Weatherproof

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It was a night that I will never forget. I was working on my camper when I realized the “small leak in the skylight,” actually meant the entire roof was damaged. It was this night when I found out that the majority of my soon to be home needed to be gutted to its bare walls and rebuilt if I were ever going to live in it.

I found the issue when the first rain of the winter season came crashing down and the strong winds ripped away the tarp I used to cover the roof. The front bedroom walls were soaking wet. I had to climb onto the top of the camper to secure as much of it as I could to protect what little work I had already done. While on top of the slippery roof, it sank in that there was no way I would finish this project in a month. I had no place to live, no help, and no light.

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The more my heart sank, the more frantic I became. The more frantic I became, the more difficult it was to solve the problem at hand…which was to temporarily weatherproof my future home to get through the night. Had it not been the middle of the night, I would’ve screamed outloud at God. All I could do was sit there, on my knees, 12 feet off the ground, on a slippery roof, in the pouring rain, and sob. My heart was so broken that I had been lied to and it would effect my survival for the next 6, long months. It was the second most vulnerable moment of my life.

Just as soon as I began to cry, I thought about the end result. It felt as if something told me, “it may be messy right now, but there will be something miraculous at the end of this!” So, I, quickly, gathered my thoughts, dried my tears, and completed the task. Considering what I was already going through, as devastating as it was, that raw moment gifted me with hope and grit. The next morning, as I layed in my bed, I told myself, “DeLayneif you can get through this, you can get through anything. 

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It has nearly been a year since that night. I still remember that helpless feeling at the pit of my stomach, as if it happened yesterday.  That night taught me a great lesson.  We cannot prevent the storms in our lives from coming, but our faith in God can weatherproof our spirit through any circumstance. 

Since then, I have often wondered how I could further weatherproof my spirit by going directly to God before falling apart like I did on that roof.

I have always been told that when making behavioral changes, start small. So, I decided, that if I were going to weatherproof my spirit through all circumstances, I must, first, identify where there is a leak in my faith. Because, as Phillipians 4:13 says, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. A true follower of Christ doesn’t reflect that only when the sun is shining.

Recently, someone told me that when used figuratively, the word weatherproof means “incapable of failing, unassailable.”  One translation of unassailable is to secure against attack.

The question that I want us to ask ourselves is, “How often does our Godly spirit begin to falter when our sense of stability falls under attack?”

I know mine does, more often than I would like to admit. When I am feeling defeated, I allow it to effect my peace. I worry. I analyze. I create scenarios in my head that haven’t even happened yet. I do everything but find joy and give thanks for the current season, which as God promises, is being weaved together for good.

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With the crash of the oilfield in recent years, I am witnessing so many people in my community falling on hard times. Families are losing homes, relocating to find work, downsizing, selling all of their belongings. There seems to be silent panic and histeria. When I think of them, I think of how I felt on that cold, wet night. I relate to their questions and momentary doubt. If there is one thing I could share with them, it would be a glimpse into how the story ends. We may not have physical proof right before our eyes, but we have God and we have His Word. God’s word is truth. His truth is all we need to weatherproof our spirit in the middle of a storm. As hard as it may be, we must find joy in the storm.

Paul, in his letter to the Phillipians, says, “I long to depart and be with Christ which is far better but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. Since I am persuaded of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that, because of my coming to you again your boasting in Christ jesus may abound.” Philipians 1:23-26

Paul wrote this letter during his time of imprisonment. His point was that his heart was split in two. He was ready to go home to God, his father, because he would no longer have to worry with worldly burdens.  Paul, also, knew, however, that he still had work to do on earth. If his life would be taken, he would no longer serve his fellow disciples as God needed. Because of this, he chose to find joy in serving while he still had time.

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Life is hard when our resources run out. Failure creeps up on us like death. However, what could possibly come of this? As God says in Matthew 6:27, “Which of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” 

There are many interpretations of this verse. My favorite one being the King James Version, which argues that the Greek term for lifespan is helikia. This can sometimes mean to add physical height to the body. I like this interpretation the best because when I begin to worry, my anxiety grows and I become more aggressive in my efforts. This is a learned behavior I picked up over a lifetime of living in survival mode. My brain has grown accustomed to thinking that the more aggressive I become, the better chances I have for survival. This makes me feel bigger than what I really am but it also makes me a difficult person to be around. My spirit becomes weathered and gray. I don’t want to be difficult. I want the world to see Christlike love when they see me.

