Hope for the Bruised Soul

I’ve just started Lysa Terkeurst’s book ‘The Best Yes’ and already I’m loving it and already getting lots of ‘meat’ from it. The following, from Chapter One really jumped out at me…

‘In this great day when most women wave banners of authenticity about our pasts, we crouch back from honesty about our presents’

  And ain’t that the truth?  It’s a tricky thing, opening up, saying ‘this is where I’m at right here, right now’.  It is much easier, it rolls of the tongue much smoother, when we can talk about things with the benefit of hindsight, and sometimes even from a place of victory.

  But there is power in shared story.  There’s good stuff that comes from opening up and being honest about our presents.

  Today I can sit here and write about my bruised soul that is on the road to being fully restored.  And if I can see the healing that is taking place, if I can know the goodness and glory of God’s hand in this, then I really need to share this with you.

  I was chatting to a friend the other day about how I came into this new calendar year with a heart that was a little bruised and crushed, but now I’m in the fixing process.  And I am.  In the process of being fixed.  And it is a process.

  How I came to be in this bruised and crushed state doesn’t really matter.  Life happens.  Curveballs come.  Sometimes things compound.  Sometimes you don’t know who to turn to for wise counsel.  Sometimes you can’t talk things out.  Seasons happen. Just stuff, right?

  But the neat thing is….bruises change colour, and they heal, and they go away.  Souls can heal.  Things that were crushed, can be smoothed and soothed back into their original shape….and sometimes what they are newly shaped into, is better than the original. And even if crease lines are still visible – they are there to tell a story….

  My creaselines are there to tell a story….a story of God’s goodness.  Of His faithfulness.  Of his far-reaching hands that embrace me and remind me of my worth and significance as His daughter.

  So how are these creaselines being formed, as I am going through this ‘fixing’ process,  as the Master Potter gently and deftly pulls the walls of my heart back into alignment?

  *  time – time is my friend.  Time by myself.  Time with others.  Time that isn’t rushed.  Time to think.  To dream.  To pray.  To read my bible.  To read good books.  Time is a precious commodity and I think we could all value it a little more.

  *  worship – there have been certain songs that have just spoken to me, spoken deep down, and they continue to minister to me, any and every time I hear them.  So I put them on repeat.  And I listen again.  On some level I don’t completely understand there’s a connection formed…and with that comes healing.  One of those songs is ‘No Longer Slaves’ by Bethel.  Another one is ‘Come Alive, (Dry Bones)’ by Lauren Daigle.

  *  people – People can be downright scary for a person whose soul has been hurt by….people.  And there’s the temptation to withdraw from everyone when this has happened.  But you have to know that people can also be Jesus with skin on.  The right people can speak truth in love.  The right people can blow on those embers that need encouraging into life again.  The right people can be a safe place for fears to be faced with, prayers to be prayed with and laughter to bubble forth with.  I’ve been spending the last four months or so rekindling pre-existing friendships from before we moved overseas, but also building new friendships.  And it is exciting seeing God’s hand in this.  It takes vulnerability, it takes conscious effort to not over-analyse how I may come across as, or how or what I may be misconstrued as being, but it is worth it, so very worth it.

  To be in community is priceless, and to have friends become family…….I’m so very grateful.

  You know I’ve been a pretty ‘solid’ Christian for a good number of years now.  My Christian walk is something I take seriously, but that didn’t stop me from taking a bit of a hammering from life.  Sometimes it isn’t a matter of if, but of when these storms hit that hurt us and cause a bit of temporary misshapenness.  But it is temporary, and shouldn’t we all be in some process or another?  Aren’t we all in the Refiner’s Fire?  Take heart friend, if your creaselines are being hammered out and moulded back into shape, you’re not alone.  This surgery is for a greater purpose and the master surgeon is at work.  Together, we’re in the very safest of hands.

There is a lot of hope for our bruised souls.  Always and forever.

Five Minute Friday: Red

Five Minute Friday

No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation.

Unscripted. Unedited. Real.

5 mins of writing on a set topic.

