Our Sweet Jenna

As I drove out of the hospital parking lot, I saw the most beautiful sunset.  It was as if to say, “the darkness cannot drown out this light.”  And Oh, it has not.   I have always known Jenna was set apart. She was kinder, softer, more joyful.  She loved Jesus with a passion and persistence that seemed untamable.   It seemed wild.  I mean, this past summer she chose to go to Young Life camp as a leader with her girls in the midst of Chemo and cancer for the fourth round to give one more word, one more push towards Jesus. Her life screamed of her lavished love towards her heavenly father.  The world could look on her story of Cancer since high school and think, “how are you the way you are?”  To look at her joy made you look inward and ask yourself, “what does Jenna understand, that I do not?”  Oh God, if I could be half the woman that Jenna was, I would be honored.

But as I left the hospital for the last time, it clicked. Jenna has always understood Jesus in a way that most of us never have.  She understood heaven. She understood that we live in the “valley of the shadow of death.” She understood and lived out the truth that our God is our husband with an unfailing love that will never leave us or forsake us.  It will not diminish with age, it does not run out, it does not perish.   As the apostle, Paul says, “to live is Christ, to die is gain.”  I am now understanding that this was our Jenna’s mindset. And what that produced was one of the most loving, intentional women I have ever met.  I had the privilege of shepherding her high school girls that she led to Christ when they came to college. Year after year, I have called Jenna for counsel when I felt like my sin, my junk was screwing them up or when I had no idea what I was doing or how to speak correct truth into their lives.  She was a soft and firm place to land.  Her words were soaked in wisdom and her understanding was more gracious than my hardened heart could ever comprehend.  

As I sit here and write out these words and think of the hundreds of memories, I am overwhelmed at the realization that Jenna was the closest earthly image of Jesus that I have ever seen.  Rightly so, she walked close to him faithfully.  We sat in the waiting room of the hospital and listened to stories of jenna and we heard her father tell us of the first time she got on the bus to go to YL camp in the midst of her first round of cancer.    I kept thinking in my head, God used the darkest place in her life to bring her to Him.  What Satan intended for evil, God made good. Oh and He made so much good out of Jenna Henderson’s life. There was not enough shadows or darkness to hide the light that came forth on that day. If she were here now, she would tell me to tell you that Jesus is absolutely it.  From beginning to end, Jenna’s life was so very important.  Important, because it reminds us that this life is hard and no one is exempt from death.  Important, because her life reminds us that this place is not our home.  Important, because her life reminds us that there is something Greater for us.  “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”  Death does not have the victory here. Why? Because Jenna is healed and whole and feasting with our faithful, unfailing Father.   And someday, I will sit at the table with her again.  Jenna spent her whole life telling others about the only one who gives her Life. “His love is better than life” she would say.  And I am here to tell you that was what she echoed even into her last days.   Especially in her last days.

Now I realize, I may never be as sweet as Jenna. That is pretty freaking hard to compete with. But man, will I echo her joy and love for Her savior until my final days as well. And so goes the list of every person who encountered Jenna, who by default, had a taste of our sweet Jesus.   Job well done, Jenna. We promise to pick up our slack in your honor. Heavenward, I say.

Cara Dee Photography


To be Redeemed: in the words of Sia

The best way to describe myself, pre-redemption is in the words of Sia: "a clipped wing, broken thing."

Growing up, I heard my fair share of lies.  I had my fair share of wrongs against me and Lord knows, I shared wrongs with others.   One thing I know, is we live in a sin-laced world.  We sin against others and others sin against us.  All of us handle it.  One way, or another, we handle it: good or bad, inwardly or outwardly, loudly or silently. Sometimes it feels as though Satan is hell bent on cutting our wings, taking out our air supply, holding us down until we truly believe that we can no longer get up.

It reminds me of Mark 2, when Jesus heals the paralytic.  The paralytic's friends literally fought for his life by lowering him through the roof of a packed house just to get to Jesus.  They knew He would  heal the paralyzed man.  And what do you know? Jesus did.  Jesus told him to get up and walk.

Satan tells us to sit back down.

I wonder if that man questioned whether or not to really try and get up?  Was he scared of feeling like an idiot?  Scared of failing? Scared of nothing happening?  In my life, I have had many things that have knocked me down.  Knocked me out, to be honest. The thought of bouncing back seemed a little too steep. So I sat. For 26 years, I sat.

