Prayer rescued my son from death

“We need to begin to explore long-term care for Brett”, my husband told me one day. I resisted those words.  I was sure that things would change and he would be okay. Yet, day after day, he became more and more despondent.  He was rapidly progressing into a nearly vegetative state. We talked about what life would be like being full-time caregivers to an adult man who we clearly could not carry from room to room! I felt like we were giving up.

We had seen God heal Brett twice before and he thwarted two suicide attempts. We had prayed desperately and God had answered.  God had even shown me to pray during the time Brett had attempted suicide.  I was at work when I had icy chills go through me. I panicked and prayed that God would protect him.  I prayed a host of angels would come around Brett and that the enemy would be pushed back.  I desperately tried to call him and there was no answer.  During that very moment, he was first trying to steer his car into a semi truck.  With both hands gripping the steering wheel, the wheel locked and would not turn.  Then, days later he tried again.  This time he would use the exhaust of the car.  He looked everywhere for his keys. God had blinded him and they were laying on his night table and he was unable to see them.

Now, months later we were in a state where he was dying and I once again, sensed God wanted prayer to bring him to healing.  I called out to others to join us.  I did not know the journey Brett was going through.  I knew that there was a reality that we might lose him.  I sought God in desperation and he chose to be glorified through his healing.  There is no guarantee that God will heal.  There is no guarantee that further crisis won’t come our way.  But, there is a guarantee that God will not abandon us and as we call out to Him and seek the Holy Spirit, He will show us exactly how to pray so that He will be able to do the work that He wants to do in our lives.

Check out Brett’s story in an interview on 100 Huntley. As a parent, a loved one, never ever give up!  We were devastated when God said “not now” to Brett. Those were not the words we wanted to hear.  Yet, we could not doubt what God did in his life!  We are deeply grateful and forever praise Him for the answers to our desperate prayer.

Garbage happens

Face Adversity In life…stuff happens.
People betray you. They lie. They hurt you.
Perfect plans fall apart.

You know it wasn’t always that way. The pain is often a contrast from a better and happier time. You can’t help but reflect back to a day you thought you had the best life and thought you were untouchable by grief, anguish and pain.  Yet, here you are, immersed in feelings of betrayal or loss. What happened?  It may have been a word, a moment, or an unavoidable incident where things changed.  You have no choice but to face your new reality.

How is one to survive these moments?

There are choices.  Many of them are tough.  The most natural is to fight back, to resist, become angry and bitter.  The hardest is to walk through the pain and be an overcomer. These difficulties are only garbage in our lives if we waste them. They give us opportunities… huge opportunities that allow us to become stronger, deeper and to have an impact in other’s lives.

Recently, I was speaking to a very influential leader.  He told me that every leader he personally deeply respected just happened to have gone through a time of deep pain and betrayal.  It made me realize that each of those leaders had faced a choice. They could resist or rise above the circumstances they found themselves in.

It’s a myth that rising above difficulties is simple. It is hard, really hard. It means a continual renewal of the mind. As I’ve met some of my greatest difficulties, I’ve followed these principles.

1. Try to look at another’s perspective.  I’ve come to realize that the words and actions of another sometimes eclipse the motive of their heart. They may not have intended to hurt you, but in fact, their intent may have been to help you.

2. You may have limited information. In complex situations, there is often a lot that you do not know. For reasons unknown, you have not been given the full picture and it is easy to come to conclusions that are not correct.

3. Don’t immediately assume negative intent.  It’s very easy to assume negative intent with most things that are taking place. Sometimes people just do things without thinking about the implication and it may have nothing or very little to do with you.

4. Focus on moving forward. This is very difficult in the heart of pain and hurt. You may need help navigate through the current situation, but put your effort into moving on. It gives you strength and joy. When you have hope, it changes how you see and navigate through hurt.

5. Seek God’s direction and help. You are not alone. God wants to give you all you need to help you go through this time. Seek Him, ask Him how to pray and what steps to take. Ask Him to bring people in your life that can help you. Wisely ask for prayer for your circumstance. You need to do this in a way that you are respect confidentiality and your integrity.

6. Look for ways that this will make you stronger.  You don’t want to allow this difficulty to become garbage in your life. You want it to refine you and make you stronger.

