I’ve not been writing much this year – in part because I was unclear if I was to be writing on a particular subject (or using a particular format) like I did in 2018, but also … and perhaps more truthfully, because I was heart weary.
For the first time in many (many!) years, I started dating again. It was delightful, and I’m so grateful for the awakening that took place in my feminine heart during that time. In many ways, I liken it to the re-opening of an old house that hasn’t been lived in for decades. It may look a bit of a mess at first, but as you remove the sheets that covered fine furnishings, polish up the woodwork and light fixtures, etc … your eyes behold a beautiful and inviting home filled with character and memories that welcome you in.
This was my experience. Rooms of my heart have been re-opened, spring-cleaned, and are now ready to welcome the man that has been praying for such a woman as me (just like I’ve been praying for him).
And I learned something amazing about myself through this recent experience of discovering attraction, engaging in vulnerability, lowering the drawbridge of my heart, moderating emotions, engaging in honest communication, and practicing prayerful discernment.
I’m absolutely NOT the woman I was!
That might not mean much to some of you … but if you have read some of my older posts or dared to read my story (see sidebar category), then you know that there was a long season of my life when I was making need-based relationship choices, and those need-based choices nearly were the end of me!
But this time, I experienced something different!! I experienced dating from the place of emotional health and wholeness!!
I’ve never done that before! Ever! (seriously, ever!!)
“Better late than never’ they say, and at 58 years old I finally dated without handing over my value and worth to be weighed and measured by another person (as I have done countless times in the past). Instead of offering my Identity (worth and value) to a person … my Identity remained nested throughout my river-walk with this gentleman in whom the Lord says I am… His beloved, His daughter, His bride.
“I will lift up my eyes [and my heart] to the hills, from where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.”
Psalm 121: 1-2 (MEV)
What a delight to my soul and spirit!!! To experience the transformation that I have worked so hard for all these years!! Not that I’ve ever run a marathon (and believe you me, I never will!), but I imagine it’s kind of like the difference between training for one, and actually placing in one!
God is so good, isn’t He?! If we will just keep with Him, keep surrendering to His gentle regenerating and healing work within us, He is faithful to complete the work He has begun!! Amen and so be it!
If you have had a similar epiphany or experience, I’d love to hear about it. So, I’m sure would others.
All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.
Believe it or not, I have enjoyed writing my testimony (categorized under “My Story”) the past few months. Not only has it reconnected me with and given clarity to a calling God gave me years ago, but it has also allowed me to connect with some amazing people!
Through comments as well as private conversations, God has opened doors for me to use my voice and experiences to encourage others who are still walking “through their valley of the shadow of death”.
“What happens to you in life does not change the Word of God; but if you will hold fast to your confession (profession) of the Word, it will change what happens to you in life.” ~Charles Capps
I recently sat with a friend who wept with longing for the “seemingly accomplished” deliverance she sees in my life and testimony (while she is still in the process of laying hold of hers). She might be surprised to know that I wept into my own pillow that night … because there are still many areas in which I struggle with unfulfilled longings and (yet) unmet needs.
Last week I revealed my “Victory Painting”. I think it’s easy (especially, I think, on the heels of my testimony) to look at “Miss Hope” with head bowed down in worship, enrobed in Christ’s Righteousness, being spoken over by the Spirit of God … and think to ourselves …
She made it!
She has arrived! (at the place of rest and rejoicing)
To which I think she might say, “Please don’t look at me that way.”
And to all of you reading this post I also say, “Please don’t look at me that way.”
Meaning please don’t look at me like I’ve now living a life without challenge, without disappointment, without heartache. If you do, not only will you be disappointed when you find out the truth (when you find out that neither my life, nor I (myself) am “all that and a bag of chips”), but it will also short circuit your faith for what God is doing in your life … right now … today!
But neither let us focus on our (neither yours nor mine) shortcomings and current struggle points (or ‘messy spots’).
