When the Dam Breaks

kops-lake-1610739_1280We see it all the time. Hurricane Katrina was devastating after the levee could not contain the onslaught of the storm. It caused massive devastation in its wake. We see dams straining and breaking under the pressures of massive flooding. It’s horrible to watch things that were built to protect us, being destroyed by mother nature.

What about the walls and dams we have built up in our own lives? How do we deal with the strain life puts on these safety devices we precariously put together around our hearts?

We all get hurt in life. It’s not a matter of if we get hurt, it’s a matter of when. Life is hard.hurricane-63005_1280 People hurt other people sometimes intentionally, and sometimes unintentionally. We become stressed and we lash out at loved ones. We don’t know how to deal with things emotionally, and it becomes this force that destroys any bit of protection we put in place. But who is that protection really for; us, or the people around us? I’ve put up walls around my own heart. I’ll never allow somebody like my mother into my life on purpose. That’s what I tell myself as I build this wall of protection around my heart. Nobody is going to wreak that kind of havoc and devastation in my life again. But, as life goes on, I begin to notice the buildup of pent-up emotions and instability begin to gather on the inside of my wall. The wall was built to protect me, but instead, it keeps my emotions inside and when I don’t allow myself to show emotion and feelings, eventually my dam breaks and those emotions come roaring out of me wreaking havoc in their wake. I yell at my sons and my husband. I become easily frustrated and angered. Whatever self-control I felt I had, becomes a distant memory. I am not used to having to deal with my own emotions because I’ve kept them locked inside this wall for so long that when they come pouring out of me, I realize it’s finally time to deal with things and I don’t know how to.

I have always considered myself to be straightforward. I’ll be honest, I don’t understand what you’re saying to me if you’re beating around the bush. It’s like another language to me. My husband is fluent in this language, so generally after these conversations take place, he has to decipher what someone was saying to me. Anyway, I cannot seem to keep myself from some of these rabbit trails, so lets wind back to my topic! Self-control is not putting up walls so you don’t have to deal with things. Self-control is about dealing with life and your emotions with grace and mercy. It’s about not allowing arrows of deception into your heart by keeping your eyes on God.

open-book-981405__180Let’s not build walls around our hearts. Let’s build a strong foundation in our lives and live them according to God’s word. This may be another one of those moments where God is trying to teach only me something, but I have a feeling there are many of us out there that have built walls around our hearts in order to not let any more pain in. I say we learn from each other and grow with each other and truly be available for one another. We learn to deal with pain and emotional trauma. We allow God to heal those places in our hearts and learn how to overcome with His grace and His love. Let there be no more devastation left in our wake when the dam breaks, because there will be no more dams!raze-dam-2283277_1280

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Favor in the Darkness

sunset-585334_1280I was honored, yet petrified, to share a bit of my history with worship this last weekend and where the passion for it began. I have felt lately that God wants me to share more about my past with people. I haven’t completely conquered the whole speaking in front of people trauma I feel, but hopefully it will come soon. Just a little bit of social anxiety that hasn’t quite let go of me yet. Anyway, I talked about how I began to worship God as a little girl. I loved worship in church and loved singing choruses on my own. I tried to explain that I didn’t grow up with a good or normal mother. (Previous blogs go into this a bit more.) She had issues and still does to this day. She could attempt to control everything about my life, but she could never control my passion for worship. I tried to say some things without shedding tears, but alas, I failed on that part. If you don’t know anything about me, I dislike being vulnerable very much.

I have so many memories of sitting outside in the cold North Dakota winters and singing a song over and over again until I had tears running down my face because God’s presence was so thick all around me. I would sit at the piano when my parents were gone and try to write my own songs. God was not only fighting a battle for my mind and life during this time, He was teaching me about turning my focus from myself to Him. He taught me how to worship Him always; not just in the good times.

I may not have felt God’s favor during these times, but even as a child, I felt like there was something more that was going to come later. I was going to one day understand. I have found much favor as an adult with many aspects of my life. I find favor at jobs I’ve worked and in the church. I have been raised up as a worship leader in different churches, while other churches pretended I didn’t exist. (At least that is what it felt like to me!) One thing that God taught me as a child though, was that no matter how I feel or what I’m going through, He is still worthy. He is still wanting my worship. No matter if I’m a worship leader at a church or not, I’m going to be worshiping God in my home and with my family. I truly believe that because of this attitude of constant worship, God’s favor has never left me. I may have gone through seasons of testing where no one was calling for me to sing or lead anywhere, but it has never stopped me from doing what I am called to do. Too many times, we go through seasons of life where we complain because nobody sees our talent or anointing; or we blame other people because we’re not being raised up, but God has a plan for each one of us. I have always known my call is to lead others into worship. Going through what I have gone through as a child and adult, has prepared me for my call in greater ways than if my life had been perfect thus far. I understand that now, but during those times of darkness I didn’t, but that never stopped me from worshiping at my keyboard facing the wall.

prison-553836_1280You may feel like you’re in a prison like Joseph was. Joseph knew he was meant for more than that. It can be very difficult to see through the thick darkness of the valley you may be going through, but don’t give up. Learn everything you can. Seek God and keep your eyes on Him. Give Him honor and praise. God’s favor is on you and it has never left!

