTHING for our loving God, and not for me either.  

We, as the body of Christ, can be the loving arms of the church embracing our wounded, anointing scars with love, bearing one another's burdens and showing love. Showing grace. Showing humbleness.

There is no competition here. Everyone bears their wounding, their healing and scarring, differently.

What I walked through, might have brought someone else to their knees.  What you walked through I cannot imagine bearing.  I can't know your pain but I know pain. I can't walk in your shoes but I can be there to walk beside you.

It's not an exclusive club, we are all scarred.  It's an inclusive club that we all can be redeemed. It's an inclusive club that not one of us is unworthy of love, of forgiveness or for grace.  If you seek it, God won't deny you. He seeks our hearts and souls earnestly.  He wishes for reconciliation to His children.

Thank you Lord for loving this bloody mess of a sinner. This surviving, scarred up cowgirl, farm wife and imperfect mama.  Thank you Lord for each eye that reads this that is drawn closer to YOU.  It is all about YOU. Not me. 

Are you hurting? Are you wanting to find the way through to the healing?  Can I pray with you? For you? Over you?

Linking up with Jo Ann Fore and the Voice Bloggers as we work through to the healing.

Jo Ann Fore

Thursday, November 14, 2013

That voice you hear

That voice you hear is me.
That silence you miss
was never really me.

If this question from Jo Ann ( had come last week my response would have been very different.  It would have been a bit more of a powerful voice and yet God did not will that.  Instead He has me writing from here and now.  And this place is one where I am still hurting and still reeling. Still wondering at the cost of using my voice.

When silence has been the norm then your voice becomes a strange sound.  For some a welcome sound and to others something they would happily miss.

Dr. Temple Grandin, an amazing woman whose voice I treasure, has explained it this way: when something becomes bad gradually we tend to adapt. To make the bad the new normal. And this is wrong. Bad is always bad, adapting for survival should be a short term strategy, not a long term life choice. For people and animals 'bad as a new normal' is always going to be bad.

Getting to a new, healthy normal takes a tremendous amount of work - prayer work, heart work, body work, soul work and mind work. It's work. Our voices are a like a muscle - they need exercise.  Consider this: if a long distance runner lets their exercise program be controlled by a power lifter will they be a better runner or a poor version of a power lifter?  It is the same with our voices!  If we want to be heard, we can't ask those who would rather have us be silent what our voices should sound like!

My voice has gotten me into more hot water than my silence.  Apparently my body language also gets me into hot water. It would be better, they said, to be quiet and still.  And inside my spirit howls: WHAT! WHAT! WHAT?

I'm an advocate. I'm a humble prayer partner. I'll speak up for you when your voice isn't strong. I will not be shy about my faith. I won't be ashamed of who I call friend, and whom I love. I will ask questions. And look at you to seek your own answers. I will set boundaries, and burn bridges. I will also sing you home when you are lost. I will call your name friend when you feel alone.  I will comfort you when your voice is broken. 

As a child of God, the redeemed beloved of Jesus, I have a stern duty. I have a joyous task. To use my voice to help others.  To encourage. To pray. To be present when all others leave. To show up. To say to the devil: NOT TODAY!

I am also an imperfect woman. I'm a sinner. I'm a failure. Sometimes I fail, and raise my voice. Sometimes I fail, and I get frustrated. Sometimes I fail, and I fail badly. 

The one thing I cannot forget is that God me. He made you. Including your voice. So it might not seem loud to you, but to someone living in silence you voice can be the sweetest sound they hear!  Pray. Love. Be there. And when your voice is needed - loud or quiet - speak! 

It saddens me greatly when I hear sister bloggers saying they are afraid to comment on posts they personally agree with because they are afraid to voice that when their church does not share the same opinion.  Jesus did not tell us to encourage one another when it suits congregational doctrine.  Jesus did not tell us to be praying constantly for those who are in agreement with us. 

Jesus told us to get in to the ditches and help the wounded, the dirty.  Jesus told us to put down our stones and lay gentle hands upon hurting people.  Jesus told us to love one another. Love one another. He did it with His hands, His voice and His blood.  How can we do anything less than use the gifts He gave us?  Don't be ashamed of your voice, He gave it to you!

As a survivor of abuse nothing is more soothing than the voice of someone who knows healing is a journey, the voice of someone who recognizes and respects our scars, the voice of someone who rejects judgment and embraces the empathy of a loving advocate.

When they tell it is more 'comfortable' for you to be silent and still - JUMP UP AND SING! DANCE! PRAY!!

Stretch your voice and share with us at the link up!

Be blessed by hearing other voices by reading the blogs by the courageous women who are sharing there. Be sure to leave some love. And pray for one another. Encourage our sisters, and brothers, to use their voices!

Check out Jo Ann's book here:

and join us for the free book study which begins November 18th!!
Jo Ann Fore

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

challenging happy endings

Today my sister blogger, and sister in Christ, Nina wrote about happy endings, or rather the lack of happy endings, on her blog.

Rather than fill her comment box with a blog post, I'll share my link with her, and this response in blog form, with all of you.

Happy endings. In books and in movies, plays too and in dreams. Happy endings. Can you imagine standing at the check out and NOT seeing a headline about someone's missed happy ending or lament of an imperfect life?

