War Room

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Chuck and I went to see War Room yesterday afternoon.  To say it did not disappoint is an understatement…it awakened my heart…it renewed my love affair with Jesus.  It reminded me of the power of passionate and deeply heart-felt prayer.

I couldn’t wait to see this movie when I saw the previews.  Nothing gets my spirit stirred like passion and prayer.  This movie was filled with that.  It’s amazing what being vulnerable with God does in people’s lives.  That is what brings out our true Joy…vulnerability and real relationship with Christ.

A couple of months ago Chuck and I were sitting on the beach basking in the serenity and beauty of God’s work, and I explained to him what I wanted for our family…what I wanted for our marriage…what I wanted for our lives.  I guess that may sound strange as we have been married for 10 years, but this life is a journey and a process, and through the process of this journey, I realized what my true heart’s desire really is.  It was a hard thing to explain, but after seeing this movie Chuck understood with his heart everything that I told him that night on the beach.  My true heart’s desire is to commune with Jesus…to revel in the romance of Him…to dance in the adoration of Him…to feel His gaze deep within my soul…to live my life with Him in every moment.  I want our home and our decisions to be led by Him.  I want to experience intimacy with Him with my husband.  I want the three of us to be so intertwined…like perichoresis – a fellowship of three co-equal beings perfectly embraced in love and harmony and expressing an intimacy that no one can humanly comprehend.  If He is for us, who can be against us?  As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.  These are my heart’s desires.  If I have this, I have everything!

This movie encouraged us to start our own war room…something we started at the beginning of our marriage and somehow put down as life got in the way.  I can’t wait to start the next chapter with my husband…I absolutely can’t wait.  My heart is overflowing – my cup runneth over.  I love the simplicity of my heart’s greatest desire.  I love that I have had it all along…I just needed to lay some other things down that were getting in the way.

I wish I could relay through this post all of the sweet things God is doing in our lives.  I find myself excited with the faith and happiness of a child.  I find that I can’t stop smiling with my face or my heart.  This journey is so beautiful.  This dance is so soft and tender.  My prayer is that everyone would find this Romance and know this Love!

When The Music Fades…

When the music fades
All is stripped away
And I simply come
Longing just to bring
Something that’s of worth
That will bless Your heart

I’m reminded of these lyrics today.  This is from one of my favorite songs “The Heart of Worship.”  It definitely means different things to me in different seasons.

I long for things to be stripped away.  ‘Stripped Away’ is a recurring theme in my life these days. As I sit here and put these words on paper, that becomes obvious to me.

I long for simple things…love, laughter, life.  I long for intimacy – meaningful relationships that are built of substance.  I’ve become less tolerant of fluff.  Life is too short to cloud it with things that just don’t matter.  I want to soak up every moment and feel it with my whole heart.

Over the past 10 years God has been stripping away false identities that I have carried my whole life.  I’m at a point now of feeling so much freedom and joy, but I realize that I have over-complicated my life with things/people that just don’t add happiness to it.  These lyrics remind me of the joy found in just being still and experiencing His love and witnessing His beauty in the most simple places.  That is what my heart truly longs for, and I’m on a mission to find my buried Treasure and enjoy it in all its splendor.  When the music fades and all is stripped away, all will be right with my world!

Forgiving…Is It a Choice?

I’ve always heard that we must forgive, and I know what the scripture says. After years of feeling guilty for not forgiving people in my heart though I desperately wanted to, I began to pray about this topic. What I realized is that we should have a forgiving heart, but we can’t help how we feel. When someone wounds us, it takes time to heal. God can handle the truth – He already knows our heart. This was one of the most freeing revelations to me. I’ve had situations in my life where I was so wounded that I didn’t think I would ever get past the pain. When you feel deep pain like that, you want the person that put you in that state to hurt too…not the most Godly thing to say out loud, but it is truth nonetheless. We are, after all, humans. At the end of the day, it’s what we do with that hurt and pain that matters. There have been several instances where I had to pray for years – I mean years – lots of them, for God to heal my pain and take away my bitter heart. I had to distance myself from the people that hurt me as they weren’t sorry for their actions and had no intention of trying to redeem the situation. Honestly, how do wounds heal when there is no redemption? That would be like expecting a cut to heal and close even though you never got the dirt and bacteria out of it…it just simply doesn’t happen. When people hurt you and don’t seem to care, only God can heal the wound. It will take however long it takes…it will happen in God’s timing. I can tell you that it truly was my heart not to be bitter, and I purposely put distance between myself and those that hurt me so that I wouldn’t act in an ungodly manner, and more so that I would have the time and space to heal in God’s timing. Honestly, it’s not a pleasant state to be in – bitterness only hurts you…not the person that did the hurting.

