Getting through the Valley

It’s so easy to get lost going through a valley.

Because we often don’t realize how long the valley really is until we’re standing in the middle of it.
We grieve, we grow and we even sometimes trip over the rocky terrain we’re traveling through, because the valley is a place we experience all sorts of trials.
It can be scary and can be one of the hardest places we ever navigate through.
And friend ‘through’ is one of the key words here…we don’t just end our time in the valley, there’s a rigorous hike to be had to get through it.

I know, because I’ve been traveling its terrain a lot lately.

And just because we’re on the other side a hard diagnosis doesn’t mean there’s not a battle left to fight.
As we continue taking one step after another, sometimes taking one step back we realize just how long the road can be.
Because there’s a lot of times we’ve been feeling out of balance, and honestly have just been reminding one another how much healing is left to happen.

Because honestly, when we’re walking through something like this, its easy to forget about the season of healing that comes.
It’s easy to see all the ways the valley has taken from us and forget the broken places we still hold.
But healing is vital and necessary for all of us to recover.
Yet sometimes it can be uncomfortable to create the space to heal, because people expect us to be back to ‘normal’ and the truth is, we do too. And if we aren’t careful, we can run past this stage and miss the healing we’re needing.

And if we don’t heal friends, we risk bleeding all through so many of the steps ahead.
This is what’s been ringing in my ears recently just how deep our need to grow healthy roots really is. And not just healthy lifestyle habits so many of us lean into following a scary season, because although these are important, I’m talking more about our need for soul care inside our healing.

Because here’s the thing…
I’ve tried to mend my hurts on my own, while continuing to push myself forward…I’ve even tried to heal a broken leg on my own one time…I’ve hidden things too deep and too hard to face…all to avoid impending healing I needed… and honestly, it didn’t work.

I know because I’ve tried this dozens of times before.

And right in the middle of this valley, the doctor spoke the words to both Joe and I that cut deep, he said this would take at least a year to heal and even after that he may never heal from some of these wounds…

So, what I keep reminding myself is we don’t have to find our way out of this on our own.

It’s a subtle reminder but an important one, because if life is teaching me anything these days, it’s that we don’t have what it takes to heal our soul.
We can merely, place ourselves in the position to heal, but God is the one who ultimately heals our brokenness.

And the truth is, as I read this week about another minister who took his life because of the pain of brokenness within, my heart sank.
Because I think far too many of us think some souls are beyond the reach of getting lost and dipping into this kind of darkness. We think these places are only for those who we minister to, but this isn’t true.
As I’ve been sitting beside a good friend whose husband was in this kind of darkness for many years.  I know this deep pain really does exist and more than we’d like to admit. And one of the hardest things in a darkness like this, is how hard it is for those left behind.
Because following this kind of tragedy, there’s always a bucket of shrapnel the families are left to rummage through and make sense of.

Because how do you explain this kind of darkness that’s often hidden?

And what do you do with all the wounds that are left to heal?

As I recently spoke to the mother of an infant who died an utterly horrific death, she told me the most striking of truths, she told of how hard this kind of grief is to walk through.
Because while you’re grieving the loss of the one you held so close, you’re also trying to redeem your own soul to live.

Friend, this is why I’m so determined to speak openly about how important healing is through the valley…

Because it’s our healing here that will determine the state of our hearts in our steps going forward. So friend if you’re not in the valley, but there’s some brokenness that’s within your soul,  be ever so kind to yourself and know that you can meet God just as powerfully…here as in the darkness of the valley.

Because although we look for striking and sudden ways to experience God, the truth is he is inside even the wounds from past valleys long ago and he’s wanting to heal them from your inside out.
And his healing can happen every.minute.of every day, when we unfold ourselves before him. 

We become transformed into the likeness of God as we carry ourselves into his presence.
And friend, this is where worship wins inside our souls. 
Worship becomes alive when in the middle of the valley, or through the deepest wounds, we choose to stand in awe of God and allow his beauty to heal the brokenness within our scars. 

