Saturday, April 24, 2010

Fully present, fully feeling, fully ALIVE

Excerpt from Captivating (by John & Stasi Eldredge)

Be present

John and I were at a newcomers’ dessert-type thing, a get-acquainted deal where, as part of our introductions to each other, we were to share what our “family motto” was. In our little group was an older couple we had been drawn to. The gentleman had a twinkle in his eye, a spark, as if he had discovered the secret to life and it brought him much joy. His wife was a tiny woman who I can best describe as being very present. She was not a woman hiding, nor a woman afraid. She was a woman at rest, at home with herself and with all pistons firing. She was alive and beautiful.

The gentleman looked to his wife and asked, “Do we have a family motto?” She answered, “Well, it’s been on the refrigerator for the past thirty years.” He asked, “What, Amana?” After some laughter, this is what she shared. This is what she lived by. This is what she invited others into:

Now we should live when the pulse of life is strong. Life is a tenuous thing... fragile, fleeting. Don’t wait for tomorrow. Be here now! Be here now! Be here now!

To live as an authentic, ransomed, and redeemed woman means to be real and present in this moment. If we continue to hide, much will be lost. We cannot have intimacy with God or anyone else if we stay hidden and offer only who we think we ought to be or what we believe is wanted."

I listened to some preaching by Tim Storey about seven or eight years ago. It changed my life. I’ve listened to it over and over again during the past few years – I bought the recordings - and every time Holy Spirit had reminded me of different things that he said in his sermons, but I have not thought of these words in all of these years. He said, “God wanted him to be fully present, fully feeling...” Tim was talking about having a way too busy life, to the point where he didn’t have time for the ordinary things like taking his son to the dentist. Then God changed his life and showed him that he didn’t have to be on conferences and in church every day, all the time in order for God to do miraculous things through him; to be the man of power for the hour! God wanted him to be present.
It is not always easy to be fully present, fully feeling; especially if your heart is being ripped out of your chest.

I have experienced a relationship very recently that changed my life forever. It awoke my heart to life! I guess God wants me also to be fully present, fully feeling, fully alive, and not numb or unconscious. That is something that I have been for many years. It also served its purpose because God had been doing a tremendous work of healing in my life, and I needed to be set aside for Him only for a time. I guess that time is drawing, or has drawn to a close and now it is time for something new.

The book Captivating is aimed at unveiling the mystery of a woman’s soul. I first read this book about eight or nine months ago. This book is based on, what the authors believe are the three longings of the heart of every woman: (1) to be romanced, (2) to play an irreplaceable role in a great adventure, and (3) to unveil beauty. That is, according to this book, what makes a woman come alive.

I started reading it and thought to myself, “WHAT!!?? I DON’T WANT TO, OR NEED TO BE ROMANCED BY A MAN! I DON’T NEED TO HAVE BEAUTY UNVEILED FOR ANYONE, and I DON’T C-A-R-E ABOUT BEING THE HERO IN SOME GREAT ADVENTURE!!” I felt frustrated because I couldn’t relate and threw the book one side. I thought to myself, “ Where the hell did I come from?” I wasn’t your average woman and I didn’t dream like one and I couldn’t care less about a few things that seem like such a big deal to other woman. I actually almost found myself feeling sorry for them at times, and grateful that I didn’t have the burden of the same issues, being a woman myself. My life was simple, uncomplicated and fulfilling... or so I thought...

About 18 months ago, my loving sis sent me a book, also by John Eldredge, called Dare to Desire. In it he writes, “What have you done with the deep desires of your heart? Because the truth is, those desires don’t ever go away. If we do not find the life our heart was made for, if we abandon those desires and try to get on with our duties and obligations, those desires do not disappear. THEY GO UNDERGROUND.

The deepest desires of my heart had gone underground many years ago because of great pain in my life. I had become afraid of desire, because I didn’t think that I stood a chance in hell ever having them fulfilled. So I started making peace with a compromised life; making the best of a bad situation.

But I can see that that was not pleasing to the Lord. So He put me on a journey that I did not plan on, and He used it to change my life. He brought me TO LIFE.
Only thing was, now I was (am) fully alive, fully feeling, and hurting like hell!! I was mourning and feeling like every sob was from a place so deep inside me that I could barely breath, let alone explain in words what I was feeling. Those are my most intimate moments with God: when He is the only One who knows, even when I don’t and can’t tell Him. It is His LOVING me in those dark and low places of my life that has brought me to the place of relationship with Him that I have today. How comforting to have this relationship that will last a life time – on this earth and BEYOND! Eternity is a time space that I can’t even imagine, and THAT is how long my relationship with Him will last. ISN’T THAT AMAZING!!