Forgiveness itself isn’t a choice. Your heart can’t just choose to forgive no matter what your head does. Your actions and your petitions to God are your choices. You intentionally choosing to persevere no matter how long it takes to heal is your choice.

Have freedom in knowing that God can handle your broken heart, and He will nurse it back to health in His timing with the love and compassion that only He can give. Guard against bitter actions by praying, praying again and praying some more.

Sometimes those relationships are redeemed though it just may be years later. Sometimes those relationships aren’t. The one thing that always stands true is that God WILL heal your heart with His loving touch in His perfect timing!

Why Do People Have to Be So Mean?

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This is truly not a rant. I’m honestly quite brokenhearted by the lack of compassion and empathy of people. I don’t understand how people can be mean for mean’s sake -just to intentionally hurt others! That is straight from the pits of hell. I’ve been on the receiving end of such meanness more times than I care to count. It cuts to the quick, and honestly, it is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to get over.

I saw the picture above on Facebook, and for whatever reason, it healed something in my heart from one of these deep wounds – one that I had been trying to get over for 5 years. It’s not that I think I’m better than anyone else…I truly don’t. I do, however, know that I will never be like the people who do this to others…my mind nor my heart works that way. It just isn’t how I am wired, and it’s foreign to me. Through this picture I realized that it is my choice to walk away from this kind of behavior and simply not to tolerate it. The behavior of others doesn’t define me…it never did. It’s like there is a pool of witchcraft that people like this choose to swim in…I choose to not be a part of it. That is freeing. I love how in an instant, years of heartache disappear with just a sweet touch…a sweet whisper! There is reward with perseverance!

A Magical Night

It felt like we would never get there…the drive was endless.  Traffic jams, torrential down pours, and various other deterrents kept getting in the way.  Exhaustion ensued many hours before the 17 hour drive was over.

Finally around 11:30pm, we arrived.  The vacation could officially begin.  We had finally arrived at the beach; my favorite place of all places.  We quickly unloaded the car, and I could hardly wait to walk out to the ocean.

Ah – at last – there it was in all its splendor…just as magnificent as the last time I gazed upon it…maybe even more so this time.

The odd thing was that as I approached the ocean, my spirit quickened.  I felt nervous.  My heart felt weighted down – I wasn’t sad – I just felt heavy.

The lighthouse was aglow with its light flickering across the ocean.  The moon was so bright; its light dancing across the water.  I felt like I had just stepped into a magical movie set.  The air was still except for a gentle breeze that lightly caressed my cheek.  I quite literally felt like I was in heaven.  I felt like I had entered God’s throne room – the Holy of Holies.

Genesis 1:2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

Magical, serene, beautiful, raw, vulnerable, naked, unashamed – these are the words that described my emotions and feelings.  It was magnetic really – my sense of belonging there – our spirits intertwined, dancing to the melody of the breeze as the night was beautifully illuminated by the moonlight.  I won’t soon forget that night, and I eagerly await the next dance and the next time I will get to feel my heart soar like that!

Pathway to Peace

I had a dream…

I woke up just after midnight – the time on the clock stood out to me. I also woke up squeezing the covers in my hands trying to kill the lion (thank God Eddie wasn’t near me – I could have hurt him in my sleep).

So the dream took place in LaGrange in the exact house where I grew up from age 8 – college. I was married to Chuck, and we were living there. We had a dog that was older and big…he was laying across the street in the neighbor’s yard (much like my childhood dog used to do). I glanced out the window as I was just going about my business perfectly content when I saw a lion outside.
It was mangy looking. At first glance I saw hanging in its mane just below the head on the front of the neck, a skeleton with valves hanging from it (like heart valves – a red one for sure…maybe a yellow one in addition. There were 2 valves). Then the lion turned around and the same skeleton and valves were in the hair around his tail. The first thing I thought was that lion is going to kill my dog. I started yelling for Chuck and ran outside to get my dog inside…it was a race to beat the lion, and I was frantic. Chuck never answered or acknowledged me. I tried to get the dog to run, but he wouldn’t get up at all – no sense of harm or urgency. So I started pulling him, but he was too big, and I couldn’t get him to come – all the while the lion was approaching. I was still screaming for Chuck and looking at the open front door and nothing – Chuck was nowhere to be found.
I put my arms around the dog when all of a sudden the lion was in my face. So it was me with my dog in my arms – my dog’s head by my head and the lions head by my dog’s head. I was so scared because I knew he was going to kill my dog (I wasn’t concerned for my own safety). Next thing I know I decide I have to try to kill the lion even though I think it’s impossible. I start grabbing for his throat and saying to myself that I can do it, I can do it (because I hate to harm anything and it was gross, but I was desperate). Then I woke up grasping the covers thinking it was the lion’s throat.