“Faith is confidence that God’s Word is true, and conviction that acting on that Word will bring His blessing.” ~Warren W. Wiersby, BE: Mature
Instead, let us look into the mirror of the perfect Word of God, and see ourselves how God sees us. If you are a Christ-follower (have made Jesus the Lord of your life), then guess what … this lovely image of Miss Hope robed in Righteousness, breathed upon by the Breath of God … that’s you too!
Perhaps even more importantly, let us say about ourselves what God says about us! Let us put in the work to “true up” our internal image of our true Identity.
To the lie that says you are a broken mess and always will be, open your mouth and respond with this:
I am healed and whole in Jesus (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24).
I am complete in Him Who is the head over all rule and authority—of every angelic and earthly power (Colossians 2:10).
I am free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).
I am far from oppression and will not live in fear (Isaiah 54:14).
I am born of God, and the evil one does not touch me (1 John 5:18).
I am holy and without blame before Him in love (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:16).
I am the righteousness of God—I have right standing with Him—in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).
I have been rescued from the domain and the power of darkness and brought into God’s kingdom (Colossians 1:13).
I am redeemed from the curse of sin, sickness, and poverty (Deuteronomy 28:15-68; Galatians 3:13).
My life is rooted in my faith in Christ and I overflow with thanksgiving for all He has done for me (Colossians 2:7).
My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit; I belong to Him (1 Corinthians 6:19).
To the lie that says you are fearful and fragmented of mind/spirit, open your mouth and say boldly:
I have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 2:5).
I have the peace of God that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).
The Spirit of God, who is greater than the enemy in the world, lives in me (1 John 4:4).
I am born again—spiritually transformed, renewed and set apart for God’s purpose—through the living and everlasting word of God (1 Peter 1:23).
I have received the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus, the eyes of my heart enlightened, so that I know the hope of having life in Christ (Ephesians 1:17-18).
I am merciful, I do not judge others, and I forgive quickly. As I do this by God’s grace, He blesses my life (Luke 6:36-38).
The light of God’s truth has shone in my heart and given me knowledge of salvation through Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6).
I am not ruled by fear because the Holy Spirit lives in me and gives me His power, love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7).
I have received the power of the Holy Spirit and He can do miraculous things through me. I have authority and power over the enemy in this world (Mark 16:17-18; Luke 10:17-19).
To the lie that says you are never going to change – never going to gain the victory, open your mouth and shut that voice up by declaring:
I am renewed in the knowledge of God and no longer want to live in my old ways or nature before I accepted Christ (Colossians 3:9-10).
I can do whatever I need to do in life through Christ Jesus who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13).
I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ to do good works that He has prepared for me to do (Ephesians 2:10).
In Christ, I am dead to sin—my relationship to it is broken—and alive to God—living in unbroken fellowship with Him (Romans 6:11).
As I hear God’s Word, I do what it says and I am blessed in my actions (James 1:22, 25).
I am a joint-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17). I am more than a conqueror through Him who loves me (Romans 8:37).
I have everything I need to live a godly life and am equipped to live in His divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4).
“Stand up to your full height; worry can not do for you (grow and mature you) what only faith can do.” ~Jeremy Pearsons
I am an ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). I am part of a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people (1 Peter 2:9).
I am the head and not the tail, and I only go up and not down in life as I trust and obey God (Deuteronomy 28:13).
I am strengthened with all power according to His glorious might (Colossians 1:11).
I humbly submit myself to God, and the devil flees from me because I resist him in the Name of Jesus (James 4:7).
I press on each day to fulfill God’s plan for my life because I live to please Him (Philippians 3:14).
“Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen.” ~Ephesians 3:20-21 (Amplified)
And all the people said …… Amen!
All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.
When I started this series “2018: A Year For Hope” in December 2017, chronicling my story was definitely not what I envisioned doing. And yet here I am, picking over and kicking over memories like rocks that haven’t been disturbed in decades. Truth be told, all this wondering down memory lane has been a little exhausting.
