He Gave Me Wings

I spent over thirty years learning how to survive and succeed in a fallen world. How to protect myself from the hurt and disappointment that goes along with living in a world saturated with sin. This world taught me that I’d need a tougher skin. To reach the safety and security I craved, I’d need to find success. And to find success, I’d need to somehow cushion myself from an onslaught of pain and suffering and aggressive, hungry souls seeking to protect themselves as well. Over the years this resulted in creating a cocoon of sorts. Block the hard things. Bury the hurt and disappointment. Don’t cry useless tears. Believe what is being spoon fed in every media outlet and social platform. Protect yourself.

The result was a thirty something woman, wrapped tight in an unraveling cocoon. Desperately trying to control everything that threatened the “safety” of that cocoon. That safe place became a breeding ground for fear and depression. Every story that filtered through, of things uncontrollable, would give birth to a new fear, a new anxiety. Even ensconced in this “haven”, she knew this wasn’t working anymore. From the depths of that cocoon, her heart cried out.

chrysalis

Now, I wonder, did He miss me in there, like we missed “Chris”, or was He excitedly waiting for the transformation?

 

When I first started my journey with Christ, things unseen from that dark place of fabricated protection, written on my heart, became clearer. His light was breaking through. Six rows back, on the left side of the worship center, I’d catch glimpses of light. Hands and hearts in front of me raised in worship, Truth poured out in messages. Drawn to the light, I’d come back. Oh, how I wanted to bottle it, that held, just as I am love, and carry it with me for the next week. Absorb His word and love and wring it out when the fear and darkness were too much. But fear of getting too close, giving too much, held it illusive, confined to the worship center.

I’d come back. Drawn a row closer. So close! How do I hold onto it?

Because the more light I let in, the more I felt again. And though the joy ran deep, the pain did too. But like a moth drawn to light, I drew ever closer to Christ. Slowly unraveling years and layers of insulation, He called me out into the light.

Emerging scared and reborn, He gave me wings. To reach higher than I thought possible, to dive lower than I’d ever ask to go. It’s bright out here. And in contrast, the dark things stand out like never before. Some days, my heart just hurts. Those years of tears not shed seem to be making up for lost time. Most of the time, they’re not for me. But for the palpable suffering of those around me. Both for those who are saved and those who are perishing. And other days, the tears are joy that can’t be contained. Every time I get a glimpse of the light of God’s glory, the beauty and joy run so deep I’m a moth chasing the light again.

butterfly

We waited in anticipation for “Chris” to lose the last remnants of his former life and take flight.

 

Every day, my heart is grateful. Grateful for the wings that brought this woman to a heart wide open. That carried her to the front of the sanctuary, tears streaming, her soul crying out in worship and joy to the One who made her. This woman knows more pain than she ever feared, knows more love than she ever dared give or receive and knows true safety. Not in the artificial safety of her own making, but the true safety in living and walking with Jesus.

So, I’ll continue to take these wings and follow where He leads. I’ll just have to invest in some really good waterproof makeup.

flight

Tentative at first, hanging out on my finger testing his wings, “Chris” soon took flight.

As I was writing this, I was blessed with the chance to see this video at church of another incredibly beautiful transformation. LOVE His timing. If you have the time, it’s absolutely worth the twenty minutes to watch.

 

D-Day

This week marks the anniversary of what I think of as my personal D-Day, or diagnosis day for our daughter. The day our world seemed to turn upside down and no longer made any sense. The repercussions causing me to land in the dark, and the next year learning how to rest in God, over and over again.

Reflecting on the last year, it has been on my heart to share some things with those of you who have, or are, experiencing your own trauma and suffering. Who may still be in that dark place. This letter is for you.


Dear Friend,

I see you. Always a compassionate person, I can now feel you in a way I never could before. The pain you emanate is palpable. I see the blank look in your eyes in a crowded room, not really taking in anything around you because the darkness you’re caught in has swallowed up the people and conversations around you. Your shoulders are hunched forward, curled around the pain and grief trapped in that place with you. Your smile a mere up turning of your lips. You’ve turned completely inward in the upside down. I don’t know if you’ll hear me, but I want to gather you in my arms and whisper past the shadows under and in your eyes. You’re not alone in there. Keep looking for the light and call out to Him.images (4)

Be careful. There may be bright sparks of anger, resentment and blame. Don’t follow them.They may lead you out, give you fuel to keep going, but they’ll only lead you to a life trapped in a place similar to where you are. Void of hope and truth and love.

