The Sparrow

Sparrow Blog Instagram: awakened_arts

The Sparrow has been on my mind so much lately. In fact, I drew this Sparrow weeks ago when I gave one of the characters in my Middle-Grade book that I am currently writing a mark of a sparrow.
I find it interesting as I looked up sparrows, once I knew my main character bore the mark, that a sparrow often symbolizes joy. This is perfect, as it lines up with the call of my character in the story.
Here I have had sparrows on my mind, and they can often symbolize the very gift of Joy the Lord has given me to share with others.

Today I discovered, I have a new Facebook friend that calls her ladies, Sparrows. I asked her why the sparrow was so relevant to her and she stated;
“Knowing that when God takes care of the Sparrows as they didn’t value much according to man; HE would always take care of us the same.” (Valerie Miller)

Luke 12:6 –  Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.
This verse turns my mind to think about one of the causes of depression. Not knowing our worth. Not seeing ourselves through the eyes of the creator. How often can we look at nature and think it is so beautiful, or look at a young animal and think how precious, yet we can not look at ourselves with the same value?
Has not the masterful creator held you with a great value?
How can you look upon the face of His wonderful creation and only see the lack?
He only sees the great value, not the flaws.
He sees your full worth and call.
A call He set aside only for you to do, and if the enemy can entrap us in feeling like we have no value, then we hold back from doing all we are created for.
What if the sparrow, saw her wings, but never understood their value?
What if she never put them to use because she thought they lacked worth?
She would be a target for prey as she would sit vulnerably and not fly away.
She would miss the beauty her wings would bring her as she took flight, soaring over the earth.
What are you missing out on today, because you are not seeing your full value of your gift?
What part of yourself are you hiding because you think it lacks worth, that another needs to see in order to find their own?

Today my friend is the day you see yourself in the eye of the creator.
Far more valuable are you to Him than even the sparrow who is remembered and cared for.
Ask Him today, to see yourself with new eyes. Hold fast to what you are shown and take flight!

Matthew 10:31- “So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.

Song: His eye on the sparrow 

 

Joy Despite the Pain is Not Denial but a Necessity!​

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Joy despite the pain is not denial but a necessity. These are the words the Lord spoke to me days after the darkest, lowest point in my life.
Let me back up just a bit, before that revealing moment.
In 2010 I had been through the darkest valley I had ever known. I was a church-going, woman of God, that loved my family, loved my husband, loved my kids and my friends and all of a sudden, it wasn’t enough. I won’t go into the details that lead to this valley at this time. Just that I was in one.
In this valley of death, I was ready to end my life. I began to cut people away from me. I didn’t see it at first. In the beginning, it was because someone wronged me, and chop, they were out of my life. Then it was someone wasn’t around for me the way I needed them, and chop, they were out of my life.  Then it became a chopping block for no other reason than I was done with people. I wanted to hide away. I wanted to end all my physical pain that was blinding and no end in sight. I felt worthless, I felt hindering to others, unwanted (because I didn’t want myself) and unloved (because I could not love myself). I only saw my lack and hated myself for it. I truly hated me and the mess I was in.

The baffling thing is, on the outside, I seemed to have it all together. I was strong, I was faithful, I was serving, I was blessed… BUT
Suicide and major depression are not spoken of in the church very often or perhaps even not at all. Women are going to church Sunday mornings with a smile on their face, all the while dying inside. They feel guilty for dying inside, they feel weak and unworthy for feeling this weight they can’t explain.
Some will keep that mask on their face until, like me at that moment, they are ready to end it all.

I was sobbing in the bathtub, I had been told some very negative things by doctors, ” you have to live this way, the pain will not kill you, you don’t want to get better if you won’t try XYZ,”  lets forget I had tried A-W and was exhausted and broke. I was blinded by the opiates they had put me on for the pain and I was just done. I had it planned. Submerge in the tub inhale deeply and end it. My husband knowing something was off, sat on the other side of the bathroom door, banging on it begging for me to let him in.
I stopped crying answered in a very calm voice, ” I am fine, I just need some time.” He stood on the other side, quiet.