I’ve decided that if I ever wanted to do more writing….and to really get serious about it then I need to be able to just write. Simply write. So I’m going to join some friends linking up at Lisa-Jo’s blog and we shall see what fun ensues…..

So here goes….

START.

RED.

Where to start?  What to start writing about?  Red. Red.  Red.

Red red wine.  There’s a song about that.

But no.

Tangent.

I was thinking on the red thing and flicking from open tab to open tab on my netbook…..and bam.  There in my facebok feed was a link to an article about a 19 week old baby who was born, survived a few minutes and then passed.  This tiny, red, human being, held in someone’s hands ever so carefully.  Perfectly formed, but too tiny to survive.

I can’t bring myself to the read the whole article.  I can see the first paragraph and the photo.  The red baby.  Someone’s hopes for the future, wrapped up in a precious bundle.  Someone’s heart, crushed by what was not to be.

Do you know what a miscarriage that happens after 12 weeks is called?  A spontaneous abortion.  I learnt that the hard way.   Those words, they sting.  They go down deep, into a deep dark well of hurt.

But the more I live this life and the more I grow as a Mother and a Wife, with me grows my love for my family, I realize how great is God’s love for us.  So much greater than my meager offerings.

His love is higher than the heavens.  Deeper than the oceans.

Who can pour life and healing balm into a deep well of hurt?  Only God.

What can refresh and renew dreams, and take the place of dreams no longer able to be fulfilled?  Only the hope we have in Him.

It isn’t possible for us to have all the answers, we’ll never ever know why some babies are taken too soon, but we can rest in the peace that as we grieve, the Lord grieves with us.

STOP.

 

 

On being seen.

Hagar.  Now that’s a girl’s name you won’t ever see in the top 100 most popular list.  Nope.  It doesn’t even join the ranks of other biblical names still used today.  Give me an Abigail, a Sarah, Naomi or Ruth any day.  But Hagar?  No thanks.

Poor lady.  Yes she had an unfortunate name, but an even more unfortunate calling upon her life.

At the start of this month my dear blogger friend Ashley wrote so thoughtfully about Hagar here and I’ve been thinking about her ever since.  And pondering on what it is to be seen.

You see Hagar was given to Abram as a substitute wife when Sarai wasn’t doing very well in the flourishing and multiplying department.  So Hagar did what was required of her, she had no choice.  Then Sarai went and beat her…..how’s that for a thank you very much?  No wonder Hagar then ran away.  But in her darkest hour – there an angel of the Lord met with her, comforted her and commanded her.  Hagar was to go back to her mistress, to have Abram’s child and she was to call him ‘Ishamel’ (God hears).  God confirmed that he had heard her woes.  He had seen her tears.  He did realize that life isn’t fair.

Once Hagar knew that she was being seen, she could handle life so much better.

And aren’t we just the same?

We cry out to be seen.

We desire to be understood.

We get frustrated when we feel alone.  Marginalized.  Not taken seriously.

Sometimes God himself steps in and puts feet to feelings….I have my own special story of what I believe to be an angel visitation when I was about to have a d&c, probably my darkest moment ever, made better because I knew I was seen.  I knew I was not alone.

You see God cares for us so much more than we will ever know.  He sees the words we write, he hears the words we speak.  And sometimes we just need a big fat reminder of that.

Most Thursdays and Fridays I join in with Five Minute Friday, organized by Lisa-Jo Baker.  A bunch of bloggers all use the same word prompt and we write for five minutes on that prompt and then click publish before we edit or think too hard about what we’ve written.  It is fascinating to see what over 200 bloggers all write about, and how many different paths are taken from that one same prompt.  The deal with Five Minute Friday is you link up and read what other people write and you encourage and you notice the differences.  As a writer, or wannabe writer, it is a chance to be seen.  And it is in the being seen, that I think makes this so popular and such a joy to be a part of.  A lot of people blog for self-enjoyment, a chance to journal and a lot of people don’t have massive followings.  People like me don’t get a lot of comment love on their blogs.  And that’s fine – that’s not why I blog.  But my point here…….why do we put our own blog address down when we comment on other people’s blogs?  Why do we link up on others blogs?  We simply sometimes just want to be seen.  Just like Hagar.  We want to know that our words matter.  That what we say can encourage, can impart some love and discernment and can indeed make a difference for the better.