My past is laced with feelings of rejection, unworthiness, not being good enough, lovable enough. Satan sure had a field day with trying to choke me out. I spent a good portion of my life closing my heart to anyone and anything. I had to learn how to survive the hurt.
 A feeling, we are all far too aware of.

According to my survival plan, I maintained a steady dose of being "one ahead."

 I bucked the system of authority, because the authority in my life had broken my trust.

  I dove into friendships, trying to be the best friend I could possibly be.  This resulted in the destruction for all friends involved when my expectations were not met.  Loyalty was my card, but when my unhealthy expectations were not met, my heart grew harder and harder and the anger inside grew bigger and bigger. Once I felt as if I was wronged , my "go-to" survival mode was to cut that person out of my life. "One ahead."  You couldn't hurt me anymore if you were not in my life.

 I dove head first into the approval, love, and acceptance in guys. I needed to feel acceptance. I needed to feel like I was wanted or good enough. I needed to feel worth.   So I searched for it. In all of the most painful places.  If there was a "nail in the coffin" to feelings of "worth,  it would be after I was raped.   I no longer viewed my body or who I was as "worth" anything.  Therefore my survival mode of " One ahead" turned on me very drastically.   Instead of the nail and hammer being in the hands of Satan, I straight grabbed them myself and began to swiftly and firmly nail myself shut.
Specifically from this time, what was left was not just a broken life, but added feelings of shame.

Shame. The thing that lingers long after the offense.  That's the clincher.  The feeling that will almost always be the one that keeps us from getting up off our "mat" (mark 2).

My survival manual left me in such a deep pit of shame and embarrassment  that the thought of recovering from it all was far too impossible.  The lies had become truth for me.  The truth had become a faint memory.  I was unredeemable.

When I began to follow Jesus, I looked straight ahead, trying to forget everything behind me. I had this glimpse of light; I sure as heck wasn't going to turn around the other way.  I found hope in this unfailing love of our God, but unfortunately, I did not apply his unfailing, unconditional love to my WHOLE life.  So I crawled.  I could crawl, but surely I could not get up and walk fully.
 I needed to earn that, surely that was not just given to me.  My past was too scarred. Whether it was my doing or someone else's doing. I was dead to it.

And Satan continued to hold me down in various lies.  And he could do it, too.
Because I never spoke up about them. I kept them secret; hidden in the dark.
Remember who you were? You are stupid. you were ridiculous. you should be embarrassed.
You were pathetic. You should be ashamed. I bet people look at you and remember what a slut you were. You were weak, you are weak. 

You know what I love about Jesus?  He gets angry. (John 2)
And Jesus had had enough with the spiritual mauling Satan was doing in my heart.  That "scream" inside me that thirsted for freedom and release from these chains I had tied myself down with was drawn out by the Giver of life.  He was inducing feelings in my life that had been numbed for years and firmly yelling at me to "SCREAM LOUDER!"   He stepped in like the Savior He is and picked me up and breathed life back into my weary body. (Galatians 5:1)
The spirit raging war with the father of lies and WINNING. (psalm 31:5)

And right there, is where I felt it.  That redemption. The Lord was redeeming the dead things inside of me.  He was destroying my survival manual and rebuilding it back on His words and His truth.  The truth that I am forgiven, that I am saved by Grace and faith alone. The truth that I am his beloved. (Isaiah 54:5-6)
I am a daughter of the KING. I am cherished, spotless. I was a broken thing who was crushed and wounded deeply.  I feel that and I know that.  But every day I'm reminded that I was NOT LEFT THERE. I am not who I was. That's the thing about God's redeeming love.  He will not stop at anything to rescue and renew every ounce of who we are.  He knows who we are, what we have done and he died for that. The cross stitched our "wing" back together. The Lord doesn't settle with us sitting on mats, or even walking around. His goal is for us to FLY.  His goal is for our scream: Unfailing love is His outcome and healing is His avenue of doing so.
It turns out healing, induces the scream.
It induces the roar inside of us.  The fight for our life. The fight for our worth. (Isaiah 61:3)

It's easy to believe the lie, that ignoring our past, shame and hurt is easier than dealing with or thinking about them.  Who in their right mind believes that stirring these things up will bring serenity in our soul?

