Pour Out Your Heart

It is never ending. The symptoms. The pain. The frustration, anxiety, and tears. The fatigue. The new diagnosis. Life dramatically changes when you learn you have a chronic illness. Things become devastating when you keep adding to that list.

It is bittersweet. One is thankful to know what is going on and that there is a logical explanation to the maddest within their body. Yet on the other hand, one may question, how can so many things be wrong with my body.

It becomes more challenging when no one offers a full treatment plan. A few medications may help, some, yet it is not nearly enough. The pain becomes so intense one questions if they are dying. More frustrating when someone cannot function and sees no way out. There is no independence. Living at your own risk.

Yes, positive thinking is an asset and it is fundamental. In contrast, shutting off all “negative” emotions will do no good. Sometimes we need to allow our selves to get frustrated, upset, admit it is too much, admit we are scared, anxious, or feeling hopeless in the moment.

For a very long time, I handled my chronic illnesses emotionally “too well” to some. I wasn’t scared or anxious or depressed. My doctor at the time felt I should be unstable and offered me anxiety or depression medications which I refused. I knew it was God’s grace which I would embrace until the season ended.

Now, three years later, I am more emotional and grieving my losses from chronic illness more. Not clinically depressed or anxious, just emotional more than I would like. It is a challenge for me, like many others, to allow myself to feel hopeless, anxious, or scared. I feel the need to be super woman. To handle everything perfectly according to an unrealistic worldly perspective. Feeling like I never measure up.

No where in the Bible does it say that a saved individual will handle every problem with no struggles or negative emotions and of course it doesn’t say we will handle it perfectly. Take a look at the Psalms to see how David shared his raw emotions with Christ. Christ meets us in the struggles. “For the Eternal will be a shelter for those who know misery,
 a refuge during troubling times. Those who know Your name will rely on You, for You, O Eternal One, have not abandoned those who search for You” Psalm 9:9-10. He holds us during the unbearable pain. He wants us to pour our hearts out to Him and to share the intense emotions. He encourages us to be transparent. He is okay with us saying that we feel it’s unfair, we are frustrated, angry, or scared.

Christ meets us where we are in the middle of the mess, the emotions, and pain. Psalms 34: 4- 5 says, “God met me more than halfway, he freed me from my anxious fears.  Look at him; give him your warmest smile. Never hide your feelings from him”(MSG). He holds us in His arms when life is too much to deal with. Endlessly He pours out grace in the tragedies. He wants us to trust Him in the difficulties. Gently, He will guide us and provide moment by moment.

Lord,

I lift Your name on high. Thank You for knowing me better than I know myself. For allowing me to be completely honest with You. You understand my sorrow, anxiety, and pain. You understand my thoughts and emotions better than I do. Help me to invite You into my pain and to pour my heart out to You without holding anything back. May I never hide anything from You. You are my refuge. I trust in You. Provide all I need. Help me to live life abundantly. Let each moment of my life bring honor, glory, and praise to Your name.

Amen

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It’s Okay To Not Be Okay

Featuring an Ann Voskamp devotional video.

“Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” Psalm 62:8 

Worn. Drained. Over spent. Bone tired. Every waking second consumed with endless tasks. Sinking. Stressed. Drowning in appointments, work engagements,and family obligations. Battling your own body- perhaps your own mind too. Battle after battle back to back with no time to recover.

Not okay. It is okay to not be okay to be in dire need of rest in the Saviors arms. Take time off from the chaos to reconnect with the Source of Life. Pour out your heart to Him, sweet friend.