Paul David Tripp reminds us…

‘Worship is not something we do; it defines who we are.’

And regardless of what we humans believe, we all are bent to worship-yet, it’s when we bend ourselves down to worship the living God, we get the response of heaven.

Every other kind of counterfeit worship which competes for our devotion, merely leaves us empty…

Friend where we fix our heart, mind and soul today will truly determine who receives our worship.

So, when darkness invades your soul and brokenness and pain lies within, singing within the middle of the valley, refocuses your eyes onto the ONE who can rescue and heal you.

Because there’s not one of us exempt from the pain that surrounds us in this broken world,  and not one of us who doesn’t need heaven fighting for us. 

 

These are the Days…Of Vulnerability and Healing

These are the days ….Of healing, of reentry and learning how to live following a crisis.

And these are the words I penned following the most recent episode of my favorite podcast…’The Next Right Thing’ with Emily P. Freeman.

Emily, the host of this podcast described what she does when she feels ‘stuck’ in her journaling or needs grounding in her daily rhythms. 
She said she simply bullet points what’s happening in her daily life and names them. 

So, I took her suggestion and begin writing my happenings right now and these are the ones I came up with…
Healing, re-entry and learning how to live following a crisis. 

You see, we are better off when we say the hard words that we sometimes cringe in speaking. 
There was a time I wouldn’t say them. 
I’d hide from them and try anything but name them. 
Because I thought if I pretended they weren’t a part of my life I could distance them from being a part of me. 

You see, I was so afraid to let it out that I was struggling and working through things. Because if I did that it might somehow give an opening for another’s opinion and that was just plain debilitating for me to consider. 
Because I feared the pain that comes from critics, especially the one that’s lives inside of me.  

I struggled to be honest in this way, because I believed if I showed all the broken places I held it would somehow make me less valuable, unlovable and unable to fight the battles ahead.   

Perhaps it’s because we get too accustomed to seeing our brokenness, rather than seeing ourselves healed. 
And maybe this is truly why we all need truth tellers in our lives who will love us enough to lead us toward the healing we’re needing. 
Because truth truly matters.

And friend, this was the beginning of how I stumbled upon living vulnerable and I am learning to love myself.  

It was early one Thursday morning, when I sat in front of this screen and decided to do it. I decided it was worth more than hiding, I was done covering up and preserving myself.

It was time to be completely real…

I could feel a sense of letting go as my hands were shaking and the words wouldn’t stop coming out. 

Because this friend, is where art is created. 
It’s when our real lives hit a canvas. 
It would be the first time these stories would get read outside of the pages of my journal. 

And honestly, it was scary.

So, I counted the cost.

But what I found was, I had to do it. 
Because I knew it was time…time for me to heal and time for you to read about my healing. 
Because writing from the middle of grief, from the midst of healing is what connects us to one another and gathers souls. 

I had to believe there was something way better to come.

And what I’ve found is, there’s a better way of ‘living’ than covering up and pretending.

And I’ll be the first to admit, it’s scary, to live life uncovered and real…
but I’ve only just begun. 

Because it’s one brave step at a time, as I’m learning to walk again…and as I’m truly feeling alive these days. 

One thing I’m learning about all of this is… I can’t make everyone happy.
In fact there’s many who will fall away along the way. 
But it’s okay because in the end those who are left beside me are the ones who will travel this road for a lifetime beside me. 

That first week Joe and I tried to accept his Cancer and receive all we were hearing, it was here I began seeing the purpose my vulnerability was going to have. 

I had just begun this new journey of writing when it happened. 
And I had no idea the true purpose it would have until this Cancer arrived.

I remember it so vividly, as I was staring into the mirror in my bathroom that first Sunday Joe’s lump appeared.
By this time it had already doubled or tripled in size over the weekend and I was scared, I knew it wasn’t good.  

My initial reaction was to tell him to hide. 
You see, after each service he usually goes into a room where he greets and prays with people following his sermon. 
But this day I was struck with fear and thought we need to keep this struggle private. 

Because this is what fear does, it isolates you.
It tells you you’ll be better alone. 