Jesus does. That's what it means to be redeemed. Restoring our damaged hearts and bringing us back to who the Lord has always known is there. So, the age old question of "who am i?"  Who you are is found when you let the creator of life redeem and renew every. single. broken. ounce of you.
(Isaiah 61:4)

What happens when we do that? Our voice comes back. The roar is loud and Satan's lies are rendered useless.    You tell him to get the HELL away when he threatens the shame, the guilt, the helplessness.  And our Great Defender steps in and chokes him out.


You are not who you were. You are being redeemed. You are who the Lord made you to be. And the best part about that? Your past does not define that.  Jesus has used your redeemed past/present/future in the most epic adventure.
You are free, my love. Fly big.


His gospel is Peace

My all time favorite Christmas carol, will forever be "O Holy night."  From the words, to the level of anticipation through the rhythm.   It's as if the climax of the song, reaches our heart's cry for the one who gave us life.  A light shining in the darkness, truly there is no better imagery. 

This past semester, my college girls and I have gone through a Galatians study by Tim Keller.  And if I could be honest with you, I would tell you that it has rocked my world.  Literally rocking every tiny crevice of my heart and thoughts that I have assumed and come to believe for over a decade. And truth be told, are never in scripture. 

When i ran across this verse in my favorite carol, it stopped me. 

Thirsty Hearts Design

"His gospel is peace."

 My first thought was how much anxiety I feel on a day to day basis. Truly the opposite of peace would have to be anxiety. And this is something I have toiled with my whole life. I am doer. A goer. I say no rarely and I go a million miles a second until I have collapsed and am swimming in a pool of "yes's" that I have no doubt failed on.  And then the guilt comes.   

It is a vicious cycle, and maybe i'm the only one who can relate. But maybe i'm not. 
I have loved Jesus now for 13 years. He is my everything. So why, when I read these words of "his gospel is peace" do I not feel it or allow myself to rest in that? 

Truly if that is His gospel, maybe I have been following a different gospel. Or maybe i've added onto the gospel I have always known, but maybe never believed. Because MAYBE, I have fallen into this idea, that Jesus is not enough. Sure, we can look at non- jesus followers and it is easy to say, "Sure, they are looking for whole-ness everywhere else because they do not think Jesus is enough."

But what about for the Jesus followers? For the ones who truly love their Father and have given their whole life over to him?  The ones who believe, "YES, JESUS."  But maybe also Jesus + a bible study and a mission field and daily quiet time and a prayer journal and a small group and a women's group and a bible study to lead and a one piece and no drinking, plus dress modestly, but not too modestly because then you will be weird, because  the new Jesus followers are hipsters and wear skinny jeans and lacy long tops to cover their rears. Plus a camera for you to take pictures of your bible and coffee to make sure everyone else knows you're about JESUS, and bless it, while we're at it, let's add some dark rimmed glasses + weekly worship sessions where you raise your hands and speak in tongues and speak prophetic words over your brothers and sisters because you cannot follow Jesus and not have a prophetic word + drinking, because it's not so bad and Jesus did it, so this must be good +  a subscription to every sermon series in which you must listen to once every week on top of the sermon you are already listening to and so on and so forth. 

I could go longer, but I'm guessing you are getting the point. So many things.  AND LISTEN PEOPLE, these are not bad things! I relate to most of these things. But when I read this list, I am STRESSED OUT.  Aren't you? And then I realize, no where in scripture does it say that these things are what died for me and saved me from my sin.  These things are not what fill my life or make me whole.  These things are not what Jesus REQUIRES for us to be saved by His Grace. 

Whether you have been following jesus for 13 decades, 13 years, or 13 days, His Gospel is the same. Therefore, none of the above things are what save you.  None of the above things are what Jesus dangles over your head to do in order to be a christian.  Because in order to be a christian, the only way, truth and life is through Jesus.  Just Jesus. Not Jesus + works.  And that is so far better than anything else we add or try to convince ourselves is needed to be in good with the Lord.

You see, I'm just like the Galatians.  In chapter 1, Paul is stressing to them about what the real gospel is. Because some of the believers were throwing the new believers into confusion by telling them all of the non-written "rules" they needed to abide by in order to truly be a follower of Jesus. All of the "works" they needed to do in order to be in with our Savior. 

