Sunday, December 29, 2013

a one-word invitation

I’m a girl who has a deep love affair with symbolism. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this multiple times before, but it’s worth mentioning again, I suppose. My home is filled with items that seem like mere decorations, but actually have deep meaning behind them. I’m a lover of prophetic statements and actions through and through. I love the changing of seasons, both spiritually and physically. And I love those marks in time that give you a do-over and a new start…especially New Years.

And for the past several years I have loved, LO-VED, the concept of adopting a single word for your personal theme of the upcoming year. I mean like, LOooOOved this concept. And if you’ve been reading my blog…not only do I choose a single word, but I also choose a characteristic of God to focus on. This has really been my favoritest concept ever…and I’d always look forward to it, every aspect of it. I love the time spent in prayer asking God and listening patiently for direction. I loved talking these concepts through with friends and hearing why they chose the words they did. I loved the hope and expectancy that was stirred up for the next year. And I loved the revelation that would unfold throughout the year as you focused on what God asked you to focus on.  Like, I really, really loved every aspect of it.

Until 2013 was approaching. And the end of the year was bearing down on me, with all its meanings and symbolism and waving banners and flashing neon lights.

Last year, at this time, I was a hot mess of crazy.

I tried to avoid anything and everything about 2012 ending and a new one beginning. I ignored social media as much as possible….definitely skimming over any post that might have had to do with theme words and revolutions. I did my best to avoid any mention of the ‘one word’ concept to anyone…and I begged God to not let anyone bring it up around me. I steered conversations in different directions, and tried to hide the inner panic attacks, if it seemed like the subject was about to be broached.

I was purposefully in bed before midnight on the 31st, covers pulled over my head, willing myself to sleep so I could successfully ignore the changing of seasons that was going to happen and I was ticked that I was powerless to stop it.

Let’s just say…2012 was a dang hard year. It didn’t matter what my theme-words were for that year…other words ominously moved in and took over. DISAPPOINTMENT and DOUBT were painted in dark, dripping letters, hanging over my life like Eeyore’s cloud. Disappointment was certainly not a new concept to me, as with anyone, really. But 2012 held such extreme disappointments for deep-hearted promises and expectations, that I couldn’t face the thought of another year. Doubt had erased all traces of faith and hope that would have believed things would be better. I couldn’t even bring myself to let go of the crap year and get excited about a new beginning and do-over, like I’d done with other not-so-great-years in the past. The wounds were just too deep. I reluctantly dragged myself over the threshold of 2013, purely because there was just no choice in the matter.  

I ended 2012 completely and totally doubting I could hear God’s voice, that He saw me, or even remembered I existed, for that matter. I didn’t doubt His character and promises in general, I just came to the conclusion that they were true for everyone else except me. But I am far too attached to ever walk away from Him or my faith, in general…so it wasn’t like I was giving up. The very fiber of my being is that of a lovesick worshiper, because He is worthy, regardless of my feelings or circumstances. So I still worshiped...and talked/prayed to Him...I just didn’t think He was listening, and I certainly didn’t think He was talking back.

I wrote about this some at the beginning of this year…with the intention to write more…but words have failed me more than ever this year. Maybe I still will….

So in February/Marchish, in a desperate attempt to pull myself out of a deeply dark hole…I did a 21 day visual fast- to try to get some re-focused vision. No social media, no tv, movies, electronic games, computer only for work, etc. And during these 21 days, I filled myself and my home with as much “spirituality” as possible. I played worship 24/7 from one device. I played the audio Bible constantly from another device. I listened to different preachers and teachers, and I read through my favorite passages in the Bible…trying anything and everything to revive a crushed and withered spirit.
And it worked. Only a little, really. But it did work. And the arduous journey out of the wilderness began.

And even though I was avoiding every thought about a 2013 word, and had successfully done so for 2-3 months…in the midst of that fast….God whispered one anyways.

*sigh* It’s just like Him, isn’t it?