Your situation may be unfair and people may have done wrong to you.  It hurts.  We live in a fallen world and things will happen that are just not right.  But with this comes an opportunity for God to work in your life.  I know when I’m going through a difficult time and someone tells me a similar story, they suddenly have my attention in a way that they didn’t earlier.  It means so much to know that they actually understand and that their insight comes from real pain of a similar story.

I have a story too. It is being written.  Garbage happens in my life, but I embrace the opportunity for it to help me become a better person that can  help others.

What is your story?

Long gone, my grandmother still makes a difference.

Susan Neufeld

What a gorgeous outfit!”  a co-worker exclaimed.

“It’s my grandmother’s,” I answered and then watched the look of shock on her face. How many 20 year olds wore their grandmother’s clothes?

I loved that response.  In my early adult years, my grandmother, Susan, had become one of my best friends. My evening visits would sometimes result in my staying overnight and she would lend me an outfit next day for work.  I loved wearing her clothes and had so much fun telling people that they were my grandmother’s.

My grandmother’s very presence had a way of commanding respect.  She was a very beautiful woman.  People would often stop to look at her. Then when people got to know her they couldn’t help but fall in love with a woman whose heart was even more beautiful than her appearance.

I had a unique relationship with her.  We communicated without reservation.  She would boldly expose areas in my life that she thought needed shaping. Then she would often laugh at how similar we were and say, “I want you to know what wish I had known then.” She had a deep heart for the Lord and many around her would share prayer requests with her, sensing that her “connection to God” would guarantee an effective answer.

Her passing caused me to reflect on the powerful way she continues to influence my life. She lovingly influenced me with the following attributes which I will always have with me.  These principles reflect in the way I seek to live each day:

  • Improvise when necessary
    I can’t remember a time when my grandmother could not do something because she didn’t have the resources.  She always found a way.  If she had no thread, she would find a pin.  If something was broken and there was no service available, she would fix it with the most unconventional methods and amazingly it always worked to her benefit.
  • Work hard and never give up
    My grandmother would spend the entire day helping to run the farm.  While she worked hard on the necessary tasks, she had an eye for beauty.  She spent spare moments working on the non-essentials like decorating her home and growing flowers that could have won awards.  She never gave up, regardless of how difficult the task seemed and then always managed to add her special touch.
  • Serve with grace
    If unexpected guests were to arrive in the midst of a large project, she adjusted and made an incredible meal.  Her gift of hospitality became her trademark.   She considered it a privilege to serve others.
  • Survive the setbacks
    As I grew older, I came to understand my grandmother had a very difficult and abusive upbringing.  I realized she was a survivor of an environment that could have emotionally paralyzed her. She later showed the tenacity to survive when my grandfather died. In all she did through her personal life and the ministries she became involved in, Her life exemplified that her first love was God.
  • Study the Bible
    On the eve of my grandmother’s funeral, I paged through her Bible.  I was overcome by the depth by which she read Scripture.  In many ways, it was as though I had picked up the Bible of a theologian.  There was hardly a page that didn’t have notations.  I learned so much by reading through her Bible.  I knew that is how she had lived her life. She sought the Lord deeply in all things.  Every day she spent much time in prayer.  She taught me that the Lord truly is the love of your life and will guide you in all things.

She was a role model and helped shape many of my values. My work is different from hers, but yet there are similarities as our heart’s desire is to follow the path that God laid out for each of us.  I embrace the calling God has placed on my life and deeply thank the woman who challenged me to let God shape and mold me beyond my greatest expectations.

Previously posted 

She’s beyond inspiring!

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She’s young.
She’s beautiful.

Her demeanour is carefree and easy-going with a subtle hint at the drive and passion that is shaping her into becoming strong top contender in the Canadian fashion market.  Jessilyn Poole is a fashion designer and the owner of Eve and Enoch.  She designs and creates both fabric and clothing.