In those very broken moments my initial feeling was that of not having been good enough. That has always been my feeling. But this time, it was changed as I progressed. I was able to see that I had offered everything that was beautiful about me as a woman, as a person to him, and he didn’t want it. I was able to see that it is not that it was not good enough – in fact, it was b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l! Only the second part was hurtful to me... he didn’t want it. My question to God was, “how could he NOT want it? I mean, it was my best; my heart, my love, my passion, my friendship, my beauty, my joy, my peace, my comfort, my wisdom, my understanding and support,.... so much beauty, and yet there I was, all of it scattered at my feet.”

My concept was that he took something beautiful and precious and threw it away, until I realized...

He didn’t see what I saw... he didn’t hear what I heard... he didn’t experience what I experienced... he didn’t feel what I felt... he didn’t realize what I realized...

I was looking at this experience as if he had seen it through MY eyes. BUT HE DIDN’T. And through HIS eyes it looked very different.

We were in the same situations, the same relationship, the same spaces, the same moments, but we did NOT experience it the same way.

MY LIFE CHANGED! But for him I was just another woman of many who have come and gone. Nothing changed for him. MY WHOLE LIFE DID!

In his mind he wasn’t throwing away something beautiful, precious, valuable... I was just another fling; short lived and meaningless. And after me, he just carried on to the next, and the next, and the next.... but MY LIFE CHANGED because he had passed through it... GOD changed me and used this journey for HIS purpose. In the context of eternity this was a defining moment in God’s plan for MY life. He was just the human body who achieved God’s purpose for my future, my destiny.

So yes, it was hurting right now, but I believe that what God had achieved in me in the greater scheme of things BY FAR OUTWEIGHS the pain that I was feeling, and which (God knows/knew) was only temporary. When the pain is gone, the wonderful work that He had used it for will remain... and it will add to the beauty of me. ISN’T THAT AMAZING!!! for ashes... Just as God promises in Isaiah 61...

I read some excerpts from an article by Brenda Davis (Lord, please change me):
You would no doubt confess that before you experienced some of the difficult things in your life, you were a different person. Every test you went through exposed something in you (good or bad) that had been hidden, maybe even from yourself.

God moves dramatically in us, not to just make us happier people or to fix all our problems (although His will for us encompasses these things too). But He works in us to transform us into men and woman who will exhibit His nature on the earth and give the world a glimpse of Jesus.

But because the change we need happens in intimate fellowship with Him, a by-product of our transformation is that we’ll also get to know Him in a deeper way.

Our transformation is orchestrated by One who is perfectly loving, faithful and compassionate in everything He does. We can embrace the processes He chooses.

Deep within us the Holy Spirit’s work may be hidden from view, but that doesn’t mean nothing is happening! In fact, before you can even say, “Lord, please change me,” the work has already begun.

In closing, I want to quote another few words from Captivating...

"So, may we take a moment and remind you who you truly are?

You are a woman. An image bearer of God. The Crown of Creation. You were chosen before time and space, and you are wholly and dearly loved. You are sought after, pursued, romanced, the passionate desire of your Fiancé, Jesus. You are dangerous in your beauty and your life-giving power. And you are needed.

As a woman who has been ransomed and redeemed, you can be strong and tender. You speak to the world of God’s mercy, mystery, beauty, and his desire for intimate relationship. You are inviting; you can risk being vulnerable, offering the weight of your life as well as your need for more because you are safe in God’s love. You labor with God to bring forth life – in creativity, in work, in others. Your aching, awakened heart leads you to the feet of Jesus, where you wait on Him and wait for Him. The eyes of His heart are ever upon you. The King is captivated by your beauty.

We need you. We need you to awaken to God more fully and to awaken to the desires of the heart that He placed within you so that you will come alive to Him and to the role that is yours to play. Perhaps you are meant to be a neurologist or a horse trainer. Perhaps you are to be an activist for ecology or the poor or the aged or the ill. You are certainly called to be a woman, wherever else He leads you.

And that is crucial, dear heart. Whatever your particular calling, you are meant to grace the world with your dance, to follow the lead of Jesus wherever He leads you. He will lead you first into Himself; and then, with Him, He will lead you into the world that He loves and needs you to love.

It is by invitation."

I am invited; YOU are invited!