Wait for His light. Maybe just soft at first, teaching you truth on your way to the surface, or for some people an all enveloping ride full of grace and love.downloadimages (13).jpg

Whatever that looks like for you, you’re bound to run into the hard but necessary truths. How utterly fragile, helpless and weak we are on our own. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this means you are unloved, or worthless. Just the opposite. You are so precious and loved Jesus will be with you through all of this. There’s no need to do it alone. When you look to the Lord for your strength, lay all your fears and pain at His feet, you can do all things through Him. Even THIS.images (8)

There may be friends and family that, unable or unwilling to absorb the shock, will distance themselves from it. But He will take that anger and resentment you may be tempted to and instead lead you to your knees in prayer for them and thanksgiving for those He’s placed in your life for this instead.

I assure you, His perfect sovereignty has the power to reach down and save you from this dark here and carry you all the way home. When you’re ready, He’ll be waiting. His love so powerful, perfect and faithful, He’ll take it all. And His yoke is infinitely lighter than yours.

There, in that place, you’ll find indescribable joy. The joy that comes solely from Him and has nothing to do with your current circumstances.

Dear one. I don’t know what your personal D-Day is. I don’t know if it’s a child’s diagnosis, your own, loss of a child or loved one, a life changing phone call at 2 a.m. I don’t know why God has allowed this in your life, but I know that He does. That regardless of how this feels now, His plans are to prosper you and give you hope and a future. Even if you can’t see any possible way for that to be true.

Look for, embrace and give thanks for every gift of grace. Big or small.images (7)

Hold onto Him, as He is always holding onto you. Remember His promises written on your heart and commit them to your mind.

Love and Blessings,

Bobbiimages (14)


I wish I could say that this particular anniversary came and went without any unwanted or uninvited memories for me. It didn’t. I woke to fresh memories of that day a year ago. Fear and pain springing up in place of my hope and faith. Sure that despite the blessings rained down on me over this last year I still didn’t have enough faith.

But in the remembering, I realized just how far from the dark He’s brought me, and how much joy I’ve found in His light.

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Follow Me

I recently had the privilege of hearing a message from one of the founders of a relief organization called Tutapona. Eight years ago, Carl, his wife Julie, and their young family picked up and moved to Uganda to provide trauma and rehabilitation counseling to what would turn out to be thousands of refugees in the area. Carl provided an update of their progress, a victim’s heart wrenching story and the relief she found in the program, and plans for Tutapona‘s expansion to Iraq.

In a sanctuary full of Christians, Carl posed the question of how many Christians were truly followers of Christ. He maintains that to simply believe in Christ as our Lord and Savior, is not enough. A true transformation of the heart will cause a transformation of your life. We are called to be disciples. This term implies active participation on our part. An outward reflection of our inner faith.


dis·ci·ple

(dĭ-sī′pəl)

n.

1.

a. One who embraces and assists in spreading the teachings of another.
b. An active adherent, as of a movement or philosophy.

Sharing several verses in which Jesus states “Follow Me”, it is pretty clear that Jesus intends us to, indeed, follow Him. (I searched on my own…and stopped counting at 19)

follow me 2

Often, when processing a message, I am gifted with images that help make sense of, and usher important information to be stored and filed in the orderliness of my long term memory. Over the past few days, I have a clear picture of a classroom full of Christians. All have professed to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Jesus silently enters the room and speaks two words.

Follow Me.

That’s it.

Now, there is a person in the front, center. Let’s call her A+Disciple. Her hand wildly waving, squirming in her chair, she’s practically shouting, “Ooh, Ooh, Pick me! Pick Me!”. The Christians in the back are mulling things over. I’m sitting in the middle, off to the left, unobtrusively hiding behind someone taller than I am. I take a couple of deep, bracing, breaths. You know the kind; in through the nose, out through the mouth. And resolutely raise my hand.

If I were to “unpack” my reserved response, I believe it’s not necessarily fear that has me mentally preparing myself. I think it has more to do with the seriousness of the invitation. The knowledge and respect of what this commitment requires. There’s a (not so nice) part of me that wonders if A+Disciple truly appreciates the gravity of what she’s signing up for. At the same time, noticing her unreserved joy at the offer makes me wonder what I am lacking in faith that makes me so somber at the thought of following Him through anymore valleys that I sometimes can’t hold onto the joy of the promise of my final destination?

