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Like Never Before

My youngest son found a tiny acorn on a recent hike. I took a picture because I love  what the acorn represents. Potential. New Life. Growth. Possibility. Greatness.

In fact, I envision a huge oak tree with glorious roots that last for generations. I see the potential for new life and huge possibilities in the little acorn.

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Are you aware of the miracle of the acorn?

The acorn falls to the ground in the autumn months and takes root during the winter. The larva within the acorn is jolted from it’s shell and begins to create roots within the soil. Few acorns grow to fruition as there are many obstacles that can cause the process to end. Animals may choose the acorn as cuisine. The acorn may become too soft or rot before it can grow. Whatever the reason, few take root. If the acorn survives and takes root, it must dig it’s way 5 feet deep into the soil! And if it survives, takes root, and grows into a mighty oak tree: generations of future trees, animals, and people will glean of it’s magnificent and full glory! 

Oh, to be like the acorn!

To grow through obstacles. To become our potential. To plant deep, yet healthy roots. To bring forth new life. To create a legacy that lasts generations.

The potential is there. For all of us. Sometimes, it simply takes an acorn to show us the way. To serve as a reminder of who we are and who’s we are. To remind us that our potential is great and that our Heavenly Father is cheering us on in every one of our endeavors.

It’s never too late to BE MORE like never before. It’s never to late to be like the acorn. To grow deep roots and create a legacy for our children and future generations. As children of God, we have been commissioned as a team. Each of us has a unique purpose and an incredible plan for our lives. And what’s absolutely amazing is that each unique purpose serves as a piece to a puzzle, creating the overall grand and complete picture of greatness.

Did you catch that?

Our unique purpose works in harmony with every other plan and purpose within the universe. We have been given a creative mind that works congruent with other creative minds.

Breath that in!

How great to know that we are never in competition with one another, but rather, created to be a team. Together, we learn. Together, we grow. Are you catching the vision? Do you see your potential?

What dreams have you placed aside for a season? Do you have a vision and a plan to pursue them? What is stopping you? 

The time is now! Let’s GO!

Trauma: How do we progress forward?

Another school shooting.

Today.

School shootings hit close to home because I have boys close to the shooters ages.

Shooters. Because there have been too many.

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Recently, my middle son joined his high school on a walk out to stand against school shootings.

My alma mater was featured on the news as students protested school shootings.

Yet,

Today,

We have another.

9 deaths.

One shooter.

An entire school traumatized.

Families forever changed.

Loss.

So much loss.

Too much loss.

Too much sorrow.

And grieving.

Fear.

So much fear.

Students wondering,

Will our school be next?

And this mama’s heart wants to hug her own boys and keep them sheltered from the horrors of the world. They’ve already experienced personal trauma, in their own lives.

Trauma.

Lives forever changed by trauma.

TRAUMA.

One word that will keep us stuck

OR

kick us forward.

We’ve discussed mental health, gun control

We’ve prayed, we’ve cried, we’ve screamed at God

But what if there is something else we can do?

This is not to negate the very real grief and loss associated with horrific traumatic events. 

However, the truth remains, our children and youth and US ADULTS TOO have forgotten who we are. We are unsure of our purpose!

Life is short. and WE need a solution!

What if we start declaring to our children who they are and WHO’S they are?

What if we stop focusing our prayers on the problem and

Start declaring solutions!

OUT LOUD

For too long we’ve been scared into silence

I’ve been scared to speak my mind

BUT FRIENDS,

It’s time to make declarations over ourselves

our FAMILIES

Our FRIENDS

Our SCHOOLS

Our COMMUNITIES

Because THE TRUTH IS

WE HAVE THE SOLUTION

HIS NAME IS LOVE

AND WE are LOVE

And our CHILDREN are LOVE

AND we need to remind our children

EVERY TIME THEY LEAVE THE HOUSE

“Your name is LOVE!”

“Do you know who you are?!”

“Child of God. Speaker of Life. Believer in TRUTH. LIGHT. LAUGHTER. HEALER. JOY.”

Do YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE?!

Declare it with me!

I AM A Child of GOD.

I AM FAVORED.

I AM LOVE.

I AM Life.

I am my Father’s best idea!

I am creative, innovative, adored, honored.

I AM a mover and a shaker and I will use my influence to shake myself, my family, and my sphere of influence.