But I’ve also been rejoicing in the recognition of all that God has brought me through. He redeemed the pain of my childhood, rescued me from cruel and abusive husband, healed my/my children’s hearts, and completely re-directed the spiritual trajectory of my seed line. All that would be plenty enough – but He didn’t stop there. He also blessed me with a successful 20+ year career that I love, inspired me to Entrepreneurship in 2014, and continues to lead me into new and exciting adventures of business as a ministry including a side-gig that launches this month. He alone has transformed my life and truly given me beauty for ashes.
For those readers who know me personally, you can attest to the fact that I work hard at being a “glass-half-full” type of person. Occasionally, life will kick the stuffing out of me and leave me a bit ‘wobbly’, and I may take a while to rally back. But give me some time, and I’m gonna get back up, dust the dirt off my boots and hat, and get back at living life with a positive attitude. I’m gonna “take another swing!”
Hey, I bet you have ‘wobbly’ days too. We all do.
So today I’m going to take a short break from my life saga to share something else. A revelation or epiphany. I’ve had it before, but I had forgotten it (as we are prone to do).
Buckle up and get ready for another spaghetti trail story. 😊
A few weekends ago I went camping – the first time I’ve camped in probably 20 years. And along with a car load of borrowed gear, I took my rarely-used fishing pole and the saddest little tackle box you ever saw in your life. I was living the dream, baby! I fished Saturday morning. I fished Saturday afternoon. I even fished Sunday morning before it was time to tear down the campsite. It was liberating and refreshing, and I had such a great time I committed to going again in a few weeks.
I returned home on Sunday and by Monday afternoon, my right shoulder started hurting – and I mean REALLY hurting. Can hardly move my arm hurting. Winced and yelped a few times hurting. Can’t get to sleep hurting. By Tuesday, I seriously considered cutting my PJ’s off because I couldn’t manage the shoulder movements.
“PAIN IS LIKE A MIST”
Now most of you probably know where this is headed and what was going on. But I’m a little slow on the trigger sometimes, and I’ve also got an enemy. Oh wait – you do too!
Well that enemy (of my soul) was busy whispering into my ears everything that could possibly be wrong with me:
• I got a mosquito bite and am now suffering the initial effects of West Nile Virus
• I somehow dislocated my shoulder while sleeping on the hard ground for 2 nights
• Tent camping triggered a family history of arthritis and I’ve not got arthritis in my shoulder
• I’m an old woman and my body is starting to decline
• I have tendonitis in my shoulder that will take 8+ months to heal (that’s how long it took for my hand to heal after a gardening incident last year – but that’s another story)
And on and on and on. Taunting me. Ridiculing me. Trying to make me afraid. Trying to get me to open my mouth and come into agreement with him.
I’d like to say that I’m much too spiritual to fall for that old trick. Basically, it’s the same old trick he’s played me with about 5,497 times over the course of my life. And unfortunately, he’s had a greater than 50% chance of my taking the bait (pun intended) … at least for a little while. It was no different now. I’m not going to embarrass myself by telling you how fear-filled my response was, but I will tell you that at one point I broke down and cried a little for the frustration that my body isn’t doing as easily (and painlessly) in my 50’s what it could do in my 20’s and 30’s.
Eventually, I figured out that I had overworked some unused muscles with all that casting and reeling I was doing to haul in my ‘big fish’ pictured above! Pfft!
By day number six I was settling into a pattern of icing and muscle rubs and pillow cradling at night when the miraculous happened. I woke up one morning and my shoulder didn’t hurt.
And here is the revelation. My epiphany.
Pain is like mist. The more attention you pay to it, the more it closes in on you. Blinding you. Choking you. But if you will just relax into it, and breath through it, the wind will carry it away.