At this moment, I was not thinking of my worth, I was not thinking that my family needed me, my family loved me, all I could think was to end the pain both physically and emotionally. I dreamed of the feeling of nothing.

With a final heart plea, I said, “God you promised me joy, where is it.”

It was THE most defining moment in my life. He answered my spirit and said, ” you have joy, you just need to find it.”

My despair cleared and for the first time in 10 months, I had hope stirring in me. I had no idea the journey I would embark on, but that moment with my savior, truly saved my life.

In this process, Writing for Joy was created. I still hurt, I still was broken, I still had limits to my abilities, but as I sought God on what was robbing my joy, each day a bit more joy filled the holes of empty in my heart. One day while still walking in physical pain, but feeling joy again in my heart, I heard God speak clearly to me, ” Joy despite the pain, is not denial but a necessity.” This became my new mantra in life. I was still waiting for physical healing but in the meantime, I was learning my circumstances did not have to dictate my joy.

You see I needed this joy to survive. It did not matter that I was walking and have been walking for years in pain, the Joy is still mine. Through this process, God taught me how to regain it and obtain it.

I still have days the darkness tries to come in. But He gently reminds me, that Joy is my gift, waiting fresh each morning.

Now there is action that I take, to obtain and maintain my joy.

I have a feeling, that this blog and all these years of learning after the brokenness will be my beauty from ashes moment.

I will begin to write my new book: Joy Despite the Pain is not Denial but a Necessity

My heart is to speak into the heart of others, that have been hiding behind the mask, walking in the ‘normal’ every day while dying inside little by little. Not because they want to hide, but because perhaps they don’t even realize they are. Or maybe, just maybe, they don’t realize that they are not the only ones.

This scripture above in my heading is so relevant to me, as in the darkest season I had been bedridden in pain, He says to me RISE UP and I will speak to you and He has been so faithful both physically and spiritually. So I RISE UP and no longer walk in shame of where I was, but in JOY that I can use my story, to touch the lives of others that may be blinded in the pain at the moment.

Remember!! Joy despite the pain is not denial but a necessity.

 

Again and Again

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Recently I was in the waves of depression or grief I am not sure exactly which, but I was getting to where I  wanted to just isolate myself on most days.

I had lost my dad a year ago and my health struggles of the last few years hit another all-time high with no explanations, leading to walking away from my job I loved. Coming to grips with all the loss, I was truly trying to keep my head above water.

I had this heavy blanket over my mind often since childhood. When I was at Bethel Worship Music School this year, so much was revealed to me and was broken off of me.
I have been healed of the suicidal depression years ago. Jesus rescued me before. But this release was generational. This release will take deep roots in my family. God has brought me to a place of Joy that I had not felt since I was under 8 years old.

There with my heart open saying, God, why has this returned?  He said, “I will do it again. You want your release, here you go. I will do it again. I will meet you at every stage and every time. I will do it again! Don’t focus on the why, you know the why. Focus on the victory because it is here. ”

I just broke with my love from Him. I was valued and given the gift of LIFE.
When I let myself remember the work He had done before and I let myself be loved by Him in new ways, deeper relationship, it is then that He rescued me.
My heart was lifted with the knowledge that He will rescue me again and again from every situation. I do not need to return to the old. That one has been done with.
Anything else arises, He will be in that too, ready to save.

The funny thing is this time that I was rescued, it was much swifter then years past.
The days of deep depression did not linger long, as I was able to recognize them and remember where my help comes from. The maker of heaven and earth, my creator, my savior, my friend, my JESUS. He did it before and He will rescue me again and again. From each struggle, from each battle. He will rescue me again and again.

I am human, I may open the door to the same battle, but He is so faithful to reach in and pull me out of it. He is also faithful to give me the tools to not go there anymore.

I was at church Sunday and just heard…SOUND THE ALARM.

When you are struggling in life, sound your alarm!
Call out to Him and He will be quick to answer you.
Right there with you in your walk no matter where you are at, He comes.