Do YOU know who YOU are?!

I AM called to declare life, love, freedom, healing to myself and my world.

Our words are powerful!

Let’s do this thang

Together.

 

*Today, lives are forever changed. My heart grieves for the parents and families hurting today and I am so very sorry for their loss.

 

Warning: Forgiveness Starts Here

 

I sit pondering.

One word.

Forgiveness.

warning forgiveness

How do I admit to the blogosphere that I’m struggling with forgiveness.

Right now.

In this moment.

I grew up in a world where struggles were kept hidden.

Masks were put on as we made our way to church.

Surrounded by other mask wearing people, we learned the dance:

To pretend. To hide.

To play the game:

The perfect Christian.

We knew the right words.

The correct phrases.

The Christian lingo that kept our truth hidden.

The truth about our struggles.

Because good Christians who believe in God and have big faith-

They were the ones giving the advice, saying the prayers,

Preaching the best sermons.

The truth is

that behind closed doors

the “perfect Christians”

were struggling.

Pastors. Evangelists. Missionaries. Preacher’s Kids and Missionary Kids. Sunday School Teachers. Board Members. Church Attenders. Church families.

Me.

Addiction. Pornography. Affairs. Abuse. Broken relationships. Gossip. Slander. Lies. Cheating. Scandle.

We all kept our struggles hidden.

Secrets. Stored in closets.

And if a secret grew so big it could no longer be contained,

all the other Christians looked upon those who had been exposed with judgement, guilt ridden looks, declaring words such as

“You should be ashamed of yourself”

“Did you hear what they did?!”

Secrets whispered, shame expected.

I heard the words.

On my wedding day.

“I’m sorry for shaming the family.”

That marriage is now dissolved and no more.

I heard the words through days of addiction.

“I’m sorry for shaming the church, the family…”

And herein is where my greatest struggle lies.

Forgiveness.

Because my greatest heartache has come from the one place that was supposed to be safe.

The house of God.

The church.

I said it.

I need to forgive the church.

Not the church that I believe exists wherever God’s children gather.

No. It’s the church. The institution. The 4 walls. The denominations. The Bible Colleges. The board rooms. The ministries. The rules. The expectations. All of it, inside the 4 walls.

of the Church.

The building that when I enter, I feel a sickness and shaking so intense that it’s been diagnosed as PTSD. And any reminder is a trigger for full blown anxiety that does not go away.

But why, the church?

I attended Christian preschool, elementary school and 1 year of high school. I think I lived at church. Sunday school, youth group, Bible Quiz teams, church leadership teams, puppet team (admitting that too!). I was a women’s ministries director, children’s ministries coordinator, ministry assistant, networker, builder, fundraiser. I attended Bible College, Christian college, worked in a Seminary. STOP. It. Right. Now.

I am the granddaughter of evangelists and married into a Preaching, Missionary, Bible College teaching family.

My entire family, is the church. Was the church. The 4 walls. The denominations.

Then. One day. I walked away.

Betrayal. Rumors. Lies. Half Truths. Shame taught. Guilt impressed. False images of perfection. Gaslighting. Blame. Finger pointing. Letter writing. Spiritual abuse. Financial abuse. Emotional abuse. Threats.

Feelings so intense, my soul shook, my heart shattered. Nervous Breakdowns. Panic Attacks.

I walked away. I hid away.

More secrets.

Be careful who you tell. Don’t talk about it. Keep it hidden.

Did you hear what he did? What she said? What happened?!

IT DOESN’T MATTER ANYMORE!

Forgiveness.

I bought the books.

I’ve prayed the prayers.

I’ve gone to deliverance meetings, counseling sessions, and trainings.

I’ve confessed it out loud and to friends.

My closest friends have seen the tears and heard my cries.

So I’m openly admitting, I’m tired of the game of pretending. Hiding. Secrets.

I’m openly admitting to my struggle and I’ve heard that when we finally step out, in faith, willing to be vulnerable while not condemning nor shaming nor blaming (God knows we’ve had enough of this in our lifetime)

Well, that’s when the breakthrough happens.

The healing breaks forth.

AND I KNOW I CAN’T GROW IF I DON’T FORGIVE.

70 times 7, right?

Take a deep breath, and let it all go.