Lost Souls Analysis

calculator-385506_1280I’m an Analyst. I’ve been working as an analyst for just under two years. I like it, I do, but my dream would always be to lead worship as often as I can and record albums with the music I write. I think we all have dreams that at times seem so far out of reach, but I’ll never give up hope!

OK, that was a bit of a rabbit trail, but I’ll try to get back on my original path. I’ve been doing a Lost Sales Analysis for a couple of my accounts. I have to be professional while letting my customers know that they lost money because they ignored my pleas to keep their replenishment numbers up. How can that not be fun? It’s like getting paid to say, “I told you so!” It’s all about the potential of what could have been.

Right away the Lord asked me about Lost Souls. Am I doing an analysis about all those times I have felt like I was supposed to talk to somebody about God and didn’t feel I had enough time, or just plainly didn’t want to do it? I’ll be honest, talking to strangers is a little like stabbing myself with a tiny knife. It’s truly torture to me, but I have to remember that these are people that God loves and gave His life for. My husband is prophetic and is a recognized Prophet of the Church. I’m in such awe of his willingness to go to a complete stranger in the grocery store and share something with them that God showed him. I’ve seen people cry and exclaim, “I so needed that!” Sometimes people just quietly say thank you and move on, but this doesn’t deter him. He doesn’t know how people are going to react, yet he still obeys the voice of God. He is more extroverted than I am, but that doesn’t change the fact that the potential is still there for people to get angry or straight out slap him for invading their space. He still obeys.

What is stopping me from taking 3 seconds of my time to look someone in the eye and remind them that God sees them; God loves them; and that He wants a relationship with them. I talked about how we can be seed planters a couple of weeks ago on a blog, and this goes along with that. We don’t have to pull out a traveling pulpit and preach at somebody for 20 minutes. We share the Love of God and that Love is what is planted inside their heart.

I want to challenge you today, and myself too, to tell a stranger that God loves them. You don’t know what people are going through. They could be going through the battle of their life and that glimpse of God’s love for them is all they need to fight harder. They may be an unbeliever and this moment of you stepping out is all it takes for a salvation to happen.

Oh Autocorrect!!

guy-2618325_1280I love texting. I’m one of those people that can get confused when my phone actually rings. I just don’t like to talk on the phone. People generally want to talk to me for too long. I enjoy people and people seem to enjoy me, but I manage to make things so awkward. I’m just not people gifted, but texting, that is a gift straight from God above.

What can go wrong with texting? One word; autocorrect. I bet autocorrect does what it is supposed to do more times than not, but most people don’t notice when it actually works. My autocorrect interchanges the words paid and laid more often than I care to admit. That’s so embarrassing!

In these instances, I can blame a program on my phone for saying the wrong thing, but what about those times where I say something that can’t be blamed on autocorrect. I have learned to read my final text before it’s sent out…at least most of the time, but how often do I say something to somebody without thinking through the context; without completely understanding the impact that my words have on them? The Bible tells us to watch our tongue because of the power it holds; to be wise and speak with grace.

Proverbs 22:11 New International Version (NIV)

11 One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace
    will have the king for a friend.

I can be a direct person with my speech. I get straight to the point and don’t like to prolong what needs to be said, but do I say it with grace? Maybe this post is only for me, I don’t know. What I do know is that I want people to see me as direct AND gracious. I want my heart to autocorrect in the good and right way when my mouth speaks.

Lord help me to be gracious and speak graciously. Let my heart be humble and my tongue be guarded. Thank you Lord for Your Grace on my life!

 

A Seed Planted

roses-1155986_1280About 6 months ago my husband and I sold our first home we owned. We felt it was the right decision for us for several reasons. We hope to purchase a new home in the next year or two. We went to visit some friends that still live in our old neighborhood recently and we drove by our old house. It was a little weird seeing my old house with different cars in front of it and different furniture on the front porch. I saw my old lawn that I took special care all last summer to get rid of all weeds and keep it looking really nice. 6 months later it was filled with weeds everywhere and unkempt.

flower-3166267_1280What really stood out to me more than that was my old flower beds. I had planted bushes and flowers and perennials. The annuals had died last winter in the cold temperatures, but with the early warm temperatures for springtime, the perennials were growing beautifully already. These seeds and bulbs I planted were still coming up and showing their beauty.  This little moment of seeing something I planted bearing fruit was such a moment of joy to me.

Of course a moment like this would have to show up in my blog, because everything is a teachable moment to me. We have people come and go in our lives. I don’t know about you, but I always wonder if I’ve left any impact on them. I have always hoped that if nothing else, I’ve planted seeds in people. I have come across people that I’ve known earlier in my life, who have told me about how I have impacted their life in some way. I’m not a well known person and I may never be, but I am who God made me to be. My life is not perfect and my past is not everything I’m proud of, but I pray that every person who has come into my life has been somewhat impacted by me in a good way.