“It’s okay to not feel okay because you have One who made you His one. You have One who left the clamor of the ninety-nine, to find you, remind you, remake you, rename you, and release you. It’s okay to feel whatever you feel because you don’t judge your feelings; you feel your feelings—and then let your emotions — move your toward God. You may feel ready to just forget what you’ve done, but you have one is who more than ready to forgive you. You may feel ready to just give up — but you have one who is more than ready to give you Grace. You may feel like you aren’t enough — seen enough, liked enough, heard enough, wanted enough, loved enough — but you have One who is an even greater Lover, an even greater Advocate, an even greater Friend, an even greater Savior, than you have ever imagined Him to be even when your love for Him was most on fire. Whatever the story is today, it is abundantly okay. Because the Writer of The Story has written Himself into the hardest places of your story and He is with you and He is in you and He is for you and He will not leave you until your story is made into abundant and amazing and forever glory.”  Ann Voskamp

Lord,

I have neglected my time with You. I have become consumed with wordy things, things that are quickly fading. I am over burdened and over spent. I am drained from trying to take control over things, make things okay, and do it all. I try to appear like I have it all together which is so far from the truth. Oh Lord, I need You now more than ever! Give me rest. Renew my bone weary soul. Remind me of who I am in You. Remake me to reflect Your heart. Give me the courage to pour our my heart to You. Let every breath move me closer to You.

Thank You for all You have done for me. I praise You for knowing me fully and allowing me to pour my heart out to You. Thank you from the depths of my soul for Your grace. Thank You for loving me where I am and reminding me that I am enough. Thank You for writing my story and allowing it to bring honor and glory to Your Mighty Name.

Amen

 

How can you rest in the Saviors arms today?

Praise God for His Faithfulness

 

“How enduring is God’s loyal love; the Eternal has inexhaustible compassion. Here they are, every morning, new! Your faithfulness, God, is as broad as the day.” Lamentations 3:22-23

Yahweh,

You are faithful even when I don’t feel You near. You are always with me. You are faithful even when my body or mind betrays me. When those I love reject me. You provide strength. Teaching me to be dependent on You. You are faithful, as the emotions run wild. Faithful even when the doctors fail. When isolation traps me. When my world is falling apart.

Lord Jesus, You are faithful in the smaller and bigger ways than I can imagine. Your faithfulness surpasses all understanding. Great and beautiful is Your unending faithfulness. You are my hope. Comfort. Provider.

Elohim God my creator knit my heart to Your. Guide me on the path You designed especially for you before air kissed my lungs. I am Depend fully on You. The storm will rage, but I have a secure and faithful anchor. Fear has no place. In You, I have sweet victory. Your faithfulness remains the same.

Amen

Does God Care About New Years Resolutions? 

New years can be challenging, even more so with chronic illness. Of course, there are many things ideally we would love to do, countless goals to set, but health is unpredictable. There are years that consist of back-to-back flares where the biggest accomplishment is living to see another year. Is it even worth setting goals with a chronic illness? Does God care about New Year Resolutions?

I do believe it is worth setting attainable goals each week and each day. Furthermore, I think God doesn’t care about a fancy out of reach New Year Resolution, but He wants Your number one focus to be Him. God deeply desires for you to grow closer to Him this new year, to worship Him more, and to love Him more. Additionally, He wants you to invite Him into each moment of your messy everyday life. He doesn’t want a few minutes only during your time with Him.

How do you invite Him into each moment? Focusing on Him during the day can be challenging but vital. We must be intentional. Thankfulness opens the door to live life, just as Jesus has called you too. It shifts our perspective to see God’s glory in every little thing.”No matter what the headlines shout, the world only has two stories: bless God or curse God.No matter what the world tries to sell, we all only get to choose from two shelves: Give God thanks or Give God the door. No matter what we’re facing, there are always only two roads: thanksgiving to God or dismissing of God.” Ann Voskamp

Moreover, a five-second prayer shifts your focus. A simple, help me Lord or give me grace in this moment is sufficient. Lastly, reciting Scripture you know by heart helps you to invite God into each moment. Our goal should be to continuously bring honor and glory to God’s name.

Choosing a word and corresponding verse of the year is currently trending. My word is thankfulness. I have chosen two Bible verses, And I come, eager to offer a sacrifice of gratitude and call on the name of the Eternal. Psalm 116:17. Come face-to-face with God and give thanks; with loud and joyful voices, praise Him in songs. Psalm 95:2.