I tried to ignore it. I rolled my eyes when I heard it. I thought it was kinda mean because the word pretty much summed up this battle of which I was in, and I was fairly convinced there were no answers. Plus, it’s a word that I personally really like, and I hated the thought of it being tarnished.

But God whispered this one word…and I knew…even in the pain, even in the attempt to ignore…that it was supposed to be “the” word for 2013….and I scribbled it on a sticky note, stuck it to my computer screen, and walked out of the room, wanting to get away from it, debating whether or not to take the path of denial….or the new path that was suddenly opened.

He had whispered….Know.

When it was spoken, there was an inner soothing that happened at the sound of His voice…but fear also immediately invaded and threatened to choke it out. Know? THAT was the whole problem. I DIDN’T know. I didn’t know squat. About life, about God, about hearing his voice, about promises, about what I was supposed to do…about any-thing. To say the word for 2013 was ‘know’ seemed like it was really just setting up a comfy, cozy place for Disappointment and Doubt to settle in with deeper roots and continue to have their way with my soul and spirit. It seemed utterly ridiculous. Besides, I didn’t even know if I was really hearing His voice anyways. So why should I torment myself with my own made up nonsense?

“How, God. How the heck am I supposed to KNOW?” I thought, in the midst of so many crazy, rambling thoughts.

“Seek”, was the response.

And suddenly, things seemed different. I knew an invitation had been extended, one that had been given many times throughout my life, and I’m sure will be given many more. But there was just something about this specific invitation. Something deeply sacred and private. And underneath the layer of doubt and disappointment, in the foundation that was still very much there, I knew there was safety in this invitation...and a tiny spark of trust was reignited. And if you looked close enough, you could see an even tinier spark of hope.

I’ll be honest, I spent several days debating whether or not I was going to embrace it or run far from it. But I finally made the right choice. I released all expectations…for the good and the bad. Even in the net of safety I knew was there, I proceeded with cautious trepidation. I let go of all expectation of answers, or hearing, or promises, both immediate and future...and just went with it.  

And 2013 has still held its share of disappointments. And doubt hasn’t been fully erased. And so many, many, many questions still continue to hang over my life….

But…

In the midst of it, 2013 has been, well, I don't really know how to describe it actually, but maybe the word is ...levelling. And for that, I’m far more grateful than words could ever possibly express. I can't say there's really been much revelation or epiphany's. There's still a deep ache for the promises still unfilled. I still question what the heck I'm doing in this world. But that sticky note is still right where I haphazardly stuck it. Every time I walk past it or sit down in front of it, a deep inner sigh happens…and I remember that symbolic marking point...when the winds seemed to shift.

So in saying all this….I’m actually looking forward to this change of seasons once again and for this new year just moments away. I’m busy seeking God for 2014’s word and which of His characteristics He wants me to focus on. I’ve been working on getting things around me cleaned up and organized…and reflecting on which resolutions or goals should be put on paper.  

Ok, so who's with me? Do you have your word and characteristic for 2014 yet? Please come and share when you know them...even if it's months down the road! Really. And I’d actually love to know your 2013 words, since I never asked (uummm...ya, sorry about that)…and anything you learned because of them. 

Let's raise our glasses to 2014. May it be kind, graceful, and joyous to us...and above all, may we learn to love Him even more. ♥





Sunday, March 17, 2013

Remembering the Yes...


“Be careful what you pray for...”


Isn't that the oldest of cliche's in the Christian world??

Growing up in the church, I've heard it more times than could be counted. And every time it’s uttered, I roll my eyes in annoyance of the redundancy…and start a conversation in my head regarding the Biblical theology of the comment and issue it was spoken about...because I'm far from convinced that life gets crazy and ridiculous just because you ask for God to 'fix something' in your life. 
(the ‘patience’ one gets me every. dang. time.)


 And then......


After reading my last post, a friend asked how long I've felt like this…

Years, I stated…it’s been several years.

