down in the dirt

In 2015 I was prayed over in visions, and the Father showed me a wolf that was chasing me as I ran to a mountaintop. I was fearful until a brave welled in me at the top of the mountain as I was able to turn around, look into his yellow eyes and kick him in the face. I got that wolf tattooed on my hand with Genesis 50:20. Because the enemy is always after our story. he wants to bite our throat before we make it to the mountaintop, where we can scream it out loud. There’s some sort of healing in ourselves when we speak out our story, then that same healing flows through to others. The wolf was catching up with me again the last few years. I was believing that what I said was just pointless words and I was believing that my story didn’t matter. I was hiding behind my husband and motherhood and anxiety and the fear of (wo)man. Then yesterday, my sweet friend gave me a prophetic letter with the mention of that wolf. I immediately looked at my tattoo and remembered the first time I kicked him in the face. I remembered what he is after. And that I’d rather lay my head deep in the dirt next to Jesus than to please anyone with silent words just to make them comfortable. There’s a time to walk quietly in the deep of the woods to heal and let go and there’s a time to turn around, kick the wolf in the face and use your voice. 🌿 you intended to harm me, but God’s using it all for His good..

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I’ll never recover

when you know you’re loved you walk differently. You look at the world differently. When you believe you are loved kind words flow easily. Confidence comes naturally. Hope feels accessible.

As we got ready for church this morning I heard my husband singing a song as if he were trying to convince himself of its truth:

I am chosen
Not forsaken
I am who You say I am
You are for me
Not against me
I am who You say I am

This last week I could feel that on edge feeling creep in. I could feel frustration leave my husband’s lips from a heavy week and I could feel my patience run dry. When you’re in the midst of a pressing place, I’m learning how important it is to hold onto the identity of His love. So when I could feel the tension in the midst of my little family on our way to church this morning, I grabbed my husband’s hand and prayed to the Father. Asking Him to remind us of who we are. Of whose we are.

When we bought our home last fall we overlooked the tree in our backyard. But as it started to come back to life this spring, I thought I was going to puke from what I saw. A magnolia tree. We prayed for years over the home we would one day buy, and I would always mention how I’d love a magnolia tree. So when I saw that The Father remembered, it felt like just an above and beyond moment. I remember telling the Lord, “you already did all of this, you didn’t have to…” but He wants to. And I’ll never recover from the goodness of God.

When a season calls for stretching in all areas of your being, of your families being, the enemy doesn’t want you to pass the test. He wants to cloud your vision. Destroy your identity. He wants you to forget the promise the Father has given you. He wants you to feel abandoned and alone.

So I prayed in our car on a warm Sunday morning. The sun woke our bones and I asked the Father to let His creation be our reminder. Of how loved we are. We weren’t walking as people who are Fathered by God, but like we were abandoned. And I remembered our sweet magnolia tree blooming in our backyard. What a gift, a promise. That He remembers every detail in the deep gardens of our hearts. And He remembers us all the more.

And I asked the Father to let us remember, every time we sit under the shade of that tree, every time we look out of our window into the blooming flowers, may that be our promise. We can walk in the identity of a remembered child because we are Fathered by the God who remembers it all. Even when it’s been so long that we have started to forget. And every promise He has ever made will come to pass.

Before we got out of our car I tell the Father, we don’t need any special words, but Lord today let it be special. Let us be reminded.

So I lean into my husband during worship and my sweet friend starts to sing,

I am chosen
Not forsaken
I am who You say I am
You are for me
Not against me
I am who You say I am

I look to my sweet husband with tear welled eyes, as if to tell him, He remembers. Oh how loved you are, my love. And The Father remembers you. And I’ll never recover from the goodness of God.

10

10 years old. It’s hard to even try to imagine life with a 10 year old. But that’s how old you should be this January. That number feels significant to me, and my heart and mind are jumbled with a thousand thoughts surrounding you and your 10th year. I remember the first January that rolled around 10 years ago when you should have been born. Each day I woke and I wondered, should this have been the day? Your day? I remember a dream I had when I was struggling internally with my abortion. I remember being at a store and I had a son that I had just met that I couldn’t bring myself to love. He had been with a father who was loving him deeply. I watched them interact with each other and it pained me to see how loving their relationship seemed to be. And I didn’t know how to do it. The father showed me how to love my son, too. I woke up and I knew it was you.