Confession time: this is a post that is HARD to write, and being written during a HARD time. A time I'd like to know has an END that I can see. But I can't. None of us can. So onward!

Happy endings. Happily ever after. I always wondered - after what? 

It should be Joy filled journey!  or Walk the road together!  It is all about how we get there, and who we go there with.

Micah 6:8
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Act justly.
Love mercy.
Walk humbly with our God.

No happy endings prescribed here. No fairy tales. No pot of gold. Just a walk along our life with our Lord. And the people who are in our lives. 

He asks us to do three things - DO being the key here.

Act Justly - with our children, our spouses, our families and friends. With strangers. With those we've set boundaries with. With those who hurt us.

Love Mercy - the kind of mercy that Jesus showed, and shows us. The kind of mercy that is worthy of love.

Walk humbly with your God. Personal time, walking with God. Not behind Him. Not ahead, yelling over our shoulders. Beside. With.

So in our happy journey we can let go of the fairy tale.

(and as a side note, if you make a study of fairy tales the 'happy endings' are often lessons in unexpected consequences and warnings of traps that stop us from having a full life. Trust me. Fairy tales are almost always, in their early or original forms, cautionary tales. We are so used to the Disneyfication of them that the warnings, cautions and teachings are lost.)

When we let go of the I WANT or WHERE IS MY then we can act justly. We can love mercy. We can walk humbly.

If we are to love our spouses, and respect them, then we need to understand how Jesus loves us.  And how He wishes us to journey. There is no need for a wistful 'happy ending' when we can have 'the most amazing journey ever' instead!

Don't ask for a happy ending!  Don't buy into any happily ever after that does not include eternal salvation!  Instead, join in the journey. Live each day acting justly, loving mercy and walking humbly.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

You there, speak up!

Uncommon Courage, that is what Jo Ann is asking us to consider over at her blog link up for #WhenAWomanFindsHerVoice. We have been sharing our hearts for the past few weeks, I encourage you to read some of the past posts. You'll be blessed, as I have, in reading what these wonderful women have shared!

Being a silence breaker can be the hardest thing to do with your voice!  Many would have you remain silent for their comfort and God would have you speak to serve His will.  

Like my husband's sweet dog Feathers who is trapped in her crate by the terrible terror kittens she need only use her voice to be freed.  If she would bark or growl those kittens would puff up and scatter!  If she would get out of the crate she could come to me, where I would protect her.  But her house is her comfort zone and she is loathe to leave it. And they think they have her trapped. 

And the door is open!  They are kittens. 

Certainly their Mama is a force to be reckoned with, but them? Hissing hair balls!

Sitting on my lawn, holding a sign saying I will be Silence Breaker seems rather funny, no?  But our voice can be heard when we don't speak a single word. Our courage can be in showing up. In doing God's will. By serving. Through gentle hands. Being scared to death and doing it anyway.

Fear is a beast we all struggle with. Sometimes it is a wee kitten - a hissing hair ball.  Sometimes it is a red light and siren screaming DANGER DANGER DANGER

The thing with fear is that it isn't all bad all the time! Sometimes we need fear - it gives us a jolt of adrenaline to get us going to get away from danger.  Sometimes we need fear - it can tell us when our courage is needed. Sometimes fear is an old memory. A shadow. 

I'm a bit of a prepper.  I try to be ready for things. Most of the things I fear the most have NEVER come to pass.  And those that do ended up being bigger blessings than I could have imagined.

Oh my heart trembles in my chest like a terrified bird.  Oh my soul feels small and distant from my Lord. Oh my courage sinks into a puddle of fear. Oh my knees lower me down. And then when all seems utterly confusing and full of fear I'm in the right place to pray. To listen. To let Him soothe my soul. To lift my spirit. To strengthen my resolve.

The hardest thing about finding your voice isn't knowing when to use it, it is accepting that some would prefer you remain silent. And with love and grace, letting them go.  My husband taught me something wise a long time ago, the people who you fear the most, the ones who keep you up at night are probably not up at night thinking about you.   Pray for them, give them back to God and move on.  Simple to say. Simple to type. So VERY hard to actually do!

What do I fear the most?  That woman I see in the mirror every morning.  I fear her weakness will let those who count on me down. That her sharp tongue will cut. Her empathy will fail. That she will utterly and completely drop the proverbial ball.

Who was the hardest person to learn to love? Me.  Imperfect woman. Working on respect and submission wife. Working on patience Mama. Working on more faith, more gratitude and less worry. But I do love her. She is amazing. God has wrought something special in her.

Silence breaker! Sister warrior. Princess, daughter of the King. We are attacked by the dark designs of a fallen angel because he fears our voices!  He fears our prayers. He fears our love.   The more he designs traps to discourage us, to distract us, to disturb us the more he thinks he is winning.  Dear ones, God loves your voice!  He made it, tuned it through life like a fine instrument.  He wants to hear it. So do we!  Share with us on the link up, won't you?  Be blessed by reading other blogs and please leave some love. Everyone needs to know that their voice is heard. You may not know how encouraging your one comment may be to someone who is writing her heart into the open!  Be the blessing!

Jo Ann Fore

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