My temperament


You are a deep ocean and just as violent. You are emotional and thoughtful, artistic and musical. Even if you don't draw or play an instrument, art and music play a big part in your life. You are talented and creative. You are philosophical and poetic. Sometimes that means you create a piece of art or poetry, and sometimes it means you have a new idea or a new way of approaching something.

You are always an original. You underestimate yourself and are sensitive. You put others before yourself. You feel their pain. When someone has a problem, they come to you. Not to solve it, but to cry with them. You are analytical and conscientious.

Even with all this analysis you are idealistic. You appreciate beauty. You see things others miss, and can feel a problem coming like a chill before the rain. You are orderly and organized and strive for perfection in everything you do.

You value things, people, resources. You are very focused on the details. You make friends cautiously and the friends you have are few and very close to you. You are very faithful and devoted. You value loyalty and can become resentful if betrayed. You seek out special people who see your depth and beauty and they travel with you for long friendships.

You have a deep concern for other people and will listen to their complaints. People rely on you. Introvert: The Resident Genius.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Empty or opportunity?

About nine years ago I went through a very similar experience in my life than I’m going through now. Around that time I received this piece through the Spiritled Woman website’s weekly ezine. It meant so much to me at the time. I printed it out and stuck it on my wall at work where I could be continuously reminded of this in any other situation that I had to face where I was experiencing “empty”.

It was the weirdest experience to receive it in the ezine again two weeks ago... just as I was going through the same (in essence) experience as nine years ago... So I thought to share it.


Empty is not fun. No one likes the thought of an empty glass, an empty gas tank and least of all, an empty bank account. When considered in those terms, empty is just plain undesirable. But what would happen if we could begin to think of empty as opportunity? What if, every time we saw barren, we could imagine bounty?

The idea of seeing what could be instead of what is, would not be, however, an earthly exercise in wishful thinking, merely an act of human intellect. Instead it would be a spiritual application of a powerful biblical principle, which simply teaches; "We [the righteous] live by faith, not by sight" (2 Cor. 5:7, NKJV). In other words, we are to live in expectancy, standing on what we know and believe to be true and not living in despair, troubled by what we see with our natural eyes.

When we start training our hearts to look at life with spirit eyes instead of with human ones, we will begin to recognize that appearances are not final and facts are not always the truth. For the faith-walker, when the world says it's over, we know God is just beginning and an empty condition is just an opportunity for the Lord to fill it with something spectacular and beautiful.

The widow of Zarephath discovered this (see 1 Kings 17:10-16). In her moment of desperation she experienced a life-shaking encounter that forever rattled her perspective. After the death of her husband she found herself with empty cupboards, empty pockets and an empty hope. That emptiness in God's economy, however, was precisely what made her a candidate for a miracle.

The widow's empty turned opportunity when Elijah, the prophet of God, asked her for a piece of bread. Instead of clutching to her meager supply, she agreed to release her grip on the only remaining resource she had. Who would have known that this single act of faith would activate and unleash the miracle supply of God for her and her son? Just as the word of the Lord had said, "The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land" (NIV). Her source of survival never dried up. Though to the natural eyes the jar and jug appeared near empty, leaving them in a continual state of hunger, the eyes of faith understood it to be abundantly plentiful, leaving them completely satisfied and fulfilled.

This Old Testament story gives us a contemporary lesson on how we should view our needy condition. Instead of seeing our lack as hopeless and futile, we should gaze with the eyes of faith into the possibilities that await us. Remember, when "empty knocks" it just may be opportunity in disguise.

Still not convinced that empty can be good? Then consider this. Jesus knew empty. In fact it was the very emptiness of our Savior that now allows us to be filled with eternal life. Think about it: First, God emptied heaven and sent His only Son to live and die on this earth. Then, Jesus emptied Himself so He could take on human form and pay the price for our sin (see Phil. 2:6-7). What an amazing concept to grasp! The fullness of Jesus was preceded by His willingness to empty Himself. And last of all, hell was emptied of its power, leaving an empty tomb as proof that our God is an all-powerful, miracle-working God and nothing is impossible with Him!

Today Jesus is on "empty" pursuits. He is not angered about our empty condition; rather, He is tenaciously after our barrenness so that He can bring us His life and fullness. Just as He summoned the "empty jars" at the wedding in Cana of Galilee so He could fill them with water and transform it into wine, He calls to us right now.

God asks for our desert, our dry and empty places, so He can fill us with eternal, life-giving water and grant us the opportunity to taste the sweetest wine this life has to offer.