I had been in a high school outreach ministry for over a decade, and somewhere along the way, I believed the lie that following Jesus was more than just Jesus. I believed that it was Jesus + all of the things I could do for him.  It did not start out this way, but somewhere along the lines, it turned into that, i'm afraid.  I realized it by the torment I felt when people weren't coming to our weekly meetings, or when I couldn't show up to every single event at the high school, or when I felt like I was being selfish by staying home and spending time with the Lord, rather than going out and sharing his name with others.  Guilt, stress, my own personality were my driving factors. And I related how well I did in these areas, to be how well my Jesus looked at me.  

I had no idea what exactly I was doing to myself, and the distortion I had made of the Gospel that is suppose to free me. Tim keller said it best by breaking down chapter 1 v. 6- 9

1. You are deserting the one who called you (v.6)
Paul's argument is that to abandon gospel theology is to abandon Christ personally.  What you do in theology eventually affects your experience.  In other words, a difference  in your understanding of doctrine leads to a difference in your understanding of who Jesus is. 

2. A different gospel is no gospel at all (v.6-7)
This means that the gospel message, by its very nature, cannot be changed even slightly without being lost. It's like a vacuum.  You can't allow in some air and say that that it is now a 90 percent vacuum or an "air enriched vacuum."  It is either a complete vacuum or no vacuum at all. In the same way, the message of the gospel is that you are saved by grace through Christ's work and nothing else at all.  As soon as you add anything to it, you have lost it entirely.

3. A different gospel bring condemnation (v8-9)
Later in the book he says that different gospels bring a "curse" with them.  This means, ultimately, that to alter the gospel is to play with eternal life and death.  But it also means very practically that fear, anxiety and guilt (the sense of condemnation and curse) will always be attached to different gospels even in this life. As we will see later in the book, even Christians sometimes experience a sense of condemnation.  When they do, it is because they are functionally trusting in different gospels, different ways to earn salvation.  The Present age can still influence believers. 

When I read these words, it hit me. How much have I added to the grace of Christ?  How much have I tried to earn my own salvation? As if it wasn't enough that Jesus died for me, there needed to be something I could do to earn it. And I taught that. Indirectly, of course. But that's what my life screamed. That's what my gospel became.  And there I was:  dried up, worn, stressed out,  feeling defeated and bitter.  If people didn't live up to my understanding of the gospel, then they were not truly a christian. I cannot believe i'm typing this, but really this is what I thought deep down. How prideful? How sinful? How is that not SO far from what the gospel is?  We are saved by Christ alone, not by works so no one may boast.  

And what does this gospel say to the lost?  If it were me, I would want none of that.  I would have enough of that in my life already.

While I was reading this study in Galatians, my soul was becoming freer and freer. Like all the chains that I had been holding onto, Jesus was gracefully taking them off.  Not in condemnation like, "Angie,  it's about time, think of all the damage you have done."  But in his perfect, loving grace saying, "Haven't you had enough yet?  Rest, my love. Fix your eyes back on me, now lets go"

And here He is, rescuing me all over again.   All of that fear, anxiety, guilt were never from Jesus. He does not bring that. He brings PEACE, Calm, Freedom.  In all stages of my walk with Christ. 

I was reading Jen Hatmaker's book "For the love" and she said it so perfectly.  "If it isn't also true for the single mom in Haiti it isn't true for you."  

Moms, dads, friends, ministry leaders, speakers, college students, jesus followers, non jesus followers,

The gospel is this. That Christ loves you with a never stopping, never giving up, never failing love.  That He loved you so much that He died for you, taking your punishment for sin and taking it on himself.  So that the homesick & separation feeling you have in your heart would be whole again. So that we would no longer be separated from Him.  Our Savior. Our Rescuer from our state of sin. 

He is the giver of life. The freer of souls. The reason you are breathing and reading this right now. 
So friends, breath easy. All this toil you have been doing. It is not what the Lord ultimately requires of you. Rest in His peace.  That's the real gospel.  Feel his Light penetrate through the muddiness of every day life. 

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  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.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11: 28-30


No one will take her out of my hands

This past week I visited a place that I only thought existed in movies.  The water was crystal clear maintaining a turquoise color that i'm not sure i've ever seen in real life.  The salt water air hit my face from the balcony I was on and it was a quiet moment before the kids woke up. 