I am trying to retrain my brain to remember that I don’t have to be big. I don’t have to be aggressive. My God is big. I don’t have to risk the state of my mental health over something as simple as worldly security. As the bible reminds us, does God not feed the birds in the sky? He values me much more than I value myself and if He is denying me, there is a reason. For whatever that is, I want to learn to be joyful in that so I can continue to do His work. All I want is to learn how to be present in the current season with a weatherproofed spirit.

If you are longing to find joy in your season of labor or waiting, pray this pray with me:

Dear Heavenly Father

I come here today to thank you for all seasons that I am allowed on this earth. Because your hands weave everything for good, I know you have got my life under control. I ask for a joyful heart in the meantime. Until then, I ask that you help me weatherproof my spirit to withstand the most grand storms so I can continue to praise Your most glorious name. Thank you for all that you are and above all, thank you for loving me, even when I am hardest to love.

In heaven’s name I pray. Amen.

Sweet child, live free.

Love, D

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My Testimony, His Grace

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A while back, my therapist asked me who my favorite actress was. My response? “Diane Lane.” I think she is the most beautiful, modest, graceful woman, on and off the set. I have thought about that question from time to time and discovered that most women I have admired throughout the course of my life seemed to share one common trait. Grace. Make no mistake, it’s not that I felt like I had anything in common with them. I am the quirky,  messy, loud, artistic type with the ability to lose everything I come in contact with, fall, or spill on myself at the most inappropriate times. I am anything butgraceful. After meeting the puma in Grace In a Glass Case, I felt compelled to dig into more research of this word to explore a deeper reason as to why I become enamored and inspired by anything that exhibits such grace.

By His Mercy, Not My Merit

I thought that if I could learn how to carry myself as the women I admired, I would “look” more graceful. My faith journey is teaching me that there is so much more to grace than what we look like on the outside. It is a gift we must connect with on the inside for it to reflect outward. Through my research, I have learned many things about grace. One is that it’s sole producer is God. It is because of His mercy that we are able to receive grace. I grew up thinking that if I performed good deeds and went to church, God would bless my life. Last Sunday in church, our pastor made it very clear that grace is unmerited. We cannot do anything to earn it. God decides how, when, where, or why we receive it. Why is this important in MY understanding of grace in others? Because, just as I explained sin in What If…., the same applies here. I had to be able to recognize what grace feels like in order for me to appreciate who is responsible for giving it and the effort it takes to reflect it. There are many ways that God sheds grace on my life, but I haven’t always been able to recognize it. Now that I am spiritually mature enough to see grace as it actually is, I feel the need to share what it looked like before and after I was saved.

Damn This Life Of Mine

I truly wanted to believe that somewhere along the way I got the short end of the stick. That somehow, of all the people in the world, God pointed at me and said, “Here! She’s a hot mess, so give her the messy life!” For the entire first half of my life, it seemed I just couldn’t escape drama. Everywhere I turned, there was something happening! If I wasn’t fighting with family, I was fighting with friends. I was the troublemaker. I “stirred the pot,” as some would say. And I won’t deny that! I was always caught up in something I was not supposed to be. Looking back, honestly, that’s all I really knew how to do. I didn’t understand what the word surrender meant because I never had a safe place to practice that skill. I didn’t understand how to be a peacemaker because I grew up in a family that constantly argued. So, as I got older, fighting was a part of natural daily life… with everything and everyone. I have been blessed with many gifts, but if there were a degree in drama, back then, I would’ve been top of my class. Yet, I look back and remember how I longed for peace and quietness. I was starving for softness. Inside, I was dying for a place to submit so I didn’t have to pretend to be so strong anymore. It was catastrophically exhausting. Since I couldn’t find that safe place in my surroundings, I created created my own. It was one that could’ve completely ruined my life.

When I got out of high school, I was desperate for approval. I became involved with a troubled group of people that were quite heavy into the drug scene. With these friends, I experienced things that no young girl should ever. I had every type of drug at my disposal, and, since, I finally felt like I belonged, I happily participated in disposing of it all, almost nightly. I was so naive as to allow heavy amounts of traffic in and out of my apartment on a regular basis. It was normal to have about 10 people hanging out with music blaring, without a care that there were other tenants residing in the same complex. It was all fun and games until one day, I received a knock at my door. When I was expecting the arrival of a group of friends armed with jello shots and the evenings party favors, I was surprised to find a group of undercover agents at my door with guns and a search warrant. The following weeks were a nightmare. Though I was not charged with anything illegal, my “friends” accused me of setting them all up to get out of trouble, which I had not. A few weeks later I was jumped by 3 girls in a nightclub. Grace was present during that time of my life. If it weren’t for the grace of God, my life would not be what it is today. In the pit of deep, dark brokenness, he has continuously shown undeserved mercy on me. He pulled me out of a shame stricken life when I had no idea what he was doing. Little did I know, in those days, grace came in the form of physical and legal protection.

