Tag Archives: healing

You need a “jail break”

What an incredible few weeks!  Once my heart recovered from a recent romantic break-up, I (again) began to seek out what God would have me do in 2019.   Twice last year, writing a book was spoken over me.  That resonates deeply with me, but since I’ve never done it before I put it on the “someday” shelf.  But in recent weeks, some things have happened to re-awaken this desire and prompting.  Hmm.  I’d appreciate your prayers on that.

But today, I’m writing for a friend … actually, a few friends.  You know who you are ❤

Dear friend,

We’ve been talking about your jail cell for a long time.  How hard it is to live there, how stifling and oppressive it is.  You want out, but you feel trapped – bound – unable to escape.

You’ve cried yourself to sleep there countless nights.  You ache to breathe the fresh air and wander open spaces you hear visitors talking about.   Oh, the stories they tell!

Your longing to be free (like them) is so strong that on a few occasions, you actually managed to  leave the confines of your small cell and sneak past the guards to catch a glimpse, a rare and intoxicating taste, of the freedom that belongs to those on the other side of the barbed wire fence.  But the Prison Warden and his Oppressors always manage to drag you back to captivity – and the repetitive and increasing punishment for your attempted escapes have eventually trained you to (more or less) resign yourself to your fate.  You have been charged (justly or unjustly) and found guilty.  You were convicted and sentenced to imprisonment.  You are a captive of the Warden, live with it.

M-W1-cellblock of Norfolk County Jail, Connecticut
Norfolk County Jail, Connecticut

And so you have.  You’ve killed your dreams (well, almost).  You’ve even managed to find slivers of contentment in this life of containment and drudgery.

Does that sound familiar?  I bet we’ve all been there … and more truthfully, we all have places in our lives where we are still imprisoned.  Imprisoned to fear of failure, to someone’s disapproval, to being alone, to self-doubt.

You need a jail break!

Friend, there is a way out, and you can leave that jail cell and be forever set free from the torment of the Prison Warden!!!   But to do so (and not be recaptured again) you’ll need a helper and guide – and His name is Jesus!  He’s has helped thousands upon thousands to escape, and He is easily able to do the same for you!!

Are there areas of your life where you still feel stuck or imprisoned?  Of course there are! Welcome to the human race (grin).   But there is hope, so please come back soon for the next post and an introduction to your Escape Guide, Jesus Christ.

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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.

Spring Cleaning of the Heart

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!

FacelessFather www.puttinghopetowork.com
FacelessFather http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

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!

“I Lift My Heart To The Hills” http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

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.

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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.

2018: A YEAR FOR HOPE! (closing post)

Have you ever been hoodwinked?  I know, I know.  It’s an old term that no one uses anymore, but I like the sound of it.

              hoodwinked:  bamboozled, duped, hoaxed

Of course you have!   So have I!    I’ve lost count of how many pieces of exercise equipment or magic pills or other resources I’ve purchased over the years that promised to help me loose 10-15 pounds in four weeks while burning away belly fat like it was wax thrown into a raging fire.    Or what about that “very reliable and in excellent condition” used car that seemed like such a wise (even frugal) purchase at the time but turned out to be a money pit of repairs!    Snookered!  Hornswoggled!  Deceived!

Generally speaking, “hoodwinked” isn’t a term used in the context of something positive. But when GOD is doing the hoodwinking … well that’s another story.

And that’s exactly what I feel happened to me this year … I got hoodwinked by God!

This same time last year, as is my practice, I was talking with Daddy God about the ups and downs of 2017 and questions I had about 2018.  In truth, I was a little bit discouraged on a few fronts – particularly the blogging front.  I’d been inconsistently posting throughout 2016 and 2017, in part because I was very busy launching a WOSB, and in part because I was discouraged by a low readership.   Questions like “who am I writing this for?” and “if no one is reading this, why am I still writing?” were at the forefront of my mind.  I asked the Lord if I should just shut down the blog altogether – and obviously, His answer was no.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I heard Him clear His throat (ah-hem) and say “I never told you to stop writing”.  Ouch!  And that’s how I came about committing to a weekly blog post throughout the year 2018 – and since HOPE was what I needed to experience, I chose the subject “2018: A Year For Hope”

               HOPE:  a desire accompanied by confident expectation

During the first few weeks of 2018, I often included internal/external dialogs of fictional characters to set the stage for a subject that was on my heart (perhaps inspired by something I or a friend was going through).  And over the course of those first 12 weeks, I struggled to complete an art piece to illustrate my heart in response to a dream someone had for me (posted in week #12)

Fast forward to April 2018.  Readership was increasing (what a balm to my heart!) and I was painting again.  “OK Lord, I think I can keep this up … what is the next subject?”  