In our natural life, if you are looking at a fire, you are going to sound that fire alarm. You will not just sit and watch it consume everything in front of you, you are going to call a rescuer. When you are struggling in the Spirit, SOUND your alarm.

He will meet you again and again. Give the song a listen 😉 This one blesses my heart to pieces.

 

 

 

 

 

I am READY

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I am READY FOR my new Season LIFE

 

This week at Bethel Music Worship School, has shaken me in every good way possible. I have been like a sponge absorbing God’s truths and casting off all the lies I have believed about myself and my ministry.
I have grown deeper in my relationship with the Lord and have allowed Him EVERY space in my life, rather than just the one to be revered and held high. YES, He is to be high and lifted up always, but there is so much much more. I am READY!

The second day at Bethel Music Worship School, while we were listening to Bill Johnson speaking, I had a vision of God holding out His hands with Jesus in the palms. I honestly don’t remember what was being taught at the moment. The vision was so clear and so beautiful it beheld my whole heart.
God’s hands outstretched were handing Jesus to me. I heard so clearly in my Spirit, this is my son and He is for ALL your areas of need. You need a friend, here you go, you need a Father here you go, you need a savior here you go, you need a healer here you go. There was no end to the places that Jesus was to fill in my life. I call out I am READY!!!

When I began writing for joy I was honestly at death’s door. I was ready to die. I wanted to die and had a plan to die. In my last cry to God before putting my plan into action I cried out… GOD, YOU PROMISED JOY WHERE IS IT?!?!
In that very moment, God instructed me to seek Joy and I would find it.
I felt shook. I said Ok God I will try this I will seek the FULLNESS of your Joy.
Step by step He pointed out all the areas that my life was robbing me of joy. It has been a good season to see His love and care and provision of the fullness of Joy in my life. Yet, that season has been one dimensional, survival-focused.
I was a baby surviving on milk and God is ready to give me more in the way of nutrition. He met me where I was and gave what I needed most to save my life and bring me back to living. Now He is ready to propel me forward in NEW life and NEW seasons of fruitfulness. The harvest has been planted, cultivated and now I will reap the benefits.
I am READY!

There is so so so much new the Lord would have me share and I am so ready for this wild journey He will be taking me on. This past week at Bethel Music Worship School has been one of the richest fullest life-giving experiences of my life. I am amazed and in awe of my Father all over again. I have come out of the land of the drought and ready for the land of living water. No more will I deny the spirit of God as He moves inside of me. I have been awakened and I will not be silent. I am READY

THIS…  AINT NO STINKIN GRAVE AINT NO STINKIN GRAVE… GONNA HOLD MY BODY DOWN!!!!

Out of the Heart

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I have been in a season of great frustration lately. I am frustrated with the health, my physical limits, my personality,  the finances being stretched and not being able to work at what I love right now, and finally the lack of some changes around me that need to happen.
I am frustrated with my reactions to those frustrations.
I am frustrated with my frustrations!

I have noticed my speech has been more negative, I have blown up more often in harsher ways and I have seemed to misplace that joy to the full that was with me constantly. Lately, my joy comes in snippets, like this morning when I was watering my flowers listening to the bird songs, yet the fatigue sets in and my joy meter seems to begin to fade.

I have been seeking the Lord on this issue lately and He reminded me of truths when I first began seeking joy and what will lead me to get my joy to the full, back in place.

1- Out of the heart, the mouth will speak.
God pointed out that just as a parrot, will repeat what it has been told over and over, so will my heart. You can teach a parrot good things or bad, depending on what you spend your time feeding it.

I have been so negative lately because my heart is frustrated. I am repeating that despair and defeat. I am letting it set in where there should be no place for it. I need to fill my heart with life rather than my situations. The fruit of that will be less negativity and criticism.
How to fill the heart to be life productive: Word, Prayer, and Worship. Less of the world and more of HIM.
The song… I have the Joy Joy Joy Joy down in my heart, comes to mind. Let’s have the Lord put some JOY in our hearts today!

