When the Secrets Come Out . . .

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This past weekend, I had the privilege of ministering at a women’s retreat.  To be honest, I don’t tend to go out of my way to attend women’s retreats.

Most of the ones I have participated in, I would find myself feeling very out of place and flooded with social anxiety.  As far as the women’s retreats I have ministered at, I would usually disappear immediately after the sessions.

Funny thing is, most of the women I spoke with this weekend had similar stories.

However, this one was different.  I expected God to show up and do amazing things—He always does!  But I did not expect Him to bring me so much personal breakthrough, as He did, starting the first night.

Toward the end of the first session, we were encouraged to ask God if there were any lies about ourselves (or Him) that we were still believing.  And if so, to ask Him to show us the truth, and then perhaps to share what He showed us with the women at our table.

I was sitting there, jotting some things down in my journal.  I asked the question, but I don’t think I expected an answer like the one He gave me.  In fact, I really expected I’d be mainly spending those moments that followed speaking into the ladies who shared what God had shown them.

I did not expect that I would be crying and sharing something so deep.  Something I had no idea was still lingering in my heart—I thought I had already dealt with this!

The phrase that popped into my head, when I asked the question, was this:

You are not disposable.

I felt the tears begin to form.  Everyone else was still praying around me.  A million thoughts rushed into my head.  Not in chaos, but in complete clarity.

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You see, I was in a very long, unhealthy, abusive relationship in my early twenties.  I thought I already healed from the roots that came from that time, but the reality was clear to me in that moment.

Because of what was done to me, and because of how it made me see myself, I still carried fear of being disposed, not seen, and rejected.

This weekend was my first time away from my husband since we got married over a year ago, and I realized that fear was still influencing me now.  Regardless of how amazing he is, I was still living in a certain state (at the back of my mind) of anxiety and fear of being disposed.

I started to write down scripture after scripture, and promise after promise.  I wrote about how God is trustworthy and that He will never leave me.  I wrote about how He will protect my heart and that I can let Him be in control.  I was never in control anyhow.  But I realized there was a certain part of my heart I wasn’t allowing my husband to see because I was still being affected by those lies from that previous relationship.

I looked up from my journal.  The ladies began to share.  I felt a lump form in my throat.  I felt my feet try to drag, and I thought for a second,

“I don’t want to share this right now.  I am totally going to start sobbing.”

But I did share, and I did cry.  A lot.  And after I shared, I knew it was a defining moment for me.  I knew it was a necessary piece of my story and that God had shown up once again with His mercy.

The more I share this testimony, the more freedom I find.  I had no idea what these feelings were for years, but now that I have a label for them, they can be addressed.  There has been a certain level of inferiority I have been carrying around, and that has manifested itself in anxiety for way too long.

Praise God, He is so faithful.

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I am writing this because I know we all have stories and we all have things in our hearts that try to hide in the shadows.  But . . .

When the secrets come out, the enemy can no longer dangle them over our heads.

Once the light shines in, the darkness has to flee.

There is restoration in vulnerability.

Friends, I encourage you.  If there is ANYTHING, any lie, any struggle, that is keeping you from walking in the fullness that God has for you . . . lay it down before His throne of grace!

We were created to walk in His freedom.  Let Him into those deep and tender places.  Let Him heal your heart.

Be Careful What You Say

It’s just about midnight and I’m wide awake writing. Rather than sleeping, my mind has been preoccupied with thoughts regarding the weight of our words and how each word we choose to speak has value. Whether they are deemed (by us) as neutral, negative or positive, the words we speak matter.

I’m trying to get more of a grasp on using my words with greater caution. I’m trying to think my thoughts through with a lot more precision and measure those thoughts with grace before they roll off my tongue.

I can think of more than a few occasions where I spoke too quickly and immediately saw the result of my lack of forethought and grace.

I can also think of more than a few occasions where someone spoke too quickly to me and left me standing there with their words playing over and over in my head.

We all have those words. The words we battle late into the night. The words we counter with prayer. The words that have affected the way we see and do, the way we ourselves speak.

Words cannot be erased and we need to remember that.

Sure, time heals wounds. But maybe life is too short for us to keep adding to the pre-existing wounds. Maybe we need to focus on healing the wounds that are already there.

Isn’t it interesting how quickly the positive words can fade, and all it takes is that one dagger of a word to find its way in and park itself right in front for years?