My whole body was craving time with the Lord.  It had been so long. I think moms with young kids, need to hear that not everyone does it right or well all the time.  Sometimes I can go a long time before I feel the ache in my body and the longing in my soul from lack of time spent with my heavenly father.  Lack of time reading his words and letting him speak softly over me.  I opened up right to Hosea. Because honestly, I felt like Gomer who had fallen back into running after other lovers.  I seem to find myself over and over again in this spot, unfortunately.  This is the time where words cannot express my deep gratefulness for grace that overwhelms me like the waves in the ocean.  If grace is an ocean, we're all sinking. And I truly felt it. Nothing like being on the beach around the grains of sands and the ocean to remind you of God's thoughts over you and grace over your life. I love how he uses nature and the seasons to remind us about pieces of Himself. 

I began reading and praying for a word and I immediately was stopped by one line.

I felt something that was only the holy spirit heavily weighing this sentence down on my heart.

" no one will take her out of my hands. "

That protection, that kind of safety, that kind of ultimate love. I was raptured and held and felt all the feelings you would when you watch a love story and it's the part of the movie where the guy says some stunningly scripted line that wins over the girl and leaves the rest of us women in the audience pining for more. Speaking of this, i've been reading the divergent series. I'm obsessed. seriously. But one thing I noticed was that I was particularly enthralled with Four and Tris. Something about how he loves her and pursues and protects and kills all the bad people, protecting her as she fights for her life. Externally and internally.   I could talk for days about this, but I will spare you unless of course you are fan of the divergent series, then lets get together and talk all day long about it .  And I realized something, I'm so captured by that relationship because i'm realizing right here in this moment that these feelings reflect how God loves and protects me. I imagine him fiercely, protectively standing over my body with all of my idols and sin around me and Him yelling "No one will take her out of my hands!!"   And just like that all of the things that threaten my life and my heart back away and I hear him say,

 I am now going to allure you; i will lead you into the desert and speak tenderly to you.  There I will give back your vineyards, and I will make the valley of trouble a door of hope.  You will sing like you did when you were young, when I brought you up out of your old life that was without me.  Then you will call me, "my husband." 

I sat there and cried as I read through these words. I think because I could physically feel him alluring me and because I felt all the feelings I would from any love story.  The Lord showed up and he was speaking so tenderly to me.  That's his promise, you know? That He meets us where we are at. He longs to be with us and for us to know Him as our Husband.  He truly is our greatest love story. Tobias Eaton (divergent) has nothing on Him. Micah Poston ( my husband ) even has nothing on Him. 

Oh dear friend. Do you know that the kind of love and protection you see in the movies is available all the time with the one who created you?  It truly is.  I have always been a romantic.  To the point of romantic movies becoming some what of an idol for me.  Pining for that kind of love and being severely disappointed when my earthly loves do not live up to the movie moments I have created in my mind.   No one could want that kind of love more than me I think.  I was the girl in middle school calling local radio shows and requested songs for boys I liked to proclaim my love for them for pete's sake.  And I found it. Truly I found it. And I sat there on the balcony and read over God's marriage vows to me and it left me melted and overwhelmed by this kind of love.  Truly He is the ultimate romantic.  But He is the one who follows through.  He's the one that holds these vows to perfection.  He is the one who scoops me up and jealously and protectively shouts that no one will take me out of His hands. Leaving me feeling safe, clean and wanted. 

The ultimate marriage vows. If these words don't drop you to your knees, i'm not sure what will. These Rom com's have nothing on how our God speaks to us. 


holding crowns

I feel like, for whatever reason, the Lord has given me an abundance of emotions. I feel deep. I deep think. I have big feelings. And i've made it my life's ambition, it seems, to adequately explain to people how i'm feeling.   I want the people around me to feel all the feelings and go to all the levels.  

Are you still with me? I'm sure you can imagine how my husband feels. oy.

Lyrics, words- they all ignite something in me.  Relationships, building people up is also something that I feel so passionate about. Passionate. I use this word a lot. maybe too much. But it's just how I feel. I digress.

About a month ago I heard someone speak about the acts of building one another up.  He spoke on how we use our words to encourage one another, to deeply invest in one another.  Not just on a superficial encounter but on something so much more genuine. 

When he talked about Jesus it made me feel homesick inside.  I was experiencing some drought between the Lord and I, mainly because I took my eyes off the prize. But when he spoke about Him, my heart went to a place of longing and remembering.  Have you ever been around those people? Where the aroma of Christ  just pours out onto you leaving you feel anxious and eager for more.  

He began to talk about his ministry with high school students and his desire for them to know the God who rescues them, loves them and made them.  The God who sent Jesus to "bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.... to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes."  