(This is when I’m reminded of Julie. Bless her beautiful, honest, Christ filled,heart for sharing her lack of joy when first called to uproot her family from a place they’d grown to love and follow Jesus to Iraq. Was she willing to follow wherever He led her? Absolutely. But even she had a moment where she raised her hand without chair squirming, arm waving, JOY. I also like to think maybe she will be saving a seat for me next to her on the bus?)

follow me 6

A+Disciple is skipping to the bus while I am mentally “packing”. Repeating comforting scripture and pondering how many toothbrushes I should bring? After all, God seems to keep His itinerary pretty close to His chest. Now, A+Disciple is, of course, already on the bus, in the front seat, not so patiently waiting for the journey to begin. I see the loving smile Jesus welcomes her with and wonder if I’m worthy of the same reception. After all, I’m not exactly skipping in line, but putting one foot resolutely in front of the other while holding onto the promises written on my heart.

But He does.

He smiles at me with love and understanding. The same invitation. The same reception. Accepting me as I am, where I am.

Follow me.

Okay.

And those Christians now sitting, watching from the curb? He smiles at them with love too. Patiently waiting for them to pick up their cross, and follow Him too.

follow me 3

The disciples on the bus are surely in for hair pin turns, low valleys, some rough roads (after all, the road less traveled is bound to be bumpy) and the most beautiful destination. Sitting in the middle, staring at Jesus, I find the JOY. When I’m focused on Him, and not what’s coming up ahead, I find the joy in the knowledge that not only has He made a way for me, but He’ll be with me through the whole journey.

So where are you on your discipleship journey? Are you dancing with joy ready to leap into anything He calls you to? Are you sitting, prayerfully waiting for instruction? Or are you still sitting on the curb deciding if you really need to pick up your cross and follow Him?

follow me 4

UPDATE:

If you are already on “the bus”, are daring to be a Disciple, please take a moment to view the following video and prayerfully consider supporting the ministry of Tutapona either through prayer or a financial gift and help many more to follow Jesus. ❤

So Close

When your life unfolds like a heart wrenching drama. When you get that phone call at 2 a.m., those test results come back, a uniform shows up at your door, your loved one shudders their last breath and the curtains suddenly close on that life you had and the lights fade to black. You can be sitting in that theatre surrounded by people, completely alone. And the One your soul is crying out to is silent.

I’ve talked with so many people who have walked through suffering and have recalled the same thing. During their darkest moments, biggest trials in life, God’s silence seemed to echo louder than the beating of their broken hearts. During my own darkest moments I’d pondered things I’d heard. The Footprints in the sand poem and “The teacher is always silent during a test”. Neither sat well with me. Partially because neither seemed to have any Biblical backing. I wanted real answers. Real truth. Where was He and why couldn’t I see Him, feel Him, or hear Him when I’d needed Him the most?

I recently read Ann Voscamp’s One Thousand Gifts. And I was blown away by her thoughts on a piece of scripture I’d read plenty of times before but now has been rolling around in my head for weeks.


Exodus 33:22

22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.


What if, when it’s the darkest, you feel the most alone, you could have been so close to the One you needed, you could have practicallyimages (3)

Reached out

And touched…

Holy

Wait. What?

Yes, what if during those loneliest, soul wrenching, heart breaking, moments.

He was passing by

images (4)

And placed you in a cleft in a rock. Mercifully covering your eyes until He passed.

But wait, it gets better.


Exodus 33:23

23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”


Then, when you’ve exited stage left of grief, the curtains open again to slowly reveal your new normal, and you can see. You can see His perfect timing, His masterful weaving once He’s gone by. He’d been there all along. Closer than He’s ever been.

When it had seemed like the world’s worst cliffhanger, you hadn’t been hanging to the edge of a cliff at all, but been carefully placed in a cleft instead.

And if you’re currently in the dark, achingly silent, loneliness of that cleft, patiently waiting for His glory to pass, for the chance to see, feel and hear Him again, know that He is SO CLOSE.

Blessings,

Bobbi

Hope

I have spent the last three days in a place too closely resembling the dark. I’m sure the details of which will come pouring out in a later blog, but for now, I thought I’d take advantage of the insomnia and a brief moment of clarity while treading water to share a small, yet significant, light bulb moment.

I have discovered, unfortunately, that there is something about pain and loss that makes me incredibly near sighted. Not the kind of near sighted I had fixed by a gifted ophthalmologist a few years ago, but the kind of near sighted that makes it virtually impossible for me to see past my own haze of pain and loss, to the world around me and the kingdom above me. Let me see if I can string enough words together to explain.