But I’d like to remind myself right here and now.  My written words don’t make me who I am.  I am not a product of my writing capability or inability.

My value comes from nothing I have done, but everything that He has done.

I am seen by the one who matters most because He loves me with an everlasting love.  Not for what I do or don’t do.  I am loved.  I am seen.

Hagar was seen by God and that made all the difference in the world for her coping abilities.

You are seen dear friend, no matter what life is throwing you at the moment, you are seen.

 

 

Building Your Lifeboat

storms

I’ve been marinating on this little ditty, this little nugget of truth since I saw it on pinterest a couple of weeks ago.

You see it is all very good and well to read these words and to believe them.  It is another thing to actually live them out.  And gee……there is absolutely no denying the truth of these words when you see someone living it out…..when the truth they have stored up in the silence is the only thing that gives them hope, it helps them carry on, sees them through the hard times, when the storms come.

This past week I’ve had the honour to walk alongside a friend as she has encountered one of life’s curveballs.

You know that mixture of feelings you get when you go for your big anatomical ultrasound scan, when you’re about 20 – 22 weeks pregnant?  You’re thrilled to actually see this little person for the first time, you may or may not be eager to know the baby’s gender, but you also have that slight uneasiness..hoping everything is ok with that baby.  Wanting a good report for everything.  Well Lindsay didn’t get that all clear that we all hope for, not then anyway, and she has another wait of a few more weeks before she gets definitive results from more tests done this week.  You can read this part of her story here, and she writes it beautifully, so much better than I ever could.

I said it is an honour to walk alongside her through this and I truly mean that.  I can see the fruit and the evidence of what Lindsay and her husband build up in the silence, carrying them through the uncertainty.  Giving them hope and that peace that passes understanding.  You see it is not that Lindsay and CJ are perfect – nope – they are human, just like the rest of us – it is because they serve a perfect Lord.  They are conduits of the Holy Spirit – vessels – that’s all.

I like to think of ‘the truth that we build up in the silence’ as being the things we build our lifeboats out of.  Lifeboats to keep us afloat when our ships are capsized by life and life’s curveballs.

*  The word of God = the body of the boat, the hull.  Knowing God’s word means knowing God, knowing his heart, and who wouldn’t want to know the creator of the world’s heart?  In Ephesians 6 Paul talks about the armour of God and of putting on the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.  The bible illuminates, it reveals to us the good and the bad, it gives clarity to the wise and the unwise.  The sword, the bible, is used for offensive and defensive purposes.  Jesus used the bible to counter Satan’s attacks when in the wilderness.  The word of God deep down in our souls is going to keep us afloat when storms come.  We can depend on God’s word and the promises in his word.

*  Prayer = the gps/ radio in your lifeboat.  The prayers that you pray in the silence come back to you in the storm, when you don’t have the words to say, when you can only muster up that Holy moan. An utterance. Prayer is just communication with the Lord and the *best* thing about prayer to me, is it keeps your perspective right, it keeps you looking up and out so that you’re not consumed by your here and now.

No relationship survives without communication, including our relationship with the Lord.  Prayer – communication is necessary for growth and intimacy.

*  The companionship of Godly friends = the outboard engines on our boats.  Sometimes when we walk through the trials of life we can walk that ever bit faster with a friend by our side.  Things can be so much more bearable when you have a shoulder to cry on.  Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.  Sometimes it takes a lot of guts to make good friendships great.  It involves a lot of vulnerability, on both persons part, a lot of trust and a lot of wisdom.  It is never a good thing to just spill your guts to just anyone, but when you know who can be a great friend to you, and when you make room in your life for them and them for you……friendship is one of those things that can get you through anything.  C.S Lewis said “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.”
You know this past week the easy thing for Lindsay to do would have been to hide away.  To just hibernate with her husband while working through the emotions and seeking a Godly perspective in all the waiting.  But in doing that she would have been denying her friends the opportunity to reach out to her, to uphold her family in prayer and the opportunity to partake in a miracle.  The harder thing for her was to share with people where she was at – and God was glorified.  She could call on these friendships because they have been established in the silence.  When life was a little easier.  And then, when the storm came, the outboard engine of friendship helped to push her along a little….reassuring her….