And it seems so ridiculous to me that it could possibly be true. As a lover and watchman of the seasons…I usually feel like I have a good grasp on timings and such, both physical and spiritual. So a summer season lasting years and years couldn't possibly be true, I tried to tell myself…....

But it is.

And I’m not saying it’s all been terrible. I’m not saying there hasn't been precious, heaven reaching down and touching my soul moments…that I haven’t ever been able to connect with God in this time….but those moments have been fewer and further between. And the dryness and disconnect I’ve felt from God is what has consumed me. 

But...

Several months ago…as I was lying on my bed…wishing I had the energy, or even desire, to whisper a prayer to God…and wondering what the heck has gone wrong in my life…He brought back the memory…


The memory of the surrendered prayer. The one where I stood under the blaring speakers...music swelling around me…arms outstretched…face toward heaven…singing the heartfelt words from the inner depths of my being….that part so deep inside, you barely know it exists…. “Awake, Awake oh North Wind….Awake, awake oh South Wind…blow over me. Come oh winds of testing, come winds of refreshing…blow over me.” (Misty Edwards...tiny song video right over thereAnd I said Yes. I knew God was wanting to do something more in my life. Verses of pruning vines had been seeping up and hinting at me. Words of gentle corrections had been whispered into my heart. I knew He wanted me to go deeper in Him. And I said yes. I asked for the dead branches to be pruned. I asked to have everything that could be shaken, shaken. I wanted the dead ripped out. I wanted the lies I believed rooted out from the truth. I wanted my foundation to be solid and pure. I wanted to be sure of when I was standing in assured confidence of hearing His voice…or when I had crossed the line of really listening to my own voice and calling it His…I wanted the pride gone...I wanted the impurities drawn out...I wanted deeper depths...I wanted grace and purity and holiness and love to consume me...I wanted to be more like Him. 
  

And somewhere...in the midst…when the season went on longer than I had ever known a season to last…the distance between myself and that night became so great...so divided…that I forgot about that prayer. In the pain and the difficulties and the shakings and prunings…I forgot I said yes.

And I wished it was all just that simple. Just the remembrance of the yes…and everything was back on track. But unfortunately...it’s just not quite that easy.

Really...the reminder did help stable my bearings. It brought back refocus. It helped me feel a little less forgotten and abandoned. But there’s still a whole world of crazy that has to be sorted and dealt with...and let go of and held on to. 


But the thing is…the conclusion that I came too, after weighing the options from this side of the viewpoint, even in the midst of all this hardship and heartache…I’d still say yes. If I could take back the surrendered prayer, I wouldn't. If we need to keep going, and this season's not quite over… *deep breath* ...I’m still in...and I'm still saying yes.

Because I’m starting to get it. I’m starting to see what this time has been about. I’m starting to get my eyes off myself...and back to where they never should have left. 


I'm still not convinced that life automatically gets bad or crazy or hard just because you've prayed a prayer. There's just so much more to it than that. 

But what I do know...is that it's important to remember the yes...



~
I lo-ve this song…and have posted it before…but it’s worth the repost. I love it because it pours out a heartfelt prayer of an overwhelmed and desperate heart…but then changes into a declaration of praise and worship to the Almighty. And isn't that what it’s all about….

Friday, March 8, 2013

singing into the silence...


The silence on here has been quite deafening…

Far too many times in the last many many months, I’ve written and erased…and written and erased…and stared at blank screens…and have tried to find the right words…or even make up the wrong words…I have slammed my laptop in frustration and tossed it across the couch…I’ve tried again the next day…and then, tried again and again and again…and have erased... and erased... and erased…

I just couldn’t figure out how to give words to my feelings…
                                                                                                         and my confusion…
                                                                                                                                and doubts…
                                                                                                                                                and frustrations…

…and deep, deep brokenness.