There is the kind of pain that explodes into your life with such force that you can’t believe that people within a two mile radius didn’t feel the reverberations. That makes you surprised that everywhere you look, people are just continuing on about life as if the world hasn’t actually slowed to a near stand still. They are going to work, buying groceries, and watching TV as if the searing hot white blast that is still causing your ears to ring and the breath to leave your lungs never happened.

There is the kind of loss that creates such a Huge void in your life that it sucks down with it things like laughter, days of the week, people’s names, prior commitments, and the ability to multi task. You stand at the edge of this vortex desperately trying to keep hold of your sanity with a white knuckled grip on HOPE. And sometimes that pain, it’s sucked down with the loss for awhile too. I believe it’s called “shock”.

But that HOPE I’m gripping? It’s not truly in my hands. It’s in the hands of my Savior. Or rather, at the foot of His cross.

This past Sunday, our message was titled, “Christ Centered Hope”. And I was blessed with the reminder of this message today. I’d like to say that my brain was functioning well enough that I remembered it myself. But alas, this information was in the fuzzy area obscured by pain and lost somewhere in the void. No, when I frantically searched for a piece of paper to write down our latest diagnosis and testing appointments, this conversation guide was closest at hand. Thank you God!

DSC_0488~2.jpg


Colossians 3:1-2New International Version (NIV)

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.


So, where is my HOPE? Is it centered on the transient things of this world like finances, relationships, and health? Or is it focused on the HOPE in Christ?

Today, I am struggling to remind myself where I need to place my hope. I am struggling to see further than the pain and loss. Today, I am incredibly near sighted. But I’m also incredibly grateful that He is meeting me where I am and occasionally breaking through that haze to remind me that this is not my home, and my hope is not in my hands, but seated at the right hand of God. And He is with me.

For anyone reading who is struggling through the near sightedness of pain and loss, to see further than the grief:


Psalm 119:114  New International Version (NIV)

114 You are my refuge and my shield;
    I have put my hope in your word.

Isaiah 40:31  New International Version (NIV)

31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.



Alibaster Jar

For six weeks I had struggled out of The Dark. Mercifully, I had emerged, battered, exhausted, on the shores of grief. Though waves of despair still licked at my feet, I was no longer immersed in the cold, dark, pain of my loss. My mind, body, and heart, bore the effects of the experience but I had started to sleep, keep food down, and my brain had started to function past survival, past my next breath.

While in The Dark, I had experienced whispers of thoughts that had drug me back under. But, my fatigued, desperate, mind could only focus on my next breath. Now that I had a little breathing room, literally, occasionally these whispers became thoughts and I became aware of a new battle. One being waged within my soul.

I was after putting the kids to bed. Still struggling somewhat with focus and getting to a new “normal”, I was standing once again in the kitchen. When, in a panic, I couldn’t remember if I’d given our daughter her new medication more than once! I knew this meant I would be sleeping once again on the trundle bed in her room awake and worrying all night. I was overwhelmed. This is what it’s going to be like. Medications, appointments, specialists, and worry. I backed up to the refrigerator and slid to the ground. Down to the beautiful hard wood floors Hubby had reclaimed off of an old job site, hauled home, installed, sanded and refinished for me. I sat there in a daze, looking at all of the perfect imperfections in that floor, and I saw it. My heart, shattered into a million, razor sharp pieces scattered throughout my kitchen. The same heart He had so gently and faithfully removed the barriers to, until it was soft, trusting, pliable, and vulnerable. And then He broke it! Silently sobbing on that floor, feeling betrayed, alone, and bone soul weary, I felt as if there should be crime scene tape and maybe a chalk outline of where my heart had been.

image7.jpeg
Why?!

He doesn’t love you.

No, He has been with me through it all, helping me through! I’ve seen Him in this! He died for me!

He’s punishing you. For those sins. Punishing her for your sins. It’s your fault.

No! I have been redeemed! He set me free!

You don’t look like you’ve been set free. You look broken. And your daughter looks sick.

He doesn’t love you.

I grabbed my cell phone to take comfort from my “light” photos. I had quite a collection by now. And I had an event reminder. Come, Abide, Beloved.

Months prior I had been blessed with the opportunity to attend a Retreat through the Women’s Ministry at our church. At the time, worn down in both body and mind, I rejoiced at the thought of time to remove myself from the distractions of home and focus wholly on His word. However, at just six weeks “post diagnosis” I was literally surviving my days moment by moment, hour by hour. And at this particular moment I was sure I couldn’t manage to go. That I just didn’t have it in me. I was so incredibly raw and now keenly aware that I had some major things to work through.