Now here’s the scoop, the latest on Lindsay’s baby, Charlie.  Lindsay’s OB (who also happened to be my amazing OB, a great man of God) emailed her today with the news that the fact that the ultrasound that Lindsay had yesterday showed no abnormalities in the baby’s heart, that it was normal, was a gift from God.  The ultrasound yesterday was so different from the bizarre one from the previous week shows that the baby was healed.  This was not a technical glitch, but a healing.  Praise God.  Praise Him.

And here’s the thing – because Lindsay chose to include others in her journey, both in her real life and through her writing, others have been blessed.  My own faith has been boosted.  What my husband and I prayed for, in the quiet of our time with the Lord, has been heard.  Countless others have likewise stood in faith with her about this too and prayed for healing – they have been touched and who is glorified?  Not Lindsay, not CJ, even though they are strong leaders and amazing people in their own right.  No, the Lord is glorified in this healing of baby Charlie, because the Lord is the reason for their peace and their very purpose.

Lindsay and CJ still have a few question marks hovering over their little Charlie’s life – but nothing can take away from the fact that this life is God-ordained, this life has a purpose, this life already has an amazing testimony of God’s healing power and this life is loved.  Loved by the people around him already, but even more so by the one who created him.

Whatever the next weeks or indeed the years to come bring my dear friends, they will be riding out the storms just fine.  They have a lifeboat.  They are building their lifeboat……prayer by prayer, bible verse by bible verse, friend by friend, they are building their boat.

All of us will encounter storms in our lives, it is not a matter of if, but of when……when will you need your lifeboat to hold you afloat until your seas become smoother?  And will that lifeboat be ready for when you need it?

 

 

 

Revelation.

If there ever was such a thing as a typical blogger, it certainly wouldn’t be me.  There is no schedule or routine to the times when I post, I’ve never been to a blogging conference and even if I would (sometimes) love to, I could never go to one, I don’t do anything to draw traffic to this blog and I don’t partake in any of the blogging ‘trends’, apart from Five Minute Friday.

While I’m just not a typical blogger, if there was such a thing, one little trend that is doing the rounds at the moment, is for people to choose a ‘word’ for the year.  A word that has meaning to them and gives them a bit of direction for the new year.  So while I avoid most trends in my feeble blogging attempts……I’ve got me a word for the year.  Yep.  I know.  It just found me somehow.  I didn’t go out soulsearching, there was no pondering over a few lattes.  It just came to me.

Revelation.  I’ve realized I want and need new and fresh revelation this coming year.  Revelation of God’s love, His empowerment to me, revelation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and new revelation from His word.

We’re only a few days past Christmas.  It was a joyful Christmas for us this year.  We spent lovely times together as a family unit and with friends who opened their hearts, arms and home to us.  In the evening of Christmas Day, while driving home I couldn’t help but think. ‘It is all over’.  ‘And so this is Christmas?’.  Then the word ‘revelation’ popped into my head.  Christmas doesn’t have to finish when the last of the ham is eaten, the tree is put away and the carols stop being played.  No, we can have new and fresh revelation from the Lord every day, of every month.  The wonder of Jesus continues throughout the year, if we seek Him.

I’ve resisted blogging about the Sandy Hook shooting for the very fact that other people have already said much more eloquently than I ever could, the things I’ve been thinking.  But all of the gun debate that has surfaced since that awful event has been very eye-opening for this gal.  I get that people are into their rights, I get that people feel safer if they are armed, I even get that I live in an area where hunting is huge and enormously popular and the majority of people know how to use their weapons safely and are responsible.  But here’s my thing…..we all need to have our hearts and eyes wide open and not be too narrowminded to think our way is the only way.  Revelation.  We need to ask the Lord for new revelation and we need to know it is ok to maybe change our minds on a few things…..take into perspective other people’s opinions and learn from the mistakes of the past.  Let’s not be stubborn people, let’s not be pig-headed, let’s be open to new and fresh revelations.