Additionally, for the first time, I am setting goals for the year to grow in my relationship with Christ. A few examples include books of the Bible I want to read, finding two Bible verses to pray each month, memorizing a verse, and writing out a Bible verse every week.

Lord Jesus,

We praise You for Your tender mercy which allows us to have this New Year. Thank You for the countless gifts You have given us. Enable us to focus on You in everyday moments. Let us invite You into the messy moments of our lives. Allow us to grow closer to You in 2018. Let us love you more. We desire to bring honor and glory to Your name each and every day. Let us cherish Your Word like never before. Allow us to desire to spend more time with You. Help us to find new ways to grow in You. Amen

 

Joy of the Lord

“To the highest heights of the universe, glory to God!
    And on earth, peace among all people who bring pleasure to God!” Luke 2:14

Jesus talks about live abundantly for the believer. However, this does not mean life will be without trials it is the contrary. This promise does not mean that the believer lives in a bubble of good things, worldly wealth, things always go smoothly, or laughter. Countless trails challenge the believer, at times these trails plague the believer with no break.

The joy of the Lord is the anchor of the believer’s soul. It is intertwined with thanksgiving, hope, and peace. This joy more than an emotion and it is unwavering. Though the work of the Holy Spirit and a willing heart on our part we are able to have a perspective from Christ that allows us to rejoice in His name no matter what. We are able to be confident that everything will bring glory to His mighty name. Pausing throughout the day to praise His name and to give Him thanks enables us to live out the joy of the Lord. Living out the joy of the Lord in the midst of tragedy takes courage and it must be intentional.

How can you live out the joy of the Lord this Christmas season?

Lord Jesus,

You are awe-inspiring. Words cannot accurately describe Your infinite beauty. The earth is filled with Your glory and righteousness. One day everyone and everything will bow at the sound of Your great name.

Almighty.. My intercessor. You poured out forgiveness despite my unworthiness. Daily, You extend mercy and grace. I can never thank You enough for the gifts You have freely given me. I worship You with all I am. Lifting Your name on high.

I love to learn more about You each day. As I understand You more I grow closer to You and my love for You increases. Fan the flame of my desire for You so that it would increase. As I come to know You more enable me to teach others about Your character. Allow Your kingdom to grow. I desire to serve You, Master.

Allow me to live out the joy that You have given me. Let me experience abundant life even when I am in the midst of trials. Cultivate a heart of thanksgiving in me. Bless me with a perspective that comes from You. Let me remain anchored in You hope and daily experience Your peace.

Amen

 

 

Thankfulness in Advent

We are encouraged to write wish lists. The media hypes up the season with empty feel good out of reach promises. Such as promises of “true” love, materialistic gifts., and the picture-perfect Christmas day with family.  People strive for perfect.

Days that are nearly bursting at the seams with activities become more hurried so that more activities can be intertwined. There is no time to breathe in this season. In the blink of an eye, Christmas day has come and gone, leaving a sobering tragedy that we missed the opportunity to cherish moments and grow closer to Christ.

People become so busy that cannot hear the whisper of Christ. It is funny that the one thing we need most is the first thing we normally cut out, which is, our time with God. We might have a sing that says keep Christ in Christmas yet we neglect doing so.

Keeping Christ in Chrismas is more than using the phrase Merry Christmas. Keeping Christ in Christmas is slowing down and cherishing the gift of time. Keeping Christ in Christmas seeking Him with your whole heart and spending extra time in His presence. Additionally, allow Him to speak to You and transform You. Keeping Christ in Christmas is loving, praying for, and caring for all those around you.

Christ should be at the center of our excitement and focus. Jesus whispers gentle reminders to us. His name is whispered in the Old Testament. Jesus whispers to us in the chaos. He whispers in moments of silence in front of awe-inspiring lights. He whispers to us in the Christmas songs and through the texture of garland. He even whispers to us through the aromas of Christmas. Jesus whispers to us in Christmas, can you hear Him?