To build one another up, to deeply invest in people (ministry, children, husbands)- his words then screamed out as if it were just overflowing from his heart , "Let me a hold a crown over their head and let them raise into it."

That was his mission.  For his friends to know their worth.  To know how loved they are.  To know who their sweet God created them to be.  When I heard it, I immediately knew I wanted to sit in it for a while.  What would this look like? With  my friendships? With my husband?  My children?  

What would it look like for Thirsty Hearts Design?  For a person who feels all the feelings and loves all the words, how could i deeply raise a crown over the people in my life?  How could I speak over my people in such a way where it allowed them to raise into their crown of worth right there in that moment?
 And I began to think about how sometimes our lack of words- are the things that tear us down the most.  Stick and stones can break our bones.  And we all know that words do indeed hurt us still.  But what about the silence?  What about when we stop speaking up? What happens when we stop asking our friends about their lives?  Or when we choose silence over the uncomfortable effort of trying to find the "right words."  Or the age old dilemma of being too selfish to think of anyone else but ourself.

I tend to think that no words is the worse thing. If the Lord did not put a crown of beauty on me to replace my crown of ashes, how would I know what my worth is?  These words that He has given me has been my heart song and what I cling to in the midst of lies and loneliness.  He didn't just say I didn't have to sit in my ashes, but He called me up to receive my crown of beauty. 

 I love the visual of putting a crown on someone. It is so intentional.  I want to do that in all areas of my life.  I want to raise crowns for people to remind them of their worth. I want to be someone who not only feels a lot of things, but speaks those things over people. I want to be the friend or person who says things, asks questions even if it is jumbled.  That's the thing about words- words can be jumbled and you do not have to be the most eloquent communicator- because what speaks louder than your words, is your heart that backs up what is coming out of your mouth.  

 I want to let people raise up into who God made them to be with the sweetest homesick feeling right before you are almost home.  The mixture of anticipation, love, affirmation and rest.  

Who are you going to hold a crown over today?  


elastic hearts and holy ground

 I've been doing a lot of reflecting lately and a couple weekends ago got to sit and listen to some wise people talk about the Lord and life.  And some of the words were..
"Courage is telling the whole story of who you are with your whole heart."
And i've decided that this will just be my personal mission statement.  And by default that means the same for my Thirsty Hearts Design mission statement.  So here it goes:

I've been listening to Sia's "elastic heart" recently.  And you know those songs that you immediately connect with? Like, the end of the song leaves you saying "me too."

About four years ago now, I made a phone call to my dear friend.  She was there that night, and I began to think of how thankful I was that she got me out of that dark room that night.  As a follower of Jesus, I no doubt, in my mind, know that the Lord pressed on her to show up and find me.  She did. And I have never forgotten it.
But let me back up first. 8 years prior to that phone call, that friend had found me locked in a room in a fraternity house on our campus. She pulled me out that dark night and the next morning, we both never spoke about it again until four years ago.  Two eighteen year olds, freshmen in college.  Those things don't happen to us. Therefore, 8 years of silence.  Hindsight, I went into 8 years of externally dealing with what I would eventually be able to put into a word : rape. Internally? Silence. Numbness. The memories are there but I had no emotional connection to it.   That year was unspeakably dark for me.  I dealt with what happened by swimming in alcohol and finding worth from guys.  My life began to spiral.  At this point I knew Jesus but was not actively walking with Him and I began to feel the pull. The pull of there has got to be something better than this.  I was on the wire between death and life and most certainly I believe my precious rescuer pushed me into life.

My sophomore year I met people who truly loved Jesus.  And they were involved with a ministry called Young Life.  I remembered my sister was a Young Life leader and she was the one who spoke about this God that passionately loved me and wanted my whole life and everything I was.
So I ran. I ran as if my life depended on it towards the one who promised me life.  And He gave it, sweet friends.  Oh yes did He give it.   But at that point, as I surrounded myself with people who loved me and cheered me, I remained silent about what had happened just a year prior.   That is, until the phone call.

In the phone call, I began to talk about that night with her.  And then she spoke.  And I spoke.  And all at once I felt like I was outside of myself.  Watching myself talk with my friend.  I'm watching as I'm replaying the night and my friend is replaying it with me. "Someone else knows," I thought. She knew.  And all at once all the feelings, all the emotions, all the the things I shoved so deep down began to bounce back like the snap of a rubber band.  And I was snapped into focus.
I said Rape.  She said Rape. Oh God, It happened.  That was real.