He Who Is In Me Is Bigger Than Anything Formed Against Me

When I started to get my life back together, another part of me began falling apart. You see, I had a child at 17 that, much to my regret, I didn’t raise. I wanted to… more than anything, I just wasn’t allowed. I wanted to speak the truth about my sons father, but it was forbidden. The adults in my life made parenting such a constant fight for 3 years, I didn’t stand a chance. I became so distracted with fighting for my right to be a parent, that I never learned how to be his mom. When I gave up, I met the aforementioned group of friends. I ran so hard from the guilt and shame of circumstance that I couldn’t stand the sight of my own shadow. Things began to change after spending a year away in my early twenties. When I returned and started cosmetology school, my confidence slowly started to resurface. When I met other young girls going to school and raising their children alone, I began feeling like I could do it too. When I mustered up the courage to go for it, I was faced with resistance, again. What I wanted and needed didn’t matter. Taking my son from my parents would turned into an 8 month court battle where I wasnt even allowed to see him. I was reminded almost daily that I could not measure up to what they were to him. And even though I won, the battle never ended. He’s 20 years old, and, still, today, we have not been able to repair what was taken from us. Regardless, God’s grace was always with me. He always believed in the real me. God offered His unconditional love and mercy, even when my earthly parents didn’t know how. When the world may fail us, He is our shelter. Through Him and only Him are we capable of experiencing grace when the world tells us that we are worthless. His grace is the means to our salvation.

For I Know The Plans I Have For You

Through it all, God saw something bigger in me. Around the age of 22, I attended a faith renewal weekend retreat with my brother and sister in law. During this retreat, I received my first call. It was during an hour of silence where I sat alone in an empty church and opened up the missalette to find a gospel reading where Jesus told one of the apostles to “be a shepherd to my flock.” He instructed them to go out into the world and teach the word of God to the people. Later that evening, when we broke into our last small group of the day, the exact same scripture had been given to my group leader. Even though I wasn’t obedient, I have always had a special relationship with the Lord. I knew what He was telling me, but I was too broken and ill equipped at the time to follow through. I didn’t know it at the time, but God’s grace was in full swing. He, as He promised, was working it all out for the good. Make no mistake. When it seems like all God’s grace has overlooked you, He is there, like a candle in the night. Whether you believe it or not, He is busy making a way for you.

Last week I had an incredible experience. I attended my first women’s small group at church. For the first time ever, I was in the presence of Godly women who seem to hear God’s messages just like I do. I had always been scared to speak of His messages because I thought people would think I was a lunatic. But these women showed me that there are others, just like me, who experience God’s word on the same level that I do. It is because of God and God alone that I escaped a life of spiritual imprisonment. It is because of God’s grace that I have risen from the ashes of my own hell on earth. It is because of Jesus Christ that I have an image of humility to look up to.

Grace In Its Many Forms

I am learning that grace comes in many forms. It comes to rescue when we are falling off His path. Grace comes in the form of helping human hands. It floods our lives in the most difficult times. God sheds His grace on us when He feels we need it most. I look back and recognize His grace the second my life flipped upside down! He was transforming my life to prepare me to be a completely different person…. a true woman of faith. An imperfect, (still sinful) woman of faith… but one prepared for His plan and humble repentance. He was preparing me to give every distraction up for the sake of His call. He was preparing my future husband. He was preparing our marriage. God’s grace is still grooming our entire household to take on the responsibility of ministry.

We can experience God’s grace every single day. When we are ready to receive it, we begin to resonate the same grace outwardly. We cannot just appear to be graceful. Grace’s only source is God. When we connect with Him, our lives are transformed by it. We appear more graceful when our lives are directly in contact with God and God alone. He is the water of life!

