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.

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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!

Be Selective . . . It’s Healthy!

Just as God spoke the universe into existence, our lives are continually being formed and rearranged by words. It is imperative that we use wisdom and be selective about the voices we allow to speak into us.  Yes, this is something that we alone can choose.  Even in those situations where we may not be able to silence all of the voices around us, it is up to us to learn how to respond, filter and process in healthy ways.

I talk to quite a few people on a weekly basis.  It is not unusual for me to be approached, specifically online, by those who are struggling with various issues and seeking counsel.  Sadly, there are always a few who don’t actually want to be helped, but merely want to be heard and validated.  Being validated is a good thing, but not when the desire to resolve the real problem is still lacking.

The number one root issue I keep running into has everything to do with words.  Words people have spoken over themselves and words that have been spoken by others.  It is a very sad thing when the most crippling words in our lives come from the people who should bring healing and encouragement, but sometimes that is just the way it goes.  [Believe me, I get it . . .]

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It is so common for people to walk through life holding everyone else responsible [except themselves] for where they are at.  An avoidance of taking action and taking control of their own life, by coming up with excuses and shifting the blame.  It soon becomes a crutch that eventually infiltrates their very identity, until they can longer see it for what it truly is . . . a chaotic mess of lies.

I write this with a bit of a burden on my heart.  This week I’ve dealt with those who are in this category and it felt like I hit a brick wall.  I saw that they were starting to attempt to use me as a crutch, or rather a human-garbage-can in which they wanted to dump the weight of the world that they were carrying.

I love helping people.  I hate seeing people living in darkness.  However, this was one of those moments when I realized that their words were starting to affect me.  I noticed that when they would message me, my heart would start to race and I would immediately be hit with a wave of anxiety.  Do you know the feeling?

It was time to draw a line.

We may not be able to completely remove all of the negative voices, but we always have a choice when it comes to how we respond.  And in those situations where you are able to completely silence the voices, please do not hesitate to be brave and take a stand for your well-being.

Be selective about the words you allow to form your world . . . it’s healthy!