When we hung up the phone, I fell into the arms of my husband with the hardest tears I had ever cried I think.  I went through every last detail with him.  And then all at once, everything changed.  The feelings were there and even though it was 8 years prior, it felt like it had happened yesterday.  Everything I knew of myself, how I acted, who I was- was now scratched with this truth that I never dealt with.  That next year was a sort of personal hell for me. I think i've touched on this in past posts.    That night, the great physician began his cut. It was deep and it hurt so bad, but I knew that if this did not happen, then I would quite possibly implode and all that would be left of me and anyone in my path would be a bloody massacre.

So that next year I went through counseling, read books and let the Lord graciously and carefully heal  one of the deepest wounds in my life.  I learned so many things and so many "holy ground" moments.  You know, when Moses was asked by God to take his shoes off as he approached the burning bush because he was on "holy ground." (Exodus 3)  Like when I found out the house that filled my nightmare memories was torn down.  Or when He would pull out scripture reminding me his HATE for injustice and his LOVE for me and his promise of what Satan intended for evil, GOD WOULD MAKE GOOD.  Or when I was accepted into the rape crisis center counseling  days after the phone call to talk with someone and to realize that I WAS NOT CRAZY.  That this was common with rape survivors.  That you respond two ways: externally or internally.  And that many times, survivors would tuck away their pain for years and have no emotions attached to it.  I needed those words.  I needed an explanation for the panic attacks, for the drowning feelings. And honestly, I just needed my SAVIOR to save me again.  I needed Him to carry my lifeless body. I needed to know HE WAS STILL THERE.  In these kinds of things- it's hard to see God. I had a hard time.  Cutting through bitterness, anger, hard walls- I was too concentrated on the pain of it all to feel the softness of my Lord.

But what I didn't realize was how quickly and swiftly he was moving to get to the deepest part and stitch me up. He knew my pain, he felt my pain- and He wanted it to finally be over.  One night, in the midst of the counseling, pruning, learning, I was desperate.  I went to Starbucks and took my journal and bible.  I was going to sit there and demand that the Lord SHOW me where the hell He was.  I had learned all these things- all these pieces.  But for the life of me, I could not piece them together. I could not see the big picture.  I could not see God in His wholeness. So I began to re-write every journal entry, every Instagram post, every picture, lyric, book quote that I had read or heard.  I began to make a time line of when I encountered these things.

So I feverishly wrote for what seemed like 10 seconds.  But an hour or so later and 20 pages into writing, I sat back.  And all at once I looked at it, and just like those puzzles for little kids where they are supposed to look at all the dots and connect them to make the picture- I was connecting these moments and I was seeing it.  I was SEEING GOD.  Right there in Starbucks. I began to sob.  Not a sob of pain, but of relief. As if someone had released all the pressure inside of me and I could finally breathe.  And at that moment-  It was the holiest Ground I had ever been on.

And all that rang through my mind was "I was always here.  I AM always here.  I was carrying you.  I AM carrying you."  And just like that I felt the Lord grabbing my hand and taking me out of that dark room for the last time.

That's the thing about Holy ground- It is found wherever the Lord is and that is everywhere.  He took this snapped elastic heart and put it back together again. Nothing is unredeemable.

I think Sia had it right: "And I know that I can
survive- i'll walk through fire to save my life. And I want it, I want my life so bad. I'm doing everything I can."  But the part she is missing is the one who   carries us through those flames (Isaiah 43:2)- the one who saves our life and carries us out of our personal cages with Mighty hands.


the establishment of peace

One of the mornings at the conference I had been selling at, I was feeling extra anxious.  So much pressure.  None that anyone put on me or required of me. All self-induced. Anytime you put yourself out there for people, whether through writing, creating, talking, friendship-forming, you are taking a leap.  Will it be accepted; will I be accepted?  

I wish I could tell you i've gotten the hang of this whole "small business" thing, or gotten use to someone not particularly liking something I've created. It's hard. Just being honest.  And it's hard to not let fear and anxiety rule you in life.  As a mom, a small business owner, a human... we work.  And we believe what we put into something, is what we will get.  That is, until something doesn't happen the way we planned. That is, until a curve ball hits us and our course changes path against our will or desire. 