At the start of December my family and I were hugely blessed to be able to travel to Northern California to meet up with friends from home, who were in the States on their way to the UK for holidays.  It was the best of times…we introduced them to all things American:  Costco, peanut butter m &ms, Cold Stone Creamery and we went to church with them.  To a very special church. We got to go to three different services and before we got to the first one my husband prayed that we would get ‘new revelation from the Bible’.  And, we did.  New food for thought, new meaning from verses, fresh insight, and even now, at home, many weeks later as I read a book written by one of the Pastors of this church, every chapter brings with it new revelation.  Wonderful!

For some of you the new year doesn’t fill you with much joy.  Some of you are facing hard times with health, family issues, financial struggles and a lot of uncertainty.  I’m sorry.  Life can be hard, there can be rough and tough curveballs thrown at us – but I know someone who loves you very much, and He is just itching to give you a fresh and new revelation of His love.  Of his provision.  Of his power and might.

If you need a bit more hope, if you’ve lost your jollies with the last of the Christmas fudge being eaten, if your future looks a little bleak and you know your worries will follow you into the new year…then join me in asking for revelation.  Revelation from on high.

Who knows what this new year will bring with changed attitudes and perspectives?  New understanding of those around us…….new commitments to being better wives, Mums, sisters, Aunts, grandmothers and neighbours.

Revelation.  I’m after it, I’m chasing it, I’m hungry for it.  Are you?

Lord, I’m sorry

As I write this there are people all over the East Coast of America being lashed about by Hurricane Sandy.  For many it is a case of prepare for the worst, but hope for the best.

I’m sure daylight will bring with it stories of bravery, heroic acts and also sadly, tales of tragedy.

This is rubber meeting the road stuff.

People facing trials with a capital T.

And you know what.  It is a very good reminder to me, that by golly the devil is so good at distracting us from what really matters.  We are so easily led astray from the most important things in life.

In my own life I’ve been struggling with worry and day to day troubles. In the big scheme of things they are not major things – but – still – in the now they are important to me. And I’m finding the need for peace – seeking that anchor to hold my thoughts and runaway emotions at bay.  But I’m realizing more and more……..these things are all distractions from the very mission I have been given.

To know Him and to make Him known.

That’s it.

That’s what it boils down to my friends.

 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Yes Hurricanes can and do cause devastation.  Livelihoods will be forever lost. The forces of nature can cause damage beyond repair – in people’s hearts as well as with material possessions and the very land itself, and this is all sad, and tragic and words cannot even describe just how terrifying this must be for some people.

But.

I have something to offer people.

I have hope.

I know a Lord who says come to me all you who are weary, and I will give you rest.

I know a saviour who accepts the least of us, and in his Kingdom the very last shall be first.

I know a King who says not to worry about what you’re wearing, or what you have in your bank account, for in the grand scheme of things, these things matter not.

Instead of my eyes being turned from the side to other side, with Mummy woes and health issues and blah blah blah…..I know I need to concentrate more on loving people and introducing them to the very one who gives me Hope.

What matters most, more than anything else – quite simply is, where are my friends and family going to spend eternity?  Where are your friends and family going to spend eternity?

This is what I cannot be distracted from.

The lights may be out in New York City, but God’s still there.

I’m sure that many Christians will have many opportunities to share God’s love, right now.

The lights may be out in my neighbours’ houses, but I still need to shine His love to them.

The parents on my kids’ sports team may be stressed and overworked, but I can be a listening ear.

The lonely kid, the bullied kid in my oldest’s class can be invited to youth group, and pulled alongside a strong leader.

The overwhelmed mother, at her wits end, can be invited over for coffee and a safe place to sit.

Lord, I’m sorry for being distracted by the daily worries of this world.  May my perspective always be like yours – may I seek out ways to show people your love and your light and lead them to you.

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