I Love You More Than Dirt…

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step by stepDavid YB Normal Bradbury and I are quickly approaching our wedding anniversary!  On July 3, we will celebrate 32 years of wedded bliss.  Bliss is a good word.  The dictionary defines it as: supreme happiness, utter joy, contentment.

Of course we’ve had our other moments, as all relationships do.  You know,  the ones where you really don’t like each other very much.  Working through those frustrations only deepens our commitment to each other.

Years ago, we were fortunate enough to have spent some significant moments with the late Rich Mullins.  If you do not know who he is, he was a gifted poet/songwriter.  He wrote about his deep love for God and of God’s unending passion for each of us!  If you get a chance to catch the movie that was made about his life, go see it!  It is called Ragamuffin.  It shows Rich’s struggles, which only deepens the impact of his love of God that is shown through his music.

Rich was killed in an auto accident in 1997.  David and I remember hearing the news of this dear man that we loved deeply.  His life still brings us joy and his death still brings us to tears, all these years later.

So….back to dirt.

At one of the retreats we were on, with Rich, he challenged us to write down 25 things that reminded us that life is good.  His point was we need to remember to enjoy this life that we have been given.  We often take life way too seriously.  Enjoy both the big things and the small things.

Well, David and I began to tackle this task.  It was much harder for me than it was for David.  Probably because I over think things.  Nooooo!, you say!  Anyway, we made our lists and came back to share.  I systematically numbered my paper from 1 to 25.  Again, you declare, “Of course you did.”

At the top of my list was David, of course.  What, you ask, was at the top of his list?

Dirt.

Yes, dirt.

I was third.

I don’t care what was second.

The point is.  David was first on my list and I was third on his!

This is a good example of how we think and function.  I am orderly and systematic.  David is much more of a free-thinker than I am.   Which is one of the fun things about our 32 years together.

This cataclysmic event happened in 1995.  After nearly 20 years of having this conversation and the subsequent explanation and after nearly 32 years of marriage, David still says, “I love you more than dirt” my heart still swoons!

**The pic is the song Rich wrote, “Step by Step”.  He wrote it at one of the retreats that we were on with him.  He sold each copy for $1!

Dreams – A Perspective Shift

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Here I sit in my reality

As I look around

I am still surrounded by pieces of my dreams

However, my perspective has shifted

What I thought were fragments of dreams long obliterated

Are, in reality, pieces of dreams that are coming together!

Not falling apart!

This is a perspective shift

The pieces are still there

Unassembled

All around me

However, they are waiting to be put together

All along I thought they’d been blown apart by some unseen force

By some misstep that I must have made in my life

Instead of looking wistfully at the mess

I am now partnering with the glorious chaos to pick up a piece

To study it

Lovingly

To wonder where it fits

What needs to go in before this one does?

The corners are fit snugly together

The border is assembled and sturdy

Now the fun begins to look again

And create the beauty of my dreams

Is This Thing On?

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David and I are stretching our tech-savvy wings. For years, David lived vicariously through my facebook account. But then, he got his own and off he went into the social media world.

Now he has a twitter account for his bbq grill cleaning business. You can find him at Indy Clean Grill on twitter and Indy BBQ Grill Cleaning is the actual company name and how it is listed on facebook. Shameless promotion: Hire him to clean your bbq grill!

Recently, I started an Instagram account, simply because of the pretty effects you can do on there with your photos. Did I know that you could follow the world on Instagram? Nope. I did not. Do I know how to do that? No, I do not.

So, why not add to the madness, I said one day. I started a twitter account for myself. Evidently, I tried that before because there were two accounts for me on twitter. I deleted one and can’t figure out how to use the other one.

And, what’s the point? I’m much better at sitting down with you over coffee, dinner or a glass of wine to hear how you are and to share my heart with you. But, I’ll play along with the rest of society and stretch my tech-savvy wings, slowly but surely.

However, if you’d like to hang out, face to face – let me know!

Courage – How Did That Happen?!

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“It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are.”  e.e. cummings

I woke up yesterday morning to find my spirit filled with courage and noticed the absence of fear.  It was just gone.  In it’s place were many things. Evidently, fear took up a lot of space in my spirit.  Therefore, that left room for many Kingdom attributes to fill that space.

What I woke up to, INSTEAD, was courage, love, peace, acceptance, security, joy, hope, trust, identity and so much more.  God always trades UP!