So today, I’m taking a new step forward and openly admitting

I’m struggling to forgive.

I’m not alone. I know this. I’ve heard other stories.

I want the others to know, you’re not alone.

And I’m part of the church that needs to be forgiven.

And, I need to forgive myself.

So for all of us in the struggle,

I want to declare: Breathrough in Forgiveness.

I believe strongly in the power of declarations and affirmations.

So today I declare over myself and all others:

This is our day to forgive all who have wronged us. To forgive ourselves.

To allow ourselves to be forgiven. And to ask forgiveness.

Today, we pull out the deeply imbedded roots of pain, struggle, and heartache and allow God’s healing oils to seep into the space now left.

This is our breakthrough season of full forgiveness. Wholeness.

This is a new season of freedom that we will walk in.

And where we have healing and breakthrough, we will be able to bring healing and breakthrough for others.

Do you know who they are? Who I am? WHO WE ALL ARE?!

Children of God!

Brothers and sisters.

One church. One Bride. One Body. Us.

Forgiveness.

We can’t be love if we don’t forgive.

I can’t be love if I don’t forgive.

THIS is MY STORY and it WILL be for HIS glory.

 

 

 

Love Your Neighbor

Portland Tragedy Reminds Us: Who is Our Neighbor?

Over the weekend, 3 men were stabbed in Portland while stepping in to protect two teenage girls. Sadly, two of the men died and one is in critical condition but expected to recover. One of the girls was wearing a hijab. This all happened during a commute on a Portland light rail train.  The story is described in more detail here.

Love Your Neighbor

Who is our neighbor?

The Portland event hits close to home for me and my boys. The girls targeted are my middle son’s age. A very large percentage of students at my son’s school wear a hijab. In fact, one of the reasons we chose the school that he attends is so that he is immersed in culture. We want him to get to know people. We believe that it is important to meet people, hear their stories, try to understand hearts.

We believe that we are family.

We believe that every person is a child of God. We believe that humanity – all of humanity –  is created by God. Therefore, we are ALL brothers and sisters, regardless of the labels placed upon us by others or ourselves. My son’s school includes all religions and cultures. Not only do we embrace this, but we absolutely LOVE the diversity.

  What happened in Portland can just as easily happen in my hometown: San Diego. It can happen at my son’s school. It can happen in the surrounding areas.  It can happen with my son and his friends.  And I’m left wondering, would San Diegans step in as these men did?

Would someone step in for my son and his friends if this were to happen to them?

Would I step in, as these men did for someone in need of help? Would I step in, for anyone, for that matter- or simply do the easy thing and ignore? Pretend that I don’t see it and that if it’s not happening to me, it’s none of my business.

The Portland event reminds me of an ancient story I grew up reading,  a parable I was taught over and over again – In the story, many people passed by a dieing man of a different religion/culture, only one was willing to step in and show love.

The stories many of us grew up reading seem like a no brainer, until they come to life.

Would we pass “the others” by or will we stop seeing “others” and start seeing brothers. Sisters.

We are all more alike than we are different.

We are all created by the same God. We are all loved by the Father. And in this incredibly sad and unfortunate event, love wins. Love always wins. In death, love stands out the most. There is no us and them. There is only we. Love. Family.

Our very existence is to love. To be love. To show love.

Who is my neighbor?

And last, dare I ask:

Who will love the ones who hate? How do we do this, while keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe?

*It’s important to remember, this was not just an event, a circumstance, something that happened somewhere else. This entire tragedy is about lives. People’s lives, families, hearts have been deeply effected. Many are hurting and I don’t take that lightly. This is about them, us, all of us. We are family.

I Screamed at God and He Listened

I screamed at God.

Tears streamed down my eyes as I entered into full-blown panic attack mode.

I swore at God too.

I screamed at God and He listened

I drove my car toward the beach, sat at a red light and wondered if others could see my tears. I wondered if the driver next to me had also sat at red lights while screaming at God, tears streaming down their face. I wondered if this would be my life forever. I felt stuck. Alone. Devastated. Hurt. Emotions that can only be deeply felt and never accurately described.

“I CAN’T  $%#@**$ DO THIS ANYMORE!!! I can’t do this. Why aren’t you listening?! God, I need your help! WHY are you allowing this to happen?!!! I CAN’T %$#&* DO THIS ANYMORE!!!”