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 8.45.27 AMEve and Enoch features style, comfort and elegance.  Affordable high fashion for every day. Jessilyn loves each piece and carefully considers the women and men who will wear them. She features men’s t-shirts made of organic fabric and a unique plaid shirt which my son wears proudly.   This week, I spent a few hours at the Eve & Enoch’s studio. Jessilyn’s passion for beauty is notable throughout her studio.  I felt like I walked into one of the best kept secrets in our region.  She showed me a sneak peek at the upcoming spring and fall line. Absolutely astonishing! Spring florals and winter furs hint at european style. This is high fashion for the everyday at a price you can afford.

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She cares about how you will feel in her clothing.  She wants you and to experience beauty when you wear it.  Eve & Enoch offers a unique blend of calculated detail and authentic, carefree expression.

Handmade. Heartfelt. High-fashion.

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 8.45.02 AMIt’s time to let the world know. Join me in sharing Eve & Enoch through Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook.  The best is yet to come.  This is fashion you can wear with pride.  And… to top it all off, she offers free shipping!

http://instagram.com/eveandenoch

https://www.facebook.com/eveandenoch
https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/EveAndEnoch

Embrace life!

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetDo you ever feel caged in?  Do you ever wonder why the life you dreamt about is not your reality?  I’ve discovered that I love living life to the max. I know when that is happening. I know when it is not.  But, I don’t always know how to change things to get it there.

Sometimes I settle. I go with what is already there. I know that if I’m honest with myself, I sometimes get bored.  So many of us are not living the life we had hoped. We end up doing different versions of the same thing over and over.  We have an inner desire to step out of the box we find ourselves in.

I’m different when I do what I love.  Life has more colour, more life and my days are fulfilled. To do this, I need to think differently.  I need to dream. I need to think about what I love and what I value.  Then, I need to make practical changes to move towards those things.

I might need to take a risk and step out of my comfort zone.  I need to connect with people I don’t normally talk to.  This whole new world is available to me, but I have to take action.   When I do this, I become energized by passion.  This makes what would normally be difficult, simple.

I’m ready to embrace all life has to offer, do what I love and have a significant impact.  What about you? Do you dare to dream? Your life will never be the same!  You can have fun… all day long. Be who you are meant to be!

I learned to pray in a way that God answers

IMG_7047I felt a warm feeling of anticipation of meeting a close friend for coffee.  It caught me off guard because I was about to sit down and have my quiet time with God.  I couldn’t help but wonder, “when did this happen?” “I’m not one of those people who loves their quiet time THAT much!” and then I realized, that, “yes, I do!” Things had changed. For the first time in my life, I have learned to really pray in such a way that I’m experiencing deep relationship with God and seeing results…even miracles… take place! Every single day, God has a special message for me that I’m eager to hear and often share with others.

Prayer has been a part of my life as long as I remember. Most often, they were quick “help me have a good day” or “help! I’m in crisis” type of prayers.  However, as my relationship with God deepened, so did my prayer life. The list got longer. I prayed for more people and more things. I read encouraging devotionals and experienced God’s strength and comfort.  But, then more recently things changed for me.  It happened on January 9, 2014.  I wasn’t even aware that a change was happening.

God’s promise

It was a cold winter day and I was nearly done my run. Suddenly, an almost audible voice said “stop”.  I was standing by a tree adorned with a dried smattering of frozen berries. Then I heard, “Prayer of Jabez”.  I was quite puzzled. I didn’t even remember how that verse went.  I took my phone out of my pocket and looked up the verse.  “Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.” 1 Chronicles 4:10.  I was just about to resume running, when I sensed, what I later knew to be God, saying, “I have four promises for you”. He then clearly gave me four key promises. After awhile, I ran back home.  This experience continued to impact me, so the next day, I wrote these promises in my prayer journal.  Little did I know what was to happen.  Each of these areas was tested by fire.  Each promise seemed to face a place of near-death, including the life of my son (he was later miraculously healed). As I learned to pray intensely through each of those areas, I saw God do the miracle that He promised me.  The promises are not completely fulfilled yet.  There is more to be seen, but God has assured me over and over that He will do exactly what He promised and that I need to stay the course.  At times, I actually deleted the promise and edited it thinking I might have written it incorrectly, but then God so clearly reminded me to go back and leave the words as He gave them and continue to pray.