“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  (Jeremiah 29:11)

Wanting to honor my commitment to Him to post weekly, I did my best to listen to what He was impressing on me and then post about it … but I still felt there was a bigger subject, something that would take a few weeks to cover (like some of my 2014 and 2015 posts).  But I wasn’t hearing what it was … so I just kept doing what I was doing.

And then, after a chance encounter with a young woman at a BigBox store, the Lord impressed upon me to tell my story (top to bottom) in chronological order.    There was a part of me that quickly said “Yes, Lord.  If that’s what you want me to do, I’ll do it.”   But then there was another part that was slightly less enthusiastic about that whole idea.   I mean it’s one thing to reveal all your warts and bruises within the context of a known audience (be it a group of trusted friends, or a group of fellow believers, or in a setting where there is still some level of intimacy and perhaps even anonymity).  But to put the whole mess out there in cyberspace for anyone to read??   That caused me to pause, and to prayerfully think about it.

I have shared bits and pieces of my story many times over the years, but rarely (if ever) from start to finish.  Lets face it, it’s a long story! 🙂

I started sharing my story in week #20 and it took to week #34 to get my story out, and to week #41 to wrap up some loose ends.   That’s 21 weeks … about 5 months!  That’s a lot of time to be digging around in the dirt of the backyard of your life.  But I did it.  I obeyed.

When I wrote the prologue for this blog series last December 2017, I had absolutely no idea what God was going to ask of me in May.  If I had known, I might not have been so quick to say yes – might not have said yes at all – but by May 2018 I had already committed to writing a weekly blog post and was in desperate need of new subject matter.  

Funny, God!  Really funny!

He pulled the old bait-and-switch on me!  

I got hoodwinked!

And how glad I am about it!  As a result of this blog series, and more specifically the posts between #21 and #41, I’ve connected with many amazing people (some still walking through their journey, some on the overcoming side of the fence) who were blessed and encouraged by my candidness in sharing about a neglected and abuse childhood which set the stage for my disastrous choices as an adult.  I never would have made these soul-spirit connections if I hadn’t have obeyed.

I also think God has an incredible sense of humor!   He must have been smiling big when I prayed for multi-week subject matter in April!   (Oh don’t you worry, daughter.  I’ve got a subject in mind for you alright!!!!)

He is also extraordinarily kind to me, because never in a million years would I have imagined how healing (even after so much healing already) it would be to chronologically lay out all these pieces of my life.   But it was, and in doing so I was able to put some pieces of the puzzle together in a way that I had never seen or understood before.  Thank you for that Father!

 

 

My prayer in December 2017 was that 2018 would be a year for hope to come alive again in new and exciting ways. That dormant areas of my life would spring to life. That victories prayed and believed for would manifest. That breakthrough would swallow up constraint, and that my eyes would behold in 2018 the marvelous works of God in my life and that of my family.

It truly has been an year of hope for me and I pray it was for you too!

And where we need more hope still for 2019, let us be encouraged that He who began a good work is always (and I mean ALWAYS) faithful to complete it, through Christ Jesus! (Philippians 1:6)

Wishing you all a very blessed Christmas and a joyous New Year. See you in January 2019, writing about … well, I’m praying about that now 🙂 God bless!

Of Dreams and Nightmares (AYFH wk 41)

I love honesty … well, I mostly love honesty … sort of.    Let me rephrase that:  I really dislike being lied to (I’ve had plenty enough of that in my life), and therefore if given a choice, I would prefer honest information (even if unpleasant) over a misrepresentation of facts or worse yet, a flat out lie.   It’s a pretty good bet that you feel the same way too, right?