2- Recognize the NO’s
One thing that gets to my heart frustrated is the conflicting political views. The anger and hatred I read or hear from both sides are contagious. This is a no for me. I need to recognize the no’s in my life. Sitting and listening to someone else’s frustrations for hours is a NO. The other day, I had a FULL 7 hours of listening and trying to minister to others. Multiple people, but it was a straight 7 hours and they just wanted to vent, not solutions! This is A BIG NO for me and I have to be prepared to say, enough let’s talk about something else. It is absolutely draining otherwise.
Another big no, Doing everything that pops into my head because I have the energy at the moment, is a no for me. I can’t do everything and be everything to everybody. I have to know when to say no, otherwise out of my heart will be resentment and frustration when I become exhausted.

3- It is okay to be me.
I feel guilty for wanting to spend so much time alone and then it plays on my mind. Out of the heart, my mouth will speak, if I am dogging myself and my personality in my heart, I will not have life and give life to others but criticism and harshness. The same criticism and hurtful opinions of myself will be put on others.

I was an only child, a latchkey one at that. Much of my time was spent joyfully alone. I am learning I am a social introvert. I love people and the ministries the Lord has before me, but too much and I am absolutely exhausted. I need to separate and reboot, and in this season it is needed more often. I need the quiet, I thrive on the quiet, it is life-giving to me and that is okay. I need to accept me.
I also have let the opinion of others that I need to be love to everyone all the time put guilt on me. I do need to love everyone, be a light to everyone, but I do not need to socialize with everyone. There are some people who are toxic and I can’t love them enough to change that, I have tried.  When a needy, critical, hurtful person begins to toxify my life, I need to be aware and put my foot down.
I can be selective in this season and for my own health that is ok and necessary.

4- Except my limits.
This is an extension of the no’s but very relevant in its own way.
I have half completed things around my house all of the time in this season. To get through doing the dishes, I have to unload the dishwasher, sit down and rest, then go back to loading it. Same with the Laundry, I can get it out of the dryer and fold but that is the end of it for me and it sits folded, while I rest. This is often the same getting ready for my day; shower, sit. Fix hair, sit. Put on makeup and brush teeth, sit. The fatigue can be overwhelming and if I push, do not rest, do not take those breaks, I can hardly walk across the room and it last for days rather than moments. I have to accept where I am, not bury the negative in my heart but the truth, I have limits, God will grant me strength in my weakness, but I can listen to those limits. Out of the heart, my mouth will speak, perhaps my healing will come faster, if I take the time to REST IN THE LORD, and speak the truth about what I am ABLE to do rather than just sit and stir about what I am not.

I am sure there are many other areas the Lord will reveal to me in the next few weeks as I seek Him on the issue. But today the biggest one that sticks out to me is out of the heart the mouth will speak. No matter how I feel, if I am feeding my heart good things, my mouth will speak good things. If my focus is on my flesh and my situation, of course, negative things will be what comes out. I need to not focus on all my flaws, to err is human, but my God is bigger than my screw ups. He can do more than what I know. He can restore. He makes all things new.
These truths are what will be buried deep in my heart. So that Out of my heart my mouth will speak LIFE things.

Matthew 15:18

But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.
ESV

Truth or just a Moment?

 

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In this season of rest, God has sweetly reminded me to look at the emotions that have plagued my every day.

Depression can cause such harsh, empty, hurtful thoughts. When in the midst of it all, we can begin to believe those thoughts. My spirit stirs to evaluate the thought that crosses my mind as it hits my heart and I can feel it in my gut. Is this thought truth or an emotion of the moment?

The enemy wants nothing more than to bog me down in my own thoughts. If he can hold me down with a lie and stir my emotions of despair, he has victory.

How can I know if a thought is a truth or just an emotion of the moment?

I must evaluate the thought according to what God’s word says about my situation or about me. I must look at the feelings that are stirring within me from a thought and ask, “do they bring despair or hope? Death or life?”