Father God is always moving in our lives, even when we can’t see Him.  I had no idea the healing I would receive by accepting the invitation to teach a workshop at our 2014 Vineyard Women’s Conference. If you’ve been reading any of these posts over the last two years, you know my battle with fear of being seen and heard. The wounds that caused these fears were legitimate.  The more I stepped into my true self, the more shrapnel I took on.  The obvious solution was to hide.  So I did.  For over 20 years, little by little, I went farther back into my cave. 

The truth I saw was this fact: Hurt people, hurt people.  That truth didn’t cause me to be brave. It just drove me farther back into my cave of isolation.  Everyone, self-protects for various reasons.  That was my reason.

Over the last couple of years in this healing journey, I’ve been asked to teach a few times. But each time required courage to overcome those two gigantic fears.  1.  Being seen.  2.  Being heard.  But each time I was surrounded by friends who loved me, whether I stepped up to the plate with a hit or a swing and a miss.

I agreed to each invitation, knowing it was part of my healing journey, but I was also launched into fear before, during and after each session. It’s not like I’m teaching a lot, or even for long sessions, but for someone who has spent the majority of the last 20 years hiding, even 7 times of being seen and heard is extreme. I’ll stand with you and you go do it!  That was always a better plan in my book.

There was a time 2 years ago at a conference in Colorado where I wrote something during a meeting that I was invited to share with the entire group at the beginning of the conference. Terror struck but courage persevered.  Once again, I was surrounded by friends.

At the Vineyard, the first time I was asked to share anything was to our group of intercessors, a few weeks after that Colorado trip.  The fear was really out of control. It was ridiculous, actually, so I was able to key into that – genius that I am – and ask Father God what lie I was believing.  He told me and I was able to ask Him for his truth INSTEAD.  Before the teaching, I still was trying to be brave, and cling to the truth that Father God had told me.  My friends, Randy and Jane, who happen to be our pastors, prayed for me.  They didn’t know my fear-based lie.  Randy says, “You are safe here”, among other things.  That was it!  That was the truth, in human form, that my heart needed to hear!  And this healing journey has indeed been one of great safety. 

For me, isolation – although comfortable, is not my answer anymore.  I am risking being known which is awesome because in that process, I have met the most incredible people who are all on the same kind of journey!  The women’s conference this weekend was two days of realizing we all self-protect.  There are no original lies.  We all carry various fears of being known. However, if I know who I am in God’s heart, then people can’t really mess me up. 

Here’s a funny story.  One time, in one of my teaching moments last year, I lost my train of thought!  My train completely derailed.  I drew a blank.  I looked at my notes, my eyes blurred and I couldn’t read them!  I stood there with about 40 people staring at me.  What was my response?  Did I suddenly close in prayer?  Pretend to have a coughing fit?  Make a joke?  No, I said, “Oh crap. My mind went blank.”  I wrote a poem after that fateful night.

I didn’t die

I didn’t cry

I didn’t run

And, I had some fun

I was indeed safe.

Someone prayed for me before this conference who didn’t know my struggles with the fear of being seen and heard.  He said, “There is a call on your life, but if you don’t take the first step, you won’t get there. It all starts with one step.”   What is the call on my life?  I don’t really know but I sure love that quote by e.e. cummings, “It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are.” 

Let the healing journey continue!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pursue Healing!

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I was reading in Acts the other night and this thread began to emerge regarding healing. In these passages it speaks of physical healing. However, it got me to pondering the reality of the ripple effects of inner healing. That’s where my greatest needs are and it is the ministry that I work in. I am part of the Sozo Ministry Team at my church. SOZO is the Greek word translated “saved, healed, delivered.” Sozo ministry is a unique inner healing and deliverance ministry aimed to get to the root of things hindering your personal connection with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. With a healed connection, you can walk in the destiny to which you have been called.

So this passage got me to thinking (see last blog post) about the impact that inner healing can have on countless lives. Not just ours!

Let me set the stage. This is my paraphrase version. Please do go read it in Acts chapters 1 through 4. It’s fascinating.

Jesus had already been crucified and the Disciples had actually seen Him in His resurrected form. They had to have gone from complete and utter despair to ridiculous life-changing joy and truth. Jesus did not die after all, as they themselves witnessed but He rose again – which He promised. They just didn’t have had any understanding of where to put those statements before the Cross.

Jesus spent time with them over a period of 40 days before he went back to Heaven, promising to come back again.

In Acts 3, Peter and John were going to the Temple to pray at 3pm, as they did every day. A man, who was lame from birth, was brought to the temple gate to beg for money. That was his lifestyle and his job. The passage says, “He was put there every day to beg from those going into the temple courts.” He was PUT there.  He couldn’t do this himself and he apparently had no other recourse.