You may ask, “how can you say God is answering when those promises are not yet complete?”  Well, I learned that God will give me an area to pray for, but then it is as I ask the Holy Spirit to show me specifically what to pray that He answers those specific prayers and they are all part of the layers and steps towards the ultimate promise and answer to prayer that I’m seeking.   If you recall, Moses encountered many obstacles and miracles in his journey towards the promise land. He sought after God, obeyed God, and experienced miracles.  This is what I’ve begun to do over the past year. I have never seen so many answers to prayer! I’ve gone through incredibly difficult times and through it, God has never abandoned me, but continues to meet my family and I as we prevail in prayer and seek Him.

Ways that you can experience God’s power in prayer

1. Prepare your heart. Spend time in the Word, read powerful devotionals to stretch your learning, ask the Holy Spirit to show you anything you need to prepare your heart to be right before him.  Ask Him to help you forgive those who offend and hurt you. Bitterness and unforgiveness hinder your prayers.  “Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours, and when you stand praying if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”  Mark 11:24

2. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what to pray for.  It’s this point that has completely changed how I pray.  I’ve tried to make sense as to why there are so many verses on prayer that are similar to “ask and it will be given to you” Luke 11:9.  I couldn’t figure out why God promises to answer our prayers and then there is so much silence.  I spent a fair bit of time reading John 15 and thought there might be a key in this. “If you remain in my and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you.” John 15:7   I decided I would try this. I would start asking the Holy Spirit to show me what to pray for.  That meant, I would have to be still and quiet enough to hear God.  As I did this, I started to get a sense of what to pray.  If I was praying for healing, God might show me to pray for that person to find a new doctor.  So, I began to pray for steps and layers in the context of the larger prayer request.  It was incredible to start to see those requests become answered.  I asked the Holy Spirit more and prayed more. I saw more things happen!

3. Apply Scripture and God’s promises to your request.   As I began to pray for the things the Holy Spirit was laying on my heart, I received Scripture and words that aligned with those prayers. God gave me promises that assured me I was on the right track. I wrote these verses down. They gave great assurance that God is in control even when the results take longer.

 4. Be vulnerable and ask others to join you in prayer.  I’ve been brave to ask people to pray for big things, like when my son was sick, but it is harder to be vulnerable and ask someone to pray for emotional healing and for promises that God gives.  But, I decided to try it.  I listened to their feedback. It shocked me how often it aligned exactly with the promises God was giving me.  One day, someone approached me and asked me about a situation and told me what God was telling them.  I had never told this person the story and yet, God had.  What an assurance of His promise.  “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” – Matthew 18:20

5. Keep a prayer journal.  As I wrote down the requests, together with the promises and verses, then wrote the answers beside them, my faith began to grow! Wow, God wants to do great things.  He cares about the small things – as to guiding me when to talk to someone and giving me words to say.  Then, He does great things through my obedience in the steps towards the miracle.

6. Celebrate and praise.  God wants to be glorified for what He is doing. I celebrate His silence, I thank Him for His timeline – even when I do NOT understand it.  I like to do things fast – God has His own way.  He wants me to cling to Him, to walk with Him, to be eager to spend time with Him while He shows me every single step in the journey.   “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6

I see God at work every day. I’ve been astounded at the words He has given me.  I marvel at the miracles. Sometimes I think that this will be the day He won’t have anything to say, and then I ask Him to speak and He has the perfect words to guide me through that day.  Yes, it is hard; yes, I get impatient; yes, I wonder if He will ever fully fulfill His promise … but then, He meets me in a deep and meaningful way once again!  God is faithful.

Take a look for yourself!  I’ve simply shared my experience with you.  As I’ve been telling others this new way that I’ve seen God answer prayer, they’ve tried it and are amazed at what God is doing, so I thought I would share it with you.  There is no journey the same, but what I do know is God wants to talk with us as we walk with Him.  Here are some fabulous verses on prayer that you may want to check out.  Enjoy!