If you are having a hard time recognizing God’s grace, pray this prayer with me:

Dear Heavenly Father,

I come to you today to ask for your forgiveness in sin. I am an imperfect sinner, Lord, but I am ready to be transformed by your grace. Thank you for making the way for me through your son Jesus Christ. I ask for your help in seeing the presence of your grace on my life, Lord. Walk with me and guide me along your path while I study and live out your Word. In Jesus’s name I pray, Amen.

Sweet child, be free.

Love, D

What If….

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I read the most wise biblical perspective on the difficulty of life, the other day. Every time I think of it, I simply say, “wow.” It said, “Jesus’s life on earth was not easy. So, why would I expect mine to be?”  Let me put this in laymen’s terms.. God sacrificed His only son’s life to bring His divine plan to completion. What makes me think I am entitled to an “easy” life if HIS son didn’t even have one???

“I just want easy!”

What if... is a question we, as a society, try to avoid at all cost. We live life dangerously to eliminate any possibility of a future what if. How many times have you heard someone say, “I don’t want to spend the rest of my life wondering,What if.'” I have heard this countless times. I, myself, have not only said it, but I have relentlessly ran from it. I have spent my life blind to my own ignorance of avoidance. I used this when I was afraid to commit. I have said this when I was scared to accept the reality of my situation. I have said this in hopes of, some day, stumbling on my what is. I’ve noticed I’ve become a little more tired as I have gotten older. I recall saying, “I just want easy,” on multiple occasions. The statement above made me realize that I have become spoiled in worldly ways and have demanded easy when we weren’t given easy. Through Adam and Eve’s sin, we were given sin. Therefore, as cliche as it sounds, life isn’t supposed to be easy. 

“What if we first needed sin to understand Our Savior?”

No one but God can justify God’s actions, but what if He waited until we felt the full capacity of sin before sending Jesus to die for us? I can’t imagine we would’ve recognized what He had done for us if Jesus would have come any sooner. What if we needed to fully comprehend brokenness to identify Jesus’ wholeness? I could never wrap my head around the pain inflicted upon Him during His Crucifixion, but what if we need to be able to identify with pain in order to grasp what Jesus endured for us? Just like our children need to understand wrong to know what is right, what if we, first, needed sin to understand Our Savior?  What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory. Romans 9:22-23.

“I needed to feel the pain of my own brokenness in order to  be saved.”

As soon as the first sin was committed, God knew Jesus must be sent down from Heaven to defeat satan for our salvation. I dont know about you, but I would never want to be put in a position to sacrifice my son’s life for another human beings mistakes. The selfish human heart inside of me says, “I would sacrifice my life, but not his.” That would be an unbearable kind of pain. Yet, God did that for us. The statement above made me process this on a deeper level than ever before. After reading those words, I began to wonder how could I ever pay Him back for what He has done for me?? Truth is,  I can’t. He asks nothing of me, except to love Him and my neighbors as He has loved me. Yet, I complain about life being hard. I am beginning to realize, God was helping me understand the capacity of His love for me when He delivered hard times upon my life. I needed to feel the pain of my own brokenness in order to be saved.

“I need to lean into the very question that I have been running from for the last 37 years.”

I have been asking myself, “Now that you get it, how can you retrain your heart to thank Him for His goodness instead of wishing things had been or would be easier?” I have decided that maybe I need to lean into the very question that I have been running from for the last 37 years. Instead of asking for easy, what if I prayed for a spirit of joyful persistence? What if I owned up to my own selfish expectations and asked for His help in defeating them?  What if I asked to be better equipped for the hard, instead of asking for more comfort? What if, instead of asking for my circumstances to be different, I asked Him to make me different?

Pray with me

Today, I pray this prayer as a plea for help. Feel free to say it out loud or use it whenever you feel the spirit of defeat over the nature of your circumstances:

Lord, I don’t know what your plans are for me, but I know that I have been selfish in my own ways by not putting my complete faith in what you have done for me. I have complicated my own life by pursuing easy, when your own son was crucified for my sin.  I want to lay down my life for others, with a servants heart, as your son has done for us. I pray for a spirit made in Jesus’ image, which can only be achieved through Your Grace, not my merit. I surrender all that I am to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Sweet child, be free.

Love, D

“Here am I. Send me!”

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You guys will never guess what I just did……..