But God spoke louder than my fear and he told me this was his story to tell. 
He told me Joe was already prepared to live this thing out loud and it was time for me to be okay with it too. 

So, as this thing crashed into our lives with its ferocity God permeated us with greater capacity. 
I felt his Spirit empowering us along the way. 

And this is how it is.
We walk through when life is steady and still faithfully pouring over his word so we can make it through the valley encouraged by his word.  

I had no idea that first blog that I pressed enter would be shared over thousands and thousands of times. 
But it did. 

And only moments after I pressed ‘publish’ your messages of love and support began pouring in. People telling us of their big prayers being offered for us. 
You shared stories of your own brave battles being fought. 

And honestly we are so grateful for you all of you showing up for us. 

Every word was received and prayed over. 
As we made our way through all of your messages and as I read them to Joe, tears fell and our hearts were filled with deep felt love. 

And as we walk through this thing now,
as we continue to heal, as we begin our road of re-entry and as we learn to live through the healing of PTSD, there’s still stories continuing to come in.
Which is such a gift, because there’s still some deep fear which lingers which calls us daily to trust in God more. 

Friends, our journey is far from over and yours is too.
And this is why I truly believe, in order to stay on this path of vulnerability and healing we need each other. 
Whether we’re out there working in the craziness of the corporate world or designing art for others to view, we all need one another to heal. 

And for Joe and I, we truly need this space here with you, we need you cheering us on because friend this is a huge part of healing. 

Because coming to this place right now, is what God has called us to.
And honestly, it’s not always received well and it’s sometimes it can be terribly hard, but as we lie in bed each night, there’s something beautiful about knowing  there’s a gathering of souls who dearly love us and are praying us through this. 

So, thank you friends for traveling with us and not stopping here, but walking us toward what lies ahead. 

Because there’s a priceless beauty in living our lives unashamedly in front of one another…

And these my friends truly are the days of healing, re-entry and learning how to live again. 🖤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Beautiful Thing with Being Human

Friends, I need you to know why we’ve been talking so much about worship lately.

You see, sometimes something crazy rolls into your life and at first you freak out and wonder what on earth is happening, but then you catch your breath and remind yourself it must be here for a reason…
and it’s here we see just how big this thing is.

Because if it’s affecting us like this, just think of the rippling affect it could have on those around us.

When this all began, Joe’s initial concern was for our family…what would this mean for me? And for our kids?
How would his mom take the news?

All these worries streamed in really quickly
and honestly, as fast as they flooded our thoughts we knew we needed God to do something big in us to get us through it.

And that’s when we realized worship is what wins wars.

Because if we let the worry around us overwhelm us, we won’t ever have a chance in getting through the fires that find their way into our lives.

And we knew that worship couldn’t only be our response when times were good; Worship has to be our response
‘no matter what life brings.’

Worship’s our daily declaration that no matter how this thing plays out and in the end, we will still be standing in worship.
It means: When fear rises, we want our hands to rise even higher in holy surrender.

Because friend, we alone don’t have what we need for the battles we’re fighting; We need  heaven to come alongside us.

And right in the middle of walking through all Joe’s Cancer God led me to the story of Paul and Silas inside of the prison cell where they chose to worship in their suffering.

As I read their familiar story with a fresh perspective,
I wondered which one of them sang the first note…
Because it always takes one person who’s courageous enough to choose worship even in the darkness of the night.

It was their desperate decision to worship within the silence of their cell that caused heaven to come to their rescue that night.
And this is what hangs within the balance every single time we choose worship in the middle of our pain too.

It was in the middle of their worship, that all of heaven broke their chains and set them free.
Friends, it’s easy for us to praise God when life is good, but it’s so much harder to praise Him in the middle of our pain.

But it’s here God unlocks our pain and sets us free. 

Freedom from our constant struggles,
freedom from our worrying and
freedom from all which distracts us from him. 

It says as they were worshiping God…‘the other prisoners were listening to them…’

And just like Paul and Silas, when we’re in the middle of something hard, there’s always people who are listening to our response…

Because sometimes friend, our choice to worship leads to other’s freedom too.