Luke 11:9; John 14:13-14; John 16:24; John 15:7; Mark 11:24; Matthew 7:7; Matthew 18:18-20; Matthew 21:22; Mark 9:29; Ephesians 6:18; Philippians 4:6-7; James 5:14-16; John 11:40; John 11:22; John 16:13; Colossians 4:2

 

Do more than just survive

DeepWaterI find stories of survival to be deeply gripping, compelling and inspiring. I observe them with a sense of awe and wonder. It’s hard to understand how some people can survive unspeakable horror and pain. Recently, my husband and I watched the movie, Unbroken. What a story of endurance. It’s impossible for us to grasp what it was that enabled Olympian Louis Zamperini to get up each morning and keep going?  He endured a near-fatal plane crash, spent 47 days lost at sea only to be captured by the Japanese and be tortured at a prisoner-of-war camp.

As we left the theatre, we felt somber. Somehow our troubles paled in comparison. However, as I thought about the movie and the things that were of concern to me, I realized it is really a matter of perspective.  Do I need to experience horror, trauma and torture in order to say that I’m going through a hard time?  I don’t think so. Difficulties differ from one another. The human soul should never experience unspeakable evils such as Zamperini and others endure, yet, those situations are real and devastatingly going on even today.

Pain is real 

Your and my pain may not be horrific, but it is still very real and it hurts! We face illness, death of loved ones, relational conflict, disillusionment, and betrayals. These are often matters of the heart or financial stresses. They bring with them their own measure of a sense of hopelessness and defeat.  Every morning, we are faced with the opportunity to allow our difficulties to consume and devastate us.  Endurance can get old. There is a heaviness that accompanies the simple act of trying to make it through a day. We have the opportunity to rise above the situation, to allow it to make us better and stronger. We cling to God and allow Him to shape us.  He is more than willing to be our strength and comfort.

 When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. …you are honored, and I love you. Do not be afraid, for I am with you.  Isaiah 43:2,4

Don’t go through it alone

Jesus has surrounded us with community. There are people who will walk with you and I through our difficulties. This may require us being vulnerable. We may need to ask others to pray with us and for us through a difficult time. God cares about you and your hurt. He wants to carry you through it. There are incredible scriptures to lift your hopes and fears. You may be hurting so much that it is difficult to read.  The Psalms offer much comfort. As you read, God wants to make Himself real to  you.  Take the time to be with Him. If your pain is so overwhelming that you find that difficult to do, share this with a close friend who can pray for you through the darkest moments. The Holy Spirit will intercede for you when your pain is such that you cannot pray.  God knows. He loves you deeply and will help you through this time that He has allowed you to walk through.

Equipped to endure 

In your darkest hours, when you cannot change your circumstances, you have the ability to change you perspective by looking up to Jesus. He will give you what you need to walk through pain. As you seek Him, He will meet you.  He will fulfill His promise, but you need to hang in there. You will become stronger. You will be refined.  Then, out of that refining, He will use you to help others.  Your story of survival will ultimately be one that gives hope and inspiration to another.
You have all you need.
You can endure.
You have Jesus.

 

 

Lies grown ups (shouldn’t) tell

Kayli“Is something wrong”? It was a simple question but left me with a choice. I could lie or tell the truth.

I was afraid of hurting or even losing a friendship if I answered that question with the truth. The easiest thing I could do was respond and say, “no, everything is fine”. I knew that if I did not address the issue, I would begin to withdraw from that relationship.

I felt betrayed and my trust had been greatly shattered. I knew that unless I would take a risk toward resolution, or friendship would be forever altered.

I decided to face the fear and address the issue. My friend became angry, but not at me, but at the fact that she had been misrepresented by a peer. The situation was entirely different than had been portrayed to me. She apologized and our relationship was deepened.

I’ve had experiences where I decided it was just too difficult to tell the truth and to address an issue. I never consider that I would be actually telling a lie when I avoid conflict and indicate that everything is fine. It’s frustrated me that it is so difficult to say, “no, things are not fine, but I’m not comfortable to discuss it right now”.

Telling the truth to your friends and colleagues

I am faced with opportunities every day to address issues with the truth or to make the choice to provide glib responses that really are lies. A quick and glib response has the potential to “seal your fate” with your colleagues.

When asked your opinion, a quick “that looks great” can make it very awkward for you to give corrective points later. You may end up with a project that you really wish you had taken the time to be honest about. I’ve learned to say “I’m not able to give that the time it needs now. I will get back to you.” This gives me time to come up with a response that I’m comfortable giving.