When God’s truth has the chance to minister to my emotion, my mind begins to line up with His truth as well. The hurtful emotion at the moment begins to clear and my mind is free to focus on what the Lord has on hand for me to accomplish rather than focusing on feelings of defeat.

I may not be an amazing artist, but I am HIS artist to use as He will.

I may not be the best singer, but I am HIS worshiper to use as He will.

I may not be the most beautiful, but I am HIS daughter and made in HIS image

I may not be the life of the party, but I am HIS companion and I hear His voice.
See how this works?  Look at the lie, identify it and address it with the truth.
Hey even if the thought has some truth in it I need to ask myself, “what is the truer truth?”

Go on, start asking yourself is this truth or the emotion of a moment?
You will begin to see light in the midst of darkness.

Psalm 25:5-

Guide me in your truth and teach me, For you are God my savior, and my hope is in you all day long. 

 

 

A cancer of another kind

I was expecting the words, I was actually waiting to hear, “You have cancer.”
Yet, these words never came and as crazy as it seems, I was actually disappointed.

I know wanting cancer is beyond any normal rational, yet I was hoping thyroid cancer would be the diagnoses to begin to set me free.

I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia almost 11 years ago. I have been on the roller coaster of flare days and a few good days. I have tried many medicine cocktails to eventually give up every time, as the side effects would take over any benefit. I remember falling asleep behind the wheel once while taking a new medicine. The doctors response was, “if you are so tired still, you probably won’t get over it, time to try a new one.”

Try a new one, and try I have, new diets and fads, new supplements, new oils,
new searches and new medicines.
I woke up one morning so dizzy I could not walk across the room. The dizziness had not improved so I decided to go off of all medications to make sure that they were not the culprit. Three weeks later still dizzy. This on top of leg and muscle fatigue for over two years I decided to visit the doctor, again.  Thus began the MRI’s, more blood work and ultrasounds all leading to the biopsy. 7 nodules in my thyroid, 2 were suspicious. I have seen a hematologist for blood issues, neurologist for the dizziness and muscle weakness, and now I need to see the endocrinologist and ENT specialist at the end of the summer, each answer has led to more questions.

I wanted to have the answer so bad, I didn’t care what the answer was. I wanted to have something with a hope of treating. Now I just have more questions. Thankfully none of my symptoms seem to be related but rather 5 different sources all messing with me at once. I am truly thankful nothing detrimental! However, I am still left with Fibromyalgia and symptoms unrelated and we are searching. Oh, how I was hoping for a misdiagnosis.

It is through this journey I realized I DID have cancer. I had a small depressive thought that this was my life now. This thought had grown and grown, until I had come to the point it was all I saw. This is how depression works. Just a moment, and we let it fester and fester and grow and grow just like a cancer of the body, it becomes a cancer of our mind.

I had let go of the very thing Writing For Joy became in my life. A place to focus on God’s truth and to have JOY despite my circumstances. I allowed that cancer of depression to rob me of my truths. I had been robbed of my peace, of my smile, of my hope and strength, it was slowly robbing my life.
I had allowed the infectious depression to grow rampit and it happened so strategically, just as the enemy had planned.

God’s word says that the enemy comes to kill, steal and destroy. So swiftly  had let my physical body become the destruction to take my eyes off of the Lord’s truth to my heart situation. I am His daughter that HAS HOPE IN HIM. My situations do not dictate my joy meter. JOY despite my pain is not denial but a necessity, my necessity!

So in the Name of my MIGHTY Jesus I speak for the cancer of depression to be gone. I pray for His truths to rise in my spirit and in the spirit of others that battle. We will have peace  in the morning, His peace that surpasses all understanding to cover the depression in all trials and all circumstances. Infectious depression be gone and it its place the JOY OF THE LORD. For His JOY is our strength.

I will find my answers, I will have full healing, but in the meantime, I will walk with Him side by side as He takes me deeper into His truths. I have nothing to fear, I have no reason to slumber, He is calling me to new heights. Time to get ready.