The story continues telling of the miracle that happened as they worshiped,
‘At once ALL the prison doors flew OPEN, and EVERYONE’S chains came LOOSE.’

Did you read that?

Even their onlookers were set free because of their decision to worship.

God changed the whole room because of their brave choice to praise him in the middle of their pain.
Not only were those two men freed from their circumstances but the whole prison found freedom that night. 

Friend, our seemingly hopeless and dire situations have the power to affect entire communities of people.

Our response in suffering MATTERS…not only for us, but for others too!

Because worship always leads to freedom.

Joe has a large scar in the crease of his neck from his recent surgeries.
His doctor purposefully placed it here, to make it less noticeable.
I suppose that’s what they do to make them not so obvious.

But as I ran my finger over it last night, I realized what all this scar truly represents…

Because despite what society sells us, there’s no cream that’s going to erase the stories it will tell.
And honestly I wouldn’t want it to.

Because scars aren’t meant to be hidden or covered up…they’re not a sign ‘something is wrong’ with us…
…They’re where stories tell how growth, recovery and healing are happening.

And honestly besides Joe, I’m the only one who truly knows the details of these stories
…and friend this is truly a gift when we’re invited into stories like this.

Because as we experience pain beside others we learn a little bit more about what it means to be human.

Sometimes, we can even feel like a piece of us is scarred as we care for those we love. 

Because we know the intimate details, we see how they’re surviving this thing and in the midst of it all we can feel like we’re just surviving too.

Because in moments like this we realize how so much of our lives are truly connected to others as we share wounds and stories.
And this is truly the beautiful part of being human…Because this means we’re never alone in healing.
Because right beside us, there are people witnessing how we’re doing this thing and the truth is we need them beside us as much as they need us. 
And when we let one another get this close, we’re choosing to be real and we’re choosing love and this is a powerful gift in healing. 

Lately every time I run my finger over his scar I’m grateful, because I know he didn’t have to live these days vulnerably beside me, he didn’t have to invite me in but he did and knowing this makes a huge difference in how we’re healing these days.  

And this is true with God too

He didn’t have to choose to have a relationship with us, he didn’t have to choose to save us but he did and because of this choice worship should flow out of us every single day….
Whether we’re on the mountain top or in the valley, because he’s no less God on either side… 

 

 

 

Godly Worship Overcomes Human Worry

We may each walk through some hard days and wonder if we’ll ever make it through.
Because when we find ourselves in the valley, the hill beside us can look so far away. 

But friend, worship is truly what moves us from the valley to the mountain top. 

Because God is doing his work even in the midst of our mess and is with us through all that follows that mess too…

He’s with us following the painful break-up, following the excruciating loss of a child, following the devastating diagnosis and even in into what follows our much needed healing…because he truly loves us and he walks with us through the after math of it all…

Friend, if you’re in these days experiencing these side effects know that God sees you. And worship is where we meet him in these days….

Because worry will try its best to steal a place in our hearts, but it can only have that space if we allow it.
And the truth is worship and worry can’t co-exist in this space. 

Because when we worship our heart and mind rests on the things above rather than the things of this earth. 

I know because this is what we’ve been living these days. 

And just because Joe’s been given a clear scan, it doesn’t mean worry and fear don’t continue to invade our hearts. 
Because fear has a way of showing up in every kind of season and even in the ones that follow those hard ones.

In fact, sometimes this is when we least expect them to come… 

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Like today as I was scrolling down my feed when I ran across a story that did me in. 

I saw the all too familiar sight.
It was a young man who was bald lying in his hospital bed surrounded by his family, but that wasn’t what got to me.
It was the headline that did it.

Son of Babe Laufenberg Loses fight with rare Cancer…’

My heart dropped for this family, because when you’ve experienced the fight and watched someone you love go through it, it changes you. 
It makes you wish you could find a cure and help all those who suffer its affects.  

But friend we can’t.