No, empty is not fun. But it does possess the potential to be transformed. Whether it is our human heart and all our emotions, or our outward circumstances, God is the source and the fulfillment of everything we could ever dare ask for, dream of or imagine. So next time you see empty, believe for opportunity!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Heart to heart...

Very often I write to inspire others, but today I’m writing (attempting) to heal my own heart...

It’s been a month since he ‘left’... it all ended with a simple SMS; no fight, no conflict, no disagreement, no discussion, no nothing...

He’s been ignoring me all this time. The more he does, the more desperate I feel to find out what is going on; the more he pushes me out, the more desperately I find myself wanting IN. It almost feels pathetic. I can’t understand why people can’t communicate; tell me what you think and maybe we can work it out. Or tell me and then leave. People who choose to ignore obviously have no idea of what the other person is going through; the imaginary things that go on and the consequences that come from it. A lot of people seem to think that if you just stick your head in the sand like an ostrich, then all your problems will just disappear, as well as all the people that are involved with it. In my case I almost want to tell the guy that he is only making matters worse for himself with this behaviour. It is not making me go away, but instead, draws me in. It makes me feel a sense of determination to break through.

“A friend indeed”... a part of me wishes that we were able to finish our conversation. A part of me wonders whether there might have been closure for me in the messages that we never got to exchange before you left... To you I want to say that my heart felt broken when I heard what had happened to you! Even crying as I’m writing this... I felt connected to you somehow, even though I have never even met you in person. You left so suddenly... Like you said, “it probably wasn’t meant to be”. I think of you often, but finding out what had happened to you helped me find a measure of closure or otherwise I might have been waiting to hear from you again – even looking forward to it – and you would never have been heard of again... I would always have wondered where you disappeared to. My heart feels at peace in a way for knowing that you are gone forever. Sometimes I almost miss you...

But even as I’m struggling with my own broken heart, I also cry for yours. I wonder whether you ever found peace about the prices that you paid and the losses that you have suffered... or did you pass away broken, hurt, bitter even, angry....? My heart breaks for the brokenness; yours, mine and his... I believe that hurting people hurt people, and can’t even begin to imagine what you guys must have gone through. My heart cries for your pain and the tragic end to it all. It cries for his brokenness and now you are gone. Have you guys ever found peace with one another... or could you not move past the anger, hurt and resentment... unforgiveness.

A part of me wants to believe that what you said is true, but only because he is still so broken. Another part of me wants to believe that under all that pain there is the man that I think I saw. In my heart I still love him... regardless. I wonder what your leaving will do in his life.

My heart breaks at the thought of what he is left with now that you are gone. Dying seems so easy in comparison with living with brokenness. It is so the prayer of my heart that maybe your death will give him the gift of life somehow... However, it must be very hard to resolve matters when the people that you have it with are no longer alive...

Your passing was yet another precious reminder for me about how precious life is and how it is vital to treasure every moment! I wish we could make peace. I wish we could sit around a table and talk and cry our heart out and clear the air... I miss him. I don’t know how to let go...

You know what is the sad part for me...? His son. All my life I never wanted to have anything to do with a man who has children with another woman. Now that I have let him in, come to love the both of them, I hurt for the loss of two very precious people. My heart ache for this child caught up in all of this brokenness. Now I find myself wondering how I am supposed to be satisfied with only a man... no child... and yet no other man’s child will ever be this child; no one else can ever take his place.

The other thing that is really starting to bother me is the fact that I’m not sleeping at night. I lie awake at night with only him on my mind. I have never before in my life had so many sleepless nights over a man. In the morning I’m irritated and sometimes I’m tired. Sometimes I lie and read my bible, other times a book, other times I pray for him. Sometimes I feel upset for not being able to rest, yet knowing that I need it... None of this helps. I’m not prepared to live on sleeping tablets. That I have made my mind up about, which still leaves me with the sleeplessness. I don’t know what to do. I’m not finding peace...

He seems so angry... I wish I could help him. All I can do is pray.

Everyone tries to tell me how he is not worth it and that I should just forget about him. The thing is that all I find myself doing is dying trying. I actually end up just not telling anyone what is really going on inside my head, and I kind of struggle on my own. I find myself not talking about it. People don’t want to hear of your sorry issues and the reality is that I am not able to hate him, or be angry with him. So I can’t get him off my mind, but I just don’t tell anyone that. I find myself thinking that if I did, it would make me appear weak. I’m supposed to just get over this guy and move on, and I’m not managing it. Just that no one has to know about it...

Whilst we were together, especially during the earlier days, I felt so alive. Everything just seemed as if it had finally come together in my life. I haven’t felt that alive in a decade... It seemed that everything and everyone that was part of it just flourished.