He saw Peter and John and asked them for money. Many of us are probably familiar with their response, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”

They helped the man up and it says INSTANTLY (Acts 3:7) the man’s feet and ankles became strong and he jumped and then began to walk! The dude had been lame for 40 years (Acts 4:21), since birth!

Because of this miracle, Peter gives this rousing talk in which approximately 2,000 men gave their hearts to Christ for Salvation. Imagine a crowd that had to be more than 2,000 people. Not everyone would respond favorably. But Scripture says that the number of those who believed grew to about 5,000.  In Acts 2, an initial 3,000 people gave their hearts to the Lord.  I did the math.

It says men heard this message and responded by giving their hearts to Jesus.  Everyone knew that Jesus had been crucified. If it is men only, as the passage says, because of being in the temple courts, that would change the lives of 1,000’s more people as those men went home to their wives and children and told them what happened!

One man’s healing was the catalyst for at least 2,000 people coming to Christ.

Pursue healing.

I know that as I have experienced my own inner healing over the last two years, many others have been affected by my healing. Prior to reading this passage, I didn’t really think about the ripple effects of my inner healing. But, it’s true!

Pursue healing.

My inner healing is coming in waves but when it does, it gives me courage to:

  • Be visible
    • Use my voice
      • Listen to others
        • Care
          • Be present in the moment
            • Stand strong
              • Have hope

When I step in to my identity, others are affected simply because that’s how the Kingdom works. We really do need each other. I need you to be who you were meant to be and you need me to walk in who I am meant to be.

Oh, the name of the gate where this healing took place is “Beautiful”. Isn’t that beautiful?! I believe it is part of God’s love for us to offer us Himself so that our inner healing can begin. He looks inside our broken hearts and speaks healing to our spirits. Our mind is renewed and it is His desire to see us respond just like the healed man did at the Gate Beautiful. He instantly felt the change and he jumped up and began walking!

I confess that when I noticed my spirit getting healed, I didn’t respond that way. I didn’t instantly jump for joy and begin walking in my healed self. I sat back on the ground, so to speak, and stayed afraid. Why? Because I had years of being used to being afraid and of hiding.   God graciously continues to heal me. But, more than that, I think it is me getting to know Him in a deeper way where I trust Him with those broken places and I exchange them for His hand and He helps me up. Every time!

Pursue healing. It’s a beautiful thing.

To Think…. to imagine or understand something or the possibility of something. But to dream?

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I really like to think.  I can be rightfully accused of overthinking many things.  All through school, I was told that I made things too hard for myself.  Just do it this way…but….in my head, I’d be asking why?  Why this way? 

I can also remember, that as a little girl, I would lie (or is it lay?) in the back yard and spend a lot of time looking up at the sky, thinking.  The thought I remember the most was, “If God made everything, then who made God?”  Did you ever ask yourself that? 

 Now, many years later, I still love to think and ask God questions.  I looked up THINK in the dictionary.  One of the definitions is:  to imagine or understand something or the possibility of something.

Doesn’t that sound wonderful?  To imagine or understand something or the possibility of something.

Recently, there has been a lot of talk in my circle of friends about dreaming big.  Well, thinking I knew how to do but imagine my surprise when I realized that I had forgotten how to dream!  There are lots of reasons for this sad truth that I won’t go into on the worldwide web.  Let’s just leave it at this – I stopped dreaming because of fear.

For heaven’s sake I started this blog two years ago because I realized how much fear had overtaken my life.  So much healing has happened since I began this journey.  And, just like my loving Father God, He stirs my heart to want more and then He continues to show me areas where healing is neeImageded and gives me courage to move forward.

He could heal me with a thought, but instead He invites me to partner with Him in the healing that I so desperately want.  To partner with Him, for me – means, stepping out and trusting.  In the area of dreaming, it means to go beyond thinking and cross over into dreaming.  For me to dream again, means I must dismantle self-protective barriers that I had erected and begin to hope and feel.  I don’t put my hope in my dream.  That’s false hope.  I put my hope in the One who maybe, just maybe, gave me that dream. 

Psalm 37:4 in the Amplified Bible says it this way, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart.”  What if those dreams and desires in my heart were from Him to start with?  When I become more consumed with Him and not the ‘thing’ then I begin to live my life with the One that matters most. 

I’ve had one dream, and only one, since 1999.  Wow, what a big dreamer – right?!?  Like the Scripture says, it really was a secret petition of my heart!  This dream was so impossible that in the natural, there was simply no way I could make it happen.  It was beyond me in every way.  So, I prayed and just lived my life.  If God was the One who put that dream in my heart, as in Psalm 37:4, then as I delighted in Him, it was up to Him to make it happen.  I actually learned to rest in that truth through all the ups and downs that came with the waiting. 