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As I began to read further about this young man’s brave story, I realized he had the exact same Cancer Joe had. 
I was struck because this kind of Cancer is extremely rare.
And when you hear someone’s cancer came back following your recent battle, it can hit you deep. 

After 5 months of devastating challenges and following a lot of unanswered questions, following the Ptsd that seems to be all too heavy at times, following the fear of any reoccurrence, following all the anxiety that comes when life bears down a little too heavily…news like this can get to you. 

And honestly something like this has a strange way of taking your breath away. It causes you to realize how shattered you are and reminds you there’s still a lot of healing to do. 

Because I think something deep happens when a person goes through years of grief. 
They wonder if they’ll ever live a year without the feelings of loss and grief. 
And when we look around and run across a story like this it reminds us we all have battle wounds that tell our stories.

And although we don’t hold the cure for those who are suffering beside us, we know the One who does.

And this is actually where worship becomes even more powerful inside our stories.  

Because it’s here when we choose to worship over worry, we lead others into the presence of God with us.
We tell our world that although we don’t know how all of this will turn out, we’re choosing to trust God. 

Because these days our world sees too many fake versions of life…
because we’re all guilty of over-filtering our photos which look too good to be true. 

And the honest truth is, maybe life is not as much about collecting the most likes and accumulating the big red hearts, and a whole lot more about living vulnerably.
Maybe it’s found in having our hearts stretched by those who are bravely living amongst us and stopping a minute to realize there’s a whole lot of hard being living out right in front of us.  

Because this is where get to share in other’s lives and we get close enough to see their battle scars. 

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So, tonight as my heart feels a little heavier than usual,  I’m grateful for the opportunity to gather friends and worship God.
I am looking forward to worshiping God because this is where my heart is reminded of who God is and this friend is powerful.

Because this is truly where I feel the calmest and the most at rest, when I’m standing in the presence of God.

Friend, if you’re struggling tonight with this too. If life feels heavy and its squeezing some life out of you, press play and meet God here.

Because you can trust that if its heavy on your heart, its heavy on God’s heart too. 

**Worship with us today as we’ve been singing ‘Faithful to the End’ by Bethel Music

 

 

 

Change is Hard But Necessary for Healing

Warning: A confession from the depth of my soul 

Its time for a change.’ 

This statement’s been reaching deep within today…
As we’re preparing for a new transition it’s been uncovering some unhealed spaces of my heart. 
Because although God knows I’ve been begging him to end this season, this change requires a whole lot more than I ever expected it to. 

It’s honestly been causing me a lot of anxiety.
It’s so easy to wonder what might be lurking outside the familiar boundaries we’ve been walking through. 
It’s easy to long for the daily medical support when you don’t feel entirely better, when your body’s experiencing the after effects of the trauma that came uninvited into your life. 

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This was the advice being passed out as we walked into the front door of the clinic recently.
It was indirectly said to us while one of the valet workers looked into our eyes.
He then explained the guy who was walking right past us had spent the last 16 years locked up and this kind worker explained these were the words he’d intentionally given him. 

‘Its time for a change…after 16 years, its time to change something.’

When he spoke these words to us it was if he was speaking them into our lives as well…
because we too are facing these days of change. 
But not only will our schedule be taking a new direction, my heart needed to embrace this change too. 

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Tomorrow marks the finish line for Joe, as he receives his final day of treatments. 
It’s been five and half months since this journey began and tomorrow we’re finished! 

We’ve been told he will receive a certificate and a chance to ring the chimes that line the all too familiar hallway where he’s been receiving radiation. 

Although it will be a day full of celebrations for us, it is also a day which marks the beginning of our re-entry, our comeback, because it starts our initial ascent from the valley we’ve been walking through to the mountain ahead. 

Because on the other side of every valley, there’s an incline we’re required to climb. 
And these are the steps we often forget to consider.
Yet after every hard struggle, following the flood of visitors and well-wishers, in the days beyond the funeral or the good byes of life there seems to be an interval of quiet when the busyness of others seems to cease and its in these days we realize there’s another transition coming ahead. 