This dream was stock piled with revelations – the answers to years of prayers. God showed me through this dream where the irrational fear and anxiety that I have felt since childhood was born. The fear ended after this revelation. Through this dream, God connected me to my father in a new way…for the first time I felt a connection to him as an adult even though I was 8 when he died. Through this dream God showed me just how discerning I have always been even when I was too young to understand it. This dream set me free on so many levels, and I’m so thankful.

2014 Comes To A Close

I sit here on New Year’s Eve definitely ready to wrap up 2014. It hasn’t been the worst year of my life, but it hasn’t been the best (not even sure what the best would be – maybe it will be 2015). My heart feels heavy and consumed with certain things. I feel a strong sense that I need to let those things go – leave them with 2014 and not look back on them as I start 2015. 2014 has been a year of survival for me…holding my breath trying to get through hoping the hammer wouldn’t fall. I became so accustomed to things going wrong in 2013 that it set the tone for 2014. No hammer fell on me – yet it was still a hard year…I waded through a lot of things – things that felt like thick sludge – was a long, slow journey – as I hashed things out emotionally and physically.

The things I need to leave behind with 2014 (and I wholeheartedly give these things to God – His to gently lay down and blow away like old dust):
1. Bitterness and hurt towards people that have deeply wounded me. I pray blessings for these people and truly pray that God will make my heart light and happy for them as they receive blessings. I pray that I may see everyone through the lens of God – not through the lens of my hurt.

2. Negative outlook about myself – for the first time in years I feel a strong resolve to be healthy physically by eating right and exercising…however, I don’t want to feel good about myself because I think I look better. I want to feel good about myself because the weight loss means leaving things in my past along with the fat – leaving my past in my past – the hurt, the anxiety, the fear, the loss, the longing.

3. Fear of death or things to come (mainly death of others I love)…but I do always look behind my back waiting for someone to murder me or attack me – so very strange. I need to give that fear to God and leave it behind. I pray I would see the people that I suspect of hurting me through the lens of God as well…I pray that as I look at them, they would receive the love of God through my gaze – that it would make them feel warm and loved.

4. I leave behind the need to take care of everyone making sure everyone is safe and doesn’t feel lonely. All I can do is pray for those people and leave it up to God.

5. Negativity about my circumstances. I hope to live and understand that God is in all of my circumstances even when I don’t feel Him. It is my true desire to wake up every day and feel joy and happiness as I look expectantly towards my day – towards my dance with my Love. Every day there will be a new and special encounter…new because it’s a new day…special because every encounter is. I pray that my life will be a dance – melodic and filled with love and deep emotion, a quiet passion, a softness, and grace always.

I shed the things of my past…they no longer need to hurt me. All of those things are nailed to the cross. Tonight I cut the cords of the things that have weighted me down – like balloons being held down by sand…the sand is gone…now I will float through this world with pure freedom, happiness – giggling my way through this life with joy that I never imagined possible. What a beautiful journey I have ahead…no idea what waits for me in this life on earth, but I do know I’m not ever alone. The lover of my heart, soul and spirit will be dancing with me, leading me into forever, giggling with me.

I’m ready for 2015 – although I’m ready for new things, I don’t want to delete the old things – those things have brought me wisdom – they have built me up and torn me down – 2015 is more a year to take off and fly…to use the foundation of everything God has instilled in me for all of my life really, but even more so for the past 11 years.

I shall label 2015 my greatest dance – here’s to the music of my heart flowing effortlessly completely intertwined with my greatest Love.

My Earth Suit

This post has been on my heart for quite some time, but I have been avoiding it…not entirely sure why – guess I just haven’t felt like going there emotionally.

When I look in the mirror – this is what I see:

– an aging woman
– a woman with entirely too much fat around the middle (big gut)
– a woman with too much cellulite
– a woman with fat arms
– a woman with a fat face
– a huge nose
– a woman that looks tired and worn out

All of that is a little hard to take because the first time I ever felt acceptance was because of my looks. I just don’t know how to reconcile everything in my head.

What I value the most about myself is my heart and my character – not my looks – it has never been my looks that mattered to me. Honestly, I think it would have been easier to never have been accepted because of my looks – could have saved me a lot of heartache, and maybe I wouldn’t have these struggles that I have today.