I’m much different than I was back then. I’ve grown much and I know better. I close my eyes and imagine sitting across from my younger self,10 years ago. She who was consumed with confusion and lonely and secrets and grief. I reach for her trembling hand and I imagine she’d pull away behind the wall that surrounded her for years to come. I know her and she lives in a desolate place. But I’d call her out of it. I wouldn’t look away when she couldn’t look me in the eyes. When I’d tell her I know what she did out of fear and I’d remind her that she is loved and forgiven. And oh how I know her so well. Oh how I know she wouldn’t believe it. But I’d speak it over her again, and again, and I’d hope she would really hear me this time. I’d tell her it won’t always be this way. That there’s going to be harder days but I’d promise her there will be a Rescuer and He is on His way. That He is already here, just waiting for her to let Him break down all of these walls. I’d wrap the younger me in my arms and reassure her that Healing is on His way. That it feels like abortion stole her story but oh sweet girl, this is not the end. I’d declare victory over her and call out the mother heart in her where she felt like all she was is destruction. And I know her so well and I know her broken. But I’d tell her I’m so proud of her, because in 10 years she will look back full of wonder for what could have been, but so much gratitude for what He has done. There’s so much to say about what He has done. And I know she wouldn’t believe it then, but I’d tell her there will come a Sunday in January where she will stand in a church that feels just like home, and she will sing to the Father about His goodness. So much goodness. And there won’t be a single wall left. Just freedom.

And I’m thankful for the promise of sitting with my baby on his side of Heaven one day, it will be a warm January day, and we will be eating birthday cake.

You were here.

You existed.

You are remembered.

Handing Over the Keys to the Cellars of Our Souls

Every one of us walking on this earth have a few cobwebs in the corners of our souls. Maybe your mom once told you not to have any cookies before dinner but they were so enticing that you ate one anyway when she left the room. A cobweb forms. Maybe you told a “white lie” to your best friend because it feels easier than facing the truth. Another cobweb forms.

But maybe you have a cellar in the basement of your soul. It’s dead bolted and has a million and one locks just to ensure that no one gets in. Maybe it’s been there for so long that the cobwebs have become so thick. It’s even formed mildew so not even you want to touch it. The enemy guards that cellar with his strongest forces. He wants to make sure no light shines through. He wants that cellar in your soul to remain hopeless. Impossible to open. And he wants to continue to torment you with it.

He wants you to believe that if anyone knew what was locked inside then they would abandoned you. That they would disown you and be disgusted with you. He wants you to believe that you are the only one who has done what you’ve done or what has been done to you. That no one can relate, understand or help. Let me tell you that that is a lie from the deepest, fieriest pit of hell. Whatever has happened to you in this life, whatever is chained inside your cellar, there are over 7 billion people in this world, you are not the only one. It’s impossible. God says there is nothing new under the sun. Although it feels like it, you aren’t the first and you won’t be the last.

God didn’t create our bodies for cellars in our souls. We are not capable of keeping them there long enough without going crazy. Without forming some kind of destructive behavior. What is that one thing you’re holding on to that hinders you from reading your bible more? What is it that stops you from growing deeper in your faith? You may veer off course a little bit, and for some of us a lot a bit. You may have junk in your cellar that no one could have ever imagined. But God knows. No matter how well you believe you’ve fooled everyone else, God knows. He sees your cellar. Down to your deepest wound, and He mourns for you.

You may believe that nobody else in this world could ever know how you feel or how much your cellar has made you suffer, but God knows. And He wants to brush away the cobwebs. He wants you to hand over the lock and key and allow Him to free you. You might be thinking, “Well He’s God, why doesn’t He just take it from me and do it Himself?” He’s a gentle God. He’s a patient God. He’s a God who gave us free will to choose to remain under the weight of the enemy’s thumb or choose to bring it all to His feet and say, “Okay, Lord. I can’t carry this on my own anymore. I need a Savior. I need you to carry this for me.” And He will. And He already has when He had His only Son drink the cup of our sins and taste the bitterness of all the filth we have ever done. His son Jesus, the Savior of you and I, who carried it all and was nailed on the cross so we could be free to willingly choose to hand over the keys of our cellars to God, and let it all go.

Enough is enough, have you had enough? Are you ready to hand over the keys?

When you call on me, when you pray to Me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for Me you’ll find me. When you want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed. I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you home again, you can count on it.