There’s no amount of “I’m sorry”s or “I didn’t mean it”s that can change the fact that words stick.  They stick easier than they peel off.

Which is why we need to be so careful. We don’t know what has already been said.

Be careful what you say
words are violent weapons
of love and
of war

Be careful how you say them
when you say them
they play over
and over
forever on repeat
a thousand apologies
cannot erase their sound
as they play round
and round
louder and more
distorted than before

Be careful what you say
because I have plenty of words
already playing
and I am unable
to erase their sound
as they play round
and round

ENOUGH: A True Story

It was October of last year, I had just lead a session of worship at a Women’s Conference.  As I left the piano and went to the back of the room to my seat, I was instantly hit with a thought.

I was going to write a spoken word about my battle with an eating disorder and addiction.

Wait…WHAT?!?!?

I felt the weight of the project hit me like a brick wall.  I knew in that moment if I only ever pushed myself to finish one project . . . it needed to be this.

I began to jot down the first few phrases on my phone.  They flowed so easily that I felt I had to stop and catch my breath.

I turned off my phone and waited.  And perhaps, I dragged my feet a little.

I dragged my feet because I knew that this project had no room for cutting corners.  It had no room for settling.  It would require me to push myself into vulnerable places and stretch my creativity beyond what I was accustomed to.  I also knew if it was going to be done right, I would need to find actors, as well as a special effects makeup artist.

A month or so later, I opened the same note on my phone and wrote the rest.  And then, I put it away until I knew it was the right time.

I didn’t even think about it until last month, when I woke up on my day off and knew it was time.  I got out of bed and recorded the spoken word narration in my Batman pj pants (just being real) and began to compose the score.

That week I started contacting those who would be acting out the scenes and poured myself into drawing out storyboards.  I visited thrift stores for props and what I couldn’t find I would borrow or make myself.

Let me just tell you how amazing my family and friends are.  I realized for the first shoot with a lovely young gal, I hadn’t even really told her what I was working on, yet she and my husband were blindly following me to do things that probably looked extremely odd and random—no questions asked.  They are the best.

Not cutting corners meant I wasn’t going to settle for anything less than what I saw in my head.  And that was amazing.  As I went into places I had never been before, God provided the means to make the vision manifest right before my eyes.

The entire experience was filled with growth, honest conversations and an even greater level of inner healing.  I am grateful to each person involved in this project.  Each one of you were vital in seeing this from start to finish.

I will be posting ENOUGH on Facebook, YouTube and my website tomorrow (8.8.17).  If you are touched by the video, I ask that you share the link and pass it around.  Every share counts.  Even if it only touches one person . . . it will all have been worth the time, effort and expense of this endeavor.

Thank you all for your continued love and support.  Check back tomorrow for the link!

Do What Scares You

Tell me your greatest fear
and I will tell you of a love
that is far greater.

A love that will cover every doubt
in your mind
until you find
the fear no longer there.

One of my favorite quotes this year has been,

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt

It has been a reminder that fear doesn’t always have to be a negative force in our lives.  Fear can be the very thing that propels us straight into freedom unimaginable.

I’m not talking about reckless behavior.  I’m talking about making decisions that will no longer enable us to live in a paralyzing complacency, and to stop allowing our emotions to dictate the course of our destiny.

For several months, I have been struggling back and forth on finishing up a project.  A spoken word written on the topic of body image.  It’s a large part of my testimony.

It all started one Sunday at church.  The idea came to me in an instant, but excitement was followed by fear.  I would be going into territory that was unknown and new,  while being completely vulnerable with my story.

Every once in awhile, I would pace around my room and begin to write phrase after phrase.  In between those times, I admit I tried to find as many other projects to attempt to start instead.  And then, I would have the same weighty feeling come over me.  Again and again.

I was afraid, but I knew it was something I needed to follow through with, because maybe there was one person in the universe who needed to hear my story.

And for that one person, it would be worth pushing through the fear.

I had a dream a  couple years ago that had a tremendous impact on how I see the world.  In the dream, I found myself speaking with a woman who had a dark past.  I took her hands and said, with great relief and joy,

“Had I been afraid, you would not be here.”

When I woke from the dream, I had a new perspective.  I began to think about how my decisions to choose love over fear, on a daily basis, affects not only my life course but the lives of people I may not even know yet.

Every single day, I try to ask myself,

What if fear was no longer holding you back?

What would I do with my time?  How would I choose to speak and act?  How would it affect the lives of those in my sphere of influence?