It is as if someone took a beautiful glass vase, filled with the most beautiful flowers, and dropped it all to the floor... and now it lies scattered at my feet...

How do I move on with this empty hole inside my heart...?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

From my heart... thank you for the journey!

Ten years ago a friend of mine needed help with a place to stay. I wanted to be kind and a good friend, so I offered that she could stay with me. It was a DISASTER. I did not have what it took to pull it off... and within two weeks we struggled over the last hump of our now, used to be friendship. I helped her alright... I helped her find a new place and helped her move out; move on, and that was it.

In a way I had made up my mind that I was not good at living with someone; maybe I would do so with my husband one day, but most certainly not with a friend. For the next ten years I lived on my own and loved it.

Very recently, though, something very significant has clicked over in my life. I also had a similar life changing moment a decade ago.

A decade ago... quick recap:

When I was 21 I got married (knowing that I was making a grave mistake). When I was 22 I got divorced (in a wobbled effort to correct that mistake). God started dealing with me and healing my life and by 23 I felt like I had been reborn; as if my life had literally began! Still to this day, 10 years later, I still feel 23 at heart.
Now, 10 years later a special man has crossed my path. Something has clicked over in my heart. My life has changed from a life about I, me and myself, to such a burning desire to share my life and my space with loved ones. Now I cannot imagine my life like it used to be.

I see myself with a beautiful home filled with people and filled with love. I see kids running around, sitting around a table doing homework, playing games, talking, sharing, laughing, even crying... I see dogs running around on a beautiful green lawn, barking. Belongings of everyone lying around the house, my parrot making noise, learning to speak, phones ringing, dinner cooking on the stove and amazing aromas filling the air as you walk through the front door (and I’m not talking about smelly shoes). I see hugging, touching, show of affection, caring and kindness. I see cars in the driveway and friends who just enjoy spending time in our home; who feel welcome.

I can’t say for sure, but something has changed in me; I have changed.

Things, it would seem, did not work out with this man, but I know that my life will never be the same again, and I am eternally grateful!!

With all the clicking that has happened in me lately, another dear friend of mine needed help with a place to stay (since about two months ago). I felt it in my heart to help her and so she moved in with me. I knew I was different this time, but I couldn’t help but wonder how things would work out this time around.

I am happy – very excited indeed – to report that it was such an amazing experience!! It wasn’t perfect, but there were a million more good experiences than there was difficulty. We had the odd conflict, but we were mature enough to talk it through and work it out and come out on the other side with a stronger relationship and a friendship that I hope will last a lifetime!

I thoroughly enjoyed the night time talks; having had someone to chat with before falling asleep, and first thing when waking up in the morning; laughing and crying together, and crying with laughter. I thoroughly enjoyed having someone to come home to besides the couch. I LOVED having someone around to cook for, to have meals with... I loved the times I got home, tired after a long day, and someone had prepared dinner and I didn’t have to do it. I loved cooking my favourite meals and watch someone enjoy it as much as she did. I’ve never really been big on cooking for others, but I had so much fun doing it now.

It also worked out very well in terms of finances. Each one simply contributed spontaneously, as if it was the most natural thing in the world. We always had milk in the fridge, food on the table and all other needs met. She helped me, and I helped her, and together we both progressed to a whole new place in each of our lives. So much life (positive things) has come from this experience!

My heart is grateful for all the wonderful memories that I’ve gained from this time together, and also just the knowledge of how far I’ve come in the past decade with regard to personal growth! When I look back, I KNOW now that I have changed and I LOVE it!!!

Now the time has come for things to change again. Both my friend and I have been unemployed for several months now. We have both found new employment and we even started working on the same day! Imagine that.. :o) And now she is moving out again...

I’m glad for her, but I’m sad for us... bitter sweet.

So what I would like to say is: What a ride, my friend!!! Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for travelling with me. It has been such an awesome experience; a glorious time!

So what happens now...? I’m not sure...

Looking forward from here I definitely see my life filled with more people. I believe the days of I, me and myself are over. I envision my life filled with people to love, people to enjoy, people to care about and people to share myself with. I really believe that I have so much to share with them; for them to enjoy, and I sincerely thank those special people in my life that is helping me to discover just what I have in my treasure chest. The more I’m discovering, the more I’m loving it, and the more I’m healing, and the more I’m blossoming and the more I’m loving life!!

The end of one season brings the beginning of a new one...

Thank you.... from my heart, thank you... for the journey!!