I get annoyed when I see size 2, 4 and 6 women talk about being fat and being on a diet. I get annoyed because I REALLY need to be on a diet – I should have the right to say that – not them. Funny thing is – when I was their size, I said it too. I hate that society does that to us as women…I believe we should be healthy, but I just wish so much emphasis wasn’t placed on being a stick figure. What happened to values and morals and things of substance? Where are those things?

I complain, yet I can’t remove myself from the stigma – and I hate that!

Here’s what I know about all of my extra fat – it has been my crutch for the past 9 years. I ate due to anxiety – I ate due to depression – I ate because I didn’t know what to do with my dashed hopes and dreams. My fat represents my babies in heaven – the ones that I will never see on this earth. My fat represents all of the death I’ve seen in my life. My fat represents the times I have felt so lost on this earth – so aimless – so without purpose. My fat represents my heartaches – and God knows there have been so many that I can’t keep up with them…honestly, I shouldn’t keep up with them. I’ve given them to God – and His they shall remain. I shouldn’t hate the fat or hate what my body has become – I should look at it and be happy that I came through all of these years so in tact with a Savior who loves and adores every single millimeter of me. My body doesn’t represent who or what I am…I wish when I looked in the mirror I would see character, faith, hope and perseverance – that is what my body represents…trials, hurt, pain, dark times. It also represents the sweetest moments of my life – the moments that I was cradled in Love while I laid in a ball on the floor crying my eyes out – comforted beyond belief. I have walked through so much in this body. This body represents my story – and my story is so beautiful. I wouldn’t trade my story, my journey, for anything. I wouldn’t trade my heart or my mercy for anything. I wouldn’t trade my love for God for anything! That love is the single greatest gift I have ever received…my love for Him and His love for me – I can’t even describe the depths of it – I can’t describe the passion and the compassion – I can’t describe the tenderness – I can’t describe the grace, the beauty, the elegance – I can’t describe the dance, the glances, the rhythm.

It is my prayer that when I look in the mirror all I will see is God’s love for me…I pray that I will see myself through the lens of God.

I do need to lose some weight for health reasons, but I truly want to lay down any other reasons…it has been like yen/yang in my mind….trying to go back to being the person I was (the girl accepted because she was so pretty) except I hated being that girl – so why in the world do I long for it so much? It’s such an internal battle. Truthfully, I love who I am now. I love being 44 – I embrace my journey – I embrace the things God has shown me. I walk in full confidence as who God created me to be on the inside…I just haven’t been able to get the outside to match up.

It is my hope and prayer that I will lay this down as I publish this post…that I will quit trying to shed something that is part of me…that I will move forward loving myself as God loves me…that I will move forward in beauty, grace and elegance.

I know that this is my body – my earth suit. It carries me – a Spirit being that has a soul. My body doesn’t define me; my Spirit does – my soul does. I will walk forward in all 3 parts – leaving no parts behind until God calls me home. I’m going to love and appreciate all 3 parts…I think the healthiest perspective moving forward is agreeing to show my body some love (nourish it correctly with healthy things)…feels much better to think of it that way than to keep rejecting it and trying to get rid of it. So onward I go…

Her Name Is Grace

Not sure why I felt led to title this blog post in the third person, but I did, so it shall be.

Grace. 1) Grace: Synonyms: Elegance, loveliness, and beauty. 2) Meaning: admired 3) Biblically: God’s favor

Grace is found 170 times in the King James Version of the Bible.

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Earlier this year I started a Christian counseling course – one that I felt led not to finish – but, nonetheless, one of the things that stood out for me before I stopped going was that God sometimes gives us a new name…I thought about that, and I was quite sure God had not given me a new name. I know that God does, in fact, give us new names. Look at Abraham, Sarah and Paul from the Bible. Clearly in this case our new name is more of a term of endearment that has a special meaning between you and God as no one else starts calling you that.

Well, for my birthday this year, Chuck surprised me with a zip lining adventure in Blue Ridge, GA. Neither of us had ever done it. We really lucked out – it ended up being only us and 1 other couple on our course. None of us had ever zip lined. We flew through the 2 hour course in 1 hour and 15 minutes. The other couple was a lot of fun. I particularly liked the girl…she laughed and screamed every single time she zipped. Her laughter was contagious. I apparently nailed a smooth and graceful landing pretty much every time. The girl looked at me and said, “Your new name is Grace” and I told her that her new name was Fun. And there you have it…just like that…my NEW name.

And as I sit here and write I get answers…Her Name is Grace – that’s what God says when he points me out to his beloveds in heaven. That’s why I was led to write it in third person.