I can remember as far back as 20 years when my sister-in-law said, “You need to write a book.”  At the time, I had no idea that I had a niche for putting words together. All I had were untold stories hidden in my soul that seemed so unfair, but they were, in fact, my reality. I could very well fill up an entire book on the chaos that has surrounded my life. It’s a wonder that, at 37, I am as tired as a grey haired woman rocking in her front porch rocking chair. Though that book is burning inside of me, I know that I am being called for something so much bigger in women’s ministry. I am on a one woman quest to understand the path God is leading me to.

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Dont mistake God’s patience for His absence. His timing is perfect, and His presence is constant. He’s always with you! Deuteronomy 31:6

I have had many critics while figuring out my life’s destiny. I could only imagine what my relentless search has looked like to others, so I cannot judge anyone for judging me during this process, as I have judged others, as well. However, none of us should ever judge someone else’s journey. In my case, I am just now, at 37, getting to the core spirit of who I am. It has taken a lot of work and “reparenting” the broken parts of my childhood to repair the areas that shaped who I became later on in life. It’s a wonder that I have been relentlessly searching for meaning. There has been an empty space in the center of my core self that I was unable to connect with to guide me to the place I belong. I am approaching my year anniversary in therapy and it brings tears to my eyes just thinking about how lost I was on that very first day. My heart overflows with completeness when I think about how my healing could benefit other broken women. There is a God centered connection that I have when I think of what I could bring to women’s ministry. It is not just a desire, it’s a conviction unlike anything I have ever experienced. I still have so much to work on but I am more ready to commit my life to becoming a light for other women than ever! I am ready to lift my life up to God to become completely selfless for the healing of other women.

I began exploring this call through Toastmasters this year. The club lead me through my first set of jitters in speaking and gave me the confidence that I needed to begin. I am so appreciative for the club curriculum, but, unfortunately its focus was not directed to the specific area that I needed to do God’s work. I know in my heart that if I am going to make an impact in other women’s lives the way that I am called to do, I have got to surround myself with church leaders who can support my spiritual walk and hold me accountable in the areas that I need the most help. The responsibility that I am willing to take on is huge. Because of this, I will need people in my life who have to uphold their own selves to the same level of standards that I will have to hold myself. Since my parting with Toastmasters, I have been feeling somewhat discouraged in where to turn next.  I know I am being called to women’s ministry, but I was feeling left with the burning question….what now?

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The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” NLT, Psalm 32:8

If I lived in a bigger city, this process, probably, wouldn’t feel like such a daunting task. In smaller, southern areas, however, there are not many options when looking for educational opportunities to grow in areas outside of a traditional workforce related college setting. For this reason, I have researched every avenue for answers, including christian women’s conventions. If this tug felt small, I would just begin to start hosting small groups with my church, which I intend on doing as soon as I am allowed, and go from there. But this is different. Guys, God brought me to the mountains…. ALONE. He is consistently sending me messages through scripture and “coincidences” that are undeniable…even my family is starting to see it. It’s impossible not to feel big feelings about this experience.

During my exploration process, God has been working in other areas of my life, just as He promised He would do when I went camping. As I have mentioned before, my significant other has recently pursued his own relationship with God. Studying the Bible has become almost a nightly routine in our home. This has either deepened our connection or has given him patience while thinking I have completely lost my mind! Either way, it has given him the tools to become incredibly supportive in my quest. His new walk in his faith has allowed us to discover a church where we equally feel comfortable in exploring God’s plan for our lives. As I have also mentioned in a previous post, we are completing Growth Track, as well as being baptized together next month. Jacques and I have talked a lot about the direction I need to pursue in women’s ministry. He sees how passionate I am about the work that Lysa Terkeurst is doing in this particular area, and he understands how much I relate to her vulnerability when teaching God’s Word to women. Matter of fact, he recently surprised me with tickets to attend her Word Alive conference in Houston with my best friend in a few short weekends! After all our struggles, thank you, Lord, for working in my Boaz, because I desperately needed his support in this moment. 

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Then I heard the voice of the Lord, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8

This past weekend, at Growth Track, I heard a word that I had never heard. Our pastor simply said, “If you are being called to ministry, get involved in a seminary.” So, of course, you know what I did! I went straight to my computer and began researching seminaries near me. VOILA! There it was, in black and white! All the guidance and classes that I needed to begin learning all I needed to learn about women’s ministry! There are degrees for this people!!! Who knew?!?!? I knew there were Bible colleges, because I have been looking into this for a couple of months now. However, I had no clue that there were programs specific to majoring in women’s ministry, christian public speaking, and christian writing. Even though I will be the one paying for this, I feel like it’s Christmas!!