It’s finding our life after trauma when the realization of the magnitude of what we’ve been walking through hits and the reality of it all begins to settle in. 

So, when I heard his words this morning, I realized they were divinely spoken over us as well. 

Because when a hard & holy thing crashes into our lives we aren’t inclined to stop and consider how we’re going to walk out of it… 
Because we merely are trying to catch our breath, nonetheless have what we need to plan our impending departure. 

But something happens in these days of isolation, in their quiet we realize our desperate need for God to walk us out the other side. 

We see this throughout history with God….
As he split the waters in two for the Israelites to walk through, with Rahab as he allowed her to step over the city’s rubble, as he restored Job’s life doubly following his dire suffering and we even see it as he walked Jesus out of the grave.

There’s a life restored following pain.
A healed life full of so much more to live for. And in these moments our lives may not get put back together as quickly as they fell apart but we know God is with us through it all.

This becomes the sacred place we ask God to hold our heart and walk us out differently than we came in.

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It was a Tuesday afternoon when we stood at Joe’s desk, over five months ago when we received Joe’s diagnosis.
We stood there in disbelief and it was in that moment we decided to ask you to come alongside us on this journey. 
We asked you to choose worship over worry with us…at that moment a lot changed for us. 
Because then we realized how much this message resonated with so many of you as we saw the number of times you all shared our story and continue sharing it, 
we were surprised at your response and your willingness to worship alongside us. 

Your presence has been fierce. 
As we’ve received countless texts, messages, emails and letters from all over the world. 
Many of you have bravely cracked open your own brokenness and invited us into your own hard story, thank you for this gift. 

Thank you for bringing us along through your days and introducing us to your family and friends, it’s truly been a humbling blessing. 

I’ll be honest…your kindness has been entirely nice. But at the same time, its a bit overwhelming too. You’ve not done anything wrong, in fact you’ve been so gracious and real. It’s just that its kind of taken our breath away as you’ve unfolded yourself and we’ve gotten real together.  

But there’s something I need to share, because honestly I’ve only been able to type out a very small portion of our story and there’s so much I’d love to tell you, but for the lack of the right words and the shortage of time, I’ve yet to do this very well.  

Because how do we say all that we’re holding within our hearts? 

Our stories can’t possibly be summed up in this space alone. 
Because quite honestly we’re all at a disadvantage as we work our hardest to type out what seems the easiest to those reading our posts.
And those ugly cries and hard things we all battle have a hard time of being translated into our overcrowded feeds. 

How could I put into words the long nights we’ve laid awake…or the ptsd I’ve been wrestling with…the many side effects still lingering for Joe that might take a long time to subside…or how do I spell out for you this shocking health scare we’ve been walking through…and the reality that we desperately want to heal from all of this? 

Yes, we’re so relieved to be walking out the door of the clinic tomorrow for one last time and so ready for the treatments to stop but if we’re being honest with you we need you now more than ever. 
Because it’s here we’re preparing to fight another battle, the long process of healing. 
It’s one that’s often overlooked but it’s a necessary step for us all to go forward. 

I’ve felt afraid to write this out, because it uncovers what’s laying in the secret spaces of my soul. 
I was scared that if I showed up here and showed you the scars I’ve been covering up lately you might push them aside and tell me I’ll be fine, shoving off my need for greater healing. 

But the truth is I’ve been really struggling with our reentry lately, because so much of our lives have changed…we’ve changed…our family’s changed and honestly we don’t have the option of going back to what life was before all of this.

And yet there’s something I know for certain; even with the rawness of my heart right now…all the fears I’m battling through…all the unanswered questions running through my mind…none of this makes me any less human or worthy of God’s love. 

Because our wounds heal and they become scars which tell just how God helped us  survive. 
They tell our stories and remind others to choose worship over worry when the storms of life come threatening their peace. 

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But perhaps life is less about getting back to who we were and more about who we’re becoming. 

 

Join us in worshiping to ‘Raise A Hallelujah‘ by Bethel Music today.