That’s why I’m so grateful that one of my readers (who is quickly becoming a precious friend) spoke honestly with me about her reaction to last week’s post.    Of course, I knew what I was intending to say in last week’s post, but when you’re limited to just the 26 characters of the English language (no facial expressions, no inflections of the voice, no reaching across the table to touch a hand) not everything written is heard the way you intended it to be heard.  Add to that the fact that we all hear information from the background of our own understanding (influenced by our history and experiences), and it’s totally understandable how she heard judgement in my words.  The kind of judgement that says ‘if you still struggle with this-that-the other, then you’re not a very good Christian’.

If that were the case, I’m not a very good Christian either!

Sadly, I think that’s how many of us approach FAITH. We have knowledge of and are in agreement with what the Bible says, but when it comes to putting our trust (either emotionally, spiritually, or physically) in what we say we know and believe … well, if we were to be brutally honest with ourselves, maybe we don’t actually believe all that we say we believe. The Bible calls this “unbelief”..

Friends, I’ve experienced many victories during my walk with God, and it’s from lessons learned in the battle trenches warring for those victories that I tend to write. But believe you me … I’m no superwoman Christian.   I still have nightmares from time to time, and like every body else on the planet, I’ve still got junk in the trunk.  I wish I didn’t, and I try to keep it minimal, but I’ve reconciled to the fact that this side of heaven, I’m gonna have junk.

"Of Dreams and Nightmares"  www.puttinghopetowork.com
“Of Dreams and Nightmares” http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

Oh, and lets not forget about “unbelief”.  Yup, I’ve got that too.   Just yesterday, I caught myself wanting to tell the Lord how alone I felt in a certain challenge I’m dealing with.  How I feared that maybe I’d misheard Him (or just acted on my own wisdom instead of listening to the voice of Wisdom) and had instead taken a long walk off a short pier.  That instead of walking boldly in faith, I felt the hesitation in my steps, as though I was anticipating the whoosh of kerplop at any moment.

Does all this truthfulness change the way God thinks of me?  Is He surprised by my “junk” and “unbelief”?   Does it disqualify me? Does your junk disqualify you?

Nope!

I’m not a Bible scholar and I don’t claim to be a teacher, so if what I’m about to say offends you or your belief about who God is and what He expects from those who would claim to Christ-followers, then please just let it go in one ear and out the other.  This is just my own personal conviction, born out of many long walks and talks with Jesus, and what I understand from Scripture.

I don’t believe God is all that terribly surprised that I’ve got junk in the trunk.  Still.  Even after all these years of walking with Him, I’m still hauling around a big old trunk of junk.

And unbelief?  Well, there was a time when I used to get hung up on the fact that I didn’t have everything all figured out … that my mountaintop experiences didn’t last forever, and that sooner or later I’d once again be dragging my feet down in some nasty old valley again, wondering where God was and why He hasn’t rescued me yet.  Maybe it’s maturity.  Maybe it’s just fatigue.  But now, when I’m feeling “wobbly” of spirit (wrestling with fear, doubt, and unbelief), I no longer worry about how much I’m disappointing God by not being the Super Christian that I wish I were (or that religion says I ought to be).  Instead, I imagine myself as a small child needing to crawl up on Daddy’s lap and be reminded again how “big and strong He is”, how “un-wavering His love”, how “faithful His Word”.  And like any Good Daddy, He doesn’t chide me for temporarily forgetting all those things … He simply re-affirms His Character as revealed in His Word, and reminds me that my identity is rooted in Him, as His Beloved.

On the mountains, I will bow my life
To the one who set me there
In the valley, I will lift my eyes to the one who sees me there
When I’m standing on the mountain aft, didn’t get there on my own
When I’m walking through the valley end, no I am not alone!
You’re God of the hills and valleys!
Hills and Valleys!
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone!
~God of the Hills and Valleys, Tauren Wells

That’s what happened yesterday.  I was tempted to give in to the voice of fear and doubt.  I was tempted to speak failure over my circumstance.  I was tempted … but thankfully I caught myself and instead I opened my mouth and spoke of His faithfulness to me over the years.  I reminded myself of His Promises to me, and that He has never once left me uncovered or in need.  I sang a worship song and praised Him for who He is.

And while the heavens didn’t part, nor did chocolate dollar bills fall from the sky, I did experience (once again) that my confidence in God (faith) overruled my confidence in the enemy (fear), and peace returned.