This morning I took the first step to begin online studies in theology and I cannot be more excited to see what God has planned for this journey!

If you are being called and have no idea where to start, I encourage you to take the smallest step to begin your journey! Whether it is getting on your knees to ask for help, reaching out to your pastor for help as I did….DO IT!!!! Wherever this may lead, you will be closer tomorrow than you were today!!

Sweet child, be free.

Love, D

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Who Am I? Insecurity vs. Humility

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Have you ever felt a calling on your life so big but thought, “I am nobody. People don’t care what I have to say. Who am I to think my words matter??

I often feel this way. However, when I close my eyes, my hearts home is standing in front of hundreds of women spreading the word of salvation. I never thought I would have the desire to pursue ministry. Truth be told, I never lived the type of life worthy of ministry. When encouraging others, I have often said, “Jesus didn’t sit at the table with the saved. He ate with the broken…the tax collectors and sinners.” Recently, I heard my pastor say, “Jesus looked for people with issues.” I laughed on the inside, because if this was so, He hit a gold mine with me!! So, if Jesus looked for people with issues, why do I find it so hard to believe that He would use someone like me? 

StockSnap_A7J7REI5OMBlessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. John 20:29

I recently learned that when we ask the question, “Who am I?,” we are working from a place of insecurity. When God puts a calling on our lives, the last thing we are supposed to do is question our ability. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “work with a servant’s heart.” Well, when we are told to do something by God, we must imagine that we are standing face to face with him, bow our heads, and reply with, “Yes, my Lord.” My questioning His call on my life does not get me any closer to where I am supposed be to fulfill His plan. It delays my purpose. If I delay my own purpose, I prolong its benefits on my life. It is supposed to come from a place of humility, not insecurity. Humility and insecurity cannot go hand in hand. To understand this more clearly, we must take an in-depth look at the two.

Insecurity says, “I am not equipped to do what you have asked of me.”

StockSnap_82VWIAQ4KDWas Jeremiah equipped for prophetic ministry at the time of God’s call? No. Matter of fact, Jeremiah protested with claims that he was just a child and could not speak. Jeremiah was insecure in his abilities to do God’s work. If God had not touched his lips to put words in his mouth, Jeremiah would have been held back by his own lack of confidence. I am not suggesting that a lack of confidence is bad, but not acting on our purpose because of a lack of confidence can be dangerous. We must learn to persist when confidence is not present. We do not stop because we are feeling insecure, we continue in spite of our insecurities.

 “Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 1:17-19

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I found hope in the life of Jeremiah in a time that I needed it the most. Recently, I had a mentor who encouraged me to put on a seminar, which, I thought, would be an incredible experience. However, I, now, have reasons to believe there were underlying motives with his support and encouragement. To make a long story short, I made a terrible decision by going against my intuition and got romantically involved with him. Though I fought the urge for three months, two weeks in, I realized this was not a healthy situation. Since I could not continue to pursue the relationship, he chose not to mentor me through my seminar. Excitement turned to overwhelming fear and insecurity. The joy I had in this new love of speaking was depleted with disappointment. It felt as though he punished me professionally because I could not be what he wanted on a personal level. Hurt does not describe what I was feeling at the time because this was once a man that I admired and looked up to. The night I realized I would be delivering this message alone, my, then ex fiance, opened my bible and handed it to me. I told myself that whatever page he landed on will be God’s message regarding the future of my seminar. This is where the book of Jeremiah made an impact on, not only my life, but my, now, soon to be husbands. This was the first time Jacques became a witness to God’s messages in my life that I had been speaking of. He stood by as I read the following study of the above passage from my NLT Life Application Study Bible:

Often people struggle with new challenges because they lack self-confidence, feeling that they have have inadequate ability, training, or experience. Jeremiah thought he was “too young” and inexperienced to be God’s prophet to the nations. But God promised to be with him. We should not allow feelings of inadequacy to keep us from obeying God. He will always be with us. If God gives you a job to do, he will provide all you need to do it. 

Two weeks later I delivered my very first seminar without the help of a mentor and I will forever be grateful that God taught me that human hands cannot shape what God creates.

Humility says, “I will rise above my insecurity, use what I’ve got to the best of my ability, without the expectation of reward and recognition.”