And then He met me where I was. With encouraging texts from friends privy to my private struggle. With a ride from another sister in Christ. With a Hubby that reminded me that they would all be okay without me. And I put one foot in front of the other and decided to go as I was, where I was. I slept fitfully that night after scattered prayers for guidance and energy and courage to do something that even at my best was so very out of my comfort zone.

He met me in the car on the way up, with the generosity of the beautiful woman who came bearing coffee and a necklace inscribed with the word “courage”. I can’t even make this up!

He met me in the conference center with one of my favorite fragrances in the diffuser. Where these women had worked tirelessly to create an atmosphere so womb like and comforting that I couldn’t even be upset that they made me do 30 minutes of “speed dating” to meet the other attendees.

He met me with the most amazing cabin mates who filled my night with genuine laughter (some of my first in a while) until I forgot my discomfort with all the new faces and names, with an unfamiliar bed, with worries about home, medications and the struggle deep inside.

So I rested. In fact, I slept all night. One of only a handful of nights I’d gotten more than a four hour stretch. And I know He was preparing me for the day ahead. The cold sun rise brought with it the glaring clarity that light often brings. And when I stepped into the conference center again and started to worship I knew there was work to be done here today.

My mind was clearer, but my emotions were no less raw, no further from the surface. I cried through beautiful songs of praise and worship, speaking of God’s love for me and His pursuit of my heart. And as our gifted speaker spoke of Luke 7:37-38,
image23she painted a picture with words of a desperate woman, living a sinful life, risking rejection, glares and PAIN, to get to Jesus, and break her most prized possession, an alabaster jar of expensive perfume to anoint Jesus’s feet. She wept openly, wetting his feet with her tears and wiping them with her hair. She came as she was, where she was, with her brokenness and her sin, and weeping, left them at His merciful feet. I could almost see her desperation and pain! But she let nothing stop her. What was stopping me?

With desperation and pain my soul cried out to Him for Truth! Slowly over the last year He had stretched me and helped me to trust. Not just Hubby and the kids, the ones that initially broke the barriers on my heart, but over time a whole community of believers that had helped bring His truth and love and light into my life. And with each layer removed, each anxious step, He had made it good. I trusted Him! But how was I supposed to start all over again and trust Him again? Because this hurt too much. And the temptation to listen to those evil whispers, to return to the “safety” of a hardened heart was at times, at my weakest moments, so very strong! I felt everything but strong.

We broke for our personal devotion time and I went into the crisp autumn air thankful for the cold. Hoping it would numb some of the torment. And I opened my packet and started to work through it. Years of counseling and a remarkable therapist had helped me gain insight into my sins, the motivation behind them, and the detrimental effect they’d had on my life. I had confessed these sins, wept over them for the pain they’d caused me and others, and the barrier they’d placed between me and Christ. So, I fairly flew through half my packet when I was blindsided by number 16.

16. What do you desire more than Christ?

My earthly family. Whole, healthy, and happy. My daughter not sick.

They are my alabaster jar!

We were instructed to take our pieces of alabaster and write on them what we had been holding onto as more precious than Christ, image24then bring them to the cross and lay them at the feet of Jesus.

Could I do it? Could I trust Him with my family? With my heart? To be perfectly honest, I faltered. I sat holding that stone, hot in my hands, mind and heart racing and realized….I was still praying! I was desperate, broken, and looked for Him in everything, every person I came across, every piece of scripture He gave me. And I knew. I knew that I would walk to that house of the Pharisees, past ridicule and shame, and bring Him my most prized possession, my alibaster jar and all of my brokenness. Every sharp, painful, ugly shard. And I did.

Oh, there was so much pain in the offering!!! But as I laid my piece of alibaster at His feet and cried desperate, broken tears, I saw Him pick up those awful broken pieces and knew image11He made them new. That I was nowhere near complete, but He would make it good. I went to the safety of the prayer tent but instead of ridicule and shame was met again with His grace and love through another sister in Christ who once again gave me the words to pray when all I had left were tears.

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The Retreat was part of His plan, His perfect timing. And though I left exhausted, I left with renewed faith and trust in Him. I left strengthened in Him to battle the doubts and fears that still sometimes work their way into my head. Though they surface in my weakness, His strength lights my way and they no longer pull me down, broken, onto my kitchen floor.

I keep a piece of that alibaster jar amidst the chaos of my purse, my life, to continually remind me who I’d given it to.

DSC_0166~3.jpgMy alibaster jar

 

 

From the other side of the podium, the same side of the cross, please visit:

Invisible Love, Sisterhood