  

 

 

Worshiping through Worry

Regardless of how much life unfolds before me, there continues be moments when fear grips me; afraid of what might be. 
Because I’ll always have days I consider the ‘what-ifs’ and wonder how I’ll survive, because this is the cost that comes with being human…

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Over five months ago when Joe and I sat hunched over his desk calling family and telling them his diagnosis life felt heavy and hard. But the moment we decided to choose worship over worry,
God lifted that heaviness and ushered in hope.

Family and friends began forwarding us songs and these songs began filling our time and our hearts. Because worship has a way of removing those things we often put in the place of God and gives hope.

Hope doesn’t mean there will always be good news, because we don’t put our hope in good diagnoses…hope resurrects itself when we place our lives in God’s hands, trusting him to carry us through.

When we choose worship, worry can’t exist in our hearts at that very same time.
Every moment of every day we must choose one or the other.

And the truth is:
Worry is what we’re humanly prone to in times of struggle and in suffering.
It’s the path our brains naturally take unless we give them another place to rest.

At the time, we had no idea the relief worship would bring to our worry.
We had never activated it like this.

But It was if heaven handed it to us like a prescription for our days ahead.
Yet when we began choosing to press play every time we found relief and peace.

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And if I’m being honest we’re in another testing of our faith these days as Joe has just a little over one week of treatments left.
You see, this type of aggressive cancer has been known to leave hidden remnants within its victims, coming back with a vengeance.

When Joe finishes these treatments his body’s battle is not over.

Because although the cancer outwardly is not showing itself it can hide and return with no warning and the Drs have warned us to be vigilant…
And this is because they know their enemy well.

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Isn’t this how God wants us to face our enemy, the devil?

He’s warned us of his tactics and told us to be on guard and yet so many of us are surprised and ill-prepared by his attacks.
What if we recognized one of his greatest schemes of these days is…worry?

And rather than submitting ourselves to the panic attacks, what if we chose to worship God instead?
I understand it’s not our natural go to…
But it is the relief our souls are really needing.

Because when we choose to worship God we take all our worries and set them before all of Heaven. We engage heaven’s armies in the battles we face and we set ourselves on the winning team rather than getting lost in our anxieties.

 

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Just last night my chest felt all too heavy as I laid beside Joe. Because the honest truth is he’s still fighting so many hard things.

And my heart aches seeing him suffer. And when you watch the ones you love struggle in ways they’ve never done you wonder if this is how it will be. So, I did what we’ve been doing in times like this and pressed play on our playlist.
And as soon as I did we both fell into God’s peace.
None of our problems got solved, we still don’t know how all of this will play out.

But what we do know is, God is with us through every minute of every day and he’s with you too!

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You see, I’ve always struggled with inklings of worry.
I’ve not always admitted it, but I am now.
I guess that’s because God has a way of showing us how he wants us to live differently.
So, when this thing crashed into our home instead of doing life like we’ve always done it we decided to rise differently.

And the reason we’ve been fervently telling our story is in hopes that maybe you will too.
Because instead of allowing worry to fill our chests and all the ‘what-ifs’ consume our thoughts -we decided to uncover it all before God and allow him to handle it all.

This doesn’t mean it’s been easy and it doesn’t mean we’ve not struggled through.
Because choosing worship doesn’t mean you never will;

It merely means you’ll choose to worship through your worries when they come up too.

You see worshiping through these days has actually allowed me to face my struggle with anxiety and led me to seek help.
Because worship does something holy not only in the presence of God but it does it within the heart of the worshiper as well.

I had to make these changes, because God knew something needed to change. But the thing about changing is -it requires honesty and letting our hearts bleed out. We become unashamedly vulnerable and this is what truly brings healing.

Because a beautiful thing happens when we share our wounds, others uncover theirs too.
Here, we quit hiding what’s underneath and we hurt together, and it’s here we heal together.
Because in sharing our stories we ease the pain we’ve been carrying around and we bring relief to the broken.

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And friend, this is the mysteriously beautiful thing we find as we gather in worship….Because its in worship hearts get revealed and are healed.