What about you? Are the people you’ve come across in your life going to have beauty spring up in them because of the good you’ve planted in them? A warm smile for somebody on a dark day for them could be the seed you plant. A hug or kind words for that person in your life when they don’t expect it can be a seed planted. Maybe your kindness and words of counsel are the water needed to help somebody else’s seed grow.

Be encouraged today. Just like the love and kindness of others has planted seeds in you that are part of your beauty, you are a part of someone else’s beauty as well. garden-587604_1280

Hope

Proverbs 13:12 New King James Version (NKJV)

12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.

red-rose-in-snow-3267057__340What do we do when we hope for something for so long and it doesn’t ever seem like it’s going to happen? How do we keep hoping in the most hopeless situations?

I believe it’s about faith. Faith keeps my hope alive. I’ve lived my life holding on to hopes and dreams that I’m not sure will ever come true, but I will never give up hope that they will. I’ve seen things happen in my life that I’ve hoped for, and I’m still waiting on things that I’ve hoped for. When I was a little girl, I hoped that I would find a man who would love me and be the strength that I needed in my life. I found him and he is my husband. I hoped to have children with my husband, and I have five sons. I hoped to one day go to college as I didn’t go when I was younger. I graduated Summa Cum Laude just under two years ago and got a fantastic job. I always hoped that I would be able to sing on a worship team and I have gotten to be a Worship Leader for several years now. Some of those dreams have taken many years to accomplish, but I always hung on to hope.

What about those hopes that never feel like they are within reach? I used to have this dream that my Mom would show up full of remorse and regret for the way she has treated me and my family, and honestly, pretty much every person in her life thus far. I’ve done research on Narcissistic Personality Disorder and the main thing that they say about somebody who has reached the malignant stage of this disorder, is that there is no hope of them ever changing. Who they used to be will never come back. They are now at the stage that they believe every lie they tell and they no longer understand what is the true and what is a lie. I can honestly say, I have forgiven my Mom. At this point, all I can do is pray that she repents before she stands before God. I can’t say that I have this hope that she will try to know her grandchildren and actually want to be a part of their lives. I used to, but I don’t any more. What I do believe, is that my God can do anything. He is the God of miracles. I don’t know what His plan is. I do know that what I have gone through has opened up doors for me to help others who have been or are in the same circumstances. It’s difficult to explain to somebody how crazy you can feel being around a narcissist. You feel constantly drained. You feel wonderful one moment and then like the ground has been pulled from under your feet the next. Once you escape the strongholds of this person, you realize how controlled and manipulated you were. It’s like you were so mesmerized by this person that you were on a drug. They can make you feel so amazing when you are fulfilling a need that they have, but once you awaken from this euphoria and realize the way this person has controlled and manipulated you, and you begin to question them, that’s when you see the real person they truly are.

My hope is in God. My hope is that He will restore my Mom’s mind and life to what she is supposed to be for His glory, not for my selfish desires. Just as Joseph told his brothers to not be upset with themselves for what they did to him. Joseph understood that this was the plan God had for him all along. It was all part of his journey. This is the journey I am on. I won’t be upset about how my journey has been so far. I will do what I can to help others. I will help them learn to forgive and live with their hope in God. I have faith in God so my hopes and dreams are intertwined with that faith.

You may feel like you’re in a stage where your heart is sick because you’ve lost hope, but don’t give up. God does not break promises. Keep your focus on Him and He will direct your path. It may not happen tomorrow, but it will happen. Guard those promises in your heart and hold on to your hope because He will never give up on you!

Come To Me

sunset-3258051_1280This weekend and many, many times previously, I’ve told my sons that I am always available to them. If they need to talk to me for any reason, I am here for them. I get so frustrated when they come to me after going through something and it’s almost past the point of me being able to help them. You need to talk, I’m here. You need help with something, I’m here. You have a concern about me or something else, I’m here. You want to just talk to me, I will listen. I am never too busy for them. They are my children and I love them. Why do they try to go through things alone?

This really opened up my eyes this morning about how the Father sees us. He has told me numerous times that He is there for me. He is always there to talk to. He is always there to seek counsel from. I am His daughter and He loves me. He is never too busy for me.

I have often struggled with anxiety and worry off and on throughout my life. Much of this is due to the fact that I think I can do things on my own. I’ve made decisions without asking God what He desires from me. I have struggled through things on my own without reaching out to One who calls me His Favorite one. If I don’t understand why my sons don’t or even won’t come to me, imagine how our Father feels when we don’t or won’t go to Him. God’s word is very clear on this issue.

Matthew 11:28-30New International Version (NIV)

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

We did not choose God. He chose us!

John 15:16 New International Version (NIV)

16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.cross-66700__180

I want to encourage you, God is always there for you and me. He is never too busy. He loves us and longs to bless us. God gave us a will to make our own choices because He longs for us to choose Him. In order to know my children, I talk with them, I love them, I listen to them. God desires the same from us. He wants us to talk with Him, love Him, and listen to Him.

Father, I repent for trying to do things on my own. Forgive me for putting myself above You. I know that my strength comes from You, Lord. Thank you for blessing me in all ways. I want to know You more and I will make a change today, to do just that. Amen!