Now, 15 years later, I am actually living in that dream.  It isn’t fully here, but I am in it! 

Yahooooooo!

But, I had only one dream.  While I could feel smug about my one dream coming true, instead, I am painfully aware that I have allowed other dreams to be silenced because of fear. 

So, now I am combining thinking with dreaming and the possibilities are endless!

It’s not up to me anyway.  I just trust, partner and live my life without my self-protective barriers.

PS…if you would like to read a great book on resurrecting your own dreams, my friend Byron Easterling wrote a book about this very subject.  It is called, “Dream Big Dream Often” and can be purchased on Graham Cooke’s site: http://BrilliantBookhouse.com.   And, I guess I’ll just tell you that my 15 year old dream is actually working with Byron.  Check out his website at http://bhhinc.org to see part of my dream coming true!

Are We Carrying Our Identity?

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Old-Suitcase-with-Travel-Stickers2-800x692I’ve been seeing this picture for a while. This past summer, in August 2013, I finally sat down to put this picture into words.

We, as a people, have been moving forward. What I saw was a moving walkway, like in an airport.  The entire ground was the moving walkway.  However, the space we were in was narrowing, the floor was still moving and the group was being funneled into tighter spaces.  Each person was carrying a suitcase.

I’ve been asking the Father for understanding, and a Scripture.  The Scripture is Micah 4:1-2. 

“In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it. Many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us His ways, so that we may walk in His paths.”

Until now, we have been used to having lots of space on our journey. But since the path is narrowing, we are bumping into one another.  My baggage is getting hung up on your baggage.  This has nothing to do with Graham Cooke’s teachings on baggage vs luggage.

But what does this mean?  Here are my thoughts in processing this picture, which is really an invitation!

  • Look in my/our suitcase to see what I/we could take out of the bag that we could wear instead of carry.
  • Are we carrying our tools/identity instead of wearing them on this journey?
  • It is time to take inspection and wear our identity and use our tools! Not just carry them for some time in the future, or be happy that we have them. (I have been guilty of that mindset.  Of having gifts/tools but not really wanting to use them.)
  • Carrying those things, instead of wearing them, weighs us down and causes us to take up more space when we are on our journey.
  • It is also time to inspect what we have been carrying around in our suitcase that we no longer need.
  • What are the things He wants to give us in exchange for our old mindsets, wounds, etc.?
  • I hear Him saying, “That old thing, may I have that please?  You don’t need that any longer, and it will just make you tired as you progress up My Mountain.  Will you trust Me enough to give me that?”
  • What are the things that weigh us down that we’ve been carrying around because we were simply used to having them? 
  • What parts of our old nature do we still cling to?
  • Can we lay them down and trust the Lord to heal us and equip us, as we begin to move forward without those things? 
  • Community – we need others.  Can we rely on those around us to help us get through the narrow spaces, up the mountain without the stuff we got rid of? – fears, anxieties, self-protection, independence, etc.

In continuing to live this out since August, it is challenging but …. I’m up for it.  How about you?

Autumn!

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I love Autumn!   It’s time for pumpkin spice lattes, apple anything, having the windows open and the continued joy of still wearing my flipflops!

The Fall just seems to bring a sense of hopeful anticipation every year.  The fun of summer ends, as our routines take on a more ‘normal’ rhythm, again.  But, hope and expectancy always seem to come around more, in the Fall.

Leaves morph into exquisite colors.   The leaves haven’t changed yet, but they will.  And soon.  I can come home from work, and even after an intense day of personalities and tasks, taking the slow way home –  my commute is only 10 minutes –  I can get refreshed just by the glory of the leaves on the trees.  Windows down, various tunes playing, kids smacking one another as they yell SLUG BUG YELLOW!  It’s all good.

But the Fall also brings with it a spiritual excitement.  We, in the church, seem to ramp up with programs and classes in the Fall.  We all do it.  However, this year, I as I have lots of fun things to step into, I am seeing things differently.

This year, as classes, programs, etc. start afresh, they are not just things to do.  They are opportunities for lives to be changed.  For people, myself included, to walk into more and more healing that our loving Father offers.  He can intervene in our lives at any given moment, but often He invites us into an intentionality and into community to find our healing and joy.

Nothing can come near to the joy of old friends.  Deep relationships exist in my heart over time, and distance.  Friends I just came to know two years ago are much deeper in my heart than they were last September.  I am looking forward to the friends that I made this year and seeing what will transpire over the course of this year of community.