So if you’ve somehow gotten the impression that just because I blog about my faith, and a few people read what I write, that I am soon to be on the cover of Church-Lady Magazine …. sorry to disappoint!

I’m just a broken vessel, restored but still with a few dings and scratches (they add “character”),  sharing from my own spiritual journey of faith.

If you’re ok with that, come on back next week.  I’ve sketch out out a new piece and I can hardly wait to show it to you.

 

PS-in case you’re wondering, the Lord asked my friend to consider all that she’d read in my blog posts to date, and what she knew of me from our one-on-one conversations, and compare that to what the enemy was whispering in her ear. She had resolved the discrepancy on her own before we met up for coffee last week, but it was lovely to be able to talk it through face-to-face (and heart-to-heart). God also used it as a teaching opportunity for me, reminding me that as the blog has gained in popularity (PRAISE GOD!) I am now writing primarily to people who don’t know me and therefore I must be more thoughtful about my choice of wording so that His Character is upheld in my writings.

 

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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.

 

Of Dreams and Nightmares (AYFH wk 40)

There is a big difference between knowing and believing. One only has to look up to KNOW that planes can fly, but that does not mean that everyone BELIEVES the plane would fly with them in it! That’s exactly how I feel about bungie jumping or skydiving – I have knowledge of and am in agreement with the science behind it, and I am aware that millions have successfully done it following those rules of science … but you are never gonna catch me purposefully jumping out of a plane or leaping off a bridge. Nope!! Not gonna happen!

Sadly, I think that’s how many of us approach FAITH. We have knowledge of and are in agreement with what the Bible says, but when it comes to putting our trust (either emotionally, spiritually, or physically) in what we say we know and believe … well, if we were to be brutally honest with ourselves, maybe we don’t actually believe all that we say we believe. The Bible calls this “unbelief”, and if you are breathing today, you wrestle with unbelief just like I do.

It’s the knife-in-the-gut feeling when the doctor and says
“I need you to schedule an appointment to see me”.
(The Bible says I’m healed by His stripes but the doc says otherwise)

It’s the sweat on the brow when you’ve got more bills
at the end of the month than money to pay them.
(The Bible says He has provided for your every need
but your checkbook tells another story)

It’s the anxiety that sweeps over you at night, keeps you tossing and turning,
perhaps even manifests in your dreams.
(The Bible says He gives sweet sleep to those He loves
but yours is troubled or nonexistent)

“Unbelief puts our circumstance between us and God, but faith puts God between us and our circumstances.”
F.B. Meyer

 

UNBELIEF often lives in the space between FACT and TRUTH.

The Fact:
I have $7.02 dollars in my checking account
The Truth:
My God has supplied all my needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus! Because I’m a faithful tither, God has opened the windows of heaven for me and has poured out so much blessing upon me that I can’t contain it. He has also rebuked the devourer so that every seed I’ve sown through the work of my hands, or by charitable giving and good works is protected and guaranteed to produce bountifully. My work is blessed and my finances are growing. I have no fear for what tomorrow may bring, for my God has made a covenant promise to provide for me. I thank Him now for all that He is doing behind the scenes that I can’t see from my limited perspective. He is faithful, my hope is in Him, and (Bible) Hope does not disappoint.

It’s been probably 12-15 years since Pastor Deryck gave me the battle plan to “pray, worship, and speak the Name of Jesus” before going to bed at night to confront the enemy who was attacking me in my sleep. But that was just the beginning and over time, the Lord added more tools (greater wisdom with understanding) to my arsenal and I became a more skilled warrior against the adversary of my soul. Not only for deliverance from dreams and nightmares, but in gaining victory over a life-long battle with fear.

The 5 steps described in my last post (Week 39) can really be applied to any challenge, any situation, any confrontation between Fact-and-Truth. Here’s a few additional insights gained from the battle field experience:

1) It requires diligence and effort on your part to weed out Unbelief and let FAITH (confident trust and expectation in the Word/Promises of God) over-write your human tendencies to doubt the integrity of God’s Word … which is what gives place to fear.

2) Fear and FAITH can not abide in the same place (spirit) – one is going to over-rule the other, and you get to choose which one stays and which one goes.

“Faith comes by hearing (and hearing and hearing and hearing) the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).