I never knew a hot, weary, dry, dessert season would truly last so long. Although…considering the Israelites were in one for 40 years, I probably shouldn't be so surprised.

It’s been a season when the doubts and disappointments and broken promises that I've tried for years to fight, squash, ignore, and conquer would no longer back down into submissive silence…and their screams have become too loud to ignore...and I'm the one that lost her voice.

It’s been a season where I've fully and completely doubted my ability to hear God’s voice. And what’s a girl to do when she’s relied on the voice of God to guide her through her everyday existence.

It’s been a season where I've felt confused…exhausted…alone…and forgotten. And to feel separated and forgotten by God…is the most unbearable of feelings.

It's been a season of the North Wind blowing...and pruning...and shaking. And I don't know if I know what to do with the pieces that have been left. 


It has been so hard to write because I didn't want this to be a ‘Woe is Me’ platform…and I certainly don’t want this blog to turn into one of those blogs where everyone joins together to bond in their doubt of faith and God. Those blogs are far too many and on my nerves, I have to say…and I didn't want to join their ranks. Of course there’s sometimes a need to voice where you’re at…and to know you’re not alone…but I've wanted to be careful because doubt and confusion does not need to take any more center stage than it already has.

But…I feel it is important to share where I’m at. Maybe no one else will read these words…but there’s something that won’t stop gnawing deep inside and I’ve felt like I should have been writing all along. Even when it was looking the darkest, even when it seemed impossible to find the words…I think I should have been more intentional to press through. And so…I’m going to attempt…to blog the rest of this journey…

I don’t know what it’s going to look like…but as I have kept telling myself for months, the concept of this whole blog is Girl Seeks Truth…not Girl Gots The Whole Truth and Already Has it All-Together, Yo.
So I still don’t quite know, honestly. But I am going to at least try…and I have to say…that to try to figure out how to write from a place of raw vulnerability seems overwhelming to say the least.


And I must must must declare this…that even in this dry and weary land…where pain and doubt and confusion and feeling and thoughts…are trying to scream at me otherwise….my spirit knows………it. knows………that God is still Good. And He is still Faithful. And I am loved. I may not be sure of much more than that at this moment, (and I’m really not, honestly) and I may not be seeing those things evident in my own life right now, and the voice of doubt may be trying to drown out the Truth that is in my spirit…BUT……but… Truth. is. Truth...and that voice of lies will not win. 
It will. not. win.

I had a friend recently write me this, “When in the desert, dig a well - the camels are coming with full reward for holding on.”

Now, I’ll admit, that when I first read that…it did not bring comfort, peace or joy. Instead, I rolled my eyes in frustration and thought, “What the hell does that even mean?” My faith/trust/hope of any promise of provision is was nonexistent…and I thought I no longer knew how to dig those spiritual wells. The more I thought about it that first week…the more frustrated I became.

But God is a gracious God.

And for the first time in a very very long time….within the last month or so, He has brought me small splashes of refreshment (like that word from my friend)…and although I’m far from being in a good place…and I’m not sure I really have it in me to believe that ‘camels are coming with any kind of reward’…….I AM beginning to think that maybe, perhaps, I might at least be able to find my way back to a good place, once again. 

I’m not na├»ve enough (well, if I’m honest, of which I should be…don’t really have enough faith) to think this season might be coming to an end… 
BUT, at the very least, even in the midst of the ugliness...
I think………...
                         perhaps………………
                                                           maybe…………..….
                                                                                                     
I’m beginning...
             
                      to find my voice……


And on this International Woman's Day (a day of which I adore)...this Woman...is standing, once again... even in her emptiness and brokenness, with no idea of what lies ahead...and is digging her well.

No matter what my feelings or circumstances say…I know, with everything in me…He is worthy of my worship…my deep adoration…my total obedience.


And so...
                    
                           I journey on…





*****
“When words fail, music speaks”…and I’m so thankful for musicians who can put those silent words of your heart into a beautiful melody and sing it back to you.
Like this song…..