By God’s grace, I finished writing the spoken word this week.  I plan to compose and record the audio shortly, as well as begin filming the visuals.  I’m glad I didn’t let myself stay afraid, and I trust that He will see me through the rest of the creative process.

What about you?

What is something that scares you, but you know in your heart it will set you free?

 

Never, Never, Never Give Up

I remember it like it was yesterday.  It wasn’t a special occasion to warrant a gift, yet my mother quietly came to my door and handed me a small token.  A silent plea, perhaps.

Never, never, never give up,

the small, decorative plaque read.

Though I felt I had already given up entirely, I hung it on my wall.  Right next to the closet I had been secretly defacing.  Carving out my suicidal thoughts with razors deep into the walls.

I thought for sure I was going to die and that everything would disappear the moment I did.  I figured if the eating disorder didn’t take my life, I would do it myself.

I felt I had given up.

I felt all hope was lost.

It’s been seven years since the last time I pressed a blade into my skin,
yet rarely do I ever go a day without thinking about the scars that remain.

I used to get discouraged because I’d often have the same old thoughts try to return and haunt me.  Telling me I hadn’t actually changed and that my testimony wasn’t real.  Telling me I was worthless because of the damage I had done to my body.

It took years for me to get rid of the shame attached to the constant reminder of my past, and today I realized I no longer see it the same way.

Instead of shame, I choose to see hope.

In this moment, as I write out this simple post, I can’t shake the feeling that there is someone else (more than one) who needs to have these words handed to them, as my mom did that day.  I know I cannot convince you of anything, but I do have a small gift of hope to offer.

Hope that there is always a way through whatever darkness you are facing.

Hope that freedom is real and available to you.

Hope that your past, and even your present, doesn’t have to define your future.

Hope that you don’t have to give up.

Dear one . . .

Creating an Atmosphere of Faith

I’ve been back in California for around six days now.  Up until yesterday, most of my time has been spent sleeping, as well as settling into my temporary home.  My mobile office/recording studio is now ready to go.  I even started to work on finishing up a single I began before moving a few weeks ago.  My goal is to get it out to you all within the next month.

This week has been set aside for much needed rest, even though I did spend an hour recording yesterday [oops].  I plan to hit the ground running next week and move forward with the things God has been burning in my heart.  I am excited and scared to be freelancing—that is the easiest way for me to sum up what I am doing.  [Side note: If any locals are in need of portraits, my camera and I are looking for more gigs!  Contact me for more details.]

So far, I have come to realize that I am even more tired than I thought.  It’s interesting how one often doesn’t know how tired they are until they stop for a moment.  It turns out, I truly needed to sleep and sleep, and sleep some more.  I needed to sit at the Lord’s feet and listen without any distractions.  I am so thankful that He provided me with a safe place to catch my breath and be restored.

It’s odd that most of my possessions can now fit inside one room.  It feels terrific.  During my recent travels, I walked away with a fresh desire to lighten my load and live off of less.  For over two weeks, I lived out of a suitcase and my camera bag.  To the best of my ability, I am aiming to keep my life as minimalistic as possible.  When God tells me it’s time to move on, I want to be able to go quickly and easily.

So, what’s next?  I have some projects to finish up and a vacation to look forward to in September.  You can expect to see a much more consistent flow of new audio and visual content coming from me in the days ahead—now that I am freelancing and making my passions my job!

This being my first week [in quite some time] without the promise of an actual paycheck, I’ve already wrestled with fear once or twice.  One of the keys to winning a match against fear is to make a list [in your head or on paper] of all of the ways God has come through thus far.  Fear cannot survive in an atmosphere of faith.

Another key is to not allow your heart to linger past today.  Don’t allow yourself to worry about tomorrow [Matthew 6:34].  If your focus is fixed on what has not been provided tomorrow, you will miss out entirely on the provisions found in today. [Check out one of my older posts titled, Enough for Today]

Living life in such a way is impossible without His presence.  So, I continue to press into  His presence which never runs out.  It is only in His presence where true faith is born.

Lord, teach me how to create an atmosphere of faith wherever I go.  Let my heart trust in You more than I trust my fears.  Let me be quick to count each blessing and miracle, remembering all that You have done.

 

 

 

 

Hello from Kansas!

This morning I woke up at a truck stop in Emporia, Kansas. By eight o’clock, I had successfully cleaned myself up and had many a conversation with lady truck drivers and fellow travelers. One in particular happened to be from California. We chatted a bit while we brushed our teeth. It felt strange, yet normal.