Jeremiah 29

  

Beauty in Ashes

I was woken up by my sister last week to find out the Henry’s, who own our home and graciously allow us to live here, house burned down. I just felt pure devastation for them. They lost everything. Howard and Penny’s spirits are so good and are completely trusting The Lord. I felt so sick about it, though.

You know those moments in life that feel like they could make the saddest part of a tragic movie? I couldn’t help but think while I walked up the drive from my house to the Henry’s garage as the freezing rain pounded on my frizzy curls, that this is it, this would be the saddest part in a movie ever seen. A group of men talked in the garage so I waited until I caught Howard’s eye to approach him. I held back the tears as a peaceful wave of deep blue sea glanced over at me and a smile flooded his warm face. “There she is.” He smiled.

I told Howard we would move so they could stay in their home, so I was prepared to move out within a week. I trust Gods plan but I couldn’t help but feel selfish, too. I would miss it here so much. I would miss the country. I would miss seeing Howard and Penny spending time outside. I would miss this home. I had these plans to make a garden in the yard. To plant flowers outside the window. To pick asparagus across the street. And I felt selfish and bad for thinking of all I would miss when in their 80’s it was probably not in the Henry’s plans to lose the home they built 35 years ago and everything they owned in a fire. Sometimes we make these glorious plans in life and sometimes they fall through. But isn’t God always there to break our fall? He’s always there to catch us. His plans are always greater.

Something profound Howard said was they will build a new house in the same spot. Fire took away everything. Burned down every wall. Every door. Every possession. It’s gone. It’s ash. It has every reason to manifest hurt, pain and devastation in the same spot where there was once a home. But Gods plans are not what we expect at times. And they will rebuild. The way he said those words to me planted firm in my mind. Confident. So sure. Although the very home he built with his own hands is fallen ashes on a hill, God sees the bigger picture. And though every item they’ve ever owned has been lost, maybe at least one soul could be found in this. Maybe just one soul will see just how faithful God is in a seemingly finished situation. I walked up the drive today and the sun shined through the burned pillars and the birds still chirped and rested in their homes nearby, and God said it is long from finished.

After almost a week of being unsure of where the Henry’s will end up along with ourselves, and continually giving it to God and asking for His will, we are able to stay in our home. Thank God for providing a home for the Henry’s as they rebuild. There’s that word again. It sticks with me. It feels mighty as I say it to those who ask me what the Henry’s plans are. I’m not sure what their plans were but the Lords are to rebuild.

I looked up the definition for “rebuild“.

to repair
to strengthen

To strengthen. Through a fire God is able to strengthen their faith in Him. Through a fire others are able to witness their deep reliance in Him, and by that their own faith may be strengthened.

It reminds me of Job and how everything was taken from him. People who knew him might have felt devastated for him. They might have wondered how something like that could have happened to someone so faithful and good. No one would have blamed him for being mad at God. But he didn’t turn away. He poured everything he had left into him and he was strengthened more than ever before. Strengthened enough to rebuild. God was faithful to Job and He continues to be faithful to the Henry’s. He is always the same, never changing.

As Howard, Penny and their family prayed around the spot their old home once stood, a card was pulled from the ashes, that read “God is in control.” They plan to frame it and have it be the first item to go into their new home. Although it stings to lose what they lost, just like Penny says, they are just things, memories in their minds. We told her how sad it is to look out our back window and see a burned down home, and she laughed. “There you are complaining. How good are you with artwork? Put a plaster board in front of the window and paint something beautiful on it so that’s all you see. God brings good out of bad. We can only hope this will draw people to come to know Him. We recognize the loss but we recognize The Lord.

Don’t you want to reflect even just a small portion of their hope? I do. When all seems lost we can either stare out the back window, mourning over the ashes, feeling sorry for ourselves. Or we can put our hope in the one who has already mourned our loss long before we ever did. We can take a piece of plaster board over that window, paint a beautiful sunset and have faith that it will rise again. Because He promised it would rise again. And with that promise we can rebuild.

Lord, it’s gone. And gone is gone, so we move on.

-Penny Henry

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For I know the plans I have for you. I’ll show up and take care of you and bring you back home as promised. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out. Plans to take care of you – not abandoned you. Plans to give you the future you hoped for. When you call on Me, when you come and pray to Me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for Me, you’ll find Me. When you get serious about finding Me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed. I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you back home, you can count on it.

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