What will the Lord do in all of our lives – TOGETHER?

It’s not about what church we attend.  We do lots of things with our friends, some who have a church family in other places and some who don’t.  The point is, we really do need each other.  It’s about community, friends and being together in life.

Here’s to a great new season!

Vacation Lag

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We’ve all heard of Jet Lag.  I think I have Vacation Lag.  Temporary though it may be, I’m a bit down in the dumps.  Contrary to my heart’s desire, I am unable to live the life of a social butterfly that spends time with her friends and sees places other than Indiana on a frequent basis.

The Dictionary says that Jet Lag is:  a temporary disruption of the body’s normal biological rhythms, after high-speed air travel through several time zones; a general feeling of fatigue and disorientation often experienced by travelers by jet aircraft who cross several time zones in relatively few hours.

Vacation Lag.  I’m going to make this a real term. 

Vacation Lag: temporary disruption of the heart’s normal longings for fun, after time spent with amazing friends after air travel to the West Coast, or driving 3 hours to Michigan ; a general feeling of blah and disorientation often experienced by social butterflies who have spent time with friends on vacation, which means they were not at their work place.

Yep.  That’s it.

I’ve been talking with friends about the beauty of being an introvert (whatever….so not me) and the beauty, or unexplainable fun, of being an extrovert (obviously me).  It is surprising to me how much I can get renewed by being around my friends in a social situation.  Even a meeting can be social for me, even though I may tune the meeting part out.  I just love my friends.

If I could be social, all day at work, I’d be fine with that.  But I can’t.  I was hired to be an administrator.  I love that part of me too.  But, I must say, walking the beach in California with friends, relaxing on the shore of Lake Michigan with more friends sure has filled my heart up to overflowing.

I think I need to splash around in that overflow as I get back to my every day, task oriented life and know that I love and am loved.

Therefore

I choose to be grateful

I choose to be all that God has made me to be

I choose to be present in the now

I choose to bless

And…

To play well with others.

Don’t Miss the Now

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Change…it happens.

I am really not a huge fan of change.  I like the silver kind, but the kind of change that makes me adjust my life, well…not so much.  I am comfortable.  Life has developed a certain rhythm that I have grown accustomed to.

However, over the last few months, I’ve noticed an area of my life where I didn’t want to change.  Or better yet, I want something else, not what it was becoming.  I don’t even have to say what the “it” is.  The point is: TRUST and ENGAGEMENT.

Do I trust that God is God even if I don’t like my “It” and am I willing to engage in these moments?

Here’s the conversation that I’ve been having with the Father.

Me:  God, I don’t like this.

God:  I know.

Me:  Please change this so that I can get on with my life.

God:  This is your life.

Me:  Yeah, I know, but You know where my heart is and what I want.  You know I don’t want this from a frivolous or selfish heart.  This is what I believe You want for me too.  So, let’s do this thing.  Okay?!

God:  I know your heart is not frivolous or selfish.  You do know what I want for you. You have walked forward with me and done all that you can do.  I know you are tired of waiting, but I Am with you in the waiting.

Me:  Yeah, I know that.  So, let’s roll.

God:  Timing, my sweet one.  My timing, not yours.

Me:  But…

God:  Yes?

Me:  But….

God:  I can open any door that I want for you.  Isaiah 22:22 says, “I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.”  That’s Me talking, you know.  Those are My keys and I use them when I want to.  When it is My time.

God:   My question to you is – are you willing to be content with Me, and trust Me, where you are right now?  Do you realize that I see you, right where you are?  I know the desire in your heart.  I put it there.  That forerunner spirit that I put in you is there for a reason, which makes waiting so very difficult.  This is where trust in Me comes in handy.  You might want to step into that.

Me:  You mean I have to adjust?  You aren’t going to make it better? Change it?  Make it go away?  Or bring these things to pass, now?

God: I Am going to make it better. It just won’t look like what you want it to look like.  Trust, my darling.  Trust Me in your now.  Trust Me in the wait.  I will accomplish all that I desire with you.  However, as you long for the future, open your heart to Me in the now.  Do not miss the now.  So many of My Children miss the now.  I am here and I have things that I want to invite you in to.  But, you are straining so much, standing on your tip toes looking to the future that you can’t see Me standing right next to you, inviting you into this space right here.

Me:  So, my struggle is to lay down my desires and find contentment and purpose now.

God:  No.  You are not to lay down your desires.  That’s passivity.  I put those desires in your heart.  Talk to Me about them.  Let Me hold them, and you, as we wait together for My timing.

God:  In the meantime, just open your heart to Me in the now.  Don’t miss the now.