3) The process for increasing FAITH is immersion in the Word of God. Read it (often and preferably out loud, so that you can take it into your spirit via both the eye-gate and ear-gate), memorize Scripture applicable to your situation, and consume so much Word that it begins to take over your thought life and speech.

“First, read the Word of God. Second, consume the Word of God until it consumes you. Third, believe the Word of God. Fourth, act on the Word of God.” ~Smith Wigglesworth

4) Sooner or later, God’s Word is going to challenge what you believe to be true (or perhaps what you want to believe is truth). That’s when you are going to have to make a decision. Just like there is a big difference between knowing-vs-believing, there is a big difference between Fact-and-Truth. God is not changing His mind, nor is He changing His Word. So … are you going to continue to hold to what you think or want to be true, or will you surrender your will and make the decision to believe (trust in, rely on) what God says about it?

So now let me tell you a little about the artwork. Kenneth E Hagin once recounted a story told to him by Smith Wigglesworth, which I have since found memorialized online.

Wigglesworth knew the devil and treated him for what he was…defeated. Smith shares a story of an encounter with the advisory:

“We were sleeping one night, when the manifestation of evil filled the room and the spirit of fear gripped both of us. Polly was so frightened she could not open her eyes. I suddenly sat up, in the bed, and saw the devil. I rubbed my eyes to be sure, it was him. I said, ‘Oh! It’s only you.’ I then turned to Polly and told her to go back to sleep, it was nothing of consequence, and I laid my head back down. Suddenly an overwhelming sense of peace and love filled the room and we had the most blessed sleep ever.”

That really made an impression on me, and I told the Lord “I would like to get to that point, where I can wake up and tell the devil, ‘Oh, It’s just you.’ and roll back over and go to sleep.”

Friend, lest you have a misconception – victory didn’t come overnight.

When I first began implementing Pastor Deryck’s instructions, and once I finally managed to wake and shake free from my nightmare – I would fly out of bed, flip on the lights, and walk around my bedroom (sometimes the entire house) praying in tongues and casting out every devil and demon spirit I could think of or imagine. Sometimes I carried on for 5 minutes … sometimes 25 minutes before I felt secure enough (in mind and spirit) to return to bed. I bet our cats thought I was quite a sight to see.

Over time, the dream came less frequently, but it still came.

It was a thrill for me when I didn’t feel the need to jolt out of bed to take authority over my home. Under cover of warm blankets, I commanded the enemy to get lost and called on Daddy-God to dispatch His biggest and fiercest warriors to stand guard around (above and beneath) me and my girls the rest of the night. Or more truthfully, I requisitioned the “Big-Ass Angels”.   Ain’t nobody gonna wanna mess with them!!

The dream came less frequently, but it still came from time to time.

“One day a pet dog followed a lady out of her house and ran all around her feet. She said to the dog…’I cannot have you with me today.’ The dog wagged its tail and made a big fuss. She said, ‘ go home, my dear.’ But the dog did not go. At last she shouted roughly, ‘ go home,’ and off it went. Some people deal with the devil like that. The devil can stand all the comfort you like to give him. Get firm, cast him out! You are not dealing with a person; you are dealing with the devil…(he) must be dislodged in the name of the Lord.” ~Smith Wigglesworth

The real victory came when I noticed the feeling of being in a drug-induced fog was losing its grip on me and that I was waking up easier and sooner in the dream. After reminding myself that my Jesus was with me, and I’d imagine Him sitting on the end of my bed – watching over me – and back to sleep I’d go.

"Of Dreams and Nightmares"  www.puttinghopetowork.com
“Of Dreams and Nightmares” http://www.puttinghopetowork.com

This is what I wanted to capture in the artwork, and I’m really pleased with the piece. The devil lost the battle when I’d grown strong enough in my faith (trust in God) that while still half-asleep I’d lift one arm up in the air and mumble out the Name “Jeee-sus”… then roll right over and be back asleep in no time flat!!

Smith Wigglesworth: “Oh, It’s only you.”

Friend, wherever you are on your journey of faith, know this. “You are more than a conquerer through Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:31-39). May these words encourage your heart and embolden your spirit so that you may take of the victory that has been assigned to you!

Source: https://www.canecreekchurch.org/what-s-your-legacy/44-smith-wigglesworth

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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.