What if instead of wish lists we kept a gratitude list, how would this transform our Christmas season? Slowing down in gratitude, as mentioned in a previous blog post, enables us to enter fully into each moment. Advent overflows with gifts from the creation story up until our present day. These gifts are waiting to be acknowledged all we must do is pay attention.

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Christmas Gratitude Challenge

Jesus,

I am amazed at how you, my Sovereign God, parted with heaven for a season. You entered in a womb through a miracle utilizing uninvited women. Entering into the beauty of You creation and navigating this fallen world. You became a helpless infant.

I praise You with all my heart for the hope found in Advent. Help me to slow down, to cherish each moment, and to hear Your loving voice whispering to me. I surrender this Advent season to You knowing You will do a work beyond my dreams. Cultivate in me a Christmas heart of gratitude.

Amen

Slowing Down in Gratitude

_Slow down. Take a deep breath. What's the hurry_ Why wear yourself out_ Just what are you after anyway_ But you say, 'I can't help it. I'm addicted to alien gods. I can't quit.'.png

Hurry has become an addiction in today’s culture. How many times are we rushing through the day? We are in such a hurry, we cannot enjoy any moment, each moment becomes something to check off the to-do list. Overcome with stress.

Many nights before I go to bed, I recite my to-do list for the following day, hoping, that I am not forgetting anything. Hurry, business, and the to-do list becomes an idol if I am honest with myself. Are these idols in your life as well?

Chronic illness has forced me to slow down, but I still need to work on being more present in the moment. “Giving thanks for one thousand things is ultimately an invitation to slow time down with weight of full attention.” Ann Voskamp What if I pursued thankfulness more than anything else? If in each moment I thanked God for something instead of letting my thoughts wander, creating meaningless chaos, or run with emotion.

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Looking back I see serval things I am thankful for, even in situations that were painful. I do not rejoice in the pain or situation but carefully laced in there is a tiny treaure to give thanks for. Thankful for pain as a warning sign when my body threated to shut down, the medication received, and my nurses. Thankful for the closeness of Christ when my friends deserted me. I honestly feel if more often I would give thanks in the middle of the day that I would experience more joy. Like Ann Voskamp shared, I would enter more fully into each moment.

Ann recorded one thousand gifts in a journal. A simple yet genius idea. One thousand seems like a large number. An enormous commitment. However, each individual must begin with one, anyway.  I came to the conclusion that aiming for one thousand could encourage this to become a burden which would defeat the purpose. So, I grabbed a journal with few expectations in mind. Simply writing things I am thankful for from now until this time next year.

Let me share a few of the gifts I have taken note of.

  •  My mother whom is my source of strength, encouragement, and inspiration.The stunning woman she is. Words cannot describe how thankful I am for her or for how many things I am thankful for.
  • The pitter padder of children’s feet. The embrace of little friends.
  • The smell of kitties fur. Their comforting fur.
  • Capturing tiny moments with Abby in photos.
  • God’s presence. Faithfulness. Who He is.

I would be humbly honored if you, my friend, would join me on this journey of journaling gratitude. More than that to live an abundant life of thanksgiving. Taking time to pause and give thanks. Enriching daily life.  There is no better time to start than now. I have crafted three inspiration of gratitude lists; one for those with chronic illness, college students, and mamas. I hope you will print one out. Copy of Wedding Invitation

 

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El Elyon (God Most High),

Your beauty takes my breath away. Every molecule reflects who You are and worships You. Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty full of wonder, majesty, and goodness. I witness Your faithfulness daily.

Often, I overlook the blessings in my life. Forgive me, Lord Jesus. I desire to divorce hurry. Enable me to slow down and to enter into each moment fully with a thankful heart. Give me eyes to see Your beauty and glory in the ugly. Cultivate in me a thankful heart.

Amen