Isn’t that so true? Not only about physical pain (such as a fishing-shoulder injury) but true about emotional and spiritual pain. Our tendency when hurt is to recoil, withdraw, self-protect. But friend, you and I make lousy protectors of our own hearts and souls. We are easily duped and confused and misdirected to people and circumstances that are not really the source of our pain.
But there is One who is a most excellent Protector. One who will give you the strength to “breath through’ the pain of transitioning from the place of hurt and fear to the place of forgiveness and liberty.
In hind sight, I realize that what brought me to tears wasn’t the actual shoulder pain itself. It was listening to the voice of fear tell me that my life was going to be “less” because of this. That I would have “less” healing and mobility. That I would have “less” joy because I would be able to do “less”.
Grrr – I fell for it again!
But thank you Jesus, it was not very long before the Voice of HOPE spoke up in a louder (and more familiar and loving voice) and said “Not so, daughter. For I’ve purchased an abundant life for you, and you are Mine.”
It was several years ago when I first noticed it while reading Psalm 37. Over and over again, the same phrase … “inherit the earth / inherit the land” And I thought to myself, what in the world does that mean? Obviously, something significant or it wouldn’t be repeated so often – but what? So like I often did (and still do), I just sort of tucked it away in my heart with a note attached that said ‘this means something to me, but I don’t yet know what’.
[Have you ever had that happen to you? Read something in the Bible that resonates deeply within your spirit, but not understood the meaning or significance of it at the time? Do you also just set it aside for a while until God brings you back to it at a later time?]
Well, here we are in 2014, and recently God has brought that phrase back to me. It felt rather like a “re-awakening” of something unsettled in my spirit, and as sometimes happens when God begins to stir something up within you, I began noticing references to ‘inheriting the land’ appearing almost everywhere! Preachers I listen to started using it in podcasts. Devotional readings included it. Worship songs sing of it.
By now I am really starting to get hungry for knowledge … I want to know what this means to me Lord! What are You saying to me?
So I dug a little further, and this is what my NKJV Study Bible has to say about Psalm 37:3 … ‘Eight times the thought of dwell in the land, or inherit the land, is mentioned, showing to the righteous Jews that their future is secure.’ And I think it may have been from a podcast teaching (or perhaps someplace else in my Study Bible?), that I also learned that:
To “inherit the land” is to receive from the Lord secure entitlement (for them and their children) the promised land (redeemed sphere and bountiful source of provision).
Now I don’t know about you, but that lights my fire! And the more I studied, the more excited I got! The Bible is filled with scriptures speaking of ‘inheriting the land’, which I now understand is the promise of ‘a secure entitlement’ that is generational, and of the inheritance of a ‘redeemed sphere’ that is well able to supply far above my need (be it for finances, for relationship, for healing, for protection, or whatever the need). That is some Good News, folks – and it inspired a the following painting.
God is so funny! I just love the way that He works with me, talks to me, and sometimes even paints with me! This painting started out as a mess (as had the other 5 attempts to paint based on my own limited skill and ability). But I’ve discovered that when the Lord is painting with me – somehow the ‘oops-ies’ turn out to be something useful in time, and much to my surprise over the course of about 3 weeks this picture emerged, complete with dry and barren mountains in the background contrasted by lush and fertile fields in the foreground. (And to think I almost tossed it after the 1st night!) The river was added at the end, by inspiration of the Lord, and immediately made me think of the Israelites crossing over the River Jordan to the Promised Land.
“So it shall be, when the LORD your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant – when you have eaten and are full, then beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. … (for the LORD your God is a jealous God among you)…” (Deuteronomy 6:10-12, 15 abbreviated)
Where are you in your journey, my friend? As you read through Psalm 37 on your own, be encouraged. We all go through desert seasons. We all face enemies. We all have rivers to cross. But praise God, we also all have the promise of the abundant life calling us forward into greater and greater life with Him.
Keep pressing on – and go take possession of all that God has promised is yours, through Christ Jesus!