There are times that you may have some concerns about a friend or colleague. Our silence can communicate approval. It’s not really a lie, but then we are not really communicating the truth either.

When we don’t address issues, we are not really helping the people around us. As a parent, there are countless times that my silence has indicated that I’m ok with my teen’s choices. I find it much easier to correct my teen than I do a colleague. It’s made me wonder why it is so much harder when I communicate with friends and colleagues than my children.

As we desire to speak the truth to others, we need to realize that there are times we have a clouded perception that alters our ability to discern the truth from lies. We may have limited information and with that information, we form a perspective. This opens the door to a very clouded perception to which we can be very reactive. Take time to investigate the facts. There may be a lot more to the situation.

Why the truth is impossible to speak at times

Most adults will say that we are committed to truth. We believe that the “truth will set you free”. Why is it that we go to such great lengths to avoid the truth? Below are a few reasons I’ve come across.

  1. The cost is too high. When we speak absolute truth, we fear rejection, persecution and even monetary cost. It’s easier to dilute our words and not risk as much.
  2. We are afraid. Fear can paralyze us in so many ways. We may not even fully understand the reason for our fear but it is easier to play it safe.
  3. Its not culturally accepted to speak the truth. People really do want to hear that you are fine and that all is well. We are a hurried culture and usually don’t have the time to listen to the true matters of the heart. Knowing that the truth is not accepted teaches us to speak in a way that we feel others will accept.
  4. We don’t know how to speak truthfully about difficult things in a diplomatic way. We’ve never been taught to address issues with a gentle truth. We often feel we need to be brutally honest and that can have harsh results.

A polished delivery

Jesus desires for me to speak the truth in love and He desires to equip me with all I need to speak the truth and deliver it gently. 

It sounds so simple, but it really isn’t.

Many years ago, I had a friend come to me and ask, “can I tell you some things that bother me about you?” Being a glutton for punishment, I said “yes”. The next two hours I listened in horror as every characteristic about me was torn to sheds. It took a long while for me come to grips with the fact that this person had a very altered perception of what she referred to as her “gift of exhortation”. She contacted me several years later and apologized profusely for a very distorted perception and told me that she had been going through a lot of hurt and used that meeting as an opportunity to lash out.

When you are faced with the opportunity to tell the truth to others, you should ask the question, “is this helpful or harmful”? It always takes more time to prepare for a gentle delivery than a frontal attack.

The gentle delivery is practical. It gives next steps. It is affirming in its approach. A conversation which says, “when you ____, I feel ____” does not attack. A helpful comment can start with affirmation. “You have a great way of connecting with people. I was thinking of ways that you could even help others more. “

Think carefully about how your words are beneficial to others.

Free from lies

When we learn to live by the truth, it has the amazing ability to set us free. The fear of rejection will dissipate when you begin to see the rewards of telling the truth and deliver it softly. We need to become aware that we are often not speaking the truth, then we can learn to speak it with the love that God intended.

Previously posted on Power to Change

What’s next?

IMG_8283Plans.
Milestones.
Accomplishments.

Those are things I love. I don’t like to admit it, but accomplishents can make me feel significant. I love doing things that matter and have impact.  Our culture rewards effort. We train children to become achievers and then wonder why they become driven adults.  We are so driven, that we often neglect to celebrate. We just move on to the next thing.

I love life. I embrace it with all I’m worth. I love people and activity.  I see quiet as a necessity to fuel me so I can keep going and I need for it to be short-lived.

When quiet and stillness is not my choice, it takes effort to see it as something good.  It can make me feel lost and sometimes like I don’t know who I am and what I’m supposed to do. I’ve discovered that imposed stillness is an opportunity for me to be frustrated or it becomes a place where I can learn to “be”.

I have experienced unwelcome quiet. Initially, it made me want to scream. I wanted out. I wanted noise and busyness.  Then I realized that the quiet was not actually silence.  As my listening became fine-tuned, I could hear God speak like I’ve never heard Him before. He showed me things, He gave me insights I’ve never experienced before. I found inner rest at a time I was desperate for activity. I discovered that being alone is not being in isolation.  I found myself in the ultimate presence of someone who cares more deeply than I could ever imagine. His love transcended to the depths of my soul.  I discovered a meaning within myself that I didn’t know existed.  I learned that Jesus is the lover of my soul. That He is my all-in-all and that He truly is my everything.