Healing and Where We go from Here

There are times merely living can be overwhelming…from the height of joy to the depth of grief, the sheer reality of being human comes with an immense amount of emotions.

I’ve been breathless multiple times by the simple sightings of beauty, the way a song is sung with such passion and the wonder of life as it emerges.
Then there’s the pain of little ones taken far to early, the loss of someone we love and the sufferings so many must bear.

Life is full of a variety of feelings…

And yet no emotion compares to the ones we experience standing on the edge of a mountain ridge or those while we are surrounded in the darkness of a valley.

These heights and dips have a way of marking our journeys in permanent ways.

Because it’s in these spaces our souls are introduced to a sacred beauty which exists deep within others too. 

Here we meet people we feel like we’ve known for years as we split our hearts wide open for one another to see.

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When we stepped into this journey 5 months ago, neither of us knew how it was going to change us.

Because when you are deep in the thick of it all, so much which is spoken of this disease is about surviving.

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Recently, I burst into tears, because for the first time in months, my body felt changed in ways I had no control over.
I knew we were traveling to the other side, at least for now, but I felt ill-prepared and overwhelmed by the grace greeting me on the other side.

Because it takes a renewed mind to emerge from the shrapnel that’s been wreaking havoc on your world.

And the hard truth was, I didn’t want to tell anyone about this.

I didn’t know how to tell my closest friends who’d been holding my hand through these days because surprisingly enough I didn’t have the words to sum it all up.

I mean how do you even tell someone your heart is aching from all the trauma it’s been walking through?
How do you describe the heaviness within?

I honestly didn’t want to give it all words.

Because people want you better and they want to hear of all the good you’re experiencing.
They want your old self back and really just want things back to the way it was before…maybe it’s because in some strange way, their life can return to normal again too.

So, how do you tell them you’re different?
And that you may never be the person you were before?
How do you tell someone all the things you’ve been told by drs and all of the hard things you’re still walking through?

People want see the miracle of bringing you back to who you were before.
But what we can often misunderstand is:
every struggle resurrects someone new, changed from the inside out.

And this new being is exactly who God created them to be…

Because the thing about valleys, like no other place, is they require healing.
And healing is never a simple process.
It takes time for our emotional being to regulate again,

It takes endurance for our body to return to health.
It takes
strength for us to resume to our daily tasks and rest to be able to recover from the trauma we’ve been going through.

It takes us sitting alone in discomfort awhile before it completely resumes to its natural rhythms and the honest truth this all is hard work.

So, as we step into what’s next may we re-discover God’s grace like never before.
Because it’s in moments like this we must resist the urge to rush through the
holy act of re-shaping our soul.

But this simply takes time…
and in the middle of these moments it can be discouraging.|
Because we can’t really see what’s happening deep inside of our souls.
And the thought of remaining stuck here in-between is rather frightening….we’re tired of continually adjusting and feeling out of whack.

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This is when we need reminded that God created us with the beauty of resilience, to rise from the ashes and heal our brokenness.

Because it can be really uncomfortable to sit through healing.
We’d rather reason it away or numb our wounds, because healing hurts.

Lately, I’ve been asking God
to make us whole and to take away our wounds.

And then I realized,
I can’t control how quickly I heal.
It will come when the wounds are ready to heal.

The strange thing is; the pain hasn’t dulled, walking through this hasn’t changed the worries we’re carrying to God or diminished the struggle.
Instead they’ve actually become markings of remembrance; reminders of what’s happened at the site of one of these wounds.

And one day they’ll turn into scars.
Because I’ve had it happen before.
And as I look across our days thus far I’m reminded of the trust in God these wounds  required for us to survive.

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Friend, if you’re out there surviving your own version of hard today, give your wounds the time they’re needing to heal.

For it’s in the healing of wounds God marks us with scars which speak bravely of all it’s taken for each one of us to survive.

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And from these beautiful markings…our reckless stories of faith get told.

Worship with usRaise a Hallelujah from Bethel Music is on replay a lot these days.