I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT! When I read the definition of Grace – that is how I’ve always wanted to be known – Graceful, Elegant, Lovely, Beautiful…not that I ever thought any of those things about myself, but that is always what I’ve wanted to be. Maybe, just maybe, I am all of those things :).

My grandmother’s name was Geneva Grace. Every single story I’ve ever heard about her embodies all of the definitions above. I never met her – she died when my mom was a little girl. Funny, I’ve always felt a connection with her. I look like her, and I certainly love the Lord like she did. Can’t wait to meet her.

Our daughter in heaven is named Geneva Grace Gardner – GG for short. I imagine she is all of those things too. I can’t wait to meet her one day.

What a heritage! I feel blessed. I feel chosen. I feel adored.

I will always be thankful for God’s grace. I will always be thankful that I am God’s Grace!

The End is so Final

Where to begin…I just spent the last hour sobbing hysterically. I’m not sure my heart has ever hurt so badly. Clearly, it has definitely been extremely wounded, but I didn’t know how to handle the pain of long ago – I had no outlet for it, so I buried it deep, deep inside. Every painful thing that happened afterward just pushed the initial pain that much deeper until that entire spot in my heart became numb. I guess God has been digging out all of those wounds for the past number of years. I’ve been through so much healing, I didn’t know there could be this much more, truly. I guess tonight was the night to dig out the ultimate wound from the ultimate heartache. Man it hurt. It is also such a needed relief…crying like that sucked, yet it felt so good at the same time. I know these sound like crazy words…that part of this makes me giggle. Glad to see God brought out my twisted humor even through this. One of the many things I adore about Him – He knows how to comfort me through my tears, Dance with me through my joy, and laugh with me through it all. He surely knows how much laughter I need to make up for – where so much was stolen.

I saw a picture tonight on Facebook – that single picture touched my deepest nerve and really agitated it. I knew it made me sad, but more than that it put me in the biggest funk. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly why. The picture was of Truett Cathy in the hearse riding by Chick-Fil-A headquarters. I think the saddest part of that picture for me was reading the words of his son – something about his dad taking a final ride to the corporate office. Over and over again lately it has hit me that death is so final. I recently lost a friend of mine – granted I had not seen him in 15 years at least – but knowing he was no longer on this earth hurt my heart in a way I couldn’t explain. Finally tonight, while watching TV there was a traumatic family scene, and looking into the eyes of the actor felt like I was looking straight into my own soul. That’s when the water works started. I’m still not sure I understand all of what’s going on – maybe I never will – maybe God is just touching these things and healing these deep hurts so I can be free to really experience everything I’m meant to. I know in my heart of hearts that this is a season of my life for true freedom, to really experience the desires of my heart, and to let all of the pain go leaving only beauty…kind of like beauty for ashes I suppose.

What I do know is that the combination of all of these things took me back to being 8 year old Kelley – the Kelley that had to watch her daddy leave this earth without truly getting to say goodbye. I was so scared that he was lonely and hurting…the mere thought of that I think burst a hole in my heart. My uncle took me on a walk to get me away from the house where everyone was visiting and grieving. He told me years later that I asked him if it hurt to die. Such a profound question for an 8 year old – even back then my mercy gift was almost more than I could bare. I remember asking one of the girls in my family (I can’t remember if it was my mom’s baby sister or my cousin) what happened after I left the cemetery. I needed a play by play of what happened when they put my dad’s casket into the ground. I remember this now, and I truly see how big my heart has always been – always worried about those I love – always wanting to make sure they feel no pain. What I realized is that I was in so much pain myself and carried so much worry. I didn’t have a clue how to deal with it, so I never did. I just moved on and survived the best way I could. I definitely did that with a black spot in my heart – a black spot full of nothing but death – that part of my heart had died.

After all of these years, God showed me the most beautiful picture. In the picture was me as a little girl holding His hand. He was slightly in the air, and above Him was my dad – very much alive and happy. God was showing me that we are always connected. My dad never was alone and scared. Before he took his last breath, God had him in his arms whisking him away to the most beautiful place of all places – the land of complete happiness. I truly believe that after they started the journey to heaven, my dad’s earthly body took its last breath. That gives me so much peace and so much joy.

I realized tonight that cemeteries seem like such a sad and morbid place – a reminder of loss and pain. Really graves are memorials – a tribute to the people we have loved and what they meant in our lives. It’s a memorial to say we will never forget them. It’s not a place to be sad. It’s a place to remember the beautiful things, the fun things, the precious things. Our loved ones were never even there – just their earth-suit.

All of this gives my weary soul rest and makes my heart smile in places that were counted as dead. Looking forward to the precious things that will fill that hole…