The lesson I learned above potentially changed the course of my life. I believe there are many ways to go about pursuing the things we love. However, when it comes to pursuing God’s calling on our lives there is only one way. When I was working on my speaking, I found myself coming from a place IMG_8914of ego. The crazy thing about that is, I am not a person of ego. I am anything but! I am ashamed to admit, though, that I am a person who can be sensitive to my surroundings. If I keep company with people who dispay a certain type of behavior, unfortunately, I feed off of it. I used to think this made me a weak person. There are so many passages in the Bible, however, that reminds me that I am, by default, vulnerable to this, as we all are. So, this does not make me weak, it makes me human. 

Looking back, I feel a sense of clarity, for I believe that God was leading me to the only place that could help me answer His call. He gave me a real life example of what an ego driven purpose looked like verses a faith based. You see, God put this calling on my heart a long time ago. He, obviously, knew that I needed a lesson in humility before releasing me to the hands of His church to fulfill His purpose for my life.

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I have slowed down tremendously since all of this has unraveled. I have seen the beauty in waiting on God’s timing, not my own. I will put my trust in Him and Him alone. I am currently working through our church’s Growth Track and will soon be baptized with the love of my life standing right beside me. I know what God is asking of me in terms of ministry, so I have to trust that He will deliver a responsible, Godly mentor to guide me to through that journey.

Are you, or someone you know, struggling with ego while pursuing your faith based purpose? Turn to the one who created you for guidance. He is the way and the truth in all things, especially insecurity and humility.

Sweet child, be free.

Love, D

Grace In a Glass Case

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Traveling seems to have become a part of my therapy. Every time I go somewhere new, I learn something about myself that I would have never known otherwise. A little over a month ago, I had the pleasure of exploring parts of Costa Rica. I never traveled outside of the United States, so I was excited and nervous for my first time. There is so much to say about this place, but one thing is certain.. I will visit Costa Rica over and over again until I have seen every corner. I keep repeating myself by saying, “When I went to the mountains, I reconnected with myself. Well, when I went to Costa Rica, I reconnected with humanity.” The palm trees were beautiful and all, but the people are more precious than diamonds. If there is anything I could recommend when visiting, it would be to not sell yourself short by staying in a resort. Book through Airbnb and travel as the locals do. You will never get a true idea of the culture otherwise. Of all that was seen, there is one particular face that is etched in my memory that I cannot seem to forget. She was one of the caged puma’s at La Paz Waterfall. I wish I would have asked the employees her name, but I was too busy emptying my entire memory card on her beauty. So, for the sake of this post, I have given her my own, I will call her Grace.

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For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8

Grace was the most beautiful creature I have ever seen. Her coat was various shades of tan with hints of white markings on her face. When I first laid eyes on her, she was resting, observing her own territory as if she were in her natural habitat. Grace’s home was a glass enclosure with a decent amount of room to roam. She shared her space with another puma, which I’ve often wondered were any biological relation between the two. Both felines were equally beautiful, but it felt as if there was an untold story in the eyes of Grace. I may never know what the details of her story may be but I would recognize that look anywhere. For this reason, I could’ve stood there staring into them forever.

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 But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. Job 12:7-10

Last year, in treatment, my therapist asked me if I had ever read about “spirit animals.” As a christian, I had never really been guided in the ways of seeing animals as part of our spiritual journey. However, my great grandmother was full blooded Cherokee. So, I do believe that even though our family’s ancestors have moved on, and my faith is rooted in God and God alone, there are certain cultural aspects of who we are that are passed down through genetics. Even though I have not had someone directly teaching me about Native American traditions and beliefs, at times, I have felt a spiritual sensitivity to things that I believe stems from that bloodline.

Since my return, I have looked up the words puma, mountain lion, and cougar multiple times. I found myself disappointed with the information I’ve come across. Nothing fulfilled my hunger for knowing why I became so emotionally connected to an animal that I had never seen before. I mean, guys, I am embarrassed to admit that I have even cried about her to my therapist. There was a connection present between Grace and I, and I have been desperate to find out exactly what that was ever since. What I am certain of  is that I am God’s creation. Just as I believe we are all connected, I feel the same about animals, as well. He crafted every living thing with His own hands, therefore, I don’t feel it far fetched that we could experience an emotional closeness to each other.