After living on a shuttle bus for almost two weeks, I feel like I could live anyway and live off of much less than I ever imagined. I can’t help but think that God has been preparing me for this all along, as I reflect and look back at all the steps that have led me here. From all of my mission trips, to my days as a street performer, leaving home, resigning from good paying jobs on a whim, following His light straight into the dark. I am watching in amazement as God uses every experience to strengthen and prepare me for each adventure.

His mercies are new every morning, and He has been supplying me with grace upon grace. As each wall of my comfort zone is stripped away, I find an even greater depth of intimacy with Him. Even in the midst of recuperating from a cold, I have seen His sovereign hand resting upon me. In my moments of exhaustion, He has met me here.

I’m a shower-every-single-day kind of girl. I like my hair to be clean and I like to smell nice. It’s been a couple days since my last shower and I have now become quite accustomed to bathing with baby wipes and washing my face in the Walmart restroom. It honestly makes me laugh. I welcome the awkward and the uncomfortable. Life is much more joyful.

We are now on the final stretch of the tour. Our last stop is in Dallas, Texas. The closest I’ve been to Texas has been the airport, so I am rather excited to see a bit more of the state before I head home on Monday.

Special thanks to all of the truckers who put up with me running around the parking lot with my camera. Also, special thanks to the Flying J truck stop for providing me with the opportunity of purchasing this crazy wolf shirt that I am wearing today.

All Things are Possible

As of today, I have now been to the same amount of states as days I’ve been traveling.  Tomorrow will be a week since my trip first began.

Where am I now?  Wisconsin.

I had the lovely pleasure of dipping my feet into Lake Michigan in Kenosha this afternoon.  It was stress relieving to walk barefoot on the beach while shooting photographs.  Most of this trip has involved driving, so it was a nice change to get outside with my camera and unwind a bit.

As much as possible, I’ve been spending most of my alone time in silence.  It’s a refreshing change, bringing healing to my soul, after many months spent in a chaotic environment.

I am reveling in simply being present in His glorious presence, allowing His glory waves to remove the debris of yesterday.  Ever so gently, He reminds me of who I am and who He is.  He helps me to remember that I am never alone and that He is more real than the sand beneath my feet.

I close my eyes.

I wait.

I listen.

Holy Spirit, wash over me and remove everything that hinders my heart from hearing Your truth.

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My heart comes back to life, as He reaffirms every dream found within me.  The deeper things that only He and I share.  And just as I begin to think I can’t dream any bigger, Heaven opens wide and I find myself being taken higher and higher.

Higher and higher into Kingdom reality.

Lord, the place where You dwell does not have a ceiling.  Teach me to live in Your Kingdom reality.  A place where all things are possible.

Align My Eyes with Yours

We made it safely to St. Louis, Missouri yesterday evening.  I admit that most of the days are starting to blur together and I find myself constantly going back to my schedule to figure out the day and the state we are currently in.

That said, I am adjusting well.  I am getting used to sleeping in my tiny bunk, which is a top bunk.  I am hitting my head less on the ceiling and figuring out more efficient ways to change my clothes while horizontal.  It’s strangely comforting, even though it reminds me of what it would be like to sleep inside an MRI machine.

I am at peace.  My mind is clear.  I feel like I am returning to my usual self, for the first time in awhile.  More and more, I am realizing how stressful my job was and I am so thankful God brought me out of that situation.

Lord, You are good.

I tell people all the time how important it is to get away and gain new perspective.  To step away and refocus.  Sometimes our dreams are right in front of us, but we can’t see them until we look at them from a different angle.

“Make me know Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all the day.”—Psalm 25:4-5

This is where I’m at.  Throughout the last six days of traveling, God has been solidifying the answers to decisions I have been praying about and revealing His plans for me in a way I wasn’t able to see before I refocused.

Regardless of how long this trip lasts, I know I will be returning with restored vision and a fresh confidence to walk boldly into the direction He is calling me.

“Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name.”—Psalm 86:11

Unite my heart to fear Your name.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, so reveal to me Your holiness.  Bind my heart with Your wisdom.  

“O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your dwelling places.”—Psalm 43:3

Let Your truth be the filter that guards my mind.  Lord, let me not worry about any other voice but Yours.  

Align my eyes with Yours.  Give me eyes to see what You see.