I screamed between breaths, beating on my steering wheel, broken, beat down, and ready to run away.

I wanted God to immediately intervene and fix my situation. Right then and there.

The truth is, God wanted more from me. He wanted all of me.

He wanted my full surrender.

The truth is, I wasn’t there yet.

The truth is, God created me to be his greatest work and he saw me at the finished line as his most spectacular master piece.

The truth is, he wanted my story to be a glory story, not a victim story.

The truth is, I heard a whisper in my ear that night,

“One day your story for my glory.”

And that would take some gardening in my heart and soul.

Pruning, watering, sunshine, growth.

The truth is a glory story leaves no room for blame, finger-pointing, offense, nor defense.

God’s glory story is about love, redemption, surrender.

God’s glory story is always a happily every after for every character written on every page within every chapter of our hearts.

It begins the moment we turn the page of our ugly chapters and declare:

My story for your glory. God, I’m ready for you to do your work in me.

Today, I’m gardening with God. And it’s the most beautiful adventure of discovering holy spirit treasure, hidden deep within the confines of my heart, soul, and mind. It’s a journey and a daily surrender. The truth is, growth hurts and I’m experiencing growing pains. NOW! In THIS season!

The truth is, I’m still in process.

What are you discovering in this season? Have you uncovered your treasure? Have you discovered the treasure in others? Are you in the process of gardening? Together, we learn. Together, we grow. Together, we are getting better at love.

The truth is, he wanted my story to be a glory story, not a victim story.

Going on a Treasure Hunt

Today, I had the amazing opportunity to write about a subject that is very close to my heart. I titled it: Going on a Treasure Hunt, 5 Truths I Learned about God in Parenting my Boys.

Please visit Sacred Stories, to read my story and let me know if you can relate. Thank you, Courtney for allowing me to guest post on your beautiful blog. Truly an honor and privilege to be part of a project that inspires grace, love, joy, and hope. All words that make my heart leap with glee!

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.(1)
 

Politics Schmolitics: Where’s the Love?

Are we so intent on being right, that we are willing to hurt the hearts of others?

I don’t want to be right if being right takes the place of showing love, forgiveness, grace.

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Are we so determined to win at all costs, that we are willing to destroy our own peace of mind?

At what point to we put down the dagger and determine to win with love?

True Love.

The truth is: love wins.

Love always wins.

But I think that too often, we forget what love is.

Love is gentle, kind, keeps no records of wrong.

Love is not jealous or boastful.

Love seeks to honor everybody.

Love is not easily angered.

Love perseveres, gently.

I am still learning this love thing. It’s a process. But I’ll choose love over and over and over again. And I do believe our souls recognize beautiful love. Authentic love. True love. We see it, feel it, hear it, seek it.

What is love to you? Are you actively pursuing it? Are you allowing love to pursue you?

Look up. Look around you. Look at the child beside you. The butterflies that fly by you. The birds that sing to you and the ocean that roars to a harmonious beat. Do you feels love’s embrace? Smile with me, love’s got you.

Love wins. Love always wins.

Child of God: Come OUT of THAT Cave!

In the past, when I didn’t feel safe, I hid. Serious Elijah style: In a cave! No, I’m not coming out. It’s safe here. Gossip. Talking behind my back. Assumptions. Betrayals. All things that make me feel Unsafe. I find Elijah’s story rather humorous, simply because I can relate. Elijah had a cave. I have my house, room, bed: Places where no one will find me.

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“What are you doing here, Elijah?” The Lord asked.

If that was me, I would have given my own excuses, blame, victim story. But it all boils down to feeling unsafe. Fear. Forgetting that God is the great I AM. He knows all. He sees all. He cares for each of his children the same. EXACTLY, the SAME. And regardless of our humanity, choices, actions, mistakes, good intentions: Creator God loves us. He is near to us. He waits for us. Arms wide open. Always.

I know this, because He is a father.

The soul desire of a father’s heart is to be near his children. To delight in them. To celebrate them. To laugh with and to listen to them. And while we are in our own hidden caves, he bends down and whispers to us: I love you. I see you. I know you. Take my hand and come out of that cave!

Psalm 91:4

He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

Have you ever had an Elijah moment or season? How did God bring you out? This is healing season! Together we learn. Together we grow!