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He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Psalm 147:3

I can’t explain what I saw in Grace that day. All I know is that when looked into her eyes, I was paralyzed by a heaviness in my chest from a vision that felt all too familiar. You see, I was a very young, innocent child who was a role model to many in my community when I became pregnant at the age of 17. I was placed on the proverbial community stage to fight for a right that I was too young to understand. My humility and shame was used as a platform to save face for the adults in my life who were supposed to be there for support and protection. No one really cared that there was a scared little girl who needed a support system. Like Grace, I know what its like to be kept in a glass cage on display for the world to see, where my good and bad deeds decorate the walls of my prison. This should explain why I am so comfortable being vulnerable in the eyes of the public. I don’t know what it’s like to keep my life private, which, in a sense, is a blessing because this may have been God’s way of preparing me for my biggest purpose in life. Grace will never know what kind of impact she had on me that day, but my soul and hers will forever be connected. Though there is an effortless sense of peace happening in my life right now, I would recognize that look of despair on the face of such a beautiful creature anywhere.

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Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be discouraged, for the Lord God, my God is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished. 1chron 28:20

Recently, I researched the spiritual aspects of the Puma. I was delighted with what I finally found out about my sweet friend. Their characteristics are graceful. They practice stillness and quietness. These are two traits that I have struggled with, and two that God has instructed me to practice. They are patient and calculated in their endeavors. I have lived in survival mode my entire life; all I know is action. Through a ton of self evaluation, mistakes, and therapy, these are skills that I am determined to learn. I connected with Grace because I have so much to learn from her. Apart from what I could potentially learn, I came to understand a connection with Grace’s symbolic meaning of courage and power. Two words that have added purpose to my life. When I hear them I think how power of God, has given me the courage to stand on my own two feet and relentlessly fight for everything that I have got right now. Which, to some, may not look like a whole hell of a lot, but considering what I had a few years back, it’s everything. When I speak of what I’ve got, I am not speaking in material terms. You see, that’s what’s wrong with the world today. We work around the clock to fight for the things we will never be able to take with us when we depart from our life on earth. What I mean is that I fought for my faith in things unseen. I fought for my future husband and his faith. I fought for my children and the breaking of what I truly believe to be a generational curse on their futures. I fought for all of the young women who started out without a chance. I fought for my words, my voice. I fought for freedom from a spiritually damned life. I fought for my life. I stopped everything I was doing, picked myself up off the floor that I had found myself on for 20 years, I dusted myself off, I accepted God’s hand, and I found courage where there had been a life full of brokenness.

Have you had similar experiences with animals that have taken you on a higher spiritual level with God? If so, I would love to hear about them! Please feel free to comment, like and share!

Sweet child, be free.

Love, D

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First Comes Soul, Then Comes Mate

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The U.S. Census Bureau reports that in 2016, 45 percent of the adult population were unmarried. In the 50’s, singles were outnumbered by two to one. That’s a huge rise out in single land!

So many of us are actively searching endlessly for “the one.” We were not built to walk through life alone. However, with the excessive amount of options at our fingertips, single life is becoming more and more common. So my question to you is, what do you do in the meantime?

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I am no expert on this matter. However, at 37, I have lived as a single woman way longer than I have married. I have attempted to live the single life a multitude of ways.

I have found that when I am focused on personal development, I am so much more at peace with my status. I become more hopeful of my future and I become MUCH more confident in myself. This makes me so much more aware of what I want and less tolerant of behaviors I won’t accept in a significant other.

Waiting around for someone to come along BEFORE you focus on your INNER self is a toxic mindset. The law of nature ensures that what we put out, we receive. So, if I’m not putting the work in to becoming a better woman, I will attract a man who has not done the work to be a better man. Therefore, I will be more likely to end up with someone who brings more tears than smiles to my life! Toxic attracts toxic.

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There are so many other things we could be focused on in the meantime. Take my upcoming trip as an example. I’ve always wanted to travel. Without realizing it, I was waiting for a significant other to come along so that I could afford to do so. Knocking on my 40’s, I decided I couldn’t wait any longer! I want to be able to enjoy my trips! Just by stepping out on my own, I have learned there are a million different ways to travel as a single woman that won’t break the bank! The options are out there! I have recently invited a girlfriend to come along, but for the most part I planned a trip all by myself to explore my thoughts and get some quiet writing time in on the beautiful island of Costa Rica.

What are you waiting for??? Is there a trip you’d like to take? A skill you’d like to learn?? A movie you’d like to watch?? DO IT!! I urge you to take one small step and invest in yourself while you are waiting for the rest of your life to unfold. Make sure you have no regrets when the day comes that there is more than yourself to worry about!

Sweet Child be free.

Love,
D

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