Significance redefined. 

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared for us in advance to do.” Ephesians 2:10   As I rest in God, He shows me exactly what He has prepared for me. Yes, I can keep “doing” things. I don’t need to sit and meditate everyday.  That isn’t how He made me. I’m not one who loves to sit and be still for long periods of time.  However, I no longer see my time with Jesus as being still.  It’s an exciting place of interaction, conversation and teaching.  As I spend time with Him, I can truly be all that He created me to be and to do. It’s better than I could ever have imagined! My significance is not in what I do, but in knowing that it is He, the great I AM, who loves me so much that He has carefully crafted a plan for me – even when I cannot see it.

The future is not unknown.  

So, what IS next? I don’t really know. I can relax in Him because He already knows. I know that He has already prepared the good works He wants me to do so that I can make a difference for Him.  It’s all about Him.  For Him, I live and breathe.

I wait.
I anticipate.
I receive His plan.

 

The soul remembers

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I clearly remember warm summer days long ago when I would lie on the grass.

The sky was a canvas where I painted and planned my life. I owned mansions and elephants and dinosaurs—anything my heart imagined.

Everything was good. I didn’t think things would ever go wrong, but they did.

Devastating relationships.
Shame. Stolen innocence.
Grief. Death.
Haunting memories I don’t want to talk about.

Is there a way back to the joy of innocence? Yes, but we must first walk the fields of the past. Only then can we lie carefree in the grass again.

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol portrays a tormenting reflection on memories. As Scrooge desperately tries to push away every memory presented to him, he goes through a process he cannot stop. He relives things that he did and that others did, which haunt him. He struggles to push those memories away. They will not disappear. He has only one choice. He must face them and then decide what he wants to do with his future. He ultimately makes the right decision—to become kind and generous. But he realizes that in order to do this, he needs to make right many wrongs.

Embrace your memories

This is only a story, but it reflects reality. Memories affect us, even when we try to ignore them. There are many things we love to remember, but there are also those that haunt us, things we don’t want to talk about, that we think are best left forgotten. I’ve discovered that when one walks through deep waters, memories intensify. Flashbacks take place. Everything becomes more vivid. The past shouts to be heard.

We face a choice. We can continue to shut out the past or we can embrace the process of remembering. Then we can smile as we reflect on times of love and laughter and cherish the beauty in those memories. But there will also be painful places we need to visit where we can come to an understanding and bring closure within ourselves. As we do that, the memories will no longer have a hold on us.

It is necessary to reflect and reorient the memory with the present. There may need to be some conversations with a friend, professional or even those who were part of the story. This can help us come to a place of understanding and forgiveness. Yes, life has moved on, but the past has a tremendous impact on our present and future. As we are alerted to these memories, we need to give ourselves permission to identify and feel the emotions. When we are brave enough to feel, we find the path to move on."If these walls could talk"

Do battle with the pain

These memories are part of who we have become, both the happy and the painful ones. If we face them with an open heart, we become more tender towards ourselves and others. These difficulties help prepare us for who we are meant to be. We have to do battle with whatever broke our hearts and let God transform us.

Recently, I was reflecting on the impact of these long-ago memories with a friend. He told me, “the soul always remembers.” Those words struck me deeply. I realized that I couldn’t run away from the past. Memories are a gift—they are the timeless treasures of our heart. Sometimes, they are all we have of people and places that we loved. However, when the memories are painful, we have the opportunity to experience God’s grace and redemption as we deal with the pain and forgive those who have hurt us.

God wants us to experience His freedom. He promises, “the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) We are freed from the burden of our past when we come to terms with each memory, give the pain to God and reflect on how that memory impacts our current reality. Then healing and freedom take place.

Celebrate the healing

As you encounter things that trigger flashbacks, pay attention. Do you have something you need to resolve? What can that memory teach you that enables you to paint an even greater picture on the canvas of your life?

Embrace each memory.
Resolve the pain.
Celebrate the learning.

Lie down in the grass again!