As I sat out by the pool at the hotel, I asked that God would give me some words. Any words. Something to hear louder than my internal screams of "you are not where you belong!" "you are not good enough!" "Why are you here?!" "God's not using you."

Please God, something louder than my verbal assaults.

And then I opened up to Isaiah 26:12

"Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us."

All i have accomplished, God has done FOR ME.
So if that's true, then that means every print i've ever sold, ever word i've ever written- it's success was accomplished by Christ and Christ alone.

So what is my peace threatened by? ME.  and my pride. and my belief that I am the ruler and controller of my life.  And what a sobering thought. That I would be so arrogant to look at my creator and say, "ya, but i'm the one who writes.  I'm the one who creates.  I'm the one who built this business.  I'm the mom who cares for my children day and and day out. I'm the one who taught them how to say please and thank you and that's the reason why they are so perfect in public."

To the creator of my hands, the maker of my passions, the giver of my tongue. I look at him time and time again and say, "Ok i'll take it from here."  And just like that the Lord lovingly called me back in his arms and reminded me of who He is and what He is capable of.

About two years ago, I felt the Lord press three different passions and desires on my heart as to what I wanted to accomplish.

1. I desired to be on Young Life staff.  It's always been a deep down passion and desire since college but for different reasons, never produced itself.

2. Design and hand lettering - Thirsty Hearts Design

3. A Ministry towards women. I wasn't sure at what kind of capacity, all i knew was that I had a heart to share what God has done in my life and to uplift my dear friends to believe in the God that unfailing loves them.

I was so overwhelmed with wanting to know where God had me and what he wanted me to do with my life. I told a mentor of mine about all of these desires that I had never verbalized before.  Her response to me was a reminder of what I said the year that I was dealing with the rape. 

"I just want to run hard after God."  That was it. 

 That's all I wanted, thats all I was physically capable of and that's all that the Lord required me.  Still is all that the Lord requires of me. So I sat back and put these desires at rest and waited.  I'm sure you can guess by now that the Lord jolted forth the desire of Thirsty Hearts Design. Honestly, it was the least suspecting one. I had no idea what the Lord was going to do. And then I began to realize (with help from my older, wiser mentor) that God puts these desires in our heart for a reason.  They are purposeful.   For example, I was a young life leader for 10 years! I lead a small group of 10 beautiful college girls and most of them are Young Life leaders.  I'm on committee with Young Life here in lexington.  My passion for the ministry of young life and pursuing college/high school/ middle school girls by doing incarnational Jesus and introducing them to the Lord that meets them where they are at.... 

I was DOING it. I wasn't getting "paid" for it. But I was and still am doing it. This desire in my heart was played out in a different way than I imagined it would, but oh man it's so much better.   It's hard to not pigeonhole our desires for our lives, isn't it? But we have a God who is so much bigger than our tiny brains and thoughts. 

Have you ever calmed a two year old after they have pitched a tantrum and/or gotten worked up and gone onto all levels of crazy?  It's a gradual process.  One that involves reminders of "you are OK"  and "I love you"  "calm down"  and a stroke of the hair and pulling them close to you?  (side note: sometimes I leave my child on the ground and say "I'm leaving, bye" in case you thought I was some kind of angelic mother nurturer) 
I feel like that's what the Lord does to me in the midst of my plans not turning out the way  I want.  Or the expectation or fear of how they should turn out.  He establishes his peace in me, reminding me that I am just where I need to be.  Because of God's sovereignty, my desires that he has placed in my heart will come to fruition in some way.  It might not look the way I envisioned, but it will come about.  God has no misplaced steps. 

( Job 42:2- " I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted." //  Isaiah 14:27- "For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can that him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?")

So that means I need to stop worrying about how I am going to make that happen or this happen or what in the world will happen? What I need to do, is start paying attention to where God has me going in the process to get there. Every day, every moment is up for His grabs. And oh what a relief that is. I'm so thankful that our God places desires and purpose in our hearts and our only job is to walk forward and pay attention to our surroundings of what He is doing. How much peace will I receive when I do this?  All for His glory.  My designs, my lettering, my words, my actions- if I believe scripture is true and Jesus is the ruler of my life- it is all because of Him that I have them and up to him to decide how he uses them.

And I don't want to miss any of it being so caught up in myself. I don't want to get so caught up in influencing the hundreds, when maybe it was just supposed to be one, and that is enough. amen.

Lord, establish your peace in me. 


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